Twice-exceptionality is a dubious distinction that runs through at least four generations of my family. I promise you it sounds cooler than it is.
A person who is both measurably gifted AND who has one (or more) physical, emotional, sensory, behavioral or learning disabilities is “2E” – exceptional in two different areas. It’s rather like encompassing both ends of the spectrum simultaneously.
It’s awesome to be one of roughly 2 – 5% of the population who experiences life through the highly capable zone. Not so much to be within the 7 – 10% of the population with clinical disabilities.
Overlap these two sets of numbers and you will find we are talking about a tiny percentage of the population (perhaps less than one percent) with set of challenges that has only recently been recognized.
Welcome to my world.
“You’re gifted, right? So what’s the problem?”
“If you’re so smart, how can you be so stupid?”
Just thinking these phrases makes my throat tighten and the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
There is a profound lack of awareness about twice-exceptionals because of a unique phenomenon in which one of 3 things typically happens:
- A person is formally identified as gifted but not as having an identified disability, so their giftedness masks their disability.
- A person is formally identified as having a disability but not as being gifted, so their disability masks their giftedness.
- A person is NOT formally identified as gifted OR disabled, because the components of each mask one another, rendering neither recognizable.
And what’s wrong with that? After all, if you’re a 2E, chances are good you’ll meet common core standards at school (don’t get me started, that’s for another day), and that you’ll be able to hold a decent job as an adult. By society’s standards, you’ll pass, right?
If you are 2E, passing isn’t good enough!
Passing as “normal” ensures you may NEVER reach your potential.
Passing creates a perfect storm for self-esteem problems and under-utilization of your talents.
It virtually ensures a life of frustration in which you will be hard-pressed to actualize the gifts you were born with, and dramatically increases the odds that you won’t receive needed support for thriving while making the best of your disabilities.
Those of us who are 2E are not, and never will be, “normal.”
And that’s OK.
Normal is not the goal.
The goal is to be able to show up in empowering ways that allow us to live with passion, creativity and fulfillment while enriching the world at large.
In order to do this, some alchemy is required. We must have ways to identify our individual situations, recognizing our gifts AND disabilities. We must also be supported in understanding our own patterns of strengths and weaknesses so we can make the best of both.
This is my calling. To facilitate awareness of and solutions for living as a twice exceptional. I am deep-diving to bring forth the best resources I can find to help twice-exceptionals and the people who love us.
Thank you for joining me. I would LOVE to hear your stories of living as or loving a twice-exceptional!