Very Important News for the Twice-Exceptional (2e) Learner

This just in from the Gifted Development Center (Colorado) Newsletter…
Very Important News for the
Twice-Exceptional (2e) Learner
From the inception of this newsletter, those of you who have gifted children with co-existing disabilities (the “twice-exceptional” or “2e”) have lamented the increasing difficulty such students face obtaining services at school. You have reported that special education services (IEPs) and even 504 plans may be out of reach, and children may be overlooked through Response to Intervention (RTI) because their academic performance is not significantly below grade level. Yet, most of your students struggle to stay at grade level and are at risk without services as educational demands increase. Increasingly, college and even high school graduation may be out of reach. You have asked us, “Are you doing anything about this?”

About 2008, staff members at the Gifted Development Center noticed a dramatic increase in twice-exceptional students brought by worried parents for assessment. Virtually all of you reported sharing concerns with your child’s teacher before contacting us, but teachers viewed your child as “fine” or “average.” Some of you even reported being chastised for your concerns–for not appreciating your average child! We asked fellow members of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Assessments of Giftedness Special Interest Group (SIG) if they saw a similar upsurge in unidentified twice-exceptional children brought for assessment. The answer was a resounding YES, so the group decided to undertake the mission of determining just what had changed and how it could be fixed.

Our new article, Critical Issues in the Identification of Gifted Students with Co-Existing Disabilities: the Twice-Exceptional, is the result of this effort. Reflecting the experience of 17 experts in the field– psychologists, educators, and twice-exceptional advocates–this comprehensive article addresses the problem of under-identification of 2e students for services in American schools. We hope it will positively inform and influence the upcoming reauthorization of federal IDEA law and resulting state/local regulations to better protect the twice-exceptional. Faced with an uphill battle to convince those outside the gifted field that twice-exceptional students have real disabilities, we offered five actual case studies in the SAGE article to illustrate the challenges 2e students experience.

In addition, our proposed position statement, Ensuring Gifted Children with Disabilities Receive Appropriate Services: Call for Comprehensive Assessment, was just approved by the NAGC Board. We are pleased to assist in the process of informing readers of the problems identifying and serving twice-exceptional students. However, the real work is still ahead disseminating this information.

What Can You Do?

You can help! Special education law largely resulted from parents banding together to push for services for students who needed them. As parents, you can be the most effective force sharing this information with your schools, gifted or 2e advocacy groups, state Departments of Education, and even your congressmen. We hope we have given you ammunition to fight this battle and that you will take up this important cause, which has ethical and civil rights implications.

One mother sent a wonderful response to the SAGE article, relating it to her son and what their family encountered. We invite you to submit responses to the article (without identifying information) that we could share with NAGC, Department of Education officials, legislators, and others who may be unaware of the scope of this problem. Send your letters to and label the email subject

“twice-exceptional letter.”

We are preparing now for the annual NAGC conference in Indianapolis the week of November 4, 2013, with a pre-conference all-day session on twice-exceptionality November

6th. We will continue to fight with you and offer what support we can

to twice-exceptional students.


Bobbie Gilman
Associate Director, Gifted Development Center
Co-chair with Dan Peters, NAGC Assessments of Giftedness SIG

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