School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Lucinda Spaulding


Asperger's Syndrome, Intellectually Gifted, Twice-exceptional, Autism, High-functioning Autism, Self-concept


Education | Educational Psychology


The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of students identified as intellectually gifted and having high functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome. The study was conducted in participants’ homes or other neutral locations of the participants’ preference. The theory guiding this study was Bandura’s social cognitive theory. The social cognitive theory explains the relationship between personal factors, environmental factors, and behavior. Specifically, the study used multiple sources of data collection including a parent or adult-student questionnaire, self-portrait, three reflection items, and semi-structured interviews to study how learning interventions for students’ learning challenges (autism) affect the self-concept of twice-exceptional students. Data analysis was conducted utilizing epoché, phenomenological reduction, imaginative variation, and meaning synthesizing. Twice-exceptional students’ lived-experiences are informed by their self-concepts, academic experiences, and social experiences. The most significant finding from the data is that students are receiving delayed diagnoses, which means delayed or absent services for their second, less evident, exceptionality. There are many potential implications for research and practice from this study, particularly, determining the incidence and prevalence of delayed diagnoses as well as gender-bias in diagnosing autism spectrum disorder.