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Twice exceptionality - autism and 'giftedness'

Community Member

Hey beyond blue community,


I never thought to do this 'til now, but I am wondering if there are any other '2E' people out there. The term 2E or twice exceptionality refers to when you have giftedness as well as something like a learning disorder or autism. 


It's been really weird being a young adult with giftedness and autism. I feel like way more people know about autism than giftedness, so everything feels like it becomes about my autism. There seems to be little mention of how being gifted impacts my life, only my autism. I ask because I often feel really alone. These days I find my giftedness more isolating than autism. I know a lot of wonderful young people with autism but I just don't feel like I relate to the things that they struggle with. For instance, sound and light aren't a big deal to me as an autistic person. But they are to some people.


What gets me more is probably aspects of my giftedness, like always being the youngest in uni, hiding how well I do academically because I don't want to show off and not getting my young adult peers. I just feel like a total imposter because I have both of these things. Being gifted means that I have achieved really great marks at uni - while being years younger. But because I'm autistic and anxious, I experience a lot of issues around anxiety and being perfectionistic. Still, these go by unnoticed because how could be something wrong with the teenager whose years ahead of everyone?


Anyway, just wondering if anyone has felt something like this. Just a bit tired of feeling invisible. Of my autism being invisible to my giftedness, and my giftedness being invisible to my autism.


I don't know if that even made sense!

1 Reply 1

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

hi, welcome


I've answered as it might be unlikely you'll find someone that has what you have. 


What I do know is that, thankfully, many people with the challenges of mental health also have a gifted ability in some form like- writing, entertainment, adventure and so on. If you google "famous people with mental health problems" or "famous people with bipolar" you'll be surprised.


I know I'm extremely grateful for my poetry ability and my extreme sensitivity that connects me to nature- that is so wonderful.


Famous Stephen Fry once said "if I were to reincarnate, I'd like to retain my bipolar". Such is the view of some sufferers that have identified with how positive their illness is to them even through all the hoops they have to jump through during their lives.


"I know a lot of wonderful young people with autism but I just don't feel like I relate to the things that they struggle with"... Yes, with mental health we dont often fit in a particular box, we have crossover illnesses so we are very much individuals.


But while that can give some comfort there are times when the challenges become too much or it becomes a labyrinth we cannot comprehend. You seem to have achieved so much with your intelligence yet you feel like you dont like spreading this ability and so on. 


The forum is limited by our peer advice to lived experiences. Therefore unless we have exactly what you have we cant help much. However, good news is as anxiety is part of your symptoms we have an extraordinary library on such topics in "search".


I'd like to give you a link or two and you only need to read the first post of each. I'd be interested in your thoughts.