A Lesson on the Potential of Twice Exceptional Learners from Sir Richard Branson

A Lesson on the Potential of Twice Exceptional Learners from Sir Richard Branson

Billion-dollar business tycoon, Sir Richard Branson, is one of the most innovative entrepreneurial thinkers of our time.

As a life-long sufferer of dyslexia, he’s also a perfect example of the greatness our twice exceptional (2E) students can achieve.  

Sir Branson has proven his exceptionality by growing one idea into four hundred companies in 30 different countries. That’s exceptional!

But what’s even more remarkable is the fact that Sir Branson credits his success not to IQ or an expensive education; he credits his great success to his dyslexia. In a 2012 profile in the Washington Times, Sir Branson is quoted as saying:

“Back when I was in school, few people understood dyslexia and what to do for it… My teachers thought I was lazy and not very clever, and I got bored easily…thinking of all the things I could do once I left school. I couldn’t always follow what was going on. On one of my last days at school, the headmaster said I would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.”

Branson provides a perfect example of what so many twice exceptional (2E) students experience in schools today.

In “Twice Exceptional”,  a 1-hour online professional learning course,  Timothy Gangwer,  defines what it means to be twice exceptional and then provides tested strategies to help 2E students succeed in your classroom.

Mr. Gangwer is a dedicated educator of 26 years, with a focus in the field of visual learning. He has served as visual literacy consultant across the globe. A former elementary teacher in Houston ISD for students with learning disabilities, he is also an award-winning digital artist and songwriter.

Do you have students with exceptional abilities and challenging disabilities? Are they struggling to balance both ends of the spectrum?

Mr. Gangwer takes you through the highs and lows of the 2E learner. Because 65% of the population learns through visualization, imagery is an effective way to instruct your 2E students.

However, it wasn’t until recently that the process of visual learning was even recognized.  Mr. Gangwer explains how to use visual learning strategies to engage your 2E students.

Who is the twice exceptional learner?

Mr. Gangwer defines  the twice exceptional learner as a “high ability child who has a learning disability.” When teaching these learners, it’s important to recognize both ends of the spectrum: the high end and low end. Mr. Gangwer states,

These children are twice exceptional both because of their intellectual gifts and their learning/special needs.”

As educators, we have a profound opportunity to impact the lives of twice exceptional students. Unlike those educators who expected the worst of Richard Branson, it’s our duty to expect the best and to help the 2E learners build up their strengths and learn to cope with their challenges.

Twice exceptional students rely heavily on compensation behavior in order to balance out their weakness with their strengths.

Strengths and Challenges

Twice exceptional students rely heavily on compensation behavior in order to balance out their weakness with their strengths.

Some of the strengths and challenges associated with 2E learners are:


  • Easily frustrated
  • Stubborn
  • Manipulative
  • Opinionated
  • Argumentative
  • Highly sensitive to criticism


  • High vocabulary
  • Highly creative
  • Resourceful
  • Curious
  • Imaginative
  • Questioning
  • Wide range of interest
  • Advanced ideas and opinions
  • Special talent or consuming interest

Collaboration is Key

Because of the challenges that are often encountered when teaching a twice exceptional  learner, it’s important to collaborate with your special education teachers.

When both the gifted and talented educator and special needs teachers come together, our 2E students have a better opportunity to foster a wholesome social and emotional development.  Additionally, Mr. Gangwer says:

When we nurture the students’ potential and support their development of compensatory strategies, we enhance their capacity to cope with these mixed abilities.”

Specific Disabilities to Help Identify 2E Learners

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • ADHD
  • Dysgraphia
  • Dyspraxia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Irlen Syndrome

“Twice Exceptional” with Tim Gangwer offers insightful information, plus easy to implement activities for your classroom. Come and see why Mr. Gangwer is one of our favorite comprehensive trainers and gain his knowledge of the twice exceptional learner.

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