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Twice Exceptional

The identification of exceptional skills in school‐age autistic children: Prevalence, misconceptions and the alignment of informant perspectives. 2023. Abstract: Although autism is commonly described in terms of deficits, many autistic individuals have been found to demonstrate exceptional skills. The shift to a strengths‐based approach in the field of autism necessitates increased understanding of these skills. Aims This study examined (1) rates of exceptional skills in autistic school‐age children as reported by parents and teachers, (2) associations between exceptional skills, autism severity and intellectual disability and (3) correlations between parent and teacher reports of exceptional skills. Method Parents and teachers of 76 children attending autism‐specific schools in Australia completed online questionnaires. Thereafter, 35 parents and teachers who identified their child as having one or more exceptional skills were interviewed by a clinical psychologist. Results Forty parents (53%) and 16 (21%) teachers reported that their child had at least one exceptional skill (agreement between the parent and teacher reports was low; κ = .03, p = .74). In comparison, clinical psychologist assessments identified 22 children (29%) as having at least one such skill. No statistically significant relationships were identified between exceptional skills, autism severity and intellectual disability. Conclusion While different exceptional skills were identified, regardless of children's intellectual functioning or autism severity, parents and teachers varied substantially in their evaluations of these skills. Furthermore, the identified prevalence rates of exceptional skills did not always align with the rates identified in previous studies. The study findings highlight the need for definitional consensus on different types of exceptional skills, and the importance of multiple criteria/multi‐instrument approaches in the identification of exceptional skills in autistic children. Clark, T., Jung, J. Y., Roberts, J., Robinson, A., & Howlin, P. (2023). The identification of exceptional skills in school‐age autistic children: Prevalence, misconceptions and the alignment of informant perspectives. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities. Advance online publication.

Developmental Milestones as Early Indicators of Twice-Exceptionality. 2022. Researchers explored whether parent-reported developmental milestones could predict the number of disabilities diagnosed in an individual (including ADHD, ASD and learning disorders). They found that academic milestones were more predictive than motor milestones of a later diagnosis. They also found that male and lower socio-economic status were the most associated demographic characteristics of later diagnosis. They found that the most predictive of a later diagnosis was the age at which an individual began to count and read and to acquire speech. 

Understanding the Academic Success of Academically Talented College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2021. Researchers talk to university students with ASD and find that they benefited from advanced academic content, enriched learning opportunities, ability to focus on their areas of interest and choice in what they were learning. They also benefited from connections within a support system. The researchers argue for inclusion of talent development opportunities especially extracurricular activities as goals for 2e students. 

Twice-exceptional students: Review of implications for special and inclusive education. 2021. This literature review finds that the following are needed in order to ensure 2e students are able to access inclusive education: teacher preparation, a continuum of special education interventions, the need for collaboration with parents and specialists, and teachers need to focus on developing strengths as much as mediating difficulties. 

Parenting for strengths: Embracing the challenges of raising children identified as twice exceptional. 2021. Authors discuss how parents can find educational opportunities for their 2E children. 

Profiles and academic trajectories of cognitively gifted children with autism spectrum disorder. 2019. This secondary data analysis finds that 2e students show higher initial levels of academic performance compared to their peers; they also improve over time relative to their counterparts. They also use mental health services more than their counterparts. 

Non-cognitive Characteristics of Gifted Students With Learning Disabilities: An In-depth Systematic Review. 2018. This meta-analysis looked at 23 publications related to 2e kiddos. They found that these children had high levels of negative emotions, low self-perception, and adverse interpersonal relationships, alongside high levels of motivation, coping skills and perseverance. These students were also likely to exhibit a high degree of frustration with the academic situation.

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