My child has ADHD. There. I said it. I’m not sure why that’s so hard, but damn it, it is.
To be more specific, my child is what they call “twice exceptional,” or 2e. He’s highly intelligent and has another learning challenge. That challenge could be autism, OCD, dyslexia, or a learning disability, but for my child it is ADHD.
My child’s giftedness is what made his ADHD incredibly difficult to see – and acknowledge.
Confusing 2e Signs – and Denial
The apparent signs of giftedness actually overlap in many places with the symptoms of ADHD. Complicating matters further is the fact that stereotypical symptoms of ADHD — like difficulty focusing, impulsivity, and fidgeting — don’t exactly apply to my child. He focuses hard on enjoyable things and doesn’t care for things that are boring. He occasionally loses patience with mundane daily activities. He sometimes wiggles to get comfortable or sits upside down on chairs. He sometimes appears not to be paying attention when spoken to, but he can repeat back, verbatim, what I’ve just said. He often feels strong emotions, and he sometimes has things he NEEDS to get off his chest before a conversation ends.
[Free Download: What Learning Disabilities Look Like In the Classroom]
But all these behaviors feel typical for a 7-year-old – or at least that’s what I told myself as his teachers hinted at something more. I followed a winding road of denial where my inner dialogue looked something like this:
- My child is gifted and BORED. Give him some challenging and interesting material, and he’ll excel.
- ADHD is just for hyper kids or kids who can’t focus. That’s not my kid.
- My child is soooo good at everything, so he can’t possibly be bad at ___.
- ADHD is usually genetic. My husband and I have not been diagnosed. We made it through school, each with our own challenges, but nothing like ADHD.
- There’s so much stigma around ADHD. Kids with it are supposed to be troublesome, disruptive, and give problems to teachers – and I don’t want my son to experience that. Even if he does have ADHD, we can work through his difficulties at home, so he isn’t automatically seen as “a problem” in school.
Confirmation – and a Cry for Help
After enough hints from teachers — some subtle and some less so — we decided to have our child evaluated to put an end to the conversation.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pretty sure my son was highly intelligent, and nothing more. But half correct is still correct, right?
So I say today after the evaluation that my son is gifted, and he has ADHD. He also has sprinklings of anxiety, perfectionism, and traits that could evolve into OCD. Our child is the rainbow glitter of all his parents’ mental health proclivities. You’re welcome for that magical DNA, kiddo.
[Read: Unlocking the Potential of Gifted Kids with ADHD]
On the flip side, now that we know more about our child, we have a tentative path forward. There are books and publications to read, experts to listen to, and podcasts that might help.
Though I am reading and listening to all the things, I realize that there’s a dearth of resources and help out there for 2e children. Everywhere I look, I find only partial answers. It’s often the same two or three recommendations buried in a less prominent section of an obscure article or publication. It is incredibly frustrating.
Branching out doesn’t seem to help much. Does your child have strong feelings? Well, here’s 800 other books to read about how to help your child. But wait, those will be about reward systems and consequences and setting boundaries that won’t work for your child’s brain.
Does your child have difficulty transitioning to less interesting tasks? Well, here’s one tip to try. One that you’ve likely tried already. If it doesn’t work, that’s all we’ve got. See previous 800 book recommendations (that didn’t apply to your child) to manage emotions through these transitions.
Let’s dive deeper into 2e-specific topics. But wait. Did you mean gifted and dyslexic, or gifted and autistic? Maybe you meant gifted and dyslexic and ADHD? No? Just gifted and ADHD? Well, they’re all the same. We bucket them together and talk about them together. You can weed through all the gifted material and all the ADHD material to find the things that are relevant to you.
I get it. I really do. The ADHD population is large. The intellectually gifted population is sort of large. The 2e portion is smaller. And the percent of people who are specifically gifted with just ADHD? Even smaller.
Why focus on such a small population? Who needs those specifics? Well, experts and researchers, for one. And there’s me. Right now. And years from now when my kid goes through middle school, high school, and college. And even way into the future when my kids are possibly having their own. I need it. As it stands, I’ll keep searching. I’ll read 800 more books. I’ll listen to the podcasts. I’ll keep digging for any tidbit that might help me help my child.
2e Kids: Next Steps
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Updated on June 24, 2021