Category Archives: Twice-exceptionality

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.

Message from the Director: At the Edge of Knowledge, What do Students Need?

The needs of gifted students come from their strengths, not their deficits. 

I’m paraphrasing, slightly, what Executive Director of Western Kentucky’s Center for Gifted Studies, Professor Julia Link Roberts, expressed last month during Denver University’s annual Gifted Education Conference.  This simple yet elegant statement captures the essence of the Belin-Blank Center’s model for serving gifted and talented students from grade 2 through college.  Our strength-based model features various systems for discovering domain-specific talent and then developing that talent.  A strength-based model is synonymous with talent development.

Although highly effective, there is one critical group of educators who neither implement nor advocate for a strength-based model in which talents are developed.  The group is comprised of the vast majority of faculty in colleges of education across the country; the same individuals who prepare future teachers and counselors.  

This was the situation decades ago when I was preparing to be a science teacher, and it remains true today.  For example, students with strengths in science reasoning need to be able to do what scientists do – create hypotheses, conduct research, experience success…and fail, and start all over again. It’s the rare science classroom where students with strengths in scientific reasoning have regular opportunities to experience “science” during the school day.  The same is true for individuals with talent in mathematics. 

To some extent, the lack of emphasis on talent development in schools explains the popularity of university-based summer programs among parents and students.  Every summer, tens of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students across the country take advantage of myriad programs and courses that build on their strengths and nurture the development of their talent.  The Belin-Blank Center’s programs are among these. Our students explore their interests and stretch their intellectual muscles in the Blank Summer Institute, the Perry Research Scholars Institute, the Secondary Student Training Program, Summer Art  Residency,  and Summer Writing Residency and find respite from the lack of challenge during the school year.

Educators who participate in the Belin-Blank Center’s summer professional development can observe talented pre-college students in programming that is uniquely strength-based and talent-development focused.  Our hope is that by observing a strength-based classroom, educators will see the importance of taking this model into their own classrooms during the academic year.  This is one of the most critical lessons from their professional development experience because for every student who attends a summer program in a university setting, there are several others who are equally talented but don’t have this opportunity.

Education doesn’t have to be strengths vs. deficit.  In fact, every program we offer, including outreach programming such as the STEM Excellence program, now in its sixth year of implementation in nine rural schools across Iowa, is an excellent example of a thriving strength-based program that aims to develop the math and science talents of middle-school students.

Our work in twice-exceptionality offers additional evidence that understanding a student’s strengths is as important as understanding their challenges.  Individuals with a diagnosed disability or disorder face challenges (deficits) that can – and must – be addressed. However, this should be done in alignment with developing their strengths.

The strength-based approach is the essence of our collaborative twice-exceptional research agenda with our Iowa Neuroscience Institute partners. This work uses an unprecedented amount of data from our Assessment and Counseling Clinic to better understand the relationship between high ability and challenges in learning, social-emotional development, or behavior. Indeed, understanding the role of cognitive strengths within the context of learning and social-emotional difficulties is a critical aspect of the research we are conducting.  It is only with a sample of twice-exceptional individuals, who have both intellectual strengths and cognitive challenges, that each of these can be controlled for, allowing researchers to examine their effects both independently and combined.

We are looking forward to bringing together researchers, clinicians, educators, and parents to learn about the research on twice-exceptionality at the Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality this July. We invite you to join us in discussing new, unprecedented studies of twice-exceptionality, the future of research in this field, and the possibilities available for collaboration among institutions, gifted education organizations, and talent development centers in order to advance our understanding of this unique population and their strengths and challenges.

The needs of gifted students – and the professionals who are involved in their education – come from strengths not deficits.  Yet, for the foreseeable future, deficit models in education will likely dominate our thinking – and funding.  I recommend that we “lean into” the current deficit model and use it as a platform to reveal the many advantages to including a strength-based approach in gifted education and talent development.  We will continue to share our perspective and research findings, and we hope to see you at one of our events or programs soon.

Summer Enrichment for Middle School Students

The Belin-Blank Center specializes in academically talented kids. If you have 6th-8th grade students who show a deep curiosity when a topic sparks their interest, a love of learning, or a particular talent in an area, they will feel right at home in our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI)! JSI is a summer program designed specifically for bright students who want to take a deep dive into a topic – all while having fun with other middle school kids who share their level of interest and ability. 

Students get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week – and these aren’t regular classes! With options like Archaeology, Women in Engineering,  Mixed Media Art, Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference, Robot Theater (and more!), there’s sure to be something for your inquisitive kids. Class sizes are small, and they take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving students access to valuable university-level resources and experts.

JSI students also get to experience a taste of college life by staying overnight in the dorm with their peers for the week! Plus, they get to hang out with their new friends and attend plenty of fun cultural and recreational activities in the evenings.

We understand that many bright students may also have a disability or impairment that can present behavioral, emotional, social, or learning challenges. Our experts in twice-exceptionality offer specialized social and academic support for these students.

Payment plans and financial aid are available. Participation in your school’s talented and gifted program is not required. If you think JSI sounds like a good fit for any of your students, be sure to recommend that they check it out at www.belinblank.org/summer or contact Ashlee Van Fleet at summer@belinblank.org!

The Scoop on Summer Programs at the Belin-Blank Center

If all the recent school closure days have you thinking ahead to how you’re going to keep your children occupied over summer vacation, now is a great time to start planning! At the Belin-Blank Center, we specialize in bright kids. Whether or not they participate in their school’s gifted and talented program, if your child shows a deep curiosity when a topic sparks their interest, a love of learning, or a particular talent in an area, they will feel right at home here!

Our summer programs are designed specifically for students in grades 2-11 who want to take a deep dive into a topic while having fun with other kids who share their level of interest and ability. Students get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week – and these aren’t just any regular classes!

For example, grade school students can choose from classes such as Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Virtual Reality, and Programming in our Blast program. Middle school schools students can apply for our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI) to explore Leadership, Women in Engineering, Archaeology, 3D Printing, or a Mixed Media art workshop, among many other options. High school students can learn about the research process and just what is involved in creating new knowledge in our Perry Research Scholars Institute (PRSI). Class sizes are kept small (a maximum of 16-20, depending on age group), to ensure that each student has a positive experience learning something they enjoy.

The programs take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving students access to valuable university-level experts and resources. Our instructors are vetted professionals, including classroom teachers, local artists, and professors who have the expertise to delve into a subject at an advanced level, while keeping it accessible for the age group. Classes utilize specialized spaces and equipment, such as research laboratories, the Van Allen Observatory, 3D printing facilities, the National Advanced Driving Simulator, art studios, maker spaces and the university library.

We understand that many bright students may also have a disability or impairment that can present behavioral, emotional, social, or learning challenges. Our staff are experts in gifted education and talent development, and we offer specialized social and academic support for these twice-exceptional students.

If you think our programs sound like a good fit for your child, be sure to check them out at www.belinblank.org/summer. Payment plans and financial aid are available. With options for students from elementary to high school, covering a wide range of topics, we’re sure to have something for you and your family. We can’t wait for you to join us this summer!

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.

New Network for Parents of Twice-Exceptional Students

A new group has been organized in the I-380 corridor to provide an informational support network to parents and educators of twice-exceptional (2e) learners.

Understood.org has partnered with Amanda Freese to offer monthly meetings that provide information about strength-based advocacy for 2e individuals as well as resources and services related to enrichment academic opportunities and learning and attention challenges.

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The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Odd monthly meetings are held in North Liberty and even monthly meetings are held in Cedar Rapids. The April meeting, “Building a 504/IEP Success Binder Workshop,” is scheduled for Tuesday, April 17 at Grant Wood AEA.

In addition to the monthly meetings, a Facebook group has been established to help parents and educators connect and collaborate. To join the Facebook group, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/487101151673454/.

Further questions can be directed to Amanda Freese at Amanda_Freese@hotmail.com.

Kids with ADHD—We Would Like to Hear About You!

Are you a middle schooler (or parent of one) who has ADHD? We are interested in learning more about kids like you and their friendships, and you have the chance to earn an Amazon gift card. Keep reading to learn more!

Interested individuals are invited to participate in a research study investigating the perceptions of friendship quality amongst middle school students. Information you provide through your participation can help us gain insight that may one day help students like you. This information may help researchers better understand how students with ADHD view their friendships compared to their peers, which may later help clinicians develop and modify social skills interventions and other supports for students.

We are looking for students in Grades 6, 7, or 8 (or the equivalent) who have completed standardized assessments (e.g., Iowa Assessments, Wechsler Assessments, CogAT, etc.) and would be interested in participating in our study. You will also be asked to provide demographic information about your child along with documentation of their cognitive ability (such as Iowa Assessment scores from school) and ADHD diagnosis. To participate, students will complete an online survey. The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

Participants who complete the study will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Principal Investigator (Staci Fosenburg, staci-fosenburg@uiowa.edu) for more information about how to participate in this study. Thank you!

Upcoming Professional Development

The Belin-Blank Center is offering a learning opportunity that many of you won’t want to miss!  From December 28 – January 13, educators (or parents) can enroll in EDTL:4096:0WKA Topics: Nurturing the Potential of Twice-Exceptional Students: Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Supporting 2e Students

The commonly-used term for gifted students who also have disabilities is “twice-exceptional,” a simple phrase that does little to suggest the complexities in meeting the needs of twice-exceptional (2e) learners.  Participants will explore ways of better understanding and meeting the needs of 2e students, including developing academic strengths and facilitating social-emotional growth.

Dr. Alissa Doobay, the Supervisor of Psychological Services at the Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic, will facilitate this class, giving participants an excellent opportunity to focus on the twice-exceptional learners important to them.

Professional Learning in Spring Semester 2017

The Spring 2017 schedule is available for you to review!  There is a full schedule of opportunities, including one-, two-, and three-semester hour classes.  Coursework is available in all of the strands required for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.

Learn more about registration as a Continuing Education student at the University of Iowa.  We welcome educators earning the endorsement, as well as anyone interested in the topics explored in our coursework.

Contact Dr. Laurie Croft with questions.

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.

How Can You Support Your Twice-Exceptional Kids?

On Thursday, February 4 from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m., the Belin-Blank Center will host a spring webinar focused on Nurturing the Potential of Twice-Exceptional Students: Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Supporting 2e Students. Presenters include

  • Alissa Doobay, Supervisor, Psychological Services, Assessment and Counseling Clinic, Belin-Blank Center
  • Joy Goins, Staff Psychologist, Assessment and Counseling Clinic, Belin-Blank Center
  • Megan Foley-Nicpon, Associate Director for Research and Clinic, Belin-Blank Center, and Associate Professor, Counseling Psychology Program
  • Susan Assouline, Director, Belin-Blank Center, and Myron & Jacqueline Blank Professor of Gifted Education

The commonly used term for gifted students who also have disabilities is “twice-exceptional,” a simple phrase that does little to suggest the complexities in meeting the needs of twice-exceptional (2e) learners. Participants will explore ways of better understanding and meeting the needs of 2e students, including developing academic strengths and facilitating social-emotional growth.

For those who are interested in earning academic credit, an optional one-semester-hour online workshop will build on the webinar. The academic credit (PSQF:5194:WKA), facilitated by Dr. Doobay and Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development and Clinical Associate Professor of Gifted Education, will fulfill an hour in the Psychology Strand required for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. The course will extend participants’ understandings of twice-exceptionality, as well as ways to better meet the needs of 2e students, and the content will complement the summer online workshop offered by Dr. Foley-Nicpon, Cognitive and Affective Needs of Gifted Students (PSQF:4126). Those who enroll for academic credit will receive a 50% tuition scholarship off the cost of graduate tuition.

For more information, or to register, visit belinblank.org/webinar.

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!

Coming to ITAG? Check Out Our IOAPA Presentations!

Governor Branstad has declared October 18-24 Gifted Education Week in Iowa in conjunction with the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association Annual Conference. This year’s ITAG conference will be held in Des Moines, Iowa on October 19-20, 2015 and is focused on the theme of “The Core Challenge: Building Options and Breaking Barriers”. IOAPA and the Belin-Blank Center are excited to share ways that the Belin-Blank Center rises up to the Core Challenge, and have several presentations related to this theme. Check out our presentation topics below (IOAPA presentations are marked with an *). We hope to see you there!

Monday, 10:00-10:50:

  • *Comparing Advanced Placement, Concurrent Enrollment, and PSEO for Iowa Students (Iowa C)
  • Academic Acceleration: Influencing Perceptions through Exposure (Boardroom 1 & 2)

Monday, 11:05-11:55:

  • Building Options with the Belin-Blank Center (Ballroom South)

Monday, 2:35-3:25:

  • *I Have an IOAPA Student…Now What? (Iowa C)
  • A Teacher’s Guide to Twice Exceptionality (Ballroom South)

Tuesday, 2:30-3:20:

  • Acceleration and STEM: Evidence Trumps Excuses for Holding Students Back (Iowa E)

Interested in all the options ITAG has to offer? View more information about the conference here. For more information about IOAPA, visit belinblank.org/ioapa.

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!

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:

Teens with ASD Invited to Participate

ASD Research StudyHigh ability teens with an ASD between the ages of 15 and 17 years old are invited to participate in a research study to investigate friendships and feelings of loneliness. Participation involves interviews with the teen, a parent, and a teacher or other school personnel and completing questionnaires. IQ testing may be involved to determine eligibility. The study will take anywhere from 1 to 4 hours of your time. No compensation available. Contact Amanda Berns: (319)448-0236, amanda-berns@uiowa.edu for more information.

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.

Message from the Director: The 4 “D’s” of Working With Highly Able Students

To fulfill our mission of “empowering and serving the gifted education community through exemplary leadership in programs, research, and advocacy,” the Belin-Blank Center relies on a 4-D service delivery model:

  • Discover individuals with high ability in a talent domain;
  • Develop the talent domain;
  • Describe, through research, the characteristics of individuals with high ability;
  • Disseminate, through writing and presentations, the results of our research and services.

Some months, it seems as though the Belin-Blank Center administrative staff and faculty are “disseminating” material on an almost daily basis.  Since the fall semester began, we have offered presentations both near (in the Blank Honors Center and on the UI campus) and far (Columbus, Ohio, at the Ohio Association for Gifted Children Conference).  Just a few days ago, the Belin-Blank Center administrative team disseminated our message at the Iowa Talented and Gifted Conference in Des Moines, and in early November, we’ll give more than a dozen presentations at the National Association for Gifted Children Conference (NAGC) in Indianapolis, IN.  In this issue of Vision, you’ll also read about five upcoming international presentations or workshops (The Netherlands, The Philippine Islands, Portugal, Australia, and India) that will be provided by Drs. Assouline, Croft, or Colangelo.

Of course, there is a lot of buzz, and a great deal of work, associated with the forthcoming Wallace Research and Policy Symposium (March 22-25, 2013).  Registration is now open!

Other “dissemination” products include the Gifted Child Quarterly special issue on twice-exceptionality, guest edited by Associate Professor Megan Foley Nicpon.  Usually a peer-reviewed journal is only accessible to the members of the professional organization; however, through the end of December, NAGC has made the special issue available for free download at http://gcq.sagepub.com/content/current.  In addition to the special issue on twice-exceptionality, NAGC has three new books on the core curriculum and gifted students including A Teacher’s Guide to Using the Common Core State Standards with Mathematically Gifted and Advanced Learners, co-authored by Professors Susan K. Johnsen, Gail R. Ryser, and Susan G. Assouline.

Stay tuned for the iBook release of Volume 1 of A Nation Deceived as well as the second edition of Packet of Information for Professionals (PIP-2), a comprehensive booklet that addresses the complex learning and socialization needs of high-ability students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a specific learning disorder (SLD), or an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

These dissemination products take a great deal of time and energy, but they are well worth the effort because they are so important in fulfilling our mission.  None of this would be possible without the tremendous commitment of the team of professionals – our faculty, administrative and clerical staff, and our undergraduate and graduate students.  I thank our staff for their dedication to serving high-ability students, their families, and the professionals who serve them.

Free Family Therapy for Gifted & 2E Families

We are seeking families interested in participating in free family therapy 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 now able to offer family therapy services to high-ability/twice-exceptional students and their families. Family therapy services will be provided by a team of advanced-level doctoral students in the CFT program under the direct supervision of Dr. Volker Thomas, director of 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 Volker Thomas at volker-thomas@uiowa.edu.

New Grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

logo.jkcfThe Jack Kent Cooke Foundation awarded a grant to the Belin-Blank Center that will provide scholarships to twice-exceptional students who attend the Center’s summer programs.  The scholarship will ensure that twice-exceptional students have access to enrichment and accelerative programming.  The grant also supports two graduate assistants and partial  support for a licensed psychologist to work with the summer program faculty and staff to enhance their professional development related to twice-exceptionality, as well as to make the necessary accommodations in the classroom and the residence halls.

As part of this effort we are updating the National Institute for Twice-Exceptionality (NITE) website and revising two important publications, the Packet of Information for Families (PIF) and the Packet of Information for Professionals (PIP).

Summer Scholarships for Twice-Exceptional Students Still Available!

The Belin-Blank Center is pleased to announce a wonderful opportunity for twice-exceptional students. The Center recently received a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to provide scholarships for twice-exceptional students to attend our summer programs.  If your child has been identified as twice-exceptional and is interested in one of our summer programs, we invite you to complete an online application for that program. Applications will be reviewed and you will be notified if your child has been selected to attend. The JKC Scholarship will cover all of the costs of the program. Funding is limited.

Twice-exceptional students are gifted and talented students with learning, behavioral, or social impairments, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), specific learning disabilities (SLD), and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These students are at significant risk in America’s schools because their disabilities often mask their academic potential. Twice-exceptional students are underrepresented in gifted and talented programs and rarely receive appropriate direct services in schools, which places these students at an academic and social disadvantage. For twice-exceptional students to flourish academically and socially, they must be appropriately identified and have access to programming opportunities that address both their gifts and their needs.

Please complete this form with information about your son/daughter and we will let you know if you qualify.

Practical Help for Parenting Children with Autism

DoobayJoin Belin-Blank Center Staff Psychologist Alissa Doobay on April 13th for a free workshop on parenting high-ability children with autism!  Attend the event in person if you’re in Iowa City, or you can participate via Webinar.

Dr. Doobay will present from 10 to 11:30 AM at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital.  Topics will include the characteristics and assessment of high-ability youth with autism, as well interventions that are appropriate for both the students’ talents and disability.

For questions or to register, please contact Lisa Kemmerer by April 8th at 319-467-5658 or lisa-kemmerer@uiowa.edu.

Parenting Twice-Exceptional Kids

ImageDr. Megan Foley Nicpon, a licensed psychologist and researcher at the Belin-Blank Center, recently hosted a seminar titled “Parenting Your Twice-Exceptional Child: Developing Talent and Accommodating Needs.” The slides from her presentation are available on the Center for Talent Development’s website.

Summer Scholarships for Twice-Exceptional Students

The Belin-Blank Center is pleased to announce a wonderful opportunity for twice-exceptional students. The Center recently received a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to provide scholarships for twice-exceptional students to attend our summer programs.  If your child has been identified as twice-exceptional and is interested in one of our summer programs, we invite you to complete an online application for that program. Applications will be reviewed and you will be notified if your child has been selected to attend. The JKC Scholarship will cover all of the costs of the program. Funding is limited.

On Being Twice-Exceptional

Twice-Exceptional

by Allison Hartman

I am Special.

I am one of

300,000 people

who are just like me,

but not like me.

We are each Unique and

Similar, in our own Special

Way.

Every single person

who is one of these

300,000 people.

But it seems next to none

of us can Speak.

But I can, which is why

I will raise my Voice

and Shout to the very

Skies Above

“These are the

300,000 people

who haven’t been Seen

who haven’t been Heard

who haven’t been Believed

In.

We are one person

But we are also

300,000 people

wanting to Speak Up

but never knowing How.

But I have Learned.

I have Struggled

and Fought

and Shouted to the very

Skies Above

because this is my Message.

I am Special.

I am one of

300,000 people

who will not wait Quietly

Any More.

We will demand to be Seen

to be Heard

to be Believed

In.

Listen to Me

and Listen to Them.

Because we are

300,000 people

who will Never

Back Down.

Not when we are

So Close.

We may seem Small to you

but we are Large in our Minds

and our Minds will Fuel

this next Generation.

Because the

300,000 people

are not Hiding

in the Shadows

Any More.

So Hear our Voices

See our Struggles

Believe In our Hopes

Believe In our Dreams.

We are

300,000 people

and we WILL change

the

very

WORLD.”

Allison Hartman is a twice-exceptional student from Muscatine, Iowa, currently a high school senior.  She is proud to be twice-exceptional and very passionate about advocating for twice-exceptionality.

“Journal of Best Practices” Author David Finch in Iowa City Tonight!

Join us for an evening with David Finch at 7:30 p.m. in the Pappajohn Business Building Auditorium (W10 PBB).

Following the talk, Mr. Finch will be available to sign books. Because of university rules, copies of the book will not be available for sale on site, but can be purchased in advance from Prairie Lights in Iowa City, one of the sponsors of the event.

Don’t Forget – Upcoming Talk on Asperger Syndrome and Marriage

If you’re free the evening of October 15th, join us for an evening with David Finch at 7:30 p.m., Pappajohn Business Building Auditorium (W10 PBB).

Following the talk, Mr. Finch will be available to sign books.  Because of university rules, copies of the book will not be available for sale on site, but can be purchased in advance from Prairie Lights in Iowa City, one of the sponsors of the event.

Giftedness & ADHD

“Just because you’re high ability or have academic talents doesn’t mean that everything else is automatically going to be okay. That is not always true, and we need more awareness about how to help these youth.”~Megan Foley Nicpon, counseling psychology assistant professor and Belin-Blank Center administrator.

Read more about University of Iowa researchers’ findings on giftedness and ADHD.

 

Mark Your Calendars – Upcoming Talk on Asperger Syndrome and Marriage

David Finch, a best-selling author with Asperger Syndrome, will be giving a talk in October about his recent book, The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband. Join us for a talk and book signing October 15th at 7:30 p.m., Pappajohn Business Building Auditorium (W10 PBB).

From his website:

Five years into his marriage, David and his wife Kristen learn that he has Asperger Syndrome.  The diagnosis explains David’s ever-growing list of quirks and compulsions, his lifelong propensity to quack and otherwise melt down in social exchanges, and his clinical-strength inflexibility, but it doesn’t make him any easier to live with. Determined to change, David sets out to understand Asperger Syndrome and learn to be a better husband– no easy task for a guy whose inability to express himself rivals his two-year-old daughter’s, who thinks his responsibility for laundry extends no further than throwing things in (or at) the hamper, and whose autism spectrum condition makes seeing his wife’s point of view a near impossibility.

 

B-BC in Gifted Child Quarterly

Megan Foley-Nicpon (Supervisor of Psychological Services at the Center’s Assessment and Counseling Clinic), Susan Assouline  (Associate Director), and Rebecca Stinson recently published an article in Gifted Child Quarterly.  The article, titled Cognitive and Academic Distinctions Between Gifted Students With Autism and Asperger Syndrome, examines differences in test scores and Verbal Comprehension Index scores between high ability students with autism and high ability students with Asperger Syndrome.

Jack Kent Cooke Grant Provides Scholarships for Twice-Exceptional Students

Through a generous grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKC), twice-exceptional students (high-ability students with a learning, behavior, or social-emotional disability) will have greater access to the Center’s summer programs.

There are two sessions of commuter programs for students in grades 2-6 that are two weeks in duration.  Examples of classes to be offered in 2012 include: Chemistry Exploration; Introduction to Advanced Math, A Writer’s Journey Via Memoir; Introduction to Geology, Paleontology, and Archeology. The Center also offers residential programs for students in grades 6-11.  The majority of these programs are one-week; however, we do have one highly selective program that is an intensive 6-week course in research and designed exclusively for highly-able high school science students.

JKC contacted the Center because we are home to the National Institute for Twice-Exceptionality (NITE). Founded in 2010-2011, NITE is a national resource for gifted twice-exceptional students.

In addition to the scholarships for twice-exceptional students, the grant will support professional training opportunities for pre-service psychologists and educators, practicing psychologists and educators, and parents who interact with gifted students who are twice-exceptional.  The grant will also allow us to update and maintain an electronic clearinghouse of resources on about twice-exceptionality.

This new grant will provide scholarships for twice-exceptional students to participate in enrichment programming at the Belin-Blank Center. Each year, the Belin Blank Center offers myriad academic programs and courses for students serving nearly 1,000 students per year. Since 1988, the Center has provided summer programming, offering a variety of courses for students in grades 2-11.

B-BC in Journal of Applied School Psychology

Psychologists working in the schools have another resource to use in their work to impact in new and exciting ways the services they provide to high ability students. A recent special issue of the Journal of Applied School Psychology (edited by Megan Foley Nicpon of the Belin-Blank Center and Steve Pfeiffer, Professor of School Psychology at Florida State University) exposes school psychologists to current paradigms within the gifted education field.  The purpose of the special issue, School Psychologists Serving the Gifted, was to facilitate increased communication and efforts to integrate services that benefit all children, including those with high ability and unique talents.

One of the influential articles within the journal was written by two Belin-Blank Center professionals: Susan Assouline, Associate Director, and Claire Whiteman, Licensed Psychologist and Clinic Supervisor. Their seminal article, Twice-Exceptionality: Implications for school psychologists in the post-IDEA 2004 era, emphasized school psychologists’ need to understand twice-exceptionality within the context of RtI and other current educational assessment and intervention techniques. This article, as well as the others within the special edition, is intended to influence how school psychologists conceptualize gifted education and twice-exceptionality.

Scholars from the Belin-Blank Center will continue to publish on these important issues in gifted education outlets as well as those from related fields, such as school psychology, to increase communication and collaboration to meet the needs of all gifted students.

B-BC Well-Represented in Journal of Applied School Psychology

The October-December 2011 Journal of Applied School Psychology was a special issue focusing on school psychologists who work with gifted students.  The issue was co-edited by the Belin-Blank Center’s Megan Foley Nicpon (who also co-authored the introduction to the issue).  Also in the special issue is an article on twice-exceptionality and its implications for school psychologists by the Center’s Susan Assouline and Claire Whiteman.

How Do You Predict Achievement in Twice-Exceptional Students?

The Belin-Blank Center’s Susan G. Assouline, Megan Foley Nicpon, and Lori Dockery recently published an article in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. In the article, “Predicting the Academic Achievement of Gifted Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” the authors report promising results for the WISC-IV Working Memory and Processing Speed Indices and the WISC Perceptual Reasoning Index as predictive of achievement for twice-exceptional students.

Twice-Exceptionality in the News

The following is an article about a gifted child diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome; this child was not assessed in our clinic and has no relationship to the Belin-Blank Center. It is, however, an amazing story we thought readers would enjoy!

For 12-year old astrophysics prodigy, the sky’s the limit