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What Does It Mean to Be Twice-Exceptional (2e)?

by Cathy Risberg

click for 2e References and Resources, below

As a classroom teacher, I have had a chance to witness first hand what the researchers (Weber, p. 13) tell us: Twice-exceptional (2e) students are gifted students who consistently demonstrate at home, in the classroom or through testing, many or all of the following characteristics:

bulletVisual-spatial skills (interest in the arts, including photography and video) 
bulletVerbal abilities (drama, public speaking, leadership)
bulletImaginative, creative and musically talented
bulletIntuitive abilities, often with computers
bulletSensitive, curious and a tendency towards perfectionism
bulletEarly reading/strong interest in books/high level of reading comprehension
bulletSuperior level of vocabulary and abstract reasoning/thinking
bulletLarge number and intensity of interests
bulletHighly developed sense of humor
bulletAdvanced memory skills

In addition, research evidence and my classroom observations confirm that 2e students also possess unique learning differences. These differences can result in a difficulty in some or all of these areas:

bulletLanguage arts (phonics, spelling, written expression)
bulletComputation and memorization
bulletFocus, organization, keeping track of assignments and completing them
bulletMotor skills

For a twice-exceptional (2e) student, there is a definite discrepancy between a student’s actual potential and his/her classroom performance or behavior at home (Weber, p. 13). Gifted students who demonstrate clear evidence of having learning differences, sometimes clinically referred to as disabilities, are those students with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Asperger’s/Autistic, dysgraphia and other learning styles. 

Having a learning difference can be particularly challenging to a student when teachers and parents are not aware of the most effective teaching strategies to use. It is essential that we all help every student learn from his/her strengths to provide him/her equal access to the curriculum. Effective strategies are those based on flexibility, an awareness and appreciation of the student’s strengths and a respect for his/her learning differences. Once these strategies are in place at school and at home, there is less likelihood for a learning difference to become a true disability for the student. In fact, a student’s unique approach to learning can often be the key to his/her eventual success as an adult.


2e References and Resources

Compiled by Cathy Risberg

click for Useful Websites for Gifted and Twice-Exceptional, below

Baum, Susan. “The Ten Commandments I Teach By:  Optimizing Success for 2e Learners.” 2e Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, Aug. 2005, 12.

Davis, Ronald D. The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can't Read and How They Can Learn. New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 1997.

Fisher, Gary, Ph.D. and Rhoda Cummings, Ed.D. The Survival Guide for Kids with LD* (*Learning Differences). Minneapolis: Free Spirit, 2002.

Kay, Kiesa, ed. Uniquely Gifted: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Twice Exceptional Students. Gilsum, NH: Avocus Publishing, Inc., 2000.

Laureen, Jill. Succeeding with LD: 20 True Stories About Real People with LD* (*Learning Differences). Minneapolis: Free Spirit, 1997.

Levine, Mel, M.D. A Mind at a Time. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002.

Marshall, Abigail. The Everything Parent’s Guide to Children with Dyslexia. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2004

Neumann, Linda. “Serving the Needs of 2e High School Students.” Interview with Dr. Lucie K. Lewis. 2e Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, July 2006, 17.

Risberg, Cathy. “Respecting and Meeting the Needs of All Writers:  Handheld Technology in the Classroom.” 2e Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, March 2006, 15.

Rosenberg, Nancy. “The College Search Process for GT/LD Students.” 2e Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, July 2006, 17.

Weber, Christine and Kim Kovaleski. “The Challenges and Rewards of Raising an LD/Gifted Child: Tommy’s Story.” Parenting for High Potential. Mar. 2006:  12-15.


Useful Websites for Gifted and Twice-Exceptional

www.NAGC.org (The National Association for Gifted Children – consider joining this!)

www.2eNewsletter.com (A wonderful bi-monthly newsletter for parents and educators)

www.allkindsofminds.org (Mel Levine’s informative site for all parents and educators)

www.hoagiesgifted.org and www.hoagiesgifted.org/twice_exceptional.htm (Editor's Note: Hey, that's us!)

http://uniquelygifted.org (Like the Hoagies’ sites, a comprehensive site for gifted and 2e)


©Cathy Risberg, Minds That Soar, LLC, 2006

Last updated December 01, 2020

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