Thursday, November 20, 2014

2e I, II, III... and More

2e I. Jen the blogger has a nice piece at Laughing at Chaos titled "To Be Both Normal and Extraordinary." She muses on the dual nature of 2e kids -- extraordinary but normal -- and how "the only way our kids, all of our kids, are going to thrive is if we celebrate their extraordinariness while we simultaneously treat it as the most normal thing in the world." Find the blog

2e II. Eric Parsons, at the site of the Center for Talent Development writes about "non-normative behaviors." Recognize those? The gifted behaviors? The LD-based behaviors? The "nerd" label? The "outsider" feeling? He notes a sliver lining, how "Through linguistic re-appropriation and public forums unconstrained by geography, robust communities of self identified ‘nerds’, ‘geeks’, ‘weirdos’ etc. have developed around one key principle: enthusiastically pursuing and sharing interests without regard for prevailing socio-cultural norms." In other words, as Jen said above, "normal." Find the post

2e III. "Why We Should Stop Worrying if Other People Like Our Kids" is a Huffington Post blog by Lisa Abeyta, mother of two 2e kids, which she says is "is usually a daily adventure into the unknown, especially when a child is young -- because the exceptionalities are rarely identified. leaving parents a bit off kilter as they struggle to understand their child's unique approach to life." She tells a very uncomfortable story -- very uncomfortable to any parent -- in which she does something any parent will cheer. She writes, " I have... come to understand that it is so not my job to make my kid feel defective because he doesn't fit in the right box," and she has stopped worrying whether others are comfortable around her kid. Find the post


SCOOPED! We just finished writing up an NAGC session we attended by Matthew Fugate of Purdue University. The topic: giftedness, ADHD, and creativity. But Scott Barry Kaufman, writing at the site of Scientific American, has already addressed the study by Fugate that was core to his presentation. Here's the Kaufmann article -- but we'll add some details in our session write-up, coming soon. 

EXERCISE AND ADHD. We've blogged recently about the positive effects of exercise on cognitive functioning. An article at the site of the Child Mind Institute reflects on the results of one of those studies. Find the article.
ADHD AND MARKETING. A researcher describes five reasons for the global surge in ADHD diagnosis. Of the five, three have to do with "marketing." Read more.
"OWNING" DYSLEXIA. The organization Understood presents a webinar on Friday the 21st at noon ET titled "Why It's Important to Help Kids 'Own' Their Dyslexia." Find out more.
CONFERENCE TIP. A steadfast member of the 2e community suggests that readers here might be interested in the International Conference on Thinking, scheduled for June 29 through July 3, 2015, in Spain. She says, "There is a strong education strand and some excellent speakers: Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, Edward De Bono, David Perkins, Robert Swartz, Art Costa, and many more." Find out more.
AND FINALLY, THIS -- FOR YOU. That's right, for you gifted parents or educators or counselors of the gifted. A 40-year longitudinal study indicates that profoundly gifted men and women measure success differently by the time they reach mid-life. Results of the study, from Vanderbilt University, show how the men and women have achieved, spent their careers, been paid, spent their time, and "invested" in family. So see how your peers report in on their lives. (Although you, O Gifted Reader, may be somewhat younger than the roughly 50 years of age enjoyed by the study participants.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Medications, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Video Games, and More

ONE DRUG OR TWO is the title of an article in The New York Times, which starts with the situation of a five-year old already on ADHD meds whose mother is considering adding an anti-psychotic because of the boy's difficult behavior. "In 2012 about one in 54 youngsters ages 6 through 17 covered by private insurance was taking at least two psychotropic medications," says the article. If your family is on the threshold of multiple drugs -- or if you have a concern about medications in kids -- read this article.

PSYCHIATRISTS are the ones who prescribe anti-psychotics and other meds used by 2e kids -- but psychiatrists are increasingly difficult to gain access to, one reason being their relative scarcity, especially for child psychiatrists. Find out why in an article at TheConversation.com.

ON THE TOPIC OF MEDS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has evidently expressed "concern" that two generic versions of Concerta are not therapeutically equivalent to the branded drug. It's something to know about if your 2e kiddo is taking one of the generics.

DON'T LIKE MEDS? Maybe you can treat ADHD with food. That's the topic of an upcoming free ADDitude webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 19 at 1 pm ET. A blurb for the webinar says that the topics covered will include:
  • Foods that can help improve your mood, memory, motivation, and focus
  • How an elimination diet can help manage ADHD symptoms in children
  • Four simple steps to recognizing "good" and "bad" foods.
Find out more. Also from ADDitude, an article called "ADHD and Depression: Diagnosing, Treating, and Managing a Dual Diagnosis"; find it.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING is the topic of a recent article on the site of the Davidson Institute. It's titled "Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning -- What Is It, Why We Need It, and How Parents Can Support Our Children's Development." Find the article. Separately, researchers at New York University say that an educational approach focused on the development of children’s executive functions -- the ability to avoid distractions, focus attention, hold relevant information in working memory, and regulate impulsive behavior --improved academic learning in and beyond kindergarten. A write-up of the study notes that because some effects were especially pronounced in high-poverty schools, the findings hold promise for closing the poverty-related achievement gap and suggest that an emphasis on executive functions in kindergarten may reduce poverty-linked deficits in school readiness. Find the writeup.

DEPRESSION in preschoolers changes the brain, in particular the right anterior insula, an area involved in emotion, perception, self-awareness and cognitive function, according to a press release about a research study. The researchers note that their findings could provide a biomarker for those at risk for the recurrence of depression as well as clues for the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Find out more. Separately, other research indicates that major depressive disorder could be thought of as an infectious disease caused by parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Researcher Tuhan Canli, Ph.D., provides three reasons for his reconceptualization of MDD. First, he points out that patients with MDD exhibit illness behavior such as loss of energy, and that inflammatory biomarkers in MDD also suggest an illness-related origin. Second, he describes evidence that parasites, bacteria and viruses infect humans in a way that alters their emotional behavior. Thirdly, he introduces the notion of the human body as an ecosystem for microorganisms and the role of genetics. Find out more. Separately again, researchers at Mt. Sinai school of medicine have proposed a new model for depression. According to this model, the brain’s ability to effectively deal with stress or to lack that ability and be more susceptible to depression depends on a single protein type in each person’s brain. The Mount Sinai study findings challenge the current thinking about depression and the drugs currently used to treat the disorder, for example the mechanisms involving serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Read more.

DYSLEXIA ASSIST. A font and a redesigned dictionary are being developed by separate individuals to help dyslexics. The font, from a dyslexic designer, uses typographic elements, a dark blue color, and more space to help readers understand text. The dictionary is from a father-and-son team and uses a morphological approach to organization rather than a phonetic approach. Read more.

DIET, KIDS, AND MENTAL HEALTH (such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders). They're connected. Find out more.

LD IN COLLEGE. The most recent LD Online newsletter focuses on getting kids with LDs ready for college, with articles on building college-level reading scores, planning for college with an LD, and taking that SAT. Find the newsletter.

AND FINALLY, THIS. They help, they harm, they build skills or they make kids aggressive. It seems as if every study about video games we read has a different conclusion than the last. This week's study is described in a write-up with this title: "Playing Action Video Games Can Boost Learning." It compared action games to non-action games. Find the write-up and decide for yourself if it applies to your gaming kiddo. (Interestingly, the Office of Naval Research, the Swiss National Foundation, The Human Frontier Science Program, and the National Eye Institute supported the research.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans' Day, Education Policy, Child Mind Institute, More

IT'S VETERANS' DAY in the U.S., a day on which we express appreciation for the service of those currently and formerly in the Armed Services. Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate observes the day by providing resources to help military families with exceptional (or twice-exceptional) children. If yours is a military family, or you know such a family, perhaps check out Special Ed Advocate today.

IF THE U.S. ELECTION last week didn't burn you out, perhaps you'd like information on what the election results might mean for education policy in this country. To that end, Education Week is offering a free event, to be streamed via the Web, on Wednesday, November 12 at 1 ET. Find out more.

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. We're fans of this organization, and we have two bits of news about it. First, the organization hosts an annual Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture. This year's speaker was actress Lorraine Bracco ("Goodfellas," "The Sopranos"); she addressed her battle with dyslexia and depression. ("Depression is a vortex," she says. "You don't have it, it has you.") Find an account of the lecture. The second item concerns the co-founder of the Institute, Dr. Harold Koplewicz. He was recently named a WebMD Health Hero. Find out more.

ADHD FOLLOWUP. We recently pointed readers to an article in The New York Times titled "A Natural Fix for ADHD." If you read that article -- and it certainly generated a lot of interest on our Facebook page -- you might be interested in some of the letters to the editor of the Times concerning the article. Find them.

EDUCATING 2e LEARNERS. Susan Baum, Robin Schader, and Thomas Hebert have published in Gifted Child Quarterly an article titled "Through a Different Lens: Reflecting on a Strengths-based, Talent-focused Approach for Twice-exceptional Learners." The article reports on the experiences of 2e students at a private school for the twice-exceptional. From the article abstract: "Findings indicate areas of change and development across cognitive, emotional/behavioral, and social domains and identified five factors underlying student growth: psychological safety, tolerance for asynchrony, time, positive relationships, and the consistent use of a strengths-based, talent-focused philosophy. Data also revealed four benefits from the talent development opportunities offered by the school. Participating in talent development activities enabled students to become part of a social group; to overcome some social, emotional, and cognitive challenges in context; to develop ongoing mentor and professional relationships with people in talent areas; and to develop expertise in an area of talent. This research supports the incorporation of a strengths-based, talent-focused approach for twice-exceptional learners." Find the article at the site of SAGE Publications.

PERSONALIZED LEARNING sounds like it would be good, in theory, for any learner and especially for twice-exceptional learners. The approach incorporates strategies such as the use of learner profiles; personalized learning plans; competency-based progression, and flexible learning environments. An article at Chalkbeat.org describes how some schools in Tennessee have been using personalized learning and the results. Find the article.

Friday, November 7, 2014

ASD Celebrity, Note-taking, Helicopter vs Rescuing, More

FAMOUS ON THE SPECTRUM. That's Jerry Seinfeld, according to an NBC interview the comedian gave to Brian Williams. He says he has trouble with social engagement, and with taking language literally. Read more.

2e-RELATED SEMINAR IN CHICAGO. Well, Evanston, Illinois, actually -- at the Center for Talent Development on Northwestern University's campus. It's a free primer titled "Recognizing the Capacities of Twice-exceptional Learners," presented by Erik Parsons, and it's presented at 9:30 and 12:30 on Saturday the 8th. Find out more.

ADHD AND PAH. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the air increase the chances that a child will be be diagnosed by age 9 with ADHD -- specifically, inattentive ADHD. PAH are air pollutants from a variety of sources. Read more.

ON NOTE-TAKING. We blogged on a recent pan-versus-laptop study that seemed to indicate that students taking notes by pen retained information better. However, an article at the site of Edutopia asks, "what if we approach the concept by identifying what is best for individual students?" That's reasonable -- we in the 2e community are always happy when our kids are considered on the basis of their individual needs. The writer goes on to consider four factors in choosing AT for note taking, including support for the student's learning needs, the ability to save notes in different locations, the ability to search the notes, and the ability to share. Find the article.

"HELICOPTER" VERSUS "NO-RESCUE." Almost by definition, our 2e kids have a problem -- or even multiple problems. As such, our natural instinct as parents is to try to help. But helping is a spectrum disorder, too -- too much can damage a child. What's the ideal? A writer in "Motherlode" in The New York Times addresses this issue. Find out what she arrives at between "helicopter" and "no-rescue."

DR. JUDY WILLIS is presenting a "Learning and the Brain" session on December 3 and again on December 4 in Southern California. For educators, it's titled "Powerful Classroom Strategies from Neuroscience Research," and it deals with (among other issues) maximizing student attention, helping construction of working and long-term memory, motivation, and promoting growth mindsets. Find out more.

SOCIAL ANXIETY is the topic of a couple of new articles at the site of the Child Mind Institute. One article deals with how the fear of the way you appear can get in the way of functioning; the other offers tips for managing social anxiety. Both articles are written "to" teen readers.

IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE FOR 2e. As a final item, we offer a pointer to a study write-up that says sometimes adding disorder to existing disorder can lower the overall disorder (of a system). Alas, it apparently applies only to disciplines such as chemical physics, statistics, and economics -- and only in some cases. Find the write-up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Conferences, ADHD, Dyslexia, More

GOING TO NAGC? If you're there on Thursday, a "pre-conference" day, check out a 12:30 session called "Twice-Exceptional Children: Making Inroads." From the session blurb: "This session will highlight leaders in the field of twice-exceptional, describe our past, and draw directions for the future. Efforts of the National Community of Practice on 2e will be described, including a definition of 2e and implications for legal issues, research, practice, and policy. Panel members, who are founders of the 2e concept and advocacy, will share their histories, share practical strategies and suggestions, and share their desires for the future." Find out more

ON ADHD. "...people with ADHD may not have a disease, so much as a set of behavioral traits that don’t match the expectations of our contemporary culture." This is from an opinion piece in The New York Times, written by a psychiatrist/professor who offers a different way to look at ADHD and some suggestions for better matching the ADHD person's traits to his/her environment. Find the piece

CHADD's ANNUAL CONFERENCE is in Chicago this year on November 13-15. Find more information at the organization's website

PEDIATRICIANS AND ADHD. A study published in the journal Pediatrics indicates that pediatricians may not consult the DSM when diagnosing ADHD, may not gather behavior ratings from parents and teachers, and may rely on meds rather than therapy or a combination. Read more at HealthDay.com. 

GIFTEDNESS AND DYSLEXIA intersect in the research of Jeffrey Gilger, who has contributed to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. In the current issue of The Examiner from the International Dyslexia Association is a Q&A with Gilger about his work on dynamic visual-spatial thinking in dyslexia; find the article. Find The Examiner

DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. The November issue of this newsletter is out. Among the features are two profiles of creative dyslexics, actor Channing Tatum and artist Michael Allen; and offers of two "card templates" titled "What is Dyslexia?" and "What Is Dysgraphia?" Find the newsletter

STEM, PRAISE, AND DWECK. At the site of The Atlantic, Carol Dweck is interviewed on "the best way to help kids feel confident enough to stay the STEM course." You already know the basics of Dweck's message; see how she applies it to STEM

IN AUSTRALIA. Via Jo Freitag's Gifted Resources newsletter we discovered the following events:
Freitag also reminds readers of the 2015 World Conference by the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, to be held August 10-14 in Denmark. 

2015 SENG CONFERENCE. SENG is now accepting presentation proposals for its 2015 conference in Denver, July 24-26. Got an idea? Find out more

CAN'T MAKE YOUR KIDS SMARTER? That's the contention of a study from Florida State University. Researchers said that parenting behaviors such as reading bedtime stories, conversing, and eating dinners together don't affect kids' IQs. Seems like heresy -- decide for yourself

AND FINALLY, THIS. Symptoms of mental illness in children and adolescents aren't increasing -- at least, not in Canada, where a large study was conducted. Researchers examined data concerning ADHD, aggression, depression and anxiety, and suicidal inclinations. Read more.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CAPD, ASD, ADHD, PLPs, and Some Resources

AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER is a not-uncommon second "e" in the twice-exceptional. This week, the site of the Child Mind Institute has three articles on the topic. (It's called central auditory processing disorder, or CAPD, by some.) One article tells what the disorder is; another provides symptoms; and the third offers help for kids with the disorder. Find the articles.

AUTISM AND GENETICS. Recent research indicates that more than a hundred genes may be involved in various forms of autism. The genes are mostly spontaneous mutations, not inherited. According to an NPR report on the research, one group of mutations can be found in Aspie-type boys, another group in children with low IQ. Another report about the research notes that further work may ultimately link a thousand or so genes to autism risk.

UNDERSTOOD, the new website on learning and attention issues, received a nice boost from a write-up in The New York Times last week. If you haven't checked out the site, perhaps read the article to see what you've been missing. Separately, Understood answers this week a common question about kids with ADHD -- should they avoid sugar? You might be surprised at the answer. Find the Q&A.

ADHD AND FISH OILS. We've blogged about this before, but there's new research on the topic. Evidently the omega-type fatty acids can help kids with one type of ADHD -- the inattentive type. The researchers also reported on the use of a cognitive training method for ADHD and oppositional defiant order that shows promise. Find out more.

SENG. The organization's October newsletter is out. One item introduces SENG's Interim Administrator, who takes over for the previous executive director Liz Campbell. Of note to our readers: Deborah Simon brings to her new duties both professional and personal experience in twice exceptionality. And another feature of the newsletter, 100 Words of Wisdom, this month focuses on the twice exceptional. Find the newsletter. Separately, SENG has an upcoming SENGinar on November 6 titled "Building Resilience in Gifted Children: Fostering a Sense of Autonomy and Confidence." Find out more.

CONFERENCE: NAGC MALAYSIA. On November 1, NAGC Malaysia will hold a conference in Sunway, Selangor. At least one of the speakers appears to be "2e fluent." In the neighborhood? Find out more at TheStar.com or on the conference's Facebook page.

EDUCATION WEEK reports on Vermont's introduction of personalized learning plans, or PLPs, for middle- and high-school students. The plans should help teachers gain understanding of students "interests, skills, college and career goals, and learning styles," according to the Education Week article. Dual enrollment is encouraged, along with standards other than test scores for showing subject-area mastery. Sounds like a good deal for twice-exceptional students in Vermont, indeed for all students. Find the article. (Free registration required.)

WRIGHTSLAW, in Special Ed Advocate, takes on the topic of bullying in school, including Office of Civil Rights considerations, how bullying of a student with a disability can lead to denial of FAPE (and the obligation of the school in such cases), and an article titled "When Teachers Bully." (Now there's a depressing thought.) Find Special Ed Advocate.

BRAIN MAVENS will be happy to know about a free neuroscience resource from Harvard University. It's an online course in the fundamentals of neuroscience, and apparently it covers, in an accessible way, topics such as the synapse and "excitation and inhibition." Find out more about the course. You can register through edX, Facebook, Google, or Twitter.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ADHD & Creativity, ASD & Siri, Astrology, and More

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has Scott Berry Kaufman riffing on ADHD and creativity, with all kinds of goodies thrown in: Calvin and Hobbes cartoons; research findings including a study where "the poorer the working memory, the higher the creativity"; acknowledgment of "twice exceptional," although in quotes (maybe it's not really a term?); and a wind-up story about a poor student who went on to win a Nobel Prize. Find the blog.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has two new articles. One is on dialectical behavior therapy, described by the Institute this way: "DBT is a combination of CBT and the practice of mindfulness, and it's called 'dialectical' because it involves teaching kids two seemingly contradictory things at the same time: On the one hand they learn to accept their painful emotions (the mindfulness element) and at the same time they learn how to take control of their response to those feelings, to change the behaviors that haven't been working for them (the CBT element)." Find the article. The second article is an update on PANDAS, now called PANS, or pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome. It's a quick-onset condition that includes OCD with other serious symptoms. A book called Saving Sammy brought attention to PANDAS over the past few years. Find the article.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS AND AUTISM. A new study links levels of certain air toxins -- chromium and styrene -- to increased risk of autism. Families living in areas with higher levels of toxins during pregnancy and the first two years of a new-born's life had up to twice the risk of an autism diagnosis in their children. Read more.

IEPs, 504s, AND BULLYING. The U.S. federal government has reminded educators that schools have clear obligations to control bullying of children with disabilities covered by IDEA or Section 504. Got a twice-exceptional kid who gets picked on? Read the article.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE IEP ISN'T WORKING is the title of a feature at the site of ADDitude, which provides a look at "the most common problems parents face with their child's IEP or 504 plan, along with straightforward solutions. Find the feature.

TEACH TO THE KID, not to the test. That's the underlying philosophy behind personalized learning and behind universal design for learning, both of which would seem to be a boon to twice-exceptional students. You may find a primer on personalized learning at the site of Education Week and a primer on UDL at the site SmartBlog on Education.

SIRI MEETS A YOUNG MAN WITH AUTISM is the premise in a "Fashion and Style Section" (of all places) piece in The New York Times. It's related by a mom explaining how Apple's vocal "intelligent personal assistant" has engaged her 13-year-old son, who, like many people on the spectrum has impossibly deep fascinations with certain areas of life. The mom has even noticed an improvement in her son's communication with her. Find and read this sweet first-person piece.

AND FINALLY, THIS. We recently blogged about how the season of a child's birth seems to be linked to the speed with which it develops the capability to crawl, and then we threw in a joking comment about astrology. Now comes a study that says babies born in summer are more likely to experience mood swings as adults, and that winter babies are less likely to be irritable adults. The researchers don't comment on the possible mechanisms involved -- but the research results were presented at a credible sounding conference, that of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. We don't know what to think. Read it for yourself and decide whether you should be consulting a psychiatrist about your child's behavior -- or an astrologer.