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Leslie S. Graves is an occasional lecturer of post-graduate courses at UCD in Dublin, Ireland. She sits on the Executive Council of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children and is an
international advocate for the Gifted and 2E. First and foremost, she is an MHAC (Mother of Highly Able Children), who maintains an informative and hopefully useful blog: at
http://innreach.wordpress.com/, where you may read a little more about her background. Leslie is a talented artist, finding a special affinity with horses.
A Parent Perspective on Raising a Twice-Exceptional Learner by Leslie S. Graves
When I agreed to write this article on parenting and 2Eness (twice-exceptional learners), I had to take some time to reflect, as it was hard to think of where to begin or which aspect to address; there were/are so many. And then
again, let’s be frank, (and, I have never been accused of being Fred), these kids, these wonderfully 2E
kids, are all so wonderfully different from each other, each so unique, I wondered if my experiences
would be of any significance. However, I then realized who would be reading this, and knew I was in
I have been blessed with a child (who is now all grown up), who has learned to make the most of his wonderful 2Eness. Sean (not his real name) was born with an ‘accelerated’ mind. It seemed to race so much faster and in so many directions that it took a lot of energy to keep up with him. This, by many parents’ standards, would be considered a good thing. However, along with this good thing, came
many other ‘things’, the most noteworthy of which seemed to be a need for an equally accelerated body. “I think as I move,” in his own words.
This curious combination met with some interesting scenarios throughout the years as many
educators in mainstream schools attempted to ‘fix’ or address that aspect. Stretched health services,
professionals, and the general public/extended family offered many suggested solutions to whatever
flavor of the month label their perception took a fancy to. Some were helpful, and some were just
downright hurtful. At one point, he was ousted/banned from the school chess club because he
would/could not sit still. He subsequently went on to win the overall school chess championship in the
following year, when a new chess coach allowed for a move and sit cushion to be brought in.
Sensory Modulation is an interesting ‘thing’, effecting different children in unusual ways. It
can make it difficult to understand how much force you are using when you take something out of
another’s hand, giving the impression of aggression. It can make you appear clumsy and unbalanced if
you are having to slow down and plan your movements, or try to stay still. The mental effort required
to will your body to stay under control drains any possibility of concentrating on anything else around
you, and significantly effects and impedes not only your performance, but mood and frustration levels
too. Such was/is Sean’s world, and mine, too, as his parent.
So, how did we survive in a world that did not expect his survival? How did we, Sean and I,
navigate through this piece of the many pieces of his world in order to arrive at a destination of
contentment? Well, we believed in possibilities and adaptations. We bought a large trampoline. We
used move and sit cushions. We kept pockets full of those gummy, stretchy artist’s erasers in our
pockets, stress balls on hand, and we hopped and twirled and played piano. But mostly we ran against
the wind of popular opinion. And the result? Sean is a student in an Ivy League College, heavily
involved on Debating teams where he can exercise both his quick mind and strut about while giving
forth opinions on the world around him. Keep your faith in your 2E kids. Somewhere, something
went right for Sean, and in the end, I hope it does for your kids too.