Twice Exceptional Students

When we think of the term “exceptional students”, we tend to think of children that fall into one of two categories: those who are considered “gifted” or significantly above average intellectually, or those who have physical or intellectual challenges. However, this distinction is not nearly as clear cut as it seems. Often, these two forms of “exceptional” converge in the same child, resulting in what is referred to as a “twice exceptional” child.

The term twice exceptional is used to refer to intellectually gifted children who have also been formally diagnosed with one or more disabilities. It is difficult to provide a straightforward profile of a twice exceptional child, as the strengths and weaknesses that may be included are as varied and unique as the children themselves. Twice exceptional children may demonstrate a general aptitude for academic or intellectual performance, or they may have a specific area in which they excel. Likewise, the challenges the child may face are varied. Some common disabilities presenting in twice exceptional children are sensory processing disorders, attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, disorders on the autistic spectrum, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorder.

Twice exceptional children can be difficult to identify, in that their strengths may help them compensate for their weaknesses, and their weaknesses may downplay their strengths.  While the child may have a high capacity for intellectual performance, their disability may interfere with their ability to learn effectively in a traditional classroom environment, and consequently, their academic performance may not accurately reflect their ability. To parents and teachers that recognize the child’s above average intellect, it may seem as though the student is lazy or not applying themselves.

It is critical that children who are twice exceptional receive support in developing their gifts and working through their disabilities so they can achieve their full potential, academically and personally. Because many of the deficits commonly associated with twice exceptionality affect language and communication skills, a speech-language pathologist can be a critical element of support. A speech-language pathologist can help to identify the specific areas of a child’s disability that are interfering with their academic performance, and help them to develop strategies to compensate for deficits and build on their strengths. Next week, we’ll discuss some of the ways that speech-language therapy can help a twice exceptional child achieve their full potential.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty with speech, language, or swallowing, contact Speech Associates of New York today to find a professional speech-language pathologist who can help you or your loved one communicate to the fullest. Remember, early intervention is the key to maintaining and developing strong communication skills. Call us today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at


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