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University of Iowa News Release


June 24, 2009

Belin-Blank Center hosts institute on 'twice exceptionality' June 25-26

Many people are unaware that students who are gifted can also experience a range of cognitive and learning disabilities such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as twice exceptionality.

More than 100 faculty, staff, students and community members will examine this issue when the University of Iowa College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development hosts the Fifth Biennial Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute (B-BALI) Thursday and Friday, June 25-26, at the Iowa Memorial Union. This year's focus is "Twice Exceptionality: Examined & Explained."

Registration is still open to all interested persons on-site, not just those in the field of education until June 25. For institute costs and more information, call conference coordinator Jerilyn Fisher at 319-335-6148 or visit

Nicholas Colangelo, director of the Belin-Blank Center, said it is critical to explore this issue since many people have misconceptions about students who are twice exceptional.

"Twice-exceptional students are gifted students who also have a disability that impacts their learning and their lives," Colangelo said. "When left undiagnosed, their disabilities often mask their remarkable potential, and simultaneously, their exceptional abilities can often disguise their difficulties."

"Twice Exceptionality: Examined & Explained" will address issues of importance to administrators, educators, graduate students and parents of twice-exceptional learners. Experts will present on gifted learners who are also affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, Specific Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as well as learners with hearing and/or visual impairments.

The institute will also examine many of the characteristics of these unique learners, as well as how many of their needs can be effectively accommodated, Colangelo said. Participants will learn about educational strategies for twice-exceptional students regarding social-emotional development, underachievement, coping skills and transition issues.

Prior to the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute, there will be the optional Pre-Institute, entitled "Paradox of Giftedness and Autism." The pre-Institute will be from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, June 25. UI psychologists Megan Foley Nicpon (left) and Claire Whiteman (right), both experts on twice exceptional students with diagnoses within the Autism Spectrum, will present to participants on aspects unique to this group of learners. Registration for the pre-institute is from 8 to 9 a.m. June 25 at the IMU.

The complete schedule can be viewed at

For more information on the Belin-Blank Center, visit

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Those who are interested in covering any facet of the institute can call 319-335-6148.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nicholas Colangelo, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6148,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,