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Gifted, Academically Talented, Accelerated , etc.  All terms we have heard to described, well , not usually our kids, but what happens when these students end up on your caseload? Yes, it can happen. I have actually had a few over the years. In my experience, when a student fits into both ‘Gifted’ and ‘Special Education’, they are deemed ‘Twice Exceptional’.  This means that are an identified gifted child who also has a diagnosed disability.  The way I approach working with these students tends be slightly different than with my students who are not in Gifted Ed.

Who Are Twice Exceptional Students?

As I said, these are students who have been identified as being both gifted and having an identified disability that may require Special Education support as well.  With my past experience, I have had students who have been gifted and had Autism, gifted and had a fluency disorder, gifted and had an articulation disorder, gifted in math but had a language disorder which makes ELA ( English Language Arts ) tough. There are of course more combinations, but these are just some of the students I have had the joy of working with.


What’s different about working with twice exceptional students? 

Working with students who are gifted but need your support as an SLP is an interesting experience and not one that is typically discussed.  We are usually taught about how to support students whose skills are maybe lacking across the board. Who are getting services from you, OT, PT, the special education teacher etc.  We are taught that these students needs lots of visuals, repetition, experiences with multi modalities, encouragement, etc.

So how are Twice Exceptional students different? These students are those that pick up things quick, and I mean quick. They tend to me a bit more mature ( not all mind you, but most ).  They can have less patience for others who do not get things as quickly and get easily frustrated by them. They can get offended easily if they see visuals and manipulatives because they see these as ‘not for them’ and ‘babyish’.  They can be perfectionists who are easily frustrated when their first attempt at something new is not met with success. This can lead to meltdowns and loss of participation. You have can higher level conversations with them, level with them a bit ( within reason of course ).

I have found these students to also be highly sensitive.  That is why they can get so upset when their first, or second attempt, at something does not go as planned. This is more so than my students who are not labeled as gifted. Those students are usually aware they struggle to some degree and are maybe used to doing things a couple of times before it sticks. They are amazing how they will keep at something, which really puts me in my place when I am on take two of the same workout program because the first go around didn’t go to well.


Things to keep in mind
So what are we to do? Here are some things to keep in mind when working with these kiddos.
1) Grouping: While a student’s grade level or classroom schedule may work to put them in a certain group, look at the kids and see if it will be the best fit, emotionally.  Will the other kids be immediately hurt if they are snapped at for needing more time? Will they be welcoming and understanding to a newcomer? Does your new, gifted student, have anything in common with the other kids that they could use to bond over ( making sessions run a bit smoother ).
2) Behavior: Like I said before, many gifted students who need speech support have some perfectionist tendencies, can be sensitive, and easily frustrated.  You may need to approach behavior management a bit differently with them.  They may need to process and talk things out with you to work through their frustrations rather than not getting to the activity because they refused to participate. They tend to respond more to earning rather than losing. They will work feverishly to earn iPad time to the chance you will brag to their teacher but will become stressed at the fear of losing the iPad.  It is a small thing I know but it can be powerful.  Try whatever management system you use first, it could very well all be fine, but just have this in your back pocket in case.
3)Progress: Just because they are considered ‘smart’ is not an indicator as to how fast they will progress and master skills.  Looking at your session data as well as getting their perspectives is very important.  They can be quite insightful.  Remember, these kids pretty much always have good grades, so that isn’t necessarily a great indicator to watch when considering goal progress.
4) Enjoy Them: We adore all of our kids, I know. We also know how bringing something new to the table can benefit everyone. So enjoy these kids! They are a blast to chat with when you get a chance.  They can really help you, as an SLP learn about how you approach things, mainly because they will call you out if they notice something different or have a thought. In a nice way though 🙂  My twice exceptional students have all given me insight into how I can work better with all my kids.  Don’t miss the opportunity to learn from them.


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Meet Maureen

Hey there! I’m Maureen Wilson, a school-base SLP who is data driven and caffeine powered. My passion is supporting other pediatric SLPs by teaching them how to harness the power of literacy and data to help their students achieve their goals…without sacrificing time they don’t have.

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5 Responses

  1. I work at a magnet school where 60-70% of our school is placed based on academic achievement and/or are labeled GT. All of this is spot on and took me several years to learn! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Excellent post. I’m on the fence of asking school to evaluate my 2e son for speech. He is very verbal but makes many social errors in pragmatic. Worth a shot?

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