Gifted & 2e Perspectives on Parenting a Gifted Child

Highly Verbal But Not Reading In a Twice-Exceptional Child

Highly Verbal But Not Reading in a Twice Exceptional Child - Mary's Story on

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How old is your gifted child?

My oldest is 5, and he’s twice exceptional.  My younger two are age 3 and 2, and are likely twice exceptional too, but in different ways.

When did you realize your child was gifted?

We didn’t realize that our oldest was gifted until we started trying to get him ready for kindergarten.  Both my husband and I are gifted, so we thought it was just normal for kids to be so interested in everything, be able to build complex creations out of practically anything, or to ask the most persistent annoying questions possible.  It wasn’t until our doctor labeled him with a few different diagnoses that I stumbled on articles linking his behaviors to overexcitabilities.

Was there a certain lightbulb moment or event?

I think the first time a “might be something odd” moment occurred was around 2: we were driving down the road to his mommy and me class.  He asked a series of questions about the road surface, what was under the road, and so on.  We went level by level all the way down to the molten core of the earth.  He had to know every detail about everything!  We all know that kids have a “why?” phase – he never grew out of it.

Looking back, did you miss signs of giftedness? Which ones stand out the most now?

We missed practically everything: from the highly alert infant to the accelerated development.  He was our first child so we had no benchmark for average.

I think the most obvious was his speech.  He went from almost non-verbal before 2 to highly verbal after 2.  At 2 and a few months he had a really bad experience and clearly articulated what was going on to us: when we discussed it with other parents and professionals, they simply didn’t believe that he was capable of that kind of detail and conversation.  He was 2.  Not possible, right?

Were you ever in denial about your child’s giftedness? Or was giftedness simply not on your radar?

We assumed he would be smart.  Gifted was something you saw on shows about savants capable of calculating the infinitude of space at age 2.  So the term gifted was never on our radar.  In fact, I had never heard of the term twice exceptional.  After we figured out that he was twice exceptional, it was really hard for me to actually say “he’s gifted” to people because he just didn’t fit the stereotype.  He can’t read.  That’s the first thing people think of, and he can’t do it yet.

If you had a do-over, what is one thing you would change regarding how you parented your gifted child?

The things I would change are linked more to his exceptionalities than his giftedness.  I wish that I had known to look for anxiety, and figured out earlier that a lot of his defiance was based out of anxieties.  Obviously we’ve changed how we parent around anxiety now, but you always wonder if you made things worse.

What do you enjoy most about your gifted child?

He’s so curious.  I can have an adult-like conversation with a 5-year-old and not talk down to him.  I hate it when people talk down to children, but for gifted children it’s like a slap in the face.  I’ll never forget the time I told him jellyfish were phosphorescent and asked if he knew what that meant.  His nonchalant reply of “they kind of glow” shocked me to the core, because I didn’t truly expect him to know that.

What is most challenging about parenting a gifted child?

For us, it’s trying to convince him that we parents truly know better than he does when it comes to safety issues.  He’s convinced that his opinion is equal to an adult’s, and that’s extremely difficult to parent around.  Our specific kryptonite is defiance – it’s highly amusing to watch him interact with people who have no idea what to do when a 5-year-old refuses to obey and then engages them with logical reasons on why he doesn’t want to.   We’ve learned to deal with it, but other authority figures wouldn’t tolerate it at all.

What is one thing you would tell parents who have a newly identified gifted child?

Read about asynchronous development and overexcitabilities.  It will change your understanding of gifted completely.

Is there a specific blog post that you would like to point people to that will show them more about your gifted child’s journey?

I wrote a post about what twice exceptional means to explain why my son isn’t your typical gifted child. It’s a helpful way to visualize both sides of the bell curve at the same time.

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  • This post and the one linked on the author’s blog really hit home for me.  My 7 year old son is clearly verbally gifted but has issues that make me suspect dyslexia and ADHD.  How on earth do you teach a whole-to-parts learning, extremely active, thinks he knows everything type of boy to learn to read, especially when the recommendation for dyslexia is a parts-to-whole systematic phonics approach?  If he is an obvious 2e, is testing necessary or helpful?  Would love some direction on these points.  I am slowly realizing that I am not a horrible parent–my son is just wired differently than anyone else I have ever met!


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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