2E KIDS—BRILLIANT AND STRUGGLING: Twice Exceptional (2E) Children Face Unique Challenges


Courtesy of Brain Balance Achievement Centers

In living rooms, therapy sessions and teacher conferences across the country, parents are hearing something new: “Your child is twice exceptional…” Twice Exceptional, often known as “2e,” refers to children who are both exceptionally gifted while at the same time face learning challenges or differences.

Although not an official classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the term is becoming more commonly utilized with children who exhibit unusual strengths along with unusual functional weakness.

Dr. Robert Melillo, a noted expert in childhood neurological disorders and founder of Brain Balance Achievement Centers, characterizes the new terminology this way, “In the past, many of these children would also be labeled as Asperger’s. They are generally very high functioning, but usually struggle in the nonverbal, social communication realm.

“In my experience, their attributes are their unusual strengths – they have extremely high verbal IQ scores,” Melillo said. “They are highly intelligent, usually in the genius range in certain academic, left-brain skills.”

As many parents of 2e students will attest, often these children excel in their left-brain abilities. They may have great attention to detail and memory, excelling in fine motor skills with uncommon musical ability. Skills such as math operations and vocabulary may be advanced as well.

But where their left-brain strengths accentuate their ability in some areas, the 2e child can face other challenges.

“But despite this marked imbalance in skills, a 2e child can flourish, maximizing his or her strengths and eliminating their weaknesses.”

Dr. Melillo describes the imbalance: “Because their left brain is overactive, 2e children can also be hyperimpulsive, manic, obsessive and compulsive—all of these are left brain functions. But without the balance and inhibition of the right brain, these functions are too strong.”

As with some other ASDs, parents may note that a 2e child has an overactive immune system. Autoimmune issues, allergies, chemical and food sensitivities may be prevalent, too. An overactive left-brain may lead to angry outbursts, something many parents of 2e kids know all too well.

With the unusual strengths of the 2e child can come challenging weaknesses. Right brain skills such as nonverbal communication, socialization and attention are areas where the 2e child may struggle.

“Big picture skills, aspects of reading comprehension, main idea, and pragmatics are difficult for a 2e child. And they don’t ‘get’ humor,” says Dr. Melillo. “They may be poor at geometry and math reasoning. They struggle with gross motor skills, and can have poor balance and coordination.”

But despite this marked imbalance in skills, a 2e child can flourish, maximizing his or her strengths and eliminating their weaknesses. Specific approaches are uniquely helpful to the 2e student, including many aspects of the Brain Balance program that Dr. Melillo founded.

“The idea of 2e, or this wide ‘unevenness of skills’ is exactly what Brain Balance is about,” said Dr. Melillo. “Brain Balance started by asking the question ‘what is happening in the brain of a child with ADHD, OCD, Autism, Dyslexia etc.’ The actual neurologic problem that produces these symptoms is a developmental imbalance between the two hemispheres of the brain, known as a Functional Disconnection. My research, and the research of others, has shown that this developmental imbalance is the primary problem and explains all of the symptoms – both strengths and weaknesses – that are consistently seen in children with these neurobehavioral issues.”

Brain Balance Achievement Centers are located throughout the U.S., including two in San Antonio and one in New Braunfels. Brain Balance founder, Dr. Robert Melillo, is a best-selling author, brain researcher and childhood neurobehavioral expert who will be in San Antonio on Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Tripoint Event Center, 3233 N. St. Mary’s. The event is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat, or for more information, call 210-620-7378. To learn more about Brain Balance, visit www.brainbalancecenters.com. For more information about Dr. Melillo, visit www.drrobertmelillo.com.

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