Gifted Learners with Dyslexia

  • Students identified with dyslexia exhibit incredible strengths in other academic or non-academic domains and can be identified as gifted. Twice-exceptional students are difficult to identify because they possess the characteristics of gifted students and the characteristics of students with disabilities. Gifted characteristics may mask disabilities, or disabilities may mask gifted potential.

    Either the strengths, the disabilities, or both may not be identified. The difficulty in the identification of such students makes it especially critical for this special population and their unique needs to be specifically highlighted in this handbook. Twice-exceptional (also called 2e) students can use their strengths to compensate for their reading challenges, and both their dyslexia and giftedness can be missed.

    Twice-exceptional students are those who are both:  Identified as gifted and identified with a disability, according to federal and state criteria — and the disability qualifies them for either an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan. Still, other gifted students with dyslexia sometimes become frustrated and, feeling markedly misunderstood, drop out of school and never realize their potential. Gifted students with dyslexia are at risk because their educational and social emotional needs often go unnoticed or, in some instances, are misinterpreted.

    As with all students identified with dyslexia, it is essential that the identification and evaluation process be comprehensive, allowing for a thorough understanding of the whole individual — not just their weaknesses, but also their strengths. Early identification is important for this special population of students, as it is for all students with dyslexia, since reading challenges and teachers’ misperceptions about students’ capabilities and efforts can take a significant toll on twice-exceptional students’ belief in their abilities and strengths.

    Understood.org has a fact sheet titled “7 Myths About Twice-Exceptional (2e) Students” available on their webpage.