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  • Ana C. DiRago, Ph.D.

Nurturing Twice-Exceptional Children

Updated: Apr 25

Twice exceptional, or 2E, refers to children who are gifted in certain cognitive or creative areas and are diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, or other learning differences. This combination of exceptional ability and developmental differences means that 2E children navigate a world where they can outpace their peers in some respects while requiring support in others. Because these children have exceptional abilities, their learning challenges are often overlooked or misunderstood. Understanding and supporting 2E children can unlock their vast potential and lead to a journey filled with discovery, growth, and achievement.


Recognizing the Signs of Twice-Exceptional Children


Identifying a 2E child can be like solving a puzzle, as their strengths can sometimes mask their challenges, and vice versa. Here are some signs that may indicate a child is twice exceptional:

  • Asynchronous Development: They may show advanced understanding or skills in specific areas while also exhibiting delays or difficulties in other domains, such social skills.

  • Intense Curiosity: A 2E child often has a deep and passionate interest in particular subjects or activities, coupled with an insatiable appetite for learning more about them.

  • Creative Problem Solving: They might approach problems in innovative ways, displaying creativity that sets them apart from their peers.

  • Inconsistent Academic Performance: Their schoolwork may reflect a patchwork of high achievement in some areas and unexpected struggles in others.

  • Heightened Sensitivity: Many 2E children are highly sensitive to sensory stimuli, emotions, or the feelings of others, which can be both a strength and a challenge.

Unique Challenges of Twice-Exceptional Children


Twice-exceptional children often walk a tightrope between their capabilities and challenges, making their educational and social experiences quite complex. Some of these unique challenges include:


  • Complex Learning Needs: Traditional educational environments may not cater to the dual nature of their needs, leading to frustration or underachievement.

  • Social and Emotional Hurdles: Navigating social interactions can be tricky when a child feels out of sync with peers. They may struggle with self-esteem if they perceive their challenges as overshadowing their strengths.

  • Misunderstanding and Mislabeling: 2E children can be misunderstood by educators and peers who may see only one side of the 2E profile – either the giftedness or the challenge.


How to Support Twice-Exceptional Children


Supporting a 2E child is about embracing their whole self – both their extraordinary talents and their individual challenges. Here are ways to nurture and support these exceptional children:


  • Tailored Education Plans: Collaborate with educators to create individualized education plans that stretch their abilities while also providing support in areas of difficulty.

  • Strength-Based Approach: Focus on their strengths and interests as a foundation for learning and personal growth, which can also boost their self-esteem and motivation.

  • Advocacy and Awareness: Become an advocate for your child by educating those involved in your child's life about the 2E concept and how it manifests in your child.

  • Access to Resources: Seek out enrichment programs, tutors, therapists, or support groups that understand the 2E experience and can offer specialized guidance.

  • Emotional Support: Provide a nurturing home environment where your child feels safe to express their feelings and is supported in managing their emotional and social challenges.


Twice-exceptional children have the potential to become innovators, problem-solvers, and leaders who see the world through a unique lens. However, they often face unique challenges that can hinder their success. Without appropriate support and understanding, these children may struggle in school, suffer from low self-esteem, and experience anxiety or depression. By providing tailored support and accommodations, parents can help their 2e gifted children reach their full potential and thrive.



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