Twice Exceptional Children

What do you do when your school doesn't support gifted students who are struggling? Some schools have programs to support gifted high achievers but do little to support gifted strugglers. Many parents write us to say that schools are denying IEPs and 504 plans on the basis of high test scores or good grades. Their children are struggling because their "gift" seems to get in the way of receiving the help they need. In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate you'll find a new page at Wrightslaw about Twice Exceptional Children that includes articles, resources, book recommendations, free publications, and a short list of information and support groups.

Twice Exceptional Children (2e)
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Federal Definition of "Giftedness"

Students taking tests in classroomThe US government defines "Gifted & Talented" students as those..."who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities." 20 U.S.C. Section 7801(22). (Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, Title IX, Part A, (22). p. 526)

Twice-exceptional children are gifted children of above average abilities who have special educational needs - AD/HD, learning disabilities, Asperger Syndrome, etc. Because their giftedness can mask their special needs and their special needs can hide their giftedness, they are often labeled as "lazy" and "unmotivated".

This page includes articles, resources, book recommendations, free publications, and a short list of information and support groups about twice exceptional children.

Some schools and school districts have refused to allow qualified students with disabilities to participate in accelerated or gifted and talented programs and have required these students to give up the services designed to meet their individual needs. These practices are inconsistent with Federal law.

OCR says that if schools "condition" participation in accelerated classes or programs by qualified students with disabilities by requiring these students to forfeit their necessary special education or related aids and services, it amounts to a denial of FAPE under Part B of the IDEA and Section 504.

Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination

Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination in Accelerated Programs. Letter from US Dept of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) December 26, 2007. Section 504 and Title II require that qualified students with disabilities be given the same opportunities to compete for and benefit from accelerated programs and classes as are given to students without disabilities.

Gifted by State. For gifted learners, all program and service decisions are made at the state and local levels.  In the absence of federal minimum standards, there is wide variability between states, and in many cases, an even wider unevenness between districts in the same state. Click on the interactive map to find your state's gifted education policies.


Gifted Students with ADHD. Gifted children whose attention deficits are identified later may be at risk for developing learned helplessness and chronic underachievement. ADHD children whose giftedness goes unrecognized do not receive appropriate educational services.

Gifted But Learning Disabled: A Puzzling Paradox. How can a child learn and not learn at the same time? Why do some students apply little or no effort to school tasks while they commit considerable time and effort to demanding, creative activities outside of school? These behaviors are typical of some students who are simultaneously gifted and learning disabled.

Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities: Lost Treasures by Linda Kreger Silverman. How is it possible for a child to be both gifted and learning disabled? When giftedness is thought of as learning-abled, it seems incomprehensible that a person could be simultaneously learning-abled and learning-disabled.

Gifted and Learning Disabled: Twice-Exceptional Students. This article describes at least three subgroups of twice-exceptional students whose dual exceptionality remains unacknowledged. It explains that learning disabled gifted and talented students, or "twice-exceptional students" need remediation activities and require opportunities to promote their own individual strengths and talents.

CEC Issues Response to Proposed Changes to NCLB Impacting Students with Disabilities, Gifts and Talents. CEC has responded to the U.S. Department of Educationís proposed regulations which seek to make changes to provisions within NCLB that will impact students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

Gifted children need reading challenges. Advanced readers may actually lose proficiency in middle school, according to a new schoolwide-enrichment model reading study reported by gifted specialist Tamara Fisher.

Dual Exceptionalities. This article from the Council for Exceptional Children (CDC) discusses the significant discrepancy between the measured academic potential of gifted students with disabling conditions and their actual performance in the classroom. The article provides assessment lists intended to assist parents and teachers in recognizing intellectual giftedness in the presence of a disability. Characteristics of Gifted Students with Specific Disabilities.

ADHD and Children Who are Gifted. Howard's teachers say he just isn't working up to his ability. He doesn't finish his assignments,... he fidgets...he shouts...he disrupts...he's...Does Howard have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is he gifted, or both?

What the Research Says: Gifted Education Works. Separate studies conducted during the last few decades have demonstrated both the need for and the benefits of gifted education programs.

Differentiation of Curriculum and Instruction. Position statement from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The learning needs of gifted students often differ from those of other students and should be addressed through differentiation, a modification of curriculum and instruction based on the assessed achievement and interests of individual students.

State Expands Rules for Gifted Children. The PA State Board of Education has approved new regulations that will make it easier to identify students as gifted and to ensure the schools meet the needs of its most able students. The new state rules will allow more students, including gifted students with learning disabilities, to get the special instruction they need. Pittsburgh Tribune Review (May 4, 2008)


Know Your Legal Rights in Gifted Education. Gifted preschool, elementary, and secondary school children have very limited protections under state and federal laws. By contrast, children and adults with disabilities have, under federal statute and in turn under state law accepting federal provisions, comprehensive protections in areas not yet applicable to the gifted. Parents, educators, and other concerned adults involved with gifted children should know the legal framework in which the education and related services are established.

Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. The major emphasis of the program is on serving students traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient (LEP), and disabled students, to help reduce the serious gap in achievement among certain groups of students at the highest levels of achievement.

The Uniquely Gifted site has excellent information and resources. The site was developed by Meredith Warshaw, special needs educational advisor.

Twice Exceptional Newsletter2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter is written for parents, educators, advocates, medical/mental health professionals, and others who help twice exceptional (2e) kids reach their potential. The 2e Newsletter includes:

*articles on giftedness & learning differences
* profiles of experts, organizations, and resources
* columns that offer insight into living and working with twice-exceptional children
* research findings, trends, news and events
* conferences
* book reviews and recommendations

2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter Blog

The Spotlight on 2e Series. Easy-to-understand publications that offer information on recognizing and addressing the combination of giftedness and learning deficits or disorders in children. Order

GT- World is an on-line support community for gifted and talented individuals and those who support and nurture them.

GT World - Special email list is an on-line support community about any gifted child who has a learning disability (LD) and/or other neurological problem(s) that interfere with the child's ability to reach the full potential of his or her giftedness.
GT World - Spec-Home email list is an on-line support community for families who are homeschooling gifted/special needs children.

Gifted and LD from LD Online addresses how teachers and parents of gifted children with LD can implement the interventions necessary for the learning disability while still providing opportunities for enrichment.

Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration. (IRPA) is dedicated to the study of curricular acceleration for academically talented students.

Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Database of articles, parenting tips, strategies, information, resources, and support material. Article Library by topic.

Hoagies Gifted Education Page/ Twice-Exceptional

Twice Gifted: Learning Disabled/Gifted. We're learning more and more about children who don't fit the mold," says Mary Ruth Coleman of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina. However, even so, she observes, the education system is "not designed to address the needs of the child who is gifted and has disabilities."

PROJECT2EXCEL. Project2Excel - A Study of Twice Exceptionality is designed to change the way we look for, serve, and support learners who are gifted and also have various additional exceptionalities, including attention deficit disorders, autism spectrum disorders, behavioral and emotional disorders, and learning disabilities.

Recommended Books

The Pretenders: Gifted People Who Have Difficulty Learning by Barbara P. Guyer & Sally E. Shaywitz.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners by Carol Ann Tomlinson.

Smart Kids with Learning Difficulties: Overcoming Obstacles and Realizing Potential by Rich Weinfeld, Sue Jeweler, Linda Barnes-Robinson, and Betty Shevitz.

Re-Forming Gifted Education: How Parents and Teachers Can Match the Program to the Child by Karen B. Rogers.

A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students Volumes 1 and 2 by Nicholas Colangelo (2004).

Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual 3rd Edition by Susan Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, and Jonathan Lipscomb (Feb 1, 2009).

The Twice Exceptional Dilemma by the National Education Association (Jan 1, 2006).

Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented by Susan Winebrenner and Pamela Espeland.

Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, and Challenging by Judy Willis

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Free Publications

Monthly email briefing from 2e. Complimentary e-mail briefing for newsletter subscribers and others with an interest in twice-exceptional children. These monthly e-mail briefings are a supplement to our bi-monthly, subscription-based electronic publication 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. (See sample copies here.)

A Guidebook for Twice Exceptional Students. Supporting the Achievement of Gifted Students with Special Needs from the Montgomery County Public Schools. Download in pdf

Twice-Exceptional Students, Gifted Students with Disabilities. An Introductory Resource Book from the Colorado Department of Education. Download in pdf.

High Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB by Ann Duffett, Steve Farkas, Tom Loveless.This publication reports the results of the first two (of five) studies of a multifaceted research investigation of the state of high-achieving students in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era. June 18, 2008)Download in pdf from Fordham.

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children: Gifted and LD, ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder by James T. Webb, Ph.D. These common mis-diagnoses stem from an ignorance among professionals about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children which are then mistakenly assumed by these professionals to be signs of pathology.

More Free Publications

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Organizations, Information & Support

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
1707 L Street, N.W. - Suite 550
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 785-4268
Fax: (202) 785-4248

Gifted by State This state directory from NAGC lists key state education contacts, state associations or affiliates, other contacts, and state gifted education policies.

The National Research Center on Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT)
2131 Hillside Road, Unit 3007
Storrs, CT 06269-3007
Tel: (860) 486-4826  Fax: (860) 486-2900

Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students

Council for Exceptional Children

Long Island Twice Exceptional Children's Advocacy (TECA)
32 9th Avenue
Sea Cliff, NY 11579
(516) 724-7100

Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented (MCGT) 2E group is a support group for parents of twice-exceptional children.
Within the larger membership are chapters and groups formed based on region and specific interests.

Bridget Cariello
Special Ed. Chairperson
Suffolk Region 2009-2010
631-398-5092 Cell