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What Does Twice Exceptional Mean? Identifying and Nurturing Gifted Children with ADHD

“Twice exceptional” (2e) is the term used to describe intellectually gifted children with great potential for academic achievement who also have a learning disability or neurological challenge, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). Their exceptional intellectual abilities of 2e students are often masked or obscured by one or several conditions (or vice versa), making them one of the least recognized and supported populations.

Twice exceptionality requires special methods of identification and targeted educational supports that highlight a child’s strengths. Parents can help 2e students by researching common characteristics, understanding how 2e brains excel, and learning how to uniquely support their needs in the classroom.

Twice Exceptional Students: Common Characteristics

The intellectual potential of twice exceptional youth is great. At the same time, they have an enduring disability or disorder that inhibits their learning experience. Common co-existing conditions include:

  • ADHD
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, etc.)
  • Sensory processing disorder (SPD)
  • Emotional and behavioral disorders
  • Physical disabilities

Their intellectual capabilities typically mean that 2e children often exhibit:

  • rapid learning
  • strong memories
  • large vocabularies
  • advanced comprehension of nuances
  • strong curiosity
  • unusual emotional depth
  • divergent thinking

As a result, 2e children are often highly creative, hold varied and intense interests, exhibit sharp problem-solving skills, and have a sophisticated sense of humor.

But 2e children also tend to struggle with:

  • social interactions
  • inconsistent performance
  • disorganization
  • executive dysfunction
  • transitions/initiative
  • fatigue

In the classroom, twice exceptional children may perform both above and below average on different scales. Their intellectual gifts may overshadow their struggles, or vice versa – a dynamic that explains why identifying these children is so difficult.

Excerpted from “What Does Twice Exceptional Mean? Identifying and Nurturing Gifted Children with ADHD” in ADDitude Magazine. Read the full article online to learn more about brain development in twice-exceptional children, the process for identifying a 2e child, support and strategies, school accommodations, and more.

Source: ADDitude | What Does Twice Exceptional Mean? Identifying and Nurturing Gifted Children with ADHD, https://www.additudemag.com/twice-exceptional-adhd-signs | Copyright © 1998 – 2021 New Hope Media LLC

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