Weekly 2E Blog

Changing the Narrative on 2E

By Pamela Kondé, Sosne Kondé Policy Solutions, PLLC
January 6, 2020

Twice-exceptional (2E) children have both gifts and special needs, so schools need to see them as individuals and act accordingly. Often schools focus their efforts on addressing the behavioral challenges from ADHD or ASD, for example, and then they’re done. In focusing only on the challenges, however, school staff often forget that 2E students are gifted, with the potential to see, achieve, and reach past our wildest dreams.  Schools need to “change the narrative” – focusing instead on supporting children to meet their potential, achieve, and serve our communities as adults.  2E students think outside-the-box and make connections that neurotypical children may not make so easily.  We need to nurture their talents and support them toward high achievement, whether that’s getting them college-ready, preparing them for employment, supporting their invention ideas, or mentoring their entrepreneurial dreams.


Finding 2E Students’ Strengths and Planning Accordingly

By Pamela Kondé, Sosne Kondé Policy Solutions, PLLC
January 11, 2020

For example, using a strength-based model for 2E high school students could include an upfront investment in school counseling, allocating more time for the school counselor to work with 2E students before scheduling each year to connect their passions to their class choices.

This process should start in the spring of 8th grade (freshman year at the latest), when students begin to choose high school classes. Schools should give 2E students longer time slots for counseling sessions to personalize the expectations instead of lowering them, prepare with a call home beforehand with parents, and a questionnaire for parents to complete with their 2E children.

Based on the completed questionnaires, in the course of an hour or two, school counselors could counsel 2E students about available college majors and other school programs that fit their interests. This discussion could inspire them and prepare them with a knowledge about the necessary prerequisites. While students’ interests may change over time, this still works for a number of reasons. We know from long-held research that 2E students are more stimulated by topics that interest them. As such, they are better able to focus and behavioral challenges are decreased (not ameliorated entirely; this is not a magic bullet). It will also help them explore their interests to determine and fulfill long-term goals. Finally, it will reframe the counselor’s narrative about the child – focusing on the giftedness and potential, instead of the disabilities and challenges.

It will also help the counselor find a good balance for the student that isn’t based entirely on whether a class is AP, IB, Honors, General Education, or Special Education. Counseling and course selection should be informed by what individual 2E students like and where they excel— so an AP Class in Computer Coding may be a better course than a General Education math class. An AP Research class, where students get to research a topic of interest, may be *easier* than a traditional English class.

Of course, the 2E student’s challenges should not be ignored in this process. Because it is more personalized, it can also be more proactive. Perhaps an ASD student loves history, but his writing needs work. The counselor can agree to sign him up for AP or Honors History, but provide a writing boot camp beforehand to prepare him. During the writing program, he can work on the exact type of writing he will need for history class. Or a school can set him up with a writing tutor to meet once a week after school to brainstorm ideas, chunk writing assignments, get started, work in grammar, and edit. By being proactive, not waiting until the student has failed an essay test, schools set him up for success, and watch him thrive with insights and connections between different aspects of historical analysis.

Lastly, schools will argue that they do not have enough resources to provide longer counseling sessions. However, in this proactive model (which would cost about 1-2 hours of counselor time per student upfront), these same counselors would likely need less time in contentious meetings with adults later. In fact, this systemic change may even save the schools some money.

Change the narrative.  Change the model.  Change the system.  Set students up for success.