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Twice exceptional (2e): gifted with learning differences

October 11, 2012

A myth in education is that all 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.  The initial problem in meeting the diverse academic needs of 2e students is identifying their dual exceptionality.

The NAEG Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development has identified at least three subgroups of 2e students who can fall through the cracks:

1. Students identified gifted, yet are having difficulties in school.

According to the NAEG (click here for full article): Many of these students are working at grade level and are likely to be overlooked by the screening procedures that are necessary to identify subtle learning disabilities.  Their underachievement is often attributed to poor self-concept, lack of motivation, or laziness.  It is often not until school becomes more rigorous that their academic difficulties may increase to a point where they are falling considerably behind peers.

2. Students identified as having learning disabilities/differences, yet their giftedness has not been recognized.

According to the NAEG (click here for full article): If students’ exceptional aptitudes remain unrecognized, their strengths never become the focus of their instructional program.  These students are first noticed for what they cannot do instead of the talent that they are demonstrating.

3. Those students who are in need, yet are considered unqualified for services provided for students who are gifted or have learning disabilities/differences.

The NAEG (click here for full article) considers this the perhaps largest group of unserved 2e students and are easily overlooked.  “The student may appear to possess average abilities due to the fact that their abilities and disabilities mask each other.  They typically perform at grade level but unfortunately are also performing well below their potential.”

“While parents of all children who are not in the mainstream do not have an easy time in our society, the fact that 2e children’s disabilities mask their giftedness, and their giftedness masks their disabilities, makes it incredibly hard to get the ‘experts’ to listen and to understand that you can’t just average the two and say this is an average child.” − Joan Affenit

Over the next few months, CGA will be researching topics regarding 2e children.

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