Gifted pupils with disabilities face seemingly contradictory social expectations and definitions, have varied prevalence rates, and encounter diverse and sometimes inadequate identification procedures. Nevertheless, these youth can clearly benefit from gifted and special needs instruction, and from teacher and parent advocacy.

Gifted youth are generally expected to be high achievers and to be generally well behaved, whereas students with disabilities tend to face lower academic and behavioral expectations. Gifted youth with disabilities, with their combination of strengths and weaknesses, tend to confound many observers with their contradictory expectations.

Officially labeled “gifted youth with disabilities,” these children actually fit formal definitions for both gifts and disabilities. According to the U.S. federal and many state educational definitions, students with gifts excel in intellectual, academic, creative, artistic, and leadership ...

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