Re: “Seattle gifted-program changes spark complaint” [Dec. 3, Northwest]:

As child psychologists who work with students with autism and other neurodevelopmental differences, we have seen firsthand how crucial it is to provide a separate learning environment for “twice exceptional” students.

Twice-exceptional, or “2e” students, are those who are exceptionally bright but who also have a disability such as autism spectrum, anxiety or ADHD, which can make participating in the general-education classroom challenging at best, and traumatic or impossible at worst.

Often, these students are not engaged at school because they are not being challenged academically, because they do not fit in socially (and may experience bullying) and/or because their learning style is not a good fit with the general-education setting. For some of these students, these issues can lead to serious problems at school such as meltdowns, running away from school, or even aggression or property destruction.

When these students are able to attend the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) program, they often thrive. In HCC, 2e students connect with peers and teachers who understand them.

With the Seattle school district considering eliminating this program, our concern is that doing so would be detrimental to 2e students. Keeping or restructuring the program to serve 2e students is critical.

Amy Bohlander and Rosalind Oti, Seattle