Gifted Kids with Learning Disabilities

2015-0331 Steven Spielberg
Despite being bullied in school, Steven Spielberg didn’t let dyslexia stop him from becoming a Hollywood legend.

Excerpt of Article by Catherine Wormald | The Conversation

Mention the terms “intellectual giftedness” and “learning disability” and there is a general understanding of what each term means. However, most people are unaware that in many circumstances the two can go hand in hand.

Research suggests that 14% of children who are identified as being intellectually gifted may also have a learning disability. While children who are intellectually gifted are acknowledged, the fact that some of these students could also have a learning disability is ignored. Teachers are not trained in identifying these children or how to teach them so they can reach their full potential.

Identifying a gifted student with disabilities

Gifted with a learning disability (GLD) children are often hard to identify. The most common and significant feature of a GLD child is uneven or inconsistent academic performance which is unexplained and unpredictable.

They may achieve outstandingly high results in academic activities outside of school, yet this same level of achievement is not reflected in their school assessments. They may excel on multiple-choice tests, yet struggle when asked to compose answers on a blank page. Others may excel verbally but perform poorly on pen-and-paper tasks.

To further complicate things the identification processes for gifted programs and learning disability services are mutually exclusive. In schools there is usually a gifted education coordinator, who caters to the needs of gifted students, and a special needs team, whose role is to provide support services for students with learning disabilities. There is rarely any overlap or consultation between the two programs.

What needs to be done?

Failure to recognize these children stems from a failure by federal and state governments to ensure teachers receive training that enables them to identify these children and meet their educational needs. The earlier a child can be identified, the greater the chance that the issues can be addressed and the child will reach his or her potential.


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Thanks to Catherine Wormald, Lecturer, School of Education at University of Wollongong, for writing the article; The Conversation for committing its resources to publishing the article; Science 2.0 where I first saw the article; Google for helping me find the article and the picture of Steven Spielberg; ADDitude Magazine where I found text inspired the picture caption; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text I used in this post.

Read the complete article.

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