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What We Have Learned: Experiences in Providing Adaptations and Accomodations for Gifted and Talented Students With Learning Disabilities

By: Rich Weinfeld
Weinfeld Education Group, LLC

Tel: (301) 681-6233
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  • Would you allow a person to use a wheelchair?
  • Would you carry him or her?
  • If using a wheelchair gives someone an unfair advantage in a race, should his or her time count the same as that of other runners?
  • Would you allow a person to wear glasses for reading a test, even if they only help a little? What about glasses that are so strong that they give the person an ability to read faster than average?
  • Would you allow a person to use a word processor if you knew that the person had a severe writing disability but had ideas that showed evidence of giftedness?
  • Would you allow dictation for a gifted student who had a severe writing disability?
  • At a recent national conference on gifted education, participants shared their feelings about allowing accomodations for srudents in a variety of situations. For each accommodation, they gave a thumbs-up, a thumbs-down, or a thumbs-sideways response, depending on whether they agreed or disagreed with the appropriateness of the accomodation. The seminar participants demonstrated little agreement in their responses to the preceding questions. Reactions to the situations reflected their varying attitudes and perceptions about appropriate adaptations and accommodations.

    Twice-exceptional students, that is, students who are gifted and have learning disabilities (GLD), often need to have appropriate adaptations and accommodations (Barton & Starnes, 1989; Baum, 1991, 2004; Cline & Schwartz, 1999; National Association for Gifted Children; 1998) so that they can effectively gain access to enriched and accelerated instruction. Our experience in Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) indicates that students often receive inadequate or inappropriate adaptations and accommodations, thereby making their access to gifted instruction problematic. The differing beliefs and opinions of teachers, parents, and students often lead to too few accommodations, or the wrong accommodations.

    A review of the research about GLD students and about successful programs for them reveals that the most important components in the education of GLD students is providing gifted and talented instruction in the student's areas of strength. However, programming for GLD students must simultaneously furnish support in the student's areas of weakness . . . Continue to article and footnotes (PDF).

    Rich Weinfeld, M.S., is currently the director of the Weinfeld Education Group, LLC, which provides advocacy to parents of students with learning challenges, trains parents and staff on educational topics, and offers consultation to school systems.

    See Rich Weinfeld's Profile on

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