Twice exceptionality is challenging to pin down. The following definition was created by the National Twice-Exceptional Community of Practice in 2014:
Twice exceptional (2e) individuals evidence exceptional ability and disability, which results in a unique set of circumstances. Their exceptional ability may dominate, hiding their disability; their disability may dominate, hiding their exceptional ability; each may mask the other so that neither is recognized or addressed.
2e students, who may perform below, at, or above grade level, require the following:
- Specialized methods of identification that consider the possible interaction of the exceptionalities
- Enriched/advanced educational opportunities that develop the child’s interests, gifts and talents while also meeting the child’s learning needs
- Simultaneous supports that ensure the child’s academic success and social-emotional well-being, such as accommodations, therapeutic interventions, and specialized instruction.
- Twice-exceptional children are both gifted and learning disabled. This discovery was made in 1977 when psychologists discovered that this two characteristics could be present in students.
Despite this breakthrough so many years ago, twice exceptional students are still underserved. The vast majority of schools, public or private, still do not have special education services for these children, nor do they have any framework for identifying them in their classrooms. Adults tend to misunderstand this very complex children, since their strengths and challenges tend to mask each other.
In a traditional classroom, twice-exceptional students typically demonstrate uneven or inconsistent academic performance because of their disabilities and often have social and emotional challenges that also interfere with their learning. Yet, most of these students excel at high-level abstract thinking and creative problem solving.
Simply stated, they are bright children who learn differently and they deserve an education that allows them to reach their full potential. Twice-exceptional students are some of our nation’s most promising and most innovative thinkers, supporting them is an investment in the future.
Baldwin, L., Omdal, S. N., & Pereles, D. (2015).