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Twice Exceptional: what does it mean?

I've often encountered parents who were confused to hear that their child was twice-exceptional (or 2e). They struggled to understand what that actually meant. According to the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC), "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)."

In other words, the child is gifted but also has significant trouble in some ways. I often hear about gifted children who also live with ADHD. Less frequently, but still present, are the children with defined learning disabilities in one area who are also gifted. Sometimes, the gifted child has difficulty in more than one area. For example, a gifted high school girl struggles to pay attention at school due to her ADHD. She has been diagnosed with a math learning disorder. At the same time, she has an IQ in the extremely high range, and she displays gifted writing and artistic abilities. This child's parents may struggle to understand how to support the giftedness while also addressing the difficulties.

Luckily, the identification of 2e children is becoming more commonplace. Previously, these children often were not recognized, and they too often risked being lost or overlooked. While there is still much work to be done on increasing support for these children, a positive trend is underway in the recognition of 2e. Jump over to the resources on children to learn more about 2e.


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