Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anxiety, Depression, Anxiety AND Depression...

THIS IS National Parenting Gifted Children Week! SENG and NAGC partnered to get this national event registered, and each organization is offering free webinars during this week. SENG also offers a free ebook and a blog tour. Visit either organization's site to find out more. And celebrate that gifted trait, without which your child could not be twice exceptional. Find out more from SENG. Find out more at NAGC.

CBT: ANXIETY REDUCER. Introducing lessons in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in primary schools would significantly reduce anxiety levels among nine- and ten-year-olds, according to new research from the University of Bath. Lessons in CBT involve teaching children how to identify and manage their emotions and to replace their anxious thoughts with more helpful ways of thinking. It also involves developing problem-solving skills to better confront and cope with anxiety-provoking situations and events. Find out more in a press release from the researchers.

ADOLESCENT DEPRESSION is increasing, according to an article in the Deseret News based in part on information from the World Health Organization (WHO). The article suggests a variety of reasons for the increase, and notes that boys are less likely than girls to be depressed during teen years. Also in the article: tips for parents on dealing with depression in their children. Find the article.

ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION. A podcast at the site of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance covers anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. One message from the podcast expert, who is from the National Institute of Mental Health, concerns the interrelationship of the two disorders: "One of the reasons to pay attention to anxiety is the hope would be that if we did a better job of treating it, we might not only have an effect on anxiety, but we might be able to prevent episodes of depression." Find the podcast.

GENETICS, AUTISM. New research from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that most of the genetic risk for autism comes from versions of genes that are common in the population rather than from rare variants or spontaneous glitches. The lead researcher says, "From this study, we can see that genetics plays a major role in the development of autism compared to environmental risk factors, making autism more like height than we thought — many small risk factors add up, each pushing a person further out on the spectrum." Read more.

CONNECTION is the theme of a riff by Jen at her blog "Laughing at Chaos." She reflects on the importance and benefits of having a "tribe" you can communicate with. She writes, "Connecting with other parents in this wonky, leaky boat has given me strength to keep on keepin’ on." Incidentally, the blog entry was composed as Jen headed home from the 2014 SENG conference. Find the blog.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lots of Items: ADHD, Asperger's, Gifted Ed, and More

THE 2014 SENG CONFERENCE began yesterday in San Jose, California. We had planned to be there, exhibiting, covering sessions, and seeing friends and subscribers, but other circumstances intervened. We're sorry we couldn't be there, and we wish all attendees a satisfying and stimulating conference!

BEING AMONG PEERS is one advantage for gifted students who attend the summer program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY) at Western Kentucky University, according to an article in the Bowling Green Daily News. Each summer, a couple hundred young learners get a chance to explore, for three weeks, a topic that interests them and to meet others who are intellectually curious. Says one attendee, "I don't have to worry about fitting in." Read more.

GIFTED ED FOR ALL. BELL Academy, in New York City, uses the Schoolwide Enrichment Model developed by Joseph Renzulli and Sally Reis of U Conn to provide an individualized, differentiated education based on each student's profile. All students receive instruction at the proper level. All students receive enrichment. Find out more.

ASPIE VALEDICTORIAN. Max, a young man in suburban Chicago, has graduated from high school at age 16 and plans to study neuroscience in college. This after being given an early prognosis of not being able to function independently. An article in the Daily Herald gives a nice profile of the young man and his family. (His mother went back to school for a master's degree in special ed after her son was diagnosed.) Why does Max want to study the brain? "I have worked with a lot of psychologists in my life," says Max. Read the article. (Free registration might be required.)

ADOLESCENCE, SLEEP, DEPRESSION. Sleep deprivation can lead to depression, according to a study recently published in the journal Sleep. And it's self-amplifying -- the resultant depression "in turn increases risk for decreased sleep," according to the abstract for the study, which you can read here.

ANXIETY AND ADHD. About.com has packaged three articles the combination of anxiety and ADHD. Are those challenges present in your house? Find the articles.

SENG VINE. The monthly SENG newsletter is out, and it previews activities and resources to be made available next week, which is National Parenting Gifted Children Week. SENG will offer free webinars each day of next week as well as an NPGC Week Blog Tour. Find the newsletter.

504 AND IDEA both cover a child's right to a free and appropriate public education, but provisions in the two acts can be used in different ways. At its website, NCLD offers a chart comparing the two; find it.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH. Dr. Thomas Insel is the Director of the NIMH, one of 27 components of the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. He was recently honored by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and a resultant video, posted on YouTube, shows Insel explaining the mission and activities of the NIMH. He seems like a refreshing type of leader in this important area. Find the video.

WRIGHTSLAW is up to Part 3 of its six-part 2014 Summer School on the IEP. In this one, according to Wrightslaw, you will: "Learn to develop IEP solutions that allow you and the school district to get your needs and wants met. Learn what strategies to use. Find out how to ask questions and what questions to ask!" Go to Part 3.

P. SUSAN JACKSON, psychologist for the profoundly gifted and founder of the Daimon Institute, is producing an hour-long documentary called "The Extraordinary Journey of the Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted." According to the Institute, the program will be finished soon and available for purchase. The Institute's Facebook page is the place to go for more information.

HANDEDNESS, LANGUAGE ABILITY. Infants who exhibit a consistent right hand preference are more likely to develop advanced language skills by age two, according to a recently published study. The study suggests there may be an advantage to having consistent hand preference as an infant. Results showed children who had clear early hand preference performed better on language skills tests than those who did not develop handedness until toddlerhood. Read more in a press release from the sponsoring university.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2e, "So Much Potential," Assistive Tech, More

"HE HAS SO MUCH POTENTIAL. If only he tried harder!” That probably sounds familiar to you. The phrase was uttered by a teacher in a story in The Jewish Press about a young man who as a third-grader could use the word "exacerbate" but not write his name on the blackboard. In explaining twice exceptionality, the author offers some tips for teachers on how we can "avoid losing out on the Einsteins of the next generation." Find the article.

2e GRADUATION STORY. Montel Medley, a high school senior with autism, graduated as valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA. At least part of his valedictory speech was on disabilities. Montel was nonverbal at age three and had special treatment or an aide for much of his K-12 career. Find the full story of Montel at the site of the Washington Post.

KEEPING UP ON ASSISTIVE TECH. An article at the site of the National Center for Learning Disabilities lists 14 apps culled from a recent LDCHAT discussion. The tools range from dictation to text to speech to writing aids. Find the list.

ADDITUDE WEBINAR. This organization is presenting "Why ADHDers Are So Sensitive and How to Handle Extreme Emotions" on July 16 at 1 EDT. The webinar is free and presented by Zoe Kessler. Find out more.

SUMMER READING. LD Online offers a variety of ideas to encourage summer reading. Find them.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Teens, Tweens, ADHD, Meds, and More

NOW THEY TELL US. Boston Children's Hospital researchers reviewing studies on stimulant meds for ADHD note that while studies show the effectiveness of the meds on symptoms, not many studies were performed regarding the safety of the drugs. An article in the Boston Globe explains that the Food and Drug Administration requested six follow-up safety studies from drug companies, but only two were performed. Read more.

ONE THING CLINICIANS WARN ABOUT with stimulant meds is the possibility of misuse -- but this misuse might be by young people who ask the child on meds to share or sell the stimulants. Evidently studies show that kids with ADHD who are on properly prescribed meds have a lower risk of overall substance abuse. An article at WTOP.com provides information on the topic; in the article is a pointer to an AAP study on the ADHD and substance abuse, and a pointer to guidelines for parents on ADHD medications from the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (Note: Also at the site of ParentsMedGuide.org are parent guides for meds for childhood bipolar disorder and depression in young people.)

TEENS AND CONCUSSION. Concussion can evidently express itself in symptoms that are physical, emotional, or cognitive, according to the American Academy of Neurology. Teens who suffer concussions take longer to recover than older athletes. Emotional symptoms evidently include "irritability, aggression, anxiety, depression, apathy, frequent mood changes or excessive emotional reaction" -- which sounds like a typical Zits cartoon and begs the question, how would you tell the difference from normal teen emotions? :-) Anyway, read more.

TWEENS are the topic of an article at the site of the Child Mind Institute that covers cognitive changes, social changes, and emotional development. Got one of these not-quite tadpoles and not-quite frogs? Find the article

POST-DOCS! The University of California San Francisco and the Center for Childhood Creativity in that city are awarding a two-year postdoctoral fellowship to an individual with exceptional creativity in studying the neuroscience of how high-level affective/motivational processing and learning interact, with an emphasis on outreach and community engagement. There are lots of criteria for the successful candidate -- check them out here, and scroll down the page to "Jobs."  Good luck!

EXPLORE® TEST AT DAVIDSON ACADEMY. The Davidson Academy will serve as a test site for the two-hour EXPLORE test on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. The EXPLORE test, developed by ACT for eighth graders, is an effective above-level test for younger students (grades 4-6), and provides the opportunity to demonstrate their advanced abilities. An EXPLORE test score can be used in the context of eligibility criteria for the Davidson Young Scholars program as well as The Davidson Academy. The cost is $65 and the initial deadline to register is Monday, Sept. 1.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Today we saw the first press release of the season with the words "back to school" in it, in conjunction with the word "shopping." We doubt that kids on summer recess have even achieved the proper level of relaxation yet, but commerce must go on.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Genetics, ADHD, Parenting, Dyslexia, More

GOT A RELATIVE WHO doesn't believe in learning issues, or ADHD? The National Center for Learning Disabilities offers three tips so that you can "move forward in a way that will be most helpful for your child." Included: how to establish common ground; bringing in reinforcements; and keeping the focus on the child. Find the tips.

GOT A KID who feels bad about the ADHD label? ADDitude offers a brief slideshow of 11 celebrities with ADHD. Hopefully your child will identify with the talents and interests of at least one. Find the slideshow.

FIGURE THIS ONE OUT: adults with dyslexia are five times more likely than non-dyslexic peers to report having been physically abused before the age of 18. Did dyslexia somehow foster the abuse? Or is it the other way around? The researchers who discovered this link aren't sure. Read more.

GENETICS 1. Understanding the basis of psychiatric disorders has been extremely challenging because there are many genetic variants that may increase risk but are insufficient to cause disease. Now investigators describe a strategy that may help reveal how such 'subthreshold' genetic risks interact with other risk factors or environmental exposures to affect the development of the nervous system. This particular research focuses on schizophrenia but could represent "a promising new approach for understanding the mechanisms underlying some of the most intractable psychiatric illnesses." Read more at Science Daily.

GENETICS 2. Researchers have been able to link a specific genetic mutation to a specific subtype of autism. Autism in general is thought to have many genetic contributors as well as a variety of possible environmental influences, but this study isolated 15 children (out of a population of thousands) with a specific mutation who had similar characteristics in appearance (large heads, wide-set eyes), sleep disturbances, and gastrointestinal problems. The researchers then achieved similar characteristics in an animal model by disrupting the same gene. Find out more.

A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL is offered by Jen, who blogs at Laughing at Chaos. She describes changes in her kids that once seemed unimaginable. If you need reassurance that things might get better as your kids grow up, read the blog.

AND FINALLY, THIS. If you read the recent blog item here about the controversy in Common Core math standards, you might be interested in follow-up discussion at the site of The New York Times. As usual, respondents' positions are mixed. Find the discussion.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

LD PhD, Sleep Deprivation, Columbus Group, and More

LOTS OF ITEMS today, July 3, right ahead of our Independence Day observation here in the U.S., where we celebrate the formation of our country and ditching mean old George III of England.

THE ITEM MOST LIKELY TO BE OF GENERAL INTEREST today is one that came to us via TheFreep (thanks), and it's a first-person account of what it's like to be a PhD scientist in the biological sciences while having a couple LDs and processing language at a 14th percentile level. It's a great account of perseverance, thinking differently, and good hopes for others with LDs. By the way, in his account the scientist makes a statement that makes it seem as if someone's fudging numbers: "Scientists and engineers (S&E) with LDs is not unheard of: approximately 0.9 percent (311) of all (34531) S&E doctoral recipients in 2011 self identified as having one or more learning disorders." Point nine percent? Some of these PhDs aren't fessing up. Find the article.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE offers Part 2 of a series on sleep deprivation in teens, "What Happens When Teenagers Don't Get Enough Sleep." We all know they get grumpy, but the article explains how being in a haze can lead to increased risk of injury, poor self-regulation, and substance mis-use. Find the article. In Part 3, coming up, what's to be done.

COLUMBUS GOES TO NEW ZEALAND -- the Columbus Group, that is. Next April, the 10 members of the so-called Columbus Group of experts on giftedness will be presenting a symposium in New Zealand. The group's focus is on giftedness as asynchronous development and heightened intensity. Kathy Kearny and Linda Silverman are both members of the Columbus Group who serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of 2e Newsletter -- but we haven't yet heard any invitations from them to accompany them, expenses paid, to cover their tour there. :-) Find out more. (Thanks for Jo Freitag for this item.)

POLICY WONKS might be intersted in a CEC "Issue Brief" called "Investing in Special and Gifted Education." It lays out the need for special ed, the historical background of major initiatives such as IDEA, and the federal government's woeful record of underfunding IDEA programs. Find the brief.

CBT AND MEDS -- better in combination for pediatric depression. That's the conclusion of a study that indicates a lower relapse rate in children who received both modes of treatment. Find out more.

SMARTPHONE AS TREATMENT TOOL. Data collected by a smartphone app can help clinicians treat disorders such as bipolar disorder by opening a "window" into patients' activities. During a clinical trial, "the app acquired data from patients' phones and sent the information to distant computers, where advanced algorithms analyzed the data to detect changes in patients' sleep, communication, mobility, and vocal patterns." Find out more.

ONLINE AUTISM STUDY. A study on the efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of autism symptoms is billed as "the first pediatric autism study conducted entirely online." During the study, researchers recruited families online, confirmed eligibility for the study, and gathered feedback from parents and subjects' teachers on the subjects' behavior. And the hypothesis? There was no statistically significant effect on behavior from the fatty acids. Read more.

WRIGHTSLAW SUMMER SCHOOL. Lesson 2 of Parent Rights and Responsibilities in the IEP Process is now available: identifying problems and clarifying issues at IEP meetings. Find it.

PRETEND YOU'RE A CLINICIAN. An article at the site of Clinical Psychiatry News gives an approach for differentiating the underlying problem in an irritable, inattentive, and disruptive child. (Hungry and tired?) Read the article for tips on differentiating ADHD and bipolar disorder.

AND WE'RE OFF -- for the long weekend, part of which might involve standing in front of a grill, part of which might involve rereading a chapter on the American Revolution, and part of which will likely be spent prone in contemplation. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Anxiety, Stimulant Meds, Common Core Math, More

ADOLESCENCE AND ANXIETY. There's what we think is an interesting and informative opinion piece on anxiety in The New York Times. The author, a professor of psychiatry, explains why teens might be more prone to anxiety. (The explanation involves our old friend the amygdala -- again.) The author also discusses teen risk taking, tying that phenomenon to another quirk of brain development, the maturity of the reward center. This, though, is just the prelude to a discussion of the treatment of anxiety and the role of stimulant medication in possibly making such treatment more difficult. If you have an anxious, teenage child, we think you'll want to read this piece. Find it.

PREVIEW. In the July/August issue of 2e Newsletter, we'll run coverage of a recent conference session on anxiety in gifted children and how parents can help the child experience "healthy" anxiety. Watch for it.

STIMULANT MEDS, CARDIOVASCULAR RISK. There could be a small but significant risk of adverse cardiovascular events in children taking stimulant meds for ADHD, according to the results of a large (700,000 children) Danish study. The results of the study emphasize the clinician's responsibility to screen risk beforehand and monitor treatment. Read more.

COMMON CORE MATH can be frustrating for parents and students alike, leading to a backlash against the standards. Some of the problem is parents' unfamiliarity with the new methods; some is the rush to implement the new curriculum. But for kids with LDs, or those who struggle with written or oral expression, the new math can present additional challenges. And some children are frustrated by having to show all of the steps. For example, to determine how many wheels are in a parking lot occupied by six cars, a student might be required to draw six sets of four, probably not inspiring to a learner who can multiply 
6 times 4 in her head. Read more about the pluses and minuses (no pun intended) of Common Core math.

LANGUAGE, GENDER. Boys and girls evidently learn language differently, with girls depending more on memorizing the proper constructs and boys depending more on invoking "mental grammar rules" to figure out the proper answer to a question testing proper language use. One of the researchers involved in this discovery says, "This fits in with previous research which has identified differences between the sexes when it comes to memorizing facts and events, where girls also seem to have an advantage compared to boys. One interesting aside to this is that as girls often outperform boys at school, it could be that the curriculum is put together in a way which benefits the way girls learn." Read more.

GIFTED ED. Read a spirited rationale for state and federal funding for gifted education, based on the experience of two Kentucky educators with lots of gifted ed credentials. The article, by Tracy Inman and Tracy Cross, provides a picture of how Kentucky compares to other states when it comes to putting money where the gifts are. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Maybe we'll stop writing about whether video games are good or bad for kids' morality and well being. It seems like every time we describe a study that comes to one conclusion, the next week we read a study with contradictory conclusions. This week's study headline: "'Bad' video game behavior increases players' moral sensitivity: May lead to pro-social behavior in real world." That's all we'll say. Read it if you wish.