What is “2e” and What Could a Diagnosis Mean for Your Child?
In living rooms, therapy sessions and teacher conferences across Southern California, 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 that exhibit unusual strengths along with unusual functional weakness. For many, the 2e term follows a previous diagnosis of Asperger’s or other Autism Spectrum or Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
“In the past, many of these children would also be labeled as Asperger’s,” says Dr. Robert Melillo, author, childhood neurobehavioral expert and founder of Brain Balance Achievement Centers. “We characterize the new terminology this way — they are generally very high functioning, but usually struggle in the nonverbal, social communication realm.”
“In my experience they are very similar, although 2e kids are usually even more constantly higher functioning,” Melillo added. “Their attributes are their unusual strengths – they have extremely high verbal IQ scores. 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.
“Because their left brain is overactive,” says Melillo, “2e children can be hyper-impulsive, manic, obsessive and compulsive — all 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 have poor balance and coordination.”
But despite this marked imbalance in skills, a 2e child can flourish, maximizing their strengths and eliminating their weaknesses. Specific approaches are uniquely helpful to the 2e student, including many aspects of the Brain Balance program.
The idea of 2e, or the wide ‘unevenness of skills’ is what centers such as Brain Balance are about. “We started by asking the question ‘what is happening in the brain of a child with ADHD, OCD, Autism, Dyslexia etc.’” says Melillo. “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.”
Once an objective and quantifiable measurement of each area of function is taken, a specific plan can be formulated to strengthen those functional weaknesses through stimulation and repetitive training, together with healthy dietary and nutritional guidelines. Addressing all weaknesses – including motor, sensory, cognitive, academic, and behavioral – at the same time can significantly help reduce or eliminate the problems many 2e children face, resulting in long-term improvement.
“When this imbalance is corrected,” said Dr. Melillo, “the child’s true gifted nature comes out.”
Brain Balance, with Achievement Centers in Lake Forest and Huntington Beach, offers an individualized program to address the unique challenges faced by children dealing with an imbalance in their functional development. www.brainbalancecenters.com
Autism Around the OC
Bourbon Street Bar & Grill Work Training Program | Fullertoncares.com
Nonprofit Fullerton Cares Autism Foundation and Fullerton Joint Union High School District are helping students learn everything they need to know in order to work in a full-service restaurant. Because employment and training for people with disabilities is such an important developing area of need, Bourbon Street Bar & Grill owners John Skehan and Larry Houser supported the creation of this program and in turn have been impressed by their progress.
Talk About Curing Autism
TACA National Office, Irvine | www.tacanow.org
On Thursday April 23rd, TACA will hold almost 60 “Coffee Talks” around the country. These events provide an opportunity for families to learn about treatment options, be connected with professionals who can help them, obtain scholarships for treatment, and get emotional support from parent mentors and others on the journey.
Old Ranch Country Club, Seal Beach | www.autismpartnership.com
Autism Partnership Foundation Center for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis is offering a complimentary workshop on Accelerating Language, a Work in Progress 2, on April 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with continuing education units available for professionals. Discussed will be the potential for those on the spectrum to acquire complex language when presented with comprevhensive, sophisticated and innovative language programs.
Stepping Forward Counseling Center
Irvine Day Camp | www.steppingforwardcounselingcenter.com
Created by Dr. Henry J. Kandel PhD, an experienced Sport Psychologist with a proven program design for special needs children, this camp program runs throughout the summer. Campers learn social skills and make friends while experiencing Therapeutic Horseback Riding, Swimming, Yoga, Drama, Academic Programs, Arts & Crafts, Video Game Competition Camp Out, Color War, Field Trips, Kayaking / Sailing, Rock Climbing and Helicopter Rides.
Autism Spectrum Interventions
Fullerton | www.asiautism.com
ASI offers in-home services and facilitates a parent inclusion model to ensure the parent’s input and ideas are integrated into every program. The clinical director of ASI is in contact with every family on a regular basis, with staff including speakers of Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Korean, German, Armenian, Arabic, Italian, Ethiopian and Sign Language (ASL).