A college journey at the University of Iowa embraces meaningful academic experiences and the development of a host of important skills that includes independence, social-emotional maturity, effective communication, and career readiness. The Belin-Blank Center's Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is a new program that partners with neurodiverse college students to foster and support these experiences and skills and enhance community engagement as an Iowa Hawkeye.

Through the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, we strive to ensure that neurodiverse students (specifically those with Autism Spectrum Disorder or identify as Autistic) have a positive and fulfilling college experience through a focus on nurturing students’ talents while also creating a sense of community and helping students connect with resources from the Belin-Blank Center, the University of Iowa, and the broader community. The framework of our support structure covers the areas of adaptive living skills, executive functioning skills, and social-communication skills.

About the Academy

The Belin-Blank Center, founded in 1988, is built upon a comprehensive mission grounded in leadership, advocacy, and research. The Center is nationally and internationally known for its support of talented and gifted students and their educators. The reputation of the Center was earned through research symposia; staff presentations at state, national, and international events; collaborative efforts with other leaders in the field; and a premier assessment and counseling clinic for gifted and twice-exceptional students. We have an impressive history of cutting-edge research related to talented and gifted students with a focus on diversity, including neurodiversity, academic acceleration, and twice-exceptionality.

Our student programming, clinic services, and research expertise are the foundation for the programming and services that are being developed for this pilot year of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality. We are uniquely qualified to develop and administer this newly-formed academy. In fact, much of the research on twice-exceptionality, particularly of students diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, has been conducted at the Belin-Blank Center.

One aspect of our mission is offering specialized educational opportunities for students. You will find that the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality has been established as such, but with the unique needs of twice-exceptional students kept in the forefront. It offers friendship, in addition to academic, community, and psychosocial support. As a student-centered institution, the Belin-Blank Center aims to provide structure, support, and understanding for talented and gifted twice-exceptional first-year students at the University of Iowa through the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality.

When students feel connected to a campus community, success follows. The Belin-Blank Center will foster a sense of community within the Academy while here at the University of Iowa. Because of our rich research agenda that includes twice-exceptionality, the expertise at the Center is a key benefit for the participants. Other key benefits focus on a support structure that addresses adaptive living skills, executive functioning skills, and social/communication skills. Highlights of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality include:

  • Automatic acceptance into the Honors Program
  • Collaboration with the Student Disabilities Services
  • Weekly connections with Belin-Blank Center staff
  • Guidance with self-advocacy and communicating with professors
  • Assistance with connections to university-based supports, resources, and clubs/organizations
  • Cohort-based university housing arrangement
  • Skill and strategy guidance (e.g., organization, problem solving, working with a group)
  • Fostering of coping and relaxation skills
  • Initiating participation in the aspects of a community

A benefit of the Academy also extends to parents/guardians of the participants. They are afforded the opportunity to meet and partner with specific members of the Belin-Blank Center team who will work with their child. It is our hope that this makes the campus seem a bit smaller. Parents/guardians will receive regular communication and updates on student progress.

December & January - Rolling application review
January 20th - Deadline to apply
February & March - Interviews (candidates and families)
Mid-April - Decisions finalized and communicated
August (typically the 3rd week) 22 - Welcome events for first-year students/First day of classes

How to Apply

Am I Eligible?

To be eligible to apply you must:

  • Possess a high school degree
  • Be a University of Iowa student (first year, transfer, and current students are welcome to apply)
  • Be a neurodivergent student with very high academic potential (twice-exceptional) as defined below
  • Have an academic profile commensurate with the Honors Program at the University of Iowa
  • Possess a student profile that would benefit from all (or a portion of) our stated support areas (academics, independence, and social-emotional)
  • Consider the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality a match for you!

Although it is not a requirement, students are strongly encouraged to register with Student Disability Services at the University of Iowa.

Definition of 2E Students by Sally Reis, Susan Baum, and Edith Burke (2014):
Twice-exceptional learners are students who demonstrate the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains such as math, science, technology, the social arts, the visual, spatial, or performing arts or other areas of human productivity AND who manifest one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria. These disabilities include specific learning disabilities; speech and language disorders; emotional/behavioral disorders; physical disabilities; Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); or other health impairments, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). These disabilities and high abilities combine to produce a unique population of students who may fail to demonstrate either high academic performance or specific disabilities. Their gifts may mask their disabilities and their disabilities may mask their gifts.

Identification of twice-exceptional students requires comprehensive assessment in both the areas of giftedness and disabilities, as one does not preclude the other. Identification, when possible, should be conducted by professionals from both disciplines and when at all possible, by those with knowledge about twice exceptionality in order to address the impact of co-incidence/co-morbidity of both areas on diagnostic assessments and eligibility requirements for services.

Educational services must identify and serve both the high achievement potential and the academic and social-emotional deficits of this population of students. Twice-exceptional students require differentiated instruction, curricular and instructional accommodations and/or modifications, direct services, specialized instruction, acceleration options, and opportunities for talent development that incorporate the effects of their dual diagnosis.

Twice-exceptional students require an individual education plan (IEP) or a 504 accommodation plan with goals and strategies that enable them to achieve at a level and rate commensurate with their abilities. This comprehensive education plan must include talent development goals, as well as compensation skills and strategies to address their disabilities and their social and emotional needs.

The Application Process

The application process for the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality consists of an on-line application and an interview. The interview is best viewed as an "exploratory conversation" that will include students and their parent(s)/guardian(s). The exploratory conversation is very informal in nature and meant to be assist in determining if the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is a good fit for you. Applicants will receive the questions covered during the conversation in advance.

Applicants will have to show documentation that they are twice-exceptional. Examples of documentation include an IEP from a school district or a psychological evaluation report. 

The Matching Process

Each applicant will be considered individually. The stated eligibility requirements will serve as the framework for our staff as they review and discuss each application. The guiding question during this process will be, “Is the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality the best match for an individual student’s profile, scholastic plans, and interests?” Because we are seeking a true working relationship with you and your family, the applications will be subject to a comprehensive and student-centered review process.

Within 2–3 weeks of receiving your application, you will be contacted about its status and arrangements for a possible exploratory conversation.

Information Sessions

Meet our staff and have your questions answered in person. Sign up for one of our information sessions!

Spring 2024

06:30PM CST

06:30PM CST

06:30PM CST
On Campus*

* Families should sign-up for a Junior Hawkeye Visit Day at https://admissions.uiowa.edu/junior-hawkeye-visit-days-spring-2024. When you are completing the form, make a note in the "Special Notes" section that you plan on meeting the Twice-Exceptional Academy team. Families will meet the team for lunch at the Burge Dining Hall private dining room for an overview of the Twice-Exceptional Academy.

After You're Accepted


The fee associated with the services, programming, and staffing provided by the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality is $2000 per semester. The Belin-Blank Center does NOT want the fee to present a financial burden. Families can contact the Center to discuss potential scholarships/financial aid support. You will receive information from the University of Iowa regarding the fees associated with tuition and, if applicable, room/board.

Daily Life

In addition to the unique components of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality, its participants are afforded all of the benefits, services, and opportunities of being on campus at the University of Iowa. For students new to Iowa, these are highlighted and detailed during your “Orientation Day for Incoming Students” experience.

It is a goal of the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality to assist you in discovering and accessing university services and resources that are right for you. 

More information on student life here at the University of Iowa can be found here: https://admissions.uiowa.edu/student-life

Program Requirements

Students who are accepted into the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality are expected to participate in the Support-based Components and the Extra-Curricular-based Components that set it apart from a typical student experience. These will be detailed more fully in the “Welcome Packet” students and families will receive. The Academy for Twice-Exceptionality's components include:

Support-based Components:
  • Attend weekly individual meeting with a Belin-Blank Center graduate student
  • Attend group workshops for the Academy of Twice-Exceptionality
  • Register with the University of Iowa Student Disabilities Center (strongly encouraged)
  • Set achievable goals (academic and personal)
  • Understand that the Belin-Blank Center will communicate with parents/guardians via email
Extra-Curricular-based Components:
  • Participate in at least one university extracurricular
  • Participate in scheduled events for the Academy for Twice-Exceptionality cohort

Frequently Asked Questions

Coming soon!

Apply Now!

Ready to shape your own college experience? Get in touch at 2e-academy@belinblank.org or start your application to take the next step.

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