Category Archives: Twice-exceptionality

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.