What’s not often well-known or well-understood is that students who are gifted may also have a special need or disability— just as students with disabilities may also be gifted. The term “twice-exceptional,” also referred to as “2e,” is used to describe gifted children who, have the characteristics of gifted students with the potential for high achievement and give evidence of one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria.
These disabilities may include specific learning disabilities (SpLD), speech and language disorders, emotional/behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, autism spectrum, or other impairments such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Twice-exceptional children often find difficulty in the school environment, where organization, participation, and long-term planning play a role. They can be highly creative, verbal, imaginative, curious, with strong problem-solving ability, and a wide range of interests or a single, all-consuming expertise. However, at school, they may have difficulty keeping up with course rigor, volume, and demands–resulting in inconsistent academic performance, frustration, difficulties with written expression, and labels such as lazy, unmotivated, and underachiever. All this may hinder their excitement for school and be detrimental to their self-efficacy, self-confidence, and motivation.
If there is one thing teachers and parents can do to empower twice-exceptional children, it’s to help identify and nurture their talents and strengths first. By understanding their own talents, 2e children build self-confidence, create positive identities, and find like-minded friends. These are essential elements for coping with their challenges, finding their path in life, and being able to pursue their dreams.
Read “Twice Exceptional Students” from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) to learn more about twice-exceptionality, how it is manifested at school and at home, how to support a 2e child, and what parents can do to help.