“I’m dumb!” “I can’t learn!” Often underserved in public schools, twice exceptional children of color, especially children of color who are of African or Hispanic descent spend their entire academic career unidentified and underperforming. Twice exceptional is a term used to refer to students who are gifted in some areas, but also have learning disabilities as well.
“Twice-exceptional students are those who meet the eligibility criteria for both giftedness and learning disabilities. Giftedness usually pertains to high intellectual abilities or potential rather than students’ specific accomplishments. Gifted students are commonly depicted as having exceptional abilities or potential for learning and problem solving. Learning disabilities are defined as problems in learning due to a cognitive-processing difficulty in which the dysfunction affects one or more cognitive processes instead of obstructing overall intellectual ability. “ Beckley, D. (1998). Gifted and Learning Disabled: Twice-Exceptional Students. Retrieved June 27, 2015, from http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/nrcgt/newsletter/spring98/sprng984.html
For the twice-exceptional child of color the combination of tremendous strengths in some areas and great weaknesses in others, especially if language-related can cause frustration and regular homework battles. Refusal to do work, hiding work, too brief responses, and overall anxiety all can be manifestations of hidden learning difficulties which results in great, emotional turmoil. They may read and write on grade level but have difficulty comprehending and using vocabulary, have great ideas that they are unable to get down on paper or have difficulty understanding information given orally. Gifted children of color having never benefited from the societal perception of being smart, often given to Asian and white children, quickly succumb to the idea that they are not smart and not capable of learning putting them at particular risk for developing poor skills, poor self-esteem that results in an inability to live up to their real potential.
I just love when I write a blog and then go do research and find someone saying exactly what I have seen so many times in my career. I have spent a lot of time learning to identify these children, more on that later. Here is more information on Twice-Exceptional Learners.