Archive for the ‘2e’ Category

Unification

Rockford_MergeSign_WEB

So we’ve been a bit busy, as you can probably tell from the Gap That Was April. In that month, we had one out-of-town wedding, prep for another, taxes for home and business, two kid sports starting up, and the abrupt death of our faithful dishwasher. Forgiveness? Thanks. We’ll do better over the summer.

And speaking of, we looked up to find three weeks left on our homeschooling calendar. Just a double-dozen days of fitting everything in and we’ll be into the lazy – and welcome – days of summer. As I turned the calendar over, I started looking for a theme to the year – an overarching sense of mission, or purpose, or accomplishment, that I could find anchorage in. Was there something that tied it all together?

There was. But it was different for each of them.

For A, our five-intensity flathead V-8 made flesh, it was de-institutionalization. He’s had a workshirt and a nametag on for far too long, compared to the girls, and it was starting to show in a hundred little ways. But the most heartbreaking of them was his tendency to lean back, to wait for knowledge to be inserted or dispensed or otherwise given. He’s never been a taker of knowledge, and that changed this year. Slowly. Almost imperceptibly. But it changed. He’s looking now – for information, for inspiration, for meaning. He’s leaning forward, willing to participate, willing to work for his outcomes, rather than waiting for them to be served up – and it’s been wonderful to watch. I can’t wait to see how this plays out next year.

For H, our 2E emotional-intensive, it was comfort. For the entirety of her educational life, I’ve wished H a year to learn when she wasn’t concerned about hiding her disability, or worrying where it was going to surface next. I’ve wished her peace and unconditional support and the time and space to find what she is truly passionate about. This year provided all of that, and more, and it was a thing of absolute beauty to watch her learn to love history, to grow to want to improve her writing meaningfully, and – perhaps most importantly – to find a place to sit with math in comfortable silence, if not friendship. H needs space to find herself, to build something up from beneath her that will provide a platform for her to grow atop. She was never going to find that in a traditional school setting. It’s warmed my heart to see her find it here with us.

For E, our host child from the Crab Nebula, it was focus. E’s been guesting in the local GT program for the past two years, leading a split existence: two hours a day with me, on intensive writing and math and passion-project work, and then over to our local GT center school for some time being nine and ten, respectively. I wouldn’t begrudge her that time, looking back on it, but she’s grown more serious about having the time to pursue her passions, free of recess lineups and heat-lamp tater tots. This year was her opportunity to stretch out, to read everything she wanted to (even if – ahem – it was under the covers by flashlight), to stargaze the Perseids and sleep in the next day and work in her robe until noon. It was the year to show us the fire. She showed it to us, and its flame is beyond comprehension.

For me, it was spacing. Hockey coaches preach it like a mantra: motion, dispersed, active, aware. I learned to read them much better this year, to understand what it was they needed at any given moment. Sometimes, that was routine – the secure safety of the knowledge that tomorrow would parallel today, that what was asked of them on Tuesday would be asked of them on Thursday, too. Sometimes, though, it was disruption: that precisely the opposite was true.

So what do we do next year? Find a new theme. New focus. New energy. New tasks and architectures and ways of working. We build on what we found, keeping the best, discarding the rest. We move forward with a sense of passion and purpose.

But first, it’s time for a break. Because passion derives from the spaces between things – and it’s time for some between.

Aggressive Acceptance

I’m bookending Kathy’s post this week with a few additional thoughts on homeschooling a 2e child; where she did more of the why and what, I’m going to talk a little about the how of the decision. Specifically, there were three processes that I felt like, if we went back and could do them over again, we might have handled differently. The first was our speed to acknowledgment; the second was our boldness of decision; and the third was the shift in our educational strategy. All three are probably easier to define in their inverse, which is exactly what we did: we were slow to figure out what H was struggling with, tentative in the steps we took initially to work on it, and corrective – rather than pragmatic – in our approach to dyscalculia.

Learning disabilities can be notoriously difficult to spot in gifted kids, simply because there’s so much horsepower on tap that kids can often find a different route to managing tasks that might just be impossible for other children. Both H and A, for example, got the same math facts sheet for every number group – the 6’s started with 6×9, then 6×4, then 6×6, every day – so they just memorized their way through the sheet. (Crafty devils). A  – who runs toward the unmotivated side in reading, although we’re not 100% sure there’s not something else at work with him – could literally memorize, and read back, any book he’d ever had read aloud to him. We finally had to tell teachers to test his reading specifically on books not included in the read-aloud portion of the class. H had so much raw processing power available to her down other channels that she managed to get through a great deal of formal ‘math’ without learning any of it – so by the time we really started seeing cracks appear in her math skills, she’d been struggling with dyscalculia for years. If we’d done more detective work beneath her math grades, and investigated issues like analog clock reading more closely, we might have gotten to it before we did.

Similarly, once we did know what we were contending with, we edged toward a solution rather than making a bold leap. Tutors, manipulatives, pullout sessions with aides – they were band-aids on a gaping wound. We would probably have been better served to pull H out for a year and work intensively with her on building up both mathematical confidence and basic skills. Instead, we took advantage of what’s often served up to parents with 504s – a host of half-measures that mitigate, and manage, a situation that needs more. We were changing tires and oil on a car that needed an engine overhaul – and once we finally stopped frittering around the fringe of H’s disability, and got to work with her full-time last year, we saw real results and demonstrable progress.

Finally, there’s the issue of whether we’re trying to whittle a child into form or prepare her for the world she’s going to live in. I could likely sit with H for the better part of a year just on a concept like long division by hand – but what am I telling her by doing so? Do I believe she should be doing manual long division as a primary mathematical tool in her adult life? (Do I believe anyone should be doing manual long division as a primary mathematical tool, let alone someone with dyscalculia?) The reality is that H will come of age in an era that will feature unprecedented access to arithmetic and financial management tools, and I’d be far better off teaching her to run with a knee brace than insist on a thousand fruitless leg lunges a day. Add to which, by teaching her to use the tools that will be available to her – calculators, spreadsheets, Mathematica, etc – I can leave more room in her day to explore areas in which she has some genuine and often-dazzling mathematical gifts, such as algebra. There is so much focus in the popular press on educating children with learning disabilities to move children stubbornly toward normalcy that it’s possible to lose sight of the advantages of embracing the condition and teaching for a practical future of managing its challenges.

I wouldn’t call any of these a regret, in the long-run view of things; we got H into an environment that’s working fantastically well for her. But for other parents contending with the educational strategy for a 2e child, I’d certainly call them factors I wish I had been – at the same time – more aggressive about and more accepting of.

2e: A Dyscalculia Story

Dyscalculia

Parenting a twice-exceptional child as they enter school could be likened to hacking your way through a horrible, complicated maze in the jungle, only to finally come into a clearing and realize that homeschooling is really the only viable option. I retell our personal experiences here not only to offer some hope to those considering homeschooling their 2e child, but also to inform others about dyscalculia, a math learning disability. Had we, or the teachers we encountered, known about dyscalculia sooner, it would have saved my daughter a tremendous amount of pain and heartache.

The story begins, as all stories do, at the beginning. Our daughter, H, went through the usual early childhood milestones, a bundle of joyful exuberance and dramatic entrances. She entered preschool and learned to read at age 3 1/2, along with her twin sister.  The Montessori preschool they attended for a few hours a day was a fun place for both of them to make new friends and learn new things. There were a few parent-teacher conferences, where the reading teacher glowed about how well they were both doing with reading. The math teacher would tell us how well our one daughter was doing with the math activities. When we asked about our other daughter, she noted that H didn’t like to visit the math area. We didn’t think too much of this fact, since at age 3 or 4 we had no expectations of them really learning anything of substance.  She appeared to be learning her numbers along with the other kids.

We enrolled both girls in our local kindergarten program at age 5. The school suggested we apply for the district’s full-time gifted program, and we applied at the end of September. They both went through testing, and were accepted in January for the following fall. We would have to move schools, but the other school was only a ten-minute drive.  Although we noticed differences on their testing in math, we just figured that some kids are better at some subjects than others (and to be fair, this is true). H struggled some with basic addition and subtraction in kindergarten, but she didn’t seem to be behind most of the other kids.

The following fall, both girls started in the full-time GT program. The program was a grade accelerated, meaning they skipped first grade math and moved to second grade math, since many of them were already well into or past their knowledge of the second grade curriculum at the start of the year. H began to struggle more, becoming anxious about her math abilities, worried that it was taking her more time than the other kids. The teacher, who was new to GT teaching, was increasingly worried about her anxiety levels, and H’s inability to remember math concepts. H and her teacher started into daily struggles, which always ended in tears. We worked with her every day at home, trying to help her with remembering addition and subtraction facts. She would learn them one day, then forget them the next. At school, she developed a strong impostor syndrome, becoming convinced that she wasn’t smart enough to be in the class, and that she wasn’t really “gifted”. She spent the year watching helplessly as her signature joy drained away, her colorful personality leaching slowly out into grey. Her peers would remark – not always kindly – about her lack of math ability, and she tried to hide her deficiencies as best she could. She remained ahead of the class in reading and spelling, so she was advanced to the next grade, despite not being able to demonstrate competency in math. Her twin sister, without a learning disability, had already moved up another grade during the school year.

The next year, we discussed having the school place her in a regular class for math, while remaining in the GT class for the other subjects. However, since the second grade GT class was very math-focused, the teacher suggested having her pulled out for math individually, so she could work at her own level. We agreed, and for a while, things seemed to improve. H appeared to be learning more basic math when she was alone, away from the scrutiny of her peers. She was somewhat embarrassed to be leaving class during math time, but this was less than her discomfort of doing math with the class. I would ask her what she did during her individual time with the instructor, but she usually couldn’t remember; she did report that they used physical manipulatives frequently. We also worked with her at home, using manipulatives, several times a week. She remained joyless and anxious during school. Despite the individual instruction, by the end of the year, H remained unable to add or subtract without counting on her fingers, she could not read an analog clock or understand time, and she could not understand the concepts of multiplication and division. She also still could not tie her shoes.

It was around this time that we started to research difficulties with math learning, and it was only at this point – bringing together difficulties with time, counting, sequencing, and math skills – that we discovered the word dyscalculia, and the handful of websites out there with information on screening children and adults for math learning disabilities. H appeared to meet every criterion for a severe math learning disability, and for dyscalculia in particular. As a physician, I am aware of the perils of patients diagnosing themselves based on internet information, so I brought the information to her teacher. Her teacher had never heard of dyscalculia, but thought it was worth looking into.

We had H privately tested that summer. I’m not sure what was more jarring: seeing her well-above-grade-level reading and spelling scores, or her well below- grade-level math scores. The testing confirmed our initial suspicions about dyscalculia. We met with the school, requested a 504, and decided to have her move up another grade for everything but math, and then have her homeschool math with a tutor. She started working with the tutor over the summer, and continued throughout the next school year, every school day, one-on-one, for an hour. The tutor was patient, and had experience with both gifted kids and kids with learning disabilities. H made some good progress over the course of the year, and caught up to her age-appropriate grade level for math. The tutor was also a trained and licensed test administrator for the KeyMath assessment, and after testing Hannah, provided us some more hair-tearing news: Hannah was significantly behind grade level in a handful of areas, marginally behind in another handful…and gifted in a third handful. None of the three skill sets had the slightest thing to do with each other. (Of course).

Around this time, my daughter also read My Thirteenth Winter by Samantha Abeel. The book is her personal story of dyscalculia; it is a wonderfully written book, and H has re-read it countless times. She also began using an online math curriculum involving a great deal of repetition, which works well for her, and she really likes the online format. She can hold the information for longer periods of time, and she still needs tools – reminder sheets with math formulas, multiplication tables, and, of course, a calculator. On the upside, she can manipulate a calculator and a spreadsheet better than most adults. She can read a digital clock, and has started to understand the concept of time. Her math anxiety has significantly improved. Since we started full-time homeschooling, she is able to spend more of her time on the things she loves, and come easy for her: creative writing, reading, and art. She is our happy, joyous child again, no longer bound hourly by the constraints of her learning disability, but able to utilize her gifts as she sees fit.

We spend our mornings in the warm sun of the clearing, having no desire to hack back into the jungle. When the time comes that she needs to re-enter formal schooling (college?), she will have the tools she needs to navigate the maze with her natural grace and poise.

If our story describes your child, we urge you to ask a professional about dyscalculia. A math learning disability is more than being “bad at math”, and getting help early on makes a difference. Here are some web sites to get you started:

National Center for Learning Disabilities: What is Dyscalculia?

Dyscalculia.org

The Dyscalculia Forum

The Mathematical Brain

Nature.com: article on Dyscalculia

 

GHF Oct BLog Hop

We Are participating in the Gifted Homschoolers Forum October Blog Hop! The topic is: Homeschooling a Gifted/2e Child. Check out the other posts!

 

Actually, You Probably Could

Hands-adult-reaching-to-help-child-4383246_l6

Now that school is back in session, we’re starting to run into our old trad-school friends – at restaurants, in the Target aisles, at the pool in the evening. There are pleasantries exchanged, and they often feel the need to bring up alternating positives and negatives about their own experiences, as if to both reassure themselves and reassure me at the same time. I’m sure we’ll get past all of this in time, and we’ll all agree that we’re doing what we need to be doing. It’s with that thought in mind that I’m finding that the most common denouement to these conversations is a simple statement on their part with respect to homeschooling: “I couldn’t do it.”

Actually, you probably could.

If you felt you needed to.

Seriously. When have you, as a parent, not tried to do what you felt your kid needed? Not wanted; needed. And how often have you, in a split-second, made a judgement call as to whether something was a want or a need? I found myself in the school-supplies aisle at Target this week, and I saw parents make those calls a hundred times over. Yes, you need a binder; no, you don’t need a binder with a built-in iPad holder. Yes, you need a protractor, but I’m sure you could get by with this one instead of that one. Yes, you need a backpack, but…yes, you need a calculator, but…on and on it went. We’re in the business of drawing those invisible lines as parents; where am I serving this kid’s needs, and where am I being wheedled into something unnecessary and indulgent?

I know where that line is in education, and so do you. We all do. If you felt as if homeschooling was a need, instead of an indulgence, you’d do it, and you’d do fine. You’d at least go down swinging, which is all most of us do anyway; some days are wondrous voyages of enlightenment and learning, and other days, we’re fighting through our frustrations just as our kids are fighting through theirs, to get their heads around writing assignments and algebraic formulas and the role of the sickle in early agriculture. Like anything, there are days that we feel like we’re doing it, and there are days we feel like we’re not.

I think that sensation – “I couldn’t do it” – is probably a good and healthy test of your own thought process on homeschooling. This was an option for us for several years, and nothing more, despite a very dear friend and counselor – the inimitable Patty Gatto-Walden – calmly taking Kathy’s hand during a counseling session, looking directly into her eyes, and saying, “you’re homeschooling in three years.” We exchanged a quick glance, one that probably betrayed the shared initial feeling of we can’t do that. And that was true, at the time, because I didn’t know everything I needed to know to perceive homeschooling for my kids as a need, not an indulgence.

But the data piled up, like snow in March here in Colorado, layer upon layer, silent drift upon silent drift, until the same instinct kicked in that makes you start pulling on boots and coats to go and shovel it. EXPLORE scores and WISC-IV data and dyscalculia information and case studies on emotional sensitivity all accumulated until Kath and I began to exchange other glances, ones that suggested that maybe, just maybe, Patty had been right. Were we really going to send a kid off to sixth grade who already tests high mastery of all of middle school and a fat wedge of high school? Were we going to undertake increasingly distant split-grading for another kid who belongs squarely in one grade for writing and reading and squarely in another for math? What about our kid who just doesn’t seem to learn anything in school because the emotional ‘noise’ is too loud? This was looking less like an indulgence with each datapoint.

In the end, Patty was right, of course, and here we are, ready to get going again, and I’m nodding and smiling in response to I couldn’t do that in all of its varieties of delivery.

I couldn’t either, once.

But I can now.

2e or not 2e?

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

― William ShakespeareHamlet

We are spending some time over this month preparing for homeschooling in September. For Dave and I, this involves more conversations with the kids, and lots of research about what’s out there in terms of tools and curriculum.

We have decided to continue a structured math curriculum for each of them. This helps us support their math learning without having to create a curriculum ourselves. For H (our dyscalculic), a Connections Academy single course worked well last year for math, and she’d like to continue this fall. We have tried, it seems, every possible variation for her in years past: math at school on a 504 plan, private tutors, LD specialists, etc. Last year was her best year so far, and although H certainly struggled, she definitely had fewer emotional issues with math, and she really learned and retained the material.

E finished Algebra through Northwestern CTD in May. The class was decent, but frankly not worth the money. As it turns out, we paid the price of a college course for a textbook, some grading, and a stamp on a transcript. Although E did have every other week chats with the teacher – which were great – she essentially taught herself algebra out of the textbook. She also loved using the Algebra Touch app on the iPad. Luckily, she enjoys learning, and she truly learned algebra inside and out. However, this year, we are moving on to try Thinkwell Homeschool (which gets good reviews from other parents) for Geometry.  We’ll use the HMH Fuse iPad app to go with it. The combination of the two will be about 1/3 the price we paid this year, with potentially higher quality instruction.

This fall will be A’s first time homeschooling. He was in a second grade GT class last year, finishing up the third grade math curriculum at school. I had him take an online, above-level math placement test to see what he really knows. As many parents have found when their kids come home, he knows more higher-level math than I had expected he would. He likes to watch Khan Academy videos to learn new math concepts, and uses IXL to practice math. One of the questions he didn’t know on the placement test was a long division question, and afterwards, he wanted to learn long division. In the “it’s awesome to be a kid in 2013” column, Dave showed him Long Division Touch on the iPad, and he learned the basics of it in about 5 minutes. (I relearned it, too!)

The post-test, though, led to a much more interesting discussion about fairness. We have never required H to perform long division by hand. She has struggled so much to learn basic math concepts that we have had to focus on what is important, and what she will need to know to survive. Long division is not, in our opinion, something that is necessary. So-we’ve had her look at it, so she understands that it exists, but when she sees problems of this nature, we have her use a calculator. In fact, her calculator skills are much better than her siblings, because this is her lifeline to math.

The natural question from my son was: why does H get to use a calculator, while I am required to do it – initially – by hand and in my head? We discussed with all of them that H has a learning disability, and gets tools for this. My son has always struggled with writing down concepts and paragraphs, and so he keyboards or uses Dragon Dictation instead of writing by hand. I explained to him that this was no different; each child gets the tools that will help them learn. He understood, and didn’t have a problem with the situation once we discussed it; he has certainly watched his sister struggle with math as he has surpassed her knowledge level this last year. Plus, he enjoys doing math, which helps. On the flip side, H has watched her brother strain to write a paragraph that would have taken her a few minutes to dash off.

The kids all got iPad Minis for the school year, and we helped each of them choose all the apps that we thought would help them the most.  Each of them also has their own laptop, which they use to access Google Drive from anywhere they want. I got to thinking, as I watched them all working away happily at their individual levels, whether it even matters anymore exactly how gifted they are, or which ones have a learning disability, too. As long as we give them the tools, they will learn what they would like to learn, at their own pace, in their own space, and in their own way, no matter what the labels.  My thinking is changing to make it so.

Matsaaruti

561

The fantastic Gifted Problems Tumblr posted this exchange last week, and it stopped me in my tracks. It’s really rare that someone takes a descriptive challenge that has approximated nailing custard to a wall for decades and says, “here, let me pop that in the freezer for an hour, and put it in a frame. By the way, here’s a pair of picture hangers and a tack hammer.” But, indirectly, that’s just what this exchange did: neatly hang a problem that haunts many gifted kids (and adults). When you do something right, it’s because of your ‘giftedness’ – as if it were one of Allie Brosh’s Alots, a beast that sits apart from you and does amazing things. When you do something wrong, however…well, that’s entirely on you.

That, in turn, has a lot to do with how we perceive failure – and gifted individuals deal with a great deal of failure in a lifetime, regardless of what the popular belief might be. We fail at large goals and small, otherwordly attempts and mundane tasks. We fail over and over again. But if we allow kids even a hint of owning the schism that’s hinted at in the Gifted Problems exchange – that credit for our triumphs is due our ‘condition,’ while blame for our failures is due ‘ourselves,’ we’re pointing them down the wrong road. Triumph and failure belong to our fully integrated selves: I own both, for better or worse.

There’s more of the ‘better’ in that last sentence than you might initially think. Failure’s important for everyone in life, and GT kids (and adults) are no exception. Failure can do so much more for us, in many ways, than success can: it can teach, it can provoke, it can inquire, it can test. Failing at anything will tell you everything you need to know about your relationship with that activity. Specifically, how failure feels in each of its instances provides us with deep and rich insight into our passion level for trying again.

And that feeling is unique to each specific failure. There are a million flavors of failure for GT kids (and adults). In much the same way that the Inuit have a dizzying array of words for snow,  I like to think of failures in very specific and individual ways; not every failure is a garden-variety one. Here’s just a few of my favorite varieties.

  • Fehlure: failing at something you’re expected to be good at, simply because you couldn’t care less about it.
  • Fauxlure: actually pretending to be terrible at something just so people will stop asking you to do it for them.
  • Frailure: a stunning-upset failure at something you’re normally good at, simply because you’ve been stretched thin doing everything else.
  • Flailure: being tossed into something you’ve never done before and being expected to do well at it, despite having no experience at all.
  • Foelure: a bitter draught, this one involves failing at something high-profile in the presence of your sworn nemesis or arch-enemy.
  • Foolure: a close cousin to fauxlure, but in this case, you’re hiding some genuine skills you’ll pull out at the eleventh hour.
  • Feelure: another close cousin to fauxlure; this time, you’re not going to do it because normally you’d be paid to do it.
  • Feylure: expectations aside, nothing short of being able to do actual magic would have saved this one from being a disaster.
  • Feralure: you’ve abandoned any pretense of trying to pull this one out with skill and intellect, and now you’re just going at it with brute force
  • Freelure: the end state of fauxlure, when you’re finally left alone from being asked to do whatever it is.

My favorite, however, is fillure. Fillure is a failure that immediately floods you with confidence, inspiration, and excitement; that’s not how it’s done, fillure quietly informs, but you’re on the right track. Fillure pulls you to your feet and sends you back to the keyboard or the kitchen, the rink or the research, with renewed vigor. When you’ve found fillure in your life, you’ve probably found your passion – or at least one of them. And over time, as you say it aloud, it really does start to sound a lot less like failure…and a whole lot more like its own condition.

To my own kids, and to all GT kids (and, really,everyone), then, I would say: know your snow. Not every snowfall is a travail, and not every failure is a disaster. For the Inuit, auniq (“ice that is filled with holes, like Swiss cheese”) is a danger; matsaaruti (“‘wet snow that can be used to ice a sleigh’s runners”) is a tool. Failure will present itself over and over again, sometimes as a trap, sometimes as a test, sometimes as a teacher, and sometimes as a tool. Greet it on your own terms, name it in the moment for the role it possesses in that moment – and know that this meeting will not be the last.

Resolute

holding-hands

I spent yesterday morning holding the hand of Resiliency in a darkened auditorium. There were tough moments – many of them, in fact – but Resiliency got through them with quiet grace, as she always does. She broke down later, in the car, and got up again; broke down again later, in the restaurant, and got up again. Resiliency knows that these moments are coming, and she’s gotten better about them over the years, and I love her for doing so.

It’s not easy, I’ve learned by watching from afar, to be a twin. Even when the word itself is meaningless, as it is in our family – they’re fraternal, not identical – it’s impossible to shake. They have been described as twins since birth, given the label over and over again, and been acknowledged as such on every sports team, in the getting-to-know-you round of every first day of school, ever. They have been fed this concept of sameness, of mirrored existence, since they left the hospital.

They are not twins to me. They never have been. They are two children born on the same day that share loving parents and a two-story suburban home. They both like black olives, and they both like pedicures, and they both like Doctor Who and Muse and sea salt-caramel gelato and pandas and footrubs. But they are not twins and never will be, and I know that, and they know that. They are as different as night as day, and they each have their own challenges and burdens to bear. Yesterday, I spent the day celebrating the triumphs of one, and supporting the emotions of the other.

H is our 2e daughter. She is our empath, and our joy fountain, and the canary in the emotional coalmine of day-to-day existence. She struggles with dyscalculia and task sequencing every day. Things we take for granted, like glancing at an analog clock, are work for her. Some days numbers don’t come easily for her, and other days they don’t come at all. She must contend every day with this concept of being a ‘twin’ to someone who does not share her challenges. So when she takes her seat next to me in the auditorium, and E walks tentatively to the stage, still learning to navigate open-toed heels, to accept her high-score certificate for the Colorado state EXPLORE test in science, I squeeze her hand.

She squeezes back. It’s not the iron grip of civility under tension. It’s a reassuring squeeze; Dad, I’m OK. 

For many gifted kids, resiliency is bouncing back from a bad game in chess club, or a robotics assignment that refuses to compile, or a crushing snub for the school poetry annual. H’s is a different type of resiliency. She rises every day knowing that math will be no easier today than it was for her yesterday, that it might make sense but probably will not, but that she must try anyway. Dyscalculia never goes away. Superhuman effort grinds it down to the status of an impediment rather than a disability. It is not a condition that rewards such effort, but merely offers a grudging nod of oppositional approval before retreating to its cave for the night. A level of exertion that, for most of us, would produce growth and confidence merely means a day without tears and frustration. As a society, we tend to view resiliency in terms of its role in enabling forward progress in our lives. The narrative of resiliency in our country is that of rising above our challenges, enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune only to surmount them in the olive wreaths of victory. For H, resiliency is fighting numbers and clocks and money – inexhaustible and omnipresent – to a draw, every day, only to rise and try again tomorrow.

I don’t know what that’s like. What I do know is that I have watched her fall over and over again, and I have watched with hope and pride and love as she has risen each time. It is not a resiliency that many gifted parents know, but for those with 2e children, it is every bit as vital and inspirational as any other flavor.

As she stared resolutely forward, genuinely happy for E, I squeezed back – because I love her for her calm resolve, and because she is the bravest person I know.