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Giftedness and twice exceptionality

Traditionally giftedness is identified through an IQ test (intelligence quotient), for example the Mensa test. There is not an agreed consensus as to the score required to be considered highly gifted but generally it seems to be if you are in the top 2-2.5% of the population, a score above 130.

There are different models and assessments but the holistic model as used by Intergifted resonates with me. In this model you may be considered intelligent in the following ways:







You may be gifted in one or more ways, and in different levels from mild to profound.

For me it is another spectrum or way of seeing someone and their many facets.

Twice exceptional (or 2E) means someone is gifted but ALSO has one or more learning difficulties such as ADHD, autism, Aspergers, dyslexia etc.

The gifted population is quite small which means we are in a minority and the trouble with this, as with the other neurodivergence types, is that our needs are not understood easily, we are not identified and needs are not met in mainstream school, work or even at home.

We have learnt that to fit in we need to suppress our intensity, passion, curiosity. When we are twice exceptional not only do we suppress our abilities but our learning difficulties may also hinder us additionally. For example being autistic I find it difficult to process information and learn if I feel overwhelmed by external stimuli - that could be noise, visual, smells, touch. My sensitivity means that I notice or experience a lot more than most people and that interferes with the capacity I have left available to absorb and process the data of my choosing. So even if I want to learn, if there is a lot of noise it won't be easy for me to concentrate on the task at hand. That doesn't mean I can't do it, it just means it takes a lot more out of me.

In a learning environment or work, if I am bombarded with social interactions going on around me or if I am taking part in it, it takes a lot of mental effort leaving little capacity to listen and take in what the person I am trying to focus on, is saying. I may have anxiety because of feeling confused and unsafe. In this state of flight, fight, freeze or fawn I will not be learning well, I will simply be trying to survive. All the blood is flowing to my main organs in readiness to run. The pre-frontal cortex, the logical part of my brain is not connected, so there is no chance of being able to think calmly and logically until I am calm, relaxed and alert again.

Others may consider being highly intelligent or gifted as an advantage and that we are luckier than others, but the truth is everyone has their strengths and everyone has their challenges. Just because you have high intelligence it doesn't guarantee success in all areas of life. It doesn't mean we don't struggle and it doesn't mean life is easier for us. I hope that we can all acknowledge that each of us has struggles and that we can each be curious and open to understanding each others experience with compassion and empathy.

You can find IQ tests by Mensa here

The Intergifted model of giftedness here

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