Perspective – Appreciating the Diversity of 2e

September, 2018

In this issue, we look back on the 15 years since we published the premier issue of 2e Newsletter in October of 2003. Here a member of our Editorial Advisory Board offers her perspective on the growing numbers of and growing interest in the twice-exceptional.

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D.

As a psychologist specializing in diagnosing and serving twice-exceptional children, I have seen a marked increase in the number of 2e clients in the last 15 years. As a presenter, I have also observed increased interest in the twice exceptional worldwide. It is likely that 2e Newsletter is at least partially responsible for both trends. One of the purposes of 2e Newsletter has been to increase public awareness of dual exceptionality, and I believe it has accomplished this mission.

Thank you to Linda Neumann and Mark Bade for your visionary recognition that this community needed its own publication — its own voice. You have worked tirelessly for the last 15 years to provide us with updates on every aspect of the intersection of giftedness and learning disabilities — federal initiatives, legal issues, special schools, summer programs, assessment methods, teaching techniques, parenting advice, therapeutic interventions, research, conference presentations, book reviews, web resources, technology, special topics, articles in the news about 2e, upcoming events, success stories, wisdom from 2e kids, interviews, international perspectives, and more. What a treasure trove! I refer frequently to past issues of 2e Newsletter in my professional writing and recommend this publication to all parents of 2e kids in our Gifted Development Center reports. 

Everyone who reads this important publication is grateful to the two of you for all you have contributed. It is imperative that your work be continued. Thanks to you, there have been great strides in awareness; but there is so much more to be done. There are still school districts that fail to make gifted programs accessible to 2e students or provide support for these students so that they can be successful. Many districts still believe that you can be gifted or disabled — not both. This week we worked with a highly gifted child who had meltdowns in school. There was little understanding on the part of school personnel that the child had no control over these meltdowns, that punishment was not the solution.

Within the community of 2e supporters, there are still major disagreements about the value of psychological testing and the extent to which giftedness is misdiagnosed. There is limited understanding of visual, auditory, and sensory modalities and suspicion about their treatment (e.g., vision therapy, ear filters, sensory integration therapy). 2e Newsletter has been a forum for all of these therapeutic interventions, and I hope it continues to provide this service.

My hope for the future is that there will be a more positive perspective on twice-exceptionality. Those who are twice exceptional are not nature’s mistakes. They do not need to be fixed. This population is wired differently for a reason. Each 2e individual brings us a unique perspective, and that perspective is vital for the development of society. Without these individuals, our culture would stagnate. Brain researcher Jerre Levy once wrote that “Diversity is what makes a social species possible.”

The blessings of being twice exceptional are often overlooked. While school success eludes them, 2e children may have greater awareness, uncanny intuition, heightened empathy, a grasp of the big picture, facility at predicting trends, skill at reading people, understanding of how things work, inventiveness, mediation and leadership skills, capacity to synthesize information from different disciplines, adeptness at detecting errors and discrepancies, and talent in one or more of the fine arts. Their exquisite talents should be treasured and developed, and strength-based instruction is essential. So is a child-centered perspective — Who is this child? How does she learn best? How can we help? Ask the child, “What do you need?”

Children who did not master reading, writing, spelling, calculating, and memorizing at the same rate as other children their age have become Nobel prize winners in nuclear physics, brilliant artists and architects, inventors, successful entrepreneurs, inspirational teachers, compassionate medical providers, engineers, surgeons, actors, innovative leaders, paradigm shifters, and excellent parents. School success does not define adult success. All who live with and work with twice-exceptional children need to become their cheer-leaders who believe in them and appreciate their one-of-a-kind specialness.

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist, speaker, and author. She is the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development and its subsidiaries, Gifted Development Center (GDC) and Visual-Spatial Resource in Denver, Colorado. Trained in educational psychology and special education, she has been studying the psychology and education of the gifted since 1961 and has written over 300 articles, chapters, and books, including Counseling the Gifted and Talented, Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner, and Advanced Development: A Collection of Works on Gifted Adults. Her latest book is Giftedness 101 (New York: Springer, 2013). She has studied over 6,000 children who have been assessed at GDC, the largest data bank on this population. 

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