Having worked with gifted children for many years, Henry’s teacher
recognized that he exhibited many
classic traits of giftedness, but she
also knew that something was wrong.
In some ways he functioned above
his grade placement, and in some
ways much more like a child with a
learning disability. Could Henry be
What Is Twice-Exceptional?
A twice-exceptional student is any
gifted child who also has a disability.
Essentially, any disability listed in the
of students who have been identified
as gifted but who have subtle learning
problems. The second group consists of
students who are not identified in either
area. The third consists of students who
have been identified as learning disabled
but not as gifted. Henry was clearly a
member of the first group because his
giftedness had been identified first and
his subtle learning issues second.
Henry’s areas of deficit were not
school’s special educator. After reviewing Henry’s testing results, the special
educator decided that she could not
provide him with targeted reading
instruction in any of her existing reading groups because, despite his deficits,
he was still functioning well above
the other students on her caseload.
She found two 20-minute slots in her
schedule when she could provide Henry
with writing support and individualized
The special educator and the Challenge Program teacher then collaborated
about classroom accommodations.
They concluded that there were four
major areas in which Henry would need
allowed to define him. He was known
as “gifted first” in the classroom.
Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (IDEA) that is not classified as an
intellectual disability could be present
with giftedness (Foley Nicpon, Allmon,
Sieck, & Stinson, 2011). Henry was
advanced verbally but had serious
deficits with written skills and thus fit
the U.S. Office of Education’s (1977)
definition of a child with a learning dis-
ability. His Challenge Program teacher
was certain he was twice-exceptional.
may look like other kids in the class,
appearing to be average learners as their
strengths and weaknesses cancel out one
another, or these kids may stand out
because of their poor behavior, lack of
achievement, or poor disorganization.
Smart kids with learning difficulties
can be highly verbal, expressing great
insights and knowledge.;.;.;. They may
be reading below grade level and unable
to remember simple directions. They
may be holding it together at school, but
falling apart at home. (Weinfeld, Barnes-
Robinson, Jeweler, & Shevitz, 2006,
deficits. Henry’s teacher was determined
that this wouldn’t happen to him. She
requested an evaluation.
The reading portion of the Challenge
Program uses leveled chapter books that
students read independently; they then
respond by answering a series of focus
questions. Henry was given a lower-level book to practice his word-attack
skills and a higher-level book to practice
his comprehension skills.
Henry read his stories to an adult
who corrected mistakes as they
occurred. He then dictated his focus-question responses to an adult. This
enabled Henry to improve his word-attack skills at his lower identified
word-attack level while developing
comprehension skills at his higher identified comprehension level.
Baum, Owen, and Dixon (1991)
identified three groups of students with
giftedness and accompanying learning disabilities. The first group consists
A Plan for Henry
Henry’s Challenge Program teacher, the
school’s special educator, the school
psychologist, and Henry’s parents met
to discuss the results of the evaluation.
The results indicated that Henry did not
meet the standard criteria for specialized
services, and most of the group agreed
that Henry should be returned to the
general education program.
The Challenge Program teacher,
however, vehemently opposed this idea.
And after team members took some
time to think over the situation, they
decided to implement a dual placement for Henry. He would remain in
the Challenge Program, but he would
also have an individualized education
program (IEP) specifying targeted reading instruction and writing support.
This was the first time the school had
identified a twice-exceptional student
and provided services for two types of
So began a dedicated partnership
between Henry’s teacher and the
Language Arts Accommodations
The language arts portion of the Challenge Program consists of creative-writing assignments that students
complete on word-processing programs. Because spell-check was available, accommodations in this area
were relatively simple. Henry wrote his
assignments independently, printed his
written pages, and met with his teacher,
who reviewed them with him. He then
made changes they agreed on together
before printing a final copy. The conferences were optional for other students,
but required for Henry.