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.