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Twice Exceptional Children (2e)
Articles  l  ResourcesGood Books  
 Free Pubs l Information & Support

Federal Definition of "Giftedness"

girl student at blackboard in classroomThe US government defines "Gifted & Talented" students as those..."who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities." 20 U.S.C. Section 7801(22). (Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind, Title IX, Part A, (22). p. 526) [out of print]

Twice-exceptional children are gifted children of above average abilities who have special educational needs - AD/HD, learning disabilities, Asperger Syndrome, etc. Because their giftedness can mask their special needs and their special needs can hide their giftedness, they are often labeled as "lazy" and "unmotivated".

This page includes articles, resources, book recommendations, free publications, and a short list of information and support groups about twice exceptional children.

Some schools and school districts have refused to allow qualified students with disabilities to participate in accelerated or gifted and talented programs and have required these students to give up the services designed to meet their individual needs. These practices are inconsistent with Federal law.

OCR says that if schools "condition" participation in accelerated classes or programs by qualified students with disabilities by requiring these students to forfeit their necessary special education or related aids and services, it amounts to a denial of FAPE under Part B of the IDEA and Section 504.

Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination

US DOE OSEP Policy Memo, April 17, 2015, re-affirming 2013 Letter to Delisle, and reminding each LEA of its obligation to evaluate all children regardless of cognitive skills. (34 CFR §300.304(b)(1) and (2) and 34 CFR §300.8)

US Dept of Education, OSEP Policy Memo, December 20, 2013 (Twice Exceptional students). "... it would be inconsistent with the IDEA for a child, regardless of whether the child is gifted, to be found ineligible for special education and related services under the SLD category solely because the child scored above a particular cut score established by State policy."

US Dept of Education, OSEP Policy Document, January 13, 2010 (Topic: Evaluation Procedures)-to an individual (personally identifiable information redacted), regarding “twice exceptional students,” students who have high cognition and who have a disability and may need an IEP. MS Word l PDF

The letter states the Department's believes IDEA does provide protections for students with high cognition and disabilities who require special education services.

"The IDEA is silent regarding “twice exceptional” or “gifted” students. It remains the Department’s position that students who have high cognition, have disabilities and require special education and related services are protected under the IDEA and its implementing regulations."

Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination in Accelerated Programs. Letter from US Dept of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) December 26, 2007. Section 504 and Title II require that qualified students with disabilities be given the same opportunities to compete for and benefit from accelerated programs and classes as are given to students without disabilities.

Gifted by State. For gifted learners, all program and service decisions are made at the state and local levels.  In the absence of federal minimum standards, there is wide variability between states, and in many cases, an even wider unevenness between districts in the same state. Click on the state listing to find your state's gifted education policies.


Ensuring Gifted Children with Disabilities Receive Appropriate Services: Call for Comprehensive Assessment. National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Position Statement: Ensuring 2e Students Receive Appropriate Services.

How Can I Fight for a Gifted Child? In a few states, gifted children may eligible for services under the IDEA - but not in most states. In most cases, gifted kids sit in classes, bored and frustrated, with no educational services to meet their needs.

School Says, "No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs? Children with IEPs receive protection from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504). Does your child qualifies for advanced classes and the school will not enroll her because she has an IEP? That sounds like discrimination.

New Hope for Twice Exceptional Children by Ruth Heitin, Ph.D. Research has shown that about one-sixth of gifted students have some disability. These students (most commonly Gifted and Learning Disabled or Gifted and Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disordered) are gifted intellectually but experience a deficit in learning or in the executive functions necessary for work production.

Studies Shed Light on 'Twice Exceptional' Students. Experts say better, earlier identification needed for children. The timing of an evaluation can mean the difference between a student being identified as gifted or disabled, because while giftedness can mask a disability early on, over time, the disability can hide a student's strengths.

Tips for Parents: Meeting the Needs of Twice Exceptional Children. This article by Meredith Warshaw caters to the many highly gifted children that have additional special needs such as learning disabilities, ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, sensory integration disorder, etc. The author offers advice on a number of issues (i.e. assessment, schooling, siblings) as well as a number of resources for parents.

Gifted Students with ADHD. Gifted children whose attention deficits are identified later may be at risk for developing learned helplessness and chronic underachievement. ADHD children whose giftedness goes unrecognized do not receive appropriate educational services.

Gifted But Learning Disabled: A Puzzling Paradox. How can a child learn and not learn at the same time? Why do some students apply little or no effort to school tasks while they commit considerable time and effort to demanding, creative activities outside of school? These behaviors are typical of some students who are simultaneously gifted and learning disabled.

Gifted and Learning Disabled: Twice-Exceptional Students. This article describes at least three subgroups of twice-exceptional students whose dual exceptionality remains unacknowledged. It explains that learning disabled gifted and talented students, or "twice-exceptional students" need remediation activities and require opportunities to promote their own individual strengths and talents.

CEC Issues Response to Proposed Changes to NCLB Impacting Students with Disabilities, Gifts and Talents. (Page 4) CEC has responded to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed regulations which seek to make changes to provisions within NCLB that will impact students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

ADHD and Children Who are Gifted. Howard's teachers say he just isn't working up to his ability. He doesn't finish his assignments,... he fidgets...he shouts...he disrupts...he's...Does Howard have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), is he gifted, or both?

Differentiation of Curriculum and Instruction. Position statement from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The learning needs of gifted students often differ from those of other students and should be addressed through differentiation, a modification of curriculum and instruction based on the assessed achievement and interests of individual students.

State Expands Rules for Gifted Children. The PA State Board of Education has approved new regulations that will make it easier to identify students as gifted and to ensure the schools meet the needs of its most able students. The new state rules will allow more students, including gifted students with learning disabilities, to get the special instruction they need. Pittsburgh Tribune Review (May 4, 2008)


Fact Sheet on the Twice Exceptional Student from the International Dyslexia Assocation (IDA). It can be a greater struggle to show that a student is eligible for services for treating dyslexia than for giftedness. A other times, proving eligibility for services for the giftedness is the challenge. (Feb 2013)

Twice Exceptional Children's Advocacy (TECA) Insights Newsletter Archives. Articles and Resources for the Twice Exceptional Community.

Know Your Legal Rights in Gifted Education. Gifted preschool, elementary, and secondary school children have very limited protections under state and federal laws. By contrast, children and adults with disabilities have, under federal statute and in turn under state law accepting federal provisions, comprehensive protections in areas not yet applicable to the gifted. Parents, educators, and other concerned adults involved with gifted children should know the legal framework in which the education and related services are established.

Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. The major emphasis of the program is on serving students traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, particularly economically disadvantaged, limited English proficient (LEP), and disabled students, to help reduce the serious gap in achievement among certain groups of students at the highest levels of achievement.

The Uniquely Gifted site has excellent information and resources. The site was developed by Meredith Warshaw, special needs educational advisor.

Twice Exceptional Newsletter2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter is written for parents, educators, advocates, medical/mental health professionals, and others who help twice exceptional (2e) kids reach their potential. The 2e Newsletter includes:

*articles on giftedness & learning differences
* profiles of experts, organizations, and resources
* columns that offer insight into living and working with twice-exceptional children
* research findings, trends, news and events
* conferences
* book reviews and recommendations

2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter Blog

GT- World is an on-line support community for gifted and talented individuals and those who support and nurture them.

GT World - Special email list is an on-line support community about any gifted child who has a learning disability (LD) and/or other neurological problem(s) that interfere with the child's ability to reach the full potential of his or her giftedness.
GT World - Spec-Home email list is an on-line support community for families who are homeschooling gifted/special needs children.

Gifted and LD from LD Online addresses how teachers and parents of gifted children with LD can implement the interventions necessary for the learning disability while still providing opportunities for enrichment.

Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration. (IRPA) is dedicated to the study of curricular acceleration for academically talented students.

Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Database of topics includes an incredible list of articles, parenting tips, strategies, information, resources, and support material. Article Library by topic.

Hoagies Gifted Education Page/ Twice-Exceptional

Recommended Books

The Pretenders: Gifted People Who Have Difficulty Learning by Barbara P. Guyer & Sally E. Shaywitz.

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners by Carol Ann Tomlinson.

Smart Kids with Learning Difficulties: Overcoming Obstacles and Realizing Potential (2013) by Rich Weinfeld, Sue Jeweler, Linda Barnes-Robinson, and Betty Shevitz.

Re-Forming Gifted Education: How Parents and Teachers Can Match the Program to the Child by Karen B. Rogers.

A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students Volumes 1 and 2 by Nicholas Colangelo (2004).

Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual 3rd Edition by Susan Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, and Jonathan Lipscomb (Feb 1, 2009).

The Twice Exceptional Dilemma by the National Education Association (Jan 1, 2006).

Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented by Susan Winebrenner and Pamela Espeland.

Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, and Challenging by Judy Willis

Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children: Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted Students by Beverly A. Trail. Strategies that are helpful when discussing goals and accommodations that twice-exceptional children need to find success in the regular classroom.

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Free Publications

A Guidebook for Twice Exceptional Students. Supporting the Achievement of Gifted Students with Special Needs from the Montgomery County Public Schools. Download in pdf

Twice-Exceptional Students, Gifted Students with Disabilities. An Introductory Resource Book from the Colorado Department of Education. Download in pdf.

High Achieving Students in the Era of NCLB by Ann Duffett, Steve Farkas, Tom Loveless. This publication reports the results of the first two (of five) studies of a multifaceted research investigation of the state of high-achieving students in the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) era. June 18, 2008) Download in pdf from Fordham.

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children: Gifted and LD, ADHD, OCD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder by James T. Webb, Ph.D. These common mis-diagnoses stem from an ignorance among professionals about specific social and emotional characteristics of gifted children which are then mistakenly assumed by these professionals to be signs of pathology.

More Free Publications

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Organizations, Information & Support

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
1707 L Street, N.W. - Suite 550
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 785-4268
Fax: (202) 785-4248

Gifted by State This state directory from NAGC lists key state education contacts, state associations or affiliates, other contacts, and state gifted education policies.

Twice Exceptional Children's Advocacy (TECA). Twice Informative. Twice Supportive. Twice Resourceful. Twice Understanding - for parents of twice exceptional children who need one comprehensive source of information, resources and support.

National Society for the Gifted and Talented. Directory for some of the top gifted and talented programs in the U.S.

Council for Exceptional Children

Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented (MCGT) 2E group is a support group for parents of twice-exceptional children. Within the larger membership are chapters and groups formed based on region and specific interests.

Supporting Educational Needs of the Gifted: Twice-Exceptional Children.

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Last Revised: 01/07/20
Created: 01/09/09

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