Just what is Twice Exceptional Anyway?

12 Jul

This is a fairly new term to a lot of people– even educators, who often ask me for a definition of twice exceptional, sometimes abbreviated as 2E. The narrow term used by a lot of school districts is a child who is designated gifted and talented, usually determined by an IQ of a certain number or a checklist administered by a gifted and talented specialist, along with surveys given to parents, teachers and others who work closely with the child. In addition to the gifted designation, the child also has a identified disability such as a learning disability, aspergers/autism or ADHD.

Some children who are twice exceptional have either an IEP (a special education individual education plan) or a 504 plan (a general education list of accommodations that they child has a right to have.) Both an IEP and a 504 are federally mandated legal documents. However, many children do not have any legal protections because they are either smart enough to “fly under the radar” and compensate enough to manage reasonable academic progress or they struggle with academics so much that no teacher realizes that they have an incredibly gifted kid in their midst.

The more broad definition of twice exceptional is a student who has extremely high skills in some areas along with very low skills in others.   In my experience, most kids who are super smart also have some quirks, often social ones, and bright kids who have learning difficulties almost always have found ingenious “work-arounds” to minimize the impact of their disabilities. I have worked with kids in both categories and I use the more loose designation in my work and on my blog.

The tips and books and ideas I review here will work generally work well with kids who are learning disabled, gifted, 2E, English Language Learners, highly visual , creative and, well, most average kids. Great books are great books, and effective teaching is effective teaching across the board. All kids have gifts and struggles. If I believe an idea works particularly well with a specific population of students, I’ll let you know, but feel free to adapt for particular students. That is what differentiation is all about.


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