Inclusion for Students with Twice Exceptionality Paradox and Possibility Susan Prior Brisbane Catholic Education Office Qld Australia Currently there is little research available about who students with twice exceptionality are, their experiences in partnerships with their teachers and the learning environments that nurture their particular talents (Prior, 2013). This paper reviews some of the literature available with implications for pedagogical and school leadership in Catholic Education. It is suggested that there may be lessons for inclusive leadership contained in the twice exceptional (2e) experience. I consider recent research in educational leadership, inclusion and 2e to challenge school leaders that such vulnerable learners in their communities may actually hold the most promise for success. Including these diverse and perhaps otherwise unheard voices in the leadership process provides space for the creative perspectives we need in teaching and learning. Keywords: twice exceptional, gifted, disabilities, inclusion, leadership
Twice Exceptionality Students with 2e are an embodiment of paradox and possibility in our schools. 2e is an umbrella term used to describe students who are both gifted and have some kind of disability or learning difficulty. As a small heterogeneous population of students in special, gifted and mainstream education they present a unique opportunity for leaders to synthesise best practices across our fields particularly as we transition to more inclusive and collaborative school communities valuing diversity (Prior, 2013). Pfeiffer, (2013) cautions us about “dichotomizing individuals into two distinct mutually exclusive groups, gifted and the nongifted” (p.4), so what if giftedness and disability coexists for one person? Giftedness and disability are diverse concepts which have broadened over time so that we now understand they are not necessarily mutually exclusive and there are many possible combinations (Prior, 2013). Asynchrony is the term often used to describe this uneven development and vulnerability (Silverman, 2007), which means this is an underserved and often marginalised population (Newman & Sternberg, 2004). However knowing who is experiencing 2e can be difficult with the variety of definitions. There are estimates that between 2-5% of gifted students and 2-5% of students with disabilities will experience 2e (Nielsen, 2002.) According to Rogers 14% of the gifted students in her study had some form of disability (2011). There is a general acceptance that there are at least three different possible types of presentations of 2e. 1. Those who are gifted with mild learning disabilities, which only become apparent once work becomes more difficult. 2. Those identified with a learning disability but their giftedness is never realised so they are not challenged. 3. Those not identified as either being gifted or having a disability as each masks the other and therefore neither need receives appropriate support (Wormald & Vialle, 2011). If we do identify these students with 2e, and assessment rather than identification is gaining more attention (Lupart, 2004), we tend to dichotomize the individual child into the sum of his or her parts through allocating various specialists, teachers, schools and pedagogy separately. Yet the use of comprehensive assessment is crucial. Assouline (et al., 2010) recommend that this plays a critical role in identification of 2e including the possibility of psychosocial concerns, and then developing appropriate educational recommendations.The experience of 2e is therefore potentially isolating, confusing, frustrating and paradoxical if treated in this fragmented way.
Embraced from a more holistic perspective 2e encourages the acknowledgement and synthesis of apparent contradictions in the self and others order to create, collaborative and inclusive school communities. We all need the contributions of the unique 2e perspectives in order to create new ways of learning to bridge complex problems. Inclusive schools offer a