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Gifted & 2e Perspectives on Parenting a Gifted Child

The Key Was Understanding Twice-Exceptional (2e) – Sallie’s Story

The Key Was Understanding Twice-Exceptional (2e) - Sallie’s Story 2

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How old is your gifted child? When did you realize your child was gifted?

My gifted child is almost nine years old. I began the process of realizing she was gifted when another gifted blogger invited me to join the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s Blogger Group. I think Caroline was seven at the time.

Was there a certain lightbulb moment or event?

The lightbulb moment was when I understood twice-exceptionality (2e). We knew Caroline was very bright. But because of her struggle with handwriting and her resistance to any kind of instruction/formal learning structure, it never occurred to me that she was gifted.

My gifted overexcitability is intellectual. Because of that, I thrived in a traditional school setting and avoided most of the negative experiences that can come with being gifted. Caroline’s overexcitability is imaginative. I didn’t fully understand how all of her unique quirks and abilities fit together until I read a description of 2e. That was what truly cemented it for me. It wasn’t even someone else pointing out that she is gifted. I still felt like a bit of a fraud calling my child gifted when I joined the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blogger Group because Caroline wasn’t gifted in the way I thought it should look. But when I read Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted Students and saw the list of 2e characteristics, any lingering doubts I had completely disappeared. It ALL made sense at that point.

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

We saw the signs, but didn’t think of them as giftedness. We saw them as indications that she was bright and had involved parents. But there were indications very early on.

We have video from the hospital a day or two after she was born. I had brought along a CD player and some quiet harp music. In one of the videos, Caroline twists her head around to look for the source of the music. Don’t all babies that are 36-48 hours old do that? LOL!

We also remember vividly when we took her to the pediatrician for her three month appointment. She had a long conversation with the pediatrician. Locked in eye contact, lots of talking to him, etc. She had a lot to say! We were all cracking up and he pointed out from early on her intensity, spiritedness and brightness. Aren’t all babies doing that?

The last one was her ability to do puzzles from an early age. Way beyond what was normal. She’s a little over two in the picture here where she’s doing the Goodnight Moon puzzle. If I remember correctly, she would whip that together in well under a minute.

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

I was never in denial. Just simply not fully informed. Gifted I think I would have recognized. If she had been playing the piano at age three or reading at age two, I would have immediately known she was gifted. But because of the form her giftedness took, it honestly never occurred to me. It seems dumb now to have missed it, but there it is.

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

I would have completely unschooled her until at least third grade. Trying to do a regular homeschool set us up for a lot of unnecessary stress and frustration.

Knowing what I know now, I would also have gotten her into OT sooner for the handwriting issues.

What do you enjoy most about your gifted child?

She is funny! She has an amazingly good wit and is quick with the verbal puns and playing off what other people say.

This is one thing I wish I had understood sooner. Her humor is one of the ways she ministers to other people. She wants to diffuse stressful situations with humor. She wants to help people who are down or discouraged with humor. I saw it as her acting out and annoying me. I wish I had realized sooner what an incredible gift it is to have a child who can make people laugh.

What is most challenging about parenting a gifted child?

Trying to figure it all out on my own. Because we homeschool, it all falls on me/us. We don’t have the financial resources to hire professionals or spend lots of money on enrichment.

Having a child who is gifted in the creative and imaginative areas is challenging too. How much do you push academics and how much do you say just do the minimum because this really isn’t where your abilities and future lie? I struggle with that a lot. I want her to have feel obligated to give her the full college prep academic experience that I had. But my husband, who is a graphic designer, took a very different route because of his artistic abilities. I see Caroline as being much more like David than me. I worry that I’m failing her academically if I don’t “push” her academically.

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

Thank God for the internet! Seriously. I cannot imagine doing this without the information instantly available as well as the people I’ve met online. Find helpful people online. It will make all the difference in the world to find people who understand your situation and your child. I don’t know anyone in real life who is experiencing this. My support network is all online.

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

In retrospect, much of my website is really about that journey. I have a Gifted Children category on my site that has some posts. I also have a number of series related to giftedness in the Parenting pull down menu in my header.  Lastly, I have a Resources for Parenting 2e Children page that parents will find helpful.

The Key Was Understanding Twice-Exceptional (2e) - Sallie’s Story


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  • Wow! I really identified with everything here. It’s the exact same way I didn’t understand and did finally understand my own child. If only…is a phrase that’s always in the back of my mind, but at least we have some time left. I feel heartbroken for the families who still don’t know and they children who grow up to be adults that still feel the disconnect.

  • Sallie,

    I have often visited your site over the past year. At first I wasn’t sure what kept drawing me back, but each time I came, it felt like looking through a window at myself and my daughter. I have felt understood in a way I haven’t anywhere else. My daughter is a few years younger than Caroline (she’ll be 7 in June), but they sound so similar. I have had struggles much like yours in parenting & homeschooling her, and also see much of myself in you. The similarities are really quite astounding. I won’t mention them all, but I recently determined that my daughter is 2e: gifted with dysgraphia like Caroline. I am so encouraged by your story. Thank you for inviting us in and sharing your experience!

    • Hi SarahBeth,

      Thank you so much for leaving this comment! I’m glad that the stories I’ve shared have resonated with you. I’m especially glad you feel understood because I know how difficult it is to find people who “get it” when your child and life are so different from the norm. 🙂


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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