Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Gifted," ASD, Processing Speed, and More

GIFTED, the movie, sparked a conversation in the Toronto Star. First, a mathematics professor wrote an opinion piece taking umbrage at the Hollywood emphasis on nature rather than nurture in giftedness. In describing the development of himself and other exceptional students, he said: "Instead of inheriting a gift, we developed our grit." He suggests that all students be empowered through experiences with problem-solving, concluding, "...then all of our students will be gifted." The opinion piece generated a letter from the dad of a gifted girl pointing out how gifted children can be neuronally different and may also experience challenges from asynchronous development as well as from heightened sensitivities. M. Rene Islas, executive director of NAGC, also weighed in, asserting the uniqueness of gifted children and writing this: "Gifted children display cognitive, artistic, leadership or academic ability significantly outside the norm for their age. These traits require services that are typically not provided in regular school and classroom settings." Find the letters and see what you think.

THE DARK SIDE OF GIFTEDNESS. Are gifted individuals more prone to suicide? That's the question that an institute at the College of William and Mary will be attempting to answer, given the lack of prior research and data pertaining to the question. Tracy Cross, the executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at William and Mary, will lead the effort. Find out more.

ASD AND SUMMER. An article in The Hartford Courant covers a program that helps kiddos with ASD when routines change during the summer. The program is called "Summer Social Skills Immersion." Learning how to transition and be out in the community are focuses of the program. Find out more. Separately, an article in The New York Times describes how some airlines and airports are helping to ease the travel experience for passengers on the spectrum; find the article.

ASD AND THE GUT. Therapies to change the bacteria in the gut, through diet, pro-and prebiotic supplements, fecal matter transplants or antibiotics, could treat autism. A review of six decades of research linking the gut to brain development could pave the way for cheap and effective treatment. Find out more at Science Daily. On a related topic, an article in Journal Watch reacted to news of a recent study which yielded little evidence that special diets help address the symptoms of ASD. The Journal Watch reviewer noted that some types of supplementation were not examined. "Folinic acid has improved language in children with ASD and is important because it bypasses genetic defects that prevent normal metabolism of dietary folate. Other studies have found low levels of vitamin D in people with ASD, leading some authors to suggest ensuring adequate vitamin D in infants as a preventive measure. Finally, omega-3s have improved reading, spelling, motor skills, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptom scores in schoolchildren with developmental coordination disorder, suggesting that omega-3s might improve some behaviors and cognitive abilities in patients with ASD."

SLOW PROCESSING SPEED is the topic of several items at Understood. One article is on classroom accommodations; another offers "7 Ways to Help Kids with Slow Processing Speed Take Notes in Class"; and a third is an "expert's take" on whether slow processing speed can ever improve.

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH has announced the dates of its 2018 conference -- March 8 and 10 in Rockville, Maryland. Find out more.

TOMORROW, June 22, is SENG's webinar on gifted underachievement. Find out more.

EDUCATORS: If you're still looking for professional development opportunities, the Belin Blank Center at the University of Iowa says that it has openings in some of its workshops on gifted education. See the offerings.

DR SEUSS FANS, be aware that the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum has just opened in Springfield, Massachusetts, the boyhood home of Dr. Seuss. Read more about what it's like.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Most moms of children ages 0-5 have been criticized about topics ranging from discipline to breast-feeding -- most frequently from someone in their own family, says the write-up of new research based on a University of Michigan poll. And it's probably even worse for moms of "challenging" kiddos of the 2e persuasion. The poll included questions about what moms do in response to critical comments. Said the lead researcher, ""Family members should respect that mothers of young children may have more updated information about child health and safety, and 'what we used to do' may no longer be the best advice." Find the study write-up.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Accommodation and Self-Advocacy, Depression, ASD, Law and Policy, More

STANDARD TEST ACCOMMODATIONS. In The Hechinger Report, a young man writes about being refused extra time in a state test that is the gateway to a prestigious scholarship competition. He is multi-exceptional, and makes exceptional use of analogies and metaphors in his arguments for accommodations in such testing. For example: "Does a person who needs glasses have an unfair advantage over someone who does not?" The author also confronted the testing body on a number of issues and received responses unsatisfactory to him... or received no response at all. The young man is already a great advocate for himself and for other 2e students. Find the article.

DEPRESSION is the topic of two articles in mainstream media outlets in recent days. Forbes ran an article titled "The Strategies that Science Actually Shows Are Effective for Depression," covering cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, short-term therapies, exercise, mindfulness and meditation, medication, and more. The article also states, "As always, finding a therapist you trust and connect with is often the first step to figuring out which route to take." Find the article. The second article was in US News and titled "Do Alternative Therapies Work for Depression?" It covered approaches such as St John's Wort, Omega-3 fatty acids, and SAMe in some detail, and in less detail covered yoga, sunlight, vitamin D supplements and meditation. The article's net-out: "The only proven alternative therapy for depression is exercise," followed by the same ask-your-doctor caveat as in the Forbes article. Find the US News piece. Separately, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation posted about animal research indicating that inhibiting an enzyme called GLO1 could be a way to quickly treat depression; read more.

FLEXSCHOOL has issued a press release about a newly formed advisory team to support its mission, which is "to create spaces where gifted and twice-exceptional students all over the world are accepted, valued, and supported." With operating campuses in New Jersey and Connecticut, the organization plans to open a Manhattan campus in 2018. Read more.

UNDERSTOOD. Don't forget that this organization offers frequent online events on topics of potential interest to the 2e community. For example, this week's events cover homeschooling and ADHD, AT for writing, and working memory. Find out more.

ASD. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers have identified certain brain regions that significantly correlate with an increase in social abilities following a virtual environment based training program. Adults on the autism spectrum who showed greater activity in the social brain network prior to the training improved more in emotion recognition than those who showed less activity. Find the study write-up. Separately, another study has found that individuals with ASD who avoid eye contact may do so because it is neurologically uncomfortable. Find the study write-up.

EDUCATION LAW AND POLICY. Education Week has recently run two articles on the law and federal policy as they affect education.
  • Perhaps you're aware that IDEA has never really been fully funded by Congress at the originally intended level, 40 percent of its total cost for special ed. Instead, the federal government pays only about 15 percent of its expenses, with states and districts paying the rest. Legislation on the table now would require the feds to meet the 40 percent standard. Read more
  • Will students who use vouchers to receive a private education receive IDEA protections? That's the question explored at the second Education Week article. Find it
AND FINALLY, THIS. The organization Save the Children has issued a report ranking 172 countries in terms of the best and worst places to grow up, taking into account quality of life, mortality rates, nutrition, and more. All of the top countries were European except South Korea, which tied for 10th spot. Find the list at USA Today or in Save the Children's report

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ADHD Diagnosis Rate, ASD in the Classroom, a Teacher's POV, and More

ADHD DIAGNOSES, MEDS. In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for diagnosing and treating ADHD. Since then, according to a recent research update from the AAP, both the rate of diagnosis and the use of stimulant meds have remained constant. Find AAP's research update. On the other hand, the title of a recent article at Psychiatric Times is "Are We Overdiagnosing and Overtreating ADHD?" The article covers several studies of incidence and treatment; however, it looks as if the data used is generally from 2011 or earlier. Find the article. (Free registration required.)

MORE ON ADHD. Understood has posted a piece titled "ADHD and Mood Swings: What You Need to Know." Got that problem at your house? Find the piece. Separately, in our previous blog posting we referred to a study write-up that indicated car crashes might not be as big a danger for teens with ADHD as previously thought. A few days later, we see a study saying this: "Adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are licensed to drive less often and, when this group is licensed, they have a greater risk of crashing." Read more.

ASD IN THE CLASSROOM. The New York Times reports on an approach in the classroom to helping students on the spectrum adapt and learn. It's called ASD Nest and is in use in dozens of schools in New York City. Eligible students are evaluated as being capable of grade-level work. Read more.

EDUCATION WEEK offers "spotlights," collections of articles on particular topic. One is on special ed and includes articles of possible relevance to members of the 2e community, who have legs in both the gifted camp and the special ed camp. Some of the topics in this spotlight include personalized learning for kids with LDs, vouchers and special ed, and RTI. Find the spotlight.

THE RISE ACT. NCLD is advocating for the RISE act, legislation that would help ease the transition to college for students with learning and attention issues. At the NCLD site you can find out more and have your chance to advocate for the bill.

TiLT PARENTING has introduced a new podcast, this one about nurturing character in differently-wired kiddos. Find the podcast.

AND FINALLY, THIS. It's a safe bet that many parents might not appreciate what it's like to be a teacher -- what makes the job tiring... and what makes it rewarding. There's a short but expressive video on the topic that's worth watching. So far it's received almost 20 million views. You can find it at the site of Education Week, where there's other commentary on the topic, or at the Facebook page of the video's creator.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2e Stories, Anxiety, James T. Webb Interview, Attention, and More

DON'T FEEL BAD if you had trouble figuring out what was going on with your 2e kiddo before you knew he was twice-exceptional. At the Huffington Post you can read about a family in which the two parents have a combined three advanced degrees in education -- but who went through the same puzzle-solving most of the rest of us did before encountering, for the first time, the term "twice-exceptional." And the mom transitioned into a role familiar to those here: “warrior-research mother.” Find the story.

LABELS FOR DIFFERENTLY-WIRED KIDS. TiLT Parenting pointed us (thanks, Debbie) to an essay by a mom in Singapore who with her family this summer "will traverse twelve time zones to the other side of the globe as a step towards acceptance." In the family is a very bright 7yo differently-wired boy who on the trip will receive an assessment. The essay is in the form of a letter to the boy's teacher and is titled "Please Don't Label My Son." And the "acceptance part of the journey? "If we are to 'help' my son — accept and embrace him with empathy and unconditional love — we must learn to quiet the noise of our interpretations so that we can understand the nuances of his." Find the essay.

THE "GIFTED" LABEL. We in the 2e community get to explain two (or more) labels to our offspring. Psychologist Gail Post writes at her blog about how to explain the "gifted" label. Find the blog.

AN ANXIOUS NATION was the title of an article from The New York Times before some editor changed the title, using a reference to the "United States of Xanax."  (We like the first title better.) The article is about the ubiquity of anxiety in social media, blogs, Broadway shows, TV, and books. How ubiquitous? "According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38 percent of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26 percent of boys, have an anxiety disorder." This article provides some reasons for the prevalence of anxiety, and notes the benefits of efforts to bring anxiety into "the open." You won't, however, find much help for that 2e kiddo you know who worries a lot. Find the article.

JAMES T. WEBB, psychologist and founder of the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is interviewed by Adrienne Van Den Bos. You can find a PDF version here, or, if you're on LinkedIn, find a a link here.

ATTENTION. We have three items for you from the past few days on the topic of attention:

  • TED, in its weekly playlist, pointed to a talk by a neuroscientist who explains what happens when we pay attention; find it
  • US News published an article about how ADHD symptoms manifest differently depending on gender; find the article
  • And NewsWise reported on a study indicating that car crashes might not be as big a danger for teens with ADHD as previously thought; read more.
UNDERSTOOD has issued the following request. "Please share your thoughts on the IEP process. We want to hear from both parents and educators about your experiences. What do you think about the process for having a child evaluated? How is your school using the IEP to provide individualized teaching and personalized learning? Understood appreciates your help in completing a brief 5-minute survey." Go to the survey.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Remember the Georgia teacher who recently gave an end-of-year award to an ADHD student for being "most likely to not pay attention"? Last week a middle-school teacher in Texas handed out some awards in a similar vein. The student who got the "most likely to become a terrorist" award was not amused... nor was the school district, especially (presumably) after the incident received local television coverage. The teacher is no longer employed by the district, according to reports. Read more.




Thursday, June 8, 2017

2e IEP, Anxiety, Resources/Events, Puberty, and More

UNDERSTOOD, in its "My Parent Journey" feature, has a blog post from a dad describing how his family was able to get, over the years, an IEP that worked both for his 2e son's learning challenges as well as for his giftedness. The story is interesting in that it wasn't until high school that the lack of challenge motivated the family to request enrichment -- and the school went along, offering a method it had never done before. Find the story.

PARENT AND TEACHER with different views of the same child -- that's the gist of a story in The Washington Post. The teachers was very experienced, with a reputation for being good with gifted students. The parent of the boy in question, who was on the spectrum, was, ironically, a psychologist specializing in the early identification of autism. But the teacher said "I don't see [him] as a boy with autism." How did the year turn out? Read the story to find out.

ANXIETY. Two recent articles cover anxiety in kids. One, in Time, is titled "The New Way to Prevent Anxiety in Kids." It focuses on therapies that can prevent anxiety in children, and describes anxiety as a "gateway illness" leading to depression and other problems. Find the article. The second article is at PsychCentral, and focused on anxiety in preschoolers -- its prevalence and how parenting behaviors and family history might be involved. Find the article.

WALLACE RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM ON TALENT DEVELOPMENT. Organizing is underway for the 2018 edition of this event, sponsored by Belin Blank and the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Prospective presenters should know that organizers have issued a call for papers. Is there a presentation YOU should pitch? Find out more.

WRIGHTSLAW has published Special Education Legal Developments and :Cases 2016. If you're an advocate, know that the book contains, according to Wrightslaw:
  • All key decisions from the Courts of Appeals in 2016
  • Four decisions that were selected as "Cases of the Year for 2016."
Find out more.

A REMINDER: The Landmark College Summer Institute runs from June 25-28, aimed at educators and professionals supporting students who learn differently. Find out more.

MEET THE SCIENTIST WEBINAR. On June 13, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation presents a webinar on a drug which might hold promise as a rapid-acting treatment for OCD. Find out more.

TiLT PARENTING offers podcast Episode 60, "A Deep Dive into Assessments, Diagnoses, and Labels," with psychologist Linda Neff. Remember that TiLT is for those who have "differently-wired" kiddos, aka twice-exceptional. Find the podcast.

AND FINALLY, THIS. The hormones associated with puberty affect learning. That's probably not news to anyone who's ever taught or parented a middle-schooler, but it appears that those chemicals do have specific effects on the frontal cortices... of mice -- female mice. Extrapolating the effects to human girls can shed light on how they learn. Find a study write-up.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Conference, Aspie Comedian, Dogs and Reading, and More

22nd BIENNIAL WORLD CONFERENCE. The program for this event, to be held July 20-23 in Sydney, Australia, is online at the conference site. A quick scan indicates that there are 10 sessions or events with "twice-exceptional" in the title, including a keynote by Karen Rogers titled "Finding and Supporting Twice Exceptional Learners in Schools." Find the program, and send us a postcard if you attend.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION has revamped the site devoted to the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, IDEA. Disability Scoop quotes the department as saying, "The site features better search capabilities, enhanced accessibility and more content." See for yourself; the department invites you to provide feedback.

A 28YO COMEDIAN WITH ASPERGER'S is featured in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. In the article, he addresses his background, his ASD ("another way of looking at the world"), and his comedy. Read more.

#MYYOUNGERSELF. This campaign is almost over, and the Child Mind Institute has posted a thank you and a request to "keep the movement alive" by sharing its videos, in which prominent people discussed their issues such as anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. See the thank-you. If you haven't checked out the videos, maybe now's the time.

DOGS AND ACADEMICS. Second-graders of at least average reading ability improved their abilities and attitudes about reading when they read for 30 minutes a week to therapy dogs. Read more.

GIFTED AND DISTRACTIBLE. The June edition of this newsletter is out. Julie Skolnick says, "In this issue of Gifted and Distractible check out articles and information relevant to: end of year considerations - test stress and advocacy... making the most of summer vacation to engage gifted minds in meaningful endeavors, address sleep hygiene, and taking a moment to consider what it's like being a gifted adult." Find the newsletter.

SMART KIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES. A new, brief article at the site of this organization covers some of the reasons why a career in technology might be appropriate for 2e kiddos; find it.

FAITH-BASED SCHOOLS. Commentary at Education Week by a University of Notre Dame official argues that faith-based schools "have always mattered a great deal to our K-12 landscape. In many ways, they matter now more than ever," citing their service to marginalized children and families and to at-risk communities. If you're interested in the many factors involved in school choice and potential shifts in Federal education policy and practice, perhaps check out this article.

RESOURCE. The UC Davis Mind Institute provides many resources of potential interest to parents, educators, and clinicians in the 2e community. One resource is a collection of videos on topics such as ADHD, ASD, assistive technology, LDs, and more. Find the videos.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Diagnosing 2e; Homeschoolers as "Missing Voices"; Survey Opportunities; and More

PSYCHOLOGIST DEVON MACEACHRON specializes in twice exceptionality, and she has written an insightful blog posting on the topic of giftedness and dyslexia. The posting, however, applies to other "e's" beside dyslexia and brings some clarity to how learning disabilities should be diagnosed in high-ability kiddos, endorsing the discrepancy model (the difference between potential and performance) as a key to ferreting out LDs. Find the posting. (Thanks to the Eides and Dyslexic Advantage for making us aware of MacEachron's post.)

A GIFTED AND DYSLEXIC young man shares his experiences at the site of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities. Despite early academic success, he wound up in the "low math group" and took hits to his self-esteem. Until an eighth-grade diagnosis with dyslexia, sports maintained his self-confidence. Read his story.

GIFTED HOMESCHOOLING. The Gifted homeschooler's Forum (GHF) says that as part of its mission it "seeks to advocate for the gifted/2e community, providing an informed voice to organizations and policymakers who otherwise would hear little to nothing from this unique demographic." GHF surveyed its constituency about educational choice and found this: "The most significant result of this research is the documentation of a melding of educational options. Families surveyed by GHF are not making choices based on ideology so much as they are seeking the best fit for each child, based on the needs of that child and of the family at any given place and time.​ Families of all kinds deserve a seat at the education policy-making table, and families who homeschool should not be permanently marginalized—left unheard—because they have chosen to do what they believe is best for the academic and developmental needs of their children." Read more.

NAGC, in its periodic survey of news, pointed us to three items of possible interest to those in the 2e community:
  • A CNN article titled "How to Make Sense of the School Choice Debate; find it
  • A Politico article, "Five Programs Trump Wants to Scrap You Might Have Missed" (hint: one is the Javits program); find it
  • A letter from Senators to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee supporting funding for the Javits program; find it

GENERIC STRATERA for ADHD has been approved by the FDA. Find out more.

TEEN GIRLS AND DEPRESSION. Teen girls experience depression at a much higher rate than boys, 36 percent to 14 percent, according to research reported at The Washington Post. If this statistic is of potential relevance in your family, find the article.

DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION may soon be done in human brains without invasive wiring. The trick involves beaming two currents of different frequencies that intersect at the desired location. The technique is called "temporally interfering stimulation." Beside Parkinson's disease, the technique, now being tested in mice, might be useful for treating OCD and depression. Find out more in a study write-up or a New York Times article.

SURVEY OPPORTUNITY 1: LD Online is looking for input on the topic of assistive technology for students with learning challenges -- "why you are looking for AT/IT, where you look for information, what works in your classroom or at home, and more." Find out more.

SURVEY OPPORTUNITY 2. A researcher at the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training seeks input on the topic of LDs and stigma -- in particular, "Does the age of diagnosis of an individual with LD/ADHD cause a difference in the amount and type of stigma the individual perceives throughout their life?" The survey is for different learners of all ages and should take 5-10 minutes, according to the researcher. Deadline: June 7. Find out more.

SUMMER CAMPS AND PROGRAMS. Our May/June issue, just out, included the annual listing of camps and programs. After we published, TiLT Parenting issued a podcast from the point of view of TiLT's founder's 12yo son on prepping for a successful time at sleep-away camp. Find the podcast.