Authors: Silverman, Linda Kreger.

Article: The Two-Edged Sword of Compensation: How the Gifted Cope with Learning Disabilities.

Publication: Gifted Education International (Sage Journals). Volume: 25 issue: 2, page(s): 115-130 2009 | DOI: 10.1177/026142940902500203

Not everyone understands what it means to be twice exceptional. How can you be both ‘learning abled’ and ‘learning disabled’? This doesn’t compute.

There are two basic misunderstandings here: that the learning disabled aren’t smart and that giftedness means high achievement. If someone thinks learning disabled means ‘dumb’ and that the gifted are ‘smart,’ you can’t be smart and dumb at the same time However, federal and state definitions of learning disabilities specifically limit the term, ‘learning disabled,’ to children of at least average intelligence. So you have to be smart to be learning disabled! Definitions and district identification procedures that focus on achievement make it nearly impossible to recognize and include twice exceptional (2e) children.

Here is another way to look at giftedness. No two gifted people are alike. In fact, gifted people differ from each other to a greater extent than other groups. Imagine a scatter plot with thousands of dots representing the IQ scores of thousands of people. If you drew a line around the dots, it would form a normal curve. Where is the greatest density of the dots? Where are the fewest dots? The further the child is from the norm, the more unique the child. Thus, no two gifted children are alike. And if you add the co-occurrence of different types of disabilities, no two 2e children are alike. Each child who comes to the Gifted Development Center for assessment is a new puzzle. Our testers have to re-invent the wheel for each child.

This paper analyses some of the underlying causes of ‘twice exceptionality’.

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