The Harder the Shell the Softer the Inside: When Twice Exceptional Kids Protect Themselves

Parents, educators and clinicians have the supreme honor and ability to change a 2e child’s life; to stand up, speak out and tenderly hold the 2e child’s larger-than-life heart.
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I have the privilege of working with parents and educators of 2e children and mentoring 2e adults. On my journey, time and time again, I learn about horrific misunderstandings, misplaced assumptions and draconian reactions. I witness the overtaking of ego at the sacrifice of someone else’s happiness and safety. Being twice exceptional comes with the conundrum of asynchrony – the ability to do some things better than most and struggling with skills that are often inherent strengths for others. When strengths are discounted because of lagging skills, the biggest travesties occur. These realizations are the basis for this poem.

The Harder the Shell – the Softer the Inside.

Born hungry.

Hungry for knowledge.

Hungry for truth.

Hungry for connection.

Eyes wide open.

Not being taught the way he ought.

Not being told the things he needed to know.

Mistakes made on a path toward alienation.

Eyes cast downward.

The harder the shell the softer the inside.

Years spent building a fortress around his heart.

Not because he doesn’t care, or he has a disorder.

But because he protects the nascent feelings never allowed to grow and flourish.

He keeps them safe – keeps himself safe and hides from the things he needs most. 

Parents, educators and clinicians have the supreme honor and ability to change a 2e child’s life; to stand up, speak out and tenderly hold the 2e child’s larger-than-life heart. For if they do not make room within their grasp for the 2e heart, the 2e gumption, gorgeous empathy and longing to make this world a better place, that heart may wither away and become deeply buried beneath layers of dirt and behind brick walls. It’s harder to blast away the years of hurt, confusion, misunderstanding and pain, then it is to prevent them.

Julie Skolnick
Author: Julie Skolnick

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-esteem in their students and clients.

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Julie Skolnick

Julie Skolnick

Julie Skolnick, M.A., J.D., is the Founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, LLC, through which she passionately guides parents of gifted and distractible children, mentors 2e adults, and collaborates with and advises educators and professionals on bringing out the best and raising self-esteem in their students and clients.

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