Dr. Devon's Blog

A blog about twice exceptional and gifted learners, dyslexia, math disability, ADHD, executive function, Asperger's, motivation, achievement, and the importance of emphasizing strengths and interests to help students realize their potential
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March 8, 2021
Announcing New Psychotherapy Service

Since the pandemic began and turned our lives upside down a year ago, I have felt frustrated that I couldn’t continue helping families – at least not in person. Shaken by events and uncertain about what I could say that might be helpful, I also stopped blogging. I’m ready to jump back in and focus […]

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March 4, 2020
Questioning Conventional Wisdom in Parenting Part 6: Should you encourage straight A’s?

You’ve probably heard the saying: "A students work for B students at companies founded by C students." I was incredulous when I first heard it. I was taught growing up that being on the honor roll was an expected and worthwhile goal. But is it? Should we encourage our children to work for A’s? Do […]

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February 5, 2020
Conventional Wisdom in Parenting Part V: Is it important that your child learn how to play a musical instrument?

How as parents can we decide which extracurricular activities to expose our 2e children to - which have the greatest potential to benefit them? Sports? Art? Music? Theater? Nature camp? Chess? Travel? Community service? Academic programs? I often recommend following your child's interests, but being proactive also has its benefits. As a parent I decided […]

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January 8, 2020
Mythbusters: Questioning Conventional Wisdom in Parenting Part 4: Should you worry if your child isn't popular?

Many of us hope our child will be popular with their peers, and worry when they are not. After all, popular kids seem to be happier, self-confident, constantly in demand for play-dates, and are looked up to and deferred to as leaders. Let me define what I mean by "popularity" for the purposes of this […]

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December 5, 2019
Mythbusters: Questioning Conventional Wisdom in Parenting Part 3: Does your child really need to play a team sport?

When I raised this question at the Thanksgiving dinner table, boy did I step on a hornet’s nest! My niece said “Mom made me play sports - and I hated it!" My husband commented that in his opinion many parents live vicariously through their child’s athletic success, and my brother-in-law (whose son is a star […]

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November 6, 2019
Mythbusters: Questioning Conventional Wisdom in Parenting Part 2: Can your child become addicted to video games?

I was planning on writing a blog on this topic when the New York Times saved me some work with last Sunday’s magazine cover article: Can you Really be Addicted to Video Games? I’ll summarize some key points and add my take. Practically every parent I work with struggles with this issue. When I ask: […]

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October 2, 2019
Guest Mythbuster Post: Is the ADOS-2 really the “gold standard” in autism assessment?

I was delighted to receive an e-mail from a neuropsychologist colleague I haven't had the pleasure of meeting in person, but for whom I've developed a great deal of respect based on her contributions to a list serve we both belong to: Dr. Donna Henderson. She is part of the highly-respected Stixrud Group in Silver […]

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September 10, 2019
Mythbusters: Questioning Conventional Wisdom in Parenting Part 1: Does your child really need to go to a selective college or university?

In this article I’ll focus on the potential costs and benefits of attending a highly selective institution – one accepting fewer than 10% of applicants – whether it’s a small college or a large university. I can think of three potential arguments in favor: they may provide a better educational experience, help your child get […]

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September 4, 2019
New Blog Series: Mythbusters: Questioning Conventional Wisdom in Parenting

Last year I did a blog series called Mythbusters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners on alternative therapies, pseudoscience, and educational beliefs/myths. I covered: vision therapy, essential oils, learning styles, overexcitabilites, auditory processing disorder, sensory integration, diet and ADHD, Brain Balance Centers, and the Amen Clinics.  My goal was to help parents and professionals think critically and […]

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June 4, 2019
5 Takeaways for Parenting the 2e child

Twice-exceptionality is the coexistence of high intelligence or giftedness and a weakness or disability like LD, ADHD, or ASD in the same child. It makes life and especially school confusing and frustrating for all involved as the disability often prevents the expression of the child’s strengths. A child doesn’t have to be “globally gifted” with […]

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May 7, 2019
Crafting a Rewarding Summer for your Child

Summer is almost upon us. I’d like to write about what your child should/could do with 2-3 months of free time. For many of us, the school year is jam-packed with activities. Even though we worry our children are over-scheduled and we’re harried and exhausted chauffeuring them from activity to activity, we still do it. […]

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April 9, 2019
Challenging Neuromyths

I recently was interviewed by Emily Kircher-Morris, founder and host of the Mind Matters Podcast. We talked about neuromyths in education and psychology – those things people tend to believe that aren’t actually supported by the facts. We covered left brain/right brain, learning styles, Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities, and multiple intelligences. The Mind Matters Podcast focuses on […]

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March 12, 2019
2e Symptoms Checklist

I've decided to share a parent feedback form I use as part of my assessments - a  2e "symptoms" checklist. Individual children won't necessarily meet all  criteria, but even a handful of check-marks could indicate twice-exceptionality. I find that parents usually have quite accurate insights to their children, and encourage you to trust your instincts […]

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February 12, 2019
The Tipping Point for 2e

Twice exceptionality is both a fact and a movement. And the movement is finally taking off! It’s a fact, because it’s proven that individuals can be simultaneously very intelligent and have something else – a disability or difference like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, or anxiety that can work against the expression of their abilities. It’s a […]

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January 15, 2019
Academic Underachievement

Is your bright child under-performing in school? Should you even worry about it? I was one of those people who did well in school without too much effort. My parents made it clear that straight A’s were expected and I willingly complied. It never occurred to me that my children might have trouble doing the […]

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December 18, 2018
Executive Function Weaknesses in 2e Learners

The term “executive function” often comes up when we talk about weaknesses displayed by twice-exceptional learners. Some parents even describe their child as having an “executive function disorder” or “disability.” But there’s really no such thing. You won’t find it as a stand-alone diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5). […]

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November 27, 2018
Asperger’s/Autism, Talent Development, and Employment

Last week I gave a presentation at a conference on twice-exceptionality run by a terrific organization called Twice Exceptional Children's Advocacy. My talk was on how parents can uncover their children’s strengths and interests, and help them develop their talents towards future careers and passions. I like giving talks about this topic because I believe strongly […]

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November 1, 2018
Screen Time, Attention, and Growing Minds

There have been a number of alarming articles in the popular press lately reporting that tech moguls and Silicon-valley types impose far stricter rules on their children’s use of screens than most of us do. They do this because they know how addictive screens are designed to be and fear for their children’s growing minds. […]

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October 2, 2018
2E Gifted Identification and the WISC-V

Breaking News! Full Scale IQ is out for identifying 2e students as gifted! Measures that capture their strengths better are in! What is the WISC-V? The most common IQ test most of us use to assess intelligence is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). It was first published in 1949 and is updated about […]

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September 12, 2018
Learning Styles: Part 10 of Mythbusters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

As many of our children head back to school they will be handed short self-report questionnaires to determine their “learning style.” A recent study found that over 90% of teachers still believe that children learn better if they receive information in their preferred learning style. Despite the evidence. It’s a well-meaning notion – most teachers […]

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August 22, 2018
CAPD: Part 9 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

What is Central Auditory Processing Disorder? Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) – also known as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) – is an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that result in a breakdown in the hearing process. It is not due to peripheral hearing loss, but rather has to do with the way the […]

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July 25, 2018

I'm going to interrupt the Mythbusters series I've been publishing this month because something extraordinary has been happening in my world. Something I hope will make a difference. My daughter, who is a journalist/producer at online news company NowThis, asked me to do a piece on mental health. I decided to do it on the […]

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June 13, 2018
Giftedness and Overexcitabilities: Part 8 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

Where does the concept of overexcitability come from? Overexcitability was introduced to psychology by Polish psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski in the 1960’s as part of a “Theory of Positive Disintegration.” The theory proposed that psychological tension and anxiety are necessary to achieve the highest levels of personal and moral growth. Hence these “disintegrative” processes (tension and […]

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May 23, 2018
Mindfulness Meditation: Part 7 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

Mindfulness meditation has enjoyed a tremendous surge in popularity in the past decade. The practice has moved from a largely obscure Buddhist concept founded about 2,600 years ago to a mainstream psychotherapy and educational construct. What is Mindfulness Meditation? It's a technique of meditation that focuses awareness on breathing and encourages positive attitudes to distracting […]

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May 2, 2018
Sensory Integration and Autism: Part 6 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

What is sensory integration and sensory integration therapy? Sensory integration refers to the process by which the brain organizes and interprets external stimuli such as touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound, and gravity. Sensory integration therapy is an occupational therapy intervention that uses individually tailored  activities in an effort to facilitate adaptive responses and functional […]

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April 11, 2018
Dietary Changes and ADHD: Part 5 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

Finally, some good news on “alternative” approaches to helping 2e learners! Thus far in the Myth Busters series I’ve panned vision therapy for dyslexia, The Amen Clinics for ADHD, essential oils for ADHD, and Brain Balance Centers for most anything. Now I turn my attention to the question of whether dietary changes can reduce ADHD […]

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March 21, 2018
Brain Balance Centers: Part 4 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

What is it? In 2006 Dr. Robert Melillo – a chiropractor - entered into a partnership with his nephew to launch the Brain Balance franchise model. Since then, over 130 franchises have been purchased across the country. The concept is based on Dr. Melillo’s book: Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with […]

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March 14, 2018
Essential Oils for ADHD: Part 3 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

(This topic has been moved ahead of the queue by popular demand) What is an essential oil? Let’s start with what an essential oil is. An essential oil is an extract taken from the leaves, roots, stems or blossoms of a plant that is distilled into a concentrated form and sold in health food stores […]

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February 21, 2018
The Amen Clinics: Part 2 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

I’ve decided this series on alternative therapies will first tackle the mistakes I made myself as a parent. The last blog (Part 1) was on vision therapy as a cure for dyslexia. Today, in Part 2, I’ll address Dr. Daniel Amen’s Brain Clinics and how they purport to diagnose and cure ADHD. Dr. Amen is […]

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February 7, 2018
Vision Therapy: Part 1 of Myth Busters: Alternative Therapies for 2e Learners

I’ve been thinking about writing about pseudoscience and alternative therapies in the 2e world for some time, but worried about offending the usually well-meaning people providing such services and the often desperate families who choose to believe in them. But I’ve decided that in the current climate of fake facts it’s important to take a […]

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January 24, 2018
ADHD, Giftedness, and the Ability to Hyperfocus

When interviewing parents about their child’s strengths and weaknesses, I often hear statements like the following: “I don’t think my child has a problem with attention – he can focus really intensely on his cartoon-drawing (or video-gaming or Lego-building or reading) for hours at a time! In fact I can barely get him to stop. […]

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January 10, 2018
The Positive Student/Teacher Relationship

I was asked to write an article for the December, 2017 issue of the 2e Twice Exceptional Newsletter, a bi-monthly subscription ($35/year) online newsletter for “those who raise, educate, and counsel high-ability (gifted) children who also have learning challenges.” It's a wonderful publication and one I recommend for everyone who lives and breathes 2e. As […]

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December 13, 2017
Top 5 Mistakes in Diagnosing and Treating ADHD

There’s a big gap between how ADHD should be diagnosed and treated and what too often happens in the real world. Far better outcomes would occur if we avoided these pitfalls and did it right. Here’s what I see as the five mistakes that are often made: 1. Cursory evaluation. While it’s tempting to just […]

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November 29, 2017
Does giftedness matter? Or is it all about effort?

The nature/nurture debate has been going on for centuries. Is it our genes (nature) that predict success? Or is it the environment (nurture)? In the past 20 years this topic has evolved into the innate ability/natural talent vs. practice/effort debate. One side argues that success is all about innate ability and natural talent, while the […]

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November 15, 2017
An Ecological Perspective on Schools

Ever since my mind-blowing trip to the Galapagos last January I’ve been thinking about evolution, the environment, and organism-environment interaction. Each island in the Galapagos has a slightly different environment, and the islands as a whole are very different from the Ecuadorean mainland. The animals who ended up flourishing on the islands adapted to their […]

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November 1, 2017
Plato Parenting and Talent Development

Plato employed the maxim “know thyself” ("gnôthi sauton,“ translated as "come to know thyself" or "learn to know thyself") in his dialogues at The Academy. He taught that knowing one’s self is a necessary first step in the pursuit of happiness. He believed that only when we truly know who and what we are can […]

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October 18, 2017
Twice Exceptional (2e) Resources

I thought it would be helpful to post a list of the books and other resources I most frequently refer my clients to. Books: 8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD by Cindy Goldrich (2015). Excellent “instruction manual” for how to parent children with ADHD including behavior management strategies. Author available for consultations. Bright Kids Who […]

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October 10, 2017
Is Fluid Intelligence the key to the future?

Intelligence is multifaceted. When people tell me they want to know their IQ, I feel like asking: “In what area?” There are many different cognitive abilities and they have different impacts on what one is trying to accomplish. That’s why I approach the assessment of a person’s abilities from the perspective of the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) […]

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September 20, 2017
Assistive Technology for Dyslexia

There was a debate recently on a neuropsychologists listserve I’m on about the use of assistive technology (AT). At least half the psychologists who wrote in felt strongly that it’s just a crutch and that students who use AT will never learn the critical basic skills they need. Accommodations like extra time, calculators, and testing […]

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September 6, 2017
Top 10 Reasons Twice Exceptional and Gifted Learners are Misdiagnosed

The frequency of misdiagnosis, especially of gifted and twice exceptional students, is one of the reasons I decided to go into the field of assessment as a specialist in these populations. Too many families go to the trouble and expense of having an assessment conducted only to be given incorrect or incomplete information about their […]

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August 22, 2017
Transitioning from College to Work and Young Adulthood

I was asked to write an article on this topic for TECA (Twice Exceptional Children's Advocacy), an online community providing service and program directories and information about advocacy. I decided to enlist the help of Benjamin Meyer, a therapist specializing in young adults with NVLD and Asperger's in the workforce. Here's what we wrote: By […]

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August 8, 2017
The 5 stages of Post Diagnostic Grief

Are you familiar with the 5 stages of grief? They describe the stages people go through when they learn they have a serious illness, or have lost a loved one, or have gotten divorced or broken up with a significant other. I find these stages helpful in understanding how parents may feel after their child […]

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July 13, 2017
Will they grow out of it? Will your child grow out of his learning disability, ADHD, or Asperger’s?

Many parents wonder if their child will grow out of the problems that plague them as a child: their dyslexia, math disability, writing challenges, weak executive function, ADHD, or Asperger’s. I’m asked this question quite often by successful adults who are initially surprised their children are struggling, but when interviewed carefully about their own early […]

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June 14, 2017
Prescription for the Perfect Summer

Here’s the “prescription” I give the families I work with for the perfect summer: “Take two genuine interests, explore them thoroughly, and call me in September.” When parents actively help their child explore their interests and delve deeply into their passions, everyone in the family ends up having a rewarding summer. Whether the passion is […]

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May 31, 2017
Gifted and Dyslexic?

I speak with parents all over the world about their twice-exceptional children. One thing that keeps coming up again and again in nearly every state and country is that no one believes them that their child could be simultaneously gifted and dyslexic. A parent senses something is amiss, but friends, family (sorry to say this […]

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May 17, 2017
Podcast with TiLT Parenting on Assessing and Supporting Twice-Exceptional Learners

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Debbie Reber, founder of TiLT Parenting, an online destination with a blog and weekly podcasts on parenting “differently wired” kids. Our podcast interview was on assessing and supporting twice-exceptional learners. TiLT is a terrific resource. Recent podcast topics include: Using a Strengths-Based Approach to Support Differently-Wired Kids and The Connection […]

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April 26, 2017
Does your Dyslexic Child have a Visual-Spatial “Super Power”?

Does your dyslexic child love to build or draw things? Is he or she fascinated by how things work? Does your child surprise you with his ability to “see” things in his mind’s eye? This may be evidence of a budding talent that can lead to a successful career in a field that relies on […]

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April 4, 2017
Too Gifted?

Multi-potentiality is the state of having many exceptionally strong abilities or talents. The child who has the Midas touch and is good at everything he does from math to science to English to music to sports to art to leadership has multi-potentiality. It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But for many children and young adults it […]

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March 15, 2017
Misfits, Rebels, and Troublemakers

Brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. As adults we respect and admire the accomplishments of renegades and creative minds like Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Nikolai Tesla, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Vincent van Gogh, John Lennon, Steven Spielberg, and Robin Williams. They’re the inventors, imaginers, healers, explorers, […]

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March 1, 2017
5 Things Parents can do to Support their Anxious or Depressed Twice-Exceptional Child

Does your bright child, despite all she has going for her, seem anxious or depressed or both? Do you lay awake at night worrying about her? Is she acting up or turning inward? What happened to the happy childhood you dreamed of for your child? Being twice-exceptional often carries a strong emotional burden – for […]

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February 22, 2017
Top Ten ADHD Superpowers

If your child has ADD or ADHD, or you think they might, do you worry that it will affect their life and future in only negative ways? Distractibility, disorganization, hyperactivity, interrupting the teacher, not completing assignments, poor time management, underachievement – the list goes on. I agree there are significant challenges associated with having ADHD, […]

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February 8, 2017
How intelligent is your child? Or, more importantly: How is your child intelligent?

Back in the last century and through the early 1900’s researchers operated under the assumption that intelligence was a uni-dimensional construct. You were either smart, or you weren’t. And how smart you were could be measured with one test resulting in one number: IQ. In the 1970’s a shift began away from the IQ construct. […]

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January 7, 2017
Could your child be twice exceptional? What does that mean anyway?

The term twice exceptional, sometimes shortened to “2-E,” is being used more and more often to describe high-ability learners who also have learning difficulties. These are smart students who have dyslexia, ADHD, Asperger’s, or some other learning weakness or disability that gets in the way, at times, of their ability to learn and perform at […]

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