where wildly different is perfectly normal
Gifted kids are not like other kids
Gifted kids are not like other kids

Gifted kids are not like other kids

Gifted kids are not like other kidsOh, I’m sure that title alone will piss some people off. Because, you know, gifted means the child in question is smarter, prettier, more special, more deserving, walks on water, dispenses poop in scented plastic baggies, and has absolutely no problems with anything ever amen.

Excuse me. Sorry. Rolled my eyes so hard they shook hands with my brain. My hippocampus is looking especially robust this afternoon.

So, because I can’t actually say in an email what I really wanted to say, and because I myself need a refresher on what gifted is and isn’t (even though I live with the living/breathing/frustrating example of a twice-exceptional child), let us have a Tuesday afternoon review.

  • Gifted kids are not like other kids. They are more intense, more curious, more everything. When we didn’t know what was going on with A, lo those many years ago, the only word I could choke out was “more.” He.Was.Just.More.
  • Gifted DOES NOT MEAN HIGH-ACHIEVING. I’d like to make that sentence into t-shirts, sky-writing, tattoos, bumper stickers, jewelry, pasta shapes, and novelty doorbells that ring it out in a variety of languages when pressed. Just because a kid is in a GT program doesn’t mean s/he is going to fit preconceived notions of what a kid in a GT program is going to look like or accomplish.
  • Conversely, high-achieving does not mean gifted. I have heard of well-meaning parents with bright kids getting their kids into GT programs when the kid really shouldn’t be there.
  • Gifted programs and accommodations are not for everyone. They are academic interventions to assist, challenge, and support kids with particular educational needs. Read that again: ACADEMIC INTERVENTIONS, not “my kid is sooo special and did I tell you what he said and OH! his poop this week is in lemon-basil scented baggies!” Oh, and the kids who need these academic interventions need them every day, all day, not just 40 minutes once a week, cancelled if something else comes up.
  • Gifted kids need more help than you think. No, really. They won’t be just fine on their own. And they’re not going to bring attention to that fact.
  • Twice-exceptional kids need an IEP or a 504, despite what the school district might say. If private testing indicates significant twice-exceptionalities, written and binding accommodations and interventions is damned near a requirement. This one is for me to remember. Sadly, I may need to be a bit more assertive at the new school this fall.
  • Finally, don’t assume anything about these kids. Gifted kids are not like other kids. Gifted kids are not like other giftedΒ kids. Twice-exceptional kids are not like otherΒ gifted kids. And no twice-exceptional kid is like another twice-exceptional kid. These kids are amazing people, but they are not what you think. Ever. Because as soon as you think you know a kid, s/he is gonna surprise you, and the only one standing and looking like a fool will be you.

There. I feel better now. I believe when I need to follow up on my email that I will be in a better state of mind to do so.

And because I know I will have at least one person comment that pretty much every one of these bullet points disappears with homeschooling, I know that. And while nothing is being decided about anything for the next several months, we are considering it. ‘Nuff said.

Gotta straighten out my eyes now. They just can’t roll like they used to.

Edited to add: This post is also found inΒ If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional.


  1. cocobean

    sigh. I hear you. And not all those bullet points disappear with homeschooling – you just find that *you* are easier to deal with when *you* figure out that you’ve got to adjust to that “new” gifted kid who showed up when you got smug that you’d figured something out… unfortunately, you’re also less likely to edit the criticisms you offer yourself for how you are messing up this heaping helping of potential.

  2. I.hear.you. Really.. ;-D.. Dreeaaamiinngg off that cruisssee…. on the good ship asynchrony.. some day..

    No really, someday.. the hoops parents and kids of the ‘gifted’ and 2E ilk have to jump through in order to survive is awe inspiring.. and usually not.funny..

    Powerful post..

    Strength Jen


    1. Jen

      LOL! Or make t-shirts! πŸ˜‰ Bookmarks! Good luck with the IEP meeting; my super 2e kid doesn’t have one (though he needs one) and his younger less 2e brother does. The mind boggles…

  3. I wish someone had been able to drill this home to my entire family ages ago.

    “Outside the box” seemed to have been put in a box a decade or two, ago. It would make more sense to have said nothing, but that doesn’t lend anything to the comprehension bit.

    1. Jen

      I wish this would be drilled home to every family of every kid in every school everywhere. How many kids are falling through the cracks because they don’t fit the stereotypical model of a gifted kid? Breaks my heart and angers me deeply.

  4. Thanks for this post. So nice to hear. And no, all those bullet points don’t necessarily go away with homeschooling. Just when you think you got them figured out, they up and change on you and give you another conundrum to work on. One thing they all have in common – wonderful, loving, challenges.

    1. Jen

      No, I know those issues don’t go away with homeschooling, and instead new issues arise. It’d just be a nice change for him to learn at his own pace, following his own energy levels…and I’d really like to not have to push the school’s agenda at night. :/
      Eh, who knows. It’s a possibility, but not right now!

  5. Well written. When a preschool teacher asked us to describe Bug (then 2yrs old) in one word, my husband and I finally settled on “more.” His older brother is just as academically bright, but he’s simpler. Bug has just enough sensory issues to have issues (but not diagnosable) and just enough quirks to be quirky, and just takes a bit more from everyone who works with him. So far, at 7, the school is handling him well.

    1. Jen

      Yeah, that was the only word I could use for the longest time. Then I found out that “more” is an indication of giftedness and it’s been hell on wheels ever since! LOL!

      1. My firstborn is just as bright, but he is content. He sees shades of gray, he’s flexible, he doesn’t get upset easily. The “More” child isn’t different in what I call “giftedness” but pairs it with a sensitive temperament which causes everything to make him upset- unless it makes him celebrate. Everything is more difficult with him, causing him more stress. Yet not quite Aspergers.

  6. Just last night I shared a SENG Webinar from Jane Hesslein on “What your gifted kids want you to know” with some parents of kids in our local highly capable program. Your last paragraph sounds like what I said to wrap up the event. I’m constantly struck by how much we parents all have in common.

    1. Jen

      We DO have a lot in common, even though our kids are so very different. We want to help our kids, we’re screaming into the wind, and we’re exhausted. At what point do we finally have a solution? How many kids fall through the cracks before then? It’s frustrating and frightening, because these kids are the best and brightest for our future, and we’re losing them.

  7. Ruth

    Thanks, this is so true and so good to hear someone else articulate it.

    Many bullet points apply to homeschooling, too. The one main difference is that with homeschooling you have even fewer hours you hope someone else can take over the duties for a bit. I have girlfriends (many without children at all, let alone a twice gifted child) ask me when do I set aside enough time for myself? Heh.

    1. Jen

      That’s my hangup with homeschooling. I need that time away to recharge. If I can find a way for that to work, then I can consider it more deeply.
      Thanks for the comment!

  8. Amen sister!!! “More” is the only adequate word that fits most gifted kids and ‘more’ doesn’t always (rather rarely) equate(s) to peace and harmony.

    As far as 2e kids go – not only are they twice exceptional, but at least in our case, they are ‘twice’ screwed over in the system too. We can’t even get the school district to acknowledge any issue with T. Great. Super fantastic. So he continues to be frustrated and we continue to try to help him ‘deal’. All the while I watch all sorts of services being provided to families who never even asked for help. Am I a little bitter? Yep.

    Am I super glad to have other parents who ‘get it’? Hell yeah.

    Thanks Jen – simply for being you and having the courage to voice the things that so many of us are feeling but don’t have the guts, time, or whatever to express. You rock!!!

    1. Jen

      Yeah, I’m worried about the twice-screwed thing after this move. I know we have it pretty good right now where we are, and are headed into the great unknown in a different state. That said, I think I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m not afraid to stand up and be Mama Bear and don’t $#^$@# with me because I know the code words and I DO have a teaching license in this state thankyouverymuch and I’m willing to be more than a little…ahem…assertive to ensure my sons’ education.
      Because, frankly, homeschooling is the other option and the mere thought just exhausts the hell outta me right now.

  9. Nikki Fekete

    Thank you so much for voicing what I’ve been feeling for years! Far too often, gifted kids are not only stereotyped into being something they may or may not be, but they are also told by society that gifted = strange… that every gifted child is a potential Dougie Howser, or a future scientist, that it isn’t okay for them to be interested in “mainstream” toys, tv shows, etc. Gifted kids and their parents are often made to feel guilty about their accomplishments and abilities… I think the bumper stickers about beating up gifted kids are evidence enough of that.
    I’ve been fighting my son’s school for FIVE years to have him evaluated for dysgraphia… finally, in 5th grade, they agree to evaluate him. We have about a month of school left and still no results OR interventions. We’re moving to another state after school ends this year and from everything I’ve been told, we’ll have to put the kids through GT testing (and in my son’s case LD evaluation) all over again! I’m really not sure it is worth it. There are resources available in the area we are moving to (outside the school district) that if all else fails, we may have to consider.
    My DD is 7 and in 1st grade and hasn’t even finished her GT eval yet (WHY do schools wait until the END of the school year to conduct evaluations based on criteria gathered earlier in the year??)… and she might possibly have to go through it all again!
    I could go on about this forever. Thank you for saying what most “GT parents” don’t ever have the venue to express. I’ll certainly be adding your website to my list of favorites!!!

    1. Jen

      Thanks Nikki. I feel your frustration! My 1st grader is JUST NOW being evaluated for GT…after I requested it, um, if not last year certainly last fall. We’re also moving to a new state this summer and I Just.Can’t.WAIT! to go through all this again. I’m hopeful that a smaller school will help, but our outside of school resources involve private schools and a bear of a commute or homeschooling.
      All because our kids just won’t fit into those round holes…
      Glad you stopped by!

  10. 2e or not 2e

    “More” is right. My gifted kid is going into 6th grade, and we haven’t found the right mix of academic stimulation and social/emotional support (asymmetry anyone?) yet. Thanks for posting this – glad to know I’m not alone. Sometimes it seems very lonely out here when nobody seems to really get why your child is so different than theirs. Keep advocating for your kids, people! With the proper nourishment of the whole person, these kids offer so much to our world.

    1. Jen

      More of more. And then some more. With a side of more.
      Sorry, been a more kind of weekend.
      I’ll keep screaming into the wind, to make sure my kids and ALL 2e kids get what they need to thrive. We’re not alone here, though it often feels like we are. I’m convinced my oldest son is going to change the world (thankfully his teacher this year believes this too)…it’s just a matter of getting him there.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. juls

    Thank you so much for this offering that gifted kids are just…”more”….love that. We found out the hard way when our profoundly gifted 6 year old who could do 4th grade long division was stuck in a first grade class with a very unsupportive teacher who ended up despising his “more”. It broke our hearts to see him suffer, be yelled at for not conforming, and left unchallenged. We cried out to the school for 6 months. Finally the school psychologist told us, “your son’s IQ is what is considered superior…” And went on to tell us that without a doubt he would need gifted services, or “intervention” as you so appropriately called it. However, the unsupportive teacher blocked him from having those services because of his “behavior challenges,” which we found out were ELEVEN of the SEVENTEEN charachteristics of a gifted child when they are not identified early on. More meetings, more paperwork, but got nowhere with the school, until one day early in April our son’s relationship with his teacher, or shall we say lack of, became so incredibly intolerable for him, he came out of school, having been in this world for 6 years, buried his head in to my belly, and said, “Mom, please get me out of here.” It was a cry for help. We withdrew him immediately and began with a charter school where he can do a hybrid of cyber classes and traditional classes, and guess what? They immediately admitted him in to their gifted “intervention” and will allow him to excel as quickly as he’d like through his curriculum. The sad news is that it is only going to get worse for our gifted kids, because they need “more.” They will not get more because the genius is being denied in this country and there is a movement to eliminate gifted services from state funded public schools. I googled just that for the state of Pennsylvania and was astonished at what I found. Is homeschooling the best option? If it works for your family, then I’d say yes- go for it! Public education is failing gifted kids, and while I am sure there are good programs out there in the mainstream, there are many kids being “left behind” by the system and not being identified early or even properly. My son is the perfect case in point.

    1. Jen

      AGH! Stories like your son’s are so painful to hear, and unfortunately all too common. I’m so glad to hear you have found a setting where he can thrive!
      Gifted services are being eliminated and rolled into general special ed services nationwide. Here in CO we’re fairly lucky in that there is a prominent advocacy support system, so programs aren’t drying up as fast as in other states. However, we’re moving to Chicago fairly soon and Illinois’ gifted programs are suffering. Badly. I’m worried about the next school year and if I have it in me to homeschool my boys if necessary. Guess I’ll jump off that bridge when I get to it. πŸ˜‰
      Glad you stopped by!

  12. Warren Halpern

    Excellent… I do not think that the bullet points go away if you home school. I can’t imagine home-schooling my child. There will come a day where these kids need to function in society, throwing them out into the world and having them interact with (dare I say) peers — helps this process.

    1. Jen

      No, I don’t think they go away with homeschooling, and new issues crop up. But I don’t worry about peers…what kind of peers? Age peers? Intellectual peers? One kind of peer is found in age-based grade schools, the other outside of those walls. I had a flute student who was homeschooled (she’s now almost through college); she is the most centered and grounded person I know, much more than the students I had who went through the school system. So I’m not worried.
      Thanks for coming by!

  13. Love the voice behind the rant. As a psychotherapist, xteacher, author and mother of three HG adults, vent away. People (especially bureaucrats) need to hear that raising these kids isn’t a slam dunk just because they are so capable they accommodate to significant challenges. Parents and kids need support all through their uniquely asynchronous lives. And they don’t need people to pathologize and stigmatize that which is “normal” in this population…namely intensity and complex thinking, feeling and relating to EVERYTHING. Enjoy your gifted kids, they grow up fast. Linda

    1. Jen

      Thank you! I vent because, well, just imagine a human pressure cooker. Not a pretty sight if it blows. πŸ˜‰
      These kids are FAR from a slam dunk…unless the slam dunk in question also includes the backboard shattering into a gabillion pieces. They are advanced parenting, right from the womb. They don’t exist in any parenting book, and are so different from one another they only flit through parts of gifted kids parenting books. Every day is a new challenge. I wish more teachers and administrators and bureaucrats KNEW, I mean REALLY KNEW, what it’s like parenting 2e and gifted kids.
      Thank you for your comment, Linda. The GDC here in Denver was such a help in our journey; hopefully they’ll open a midwest office in Chicago so I have resources there after our move. πŸ˜‰

      1. I know, I’ve not only coached and counseled hundreds of 2e families, but I mostly raised two younger 2e siblings. No one can know what it is like unless they’ve done it themselves. My mother was so overwhelmed she turned them over to me most of the time. I feel like I was put on this planet to understand what it is like and to help people help these kids become happy productive adults. It is a soul calling to help these families, and to be the mother in them. In heaven, we will all be celebrating the way we have contributed to the healing of the world by being patient and loving to the challenging gift we nurtured.
        Hang in there,
        Linda Powers Leviton

        1. Jen

          Looking back, my younger brother is 2e. But they didn’t know about 2e then, so he was just labeled LD/ADHD. Never investigated how bright he was. Now? Having survived school through the love and support of my parents and successes in Scouting, he is a strong successful man and new father. I know what unassisted 2e looks like, I saw my brother go through it. I can’t and won’t let my son suffer like he did. They are frighteningly similar, to the point that I often feel like I’m raising a time-warp version of my brother. LOL!
          All that said, gifted kids are just awesome.

  14. You KNOW I have to comment on this one! Jen, I always know I’m in for a treat everytime you write a new post. I’m putting you on my list of people I must meet before I die! You make me laugh, but more importantly … you make me think. Thankful to know you. When the dust settles on your move, you will make the right decision for the boys because you are a mom who cares so much and it truly shows!

  15. Julie in KC

    Can I tell you that I rely on your blog for my sanity in terms of raising my own 8-year-old gifted son. He also is very much “more” but we’re learning more and more each day about how his brain works and how to work with him when he’s being intense, frustrated or quirky. We had a horrible kindergarten principal who tried to diagnose our child with a bunch of different thigns only to discover he’s gifted. And as you say, gifted doesn’t necessarily mean smart. It means a whole lot more!!! Fortunately we’re in a better school and place now that works with us, but still doesn’t always get him. So from a lurker that reads your blog often, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    1. Jen

      I’m so glad you delurked! πŸ™‚
      Gifted = wiring. Gifted β‰  whatever people THINK they think it is. Gifted kids are just wired differently, they’re quirky, and (when they’re not pushing you to the limits of exhaustion) just totally awesome. πŸ™‚
      Yay! Glad you commented. πŸ™‚

  16. Bella

    I understand this sooooo much. I struggle with parenting not one, but two gifted children and it really pisses me off when people presume that raising smart kids is easy….or that being a smart kid is easy. Thanks!

  17. Sarah

    Not just knowing you, but reading all these responses helps me feel less alone. My little guy (OK and the gal) both are more… M is just more with extra sprinkles on top (and the sprinkles must be cinnamon, or the world just might end)

    Thanks. To you. And to all of your cyberfriends here.

  18. Caren Hoganson

    Hello to amazing parents, grandparents, etc….
    My “heart is certainly off” to you. As a long-time SLP Early Intervention Specialist, I am now honored to be Grandma to (2) 2e children. These sweeties are the children of my first-born, also my 2e son. We of course are navigating the IEP
    system with good results, thankfully. I know we have many more surprises ahead…will keep in touch…Grandma Caren

    1. Jen

      Caren, thank you for your comment. These kids are amazing and the most complex beings I’ve ever known. 2e just intensifies it all! Glad you stopped by. πŸ™‚

  19. Annie

    I am very pleased with this post. My child is one of the quirkiest and most weird children you will ever meet. However, he has an IQ of 165. He is incredible. People think he is like other children, but he is not. He’s not more SPECIAL, just DIFFERENT.He is human, but more. When we watched the film Little Man Tate, Robert started crying because it reminded him of his first few years in school: miserable, lonely and boring. All high-acheiveing children certainly are bright, but NOT always gifted. There is a child in my son’s class who always outperforms him but certainly is not as bright as him.

  20. Pingback: Welcome to the Wild Wild World of 2e!

  21. Marion

    ” while nothing is being decided about anything for the next several months, we are considering it. β€˜Nuff said.”

    Uh-oh–I know you won’t…but, just in case, Don’t forget to factor in the exponent effect!!
    One 2E kid = more.
    One 2e kid = more.
    (1) 2e kid + (1) 2e kid does NOT = more + more

    (1) 2e kid + (1) 2e kid = [(2) 2e kids] ^2 * (more) ^2
    = chaos^?

    I think I have four 2e kids…but at least one is in puberty, while another one found his alternate personality a few weeks ago and disappeared. The third is permanently attached to my leg, and one of the others appears determined to clone himself using solder, duck tape, and flattened beer caps.

    I suppose this is why my mother gave me a fridge magnet at the beginning of this school year:
    “The risk I took was calculated,
    but man,
    am I bad at math.”

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