The term twice-exceptional (2e) refers to individuals who are both gifted and have a learning, emotional, behavioral, or social issue. They are considered twice-exceptional because they fall into the exceptional range statistically for their cognitive, academic, or creative abilities and potential, and also fall in the lower end of exceptional in their deficit area. This asynchrony, or uneven development, can cause extreme frustration, stress, and emotional and behavioral reactions.
Examples of exceptionalities include: Anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Dyslexia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Sensory Integration Disorder (SID). While the list above contains full blown diagnostic categories, many gifted individuals exhibit symptoms of the aforementioned, yet do not fully meet diagnostic criteria. While not necessarily requiring a diagnosis, these tendencies can still result in significant asynchrony, and significant difficulty.
Some examples of difficulties that 2e children may experience include: a gifted child who cannot read well due to dyslexia feels stupid, experiences low self-esteem, and stops trying in school. A gifted child with ADHD continues to get in trouble for “not paying attention” and blurting out all the answers. A gifted child with ASD has tremendous difficulty in social situations and therefore becomes overwhelmed and anxious in social and learning environments, limiting his involvement in enrichment programs. Thus, identifying a child as 2e and focusing on her strengths becomes a primary target for interventions at home and in school.
Click here for more information on the strengths and needs of twice-exceptional learners.