With 2E kids, should we treat the gift or the deficit or both?

Children who are twice exceptional (2E) by definition have areas of great strength (gifts) and areas of great weakness (deficits).  The traditional model, inasmuch as there was one at all, was to treat only the deficits, figuring that the gifts would take care of themselves. This ignored the fact that the gifts often made the kid feel good while the deficits did the opposite.  Some people swung to the opposite extreme, dealing exclusively with the gift and more-or-less ignoring the deficit.  But some deficits really do impede functioning.

What to do?

As with so much else in the field of special education, one size does not fit all. In fact, I sometimes say that one size does not fit anyone!

We have to look at the specific deficit for the specific child and try to figure out how it is affecting her both in her current environment and potential future environments. School is a strange place with strange customs, not all of which are ever seen again. School bells?  Recess? Sitting for hours at a time with 30 other people? Gym class?  These are not things that most adults have to cope with, so, if the deficit affects only things on that list (or the longer list we could all make) then it may be a lesser priority and may be able to be accommodated without much problem.  But tasks such as being on time or listening to someone with attention are hard to avoid in adult life. College requires them and almost every job requires them and relationships require them.

But we should always spend time on the gifts.  They are so important!  Children with gifts in a certain area not only need to work on those gifts for their own social well-being and sense of self, but because they are likely to be relevant for the adult the child will become.


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