Twice-exceptional students have few forums to express their lived educational experiences. Recently, we at Silicon Valley 2e advocacy group REEL launched our “Living & Learning 2e” blog series, which is dedicated to giving twice-exceptional teens and young adults a place to share their voices. The bloggers include students from ninth grade through sophomore year in college with a range of learning differences such as autism, ADHD, dysgraphia, and anxiety. While every 2e learner is different, common themes emerge across the six bloggers’ experiences that shine a light on ways educators can better support these neurodivergent students.
On the Inside — What It Feels Like to Be 2e
Many bloggers found that at first being 2e just felt “normal” because, of course, they didn’t know any different! Their twice-exceptionality is a part of who they are. However, their interior lives often became more difficult over time. Their behavior in early grades was often misunderstood by peers and teachers alike. As they entered the more academically and socially demanding secondary school years, their internal experiences became more stressful, ranging from frustration, paralyzing perfectionism, and embarrassment, to low self-esteem, feeling stupid or anxious, and like they had no future. Blogger Ava described her internal turmoil thusly:
“I often found my hands resting on my keyboard and my eyes locked on the blinking cursor on Google Docs, unable to figure out what’s wrong. There are so many different perspectives running around my mind at once; deciding which one to listen to is the most time-consuming part of school work. This causes an issue with perfectionism, as I definitely can’t please every part of my mind with all the a...
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