Twice-Exceptional Kids: Lead with Their Strengths

How many times have parents and teachers said these words to a child who is underachieving?

“You’re just not trying hard enough. You’re lazy!”

No student wants to fail. It is imperative that we embrace this statement as fact and use it as an underlying assumption when we are tackling a student’s underachievement issues.

A student who demonstrates a very high vocabulary and speaks with incredible insight but consistently loses homework or fails the math fact timed-test may appear to be unmotivated. A child who has an intense intellectual curiosity yet refuses to get on the school bus may seem defiant.

However, these students may have learning disabilities that are masked by their giftedness. The asynchronous development that occurs in twice-exceptional (2e) students can lead to misunderstandings, frustration, and disengagement in both the 2e learners as well as the adults that are tasked with educating them.

It is important to understand that gifted students with learning differences may be doing the best that they can to compensate for their disabilities. Their challenges may not have been identified until much later in their educational journey than those of other students with similar learning struggles.

Many school programs tend to focus on remediating learning challenges rather than developing talents. For gifted students in special education programs this causes a lack of opportunities for acceleration or higher-level engagement in their areas of strength. When students spend the majority of their school day struggling with lagging skills and little to no time developing interests, they may become disheartened and discouraged.

Once these students are identified, what can teachers do to help them...


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About Lynne Henwood

Lynne Henwood serves as president of the New Jersey Association for Gifted Children and is the head of school at FlexSchool's cloud campus. She also serves on the Strengthening Gifted and Talented Education Advisory Committee (SGTEAC) for the New Jersey Department of Education. Previously, she was a gifted teacher and program coordinator for Washington Township Schools in Morris County, NJ. She has presented at several conferences (NAGC, SENG, NJAGC, ASPEN, Rutgers Gifted Education Conference) and has been a panelist on the MindMatters Roundtable and the G Word Panel Discussion. Lynne earned a B. A. in psychology from Dickinson College, a Gifted Education Certificate from Rutgers University, and an M. A. in educational psychology from the University of Connecticut. In 2018, Lynne was named New Jersey's Gifted Teacher of the Year, and she is the 2019 Mensa Foundation's Gifted Education Fellowship Award winner. Most recently, Lynne was awarded the NAGC 2020 Master’s & Specialist Award, and her NJAGC Advocacy Team won the NAGC 2020 David W. Belin Advocacy Award. As a parent of four uniquely gifted children, Lynne understands that all children need to feel valued, accepted, and respected.