Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Do you have a child or student who is clearly bright but has behaviors that confuse you? This past summer, three students from a local private school interned with REEL, working on projects to help educators, parents, and policymakers better understand these unique, twice-exceptional learners. We were lucky to have Christine Z, Aaron H., and Nora N. on our team—thank you for your fabulous contributions to our mission! While one intern focused on developing an advocacy playbook (check out this blog post about her work), the other two interns created videos for our new 'Ever Had a Kid Like Me?' video series. Watch what they created on REEL's YouTube channel - 2e Perspective: Dyslexia and 2e Perspective: ADHD. (The videos are also embedded at the bottom of this post.) One of our interns, Christine Z., finished her internship for us by writing this reflection to share with our community.
This summer, I embarked on an internship at REEL. It’s difficult to encapsulate this experience in words… I learned so much about twice-exceptionality and filmmaking, more than I ever will in a traditional classroom setting. More importantly, I felt the real impact of REEL’s work on 2e families around the Bay Area.
As a part of this internship, I produced a series of short videos on individual students’ 2e (twice-exceptional) journeys, under the “Ever Had a Kid Like Me?” project. This project came naturally to me, as I am deeply passionate about neurodiversity and storytelling. I collaborated with another intern, Aaron H., to come up with interview questions, film interviews with the subjects of our videos, and edit the videos. The task seemed daunting at first, but it was also a healthy amount of challenge outside my comfort zone. With the support of Callie, Abby, and Yael from REEL, we successfully carried out the project. The final video I produced is a great source of pride and joy (I’ve watched it at least 30 times now, and it never gets old).
I learned about REEL through my school’s internship program. After reading the mission statement, I was drawn to the term twice-exceptionality. Prior to learning about the organization, I had never heard of the term before. I realized that many teachers and parents still lack awareness and understanding of this unique challenge. The goal of the “Ever Had a Kid Like Me?” project was to showcase the “humans” behind the label of twice-exceptionality and bridge understanding between parents and educators.
Through this project, I essentially received a crash course on video production. I learned, for example, to never shine a ring light directly at someone’s face… and to always check the cameras to ensure they aren’t covered by a leaf… but I also learned many intangible things. Through my interview with Serena, I got a glimpse into her experience with navigating twice-exceptionality, as well as intersections with her identity. She discussed the Asian stigma around learning differences and labels. When she was finally diagnosed, however, she “felt a huge change from being demonized as a child to being like oh… I wasn’t the terrible person I was made to be or thought I was.” It was a deeply vulnerable interview, and I’m grateful that she was willing to share that with me. It didn’t occur to me how impactful her story would be until I finished adding the rolling credits to the video and watched it from beginning to end.
As a closing farewell to my summer internship experience at REEL, I attended the “REEL IS REAL” party to celebrate the organization’s nonprofit status. At the celebration, I met many 2e parents. They all shared one common concern—their child’s learning. One parent shared a particularly moving story about overcoming difficulties during remote learning, which almost brought me to tears. It hit me then, that REEL is making a real difference. It’s not measurable by any numbers, but rather through the mutual understanding of challenges and triumphs among the parents standing there. I hope my video inspires a similar feeling of solidarity and shines a brighter light on twice-exceptionality in the broader community.
Watch Christine's video here:
Serena Chen is now a sophomore at Columbia University. Her middle school principal experienced an “aha” moment after reading Serena's REEL blog post about her ADHD diagnosis and shares insights looking back. Serena details her experience in middle school and high school as a student with undiagnosed ADHD and the roadblocks in her 2e (twice-exceptional) journey.
Watch Aaron's video here:
REEL partner and 2e parent Abby Kirigin and her husband Ivan discuss the start of her son Finn's 2e journey, when they first learned of his dyslexia and begun to understand what it meant to be 2e. Hear from Finn, now a 7th grader, and from his 2nd-5th grade teacher as they all worked together to find strategies for success.
About the author Christine Z.:
Christine is a current high school junior at The Nueva School. She’s curious about brain sciences and hopes to pursue a career in neuroscience or psychology in the future. In her spare time, she loves to watch and critique movies, play music, and spend time with her dog.