Gifted and Twice-Exceptional

While most parents know (or suspect) that their child is gifted, it is recommended that children are formally assessed to determine the degree of giftedness present as this will determine how the tuition needs of the child should be addressed.

Gifted children are usually given opportunities to extend themselves by

·       broadening their interests and learning new subjects

·       studying a subject they are interested in more in-depth

·       working through their current school workload more quickly.

In average children, intellectual, physical, and emotional development progresses at about the same rate. That is, the development is in "sync." E.g. an average three-year-old has the intellectual and physical abilities as well as the emotional maturity most other three-year-olds have. However, in gifted children, the development of those areas is usually out of "sync", they do not progress at the same rate.

Asynchronous development refers to uneven intellectual, physical, and emotional development and is the term used to describe the mismatch between cognitive, emotional, and physical development of gifted individuals.  Gifted children often have significant variations within themselves and develop unevenly across skill levels. For example, a gifted child may be excellent in math, but poor in reading, or vice versa or intellectual skills are quite advanced but fine motor or social skills are lagging.

It is important for parents, teachers, and caregivers to realize that "one size does not fit all" for gifted children, and even those with similar IQ scores may not have similar skills, personalities, rates of development, abilities, or interests. 

One of the questions that comes to most people’s minds is, “How can a child be exceptionally able and dis-abled at the same time?” It is interesting to note that children in the highest IQ ranges often have attention deficit symptoms, sensory integration issues, or both. Some suffer from dyslexia (reading disability), dysgraphia (writing disability), Asperger’s Syndrome (severe impairment of social interaction), or combinations of symptoms. (See also Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities.)

“A bright child who is slow at learning to read, or fails to memorize the multiplication facts, or has difficulty paying attention in school, or cannot master handwriting, is not likely to be regarded as gifted. Indeed, poor performance in any area is usually considered to be laziness, lack of discipline, inattentiveness, or lack of interest. Such a student is likely to be labeled an “underachiever” and blamed instead of helped. They are often teased by their classmates, misunderstood by their teachers, disqualified for gifted programs due to their deficiencies, and unserved by special education because of their strengths. Twice-exceptional learners can become casualties of a system that refuses to acknowledge their existence, fails to identify them, and does not support their strengths or assist them with their weaknesses. Too often, they are left on their own to cope with their differences.” (Colangelo and Davis, 2003)

One of our specialties  is working with children who are gifted but also have some learning disability. This is also called twice-exceptionality. We e are passionate about helping twice-exceptional students by working with them to overcome their learning disabilities and to extend their strengths. Suitable instructional intervention can prevent these children to become ‘lost’ in the school system or to become another underachievement statistic.

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