It is no secret that our communities, schools, and classrooms are diverse. In school, teachers have students with very diverse learning needs in their classrooms. A teacher may have students who have average abilities, students who are just learning the English language, who have gifted abilities, those who have a disability and receive special education services, and students who are gifted and have a disability. Teachers have a huge task trying to teach these diverse students in the same classroom.
Students who are gifted and have a disability are also known as twice-exceptional or 2e students. According to the NAGC twice-exceptional students are both gifted and disabled, and “…may also be referred to as having dual exceptionalities or as being gifted with learning disabilities (GT/LD).” Twice-exceptional students may also have other disabilities such as ADHD, autism, or other disabilities (http://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/glossary-terms).
Many school districts struggle to meet the needs of gifted students. Students with disabilities, when identified, have services through the school with education regulated by federal law (IDEA), and schools sometimes struggle to provide for these students. Twice-exceptional students are often missed entirely. Because many teachers are not trained to recognize gifted characteristics in students with disabilities, or disability characteristics in students who are gifted, they often do not recognize the needs of twice-exceptional students.
The Edutopia website has a post from September where the author talks about how challenging it is to recognize and provide services for twice-exceptional students. That is true. They cite the Montgomery County Public School district in Montgomery County, Maryland, a large northwest suburb of Washington, DC. Montgomery County Public Schools has offered a program for twice-exceptional students since the 1980s and is one of very few school districts in the nation that do. I used to live in Montgomery County, MD and its services for gifted and twice-exceptional students is worth investigating. They offer many different kinds of services for gifted and twice-exceptional students, and offer many resources on their district website.
According to the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), twice-exceptional students need:
“* challenging instruction in their areas of strength
* instruction to improve the areas of weakness
* individualized accommodations
* case management and social/emotional support”
The main MCPS website for twice-exceptional students and services is: https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/curriculum/enriched/gtld/
Scroll down and take a look at the resources available. Be sure to look at the MCPS Resources section, especially the Staff Guidebook, GT/SLD characteristics checklist, and the GT/LD Characteristics interactive presentation. The Staff Guidebook has a lot of information for teachers and parents with all types of documents and tips for teaching twice-exceptional students.
While the Montgomery County Public Schools programming for twice-exceptional student is unique and serves students well, it is not very realistic to compare it with school districts in Wisconsin, where some districts have little to no services for gifted students. The point of reviewing the websites and information given in this blogpost is the hope that you may find one or two (or more) ideas that are applicable in your school and/or for your student. It helps to learn from each other. The fact that Montgomery County Public Schools has this information on their public website indicates they are willing to share the resources. Take a look and find some things that will help the twice-exceptional students you know.
Twice-Exceptional Students, NAGC
NAGC Position Statement, October 2013
Ensuring Gifted Children with Disabilities Receive Appropriate Services: Call for Comprehensive Assessment
Meeting the Challenge of Twice-Exceptional Students, Edutopia, September 12, 2019
Montgomery County Public Schools, Twice-Exceptional Students and Services
Montgomery County Public Schools, Twice-Exceptional Students: A Staff Guidebook for Supporting the Achievement of Gifted Students with Disabilities
GT/SLD Characteristics Checklist for Staff, Montgomery County Public Schools
GT/LD Characteristics Interactive Presentation, Montgomery County Public Schools
Ask the Doctor