Friday, May 26, 2017

Dyslexia, Processing Speed, Reading, Education Policy, and More

#MYYOUNGERSELF. We've mentioned the Child Mind Institute campaign in May in which prominent individuals with LDs or mental health issues give advice on those issues, as if to their "younger selves." Understood describes fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger's advice, based on his struggles with dyslexia. Find Understood's description... and remember that the CMI campaign goes on through May. Separately, Education Week writes about the problem of unidentified dyslexia in the student population; find the article.

SLOW PROCESSING SPEED, that bugaboo of gifted kiddos, was the topic of a TiLT podcast a while ago, and now TiLT has provided a transcription of that podcast for those of us who prefer to read rather than listen. The podcast was a conversation between TiLT founder Debbie Reber, parent of a "differently-wired" kiddo, and Ellen Braaten.  Included in the conversation: how to support kids who process slowly. Find the transcription.

READING. We talk and write about reading problems a lot in the 2e community. Professor Daniel Willingham, in a new book, focuses on what research about reading means for educators -- and, implicitly, for parents of kids with reading problems. In an interview with Education Week, Willingham describes the process of reading from a psychological/cognitive point of view, including how we use sight and sound to decode. Find the interview.

AND IF YOU LIKE TO READ ABOUT READING, check out a writeup of a study in which scientists found that learning to read as an adult reconfigures evolutionarily ancient brain structures hitherto assigned to different skills.The findings were from a large-scale study in India in which completely illiterate women learned how to read and write for six months. Find a study write-up.

EDUCATION POLICY. The Council for Exceptional Children, in the most recent "Policy Insider," comes down hard on the 2018 budget for what it means to the gifted and LD communities. The communique starts off: "Yesterday, the Trump Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2018 budget, dismissing the needs of children and youth with exceptionalities, particularly those with disabilities and gifts and talents. The Council for Exceptional Children is disheartened to see that this Administration has made deep cuts to the U.S. Department of Education funding, level funded the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, slashed Medicaid funds, eliminated funding for the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program – the only federal investment in students with gifts and talents, and created a new private school voucher program that takes scarce taxpayer funding away from public schools and jeopardizes the civil right of a free appropriate public education for children and youth with disabilities." Read more.

NEW (OR NEWLY APPLIED) TREATMENTS FOR...
  • OCD -- rapastinel. The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation reports that in a single-dose small trial, "The drug was well tolerated—no patient reported dissociative side effects — and within hours of treatment, the severity of patients’ symptoms had declined significantly. The drug reduced the severity of patients’ obsessions and compulsions, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression." Read more
  • ASD -- suramin. In a small, randomized Phase I/II clinical trial, researchers say a 100-year-old drug called suramin, originally developed to treat African sleeping sickness, was safely administered to children with autism spectrum disorder, who subsequently displayed measurable, but transient, improvement in core symptoms of autism. Read more
  • Depression -- probiotics. Researchers found that twice as many adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) reported improvements from co-existing depression when they took a specific probiotic than adults with IBS who took a placebo. Read more

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Education Budget, Resources, and "Most Likely Not to Pay Attention"

K-12 EDUCATION BUDGET. In our previous blog posting, we pointed to a Washington Post story about the potential impact on education stemming from budget changes for 2018. The Post has issued a follow-up, claiming that the administration is proposing to eliminate: "Mental health services. Civics and arts programs. International education and language studies. Anti-bullying activities. Gifted and talented initiatives. Full-service community schools." Find the article. In a similar vein, Disability Scoop notes that "Deep cuts to Medicaid and other programs that people with disabilities rely on are at the heart of President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal." Find the article. (Our reaction? Onward and downward. 😧) 

THANKS TO ALL who took advantage of our Spring Sale on "Spotlight on 2e Series" booklets. Many purchasers were repeat buyers. And some school districts took the opportunity to stock up on 10, 40, or even 50 copies. It's always gratifying to us that so many in the 2e community seem to find the booklets useful.

AND ANOTHER "DEAL." Prufrock Press is publishing the third edition of To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled, by Susan Baum, Robin Schader, and Steven Owen. The book is scheduled for release at the end of June. Members of the 2e community interested in purchasing this book can go to the Prufrock site, add the book to the shopping cart, and then use the code TBGLD20 to receive a 20 percent discount.

RESOURCE FROM AACAP. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has posted a guide for families titled "Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth." If gender identification is an issue at your house, check out the guide.

FIDGET SPINNERS have been in the news lately, and the headline in a new posting at Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities tells why, asking whether the devices are a "Distraction or Learning Tool?" Read more about the pros and cons of this device.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Teachers at a Georgia middle school used the occasion of end-of-year recognitions to present one student with ADHD a trophy inscribed "Most Likely Not to Pay Attention." The teachers have evidently been fired. Readers on our Facebook page, where we "shared" the item yesterday, were not amused and stated so. Find out more.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Child Behavior, Policy and Education, Sleep, Therapists, Booklet Sale, More

NAUGHTY? OR NATURAL? An article in Psychology Today explains how some child behavior can seem "bad," but may instead be natural. Says the article, "When we recognize kids' unwelcome behaviors as reactions to environmental conditions, developmental phases, or our own actions, it lets us respond proactively, and with much more compassion." Some of the behaviors are in the categories of impulsiveness, reaction to stimulation, and the need to move. Find the article.

SLEEP FOR KIDDOS. Besides the factors mentioned in the item above, sleep can affect children's behavior and academic performance. Psychology Today also has an article addressing the minimum sleep requirements of children and adolescents, The article reports on a recent study which indicates that the "right" amount of sleep is different for socioemotional development than it is for academic performance, and that variability in sleep duration can be detrimental to mental health. Read more.

TEEN CHEF. A young man on the spectrum is the subject of an article in the Orange County Register. He has created a couple special sauces featured on a local restaurant's menu, and his family has had some of his recipes commercially produced and bottled. The young man is a high school senior. Find the article.

BULLYING. Depending on what you read recently, bullying among students is either still at a fairly high level (about 1 in 5 of students 12-18) or has declined by half since 2005. An Associated Press article provides the first perspective; an article at Business Insider provides the second.

POLICY AND EDUCATION 1. NPR reports on how vouchers may bring "choices, not guarantees," to families with special-needs kids. The problem: finding a school that will accept the special needs child, especially if behavior issues are involved. Read more.

POLICY AND EDUCATION 2. The Washington Post examines the current president's education budget, noting "deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice." The cuts come in the areas of college work-study programs, public-service loan forgiveness, mental health services, and advanced coursework as part of a $10.6 billion cut, says the Post. Find the article.

GIFTED CHALLENGES. In a new blog posting, Gail Post writes about finding a therapist when you (or, presumably, your offspring) are gifted. Trust your gut when it comes to feelings about a prospective therapist, she writes, and know that therapy is hard work. Number 10 on her list -- "Try to find a therapist who 'gets' giftedness." We would add, "or twice exceptionality." Find the blog posting.

TiLT PARENTING. Episode 57 in TiLT's series of podcasts is titled "Using a Strengths-based Approach to Support Differently-wired Kids." In the podcast, TiLT founder Debbie Reber talks to Giselle Marzo Segura, "a designer, teacher, mentor, writer, and solutions thinker." Find the podcast.

HATING MATH WORKSHEETS? In the Facebook group Twice Exceptional Children we found a "share" of an intriguing home-made device that might make rote memorization more fun for that math-hating 2e kiddo you know. You make it with foam drink cups and a marker, and it seems as if it would be more engaging than flash cards or worksheets. Take a look at the Facebook page of "Planning Playtime: Learning Through Play" and look for a post called "a fun, interactive math activity."

OUR SPRING BOOKLET SALE ends Sunday. Go to our website to see what you can get for $11 (any booklet). Paid newsletter subscribers, check your inbox for your link to even lower prices.

Monday, May 15, 2017

2e Conference, Advocacy, New Edition of "To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled"

GIFTED PLUS CONFERENCE IN TEXAS. The Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented has scheduled a conference for June 22-24 on serving gifted students who are twice-exceptional, ELL, or members of other underserved gifted populations. A "Twice Exceptional Summit" is to be held on June 22 and other Gifted Plus events on June 23-24, all in San Antonio, Texas. Find out more.

TO BE GIFTED AND LEARNING DISABLED is a book that is one of the seminal works in the 2e field. Prufrock Press is releasing a third edition of the book on June 30, adding Robin Shader to the previous editions' authors Susan Baum and Steven Owen. This edition update the 2004 second edition. Prufrock states, "This updated third edition provides a comprehensive look at the complex world of students with remarkable gifts, talents, and interests, who simultaneously face learning, attention, or social challenges from LD, ADHD, and other disorders. Through case studies and years of research, the authors present a rationale for using a strength-based, talent-focused approach to meeting the needs of this special population." Find out more.

IT'S NOW OKAY TO HAVE AN LD IN TEXAS, even if your particular LD puts your school district over an 8.5 percent "cap" on special ed enrollments, thanks to legislation recently passed on that state. According to The Houston Chronicle, "As many as 250,000 more students with dyslexia, autism, speech impairments and other disabilities would have received special education services had the state stayed at the national average." Read more. (Please note that this legislative action is an example of how the independent press -- in this case, The Chronicle -- investigate and reports on governmental malfeasance.)

ADVOCACY. For educators looking to gain the skills to be more effective advocates for special ed, the Council for Exceptional Children offers a "Special Education Legislative Summit" on July 9-12 in Alexandria, Virginia. CEC says that participants will learn to help make the case for funding, FAPE, and civil rights for students receiving special ed services -- which, obviously, can include 2e students. Find out more.

ALSO FOR ADVOCATES. William and Mary Law school offers its five-day Institute for Special Education Advocacy starting in late July. It's for experienced advocates, law students, and attorneys. Find out more.

WRIGHTSLAW. Want to find out what others look for at the Wrightslaw site? The current issue of Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate lists the five most popular articles, topics, and blog posts from the past half year. Go there.

GIFTED AND DISTRACTIBLE. The May edition of this newsletter from With Understanding Comes Calm is out, with information on a variety of 2e-related topics, including the recent screening of the movie "2e: Twice Exceptional"; Camp Summit East; and a preview of the annual SENG conference. Find the newsletter.

ADHD MEDS, DRIVING. In a study of more than 2.3 million drivers in the United States with ADHD, rates of motor vehicle crashes were lower when drivers had received their prescribed medication, according to a new study. Find a study write-up.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Policy, Funding, Summer Camp, Achievers, More

SPECIAL ED FUNDING. Yesterday the Council for Exceptional Children provided details of special ed funding for 2017. As we mentioned previously, the overall level is up slightly. You can see how each major program fared at the CEC's Policy Insider. Also noted there: that Javits programs for gifted ed were funded at $12 million -- which is about the level of funding 13 years ago when we founded 2e Newsletter. Is that great progress or what?

ON THE OTHER HAND, an article by the Associated Press highlights the conflict between parents looking to have school districts satisfy the special needs of their children and districts facing funding constraints. While some recent court decisions have raised hopes in parents about getting services such as district-paid private placement, the reality is that schools have limited money available, including, as the article puts it, "a shortfall in federal reimbursement." The costs of disputes run into tens of thousands of dollars for both districts and parents. If you're anticipating participation in a school/family dispute over services, check out this article.

MIXED MESSAGES on special ed and family rights is also the topic of an article at Educaiton Week, which describes how one government proposal would allocate $1.4 billion toward school choice yet require participating families to give up some their IDEA rights. Here's the crux of the problem, according to the article: "While the Supreme Court’s decision affirms long-standing momentum toward better educational support for children with disabilities, the administration’s actions to date have done little to ensure schools are positioned to maintain this progress." Read more.

ON TO MORE MORE PLEASANT MATTERS. LD Online offers tips for c hoosing a summer camp for a child with learning differences. A former director of such a camp tells parents to look at six factors, including the type of program, size, education/recreational balance, location and facilities, staff, and camp policies. Find out more.

SMART KIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES. We mentioned on May 3 that this organization had announced the recipients of the 2017 Fred J. Epstein Youth Achievement Awards. Reading about the honorees in various categories can give you -- or that 2e kiddo you know -- new perspective about achievement in conjunction with learning differences. Find the announcement.

SLOW PROCESSING SPEED. Last week the website Understood offered accommodations for slow processing speed. This week it offers an article connecting slow processing speed with anxiety. The article notes that anxiety can affect processing speed... but that slow processing speed can also engender anxiety -- not a pretty cycle. Read more.

TiLT PARENTING. Moms and dads often often approach their 2e family situations differently and at a different pace. But it's important for the parents to work together for the benefit of the child, right? That's why it's interesting that TiLT has done a podcast on the topic -- specifically, how the founder of TiLT and her husband have approached raising their "differently-wired" son. As founder Debbie Reber says, "...figuring how to be a good partner while raising an atypical kid can be incredibly challenging, especially because both people are going through their own individual process in figuring it out." Read more and find the podcast.

ALTSCHOOL is the name of a chain of micro-schools with locations in California and New York. Founded by Silicon Valley denizens, the schools emphasize personalized learning. According to an article at Business Insider, "Teachers work with families and students to design a set of goals for the learner based on the student's interests, likes, strengths, and weaknesses." Neither the word "gifted" nor "twice-exceptional" is in the article -- but the school's goals sound promising. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS, which makes sense intuitively but is now "research based": Pet dogs provide valuable social support for kids when they're stressed, according to a study by researchers, who were among the first to document stress-buffering effects of pets for children. Find a study write-up.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Policy and Legislation, Child Mind Institute, More

POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE NEWS. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a health care bill last week that some observers feel will have detrimental effects for many Americans, including children who may be part of the 2e community.
  • Disability Scoop noted that the new legislation would affect the reimbursement schools now are able to seek for services under IDEA. Read more
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry issued a statement on the passage of the bill by the house: "As a professional medical association dedicated to helping and protecting children and families, we were extremely disappointed by the U.S. House of Representatives vote to pass the American Health Care Act by a slim margin of 217-213." Find the statement
  • And the Council for Exceptional Children, in the context of an invitation to its annual Legislative Summit, also pointed out the bill's potentially harmful effects; read more

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. This organization is sponsoring #MyYoungerSelf. Here's what it says about the event: "Each day in May, the Child Mind Institute is sharing short videos from prominent figures about their personal experiences growing up with a mental health or learning disorder — and the advice they would give their younger selves and others in the midst of the same struggle." Find who has already spoken.

STEAM LEARNING. TED has assembled a playlist of talks on the topic of STEAM learning and how to make it fun. Looking for ways to do that? Take a look.

ADOLESCENTS AND TECHNOLOGY USE -- the good and the bad. More use of technology led to increases in attention, behavior and self-regulation problems over time for adolescents already at risk for mental health issues, according to a new study written up at Science Daily. However, on days that adolescents spent more time using digital technologies they were less likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. Read more.

EVENT. On May 17, Jacqui Byrne of FlexSchool will present on the characteristics and challenge of 2e students, addressing the myth of the "lazy, gifted student." The event is in Westfield, New Jersey. Find out more.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Education Budget, Event Alert, Learning Styles, Rosemary, and More

EDUCATION AND THE U.S. BUDGET. Education Week offers an early analysis of the U.S. budget passed recently in terms of its impact on education. Funding meant to aid disadvantaged students and students receiving special ed services increases slightly, according to Education Week. Overall DOE funding falls by $60 million to $71.6 billion. Read more. Disability Scoop noted that the bill increased grants to states under IDEA by $90 million; go to Disability Scoop.

EVENT ALERT. The 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, on the campus of Bridges Academy, has scheduled a symposium for October 13-14 titled "Leadership and Vision in 2e Education." According to the Center, "The symposium will feature keynotes, panel discussions..., interactive forums and workshops on program development, research based strategies and related issues in 2e education programs." Also scheduled: recognition of pioneers in the field of 2e education by way of a "2e Hall of Fame." Find out more.

LEARNING STYLES. The UK Guardian published a piece signed by 30 scientists noting the lack of evidence to support the idea of learning styles, whereby individuals benefit from receiving information in a preferred mode or format. The scientists said that there's no coherent framework of styles; that the concept might lead to assumptions of a "fixed or rigid learning style"; and that research on the topic has "consistently found either no evidence or very weak evidence to support the hypothesis that matching or 'meshing' material in the appropriate format to an individual’s learning style is selectively more effective for educational attainment." Read more.

SLOW PROCESSING SPEED. Understood offers classroom accommodations for slow processing speed, a condition of interest to many in the 2e community. The accommodations deal with in-class learning, learning materials, organization/time management, tests, and more. Find the accommodations.

UNDERSTOOD also offers a series of chats and interactive sessions each month that cover topics ranging from ADHD meds, motivation, behavior, and more. Find the calendar for May.

TiLT PARENTING's newest podcast is about assessing and supporting 2e learners, and it features Devon MacEachron, a clinician who specializes in such matters. Find out more.

ADHD: TO WATCH OUT FOR. A UK study noted some downsides to having ADHD. Said the study, reported at MedPage Today: "These children fared worse academically than their peers without ADHD. They had higher rates of exclusion from school and were more likely to have special needs. They also were at higher risk of low academic attainment and unemployment after leaving school..." Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Exposure to the aroma of rosemary essential oil can significantly enhance working memory in children, according to a recent, small study of chidren 10 and 11 years old. Said the researcher, "We do know that poor working memory is related to poor academic performance and these findings offers a possible cost effective and simple intervention to improve academic performance in children." Find a study write-up.