When Kathleen Humble’s three-year-old son was identified as gifted and twice exceptional, it started a long and at times emotional journey which resulted in home schooling, a book and an address to some of the country’s leading educators.
The former St Mary’s Maitland student who worked as a computer programmer of super computers creating and managing software for geophysics researchers, left her career to home school her son, research her book and write a blog. Her son, whom she did not want to name, has autism but is profoundly gifted and five grades ahead of where he would be for his age in mainstream school.
The term twice exceptional, has only recently entered educators' lexicon. It refers to intellectually gifted children who have some form of disability. They are considered exceptional both because of their intellectual gifts and because of their special needs. “In schools there is an idea that pushing or accelerating a child is bad, or they burn out and collapse and are unable to function. That is a myth,” Ms Humble said.
“My son is thriving on this and doing amazingly well. His hand writing is at or below grade level but his mind is many grades ahead and that can be hard to fit into the standard cirriculum structure of a school.” Ms Humble spent a lot of time trying to find a school that would help her son with his abilities and disabilities which also include mild cerebral palsy and some speech delays.
The big theme of her book, focuses on the fact that many special needs students are not identified for their strengths. “This comes through in scientific research. They are not giving disabled children the chance to stretch themselves and concentrate more on negatives not the positives. If kids misbehave it’s assumed it’s a behavioural problem when it may be that they are bored and not being challenged,” Ms Humble said. Twisted Tales and Zombie Ideas (a guide to the mix on gifted and twice exceptional children) will be released next year.