Twice Exceptional Learners

Students with disabilities may also be gifted and talented. Identification of these students is problematic. Their disability often masks their gift, and conversely, they may use their gifts to compensate for their disability. This may cause both exceptionalities to appear less extreme. In addition, the frustrations associated with unidentified strengths and disabilities may result in behavioral and social/emotional issues. In order for these children to reach their potential, it is essential that their intellectual strengths be recognized and nurtured, at the same time as their disability is appropriately accommodated. WRPS school personnel will work together to identify gifts and disabilities and provide services for both, so that students may reach their full potential.


Appropriate Identification School personnel need to be sensitive to clues that seem to reveal contradictions in abilities. 


Possible examples are: 
  • Above grade extensive vocabulary/struggle with spelling basic words
  • Strong verbal expression/poor illegible handwriting
  • Good listening comprehension skills/low self-concept
  • Sophisticated sense of humor/difficulty engaging in social aspects of the classroom
  •  Difficulty sitting still/can become deeply immersed in special interests or creative activities 
  • Highly Sensitive
  • Curious and inquisitive
  • Inconsistent levels of performance
  • Wide area of interest
  • Easily frustrated

These types of contradictions may be indicators of possible twice exceptionality worth further investigation. Educators who suspect a student may be twice exceptional should contact a school psychologist to conduct a comprehensive evaluation in order to make an accurate diagnosis. 
Helpful strategies: 

  • Use interventions which nurture the student’s potential in their area of strength.
  • Provide opportunities for the student to exercise their areas of high ability.
  • Identify learning gaps and provide explicit instruction in those areas.
  • Identify a case manager who is responsible for facilitating communication and collaboration between and among counselors, special educators, gifted educators, and general educators. The GATES Coordinator should be part of the IEP team. 
  • Connect students with resources and technology tools to compensate for weaknesses. 
  • Provide course options that ease course load and accelerate strength areas such as summer school and Internet courses. 
  • Teach and encourage students to use compensation strategies such as talking to teachers, using another student’s notes to supplement their own, taking fewer classes, taking advantage of extended time for testing, listening to books on tape, and utilizing technology to compensate for weaknesses. 
  • Pay particular attention to transitions from one school level to another, creating a comprehensive transition plan. 
  • Provide social and emotional support through counseling services that develop self-esteem and self-efficacy.