Dual Exceptionalities (page 2)

By — Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Division of Learning Disabilities (DLD)
Updated on Mar 8, 2010

Gifted Students with Physical Disabilities

  • Development of compensatory skills
  • Creativity in finding alternate ways of communicating and accomplishing tasks
  • Impressive store of knowledge
  • Advanced academic skills
  • Superior memory
  • Exceptional problem-solving skills
  • Rapid grasp of ideas
  • Ability to set and strive for long-term goals
  • Greater maturity than age mates
  • Good sense of humor
  • Persistence, patience
  • Motivation to achieve
  • Curiosity, insight
  • Self-criticism and perfectionism
  • Cognitive development that may not be based on direct experience
  • Possible difficulty with abstractions
  • Possible limited achievement due to pace of work
    (Cline, 1999; Whitmore & Maker, 1985; Willard-Holt, 1994)

Gifted Students with Hearing Impairments

  • Development of speech-reading skills without instruction
  • Early reading ability
  • Excellent memory
  • Ability to function in the regular school setting
  • Rapid grasp of ideas
  • High reasoning ability
  • Superior performance in school
  • Wide range of interests
  • Nontraditional ways of getting information
  • Use of problem-solving skills in everyday situations
  • Possibly on grade level
  • Delays in concept attainment
  • Self starters
  • Good sense of humor
  • Enjoyment of manipulating environment
  • Intuition
  • Ingenuity in solving problems
  • Symbolic language abilities (different symbol system)
    (Cline, 1999; Whitmore & Maker, 1985)

Gifted Students with Learning Disabilities

  • High abstract reasoning ability
  • Good mathematical reasoning ability
  • Keen visual memory, spatial skills
  • Advanced vocabulary
  • Sophisticated sense of humor
  • Imaginative and creative
  • Insightful
  • Exceptional ability in geometry, science, arts, music
  • Good problem-finding and -solving skills
  • Difficulty with memorization, computation, phonics, and/or spelling
  • Distractibility and/or disorganization
  • Supersensitivity
  • Perfectionism
  • Grasp of metaphors, analogies, satire
  • Comprehension of complex systems
  • Unreasonable self expectations
  • Often, failure to complete assignments
  • Difficulties with sequential tasks
  • Wide variety of interests
    (Baum, Owen, & Dixon, 1991; Silverman, 1989)

Research indicates that in many cases, a child is diagnosed with ADHD when in fact the child is gifted and reacting to an inappropriate curriculum (Webb & Latimer, 1993). The key to distinguishing between the two is the pervasiveness of the "acting out" behaviors. If the acting out is specific to certain situations, the child's behavior is more likely related to giftedness; whereas, if the behavior is consistent across all situations, the child's behavior is more likely related to ADHD. It is also possible for a child to be BOTH gifted and ADHD. The following lists highlight the similarities between giftedness and ADHD.

Characteristics of Gifted Students Who Are Bored

  • Poor attention and daydreaming when bored
  • Low tolerance for persistence on tasks that seem irrelevant
  • Begin many projects, see few to completion
  • Development of judgment lags behind intellectual growth
  • Intensity may lead to power struggles with authorities
  • High activity level; may need less sleep
  • Difficulty restraining desire to talk; may be disruptive
  • Question rules, customs, and traditions
  • Lose work, forget homework, are disorganized
  • May appear careless
  • Highly sensitive to criticism
  • Do not exhibit problem behaviors in all situations
  • More consistent levels of performance at a fairly consistent pace
    (Cline, 1999; Webb & Latimer, 1993)
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