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Twice Exceptional (2e): Gifted with Dyslexia

October 11, 2012

A myth in education is that gifted students perform well in schools.  Often, that is not the case, especially for children who are “twice exceptional.”  Twice exceptional (or 2e) children are both academically gifted and have some form of disability, often one that affects other kinds of thinking and learning.

October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month

It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have symptoms of dyslexia (  Click the image at the right to see famous (and clearly gifted) people who also have dyslexia.

The initial problem in meeting the diverse academic needs of 2e students is identifying their dual exceptionality.  For more information on general issues involving identifying 2e students, please click here.  With dyslexia, this problem is exacerbated by the child’s giftedness.  According to Debbie Gauntt, CISD Director of Intervention Services, gifted children “frequently can mask and compensate for their reading difficulties by utilizing their other skill sets.”  Teachers and campus dyslexia specialists are taught to look for differences in performance and ability to help identify those children who may need intervention.  Gauntt refers to these “gaps of unexpectedness” as indicators that a child may be twice exceptional.

The CISD district website has extensive information regarding the identification of warning signs of dyslexia, including problems in speaking and reading, as well as indications of strength in higher-level learning processes.

In general, teachers look for:

  • slow and labored reading
  • challenge with phonetic awareness
  • difficulties associated with letter and sound awareness
  • spelling and writing can be factors
  • family history of formal identification of dyslexia
  • input from parents regarding speaking and reading difficulties and attitudes

Typically, says Gauntt, indicators of “gaps in unexpectedness” start to appear in 2nd and 3rd grade as they can rule out developmental and instructional factors as causes of difficulty.  While there is no predetermined time frame for formal dyslexia assessment, Gauntt stresses the need to evaluate all the data before making a formal identification. ”Dyslexia is a lifelong disability,” she says, “We need to ensure that we are properly identifying the underlying issues as well as tailoring instruction that can help [children with dyslexia] find success in school, work and life.”

Once an educator notices some signs of difficulty, the teacher will share the concerns with the campus committee to develop intervention strategies.  Each student’s needs are addressed uniquely.  ”Dyslexia comes in multiple levels in severity and intensity,” adds Gauntt.   For learners formally identified with dyslexia it may be determined explicit, structured multi-sensory therapy  is appropriate.  The campus dyslexia specialist will provide further support as needed, including dedicated instruction in a controlled environment that is both sequential and formative.  The skills that the student learns are utilized in the classroom and at home.

The protections of  Section 504 of the ADAAA (click here for information) extend to identifying and meeting the needs of students with dyslexia.  This reinterpretation provides many advantages to students according to Gauntt, including:

  • an opportunity to formally consider if a student requires accommodations through a service plan, and
  • an opportunity to analyze the current plan and make adjustments as students acquire new skills.

There is also a CISD initiative to bring audiobooks to each campus to allow students to access books regardless of their reading level.  Integrating technology  into the learning process will open the world of reading to students with dyslexia.  ”We are creating an opportunity,” says Gauntt, “to not let the passion and joy in reading be laborious and limited.”

If you have questions or concerns about dyslexia, please talk with your child’s teacher.  Click here for more information about intervention services in CISD.

Do you have a 2e child?  Watch our website for more information on twice-exceptionality, or attend the upcoming TAGT parenting conference (which has a series of sessions dedicated to 2e).  Also, consider subscribing to the Twice Exceptional Newsletter.


Watch the Dyslexia Movie — October 29, 2012 on HBO.

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