Thursday, December 30, 2010

THE LAST POST OF 2010 is an appropriate place to mention Edutopia's solicitation for nominees for "Person of the Year in Education." Got strong feelings? Want to see whom others feel should get the title? Go to Edutopia.
MEDS AND KIDS. A Wall Street Journal article examines medications for children, noting that 25 percent of kids and teens in the United States take prescription drugs. The article points out that many meds prescribed for for kids haven't  been tested on kids -- a little odd, it seems to us. Finding the proper dosage, or finding unexpected side effects in kids, can be an issue. Find the article.
GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER CHILD? Check out a review of the book Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives. Its author checked research on a variety of in utero influences on children that potentially affect a child's weight, predisposition to diabetes, lung health, and other factors. Find the review.
THE TEENAGE BRAIN. Sharp Brains has posted on its site "Top 10 Resources to Better Understand the Teenage Brain -- Brain Health Series Part 2." The resources consist of links to features and documents on other websites, including those of New Scientist (on brain maturation), the National Institute of Mental Health (a "Teenage Brain Fact Sheet"), and PBS ("Inside the Teenage Brain," a documentary). Find the list.
THE DSM MEETS GENETICS. An illuminating article on the Scientific American website offers insight into a variety of issues that face parents of twice-exceptional children. Among those issues are: 
  • The fact that there are no validated lab tests for mental illnesses
  • The way symptom patterns commonly change over a lifetime, leading to different diagnoses
  • The heritability of traits 
  • Common co-morbidities, especially the tendency for certain disorders to "cluster" with others. 
The author, a former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that what we know about genetics does not map well onto DSM classifications. He further recommends that DSM task forces "create chapters of disorders that co-occur at very high rates and that appear to share genetic risk factors based on family, twin, and molecular genetic studies... [This] would be possible for certain neurodevelopmental disorders, anxiety disorders, the obsessive-compulsive disorder spectrum, so-called externalizing or disruptive disorders (such as antisocial personality disorder and substance use disorders), and others." Find this article.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

SPECIAL ED ATTORNEY Matt Cohen has started a blog where he describes personal and professional experiences with LDs and their consequences. His most recent post is a little chilling, and reads like a nightmare that parents of 2e kids might have -- about a 16-year-old with AD/HD who somehow wound up in a behavioral school for the emotionally disturbed. Find the blog.
A CEC ACADEMIC AWARD WINNER is profiled in her local Marion County, Kansas, newspaper. Despite an LD, she switched in high school from special ed to general ed courses and earned honors-level grades. She's planning on applying for scholarships to attend college. Read more.
DYSLEXIC ACHIEVER. A young man diagnosed with dyslexia at age 18 months discovered a remarkable talent for selling at a summer job, and as a result is donating some of  his earnings from that job to help pay for teachers to attend a Harvard University conference on dyslexia. Back-story: his early diagnosis came because of dyslexia earlier in the family, and he was part of a Rutgers University study. His father founded The Dyslexia Foundation. Find the article.
KEYS TO SUCCESS. An article in Education Week reports on research to identify non-academic skills necessary for success. The focus is on skills which can be taught like other skills. Examples are conscientiousness and agreeableness. Read more.
OFF THE TOPIC. Google labs has introduced a "Google Body," a body browser with which you can study a 3D model of the body, changing viewpoints and zooming in through layers, or concentrating on organs, or muscles, or bones. Using it is a great time, and it's gotta be useful for educators and learners. Find the tool. See a sample view. Note that the tool requires your browser to support WebGL; the site lists qualifying browsers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID. Last Friday we posted about a column refuting the belief that the fast pace of society "causes" AD/HD. Today, The New York Times printed three responses to that column, including one pointing out a character in Jane Eyre who likely had AD/HD, and another from the book Distracted that might have inspired the column in the first place. (The NY Times letters are always such a forum for civil, informed discourse, don't you think? :-)) Find the letters.
GOT SENSORY INTEGRATION ISSUES in that bright young person you raise or teach? The magazine S.I. Focus is moving to all-electronic distribution starting in January -- and at a lower price. Check it out.
VIDEO GAMES AND VIOLENCE. Exposure to violent video games or television is not a predictor of aggression in youth, according to a study from Texas A&M -- but depression is. The study contradicts earlier findings -- but read it if the issue concerns you.
HOW CAN SUCH A SMART KID NOT GET IT is the title of an article in the current issue of Gifted Child Today. One of the authors is Nina Yssel, the coordinator of a cool summer camp for 2e kids at Ball State University in Indiana, unfortunately no longer in operation (the camp, not the university). You can read the article if you have a sub to Gifted Child Today or are a member of Encyclopedia Britannica Online Premium; otherwise you'll have to settle for an excerpt.
IEPs... SPECIAL ED... ADVOCACY... PRETTY FUNNY. Wrightslaw has put together an issue of Special Ed Advocacy focusing on the humor in it all. The edition includes the following disclaimer: "If you are one of those humor-challenged individuals who believe there is absolutely nothing funny about children with disabilities, we urge you to stop reading now, and go back to biting your nails down to your elbow." Find the issue, including a Dr. Seuss parody "Do you like these IEPs?"
THE iPAD AS ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY. LD Online offers hints and pointers; find the column.
PREDICTING WHICH DYSLEXICS WILL READ. Researchers have used brain imaging to predict which teens with dyslexia would be able to learn to read. The key was extra activity in the part of the brain known as the right inferior frontal gyrus. Find out more.
ASD AND SEARCH SKILLS. A study of the comparative abilities of ASD kids and typical kids has found that ASD kids were less successful in searching a test room for a hidden object -- possibly because they failed to pick up on a pattern, that 80 percent of the objects were hidden on one side of the room. The researchers suggested that "ASD children have a hard time applying rules of probability to larger environments—especially those in which they have to physically orient themselves and navigate." Find the article.  
INTELLIGENCE. In a New York Times interview with a string-theory/cosmologist physicist, the topic of intelligence came  up. The interviewer whether the physicist thought that SAT scores defined intelligence. He replied, "No. They define the capacity to answer questions on an SAT test." Then he provided his own definition of intelligence, which you can read here.  
AND FINALLY, THERE'S THIS. Madame Tussauds is opening a US Presidents Gallery in Washington, DC, which "will be the only place in the world where people can see and interact with US presidents." (Now, if only we could get the members of the US Congress to interact.) Actually, Madame Tussauds has built a curriculum for educators focusing on the history of US presidents, for use when visiting the attraction with students.  Get a preview on YouTube. Or visit the museum's site.
 

Friday, December 17, 2010

AD/HD AND SOCIETY. Is AD/HD a metaphor for our culture-- the distractions, multiple demands on attention, sound-byte society? An M.D. writing in The New York Times assures us that it is not -- and then goes on to succinctly summarize what's known about AD/HD's causes and history. Read the article.
GIFTED WITH NON-VERBAL LEARNING DISORDER. NJ.com tells the story of a young, gifted boy who "Before the age of 1... could hum Brahms’ lullaby and the theme from Jeopardy. At 2, he could name the U.S. presidents in order and recognize their faces." But as he grew older, he struggled with a variety of problems -- struggling with motor tasks, and difficulty in play with other children, for example. The article goes on to explain that the boy was diagnosed with NLD, and provides an interesting primer on the topic. Read it
HIGHLY GIFTED IN MINNESOTA -- and getting services to dispel boredom. The state initiated funding for gifted education in 2005, and schools across the state are setting up programs for gifted elementary students. (The article quotes Wendy Behrens, a recent contributor to 2e Newsletter.) Find the article and see what Minnesota is doing.
STARTING A PARENT GROUP to support gifted children is the topic of a new publication from NAGC and Prufrock Press. You may download the guide at the NAGC site. NAGC has also launched a Career Center to help teachers find job opportunities in gifted ed. Find out more.
MEDS FOR ASPIES. A clinical trial is underway with a medication that  might improve social functioning for those with autism spectrum disorder. The medication, D-Cycloserine, was originally used to treat TB, and seems to resolve social deficits in a particular strain of anti-social mice. Read more

Sunday, December 12, 2010

ONLINE COURSE ON THE 2e LEARNER. Dina Brulles and Kim Lansdowne will present an online, graduate-level course for the Arizona State University teacher's college in the spring of 2011. Titled "The Twice-exceptional Gifted Learner," the course will last from March 21 to May 13 and offer a clinical explanation of twice-exceptionality along with educational implications. More information is available through https://secure.coe.asu.edu/candi/info_request/.
2e MASTER'S THESIS. A friend of 2e Newsletter from Australia has recently completed her Master's thesis in the area of education. In her work, Marie Lockyer, of Blairgowrie, Victoria, addressed the question "What are parents' perceptions of the diagnostic process and educational experience in relation to their child identified as gifted with Asperger's Syndrome?" She notes that while the amount of 2e literature at the academic level has increased over recent years, "The progress made in academia is not reaching the classrooms of Victoria's state schools, nor its Catholic schools, and only some of its private schools. There is a long way to go." Our congratulations to Marie for her work on furthering awareness of twice-exceptionalities.
AD/HD RESEARCH. Three studies reported last week dealt with AD/HD. In one study, researchers used twins to determine that three things are all influenced by common genes: AD/HD, reading achievement, and math achievement -- all presumably through the working memory system. In another study involving twins, researchers compared groups of participants with and without reading disabilities and AD/HD. They found that both conditions were associated with slow processing speed, and that there is a genetic correlation between reading disabilities and AD/HD. Finally, U.S. researchers studied CogMed, a Swedish working memory training program, on a sample of children both on and off AD/HD medication. The researchers found "clinically significant progress" in working memory function in between one-fourth and one-third of the children. Find the report.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ON EDUCATION. The results of an international, standardized test of 15-year-olds in 65 countries is a wake-up call for the US -- and an affirmation of the dedication to educators and education in other countries, especially China, Korea, Finland, Singapore, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and dozens of other countries outscoring the US. Read more -- and wonder what kind of education your gifted or twice-exceptional child is getting.

HAVE YOU USED NEUROFEEDBACK? In conjunction with an upcoming issue, 2e Newsletter would like to hear from members of the twice-exceptional community who have tried neurofeedback to deal with learning challenges in their gifted children, especially those with attention issues. Whether your experiences were positive or negative, tell us more. 

WRIGHTSLAW, in the newest edition of Special Ed Advocate, provides answers to common questions about services and accommodations for children with AD/HD. Find it.

CYBERTHERAPY. We recently blogged about some applications of cybertherapy, the use of computers and simulations to treat mental or behavioral issues. Today, the Tufts Daily ran an article providing additional information on the topic. Read it.

EDUTOPIA. The December 8th edition of this e-newsletter covered, among other things, brain-based learning -- along with some caveats, calling some published advice wrong, useless, or not based in neuroscience. The article highlights some myths... and some things that work. Find the issue.
 

ASTROLOGY HAS A BASIS? The scientists call it "seasonal biology," but a study has shown that there is evidence for seasonal imprinting of biological clocks in mammals. That imprinting, in turn, could help explain why people born in winter months are more at risk for seasonal affective disorder syndrome, bipolar depression, and schizophrenia, according to a report of the study. Read more. (What does this have to do with twice-exceptionality? Not much. But we thought you, O Gifted One, would find it interesting.)
 

SMART KIDS WITH LDs. Wrightslaw points out to us that this organization's 2011 Youth Achievement Award is now open for nominations. Read more and find an application here.
 

LOOKING FOR A GIFT for a teacher who has helped your gifted/LD child? Consider one of the booklets in the 2e Newsletter "Spotlight on 2e" series of booklets. One directed specifically at educators is Understanding Your Twice-exceptional Student. Another is The Mythology of Learning: Understanding Common Myths about 2e Learners. Find out more.

Monday, December 6, 2010

NEW YORK RESOURCE. Melissa Sornik, one of the founders of the group Long Island Twice-Exceptional Children's Advocacy (LI-TECA), now offers a variety of services to New York-area families with 2e children: individual and family coaching, social skills training, parent support groups, and workshops. Sornik is a licensed master social worker (LMSW) and a certified SENG model parent support group facilitator. She may be reached at 516.724.7100 or by email.
FOR YOUNG, GIFTED LITERATI. A new website, Figment.com, is aimed at young people who like to read and write fiction; the site allows collaboration and feedback. Founded by a former managing editor of The New Yorker, the site is seen as a way for publishers to find young talent and also to expose readers to published authors through book excerpts. The site went live today, December 6th.
FOR THE LITERATE YOU. Google Books opened its e-bookstore today. It offers access to millions of free books and hundreds of thousands for sale. A search for "twice-exceptional" brought up 11 books (none free), including titles by Barbara Probst, Renzulli and Reiss, and Carol Kranowitz. Prices are expected to be competitive with other online e-booksellers.
GLOBAL VIRTUAL MEETINGS FOR GIFTED EDUCATION. Through Jo Freitag, we discovered that there have been three global virtual meetings concerning gifted education, all taking place in SecondLife, and presented by the Bavarian Center for Gifted and Talented Children. The first one covered "Solution Oriented Therapy for Gifted Children." The third meeting, titled "Gifted Children and the Future Problem Solving Program International," is viewable on YouTube.  To attend, one creates an avatar in SecondLife, registers the avatar's name with the conference organizers, and participates online using a headset. According to Freitag in December's Gifted Resources Newsletter, the next conference, on January 29, 2011, features Deborah Ruf on gifted underachievement. Find more information here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

LD GOES TO COLLEGE. US News provides eight steps for students with LDs who want to attend college: Start preparing early; experiment with technology; be creative; put the student in charge; and four more. Find the article. (The article says that 3 percent of teens are diagnosed with LDs, a figure that sounds low to us.)
DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION WEBINAR. Compass Learning is offering a complimentary, one-hour, on-demand webinar on differentiated instruction. You may find more information and register here.
WAR: OPHTHALMOLOGY VERSUS DEVELOPMENTAL OPTOMETRY. We've run articles in 2e Newsletter about developmental optometry and the use of vision therapy for reading problems. In the second of two articles in the St. Louis Beacon, titled "Ophthalmologists express skepticism about vision therapy," you can get a look at what appears to be a dispute between two professional organizations concerning the use of vision therapy. Find it. Read the first article, the one presenting the point of view of developmental optometrists, here.
BOOK DEAL. Until December 10, Prufrock Press offers 20 percent off the cover price of Beverly Trail's new book Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children. Find out more.
AUTISM MARKER? Yale School of Medicine researchers may have found a fMRI pattern that could characterize a predisposition to ASD. The study included kids 4 to 17, and discovered three distinct "neural signatures. Read more.
SOCIETY FOR NEUROSCIENCE MEETING HIGHLIGHTS. Glen Close and Representative Patrick Kennedy both addressed the annual meeting on the topics (respectively) of the stigma of mental illness and brain research. You may view their presentations here.
PARADE MAGAZINE ON TEEN BRAINS. Last Sunday, Parade ran an article characterizing the teen brain and why it's like it is -- and what we can do about it. Find it.
CULTURAL NEUROSCIENCE is the topic of a podcast and brief article at the Scientific American site. Neural responses to similar situations differ across cultures. For example: "Scientists found that when American subjects viewed a silhouette in a dominant posture (standing up, arms crossed) their brain’s reward circuitry sparked. Not so for Japanese subjects. For the Japanese, their reward circuitry fired when they saw a submissive silhouette (head down, arms at sides)." Find out more.     
FOLLOWUP ON CYBERTHERAPY. A Scientific American writer comments on a New York Times article we blogged about recently concerning therapy by machine.The writer brings up the "Dodo effect," which (if you're heavily into therapies) you can read about here.
STUDY IN SPAIN, FLY FOR FREE. But the offer is restricted, of course. It applies to high school students enrolling in a particular Spanish-language immersion program and flying from Los Angeles to Madrid on Iberia Airlines. The deal is supposedly to mark the resumption of non-stop service by Iberia between the two cities. None-the-less, if your bright young person happens to need to learn Spanish next summer, check it out
APP FOR HEALTH CARE. An emergency-room physician has developed an app for iPhones that helps parents track various aspects of a child's care, helping to coordinate providers, keep food diaries, provide medication alerts, schedule appointments, record therapists' recommendations, chart sleep habits, and more. Originally developed to help the physician's wife care for their autistic child, the free app may help manage a variety of chronic conditions. Find out more.
LITERATE AND DYSPRAXIC. A young woman in the UK who has strengths in written and verbal communication writes about her dyspraxia, a condition characterized by difficulties in motor coordination which can also manifest itself with other challenges. Read more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

EDUCATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE. A SharpBrains.com blog posting notes that teacher ed programs are now being encouraged to include neuroscience relating to child and adolescent development. The blogger then lists 24 books for educators and for general readers. Find the list.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. In November's edition of this e-newsletter, David Rabiner examines a study in which parents were enlisted as "friendship coaches" for their AD/HD offspring in the hopes of helping the children achieve greater social success. The study indicated that parent friendship coaching helped kids with AD/HD in their social skills and peer relations, although not to a "normal" -- non-AD/HD -- level. Read Rabiner's newsletter.
WRIGHTSLAW. A late November edition of Special Ed Advocate noted the 35th anniversary of IDEA and provided a history of the legislation. Find Special Ed Advocate.
EDUCATION WEEK CALENDAR. The bastion of education-related news Education Week encourages organizations to share upcoming events with them for possible inclusion in a variety of calendars appearing in Education Week, Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook, and edweek.org. The deadlilne for submissions is December 15. Find out more.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

GOT AN IEP for that bright but struggling child? Here's what Wrightslaw says about the IEP: "The success of your child's education may depend on how well you document what happens during the IEP process." This weeks' issue of Special Ed Advocate covers how to create a paper trail that supports your position. Find it
SHARE A SUCCESS STORY WITH CEC. CEC is the Council for Exceptional Children, with activities in both the area of special ed and the area of gifted ed. As part of its advocacy for stakeholders, CEC is looking for success stories from programs such as IDEA or Javits grants. Here's the back story, in words from a CEC solicitation for those stories: "Every year, CEC publishes the Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children, providing an overview of federally-funded programs - IDEA and Javits grants - that impact the lives of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. The Outlook is distributed to members of Congress, federal agencies, and other leaders in the education community with the hope that a better understanding of such programs will lead to increased federal funding for special/gifted education programs... Throughout the Outlook are personal stories and photos of children and youth participating in special education, early intervention, and gifted education programs across the country.  These success stories help put a human touch on the graphs and charts that typically illustrate the need for increased funding for programs such as IDEA and the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act." So if you have a twice-exceptional child or student who has benefited from IDEA or Javits funding, let CEC know. Read more about CEC's request here. Find a story submission form here

BELLYACHES IN KIDS. Are they real, especially in light of normal test results? Such a condition is called "functional abdominal pain, and some parents and clinicians may tend to write them off as imaginary. But a recent article suggests that some children may be especially sensitive to sensations transmitted by the enteric nervous system, which controls the gastro-intestinal tract. Further, such problems may be best treated through the brain -- by guided imagery, hypnosis, or even low doses of SSRI anti-depressants. If your bright child is troubled by bellyaches, check out the article

LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION AND THE BRAIN. The neural networks involved in language comprehension have been mapped using MRIs of brain-injured and normal subjects, and it turns out to be complex: "The network included a core region within the left mid-temporal lobe of the brain, and extended to the frontal and parietal cortex in both halves of the brain -- all connected by long distance communication pathways." Future studies will look at the networks involved in talking, reading, and writing. Read more.

CREATIVITY, PSYCHOPATHOLOGY. Scientific American teases us by posting part of an article called "The Mad Artist's Brain: The Connection between Creativity and Mental Illness." It turns out, according to a new study, that people who think in a divergent, out-of-the box fashion have lower dopamine receptor activity in the thalmus -- just as do people with schizophrenia. The article quotes the study author: "Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box.” Find the start of the article

GENES, NEUROTRANSMITTERS, AND INATTENTION. Researchers have discovered a gene that could lead to increased inattention by allowing competition between brain networks. Researchers say the gene is neither a cause nor a diagnostic marker for AD/HD, but that the gene's effects on neuronal signaling could help explain AD/HD. Find out more
CAFFEINE AND SUGAR WORK? SAY IT AIN'T SO! A recent study shows that caffeine and glucose combined can improve attention and working memory. Does this mean that the proverbial cup of coffee and a donut boost mental processing? Maybe -- glucose is the form of sugar that is "brain food," and it's a component of sucrose, or table sugar. Sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose in the stomach, and the resulting components rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine. Maybe your AD/HD kid who demands caffeine and sweets has a biological reason. Read more.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2e IN HARD TIMES. What do educational budget constraints mean for 2e students, students who are perhaps double vulnerable to losing support? 2e Newsletter editor Linda Neumann, in an article just published in Gifted Education Press Quarterly, thinks that some of the things that can benefit 2e learners don't necessarily require money. Find out what she thinks! Also in the issue: an article on empowering gifted students to create their own future -- instead of the one chosen for them -- by 2e Newsletter editorial advisory board member Joan Franklin Smutny. 

 

CYBERTHERAPY. In 2e Newsletter we've written about cyber abuse and cyber addiction; now comes cybertherapy in a variety of forms, according to an article in The New York Times. For example, a patient wearing a headset in which he sees a virtual audience can practice, with a human therapist's guidance, to dispel a fear of speaking. The US military uses the technique to treat PTSD. Virtual confidants can encourage self-disclosure, a crucial first element in therapy, perhaps funneling the confessor into therapy with a human. Researchers can even "insert" a treatment subject into the virtual body of someone who's old or of a different race to increase empathy. (Bully treatment, anyone?) Read the article

 

EDUCATION REFORM. If you're interested in the big picture of education reform in the United States, you might be interested in an interview with Arne Duncan, Department of Education head, in the Wall Street Journal. An excerpt sets the tone for his mission: "We're going to confront everybody and have been—including the unions. And everyone has to change, so anyone who thinks that unions are the only challenge is missing the boat. We have to challenge parents; we have to challenge students themselves; we have to challenge school-board members; we have to challenge politicians at the local, state and federal level." Find the article


CREATIVITY -- FROM COURTSHIP OR PARENTING? What fosters creativity in human evolution? Researchers hypothesize, based on a an experience such as Disneyland, that it could be a way to help parents bond with their children and to pass on traditions and cultural knowledge. Want to explore that idea? Do so here

GIVE THANKS. It's Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and Edutopia has a way for you to give thanks via Facebook or Twitter to an educator or colleague who has helped or inspired you. Here's what they say: "...we'd like to use this thread as a way for community members to thank another community member, colleague, student, parent, business/organization, administrator..and basically anyone else who's helped you stay in the profession you know and love." Find the thanks-giving page.

MORE ITEMS COMING SOON -- gotta go help with the Thanksgiving preparations. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

ATTENTION SPAN AND TECHNOLOGY, PART I. A looong article in The New York Times examines the effects of technology and immediate reward/feedback on young people. The issue: whether "developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention." The story profiles several students, including one "whose ability to be distracted by computers is rivaled by his proficiency with them"; his grades range from F to A. Also profiled: a young woman who sends and receives 27,000 texts a month. Find the article, and consider what it means for your twice-exceptional child or student.
ATTENTION SPAN AND TECHNOLOGY, PART II. Are attention spans increasing? Being diminished? A short essay in The New York Times Magazine considers "attention span." From the essay: "A healthy 'attention span' becomes just another ineffable quality to remember having, to believe you’ve lost, to worry about your kids lacking, to blame the culture for destroying." The author's conclusion? Find it.
AD/HD PERSPECTIVE. The author of the new book Buzz about herself and her son as the family dealt with his (and her) AD/HD wrote a column in the Washington Post summarizing some of her experiences and her opposition to the $5B "AD/HD-industrial complex." If you thought you spent a lot of time and money as you tried to deal with your gifted-AD/HD child, check out her column.
GIFTED COMPETITORS. The annual Siemens Foundation competition in math, science, and technology is coming to a close. Regional winners are being announced, and the final judging occurs on December 6th. If you'd like to read about some amazing young people and some amazing projects, check out a press release about regional winners from New York and Indiana; and see other press releases at the Siemens Foundation site. Separately, the Wendy's  High School Heisman competition, which recognizes high school seniors for excellence in academics, athletics, and leadership, has posted state winners at the competition's site
IDEA'S ANNIVERSARY. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) is 35 years old, and the U.S. Education Secretary expressed his commitment to it while also acknowledging that not every child with a disability gets a "world-class education."  Read more. Separately, an Education Week writer notes that the number of students identified with specific learning disabilities has dropped in recent years; find out how and why

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MORE ON GIFTEDNESS FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL. A few days ago we noted an article on giftedness appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail. It turns out that the article was one of a series run by the paper during the week. See the latest article, with links to the others.
ARTISTIC DYSLEXICS. LD Online pointed us to a brief piece in the UK Daily Telegraph linking the artistic success of Da Vinci and Picasso to dyslexia. The article referred to a Middlesex University study testing the visuo-spatial ability of dyslexic and non-dyslexic subjects. Read more. (So how valid are these posthumous diagnoses?)
NEWS FROM SENG. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted has published an interview with psychiatrist Mark Goulston on parenting gifted children, including consideration of the children's social-emotional needs. Find out about "empathy jolts," "power thank you's," power apologies," and more. In addition, SENG has announced an upcoming webinar from Victoria Ragsdale, titled "Is it a Gift or a Curse? What it means to be an outlier and what to do about it." Find out more. Finally, the organization has also posted an article about gifted homeschooling, in which the author presents her "top ten reasons" she's glad she homeschooled.
THE DIANE REHM SHOW: ANXIETY DISORDERS. A recent edition of this NPR program covered anxiety disorders, a topic we know is of interest to the readers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. Here's the blurb: "Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. Yet out of the estimated forty million American’s suffering from it, only about a third receives treatment. The latest in research, treatment and education of this illness, and how to distinguish a disorder from everyday anxiety." Guests in the discussion include highly credentialed psychiatrists and researchers. Find it. Also of note: many listener comments posted at the site.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CHILDHOOD MENTAL DISORDERS and how we perceive them -- and react to them -- is the topic of an essay by a child psychiatrist at the Huffington Post site. The writer notes how we may try denial, shame, or blame instead of acceptance. The writer says: "If we embrace the reality of childhood psychiatric disorders and then refuse to judge and blame each other for them, we will be far more successful in reducing the suffering of kids and families, improving prevention efforts, and removing the barriers to treatment." Find the essay.  
PROBLEM VIDEO GAMERS -- 5%. That's the figure given in the aftermath of a study of 4,000 Connecticut high school video gamers. The signs of problem gaming were " having an irresistible urge to play, trying and failing to cut down on gaming, and feelings of tension that could only be relieved by playing." Read the article. (The current issue of 2e Newsletter carries an article by Kevin Roberts on cyber addiction -- what it is and how to deal with it.)
TALK VERSUS MEDS FOR PEDIATRIC ANXIETY. An fMRI scan may be able to differentiate kids who will benefit from talk therapy for pediatric anxiety and thus may not need medications. The difference: "children and adolescents, ages 8 to16, who show fear when looking at happy faces on a screen inside an fMRI scanner were those who had least success with an eight-week course of cognitive behavioral therapy." This was compared to kids who showed fear while looking at fearful faces. If you've got a bright but anxious kid, read more.
GIFTEDNESS -- LABEL, DOWNSIDES. An article in the Toronto Globe and Mail warns that both gifted programs and giftedness itself can have downsides. The article invokes Carol Dweck and her warning that the label can imply something bestowed rather than to be earned, and notes how accompaniments of giftedness -- high sensitivity, asynchrony, dealing with expectations -- can sometimes be troublesome. Find the article.
GIFTED IN MATH. Danielle Wang of Campbell, California, won the $25,000 prize for first place in the second annual Advantage Testing Foundation Math Prize for Girls competition on Saturday, November 13. Ms. Wang, an eighth-grader enrolled in the California Virtual Academy, received the top score on the 150-minute exam for high school girls. Find out more about the contest.
OPINIONS WANTED. A 2e Newsletter subscriber is looking for opinions on three books she's considering for purchase, wanting to know if others in the 2e community are familiar with them and have found them useful. The books are:
Got an opinion to share? Let us know. Thanks!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION. The New York Times ran a column the other day that wasn't about giftedness, or LDs, or even about the nuts and bolts of education. It was about power and politics versus accountability and coherent management -- in education, specifically in the New York City school system. The occasion was the departure of Joel Klein as chief of that system, and the venue was a column by a business writer for the Times. We have generally ignored the New York City schools as we have blogged and published the newsletter over Klein's tenure; little of what we read seemed relevant. The Times column, however, gave a different perspective to how we can look at education, and  at how a leader who believed "in the transformative power of education" (and who took the job with no preset ideas) could try to fix a broken system. Some of the lessons mentioned do apply to the education of that twice-exceptional child you know. You may find the column at the Times site
PARENTS' STRESS -- EFFECT ON KIDS. While parents may think that the stress they undergo has little or no effect on their children, offspring of those parents will indicate that they notice, and that the stress bothers them. About one-third of the chldren surveyed reported stress symptoms themselves as a result of parental difficulties, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Read more, and don't underestimate the effect of your problems on your children.   
UNIVERSITIES RANKED. The website StateUniversity.com has listed the top 2000 universities. The top three are MIT, Standford, and California Institute of Technology. Some of the ranking factors that might be relevant to 2e applicants include ACT/SAT scores of attendees, student retention, and student/faculty ratio. You may find the ranking and information about how the schools are scored at that website.
GIFTED ATHLETE, GIFTED STUDENT. A pre-med student at Stanford who got straight A's last spring is also the only two-way (offense and defense) starter in Division I college football. His coach, former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, describes Own Marecic as "the football player I always wanted to be," according to an article in The New York Times. While  his parents worry about the possibility of concussions, Marecic says that he's having "the time of his life." Read the article.
BRAIN CONNECTIONS IN AUTISTICS. Autism Speaks has funded research into brain research on autism, and the results of one of those studies, recently published, indicates that the brains of autistic persons show differences in the way neurons and axons connect different parts of the brain. In autistic brains, some neurons branch more by way of axons, leading to more "local" connections as opposed to "long-distance" connections to other parts of the brain. Read more about the findings and a  hypotheses stemming from the study.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

EPIGENETICS AND  MENTAL DISORDERS. The New York Times wrote about how environment and experience affect the function of genes in allowing -- or not allowing -- the expression of  mental disorders. For example, well-mothered rats alters genetic expression in offspring to better handle stress. If you're interested in how experience and environment may affect the development of your children, read the article.
ART CHASING LIFE. The television show "Parenthood" features a family in which an 8-year-old boy has Asperger's, which evidently is a focus of the program. Disability Scoop recently ran an interview with Max Burkholder, the young actor who plays the Aspie. Burkeholder tells how he's like the character and not, and how he preps for the part. Find the interview.
VISUAL VERSUS SPATIAL. Scientific American examines the topic of spatial intelligence, noting how in one long-ago study of genius two future Nobel prize winners were excluded because their IQ scores didn't place them in the top 1 percent. The article says that a possible explanation is that the Stanford-Binet IQ test, along with others, fails to recognize spatial ability, critical to engineering and science. The authors contend that "Due to the neglect of spatial ability in school curricula, traditional standardized assessments, and in national talent searches, those with relative spatial strengths across the entire range of ability constitute an under-served population..." Find the article.
STUDY AID. Scientific American also carries news that indicates a light electrical current applied to the right place in the skull can improve numerical learning. Apply it to the other side of the skull and subjects experience a fall in the ability. Is this math aid for your bright student? Find out more.
LANG SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE. The evening of November 18, the Lang School for 2e children in New York City will host an open house for parents and professionals with an interest in learning more about the school. Find more information at the school's website
HOMEWORK HELPERS. As The New York Times notes, "some harried parents with cash to spare have been turning to homework helpers who teach organizational skills and time management, or who sometimes just sit there until the work is finished." Want to know more? Read the article.
NUTRITION, EXERCISE. Want to know how your family stacks up against others when it comes to nutrition and physical activity. Do your children recognize what they should be eating most of ? How often to yiou eat out? Find out where you stand (or sit) with the results of an American Dietetic Association study.
AD/HD. Three items noted in LD Online's email newsletter concern AD/HD: a report that the number of AD/HD children in the US has risen by about a million over the past few years, and the consequences; an op-ed piece in the LA Times where a mother reacts to research indicating that AD/HD may be genetic; and a story titled "The Inner Life of AD/HD," where teens with AD/HD share what it's like to have it.
LD AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. There's a link. While only about 4 percent of children have hypertension, those who do are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with AD/HD or LDs. Read the article.
INSPIRATION FOR TEACHERS. At Edutopia.org, a teacher points out how the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lectures can inspire, giving links to some particular examples. The breadth of the lectures is likely to mean that parents will find inspiring, relevant lectures as well. Find the teacher's article. Find the main TED site.

Monday, November 8, 2010

EFFECTIVE CHILD-REARING. An article in Scientific American Mind provides an analysis of effective child-rearing practices. Researchers distilled 10 skill sets from the "literature," then surveyed 2000 parents to determine which skills are most important  in "bringing up healthy, happy, and successful kids," according to the article. Number one: giving love and affection. Numbers two and three: managing stress and having a good relationship with the other parent. Low on the list: the use of behavioral management techniques, a finding that makes us personally happy because we never did as much of that as we thought we should. You can read some of the article at the SciAm Mind site.
MORE ON PARENTING. Science Daily points us to research showing that parents' efforts in educating their children is more important than efforts by the school or by the children themselves. The study also found that the socio-economic status of parents has an effect on the effort a school puts out. Read more.
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ACT, SAT. If your gifted/LD child needs accommodations for college entrance exams such as the SAT or the ACT, check out an article in The New York Times, called "Accommodations Angst." The article provides statistics on the percentage of accommodation requests approved by the College Board and ACT. You'll also find background on the law and disability rights, plus some tips on how to gain the accommodations your child might need and deserve. Find the article.
VIDEO RESOURCE. The UC-Davis MIND Institute offers free online videos on a variety of topics of interest to those who raise, educate, and counsel twice-exceptional children. Topics include AD/HD, advocacy, ASD, assistive technology, learning disorders, treatment/therapy/intervention, and more. For example, under the topic "learning disorders," a visitor can choose from videos with titles such as:
  • Functional Brain Imaging Studies of Reading and Reading Disabilities
  • The Linguistic Basis of Reading Disabilities
  • Assessing Communication Skills of Young Children with Multiple Disabilities/Sensory Impairments: An Interdisciplinary Approach
The videos are presented by a variety of professionals; most are at least an hour long. Find the videos
NEW YORK SPD WORKSHOP.  Parents of children with a sensory processing disorder (SPD) and clinicians treating children with a SPD can learn about the latest research and treatment techniques at a full-day workshop to be held at Columbia University's Faculty House in Manhattan on December 3. The workshop will teach parents and clinicians how to create a tailored sensory experience for children, movement skills in the school and home environment and offer tips on seeking funding for the child's treatment. The workshop will also be available in Philadelphia. More information.
FAST FOOD AND YOUR CHILD. USA Today reported on research done by Yale University on nutrition and fast food. [That might be an oxymoron.] Research covered 3000 kids' meal combinations served up by eight chains. The findings: only a dozen or so of those meals are healthful. Read the USA Today article. Or, find out a lot more about the topic at the Fast Food Marketing site.

Friday, November 5, 2010

AUTISM'S FIRST CHILD -- That's the title of an article in Atlantic Magazine about the first person to receive that diagnosis, in a medical article in 1943. The writers of the Atlantic article tracked down Donald Triplett, the boy who was the subject of the article, to see what his life was like. The result is an engaging and enlightening piece. Find it.
PERCEPTIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESS. A survey reported in the Los Angeles Times sheds light on peoples' perceptions of those with mental illness and on how comfortable people are in associating with those with mental illness. There's been increased "enlightenment" in some ways -- but social stigma is largely unchanged. Find the article.
CHILDHOOD STRESS AND LATER DEPRESSION may be linked, according to a study reported in Science Daily. Researchers have noted that elevated stress levels in adolescence, as measured by the amount of the hormone cortisol, doubles the risk of developing a serious mood disorder as a young adult. Find the writeup.
DEFINITION OF GIFTED. Ever wonder how "gifted" is defined? This year, the National Association for Gifted Children revised their definition. You may find that definition, along with some implications of giftedness, on the organization's website.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

THE GOVERNOR'S RACE IN CONNECTICUT is a win-win situation in one respect; no matter which candidate is elected, Republican or Democratic, the outcome will change perceptions of disabilities. The Democratic candidate is dyslexic, and according to an article in the Norwich Bulletin was labeled mentally retarded as a child. The Republican candidate has a form of facial paralysis, which he does not consider a disability but which he says has increased his awareness of the effects of disability. Read the article.
SENG WEBINAR. The next webinar from the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted is titled "Existential Depression in Gifted Children and Adults," and will be presented on November 18th  by James T. Webb, SENG's founder and head of Great Potential Press. Find out more.
DYSLEXIA-FRIENDLY READING PROGRAM. An Arizona school district intends to reduce the number of students in special-ed programs by using a "dyslexia-friendly" phonics-based reading curriculum. The twist? All students are taught using the curriculum. Find out more.
EARLY INTERVENTION IN AUTISM. The New York Times described the adaptation of an autism therapy originally designed for toddlers to be applied to infants as young as six months. The intent: to intervene as early as possible, preventing off-course development that prevents the infant from learning to read faces and learning emotional cues. "Infant Start" is a pilot program, hampered by the lack of a formal diagnosis for autism before age 2; but it could lead the way to more formal, randomized trials. Read the article.
THE NOVEMBER BRIEFING went out today to those on our briefing mailing list. The briefing includes many items from this blog, delivered monthly. Sign up at our website.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

LDs AT HARVARD. Most of us would admit that Harvard University students are likely to be pretty bright. But, like students everywhere, some of them have LDs and other conditions that affect academic performance. And, like other universities, Harvard has an office that helps those students succeed. An article in the Harvard Crimson profiles some of the 250 students who take advantage of the office. Read the article. Separately, the Monterey County Herald highlighted several area colleges that "enable the disabled"; find the article
NAGC CONFERENCE COMING UP. The annual convention of the National association for Gifted Children takes place Novembef 11-14 in Atlanta, Georgia. The audience consists primarily of educators, but the conference also features a Parent Day. Plenty of sessions usually are relevant to raising and teaching twice-exceptional children. More information.
DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. The 2010 Davidson Fellows received their awards in a ceremony in Washington, DC, in September. In her blog "Gifted Exchange," Laura Vanderkam profiles some of the Fellows. The Institute has also announced that applications for 2011 Davidson Fellows Scholarshipse are available, as are applications for the 2011 THINK Summer Institute. Find out more at the Institute site.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ALMOST CAUGHT UP... Which is a good thing, because the November briefing will come out in a few days, and items in the briefing will come from this month's blog posts. Read on...
UP AND RUNNING: THE LANG SCHOOL. Micaela Bracamonte's new private school for 2e students 6 to 11 was featured in an article at dnainfo.com recently. Bracamonte, who has documented her thoughts on 2e education in a recent article for 2e Newsletter, currently hosts 13 children. Find out more.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. David Rabiner's latest issue is online, and the topic is "friendship quality in children with AD/HD." Rabiner discusses a study that showed, overall, that friendships of children who have AD/HD are of lower quality. Read more about the results and the implications.
WRIGHTSLAW. The most recent edition of Special Ed Advocate contains another chunk of information on assistive technology -- strategies for negotiating about it with the school, how to include it in an IEP, and a success story. Find the newsletter.
ELECTRONIC READERS AND READING PROBLEMS. Education Week covers the pros and cons of e-readers (eg, Kindle, iPad) for students with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. If your bright student has reading difficulties, check out the article.
PRECOCIOUS AND DYSLEXIC. That's the subject of an article in the Arizona Republic about a young boy who as falling behind in his early grades, then diagnosed with severe dyslexia. He overcame many issues with the help of a reading-intervention therapist, and now, at 14, enjoys reading, art, and guitar, according to the article. Read more.