Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Items about All the Usual Suspects

AN ADHD PRIMER, from Dr. Ned Hallowell, courtesy of The Washington Post. Valerie Strauss of The Post presented a list of questions about ADHD to Dr. Hallowell, whom she calls "one of the country's foremost experts on ADHD." His answers comprise, in effect, a primer on the who, what, and why of ADHD. One of Hallowell's first statements in the article: "...it is not a deficit of attention but rather a wandering of attention, and it is not a disorder in my opinion but rather a trait..." Find the article.

ADHD SYMPTOM PERSISTENCE. Sometimes ADHD symptoms decrease as children grow older, sometimes they don't. A study indicates that one factor affecting the duration of symptoms might be under control of parents -- "persistent parental criticism." Find out more.

DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. This non-profit organization's newsletter for February is out. It consists of all kinds of features likely to be of interest to those concerned with dyslexia, 30 pages in all, presented in an engaging, interactive format. Among the highlights: the Karen Eide Scholarship deadline is March 1st; this year the program will award 16 scholarship. Also in the issue: ADA guidelines, teacher resources, personal profiles, and more. Find the issue.

MORE ON DYSLEXIA. So there's this kid in New Mexico. He's eight years old. He has written a book (you can buy it on Amazon) titled How Relative is Relativity, about quantum physics. And he has been recognized in the state capitol for his accomplishments and for being twice exceptional -- because not only is he gifted, he has dyslexia. His next project is a novel about a girl who is twice exceptional. Read more.

ANXIETY "is poorly recognized [and] treated in children," goes the title of an article in Family Practice News. In reportage of a presentation held under the auspices of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (whose "News Clips" newsletter pointed us to this article), a psychiatrist is quoted as saying, "Pediatricians have an ASD... toolkit, they have an ADHD toolkit, and they now have a postpartum depression toolkit for moms, but they do not have an anxiety tool kit.” The psychiatrist, Dr. John Walkup, notes that anxiety is often confused with ADHD or ASD, but that both SSRIs and CBT (
cognitive behavioral therapy) -- or the combination -- can be effective. Find the article.

MORE ON ANXIETY. Evidently CBT can cause structural changes in the brain when it's used to treat social anxiety disorder. The volume of our old friend the amygdala decreases as anxiety decreases. Read more.

DEPRESSION. So far in this post we've touched on several of the bugaboos of twice exceptionality, so let's go one further. In an article in the "Well" section of The New York Times, a male writer addresses the topic of guys and depression -- and in particular, opening up about depression if you're a guy. If you raise or teach a young man who might be depressed, this article could be of interest to you; find it.

EARLY TO BED, RAISE THE GPA. A Norwegian study indicates that adolescents who go to bed between 10 and 11 p.m. get better grades than those who get less sleep. Is bed-time an issue in your house? Find out more.

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, is scheduled to be shown on February 20th by the Beth Sholom Congregation in the Washington, D.C., area. Find out more.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Depression, Dyslexia, Homeschooling, and Bill Gates

DISRUPTIVE AND CHALLENGING AUTHORITY. That's what this person did at age 12, and his parents sent him to a psychologist for pushing back and questioning the logic of their rules. Turns out this kid was Bill Gates. Read more. And this is interesting because it follows up on an item in our last blog posting about raising creative kids, which pointed out that truly creative kids can be difficult, not "sheep."

"ARIZONA IDOL" -- actually two education idols -- were honored by having a school named for them. The idols of school founder Dana Sempil Herzberg inspired her to rename her school for diverse learners, including those who are twice-exceptional. So the On-Track Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona, is now called the Jones-Gordon School. Read more.

HR 3033, the READ Act, has passed the U.S. House and Senate and will be sent to the President. The bill's full title: "To require the President's annual budget request to Congress each year to include a line item for the Research in Disabilities Education program of the National Science Foundation and to require the National Science Foundation to conduct research on dyslexia." Sounds like a worthwhile bill; it's given 30 percent chance of enactment. Find the text of the bill.

DEPRESSION is in the news this week:
  • Many depressed teenagers don't get follow-up treatment after diagnosis with depression, according to a study. Read more
  • Ketamine may get support soon from the American Psychiatric Association for use in treatment-resistant depression. Find out more
  • Researchers now report successful reduction of depressive symptoms in patients using a novel non-invasive method of vagus nerve stimulation, or VNS. Read a press release
  • Johnson & Johnson has a drug in clinical trials that seeks to treat depression by reducing inflammation in the body. Read more
  • And if you still want to find out more, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation is sponsoring a "Meet the Scientist" webinar called "Early Emergence of Depression: Understanding Risk Factors and Treatment" on February 9th. Learn more
LDs, DISCIPLINE. Julie Skolnick has written an article about disciplining kids with learning differences, covering strategies, creation of a personal connection, anticipation of behavior, and more. Find the article.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Jen the Blogger tells all in "What I've Learned from Four Years of Reluctantly Homeschooling a Twice-exceptional Kid." Well, not all -- but a list of 10 things learned from her experience. Find the blog.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Educating Educators, ADHD, Creative Children, and More

PROGRESS. Northeastern Illinois University is establishing a gifted teacher endorsement to students pursuing a Master of Arts in Gifted Education. According to the university, it is the first university in Illinois to offer the endorsement. "Coursework includes a solid foundation in the nature of giftedness, identification of the gifted (including underrepresented groups and students with multiple exceptionalities), program planning, gifted curriculum, differentiated educational strategies and program evaluation." Find out more.

ADHD MICRONUTRIENT TREATMENT. A University of Canterbury (New Zealand) study showed improvements in children's symptoms of ADHD when they were treated with a mixture of 36 micronutrients. A larger trial is underway. Find out more.

ADHD MEDS. A Canadian researcher says that warnings about the danger of ADHD meds in terms of increasing the potential for suicide can be misleading. “Health Canada has issued a series of black-box warnings about the suicidal potential of ADHD medications. However, these warnings have failed to take into account epidemiological studies showing the opposite, that increased use of this medication has been associated with reduced suicide risk in adolescents." Is this a concern at your house? Read more.

RAISING A CREATIVE CHILD may be partly a matter of not instituting too many household rules, contends a writer at The New York Times, who notes that most prodigies go on to be "excellent sheep." Comparing the upbringing of notably creative architects with less creative peers, the author says, "Yes, parents encouraged their children to pursue excellence and success — but they also encouraged them to find 'joy in work.' Their children had freedom to sort out their own values and discover their own interests. And that set them up to flourish as creative adults." Read more.

MATH PROBLEMS? Or rather, problems with math at your house? Summit Center is offering a webinar on February 4 titled "Math Difficulties: Reasons and Remedies" by educational therapist Nancy Knop. Find out more.

RTI -- WHAT SCHOOLS CAN DO and not is the topic of the current issue of Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate. If that 2e child you raise or teach is entangled with RTI, check out this article.

SOMETHING ELSE TO WORRY ABOUT -- BPS, a BPA substitute, described by UCLA researchers as not necessarily safer because of its effects on reproduction. ("Meet the new boss...") Read more.

Friday, January 29, 2016

ASD, Educating the 2e, ADHD, Depression, and More

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, is being screened on February 13 in San Francisco. Here are the details:
Where: The Innovation Hangar (formerly The Exploratorium) at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon St., San Francisco, CA 94115
Time: 2 PM
Tickets at http://bit.ly/1RK2fnN; $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Children under 12 admitted free.
Panel discussion afterward with filmmaker Thomas Ropelewski and distinguished guests Susan Baum, Ph.D, and Dr. Dan Peters.

THE GIFTED SUPPORT CENTER in San Mateo, California is presenting a second session of its four-week parenting development series "Parenting Your Gifted Child." Find out more.

INVOLVED DAD. A son's diagnosis with autism was the trigger for a Kentucky engineer to begin developing technologies that can help children with autism, for example by delivering behavioral therapy. One tool uses Google Glass to encourage eye contact. Read more.

PARENTS OF 2e STUDENTS RAISE QUESTIONS. A report at the website Greenwich Time, in Connecticut, tells how parents of twice-exceptional students are asking for more recognition and help for twice-exceptional students. One of the parent advocates has three 2e children in the local school district. The comments came during the presentation of a specially-commissioned study of the district's special education practices. Find the report.

THE STRESS OF ADHD. Sharp Brains tells about a study that showed how parents of teens with ADHD experience stress; mothers are more affected than fathers. Read more about the study.

SPD. Researchers have found that boys and girls with sensory processing disorder (SPD) have altered pathways for brain connectivity when compared to typically developing children, and the difference predicts challenges with auditory and tactile processing. A write-up of the study calls it "the biggest imaging study ever done in children with SPD. It's also the first to compare the white matter tracts in the brain of typically developing boys and girls versus those with an SPD diagnosis." Find out more.

ANXIETY? THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT, or so reports Forbes. The particular app is called Pacifica, and it supposedly "incorporates principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation, and wellness to break the cycle of anxiety, as well as helping users achieve real results to combat anxiety and improve wellness." Other apps mentioned help assess mood and "treat" various conditions using neurostimulation. Read more.

DEPRESSION. A newly published study resurrects the danger of aggression and suicide in children taking common antidepressants. This study was a a review and analysis of dozens of prior studies, now called "poorly designed." The new study says that the risk of aggression and suicide is doubled in kids taking these drugs. Read more. Healthday also reported on this study; find its coverage.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Curious about education in the U.S. and how it compares with other G-20 countries? You can find a 154-page report at the site of the National Center for Education Statistics, and compare countries on the basis of categories such as expenditure on education, graduation rates, academic performance, and even student and teacher attitudes about some things. Interestingly, the U.S. spends more money annually per student than any other country -- $25,600.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

News about a Variety of 2e-related Conditions, and More

TODAY'S POSTING consists of news items relating to depression, autism, ADHD, and more...

DEPRESSION. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that a new type of antidepressant acts quickly in mice, having an effect in minutes rather than weeks. Clinical trials are necessary to check its effect in people, but the drug, designated as CGP3466B, has already been approved for other uses in humans. (In the meantime, feed it to your depressed mice.) Read more. Separately, other research is underway to use genetic testing to determine which antidepressants -- or other drugs -- might or might not be effective in a particular individual. Find out more. Finally, as many as eleven percent of U.S. adolescents are estimated to suffer from depression by the age of 18. In California, according to one report, the rate of depression among middle-schoolers might approach 30 percent. Read more.

AUTISM. Group therapy helps children with high-functioning autism with their social skills, according to a study at a German university. The weekly therapy lasted three months. Find out more. And another study found that intensive reading intervention in children with autism can help better connect various parts of the brain. According to a study write-up, subjects showed "increased activation of the brain regions involved in language and visual/spatial processing in the left hemisphere of the brain -- where language abilities reside -- and also compensatory recruitment of some regions in the right hemisphere and regions of the brain beneath the outermost cortex." Find the write-up.

ADHD. According to NPR, a professor of pediatrics says that "ADHD does a disservice to children as a diagnosis." The professor would prefer to conceptualize ADHD as a spectrum disorder rather than something which is medicated or not depending on some cut-off score. Read more. Separately, the Child Mind Institute has on its site a new article on the topic of misdiagnosing ADHD for sleep disorders because both disorders can cause attention problems. Is attention an issue at your house? Find out more.

TOURETTE'S. The particular brain circuits responsible for vocal tics in Tourette Syndrome have been identified by a research team. The circuits are part of the limbic system. Researchers say, "A reproducible model of these behaviors now provides an opportunity to more fully understand how the disease affects the brain and provides a platform on which to test new treatments." Find out more.

RTI. Wrightslaw, in Special Ed Advocate, takes on the topic of RTI -- how it works, when it should be used, and how it should be monitored. Find Special Ed Advocate.

FOR BRAIN MAVENS, in particular those who find dopamine of interest. Evidently researchers at University of Florida Health have discovered the mechanics of how dopamine transports into and out of brain cells, a finding important for figuring out how dopamine is involved in various disorders. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. The memory capacity of our brains could be ten times higher than previously thought. If you'd like to know how, go here to read more about synapse size, the hippocampus, and other neural considerations.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Opportunity to Participate in 2e Research

The following statement is from a researcher at The University of Redlands in California...

Dear Colleagues, Parents and Students:

As a trainer of special education teachers, I seek to understand the perceptions of parents, teachers, administrators and adults who have educational experience with or as a twice exceptional student. This research will inform my understanding as to what components should be included in teacher preparation as well as add to the research in the field of teacher training. As suggested in the growing professional literature, there is little research that has included the voices of key stakeholders. These voices of experience can lend a valuable perspective to the field of teacher education.

I am looking for volunteers who are parents, teachers or administrators of students who fit this twice exceptional description. I am also looking for twice exceptional students (18 and over) who are willing to share their experiences and insights. Official diagnoses of an exceptionality or of giftedness are not required. As long as a participant self identifies as being twice exceptional or as having worked with this population, study eligibility is established.

Initially I will identify a pool of Potential Participants who will complete only a Consent Form and a Screening Questionnaire. From that pool, I will select a diverse group of Actual Participants. All Potential Participants will be notified of their final acceptance into the study or not.

Once identified as an Actual Participant, I will arrange with the individual to meet in person and discuss experiences loosely based on guiding questions. Alternatively, a Participant may prefer to complete interview responses via email. These interviews will take place in January through March 2016 and last for approximately an hour. The risk to participants in sharing their perspectives is minimal, and benefits will impact teacher training which would presumably improve educational experiences of twice exceptional students.

If you are interested in participating in this study, please contact me via email. I would also appreciate you forwarding on this Invitation to Participate in a Research Study on Twice Exceptional Students to others who may be willing to share their experiences.


Amber Bechard, Ed.D., Visiting Assistant Professor

University of Redlands


IRB Approval #2015-70-Redlands

"Twice Exceptional Students, Understanding Stakeholder Perspectives"

Events, Research Opportunity, More

WE'RE BACK after a four-week hiatus, and here's some of what's been going on...

TWICE EXCEPTIONAL MASSACHUSETTS is the name of a Facebook group for members of the 2e community in that state. It's billed as a "Group for parents of 2e children to share information, ask questions and discuss issues," and is administered by Elizabeth Shienbrood. Prospective members may ask to join at this link.

A WEBINAR ON TWICE EXCEPTIONALITY is scheduled for February 4th, to be presented by experts from the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa. If you read the most recent issue of 2e Newsletter and the coverage of the sessions at the NAGC convention in November, you'll recognize the webinar presenters. The title of the webinar is "Nurturing the Potential of Twice-Exceptional Students: Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Supporting 2e Students," and the organizers promise that "Participants will explore ways of better understanding and meeting the needs of 2e students, including developing academic strengths and facilitating social-emotional growth." Find more details.

2e TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, has a screening this coming Monday in Oakland, California. The details:
Where: BANANAS Child Care Resource, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland, CA
When: Monday, January 25
Time: 7:30 PM
Admission: Free
Hosted by: Amy Cheifetz, Educational Therapist and ADHD Coach.
Producer Tom Ropelewski says he'll be there for a Q&A afterward. For more information, contact Amy at amycheif8@gmail.com or 510-207-2995.

CAROL DWECK is the keynote speaker at a "Leaders to Learn" From conference on March 16 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. From the Education Week blurb: 'Join renowned psychologist and author Carol Dweck for a keynote discussion on how growth mindset practices can work in the classroom, and throughout school systems, to help support educational success." Find out more.

SUMMIT CENTER co-founder Dan Peters writes in the Huffington Post about the wisdom of Jedi Master Yoda in a column occasioned by the release of the newest Star Wars movie. Among the lines Dan riffs on are: "Fear is the path to the dark side" and "Named must your fear be before banish it you can." Find the column. Separately, the Summit Center has announced the opening of registration for not one but two "Camp Summits" for gifted (and 2e) kids, one summer camp on each coast. Find out more.

RESEARCH PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITY. A university researcher and teacher preparation professional at The University of Redlands in California has IRB approval and is launching a qualitative study to gather insight from parents, teachers, and administrators, as well as 2e students who are now over 18. She hopes to use these insights to prepare future educators to effectively meet the needs of 2e students. See a separate post here from today for complete details.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has posted articles on two topics:
  • Specialized behavior therapies for children and adolescents; find these articles
  • The steps clinicians should be taking to make a complete, accurate diagnosis -- FYI for parents; find the article
GENES AND ANXIETY. Who responds well to treatment for anxiety and who doesn't might be determined genetically, according to research from the Weil Cornell Medical College. The key is the body's ability to produce an anxiety-reducing compound called anandamide. Read more.

SCREENING FOR DEPRESSION. According to a press release, a new brain imaging study from MIT and Harvard Medical School may lead to a screen that could identify children at high risk of developing depression later in life. In the study, the researchers found distinctive brain differences in children known to be at high risk because of family history of depression. The finding suggests that this type of scan could be used to identify children whose risk was previously unknown, allowing them to undergo treatment before developing depression. Find the press release.

ESSA. Want to do your homework on this newly-passed legislation? Check out the Washington Post or the CEC's "Policy Insider" for more information.