CPExceptional Students

Exceptional Destinations

  • What are Twice Exceptional Students?exceptional student

    Twice Exceptional (2e) student refers to gifted students with learning disabilities.

    Strengths of 2e students:

    • Have a wide range of interests that are not related to school topics or learning.
    • Have a specific talent or consuming interest area for which they have an exceptional memory and knowledge
    • Are interested in the “big picture” rather than small details
    • Are extremely curious and questioning
    • Possess high levels of problem-solving and reasoning skills
    • Have penetrating insights
    • Are capable of setting up situations to their own advantage often as a coping method
    • Are extremely creative in their approach to tasks and as a technique to compensate for their disability
    • Have an unusual imagination
    • Are humorous often in “bizarre” ways
    • Have advanced ideas and opinions which are uninhibited in expressing
    • Have a superior vocabulary
    • Have high energy levels


    Problems of 2e students:

    • Have discrepant verbal and performance abilities
    • Have deficient or extremely uneven academic skills which caused them to lack initiative, appear academically unmotivated, avoid school tasks, and frequently fail to complete assignments
    • Are extremely frustrated by school
    • Have auditory and/or visual processing problems which may cause them to respond slowly, to work slowly, and to appear to think slowly
    • Have problems with long-term and/or short-term memory
    • Have motor difficulties exhibited by clumsiness, poor handwriting, or problem completing pencil and paper tasks
    • Lack organizational skills and study skills; often appearing to be extremely “messy”
    • Are unable to think in a linear fashion; have difficulty following directions
    • Are easily frustrated; give up quickly on tasks; are afraid to risk being wrong or making mistakes
    • Have difficulty explaining or expressing ideas, “getting-to-the-point,” and/or expressing feelings
    • Blaming others for their problems while believing that their successes are only due to “luck”
    • Are distractible; unable to maintain attention for long periods of time
    • Are unable to control impulses
    • Are highly sensitive to criticism


  • The following is an excerpt from a resource book compiled by the Colorado Department of Education.

    Gifted students with disabilities are at-risk because their educational and social/emotional needs often go undetected. The resulting inconsistent academic performance can lead educators to believe twice-exceptional students are not putting forth adequate effort. Hidden disabilities may prevent students with advanced cognitive abilities from achieving their potential. 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 twice-exceptional students, their teachers, and parents.

    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. It is essential that the disabilities are identified early so appropriate interventions can be provided at optimum times. Unfortunately, the struggles of many twice-exceptional students go unnoticed for many years, resulting in learning gaps and undeveloped potentials.
    Twice-exceptional students will continue to be at-risk until educators can learn about and understand the educational and social/emotional needs of twice-exceptional students. 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.


    Anthony, T, & Baldwin, L., et. al. (July, 2009). Twice exceptional students gifted students with disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.cde.state.co.us/gt/download/pdf/twiceexceptionalresourcehandb

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