So. You have found out a kid in your life is twice-exceptional! Congrats…kinda. You’re in for one helluva ride…definitely. You have no idea what to expect…certainly.
There’s no need to fear! ChaosMom is here!
Sorry. Underdog reference. No idea why that popped in there. I’ll try not to do it again.
Now that you finally have an idea of what on God’s Green Earth is going on with your kid, now what? What’s the next step?
Beats the hell outta me. We’ve known for some time that A is 2e, and I’m still fumbling around in the dark. That said, there are some things to keep in mind. Ooh! A list!
- Every twice-exceptional kid is different, in different ways. They are more unique than snowflakes, change more often than a supermodel, and Charlie Sheen is more predictable. What works for one kid may not work for another, and what worked for you yesterday may not work tomorrow. Fun, yes? (No, not really) The fun compounds when you have more than one 2e kid. Then you’re just juggling fiery chainsaws and hoping for the best.
- Asynchrony is the name of the game. Your 10 year old kid thinks like a 20 year old, reacts like a five year old, feels compassion like a 50 year old, and runs around like a 10 year old. This is normal. Mostly. You’re not dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde here, just asynchrony. The tough part is reacting to the age your kid is currently displaying, especially if several ages come whipping past, one after another. That is mental parenting whiplash, and the only cure is a quiet room and a glass of wine. Straight-jacket optional.
- I have to laugh when I describe twice-exceptional as “exceptionally gifted and an exceptional pain in the ass.” I have to laugh to keep from screaming, and in every bit of humor there is a nugget of truth. But, as you’re dealing with the alphabet soup of diagnoses that come with 2e, don’t forget the exceptionally gifted part. Feed that gifted wiring, in whatever ways it begs to be fed. You know your kid, you know what lights him or her up. Feed that. Watch your kid come alive and not be hindered by the various challenges s/he has.
- But. Don’t forget this is a kid. They need to run and play and be ignored by their parents (no, really; I’m not their playmate, they don’t need me every minute of the day, and they’re perfectly capable of entertaining themselves). They will act like a smart-ass kid…which then gets difficult because now you’re wondering “is this an asynchronous age issue, or did my kid just mouth off to me like other kids his age?” Hey! A little bit of normalcy! (What is normal, anyway? Setting on a washing machine, nothing more).
- If you think your kid needs accommodations at school, ask for them. Nicely. In fact, before school even starts, sit down with the teacher with a list of what works for your kid. We did this last fall and shaved three months off of Learning What Makes This Kid Tick. If your kid needs more than simple accommodations, good luck. I have zero advice on IEPs or 504 plans…though I strongly suspect we’ll be investigating those in the future. Bake something for the teachers, be a presence in the school, be nice. The teachers have more on their plates than you’ll ever know, and they’ll love ya for being on their side, especially as you’re asking them to be on your side.
- Get.Your.Kid.A.Mentor. Why? Dude, besides the fact that it’s someone working with your kid on something he or she loves, it gets you off the hook for a little bit every week. And every kid needs an adult other than a parent or teacher interested in their lives. I was that mentor for so many kids when I taught flute lessons. It’s important. And then somebody who
gives a damn aboutUNDERSTANDS the inner workings of a computer will be happy to listen to your kid ramble on and on and on and their eyes won’t glaze over.
- Assemble resources. Need OT/VT/tutoring/therapy? Ask around for referrals. Create your own little posse of professionals. They will make your life easier.
- Finally, find your tribe. We’re out there, other parents of 2e kids. We’re hiding in plain sight, but if you use the gently probing key words, you’ll find us. We just don’t talk about giftedness and its wiring and the complex challenges of raising 2e kids with random parents because they just don’t get it. And unless you live it, you don’t get it. You can find us buying wine by the box, coloring the grays, and screaming when alone in the car. There’s always room in the 2e Parenting Clubhouse, and you need others with you on this journey so you don’t feel so alone.
So. There ya go. Welcome to the club. We’re all in this together, so pull up a chair, pour some wine, and let’s toast our incredible twice-exceptional kids.