Meeting the Needs of

Twice Exceptional Students

“Twice Exceptional” Students:

  • Twice exceptional students as those who have high intellectual ability in particular areas and disabilities and challenges in other areas simultaneously.

  • The simultaneous presence of the exceptional ability and disability results in the domination of their gifted ability on their disability and vice versa which causes misdiagnosis in either gifted or special education programs.

What Might You See In Your Classroom?

  • Academic difficulties, attention issues, organizational issues, social issues, behavioral issues, impulsivity, and finally emotional volatility are common characteristics of students who are gifted and LD.

  • Having low academic self efficacy, feelings of failure or inadequate, depression, and some external behaviors, such as violence, impulsiveness, and attention difficulty are outcomes of having negative experience in schools including “harsh interactions with teachers, late identification of their learning disabilities, and placement in self-contained special education settings” (Willard-Holt, Weber, Morrison, & Horgan, 2013, p. 258).

Issues with Identification as Twice Exceptional Students:

The Problem:

  • The intersection of giftedness and disabilities causes misidentification of either gifted ability or disability or both of them; also, it can lead to recognize twice exceptional students as having average performance and abilities.

  • The lack of having comprehensible and clear definition of twice exceptional students.

  • If twice exceptional students’ performance meets the grade- level expectations, both their gifted ability and disability may not be recognized.

  • Issues with receiving services and interventions in schools for both of their exceptionalities: giftedness and disabilities.

The Solution:

  • Distinguishing between the students’ giftedness and challenges can be achieved by the depth understanding of the comorbidity of the characteristics of twice exceptional students to provide them with successful programmings and accommodations.

Programming Suggestions:

  • Using tiered instruction in a Response-to-Intervention model (RTI) is approved to be an effective way in identifying and providing supports for twice exceptional students including a multi-tier approach.

  • Encouraging students to focus on their academic and personal strengths, interests, and talents in and outside schools rather than on their weakness.

  • Providing twice exceptional students with specific adaptations and accommodations for their exceptionalities.

  • Using problem solving process.

  • Teaching them to use their strengths and gifted abilities to overcome their challenges and weakness.

  • Using compensatory strategies including learning study skills, using assistive technology, and developing the time management and organization skills.

  • Using choice/flexibility of assessment and pace strategy in which students will be given an extra time to do their assignments and a chance to choose the way they demonstrate their knowledge about the content.

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Baldwin, L., Omdal, S. N., & Pereles, D. (2015). Beyond stereotypes: Understanding, recognizing, and working with twice-exceptional learners. Teaching Exceptional Children, 47(4), 216-225. Doi: 10.1177/0040059915569361

Crepeau-Hobson, F., & Bianco, M. (2011). Identification of gifted students with learning disabilities in a Response-to-Intervention era. Psychology in the Schools, 48(2), 102-109. doi:10.1002/pits.20528

Foley Nicpon, M., Allmon, A., Sieck, B., & Stinson, R. D. (2011). Empirical investigation of twice-exceptionality: Where have we been and where are we going?. Gifted Child Quarterly, 55(1), 3-17. Doi: 10.1177/0016986210382575

Lovett, B., & Lewandowski, L. Gifted students with learning disabilities: Who are they?. (2006). Journal of Learning Disabilities, 39(6), 515-527.

Reis, S. M., Baum, S. M., & Burke, E. (2014). An operational definition of twice- exceptional learners: Implications and applications. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(3), 217-230. Doi: 10.1177/0016986214534976

Willard-Holt, C., Weber, J., Morrison, K. L., & Horgan, J. (2013). Twice-exceptional learners’ perspectives on effective learning strategies. Gifted Child Quarterly, 57(4), 247-262. Doi: 10.1177/0016986213501076

Weinfeld, R., Barnes-Robinson, L., Jeweler, S., & Shevitz, B. R. (2005). What we have learned: Experiences in providing adaptations and accommodations for gifted and talented students with learning disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(1), 48-52.