Jen Torbeck Merrill is an Illinois-based writer, blogger, flutist, and gifted family advocate. The mom of two boys, she homeschools her twice-exceptional teen while happily sending his younger brother off to school every morning. She is a music educator by trade, with degrees in music education and flute performance. Jen justifies those degrees with a large private flute studio and as principal flute of a high-level wind ensemble. Long before she picked up a flute as a child, however, Jen wanted to be a writer, something that didn’t happen until she opened a Blogger account in 2006 and never looked back. Since that time, her writing has focused more on gifted families and advocacy. Her book, If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional, struck a nerve with families who then suspected Jen was living in their closet. Her second book, on the needs of gifted parents and self-care, is in progress; it is taking significantly longer than anticipated because the author herself struggles mightily with self-care and has been spending a lot of time banging her head on the keyboard and hyperventilating in writerly frustration.
Jen is a Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Ambassador and has presented at the National Association for Gifted Children conference (2013), the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children conference (2013), the Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted conference (2016), the Illinois Association for Gifted Children Parents’ Day (2017), and was the keynote speaker for the Twice-Exceptional Children’s Advocacy conference (2016). She is on the Board of Advisors for the Untapped Potential project, as well as the board of a Chicago-area gifted homeschoolers parent group. Her goal is to support parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids, because they are the ones doing the heavy lifting and are too often ignored, patronized, and discredited. It is her hope that her sons never have to deal with these issues when they raise their own likely gifted children.
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