In this Episode
"Why is it that he can have high-level, adult conversations about astrophysics, but he also has meltdowns like a toddler?"
The twice exceptional, or "2E" population can be truly baffling for parents and teachers.
These students are often misunderstood because they have both skills and deficits.
This means that their often high intelligence and academic success can very easily mask their weak underlying behavior or executive functioning skills.
In this episode of the LD Expert Podcast, Jill Stowell and Lauren Ma, Director of Clinical Growth and Operations at Stowell Learning Centers, dig into the dichotomy of the 2E population.
In this week's episode, you'll learn:
- "Twice Exceptional" (2E) defined
- Why the 2E population is so misunderstood
- Visualization: the best tool to help 2E students build executive function and mental flexibility
"We always look at challenges with behavior or learning as underlying skill deficits. But it is so much harder to see when kids are really bright and doing fine academically."
- Jill Stowell
LD Expert Podcast - Episode #62
2E and Misunderstood - Lauren Ma
Jill Stowell: It was Jack’s three-year reevaluation for special education. I was there with Jenny, Jack’s mom, and the rest of the table was packed with administrators, teachers, and specialists. Many of whom had not met Jack.
As introductions were being done, Jenny pulled an 11 by 14 photo out of her bag and put it in the middle of the table, and said, “This is Jack.” She told the team about what made Jack special and unique, what he liked to do at home and who he played with. It really stuck with me, because I have never seen a parent do this before.
She said, “I want everyone to remember that we’re talking about a little boy and not just numbers or behaviors.”
Welcome to the LD Expert podcast, your place for answers and solutions for dyslexia and learning differences.
Jill Stowell: Today, we’re discussing misconceptions about the 2E child, particularly at school and on IEPs. We’ll look at why these students struggle with mental flexibility, and how you can help build greater flexibility and executive function in a way that is a better fit for how they learn.
I’m your host, Jill Stowell, Founder and Executive Director of Stowell Learning Centers, and author of Take the Stone Out of The Shoe: A Must-Have Guide to Understanding, Supporting, and Correcting Dyslexia, Learning, and Attention Challenges.
At Stowell Learning Centers, we work with children and families just like yours, helping parents understand what’s going on when bright students struggle in school, and what can be done to change that permanently.
And we understand that having a child with dyslexia or a learning challenge can be very lonely. You feel like you’re the only one whose child is struggling and you don’t know who to talk to. This podcast is for you. We’ll equip you with knowledge and practical tools for understanding and helping your child. If this episode brings up any questions for you, go to stowellcenter.com, and give us a call.
I’m so excited to have one of my very favorite people as our guest today. If you follow us, you already know her. Lauren Ma is the Director of Clinical Growth and Operations at Stowell Learning Centers, and the host of the IEP Toolbox monthly live webinar.
She really gets your twice exceptional kids.
This will be an episode that you’re going to want to share with friends, relatives, and teachers who work with your child or teen.
Lauren Ma: Thank you. Glad to be back.
Jill Stowell: I’m so glad to have you back. This will be really fun.
Lauren Ma: Yeah, looking forward to it.
Jill Stowell: So let’s jump right in and talk about 2E kids, and why they are so misunderstood.
Lauren Ma: Absolutely. So, I mean, I love this population. I think in the past maybe five to 10 years, we’ve really been hearing the term, 2E, a lot. So let’s just start by thinking about the term, 2E.
So 2E stands for twice exceptional. So there’s not just one exception to the norm, but two. So there’s this dichotomy of having two atypical presentations of skills. So one skill, or one skill set is a strength. So, and it’s actually superior. So, superior to other individuals of the same age. And then you have another skill or skill set that’s below that of same age peers. So you get kind of both, that duality.
And we, as humans, we really like consistency. So we tend to generalize, and we like it when things are all or nothing, or when there’s just, you know, slight variations or differences. So extreme variations tend to be very confusing. And that’s why these kids or these adults, these 2E adults, absolutely, can be very confusing.
Jill Stowell: Absolutely. And we have worked with 2E kids for decades, so I feel like we really get them.
Lauren Ma: Yeah, we do. I mean, that’s the thing. That’s why, you know, for us, it’s not probably a big learning curve. You know, we’ve been working with dyslexia, with individuals with dyslexia for almost 40 years now. And so I think, I think those with a dyslexic profile are the easiest type of 2E students to understand, because just the world has come so far, we as a society know so much more about dyslexia.
So, you know, for years, Jill, remember a lot of your teacher trainings or your parent information nights, right, a lot of the focus was on educating these parents or teachers that, yes, you know, these kids are smart. Absolutely. Yes, you’re right about that. And they’re bright and creative, but yet, they cannot read because they have specific skill deficits.
That’s really the part that was missing. You know, 15 years ago, there was still some confusion about that of like, “I suspect my kid is smart, but yet, they can’t do these simple things that the school is asking them to do, like, read.”
And now, people, they get that profile with dyslexia. The world is kind of accepted that dyslexia is a specific skill-based learning disability. But it also comes with a lot of strengths and talents. So we get that. And we– I haven’t heard, you know, comments, really, you know, in the past few years, as many comments like, from parents about our brilliant dyslexic students, about being manipulative, or, you know, you just don’t hear like, “Oh, he could read if he wanted to.” Like, you don’t hear that. Right?
We used to. We absolutely used to, because when people kind of put it in the box of like, “Well, he’s just not trying hard enough.” But I think the world is really understanding that like, no, this is a skill deficit. And so parents and teachers really understand, “No, this kid is really struggling.” And so, and thank goodness for that. Right? I mean, you know, that we can see that duality. Brilliance, we love this profile, this brilliance, and then, you know, some skill deficits, and that’s where we work.
Jill Stowell: Right. And you’re right, the world has come a very long way. I don’t know if it’s quite far enough, but with dyslexia, for sure, there are so many, so many well-known people that are saying, “Hey, I have dyslexia.” And so the world is beginning to understand that profile better.
And now, the 2E label is a lot more well-known as well. We assess students all the time that have that label or diagnosis. But they aren’t necessarily dyslexic, which now we’re seeing is creating a whole other kind of confusion.
Lauren Ma: Yeah. So there’s this second profile, I’ll say, of 2E students, and they’re still very misunderstood. And it’s because their skill strengths and skill deficits, they kind of contradict the way that we think about intelligence or human development. And more often than not, these individuals have a diagnosis of ADHD or autism spectrum disorder. And so, you can see kind of this profile emerging, and this is why.
So most often, the superior skills, so those talents, those gifts, the skill that is exceptional on the high end, superior skills with these 2E individuals are skills that we associate with intelligence. So they have photographic memories. They have superior working memory. So the ability to just absorb information. They often have high vocabularies. They’re very verbal.
You know, these kids, we’ve heard hundreds of stories literally, like a parent saying, like, “Oh, my gosh, she started talking when he was like, you know, nine months, and he hasn’t stopped since.” or “He’s had…” you know, these kids, from an early age are starting to have very adult conversations, or conversations with adults about very specific interests, like space, and Egyptian pharaohs, and, you know, microbiology and things like that.
They often, you know, taught themselves to read or do complex math. You know, no one had to kind of come in and show them that. They just pick it up. And so everyone in their lives kind of, you know, will see these kids and be like, “Oh, wow, this kid is so smart.” or “This kid’s so advanced.” And so the adults kind of set that expectation, like we can see there’s those clear markers of skills that we associate with intelligence, and these kids have it.
And a lot of times, most of these kids do fine academically. That’s the other thing that kind of works against them a little bit in understanding this profile, especially in the earlier grades. Like I said, these kids often teach themselves to read, they pick it up, they can, you know, take tests very easily. And so that masks sometimes what the skill deficit is.
And then the other part, the duality about this type of 2E profile, is that the weaknesses, those weak underlying skills or skill set tend to be skill areas that we think of as maturity, or behaviorally related. Executive functioning is one of them. So, you know, executive functioning, yes, it is a developmental skill. But the assumption is that, it is something that like you can control, or that if you just know how to do it, you should be able to do it. But there’s a lot of a lot involved with executive functioning.
Emotional regulation is another skill. It’s a skill, but the assumption is, once you reach a certain age, you should just be able to control your emotions. So it looks like there’s this really smart and capable child who just needs to get it together. And really, you know, they’re making a choice. They’re choosing to be lazy. They’re choosing to take the easy road out. They’re choosing to be manipulative.
But these skills, you know, like for someone who has these skills intact, or might have good executive functioning, or good emotional regulation, like many of the adults in these kids’ lives, we don’t really think about how hard it would be to do these things if you don’t have these skills. We don’t really think of these as being skill deficits or things that could be hard.
So that’s really the second profile is the one that we’re seeing a lot of misunderstanding, especially in school right now.
Jill Stowell: And you know that, you talked a little bit about that uneven development with 2E students, that asymmetrical development where, you know, they’re so brilliant in some ways, and then their skills are so weak in others. And, you know, it’s very easy for society, in general, to look at someone who comes across so brilliant, who talks about astrophysics, and who can, you know, have these adult kind of conversations.
And then, you know, they completely fall apart and have meltdowns, and misbehave. And you look and you say, “OK, he’s talking like a 20-year-old, and he’s acting like a two-year-old. And that is not a match for me.”
And so, you know, this kid, as you said, just needs to get it together. And so I think there’s just a huge amount of confusion around that truly asymmetrical development. We always look at challenges with behavior or learning as underlying skill deficits. But it is so much harder to see when kids are really bright and doing fine academically.
So let’s dig a little bit deeper into the specific lagging skills that you see with our struggling 2E learners.
Lauren Ma: Yeah. So the – I’m going to talk about kind of the most common profile, the most common set of or relationship of skills, strengths, and weaknesses. And they really do have to do with executive function challenges. So, if we kind of get into some education a little bit.
So with Executive Functioning, there’s three areas, main areas of executive functioning. So, cognitive flexibility, so the ability to, you know, shift and just be flexible with our thinking, change our thinking, “Oh, I was thinking about this, but then I got more information. So now, I can think of it differently.” That’s cognitive flexibility.
Inhibitory Control, so the ability to control my impulses, to not be impulsive, to, you know, emotional regulation would be in that category, just to regulate myself and my emotions, and maybe my speed and my reactions to stimuli. That’s inhibitory control.
And then, Working Memory. Working memory is the ability to… It’s really the foundation for all learning. The ability to take in information, kind of store it, organize it in a way that makes sense to us, that we understand it, you know, kind of combine it with some prior knowledge, and then store it, and be able to use it kind of in the moment.
So those are the three main executive functions. So the most common 2E profile that I see is usually the duality of a very strong working memory. And this is the skill that allows the child to absorb information so quickly.
So, you know, we have students, astrophysics, you know, is kind of this classic example, because I have had several students that have like, that’s their thing. And it’s like so beyond my level of comprehension. But they, they soak it up like a sponge. They watch like these YouTube lectures, college lectures, you know, like a nine-year-old watching college lectures, or NASA lectures on astrophysics.
So, and they’ll be able to like, recall all the information that was presented. We’ve had students that have been able to, like, tell us all of the Chinese dynasties in chronological order, you know. It’s just like that very strong working memory allows them to lock that in, to lock that knowledge in.
And again, we associate that with high intelligence. “Oh, they, you know, they learn so quickly.” Yes. Yes, absolutely. That is, that is part of it. And on the other side of a coin, because you have, I mean, really, with a 2E, 2E profile, it’s two sides of the same coin. So because they have that strong working memory, the skill that tends to be the deficit…
So let’s think about that. I have a really innate ability to take in information and to hold on to it, I got it. But what I sacrifice is cognitive flexibility. Because what, you know, I got it. I experienced it. I saw it. I heard it. It’s there. It’s locked in.
Cognitive flexibility is not always there. And especially in this most common 2E profile, it’s like, I learned it this way, I know how to do it, there’s no other way to interpret this info because I got it. I remember it. I know it.
So it’s that duality, strong working memory, poor cognitive flexibility. And what this often looks like in a student or, like I said, an adult, there’s 2E kids turn into 2E adults. So we see the same, we work with children and adults. It’s this very black and white thinking, and an inability to consider multiple perspectives, and an inability to be creative with problem solving.
A lot of these times, a lot of the times, these kids get stuck. They get stuck in problem solving, they get stuck in inefficient patterns, so they’re doing what they know. And they know it so well, but it’s just not serving them.
So that’s the most common 2E profile. I mean, there’s a lot. You know, it – we know, because we’re looking at all these underlying skills, we know that it’s not a one-size-fits-all. There’s a lot of different expressions of what twice exceptional and what a learning disability can look like. So, there’s several others.
Another thing that I commonly see with twice exceptional students, again, especially with an ADHD diagnosis, is something called dysgraphia. So dysgraphia is difficulty with writing. And it kind of has two problems.
So there’s a lot of times, a motor component to dysgraphia. So we have difficulty holding, and manipulating, and implement with using our fine motor skills, or fingers in order to write. So a lot of times, letter formation is awkward. It’s very laborious to write. So that could be a component definitely.
More often than not with the twice exceptional population, I see the other arm of dysgraphia and that is a what I call bottleneck problem of ideas. I have so many ideas going on in my head at once. I can think so deeply about a variety of topics. I’m knowledgeable, but I can’t funnel that information in an organized way to get my thoughts out on paper.
And what that often looks like is extreme, an extreme emotional response to writing. I mean, tears. And again, parents and teachers are like, “Why? Why is this happening? Like, this kid is really smart, this kid is so verbose orally, why can he not write a one simple topic sentence?”
And so again, we have that mismatch, right, of like, “I don’t get it. This kid’s really smart. This kid has high verbal abilities. Why can we not get our thoughts on paper?” Because it’s a very specific skill that is unrelated to verbal intelligence, that skill of organizing our thoughts to be able to get them on paper. And so we often see that with dysgraphic profiles, definitely.
And then, the other kind of component is this Emotional Regulation. So again, going back to the three primary areas of executive functioning: working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. A lot of times, when cognitive flexibility is impacted, as well as inhibitory control, you get challenges with emotional regulation, you know. It’s a quick reaction, it’s something happened that was unexpected. “I don’t have the flexibility to be able to deal with that. And so I experienced such an extreme flood of emotions that I also am not able to control in the moment.”
And so these kids often look like behavior challenges, but it’s really just an expression of weak underlying skills. I mean, that’s really all it is. With behaviors, that tends to dysregulate adults. You know, when we see kids behaving in a way, when we see humans behaving in a way that’s unexpected, and not part of our skill set, we get dysregulated. And so again, that contributes to that misunderstanding.
Jill Stowell: Absolutely. Wow, that was a lot of amazing information, Lauren. Thank you. A while back, you were telling me about an IEP meeting that you attended, and how completely misunderstood the child was. And in fact, it was when I was listening to you talk about that, I thought, oh my gosh, I’ve got to have her as a guest on the show, because this is such important information and understanding.
So, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Lauren Ma: Yeah. I mean, which one? No, I remember just because it, again, I talked to parents all the time. And we work with the schools, and we’re in on an IEP meetings, and, but the last time I was in the classroom was in 2010. So I, you know, I’ll go back, and I’ll be part of these IEP meetings, and I realized just the gap that’s occurred in my understanding of these kids that’s learning and attention challenges, and just kind of where the schools are, just because they’re looking at it differently, you know.
And so this happened with this kiddo that’s working with us. Again, classic 2E profile, just brilliant memory, very verbose, deep thinker, poor emotional regulation. And the schools objective, where a lot of the focus in this IEP meeting was on refusal. Work refusal.
So you have this highly intelligent child, who, on state testing was scoring in the 99th percentile, 99th and above percentile, especially for math. Math was the stronger between language, arts, and math. So everybody identified that this kid had a lot of really good skills. So that’s what the school is seeing. But is not turning in work, not completing work, and will shut down often, was shutting down in class and refusing to complete work.
And so they were trying to, they’re, you know, they made some accommodations and some goals. And when you ask, when we ask the child, you know, like, “Hey, what’s going on there?” And, you know, through a process, he was able to articulate that he, when something doesn’t come to him right away, you know, the answer, he doesn’t get it like that, because he’s just so used to processing so quickly, and getting things really easily. And when that doesn’t happen, he feels stupid. And that’s why he said like, “I just…”
And so again, you see that cognitive flexibility. You see that inhibitory control, those challenges coming in for this child, and it just hits him like a ton of bricks, and he just wants to give up. Even though that you know, we can see… There’s a lot of ways to get yourself out of that situation. You can ask for help. You can skip it and move on to the next problem, you know. We can problem solve that, individuals with good cognitive flexibility. But he couldn’t, because of his skill deficits. So he, you know, was turning into some work refusal.
So, you know, everybody was in this meeting: school psychologist, a counselor, special ed teacher, general ed teacher, and again, the focus is just getting the kid to do work. So child is identified that, “I feel like, when I don’t get it right away, I feel stupid.” And so they had been working with him to just ask for help. And he did.
And so the special ed teacher, the resource teacher that he goes to for support was retelling a story about how, yeah, he came to me for help. And then I’m trying to explain to him, and he’s not looking at me. And he’s just looking away, and he’s looking at other things in the room. “And so I just told him, ‘Well, if you’re not going to… Obviously, you’re not listening to me. So I’m not going to explain it anymore.’”
And she said this in a room full of all these professionals, who are supposedly really trained in special education and this neurodiverse population. And like, I just… like, I was on Zoom. So you know, it was, you couldn’t hear the audible gasp for me. But it’s like, that professional in all of her good intentions didn’t understand that that was a breakdown of his skill deficits.
So he had done the thing that we were working, you know, trying to get him to do. He asked for help, he took a step, he started to problem solve, but we know he has social challenges. We know, you know, we have the speech therapist talking about the, all the pragmatic, you know, language challenges he has. And in that moment, the adult felt dysregulated and disrespected, because he wasn’t making eye contact, which is, you know, a behavior that this population can exhibit, and took that as disrespect, and then used sarcasm.
So how do you think this child felt? You know, there’s already a lot of emotions, this is hard, we’re trying to build this skill, and he just completely shut down. And then after that, refused to go to school the next day.
So I don’t think that this professional had mal-intent for this child at all. It was just like this assumption of the behaviors that she was seeing dysregulated her as the adult. “I’m interpreting what I’m seeing differently, because I’m using the foundation of my own skill set, rather than what I know is deficient in this child.”
Jill Stowell: You know, there are so many important things in there. One is just that we, as parents, and teachers, and therapists recognize our own discomfort and dysregulation. I mean, if we can recognize, wow, when a child does this or says this, I feel uncomfortable. And so if we can recognize that, then we can start to take a breath, settle ourselves, and really think about how we want to respond.
So I think that’s just a huge piece of learning for you know, for people, in general, but especially if we’re working with the neurodiverse population.
And then, also, thinking about our kids who are so brilliant, they’re constantly being validated for being so smart. But what that kind of says to them is, “If I don’t know how to do something, then maybe I’m not smart, or people aren’t going to think I’m smart.”
So you get this kind of perfectionist feel that can really cause them to shut down. “I have to do it perfectly, and I have to do it right away, or I can’t do it at all.” So we really need to recognize that, you know, that refusal is actually, could actually be more kind of a shutdown related to that perfectionism.
And then the other thing is, you know, we, as we work with students, we’ve got to take one thing at a time. And the one thing that they were working on was the student asking for help. And that may seem like such an easy thing, but for someone who feels like they should be able to get it right now, immediately, that’s a big, big step.
And so just remembering, we have to validate those tiny steps, because maybe it’s easy for us, but it is really monumental for them. So, you know…
Lauren Ma: Absolutely. Yeah.
Jill Stowell: In, with these kids, and I know we mentioned this before, but a big complaint, kind of along the same lines is from parents and teachers is that kids do the bare minimum, or they’re manipulative. What is your take on that?
Lauren Ma: So again, if we go back to those weak skills, the skills that are not strong for these neurodiverse kids, you know, it looks like maturity. It can look like lack of motivation. So wouldn’t it make sense that a kid who lacks cognitive flexibility might only see things from their own perspective?
I mean, that’s what, you know, inflexibility is, is you know, kind of just seeing it your way and not being able to take perspective. Or, you know, again, if we have challenges with cognitive flexibility, wouldn’t you want to create situations that only benefit yourself? Because that’s how you’re viewing the world.
Or, you know, we have students with poor regulation, poor stamina, and have a really hard time with having stamina for prolonged focal attention. And so, again, you know, when they rush through their work, just to get it done and be over with, so that they could go on to their preferred activity, doesn’t that make sense, if you have poor stamina, you can’t focus or attend for long periods of time? And, you know, if you can watch a child try to do it, it’s almost like painful, like, they’re trying so hard to pay attention, and they just can’t. It takes a lot of effort.
So yeah, we as humans, we all avoid what is uncomfortable. That is just part of human nature, you know. Me doing my taxes, I waited until the last minute. We put it off, you know. As adults, we do that. It’s, so manipulation, I hate that word. It’s like, no, this is still a skill deficit. They’re not trying to manipulate you as an adult, they’re trying to make it easier or more comfortable, because the child is uncomfortable with the skill deficit.
Jill Stowell: And one of the great things about skills is that they can be built. So I always like to give parents something practical to hang on to. So how can parents and teachers help their 2E students build executive function and mental flexibility?
Lauren Ma: Mm-hmm. So the, you know, I will preach it from the mountaintops. This is like the number one skill that students… A lot of times, the 2E population has the skill, they just don’t utilize it to develop their executive functioning or cognitive flexibility.
So, visualization. So the ability to turn words, verbal language into mental images, pictures. And so, like, notice how my eyes go up. I’m using gestures. I am a very visual creature, and so you can see my eyes going around. I’m visualizing as I’m talking, because, you know, I have pictures in my head of what I want to communicate, and that better helps me to organize my thoughts.
So visualization is just our ability to think in pictures, and there are so many applications for using visualization to develop mental flexibility. This is how we develop perspective taking, we visualize it, you know. It’s like, yes, you’re able to see things from your point of view. How would Johnny see it over here? We have to visualize in order to understand that.
Problem solving, yes, you have this problem, and your first attempt to solve it didn’t work. What else could you do? We have to visualize, to be creative with that process. Planning is absolutely a visualization task. We plan through visualizing. We plan, we have an idea of what we want, and that helps us to break it down in order to execute.
We need to visualize in order to develop concepts of time. You know, a lot of these kids, these twice exceptional kids, they live in the moment, and they have a really hard time thinking about the future. And so that also kind of tends to lead into, you know, that impulsivity of like, “I want to get this over now. I want it to be done now. And even though it’s not going to serve me in the future, I don’t care. I’m living in the now.” Visualize, to start to think about possibilities in the future. That’s, visualization really helps with impulse control.
So, you know, as a parent, as a teacher, there’s a lot of activities. But just starting to talk about visual language – anything – you know. The example I use a lot is like you’re in the car with your kid, and you’re pulling up to your house. And they always take off their shoes and leave it in the middle of the, you know, entryway, and everybody trips over that.
Talk about the visual process. Talk about the plan. What is it going to look like? What is it going to- what are you going to do? What is your plan for when you walk through the door? Walk me through it. And you want to see the eyes go up, and you want to see gestures, because that means we’re in visual mode.
And for teachers, you could do it with the whole class, you could do it one-on-one, small group. I would start with the whole class. Everybody can benefit from visualization activities. So, OK, we’re going to write this five paragraph essay on the Revolutionary War. So what can you picture for that first paragraph?
We want an intro. OK. What are some ideas? Brainstorm that, but make it visual. Let’s look up, let’s point, you know. And, “Oh, OK.” “Oh, we’re really working on the organization of our picture. OK, our first paragraph. Oh, what does it need to look? Oh, we got to indent. Yup, we do. Right?” OK, you can see that. Like, there’s so many things, but it sets that intention, and it starts to plan.
And then, you know, for teachers, the added benefit of doing it a whole group is that there’s some social skills. It’s like, this person gave this input and perspective. “Oh, I have to shift my thinking. I have to be flexible. Now, my picture changed, because they added this input that I didn’t expect.” So visualization is really, it’s like a secret weapon for parents and teachers.
Jill Stowell: Absolutely. And something you said, it triggered for me. You were talking about, especially like in a discussion where someone says something and another person adds information, or changes it and you have to change your picture.
Now, if you have good comprehension skills, you do have that mental flexibility, that’s going to happen automatically. But that’s a great thing to point out to say, “Wow, you know, now, what do we have to do to our picture? We have to change that a little bit. Right?” Because as soon as we do that, we’re actually tapping the nail on exactly what mental flexibility is. It’s taking what’s already there and being able to add to it, make a shift, look at it in a different way.
And when you notice, “Oh, look at that.” We had two people that had different pictures, but it reminds us of the same thing. That’s a great thing to point out also, because that’s what’s difficult for our students. So just don’t assume that they are all, you know, just got it. Just point it out. Point it out, because it’s, it will serve so many kids in your class.
Lauren Ma: It will. Yeah, it’s great. And I’ve had teachers even, I’ve been, you know, talking about this for a while now and relay. Like, hey, it worked. We did it before a writing session, and I got, you know, kids finish faster. They got so much more content in their writing. Yeah, this is, because it’s a skill that all humans need to utilize in order to be good learners or good students. So why not, why not develop it with your whole class?
Jill Stowell: Right. Well, Lauren, this has been fantastic. Can you give us kind of a quick bullet point recap of how all of us can better serve our 2E learners?
Lauren Ma: Yeah, I’m going to try. So this is my own regulation. But I could go on all day about this population I love so much. So I’m going to try, OK? OK, so first bullet point.
So, think, so for, again, us as adults working, or parents living with it a 2E individual, Think skill, not will.
So this phrase comes from our friends at Think Kids, and their collaborative problem solving method. They say kids do well, if they can. Truly, think of it as a skill deficit. It’s not that they’re trying to be manipulative, they’re trying to get on your nerves. No. It’s a skill deficit, and you may not have that same skill deficit, which is why it doesn’t look like it would be a challenge, or should be a hard thing to do.
So if you find yourself frustrated with a 2E student, as the adult working with that child, we have the responsibility to look beyond the frustrating or the dysregulating behaviors for us, and really try to identify what skills are making that hard. So that’s the first one, Skill, not will.
Second bullet point, Don’t assume any skills to be in place, just because the student is smart. Intelligence does not equal full development or full functioning of underlying skills. It just doesn’t. And so don’t assume those skills to be in place. And if you stay curious about like, “Hey, what’s going on? What’s making this hard?” you’ll start to uncover what those skills are, you know. And it’s a learning process for both of you.
And then the third one is, Use visualization. Visualization, visualization, visualization, to build cognitive flexibility. So whenever possible, don’t just ask, don’t ask for recitation. You know, it’s not just reciting, or, you know, “Tell me the list of things you have to do.” No. “Describe to me your plan of how you’re going to attack your homework this afternoon.” “Describe to me your plan of how you’re going to get ready for soccer practice.” So describe using pictures and activating that visualization channel in the brain.
Jill Stowell: Great. Well, this was a fantastic conversation. We could do this all day long.
Lauren Ma: Mm-hmm.
Jill Stowell: Before you go, when is your next IEP Toolbox webinar?
Lauren Ma: So my next IEP Toolbox is Tuesday, May 16, at 5:00 PM Pacific time. That’s when we do the live broadcast. And I take questions, I like to have, you know, people on there, live, and asking questions about this topic.
We’re going to be talking about one of those really tricky, lagging skill sets, social and emotional skills. And especially, how to provide the appropriate accommodations, and how to use true skill building strategy. So kind of, you know, what I talked about a little bit earlier, where there’s that mismatch, sometimes with the school, and what our intention for the student is, like, how can we really provide an accommodation that’s going to match the skill set?
And this is both for parents, for teachers, just really anybody, an adult who’s working with a child that struggles with social and emotional skills. And you can register by going to our website, stowellcenter.com/ieptoolbox. It’s also under resource, our resources tab. We have our monthly meeting.
Jill Stowell: Perfect. These webinars are so helpful. So be sure to register, so that you can get access to the recording.
Thank you, Lauren. This has been so much fun. You are brilliant.
Lauren Ma: Thank you. Thanks! Yeah, we can go on all day.
Jill Stowell: And I, I love all that you shared. Thank you.
Lauren Ma: Thank you.
Jill Stowell: Next week, we have a very special show for you. For our Mother’s Day episode, we have Megan Champion, a mom and a public school teacher who knows exactly what you’re going through because she is right there with you. She is the host of the On The Hard Days podcast, and the founder of Mothers Together. Be sure to join us for this validating and so encouraging episode.
At Stowell Learning Centers, we help children and adults eliminate struggles associated with dyslexia and learning differences. We want to make this journey easier for you. Connect with us on social media and on our website, stowellcenter.com for information and free resources.
If you found this episode valuable, please like and subscribe so you don’t miss out on any new episodes. The struggles associated with dyslexia and learning differences can be eliminated. Please help us get the word out by leaving a five star review wherever you are listening or watching. Let’s change the narrative together.
- Episode 71: Ronnie Gardiner Method® for Building Social Connection, Executive Function & Attention – Jill Stowell
- Episode 70: The IEP – What Parents Need to Know – Dina Kaplan
- Episode 69: Embracing Differences and Building Social Emotional Health – Suzanne McClure
- Episode 68: Executive Function Tips for Parents, Teachers, and Students + T.E.F.O.S. – Part 2 – Seth Perler
- Episode 67: The Executive Function Online Summit PLUS a Special Message for Kids – Part 1 – Seth Perler
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