I’ve had it. I’m sick of hearing this. ::Drags out soapbox and kicks it a bit::
There’s no such thing as “real,” “normal,” or “regular” gifted kids. There are gifted kids, and there are twice exceptional kids. If you’ve met one, you’ve met one. We’re all different.
Now and again a kerfuffle will occur in a gifted group when someone comments that their child is a “normal” gifted child, not like those 2e weirdos over there. They’re often defensive. They may not believe that people can be gifted and have learning disabilities at the same time. They sometimes post nasty little barbs resentfully lamenting how much of the school’s gifted resources go to these twice exceptional kids instead of their child, who deserves more. In some cases, they go out of their way to prove that your child cannot possibly be gifted because your child is so different from what they’re used to.
In the last batch, the writer said that she was used to “regular” gifted kids, not kids who had “psychotic issues” like ASD, OCD, and so on. After those of us with the “psychotic” kids pushed back, the post got shut down. It was hurtful. It was annoying. It was ignorant.
This argument seems to break down into the Gifted = High Achiever fallacy. If you believe that all gifted kids are high achieving, well-mannered, malleable, composed, and complacent children, then a 2e child like mine must turn your world upside down. There’s no way a kid could be like that and still be gifted, right? Yes, they can. Just like they can be high achievers, or “lazy,” or high energy, or a daydreamer – or any number of types of gifted that your child might be.
The problem with labeling someone as “normal,” “real,” or “regular” is that by exclusion, you are labeling everyone else abnormal, false, or outcast. I have a problem with that. It’s a form of verbal bullying, and it’s particularly difficult to counter. In our little world of neurodivergent people, it’s astounding to me that we still continue to label people as “normal,” “weird,” and “more weird.” Newsflash people – if you’re gifted or your child is gifted, the average population probably already thinks you’re weird. So does it matter if we’re a little more weird than you? Not really!
I understand that gifted comes in various flavors. It’s a wild mix of people and abilities, and that’s the way it should be. No one wants perfect conformity or cookie cutter kids. We need to accept that gifted is gifted. All gifted children have different needs. All gifted children deserve to learn to their best abilities. And all gifted children deserve to be acknowledged and labeled as gifted so that they can have their needs met.
A teacher pointed out that many gifted kids are overlooked because they do not have behavioral problems. They’re quiet, hard-working, and high achieving. They try to fit in. They try to be perfect.
These kids deserve to have their needs met too, but it’s wrong to assume that the quiet, high achieving gifted children without highly visible overexcitabilities are “normal.” Because they’re not. They’re neurodivergent too. Sure, they might be one kind of leaf on a vast, huge, and varied tree of gifted, but they’re not neurotypical. Just like they’re not the “real” and “only” gifted children.
I probably would have been one of these kids if I had been in public school. My overexcitabilties are quiet, but deep. I feel deeply, I think in depth and breadth, and I imagine wildly. As a child, I tried to fit in. To wear a mask. To tone myself down because I was “overreacting,” or “weird,” or “ridiculous.” I wore that mask for a very long time. I’m still trying to overcome my perfectionist tendencies that morphed into a “don’t care” attitude. I would have been overlooked too.
My son, on the other hand, can’t stand to be overlooked. He wants to stand out, and he does. Not always in a good way. His overexcitabilities are fully out there for all to see, and a teacher would despair trying to deal with them in a classroom setting. He’s loud, he’s excited, and he’s a know-it-all. Fun combo. His giftedness often presents as misbehavior, and sometimes his disabilities present as misbehavior too. It makes it difficult to separate what’s causing the issues.
I know that a lot of the gifted community often feels left out because we 2e people are so vocal. The homeschooling community, especially, is filled with 2e families who had no choice but to homeschool. My entire blog is dedicated to that – homeschooling a twice exceptional child. If you’re raising a gifted child who doesn’t have the additional 2e challenges, then reading about it over and over can get annoying.
I’m sorry if that’s the case – and I’m sorry if you feel left out. All gifted individuals face challenges because of their neurodivergent thinking. All of us need support, assistance, and a community. I might not be able to relate to your calm, high-achieving child because that’s not my reality, but I’m there supporting you in your fight for academic advancement. I’m right behind you, trying to change the system and make it better for all of our gifted kids. I support you, even if you cannot relate to me at all.
Arguments like this only turn us against each other when we desperately need each other’s support. We’re part of a larger community, and we’re all working to help our children succeed. Let’s focus on that, instead of making it about “us” and “them.” Let’s fight for more school funding instead of tearing each other apart trying to get our piece of it. Let’s support those who chose to leave the system because it’s not working for their child, instead of labeling them “weird” or “socially irresponsible.” Let’s stand together.
Our kids need it.