What Makes a Child Twice Exceptional (2E)?


A child that is both gifted (a 130 IQ, according to the Columbus Group) and has at least one learning disability (LD) may also be referenced as twice exceptional (or 2E).

Guest Expert Dr. Michael Postma joins us to discuss:

  • what it means to be twice exceptional
  • the importance of social/emotional development in gifted individuals
  • some of the shortcomings in society to recognize and really address these kids’ challenges

How does “Gifted” interact with Learning Disabilities?

For instance, Postma says, “The higher I see the (2E) kids in terms of giftedness, the more difficulties they have working and dealing with life in general.” These difficulties can come in the form of sensory processing issues, or a disconnect between the norms of society and how 2E kids see the world.

We hear from parents frequently that they’re struggling with what seems like contradictory behavior in their kids: “My kid is so bright, but _____.” Sometimes their kids are identified as gifted, but other times they are not because they have a range of complex issues that interfere with a proper evaluation. Elaine poses the question whether it’s important to make the distinction about whether a child is gifted or not. Postma says he never put a label on his kids and never even assessed them for gifted programming.

“Part of it is because they were twice exceptional and generally wouldn’t have qualified anyways because of certain lacks of achievement…,” says Postma. “And…most programs in the United States are really based on achievement.” He continues, developing the social-emotional needs of gifted and 2E kids is of extreme importance, but it’s something that is direly lacking in our school system.

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