We are back! And we have another Building 2e Awareness & Community Conference under our belts. It was a great day filled with: families and educators; the speakers who came to share their expertise; our sponsors, who shared information on their schools and programs, and; our fabulous volunteers who helped the day run smoothly! We were also thrilled to welcome our keynote speaker, Debbie Reber, who spoke from the heart as she shared her experiences grappling with acceptance while parenting her different-wired son. The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive and we continue to receive thanks and accolades from our participants.
We were so glad to have so many families join us for the day. We created TECA and this conference especially for them. We understand that parents of 2e kids have unique parenting challenges because their kids are unique. In addition to having all the qualities of giftedness, our children also have special needs, or rather, they are children whose needs differ from what their environment provides. When you consider that these multiple exceptionalities exist in the same child – and interplay with one another – that is a lot of personality for just one kid.
As the parent of one of these kids chocked full of personality, I have previously written about how getting phone calls from his school would send a shot of adrenalin through my system because I was always afraid of what they were calling about. And I am not alone. We all dread those phone calls from the teacher telling us our kids ask too many questions, they can’t stop jumping out of their seat, or they have been rolling around on the floor. Again.
As parents, it is our job to provide our kids what they need to integrate these types of behaviors and become successful adults. But often it is not clear how to do that. In the study, Learning Disabled and Gifted Joan Wolf writes: “Parent Advocates were the primary reason that gifted students with learning disabilities were able to enter and succeed in college.” Now let’s think about that. How do we get our kids from point A – rolling around in the classroom – to point B – succeeding in college?
TECA inherently understands this dilemma, for we are first and foremost parents. TECA’s founding principle is that parent support is critical for the success of 2e children. Our “one source for 2e” design responds to the holistic needs of 2e families using research-based information and resources.
Our annual Building 2e Awareness & Community Conference is an important element of providing that parent support. Unlike most conferences, TECA does not issue requests for proposals from potential presenters. Instead, we listen to our community of families to see what issues and challenges are important to them as they raise and educate their 2e children. We then reach out to our professional partners to craft conference topics that meaningfully address those concerns, emphasizing research-based strategies and tools that parents can begin using as soon as they get home from the conference.
We were also thrilled to welcome our second cohort of teachers, school psychologists and other professionals working with 2e kids at this year’s conference. During the professional training track, educators learned how to work with and accommodate our kids without tearing up their classrooms. Dr. Lois Baldwin, a pioneer in 2e education, talked about using students’ strengths and interests as entry points to engagement. Our “Secret Sauce” panelists discussed their strategies for helping our kids thrive in settings not necessarily created for them. And occupational therapist Lindsey Biel helped educators understand how sensory issues manifest in the 2e student. We offered our professional attendees tools, perspective, and inspiration that will help them bring out the best in all their students because we know that what works best for 2e students works well for all students
Our goal for the day was to foster empathy and understanding – not just for our kids, but between parents and professionals because working together collaboratively is critical for helping our amazing kids to reach their potential. Based on the feedback we have received thus far, we are certain that we achieved our goal and that parents and professionals alike left the conference feeling more confident and inspired as they returned to their homes and classrooms.
Finally, I want to thank Harri O’Kelley, Jordan O’Kelley, and The O’Kelley Lab. You may remember a few weeks ago I posted a blog from Jordan, a 14-year-old 2e college student. Jordan wrote a book called O’Kelly Legends Monologues – or – How I got Out of Homework in
4th 8th Grade. The O’Kelleys graciously donated 150 copies of Jordan’s book, which we gave out to all of the attendees in their gift bags. We encourage our guests to have fun performing these monologs with their kids or students.
Last but not least, I want to thank TECA’s board members, Jenn Choi, Kim Dougharty, Bryan Gaffin, Laurie Modell, and Barry Stelboum, for all the many things they have done to help make the TECA conference a huge success! Hugs to you all!