NEW YORK — To Eva Santiago, her son’s education has always felt like an impossible dilemma.
Before elementary school, the boy was diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and anxiety, and in kindergarten, he was placed in a small, self-contained class for kids with disabilities.
But he was articulate and curious, so when he was 6, Santiago took him to be tested for the city’s exclusive gifted-and-talented program. She was pleased when his score earned him one of the coveted spots.
But in his larger gifted-and-talented class, he became anxious and easily upset. He fought with students and teachers and spent most of the school day roaming the halls. After he kicked a security guard and the school called the police, Santiago said, she begged administrators to return him to a self-contained class. There, at least, his teachers could manage his behavioral challenges — even if it meant he breezed through his school work and learned little.
The most troubling aspect of gifted classrooms is that they tend to be disproportionately filled with white and Asian students while bright black and Hispanic students often get overlooked.– Jill Barshay
“Other kids would still be doing the assignments and he would be done,” recalled Santiago. “He just didn’t know what to do with himself.”
The boy’s experience is typical for a category of students known as “twice-exceptional,” or 2e. These kids — believed to make up at least 6 percent of students who have a disability — have high academic aptitude but struggle with ADHD, mild autism, dyslexia or other learning and behavioral challenges.* They are notoriously difficult for schools to serve effectively for two reasons, say advocates, parents, and some educators.
Often, their intelligence masks their disability, so they are never assessed for special education or don’t receive the services best suited for them. In other cases, they’re placed in special education classes tailored to their disability but grade levels behind the school work they’re capable of.
kqed.org – “Other kids would still be doing the assignments and he would be done,” recalled Santiago. “He just didn’t know what to do with himself.” The boy’s experience is typical for a category of students kn…
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