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Accommodating Gifted Students With Learning Disabilities

In his Washington Post education column, Jay Mathews reports on a mother's frustration in getting teachers to understand and provide accommodations for her gifted children who struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and executive function disorder, an inability to self-organize.

Bonnie Beavers, who has sent her children to both public and private schools in Montgomery County, Md., told Mathews that teachers often mistake her children's inabilities to complete repetitive assignments as "sloth" or "carelessness," which has resulted in her daughter becoming discouraged in her math abilities. And at one of the schools, her request for a 504 plan (a legal document designed to assist children with disabilities attending regular schools) and extra time on tests for her son was denied after she presented his high test scores and the low grades he was receiving due to late or missing work. Beavers says the response she received from an administrator was, "I feel sorry for your son. You are clearly pressuring him to make A's."

Mathews takes issue with such reactions:

If you wish to think Beavers was gaming the system, that's your right. I have studied too many of these cases to accept that explanation. Why not make more of an effort to persuade teachers with personal views on this to try accommodation and see what happens?

What is your view on this? Have you had a gifted student with a learning disability in your classroom? How did you handle their situation?

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