Category Archives: Clinic

Belin-Blank Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality

Thank you to Bethany Erickson for this guest post about her experience at last month’s Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice Exceptionality. If you would like access to the recorded event, register by July 1 at belinblank.org/summit.


After attending the Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality, I am in awe and inspired.

I am in awe of the professionals who spoke: their expertise, experience, research and heart that came through their presentations. As a classroom teacher, I didn’t really know anything about neuroscience before this summit. Now, I wonder how can teachers be teachers without knowing more about how the brain works and learns.

The adage that ‘you don’t know how much you don’t know’ comes to mind. While learning from the presenters, three themes stood out to me over the course of the two days of lectures: the need for more collaboration, more research and more awareness to benefit twice-exceptional learners at all ages.  

Collaboration came up in almost every session.

So many of the presenters graciously gave credit to their teams and showed gratitude for the work they are able to do together. Parents talked about collaborating with educators. Students talked about the help they needed and received from their parents, medical professionals, and educators. Educators that work at the Belin-Blank Center, spoke to the importance of effectively communicating with each other as colleagues but also with parents and patients.

I was struck by several things during the student panel.

One student seemed to have had appropriate supports and interventions early on to help him cope with and understand his diagnosis. Another student didn’t find out about Autism Spectrum Disorder until later and had a harder path with fewer and later support services. Even so, both have found success and a way to overcome their difficulties by using their strengths and talents, which was another clear message from many sessions.  

I was impressed with how much these students could bravely tell us and it reminded me of the importance of knowing each individual.

I will be working with high school students for the first time next school year, and hearing the student panel reminds me that they are just looking for someone to listen and see them as a person, not just their diagnosis.

Another lesson on the importance of collaboration came from the parent panel.

The three moms on the panel gave such heartfelt and honest advice that I, as a teacher, will not forget. I wish more teachers could hear their stories. It stuck with me when they agreed that some of their most helpful teachers were the ones who admitted to not knowing about twice-exceptionality (2e), but being willing to learn along side them and see their child for more than just their behaviors or diagnosis.

I was so moved by the mom who explained what it felt like to drop off her son at a Belin-Blank Center summer program, and how it felt for her to know, for the first time, that he would be okay there without her because of the supports in place.

It made me think how much more school systems need to do for 2e students and parents to make school a safe place for them as well. A safe place where they can trust educators to be accepting of their talents and their challenges.

For students and parents to find schools as a welcoming and supportive environment for twice-exceptional students, teachers need to be made aware of 2e characteristics, talents, needs and challenges. It came up in the parent and student panel that they wished more people knew 2e students existed. As a teacher looking back, I can now think of several former students that were likely twice-exceptional, but I didn’t have the knowledge or resources at the time to help them.

This summit has given me an awareness that I am so grateful for.

The need to bring awareness to educators was mentioned in the student and parent panels. It was interesting to hear from the two teachers who were on the parent panel, as they shared how much they didn’t know as teachers until experiencing 2e as a parent. I wonder how many behavior issues could be prevented or diminished by addressing the needs of the students that are not being met due to undiagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders.

Before the summit, I was aware that students could have multiple diagnosed disabilities, but I didn’t know the symptoms, characteristics, talents and challenges. 

The research shared during the summit was so above and beyond what I expected.

An abundance of statistics, charts, graphs, and studies that all represent individual people and families, as one presenter pointed out.  Even in the midst of so much research, the case was continually made for how much more research is needed, all the things scientists still don’t know and want to know in order to better serve and accommodate for neurodiverse learners.

I was moved by how many presenters shared stories of their own children who have been diagnosed as twice-exceptional, and how that personal connection motivates their work.  

As I evaluate how this summit will affect my role as an educator, I hope it is by improving my collaboration with others – parents, students, colleagues, medical professionals, etc. I also hope it will affect my role as a talented and gifted teacher by granting me an awareness to help me see students that may need special education and gifted education services. Or notice characteristics of students that may come from having an indivisible disability and helping them to feel seen.

Experiencing this summit will help me bring an awareness back to my coworkers of what twice exceptionality is and how we can work together to find ways to support those learners and their families.

Social Skills Group for Adolescents

Our colleagues at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Center for Disabilities and Development are starting a social skills program for adolescents with high functioning autism.

This 14-week intervention aims to assist teens (and their parents) who are interested in learning new ways of making and keeping friends.

If you are interested in participating, check out the information below and contact Matt Kressin at 319-353-6140 or matthew-kressin@uiowa.edu.

Congratulations to Dr. Katie Schabilion!

We are proud to share that our Assessment and Counseling Clinic’s Dr. Katie Schabilion has successfully completed her postdoctoral training and is now a Licensed Psychologist and Health Service provider in Iowa! 

Dr. Katie Schabilion is an Iowa native who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Education Specialist in School Psychology, and Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology from the University of Iowa. During her graduate training, Dr. Schabilion gained experience supporting students through their school districts, outpatient assessment clinics at the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development, and the Grant Wood AEA Early ACCESS Autism Resource Team.

portrait of Dr. Katie Schabilion
Dr. Katie Schabilion, Licensed Psychologist

Dr. Schabilion completed a practicum experience at the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic and spent 5 years as a graduate assistant at the Belin-Blank Center in various roles. She worked with the Acceleration Institute, provided administrative support during the publication of A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, assisted students and teachers involved in the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA), and served as a graduate teaching assistant with Belin-Blank Center Director Dr. Susan Assouline.

Dr. Schabilion completed her predoctoral internship at the Avondale Elementary School District in Avondale, Arizona, before returning to Iowa and the Belin-Blank Center to complete her dissertation investigating factors related to diagnosis of specific learning disorder in writing among high ability students. She remained on staff at the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic as a postdoctoral scholar, providing clinical assessment and counseling services to gifted and twice-exceptional students and supporting the Center’s twice-exceptional research agenda. Dr. Schabilion is excited to continue conducting twice-exceptional evaluations and providing counseling services in her new role as a Licensed Psychologist. She is also involved in Belin-Blank Center events such as the Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality.

Congratulations, Dr. Schabilion!

Career Assessment Services at the ACC

The Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic offers a range of assessment and therapy services to help high ability and twice-exceptional students access opportunities and achieve their goals. Our career assessments are a useful tool in helping an individual explore their interests, abilities, personality characteristics, and personal values to assist in exploring potential careers.

You may wish to consider our career assessment if your child is:

  • Overwhelmed by the possibilities of the next stage of life and desires guidance to narrow the options.
  • Looking for information about the suitability of different career paths based on individual factors like interests and personality factors.
  • Seeking greater self-understanding but do not have a need for a comprehensive educational or diagnostic evaluation.
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

During a career assessment at the Belin-Blank Center, a student would participate in a brief interview with our counseling staff. Afterward, the student would complete computerized and paper-and-pencil rating scales to provide information relevant in making career choices. Our psychologists would then discuss the results and their implications with the student. Following the assessment, the student and their parents are provided with a report detailing the results and our recommendations.

The cost of a career assessment is $250. Because career evaluations are not medical in nature, fees for these services cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.

In addition to career assessments, available clinic services include educational evaluations (to assist with academic planning), twice-exceptional evaluations (for psychological diagnosis), and therapy with licensed psychologists or trainees.

Could a career assessment be beneficial for your child? You can request an appointment through our online intake form.

Strength-Based, Talent Focused Learning

Thank you to Marcy Dann, M.A. for writing this guest post!


Families who have been provided with assessment services at the BBC in the past year may also be interested in a supplemental service that is being offered temporarily at a reduced rate through the Bridges 2e Center, where the motto is “Educating the Exceptional”.

The Suite of Tools™ is an assessment process to discover, organize, analyze and prioritize information for strength-based, talent focused learning. The evidence-based tools that are used have been refined at Bridges Academy, an independent school for the twice exceptional student population. These tools can lead to big changes in motivation and achievement.

The process involves having the child complete My LearningPrint™ and the Quick Personality Indicator (QPI™).  A team meeting, moderated by Marcy Dann, is held online with the parents to explore the results of their child’s Belin-Blank Center psychoeducational assessment. The meeting will include an in-depth discussion about the child’s strengths, talents and interests.

Parents will also receive a summary report with a personalized talent plan to supplement a student’s IEP, 504 Plan, folder and/or recent Belin-Blank Center evaluation. The report will include insights into when and how a particular student performs optimally, challenges to address, essential elements for learning, and the environmental conditions conducive to his or her development.

For more information, please contact Dr. Doobay at alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu.

Marcy Dann, M.A.

Marcy Dann, M.A. is a board-certified educational therapist who has been in clinical practice for over 35 years using a strength-based approach with school aged clients and their families and is a consultant at Bridges Academy, a school for twice-exceptional students in Los Angeles, California.  She relies on the parents’ perspectives when listening carefully to the vignettes they share about their child. She recognizes the academic, cognitive, social-emotional, creative and physical issues that must be addressed for students to access the curriculum and to show what they’ve learned in school and at home. Dann is currently collaborating with the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic (BBC) by providing strength-based assessments.

Conversations on Autism Diagnosis and Assessment

Written by Dr. Alissa Doobay, Supervisor for Psychological Services at the Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic.


Last fall, I received an email from Emily Kircher-Morris asking if I would be interested in recording a podcast. Emily is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Missouri. She is perhaps best known as the host of the thought-provoking and informative Neurodiversity Podcast (previously called Mind Matters Podcast). Her podcast focuses on the development of gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) people throughout the lifespan. 

I always feel more comfortable expressing myself with a keyboard than a microphone. Still, I felt deeply honored by Emily’s interest in my work. I quickly grew excited for the opportunity to be a part of such a fantastic resource for families. A few short weeks later, I found myself chatting easily with Emily over Zoom while sitting in a very professional-looking recording studio, courtesy of the University of Iowa.

Emily asked that I present on the topic of autism assessment in the twice-exceptional population. We discussed the obstacles families face in getting gifted children evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We also talked about differences in the presentation of ASD symptoms in the high-ability population, ASD in high-ability girls, and advice for parents seeking an assessment for their child. The information I share on the podcast comes from my 15 years of research and direct clinical work with 2e learners and neurodiverse students at the Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic

My experiences at the Belin-Blank Center –first as a student, later as a licensed psychologist, and now as the supervisor of psychological services–shaped my current knowledge and expertise. I am exceedingly grateful to the families with whom I have worked over the years who have shared their stories and were willing to put their confidence and trust in me. I am continually awed by the kindness, tenacity, bravery, and resilience of these families. All of them share a goal of improving understanding, services, and support for their loved ones and the broader twice-exceptional community.

If you have not already done so, I encourage you to listen to Emily Kircher-Morris’s Neurodiversity Podcast. You won’t be disappointed! If you are interested, you can listen to our discussion on episode 70, “Understanding Autism Diagnosis and Assessment.”

Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality

Co-hosted by the Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa Neuroscience Institute

May 17-18, 2021
Online

Bridging psychology and neuroscience, the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and the Iowa Neuroscience Institute will collaborate to bring researchers, clinicians, educators, and parents together to address the current state of research on twice-exceptionality. Part of the purpose of this interdisciplinary summit is to form partnerships with other institutions in furthering twice-exceptional research and best practice.

The summit will take place on Monday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The event will be completely online and feature a variety of keynotes and breakout sessions delving into recent research’s insights into twice-exceptionality. Registrants will have access to the live sessions, as well as recordings of all presentations after the event.

How to Register

Registration is available now!

If you currently attend or are employed by the University of Iowa, email us at summit@belinblank.org to register for free.

Outside of the UI, standard registration is $145 and non-UI current students may register for $45.

A credit option is available to those who participate in the summit through PSQF:4128:0WKA – Neuroscientific Implications for Gifted Ed: Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality (May 20 – June 10). The Belin-Blank Center provides a tuition scholarship equal to 50% of the cost of graduate-level tuition. Whether you choose undergraduate or graduate credit, your tuition for this one semester hour of credit will be $280.). Learn more.

Speakers

We feature speakers sharing research from several different domains, including neuroscience, genetics, gifted education, special education, psychology, and psychiatry.

Belin-Blank Center – Iowa Neuroscience Institute Presenters

Members of the Belin-Blank Center and Iowa Neuroscience Institute collaborative team look forward to sharing their current work with attendees through presentations and panel discussions.

Ted Abel

Edwin G. Abel, Ph.D.

Molecular Mechanisms of Memory Storage

Jake Michaelson

Jake Michaelson, Ph.D.

Genetic Signatures of Twice-Exceptionality

Thomas Nickl-Jockschat, Ph.D.

Disrupted brain growth patterns – a key mechanism underlying autism

Susan G. Assouline, Ph.D., Brandon LeBeau, Ph.D., and Katie Schabilion, Ph.D.

Integration of the Medical Model and Talent Development Model in Understanding 2e Students (Panel)

Alissa Doobay, Ph.D., Megan Foley-Nicpon, Ph.D., Duhita Mahatmya, Ph.D.

From Data to Diagnosis: Complexity of Understanding 2e Students with ASD and Anxiety Disorders (Panel)

Featured University of Iowa Speakers

Lane Strathearn, Ph.D.

Epigenetics and Social Experience in Autism: Discovering Modifiable Pathways for Intervention

Hanna Stevens, Ph.D.

Neurodevelopmental disabilities and striatum: insights from mentoring smart trainees

Dorit Kliemann, Ph.D.

Brain Networks in Autism

Seth King, Ph.D.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Research for Individuals with Multiple Exceptionalities

For a full list of speakers and topics, be sure to check out our webpage. We hope to see you in May!

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Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality

A New Face at the Belin-Blank Center

We are excited to welcome a new staff member!

Dr. Amanda Berns is a Licensed Psychologist who is joining the clinical staff in the Assessment and Counseling Clinic. She attended the University of Iowa while obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Philosophy in School Psychology. Dr. Berns gained experience working in schools, outpatient clinics at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, the local homeless shelter, and children’s homes through the Early Access Autism Resources Team at Grant Wood Area Education Agency. She also completed an iLEND fellowship and externships at Nisonger Center and St. David’s Center.

Dr. Amanda Berns, Licensed Psychologist at the Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic

For two years in graduate school, Dr. Berns held an assistantship providing mentorship to talented and gifted college students at the Belin-Blank Center, as well. Dr. Berns attended a predoctoral internship at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health and a postdoctoral fellowship at The Counseling Center of Nashua. She also worked in public schools as a traveling school psychologist and Autism Consultant, and outpatient settings at Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP).

Besides having a wealth of clinical experience across these settings, Dr. Berns has particular expertise in assessment and intervention services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In particular, her research background is in the social-emotional experiences of those who are twice-exceptional. She is excited to join the Belin-Blank Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic, where she is conducting twice-exceptional evaluations and providing counseling services.

Be sure to check out all of the clinical services we provide in our Assessment and Counseling Clinic. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment or requesting more information, you can do so here!

Let’s Talk 2e Virtual Conference for Educators

Please join us at the Let’s Talk 2e virtual conference for Educators launching January 25, 2021 and then remaining EVERGREEN allowing you forever-access. To register click here.

The conference brings together expert speakers addressing topics for teachers to utilize in their virtual, hybrid and in-person classrooms within four strands:

  • Understanding 2e
  • Classroom Strategies
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Clinical Considerations

Our own Drs. Megan Foley-Nicpon, Alissa Doobay, and Katie Schabilion will be among the presenters!

If you’re a parent – this conference is an excellent teacher gift!

Along with 25 presentations attendees will enjoy:

  • Free Gifts from every speaker
  • A Companion Conference Planner
  • A Full Exhibitor Hall (with opportunities for prizes)
  • Community Building and Live Events in our Facebook “Teachers’ Lounge”
  • The Opportunity to earn Credit and Contact Hours from various states, schools and associations

We hope you’ll join us! https://www.withunderstandingcomescalm.com/~access/a1c1076f/

Let’s Talk 2e! Virtual Conference for Parents

Have you heard about Let’s Talk 2e! virtual conference? Launching for FREE on August 19-21, this conference (formerly known as “2 Days of 2e”) is for parents of twice exceptional children to learn about:

  • Managing Transitions
  • Spiritual giftedness
  • Strategies to address and relieve stress
  • Homeschooling
  • Alternative educational placements
  • Education Strategies
  • Identifying learning styles
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Communication
  • Culturally diverse learners
  • Strategies to address trauma
  • Bullying
  • Neurodiversity
  • Giftedness and Autism
  • Connecting personality and learning styles
  • Technology tips for your 2e learner
  • Launching your 2e child

Gain free access for 24 hours and then the option to purchase an ALL ACCESS PASS, which includes speaker gifts for you, audio files, and a live Q/A session with speakers!

Don’t miss our own Drs. Alissa Doobay, Megan Foley-Nipon, and Katie Schabilion’s session, “Twice Exceptionality: The Intersection of Giftedness and Autism” on August 20. And check out the rest of the incredible line-up below.

We hope you’ll join us! Register here.

Guidebooks for Parents and Educators

Parents and educators are often looking for useful resources in gifted education. We would like to highlight a few. The Davidson Institute’s guidebooks for parents and educators on advocacy, early entrance to college, homeschooling, mentorships, and twice exceptional students can be downloaded for free:

The Belin-Blank Center offers extensive information on academic acceleration in several publications.

  • A Nation Empowered: An update to the watershed report on acceleration, A Nation Deceived, the 2015 report provides the latest research on acceleration. A Nation Empowered: Volume 1 is written in an accessible format for parents, educators, policymakers, and the general public. A Nation Empowered: Volume 2 provides the research and an in-depth look at topics specific to acceleration, including grade-skipping, early entrance to college, twice exceptional students, and longitudinal research.
  • A Nation Deceived, Volume 1: Published in 2004, this volume includes an overview of the issues surrounding acceleration for gifted students. The discussion of the myths is still relevant today.

Two resources on twice-exceptional students are also provided by the Belin-Blank Center:

The Hoagies Gifted website provides a somewhat overwhelming list of books in gifted education. We encourage you to visit the page again and again. Hint: start with the books that have a star next to them. Some of those are classics.

Gifted Education Awareness Month: Services at the ACC – Educational Assessment

In Iowa, October has been declared Gifted Education Awareness Month! To celebrate, we’ll be revisiting some of your favorite posts from the blog all month long. We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child. Today, we’re focusing on educational assessments.


Services at the ACC: Educational Assessment

Dr. Alissa Doobay, Licensed Psychologist, Supervisor of Psychological Services
Dr. Alissa Doobay, Licensed Psychologist, Supervisor of Psychological Services

Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning.  They involve individual assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant in academic planning decisions.  These assessments are not diagnostic in nature; therefore, they cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.

Following the assessment, parents are provided with a comprehensive report detailing the test results and our recommendations. The cost depends on the number of hours spent, but a typical educational assessment includes approximately 6 hours of testing and costs $730.

Some initial reasons to consider an individualized educational assessment include:

  • You’re considering whole grade acceleration and would like to get the bulk of the information needed all at once.
  • The student is in 3rd grade or younger, and therefore too young for most other assessments.
  • The student has behavioral/cognitive factors that result in individualized assessment being more accurate than group-administered (e.g., 2e students who don’t “test” as well as expected based on knowledge).

We also offer twice-exceptional assessments, which include intellectual and academic testing in addition to a diagnostic assessment to determine whether the child meets criteria for a particular psychological diagnosis (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Specific Learning Disorder, anxiety or depression, etc.). These evaluations are conducted by a licensed psychologist and may be submitted to insurance depending on your insurance provider. There is a currently a waitlist for twice-exceptional assessments.

Could an educational assessment help your child?  You can request an appointment through our online intake form.

Originally posted on January 12, 2017

Summer Social Skills Group for High School Students

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic is offering a social skills group for high ability students who are entering 9th – 12th grade who demonstrate strong intellectual or academic abilities and social skills challenges (possibly due to ASD, anxiety, ADHD, etc.). The goal of the group is to facilitate development of improved social skills and peer relationships through natural social interaction and video modeling techniques.

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There will be 6 group sessions, each 50 minutes in length, conducted on the 5th floor of Blank Honors Center. The group will meet weekly on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, July 10, and running through Tuesday, August 14.  The fee is $45 per session, and we do accept BC/BS insurance. We will accept up to 6 students for our summer session.

If you have any questions or would like for your child to participate in this group, please contact alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu.

Our Clinic Staff Are Hitting the Road

The Assessment and Counseling Clinic staff have a busy fall of presentations scheduled!  Will they be near you?  We made a handy-dandy Google Map so you can find out.

 

Changes to Family Therapy Services

Frequent readers of our blog will remember our posts on the variety of services offered by our Assessment and Counseling Clinic, including family therapy.

Family therapy can help parents, kids, and teens find better ways to communicate and help families create schedules and routines. Family therapy can also help families navigate mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or eating disorders and can help and provide families with a framework for coping through developmental transitions. Previously, we included family therapy as an option on our intake form for clinical services; however, now we are asking that families schedule directly with Dr. Jacob Priest, Assistant Professor in the UI Couple and Family Therapy Doctoral Program and supervisor of the family counseling service. To schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Priest at jacob-b-priest@uiowa.edu or 319-335-6044.  Appointments will occur at the Lindquist Center on the University of Iowa campus, and this service is free of charge.

Services at the ACC: Family Therapy

We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child.  This week, we’re focusing on the services the Clinic provides, the people who provide them, and how to know if your child could benefit.  Today, we’re focusing on family therapy.

Nathan Hough

Nathan Hough, Graduate Student

This week, we’ve already talked about individual therapy, in which the child is the client and the focus is mostly on their individual needs.  In family therapy, the whole family is the client as opposed to one child. Therefore, the whole family is usually involved in the work, although this can vary to some degree based on the needs of the family.

The goals for this kind of therapy are usually to improve ways the family members communicate and relate to each other, as well as to address specific areas of concern.

Nathan Hough, doctoral student in Couple and Family therapy, has experience in working with families of high ability students presenting with a variety of issues, including twice-exceptionality, sibling conflict, and complex mental health concerns.

Family therapy is currently free. If a family indicates interest in this service, their information is shared with Armeda Wojciak, faculty in the Couple and Family Therapy (CFT) doctoral program, and then scheduling is handled by the individual therapist (currently, Nathan). Supervision is provided by the CFT faculty, but Belin-Blank Center psychologists are available for consultation with the CFT student as needed. Appointments take place in the Assessment and Counseling Clinic.

Does family therapy sound like a good fit for your family?  You can request to participate in family therapy through our online intake form.

[EDIT, September 2017]: We are now asking that families schedule directly with Dr. Jacob Priest.  To schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Priest at jacob-b-priest@uiowa.edu or 319-335-6044.

What Kind of Test Should My Child Take?

Often, we hear from parents and educators who are seeing the signs that children aren’t being challenged, and they’re looking for a way to assess their current level of knowledge so they can make appropriate curricular adjustments.

The Belin-Blank Center offers two major kinds of assessment: above-level testing, and individualized educational assessment.

Above-level testing means giving a test designed for older students to younger students.  For instance, I-Excel consists of 8th grade content, but we administer it to high-ability 4th-6th graders.  Some reasons to consider above-level testing:

  • Parents and/or teachers suspect that the student isn’t being challenged.
  • Parents and/or teachers are looking to understand what level of content the student is ready to learn.
  • The student would like to participate in programs (IOAPA, some summer programs) that require the scores.

And the student should meet the following criteria:

  • Scoring at the 95th percentile or higher on any main subject of a standardized grade-level test.
  • Able to sit still and concentrate for 2 1/2 hours with a short break halfway through.

Learn more about above-level testing through the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS).

Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning.  They involve individual assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant in academic planning decisions.  These assessments are not diagnostic in nature; therefore, they cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.  The results are more detailed than above-level testing, and the cost to complete them is higher.  Some initial reasons to consider an individualized educational assessment include:

  • You’re considering whole grade acceleration and would like to get the bulk of the information needed all at once.
  • The student is in 3rd grade or younger, and therefore too young for the grade-level assessments or I-Excel.
  • The student has behavioral/cognitive factors that result in individualized assessment being more accurate than group-administered (e.g., 2e students who don’t “test” as well as expected based on knowledge).

Individualized educational assessments are available through our Assessment and Counseling Clinic.  You can request an appointment with the Clinic using this form.

Invitation to Participate in an Intervention Study for Youth Diagnosed with ADHD

Pearson’s Center for College & Career Success and the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa are pleased to invite parents of students who have a diagnosis of ADHD to apply for participation in a study examining Cogmed Working Memory Training.

Students should be between the ages of 7 to 15 and identified with a diagnosis of ADHD.

The training protocol is 50 minutes per day, five days per week, for the duration of five weeks (a total of 25, 50-minute sessions).

The purpose of this research study is to evaluate the effectiveness of the CogMed Working Memory Training program as an intervention for students who have ADHD. Individuals will be compensated up to $30 for study participation.

Interested families are encouraged to contact Megan Foley Nicpon at megan-foley-nicpon@uiowa.edu

We look forward to hearing from you!

Did You Miss Our 2E Webinar?

Feb16_webinarIt’s not too late to see one of our most popular webinars yet. Nurturing the Potential of Twice-Exceptional Students: Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Supporting 2e Students is available to order on DVD.

 

Information on relevant legislation, research, clinical findings, and recommendations/resources regarding twice-exceptional students was discussed. Specific information was provided about high-ability students with ADHD, learning disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and anxiety/depression.  DVDs of the webinar can be used by schools, area education agencies, psychologists, and parents to gain additional information about the needs of twice-exceptional students.

We also have a free online publication, The Paradox of Twice-Exceptionality: Packet of Information for Professionals (PIP-2), that provides recommendations for addressing the classroom needs of twice-exceptional students.

Belin-Blank Center Social Skills Research Opportunity

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic is pleased to invite students with social skills challenges (either due to ASD or another diagnosis) to apply for participation in a social skills intervention group. Students should be in grades 9 through 12 and demonstrate high ability on an individually-administered intellectual assessment (e.g., Wechsler Scales of Intelligence). There will be 10 group sessions, each 60 minutes in length, conducted at the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic during the Spring 2016 semester. Parents, students, and the students’ teacher will also be asked to complete rating scales regarding the student’s psychosocial functioning.

The social skills group will be part of a research study examining the effectiveness of a particular social skills training intervention with high ability students. There will be no charge for this service. Applicants will be screened for inclusion in the group, and the intervention implemented will be tailored to the specific needs of the group based on information obtained during the recruitment process. Parents will be asked to provide documentation of the adolescent’s cognitive abilities and diagnosis. Interested families are encouraged to contact Alissa Doobay, PhD, at 319-335-6148 or alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

Family Therapy Services Offered at the B-BC

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic is pleased to be continuing collaboration with the Couple and Family Therapy Program (CFT) at the University of Iowa College of Education in order to offer family therapy services to high-ability/twice-exceptional students and their families.

Family therapy services will be provided by masters-level therapists who are working on their doctoral degrees, under the direct supervision of Dr. Armeda Wojciak, Assistant Professor and licensed marriage and family therapist in the CFT program, and with consultation from Dr. Alissa Doobay, licensed psychologist at the Belin-Blank Center.

A limited number of therapy slots are available for this semester, and we currently have openings. These family therapy services will be provided free of charge. If you are interested in this service or have any questions, please contact Dr. Alissa Doobay at alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu or Armeda Wojciak at armeda-wojciak@uiowa.edu.

New Social Skills Group for High School Students

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic is pleased to invite students with social skills challenges (either due to ASD or another diagnosis) to apply for participation in a social skills intervention group. Students should be in grades 9 through 12 and demonstrate high ability on an individually-administered intellectual assessment (e.g., Wechsler Scales of Intelligence). There will be 10 group sessions, each 60 minutes in length, conducted at the Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic during the Fall 2015 semester. Parents, students, and the students’ teacher will also be asked to complete rating scales regarding the student’s psychosocial functioning.

The social skills group will be part of a research study examining the effectiveness of a particular social skills training intervention with high ability students. There will be no charge for this service. Applicants will be screened for inclusion in the group, and the intervention implemented will be tailored to the specific needs of the group based on information obtained during the recruitment process. Parents will be asked to provide documentation of the adolescent’s cognitive abilities and diagnosis. Interested families are encouraged to contact Alissa Doobay, PhD, at 319-335-6148 or alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu. We look forward to hearing from you!

Have You Seen Our February Newsletter?

Feb15newsletter

We’ve got news, details about our summer programs, an exciting new blog, and more!  Visit belinblank.org/newsletter to get the latest news from the Center.

Want to be the first to hear news from us?  Subscribe to our newsletter!

Social Skills Intervention Group for High Ability Students

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic is pleased to invite students with social skills challenges (either due to ASD or another diagnosis) to apply for participation in a social skills intervention group. Students should be in grades 6 through 8 and demonstrate high ability and/or achievement on the Iowa Assessments, Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), or other individually-administered assessment measures (e.g., Wechsler scales). Recruitment for the group will take place from February 16, 2015 through February 27, 2015. Group sessions will be conducted on Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 beginning in March 2015. There will be approximately 8 group sessions, and parents will be asked to participate in a one-time interview about their child’s experience at the conclusion of the intervention. Parents, students, and the students’ teacher will also be asked to complete rating scales regarding the student’s psychosocial functioning.

The social skills group will be part of a research study examining the effectiveness of particular interventions with high ability students that have been developed by experts in the field of ASD. There will be no charge for this service. Interested families are encouraged to contact Nancy Whetstine, the clinic secretary, at 319-335-6148/800-336-6463 or nancy-whetstine@uiowa.edu. Applicants will be screened for inclusion in the group, and the intervention implemented will be tailored to the specific needs of the group based on information obtained during the recruitment process. We look forward to hearing from you!

Message from the Director: How Do We Know What’s Next?

“…the adjacencies of technology and scientific progress dictate what is invented next.”

From Steven Johnson, author of How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World.

 

It likely will not come as a surprise that practically everything I do outside of the Belin-Blank Center, including leisure reading, seems to circle back to the work I do in the Belin-Blank Center. This was certainly the case while I was reading Steven Johnson’s highly informative new book, How We Got to Now.

Each of the six chapters (“Glass,” “Cold,” “Sound,” “Clean,” “Time,” and “Light”) is packed with useful facts and insights that span millennia and project into the future.   Every topic features multiple advancements that relate, in some cases profoundly, to the Center’s day-to-day work: innovative programming, research, services, and teaching. Hence the saliency of the quote, “…the adjacencies of technology and scientific progress dictate what is invented next.” Choosing just one topic was difficult; however, the final chapter, “Light,” had the most notes and highlighted text, which is why I settled on that chapter as the emphasis for the Director’s message for this issue of the Vision newsletter.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson focused on the light bulb, including the multiple ways in which the light bulb has become the symbol of invention and innovation. The entire discussion is fascinating and informative, starting with a review of the role of the individual experimenter/inventor, then moving into the importance of an interdisciplinary team model that fosters collaborative creativity. The next time you flip a switch, remember that for hundreds of years, the main way that humans brought light into their dark living spaces was via the candle. It was only at the end of the 19th century, after decades of many inventors determining important technical aspects of the light bulb, that Thomas Edison – and his team – through relentless experimentation threw the switch that lit up Pearl Street in New York City.

“The light bulb was the kind of innovation that comes together over decades, in pieces. There was no light bulb moment in the story of the light bulb” (p. 211). “The other key ingredient to Edison’s success lay in the team he had assembled around him … memorably known as the ‘muckers.’ The muckers were strikingly diverse in terms of professional expertise …the diversity of the team turned out to be an essential advantage for Edison…Menlo Park marked the beginning of an organizational form that would come to prominence in the twentieth century: the cross-disciplinary research-and-development lab.” (p. 213)

The astute reader has already anticipated the analogy with the Belin-Blank Center. The programs and services that we provide at the Belin-Blank Center, which you will read about in the various sections of Vision, are the result of 26+ years of bringing together professionals with diverse backgrounds and training that allow us to combine classroom and clinical experience with research and professional development. Every day we learn something new from our colleagues and, thanks to our founders, who were also our benefactors, we have a foundation from which we continue to build programs and services. We also have the space and flexibility to try new approaches that will serve gifted students, their educators, and their families.

The adjacencies of technology, teamwork from a dedicated, multi-talented staff, careful financial planning, and opportunities that arise from private and state funding dictate what happens next at the Center. Stay tuned over the next several months and issues of Vision to learn about:

There’s a New Way to Request Clinical Services

The Assessment and Counseling Clinic’s waitlist has just been re-opened for families interested in individualized assessment services.  The Clinic has also developed a convenient new online form for requesting these services.

If you wish to obtain information about our clinical services or are interested in scheduling an assessment, counseling, or consultation, please complete the online form.

B-BC Clinic Seeking a Licensed Psychologist

The Belin-Blank Center is seeking to add a new licensed psychologist to the clinic staff. Please contact Alissa Doobay at alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu for information about the position and how to apply.

Free Counseling Services for Families with High-Ability/2E Children

Could you use some assistance with parenting strategies, managing your child’s difficult behaviors, coping with family stressors, or improving communication between family members? We currently have openings for FREE family counseling services at the Belin-Blank Center.

Due to a recent collaboration with the Couple and Family Therapy Program (CFT) at The University of Iowa College of Education, we are able to offer family therapy services to high-ability/twice-exceptional students and their families. These services are provided by a team of advanced-level doctoral students in the CFT program under the direct supervision of Dr. Jacob Priest, faculty member in the CFT program, and with consultation from Dr. Alissa Doobay, licensed psychologist at the Belin-Blank Center.

Please direct questions about this service to Dr. Alissa Doobay at alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu or Jacob Priest at jacob-b-priest@uiowa.edu.

Current Therapy Openings at the B-BC Clinic

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic currently has openings for individual counseling for gifted and twice-exceptional students. Therapy will be provided by an advanced-level doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Megan Foley Nicpon. For more information about services offered at the B-BC, please visit our website at http://www2.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/Clinic/. If you have questions or are interested in scheduling an appointment, please contact Nancy Whetstine at 319-335-6148/800-336-6463 or nancy-whetstine@uiowa.edu.

The family therapy program continues to have openings. These services are provided at the B-BC by doctoral students in the University of Iowa Couple and Family Therapy Program under the supervision of Dr. Jacob Priest. For more information or to request services, please contact Dr. Alissa Doobay at alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu.

Currently, the assessment waitlist is closed for new referrals because we are booked through Spring of 2014. The assessment waitlist is scheduled to re-open on November 1st. At that time, please contact Nancy Whetstine at 319-335-6148/800-336-6463 or nancy-whetstine@uiowa.edu regarding this service.