Thursday, June 26, 2014

Twice Exceptionality, when just one exception isn’t enough!

Giftedness.  It's a pretty known phenomena.  People don't like to admit it exists, because egalitarianism, but everyone knows it does, deep down.  That some people are just crazy smart.  But they don't know any of those people.  Nope.  Like foxes. Everyone knows foxes exist, and can generally recognize them if they need to, but nobody ever sees one in the wild.

Twice-exceptionality...  Everyone recognizes a fox on sight, generally. But when asked, does anyone know what the fox really says?  (I guarantee you that most gifted

and twice-exceptional kids do know what a fox says - if they're interested in animals, anyhow.)  That's the 2E - that fox's voice.  When you tell anyone that your child is twice exceptional, the first response is usually "oh... ouch."  This is largely because the only people you're really telling are people who also have 2E children, and they've come to your house bearing booze and cupcakes on a really crummy day.
Talking to professionals...  That is much less easy.  Mad Natter has a secondary diagnosis, and we are looking into a tertiary as well.  Skeeve and I both have executive function issues, and it looks like in addition to smarts, we've passed on a few other things.  Telling any care providers that we suspect Mad Natter is twice-exceptional usually goes over like a lead balloon.  Why?  Because most people have barely studied up on giftedness, much less twice-exceptionality - and care providers, like everyone else, doesn't like to have someone pop up in their office and know more about a topic they are seeking advice for than the person they're seeking that advice from.  So far, it has resulted in "boys will be boys," and 24h turnaround on an appointment for me, plus "well, we'll see..." and "what makes you think he's gifted?"  The automatic response is to put us on the defensive, having to justify that a 5 year old reading (and comprehending) chapter books, but utterly unable to focus for more than a minute or two at a time, is having challenges.

Mad Natter does not officially have the third diagnosis.  However, as every practitioner has shooed us out their door, telling us to return when Mad Natter is seven years old, they hand us paperwork.  Every time it's the same paperwork.  Sometimes it's two different things - one sensory - confirming to us that there is something valid in our armchair diagnosis... but no one is willing to assess for another year and change.  No matter the urgency, no matter the obvious support we bring in for that assessment and the potential diagnosis, we are getting the brush off.  He'll be fine until he's seven.  He's gifted. 

The question I'm left with is "am I seeing blowback because I dare identify myself and my child as gifted? Or am I seeing it because I'm implying that gifted children might not be 100% people-pleasers, easy children, eager learners who want nothing more than a stack of worksheets to do over an ice cream breakfast?"

Because, you see...  The twice-exceptional tend to be invisible.  They're marginalized in the classroom, under the insistence their "behavior issues" come "under control" before they are accelerated - often making their acting out worse, because of utter boredom.  They're marginalized by professionals, who have little training on the gifted population, and don't understand how gifted intensity can either mask other issues, or intensify them.  They're side-eyed in public, because they're simultaneously incredibly intense and curious... and also just inherently... 'odd.' They approach things so very differently, and are less able to mask their inherent differences, and so they... for lack of a better phrase, they 'feel' odd to others.

Trying to make the appropriate care decisions for a complicated child, understood by neither general society nor his care practitioners is exceedingly difficult.  Being brushed off time and again when you're bringing a valid concern forward is frustrating, disheartening, and maddening.  Knowing what is likely helpful for your child, and being denied the opportunity to find out if this is the case?  See above.  Knowing that if this were any other child, this would have been determined and care would be much simpler is just defeating.

Twice exceptional children (and adults!) are real.  They're out in the world at large. And when you find others, you will find help - or at least someone to listen, and bring you booze and cupcakes when you need 'em.