Tuesday, July 21, 2015

National Parenting Gifted Children Week, and More

THIS WEEK, 7/19-25, is National Parenting Gifted Children Week. This event, co-initiated by the organizations SENG and NAGC, is listed in the National Special Events Registry and draws awareness to at least part of the 2e mix. At the end of the week is the SENG annual conference in Denver, with many sessions addressing both giftedness and other exceptionalities. Visit the sites of SENG and NAGC. Now naturally, Jenn the Blogger has a much more lively reaction to National Parenting Gifted Children Week than our dignified observation above. In fact, she's turning it into an opportunity for parents in the 2e community to tell her what YOU need in the name of self-care and sanity because of your role. Seems she's crafting her second book, one on that very topic. So here's your chance to help Jenn advocate for all of us -- and to share with others your secrets for sanity. Find Jenn's blog.

EARLY SOCIAL COMPETENCE as opposed to academic competence might be more important in predicting a child's later success both academically and professionally, according to a new study written up in both USA Today and The Washington Post. Social competence includes the abilities to make friends, to cooperate, to share, to listen to others, and more. The longitudinal, 20-year study involved 800 children.

TV: AN IMPEDIMENT TO SOCIAL SKILLS -- that according to another study showing that more TV at 29 months correlates to a higher likelihood of being bullied in sixth grade. The supposed reason? More screen time leaves less time for family interaction which means less development of social skills. Plus evidently TV-viewers make less eye contact. Read more.

DIFFERENTIATION: NOT BACKING DOWN. Remember the firestorm Jim Delisle touched off earlier this year with his Education Week article titled "Differentiation Doesn't Work"? It generated a huge readership and a barrage of responses. Delisle describes the type of responses he received -- mostly "not especially complimentary" -- but he reiterates his stand in a piece at the site of SENG. (He does allow, however, that "differentiation can work if we are honest enough to admit that we need to reconfigure our classrooms so that the range of student abilities is manageable." Read more.

NEUROSCIENCE AND PERSONALIZED EDUCATION. That's the topic of an article at DistrictAministration.com. Now, in there's anything we believe will help twice-exceptional students succeed (other than actually being identified as 2e), it's probably an educational setting that accommodates an individual student's strengths and weaknesses. To the extent neuroscience can foster that, we're all in. Some of the neuroscience-based enhancements covered in the article are the use of multi-sensory, hands-on learning; early identification of potential problem areas; relaxation and imagery; and the growth mindset. Find the article.

FOLLOW-UP: MEDICAL CHILD ABUSE. On July 14, we pointed here to an essay in The New York Times titled "The New Child Abuse Panic," which focused on that touchy area when a child's medical problems are uncertain and when parents are perceived by medical professionals as interfering with care -- to the point where some parents have lost custody of the child patient. The Times has published online seven letters in which, according to Times editors, "parents and doctors discuss when zealously seeking care crosses the line into abuse." Find the letters.

Friday, July 17, 2015

2e in the Washington Post, Anxiety, Going Out with SPD Kids, and More

TWICE EXCEPTIONAL makes it into the Washington Post! (Finally.) In the feature On Parenting the mother of a twice-exceptional young man recounts her family's situation and some of the struggles. Many of her sentences will resonate with readers here. Find the feature. And if you're interested, the author has written about twice exceptionality for other publications; find some of those essays.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE offers "Tips for Going Places with Sensory-Challenged Kids," and if you have one of those kid you know the challenges involved. The article covers the importance of predictability (and scheduling), making space for sensory time-outs, what to back in a "go bag," having an exit strategy, and more. Find the tips.

ANXIETY. A writer, now 23, offers a first-person account of what it's like to be a young person with a serious anxiety disorder, what the consequences can be (serious), how she came to accept it, and what things are like for her now, a decade or so after her first anxiety attack. Find the account. Separately, an article from New York-Presbyterian Hospital covers teen anxiety and separation issues. A clinician is quoted as saying, "Anxiety disorders constitute the most prevalent class of mental health problems in adolescents. Some of these include separation anxiety, generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders." Find the article.

HIGH FUNCTIONING AUTISM, social skills, and Daniel the Tiger. Evidently PBS character Daniel the Tiger channels Mr. Rogers, dispensing lots of "magic" that can help HFA kids better deal with social life. This according to Motherlode in The New York Times. Need such a magician? Read more.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE eNEWS for July is out, with news from gifted education(and non-education, in the case of the Thiel Foundation Fellowship news), Davidson news, legislative and policy news, and various web resources. Find the enewsletter.

AN EARLY WINDOW TO LD. A Northwestern University study using brain imaging has indicated that how well a child's brain recognizes consonants amid background noise can be a predictor of reading development. The 30-minute test on three-year-olds, conducted using EEGs, is expected not to become a commonly used test but rather to provide understanding of how children's brains process sounds and how that relates to later learning. Find out more.

GIFTED, BULLIED, RESILIENT is the title of a new book published by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. The subtitle is, "A Brief Guide for Smart Families." If this topic is relevant at your house, you can find out more about the book at the GHF website or read a review by Jenn the Blogger at the site of Laughing at Chaos.

WRIIGHTSLAW FANS might be interested to know that the organization is having a summer sale featuring 25 percent off its books, and training materials, along with free shipping on orders over $35. If your summer plans include finding out more about advocacy, special ed law, IEPs, due process, and so forth, check out the sale.

THE COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN does an interesting thing each summer, and that is to hold a Special Education Legislative Summit where special educators study special ed issues but also meet with legislators to advocate for the students "back home." CEC's umbrella includes both LDs and giftedness, so in theory this summit should address 2e issues; we'll check into it and get back to you. In the meantime, find out more about this year's summit.

AND FINALLY, THIS -- birth order has no "meaningful" effect on personality or IQ. So says a new University of Illinois study of almost 400,000 high school students. Evidently the study found that first-borns have a one-point IQ advantage, which the researchers called statistically significant but "meaningless." There were also some "infinitesimally small" personality differences. We're not sure. We'll take any IQ advantage we can scrounge, even a lousy point. Read more.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Webinar, Movie Screenings, Education Reform, 2e-Friendly School, More

DYSLEXIA WEBINAR TODAY. Understood is presenting a live panel discussion from 3-4pm (ET) today by experts on dyslexia. Find out more.

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, has two screenings this month, one at Confratute this week and one the week of the 27th at Edufest. Susan Baum, director of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, will present both screenings. If you're going to be at either conference, check out the movie!

THE STATE OF EDUCATION in the U.S. is (we think) nicely summarized in a Washington Post article about Arne Duncan highlighting his philosophy, the situation he inherited when he became Secretary, and pluses and minuses during his tenure. We realize that one's politics might affect how one views Duncan, but in this article he comes across as pretty "human" with values that many of us can appreciate. Find the article. On the same topic, an article in The New York Times covers current legislative efforts to amend NCLB; find the article. And one more thing: we discovered a website, The 74, that is focused on education reform. From its mission statement: "The Seventy Four is a non-profit, non-partisan news site covering education in America. Our public education system is in crisis. In the United States, less than half of our students can read or do math at grade-level, yet the education debate is dominated by misinformation and political spin. Our mission is to lead an honest, fact-based conversation about how to give America’s 74 million children under the age of 18 the education they deserve." Find it. (Maybe we can get them to take a look at the plight of twice-exceptional students.)

IN BUFFALO, NEW YORK? There's a school there that might fit 2e kiddos, The Academy Buffalo. It's a private school featuring one-on-one instruction in each subject area along with no homework. Check it out and start your due diligence.

A JAUNDICED EYE ON SPECIAL ED. An experienced educator writes at Education Week Teacher about special education and compares U.S. practices to Finland's. (Guess which nation's gets more favorable mentions.) We point you to this column because special ed might be in the cards for some twice-exceptional students, and this educator's view of the system might provide good perspective to parents of those students. Find the blog.

REMEMBER THE CASE IN MASSACHUSETTS a while ago of "medical child abuse," where a hospital and a state child welfare agency took custody of a young girl whose medical condition was unclear but whose parents were supposedly interfering in her care? A law professor almost found herself in a similar situation and writes about it in an article called "The New Child Abuse Panic." Find it.

NEW TYPE OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS. New, fast-acting compounds that treat depression with minimal side effects are under development, according to a write-up at Science Daily. The compounds focus on the neurotransmitter GABA rather than serotonin. They are yet to be tested in humans, which begs the question of how you ask a lab animal how it feels -- but anything that helps anxiety and depression in our 2e kids is welcome. Read more.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ADHD, Anxiety, Depression -- Triple "e's"

ADHD: DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD? An article in the Vancouver Globe and Mail tells how a diagnosis of ADHD can make a young person feel less competent -- even, as in the case of the student profiled to lead off the article, the young person has a high IQ. (Sound familiar?) The article quotes one of the researchers as saying that the results were "a surprise." (We can only surmise the researchers are not parents or educators of twice-exceptional children.) The article points out how an ADHD diagnosis can be a "double-edged sword" -- a challenge to work harder... or an excuse. Read more.

JOKING ABOUT AUTISM is part of the routine of a young comedian who is auditioning to be on the TV show "America's Got Talent." How young? A freshman in high school. The catch? As a youngster, Leo Lytel, diagnosed with autism, received dozens of hours per week of "rehabilitation" and specialized tutoring. By age 10, says the article in The Washington Post about his nascent comedic career, he was part of a study of kids whose autism condition has disappeared. Read more about his past and his quest.

A CHILD PSYCHIATRIST AND A NEWS ANCHOR walk into an article... Oops, no punchline here -- we're talking about a new piece on mindfulness at the site of the Child Mind Institute that features the experiences of news correspondent Dan Harris and the clinical expertise of psychiatrist Alison Baker. If you're trying to figure out how mindfulness might help your child -- or you -- live better, this article might be of interest.

DRUGLESS SUPORT FOR ADHD. A UK metastudy indicates that non-drug interventions in schools may be effective in improving outcomes such as performance in standardized tests for children with ADHD. Techniques such as organizational assistance can help children achieve better attainment levels, reduce hyperactive behavior, and increase attention. Read more.

ANXIETY IN KIDS: YOUR FAULT? A study of primates shows how an over-active brain circuit involving three brain areas can be inherited from generation to generation and set the stage for anxiety and depressive disorders. Brain imaging techniques indicated that the differences in more anxious individuals are in three "survival-related" brain regions. Find out more.

THREE ITEMS ABOUT DEPRESSION, which is often an issue with 2e children.
  • Eye pupil response is a possible biomarker for depression risk among children, according to research that studied offspring of moms with major depressive order. Read how
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment-resistant depression is described in an article at Fosters.com. Find it
  • Early diagnosis, intervention, and treatment are keys to successfully cope with childhood depression, according to an article at US News. Find the article
DID YOU SIGN UP FOR WRIGHTSLAW SUMMER CAMP? Session 1 for improving advocacy skills is in progress. Go there.

SCREEN ADDICTION is the topic of a column at the Well blog in The New York Times, where Jane Brody cites a documentary about teens so hooked they play "for dozens of hours at a time often without breaks to eat, sleep, or even use the bathroom. Many come to view the real world as fake." Got a media problem in your house? Read more.

MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE... Just as with BPA and its supposedly safer replacements, some substitutes for phthalates currently in use are considered dangerous and may have similarly harmful effects. Way to go, chemical industry! Read more if you like to worry about blood pressure and metabolic problems in your kids.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gifted Creativity, Impulsive Disorganization, Antipsychotic Medication, and More

NAGC AND PHP. If you've never read an issue of NAGC's magazine Parenting for High Potential, the organization has made a recent issue freely available to non-members. The focus of the issue is "celebrating creativity." Among the articles are one by 2e Newsletter columnist Sylvia Rimm on creative underachievers, and another co-authored by Joan Franklin Smutny of our Editorial Advisory Board. Find the issue.

A LITTLE LIFT FOR A 2e SCHOOL. When Leah Brzezinski held a fundraiser recently for her one-year-old school for the twice exceptional, Arete Academy (www.2a2e.org/), it didn't hurt to have a family connection to make the event something out of the ordinary. Would that all 2e schools had some such angle. Way to go, Leah! Read more.

THE FEDS, COLLEGE, AND LDS. According to Disability Scoop, the U.S. Department of Education will fund a new program, the National Center for Information and Technical Support for Postsecondary Students With Disabilities. The goal: to help students and their families understand their rights under ADA and Section 504. Find the Disability Scoop article, which includes a link to a Federal site with additional information.

YOU'VE GOT UNDER TWO WEEKS to possibly win free registration for the upcoming SENG conference in Denver on July 224-26 -- and you can do it with 50 words or less by submitting your personal testimonial of what SENG means to you or what you most want to learn about parenting a gifted child. Find out more.

THE IMPULSIVE, DISORGANIZED CHILD -- sound like yours? It's actually the title of a book from Prufrock Press. Lisa Conrad, who did a review of the book prior to its publication, says she was impressed enough to interview the authors on her blog, "Gifted Parenting Support." For starters, apparently both authors raised boys with executive function issues. Find the interview. (Thanks to Jo Freitag for pointing to this link in her Gifted Resources Newsletter.)

IT'S SUMMER, and the website Understood offers three features on its (current) home page that might help parents deal with summer learning, med breaks, and taking a break yourself. Go to Understood.

ANTIPSYCHOTIC USE IN KIDS. For the period from 2006 through 2010, antipsychotics for children and teens wereprescribed mostly for boys, and mostly for ADHD, a use not approved by the FDA, according to new research. If your psychiatrist is hinting about antipsychotics for your ADHD young person, perhaps check this study write-up.

"WE'RE HIT WITH 300 TOXINS BEFORE WE'RE EVEN BORN." That's the title of a full-page ad that ran recently in The New York Times, sponsored by Seventh Generation, a maker of cleaning and personal care products that are supposedly safe and effective. The goal is to overhaul legislation controlling the use of toxic substances in products. The "300" refers to research by the Centers for Disease Control that has spotted 300 toxic chemicals in newborn umbilical cords. The all falls into our category of "Something Else to Worry About," of course. You can read about the ad and see it (a small version) at the site of Ad Age. Or you can visit the site of Seventh Generation for more information the Toxic Substances Control Act. Or you can try to see if this link (fighttoxins.com) works for you -- it didn't for us.

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY to our friends and subscribers in the USA. Go read some history. Or listen to Stan Freberg's album United States of America. And wonder if any (or how many) of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were twice exceptional. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ADHD, ASD, Gap Year, Dyslexia...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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