California Educator

October 2016

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daughter began researching her mother's genealogy. Hamel, from Oregon, knew she had a twin but never expected to meet her. When Segal heard they had been com- municating by Skype, she invited them to participate in a study. ey accepted and met each other face to face for the first time in Fullerton. "It was wonderful. It was so gratifying," recalls Segal of the reunion. "Their twin- ship was so impor tant, and you could see that they belonged together. It was extraordinary to see them come together. There was great happiness, and it was as if some terrible wrong had been righted." Segal decided to specialize in twins during her senior year of college, when she was asked to write a paper about personal adjustment. She wrote about the adjust- ment of being separated from her twin in the early school grades, and enjoyed writing that paper so much, she decided it would be the first step on her career path. She is the author of Someone Else's Twin; Indivisible by Two; Entwined Lives and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior ; and Born Together, Reared Apart. When she's not writing books, conducting research or teaching, she can be found on the lecture circuit, and is a frequent guest on TV and radio talk shows. Segal never tires of twin research. She shares some insights into her fascinating field of study. Why are people so fascinated by twins? I've given a lot of thought to that question. I believe that identical twins fascinate us because we grow up learning that we have individual personalities, mental abilities and talents. So when we encounter people who look and act so much alike, it challenges our beliefs in the way the world works. In some cultures, twins were considered unlucky or evil. But that has changed, fortunately. Why are there so many twins these days? There has been an increase in fraternal twins due to assisted reproductive technology or in vitro fertilization when doctors implant more than one egg. Also, women are waiting longer to have children, and the chance of having fraternal twins increases as you get older. Older women sometimes release two eggs instead of one. This may represent a final effort at gene transmission. What is the biggest misconception about twins? That twins skip gen- erations. There's no rule about that. Another is that twins have a higher divorce rate because they can't get along with others. And there's a mis- conception that twins should always be separated in school. Think about the concerns some children experience when they leave home to start school, then take that one step further by sepa- rating twins. For some twins this can be emotionally trying. (See sidebar.) Do identical twins like to switch places and fool teachers and others? Most pairs will try this once for the fun of it, but most don't do it on a seri- ous basis. Some have said they tried it but weren't comfortable pretending to be the other. Is there any such thing as twin telepathy? No. I have looked at all the studies, and there does not appear to be any supportive data at this time. Some people may not agree with me, but from a scientific point of view, I've not seen convincing evidence. What is the one thing you still want to learn about twins? One thing that we don't know is what causes the fertilized egg to divide. We've studied identical twins for years, but when it comes to knowing why the egg divides, we do not have the final answer. I'd love to know the truth about that. 15 October 2016 perspectives What educators should know about teaching twins Be aware that twins — students with matched talents — can do similar work. Parents of twins need to work cooperatively with schools, which should be flexible about separating twins. Twins shouldn't be stuck together like glue, but they need to be around each other — as well as mix with other children. If you have boy-girl twins, the girls in general are going to be more dominant and assertive than their twin brothers. Some female twins tend to mother their brothers, so teachers may want to watch out for that. Twins, on average, seem to have more language defi- cits than non-twins. That's because they tend to speak a lot to each other. Some use private words, expressions and gestures to communicate, which can hinder normal lan- guage development. (I know of twins who have been falsely diagnosed as developmentally delayed because they were not progressing at the same rate as other students in language development — and they went on to become physicists.) — Nancy Segal

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