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What if my gifted child has a disability?

With an individualized education plan (IEP), a student with an intellectual, cognitive or behavioral disability receives an education made for his or her special needs. Sometimes the IEP has the student in the classroom with other students. Sometimes it takes the student out to a specialized classroom. But how do IEPs address disabled students with gifted academic talents?

Gifted children with disabilities – often called twice exceptional, or 2e – make up about 6% of all disabled students. These children excel in certain academic areas but struggle with a disability that may prevent them from learning in a regular classroom.

Schools overlook twice exceptional students

Schools often overlook the struggles of twice exceptional students. Many 2e children may appear to be average students on paper. They might pass classes with average grades while struggling with mild autism, learning disabilities like dyslexia or behavioral issues like ADHD.

Administrators may not want to put these students in the special education program to save on special education costs. And a child who qualifies for a gifted or accelerated program may not be able to enroll since those programs don’t have special education plans.

Parents of 2e students struggle for support

Parents of twice exceptional students have a hard time trying to get their children the support needed. Their children may struggle with the social aspect of the classroom or might have trouble learning in a traditional classroom setting. These children often need a type of learning personalized to their needs. But many schools choose not to help these students since they still pass with average grades.

If you feel like you have a twice exceptional child, speak with your child’s teachers and principal. Your child’s school must do an assessment to determine if your child needs an education plan. And if your school denies you, advocacy groups or an attorney may be able to help you.

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