Friday, February 27, 2015

Gifted Ed, Eating, Sleeping, Underachieving, and More

COMMON CORE AND GIFTED ED. Evidently some states and schools districts are using the supposed rigor of the standards or the cost to implement them as an excuse for cutting gifted programs. An article at THE Journal describes a Fordham Institute study describes this trend and offers at least one countervailing possibility -- differentiated instruction. Read more at THE Journal or at the site of the Fordham Institute.

EATING DISORDERS IN COLLEGE isn't a topic we'd thought much about, but three articles at the site of the Child Mind Institute explain why college can precipitate such disorders, how you can recognize the problem, and what you can do to help. Find the articles. Separately eating disorders are also the topic of an article at USNews.com, which points out that a young person might not be diagnosed by failing to meet one of a number of criteria -- say, body mass that still fell into the "normal" category. Read more.

BURDEN OF PROOF. In due process cases where parents challenge school districts over the appropriateness of the programming for their children, the burden of proof during the process lies legally on the parents, pitting them against districts that have attorneys and even legal insurance policies to back their case. Some states have changed that. Now, a movement in Maryland is underway to shift the burden of proof in that state to the schools. If you have a child with an IEP, this is of interest to you. Find out more. (Thanks to Rich Weinfeld for pointing us to this.)

EMOTION RECOGNITION "TREATMENT." Researchers have developed an approach to helping children with high functioning autism improve their ability to recognize emotions in others. According to a press release on the study, children in the treatment group demonstrated significantly improved emotion-recognition skills and lower parent ratings of autism symptoms. The approach included computer instruction, repeated practice opportunities for emotion recognition and expression between the children and clinical staff, and reinforcement for accurately recognizing and expressing emotions in facial expressions. Find out more.

STRATEGIES (73 OF THEM) FOR TEACHING THOSE WITH ADHD. These are all supposedly research-based, and they cover behavior management, classroom modifications, presenting lessons, keeping on task, and more. Find the strategies at LD Online.

SLEEP. According to sleep researchers at the University of Adelaide, we shouldn't provide melatonin to children to deal with sleep problems. The lead researcher said, "there is extensive evidence from laboratory studies that melatonin causes changes in multiple physiological systems, including cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems, as well as reproduction in animals." Read more. Separately, Medical Daily has an infographic describing the dangers of sleep deprivation. While it's aimed at adults, it might provide perspective on the importance of good sleep for your children as well; find it.

CRUSHING TALL POPPIES. An entry at this blog deals with gifted underachievers and begs the question, "Why does school not fit them?" The blogger suggests that perhaps we have underachieving educational systems instead. Find the blog.

GIFTED RESOURCES NEWSLETTER. A new issue of this Australia-based newsletter is out, providing reminders of the International Gifted Conference to be held in Brisbane on March 21 (page 6) and also about Gifted Awareness Week in Australia, March 15-21 (page 9). Find the newsletter.

THE WOLCOTT SCHOOL in Chicago is for kids of average to superior intelligence who also have learning differences. On April 22nd, the school is offering a free program for parents and the public featuring Dr. Edward Hallowell. The topic: "Unwrapping the Gifts: A Strength-based Approach to Learning Differences." Find out more at the school's website.

COMPETITION. A math competition developed in Japan will be available to math lovers 13 and older in the U.S. for the first time this year. Sony's Global Math Challenge takes place on Sunday, March 22. According to the organizers, "Featuring beautifully designed brain teasers engineered to encourage a combination of intuition and intelligence, the GMC pits math minds from around the world against each other, with participation expected from the U.S., Japan, China, Spain, and beyond." Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS: MEDIA BASHING. TV causes high blood pressure in kids. More specifically, a study on European children concludes that spending more than two hours a day in front of a screen increases the probability of high blood pressure by 30%. The article also points out that doing no daily physical activity or doing less than an hour a day increases this risk by 50%. Find out more. (Any questions on where we stand on excessive media use?)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Autism, Boys, Brains, Sleep, More

UNDERSTANDING AUTISM is the title of an article at MedicalDaily.com, and it does a good job of characterizing some of the traits and myths that adhere to the "autism" label. The author covers the "savant" misconception, for example, but also notes, "Autistic people’s tendency to have high levels of processing local information may lead them to focus completely on certain patterns (like the calendar) and master them." Also covered: obsessions and repetitions; and social skills and communication. Find the article

SCHOOL: BAD FOR BOYS? A writer in the Washington Post says "Kids haven't change much over the past 150 years; our society has." She contrasts a boy's natural desire to more, to create, to be active with school's requirement to shut up and sit still all day. And she notes how boys lag girls across the board academically and behaviorally. Read more

EXPLORING KIDS: DIFFERENT BRAINS. Preteens who experiment or explore new things may have brain processes that work differently than those of preteens who do not, according to a new study. Researchers first had subjects do a task to identify which were "explorers" prone to experimenting. Brain scans then revealed a certain stronger neural pathway in explorers than non-explorers. Got an explorer at home? Find out more about his or her rostrolateral prefrontal cortex.
SLEEP AND ADHD. A good night's sleep can improve -- somewhat -- symptoms of ADHD in kids aged 5 to 12, according to Australian research. The improved night's sleep was based on a "behavioral sleep intervention" Find out how sleep can help.
UNDERSTOOD offers a free webinar on February 27 on the topic of how to balance your child's use of video games, social media, and more. Find out more.
ACCELERATION. The most recent newsletter from the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa notes that the book A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, is set to be released soon. The book is about acceleration and its low rate of implementation in the United States. Read more.
GEPQ. The Spring edition of Gifted Education Press Quarterly is out. One article is titled "Defining What Characterizes a Great School for the Gifted." The author explains five principles that are important to such a school, including team-based learning, a fully-integrated (STEAM) curriculum, practice with written and oral skills, relevance to the world, and proficiency in using math "to solve problems in unstructured applications or challenges." Find GEPQ, and know that if publisher Maurice Fisher says it's the Spring edition, then Spring must be coming (thankfully).
FAPE EXPLAINED. FAPE is not an intuitive concept. For example, "appropriate" is unlikely to mean "best." But Wrightslaw to the rescue: In the current issue of Special Ed Advocate "you will learn about the legal concept of free, appropriate public education (FAPE). Find out how the courts have interpreted the meaning of 'appropriate' education and the caselaw that supports this concept." Find Special Ed Advocate.

Friday, February 20, 2015

GT/LD for All, Processing Speed, ADHD Treatments, More

GT/LD FOR ALL. An educator "facetiously" says, "I teach all of my students as [if] they are gifted with learning differences." This in a post titled "Finding the Gift in Every Student." Her point is that a student-centered classroom will help all students succeed, and that gifts and deficits must be addressed. Sound familiar? And is such a classroom achievable? Read more about what this educator wishes for her students.

SLOW PROCESSING SPEED is a very interesting topic to the readers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, if page-visit statistics for our website are to be believed. Understood.org has a primer piece on slow processing speed; find it. Then graduate to the piece on our website by psychologist Steven Butnik; find it. Separately, Understood.org offers online parent discussion groups on a variety of topics such as learning and attention issues. These will likely not focus on the gifted part of the 2e equation but might worth checking out. Find them.

TEEN DEPRESSION and the immune system is the topic of a video at the site of the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Vilma Gabbay covers how poor diet and lack of sleep and exercise can affect brain chemicals. Got a teen? Check this out.

TEACHER RESOURCE. A MOOC from Lancaster University is designed to help teachers help dyslexic students learn second languages. From the blurb: "This free online course is designed for current and trainee teachers of additional languages. It offers you practical tools, as well as theoretical insights, to best accommodate and meet the needs of students with dyslexia in foreign or second language classes." Find out more. Thanks for Dr. Michael for pointing us to this.

BIPOLAR DISORDER ANTIDEPRESSION TREATMENT. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry describes the promise of a treatment for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder. The therapy is called OFC -- olanzapine fluoxetine combination. Read more.

WANT TO READ WHAT YOUR PEDIATRICIAN READS about treating ADHD? Family Practice News has an article about approved options for treatment, listing the sequence in which clinicians will typically try different treatments in order to reduce ADHD symptoms. See how far down the road of possible treatments your child might be in this article.

LATER SCHOOL TIMES. We've blogged about how research shows that a later school start time might benefit adolescents, but apparently parents aren't all on board with such a change. Significant percentages of parents would worry about a lack of time for after-school activities or transportation to school. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. More on the effect of chemicals on the developing brain and what can result. Some of the usual suspects are mentioned in this article -- BPA, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and phthalates -- along with an explanation of how the various chemicals do their harm. This article at Quatrz uses the term neurotoxicants for chemicals that affect brain development. Also covered: the effects of social stress in combination with neurotoxicants. Read more.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Adolescence, Code Words, ADHD, More

TEEN RISK: NOT THE PFC? Many professionals blame teen risk-taking and lack of planning on an immature prefrontal cortex (PFC). Recent research from the University of Pittsburgh suggests that "the teen prefrontal cortex is not much different than in the adult, but it can be easily overruled by heightened motivation centers in the brain. You have this mixture of newly gained executive control plus extra reward that is pulling the teenager toward immediate gratification." Read more to find out how the researchers came to that conclusion.

ADHD AND BIPOLAR DISORDER. ADDitude presents two resources for either differentiating the two or treating bipolar disorder in individuals with ADHD. ADDitudemag.com has a page called "The ADDitude Guide to Mood Disorders"; find it. And the organization offers a free webinar on Wednesday, February 18, titled "Identifying and Treating Bipolar Disorder in ADHD Adults and Kids"; find out more.

LEARNING APPS. Vanderbilt University offers some guidance to parents looking for education apps for youngsters, including general tips for app selection and recommendations of favorites in the areas of reading/writing; math; computer programming and problem solving; and preparing for kindergarten. The apps are tagged by appropriate age range. Find out more.

JEN THE BLOGGER STRIKES AGAIN, this time on the topic of "those gifted code words." You know them -- does "challenging" sound familiar? Parents of twice-exceptional kids will likely appreciate this blog posting.

WRIGHTSLAW. Special Ed Advocate has run a three-part series on "Mistakes People Make." Not just ordinary people, but people important to those of us in the GT/LD world, like evaluators/assessors and even parents. This latest issue of the newsletter covers mistakes school systems can make. Find it.

AND FINALLY, THIS. The Washington Post ran a piece titled "7 Odd Inventions that We've Come to Love." They're all interesting, but the one that justifies mention here is a product called the Necomimi. It's a headset that consists of cat ears connected to little motors connected to EEG sensors that read brainwaves. The device puts the ears into four states representing relaxed, mild interest, strong interest, and focus. It's affordable -- $49 -- but it begs the question of whether it would be ethical to outfit your child with one as a cross-check on what said child is telling you verbally. We'd be tempted. Find out more. (And, in the same piece, check out the "ostrich pillow" for weary parents.)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reading Ability, Declarative Memory, OCD, U.S. Education (Sigh), and More

PREDICTING READING ABILITY. Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Fumiko Hoeft, of the University of California at San Francisco, does research on children's success and problems with reading, recently completing a three-year longitudinal study children aged 5 and 6. The study analyzed all sorts of factors that might be predictive of reading ability, including cognitive ability and home life. Brain scans were taken at the start of the study and three years later. According to a description of the research in The New Yorker, the single factor that predicted reading ability was the growth of white matter in the left temporoparietal region of the brain during the three years. Dr. Hoeft thinks the growth is influenced by both genetics and by the child's environment. Find the New Yorker article. Interestingly Dr. Hoeft has also studied "stealth dyslexia," a topic described by Drs. Fernette and Brock Eide a few years ago in an article in 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter; find that article.

DELCARATIVE MEMORY is the antidote -- or maybe the ameliorator -- for five disorders -- ASD, OCD, Tourette's, dyslexia,and specific language impairment. This according to research from the Georgetown University Medical Center. Such memory, according to the researchers, is flexible and used both consciously and unconsciously to compensate for disorders. Find out more.

OCD PRIMER. The site of ADDitude has a three-page primer on obsessive-compulsive disorder, including what it is, treatment, its relation to ADHD, and the differences between the two. Find the primer


POLICY WONKS! Paying attention to the future of education in the United States? We've got news for you about NCLB. Will it be rewritten? Ditched? Scaled back? Depends on who you listen to. The House Education Committee seems to want to scale back the role of the federal government and rename the effort the "Student Success Act"; read more. The Secretary of Education has laid out his vision for what a new law should do; find it. And a group of 500 educational researchers want to get rid of "test-focused reforms," supporting a recent policy memo from the National Education Policy Center; read more.

ATTENTIONAL PLASTICITY. You've got it -- and, just as importantly, so might your attention-challenged child. Researchers have used real-time brain feedback to prevent attention from wandering during tasks requiring focus. According to MedicalDaily.com, "The authors also hope that further research on the subject could in the future assist in treating attention disorders like ADD or ADHD." Read more. Separately, other researchers have determined that "time-based interventions can be an effective mechanism to increase self-control." The essence, evidently: teaching subjects that waiting can possibly lead to greater rewards. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Maybe you haven't been paying attention to which baby names are currently popular, perhaps making your own choices years ago. But an article at the Washington Post, in the column "Speaking of Science," sheds some insight into the dynamics of choosing a name when you're part of a "network" such as society. Read more.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Annual Testing, The Brain, Energy Drinks, More

WE AT 2e NEWSLETTER ARE RESEARCHING sources of professional development for educators on the topic of twice exceptionality. Those sources might be conferences held by associations; university courses or seminars; state department of education offerings; and more. If you know of such resources, please do us the favor of telling us about them so that we can include as many as possible in our article and listing. You know where to send them -- Mark at 2eNewsletter dot com. Thanks!

ANNUAL TESTING, and standardized testing in general, has become a polarizing issue. An opinion piece at the site of The New York Times lays out some of the benefits. And by inferring a little into the statements made by the author, it's possible to see how the "class" of 2e students as a whole might be helped. For example: the author tells how testing can be necessary to see how well a school is serving particular groups of students such as Hispanics, because annual, all-school testing might be the only way to include sufficient numbers of the particular group to gain meaningful insights. And the author says of testing, "It lets schools follow students’ progress closely, and it allows for measurement of how much students learn and grow over time, not just where they are in a single moment." That's certainly of import for twice-exceptional students. Read the piece and see what you think.

RIGHT-BRAIN, LEFT-BRAIN. Old concept, but a new article at Los Angeles Magazine provides some perspective and history on the idea. The article provides commentary from the researcher and professor who was supposedly the first to define the dichotomy in humans and provides context on the origin of the differentiation. The author concludes, "...your sense of your abilities and shortcomings is just that—a perception that isn’t necessarily cognitive reality. If you’re bad at math, blame a lousy teacher." Find the article. Separately, if you're into psychology myths, there's a TED talk you might enjoy; find it.

MULTISENSORY LEARNING. We blog about different learning styles. Now scientists have shown that apparently images or motor activity can help in at least one learning task, memorizing foreign language vocabulary words. The study compared learners who did strict rote memorization; learners who were exposed to an image representing the word/concept to be learned; and learners who performed a motor action related to the word, such as drawing the word/concept in the air. Looking to expand beyond rote learning for that bright kid you raise or teach? Check out the study.

ENERGY DRINKS -- drinks containing caffeine, sugar, and other ingredients -- are associated with a an increased risk (66 percent higher) of hyperactivity and inattention, according to a recent study that compared energy drinks to sodas and fruit drinks. According to an article in Time, the AAP recommends against the consumption of energy drinks by children. Find the Time article; find a press release on the study.

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR LEARNING DISABILITIES points out that one in five children have attention or learning issues, but that only one in 20 are formally identified. This as part of a primer on "Rethinking the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind." Find out how NCLD thinks the law could be improved.

READING ABOUT SCIENCE. A writer at MedicalDaily.com offers perspective on something we -- and readers of this blog -- do all the time. And that is reading someone's reporting on a study and trying to conclude exactly what to take away from it. This particular science writer suggests that we understand that science writers need to make things interesting, and suggests that we understand that correlation is not the same as causation. Find out more.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Personalized Education, GT Programs, ADHD Meds, Picky Eaters, More

PERSONALIZED EDUCATION is the topic of an article in the Deseret News. Woven into the story are Bennington College, parental sacrifice, and a bright young man with dyslexia whose education helped him discover what career path would probably be best for him. Interestingly, the young man is now a programmer and "data visualizer." This is a great article about what education could be and should be for twice-exceptional kids, and for all kids. Find the article.

"GIFTED AND TALENTED PROGRAMS Dumb Down Our Students" is the title of a piece at Time.com. It starts off, "Intelligence should be seen as the end goal, not the starting point." Coming from a Dweckian point of view, the writer decries our belief in fixed intelligence because it can lead to the conclusion that "needing to work hard is a sign of low intelligence." There's some food for thought in this article, especially if you haven't read about the research of Carol Dweck. Find the article.

THE ADHD MED DECISION. A parenting columnist in The Washington Post tells the story of her family's decision to medicate for their son's ADHD. She says the decision wasn't easy, and advises, "Do your own research, explore all the options, and be open-minded." For the family, the results were profoundly positive. After a few weeks of meds, the child confided, “Mom, I used to be really stupid but now I am a genius." Read more. (By the way, this article has the rather ugly title "Why I Decided to Drug My Child.")

CREATIVITY AND RISK-TAKING may be characteristics of those with ADHD. The discipline of engineering does not traditionally value those characteristics, according to an article at a University of Connecticut blog, but research at that institution has the goal of finding a better way to teach engineering to those with ADHD and hopefully tap those traits. Find out more, and thanks to Tammie for pointing us to this.

OUR OLD FRIEND THE AMYGDALA is in the news, this time as a marker for potential depression or anxiety down the road. By measuring activity of this area, which is crucial for detecting and responding to danger, researchers say they can tell who will become depressed or anxious in response to stressful life events, as far as four years down the road. The discovery has implications both for predicting and treating anxiety and depression. Read more. Separately, if you're really into the science of the amygdala, check out a study at PLOS One titled "Preschool Anxiety Disorders Predict Different Patterns of Amygdala-Prefrontal Connectivity at School Age." Then tell us what it says.

SCREEN TIME is something mentioned often in this blog, partly because it seems to affect so many different aspects of a young person's life. A new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute offers guidelines for screen time for kids of all ages. Find the article.

QUAD PREP CONFERENCE. Speakers and schedule for the March 7th conference on 2e in New York City have been posted. The schedule includes two keynotes and three break-out sessions by a variety of presenters, some of whom are familiar to readers of 2e Newsletter and some who -- hopefully -- will be after we write up their sessions for the newsletter. Find out more.

2e LEARNERS BIBLIOGRAPHY. We've posted on our website, courtesy of the FPG Child Development Institute, an annotated bibliography of research and writings on the topic of twice-exceptional learners that includes resources from 2009 through 2013. We thank the Institute and Mary Ruth Coleman for making this resource available to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. Find the bibliography.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Picky eaters. Got one? We'd bet the chances are good. A new study assures us that picky eaters really do exist -- "that picky eaters do exhibit definable preferences and mealtime behaviors." The study write-up actually lists four kinds of picky eaters -- sensory dependent, behavioral responders, preferential eaters, and general perfectionists. Find out more about which type your picky eater is and what you might be able to do about it.