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The unique dilemma that is '2e'

Every industry has its jargon. Education is no exception. Many is the kindergarten parent, we're sure, who heard at their first parent-teacher meeting that their child was "very social." What does that mean? Is my child gregarious and outgoing (something I might consider a good thing)? Or does it mean the child never shuts up (something less than ideal)?

Another term that has been around since the 1990s but which might be new to many parents is twice exceptional, commonly abbreviated as 2e. On the face of it, this sounds special. In reality, it can mean that your child is in for some significant challenges as he or she works through their school years unless the 2e-ness is identified, acknowledged and accommodated by educators. Each step has its particular hurdles and may require special advocacy efforts to see that education law requirements are fulfilled.

Identifying 2e students

The thing that makes the 2e designation such a challenge is that it represents a mix of conditions. Researchers note that typical characteristics on the plus side may include:

  • Exceptional vocabulary
  • Advanced critical thinking skills
  • Deep insight into complicated issues
  • A sophisticated sense of humor
  • Solid problem-solving ability

At the same time, the child might show signs of difficulty in such areas as:

  • Developing social skills
  • Taking criticism
  • Organization
  • Performance in some academic areas
  • Opinionated manner

And herein lies the rub. While the deficits above fall into the spectrum of issues that require schools to deliver special education services under the law, no such requirement exists for meeting the needs of gifted students. Services in that regard can vary widely by school district. Additionally, because the strengths and weaknesses can tend to cancel each other out, experts suggest 2e students are often overlooked from both perspectives. Thus, it likely is going to fall to a child's parents or other guardian to advocate on the student's behalf by getting answers to some important questions.

Once those answers are in hand, working with a skilled attorney can ensure that schools do what's required to meet both the disability and accelerated learning needs of 2e children.

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