School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Gail Collins


Twice-exceptional, Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Self-attribution Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, Academically or Intellectually Gifted




The purpose of this qualitative multi-case-study was to shed light on the lived experiences of students in sixth through twelfth grade who are identified with an autism spectrum disorder and academically or intellectually gifted. Four students along with his/her parents and teachers participated in this study. Each student and his/her parent(s) and teachers formed one case. The problem that this study sought to examine was the lived educational experiences of twice-exceptional students who have autism spectrum disorder and are academically gifted. The central research question addressed how students in sixth through twelfth grade who are identified with autism spectrum disorder and academically and intellectually gifted viewed their educational experiences. Theoretically, the study was based on Heider’s attribution theory and Bandura’s social cognitive theory as they explain how these students view themselves as they attach meaning to the behavior of others towards them. All data for each case were first analyzed individually before cross-case analyses were conducted, grounded in the work of Yin. Five themes emerged from the analyzed data. The major emergent themes of this study were (a) social interactions, (b) masking giftedness, (c) student achievement, (d) feelings about the school, and (e) access to resources. Overall students were happy at school and had a group of friends that they used for emotional support. Students also identified teachers that they liked and enjoyed. Recommendations include a call for further research in regard to the way twice-exceptional students experience the education system in order to gain more insight.

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