Friday, May 27, 2016

Funding for Gifted and 2e Programs, Mental Health, and More

DO WE NEED TO FUND GIFTED (AND 2e) PROGRAMS? That's the question posted at the site of the Education Commission of the States (ECS). (You know the correct answer.) ECS notes that schools tend to ignore the needs of gifted students, and cites the lack of state and federal funding for the gifted, even with the munificent Javits funding of $12 million (this year anyway, until our all-knowing congress cuts it off again). ECS also notes something we've made fun of since the inception of this newsletter: "One issue [in serving the twice-exceptional] is that that some state funding formulas are designed in such as way that students can either qualify for special education funding or GT funding – but not both." Good thoughts on this web page; maybe pass them on to other readers who will take note and can act. (Thanks to NAGC for bringing this item to our attention.)

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. This organization has released the "2016 Children's Mental Health Report," which covers the negative effects of mental disorders in school, programs addressing mental health, and school behavior plans and interventions. Read more.

MINDFULNESS AND KIDS. Yet another study indicates that mindfulness training can be beneficial for children. The latest study, by the Erikson Institute in Chicago, focuses on mindfulness training in high-poverty schools in Chicago. Read more. Separately, a new study from Duke University indicates that growing up economically disadvantaged can cause epigenetic changes predisposing children to depression; read more.

UNDERSTOOD offers eight ways to help children improve working memory. For example: "work on visualization skills." Find the tips.

A WRITER WITH A VERY BRIGHT TEENAGE DAUGHTER offers interesting glimpses of life with that young person growing up. You might have a child something like hers, but even if not you'll likely appreciate the story, we think. From the article:
  • "I did not know my daughter was a particularly verbal baby until I had her brother, who was not."
  • On a preschool administrator, kicking out the three-year-old: "'She’s very smart. She just doesn’t seem ready for school quite yet.' .... My daughter was waiting for me in the hallway, holding a teacher’s hand and wearing only one shoe. There was a bite mark on her arm."
  • The daughter to the pediatrician showing the instrument he was going to use to examine her ears before she entered kindergarten: “Yes. I see it. That’s an otoscope.”
Find the article.





Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pioneer in 2e, Educator Resources, More

PIONEER IN 2e STUDIES HONORED. Dr. C. June Maker was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree from Western Kentucky University recently, according to WKU News. She is a graduate of WKU and currently a professor at University of Arizona. WKU News says, "Dr. Maker’s 1976 work Providing Programs for Gifted Handicapped was groundbreaking in the fields of special and gifted education and the concept of twice-exceptional children continues to develop today." Read more.

TWO ARIZONA EDUCATORS started a program to help high school students better interact with peers who have high-functioning autism, according to the East Valley Tribune. The students then mentor the autistic students in social skills. The article notes that the program benefits both mentors and mentees. Find the article.

GOT A RELUCTANT READER? A Washington Post writer describes how she got her son more engaged with full-length books, books to be read for enjoyment. The 10-year-old, who had no apparent reading-skill issues, was apparently just intimidated by the size of physical books. Find out how the mom succeeded-- by accident.

RESOURCE FOR EDUCATORS. The Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa is offering a number of online summer courses on gifted ed, addressing topics such as gender, perfectionism, differentiation, cognitive and affective needs of the gifted, and counseling and psychological needs. Find out more.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's spring Educators Guild newsletter is out, with information on ESSA, pointers to professional development resources for educators, pointers to some grants for educators, and more. Find the newsletter.

TEEN DEPRESSION. Exercise might help, according to a new study of the effect of light- to moderate-intensity exercise programs three times a week over six to 12 weeks. A write-up at MedScape quotes one of the researchers: "[O]ur review showed that exercise seems to be equally effective for both moderate and severe depression in both inpatient and outpatient settings, but we need more trials with better methodological quality to provide firmer clinical recommendations towards the dose-response relationship." Find out more.

ADHD INTO ADULTHOOD. In some cases, ADHD symptoms lessen or disappear before children reach adulthood, but evidently ADHD can persist in more than half of children diagnosed. Researchers investigated eight potential factors that might be linked to persistence, and found two that were especially impactful -- parental mental health problems; and parenting practices that lacked proper discipline. Read more.

MORE ON PARENTAL INFLUENCE. A thirty-year longitudinal study showed a link between depression in parents and the rate of depression in their children (three times that of children of non-depressed parents), with the most typical onset in children between ages 15 to 25. Sons and daughters of depressed parents had about the same incidence gender-wise, a different outcome than in children of non-depressed parents where daughters had a higher incidence. The study results came to us via the New England Journal of Medicine "Journal Watch." 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Giftedness, ADHD, Parenting Resource, and More

JOE RENZULLI posted on May 11 a YouTube video titled "What Is Giftedness?" In it, he explains his stance that giftedness is not just IQ, but that it combines above-average ability (and not just academic abilities), task commitment (motivation or grit), and creativity. This is his "three-ring conception of giftedness." If you're not familiar with it, perhaps check out the video.

LATE-ONSET ADHD refers to those young people who at age 18 have a diagnosis of ADHD but who did not meet the criteria for a diagnosis in childhood. Late onset might comprise more than two-thirds of the extant diagnoses at age 18, according to a study. Read more.

NEW 2e RESOURCE. A new resource for the parents of "differently-wired kids" is available at www.tiltparenting.com. On the site are podcasts, a manifesto for "shifting the parenting paradigm" to embrace "new normal," and a "TiLT Creed." The site says: "One of TiLT creator Debbie Reber’s biggest challenges in figuring out how to navigate the path of meeting her twice-exceptional son’s needs was feeling isolated and disconnected. In creating TiLT, her dream is that no parent walking this unmarked path will ever feel alone again." Find the site. (Thanks to The Freep for pointing us to this.)

DEBUNKING GRIT. A soon-to-be published study "found no evidence that grit is a good predictor of success," according to a write-up of that study. The researcher says, “If you’re going to spend money on something, you need to figure out what really matters and if it is something we can shift. I think grit really fails in both of those. We know from other meta-analyses that variables such as adjustment, study habits and skills, test anxiety, and class attendance are far more strongly related to performance than grit." Find the write-up.

AUTISM CLASSIFICATION TOOL. A newly-developed tool from McMaster's University aims to help clinicians, academics, educators, and others by providing a classification tool for the way in which children with autism are able to communicate with others. The tool, for example, characterizes how someone with high-functioning autism is able to communicate. Read more, or find the tool.

2e, THE MOVIE. FlexSchool in New Haven, Connecticut, has scheduled two screenings of the award-winning independent film "2e: Twice Exceptional" on Thursday, June 2nd, one at 3:30 p.m. and another at 6:00 p.m., at the New Haven Public Library, 133 State Street. Panel discussions will follow the screenings. RSVP to Susan Hemingway, 203-464-4222, or susan@flexschool.education.

OTHER RESEARCH publicized this week:
  • Incorporating omega-3, vitamins and mineral supplements into the diets of children with extreme aggression can reduce this problem behavior in the short term, especially its more impulsive, emotional form, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers. Find the write-up
  • The importance of friendships and family support in helping prevent depression among teenagers is highlighted in research from the University of Cambridge. Find the write-up
  • A Finnish study examines the amount of support from educational, social and health sectors to families in which ADHD is present, as well as the co-operation between the supporting bodies. Find the write-up
  • Sleep assessments in young children showed that, in the context of habitual snoring and enlarged tonsils and adenoids, moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea increased the likelihood and magnitude of cognitive deficits. These deficits include, but are not limited to, problems with attention, memory and language. Find the write-up

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Speaking" Gifted and ASD, Helping Parents of the 2e, Movie-goers' Breath, and More

A TWICE-EXCEPTIONAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT tells what it's like to "live in parallel universes," and makes some great arguments for "peer advocacy." He writes, "Just about every day at school I witness an exchange between a teacher and an autistic student where I know I can help, where I could serve as a translator of sorts. But I am told that I may not, that I must keep my opinions to myself, that I am not qualified. Who better to understand the language of a student with autism than another student with autism? I speak both languages." Read the article.

HELP 2e STUDENTS by helping their parents. That's the message from a mother writing in the UK edition of the Huffington Post. She describes her son's "differences" (the kinds we're all familiar with in the 2e community) and suggests that "if we want to help 2e children learn to manage and channel their intense natures, we need to empower their families" to change the environment, in part by reframing what is normal, informing teachers and other parents, and creating supportive communities. Find the article.

GRADUATING CLASS. Four years ago the University of Arkansas initiated an "Autism Support Program." This spring, some of the first participants in that program will graduate from the university. One of those graduates shares his perspectives at Arkansas Online. The article notes that only a few dozen colleges and universities in the country have such support programs. Read more. (Thanks, Nancy M, for pointing us to this item!)

ON MAY 12 we mentioned the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum "blog hop" on twice-exceptionality. In one of the blogs included "at the hop," Jen the Blogger gets serious about parenting gifted and twice-exceptional kids. "Parenting is a hard, often thankless job, and parenting outliers even more so. We have to fight battles others won’t acknowledge, against adversaries others don’t even know exist, all on top of the usual parenting battles which, let’s be honest, are enhanced because of the aforementioned outlier-ness." Find Jen's blog, "Laughing at Chaos."

ADVANTAGES OF MOOCs. US News gives reasons why high schoolers should take free online courses before applying to college. If your bright kiddo is in high school, perhaps check into what US News has to say.

RESEARCH. Popping up over the past few days are a few studies of possible interest to those in the 2e community:
  • When children hear their mother, the brain regions that respond strongly extend beyond auditory areas to include those involved in emotion and reward processing, social functions, detection of what is personally relevant, and face recognition. Read more
  • Scientists have just revealed that the brain has a network of regions involved in advanced mathematics, as well as simpler arithmetic operations. This network is only activated when numbers are seen. Read more
  • A smartphone app apparently designed and built at the University of Liverpool has been tested for its effectiveness in helping people manage mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Based on cognitive behavioral therapy, the app takes users through a process referred to as “Catch it, Check it, Change it." The lead researcher noted, "There were statistically significant reductions in negative mood intensity and increases in positive mood intensity." Read about the study; or, find the app

AND FINALLY, THIS. Movie-goers' breath can reveal what kind of scene is playing -- suspenseful, humorous, or boring -- through analysis of the chemical compounds exhaled by the audience. "It appears that we can measure whether there is suspense in the air," said one researcher. Find out more.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Reader's Response to a Recent Posting

ON MAY 5th we pointed to an item in the Huffington Post written by a parent who has dyslexia wondering about the place of GATE programs in today's educational system. We included the item in yesterday's briefing and received the following thoughtful reply from Trish Seres, advocate on gifted and 2e-related matters. Trish contributed a piece to 2e Newsletter several years ago titled "Race to the Middle." 


The article by the mom on HuffPost describes the situation poorly. It is her personal opinion of her personal experience (anecdotal), but does not even remotely compare to that of the majority of gifted dyslexics, often described as Stealth Dyslexia. Further, it is written by an educator/teacher, who apparently has been trained in the latest edu-political thinking by her school. Schools do not follow diagnostic definitions of either giftedness or dyslexia, or even dyscalculia. They instead follow RTI definitions, which differ from diagnostic research. 
First, children with high IQs and superior fluid reasoning and nonverbal problem solving skills think at the same advanced level regardless of class or situation — we used to describe this as gifted 24/7, not just gifted in math as a generic term that means talent. It is only common core and the latest fad to ignore student learning needs, and treat all to more or less of the same, that misunderstands high IQ or gifted, for talent in a particular subject. Gifted and Talented programs such as GATE are not for high IQ children, but for students who demonstrate academic achievement in the standard curriculum, rather than for high IQ students who require differentiated programs and instruction (more depth, faster pace, several years ahead of peers, or more opportunity for creativity), or may not be able to reach their potential due to such a mismatch between learning needs and instruction.  
Second, the way she describes  dyslexia and dysgraphia makes little sense. Most dyslexics cannot read music well, and learn music by ear instead. Rare exceptions when a child may have musical parents, early exposure and patient instruction would be the exception, and also someone with very mild dyslexia. 
Third, dyslexia again impacts every class in schools today. Her description in high school makes no sense. Every class in the Common Core EOC environment requires extensive reading and writing/ literacy proficiency. Since dyslexics do not demonstrate subject knowledge well on multiple choice bubble tests (need extended time, often don’t read out-of-context material with speed or word-level accuracy making multiple choice question a la Pearson a nightmare and unfair assessment of their knowledge and ability). A dyslexic will have the same superior reasoning ability and problem solving ability (thinking skills) with the same language processing challenges in PE as the child will in English, Science, Math. History is often a little better, since it is a story with a context, with the exception of Civics. 
Fourth, dyscalculia is described oddly in the article. Dyslexics generally excel in math, as math is it’s own language and all students are introduced to it at the same time, so dyslexics do not begin behind. A dyslexic with dyscalculia generally excels in the high level maths and math reasoning, but their only struggles are with simple calculations, misreading math word problems, sometimes with reversals such as fractions and symbols (times and plus look the same if rotated) and order of algebraic equations that use letters as well as order of operations. However, geometry and other math concepts tend to be an area these kids can excel. The writer doesn’t understand this, as her son is only in second grade, and in second grade the children are focused on math facts. Dyslexics generally cannot learn multiplication facts the way they are taught in schools — rote repetitious timed math fact sheets. They are holistic learners, need to know the why behind the what (crave meaning), and learn multiplication by being taught the old way with the entire multiplication table, showing the relationships, highlighting the factor Ts, using count bys, etc. 
Fifth, this generation of education is likely the worst for gifted dyslexics — the perfect storm. Every new edu-political fad seems targeted to discriminate against the gifted dyslexic child. Now we hear “just because a child has a high IQ doesn’t mean his gifted” with the term gifted redefined from student learning needs due to able to reason years beyond age peers to simply the old “high achiever” who used to be defined separately from gifted. RTI selected gifted dyslexics to very directly discriminate against, since gifted dyslexics generally never fall below the bottom 25% on the bellcurve that is required with RTI (RTI only addresses low IQ apparently), though the 2e dyslexics generally has two to three standard deviations between innate intelligence and certain academic skills apart from evidence-based instructional interventions that make all of the difference.
Excelling in one subject vs. another is talent, not giftedness and not dyslexia or even dyscalculia. I have a gifted dyslexic, and converse with experts and other parents of gifted dyslexics internationally on a regular basis. GATE programs in this environment in many states discriminate outright against gifted dyslexics, denying them access to advanced content and intellectual peers because the 2e dyslexic generally cannot keep up with the reading and writing demands or show their subject knowledge well on the Pearson-style worded to confuse multiple choice questions. By placing these highly intelligent dyslexic students into standard classes, the children feel isolated and without friends they can relate to (my son had very close friends when in gifted, now tells me he has nothing at all in common with classmates), and the school can pretend the child is standard and ignore both differences just letting the child struggle nonstop while the school performs educational malpractice. The child’s potential is squashed, and they learn to dislike school, feel isolated, and frustrated. 
This teacher/ mother’s ideas are dangerous. Ignoring disability is never a positive. These children need to have evidence-based instruction. However, special education has never done a good job with dyslexia, as special education has traditionally been focused on physical, behavioral and intellectual disabilities, and dyslexia does not fall into any of those. It’s ironic that the most common learning disability, impacting 80% of those classified as SLD according to most recognized research studies, is rarely addressed in this nation’s schools. The really hysterical part about it is that all of the accountability testing is pointless when schools refuse to address dyslexia with evidence-based instructional methods for dyslexia when so much quality research exists, and dyslexia represents 50% of literacy challenges. So, schools are holding these vulnerable children “accountable” for what they absolutely refuse to teach them the way they can learn — reading and writing and math fact proficiency.
Gifted dyslexics need gifted peers and gifted content, but they also need multi sensory instruction, whole to part learning, expertise in both gifted instruction and dyslexia interventions. They get neither in today’s schools.

-- Trish Seres

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mindfulness, Gap Year, Education in Finland, More

DON'T FORGET that our spring booklet sale is going on right now. If you subscribe to the newsletter or briefing, check your inbox for details; or, go to the newsletter website. We offer ten "Spotlight on 2e Series" booklets on topics that include parenting 2e kiddos, giftedness and ADHD, giftedness and Asperger's, giftedness and dyslexia, and more.

MINDFUL KIDS. An article in the Well section of The New York Times points out the benefits of mindfulness training for children, including improvements in executive functioning, improved math achievement, and lower levels of aggression, social anxiety, and stress. Of particular interest is one statement that 
directly addresses why we should teach mindfulness to kids: "Fundamental principles of neuroscience suggest that meditation can have its greatest impact on cognition when the brain is in its earliest stages of development." Read more.

THE GAP YEAR concept gets a boost from the choice of Malia Obama to take one before entering Harvard University. An article in The Washington Post notes the advantages of such an experience and explains how some colleges and universities encourage it. Maybe a gap year could be a possibility for that 2e kiddo you raise or teach? Find out more.

EDUCATION IN FINLAND has been lauded (and debunked) by various writers over the past years as that country's students outperformed on educational tests. A Fulbright scholar living in Finland adds his perspective -- dad and university lecturer -- to the discussion, and he's enthusiastic about what he sees. One concept he thinks the Finland education system applies well is this: "Give children what they need to learn best." Read more.

ACCOMMODATIONS. Wrightslaw, in Special Ed Advocate, recaps the debate on accommodations -- 
when they're appropriate, whether they must always be provided, whether they can lead to problems, and more. For example: do they lead to low expectations or under-performance? Find Special Ed Advocate.

DOES YOUR GIFTED KID -- AHEM -- LIE? A TED talk covers lying in children, specifically the beliefs that children don't lie at an early age, that they lie poorly, and that lying is associated with a character flaw. If your child sometimes seems to have a flexible relationship with the truth, you might find this TED talk interesting. (There's a transcript available if you're rather read than watch.)

RECENT RESEARCH. Crossing our desk this week were write-ups of several studies that might be of interest to those who raise or teach twice-exceptional children.
  • Neuroimaging studies of interconnected brain networks may provide the 'missing links' between behavioral and biological models of cognitive vulnerability to depression; find the write-up.
  • Individual symptoms of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, avoidance and a heightened response to stress, can be transmitted from mother to child and even grandchild by multiple non-genetic mechanisms; find the write-up
  • Providing an online computerized cognitive behavioral therapy program both alone and in combination with Internet support groups is a more effective treatment for anxiety and depression than doctors' usual primary care; find the write-up
  • Depression is a disorder that involves changes in coordinated networks of hundreds of genes across key brain circuits; find the write-up.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Whoopi Goldberg, a 2e Blog Hop, Grit, and More

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, who has dyslexia, was featured at the 13th annual Adam Katz Memorial Conversation held by the Child Mind Institute recently. According to the institute, "Goldberg sat down with Dr. Harold Koplewicz, president of the Child Mind Institute, to talk about the challenge of growing up with dyslexia, and how she thinks it may have helped make her the person she is today." Read more and watch the conversation.

THE GIFTED HOMESCHOOLERS FORUM has "blog hops," and one features twice-exceptional kids, more specifically "what makes them twice-exceptional." Included are entries from 12 blogs on the topic. Find the blog hop.

GRIT. An influential book titled Grit elicits thoughts from Scott Barry Kaufman, who is a colleague of the book's author, Angela Duckworth. Kaufman says, "Grit is a good reminder that an exclusive focus on ability and potential can distract us from the importance of other variables important for success." He also takes issue with the way the media has framed "grit." If this topic interests you, check out Kaufman's comments at Scientific American.

CONNECTICUT 2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL. We've learned about the Connecticut Experiential Learning Center, in Branford, Connecticut. Its founder says, "CELC is a small middle school that provides experientially-based education with a personalized approach to learning, designed to empower young people to thrive. While we work with a range of learning styles, CELC's small size and personalized approach, in combination with the engaging curriculum, offers a lot to twice-exceptional students." Find out more.

INSIGHT INTO DEPRESSION. It's not just sadness, writes a contributor to a blog published by the Harvard Medical School. He says, "...depression can actually change your ability to think. It can impair your attention and memory, as well as your information processing and decision-making skills. It can also lower your cognitive flexibility (the ability to adapt your goals and strategies to changing situations) and executive functioning." All this is something to keep in mind if that 2e kiddo you raise is touched by depression. Read more.

ABOUT ADHD. Several studies recently focused on various aspects of ADHD.
  • One study found that the brains of kids with ADHD were significantly different than kids without ADHD; find the study write-up
  • Another study suggests that teens with ADHD have treatment needs different than younger children; find the write-up
  • And a third study indicates that kids with ADHD "engage in fewer healthy lifestyle behaviors," and notes that "healthy lifestyle behaviors may be an effective intervention either alongside or in the place of traditional ADHD medications.” Find the write-up

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, has an upcoming screening in Chantilly, Virginia, on May 17. The free screening is to be held at Auburn School, 3800 Concorde Parkway/Suite 500, at 7:30 p.m. This screening will be presented by Julie F. Skolnick M.A., J.D., of With Understanding Comes Calm and followed by a Q&A. RSVP to Michelle Ivey.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Need to improve your working memory? Take a run -- barefoot. Yup, that's the conclusion of a study from the University of North Florida. Read it to believe it.