Children with exceptional intelligence can also struggle with learning disabilities. Coined in a 1997 Journal of Learning Disabilities article, the term twice-exceptional describes a child who is at both ends of the learning spectrum. Examples include kids who have a huge disparity between math and reading skills or a high IQ but act out in a classroom because of a learning disability.
These children often begin struggling in middle school when the demands of classes, homework and the social environment overwhelm them. Teachers may not recognize the learning disability and tell parents that the child just needs to focus.
School districts may be resistant to a request for testing if a child is not failing. Because testing is expensive and time-consuming, parents frequently have to seek private testing or wait for their child to fail classes. Early intervention, however, is necessary to successfully address learning disabilities.
Federal laws require “free and appropriate education”
Federal laws – Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Educations Act of 2004 (IDEA) – offer children with learning disabilities access to a comparable education as other children. How these laws are followed in practice can vary from district to district.
A 504 Plan is the individualized educational plan that tells a teacher what a child needs to succeed. This could be more time to finish tests or help organizing homework. Teachers who skim an IEP may not catch all the relevant information. Aides and janitors who interact with children at lunch or recess may never see these plans. Parents of twice-exceptional kids need to touch base with teachers and the school to ensure key pieces of information get across.
IDEA can help with the school placement when there are disabilities. Twice-exceptional students can have difficulties finding the right school, since there are few across the country that specialize to these kids. In our next post, we will discuss how a new school in southern California is helping these children.
When your school district fails to listen and your child continues to struggles, reach out to an attorney to discuss your rights and find a solution.