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The Plight and Slight of Twice Exceptional Kids

March 24, 2014

Andrew at school board meeting <div class=

I was speaker #22 (video here) last week at our county school board meeting regarding next year’s budget. I was there to object to plans to eliminate the twice exceptional (2e) program. The program was a modest budget item and amounted to one counselor at one of our four high schools, but some viewed it as unnecessary.

The 2e kids are an unusual group, both learning disabled and high aptitude. The program amounted to one counselor trained in both areas, versus the usual special education into which he was shunted that focused on basic life skills like “food that we eat with our hands.” My son, a senior with attention deficit disorder, benefitted enormously from this program and doubts he would have been graduated at all without it. (After further effort, he is now an honors student at a selective college.)

The 2e kids may at first blush seem like an unsympathetic group, even lazy because they are smart but underperforming. In my son’s case, his nearly perfect SAT scores clashed with his alphabet soup of grades. Of course he struggled to grow up like any teen, but he also struggles with a disability that doesn’t get much respect and is even ridiculed. This is a devastating ignorance. ADD kids struggle simply to put pen to paper, and they often fail. They risk disciplinary action, depression, and suicide. Ironically their “gifts” become poisons as they fail expectations.

I believe that parents are the child’s first line of support, but we vary in how well we are able. As for Julian, we’re doing everything we can. He should not pay the price for our inadequacies. It has been indispensable to have someone in the school who knows the disability, knows the law, and petitions the individual teachers, too many of whom are skeptical or ill-informed.

Here is the video of what I said on Thursday night. It went better than I expected. I wanted to entertain in a sense and got several moments of laughter (difficult to hear in the recording). I didn’t want to lecture. It helped not to have a script. I wanted to tell a story, and it felt good to share.

As I was leaving the building, a school employee came out of a little room crammed with audiovisual equpiment and said, “Hey I really liked what you said.” He explained he was the tech charged with recording and broadcasting the meeting. He smiled and raised his hand confessionally: “I’m ADD. That middle school stuff you said, that was me.” ADD is real, and smart, hard-working people have it. In fact, they probably work harder than the people who don’t have it just to achieve the same thing.

We exchanged some ADD stories. I recommended my favorite ADD site, You Know You Have ADD When…. . It was nice to have some camaraderie and know I was hitting the right note. Unlikely it made any difference for the present issue, which appears dead now, but you have to keep going to bat if you’re ever going to hit anything. I think folks simply hearing the message seeds a potentially better future.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Matt M. permalink
    March 28, 2014 11:43

    Thanks for sharing – that’s great that you spoke up for the program!

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