Devon MacEachron, Ph.D.
I’m often asked by parents of bright children with LD and/or ADHD how they can tell if their child is “2e”, or twice exceptional, meaning intellectually gifted as well as learning disabled.
To know for sure, your child needs a complete neuropsych evaluation—or, in your case, a reassessment. But if you suspect your child might be twice exceptional, and are considering how to move forward, I offer the following 2e “symptoms” checklist, a form I often ask parents to fill out as part of their child’s assessment.
Individual children won’t necessarily meet all criteria, but even a handful of checkmarks could indicate twice-exceptionality. I find that parents usually have accurate insights into their children, and encourage you to trust your instincts. Most teachers aren’t taught about either giftedness or twice-exceptionality, so you generally can’t look to them to spot this in your child. Many other professionals aren’t familiar with the unique combination of strengths and challenges we find in the twice-exceptional. I suggest you try filling out the checklist and seeing how your child fares. This may help you decide how to move forward.
Directions: Place a check mark next to each description that fits:
- Is your child asynchronous – i.e. more advanced than his or her peers in some respects but significantly less so in others?
- Is there a discrepancy between your child’s ability to comprehend ideas and his or her output?
- Does your child appear to be smarter and more capable than grades or test scores suggest?
- Does your child have a sophisticated vocabulary and/or strong oral comprehension, but struggle with the mechanics of reading or writing?
- Does it take your child a lot longer to complete homework than his or her peers?
- Is your child a good mathematical thinker, yet struggles with performing calculations accurately and/or has found it hard to memorize math facts?
- Does your child need more parent/teacher support in academic learning, social interaction, and/or organization than his or her peers?
- Does your child have wonderful ideas, yet fail to reliably implement them?
- Does your child have an ability to hyperfocus deeply in areas of interest, but is inattentive to things other children seem to have less difficulty paying attention to?
- Does your child prefer to play with or converse with older children and adults?
- Does your child worry more about existential questions like the purpose of life or focus intensely on questions of fairness and justice?
- Does your child tend to question rules and authority, be opinionated and/or argumentative?
- Does your child exhibit great curiosity for why things are the way they are, constantly asking why and questioning – perhaps interrupting others and at the cost of actually doing their assigned homework?
- Is your child experiencing anxiety/loneliness/loss of self-esteem due to their “failure” to fit in with their more neurotypical peers?
- Does your child have a quick wit or a unique sense of humor?
- Is your child’s academic performance inconsistent or uneven?
- Does your child have much more difficulty with social interactions than his or her peers?
- Were you caught off guard when your clearly bright child experienced challenges once formal schooling began?
- Does your child have a lot to communicate but find it very difficult to put their ideas down in writing?
- Does your child struggle with perfectionism or frustrations due to the discrepancy between their ability and performance?
If you checked a number of items and your child hasn’t yet been identified as 2e, it might be time to look deeper.