Definition of Dual or Multiple Exceptionality

child looking uncertain

The term dual or multiple exceptionality (DME) is used in the UK to describe children who have both high learning potential and would be classed as having a special educational need because of a learning difficulty or a disability. It means the same thing as the term ‘twice exceptional’, or ‘2e’, that is used in the USA and various other parts of the world.

The term dual or multiple exceptionality reflects the fact that an individual may have more than one issue alongside their high learning potential, for example have both an autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit alongside exceptional cognitive abilities.

  • It is estimated that 5-10% of children with high learning potential also have a special educational need.
  • It is estimated that 2-5% of children with an identified special educational need also have high learning potential.

Therefore, dual or multiple exceptional children could be described as a minority within a minority.

The term dual or multiple exceptionality is used to cover high learning potential alongside:

  • Neurological disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorders sensory processing disorder and dyspraxia
  • Learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia
  • Sensory and speech impairments
Child in headphones

Dual or Multiple Exceptionality Advice Sheet

Find out more about children with dual or multiple exceptionality and how to help them in our free advice sheet F01 Dual or Multiple Exceptionality.

Become a Member

Families benefit from access to our advice line, our electronic resources and our Focus newsletter.

Schools benefit from access to our advice line, online resources and the High Learning Potential Best Practice Award.