Twice Exceptional

Special Education

Rebecca Lopez, M.A., Ed.S.
Director of Advanced Academic and Gifted Services
A twice-exceptional student is one who is formally identified as having
  • a learning disability, emotional disorder, communication disorder, and/or physical disability
  • is also formally identified as gifted in one or more areas including intellectual ability, specific academic ability, or is recognized for extraordinary talent in creative and/or artistic areas or leadership.

    GT Identified First
    • Achievement noticed first
    • Strengths or "gifts" often fostered through GT programs
    • Often passed over for special ed. support because they may be achieving at grade level (Baum, 1991)
    Disability Identified First
    • Often failing in school
    • First noticed for what they cannot do
    • Most "at risk" because the special ed. label tends to have a focus on deficits
    • Often difficult for them to give themselves credit for abilities
    • Acquisition of basic skills emphasized over creative productive behavior (Baum, 1991)
    Neither GT nor Disability Identified
    • Disability masks "gifts"
    • "Gifts" mask disability
    • Intellectual ability masks disability
    • Often gifts emerge in specific content areas or particular learning environments where nontraditional methods are used (Baum, 1991)


    Click here to download a pdf version of the distinguishing characteristics


    Baum, Susan M. and Steven B. Owen. To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled. Creative Learning Press, Inc., 2004
    Bender, William N. Differentiating Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities. Corwin Press, Inc., 2002.
    Coil, Carolyn. Motivating Underachievers: 100 Strategies for Success. 1992.
    Delisle, Jim and Judy Galbraith. When Gifted Kids Don't Have All The Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs. Free Spirit Publisher, 2002.
    Ennis' Gift - A film about learning differences. Ennis William Cosby Foundation, 2002.
    Freed, Jeffery and Laurie Parsons. Right Brain Children in a Left Brained World: Unlocking the Potential of Your ADD Child. 1997.
    Friedrichs, Terry. Distinguishing Characteristics of Gifted Children with Disabilities. 2001.
    Greene, Ross. W. The Explosive Child, A New Approach For Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. HarperCollins Publisher, 2001.
    Jensen, Eric. Different Brains, Different Learners. The Brain Store, Inc., 2000.
    Kurcinka, Mary Sheedy. Raising Your Spirited Child. Harper Perennial, 1998.
    Levine, Mel. A Mind At A Time. Simon and Schuster, 2002.
    Levine, Mel. Educational Care. Educators Publishing Service, 2001.
    Mandel, Harvey P. and Sander I. Marcus. "Could Be Better", Why Children Underachieve and What To Do About It. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1995.
    Mangrum, Charles T. and Stephen S. Strichart. Colleges With Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention Deficit Disorders. Thomson Learning, 2000.
    Mooney, Jonathon and David Cole. Learning Outside the Lines. Simon and Schuster, 2000.
    Neihart, Maureen, et al. The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? National Association for Gifted Children. Prufrock Press, Inc., 2000.
    Palladino, Lucy Jo. Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos. Ballantine Books, 1999.
    Pope, Loren. Colleges That Change Lives. Penguin Books, 2000.
    Ratey, John and Edward Hallowell. Driven To Distraction. 1995.
    Reif, Sandra. How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children. 1993.
    Rimm, Sylvia, Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades. 1989.
    Seligman, Martin E. The Optimistic Child. Harper Perennial, 1995.
    Silverman, Linda Kreger. Upside Down Brilliance: the Visual-Spatial Learner. 2002
    Sousa, David A. How the Gifted Brain Learns. Corwin Press, Inc., 2003.
    Sousa, David A. How the Special Needs Brain Learns. Corwin Press, Inc., 2001.
    Strip, Carol A. and Gretchen Hirsch. Helping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers. Great Potential Press, Inc. 2000.
    Turecki, S. and J. Tonner. The Difficult Child. 1985.
    Winebrenner, Susan. Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom. Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 2001.
    Winebrenner, Susan. Teaching Kids With Learning Difficulties in the Regular Classroom. Free Spirit Publishing. Inc., 1996.
    Winner, Ellen. Gifted Children: Myths and Realities. Harper Collins, 1996.
    Copyright © Cherry Creek School District #5, 4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 | 303-773-1184
    Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

    You are now leaving the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) portal. Please note that CCSD does not control nor can it guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, completeness, or appropriateness of any content contained on web sites and/or pages outside of the official CCSD portal. The information or opinions contained on these web sites and/or pages do not necessarily represent the views of the CCSD.

    With access to the internet comes the availability of material that may not be of educational value or appropriate for students. While at school, CCSD has taken precautions to restrict access to inappropriate or harmful web sites. However, on the internet it is impossible to control all materials and limit all access to information that has no educational value. CCSD firmly believes that the valuable information and the interaction available on the internet far outweigh the possibility that users may procure material that is not consistent with the educational goals of CCSD.