What is Twice Exceptional?​

Something that doesn't get as much attention as either gifted ability or learning disabilities in students is the fact that some students exhibit both traits.


According to the book Twice Exceptional by Scott Barry Kaufman, "twice exceptional individuals demonstrate exceptional levels of capacity, competence, commitment, or creativity in one or more domains coupled with one or more learning difficulties."


This can have many permutations, and will look differently for each twice exceptional, or 2e, student. For instance, one 2e student might have dyslexia but be an accomplished dancer, while another 2e student is gifted in math and also has dysgraphia.


Part of what can be difficult in discovering if a student is 2e is that their high abilities may mask their disability, and conversely, their disability can hide their exceptional potential. Another road block is that not all educators are trained to watch for 2e students. In fact, Kaufman notes that those that work successfully with this population require special training and ongoing professional development.


The National Association for Gifted Children has information about what teachers and parents might see in relation to gifted students and tips about what parents can do to help. Understood.org has a great list of myths about 2e students. One I would like to address here is the idea that students can't be gifted and also lack basic skills. There are highly gifted students who are also dyslexic and struggle with phonemic and phonological awareness. But that doesn't mean that they can't succeed in school; rather, they need instruction that will help them close those gaps so they can read and write well. Another good resource is this article in .


This is an area in which I hope to continue my learning, as I believe I've already worked with a number of students who would be considered 2e. If you think your child may be 2e, I would be happy to point you toward additional resources. 


Photo by IIONA VIRGIN on Unsplash.