The numbers are staggering.  1 in 10 children are diagnosed with ADHD -Attention Deficit disorder.   1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism, two-thirds of those being mostly high functioning, many with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

These are the children who so often fall through the cracks.  The children who, because of being misunderstood and unidentified, are given educations far below their capabilities.  The children who are steered away from their true potential due to their differences, which are allowed to overshadow their areas of strength.  These are the children who spend their lives trying to unravel the social cues and over-excitabilities that often leave them isolated and lost. These are the children that are often referred to as “Gifted” or “Twice Exceptional,” though both terms are often misused or misunderstood.  A child that is referred to as “Gifted” or “2E” has both unique gifts in specific areas as well as  deficits which lead to a diagnosis, most often ADHD or Autism.

These are YOUR children.

Parents must navigate the muddy waters of misdiagnosis and mislabeling of these bright children without direction–a journey that too often ends in frustration and uncertainty. I think parents are a diagnostician’s greatest asset:  we are the medical historians; we are the holders of the keys that can unlock our children’s potential. Despite their best intentions, the psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, occupational and speech language therapists, can be limited due to diagnostic criteria that do not take our children’s enormous strengths into consideration when deciding on treatment and educational options.

1 in 10 ……  1 in 68 ……

Is it time for parents to take that leap?  Are our children’s greatest assets, their parents, ready to implement the true meaning of advocacy and pave the way for our brightest minds? What would you like to see changed in the way your children and teens are identified, diagnosed and directed towards educational and therapeutic options? Our children are bright not broken:  They are special not only in their needs, but also in their brilliance.

Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.


15 Responses to How can parents better navigate options for Gifted and Twice Exceptional Children?

  1. The importance of a parent advocate can never be underestimated. Thank you for empowering parents everywhere. At the School Law Center, we are always impressed with the strength, resourcefulness, and knowledge of parents in advocating for their child.

    • Rebecca and Diane, Bright Not Broken

      We agree wholeheartedly! In fact, Dr. Lorna Wing, the British researcher who established the autism spectrum, said that it is “the steely determination of parents” that compels any significant changes for our children.

  2. Pingback: How can parents better navigate options for Gifted and Twice Exceptional Children? | For Special Needs Children

  3. We desperately need more teacher development / training in neuro developmental disorders and not just for special ed teachers but for all teachers . If you add up the % of kids with SPD, ASD, ODD, ADHD, FASD then 15% of each general ed class room has kids that are not neuro typical, many diagnosed.

    Schools also need to do a better job at recognizing and really accommodating neuro cognitive diversity. My son has FASD. He needs a few simple things; a slower instruction pace with more repetition, frequent movement breaks, smaller teacher / student ratios and a low clutter / stimuli room. The policy makers in this country have loaded down schools with so much testing and bureaucracy and provide so little funding that even teachers and schools that want to make a change are not able to.

    • Rebecca and Diane, Bright Not Broken

      Great comment! On April 30, we have an upcoming show in our Whole Child Series entitled “RtI,” which focuses upon how recent changes in education impact the identification and services twice-exceptional children receive in the classroom. Our guest, Bobbie Gilman, speaks specifically to your concern about teachers being woefully underprepared to recognize and accommodate neurodiversity in the classroom, even as they required to be the frontline screeners for interventions and enrichment.

  4. This is my life! Because of a lack of understanding, communication, compassion and professionalism, we pulled our 2e son out of school and currently homeschooling. I have many people emailing and commenting on my blog about similar stories. Even “good” schools and teachers are not trained and educated about meeting these kids, kids like mine, social and academic needs!

    • Rebecca and Diane, Bright Not Broken

      Unfortunately, Kelly, your experience resonates with too many parents. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength, and hope through your blogs! We love your work!

  5. Robert

    I feel like this is me at 27 years old. I have always been told I seem really smart and made mostly A’s in high school and would score very high on IQ tests but was very awkward socially and was picked on way too much for my own comfort. I went to college and ended up dropping out because of a gaming addiction. But even before that happened as I was really challenged academically for the first time in my life I found it very difficult to learn in some of the more advanced math and science classes. I have a good, stable job but feel I could be capable of much more. I have never been clinically diagnosed with anything but are there any programs or support for a functioning independent adult?

    • Yes, Robert, there is support for you. I suggest that you contact social service agencies in your area to find out if there are any support groups in your area that might address your concerns.

      You mentioned that you have never been ‘clinically diagnosed”, so, may I assume that you have talked with a counselor?

      Regarding your social deficits, list them out. They may be poor communication skills (what about checking out a local Toastmaster’s club); or, maybe you struggle with anger issues (look for a support group on that); or, maybe you feel awkward in large settings (perhaps look at a support group on improving self esteem); etc.

      By being as specific as you can, you are then able to identify more clearly what you want to address.

      I have some empowerment worksheets at my site, that may be helpful for you.

      • Rebecca and Diane, Bright Not Broken

        Robert, may we also suggest that you explore this website: There are wonderful articles that describe the experience of being gifted (with and without learning challenges), along with numerous resources and links. We also highly recommend the SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) website, especially for information on social challenges, emotional tendencies, and resources for gifted/twice-exceptional individuals.

  6. There are many challenges!!
    Educators don’t understand 2e kids…they see the behavior and challenges and can’t see the gifts.
    They don’t have a new, full sense of what highly gifted means.
    Families don’t understand and struggle to accept the quirks and idiosyncrasies
    Education about these kids, my kid, isn’t happening!!

    • Rebecca and Diane, Bright Not Broken

      We agree that the majority of educators–and most schools– don’t understand the unique combination of abilities and challenges in the gifted population, especially in those who are profoundly gifted. Dr. Linda Silverman said it best during one of our recent programs: instead of saying “gifted… or,” we would be more accurate to say “gifted…and” in order to more fully capture the asynchronous experience of most gifted individuals.

  7. Mohan Krishnan

    I don’t think diagnostic criteria or therapists are really the enemy or the problem. I do think we need to rethink how we educate all children, including both the space for truly specialized care, like the medically necessary behavioral therapies we provide, which change life for children with autism and their family, to how we educate routinely.

    In our clinic with our autism preschoolers, we are extremely rigorous with our behavioral skill building tools, but we bake tons of physical play and laughter into our day. Just like universal accommodations turned out to help all kids, even though most were designed for ADHD, we need a more flexible system that has a base in how kids brains and bodies develop, and layers on that specialization for kids with special needs, both in the sense of giftedness and learning-challenged. To me, these kinds of changes are what help us do more for all kids, instead of bickering about diagnostic criteria based on artificial fears of how these disorders are diagnosed.

  8. Rebecca and Diane, Bright Not Broken

    Definitely experience has shown that the methods educators use to accommodate special needs–be it autism, giftedness, or learning disability–benefit the general student population as well. Best practices are best practices, regardless of ability or challenge. Unfortunately, our current educational system lacks the flexibility to meet the widely varied needs of a neuro-diverse population.

  9. I’m a mom of a gifted child, and I’m afraid to put him in the public schools. I don’t want to be one of “those TAG moms” who is always pushing for more for her kid–when it seems that other kids need much more than he does. But the truth is, our schools don’t meet the needs of any kids who are different from the norm. As I writer, I try to help others better understand how to help exceptional kids–whether they’re bright, autistic or have other special needs. In answer to your question, “How can parents better navigate options…?” They need to thoroughly check out the school options available for their children. They should not tolerate programs that discriminate. They need to be their kids’ advocates. They need to share their stories publicly to help educate others. They need to find ways to educate teachers without alienating them. This is a big job!

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