Teen Twice Exceptional Treatment

Teen twice exceptional (also known as “2e”) is a newer phrase categorizing teenagers who have a unique combination of personality traits and characteristics. They are gifted intellectually, yet often struggle with mental health disorders or learning disabilities that create remarkable disadvantages in their academic and general lives. Common conditions related to teen twice exceptional disorders include anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, Tourette syndrome, and dyslexia. Paradigm San Francisco creates and hosts unique programs designed to meet the needs of teenagers who fall into the 2e category, helping them to excel.

What Does Being Twice Exceptional Look Like?

  • Teens categorized as 2e are highly intelligent, and may become very excited by specific subjects of interest. Many are intensely motivated to gain new knowledge, leading to the development of advanced through processes far surpassing their peers.
  • While 2e teens are bright and motivated when interested in a subject, one of the most stereotypical earmarks is a complete lack of ability to focus on anything falling out of their spectrum of interest. This goes far beyond simple laziness and can be an extreme struggle.
  • 2e teens often hold advanced vocabularies. They excel in history or science, but struggle with language, comprehension, and mathematics.
  • Despite boasting a high IQ, 2e teens may find it difficult or even impossible to communicate with others, including teachers, parents, and peers. These communication challenges make it difficult for them to complete assignments or follow curriculums.
  • It is common for 2ce teens to be recognized as gifted, but told they lack the ability to apply themselves. Rather than being a product of everyday teen procrastination or laziness, they lack the skills needed to excel.

Signs of Twice Exceptional Teens

Progressive vocabulary

Progressive vocabulary

Great sense of humor

Great sense of humor

Incredibly creative

Incredibly creative

Strong opinions

Strong opinions

Unorganized or messy

Unorganized or messy

Awkward social skills

Awkward social skills

Causes of Being Twice Exceptional

Twice exceptional and gifted children are very different. The main difference is that gifted children do not struggle with any form of disability. It’s not uncommon for gifted children to be quiet, unorganized, or unmotivated, but that doesn’t make them twice exceptional. Children who are twice exceptional struggle with conditions severe enough to qualify as true learning disorders, behavioral issues, and mental health conditions.

Researchers don’t yet fully understand why some teens qualify as gifted, yet others seem to be gifted and still struggle in specific areas. However, statistics reveal that certain risk factors do exist.

Biological Causes: Genetics do play a role in the development of mental health and learning disabilities. This is true for both average and 2ce teens. Your teen may have a higher risk for becoming twice exceptional if other family members struggle with the same or similar conditions.

Stress: Teens with anxiety and depression severe enough to hinder their social skills and ability to function often struggle to cope. They become self-conscious, overwhelmed, and uncomfortable in school and at home, and may actively avoid these scenarios.

Bullying: Teens who are exceptional or gifted often experience bullying, especially if they are initially self-confident. Bullying causes confusion, forcing teens to socially withdraw. This, in turn, leads to behavioral problems. Many 2e teens lack the ability to handle criticism well; they may even fear interactions with other people. The combination of stress and bullying triggers dormant symptoms, which could lead to a diagnosis of ADHD or autism.

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Teen Twice Exceptional Treatment | Paradigm San Francisco


teens in the United States are twice exceptional.


of all teens considered gifted are twice exceptional.


children in the US have at least one learning disability.

How Can I Help My Twice Exceptional Teen?

Help Your Teen (But Don‘t Hold Them Back): Allow your teen to try, even if they fail. It’s human nature to want to fix a child’s mistakes or guide them, but let them learn on their own. Teen need to make mistakes so they can learn from them and the experiences they bring. Be available to support your teen and offer guidance, but allow them to experience trial and error. They will learn to explore new situations, ensuring that they don‘t become over-dependent.

Help Your Teen Develop Coping Skills: Teens need to learn to cope with stress, especially when they are 2e. Proper coping mechanisms are even more critical for 2e teens as they are more likely to become frustrated by roadblocks. Many adolescents falling under the 2e spectrum feel frustrated by school; they often struggle to make the same progresses as their peers. Support them, highlight their strengths, and help them find new activities or hobbies that will give them an outlet for pent up stress.

Stick With It: Teen twice exceptional treatment programs help teens work through their disabilities. As a parent, it is your job to support them in a way that keeps them motivated to succeed after treatment. Do your best to set a good example, showing them exactly why they should never give up when times are rough.

What Types of Teen Twice Exceptional Treatment Are Available?

Twice exceptional teens don’t need help coping with their intellectual abilities; they need treatment to teach them to better cope with their disabilities. During teen twice exceptional treatment, your teen will learn healthier ways to deal with their frustrations. They’ll also discover methods for using their abilities to fill in the gaps in what they perceive are shortcomings. A significant number of teens in treatment are still finishing high school; they must learn how to cope as young adults, in college or in work, before the realities of life cause more struggle.

Talk Therapy

Teens in treatment are require unique therapeutic approaches because they find it difficult to build a trusting bond. It takes time to identify and understand the individual challenges they face, especially if they are resistant to talk therapy. Treatment at Paradigm’s facilities may take time, but eventually, we do get to know the teens we serve in a way that allows us to create a working long-term plan. The ability to individualize therapy and provide access to it 24/7 lets us accelerate the process and progress far faster than outpatient treatment normally would.


Medication isn’t always part of a treatment plan, but doctors may sometimes recommend antidepressants to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. Short-term pharmacological intervention may make it easier for teens to get comfortable and open to the idea of talk therapy. Teens struggling with ADHD and similar behavioral disorders may also benefit from medications to control their symptoms.

Teens often worry that medications will dull their senses and diminish their strengths. Our doctors and therapists work with each teen on an individual level to identify the medication therapy protocols that have the greatest benefit with the least side effects.

Alternative Treatments

Paradigm San Francisco‘s therapists work hard to find unique alternative therapies for stress management. Everyday activities like art, exercise, yoga, and other meditative practices can be extremely relaxing and soothing. Many of the teens who spent time with us go on to discover new talents and creative hobbies that remain with them for life.

Teen Twice Exceptional Treatment at Paradigm San Francisco

Paradigm San Francisco strives to give every teen the level of individual care and attention they deserve. We work hard to create custom treatment plans that meet their unique needs where they are, how they are. Every teen is gifted in their own way, and has their own challenges, stories, and needs. It’s our goal to support them in coping with their disabilities without stifling creative and intellectual gifts.

Unique Treatment Plans

Paradigm San Francisco‘s staff put a great deal of time and effort into creating unique teen twice exceptional treatment plans. A significant portion of the initial process is dedicated to personally interviewing each teen so we can better understand their needs. We use testing and assessments (often provided within 48 hours of admission) to really get to know your teen’s situation and what makes them special. These early steps also include passive observation that helps us better judge where they struggle most with physical, mental, and holistic well-being.

Early intervention and thorough assessment is a must for 2e teens. It gives care providers a chance to assess how your teen‘s disabilities and incredible strengths work together to make them who they are. By learning about each teen‘s dreams and interests. we empower ourselves to tailor every aspect of treatment to their needs. Unlike standard psychotherapy or even interventional academic support, many of our guests find this shift refreshing, helpful, and encouraging.

Family Involvement

Once a teen settles into treatment, family integration begins. This process brings the family members in, providing direct support to parents, siblings, grandparents, and anyone else directly involved with the teen’s care. Our goal is to recreate the home environment to make it more supportive so teens can thrive when they return.

“ Outstanding! I believe Paradigm saved our daughters life and taught me invaluable things about how as her mother I can best support her in her journey to healing. “

– Dee

Frequently Asked Questions About Twice Exceptional Teens

Is IQ a good indicator for giftedness?

IQ tests may be useful to determine intelligence on a societal level, but they are not indicative of a person’s true intellectual potential. Many children who are legitimately gifted may in fact score poorly on an IQ test, only to score very well later, due to certain behavioral issues and a refusal to take the test. IQ tests are also limited in explaining or covering how a child or teen may be gifted. The best way to determine giftedness is to see how a teen or child’s grasp of certain subjects holds up to the level of their peers. Typically, gifted individuals are far and beyond their peers in one or more subjects, such as possessing a striking grasp of language and an advanced insight into complicated concepts and ideas or being massively talented both creatively and in terms of intelligence. Furthermore, only some gifted children are also twice exceptional.

Do teens grow out of being twice exceptional?

Because of the way it is reported, some might assume that being twice exceptional is something reserved for children, a way to describe how gifted children might struggle in today’s extremely limited and highly archaic education system. However, many adults today may be twice exceptional, but simply were not recognized or diagnosed due to a lack of awareness. While the term has existed since the 70s, there has been little research done to properly identify how many children are potentially twice exceptional, and many teachers and parents both today and in the past struggle to help children who are obviously gifted but are underachieving for any number of possible reasons.

In other words, no. If not helped, twice exceptional teens will continue to struggle with the symptoms of their disabilities throughout their adult life, which can certainly impede their career, cut into their ability to connect with others and form meaningful relationships, and limit their success in the workplace.

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