Book Reviews: Differently Wired and Boost

May, 2018

Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World

Book by Deborah Reber (Workman Publishing Company, June 12, 2018)

Reviewed by J. Mark Bade

 

Raising an exceptional child in a conventional world — that’s many of you, dear readers. The author, Debbie Reber, is a member of the community, raising a young man, Asher, who has the labels of ADHD, Asperger’s, and gifted.

What Reber offers to readers of Differently Wired is validation, affirmation, and advice. She’s a professional writer and the founder of TiLT Parenting, a website and social media haven for parents.

Who will benefit from this book? Any parent on the 2e journey, especially those at the beginning. Ironically, those who don’t yet know they’re on the journey — those worrying but lacking a diagnosis — would probably be best served and guided during that murky period of worry and doubt and concern.

Reber draws on her own experience, but also on the advice of experts and the input of parents who share narratives with her. She acknowledges parents’ challenging role in raising a 2e child:
It’s no cakewalk. Yet those with the resources, energy, and time continue to show up every day with no map and a dull blade to hack at the brush in search of a viable path. 

She divides the book into two parts. First is an 80-plus-page introduction to the differently-wired world, filled with descriptions of experiences parents of 2e kids have probably lived through or witnessed. Reber puts these in the context of “normality,” normality that is not especially friendly to twice-exceptional children and their families. She observes:

It’s obvious to me that being differently wired is no more an aberration than being left-handed, yet here we are at a crisis point, where 20 percent of today’s kids are struggling to fit in at school and in society because the way they think, learn, and show up is inconvenient or presents challenges to the status quo. Their neurological differences are treated like deficits instead of part of the essential fabric that makes up these creative, complicated, awesome beings.

I don’t believe there is any one way to be okay or typical or “normal” in today’s world.

Reber is not happy with what she sees as the current parenting paradigm. She writes:

…to change everything for our kids, and for us, we’re going to have to throw out the current parenting paradigm. It just isn’t practical anymore, and it’s doing more harm than good. We need to lead in the creation of a new one, one that embraces difference and uniqueness in children, rejects fear- and guilt-based messaging, authentically reflects our families’ realities, and provides options for us to access or design the ideal education for our child’s unique needs. 

At the end of the first part of the book, Reber gives a call to action for this paradigm shift, to one where children in our communities are not ostracized or punished for being who they are; and where families are better able to work together to bring out the potential of their children. She states:

It starts when parents of atypical kids — parents like you and me — commit to staying open, paying attention, and questioning our preconceived notions. Because when we do that, we create the possibility for transformation and deeper connection. We all have what it takes to become fluent in our children’s unique language. When we are willing to work on ourselves, on our relationships, and in our communities, our children can be seen and celebrated for who they truly are.

So my question to you is, Are you in?

How does she propose that parents change the parenting paradigm? Through a series of what she refers to as “Tilts.” There are 18 of them, with titles such as:

  • Question Everything You Thought You Knew about Parenting.
  • Get Out of Isolation and Connect.
  • Let Go of What Others Think.

Each Tilt is a guideline for change. For example, in “Get Out of Isolation,” Reber highlights the costs for parents of being isolated and the gifts of connection. She provides some reflection questions regarding the reader’s connectedness (or lack thereof) and she gives tips for finding connection in areas of need. Reber then presents the reader with an imperative to right now connect with one person, one online community, or one social media group.

This is not a book filled with specifics about diagnoses, or IDEA, or giftedness. Rather, it provides general strategies and guidelines for coming to grips with the reality of parenting a twice-exceptional child. It also provides plenty of support along the way.

Are you “in”? Will you help change the paradigm? This book shows the way.

See our “News” section for information about the Differently Wired book tour.


Boost: 12 Effective Ways to Lift Up Our Twice-Exceptional Children

Book by Kelly Hirt (GHF Press, January, 2018)

Reviewed by Linda C. Neumann

 

The latest release from GHF press, part of the Perspectives in Gifted Homeschooling Series, is Boost: 12 Effective Ways to Lift Up Our Twice-Exceptional Children. Author Kelly Hirt is both a public school teacher with 25 years of experience and a homeschooling parent of a twice-exceptional son.

She begins the 100-page softcover book by explaining how she came to write it. It stems, in part, from her classroom experiences with the students who “stumped” her, those who she saw as “quirky, intense, or complicated.” She explains that she wanted to help these children, “but I did not know what to do.” She just knew that “we needed something different for these kids.”

An even greater impetus to writing the book, however, has been Hirt’s own experiences in raising her son, who she realized “was one of these children.” She found that in school, it was not the academics that were hard for her child, it was “all of the other components that made up his school experience: the classroom noise, crowded halls, lunchroom smells, friendship issues, repetition of already-covered material, number of transitions — the expectation that everyone march to the same beat.” Her son’s combination of gifts and challenges led Hirt into the world of twice-exceptionality and the difficulties of getting a 2e learner’s needs met in a public school setting.

Hirt has been able to distill what she’s found to be critical to the success of 2e children into 12 strategies that she calls boosts. These strategies, each covered in its own chapter, are aimed at parents as well as educators; and they encompass “tried techniques, new approaches, and a positive way of thinking.” The following table contains a brief overview of each boost.

Boost Strategy

Chapter Description

1: Educate

Urges readers to educate themselves as well as educate children about the unique challenges of twice-exceptionality

2: Communicate

Discusses the importance of modeling and practicing communication skills with 2e learners, who are often weak in this area

3: Investigate

Stresses the importance of identifying a 2e learner’s areas of interest and providing opportunities and time for exploring them

4: Separate

Looks at the importance of using an understanding of twice-exceptionality to put a 2e child’s struggles and behaviors into perspective

5: Anticipate

Discusses how using past experiences to plan and prepare in advance can help reduce stress or avert difficult situations

6: Accommodate

Promotes the idea that a “child who needs more or less of something – or something different altogether – should not be considered a burden”

7: Accelerate

Looks at the benefits of increasing the learning pace for 2e learners where needed, from lessons, to subjects, to grades

8: Fascinate

Discusses the importance of sparking the interest of 2e children and keeping them engaged

9: Participate

Emphasizes the importance having everyone involved in 2e learners’ education be knowledgeable about their needs and work together to enable them to be successful

10: Evaluate

Lays out the need to use information gained by “appraising actions and interventions in a careful and thoughtful way” to better support 2e students

11: Negotiate

Stresses the benefits for parents, teachers, and students of developing good negotiation skills

12: Appreciate

Discusses the need to appreciate our 2e children and students for the unique individuals they are

The book is concise and clearly written, making it a quick, easy read. Hirt presents her strategies in a way that makes them seem doable, which should provide reassurance and encouragement to parents and teachers new to the 2e world.

For those who want to read more of Hirt’s writing, she has a blog: MyTwiceBakedPotato.com. Her purpose in starting the blog, as she states at the end of the book, is to educate parents and to connect with other families parenting a twice-exceptional child.

Find Boost at the site of GHF (https://goo.gl/3K94hA), or at Amazon (https://amzn.to/2LfLHDr).   

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