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Gifted Children with Disabilities (updated March 2001)

Is it possible for a gifted child to have a disability, or a child with a disability to be gifted?

Children who are gifted and have disabilities share many of the traits and challenges of both groups— and disabled. Their intellectual capacity may be equal to that of an adult. Other strengths include short- and long-term memory, intellectual curiosity, ability to conceptualize abstractly and see cause-effect relationships. Like most gifted learners, they have a love of justice, truth, and equity; heightened intensity and sensitivity; and they are perfectionistic, especially about subjects of interest. However, there are differences. A student may be using giftedness to compensate for a disability. For example, a student who is severely hearing impaired may be able to stay on grade level because of a self-taught ability to lip read. Or, imagine the frustration of a gifted child with cerebral palsy who is mistaken by others as having mental retardation, perhaps because people have difficulty recognizing giftedness in a child who is wheelchair bound. Because their disabilities mask giftedness, these students may never be recognized as gifted and represent a tremendous waste of talent. They are one of the most underserved groups of gifted students in the nation.

Whitmore and Maker (1985) discussed four obstacles to identification:

  • Stereotypic expectations that disabled persons are below normal.
  • Developmental delays, particularly in verbal area, among disabled children, so their high intellectual ability usually goes undetected when using verbal tests with them.
  • Incomplete information about the child, which results in overlooking areas of strength that might be displayed in nonacademic settings.
  • No opportunity to demonstrate superior ability because of the highly verbal nature of school tasks and ability testing used in special education.

To lessen these barriers, schools must use nonverbal intellectual measures as well as alternative assessments. Child Find programs should encourage the search for giftedness as they assess children who might be disabled. As in all things, early intervention is a key to ultimate success.

Following are links to related ERIC Digests, Internet resources, and Internet discussion groups, as well as selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.

You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used



gifted disabled

EJ616395 EC626151
Gifted Children with Asperger's Syndrome.
Neihart, Maureen
Gifted Child Quarterly;v44 n4 p222-30 Fall 2000 .
Document Type: (080) Journal Articles; (055) Guides Non-Classroom
This article proposes that gifted children with Asperger's syndrome may not be identified because their unusual behaviors may be wrongly attributed to either their giftedness or to a learning disability. Ways in which the syndrome might be missed and guidelines for differentiating characteristics of giftedness from Asperger's characteristics are discussed.
Descriptors: *Gifted; *Autism; *Student Characteristics; *Disability Identification; *Symptoms Individual Disorders; Elementary Secondary Education; Sensory Integration; Interpersonal Competence; Teaching Methods; Behavior Problems; Learning Disabilities
Identifiers: *Asperger Syndrome.

ED443247 EC307942
Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Twice-Exceptional Students
Kay, Kiesa, Ed.
Publication Date: 2000
Publication Type: 010, 020
356 pp.
Availability: Avocus Publishing, Inc., 4 White Brook Rd., Gilsum, NH 03448; Tel: 800-345-6655 (toll free); Fax: 603-357-2073; e-mail: pbs@pathwaybook.com; Web site: http://www.avocus.com
Audience: Parents; Practitioners
The 32 readings in this collection discuss the needs of children who are both gifted and also have special needs such as a disability ("twice exceptional"). The readings are grouped into four major sections. Section 1 is titled "Family Matters: Perspectives from Family Members" and includes the personal viewpoints of individuals who are themselves twice exceptional or have a family member who is twice exceptional. Section 2 is "Teaching Strategies: Learning and Leadership." This section addresses the special problems of placement and instructional needs of this population. Section 3 is "Research and Theory: Discovering Possibilities." The readings in this section summarize what is known about children and youth who are twice exceptional. The final section is entitled "Administrative Options: Working Together." It discusses a variety of different service delivery systems and programmatic options for the twice exceptional. Two appendices include a list of Internet resources and an explanation of the autonomous learner model.
Descriptors: Ability Identification; Delivery Systems; Disability Identification; Educational Administration; Elementary Secondary Education; *Family Environment; *Gifted Disabled; Individual Differences; Research and Development; *School Administration; *Student Needs; *Teaching Methods; Teaching Models; *Theory Practice Relationship
Identifiers: Autonomous Learner Model for Gifted and Talented

EJ566137 CG552261
Programs Serving Gifted Students with Emotional Disturbance.
Reclaiming Children and Youth: Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Problems; v6 n4 p253-54 Win 1998
Publication type: 080; 141
Language: English
Describes two programs that serve gifted students with special needs. The first, Project HIGH HOPES, helps students by establishing curricular accommodations. The other program entails staff members ensuring that gifted students are challenged and that these students' parents know how to interact effectively with their children.
Descriptors: Academically Gifted; Adolescents; Behavior Disorders; *Emotional Disturbances; *Gifted Disabled; Program Descriptions; Secondary Education; *Special Needs Students; Underachievement

ED427449 EC307011
Inclusion for Children with Dual Exceptionalities.
Konza, Deslea
Publication date: 1998
Publication type: 141; 150
Page: 18
EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Geographic source: Australia
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children (Minneapolis, MN, April 15-19, 1998).
ERIC issue: RIEJUL1999
This paper presents three case studies of gifted children with a disability. Emphasis is on the importance of identifying the gifted abilities of such individuals and providing for their special needs. Sarah is a 14-year-old girl with severe athetoid cerebral palsy who has above average mathematical ability and general knowledge. The use of computers and other aids as well as efforts to meet her individual needs have allowed her to be fully included in her secondary school. Melanie is a gifted secondary student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder whose impulsive behaviors interfered with meeting her educational needs. Application of Gossen's restitution model helped her learn to take responsibility for her behavior and resulted in improved academic achievement. Adam, a young child with autistic tendencies but high ability in written language and number concepts has been integrated into a regular primary class. Factors contributing to successful inclusion of these children are identified, including a broadly based identification procedure, acknowledgment of individual learning styles and needs, collaboration, an informed approach, appropriate curriculum, parent advocacy, and a philosophy of acceptance.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Advocacy; Attention Deficit Disorders; Attitudes toward Disabilities; Autism; *Case Studies; Cerebral Palsy; Computer Assisted Instruction; Educational Strategies; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted Disabled; Hyperactivity; *Inclusive Schools; Individual Differences; Parent Role; Student Development

EJ573546 EC619958
Academic and Personality Characteristics of Gifted Students with Cerebral Palsy: A Multiple Case Study.
Willard-Holt, Colleen
Exceptional Children; v65 n1 p37-50 Fall 1998
Publication type: 080; 142
Language: English
ERIC issue: CIJJUN1999
Using a qualitative cross-case methodology over three years, this study investigated how two gifted students with cerebral palsy and no speech exhibited their cognitive abilities. Findings indicated such traits as maturity, goal orientation, persistence/determination, patience, recognition of limitations, desire for independence from aids and devices, and use of intellect to circumvent the disability.
Descriptors: Case Studies; *Cerebral Palsy; *Communication Disorders; *Gifted Disabled; *Personality Traits; Qualitative Research; Research Methodology; Severe Disabilities; *Student Characteristics

EJ575357 EC620192
Deafening Silence: The Educational Experiences of Gifted Deaf People.
Vialle, Wilma; Paterson, John
Gifted Education International; v13 n1 p13-22 1998
Publication type: 080; 142
Language: English
ERIC issue: CIJJUL1999
Case studies based on interviews with five gifted deaf adults found a common frustration with schooling, a reluctance to be double-labeled as gifted and deaf, recognition of the importance of a supportive home environment and positive socialization experiences, and identity with the deaf community as a critical factor in personal success. Results have implications for identification and educational services.
Descriptors: Ability Identification; Adults; Attitudes; Case Studies; *Deafness; Disability Identification; *Gifted Disabled; *Individual Development; Interviews; School Attitudes; Self Concept; Self Evaluation (Individuals); Services
Identifiers: *Deaf Community

ED430344 EC307192
Dual Exceptionalities. ERIC Digest E574.
Willard-Holt, Colleen
Publication date: 1999
Publication type: 071; 073
Availability: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education, Council for Exceptional Children, 1920 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1589; Tel: 800-328-0272 (Toll Free); e-mail: webmaster@hoagiesgifted.org; Web site: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric
EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Sponsoring agency: EDD00036 _ Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC. Contract No: ED-99-CO-0026 Report No: EDO-99-2
Language: English
Geographic source: U.S.; Virginia
ERIC issue: RIEOCT1999
Gifted students with disabling conditions remain a major group of underserved and understimulated youth. This digest stresses the importance of both accommodating the disability appropriately while recognizing and nurturing the individual's intellectual strengths. Discussion of assessment is followed by a series of lists intended to assist parents and teachers in recognizing intellectual giftedness in the presence of a disability: gifted students with visual impairments, gifted students with physical disabilities, gifted students with hearing impairments, and gifted students with learning disabilities. Three additional lists are intended to help distinguish between gifted students who are bored and students who have an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The final section considers implications for students with dual exceptionalities in lists which address implications for identification, instruction, and classroom dynamics.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; Attention Deficit Disorders; Disability Identification; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted Disabled; Hyperactivity; *Special Needs Students; *Student Characteristics; Student Evaluation; Student Needs
Identifiers: ERIC Digests

EJ571844 EC619673
Project High Hopes Summer Institute: Curriculum for Developing Talent in Students with Special Needs.
Gentry, Marcia; Neu, Terry W.
Roeper Review; v20 n4 p291-95 May-Jun 1998
Publication type: 080; 141
Language: English
ERIC issue: CIJMAY1999
Describes a summer institute curriculum used with 27 middle school students with disabilities who were identified as gifted in the visual arts, performing arts, engineering, or life sciences. The curriculum was real world, multidisciplinary, and problem based. Using a creative problem-solving process, students identified problems, developed solutions, and created presentations.
Descriptors: Creative Thinking; Curriculum; *Gifted Disabled; Intermediate Grades; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; Problem Solving; Special Needs Students; *Summer Programs Identifiers: *Problem Centered Curriculum

EJ571841 EC619670
The Participation of Gifted Students with Disabilities in Gifted Programs.
Grimm, Joan
Roeper Review; v20 n4 p285-86 May-Jun 1998
Publication type: 055; 070; 080
Language: English
ERIC issue: CIJMAY1999
This literature review summarizes findings on the participation of gifted students with disabilities in gifted programs and urges closer cooperation with special education services and careful assessment by using an individually administered intelligence test; obtaining information from parents, family, teacher, and the student; and observing the student.
Descriptors: *Educational Diagnosis; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted Disabled; Intelligence Tests; Literature Reviews; Program Design; *Student Evaluation; *Student Placement

EJ555563 EC617791
The Essence of Empowerment: Richard's Story.
Lichtenstein Janice L.
Teaching Exceptional Children; v30 n2 p16-19 Nov-Dec 1997.
Target Audience: Teachers
This article uses a case study of the educational history of a gifted young man with severe visual impairments to show how principles of dialogic education can empower both students and teachers. Collaboration between Richard and his teachers and between regular and special educators led to his high school graduation as class valedictorian.
Descriptors: *Gifted Disabled; *Blindness; *Academically Gifted; *Case Studies; *Empowerment; *Teacher Collaboration; Elementary Secondary Education; Cooperation; Teacher Student Relationship; High Achievement

"What Do We Want in the Creel? Big Fish or Small Fry?".
O' Donnell, D.
Mindscape; v17 n1, p11, Sep 1996
Examples of Dustin Hoffman in "The Rainman," the story of mathematical genius in an autistic boy; Patrick Farley, a mute autistic boy with great musical talent; and Nickhil, a blind Indian child learning independence skills are used to show that all children are born with the potential to become skillful in many ways when provided with a positive learning environment.
Descriptors: *Gifted Disabled; *Autism; *Talent; Gifted; Blindness; Children; Individual Development

EJ522896 EC613578
The Integration of a Very Able Pupil with Asperger Syndrome into a mainstream school.
Barber, Christine
British Journal of Special Education, v23 n1 p19-24 Mar 1996
Available From: UMI
Language: English
Document Type: JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
This case study describes the mainstreamed and accelerated educational program being provided to a 15-year-old-boy in England who is highly gifted and has Asperger syndrome, a condition with many autistic-like characteristics. The boy's special education program to develop his social, communication, and independence skills is highlighted.
Descriptors: Gifted Disabled; Autism; Secondary Education; Acceleration (Education); Case Studies; Inclusive Schools; Interpersonal Competence; Communication Skills; Foreign Countries; Educational Methods.
Identifiers: Asperger Syndrome; England

EJ506629 EC611498
The Success of Three Gifted Deaf-Blind Students in Inclusive Educational Programs.
Ingraham, C. L.; And Others
Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, v89 n3 p257-61 May-Jun 1995
Special issue: Deaf-Blindness.
ISSN: 0145-482X
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJNOV95
Target Audience: Practitioners; Parents
This article examines the challenges and successes experienced over four years by three academically gifted students with deaf-blindness in inclusive educational programs, and presents recommendations about placement of students with similar needs in inclusive programs.
Descriptors: *Academically Gifted; *Deaf Blind; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted Disabled; *Inclusive Schools; Mainstreaming; Social Integration; Student Experience; *Student Placement

EJ503045 EC611120
Gifted Students with Hearing Impairments: Suggestions for Teachers.
Rittenhouse, Robert K.; Blough, Lisa K.
TEACHING Exceptional Children, v27 n4 p51-53 Sum 1995
ISSN: 0040-0599
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJSEP95
Target Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
These suggestions for teachers of gifted students with hearing impairments address definitional dilemmas affecting this population and special screening and evaluation problems. Guidance is given concerning choosing a "gifted" definition, selecting measures for identifying giftedness, and determining the reference group. Teachers are urged to look for unique talents in all their students.
Descriptors: *Ability Identification; *Definitions; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted Disabled; *Hearing Impairments; Student Evaluation; *Talent Identification

EJ474435 EC607519
Gifted Children with Disabilities.
Nielsen, M. Elizabeth; And Others
Gifted Child Today (GCT), v16 n5 p9-12 Sep-Oct 1993
ISSN: 0892-9580
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR94
The Twice-Exceptional Child Project is a collaborative project of the Albuquerque (New Mexico) Public School System and the University of New Mexico to serve students who are gifted and have a mild-to-moderate handicapping condition. This article describes the project's training components, screening and identification procedures, curriculum, and technology interventions.
Descriptors: Ability Identification; Behavior Disorders; *College School Cooperation; Communication Disorders; Cooperative Programs; *Gifted Disabled; Learning Disabilities; *Program Implementation; Screening Tests; *Teacher Education
Identifiers: New Mexico (Albuquerque); University of New Mexico

EJ486460 EC609056
The Autistic Savant: Recognizing and Serving the Gifted Student with Autism.
Donnelly, Julie A.; Altman, Reuben
Roeper Review, v16 n4 p252-56 Jun 1994
ISSN: 0278-3193
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJNOV94
This article focuses attention on the underserved population of gifted students with autism. The article examines savant abilities in the autistic population, needs of the gifted student with autism, similarities between the gifted autistic and other populations, and implications for treatment.
Descriptors: *Autism; Elementary Secondary Education; *Gifted Disabled; *Intervention; *Student Characteristics; Student Needs; Symptoms (Individual Disorders)
Identifiers: *Autistic Savants

EJ499300 EC610663
Multiple Exceptionalities: A Case Study.
Moon, Sidney M.; Dillon, Deborah R.
Journal for the Education of the Gifted, v18 n2 p111-30 Win 1995
ISSN: 0162-3532
Language: English
Journal Announcement: CIJJUL95
This case study reports on an 11-year-old boy with multiple exceptionalities. The child was verbally gifted, learning disabled in mathematics, and health impaired. He had received homebound instruction throughout his elementary school years. Qualitative research methods were used to explore the subject's learning characteristics and educational experiences.
Descriptors: Case Studies; Educational Background; Elementary Education; *Gifted Disabled; Homebound; *Home Instruction; *Individualized Instruction; *Learning Disabilities; Multiple Disabilities; Qualitative Research; *Special Health Problems; Student Characteristics

Intellectual Giftedness in Disabled Persons
Whitmore, Joanne Rand & Maker, C. June
331p; Publication year: 1985
Availability: Available From Aspen Systems Corporation, 1600 Research Blvd., Rockville, MD 20850.
Report Number: ISBN-0-87189-236-7
Language: English
Document Type: Books; Guides-Non-Classroom
Document Type Code: 010; 055
Target Audience: Practitioners
The text examines the emerging field of educating gifted handicapped students. An initial chapter traces the history of the field and offers definitions. Five goals of the new field are listed, including identifying gifted students with specific disabilities, preparing professionals, and increasing the sharing of responsibility. Five case studies follow of gifted persons with hearing impairments, visual impairments, severe physical impairments, severe disabilities, and learning disabilities. Each case study includes a discussion, specific guidelines and recommendations, conclusions, and reactions. The final three chapters examine implications and recommendations for practices to meet the affective and intellectual needs of gifted persons with disabilities.
Descriptors: *Gifted-; *Disabilities; *Educational-Needs; *Affective Behavior; Elementary Secondary Education; Visual Impairments; Hearing Impairments; Physical Disabilities; Severe Disabilities; Learning Disabilities; Self-Concept; Student Evaluation
Major Identifiers: *Gifted-Handicapped

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