I often get asked how to identify twice-exceptional children. There are several lists of characteristics, but many of those lists focus on education. I have tried to compile a list that is more encompassing.

As with all such lists, each 2e child is unique and will have a blended list of the various characteristics.


• intellectually or creatively advanced

• very empathetic and concerned with social justice, cares deeply about the future of the world

• advanced, often wicked (sometimes bizarre), sense of humor

• questions the status quo, can come up with creative alternatives

• enjoys codes, puzzles, games of strategy

• may have extraordinary perceptions and/or abilities in one or more areas

• very sensitive to patronizing or hypocritical behavior, may call adults in authority on their behavior

• will not follow rules for rules sake, may challenge the underlying logic of illogical rules

• may get along very well with adults and much younger, or much older, children

• has extreme need for intellectual or creative stimulation

• often autodidactic

• highly curious and divergent thinker

• can rapidly accelerate learning to high levels of expertise

• responds well to academic flexibility and self-directed learning

• long attention span when working in areas of high interest

• behavior issues often resolve when intellectually or creatively satiated

• deeply connected to those they love, feel things deeply

• mature beyond their years, often precocious

• love to challenge themselves and/or others

• are very passionate about areas of interest (fully focused and invested)

• creative problem solvers

• have deep knowledge about areas of interest

• can generalize knowledge to make unique connections (strong metacognative skills)

• persistent

• like to see the big picture first and then fill in the details

• may have superior spatial skills

• may be very good at developing compensatory strategies

• are often well read and have a superior vocabulary

• may have unique insight into complex issues

• unusual imagination


• often misunderstood and ostracized

• can be gullible, socially awkward, and often bullied

• may be very disorganized

• may be a perfectionist

• can be very compulsive

• often have anxiety issues

• often have unrealistic expectations for themselves, may judge themselves harshly and have low self-esteem (feel like an imposter)

• says and does things that are out of sync with what others are doing

• often rigid about rules and fairness, struggles with grey areas, can be inflexible

• will not follow rules for rules sake, may challenge the underlying logic of illogical rules

• may argue, debate, or challenge the status quo, even if they are punished for doing so

• may need order and routine to function well (even if they appear to be chaotic or messy, often have their own underlying system)

• may need time to prepare for changes in routine, surprises may be difficult to manage

• may be dismissive of details in their quest for the big picture

• may appear arrogant

• asynchronous development emotionally, social, academically (very immature in some areas, extremely mature in others)

• may be very impulsive

• often have issues with food (digestion problems, gut health, food allergies, food aversions, eating rituals)

• has trouble with authority, can be oppositional and argumentative

• may have learning disabilities, poor handwriting, motor skill issues

• can be extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli (sensory processing issues)

• often bored and frustrated with school

• often misunderstood and/or misdiagnosed by skilled professionals

• may have difficulty sleeping, may not need much sleep, or may have unusual sleep cycles

• less interested in typical external motivators and reward systems

• has trouble modulating voice levels

• has trouble controlling body (sitting still, standing in line, walking with group)

• overwhelmed by emotions and emotional intensity

• falls apart under pressure (timed tests, rapid transitions, being rushed)

• very sensitive and easily wounded emotionally

• often confused by social protocol

• may have trouble understanding facial expressions and body language

• often dislike linear learning or rote practice

• often feel held back by typical pacing and learning practices, may be very frustrated with school

If you found yourself nodding your head often (or feeling like someone has spied on your child), then your probably have a child who is 2e.

(Thanks to the experienced parents of 2e children who helped compile this list.) 🙂

4 thoughts on “2e or not 2e? That is the question…

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