It can be easy to think of exceptions as things that need to be fixed, to treat difference as something that needs to be shoved back into the box (even while we laud the idea of individuality). But living with my fantastic twice exceptional little tribe has taught me a very valuable lesson: there is no path. There is no right way to do anything, and the exception can be just as beautiful and amazing as the more familiar way.
It’s a Long and Different Road
It has been a long, hard road to get this far – and it’s been a road that has been, for the most part, without signposts, without a convenient “yes, that’s about right” guide.
One thing that stands out, over and over again, is the exceptional path these kids take to get to where they want to be, one that doesn’t seem to follow any of the neat, prewritten, carefully measured guidelines they love to hand out when you become a new parent.
There is No Right Way – or Right Order
I have, perforce discovered that there is no right way to anything, particularly in regards to children’s development – there is only the statistical average. There is no set developmental timeline, and these quirky kids will do things in their own time and their own way.
There’s no convenient shorthand that says, “You must learn / do X before Y“, there is only what most people do. It’s a guide, and not a prescription.
Name me any two developmental milestones, and I probably know a family with a child who did it the other way around.
Walking before crawling? Check. Physics before toilet training? Check. Reading three languages before speaking? Check.
There’s no quick and easy way to judge where a twice exceptional child is developmentally. There’s no easy checklist. And there’s nothing more certain than uncertainty.
I find myself often having to ask (and then re-ask, and then ask again):
Is their dislike of an activity because it’s too easy, too hard, or both (yes, both)?
Or contemplating is OK to learn college maths before they can write a sentence . . . or reliably dress themselves?
I Never Thought I Would Be Here!
These are not questions I ever thought I would have to ask. I never thought I would spend nights staring at the ceiling wondering how to keep up with my 8 year old and his quest to absorb maths wholesale. I keep having to smoosh things together that just don’t seem to fit, like pre-teens and free university lectures. Or trampolines and fractals.
Over the years, I have found it can be very easy to misjudge these kids. To trip up on those X then Y assumptions over and over again.
But I’m still here. And so is the magic – the amazing upside down, backwards, tumbled around magic of kids who don’t so much stray off the normal developmental path, as dance and tumble through the jungle of their own creation.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.