I came across the following list on Wikipedia describing common traits of Twice Exceptional children:
Difficulty with written expression
Ability to understand complex ideas
Wide area of interest
Stubborn and opinionated
Specific areas of strength
Inconsistent academic performance
Highly developed sense of humor
Curious and inquisitive
It blew me away - I shared it with his dad without telling him where and what it was about and he said it was the most accurate description yet of our son. In our case I would add that an inability to take responsibility for any mistakes ie he blames other people (usually mum) for everything from a spilt drink to a word he can't read, to a seat belt that won't click.
My question to anyone out there is what next? As he reads no worse than the average kid, seems to be okay on maths (although much better at home) there are no red flags at school he is just an average performer with a large vocab. However all the blaming, the sensitivity, the frustration and the bossiness make me really not like spending time with him. By the way he does seem to manage these traits at school - he also has friends which is great. I should add that unlike many gifted children who can occupy themselves for hours he is infact very needy so likes people around him.
Just wondered if anyone has any thoughts about the characteristics above in relation to their own children. My son is only 5 but I am aware that we are in the honeymoon stage at school where expectations are low and I want to give him a boost before things like his writing slow him down. I also need to improve our relationship. Any advice would be welcome.
For us the first port of call was our doctor who then referred us to a paediatrician. From there we were referred to people who could help us with the issues our son had / has. I can relate to you not wanting to spend time with your son, it is a really awful feeling. My son also shows frustration and sensitivity, and can get aggressive, in certain situations that made him feel anxious (when things were too noisy or too busy or too 'different' etc). Understanding why he behaved the way he did (and what his triggers were) has helped us and him immensly.
Hi there, our son suffered similar issues. By yr 3 was refusing to do any work at school, sat there all day without achieving anything except being sent daily to the principal for bad behaviour. Really lowered his self esteem. Dilemma but we decided to pull him out of his school, which was great and even offered a gifted programme. We put him in a different school with less pupils and he is so happy and achieving. I now wonder if he really was/is twice exceptional and just performed to the psychologist? He does not appear so now? I think he only works if he decides he wants to and not because he struggles with being twice exceptional.
Regading handwriting, some gifted children do struggle with this as their brain is going so quickly it cannot keep up with the hand so they give up. I think it is really how the teacher can deliver the curriculum in a way that motivates them. This can be really hard for the teacher if they have a large demanding class.
I feel like I have my child back now. Some days I felt so angry at him for being naughty yet again that i could barely talk to him. I worried so much as i felt by the time he was a teenager he would be a drop out. I was thinking of home schooling him. I worried constantly and felt very stressed by it all. Now he is a loving, polite well behaved child, who is still full of energy and life but he is not longer angry and cries at night time. He just could not cope with the way he was being taught. If your child is twice exceptional and is not doing well at school. It may be worth looking at different types of schooling to find a way that will suit their way of thinking. They can fulfill the potential they were born with. Just because a child is gifted it does not always mean they will do super well academically, they may have huge potential in other areas that the school system is not geared to fulfil especially now national standards are expected.
Jessica, I have a gifted nephew who's schooling reached a crisis at year three with a similar refusal to work, daily trips to the principal etc - in your case did you see signs leading up to this or did he just shut down one day? What is there about the demands of schooling at this age (more writing, more timed tests) that doesn't suit some children?
My nephew is now settled in a new school too and doing better but between then and now it was a difficult road. I guess I am trying to be proactive with any support for my son. His areas of strength are in creative work with loads of ideas, excellent conceptualising, good understanding for his age (quite philosophical) - not things typically measured in school I guess because they are not expected at an early age. However, my son barely draws, he instead acts out his ideas with figures, sticks, stones, grass clippings, anything really - so there isn't anything concrete at the end of it which is fine but it means there is no proof to anyone else i.e. the teacher of his thought processes at home. We did consider that he may be strongly a visual spatial learner which will give us a clue to how to support him as his school teaches a strongly phonetic approach to reading and a very strategy-based approach for maths that I think we will have to augment.
However as he doesn't quite fit the VS profile ie he is not obsessed with puzzles (actively avoids) or even construction which anecdotally I believe a lot of VS children are really keen on. It makes me think something is up but I just can't put my finger on what and unfortunately I doubt we will get any traction through our local doctor. We tried self-referral at around 2-3 for problems with extreme fears and sensitivities but no luck he wasn't considered a desparate case and to be fair he isn't screamingly bad anymore but it does seem no one looks closely until ithings become a problem e.g. they stop working at school.
Anyway excuse the rambling thoughts once I get on to the topic of my son I just go round in circles...
My child also fit the list you describe, and was achieving at an "average" level at school, but also showing some anxiety, frustration as school went on... we ended up getting an assessment, to give us a clearer idea if what we were thinking was on the right track-and he did come out gifted, but he had a wide range of scores so maybe twice exceptional. School has been okay but not that great for him. my next option is to try One Day School.
My son also fit the VS profile in some respects but was also not into puzzles, lego or anything, more creative.
From what I have read the most important thing for these children is to try and extend for their strengths so that they retain their confidence and love of learning etc. I don't think I would try a doctor-maybe an ed psych would be better?They would be much more experienced with these issues.
Recommend contact the Ministry of ED to see if you can access the free 'Incredible Years' course for parents. It is fantastic (from personal experience) in helping to address some of these behaviours. Well worth doing.
Hi frustrated mum! think we can all relate to that at times, i am in a pleasant place at the mo after 3 hard years, so enjoying the down time from constant worry!
I had problems with my son from year one, it was identified that correctional behaviour tactics what worked for other kids at school just had not impact at all on our son. ie thinking spot etc He just did not get it. He really was not interested in learning. By year 3 he shut down completley some days, I felt stressed going into school most days wondering what he had got or not got up to. I walked into class one day and a relief teacher was telling the whole class how lazy he was as every one had done work apart from him. Looking back I should of dealt with it then and there. Instead i stood there feeling very embarressed and felt like i wanted to apologise to the old bag. He hated having releif teachers who just did not get him. It got to the point where i though if a relief teacher was in i would bring him back home with me as he would just gewt his self esteem knocked even further. I will say that his usual teachers throughout the 3 years at this school were very supportive and tried very hard with him but he did not fit the system. I wonder if it just became more noticable in year 3 when higher expectations are placed on the kids.
My son is visual spatial, but does not lilke puzzles, however he adores construction. He also likes to make things from grass, twigs and crazy stuff that he finds.
I think it is good to be proactive, as a parent you will usually be right in your assumptions of your child. I was very aware of what my child needed and was not getting. One day school is fab, however I think it made our child more aware of how it could be and was not. He would of liked every day to be like this. I really do feel that the schooling system does not cater very well for gifted kids. My child really did want to learn and used to get so angry and frustrated that he did not get it.
He is now at a academic school where they go on to take cambridge exams, he is doing really well, and says every day he has had a ten out of ten day. He is polite and well behaved. I really think it is worth exploring what is right for your child.
Good luck you will hopefully get there in the end, it is so worth exploring all the options. Your child will know how much you love them and are on their side.
Hi, I'm feeling for you with your anxiety - My older son is also twice exceptional and fits the profile you give well. I realise now that for years I've worried about my sons in every moment I wasn't actually worrying about anything else. :) The good news for me is that I'm now coming out of all that worry. For me the change has been homeschooling (after 5 years at a wonderful state school) - the stress is dropping off the whole family every day. However, that doesn't mean this is your only option.
Changing schools might work, but it is drastic, especially as you can have wonderful teachers and awful teachers anywhere.
I think the answer for your family probably lies in your statement, "I also need to improve our relationship". Me too. And that's really hard when you're constantly worrying about your children. The book "Unconditional Parenting" is a must-read. It's very subversive, questions everything about our parenting culture, and for me, I found it set me free. We won't enjoy our stubborn alpha male boys while every interaction we have with our boys is clouded by trying to improve them. Not that I"m saying you do that - but I certainly did!
Anyway, for what it's worth, here's my advice:
We take school too seriously. Laugh about it. (I'm not saying to be disrespectful. I think we can be light-hearted and respectful.) School's probably better than it's ever been, on average, but the current focus on constant assessment does nothing for a life-long love of learning.
Take him out regularly for Mum-and-son time. As he's only 5, you may legally do this as much as you like - start with a day or half a day a week. And try to do something free and fun that's just about being together.
Teach your son to type and to use a dictaphone, and try to keep these skills totally in the "fun" category. Scribe for him. Find friends to tell stories with, or get him playing some story-telling games. Then he can struggle with handwriting at school all he wants while composing amazing stories at home.
The playdates are more important than the schooling at this age, IMHO, so if he's had too much time with other children at school for playdates, cut down on the school, not the playdates. (I wish I'd done this!)
Find one thing the two of you both like to do, and then prioritise it in your life as extremely important. Because it's an interest of your own, it may have been way down on the priority scale before. But improving your relationship is probably top priority, so now so is your hobby! :)
Author: A little less Frustrated
Date: 05-02-11 12:17
I thought I would update any interested parties on where we are up to with our son. After 8 weeks of school holidays - he was sick the last week of term so extra loooong - I am very glad that school is starting up again and so is he. In the interim I have read 'Unconditional Parenting' as recommended by Heidi above and I can strongly recommend it to anyone who feels uncomfortable about the usual strategies that are meant to work in guiding children through life. Ha! It really does set you free. For those who have children who don't seem to respond to praise, infact actively seem annoyed by it if they are struggling with something and respond in no permanent behaviour-changing way to discipline measures either then this is the book for you. I have always felt lousy at all the things I was meant to do as a parent to change unwelcome and encourage desirable behaviour and now I know why.
Our clever kids are our best allies in rationalising and finding creative ways to solve their own problems. I am practising a more accepting approach and daily we get better at working together. A work in progress...
We have also has results from a Behavioural Optometry test and have started vision therapy. My son's eyes to not work well together despite the fact they 'see' perfectly well individually and he also has a poor internal map of his own body ie where it is in space when he isn't actually looking at it. He relies more on touch and verbal/aural expression to process the world i.e. he is fidgity and constantly talking. I have hopes that vision therapy will help him not just with school work but will help him feel a bit more confident literally in his own body so cut down the need to process everything aloud.
So onwards we go a little strengthened of heart into the new year...
So glad you're a little less frustrated! May the improvements continue. And I'm very glad you read Unconditional Parenting and that it was good for you. Yay.
What you say about your son's internal map of his own body is really interesting. Does this mean that physical activities like trampolining would help? I can imagine Feldenkrais could be helpful - it is all about the interplay between the brain's intelligence and the body's intelligence. Five may seem young to do something like that, but my oldest was enjoying doing Feldenkrais with me even as a preschooler. I'm willing to lend you one of my CD's if you think it could be good. Or there used to be a Feldenkrais library you can join.
My son has been assessed by an ed psychologist. He is a gifted visual spacial learner and still managing to achieve within the average range at cshool. I tried to get the school to agree to assessing him for a gifted program but they have refused. The only one day school where I live requires the school to be on board. He is at a small school, which is good for him as he has always been anxious arounf large groups of kids.
However because the school is so resistant to recognising his uniqueness and does not respect my opinion or input. We are considering moving him. What rights does a parent have in regards to getting help for a twice exceptional child and what is the schools obligation? it seems that it is all left up to the good will of the teachers and board of trustees who can elect to remain ignorant of these children's needs and continue to do nothing. The ministry seems to just leave it up to the board.
Oh, do I feel and understand your frustration! What I have experienced so far, is that unless your child is extreme, you are not entitled to much. So if your child is achieving "normally", you probably won't get much help - even though you know full well they could be achieving so much more. The funding is so low for special needs (which includes the gifted needs), it understandably tends to get spent on helping those under-achieving. Having said all that, I'm fairly sure you can self-refer to the Ministry of Eduction, Special Education (I know you can with pre-schoolers anyway). Unfortunately, as your son isn't "causing trouble" or not succeeding, I expect he would be low on their priority list too.