Twice-exceptionality (2e) is the phenomenon of being identified as both gifted and disabled. After spending eleven months working on an autoethnography, it's hard to believe that just two and a half years ago, I hadn't heard the term "twice-exceptional." The day I first learned about 2e, I had no idea that a label existed to describe what had gone wrong in my life.
I'd never considered the possibility that the ADHD diagnosis I'd received at 24, but never treated properly, was valid. I questioned it because my psychiatric treatment history is a mess. It's long, and filled with contradictions and until recently, shame.
My six-year-old son was having a neuropsychological evaluation because we suspected he had a learning disorder, and possibly ADHD - it was becoming difficult to deny that Jack had serious attention issues. I didn't bring up the ADHD diagnosis from 1997 during the evaluation interview, because it didn't seem relevant. I let them know that I'd been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and panic disorder at 19 and had been identified as a gifted child.
Once Jack was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, I started a personal literature review on those two disorders, leading to my dissertation topic - the experience of parenting stress in parents of children with 2e. It took nearly a year for me to accept that I am a person with 2e, and I'm still trying to reconcile its impact on my life. It's a relief to have answers.
This page has two videos, and each contains a version of a conference presentation. Since there's not a good recording from the first conference, I've shared it as a narrated PowerPoint slideshow. The video for the final presentation is split screen and has the video on one side and the slideshow on the other.
I'll be adding content from the study's data and findings to this site, and am hoping to share a significant number of journal entries. The journals I've written and carefully stored since 1989 were the key to this study - a massive amount of data. I scanned, coded, and analyzed them repeatedly throughout the past year. Currently, a tiny selection of entries are displayed on this site - click here - but there are thousands of entries.
It would be amazing to learn more about other people's experiences as twice-exceptional, or parenting a child with 2e. It's fantastic when I meet someone else, online or in-person, who knows about the paradoxical life of 2e, and I look forward to meeting more.
In my presentations, I discussed what it was like to grow up identified as a gifted child, discovering later that I have bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and ADHD. Many other labels have been applied to me as well, but there's only so much space and time to discuss my history. Addiction was an issue I grappled with well into my 20s, and I've addressed it in both presentations.
There's something special about learning that I'm a person who is twice-exceptional, because I finally fit in somewhere. I spent the first half of my life trying to understand where I went wrong - feeling the shame and guilt of failing to live up to the expectations of "giftedness." It's been liberating, and wonderful, to learn about 2e, and it's a relief to know that I'm not alone in my weirdness. My paradoxical life finally makes sense.