Navigating the world of college education is a complex task, but when you’re dealing with a twice-exceptional (2e) student with ADHD, the challenges can multiply. In this comprehensive blog post titled “Twice-exceptional: College Support Services in Massachusetts for those with ADHD,” we aim to provide a thorough resource for parents, educators, and the 2e students themselves. From understanding the unique attributes and needs of 2e students to exploring a range of college support services available in Massachusetts, this post serves as a roadmap. It delves into the legal aspects of disability accommodations in college and highlights example schools that provide high levels of support for 2e students. With personal insights, including my own journey with my 2e child, and broader topics like the future of education for 2e students, this post aims to be your guide to understanding and celebrating twice exceptionality in the college setting.

Understanding Twice Exceptionality: A Glimpse into the World of 2e Students

In the realm of education, there lies an exceptional group that stands out for its unique abilities. These are the twice exceptional or “2e” students – gifted children who display remarkable intellectual abilities while also contending with one or more disabilities. Ranging from specific learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to autism spectrum disorder, the disabilities they manage vary widely. These twice exceptional (2e) kids are characterized by a high potential for performance in one or several academic areas and learning difficulties that could be a roadblock to maximizing their academic strengths and intellectual potential. They represent a unique blend of giftedness and learning challenges.

The Complex Journey of College Selection for 2e Students

For any student, the journey towards selecting a college is a complex one, but for twice exceptional students, this process has an additional layer of complexity. High school seniors mark the first of June as their deadline for choosing their college. It’s an important decision, a culmination of intensive research, evaluation, and oftentimes, anxiety. Factors that influence their decision include college location, campus size, programs of study, athletics, campus activities, student life, and financial aid. For twice exceptional (2e) children, their consideration extends beyond these points to include the level of academic and disability support services available. This is where the provision of special education services and the effectiveness of special education programs come into play.

The Legal Mandate: Disability Accommodations in College

For clarity’s sake, it’s crucial to understand that the provision of accommodations for students with disabilities is not simply an act of goodwill by educational institutions. It’s a legal requirement, enshrined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 504. Despite this, for some 2e students, basic accommodations might not be enough. Twice exceptional students, who are intellectually gifted children with unique learning differences, often need more than just extra time on tests or note-taking services. They may require personalized support for honing study skills, learning strategies, time management, organization, and goal-setting. These twice exceptional students can thrive at the college level, and some may even qualify for Honors colleges or programs. But to do so, they often require an extra layer of academic support. These are the children who are “both their giftedness and their disability”, a dual identity that requires specialized attention and support.

The Quest for the Right Support: A Personal Journey with My 2e Child

Sharing a personal narrative can bring much-needed context to the discussion of twice exceptionality. Two years ago, my son, who is a twice exceptional child, and I began our search for the right college, a college that goes beyond basic accommodation and provides an elevated level of academic support. We were in search of a suitable environment where my son’s strengths and unique learning styles would be recognized and nurtured. Thankfully, our search led us to several institutions that offer robust special education services specifically designed for twice exceptional students with learning disabilities. These colleges are not just meeting the bare minimum of disability accommodations. They are offering a comprehensive array of academic support services, ready to assist twice exceptional students in achieving their academic goals.

The Wide Spectrum of Academic Support Services for 2e Students

The scope of services these institutions offer is expansive. Services such as tutoring, peer advising, early alert systems, and progress monitoring can assist 2e students in overcoming their learning difficulties and enhancing their academic strengths. The attention to the specific needs of twice exceptional students is reflected in their academic support services, including weekly one-on-one academic coaching. Furthermore, some colleges offer highly structured programs exclusively tailored for students with learning disabilities. An exemplary institution in this regard is Landmark College in Putney, VT, which is entirely dedicated to educating students who learn differently.

Example Schools Providing High Support Services

These are a few colleges we explored during our search that offer comprehensive support services for twice exceptional or 2e students:

Exploring Options: 2e Schools and Large Universities

Our list is by no means exhaustive, and other colleges may be more suited to your child’s specific needs. Each twice exceptional student is unique, and the best school for them is one that can cater to their distinct needs. Large universities may also offer comprehensive special education services and could potentially be a better fit for some twice exceptional students. For example, UCONN and Northeastern reportedly have strong programs supporting students with disabilities.

The Unique Attributes of 2e Students

To further understand the college search process for 2e students, let’s delve deeper into the specific attributes that make these individuals unique. Gifted children, often referred to as “bright students” or “bright kids,” showcase immense intellectual potential. They stand out in academic areas, showing a level of understanding and perception beyond their grade level. However, what sets twice exceptional students apart from other academically gifted students is their distinct challenges.

These children might struggle with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism spectrum disorder. These conditions often lead to uneven skills, where a child might excel significantly in one area but struggle in another. This asynchronous development can create significant learning challenges for the student, making the role of special education services even more vital.

Recognizing 2e Students: The Role of Parents and Teachers

Identifying twice exceptional children can be a complicated process due to their uneven skills and the common characteristics of giftedness and learning disabilities overlapping. For instance, both gifted kids and those with certain learning disabilities might have difficulty fitting in with other kids or completing assignments. As such, it falls onto the shoulders of parents and the child’s teachers to identify the signs of twice exceptionality.

Teachers, being on the front line of a child’s academic journey, can play a critical role in recognizing and nurturing 2e students. School districts that have teachers trained in recognizing the specific traits of twice exceptional students can significantly aid in the early identification and support of these students.

Parents, too, have an essential role in recognizing and advocating for their twice exceptional child. With their in-depth understanding of their child’s strengths and weaknesses, parents can be instrumental in ensuring their child receives the necessary support in school and at home.

The Critical Role of Special Education Services

Once a twice exceptional child has been identified, the next crucial step is ensuring they receive the necessary special education services. Special education programs, both in public school and private school settings, provide a range of support for 2e students, from accommodations to tailored learning strategies.

At the heart of these services is the goal of enhancing the student’s strengths and addressing their areas of difficulty. This might involve additional time for tests, specialized learning materials, or the use of assistive technologies. In addition to these, 2e students might also require support in areas like executive functioning, emotional regulation, and social skills.

The Importance of Mental Health Support for 2e Students

In addition to academic support, mental health considerations are essential for the comprehensive support of 2e students. 2e kids often struggle with self-esteem issues, as their academic challenges can overshadow their giftedness. This struggle can lead to mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, emphasizing the need for mental health support in special education services.

The Future of Education for 2e Students

Looking towards the future, the goal is to create an educational environment that not only accommodates but also celebrates the unique attributes of twice exceptional students. With the right support and understanding, 2e students have the potential to make significant contributions to society. Their intellectual gifts, when appropriately nurtured, can lead to groundbreaking ideas and innovations. At the same time, their experience with disability can instill a deep sense of empathy and resilience.

In the end, it’s about creating a space where twice exceptional students can flourish—where they’re not just accommodated, but understood, appreciated, and truly seen. Such an environment will not only benefit 2e students but will enrich the educational experience for all students. After all, every student has a unique mix of strengths and challenges, and by recognizing this, we can move towards a more inclusive and effective education system.

Understanding Asynchronous Development in 2e Children

Asynchronous development, a common characteristic in twice exceptional children, is where a child’s intellectual gifts and potential do not match their physical, social, or emotional development. It might manifest as a seventh-grade student who can solve high school-level math problems but struggles with language disorders or executive functioning, having difficulty organizing their school work or completing assignments.

Teachers and parents might find it challenging to deal with such uneven skills. A nuanced understanding of asynchronous development can help them better support the child in areas where they struggle while nurturing their intellectual potential.

Tailoring Education for Twice Exceptional Students

Creating an optimal learning environment for twice exceptional children requires a shift from traditional teaching methods. A gifted education model that also accounts for the student’s learning differences can go a long way in helping these students.

This approach includes customizing the curriculum to match the child’s intellectual level while providing special education services to address their learning difficulties. For instance, a 2e child who is academically gifted in science but has a specific learning disability in reading might benefit from a science curriculum that challenges their intellectual curiosity while receiving specialized reading instruction.

The Role of Advocacy in Supporting 2e Children

While the educational institution plays a significant role in supporting 2e children, advocacy from parents and the community is also crucial. Parents and exceptional children’s advocacy groups can work together to push for better understanding, recognition, and services for twice exceptional students at the school and district levels.

The Impact of the Right School Environment

Finding the right school that understands and caters to the needs of twice exceptional students is crucial for their academic success and mental health. A school that nurtures both their giftedness and learning disability can have a positive impact on their self-esteem and overall well-being.

Schools that provide robust special education services while also nurturing the child’s intellectual gifts can help 2e students to thrive. They can foster an environment where twice exceptional students feel understood and appreciated for their unique abilities and challenges.

Conclusion: Celebrating Twice Exceptionality

The journey to finding the right support for twice exceptional students might seem daunting. Yet, it’s a journey filled with the potential for profound learning, growth, and transformation, not just for the students, but also for the parents, teachers, and everyone involved in their education.

Twice exceptional children bring a unique blend of strengths and challenges that can enrich our schools and communities. They remind us that every child is unique, and it’s this uniqueness that we should celebrate and nurture. Through understanding, advocacy, and the right support, we can create an environment where every child, including twice exceptional ones, can truly thrive.

With the continued efforts of dedicated parents, educators, and advocates, the future of education for twice exceptional children looks promising. Together, we can ensure that twice exceptional students receive the recognition and support they deserve, helping them unlock their full potential.