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 helps twice exceptional children live up to their potential
The KLU way
Kids Like Us (KLU) supports twice-exceptional children and young people enrolled in education in Australia, to find their place where they feel understood and supported, and enables them to thrive in their academic and social lives. We do 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 will come 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 see 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 are the change that we wish 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.
Tombolo Academy was born.
Now, in 2021 as Tombolo Academy students and staff come to the end of the first year, it is time for the staff and Board to proceed as a separate entity. It is time to allow the young school to grow and thrive managed by its own Governance Board of Directors. Not without tears, Anne and Catherine along with others at Kids Like Us have stepped away from Tombolo Academy to continue their work at Kids Like Us Australia.
The next step, a 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. Following its mission, Kids Like Us will continue to actively seek to become the leading voice in twice-exceptionality within Australia. Alongside this, the support services in six fundamental areas will continue to grow, scaffold and influence parents, teachers, students, policymakers and those finding themselves in the tumultuous world of twice-exceptionality:
- Counselling and psychology
- Teaching and tutoring
- Social and Emotional group support
- Peer Support
- Parent individual and group support
We all look forward to continuing this critical journey with you, wherever you are.
Your support matters
Kids Like Us is not just another service provider. We are an organisation that was started by three young twice-exceptional young people who identified a need for a community of support for other kids like them across Australia.
In 2012 Jake and his two younger siblings had the idea to create a community-based organisation that would provide a place of understanding and support for 2e young people, provide resources for teachers to learn about the 2e students in their classroom, provide parents with the skills and direction they would need to support their young 2e person. Most of all provide a place of safety and connection where 2e young people could belong, feel safe and have fun.
These three incredible young people are now all young adults and on their own pathways in life. They remain on the Board and active members of the KLU 2e community, happy to share their journey's and lessons learnt along the way. They have created a community, a place where everyone is welcome and accepted for who they are and at whatever stage of the journey they are on.
We have gathered many friends along the way, some of whom can provide support by volunteering their skills and services, others by funding programs and projects. Others have shared their stories to support others. If you would like to contribute to the community in any way, then please get in touch via the contact us page.
Through our financial assistance program established in 2013, we have provided $150,000 of financial support to 2e young people who otherwise would not have been able to access the support they require.
If you can provide a financial contribution to fund other young people through our student financial assistance program or to fund the development and delivery of programs, then please donate here. We will provide you with a DGR receipt.