What does it mean to be gifted or twice-exceptional?

We are really passionate about our mission to create learning spaces where gifted and twice-exceptional students all over the world are accepted, valued, and supported. You may be asking: What does it mean to be gifted? or What does it mean to be twice-exceptional?

FlexSchool uses the Columbus definition of giftedness:

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

That’s a great definition but what are some examples of giftedness? A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children offers a great list of common characteristics. If you find yourself nodding your head as you read this list, your child may be gifted.

  • Unusual alertness, even in infancy
  • Rapid learner; puts thoughts together quickly
  • Excellent memory
  • Unusually large vocabulary and complex sentence structure for their age
  • Advanced comprehension of word nuances, metaphors and abstract ideas
  • Enjoys solving problems, especially with numbers and puzzles
  • Often self-taught reading and writing skills as a preschooler
  • Deep, intense feelings and reactions
  • Highly sensitive
  • Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful
  • Idealism and sense of justice at an early age
  • Concern with social and political issues and injustices
  • Longer attention span and intense concentration
  • Preoccupied with their own thoughts – a daydreamer
  • Learn basic skills quickly and with little practice
  • Asks probing questions
  • Wide range of interests (or extreme focus in one area)
  • Highly developed curiosity
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Puts ideas or things together that are not typical
  • Keen and/or unusual sense of humor
  • Desire to organize people/things through games or complex schemas
  • Vivid imagination (and imaginary playmates when in preschool)

FlexSchool uses the Crawford & Snart definition of  twice-exceptional:

Gifted students with learning disabilities are a unique subgroup of students who demonstrate both superior intellectual ability and specific learning problems. Also known as “twice exceptional” and “dually exceptional,” gifted students with LD have cognitive, psychological, and academic needs that appear distinct from those of either gifted populations or those with LD (Crawford & Snart, 1994). Students with dual exceptionalities tend to fall into two categories: (a) those with mild disabilities whose gifts generally mask their disabilities and (b) those whose disabilities are so severe that they mask the gift (Baum & Owen, 2004). Often these students are not identified for either gifted or special education services due to the combination of their advanced capabilities and difficulties. High intellectual functioning often compensates for the learning difficulty, obscuring both the gifted potential and the learning disability (Baum, 1990; 1998). In essence, the gift masks the disability, and the disability masks the gift.

This is a great definition of twice-exceptional but what traits would indicate that my child may be twice-exceptional?

  • May have difficulties with simple tasks, such as basic writing activities, spelling or simple arithmetic (but can often complete more sophisticated activities, such as understanding complex mathematical concepts, conversing with sophisticated and creative vocabulary or demonstrating exceptional computer skills)
  • Difficulty with written expression, including poor handwriting, transpositions of letters or numerals
  • Discrepancy between verbal and performance skills
  • High performance in one or more academic areas but low performance in others
  • May not respond well or consistently to auditory instructions/information
  • Lack of organization and study skills
  • Poor social skills
  • High sensitivity to criticism
  • High impulsivity
  • Frustrates easily
  • Disruptive in class

If your child has traits from one or both of these lists, they may be gifted or twice-exceptional. If you would like to attend an open house to evaluate if FlexSchool might be a good fit for your child, please fill out our inquiry form or register for an information session and tour.