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Gifted and Learning Disabled? Serving Twice-Exceptional Students

Students are served with an Individual Education Program (IEP) for various educational needs. Some students are eligible for services in multiple goal areas. But did you know that a student with an IEP can simultaneously fall under another umbrella - that of gifted and talented? This subgroup of students, known as twice-exceptional or “2e,” is under-identified and under-served in schools.

Twice-exceptional learners are defined as the following by authors Sally Reis, Susan Baum and Edith Burke in the June 2014 edition of Gifted Child Quarterly:

"Twice-exceptional learners are students who demonstrate the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains such as math, science, technology, the social arts, the visual, spatial or performing arts or other areas of human productivity AND who manifest one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria.

These disabilities and high abilities combine to produce a unique population of students who may fail to demonstrate either high academic performance or specific disabilities. Their gifts may mask their disabilities and their disabilities may mask their gifts."

“It is unlawful to deny a student with a disability admission to an accelerated class or program solely because of that student’s need for special education or related aids and services, or because that student has an IEP or a plan under Section 504.”
Monroe, S. (2007).  Dear colleague letter:  Access by students with disabilities to accelerated programs.  U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.

Few teachers are aware of the possibility of overlap in the populations of special education students and gifted students.  As a result, twice-exceptional students fall through the cracks of both systems and lack access to the appropriate educational services they need.

The West Des Moines Community School District is working to address this issue with professional development for their teachers on May 21. A parent session is scheduled for 7 p.m. on May 21 at Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge, 2500 Grand Avenue, West Des Moines. The evening session is open to all parents (and educators) in the Heartland AEA area who wish to know more about supporting students who are twice exceptional. Contact Kristine Milburn at (515) 633-4052 or milburnk@wdmcs.org if you have questions about the WDMCS event.

For further guidance on supporting your 2e students, contact a Parent and Education Connection Coordinator who serves your district.

© 2018 Heartland AEA 11. All Rights Reserved.