News from the
2e Center for Professional Development

By Susan Baum, Ph.D., Director  of the 2e Center for Professional Development, Studio City, California

January, 2015

A New Column for 2e Newsletter

We at the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development welcome you to this new column. The 2e Center was developed to create and sustain an innovative, multi-disciplinary hub where professionals, scholars, and practitioners combine efforts to carry out these activities:

  • Conduct empirical research
  • Establish and disseminate best practices
  • Offer resources for parents and professionals
  • Educate teachers
  • Provide services and programs for at-risk 2e students and their families.

The Center is located on the campus of Bridges Academy, a college-preparatory school in Studio City, California, which serves twice-exceptional students in grades 5 through 12.

In our new column, we’ll share what’s happening at our center and report research findings, teaching ideas, and parenting suggestions we have found to be successful in helping 2e kids thrive. We hope you’ll find the information useful and relevant.

— SB

Last year, funded by a grant from the Keck Foundation, the Center undertook the charge to conduct a needs assessment regarding awareness of and services for twice-exceptional learners. Part of this initiative was to collect information through a purposefully designed survey developed by our research team and distributed through the efforts of our executive and advisory board members. 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter published a link to which many of you responded. In this column we’ll focus on the findings of the survey.

The 37-item questionnaire was designed to provide information about these topics:

  • Incidence and awareness of the existence of the 2e population<
  • Familiarity with the legal rights of 2e students
  • The need for additional resources, research, and information to support 2e students
  • Recognition of the traits of and appropriate supports for 2e students.

The majority of the 53 respondents were highly educated, with representation from a broad range of professional fields. Over 60 percent of the respondents listed their fields as education, medicine, psychology, special education, gifted education, therapy, counseling, and law. The largest single group of respondents was teachers of the gifted (10 percent). Among the respondents, 70 percent indicated they also were parents of a twice-exceptional child.

Below is a summary of the results gathered from the survey.


Questions Asked/ Summary of Findings

Incidence of

Questions. Three questions probed the incidence of the 2e population:

  • Do you know any twice-exceptional children? 98% responded “yes.”
  • Do you know any adults who fit the description? 87% per cent responded “yes.”
  • In the past year, how often have you encountered students in your personal or professional experience who exhibit the profile of a twice-exceptional student? 53% responded “frequently.”

Summary. Most respondents know 2e students or adults. More than 50% of the respondents had encountered 2e students in the past year. These data suggest that substantial numbers of 2e students may exist in the general population.

Awareness of the Term
Twice Exceptional
What it Means

Questions. Those sampled were asked whether the term “twice-exceptional” is understood by the general population and, if so, is there belief that gifts and challenges can be present in the same individual.

  • 98% of respondents were familiar with the term, and 100% indicated that gifts and disabilities could be present in the same individual.
  • When asked if they believed teachers and other professionals could recognize these individuals within the school setting, 73% percent said “no.”
  • 99% agreed it would be helpful if more people were aware of the twice-exceptional population.

Summary. While those surveyed were aware of this population of students and the terminology used, they indicated they believed many others were not, lacking basic awareness that this category of students existed.

Awareness of the Legal Rights of
the 2e Population

Questions. Of the respondents, 73% believed gifted students could be eligible for special education services, while 67% believed that students with special needs could also receive gifted services. Almost 33% disagreed or were unsure if students could be served for both gifts and disabilities simultaneously. 

Summary. More information on the legal rights of 2e students is needed to guarantee that parents, educators, and other professionals are aware of their options.

Need for Resources

Questions. Four survey questions were designed to assess needs regarding identification methods and information about meeting the needs of twice-exceptional students with respect to different service providers or parents.

  • 88% disagreed or strongly disagreed that teachers and other professionals in school settings have appropriate criteria and methods for determining which students demonstrate the coexistence of gifts and disabling conditions.
  • 99% agreed or strongly agreed that educators need more information and support on how best to address the needs of twice-exceptional students.
  • 84% agreed or strongly agreed that clinicians need more information and support on how best to address the needs of twice-exceptional students.
  • 98% agreed or strongly agreed that parents need more information and support on how best to address the needs of twice-exceptional students.

Summary.Considering the high degree of awareness of the population responding to this survey, there is a critical need for the 2e Center to disseminate information, provide professional development opportunities, and provide parent awareness sessions.

Research and Information Needs

Questions. Three questionnaire items were designed to look at the types of research that would enhance our understanding of twice-exceptional students, as well as information that would be helpful for those working with them.

  • 63% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement “Sufficient research is available to assist me in meeting the needs of twice-exceptional students.”
  • When asked to consider their roles in addressing the needs of this population, 95% indicated that it was important or very important to learn more about how to serve these students effectively.
  • 88% indicated they would like more information about twice-exceptional students in general.

Summary. This highly-aware group of respondents indicated a clear desire for additional research to be conducted and disseminated about twice-exceptional students and their educational, social, and emotional needs.

Along with the results shown in the table, the survey also produced findings regarding the recognition of the traits of 2e students and appropriate supports for them. To determine the perceptions people hold about the nature and needs of this population, we developed descriptions of five prototypical cases of youngsters likely to be seen within a school setting, Four of these cases exhibited behaviors typical of twice-exceptional students; one did not.

First, respondents were asked to read the descriptions and decide which services would most likely meet the needs of each youngster: gifted services, special education services, both, or neither. (Students with twice-exceptional characteristics require both.) The results were as follows:

  • Respondents made selections for appropriate services in three of the cases. Two were students with characteristics representative of twice-exceptional students and one was not a twice-exceptional student.
  • Responses to two cases that also should have been recognized as twice exceptional were mixed.
    • One involved a bilingual student talented in performing arts who had attention deficits. Only 66% of the respondents identified the need for both gifted and special education services for this student. Of the remaining respondents, 21% recognized the talent but missed the obvious learning deficits, while 9% noted the deficits and ignored evidence of talent.
    • The other was a young man with visual (grafitti) art skills who was frequently absent from school and had below-grade-level academic performance. Only 43% thought both gifted and special education services would be beneficial for this student. Of the remaining sample, 29% recognized his deficits and only 15% identified his need for gifted services.

The final question in this section asked respondents to decide which of the five youngsters they would consider to be twice exceptional. Again, the majority of the respondents selected the two most obvious students, but did not have the same confidence in seeing the bilingual student and the graffiti artist as twice exceptional.

While the respondents showed an excellent awareness of twice-exceptional students, the data suggest the following:

  • When talent occurs in the context of bad behavior (such as graffiti art or gang leadership), there may be a tendency not to see gifts and abilities. (Note: Both the federal definition of giftedness and the National Association for Gifted Children offer definitions that include leadership and visual arts.)
  • Respondents appeared to overlook certain kinds of deficits when identifying particular students as 2e and suggesting how to meet their needs.

In short, these data provide evidence that children described as at-risk are less likely to be identified and, thus, served appropriately, even by knowledgeable professionals.

What did We Learn?

The overall findings from this survey indicate the likelihood of a high incidence of students who are both highly able/talented and have learning, attention, or behavioral challenges. The data collected provided strong evidence that the needs of twice-exceptional learners are not being met. Frustrations of parents and professionals across disciplines suggest a need for more research, resources, and information.

A limitation of the study is that we chiefly tapped data from educated parents with sufficient financial means and the ability to express their frustrations as they searched for knowledgeable people, quality information, and services. We have concerns for low-income, non-English-speaking, poorly or minimally educated, and/or at-risk parents who comprise a silent but significantly large group. These parents may be negatively impacted by lack of information about twice-exceptionality as a diagnosis, and even more significantly affected by a lack of resources and options for help.

The Oak Foundation has stated that “approximately 20 per cent of children (10 million students) in United States public schools have learning profiles that are not aligned with the expectations and teaching methodologies prevalent in mainstream school systems.” Among this group are twice-exceptional students. When educators and parents do not understand the implications of twice-exceptionality, they may not only fail to provide essential supports but also undermine 2e students’ ability to become contributing members of the educational community. To position these students to lead meaningful and productive lives, we must continue to uncover options that allow success for 2e students.

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