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Twice Exceptional (2e) Students

Twice Exceptional (2E) Students [1]

Twice-exceptional (2e) students are gifted students with disabilities.

Twice-exceptional students are difficult to identify and support because they possess the characteristics of gifted students and the characteristics of students with disabilities. Gifted characteristics may mask disabilities, or disabilities may mask gifted potential; either students’ strengths, disabilities, or both may not be identified.  This difficulty in identifying and supporting twice-exceptional students can put them at risk of having their academic or social-emotional needs misunderstood or go unnoticed. 

The frustrations related to unidentified strengths and disabilities can result in behavioral and social-emotional issues. For some twice-exceptional students, behavior plans become the focus of their interventions. The behaviors are managed, but the underlying disabilities are never addressed. School can become a very frustrating experience for struggling 2e students, their teachers, and parents. It is essential that the disabilities are identified early so appropriate interventions can be provided at the right times.

It is also important that the student’s giftedness be identified as early as possible, because working in the area of strength and interest increases a student’s motivation.

A collaborative effort between classroom teachers, special educators, gifted educators, and parents is needed to identify twice-exceptional students and implement strategies to meet their diverse needs. Educators can implement strategies:

  • to develop their potential,
  • to identify learning gaps and provide explicit instruction,
  • to support the development of compensatory strategies,
  • to foster their social-emotional development, and
  • to enhance their capacity to cope with mixed abilities.

The following resources are helpful to develop an understanding of how to better support twice exceptional students:






  • Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz (2003, Vintage Books/Knopf-Doubleday)
  • School Success for Kids with ADHD by Stephan Silverman, Jacqueline Iseman & Sue Jeweler (2009, Prufrock Press)
  • School Success for Kids with Asperger’s Syndrome by Stephan Silverman & Rich Weinfeld (2007, Prufrock Press)
  • School Success for Kids with Autism by Andrew Egel, Katherine Holman & Christine Barthold (2012, Prufrock Press)
  • Successful Strategies for Twice-Exceptional Students by Kevin Besnoy, Frances Karnes & Kristen Stephens (2006, Prufrock Press)
  • The Survival Guide for Kids with Learning Differences by Rhonda Cummings (2016, Free Spirit Publishing)
  • To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled by Susan Baum & Steven Owen (2004, Creative Learning Press – now owned by Prufrock Press)
  • Understanding Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children by Beverly Trail (2011, Prufrock Press)
  • [1] Excerpted from


For additional information about Twice Exceptional identification and programming, please email: