Students who are gifted come with a variety of skills and abilities. While they may have a specific strength in a particular area, they may also possess additional traits or characteristics that make identifying giftedness difficult.
Twice exceptional students may includes those students who also may be identified as any of the following:
- English Language Learner
- Student with a Specific Learning Disability (this is often specific to one subject area with giftedness in another area)
- Student with an Orthopedic, Visual, or Auditory Disability
- Student with an Emotional or Behavioral Disability (this might include Anxiety, Depression, Opposition Defiance, Obsessive Compulsive, ADHD, or any other array of concerns)
- Student with a Developmental Disability (this might include Autism Spectrum Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder)
Students Who are Gifted & English Language Learners
Students who are both gifted and English Language Learners can be found with careful observation. These students may not perform well in school at first, but they will demonstrate advanced language skills or critical thinking in their first language. Often, these students will progress more quickly than normal through LEP levels during their evaluations by the ESL Division. Using a non-verbal assessment, as is used by the CCS Gifted & Talented assessors, may assist in identifying these students as gifted in superior cognitive ability, and students may identify as gifted in mathematics before other subject areas.
Students Who are Gifted & with a Disability
There are two key issues when considering that a student might be both gifted and have a disability. The first is the potential for misdiagnosis of a disability. Often times, students who are gifted naturally display heightened sensitivities or intensity of experiences that may be confused for symptoms of a disability. The cognitive differences between a child identified as gifted in superior cognitive ability a typical classmates may make social interactions a challenge. Students who are academically advanced but are receiving instruction below their skill level may find other ways to spend their time that do not necessarily fit well into the traditional classroom. For more information about misdiagnosis, visits the SENG Misdiagnosis Initiative
The second key issue is the potential of no identification or diagnosis of the child's giftedness and/or disability. Often, a twice exceptional student's giftedness allows the learner to compensate in school just enough to be overlooked for a possible disability. At the same time, the disability is problematic enough to mask the child's giftedness. In such a case, the child lacks access to both types of critical services. Careful record keeping, work samples, anecdotal notes about conversations that show critical thinking, and discrepancies in test scores over time can be evidence that a deeper look is needed.
A great resource for parents, educators, and clinicians is Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults by Dr. James Webb, Dr. Edward Amend, and others. This easy-to-read book includes chapters for many major diagnoses that include lists of characteristics of someone who is gifted and someone with a specific disorder that might lead to misdiagnosis along with characteristics of someone who would be dually-diagnosed. It is a handy guide.