And Then There Were 2(e)

My Journey of Diagnosis and Self-Discovery

Jillian ADHD 2e MB
Apr 22 · 7 min read
Photo taken by author’s spouse

Twice Exceptional

After our son was diagnosed, I took it upon myself to learn everything I possibly could about ADHD that I hadn’t learned in school. I quickly realized that my 10-year-old psych degree and 13-year-old CYW diploma were not nearly enough to make me an expert on the topic, so I made it my mission.

Photo by author, see my book list

And Then There Were 2(e)

I spoke to my family doctor and received a referral to a psychiatrist who specializes in Adult ADHD. In October 2019 I received my own official diagnosis. When I told my son he said “ I already knew you had ADHD, Mom”! We had spent the previous seven months learning everything we could together and he was becoming increasingly knowledgeable and self-aware. He had previously asked me if I also had ADHD because my observant little dude had already noticed the many similarities between us.

Now that I, too, am more self-aware I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier. For example, this not-very-long blog post took more than three hours pieced together throughout the day to complete. Not because I couldn’t think of what to write, but because once I started writing I suddenly realized I had to to all of the things. I mentioned my book list, so I had to go and update it. Then I needed (wanted) a cup of coffee, which reminded me that I had only halfway finished the dishes in the sink, so I (mostly) finished those. Then I remembered I had meant to take the recycling out and put in some laundry, so I did that too, and so on.

It isn’t a matter of procrastination, this blog is a labour of love, and I have no reason to do it other than because I want to. My extreme multi-tasking happens because one action or thought reminds me of another, and before I know it I have seven half-finished tasks on the go.

Luckily I eventually (usually) finish them all and this process seems to (mostly) work for me, but that’s after many years of developing strategies and essentially becoming used to how my brain works. There was definitely a time in my life when those seven tasks would all remain half-finished and I would just keep starting new ones as the mood struck. I’m also still very forgetful, often misplace things, and rely heavily on technology to keep organized.

My ADHD Makes Me a Kick-Ass Businesswoman

I have succeeded in part because of outside-the-box thinking, very common amongst 2e/ADHD folks, which helps me solve problems in ways that others may not think of. I am a master of hyperfocus, which can be both a help and a hazard for people with ADHD. I can set my sights on a work-related task and not come up for air until it is done.

My son is like this as well, when he’s reading a book I could tell him his hair was on fire and he would mumble “okay” and continue reading. He’s not ignoring me on purpose (most of the time anyway), hyperfocus is a coping mechanism that some people with ADHD develop as a way of preventing themselves from being so easily distracted, it also stems from difficulties with transitions (such as switching from one activity to another).

For me, hyperfocus can be a reprieve from the constant barrage of thoughts, distractions, and general buzzing that is constantly going on inside my head.

ADHD Does Not Impact IQ

Like my son, I was identified as gifted during my school years, but for me it was much later because our small town did not have any gifted programming in elementary schools. In high school I was enrolled in what was then called an enriched program for academically inclined students. So, why didn’t I struggle in school like many who have ADHD? Well, I did, but not in the way that made anyone suspect anything other than a precocious and energetic child.

Sure, I had trouble sitting still in kindergarten, but what 5 year old doesn’t? I was often sent to sit away from the group during story time because I couldn’t sit and listen without fidgeting, but when I was school-aged that was just seen as misbehaviour and punished and that was the end of it. In retrospect, this was probably the worst thing for me because fidgeting helped me truly hear and comprehend the story, whereas being sent back to my desk probably resulted in me doing something entirely different and not listening to the story at all.

Neurodiversity and Masking

They may be doing well academically, but they may have to work twice as hard to do so, and there are more important considerations when measuring a person’s success.

Twice exceptional students often have executive functioning challenges and may end up pulling all-nighters in order to get their assignments in on time — which, of course, I did. Having to pull all-nighters does not a diagnosis make, but pervasive executive functioning difficulties, such as difficulty with organization and time management, can lead to a student feeling overwhelmed. Frequent all-nighters can lead to a sleep-deprived student unable to absorb information in class because of exhaustion, as well as other quality of life issues due to fatigue, anxiety, and stress.

Asynchrony

My 7 year old son presents as so asynchronous that in one day he can read an entire 600-page novel meant for 10–12 year olds and yet can’t seem to go upstairs and brush his teeth and get ready for bed in an orderly fashion. Our evenings look something like this:

*Child walks up the stairs while also reading*

…[20 minutes later]…

Did you brush your teeth yet, buddy?”

Are you getting your PJs on?”

*Child sitting on his floor, completely naked, still reading* …

[without looking up from his book] …“Oops, I got distracted.”

Mornings are the same, but in reverse. He can seem so mature that I expect so much of him, but then I am forced to remember that intellectual maturity is a completely separate entity from emotional maturity and executive functioning.

Intellectual maturity is a completely separate entity from emotional maturity and executive functioning.

Despite many experts providing a wealth of information on ADHD, we are still in the early stages of public awareness and education, and even earlier with regards to twice exceptionality. I completed a 3-year Diploma in Youth Work as well as a BA in Psychology, and worked in the social services field for 10 years, and still had never once heard the term 2e until my son was diagnosed.

If you suspect you or your child might have ADHD, speak to your doctor or mental health professional about your questions or concerns. There is a lot of great information posted on the Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada’s website and there are additional links below.

References

Further reading…

Learn More About ADHD

CADDAC — The Centre for ADHD Awareness, Canada

Understood.org — Understood is an American website, so some references to educational rights and laws will not be applicable, but it is a fantastic resource for information on ADHD and neurodiversity in general.

Learn more about Twice Exceptionality

7 Myths About Twice Exceptional (2e) Students

Twice Exceptional Students

Twice Exceptional Kids: Both Gifted and Challenged

With Understanding Comes Calm

TECA — Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy

Learn more about Gifted Children

National Association for Gifted Children

Social Emotional Needs of the Gifted

About the Author

Jillian is an ADHD 2e Coach and Child Advocate in Manitoba, Canada.

If you or someone in your life is struggling to get the supports they need, please contact us. We can also provide referrals and have many additional resources listed on our website.

facebook.com/ADHD2ePro

Originally published at https://adhd2e.blogspot.com on April 25, 2020.

Age of Awareness

Medium’s largest publication dedicated to education reform | Listen to our podcast at aoapodcast.com

Jillian ADHD 2e MB

Written by

CYW, BA Psych. Worked in Social Services since 2003. Founded ADHD 2e MB in 2017 in oreder to support & advocate for neurodiverse children in Manitoba.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

Jillian ADHD 2e MB

Written by

CYW, BA Psych. Worked in Social Services since 2003. Founded ADHD 2e MB in 2017 in oreder to support & advocate for neurodiverse children in Manitoba.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store