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As diverse as snowflakes, twice-exceptional students resist categorization.

About Twice-Exceptional: How Many Students Are 2E?

What is "Twice-Exceptional"?

In the world of gifted students, there is a segment of the population that is called "twice-exceptional" or "2E". These are students who have both a high IQ and have a learning disability. Basically, they are extremely bright, but their brains are wired differently.

A learning disability presents itself as persistent difficulties with certain skills required for successful learning. These are difficulties that cannot be overcome just by trying harder. They require individualized remediation by skilled professionals to overcome.

Common learning disabilities include dyslexia (a reading disability), dysgraphia (a writing disability), dyscalculia (a math disability), a central processing disorder (an auditory disorder), ADD (an attention disorder), ADHD (an attention/hyperactivity disorder), various anxiety disorders and general expressive/receptive language disorders. Many twice-exceptional students have more than one diagnosed disability.

Often current clinical tests cannot accurately test the IQ for twice-exceptional students, adding another level of complexity to defining this unique group of students. Learning disabilities can interfere with diagnostic tests so a "full-scale IQ" (a complete score) cannot be determined. Interestingly, it is common for twice-exceptional students to score exceptionally high on spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, verbal comprehension and/or abstract conceptualization tests.

Their unique combination of gifts and disabilities are why twice-exceptional students have a strong tendency to be creative problem solvers... and why they are very poor at processing detail and rote memorization.

If 2E Students Are Not Identified or Supported, Then What?

The typical twice-exceptional students who go unidentified displays uneven or inonsitstant academic performance throughout their schooling. The variation in their performance is unexplained and unpredictable. They are often labeled as lazy. They feel misunderstood.

Without the appropriate support, these students often give up and become consistent underachievers. They loose their motivation and either slip into the background or act out. Maybe they become the class clown or way to often, they start getting into serious trouble.

A high percentage of twice-exceptional students who are unidentified and unsupported eventually drop out of school, become chronically unemployed and can develop various mental health concerns.

At any point, even as early as elementary school, unidentified or unsupported twice-exceptional students can become seriously depressed, exhibit severe anxiety and have difficulty socially — casting them into a world of isolation and despair.

What Can "Twice-Exceptional" Look Like?

Meet Michael

"Hi, I'm Michael. My grades are okay. I understand everything, but I just can't do the work. I have to work harder than everyone else for the same grades. It doesn't matter; school is boring anyway."
Michael's learning disabilities are masking his giftedness, and his giftedness is masking his learning disability. He appears average, yet he is struggling, frustrated and bored.

Meet Emily

"Hi, my name is Emily. My parents tell me I'm smart, but I can't keep up with other smart students. My teachers tell me to try harder, but if when I do, it doesn't make a difference. I'm not lazy! Oh, I hate school."
Emily's gifteness is masking her learning disability. Her parents and teachers cannot figure out why she is not performing. Emily is struggling and frustrated. She is working harder than all her peers, yet still lagging behind.

Meet Christopher

"Hello, my friends call me Chris. I have a learning disability and I'm getting help. The work they give me is boring and I'm losing interest. I have all of these ideas and want to do so much more. School is just not my thing."
Christopher's learning disability is masking his giftedness. Since his giftedness is not being nurtured, he is bored and frustrated. He is losing interest in school and may even be acting out at school and/or at home.

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

It's like picking a rose and needing stitches from the thorns at the same time.Jen Merrill

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

Twice-exceptional children who are seen as defective view themselves with shame and doubt... Yet when we honor their strengths and believe in their ability, they are able to mobilize their will to succeed.Linda Silverman

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

I have come to believe that the children with the most phenomenal gifts often have severe deficits... and that they compensate for these deficits in novel and unexpected ways.Amy Bailey

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

If a teacher can rescue the "hidden twice-exceptional student" who has simply been buried under a barrage of never-ending irrelevant assignments, she will see miracles begin to appear.Marilyn Leuer

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

I loved feeling special. I hated feeling special.Garrison Keillor

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

These amazing children are not deficient; they are different. We would all do better to remember this and learn to embrace these differences for the benefit of us all.Cindy Little

Thoughts on Twice-Exceptionality

Too often the strengths and interests of twice-exceptional students are either unrecognized, seen but ignored, put on hold, or are irksome because they are the wrong talents for conventional school achievement.Susan Baum and Steven Owen

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