“Knowing that a person builds a happy and successful life not on remediated weaknesses but on developed strengths, I have learned to place those strengths at the top of what matters.”
–Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of Driven to Distraction
One of the most difficult aspects of supporting a twice-exceptional child is the constant reminder of what they can’t do. There are always glaring weaknesses getting in the way of success. The writing disability that gets in the way of completing a worksheet or report, the distractibility that gets in the way of finishing homework before bedtime, or the afterschool tutoring that gets in the way of music lessons.
As a parent of a twice-exceptional child, I know how easy it is to get wrapped up in the “can’ts” and totally miss the “cans.” But this perspective does not lead to a happy and successful life.
It’s the focus on and building upon of a child’s strengths that brings about a fulfilling and successful life.
So, how is this done?
- Use your child’s strengths.
Does your child learn best through reading, watching, doing, or listening? Then use those strengths to complete schoolwork.
For example, a dyslexic child can use audiobooks or videos to learn content instead of reading. Or, a child with ADHD can create a presentation instead of writing an essay on a topic. In these instances, the learning objectives are still being met, but through the child’s strengths instead of weaknesses.
- Involve your child with other children or mentors who share the same strengths.
At school, your child can work on projects with others who are also good at building, designing, drawing, etc. Or, your child can work on projects as the expert builder while other team members are experts in writing, reading, etc. (your child’s areas of weakness). This gives twice-exceptional children the opportunity to be known for the gifts they bring to the table.
Outside of school, seek classes and opportunities to work with mentors who are passionate in your child’s areas of strength or interest. These opportunities can inspire children as they interact with adults who may share some of the same challenges as well.
- Look at where your child shines and do more of that.
When is your child at his personal best? Make a list of the activities where your child is focused, processing, and producing. What is the context and what patterns do you see? Now, do more of that!
For example, if your child is at his best when he is building with Legos, drawing, and thinking of new ideas, then incorporate those activities into his day. Make sure there is downtime in his schedule to do those things at will.
Also, incorporate those activities into his schoolwork so he can use his strengths to help him complete assignments in his weak areas. For example, encourage him to brainstorm, build, or draw the topic before completing a writing assignment.
Imagine how it must feel to be that twice-exceptional child? To have the outside world (and their own keen personal awareness) constantly pointing out what they cannot do? That is why we need to be strength-builders in the lives of twice-exceptional children.
Want to learn more about building on your child’s strengths? Edison Academy SLO uses a strengths-based approach to personalizing each students’ education, so they develop their strengths and talents and reach their full potential. Find out more about Edison Academy SLO’s personalized learning for your child!
Want to read more about supporting gifted and twice-exceptional children? Subscribe to my mailing list by clicking “follow” at the top of this post!