2e Newsletter Survey Results
Over 600 people who raise, teach, or counsel twice-exceptional children responded to an online survey in March and early April of 2007 about the needs of this special population. The survey was conducted by Glen Ellyn Media, publisher of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter.
The survey consisted of 39 questions in three tracks – one each for parents, educators, and counselors. Respondents identified themselves as belonging to the following categories:
- Parents (69 percent)
- Educators (21 percent)
- Counseling professionals (6 percent)
- “Other” (4 percent).
Parents responded for up to four of their twice-exceptional children, with a total of 551 children reported on. AD/HD was the most widely selected exceptionality, followed by sensory integration issues and anxiety.
Respondents indicated that most of the children are educated in public schools, followed by private schools and then home schooling. A small number of children receive online schooling.
In general, 50 percent of parents whose children attend school felt “very” or “somewhat” confident that the schools are doing all they can for their children. [See the chart at right.] When it comes to their children’s current teacher, however, less than half (46 percent) of parents feel that he or she understands “very well” or “somewhat well” the issues connected with the combination of giftedness and learning differences. Of those parents whose children have an IEP or 504 plan, just over half (56 percent) believe that the plans have been “very effective” or “somewhat effective” in helping their child(ren) address 2e challenges.
When asked what one thing schools could do in order to help 2e students succeed, the top three requests were for:
- Understanding and acknowledgement of the coexistence of giftedness and learning difficulties (31 percent)
- Accommodations, flexibility, and differentiation in dealing with the children’s strengths and weaknesses (16 percent)
- Education and training for teachers and staff on how to deal with learning and developmental issues in twice-exceptional children (13 percent).
Survey results indicated that at home moms are overwhelmingly the person “responsible” for addressing issues and concerns stemming from 2e kids.
When it comes to help in identifying a child’s twice-exceptionality, 43 percent of respondents looked to psychologists for help. Those who have sought counseling for their children have engaged the following professionals:
- Psychologist (359)
- “Other” (223)
- Psychiatrist (189)
- Social worker (106).
In 76 percent of the cases where counseling professionals were engaged, parents reported being “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that the professional had the ability and knowledge to help the child succeed.
The educators who responded to the survey turned out to work mostly with gifted students (53 percent), followed by LD students (18 percent), 2e students (11 percent), regular students (11 percent), and “other” (9 percent). (The numbers add to more than 100 because of rounding.) Most teach in public elementary schools, although a good number evidently serve across elementary/middle school/high school boundaries.
When asked about their training in gifted education, 78 percent of educators felt it was “very” or “somewhat” adequate; 69 percent felt the same way about their training in special education and learning disabilities. When asked about their training in educating twice-exceptional students, only 58 percent evaluated it as being “very” or “somewhat” adequate.
The survey asked educators about their confidence levels in whether their school is doing “all it can” to help students in four categories:
- “Regular” students
- Special education/Learning disabled
- 2e students.
While 95 percent felt “very” or “somewhat” confident that their schools are doing all they can for regular students, that confidence level dropped for students in the other three categories:
- 83 percent for special ed/LD students
- 76 percent for gifted students
- 54 percent for 2e students (a finding that 2e Newsletter sees as one of the most important of the survey).
Exactly 50 percent of educators felt their school administration was “very well” or “somewhat well” informed on 2e issues.
In contrast to parents’ perceptions, 72 percent of educators felt that IEPs and 504s “very much” or “somewhat” helped 2e students succeed.
The survey asked educators what they needed most from the school administration to best meet the needs of 2e students. Their responses were:
- Support and training (43 percent)
- Developing awareness of the issue (21 percent)
- Time, money, and specific resources to help the 2e population (17 percent)
- Specific strategies and tactics (16 percent).
Just over 70 percent of educators perceive parents of 2e kids as being “very” or “somewhat” informed about 2e issues. Asked what they need most from parents of 2e students to best help those students succeed, educators’ responses overwhelmingly (69 percent) fell into the category of support by, participation of, and communication with parents. Sixteen percent of educators also want to see parents accept (not deny) the 2e condition and educate themselves about it, while seven percent want parents to advocate for their children’s needs. Other “wishes” comprised another 7 percent of educator responses.
A total of 33 counseling professionals responded to the survey, probably too small a sample to draw meaningful conclusions from. That said, we offer these results.
The top three conditions that counselors see frequently are AD/HD, anxiety, and depression. Highest ranking on the “never/rarely” seen scale are bipolar disorder and Tourette Syndrome. In general, counselors felt “very” familiar with most conditions, the exception being dyscalculia, with which only 41 percent felt “very” familiar.
Counselors stated that the most frequent issues arising in counseling 2e children are related to self-esteem and to the combination of the children’s strengths and weaknesses.
Almost 41 percent of counseling professionals have had “extensive” training in 2e-related issues. When asked to rate themselves versus professional peers on the ability to help 2e kids successfully deal with strengths and challenges, 72 percent felt “very” confident of their own abilities, while only 19 percent felt “very” confident in the abilities of their professional peers.
Nearly three-quarters of the counselors perceive parents of 2e kids as understanding their children’s 2e issues “very well” or “somewhat well.”
All but one of the responding counselors said they would work with a school on behalf of a 2e child who was a client; the remaining respondent “didn’t know.”
What do the results of this survey tell us about the current state of 2e children? The publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter feel that the survey reveals a group of “lost” children who are misunderstood and underserved. As one respondent to the survey stated: “Special education teachers address the disabilities, but their programs are designed for slower learners. Gifted education teachers don’t want 2e kids in their classrooms because they don’t fit the “mold” of a gifted child and often require accommodations. 2e kids don’t fit in either place.”
The results of the survey highlight the need to do the following in order to help twice-exceptional children find their proper place:
- Increase awareness of twice exceptionality among school administrators.
- Better train educators and mental health professionals to understand and address the needs of twice-exceptional children.
- Develop or enhance programs and services offered to twice-exceptional students.
- Make better use of IEPs and 504 Plans to provide twice-exceptional students with the support they need and to which they are entitled.
- Increase parent involvement in the educational process of their 2e children.
Detailed responses to survey questions are posted here. A sampling of the many additional comments Glen Ellyn Media received from survey respondents follow.
- [The school] administration needs to look at the whole child and how resources can be used to make the learning situation work to their benefit. It should not be a battle between gifted and special education, but a war against mediocrity.
- With twice-exceptional children it is hard to draw a line between what is giftedness and what is special ed. Their needs aren’t divided into categories – they are whole people, and the services they get should be more integrated and complete
- We most need an open-minded willingness to look at students with multiple lenses so that one service does not obscure the other.
- Our biggest challenge has been in helping the school understand that expecting our child to react in the typical way to various programs is one of the biggest barriers to his success. Just one example: he is able to process very complex mathematical equations, but still has trouble with 8 x 6. It is very frustrating to his teachers, and we have been asked if he’s so smart, why does he have trouble doing these simple tasks? They really just don’t get it.
- The majority of my colleagues still do not understand that intellectual giftedness and learning disabilities can co-exist. Prior to having a 2e child, I didn’t understand much about 2e students either. I think universities and schools need to do a better job of educating all teachers and counselors about how to help this type of student.
- It seems to me that when all parties do their part – school/home/student – powerful things take place. When any one party does not do their part, little progress is made.