Gifted children who also have a disability, such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder are known as twice exceptional kids or 2e children.
In the United States, the term exceptional child is used by education professionals to define a student who is eligible for tax-supported programs in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as implemented by their state’s Board of Education and Local Education Agency (LEA). The term includes students who are gifted, as well as students with disabilities.
Identifying a student for exceptional children’s services under IDEA is the responsibility of the student’s public school assessment team, based largely on standardized testing. However, there is no universal method for deciding who qualifies. The wide racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities suggest that systems for identifying twice exceptional kids do not work very well.
Students who qualify as gifted typically score in the top 2 percentiles of the population, equating to an IQ of 130 or more. But especially with 2e students, identification of exceptionality can be complicated because one exceptionality can mask the other. For example, a student who is gifted and dyslexic may be able to use their strong listening comprehension and vocabulary skills to compensate for their weak decoding skills, making their reading struggles difficult to observe. Likewise, a gifted student with dyslexia may not be able to demonstrate some of their abilities using timed, standardized tests due to working memory and/or verbal fluency challenges.
It is common for 2e students to have inconsistent academic performance. They are often misunderstood and/or misdiagnosed, leading to exhaustion, frustration, anxiety, and weakened self-confidence and motivation.
If you’d like to learn more about twice-exceptional students and gifted kids with dyslexic characteristics we have compiled a list of references below. If you are looking for help with your gifted and dyslexic child, contact us for a free consultation with one of our expert therapists.
Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.