These are the dissertations of the inaugural doctoral degrees (Ed.D.) awarded in 2022.
Parent advocacy is paramount in the trajectory of their twice-exceptional (2e) children’s lives. However, a review of literature shows that parents are stressed as they strive to protect their children’s giftedness and support their disabilities. The purpose of this qualitative research study will be to explore parent experiences and responses to the assessment process of their children as they move through the stages of advocacy. The four stages of advocacy are (a) parents are aware, (b) parents seek knowledge, (c) parents present the case, and (d) parents monitor progress (Duquette et al., 2011). This study provides a body of knowledge through case studies that address the complexity of issues that parents face as advocates of their 2e children in our current educational system. The parents’ heartwarming and heartbreaking stories were collected in semi-structured, in-depth interviews. Pseudonyms were used. Qualitative research methods of inductive analysis as defined by Saldaña (2021) were used to collect data for analysis and interpretation. Within-case and cross-case analysis further identified emerging themes across rich, thick data. The results show that when parents are supported to raise their 2e children with a positive psychology pedagogy, their 2e children receive appropriate supports for their dual diagnoses. Without the proper supports in place due to missed or misdiagnosis during the assessment process, 2e children are at risk for maladjustment and for health problems later in life. However, when parents are supported to understand their 2e children through the lens of a positive psychology pedagogy, their 2e children thrive. More specifically, the focus of this study explores how parents shift towards a strength-based, talent focused model of education following the assessment process of their 2e children from the deficit-based model that is currently in place in our educational and medical systems today. It is hoped that the results of this study, which is based on findings gleaned from the parents’ stories, will guide other parents, educators, specialists, and licensed professionals who advocate for 2e children to live their magic.
Using Games to Build Positive Self-Identity for Twice-Exceptional Learners
This capstone project addresses a major problem of practice in the field of twice-exceptional education, and after examining the literature and identifying a gap in services to promote a positive self-identity, proposes a workable solution.
Twice-exceptional students are unique, out-of-the-box thinkers who must be afforded the tools to explore their learning differences, capabilities, diversities, and layers of cultural, intellectual, creative, and emotional selves to build a positive identity. When identity development is supported early, these students have the promise of a foundation, enabling them to seek the environments that will help them thrive and learn coping strategies for the obstacles and hurdles they will inevitably face. To support this critical issue this project includes the development of two games that are grounded in literature and field-tested with twice-exceptional Students.
The Hand You Were Dealt Game: Exploring Diverse Minds™ is a card game that explores the asynchronous attributes of twice-exceptional students. The purpose of this game is to foster a positive self-awareness of both their academic and social strengths and obstacles. The Game of School; A Learning Journey™ is about providing twice-exceptional students a simulated experience through a school year. The purpose of this game is to get students to openly talk about their issues as they journey through the game board in a fun and engaging way.
This paper describes the theoretical framework underlying each of the games and the process by which these games were developed. It concludes with the projected value of the project and next steps to support the use of these games.
Shifting Paradigms: A Study Examining the Current Perspectives on Bright Students with Challenges and their Need for a Strength-Based Approach in Kuwait Schools
Recently, educational systems have been developed in several countries to improve the existing educational systems. Although many teachers are involved in different educational programs around the globe, general education is not the optimal option to serve all different types of students’ needs (Baum et al., 2017). Thus, there must be another approach to reach gifted students in general and talented students with learning disabilities to assist them in meeting their needs and excelling in their interest areas.
This study aimed to examine teachers’ perspectives of the strength-based approach as a method to support these students, acknowledge their differences, and set the right educational plans for them accordingly. This study examines the relationships between teachers’ perspectives, including their teaching experience and how they view this approach, and its impact on students with their different individual models. This study uses qualitative analysis to know teachers’ and admin perspectives about this approach through various interviews with teaching staff by asking them questions designed to cover the purpose of the study.
The teaching and admin staff interviewed are from different backgrounds, and teaching experience taught in Kuwait for several years. This will vary the perspectives as much as possible to have a holistic idea about the research questions. The results of this study will indicate the detailed view of educators and administrators’ support for the strength-based approach and its application in Kuwait; thus, researcher(s) can proceed in applying this approach to all types of students to gain the optimal outcome out of them. With the support of teaching staff in different schools worldwide, this study can promote using this approach with students for better educational experiences and overcoming different types of challenges encountered by each student individually and as a group.
Bringing It Forward: Identifying International Schools’ Needs to Effectively Support 2e Learners
Every human life has the right to an education and an environment that ensures the possibility of reaching self-actualization and self-fulfillment. Human diversity is vast, yet up until now, education systems have focused on equality of education rather than on equity of education. Equity is viewed through the lens of the whole child, taking into consideration not only socioeconomic differences, but also a unique set of cognitive, social, and emotional attributes, along with a complex mix of strengths and difficulties that comprise learning profiles. Schools, communities, countries, and humanity desperately need a shift of focus to move forward.
The purpose of this dissertation was to identify the needs within the international school community to promote the development of an ethos that celebrates neurodiversity and enhances twice-exceptional students’ holistic growth. Through this research, the international school community was provided with the opportunity to showcase what they already know and do and to clarify areas of need to become a more inclusive and 2e supportive learning community. More specifically, the researchers recognized perceptions, knowledge, and practices, analyzing common needs throughout diverse international schools, and providing a future research discussion to guide schools forward as they navigate support for their 2e populations.
This dissertation explored and identified key themes and elements that surround the twice-exceptional literature and its complexity, and developed a needs assessment survey grounded on a review of literature and a series of qualitative interviews with experts in the field of twice-exceptionality and international school education. The survey, applied at multiple international school sites, provided data about the professional needs within the international school community. Methods of data collection included questionnaires targeting school leaders such as directors of learning, who are responsible for guiding curriculum and learning within their schools. The data obtained from these surveys were examined to provide a discussion to guide future research and the implementation of best practices.
Those who are cognitively diverse often experience years of discrimination throughout their lives, discrimination that has a profound effect on their mental health and career trajectories. As the neurodivergent label grows to include more than autistic individuals, the Neurodiversity Movement also grows stronger and corporations are taking notice. A talent pool of neurodivergent adults is emerging and yet they are hitting systemic barriers (e.g. entrance into the talent pool, the interview processes, onboarding and integration, and corporate culture) that place them at a disadvantage within the workplace environment. In order to address these barriers, I have created deliverable modules for the corporate environment that introduce accurate terminology, share the strengths of various neurological profiles, and build awareness and acceptance of the neurodivergent mind; all of which ultimately impact future policy by opening doors that have been historically difficult to access. My community partner is NeuroGuides, a non-profit organization that works with neurodivergent adults and trains corporate leadership worldwide in moving from a simple diversity model to true inclusivity and universal design.
When access to needed resources and a psychologically safe learning environment are contingent upon a twice-exceptional student’s ability or inability to change, they are devalued and marginalized. The unique stories and dignity of twice-exceptional students are often dismissed as school experiences become riddled with misunderstanding, underachievement, and suffering. These students and their families navigate the unique and murky waters of giftedness and learning differences, feeling unsupported as they endure the intensities of living in survival mode for prolonged periods of time. The impact of these stressful experiences can be profound for the student and their families.
This qualitative study was designed to explore and describe the stress associated with the educational experiences of twice-exceptional students who have had difficult or traumatic experiences in school. The investigation included perspectives of the student, their parents, and their siblings. Delving into their stories revealed the effects of struggling to learn and not reaching potential in and out of school with particular attention paid to environments that fuel an anxious existence and underachievement.
The purpose of this study was to bring attention to the significant adverse impact of toxic stress and resulting educational trauma on twice-exceptional students and their families by capturing and conveying their stories. The proposed method for data collection was case study research consisting of student, parent, and sibling questionnaires followed by semi-structured interviews. The intended impact of this study was to illuminate the intersection of stress and learning, and the following themes emerged: issues with access to appropriate learning environments; difficult lived experiences of family members; and influence of experiences on emotional, behavioral, social, and mental health.
This capstone endeavors to answer the question, “How might a book on micro-schools inspire experienced educators wishing to invest in equitable education models to open micro-schools that serve twice-exceptional children using a strength-based approach in their respective regions?” At this time, private and/or independent school and other learning environments designed for twice-exceptional children are priced above what most families can afford, if they exist in their region at all. An awareness and understanding of twice-exceptional children is emerging and gaining speed quickly. However, appropriate and accessible services designed for these children remain scarce. Micro-schools are an important aspect to solving equity issues that plague the current educational paradigm. They are accessible by design, and agile in their ability to provide targeted, specialized services to families with twice-exceptional children. The standard of education found to be most effective for twice-exceptional students is rooted in strength-based, humanistic pedagogy. In her seminal book, To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled (Baum, et. al. 2017) (in other words, twice-exceptional), Dr. Susan Baum outlines five characteristics essential to a learning environment designed for twice-exceptional children. Those are; a psychologically safe environment, flexible timelines for academic growth, allowances for asynchronous development, the opportunity to forge positive relationships, and incorporation of a strength-based, talent focused philosophy. (Baum, et. al., 2017) The purpose of this capstone project was to illustrate the ways in which micro-schools are inherently positioned to offer twice-exceptional students access to the equitable, pedagogically sound, and loving learning environment they deserve. strength-based, talent-development philosophies are the driving theoretical framework for this capstone. (Baum, et. al., 2014) It is the goal of this capstone project to inspire experienced educators wishing to invest in equitable education models to open micro-schools to serve twice-exceptional children in their respective regions.
Interventions for adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have been slow in development, particularly in comparison to interventions for children. Although there has been a growing trend in therapy, coaching, and utilization of peer support groups for adults who have ADHD and ADHD + Twice Exceptionality (2e) [ADHD + 2e], there is not a one size fits all method that works for adults. Further, the literature is lacking in strength-based approaches to meet the needs of adults with ADHD and ADHD +2e. One area in particular where support has been scarce is with the implications of ADHD on relationships particularly romantic partnerships, where the impacts are on both the partner with ADHD and the non-ADHD partner. The purpose of this capstone project is to design a framework that can be applied to couples impacted by ADHD through the development of a strength-based intervention using Psychoeducation and Experiential-Learning delivered through Support Services (PELSS). For the purpose of this capstone project, a partnership was created with the community partner, Neon Brain to develop and execute this plan. Using the combination of PELSS to provide interventions can develop lifelong skills which can be applied across all situations and environments. The design of the methodology in this capstone project will teach skills to develop healthy partnerships in real-time through psychoeducation and experiential learning. The ultimate goal is to help partners identify the strengths and challenges of each partner and the partnership as a whole. Careful consideration was given to interesting engaging learning experiences while providing different methods to meet varying learning styles and needs. This capstone project is designed to promote positive experiences for couples impacted by ADHD and ADHD + 2e, yielding more successful outcomes in skill development, developing new healthy habits, and facilitating more sustainable outcomes for these couples.
Keywords: ADHD, 2e, strength-based, psychoeducation, experiential-learning, couples impacted by ADHD