Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gifted Ed, Gifted Creativity, Gifted and Dyslexic, and More

GIFTED IN MISSOURI. An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch paints a picture of how gifted students have been served in that state for the past few decades -- and how those same students are now losing programs aimed at them. The issue is funding at the district level. According to the article, Missouri used to provide tens of millions of dollars to districts, funds explicitly earmarked for gifted education. But changes in funding practices have meant that dollars formerly funneled to gifted programs can now be spent for other purposes. Read more.

BEN FOSS. We recently posted an item about this dyslexic entrepreneur, after which The Freep (thanks!) pointed us to an interview with Foss done in 2009 where he discusses his own experiences with an LD, including learning to self advocate and building a community of support. Of special interest is the inclusion of a portion of writing Foss did in answer to one of the interview questions before he went back to apply any of the several "polishing" techniques he uses on written materials. Find the interview.

PSYCHIATRISTS GIVE "THUMBS UP" TO INSIDE OUT. Newsweek sent six child psychiatrists to view the new Pixar movie Inside Out, about the emotions experienced by an eleven-year-old girl during the unfolding of the plot. The reviewers liked the way the movie portrayed emotions and their interplay, helped put feelings into words, illustrated the subconscious, and more. Read the article.

SPEAKING OF CHILD PSYCHIATRISTS, there's a shortage in the U.S., according to Aljazeera America. The article noted the long wait time for an initial visit, the low ratio of practitioners to prospective patients, and how the health care system might contribute to the shortage. Find the article.

WORKING MEMORY, IMPULSE CONTROL, AND -- SEX. Yep, that charming five-year-old grows up into a fifteen- or eighteen-year-old, but the same problems that plagued him or her as a youngster can lead to risky behaviors with fairly serious consequences. A blogger at Forbes.com describes a recent study of impulsivity and sex, mentioning as well the possibility of parenting practices that can ameliorate the problem. Read more.

NURTURING CREATIVITY. NAGC is making available articles from the current issue and some past issues of Parenting for High Potential on the topic of creativity and how to encourage it in gifted children. For example, one article, by Sylvia Rimm, is titled "Creative Underachievers." Find this resource.

OCD: WHICH TREATMENT? That question might be best answered by brain imaging, according to a study at UCLA. Scans can identify, for example, patients who might benefit most from cognitive-behavioral therapy which actually builds more in-brain connectivity. Read more.

TOURETTE'S: ALSO CBT? A completely separate study shows that cognitive-behavioral therapy can also change the brain functioning of people with Tourette's. If this is an issue at your house, find out more.

ASD AND GUINEA PIGS. Guinea pigs can evidently "calm" kids on the autism spectrum, making these kids "more eager to attend, display more interactive social behavior and become less anxious," according to a blog at The New York Times. While the ASD kiddos will still require social skills training, the guinea pig intervention can help that process. Read more.

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie. Don't forget that this movie has a scheduled screening in Bethesda, Maryland, on October 13, sponsored by With Understanding Comes Calm and the Weinfeld Education Group. If you're in that area, find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS -- something else to worry about. A mouse study indicates that repeated courses of antibiotics early in life can disrupt the gut microbiome, in effect reprogramming the metabolism and changing the course of development. The researchers say that the findings mean there might be "a biological cost" for repeated antibiotics in childhood. Read more.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ADHD, ASD, Gap Year, Dyslexia...

FOLLOW-UP: FIDGETING. We recently wrote about a study indicating that students with ADHD would benefit from being allowed to fidget in school. Now the Well column in The New York Times explores that study and the topic (and introduces the phrase "wiggle at will"). The study showed that kids with ADHD who fidgeted were more likely to gain correct responses on a test of attention and cognitive control. If the findings interest you, check out the Well feature.

ADHD OR BIPOLAR DISORDER? An article at the site of Current Psychiatry notes that an irritable, oppositional kid with ADHD might be hard to distinguish from one with bipolar disorder. It also notes a high rate of comorbidity, stating that 50-70 percent of those with bipolar disorder also have ADHD. The article compares symptoms of the two disorders in children and provides a case study. Got suspicions about a kid you know? Find the article.

AND MORE ON ADHD. ADDitude offers a "diagnosis and treatment guide" called "ADHD: The First Hundred Days." It covers signs and symptoms, diagnosis, comorbidities, treatment, and much more. Find the guide.

PIVOT TO: AUTISM. High-functioning kids with autism seemed to benefit from an intensive reading-based intervention in a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The intervention apparently strengthened interconnections in the brain, allowing the children to better comprehend what they were reading. Read more.

AUTISM AND OXCYTOCIN. Several clinical trials are underway to see if the hormone oxytocin can benefit people on the autism spectrum, and, if so, what subset of those with ASD would benefit. One such trial will include 300 children and teens with ASD to see if the hormone affects cognition and/or social functioning. Find out more.

THE GAP YEAR. For kids who seem to be slow in maturing cognitively and emotionally, a gap year might make lots of sense. A columnist in The Washington Post makes the case for how a gap year might help a young person succeed in college. Read more.

UNDERSTOOD is currently offering a blog post titled "Make Dyslexia About Strengths, Not Shame," said shame coming from not feeling "normal." The author brings up the riff about "if you're terrible at a thing you're asked to do every day..." -- a familiar situation for any twice-exceptional child. Find the blog. And Understood is giving away 100 copies of the blogger's book, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, to random participants in the site's Community Groups.

DIGITAL GAMES: GOOD FOR LEARNING? That's the topic of a recent discussion on NPR's Diane Rhem show. From the blurb: "Experts say the best of them are challenging as well as fun. But critics question whether game designers are promising too much. Some say not enough is known about how these games can affect the learning skills and developing brains of children." Find the program.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Summer Edification, Gifted Ed in PA, ESEA, CCSS, More

TIME FOR SUMMER SCHOOL? For you, that is? If you've never gotten around to an organized learning experience about advocating for your child, Wrightslaw's Summer School might be an opportunity for you. This year's six-part session is starting now. Wrightslaw promises, "You'll learn how to plan and prepare to be an effective advocate, and find out where to go to get the information you need." Find out more.

OR, DO 2e ON YOUR OWN. There are lots of Internet videos available on the topic of twice exceptionality. We can't vouch for the credibility of all of them, but some of them are ours, and some of them are by experts such as psychologist Dan Peters. Find the results of a Google search for 2e videos. Your video "book" report will be due at the end of the summer.

FIRST GIFTED SCHOOL IN PENNSYLVANIA. According to NewsWorks.org, the state of Pennsylvania this fall will get its first school dedicated to gifted students. The private, non-profit Grayson School will open as a K-6 school in Broomall. Read more.

FOLLOWING THE ESEA REWRITE? Education Week has a write-up of the current situation, purportedly negatively impacted by trade bill activity. (Congress evidently has a hard time doing even one thing at a time right, much less two.) Find the write-up.

FOLLOWING COMMON CORE? Disgruntled stakeholders in the education system in North Dakota are part of a suit to keep the state from implementing Common Core standards, claiming that implementation "is unconstitutional and violates several federal laws that prohibit federal control of our public schools and their curriculum." Interestingly, the suit is being powered by a Michigan "public interest" non-profit, the Thomas Moore Law Center, along with a law firm from Missouri. Read more.

GOT A KID WHO SHADES THE TRUTH? That kid probably has better verbal working memory and thinking skills, if a study from the University of Sheffield has veracity. Evidently the correlation did not extend to visual-spatial working memory skills. Read more at the site of MedicalDaily.com.

AND FINALLY THESE ITEMS on exercise, creativity, and nutrition.
  • Teens and exercise -- short bouts of intense activity have a better effect on blood sugar, blood pressure, etc, than moderate activity. Read more
  • Walking improves creativity. Find out more
  • Two hours of sitting cancels 20 minutes of exercise. Read more
  • You should stand for at least two to four hours a day. Read more
  • High-fat and high-sugar diets cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of "cognitive flexibility," or the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations. Find out more
What to do about all this? Well, don't take it sitting down, that's for sure.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2e School, History of Autism, SPD, More

2e SCHOOL IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. A school called Big Minds has been in operation in the East Bay area of San Francisco for six years, according to an article at the website of the Contra Costa Times. The school, which currently serves 12 students between the ages of 8 and 11, was founded by a school teacher whose own children were -- surprise! -- twice exceptional. Find out more. In a related story, the school has won an award from Comcast called "Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs," one of six business recognized for "putting technology into action to grow their business and enhance profitability." The award includes cash ($30,000) and consulting services. Read more.

GIFTED ED IN MISSOURI. A recent article in The Missourian gives a fairly comprehensive look at the state of gifted ed in Missouri, including budget challenges and governance. The information is wrapped around a profile of one apparently gifted gifted ed teacher, who has a degree in special education with an emphasis in gifted education. Also mentioned briefly: how the state is trying to include more minority and twice-exceptional students in gifted programs. Find the article.

AUTISM PERSPECTIVE. A TED talk titled "The forgotten history of autism" was recorded earlier this year. The TED blurb for the talk says, "...to really understand [autism], we have to go back further to an Austrian doctor by the name of Hans Asperger, who published a pioneering paper in 1944. Because it was buried in time, autism has been shrouded in misunderstanding ever since." Find the talk.

GOT SPD AT YOUR HOUSE? You might appreciate a guest blog on that topic at the site of the Child Mind Institute. It's by the creator of the SPD blog "Putting Socks on Chickens." In the guest post, she relates the story of her family's discovery of their son's sensory processing disorder, which manifested in behavior that was often violent and aggressive. Find the guest post.

CONCUSSION, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY. Depression or anxiety that is caused by mild traumatic brain injury shows up as a distinct pattern in brain scans as decreased connectivity in certain areas. A researcher is quoted as saying, "The regions injured in concussion patients with depression were very similar to those of people with non-traumatic major depression disorder. This suggests there may be similar mechanisms to non-trauma and trauma-dependent depression that may help guide treatment." Read more.

DISAGREEABLE TEENS is the topic of a recent NPR program, and before we could even make a joke about "oxymoron" the program participants beat us to it. "I would think that being disagreeable is actually part of being a teenager," jokes one participant. It seems that disagreeable teens can turn into disagreeable adults who fail to recognize the causes of the difficulties they may experience in their relationships. Find the program.

GREEN SPACE -- GOOD FOR KIDS, even at school. That's what new research indicates, although questions remain about whether the link is causal or not. But we know it is, right? And this article can give you a basis for advocating for more trees, shrubs, and grass at school.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Quad Prep, Summer Learning, Cat Videos, and More

ARE YOU A QUAD PREP FAN? Kim Busi, founder of the Quad Preparatory School in Manhattan, a school devoted to twice-exceptional students, is featured in the alumni magazine of her alma mater, Brown University. Busi is an M.D. who left an appointment in psychiatry at a New York med school to do what many parents of twice-exceptional kids do -- make a difference for her child and others' children. Find the profile.

JUNE IS, among other things, Tourette Syndrome Month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The website of the CDC has a feature on Tourette's that includes information about the condition, about the Tourette Association, and about what can be done to help by families, peers, educators, and healthcare professionals. Find the feature.

SUMMER LEARNING. The organization EdX suggests using free online courses to stimulate that young person who is on summer vacation. EdX will offer more than 60 courses from top institutions in core subjects such as math, science, and language as well as skills-based courses in software development, computer science and innovation. In addition, select courses will be offered to help high school students with their AP exams and college admissions efforts. EdX is a nonprofit online learning initiative founded by Harvard and MIT. Find out more.

GOT A GIFTED UNDERACHIEVER? You might be interested in the SENG webinar on that topic scheduled for the evening of June 18th for $40. The event's blurb says, "we will look at the kids - and at the long term implications of being a gifted 'underachiever.'" Find out more.

SAN DIEGO ASD CLINICAL TRIAL. The UC/San Diego is looking for 20 boys aged 4-17 with ASD for a phase 1 clinical trial to test the effects of a drug that called suramin. According to researchers at the school, a single injection of this drug reversed symptoms of ASD in mouse models. Lots of conditions and caveats apply. Find out more.

SPOTLIGHT ON 2e SERIES BOOKLETS. We got a call from a school district the other day that reminded us that summer could be a good time to restock that supply of Spotlight on 2e Series booklets at a low price. Orders of 10 or more booklets (any mix) always qualify for a price of $10 per booklet, plus shipping. Find out more about the booklets and email us with questions about the booklets or about ordering.

SOMETHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT. The headline on a Washington Post story says, "Half of all basic life science research is seriously flawed." The research they're referring to is fundamental. As an example of that, the article says, "Years ago, before anyone tested the medications on mice or people, scientists somewhere did the basic research that led to the understandings that led to [a] breakthrough." Irreproducible results based on flawed research can lead to missed or delayed discoveries, at the very least. And research errors and mistakes can also cost taxpayers lots of money, according to the article. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. University researchers have turned their attention to the effects on people of -- Internet cat videos. The result? Watching cat videos does more than simply entertain; it boosts viewers' energy and positive emotions and decreases negative feelings, according to a new study by an Indiana University Media School researcher. In case you need to find such videos, the study write-up also lists the most popular sites. Read more, and then wonder whether 1) this falls into the category of "basic life science research" (see above) or 2) if it was taxpayer funded.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Aspie Valedictorian, NCLB, ADHD, Dyslexia, More

ASPIE VALEDICTORIAN. A young man in Washington state graduated first in his high school class, then disclosed during his valedictorian address that he has Asperger's -- which surprised many in the audience, according to a report at the site of Disability Scoop. It's a good story -- find it.

NCLB UPDATE. The Washington Post has an article about some of the negotiations going on in the rewrite of No Child Left Behind. It's of interest to those in the 2e community because some groups in Congress want changes that will require that "states take action at schools that are failing to serve subgroups of children, such as those who are low-income, African American or English learners, or those who have disabilities." (Those of you who read the article on IDEA and 2e in the current issue of 2e Newsletter know how states can short-change the twice-exceptional in the current environment.) If you're an education policy wonk -- or just interested -- find the article.

READING WITH DYSLEXIA. Want to see what it's like? Check out another article in the Washington Post, this one about a dyslexic designer who created a type font that gives neurotypical readers the experience that dyslexic readers might have.

DON'T SQUELCH THAT FIDGET? The constant movement of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be distracting -- but the fidgeting also may improve their cognitive performance, a study by researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute has found. The take-away message: The hyperactivity seen in ADHD may help children think. The study of pre-teens and teenagers with ADHD examined how movement -- its intensity and frequency -- correlated with accuracy on cognitively demanding tasks requiring good attention. It found that participants who moved more intensely exhibited substantially better cognitive performance. Read more.

ADHD MEDS. Seems to us that all parents would want to know everything they can about the meds that go into their 2e kids' bodies, and that includes even long-used meds such as stimulants for ADHD. The Child Mind Institute has posted a new article about the effects of those meds. The article covers potential personality changes (shouldn't occur), short-term effects, long-term effects (an increase in dopamine transmitters), effectiveness over time, and predisposition to addiction (maybe linked to the disorder, not the treatment). Find the article.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ASD BRAIN is atypical even into young adulthood,according to a new study. Researchers found an exaggeration of the normal thinning of the cortex that occurs during this age range. Moreover, this increased cortical thinning was associated with greater executive function problems. Read a write-up of the study at Science Daily.

SCREEN TIME. We have several items concerning screen time and video gaming for you to digest, if screen time is allowed at your house. First, one study says that active video games may actually be a source of moderate or intense physical activity in children five to eight years old; read more. Next, children diagnosed with ADHD can improve their behavior and social interactions in the classroom by playing a computer game that exercises their concentration, finds new research; read more. Third, some are using video games to teach social skills like empathy, as described in an article at Newsweek. And fourth, excessive screen time can decrease bone density in teen boys, says a Norwegian study you can read about at DailyRx.com. So: what's your position on screen time?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2e Fundraiser, 2e Movie, ADHD, and 1917 Chalkboards

2e FUNDRAISER IN MINNEAPOLIS. The Minneaoplis Star-Tribune previewed the June 6th fundraiser for Arete School for Exceptional and Gifted Children, in Hopkins, Minnesota. Through a good family connection, the school's founder, Leah Brzezinski, was able to obtain the Minnesota Vikings training facility for the fundraiser. Part of the fundraiser was a screening of the movie "2e: Twice Exceptional"; in attendance was the movie's creator, Tom Ropelewski. Read more. (And our kids are still "2e" students, not 2e students, if the article's usage is to be believed.)

MORE ON THE MOVIE. "2e: Twice Exceptional" is now available on DVD from the movie's producer. Not only is it an excellent, engaging documentary by a Hollywood pro, but proceeds help support the non-profit 2e Center for Research and Development located on the Bridges Academy campus in Studio City, California. Find out more about the DVD.

ALSO IN MINNESOTA, RIGHT NOW, the Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Student Symposium is going on in Austin, Minnesota. It's covered at KIMT.com, and you can get even more information at a page on the Minnesota Department of Education site. The symposium runs through Thursday, but unfortunately for procrastinators registration closed June 2 -- at least, that's what the DOE site says. Next year!

ADHD: THE TREATMENT QUESTION. Bloomberg News has advice from two clinicians, one who has an ADHD son, about the best way to treat ADHD. Factors affecting the type of treatment should include the child's age, the severity of the symptoms, and how ADHD is affecting the child's mental state. Find the article. The son with ADHD? He evidently struggled in high school but "opted to use a stimulant occasionally in medical school."

MED SCHOOL TESTS AND EXTRA TIME. Aspiring med students with disabilities can get extra time on the Medical College Admission Test, and those who do are admitted to med school at about the same rate as other applicants. However, a new study shows that they passed licensing exams at lower rates, even after adjusting for MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs. The researchers suggested that "medical schools should examine their learning environments and support systems for individuals with disabilities." Read more.

WORRIED ABOUT DYSGRAPHIA in your bright grade-schooler? The website Understood has a page listing common signs of dysgraphia. Find it.

INATTENTIVE ADHD. In a 17-"slide" feature, ADDitude promises to show us "what inattentive ADHD really looks like." If you're early in your 2e journey and wondering about ADHD, check out the slideshow.

QUAD PREP EARLY CHILDHOOD PILOT CLASS. The Quad Prep school in Manhattan has announced that it will form an Early Childhood Division officially launching in September of 2016, but that a pilot class will start in September of this year. In Manhattan and looking for something like this? Find out more.

THE BRAIN AND THE GUT, REDUX. According to new research, young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms, with the effect being greatest among those at genetic risk for social anxiety disorder as measured by neuroticism. More exercise also apparently helped. We assume that by "fermented" we're not talking about beer and wine, but rather cultured dairy products such as yogurt or kefir; sauerkraut; kimchi; pickeled vegetables; tempeh; miso; and something called kombucha. Read a write-up of the study.

AND FINALLY THIS, 1 -- HEALTH AND THE STARS. Here are the first few sentences of a press release on NewsWise: Columbia University scientists have developed a computational method to investigate the relationship between birth month and disease risk. The researchers used this algorithm to examine New York City medical databases and found 55 diseases that correlated with the season of birth. Overall, the study indicated people born in May had the lowest disease risk, and those born in October the highest. Find the press release. Personally, we're not quite sure what to make of this, other than wanting to know more about "why?" Or should we dig out our old astrology charts?

AND FINALLY THIS, 2: CHALKBOARDS FROZEN IN TIME. Contractors working in an Oklahoma City school uncovered chalkboards that had been covered up and untouched since 1917, with drawings, writing, and pedagogical tools unfamiliar to modern-day teachers. Read more. Even more interesting would be to sit in on a classroom from that time to see if kids then were more "normal" or just as heterogeneous emotionally and intellectually as they seem to be now.