If you have found this site, you are seeking information about Australian twice-exceptional (2e) young people. Unfortunately, Kids Like Us closed its doors at the end of December 2022.
More information about supporting twice-exceptional young people in Australia can be found at 2e Hub Ltd.
To find out more click here
Twice Exceptional is...
1. Demonstrating the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains such as: maths, science, technology, the social arts, the visual, spatial, or performing arts, or other areas of human endeavour.
2. Manifesting one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria. These disabilities include: specific learning disabilities; speech and language disorders, emotional/behavioural disorders, physical disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), or other neurological differences, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The unique combinations of formidable abilities and disabilities cause dissonance in traditional educational environments, leading to potential failure and emotional distress.
Many students slip under the radar as the two opposing characteristics mask each other, leading to being misunderstood.
Kids Like Us helped twice exceptional children live up to their potential
The KLU way
Kids Like Us (KLU) supported twice-exceptional children and young people enrolled in education in Australia, to find a place where they felt understood and supported, and enabled them to thrive in their academic and social lives. We did this through a comprehensive range of services, including wellbeing, counselling, psychology, 1:1 tutoring, small group social skills, small group homework support, holiday programs and in-school advocacy.
All children came to KLU with different experiences, however, it might sound something like: “I find school challenging sometimes"..."I miss social cues"... "I can’t solve the maths problem my teacher gave me"... "the words on the page make no sense"... " I know the answer, I know the words to use, I just can't arrange them to come out in the right order"... "I'm bored"... "no-one else is like me"... I'm dumb"..."I'm not worth it"
Yet, "I know I am clever"... "I am a talented artist"... "I am a talented sportsperson", or "perhaps even a gifted up-and-coming junior chef".. "I'm passionate about..."
These two things clash – my challenges and my gifts and this means "I am often misunderstood by my teachers"... "I may not ‘fit’ with my peers and it’s really hard to be me.”
We saw it as part of our responsibility as the leading 2e organisation in Australia to also help spread understanding and awareness of our 2e students, in the hope that we lead the change that we wished we had when we were on our own schooling journeys.
In 2012 when Jake and his two younger siblings imagined the organisation that became Kids Like Us they envisaged an organisation where people understood the unique talents and needs of the special group of young people, now defined as twice-exceptional (2e).
Kids Like Us began offering services, primarily as after-school programs, from its headquarters in Beaumaris initially to help 2e kids to understand their strengths, to better deal with their challenges and to be able to share those experiences with others in their cohort.
It soon became apparent that while the after-school programs added value to and enriched the lives of the 2e young people and their families, for many the struggle in the school environment continued to present a real challenge. The lack of understanding of the unique needs of a 2e person made assimilation into a standard school system difficult. For many the daily challenge was overwhelming.
In 2016 Anne and Catherine contemplated the task of establishing a school where all staff understood, scaffolded, and supported the unique learning challenges that face many 2e students on a daily basis. Separate and self-sufficient it was to be a non-standard school that ensured staff maximized the strengths of every student. A school that, rather than separating 2e students from the world, instead taught self-understanding, self-advocacy skills and passion to enable the young people to seek and harness the best that future mainstream schools and life could provide. Such students would not be seen as disabled, but rather as assets to society and the world.
Tombolo Academy was thus conceived.
Loosely based on the ideals of Bridges Academy in California, Catherine and Anne developed the school and its future mission. Under Catherine’s artful direction a small team was established to bring to life Anne’s vision of a unique inclusive strength-based 2e education in Australia. The process took four years of intense public and private scrutiny to obtain accreditation as a school. The 2e-ness of the school was documented, considered, and then accepted by all the relevant authorities. The doors were opened to the first group of secondary-school 2e students in February 2021.
In September of 2021 Tombolo Academy Board decided to break away from Kids Like Us and the original intention of twice-exceptional education to continue on its own path.
The next step, the crucial mountain to scale, is one where Kids Like Us Australia develops resources and disseminates knowledge to ensure that all 2e young people, Australia-wide, have the broad range of supports they need to flourish. Kids Like Us became the leading voice in twice-exceptionality within Australia.
Then in December 2022 Kids Like Us closed its doors to providing its intense service delivery programs. The lifetime of knowledge and understanding into this unique cohort of young people has been continued through reasearch and study. This will lead to new resources becoming availble to anyone in Australia and the World, who has an interest in twice-exceptional young people.