Giftedness and Dual Exceptionality

Intellectually gifted children show very advanced cognitive abilities, particularly in areas involving reasoning, logic, or problem solving. They may also show very advanced academic abilities, depending on their exposure to more advanced academic skills and their interest level.

Signs of Giftedness:

  •    Verbally precocious, or advanced language/vocabulary
  •    Learns to read with little to no instruction before entering grade school
  •    Learns new skills or concepts with little repetition
  •    Unusual memory retention or memorizes information easily
  •    Intuitive understanding of number patterns and math concepts
  •    Completes complicated puzzles or builds elaborate structures for their age
  •    Unusually long attention span
  •    Very inquisitive, asks in depth questions, enjoys in-depth learning
  •    Shows a highly developed sense of humor or irony
  •    Creative thinking or divergent problem solving
  •    Advanced logical reasoning or common sense
  •    Heightened sense of morality, justice, or empathy for others
  •    Exceptional abilities in non-intellectual areas (e.g. art, music, sports, social skills)

Children with IQ scores of 130 and above (top 2 percentile) are typically considered to be intellectually gifted, although children with IQ scores in the 120-129 range may also be considered intellectually or academically talented, so may be considered appropriate for gifted and talented programs/schools. While standardized testing is often used to identify intellectually gifted children, other methods such as interviews, teacher/parent evaluations,  academic portfolios, or behavioral observations may also be used.

Intellectual giftedness falls on a continuum with the needs of mildly gifted children being quite different from profoundly gifted children. Some gifted individuals may have more reflective learning styles, or may show co-occurring problems such as perfectionism, performance anxiety, ADHD, learning disabilities, or slower processing speed that can be important to address. Testing is helpful in identifying gifted children and determining their specific needs so parents can better understand their needs and make appropriate educational decisions. In addition, identifying cognitive strengths/weaknesses, asynchronous development, and co-existing issues that may interfere with a child’s ability to fully demonstrate their abilities can be important, as these issues can impact their happiness, emotional and social development, and learning styles.

Dual Exceptionality (Twice Exceptional) refers to intellectually gifted children who have co-occurring issues such as learning disorders, executive functioning difficulties, Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ADHD. Many dual exceptional children do not receive appropriate educational services as their strengths mask their difficulties. As a result, these children often do not receive the educational challenge they need or support for co-occurring issues. Dual exceptional children and their families may benefit from consultation or psychotherapy services, as these issues can impact emotional well-being, self esteem, and social development.  Early identification of dual exceptional children is especially important to ensure parents and schools better understand and address their needs.

To learn more about giftedness identification, or to schedule an appointment for intellectual/academic testing or a consultation about your gifted or dual exceptional child, please contact me.