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Twice Exceptional — Gifted with a Learning Disability: A Parent’s Story

My son is now 7.4 years in 2nd grade. He was a late talker, with a very limited vocabulary. We did a lot of different things to get him to communicate more, the usual — read lots of stories to flash cards, The Listening Program, stories on tape, piano lessons, fish oil supplements, vitamins, minerals etc. etc. All of this helped, but I knew he still had some catching up to do.

I started working on phonics and sight reading with him every night since he was 4 years old as it became apparent to me that he was a potential dyslexic. It was a struggle, it took him half a year to learn his phonics — this while practicing every night. It was torture to get him to blend words, but eventually he was able to read at an advanced level going into 1st grade and I was overjoyed…except, he hated reading.

Towards the end of 1st grade his teachers complained that he was the top reader in his class at the beginning of the year…but he had not advanced. His comprehension was weak. He never participated in class, his writing also has not improved, his thoughts were jumbled.

I suggested that he be tested because it seemed that he was still struggling with a language problem, which I had hoped would be resolved. They were skeptical…but agreed.

Well, working at the board of ed’s pace and finally paying for an additional private speech and language evaluation, the conclusion was that he has a very high IQ, but his scores were lopsided — gifted non-verbal, but weak in language; high processing speed, but weak working memory. His receptive language was strong in some areas, but very weak in higher order language. He was also very behind in expressive language. Basically he was twice exceptional…gifted with a learning disability.

He finally expressed that he didn’t know what was going on in class, he just watched what the other kids were doing and then followed them.

In January, he finally got an IEP (after much begging, because his high scores averaged out his low scores) which included language therapy and improving his auditory digit span. He started on therapy for three sessions, but unfortunately the school therapist broke her leg. No therapy.

After some reflection I realized his weak auditory memory was responsible for a lot of his issues, personal as well as academic (social interaction, anxiety, his resistance to new situations, writing, speaking up in class).

I decided that even if he got his therapy in school it wasn’t enough. So we embarked on Edublox. I wasn’t expecting for any huge jumps in ability. Well, three months into Edublox and earnestly, my son is now making more spontaneous comments about school which is wonderful, but the biggest difference academically is that his spelling improved immensely (which I hadn’t even noticed was a problem till it no longer was) and he suddenly enjoyed reading!!

Now every night he reads before the lights go out. I realize NOW that he had never enjoyed reading no matter how easy because his working memory and visual imaging were so poor he couldn’t see the pictures in his head or remember what he was reading; he struggled to narrate a story back to me and left out a lot of details.

Now it is so much easier for him. His auditory digit span has doubled. His visual perception and memory, which was pretty good before, is now excellent.

He just started seeing a private SLP, and I’m really looking forward to seeing his improvement in the coming year.

Doing Edublox is not easy, especially for a family with a busy schedule. Brandon hated it (I admit I don’t enjoy it either), but is slowly coming around when he improves a level.

The results have gone beyond academic so far — he has more personality, less anxiety, and our relationship seems better; it’s not a complete turnaround…but I know it’s coming with more work. I have faith.

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