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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 by Julie Shepherd knapp
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The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Gifted Homeschooling

Kids Can Be Gifted
and Have Learning Disabilities?

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Many people don't realize
that a child can be gifted and also have
learning disabilities.  But, it is true!  The terms "gifted/LD" and "twice
exceptional" (or "2E") are used to describe children who are very  
intelligent, but also have a disorder that affects specific aspects of their

It can be hard to identify a learning disability in a gifted child.  For one
thing, most learning disabilities are often "hidden"-- not immediately
noticeable.  Another problem -- bright kids are very good at developing
compensation strategies that mask their difficulties.  

So how do parents (or teachers) decide that a child is both gifted
and has a learning disability?
 It takes a bit of detective work.  
Consider the following questions:

If any of these examples sound familiar, it would be wise to consider the
possibility that the child has an undiagnosed learning disability.  
are many disorders that can hinder learning, hamper the
processing of information, and dampen the "productivity" of an
otherwise gifted child.

Some frequently diagnosed disabilities/disorders are
: dyslexia,
dysgraphia, dyscalcula, executive function deficits, sensory
processing/integration disorders, ADD, auditory processing disorder,
and Aspergers.  Many of these disorders aren't visibly noticeable and a
child may go years before a teacher or parent realizes there is a

In addition, please consider that a child with a visual-spatial learning
style may "appear" to have learning disabilities when forced to learn
by methods that aren't compatible with their learning style!  See the
Homeschool Diner's
Visual-Spatial and Creative Learners section for

How could a child with a learning disability manage to get to
middle school, or higher, without anyone suspecting a problem?
Well, gifted kids can be very good at compensating.  For example, If they
are already familiar with a topic (and studies have shown that gifted
children may already know a large portion of the information presented
in any particular class) then they don't really need to read about it or
listen in class to be able to pass a test.  If they have a good enough
auditory memory, they may be able to pass a test without doing the
assigned reading.  If they can do the assigned reading, they may be
able to get by without taking lecture notes.  If they can answer enough fill
in the blank and T/F questions, they may still pass a test, even if they
can't write a decent response to the essay question.

Often, troubles don't show up until the later years in school, where
(finally) the material covered in class may be entirely new -- which means
they suddenly need to use their attentional and/or listening skills, and
suddenly need to master study skills. This is also when reading, writing,
and organizational requirements get tougher.  It may be very puzzling to
the child, parents, and teachers, alike, that a child is suddenly failing in
one subject, but doing wonderfully in others.

And on the flip side, twice exceptional children may be so busy
compensating for weaknesses, that they don't have a chance (or the
energy) to shine in their strong areas. Often, their disabilities will keep
them from performing (in a school sense) at a level that gets noticed. Or
their disabilities keep them from expressing themselves (orally or in
written form) at a level equal to their cognitive ability. Or their disabilities
may get in the way when taking tests or doing IQ assessments.

The result -- some really bright kids don't make it into the public
school gifted programs... but they're doing well enough that they
don't qualify for help special education programs, either.

Homeschooling can be very therapeutic for students who are
gifted and have a learning difference.
 Homeschool parents can
choose curriculum and activities that work best for their students.  
Parents can also learn to both work around and remediate learning
differences.  Parents can use materials that suit each child's learning
style and preferences, and can integrate the child's interests into the

Homeschooling parents can find ways to let their gifted children
soar with their strengths, and can also help them to be
successful, in spite of their weak areas.
  The end result?  
Hopefully, an increase in self-confidence, a better appreciation of their
abilities, a better attitude about their disabilities, and a healthy love of

For More information and resources check out The Homeschool
 Twice Exceptional Homeschooling
Does the child have a long history of trouble with one
subject area, such as reading, writing, or math... yet do
well in other subjects?  

Is the child able to really "show what he knows" in his
written assignments?  Or can he tell you much more than
he wrote down on paper?

Does the child often "mis-hear" instructions and
misunderstand assignments?  Do better with written or
visual instructions?  Have trouble taking notes in class?

Has the child been referred to as an "underachiever" ?  

Does the child have a lot of trouble keeping track of and
following thru with assigned work?  Seem unable to
complete long-term assignments on his own?
(back to)
special needs
(back to)
"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should
teach the way they learn." -- Ignacio Estrada  

"These kids are just wired a little differently.  As for me,
I love brilliant quirky kids.  They are just so much more interesting than
the high-achieving, vanilla, gifted-no-issues kids I know!"
-- Judith Fogel
(back to)
visual spatial