Bright not broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and autism, the book by Kennedy, Banks, and Grandin (2011) focuses on the issues about the identification and education of twice-exceptional children (2e children). These are the children who simultaneously have exceptional gifts such as academic, physical, or intellectual abilities, and a developmental or learning impairment such as the autism spectrum disorder or the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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The book is divided into three parts. The first one discusses nuances related to the identification of 2e children. It is stated that such kids are often perceived as lazy, unintelligent, or defiant by their teachers, which leads to severe problems with the child’s development; therefore, it is paramount to efficaciously identify these children to be able to properly address their needs.
The second part deals with the nature of the issues that 2e children are faced with. The authors discuss the flaws that exist in the American mental health and educational systems. In particular, it is stressed that many children are labeled with numerous disorders and are treated accordingly, often with strong medications, whereas in the reality they do not have these disorders, but may have other disabilities that remain unaddressed; also, the currently existing educational system lacks methods to properly deal with the 2e children.
Finally, the third part focuses on the methods that can be employed to help 2e children. Here, the importance of building a culture that would define these kids as bright rather than broken is emphasized.
It is possible to state that the book provides rather a high-quality review of the issues about the identification, education, and upbringing of the 2e children. The authors approach the problem systematically, beginning with the difficulties related to telling apart the 2e children from the rest of the kids. For instance, several characteristics typical of such kids are provided; the common views of adults on these children are also exposed and criticized, which, undoubtedly, can come in handy for both educators and parents whose children are 2e kids.
It is also paramount that the authors emphasize that diagnosing kids with such disorders as e.g. the Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or the Conduct Disorder (CD) is often done erroneously, and the strong medications, which may not always be good even for children with ODD or CD, may significantly harm the 2e kids who have been falsely diagnosed with these disabilities, and hinder the identification of their true condition, significantly worsening their health, academic, social, and personal outcomes.
The authors state that the system currently used for diagnosing these (that is, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has significant faults that cause the professionals to err frequently; this also leads the parents to blame the specialists who were “simply following the rules of their profession“ (Kennedy et al., 2011, p. 82). The fact that the authors point out this problem is of the essence because only voicing such issues publicly can lead to positive changes in the existing system.
Also, the authors of the book discuss the issues related not only to the mental health system but also to the educational system existing in the U.S. and explain what manner of difficulties parents and their 2e children are forced to face to provide the kids with proper education and safeguard them from “falling through the cracks” of the existing educational system. Importantly, the authors scrutinize the current education system, which is stated to be influenced by the No Child Left Behind act, and is supposed to make “all students, regardless of ability or disability, meet proficiency standards” (Kennedy et al., 2011, p. 140); it means using a unified approach to all the children, with disregard to their peculiarities, which entails non-properly addressed needs of both the disabled children and the gifted children; clearly, 2e kids might face even more serious aftermath.
The very fact that this problem is being raised and discussed in the book, drawing the attention of the readers to the issue, is an essential aspect that will undoubtedly help advocate on the multiple levels of society for the rights not only of 2e children but also for the rights of the other kids who do not fit the existing educational system well.
Another point that is worth noting is that the authors not only raise the organizational issues in the book but also provide the readers with certain practical recommendations about raising the 2e children. The first two authors, being mothers of several 2e children, have much practical experience to share with their audience; the fact that the third author has autism herself and has been able to successfully cope with it also gives the book more weight.
Therefore, it should be emphasized that the book by Kennedy et al. (2011) provides a systematic overview and several valuable insights about the situation that the 2e children and their parents face; these will undoubtedly be helpful not only for parents and educators directly dealing with 2e children but also for individuals participating in child advocacy.
Kennedy, D. M., Banks, R. S., & Grandin, T. (2011). Bright not broken: Gifted kids, ADHD, and autism: Why twice-exceptional kids are stuck and how to help them. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Web.