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Gifted/2e is Neurodiversity: The Complicated Minds of the Gifted

Updated: 5 days ago

A Blog Series: Inclusion of Gifted, Talented, Intense-minds, and ADHD, in our definition of neurodivergence.

Michelle L. Guy, MSW, RSW, 2024

Understanding and validating the experiences of gifted & Twice-Exceptional (or 2e) individuals is an area that is rarely researched, understood, or valued in the educational and mental health systems, let alone the general population. It can be very challenging to find support or interventions to help with the intensity of gifted and 2e minds.

2e is a term used for someone who is both gifted (in at least one area) and has an additional exceptionality (ADHD and L.D are both very common). Further, with 2 or more “exceptionalities”, comes development in the brain that is asynchronous in various areas, which can present as confusion and dysregulation, or "behavioural issues" for a child or youth, and result in feeling misunderstood or like a “misfit” when seeking connection with other people. Parents may see dysregulation externalized, and/or internalized because the areas of the brain that understand higher concepts and language may be “overdeveloped” while emotional areas of the brain are age appropriate or could be behind. The mind can become even more complex and intense when this gap in developing areas is higher, such as those with an IQ of 130 or higher or GAI of 99% or higher*. It is important to recognize that Gifted/2e is neurodiversity.

A red umbrella lifted above a sea of black umbrella's to signify unique minds of Gifted 2e

Several factors make it challenging for parents to support their children & teens, and for individual young people and adults who are identified as Gifted or 2e, and other neural-exceptionalities, to find the right fit in a professional support system.

This can lead to frustration, misdiagnosis, rejection sensitivity, refusal to access support altogether, and continued lifelong challenges.

Some typical, and hard to overcome challenges may include; family and peer connections, issues in romantic relationships, and concepts of Self - self-identity, self-regulation, and self-leadership within one's system. It is important to recognize some of the factors that lead to gifted, profoundly gifted and 2e people being misunderstood. The lack of professional understanding and knowledge of the characteristics most common in those identified as Gifted/2e often lead to misdiagnosis. Gifted individuals are at higher risk of struggling with symptoms of mental health issues as they experience the world and their place in it more intensely. They are often misdiagnosed with, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder), Bi-Polar Disorder, Behavioural disorders, Personality Disorders and others.

 In this series, we will explore several factors that can support healthy growth and development for Gifted, 2e children and youth and self-understanding, compassion and self-management in young people and adults. We will discuss:

  • The importance and understanding of validating the intensity of emotional experiences for individuals identified as Gifted or 2e 

  • How misunderstanding, misinformation and societal myths regarding neurodivergence and mental health have made it challenging to find consistent information and care providers who “get it”

  • With new and improving technology (functional MRI and others) in neuroscience we can now see the areas of the brain where there are differences in development in Giftedness, ADHD, and Autism and notice the overlap of several areas for all three.

  • The challenge of supporting gifted and 2e individuals and accessing mental health supports that have an adequate understanding of the complexities of the gifted, profoundly gifted, and 2e mind and some of the specific needs of the gifted brain in treatment

  • The gaps in research and knowledge translation in this area

  • The ways that the overtly positive connotation of the word “gifted” does not reflect the variety of challenges faced in day to day life of those who are Gifted or 2e. 

Our blog posts will speak to some of these issues in more detail over the coming months to support learning and understanding in this particular area of neurodiversity that is often misinformed, lacks significant research, and is not shared in popular media. Stay tuned for more by checking out our Blog Page at:

wooden blocks with 2 and E on them.
Gifted and 2e

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