Friday, January 06, 2006

Twice Exceptional

Dani D'Spirit is a second grader who reads at the eighth grade level, loves watching CNN and learning about archaeology and history. Last year she took a few EPGY courses online from Stanford. In short, she's your average gifted 8-year-old. Except that Dani suffered a stroke slightly before birth and has never been able to walk or talk. She communicates by pecking on a computer. The Wilmington News-Journal covered her amazing story in late December.

I can't imagine the frustration of trying to communicate your ideas with the world through such awkward circumstances. But gifted kids with disabilities wind up dealing with a lot of frustrations. At least Dani's disabilities are so obvious that they can be recognized and accommodated. I'm always amazed by the stories of gifted, severely dyslexic children who don't learn to read, but are so bright they can hide it and come across as mediocre students. I suspect one of the reasons it's been reported that 18-20% of high school drop-outs test in the gifted range is that many have some sort of disability. The disability masks the giftedness. The kid gets both bored and frustrated. Bored, frustrated kids decide school isn't for them. Dani wound up "dropping out" of first grade because she didn't like it (her parents homeschooled her for the year and used EPGY). Hopefully her teachers and schools will be able to teach to her gifts and accommodate her disabilities better in the future.

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