The following is an excerpt from a piece in the Summer 2021 issue of Variations2e magazine, which is now available for purchase.
DURING COVID TIMES, many educators have been focused on the instruction of core academic skills, inadvertently neglecting the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) students. As toxic stress rises, opportunities to engage in deep and relevant learning challenges diminish. Biases perpetuate misconceptions that gifted and 2e children will be “just fine” without specialized services and supports.
Those of us who teach or parent twice-exceptional children know nothing could be further from the truth. Denying access to a meaningful education can cause systemic trauma with long-lasting health impacts that may include disabilities, addictions, and increased incidences of heart, liver, and lung diseases (Harris, 2014).
Signs of trauma may include, but are not limited to: hyper-arousal and/or hyper-vigilance; irritable, aggressive, and or disruptive behavior; shaking or trembling; regressive behavior; drop in grades or performance; loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities; confusion and lack of attention to details; suicidal thoughts; a variety of physical ailments and illnesses; feelings of fear and anxiety; sleep disturbance; difficulty concentrating; self-destructive or reckless behavior; nightmares and/or flashbacks; headaches, depression, guilt, and/or self-blame; feeling emotionally numb; organizational challenges; elevated blood pressure; distorted self-concept; challenges in mood regulation; increased resting heart rate; emotional breakdowns; eating disorders; truancy/high absenteeism; and social isolation (Devereux, 2016).
Even prior to the pandemic, there was a body of research illustrating that gifted and 2e youth are frequently oppressed in schools (Chu & Myers, 2015), vulnerable to medical misdiagnosis (Webb et al., 2016), and bullied at rates significantly higher than same-age peers (Peters, 2012).
Coping behaviors can range from underachievement to, in extreme cases, suicide (Cross, 2011). Affording twice-exceptional youth access to equitable growth opportunities in school not only supports achievement, but more importantly, is requisite to mental health and well-being. Seeing each twice-exceptional youth for all their layers of exquisite complexity is an important first step. …