Dual Exceptionality or twice exceptional is the term used to describe a child who is not only exceptionally able but has additional learning difficulties or a disability which can make it difficult to identify their high lintellectual ability. Children with often crippling learning difficulties or physical or emotional disabilities or those who are on the autistic spectrum can be gifted and in some cases profoundly so. As a consequence, it is this group within the gifted community who are most at risk of slipping through the net and not getting the support they so desperately need in order to fully realise their potential. The problems that they and their families encounter whilst trying to negotiate the special needs quagmire in order to obtain any support is unbelievable. Worldwide the number of children presenting with dual exceptionality is rising. The potential of these children is often overlooked by a society that can only see the disability and none of the possibilities.
One of the best examples of possiblities finally recognised is Dr. Temple Grandin, Phd, as she is probably one of the most accomplished adults with high functioning autism today. Her 1986 book "Emergence, Labeled Autistic" was groundbreaking in that it finally gave a voice to those who are often considered the ultimate outsiders. Today she is an Associate Professor at Colorado State University and is a world renowned designer of humane livestock facilities.
If your child has a diagnosis of dual exceptionality remember that it's possible to apply for a Domicilary Care Allowance "a monthly means tested payment made in Ireland to the carer of a child with a severe disability who lives at home." The means test applies only to the means of the child and not the means of the carer or carers. "There are no rigid medical guidelines regarding the type of disability a qualifying child must have. (In other words, no particular conditions/disabilities are specified). Instead, it is a matter for the Senior Area Medical Officer in the Health Service Executive (HSE) to determine whether a child with a particular condition qualifies for the Allowance." The current monthly allowance is €299.60. A Carer may also apply for a Carer's Allowance or Carer's Benefit and there is also a Respite Care Grant available. Like everything there are terms and conditions attached to each of these allowances and grants; however don't be put off by the bureaucracy. Remember that you also have the right of appeal if your application is denied. Check out Enable Ireland's site for information on accessing additional services and for information on allowances for special needs children download Spectrum's Guide to Special Allowances.
Dual exceptionality is a very specialised area and is very challenging for both children and their parents. All we can say is don't drown in the red tape, try to stay focused and keep asking the difficult questions until you get some anwsers. Both you and your child deserve it. In the meantime 2e, Twice Exceptional Newsletter is a fantastic resource for "parents, educators, advocates, and other professionals who help 2e kids reach their potential."
In the meantime, this is a very interesting excerpt from a recorded webinar given by Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide on Attention, Sensory Processing, and Social Challenges in Gifted Children where they discuss overlaps in the checklists of ADD/ ADHD, Sensory Processing, and Giftedness.
“Trying to get a definitive diagnosis was probably the most difficult thing, after that things seemed to fit into place. Although we were worried about the possibility of misdiagnosis, as the more we read about giftedness the more it was hard to know what behaviours were to do his high ability and what was due to other factors. Before the diagnosis I just remember the worry and the fear, the “what if” scenarios that kept running through my head. At least we now know what's what and he has support structures in place at school which is definitely helping."
Disclaimer: This is not an expert site, it is run on a voluntary basis and as such is based on opinion and experience but we hope that it acts as a signpost for educational resources and other support services for Irish families with exceptionally able children. By using this website you accept that any dependence by you on such information, opinion or advice is at your own risk.