Twice exceptionality in neoliberal educationcultures: Implications for special educational needsco-ordinators

DEMİR Y. E., Done E.

THE JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS, vol.22, no.3, pp.266-273, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1471-3802.12564
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, ASSIA, Child Development & Adolescent Studies, EBSCO Education Source, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.266-273
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


'Twice exceptionality' describes the coexistence of a learning difficulty or disability (SEN/D) and exceptional performance in one area of learning. A popular discourse around autism and savantism in the United States promotes a hierarchical differentiation of the 'twice exceptional' based on measured intelligence and commodifies support for this group. Such support is designed to appeal to a neoliberal ethos of seeking competitive advantage in a marketised system. Alternatively, special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) could raise awareness and promote a non-hierarchical understanding of 'twice exceptionality' in schools, thereby highlighting what is missed when allegedly science-based discourses become hegemonic within education and when governmentally mandated accountability practices are prioritised over professional judgement and the interests of individual students. Calls for 'twice exceptionality' to be recognised as a SEN/D category risk additional pressures on SENCOs at a time when governmental demands on SENCOs throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have served to heighten existing tensions associated with the neoliberalisation of education (commercialisation, commodification, decentralisation, and residualisation). Nevertheless, SENCOs could play a key role in addressing longer-term processes affecting children with dis/abilities and learning difficulties such as stigmatisation and, in this instance, discriminatory configurations of 'giftedness'.