How Does One Identify the Learning Disabled Gifted?
It is difficult to describe or list typical characteristics of learning disabled gifted people because there are so many types of giftedness and so many possible learning disabilities. The biggest problem in identification is that a disability often masks or inhibits the expression of giftedness, so that it is difficult to tell whether a person's abilities are outstanding enough to indicate giftedness. On the other hand, giftedness can often mask the learning disability because the person's abilities can help him or her overcome or compensate for the disability.
Some weaknesses that are observed more frequently than others in these children are the following: poor handwriting, poor spelling, lack of organizational ability, and difficulty in employing systematic strategies for solving problems. More frequently observed strengths are in speaking, understanding and identifying relationships, vocabulary, knowledge of information related to a wide variety of topics, and observational skills. In general, thinking and reasoning processes are often not impaired, but the mechanics involved in writing, reading, mathematics computation, and completing academic tasks often present great difficulties.
To identify a student as learning disabled and gifted, one must consider a wide variety of information, including in depth assessment of both strengths and weaknesses. Evaluation should include individually administered intelligence tests, diagnostic achievement tests, evaluation of creative products by experts or teachers, peer evaluations of leadership ability, parent interviews, classroom observation of peer interaction and other performance, auditions (performing), tests of aptitude, and tests of creativity. In addition, tests of perceptual ability, visual motor coordination, and expressive ability can be used to pinpoint disabilities. One of the most frequently used indicators is a severe discrepancy between potential and performance.
After a variety of information has been collected, a committee of individuals familiar with the student (teachers, psychologists, parents, the principal) should review all information and decide whether the abilities are strong enough to indicate grandness and the weaknesses are low enough to indicate a learning disability. This is, of necessity, a subjective decision made with the best interest of the student in mind.
Reprinted with the permission of the Council for Exceptional Children. © 2006-2007 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved.
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