Twice Exceptional Learners

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1 Twice Exceptional Learners

2 Who Are They? A student in grades K through 12 who demonstrate high performance ability or academic potential and who have a cognitive, physical, behavioral, or emotional disability that requires accommodations in order for their potential to be realized.

3 failure to help the gifted child reach his potential is a societal tragedy, the extent of which is difficult to measure but what is surely great. How can we measure the sonata unwritten, the curative drug undiscovered, the absence of political insight? They are the difference between what we are and what we could be as a society. Dr. James J. Gallagher author of Teaching the Gifted Child

4 Rationale Why is it important that educators are aware of the twice exceptional student? A disability may deflate both achievement and standardized test performance so that the student is not recognized as gifted or qualified for gifted programming. Many seemingly average students are students whose gifts and disabilities mask one another. As they experience discrepancies between their strengths and weaknesses in school, they may become frustrated leading to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Twice-exceptional individuals are found within every socioeconomic, cultural, racial, and ethnic population No federal agency or organization collects data on these students, so teachers must be the vigilantes on this issue. Twice exceptional students are a potential national resource whose future contributions to society are largely contingent upon offering them appropriate educational experiences. Service may not be provided to the twice-exceptional student, a practice [that] is in direct opposition to the demonstrated needs of students with dual exceptionalities. The Twice-Exceptional Dilemma. National Education Association, 2006.

5 The Challenge The greatest challenge in serving students who are twice exceptional are the perceptions of most educators that giftedness and special needs are distinct, separate conditions. Marty Hougen, Ph.D. The University of Texas at Austin

6 Profile of Twice-exceptional Learners Possess high level of general intellectual ability May have uneven academic patterns of strength Interested in broad-based thematic topics May be less successful when confronted with input from multiple sources or with tasks that require the integration of multiple skills Often display exceptional creativity or problem-solving ability in area(s) of interest May have written language difficulties including poor handwriting, poor mechanics, and difficulty with organization of content

7 Profile of Twice-exceptional Learner (continued) May have sophisticated sense of humor May need more time to process language and respond May be highly sensitive especially in areas of human need Often have difficulty in organizing time and materials Possess high readiness to learn and great interest in learning topics when presented in a challenging manner May exhibit visual or auditory deficits

8 Researchers Neilson, Hammond, and Higgins point out that twiceexceptional students require gifted instruction while at the same time needing the special instruction, adaptations, and accommodations provided to students with special needs.

9 Unidentified Gifted and Unidentified Special Education Giftedness and disabilities mask each other and thus cancel each other out Students compensate for their disability Disability hinders performance on assessments that lead to GT eligibility Students typically do not receive either GT or special education services

10 Identified Gifted and Unidentified Special Education High ability test scores Difficulties in particular areas May be considered underachieving School gets progressively more difficult in middle school and high school

11 Identified Special Education and Unidentified Gifted Disability is severe enough to impact performance on assessments that lead to gifted services Student tends to excel in areas of personal interest and often have strong verbal skills Parents and teachers focus on disability and may overlook signs of giftedness

12 Identified Gifted and Identified for Special Education Identified for a level of gifted services Identified for a specific area of disability Services provided by classroom teacher in collaboration with special education teacher.

13 Laws and Regulations Regarding Twice-exceptional Learners Virginia state law requires gifted services for students who qualify The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 requires services for identified students Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires accommodations for identified students.

14 What is fair? Fairness is not equal identical treatment, rather fairness means that every student receives what he/she needs. Richard Lavoie

15 Connection to Differentiation Myth Differentiation is individualized instruction Reality Differentiation is adjusting lessons according to data which identifies student needs

16 Expect Rigor Advanced Academic classes demand more challenging work than their counterparts... for everyone Students need to be prepared for time commitment Courses provide intellectual stimulation

17 Access Accommodations Purpose of accommodation is to remove barriers related to disability Accommodations need to match the area(s) of weakness Accommodations need to facilitate learning and independence, not enable dependence Accommodations need to be individualized Fair is not Equal

18 Four Variables that Can Facilitate Success Time Structure Support Emotional External Scaffolding Advocacy self and other Complexity High level thinking

19 Possible responses... Modify assignments/extend time if needed (Time) Use multi-method presentation of material (Structure) Provide opportunities for alternative forms of learning -- projects, thoughtful groupings that build on individual strengths (Structure) Use multiple forms of assessment -- test scores, homework, projects, class participation (Structure) Provide accommodations through audio tapes, readers, use of computer, Alpha Smart, strategic seating, advocacy (Support) Use higher level questioning and teach big ideas (Complexity)

20 Tips for Teachers Involve a support team quickly you need peer support with expertise Provide positive adult role models mentors/volunteers with shared interests Be flexible and encourage flexibility in your colleagues

21 Suggested Tips for Parents Set realistic priorities and goals for you and your child Take time to inform teacher of child s needs and establish a partnership Request involvement of school personnel beyond the classroom teacher Set aside time each night to help your child organize and plan work Look for a support group or consider starting one Work toward self-understanding and selfadvocacy for your child

22 Learning Outside the Lines Written from anecdotal experience Strategies for success Practical Applications

23 Twice-Exceptional Newsletter contains information to help twiceexceptional children meet their potential is located online at This site includes articles on giftedness and learning differences, profiles of experts, organizations, research findings, and resources for and about twice exceptional children.

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