Leith Occupational Therapyleaf image

Leith OTleaf image

Gifted and Twice Exceptional

Gifted children often struggle at school and socially. This is often due to their uneven (asynchronous) development; they may be 15 intellectually, in a nine year old body with the emotional understanding of a 5 year old. This poses a big challenge for parents, teachers, and especially the child. How do you ensure that you are recognising and providing for your little person's strengths? How do you assist them to develop their areas of challenge while maintaining their self-esteem?
On top of this, overexcitabilities (OEs) can bring great frustration for individuals and those around them. It's really important that children's OEs are recognised as the strengths that they are; they enable individuals to focus and learn in unimaginable ways! If an individual's OEs are getting in the way of their ability to participate in meaningful activities, we need to give them the understanding and tools they need to feel in control. This may include small changes to the classroom environment; often subtle, inexpensive, and extremely easy to implement.
Karen can assist individuals, their teachers and parents to understand their OEs, and find ways to accommodate them. This will enable individuals to use their OEs to optimise their learning and participation. Understanding one's OEs can also be very empowering, giving a sense of self-acceptance and increasing self-esteem.
Twice Exceptional (2e) children present a whole new level of challenge. Twice exceptional children are those who are gifted with a learning or other disability. Being at both ends of the bell curve, 2e children's high ability and disability can mask each other, appearing completely average. Left unidentified and with needs unmet, this can lead to underachievement and boredom, which in turn can cause behavioural issues both in and outside the classroom. Working so hard to manage both boredom and high levels of frustration from their unidentified and un-accommodated disability can cause children and teens to develop depression and/or anxiety issues. Children often also grow up learning strategies to overcome disabilities which may not transfer to tasks in adulthood.
Karen can assist teachers and clinicians to identify 2e children, to better understand their needs at both ends of the bell curve, and assist in developing strategies for their Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to meet their needs holistically.
A common frustration for parents and clinicians alike is figuring out where gifted OEs end, and other diagnoses start. Is this child 'just' gifted and intense? Does he or she have a diagnosis such as Autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder etc? Or maybe they are both (twice exceptional)? Often these children may be on the cusp of Autism or ADHD in assessments such as the ADOS; the characteristics are all there, but somehow they just don't quite meet criteria. The overlap in characteristics can make coming to conclusions a huge challenge.
With her mental health background and experience working with gifted children and their families, Karen can assist clinicians to work through a child's presentation and differentiate between gifted, 2e and other possible diagnoses. This can assist in more accurate diagnosis, as well as ensuring that children receive therapy that best meets their needs.