Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Asperger's, IEPs, Accommodations, More

AUTISM SPEAKS offers occasional "In Our Own Words" stories in which persons on the spectrum describe what it's like. The most recent story is by a young man with Asperger's who is a recent film school graduate. He talks about his interest in film making, how he was able to develop it, and some of the challenges he encountered during his education. Find the story.

LANGUAGE DELAY AND TWINS. Evidently it's not uncommon for twins to develop language later than single children. Some have hypothesized it was because of the extra demands on the mother's attention. But a recent study shows that the effect is greater for identical twins than for non-identical twins, indicating that the effect is indeed genetics-based, although certain delivery complications more common with twins may also contribute. Read more.

GIFTED DEVELOPMENT CENTER. This organization has issued its summer newsletter, noting that the Center is now 35 years old. Also in the newsletter: a pointer to two programs 
on 2e kids broadcast on Blogtalk Radio with Linda Silverman and Bobbie Gilman. Find the GDC newsletter.

WRIGHTSLAW has released number four of its six-part summer school series on the IEP process. This one is titled "Maintaining Control at IEP Meetings." Find it.

ADDITUDE. David Rabiner pointed us to an ADDitude feature titled "12 Steps to Smarter School Accommodations," steps starting with "document warning signs" and extending through "review and reassess." Find the feature.

AND FINALLY, THIS -- which you might have already intuited is true. According to a press release from the University of Colorado, playing in schoolyards that feature natural habitats and trees and not just asphalt and recreation equipment reduces children’s stress and inattention. Working on class assignments or gardening in such settings also provide stress-reducing benefits. Natural-terrain schoolyards may include dirt, trees and woods, and water features. Evidently woods are not only a great attraction to students, but, based on the researchers' observations, led to longer attention spans and a sense of empowerment in the children. Read more.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Gifted Camp, Behavior Problems, ADHD, Depression

GIFTED SUMMER CAMP. A program at Drury University, in Springfield, Missouri, attracts gifted middle-schoolers from across the Midwest, according to television station KSPR, presumably located somewhere near Springfield. The program is somewhat unusual (in our perspective) because if offers a residential camp experience to the younger set of gifted kids. Find the KSPR report; or, find more at Drury's site

SO HOW'S THE SUMMER GOING? Seeing more of the kids because they're not in school? Noticing behaviors that might be labeled "antisocial"? An article at Science Daily offers guidelines for what to do about that sort of behavior; find it.

AND IF YOU DO THINK YOUR CHILD HAS A PROBLEM, a Cincinnati television station offers ways to open up conversation with your teen. In the story, two clinicians offer advice such as watching nonverbal actions; noting dramatic behavioral changes; trying to use a relaxed moment where the child can open up; and not judging or penalizing based on what you hear. Read more.

AND IF YOUR CHILD HAS ADHD, About.com offers 10 things not to say to him or her; for example, "Everybody has a little ADHD. It isn't a big deal." Find the list.

IF YOU THINK YOUR DAUGHTER HAS ADHD, the Child Mind Institute has posted an article urging you to "look beyond the stereotype," because girls tend to cluster in the inattentive type, according the writer, a young woman un-diagnosed until 21. This is the second part of a series on "How to Help Girls with ADHD." The writer explains how various aspects of ADHD may express in girls, and some of the consequences of having ADHD. Find the article.

PREDICTING DEPRESSION. Research at Washington University in St. Louis has uncovered what could be a predictor for depression and other stress-related mental issues. Children with high degrees of "life stress" show certain patterns of activation in specific brain regions -- including our old friend the amygdala -- when presented with certain stimuli. The underlying assumption: life stress and trauma cause at least some forms of depression, so detecting the stress is somewhat predictive. Find out more.

FAST DEPRESSION TREATMENT? Antidepressant meds generally take weeks to become effective. So does transcranial magnetic stimulation. But low field magnetic stimulation, according to Harvard researchers, shows promise to have "rapid mood-elevating effects" if a recent double-blind study on depressed patients is any indicator. A portable device delivered 20 minutes of low strength, high frequency waves into the brains of subjects. Find out more.

PSYCHOQUACKERY for children and adolescents was the focus of a recent survey of professionals reported in the Journal of Clinical Child Adolescent Psychology. Survey participants (139 experts) came to consensus that assessments like biorhythms or handwriting analysis, and treatments such as past life regression therapy and crystal healing, were of little or no use. According to a write-up of the survey, quack therapy "addresses a challenging or hard-to-treat problem by proposing an overly simple solution. Psychoquackery also is usually in sync with the spirit of the times and is often promoted by a charismatic expert." Read more. (Want to solve all your problems? Subscribe to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. :-) )

AND FINALLY, THIS. A developing fetus will learn to recognize a nursery rhyme after a certain point in pregnancy, remember the nursery rhyme, and respond to it weeks later even if a stranger's voice reads it. The fetus evidently responds to familiar sounds with a lowered heart rate. The study's lead author says, “As a take-away message I would want mothers to understand is that their speech is very important to the developing fetus. When a mother speaks, not only does the fetus hear, but also the whole spine vibrates" -- which is pretty cool. Read more and marvel at the power of moms.

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.