Here’s the truth…Things that I expected to be fun for a child, were painful for mine. Story time at the library, going to the fair, or anything specifically designed with children in mind, ended poorly for us. When it was just us at home, he could be creative, expressive, and engaging. Throw other people or a new location into the mix and his behavior changed. This transformation was immediate and unfortunately very obvious. I found myself continually defending him. “He doesn’t act like this at home” or ” He’s really just used to us.”
Initially, we feared that we were being played. He would be so miserable when he was in the middle of an “uncomfortable” situation and then he was happy as a clam when we were back in the car or our guests had left. We worried that we were creating a monster if we did not force him to buck up! So we tried a stricter approach and found that didn’t work either. In fact, we actually had an increase in the very behavior that we were trying to extinguish. We were ALL miserable during the “Because I said so” phase. My TBP tried to explain what he was feeling but he didn’t have the words to help us understand his reality.
Once we saw Therapist #1 (see previous post) and found out he was highly gifted, we had more questions! Then we saw Dr. S (Therapist #2 also discussed in previous post) and she helped us increase our parenting skills and taught him about necessary social skills. The neurologist told us what he “wasn’t” but he questioned if we would ever get a “neat and tidy” diagnosis.
While seeking answers, I found help! I read the book Bright Not Broken (see my Resource list and it’s discussed in previous posts) and things changed. I was glued to this book because those words described my son!! The description was so accurate and SO many things made sense for the first time! We finally had a name for what we experienced and we were starting to get answers!
Did it “fix” everything? Absolutely not! Many people still don’t know what it means to be “twice-exceptional.” They hear “gifted” and they question why my TBP isn’t self- motivated or able to challenge himself. They wonder if he is SO smart, why is school so hard? We find ourselves continually educating the staff at my TBP’s school about the challenges that he faces (and why he has these challenges in the first place) with recess, assemblies, and friendships. It is getting better, but there is still work to do. Another break through came when we saw Dr. C (Therapist #3 and the focus of an upcoming post). He helped us understand the importance of spending just as much time on the strengths, as we had been on the challenges. This shift in thinking completely changed our family dynamics for the better!
As we try and put people into categories, it is hard to do that with the twice-exceptional kid. Their uneven development and extremes in varying skills confuse people and challenge their understanding of giftedness. At this time, there is far more education (and appreciation) needed.
The neurologist said that our TBP has an amazing brain and will be an amazing, accomplished adult. Reassuring…right? He explained that we would need to advocate for our son and we are determined to do this and help him experience an amazing childhood as well.