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Who are twice exceptional students and how do they relate to society

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Who are twice exceptional students and how do they relate to society 

May 24th, 2014

Twice-exceptional children often find school frustrating and suffer from low self-esteem when beginning school. They may have difficulty with social skills and not feels as though they fit in with their peers.2 Three types of twice-exceptional students have been categorized:

  1. Students who are identified as gifted but also have subtle learning disabilities. For example, a student may use a large vocabulary but have very poor spelling. This category of student tends to perform on grade level.
  2. Students whose abilities and disabilities mask each other and are thus unidentified. Their superior intelligence, for example, may hide trouble working with numbers. These students often perform at or slightly below their grade level.
  3. Students identified as both gifted and having learning disabilities. These students stand out in a classroom because they are obviously bright but frustrated with school activities and thus tend to act out.

Identifying the twice-exceptional student

Identifying twice-exceptional children is more of a challenge than identifying students with one exceptionality, especially in the occurrence of children whose abilities and disabilities mask one another. These students may be performing on grade level, so they do not raise a red flag to their teachers. Often the parents of these children are the first to notice their gifts, as when twice-exceptional students are allowed to extend effort into their interests, they learn successfully.

Twice-exceptional students may exhibit some or all of the following characteristics:7

  • discrepancy between verbal and written work
  • creativity
  • excellence on tasks requiring abstract concepts
  • difficulty with tasks requiring memorization
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • acting-out behavior
  • poor organization
  • poor motivation
  • active problem solving
  • analytic thinking
  • strong task commitment when interested
  • withdrawal/shyness

Resiliency and social skills

Twice-exceptional children need support maintaining social relationships. While these children can display the appropriate social skills and are more sensitive to nonverbal cues than other children with learning disabilities, they still may have trouble exhibiting the appropriate social skills when with their peers.19 They tend to interact better with adults than children their own age, and thus teachers can encourage them to use the same skills with their classmates. Experts also recommend that teachers place twice-exceptional students in leadership positions in classes where they excel. For example, a teacher may ask a student who has trouble with reading but is exceptional in math to tutor another student in algebra.

Resiliency is a very important quality for twice-exceptional children to have — they must learn how to bounce back from negative experiences and frustrations in learning. Emotionally, twice-exceptional children need to work both at home and at school to build resiliency through developing coping strategies.20 Teachers can building coping skills through encouraging children to become self-advocates when they feel confused or frustrated. Also, they can teach realistic goal-setting by having twice-exceptional students set short-term goals and map out steps to complete them. When students become comfortable with short-term goals, they can move on to longer-term goals and begin to integrate academic pursuits with their own interests.21

May 24th, 2014

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