What does that term mean and how do we use it? Twice exceptional means that a child is intellectually gifted but also has a disability diagnosis of some form which interferes with their ability to learn. Quite literally it means the child is exceptional one time for their giftedness and exceptional a second time for their disability. For instance, a gifted child whom also struggles with an anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, an auditory processing disorder, or attention difficulties. With 2e students there is no set combination of giftedness and a specific disability, therefore any gifted child with a formal mental diagnosis may be considered 2e.
Gifted students often present with some areas of difficulty in addition to their intellectual strengths. A psychological evaluation is the best way to determine if the difficulties meet a level of significance to warrant a diagnosis. Many gifted students struggle with areas of social skills, emotional regulation, and cooperative classroom behavior. Gifted students often experience intense emotions, a high level of sensitivity, and increased impulsivity.
Parents of 2e children may struggle to respond appropriately during outbursts and meltdowns and therefore become frustrated. Often times, gifted children present as much older intellectually and their developmental age and emotional maturity appears lacking. Parents sometimes need help to learn how to foster emotional awareness, labeling and expression. Parent support groups and a well-trained counselor can assist in generating positive responses and modifying environmental factors which can improve home and school functioning. Interactions can improve for both the parents and the child by focusing on ways of encouraging appropriate emotional expression, rewarding more desirable behavior and modeling adaptive/flexible problem solving. If you’re looking for online information on how to best support your 2e child this Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy website is a start.
If you’re looking to set up an appointment with me to focus on your 2e child’s emotional needs or would like in person parental support then you can gather more information at
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Dr. Angela Steranko