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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Education
October 25, 2014

Canadian Excellence

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Faculty of Education

Gifted Students with Disabilities

Research by Colleen Willard-Holt

Nov 23/10

Gifted students with disabling conditions comprise a major group of underserved, understimulated, underidentified youth (Karnes & Johnson, 1991). A large portion of their time is often spent in remediation or learning to circumvent the effects of the disability, which in turn may preclude the recognition and development of their intellectual gifts. The potential contributions of these students is incalculable; one only need think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Ludwig Beethoven, Stevie Wonder, and Stephen Hawking to realize that recognizing and nurturing the talents of these students is critical. Giftedness exists in populations of students who have visual, hearing, learning, physical and neurological disabilities, as well as persons with autism spectrum disorders and those who have mental health conditions. The thrust of this research program (Willard-Holt, 1994; 1998; 1999; 2002; 2005) is to delineate the characteristics that may indicate significant intellectual potential in the presence of a disability, which may mask or otherwise alter the expression of traditional indicators of giftedness. The significance of the research is to enable teachers to recognize and address all aspects of these twice-exceptional individuals and to assist these young people in reaching their potential.

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