Ensuring Your “2e” child receives the right services

Over the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of clients with “twice exceptional” (“2e”) children. These terms are used to describe children who have and demonstrate the potential for high achievement, yet display evidence of one or more disabilities (as defined by federal and state criteria).   These disabilities may include specific learning disabilities, speech and language disorders, emotional or behavioral disorders, autism spectrum, or non-verbal learning/processing or other impairments such as ADHD. The most challenging aspect for these clients is that many educators and schools do not always understand what twice-exceptional means for purposes of educational planning, especially in view of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in the Endrew F. case. In Endrew F., the Supreme Court ruled that educational programs must be sufficiently challenging and ambitious in relation to the student’s unique needs and potential.   Twice exceptional students are highly knowledgeable and talented in at least one particular area. However, their giftedness is often overshadowed or obscured by their challenges or disabilities. For most, a twice-exceptional student’s special education needs can often be overlooked until adolescence, or even later.   Sometimes, twice exceptional students are never identified as such. It’s not uncommon for a family to reach out after their K-5 G&T program has ended, or their child’s non-academic challenges are beginning to surface. They often see their child finding the school environment challenging. where organization, participation, and long-term planning play a role. ADHD, emotional distress or bullying may be the catalyst, but it often is not until further evaluation that a 2e classification is ascertained.   Twice-exceptional students are often highly creative, verbal, imaginative and curious, with strong problem-solving abilities. They may have a wide range of interests or a single, all-consuming area of interest and expertise. However, at school they may have difficulty keeping up with course rigor, volume, and demands, resulting in inconsistent and erratic academic performance, frustration, and problems with written expression
Twice-exceptional students may also be labeled as lazy, unmotivated, or underachieving. All this may hinder the desire to attend school, as well as be detrimental to self-confidence, motivation and self-esteem.  

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