Are You a Twice Exceptional Adult? Dr. Melanie Hayes Talks About Living Your Best Life

gender nonconformity kids

Are you a twice exceptional adult? If so, this episode is for you, because this week I’m bringing back to the podcast educator and therapist Dr. Melanie Hayes. Melanie focuses on helping neurodivergent, gifted, and twice exceptional adults and children find their niche and work to their strengths. With a masters in gifted ed and marriage and family therapy, as well as a doctorate in educational leadership with a focus on twice exceptionality, Melanie has spent the past decade building support and understanding for the 2e and 2eA population. She is author of two books on twice exceptionality, We Tried Normal and her brand new book, Being Twice Exceptional. Melanie is also the founder of the Big Minds micro-school, and in fact, Melanie joined me on the show a few years ago to talk more about how her school mentors and supports 2e kids.

During this conversation, Melanie shares insights from her new book aimed at twice exceptional adults. She explains what the term “2eA” means, the unique needs of 2eA people, and why she’s passionate about radical self-acceptance. Melanie also shared her thoughts on what stands in the way of a more accepting and supportive society for neurodivergent people, as well as her advice for parents raising 2e and 2eA kids. And if you too are neurodivergent, 2e, or 2eA, I hope this conversation inspires you to be your unique self in a more, as Melanie puts it, radical way.


About Dr. Melanie Hayes

Dr. Melanie Hayes focuses on helping neurodivergent, gifted, and twice exceptional persons find their niche and work to their strengths. She holds a master’s in gifted education, a master’s in marriage and family therapy, and a doctorate in educational leadership with a focus on twice exceptionality. Her research and outreach over the past decade has been centered on building support and understanding for the 2e population. She is author of two books on twice exceptionality, We Tried Normal and Being Twice Exceptional. Dr. Hayes is also the founder of Big Minds, an educational model for 2e children that mentors and supports their intellectual, social, and emotional well-being.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • Why Melanie is pivoting from the primary role of an educator to that of an activist
  • What 2eA means and what the unique needs of 2eA people are
  • Why so many twice exceptional adults are discovering their own neurodivergence and how that impacts their experience and life
  • What radical self-acceptance is and why Melanie is so passionate about helping neurodivergent people lean into it
  • What our biggest roadblocks as a society are to being more accepting and supportive of different ways of being
  • Melanie’s advice for parents raising 2e and 2eA kids, including how to support them to launch successfully
  • What Melanie hopes her new book Being Twice Exceptional brings to twice exceptional and 2eA adults and their communities


Resources mentioned for twice exceptional adults


Special Tilt Offer: Anyone who donates at least $250.00 to Big Minds will get a free one-hour private consultation and a signed copy of Melanie’s book.

Episode Transcript

Melanie Hayes  00:00

There’s a societal pressure to make your child conform so that they can fit in, they can have friends, they can be successful at school. And so all of us had the most well-meaning parents in the world put that pressure on our kids early on, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it because we’re not fully aware ourselves of what those societal pressures are. And a lot of times it takes your kid to just stop functioning, or to be a major behavior problem or, you know, have deep depression or something like that before we go, Hey, wait a minute. What is the quality of our child’s life right now and what can we do to make it different?

Debbie Reber  00:39

Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. This week, I’m bringing back to the podcast educator and therapist, Dr. Melanie Hayes, Melanie focuses on helping neurodivergent gifted and twice exceptional people find their niche and work to their strengths, with a master’s in gifted Ed and marriage and family therapy, as well as a Doctorate in Educational Leadership with a focus on twice exceptionality. Melanie has spent the past decade building support and understanding for the 2e and 2eA population. She’s the author of two books on twice exceptionality, We Tried Normal, and her brand new book, Being Twice Exceptional. Melanie is also the founder of the Big Minds micro school and in fact, Melanie joined me on the show a few years ago to talk more about how her school mentors and supports 2e kids. During this conversation, Melanie shares insights from her new book aimed at twice exceptional adults. She explains what the term 2eA means, the unique needs of 2eA people and why she’s passionate about radical self acceptance. Melanie also shared her thoughts on what stands in the way of a more accepting and supportive society for neurodivergent people, as well as her advice for parents raising 2e and 2eA kids. And if you two are neurodivergent, 2e or 2eA, I hope this conversation inspires you to be your unique self and a more as Melanie puts it, radical way. Before I get to that, as you may know, I’ve been working to create some self study programs for parents and caregivers who are looking for specific support. Last fall I shared a mini course called The Emergency Reset. And my newest course is a 12 month Differently Wired Club Boot Camp featuring monthly themes, conversations with experts and authors, worksheets, accountability challenges, deep dive resources and weekly emails to keep you on track. Together over the course of the next year, I’ll help you take the small, tangible and doable steps that can have a positive and truly profound impact on your family. The big goal, more peace, confidence and joy for you and your kids. To learn more visit Or just go to Tilt Parenting and click on courses in the main menu. Lastly, don’t forget to check your podcast feed on Fridays as playback Fridays where I release some of my favorite episodes from the first two years of the show is here again. I’ve got upcoming episodes with Alfie Kohn on unconditional parenting. Karen Young of Hey, Sigmund talking about anxiety and children, Dr. Dan Peters on parenting with purpose and intention and much more. All right, thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Melanie.

Debbie Reber  03:49

Hey, Melanie, welcome back to the podcast.

Melanie Hayes  03:52

Thank you so much, Debbie. I’m so excited to be here.

Debbie Reber  03:54

I’m excited to talk about your new book as we’re recording it. It’s not quite out yet, but by the time this comes out, listeners will be able to check it out. But could you take a few minutes and do your own introduction for yourself and who you are in the world?

Melanie Hayes  04:09

Sure. So you know, like you. I’m a mom who was beginning my work based on the needs of my children. And then it just has grown and blossomed into being an activist for the tui community and somewhat now expanding into the Autistic community. My son is diagnosed but he doesn’t really identify so much as that his identity is 2e, which makes sense because that’s been my work and activism for twice exceptional community for a long time. But as my realm of influences increased, I really wanted people to be proud of being twice exceptional and to embrace that culture. And I really have moved into a definite area of activism and now activism for autistic people who are talking is exceptional. So it’s really exciting work. It’s a pleasure to be an ally to the artistic community and, and to try to help people better understand the needs of 2e people who also have autism.

Debbie Reber  05:13

Yeah. And listeners, just so you know, Melanie has been on the show before. And we talked specifically about how to support twice exceptional students in classrooms and in school systems. So definitely listen to that. I’ll have a link in the show notes page. But I’m really interested in this activism role that you said, you’re stepping more into what does that actually look like for you? And how does it feel to be playing that role?

Melanie Hayes  05:40

Yeah, it feels great. You know, I started out our last podcast was really around helping people, because I recognize that not everybody can pull their kids out of public school. And so, you know, we wanted to provide some sort of support around that, but, but the more I get into the working with these communities, and the seeing the people, it reminds me, you know, there’s a, there was a part in your book that really struck home to me, where you talked about how Asher had to apologize for who he was, not necessarily what he did. And I see this so much within our community that people just feel broken and wrong, for just being their authentic selves. And so I’ve moved sort of a little bit radically away from trying to help people help their children fit into the norm, and more into saying, wait a minute, why? Why do we always have to adapt to the norms of society? It’s time that society does a little adapting for us, too. And I’m not saying that, you know, at all times, people have to accommodate every aspect of being a neurodivergent person. But it doesn’t seem right, that people are masking and stressing and really suffering because the world’s not willing to admit that these people need some sort of different accommodations in their life. And so, you know, I’m just moving into this sort of radical self acceptance and helping communities figure out how to make the world work for them.

Debbie Reber  07:14

And are you looking at all kinds of systems, so school systems, the workplace, you know, is your work more focused on adults at this point?

Melanie Hayes  07:22

Yeah, well, the book that specifically I was asked to write a book about twice exceptional adults so Being Twice Exceptional is definitely geared towards adults, and, and about all aspects of their life. So you know, there’s chapters on work and housekeeping and personal care, and romance, and, you know, all of that sort of stuff. So I tried to, to cover all the aspects of being a twice exceptional adult with autism. And but I do I do in my regular work, still do a lot of activism for children, too, because I think that’s where it starts, you’ll see, you know, in the book, a lot of the stories talk about the trauma and damage happens when these kids are young, and they’re in school and having to try to adapt to being not able to succeed either in friendships or academics or, you know, relationships with teachers. And so they grow up feeling like there’s something inherently wrong with them. I worked from that angle to try to help parents and teachers and professionals and the children themselves, learn how to self advocate and be proud of who they are and ask for what they need. But also, this book is specifically around tackling some of the problems and, and really, it is kind of a love letter to the autistic community to say, you know, I, I embrace who you are in every aspect. And I want you to feel proud of who you are, and go out into the world and say, This is what I need. This is what I can contribute. And you need to recognize our community.

Debbie Reber  08:55

I get so excited about the increase in resources for adults, because, as I’m sure you’ve seen, and I’ve talked about on the show, so many adults are discovering their own and neuro divergence as they go through this journey with their kids. And I feel like your book is also a really great companion to Nicole Tetreault’s book Insight into a Bright Mind, which is also about twice exceptionality from that neuroscientists perspective. She’s awesome. Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s just really exciting to see that there are more and more places for adults to see their own experiences be reflected and to realize that they’re not alone. Right, and that they’re okay and perfect where they are.

Melanie Hayes  09:40

Yeah. And I think it’s cool that, you know, when we started, we were all in our own little silos, you know, you and I’ve been doing this for a long time and, and it’s so cool to see those silos connecting. And we’re starting to have this interconnected support system, which is, it’s crucial and wonderful.

Debbie Reber  09:58

Yeah, it is really citing so much progress, I feel like in the past 10 years, so I wanted to talk about this idea of 2eA, which was a new term for me. Can you explain what that is? And just tell us more about what that means? 

Melanie Hayes  10:15

Yeah, when I started writing the book, you know, got a little wordy, he kept saying, you know, twice exceptional adults with autism. And so I thought, Well, I’m just gonna coin a new term, because, you know, you know, they’ve got the G three and all these other new terms. So I just said, I’m going to, I’m going to coin the term 2eA and and I don’t mean it to be labeling or disrespectful in any way. It was really just for ease of writing and reading. But I do think that people can see that there’s a subset of being twice exceptional that is specifically a twice exceptional person on the spectrum. And there are some specific needs related to being a 2eA person.

Debbie Reber  10:51

Can you say more about what some of those specific needs are? Because I think it is interesting and important to characterize that as unique. And it isn’t something that most people talk about, we usually kind of lump, you know, twice exceptionality is this huge bucket, and it can look so many different ways. And of course, every 2e person, every neurodivergent person is different. But what are some of the shared unique challenges or things that 2eA people have to navigate?

Melanie Hayes  11:24

Yeah, well, so they have sort of some of the common things you hear about autism of the sensory to the environment, some of the social language struggles, a lot of them have got problems are pretty common. There can be issues with working in an environment or schooling in an environment that has external stressors. A lot of times, people on the spectrum, their nervous system is at a heightened state all the time. And then you combine that so those are also common traits with tui people who might have ADHD or dyslexia or, you know, it tends to go along with tui. So those can be common traits. But when you talk about a TV person who’s autistic, it suddenly becomes … the giftedness is often hidden. There’s a really beautiful film that just came out on the ASAN, the, the group for autistic people that is run by autistic people, and it’s nonverbal autistic people discussing their thoughts and feelings and experiences. And they’re so underestimated. Oftentimes, they just don’t, people don’t see what’s going on inside, especially, you know, even if the person is able to mask and sort of palaces as quote, you know, a typical person in the world, what’s going on behind that mask is oftentimes really painful, really a huge struggle just to get through an emotional conversation can wipe them out for days afterwards. And I don’t think people realize that, it’s the same thing that we know about 2e that the giftedness compensates for the disability, and so the disability is often hidden. And that’s very true for 2eA people, if they’re able to do the masking successfully, people may not have any idea of how hard they’re working just to function in the environment. So you know, for example, somebody at work, sitting in a meeting gets called on to, you know, make a comment. And they’ve been expending so much energy, just to focus on all the multiple conversations at the table, that they’re not able to say what’s on their mind. And so this brilliant thought that they might have five minutes later, the time is missed to be able to communicate it effectively. And they often don’t feel like it’s okay to say, give me a minute, you know, this is part of my disability, I want to respond that I need a few minutes, can you come back to me? Because that’s just not accepted? Right? People don’t do any of the most simple benign compensation so that this person can fully engage and show their brilliance.

Debbie Reber  14:05

And you mentioned just to go back, you mentioned the ASAN. And that’s the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Is that what you’re…

Melanie Hayes  14:11

Yeah, yes. Yeah. A great group. Yeah.

Debbie Reber  14:15

Fantastic group will have a link to that, in the show notes page. And I’ll include a link to the film as well, if I can find that that you mentioned. I’m wondering about the 2eA adults that you know, you interviewed a lot of people and there are a lot of stories in your book. I have a few questions. The first is, did you find that a lot of the adults that you spoke with or that you’ve come across in stepping into this work more deeply, that they are on this path of discovery as an adult or these people who primarily kind of knew who they were or what their wiring was when they were younger?

Melanie Hayes  14:52

So it’s a mixed bag like there are some people who knew from a young age what they were and how to either embrace or reject themselves, because there were both. And there are others who just never understood why life didn’t work for them until they were an adult and some had diagnoses, professionally some self diagnosed, which I also fully embrace and support. And they started down this journey of like, oh, this explains so much. Now I understand why this is this way for me, or why I never fit in or, or why I struggle so much, or why I’m exhausted all the time, or, you know, why my health is impaired. And even some of the people that have known they were 2eA from a young age, they still discover a lot more as they become adults, because oftentimes, parents, and you know, we’re both parents. So we understand this, at a very deep level, there’s a societal pressure to make your child conform, so that they can fit in, they can have friends, they can be successful at school. And so all of us had the most well-meaning parents in the world put that pressure on our kids early on, and we don’t even realize we’re doing it because we’re not fully aware ourselves of what those societal pressures are. And a lot of times it takes your kid to just stop functioning, or to be a major behavior problem, or, you know, have deep depression or something like that, before we go, Hey, wait a minute, what is the quality of our child’s life right now? And what can we do to make it different, and some kids never got that, you know, they grew up their whole life feeling like they, their parents were disappointed in him or angry at them, or, you know, they were failures, especially in high achieving families, which of these 2eA kids often are part of a high achieving family. And so they’re the odd person out in a group of sort of vanilla gifted people who are succeeding at all of the norms of society, and they’re the one who’s a failure. And so that can be really painful. And even with a diagnosis of autism, a lot of times they’re, they’re still not understood, they’re still not recognized within the family in the parent group. Oftentimes, parents have low expectations for them. And all of that is really painful.

Debbie Reber  17:12

We mentioned earlier that you have a lot of stories in here from 2e adults, 2eA adults, how did you go about finding people to share their experience?

Melanie Hayes  17:22

So first, I want to say that the stories are completely made up. So these people are not real people. They’re, they’re people from my imagination, but they rely heavily on my experiences with autistic people who are 2eA, who I’ve worked with, over the last 20 years, some of some of the incidences in the stories where people I’ve met in the last five years, and some of the situations and and quotes may have come from someone I know, 20 years ago. So you know, it was the intention to really protect the privacy of the people I’ve worked with and make them not identifiable in the reading. But, I’m really grateful for all of these interactions I’ve had with these amazing people over the years, because, you know, it’s it, I feel like they’re my people, even though I’m myself, I’m not autistic. I have run in these circles for a long time. And so I’m proud to be part of this community.

Debbie Reber  18:18

I feel like for all adults, but especially for neurodivergent adults, with every year, there’s just this deeper and deeper understanding of who we are. I think that’s one of the upsides of getting older is more and you’re fully stepping into owning the way that that we show up and how to kind of be in the world. I’m wondering, just you personally, as you’ve navigated the work that you do, and raising the children you’re raising, I’d love to know if you’ve made discoveries about yourself and how that has impacted the way that you show up.

Melanie Hayes  18:52

Yeah, I definitely have made discoveries about myself and, and ever realize that I have been masking heavily for a really long time. You know, I I joked with you at the start of the podcast, that public speaking is really hard for me, I have to really gear up for it. And people say oh my god, you’re such a natural, you’re so relaxed, and nobody would know you were nervous, but but if you could see my hands, I’m, I’m twitching my hands and fiddling and, you know, when it’s over, I collapse in a heap and, and that is something that I have given myself permission to, to out, you know, it’s like, yeah, my job requires a lot of public speaking. And it takes a toll on me. And so, you know, I’m really kind to myself, I try to space it out so that I don’t do a lot of public speaking more than one thing a week and I give myself time off afterwards to just relax and and I try not to worry about it. I’ve gotten a lot less worried about do I come across as a professional and do I look like I know what I’m talking about? Because really my work is from the heart and I’m just going to talk about It’s not really about my professional credentials, although that has given me the experiences, I have to be able to talk about what I talk about. But I don’t see myself as any more expert in this, especially 2eA, the people who are 2eA, I feel are the most expert in this. And all I’m trying to do is be a compassionate voice for what they are experiencing and how I can support them. And when I’m working with 2eA people, I always tell them, You’re You’re the expert in yourself. And I’m here to support you. And, and, and whatever you tell me, I take it as authentic. So I think I’ve relaxed a little bit, I’ve become a little more radical. You know, I’m not really involved in the day to day operations of big minds anymore, other than sort of fundraising and an outreach, but it still operates as a pretty radical school for 2e people. But I think sometimes even my speaking is a little even more radical than that. Because I don’t want people to feel like they have to fit in somewhere. I don’t want them to change themselves to match anybody else’s expectations. And, and I’m not saying that they don’t need to learn how to code switch, and that we all have to be a certain way in certain environments. But as I’ve gotten older and given myself permission to just be my weird, wacky self, I feel like I’m sort of giving that permission to everybody else, too. So if there’s really weird, wacky kids at my school, I’m like, great. Be Your Be your authentic self.

Debbie Reber  21:37

Well, one question about what you just said, you talked about how you’re giving yourself permission, you’re being compassionate with yourself too, to just kind of be the kind of speaker that you are. And I’m wondering if prior to that, before you kind of came to this place of really just being okay, this is hard for me, and I’m just going to put it out there. Did you make it mean anything about yourself that those things were harder for you? Like, did you have a point where you internalized that as something that was a deficit or a negative thing for you?

Melanie Hayes  22:11

Yeah, I mean, for a long time, like, I can remember putting on a suit jacket, and, you know, dress pants, and dress shoes and going out to speak publicly. And my whole body just felt like this itchy mass of ants going on. Because the pants were uncomfortable, and the waistband was too tight, and there was a tag in the shirt, and my shoes, my feet hurt. And, you know, I’m worried about makeup. And so my eyes are stinging, because I have no tolerance for makeup. And I’m just miserable. And I’m up there trying to present my best self. And I’m castigating myself like why, why am I not normal. In fact, I remember I wrote a poem in sort of my journaling about, like, all these beautiful things in the way people look and their hair and makeup and clothing and, and it’s not me, like I cannot put on these, like, right now I’m wearing a sweater and a pair of cargo pants, you know. And that’s, I now when I go to public speak, even though I have to put on this persona of, I’m the founder and executive director of Big Minds, I work as a therapist at Summit Center, like I do have to put on a certain professional persona, but I give myself permission to just be my weird self. And if I have to wear comfortable, loose clothes and no makeup, and, you know, I’m going to come across as a very homely kind of person, that’s okay. But for a long time, it wasn’t okay, I really felt like I had to be that professional mask, that professional persona. And, and it took its toll on me, like I have lasting health problems. Because of it. I, you know, a lot of the things that I talked about in the book, I also went on that journey of discovery, to realize that I have to love myself, I have to radically accept myself, I have to embrace my differences. If I can’t handle people’s cologne, I’ll tell them that now. Because otherwise, I’d be in a room and my eyes would be watering, my nose would be running, I’d be having a headache and feeling nauseous, because of the sense of people’s perfume. You know, and I don’t want those people, like no perfume allowed. But I do want to say to people, excuse me, you know, I need to go blow my nose because I’m very sensitive to smells. So I’m not asking other people to change for me. But I’m, I’m allowing myself to say, this is what I need. In the book, I call them escape hatches. So whenever I go into some situation, I know it’s going to be really hard for me, I have an escape hatch. Like if it’s going to be tough to have be at a function where it’s you know, socializing and everybody’s it’s like a mixer kind of thing. I’m going to be freaked out after about 10 minutes. So I’ll choose myself to go to the bathroom or pretend to get a phone call and go outside and walk around for 10 minutes and come back in, to just to give myself that space I need to be able to function and continue going.

Debbie Reber  24:58

Yeah, and I think again, Sharing this and the more people that kind of just own who they are, it gives other people permission to feel better about doing that. And ultimately, it’s just like talking about mental health challenges, right? It’s just kind of destigmatizing breaking the rules, and you know that it’s okay to just show up as you are. 

Melanie Hayes  25:18

Yeah, because they’re stupid rules. Yeah, I mean, most of what society has for us is, it’s not authentic, it doesn’t allow people to be their best selves. And so, you know, I’m just, I’m fine with saying, Sorry, that doesn’t work for me. And I never used to do that. I was a complete pleaser, I’ll do whatever you need to make you comfortable to, you know, provide whatever your organization needs.

Debbie Reber  25:42

So you’ve mentioned the word radical, multiple times in this conversation, radical acceptance. I’d love to know what that actually looks like. I mean, you’ve given some little examples, but how would you define that? And what do you think it will take for us to actually get there?

Melanie Hayes  26:00

Well, I think it’s interesting, you, you notice that because really, it isn’t radical, to allow people to be their authentic selves. But our society right now thinks it is, you know, like, think about, they talk about, oh, this radical change in this company to adapt the lighting for people on the spectrum so that they don’t have seizures, you know, or whatever, you know, it’s like that, that is not radical, making our public schools, so the children feel safe, and are not going to be either physically, mentally or emotionally beat up, because they’re different. That’s not radical. But it’s sad to say that we have this whole idea about conformity and compliance, that anybody who bucked the system is considered radical. And so I use that word in that way. Because I want people to say, Yeah, I have a right to be myself, I have a right to ask for what I need, I will do my best to code switch when I need to, but I shouldn’t have to mask up a goat switch all the time. Other people should work to let me be myself too. And it’s amusing, because it’s not radical, but it is.

Debbie Reber  27:14

So what do you think then, are some of the biggest roadblocks for us being a society that is radically accepting of difference were these accommodations or just supporting different ways of being is the norm?

Melanie Hayes  27:31

I think there’s a couple of things. One, we have a great fear of the unknown. And so anything that’s going to ask us to change what we have in place, people will immediately back away from and say, Well, you know, that’s not gonna work, I think about the work that was done in the 70s, just to make like, handicap ramps accessible, so people could get into restaurants and, and for a person who has extreme disabilities to be able to eat in a restaurant, you know, that kind of stuff didn’t happen before. And I think we’re facing this with our intellectual differences. And, and, you know, we we know that the movement is growing, and that there is probably going to be major changes going forward, I just read that the National Education Association has finally acknowledged that gifted people who are not accommodated appropriately for their, their advanced learning is just as detrimental as someone who is not accommodated for their deficits. So, you know, that’s just recent, and that shouldn’t be taking that long for that to be recognized, just just the vanilla gifted part. And then I think the other thing is we do, we are an anti intellectual society. And, and we feel like, Oh, well, if you’re so smart, you can figure it out. And we only accommodate people who are different, who are geniuses, if they’re like the Elon Musk’s of the world, right? If you are at Steve Jobs, you know, you can be a kind of a jerk in lots of ways, and get away with it if you’re wealthy and powerful, but you can be the nicest person in the world who’s just asking for a basic accommodation and, and you might lose your job, or or you, your marriage might fall apart. Because your partner isn’t willing to recognize that what you’re doing is not intentional. It’s part of how you function or, you know, to have an emotional conversation takes so much out of you that you’re not going to be functional for the next day. So there’s a lot of I think people also don’t want to do the work. You know, we want to stay in our little cushy chairs and have the world work the way it works for us. And that’s nothing new, like nobody’s ever liked change. So, you know, I think we have to embrace the idea that the more divergent we are, the more divergent people that we bring into the circle, the better the circle gets, because all of those talents and abilities that are hidden. That’s what we need right now, like our world’s in trouble. And it’s in big trouble because we’ve stayed with the status quo. And I think if we don’t start doing something different, which a lot of neurodivergent people are different and have different ideas, we’re going to miss out

Debbie Reber  30:25

100% agree with that, I want to before we wrap up, I want to just spend a moment talking about launching, because many listeners of this show are raising 2eA kids. And I will say that for this season, I just yesterday interviewed Jordan Kelley, who is a young adult who is successfully launching right now is in college and doing very well pursuing his dreams. And so I’m just wondering what advice you have for listeners who are raising 2e or 2eA kids to really help them progress towards a successful launch?

Melanie Hayes  31:03

Yeah, well, I think a lot of the hesitancy to launch is the anxiety, because they haven’t had good experiences in the world. And the world hasn’t worked for them. And so they’re thinking, you know, even with my parents, even the most supportive parents, right, they’ve been the buffer, they’ve helped the child but the still, the child has still not had good feedback around, oh, yeah, I can do this life works for me. And even things like, you know, when they become 12, and 13, and they hit that laden period where they’re developing their friendship circle, their second family, a lot of our kids have never had a chance to do that. And so those milestones, the developmental milestones that move them towards launching have not happened or happened much later. So I think for parents, it’s about reducing anxiety about helping their children see where their strengths are helping them learn to self advocate, so that they can ask for what they need. So the world doesn’t seem quite a scary place to really stretch out the launching pad, because the runway needs to be longer for our kids, they might not launch till their mid to late 20s. But once they launch, if the parents give them that sort of support, and help them understand how to use their strengths to be functional in the world, and how to use the advocacy for the places where they’re not functional, then the world seems less scary, and they feel more capable. And, you know, parents, I think, oftentimes, the sort of vicious circle is, parents overcompensate, because they see the anxiety and they try to reduce the situations that create the anxiety. And it’s, you know, good parenting, you’re trying to protect your child, but it’s a really fine line to walk. So as you’re raising your child, you want to push them, nudge them a little bit, so that they see that they can tolerate a little distress that they can, you know, be out in public and go to this event and do it successfully, or, or they can finish this project and be able to show it to people. So it’s tricky, but if the parents can, can do that little bit of dance where the kids learn to have confidence in themselves, because really, it’s kind of all about self efficacy, self advocacy, staying connected to your passions, and really embracing yourself for who you are, that that’s what the kids need to launch. And so give them time, give them space, and, and help reduce anxiety, like pointing out to them what they can do well.

Debbie Reber  33:36

Yeah, that is great advice. It is really tricky. It’s something we talk a lot about the push pool, the scaffolding, building up taking down and, and I just appreciate the reminder. And I love that language of stretching out the launch pad, and just really accepting you know, not just intellectually knowing that their timeline is going to be different, but accepting that and really being okay with what that’s gonna look like.

Melanie Hayes  34:02

Yeah, it’s a major trust fall for parents, right. But you know, I’ve done this long enough, I’ve seen these kids where they’re, you know, 16 1718 and the parents are despairing that their kids will never launch and 10 years later, their kids are doing some amazing, groundbreaking thing and very successful and, you know, so it. And you know, I don’t I don’t mean to say that all children that launched go on to do amazing groundbreaking things. But to me being yourself in the world and bringing your quirky art or you start a podcast, or you work at a job that you love, and you’re an amazing Dungeon Master, like to me, that’s all groundbreaking. I’m not talking about the Steve Jobs of the world. I’m talking about the kid finding their place where their content, they have their life works for them. They have peers who appreciate them. They have a vocation they enjoy, that’s what I mean by doing amazing things.

Debbie Reber  34:56

Yeah, that’s great. Thank you. So just as a way to wrap up, I want to come back to your book Being Twice Exceptional, I’d love to know what your greatest hope is for it in the world and what it will provide for readers.

Melanie Hayes  35:09

I hope for people who are 2eA, that they will read it and see themselves in the stories and be able to be like, hell yeah, I deserve to be myself in the world. And I think for people who are part of the Allied group, parents, grandparents, relatives, friends, who read it, who have a t2eA person in their life, that they will develop a great level of compassion and understanding and be able to say, you know, I’m going to say radically, again, to radically support their person to be who they are authentically. That’s great.

Debbie Reber  35:42

Well, congratulations on the book, I had a chance to read it in advance and just thought it was great. And so I really encourage listeners to check it out. As you’re listening to this episode, it is available, and is there anywhere that you would want to direct listeners to follow your work and learn more about you, Melanie,

Melanie Hayes  36:02

I’m not great at social media. That’s one of my deficits. But certainly the Big Minds website has a link to a lot of the work that I do. My wonderful marketing person puts out tweets and things about, I’ll do a brain dump, and then they’ll put it out there. I also work at Summit Center as a therapist. So oftentimes, I’ll do groups and speaking engagements for them. So that’s probably the two easiest ways to connect with me, because I don’t have my own social media platform.

Debbie Reber  36:35

You don’t need to, I am a fan of if it feels good, do it. If not, don’t do it. You know, especially again, as we were talking about at this point in our lives, it’s time to just kind of show up as, as feels good for us. And, we are huge fans of The Summit Center, too. So that’s wonderful. And I’ll again, listeners, I’ll make sure there are links for all of these resources in the show notes page. Melanie, congratulations on the book. And thank you for taking the time to talk with us today and share all of this. And yeah, I’m excited to see where your advocacy and your activism takes you next.

Melanie Hayes  37:10

Thanks so much, Debbie. I really appreciate your interview and I’m excited for both of us to keep doing the work we’re doing.

Debbie Reber  37:20

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