Monday, May 30, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

2e ACHIEVER. Trudie Styler is an actress, filmmaker, mom, and partner of "Sting." According to the Huffington Post, Styler also struggled with AD/HD and dyslexia as a child. Like some parents, she got her own "official" labels when her children received them. In the article, read about familiar topics such as being lost at school, unsympathetic teachers, and family difficulties. In the end, of course, her strengths prevailed. Read more.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY is the latest school to make the news for its efforts to include students with disabilities such as ASD and other cognitive or social/emotional issues. Help includes a four-day camp for high-schoolers to acquaint them with the demands of college and coaching. Read more.

A CANADIAN FRIEND reminds us that Bright Math Camp is gearing up for the summer. It is to be held at Carleton University near Ottawa. Find out more.

DYSCALCULIA. The University College of London has released a paper on dyscalculia, supposedly as prevalent ( 7 percent) as dyslexia. An article in Science Daily provides a primer on the disorder and tips for dealing with it. Find the article.

AUTISM BIOMARKERS. Researchers have found distinctive gene expression patterns in the cerebral cortex of the brains of those with autism. An article in Science Daily quotes the researchers as as saying that the discovery was a common thread, even though individuals may have distinct immediate causes of their conditions. Read more.  

SMART, CREATIVE, AND ENTREPRENEURIAL? Drop out of college. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has established the Thiel Fellowship, where young people under 20 compete for a $100,000 grant along with mentorship in starting a company. The hitch? They must drop out of school. His goal is not to encourage everyone to drop out, but rather for students to consider their options. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. The head of an industrial design studio offered a seminar on design to middle-schoolers at the School at Columbia (University). The seminar, "Tools for Schools," became part of the curriculum, involving math, science, etc. Kids worked in teams on particular projects, doing research and coming up with ideas for improving the products they were assigned (the desk, the chair, the locker). The results were impressive, and the head of the School at Columbia stated, "This will transform how these kids think about education." Read why.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

THE EDUCATORS GUILD NEWSLETTER, May edition, has been released by the Davidson Institute. In it are tips and resources for teachers of gifted students; and updates on various aspects of the Davidson Institute, such as Educators Guild presentations available, Davidson Fellows Scholarship applications, and Young Scholar applications. Find the newsletter.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE, May edition, has been posted by David Rabiner. The subject of the issue: how girls with AD/HD view their social competence. (Hint: They overestimate it.) Find out more.
OCD FLIP-FLOP. A recent study says that OCD behaviors may be precursors to obsessive fears rather than the other way around. The rationale: fears stem from the brain's attempt to justify the behavior. Read more.
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH AD/HD. The Edge foundation and Shire are offering 25 scholarships for next school year for AD/HD college students. Along with the scholarships will go a full year of AD/HD coaching services. Find out more at the Edge site.
ADVICE ON COLLEGE WITH LD. The University of Rhode Island recently held a conference in which high school seniors could receive advice from older students on how to handle college in addition to the challenges such as dyslexia and Asperger's. Also presented: sessions on avoiding some of the risks associated with various disabilities, as well as workshops on topics such as personal finance. Read more.
EPIGENETICS AND THE HUMAN BRAIN is the title of a new article of the Dana Foundation website. What is the field of epigenetics and why should we care? From the editor's note at the beginning of the article: While our genetic code determines a great deal of who and what we are, it does not act alone. It depends heavily on the epigenome, an elaborate marking of the DNA that controls the genome’s functions. Because it is sensitive to the environment, the epigenome is a powerful link and relay between our genes and our surroundings. Epigenetic marks drive biological functions and features as diverse as memory, development, and disease susceptibility; thus, the nurture aspect of the nature/nurture interaction makes essential contributions to our body and behaviors. As scientists have learned more about how the epigenome works, they have begun to develop therapies that may lead to new approaches to treating common human conditions. Read the article.
SAVED BY A SIXTH GRADE TEACHER. Here's how a man, now presumably in his 40's, described his days in elementary school: "I showed up each day, sat in my seat, stared at the chalkboard, and didn’t learn a thing." Suffering from attention issues, poor working memory, and graphomotor issues, his life was turned around by one teacher to whom he says he owes his success. (He graduated magna cum laude from college and is a successful businessman.)  Find the article.

Monday, May 23, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. The summer issue of this newsletter is out, and it features an article titled "Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder, and Intelligence." The author discusses two case studies of young gifted kids with AD/HD. Find the newsletter
REVISITING ADHD AND RITALIN is the title of an interview in the Los Angeles Times with Dr. Lawrence Diller, who 15 years ago wrote the book Running on Ritalin, in which he cautioned against the overuse of stimulant meds. In the interview Diller discusses his new book, in which he interviewed former patients to see  how they turned out and how they felt about the treatment they had received. He also compares the results in "his" kids with those in a study by Russell Barkley. Read the interview.
MISS TEEN SOUTH DAKOTA uses pageants and related appearances to educate about dyslexia, which she has. In an article, she discusses how the condition has affected her and how she copes. Find out more.
SPECT-ACLE. Those of you with an interest in whether SPECT imaging is a valid technique for making a psychiatric diagnosis may be interested in reading Dr. Daniel Amen's account of a recent presentation he made defending his use of the technique. The back story: Dr. Amen has come under criticism from professional colleagues for the way he uses the imaging for a variety of conditions, including to establish a diagnosis of AD/HD. Read his account.
AD/HD, DISRUPTIVE AND QUIET. An article in Education Week covers the characteristics of inattentive versus hyperactive AD/HD, its prevalence in boys and girls, comorbidities, diagnosis, and treatment. It offers teachers tips on how to spot and how to address AD/HD, and it relates how one school uses commercial cognitive software to help its students with AD/HD. Read it.
INCREASING DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall prevalence of developmental disabilities among children increased by 17 percent between 1997 and 2008, with 15 percent of U.S. children – nearly 10 million – having a developmental disability in 2008. The study is in the current issue of Pediatrics, according to a press release from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents were asked to report the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism, seizures, stuttering or stammering, moderate to profound hearing loss, blindness, learning disorders, and/or other developmental delays. Autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other developmental delays increased, while moderate to profound hearing loss showed a significant decline. Boys had a higher prevalence overall and for a number of select disabilities compared with girls. Read more in the Washington Post.
ONLINE VERSUS HOME SCHOOLING. The Denver Post notes that online schooling may be the reason for a decrease in the number of kids classified as "home-schooled" in Colorado.  On the other hand, some question the accuracy of the numbers. No one, though, seemed to dispute the fact that the number of Colorado students enrolled in online programs increased by 65 percent over three years, to over 15,000 students. Read more
RESOURCES FROM IMFAR, the International Meeting for Autism Research, have  been posted online by Autism Speaks. Included are videos from the event as well as blogs devoted to it. If you're concerned with someone on the spectrum, check it out
PITTSBURGH SUMMER CONFERENCE FOR YOUNG WRITERS. Young writers 16-21 have the opportunity to compete for full scholarships to the Summer Writer's Conference and Workshop, held July 26-28. There are no residency restrictions; attendees are responsible for their own transportation, lodging, and meals. The deadline is May 31. Find out more
GENDER AND THERAPISTS. Most therapists these days are women, a change from the 1970s when the ratio between men and women was equal. The current ratio can present issues, in some minds, when it comes to men looking for a therapist, men who feel that only a male therapist can fully understand male psyches.  Find out more
AND FINALLY, THIS. In an attempt to instill fitness in their screen-bound youngsters, some parents are hiring personal trainers for their kids. Sounds frivolous, but it has advantages, evidently. Read more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

ATTORNEY/ADVOCATE MATT COHEN recently posted a rather impassioned plea for -- well, lots of change in the way we educate our children and in the ways we treat learning challenges. Cohen, a special ed attorney who has written for 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, begins with five examples of how "different" kids could -- and should -- have been served better at school. The examples range from dealing with bullying to acknowledging that a bright kid with Asperger's might need some help; each example is drawn from a client served by Cohen. The attorney then begins a litany of "we must's" that represent his imperatives for improving the educational system for all involved. If you're concerned with educational reform -- or just with good education -- read Cohen's blog posting from May 14. (A bonus: His preceding post is titled "Myths, Legends and Realities -- Legal Rights of Kids with AD/HD at School.")
OPTOGENETICS is a technology that combines light and genetic engineering to allow the control of selected neurons. By changing cells in a particular neural circuit to be sensitive to light, and then implanting optical fibers to stimulate those cells, scientists were able to make anxious mice behave in a less anxious manner. One of the researchers discussed the specificity of the treatment, compared to flooding the brain with psychotropics: “Psychiatric disorders are probably not due only to chemical imbalances in the brain. It’s more than just a giant bag of serotonin or dopamine whose concentrations sometimes are too low or too high. Rather, they likely involve disorders of specific circuits within specific brain regions.” The technology is seen as a way to investigate -- and, eventually, to treat -- a variety of mental problems. Read more.
COMPETITIONS. The winners of the 2011 Siemens "We Can Change the World" competition have been announced. Go to the competition website to see what kind of environmental solutions competition entrants from high school, middle school, and elementary school came up with.
ARE YOU HAPPY? Is your child happy? Psychologist/author Martin Seligman's book "Flourish" defines five crucial elements of well-being: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment. Seligman has consistently urged his colleagues to focus on more than mental illness; this book is one result of his belief in "positive psychology." Find an interesting article about Seligman's ideas.
ARE YOU DEPRESSED, MOM? Successfully treating depression in mothers benefits her children as well. According to a Wall Street Journal article, about half of kids whose mothers are depressed will develop depression. The article quoted a Pediatrics study: "As early as two months of age, the infant looks at the depressed mother less often, shows less engagement with objects [and] has a lower activity level." Researchers are looking into the link between depression in fathers and kids as well. Read the article
GENETIC PATTERNS VERSUS DIAGNOSTIC SYSTEMS. Sometimes they don't coincide -- that's the suggestion in a Scientific American article on using  CNVs (copy number variations), deletions or repetitions of stretches of DNA on chromosomes. For example, it turns out that people with one particular CNV deletion may be diagnosed with schizophrenia, autism, or AD/HD. The author's contention: "...it may be that these diagnostic categories are just describing particular symptoms of certain genetic disorders." Read more.
AD/HD DRUGS may present no risk for heart problems in kids, according to a study reported in HealthDay. Find it.
AND FINALLY, THIS, today's story from Storypeople.com: "There are lives I can imagine without children but none of them have the same laughter & noise."

Monday, May 16, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

DUAL ENROLLMENT FOR BRIGHT KIDS. Young people in high school -- or even middle school -- who are ready for college work are increasingly trying simultaneous enrollment in both the lower-level grades and college. Education Next explains how dual enrollment works in certain states, focusing on what's in it for the kids and what's in it for the schools. Read the article
MATH ANXIETY is the subject of an article in Education Week. Apparently, just the suggestion of a math test can trigger a stress response in the brain. The article explains how the stress response can interfere with problem solving, hobbling the prefrontal cortex, and also how anxiety can even cause a form of dyscalculia. Dr. Judy Willis, who has contributed to 2e Newsletter, is one of those quoted in the article. Find it

MEDS FROM YOUR PSYCHOLOGIST? Some states are considering allowing psychologists to prescribe certain medications, in part because access to a psychiatrist can be difficult for many people; there's a shortage. Psychologists in New Mexico and Louisiana already can prescribe psychotropics, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. Those states require the participating psychologists to acquire what amounts to another master's degree in psychopharmacology. Find out more
SCHOOL MOTIVATION can come from a desire to please parents, according to research reported at HealthDay. Kids studied in the U.S. and China show that those who feel connected to their parents do better academically. Is your bright youngster motivated? Read the article.
SUMMER PROGRAMS. The May/June issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, just out, included our annual roundup of 2e-friendly summer camps, but if you're looking for a broader range of gifted programs than we covered, check out Hoagies' exhaustive listing of camps and programs from all over the world. Find it.  
O.D.D. Our Facebook quote of the week was from Storypeople.com: "I just tell them to do things they already want to do, she said, & even then, it's like pulling teeth."  
AND FINALLY, THIS, from a press release. "Test Tutor Publishing (AKA The Test Tutor) has created WPPSI-III™ and WISC-IV™ Test Preparation Kits to help children develop the skills needed for the IQ tests required for admission into the most selective private schools.... Now, the company has released test preparation materials for the Woodcock-Johnson III™ Tests of Cognitive Ability." Apparently it's never too early to be competitive.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lots of good items today...
STEPHEN HAWKING ON DISABILITY. Scientist/cosmologist Stephen Hawking was profiled and interviewed in Wednesday's New York Times. In the interview, Hawking, who has Lou Gehrig's disease and communicates using a computer-generated voice, covered his daily life, his condition, his works, and -- most interesting to us -- his advice on disability. He said, "My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with." Find the article.
2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL IN CONNECTICUT? A member of the 2e community who is moving her family to Connecticut is looking for a 2e-friendly school there for her 6YO son. If you can help, please sign up at the 2e Newsletter Network on Ning.com (http://2enewsletter.ning.com/?xgi=5fRjVktrpoYhb5) and respond to her query in the Forum, or else contact us directly to relay your referral. Thanks!
MATT COHEN ONLINE. Special ed attorney Matt Cohen, who has contributed to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, offers a column of legal advice at LDOnline.org. In May's column he covers a number of issues of interest to parents of 2e kids, among them: how schools are required to use peer-reviewed, scientifically-based programs, when possible, to help students; whether a school can deny an IEP because of academic success; the assumption that colleges are required to comply with 504 plans; whether a school counselor may suggest medication; and the extent to which a school must accept an evaluation from an independent professional. Find the column.
WRIGHTSLAW. On the  topic of education law, in the current issue of Special Ed Advocate, the Wrights comment on Compton v. Addison, where a school allegedly failed to evaluate a student for disabilities and is being sued for negligence. They also cover the Child Find Mandate, meant to identify children who might need special ed services. Find the issue.
MOMS WITH AD/HD was the topic of a recent NPR program. NPR interviewed the writer and the subject of a recent Washington Post article on the topic. Read about the mom's discovery of AD/HD and what it means to her and her family (which includes an AD/HD son).
NCLB AND GIFTED CHILDREN. Education Next discussed the issue of whether gifted kids in the U.S. have been shortchanged by NCLB. Members of the discussion noted, among other things, that top-performing 17-year-olds in the U.S. perform no better now than 20 years ago, and that the U.S. is 41st out of 56 participating countries in one measure of advanced mathematical achievement. Find the discussion.
BIOMARKER FOR MAJOR DEPRESSION. A study by scientists at Wayne State University has revealed a new way to distinguish children with major depressive disorder (MDD) from not only normal children, but also from children with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).The study found different patterns of cortical thickness for patients with MDD versus OCD. Researchers call the results "an exciting new way to identify more objective markers of psychiatric illness in children." Read an abstract of the journal article announcing the study. Read an article based on the press release by Wayne State. Separately, an Oxford University study of depression finds that "overgeneral memory" -- where past events are recalled in an overly broad manner -- is linked to depression. Studies are underway to determine whether overgeneral memory in teens foretells later depression. Read about it.
PAYING ATTENTION TO THE SCREEN. Parents of twice-exceptional children often notice that many kids are able to pay tremendous amounts of sustained attention to those glowing screens. A recent article on the topic explains a variety of views on why this might be so -- video games as self-medication; video as an ameliorative for poor social skills, etc. Read more.
THE BEST BOOKS MONEY CAN BUY. The American Coal Foundation got caught spreading its "clean" view of coal to school kids by paying Scholastic Corporation to write materials for 4th-graders called "United States of Energy." Three advocacy groups took note of how the materials seemed to fail to mention the negative effects of coal and are drawing attention to the collaboration between Scholastic and the foundation. The larger issue is, how many "educational" materials produced and distributed to students are similarly biased. Read more.
AND FINALLY, THIS. If your 16-year-old kid's only out-of-school activity is reading books, know that your child has a better than average chance of becoming a manager or professional later in life, according to an Oxford University study. No other studied activities had such a correlation. Reassuringly, however, the study also found that computer gaming did not decrease a child's chances for later managerial or professional status. Read about the study.


Monday, May 9, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

POLL OF THE MONTH. In our May Briefing, we included a poll question: "Based on the gifted children you know, what proportion would you judge as twice-exceptional?" So far, the results have surprised us. You may take the poll (and see the results for yourself) at the Constant Contact site.
KOREAN AUTISM STUDY. A six-year study that sought to screen every child 7-12 in a South Korean city of almost 500,000 yielded an autism prevalence of 2.6 percent, over double the rate commonly assumed in other parts of the world. Twelve percent of the children with ASD in regular schools in the study had a superior IQ. Researchers asked parents and teachers to complete questionnaires; children scoring at a certain level were then individually evaluated. Read more. Separately, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported that Utah's autism rate has doubled in the past six years; read the article.
ASPIES IN COLLEGE. Read about how colleges are helping those with Asperger's make it through school, including the story of one young college graduate, while able to read medical terminology at age 4, was plagued by meltdowns as a young person. Find the article.
THE GIFTED DEVELOPMENT CENTER has issued its May newsletter; in it are a couple brief articles by Linda Powers Leviton on tactile-kinesthetic learners. Find the newsletter
UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING is the passion of people at Bowie State University who are applying technology -- for example, image processing --  in UDL so that learners with sensory problems, emotional challenges, or LDs can have "equal access" in education, in both receptive and expressive modes. Find out more.
AD/HD AND EMOTIONAL CONTROL. Having AD/HD might predispose a young person to deficient emotional control, according to a new study. The two conditions appear to run in families. Read about it.
AND FINALLY, THIS. If you "tweet," we suggest using the keyword #2ekids on relevant messages to let others find your post. We include it on our tweets.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

THE IDEA FAIRNESS RESTORATION ACT has garnered support from a variety of organizations, including COPAA, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. One provision of the act will allow parents to recover expert witness fees if due process hearing officers or courts uphold the parents' position. If you'd like to find out more, see an announcement or go to the COPPA site.
INCLUSION VERSUS HONORS CLASSES is an issue facing Madison, Wisconsin, schools, among many others. Several schools there have been investigated by the state Department of Public Instruction, which is pressuring the Madison School District to improve its gifted education. Read more.
BRING SCIENCE HOME is the name of a month-long initiative by Scientific American. The magazine calls it a "series of family science activities geared towards fostering children's interest in science. Find out more.
NICOTINE'S EFFECTS SIMILAR TO COCAINE. It turns out that nicotine affects the brain in ways similar to cocaine, both substances using a dopamine receptor called D5. A write-up of the study concluded, "The results suggest that nicotine and cocaine hijack similar mechanisms of memory on first contact to create long-lasting changes in a person's brain." Read more.
BIOMARKERS FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER. Researchers have discovered certain brain abnormalities that could be biomarkers for bipolar disorder. The abnormalities consist of "an imbalance between cortical-cognitive and limbic brain networks," according to one of the researchers involved -- brain areas involved in the regulation of emotions. If the research holds, it could lead to more accurate diagnosis of the disorder. Find out more
THE GO GIRLS CLUB, originally a group for girles with AD/HD, has evolved the non-profit group ADHD Aware, according to the website PhillyBurbs.com. One aim: to help girls know that there are others like them and to affirm their strengths. The organization hosts workshops, and one workshop leader says "she likes showing girls with ADHD how smart and beautiful they are, and that they can do whatever they want." Read the article.
YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE. A middle-school English teacher (and contributor to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter) has established a blog to review young adult literature in 100 words or less. The blogger suggests sharing her link with YAs who like to read. Find the blog.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

TODAY, MAY 3RD, IS:
  • National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, part of an entire week devoted to the topic. Take a minute to consider the mental health of that gifted or 2e kid you know. More information.
  • In the U.S., National Teacher Day. If you have a teacher who's been good for that twice-exceptional child, be sure to let that teacher know. More information
IT'S ALSO HEALTHY VISION MONTH. Find out how vision issues can affect a bright kid's school performance, and how vision therapy can help: Hidden Roadblocks: What Parents Need To Know About Vision and Learning.
SCHOOL FOR DYSLEXIC BOYS. The Gow School in New York state enrolls about 140 dyslexic boys in grades 7-12 boys from 22 countries. Seventy-six percent of the school's alumni graduate from college, according to an article about the school; 100 percent are accepted to college. If dyslexia and similar language-based issues plague your gifted son, read the article.
DRUG TRIAL FOR FRAGILE-X, AUTISM. An antibiotic called minocycline is helping some children with fragile-X syndrome better deal with school and its demands. According to the mother of one boy in a small trial of the drug, the boy has changed in ways she hadn't thought possible. Find out more.
SCREENING FOR AUTISM. Researchers have developed a questionnaire for screening babies at 12-month checkups. In a study, the checklist identified about 13 percent of babies as having possible issues. One problem: a high false-positive rate. However, because early intervention is important, such a checklist may be useful. Find out more.
SENG WEBINAR. SENG has scheduled an upcoming webinar with the title "Change Your Story, Change Your Life." To be presented by author Stephanie Tolan, the goal of the webinar is to help families of gifted children "empower themselves and their children, regardless of the educational climate they face." Find out more.
TEENS: DANGER AND SAFETY. Teens perceive threat and safety differently than adults. You know that, but the National Insitute of Mental Health reports on a new study explaining why. (Hint: Teens use the amygdala and hippocampus more than adults in responding to fear.) Read more.
SCIENCE NEWS FOR KIDS, the website, has been relaunched. According to Society for Science and the Public, Sciencenewsforkids.org is the award-winning site published by the Society since 2003 to bring the important content of Science News to students aged 9-14, as well as their parents and teachers. Check out the site.
SHARPBRAINS has published a blog with pointers to dozens of articles that might be of interest to you (and some that might not, because the topics span all ages). However, some articles that might tempt are on plasticity, stress and young brains, the growth of a baby's brain from birth to 5, and more. It looks like we might have pointed to some of the articles in past blog postings, but hey, it's worth a look
AND FINALLY, THIS. Seems there's a new fad in the body-piercing set --pointy ears, engineered by cutting of the top of the ear, removing some cartilage, and resewing into a point. We know it's true 'coz we read it in the AARP magazine under the snarky title, "Ah, Youth! Sometimes We Don't Miss It."