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Strategies for Supporting Twice-Exceptional Students

Gifted and Twice-Exceptional

Academic support is helpful for twice-exceptional (or 2e) students, but it isn’t enough on its own. Because there are often struggles in identifying 2e students, it’s important for families, educators, and even 2e students themselves to take a holistic approach. Both emotional support and community support come into play here.

Emotional Support for Twice-Exceptional Students

Schools that are well-versed in the needs of  gifted and 2e students, like Davidson Academy, have social and emotional support services as core offerings. However, there are some strategies parents and educators can use to help 2e individuals when they aren’t physically in the classroom, or during the summer and periods when school isn’t in session. 

Strategy 1: Communicate With a Strength-Based Approach

One way to support 2e students is through a strength-based approach. This involves deeply understanding their unique blend of talents and challenges. Firstly, it’s essential to acknowledge that these students have heightened abilities alongside their learning differences. By recognizing and valuing their gifts, you can create an environment that allows them to thrive. 

From there, both parents and educators can provide extra support in areas that challenge these individuals. This might look like a teacher tailoring activities to meet these students where they are, and it might look like a parent encouraging their child to reach out in the classroom when they need more help. 

By focusing on their strengths, 2e students can draw from their motivation while simultaneously building on their self-confidence and inner resilience. This ultimately prepares them better for working on topics that are difficult for them. 

Strategy 2: Teach Them How to Set Healthy Goals

It’s common for profoundly gifted individuals to struggle with behaviors like perfectionism and underachievement. These stem from either an intense pressure to succeed or a lack of motivation to achieve even though they have high potential. To combat this, use healthy goal-setting as another strategy for supporting 2e students. 

H3: What Is the SMART Method?

  • Specific
  • Meaningful 
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Timely

An example of using the SMART method is transforming a vague goal like ”I want to do better in algebra” into a more comprehensive and concrete goal, such as “I want to raise my 80% to a 90% by getting more help from my teacher this semester.” Following this method can help 2e students create specific short- and long-term goals as well as a plan of how to reach them makes achieving them less daunting. 

In addition to this goal-setting technique, remind them that personal goals are equally as important as educational and professional goals. 

Strategy 3: Keep Family Members Involved

Family members can provide support to 2e students in a number of ways: 

  • Fostering an empathetic relationship 
  • Offering encouragement during challenging times and celebrating successes
  • Advocating for their educational needs and collaborating with both teachers and school administrators to ensure that appropriate accommodations are in place
  • Openly communicating to better understand the perspective of their 2e family member

Want a more comprehensive guide to understanding and supporting the 2e student in your family? Check out Davidson Institute’s Twice-Exceptionality: A Resource Guide for Parents to get tips on assessment, firsthand experiences, and tools.

Community Support for Twice-Exceptional Students

Outside of emotional support, 2e students should feel comfortable turning to their community to find solace and fulfillment. There are programs, such as Davidson Young Scholars, that connect 2e students and their parents to others in the local gifted community. And, when these programs aren’t actively taking place, there are still ways they can get support.

Strategy 4: Foster an Inclusive, Collaborative Learning Environment

Since children and adolescents spend so much of their days in school, it should be an enjoyable place for them to be. While self-advocacy is incredibly important, parents and educators can help make sure 2e students are reaching their full potential in their learning environments.

Depending on what kind of school they go to, a 2e student could ask to be put on one of these educational plans:

  • Gifted Individualized Education Plan (GIEP): After being developed by the profoundly gifted individual, their parents, teachers, a District representative, and other counsel, this plan offers a more advanced curriculum to meet their current level of knowledge.
  • 504 Education Plan: This plan, on the other hand, focuses on providing accommodations to those who have a disability. Educators work with students to understand how they learn best and to create unique instruction methods or activities to help them perform well in the classroom.

If they’re already on this kind of plan and finding it difficult, there are academic institutes specifically for gifted and 2e students. Gifted education differs from both of these plans in many ways. First, it’s much more robust than a plan. Beyond providing an appropriately challenging curriculum, gifted education allows 2e students to be placed in classes with other 2e individuals who share similar interests. Second, gifted education usually doesn’t take place in traditional schools. Learn more about alternative types of schooling for gifted individuals.  

There’s also the option for 2e students to be homeschooled

Strategy 5: Help Them Build Meaningful Connections

We all want to feel like we belong somewhere. Having access to that kind of community—one filled with like-minded people and a welcoming atmosphere—will help 2e students thrive. Having friends who share their ability levels significantly benefits 2e students because they may share similar experiences and challenges. This can alleviate feelings of isolation.

Like-minded peers can be sources of inspiration. They can engage in intellectually stimulating conversations and collaborate on class projects. No doubt this enhances their social and emotional development; it also encourages academic growth and exploration.

Looking for Academic Support for Twice-Exceptional Students?

For information specific to 2e academic support, check out this blog about Finding the Appropriate Educational Environment for Gifted and Twice-Exceptional Children.

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Please note, the Davidson Institute is a non-profit serving families with highly gifted children. We will not post comments that are considered soliciting, mention illicit topics, or share highly personal information.

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