2e twice-exceptional

The term 2e twice-exceptional, often abbreviated as 2e, entered educators’ lexicons in the mid-1990s and refers to gifted students who have some form of learning or developmental disability.

These students are considered exceptional both because of their giftedness (e.g., intellectual, creative, perceptual, motor, etc.) and because they are disabled (e.g., specific learning disability, neurodevelopmental disability, etc.) or neurodivergent. Ronksley-Pavia (2015) presents a conceptual model of the co-occurrence of disability and giftedness.

A twice-exceptional child is one who, along with being considered gifted in comparison to same-age peers, is formally diagnosed with one or more disabilities.[3] Although twice-exceptional can refer to any general disability, it is often used to refer to students with learning disabilities. Research is not limited to these areas, and a more holistic view is seen as helping to move the field forward.

2e twice-exceptional
Strengths Deficits
  • Superior vocabulary
  • Poor social skills
  • Advanced ideas and opinions
  • High sensitivity to criticism
  • High levels of creativity and problem-solving ability
  • Lack of organizational and study skills
  • Extremely curious and inquisitive
  • Discrepant verbal and performance skills
  • Very imaginative and resourceful
  • Manipulative
  • Wide range of interests not related to school
  • Poor performance in one or more academic areas
  • Penetrating insight into complex issues
  • Difficulty with written expression
  • Specific talent or consuming interest area
  • Stubborn, opinionated demeanor
  • Sophisticated sense of humor
  • High impulsivity

The causes of being 2e twice-exceptional or having dual exceptionalism—both gifted and a disability or learning difference—are complex and can vary widely among individuals.

Here are some factors that may contribute to being twice-exceptional:

  1. Neurobiological Factors:
    • Genetics: Both gifted and certain learning disabilities or conditions like ADHD may have a genetic component. A child may inherit a combination of traits that contribute to both gifted abilities and challenges.
  2. Developmental Factors:
    • Neurological Development: Differences in the development of the brain and nervous system may contribute to both giftedness and specific learning challenges.
    • Early Experiences: Environmental factors and early childhood experiences can play a role in shaping cognitive development. Positive or negative experiences may influence the expression of giftedness and the emergence of learning differences.
  3. Environmental Factors:
    • Educational Environment: The educational environment can impact a child’s development. In some cases, a lack of educational resources or appropriate support for gifted learners may contribute to the manifestation of learning challenges.
    • Social Environment: Social factors, including interactions with peers and family dynamics, can influence a child’s overall well-being and impact both their strengths and challenges.
  4. Interaction of Giftedness and Disability:
    • Compensation: Some individuals with learning differences may develop compensatory strategies that enhance their gifted abilities. Conversely, the challenges associated with a disability may mask or go unnoticed due to the individual’s strengths.
  5. Specific Conditions:
    • ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, etc.: Certain conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or others, may coexist with giftedness. These conditions can affect various aspects of cognitive functioning and may contribute to the 2e profile.

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