Twice-exceptional or 2e students simultaneously possess attributes of giftedness as well as learning, physical, social-emotional, or behavioral deficits and come from every cultural, socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic group. They may have a physical or sensory disability, ASD, emotional and/or behavioral disorders, or ADHD in addition to being gifted (NEA, 2006).
The NAGC (2016) provides a more precise definition of twice-exceptional students as “gifted children who have the characteristics of gifted students with the potential for high achievement and give evidence of one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria” (p. 1; emphasis added). The potential for achievement, not the achievement itself, is what sets this definition apart.
The twice-exceptional student may not be able to demonstrate achievement in one or more domains indicative of giftedness due to the disability. However, the holistic lens of the NAGC definition reveals both the potential and the disability without masking either.
The potential for achievement combined with the inner experiences of the twice-exceptional student indicate how to respond to their needs. The twice-exceptional student is characterized by the most asynchrony, with patterns of uneven development (Silverman, 2013). These uneven patterns can result in confusion regarding appropriate classroom environments, curriculum, and instructional strategies to meet the needs of students who can appear to be multiple ages simultaneously (Tolan, 1998).
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