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What the Tests May Not Tell You (exactly) - "Twice Exceptional" Students
You have your student tested. You find out that they are gifted, maybe even highly gifted, then they tell you your child is "twice exceptional" - gifted but with some sort of learning inability. How can this be?

It is possible that your student may score very well in some of the "key" areas of the tests administered, and very low in other parts. A well trained professional will recognize this could indicate a learning "disability". An untrained professional may pass it over and tell you your student is not gifted at all. In either case, it is to your advantage to understand what might be going on if your student seems brilliant with some tasks, but falls apart with others. There is a wealth of information on these topics that I may not have addressed here. The information here comes from my own personal research and experience with these topics.

Topics on this page [ Sensory Integration, Aspergers, Indigo Children, ADD & ADHD,, the visual spatial student]


Uniquely Gifted : Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student by Kay Kiesa

Crossover Children: A Sourcebook for Helping Children Who Are Gifted and Learning Disabled by Marlene Bireley

Educating Exceptional Children by Samuel A. Kirk, James J. Gallagher, Nicholas J. Anastasiow, Mary Ruth Coleman

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Sensory Integration and "Out of Sync Children"
Does your student have trouble with penmanship? How about spelling or in sounding out words? How about with the way food tastes or feels? How about sensitivity with the way clothing feels? Or has unusual sensitivity to bright lights? Loud sounds? Sometimes these "twice exceptional" students have sensory integration processing issues. Your student may be overcompensating in one area to "hide" these issues. Remember that one of the qualities you'll find with the gifted student is intense perfectionism. If your student avoids certain tasks, it may be because of a sensory integration issue. It's worth exploring.

"Dysfunction in Sensory Integration (DSI) is a problem in processing sensations. DSI is a neurological disorder, manifested by difficulty detecting, modulating, discriminating or integrating sensation adaptively. DSI causes children to process sensation from the environment or from their bodies in an inaccurate way, resulting in "sensory seeking" or "sensory avoiding" patterns or 'dyspraxia," a motor planning problem." Pediatric Life Care Planning and Case Management by Susan Riddick-Grisham

Read more at:

Sensory Integration Network
Sensory Integration International

The Out-Of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping With Sensory Integration Dysfunction by Carol Stock Kranowitz, Larry B. Silver

Sensory Integration and the Child by A. Jean Ayres

Asperger's Syndrome
Characteristics commonly seen in gifted children can easily be mistaken as Asperger's Disorder by someone not familiar with the asynchronous development and special needs of gifted youth.The symptoms of Asperger's syndrome vary and can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include:

Problems with social skills: Children with Asperger's syndrome generally have difficulty interacting with others and often are awkward in social situations. They generally do not make friends easily.

Eccentric or repetitive behaviors: Children with this condition may develop odd, repetitive movements, such as hand wringing or finger twisting.
Unusual preoccupations or rituals: A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop rituals that he or she refuses to alter, such as getting dressed in a specific order.
Communication difficulties: People with Asperger's syndrome may not make eye contact when speaking with someone. They may have trouble using facial expressions and gestures, and understanding body language. They also tend to have problems understanding language in context.
Limited range of interests: A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop an intense, almost obsessive, interest in a few areas, such as sports schedules, weather or maps.
Coordination problems: The movements of children with Asperger's syndrome may seem clumsy or awkward.
Skilled or talented: Many children with Asperger's syndrome are exceptionally talented or skilled in a particular area, such as music or math. (More)

All of the above characteristics are also commonly seen in gifted children and can easily be mistaken as Asperger's Disorder by someone not familiar with the asynchronous development and special needs of gifted youth. The unusual behaviors of many gifted children do strike many who are not familiar with gifted characteristics as a "qualitative impairment" in social interactions. Although the gifted child's interactions may technically show a "qualitative impairment," it is certainly of a different nature and likely has different causes (e.g., thoughts or worries by a gifted child about interacting) (Read More)

Understanding Our Gifted and Complex Minds: Intelligence, Asperger's Syndrome, and Learning Disabilities at MIT By Brian G. R. Hughes Read this Article.

Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Dr. Tony Attwood

Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome by Liane Holliday Willey, Tony Attwood


What is an Indigo Child?

They come into the world with a feeling of royalty (and often act like it)
They have a feeling of "deserving to be here," and are surprised when others don't share that.
Self-worth is not a big issue. They often tell the parents "who they are."
They have difficulty with absolute authority (authority without explanation or choice).
They simply will not do certain things; for example, waiting in line is difficult for them.
They get frustrated with systems that are ritually oriented and don't require creative thought.
They often see better ways of doing things, both at home and in school, which makes them seem like "system busters" (nonconforming to any system).
They seem antisocial unless they are with their own kind. If there are no others of like consciousness around them, they often turn inward, feeling like no other human understands them. School is often extremely difficult for them socially.
They will not respond to "guilt" discipline ("Wait till your father gets home and finds out what you did").
They are not shy in letting you know what they need.

More at: The Indigo Child


ADHD and Giftedness: What Do We Really Know?
"Are gifted kids labeled as having ADHD instead of being gifted? It's actually possible that the two conditions may coexist. Recently, some researchers have expressed concern that children who are gifted are mislabeled as ADHD, and that this mislabeling has been getting out of hand. While there are cases of mistaken diagnosis, no empirical data in the medical, educational, or psychological literature confirms the extent of this concern..." (Continue Reading this Article)

Before referring a gifted child for ADD/ADHD evaluation
"Parents and gifted educators are asked with increased frequency to instruct gifted children to conform to a set of societal standards of acceptable behavior and achievement -- to smooth the edges of the square peg in order to fit into a "normal" hole. Spontaneity, inquisitiveness, imagination, boundless enthusiasm, and emotionality are being discouraged to create calmer, quieter, more controlled environments in school. An extension of this trend is reflected in an increase in referrals for medical evaluation of gifted children as ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). There is no doubt that gifted children can be ADD/ADHD. However, there are also gifted children whose "inappropriate behavior" may be a result of being highly gifted and/or intense..." (Continue reading this article)

The Symptoms (from CHADD) Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder:
Typically, AD/HD symptoms arise in early childhood, unless associated with some type of brain injury later in life. Some symptoms persist into adulthood and may pose life-long challenges. Although the official diagnostic criteria state that the onset of symptoms must occur before age seven, leading researchers in the field of AD/HD argue that criterion should be broadened to include onset anytime during childhood.

Criteria for two primary subtypes are summarized as follows:

AD/HD predominately inattentive type: (AD/HD-I):
Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.
Has difficulty sustaining attention.
Does not appear to listen.
Struggles to follow through on instructions.
Has difficulty with organization.
Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
Loses things.
Is easily distracted.
Is forgetful in daily activities.

AD/HD predominately hyperactive-impulsive type: (AD/HD-HI):
Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair.
Has difficulty remaining seated.
Runs about or climbs excessively.
Difficulty engaging in activities quietly.
Acts as if driven by a motor.
Talks excessively.
Blurts out answers before questions have been completed.
Difficulty waiting or taking turns.
Interrupts or intrudes upon others.

More information at: CHADD : Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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