Twice-Exceptional: What Does it Mean?

To be twice-exceptional is to be exceptionally gifted in some academic aspects while being below average compared to peers in other aspects. As a matter of fact, such a child could qualify to simultaneously enter into the gifted and special education programs.

Similar to other gifted learners, twice-exceptional students are talented and highly knowledgeable in at least one specific domain. However, their disabilities often overshadow their giftedness, or these students might be able to hide or mask their learning deficits by utilizing their talents to compensate. Sometimes, the special education needs of a twice-exceptional student aren’t identified until adolescence or later or are never recognized throughout their life.

Twice-exceptional students belong to the league of the most underserved and under-identified population in schools. There’re two reasons behind this. First, the huge majority of school districts don’t have processes in place for identifying these students. And second, inadequate identification results in a lack of access to the right educational services. Also, twice-exceptional students, whose disabilities and gifts often mask each other, are hard to identify.

These students often face difficulties in the school environment, where participation, long-term planning, and organization play a role. They can be highly curious, creative, imaginative, verbal, and have a powerful problem-solving ability and many different interests or all-consuming, single expertise. However, these students might have difficulty keeping pace with course volume, demands, and rigor at school, leading to inconsistent academic performance, difficulties with written expression, frustration, and labels like an underachiever, unmotivated, and lazy.

Identifying these students is a complex process and requires unique expertise to identify and assess the two areas of exceptionality. These children might be identified using these tips:

·Using both formal and informal assessments

·Taking a multi-dimensional approach for identifying these students and using both behavioral assessments and written tests

·Lowering qualifying cut off scores to identify learning disabilities or differences

·Choosing oral questioning rather than formal written testing if the child has difficulties with processing details

·Using assessment methods that accommodate cultural and language differences to eliminate bias from the identification process

Twice-exceptional students need a supportive learning environment to reach their full potential. Some effective strategies might include developing and employing individualized education programs according to their talents and interests, utilizing a strength-based approach, accommodating both academic strengths and academic weaknesses, allowing them to participate in enrichment experiences and programs, etc. It might also help to collaborate with other professionals in counseling, gifted education or special education, etc.

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