A twice-exceptional (2e) child is exceptional for having high intellectual capabilities and for also having a learning disability, or other learning challenge. As a parent of a 2e child, it is important to identify the suspected disability as early as possible.
Gifted and Talented Student
A Gifted and Talented student gives “evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields.” (20 U.S.C. Section 7801(22).) Gifted students with a learning disability are however frequently overlooked and consequently fail to receive the intervention needed to help them achieve their academic potential. The learning disabilities of these students “usually remain unrecognized for most of their educational lives. As school becomes more challenging, their academic difficulties may increase to the point where they are falling sufficiently behind peers.” (Baum, Owen and Dixon, J., To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled, Creative Learning Press (1991).)
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”)
As detailed by the U.S. Department of Education in an April 17, 2015 memorandum, “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." (See U.S. Department of Education, Letter to Anonymous, 55 IDELR 172, January 13, 2010).
Early Identification of Learning Disability
Early identification of students who are gifted with a learning disability is crucial. Many students who are gifted do not have a disability identified until high school or college when academic work increases in difficulty. (Dole, S., The Implications of the Risk and Resilience Literature for Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities, Rosper Review (2000). This often overlooked category of students are noted to present with “a lack of academic initiative, appear academically unmotivated, avoid school tasks, frequently fail to complete assignments and may have deficient or extremely uneven academic skills.” (Nielsen, M.E., The Twice Exceptional Project: Identifying and Serving Gifted Learners, University of New Mexico (1995).) Recognizing and identifying a learning disability is critical to ensure that the appropriate interventions and support are provided for the student’s academic success.
Ms. Bahl-Sen works in alliance with Hope4Families, a non-profit Special Education law firm, that provides legal services to families in need, at no cost. Hope4Families assists parents/guardians of special needs school children in advocating for services from their school districts.