One of the first things that you read about when you start to learn about what it means to be neurologically different, is that it can feel like being an alien, the veritable ‘Stranger in a Strange Land‘.
In our family, it was both a shock and a relief to realise that when we were looking for answers to why our children were developing outside of the box that we were also finding the answers for ourselves as well.
Finding out about giftedness was the first of these revelations. That not only did our children absorb knowledge in different ways but that we did too, and that that was OK. It was a relief for me to know there was a reason for many of the experiences of my past when looked at through a gifted lens. Not just the ‘smart’ part. But the asynchronous, OE part as well. It gave us all the chance to understand why we all needed time to learn, to process, and to allow time to de-stress when we had exciting and stimulating events. It gave me a chance to understand that not everyone felt with the same emotional intensity as our family. And that was OK.
But that was only part of the puzzle.
When my kids were diagnosed with SPD, we not only started to notice our children’s sensitivities, we noticed our own as well. My DH’s need for long walks. My own inability to concentrate when there was background music with lyrics. There was a reason for our behaviours . . . and there were ways to cope.
One of the things that changed our family dynamics in profoundly positive ways was when our son was diagnosed with Autism. Understanding the rich and complicated ways Autism and giftedness interact made my DH realise that his son didn’t just look like him, he thought like him as well. Suddenly we all had a window into those little miscommunications we lived with because we all believed we thought the same way.
As a result, some of the most amazing conversations I have ever had have come about by asking the simplest questions, like ‘when you think of X, what do you see / hear / feel? Where X could be anything from kitchens to abstract music. Stuff made sense. We could talk and know the other was listening. And we both started to relearn all our old habits that had developed from misunderstandings and false assumptions. My son’s 2e diagnosis freed my husband. And it lead me to discover that despite being the empath of the family, my husband was the one who was better at deciphering how others think when they aren’t thinking like you. My empath antennae would need to relearn what I had learned.
The latest of the puzzle-pieces that fell into place was when our daughter, J was diagnosed with probable ADHD. Because in many ways, she’s a little mini-me. When I started changing our environment to help her cope and concentrate – I helped myself. The busy fell away, and stress I had never known was there was suddenly absent. Reading about the characteristics of ADHD was like reading a storybook on my own childhood. And it is bringing acceptance.
I am 2e. I too, am one of the aliens. One of the strangers in a strange land.
In that there is peace, acceptance and grace. It’s OK to be who I am, and it’s OK for my family to be who they are. And OK to be comfortable in our own skin. It’s OK to love the alien in us.
This post was previously part of the GHF blog hop, “Recognizing Giftedness in Our Children and Ourselves“. Check out the other amazing posts!