Monday, January 30, 2012
RITALIN NAY-SAYER. Yesterday's New York Times contained an opinion piece by a psychologist who is down on the use of drugs to help AD/HD. He writes, "...when given to children over long periods of time, they neither improve school achievement nor reduce behavior problems. The drugs can also have serious side effects, including stunting growth. Sadly, few physicians and parents seem to be aware of what we have been learning about the lack of effectiveness of these drugs." He contends that the drugs are only effective for a matter of weeks or months, and disputes certain findings of brain differences based on brain imaging. Find the article.
UNIVERSITY PROGRAM FOR ASPIES. Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, has established a program to help high-functioning autistics for the "real world." From an article about the program, which also featured a highly intelligent young man: "Mercyhurst's program, which costs about $4,000 a year above tuition, includes social tutoring and the option of not having a roommate, but pushes students toward self-sufficiency. Students, with varying levels of monitoring, become responsible for their own food and medication -- often for the first time -- and must adhere to the same code of conduct as every other student." Read more.
AUTISM DIAGNOSIS. A new study indicates that brainwave patterns can indicate a risk of developing autism as early as six months of age. The study found differences in the waves between at-risk and "typical" children when they were shown pictures of of faces looking at the child... and then away from the child. Read more.
DYSLEXIA DIAGNOSIS. MRI scans can show differences in the brain activity of children at risk for dyslexia even before the children learn to read, according to a study at Children's Hospital Boston. Find out more. Separately, a blogger at the NY Times site responds to a mother's request for apps to help a dyslexic child with reading and math. The blogger suggests a few and readers provide many more. Find the blog.
THE DAVIDSON INSTITUTE eNEWS UPDATE for January is out, featuring information about challenging summer programs, the Google 2012 Global Science Fair for gifted kids 13-18, and more. Read the newsletter. Separately, a thread on the DITD Gifted Issues Discussion Forum begins with a post from a mom worried that her gifted daughter might get an AD/HD diagnosis... and then continues in a discussion of "AD/HD versus gifted" and possible confusion between the two. Find the thread.
THE SHARPBRAINS NEWSLETTER, just out, features an article on dyscalculia and working memory and one on neurofeedback for AD/HD. Go to the newsletter.
AND FINALLY, THIS. As we ready the upcoming issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, featuring in part apps for 2e kids, we received a press release on something that sounds like a sure-fire winner -- a $14.95 app for the iPad called "Inside the World of Dinosaurs." According to the release, it features hundreds of interactive 3D models of dinosaurs, 200 pages of original text, five hours of narration, and dozens of videos, pictures, dinosaur sounds (really?), and descriptions of dinosaur hunters (modern-day, presumably). What we'd guess will be the biggest attraction: "40 fully interactive 3D recreations of dinosaurs in mid-fight," viewable from any angle. What gifted kid will be able to resist? Find the app's website.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
HIGH ACHIEVERS RUNNING INTO TROUBLE. A Canadian study of students who excelled in high school but ran into trouble at the university level indicates that some of those students could have reading comprehension difficulties. Apparently, even while the students may read fluently they have trouble making sense of what they read, probably through difficulties in working memory and simultaneous processing of the information. The researchers' recommendation? More reading, and practice at creating a mental map of the ideas in the material. Find out more about the study.
MORE ON AUTISM DIAGNOSIS. We've blogged about possible changes to the diagnostic criteria for ASD in the upcoming DSM-5. We've found two more items about the changes, one at Science Daily and one from CNN. If this topic is relevant to you, you might be interested in these two items.
SENG has issued a press release sharing its concerns with certain aspects of the American Academy of Pediatrics' new position on diagnosing AD/HD in younger children. SENG is concerned that pediatricians might confuse some traits of gifted kids with symptoms of AD/HD, resulting in misdiagnosis. Read the release. Separately, SENG is offering a SENGinar on February 16 titled "Taming the Worry Monster: Anxiety in Gifted and Twice-Exceptional Youth," featuring Dan Peters. Find out more. Finally, potential West Coast facilitators of SENG Model Parent Groups may want to check out a facilitator training session to be held Saturday and Sunday, March 17-18, 2012, in the San Francisco Bay area. The session is to be led by Kathleen Crombie, MA, M.Ed., with Dr. Dan Peters presenting. Early bird reduced registration ends 1/27/12. Find out more about SENG Model Parent Groups.
THE GIFTED DEVELOPMENT CENTER has issued its first newsletter of 2012, including (among other things) a preview of the 10th International Dabrowski Congress. Find the newsletter.
IN THE RENO, NEVADA, AREA? The Davidson Institute is offering a free presentation for educators on common myths about gifted students on March 28, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on the Davidson Academy campus. Find out more.
Monday, January 23, 2012
AUDITORY SAMPLING LINKED TO DYSLEXIA. Recent research indicates that the way the brain processes auditory rhythms in phonemes may underlie dyslexia. From a write-up of the study: "Our results suggest that the left auditory cortex of dyslexic people may be less responsive to modulations at very specific frequencies that are optimal for analysis of speech sounds and overly responsive to higher frequencies, which is potentially detrimental to their verbal short-term memory abilities." Read more.
NEWS ON AUTISM. Another recent study indicates that disorders such as AD/HD or LDs may often accompany autism, complicating diagnosis and treatment. The study also indicated that some kids "outgrow" a diagnosis of ASD. Read about the study. Separately, a study of twins where only one of the twins was affected with ASD seems to indicate that the twin with lower birth weight was more likely to develop the diagnosis. To the researchers, this indicates that environmental factors also play a role in the development of ASD. Find out more. Finally, Autism Speaks has responded to the recent reports of changes in the way ASD might be defined in the DSM-5, changes some feel would leave some children ineligible for an ASD diagnosis and resultant services. The organization states, "Autism Speaks’ position is that it will be vitally important to collect meaningful information on how the change impacts access to services by those affected by autism symptoms." Read more.
GIFTED IN HOUSTON. The Houston, Texas, Independent School District (HISD) has identified about 15.6 percent of its students as gifted, more than twice the percentage in other Texas schools and higher than the national average. The Texas Watchdog questions whether including so many students in the gifted pool allows gifted programs to truly serve the top learners. The article also includes figures indicating the composition of the HISD gifted pool: 42 percent of Asians in the district are identified as gifted, 40 percent of white students, and 7 percent of African-American students. HISD is 60-plus percent Hispanic and 25 percent African-American. Read more.
DISABILITY REDEFINED? Education Week notes that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the U.S. Department of Education has issued a letter that might expand the range of students for whom schools must provide special ed services. According to the article, the OCR's guidance states: "Students who, in the past, may not have been determined to have a disability under Section 504 [of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973] and Title II [of the Americans with Disabilities Act] may now in fact be found to have a disability under those laws." Read about it, and if we find out more we'll pass it on.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
AUTISTIC PRODIGY. An alert reader pointed us to a "60 Minutes" program which has this promotional blurb: "At age two, Jake Barnett was diagnosed with autism and his future was unclear. Now at age 13, Jake is a college sophomore and a math and science prodigy. Jake says his autism is key to his success." Find the program. (Thanks, Ida.)
EDUCATION WEEK published an article titled "Special Educators Borrow from Brain Studies," noting as an example how kids with Asperger's can be taught to maintain self-control when frustrated. Another example: how an MIT professor is doing a longitudinal MRI study to try to predict which kids will have trouble reading. Find the article.
FUNDING FOR LD RESEARCH. The National Institutes of Health have announced funding for four centers that will conduct research on the causes and treatment of learning disabilities in children and adolescents. The centers are at:
- Colorado Learning Disabilities Research Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder
- Texas Center for Learning Disabilities at the University of Houston
- NIH Multidisciplinary Learning Disabilities Center at Florida State University, Tallahassee
- The Center for Defining and Treating Specific Learning Disabilities in Written Language at the University of Washington, Seattle.
As they report their new findings, the centers will also work to convey their findings to the public, through the media, community groups, and school systems. Read more.
DSM-5 AND AUTISM. The article's lead sentence will tell you whether you need to read this article: "Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and may make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services, a new analysis suggests." The article discusses the proposed elimination of Asperger's as a separate category. Find the article in The New York Times.
ASPIES IN LOVE. We pointed readers a while back to an article about two young people with Asperger's who were navigating the difficulties of having a close relationship. NPR's "Talk of the Nation" included a segment on the couple in a recent edition of the program. Find out more.
APPLE AND EDUCATION. Apple today unveiled a variety of tools to facilitate learning using iPad tables, including a new release of iBooks 2 to support digital textbooks and an iTune U app for the iPad. Apple also announced partnerships with major textbook publishers. Read more. Note that the upcoming issue of 2e Newsletter will feature assistive technology and devices such as the iPad.
INCLUSIVE STORYLINES. Awards for children's books with inclusive storylines are to be presented at a CEC conference this week. Among the honored books is Mockingbird, reviewed by Bob Seney in the July 2011 issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter in his column "Bob Seney on Books." Read more about the books.
SENG has announced its new website with a new look and enhanced navigation. Read more about it in the current SENGVine newsletter or see for yourself.
Monday, January 16, 2012
NAGC WOW. The National Association for Gifted Children offers "Webinars on Wednesday" -- WOW -- throughout the year. This spring the lineup includes two that deal with twice-exceptionality. On April 4, Lois Baldwin, Daphne Pereles, and Stuart Omdal present "RTI and Twice-Exceptional Students: A Promising Fit." On April 11, Lois Baldwin presents "The Intricacies of Twice-Exceptional Children: An Overview." Both are in the evening. Find out more about WOW.
THE APPLE AND THE TREE. Maybe you've heard us use one of our favorite 2e-related expressions, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Carla Crutsinger, in her Brainworks newsletter, addresses a mom's discovery that she, as well as her son, have AD/HD -- and offers a symptom checklist for moms who might be in a similar situation. Find the newsletter.
INTERNET ADDICTION DISORDER is receiving attention from scholars, clinicians, and researchers. A recent study in China found that teenagers diagnosed with IAD performed less well on certain behavioral assessments. The also found that lower scores on those assessments were linked with a lower density of white matter in certain brain regions. In particular, IAD is "characterized by impairment of white matter fibers connecting brain regions involved in emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control." Got a smart kid at your house who spends a lot of time online? Check out the study.
GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. The winter edition of this e-newsletter is out, and it contains an article called "Bringing the Educational Power of Steve Jobs into Your Gifted Classroom." Also in the issue: an article exploring what kids' familiarity with technology means for gifted education. Find the newsletter.
AND FINALLY, THIS, in the category of "parenting." Americans evidently consume over 13 billion gallons of sugar-sweetened drinks per year. That's about 43 gallons for each American, about two 12-ounce cans per day per person. A study estimates that a penny-per-ounce sales tax -- eg, 12 cents on a can of soda, almost $3 on a case -- would reduce consumption by 15 percent, leading to almost $2 billion annual savings in healthcare costs plus $13 yearly in additional tax revenue. Would you support such a tax? Read more.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
FOUR BOOKS LOOK AT DYSLEXIA is the title of a story in the Boston Globe. The writer describes:
- Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, from 2007, by Maryanne Wolf, the director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, that offers a scientific/evolutionary perspective on the condition
- In the Mind’s Eye: Creative Visual Thinkers, Gifted Dyslexics, and the Rise of Visual Technologies, second edition 2009, by Thomas West
- The Human Side of Dyslexia: 142 Interviews with Real People Telling Real Stories, 2001, by Shirley Kurnoff, on the less-than-bright side of dyslexia
- My Dyslexia, 2011, a personal account by Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Philip Schultz.
EFFECTS OF "TIGER MOTHERING." A professor at Michigan State University (and Chinese mother) refutes parts of the popular book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, saying that her research shows that happiness is important to a child's development as well as success. She found that Chinese students are more anxious and depressed than white students because of traditional Chinese parenting methods. Read more.
LDONLINE'S newsletter is out, containing articles on helping with homework, a review of The ADHD Book of Lists, and a legal column by Matt Cohen on the use of an IEP after high school graduation. Find the newsletter.
AD/HD IN CANDADA. Ontario's Ministry of Education has stated that kids with AD/HD and are having difficulty in the classroom may receive special education supports. The provision also applies to other "non-LD" conditions such as fetal alcohol syndrome and Tourette's. Read more.
COMPETITION. Got a middle-school science whiz? The 3M Young Scientist Challenge is now open for 2012. Find out more.EDUCATOR'S RESOURCE. The UCLA Center for Mental Health in Schools has published "RTI and Classroom & Schoolwide Learning Supports: A Guide for Teachers and Learning Supports Staff." The Center says that the guide is designed to:
- Broaden perspectives of response to intervention
- Provide frameworks for contextualizing the work in classrooms and schoolwide
- Generally enhance practices.
THE DANA FOUNDATION has published "Brain Imaging Technologies and Their Application to Neuroscience" for all of you neuroscience mavens. Need to know more about past and current imaging technologies? Find the 45-page PDF.
Monday, January 9, 2012
DIET AND AD/HD. Does that gifted kid you know have AD/HD? A study at Northwestern University in Chicago reviewed past research on the effectiveness of diet in controlling AD/HD symptoms -- and the news isn't that promising. The study found conflicting claims, and suggests that nutritional interventions -- while simple and inexpensive -- probably should be considered only as an alternative to therapy and medication. Read more, or find an NPR program about the study, which appeared in the journal Pediatrics.
2e VALEDICTORIAN. A young man in Michigan diagnosed with LDs and autism as a child went on to be valedictorian of his high school class, and his mother has told the story in a book called My Child Wasn't Born Perfect, published by a Grand Rapids-area firm. Find out more.
WORKING MEMORY TRAINING. David Rabiner pointed us to a webinar from Cogmed on working memory training. Originally directed at professionals, the webinar is now viewable at no cost at the Cogmed website. Find it.
NC SCHOOLS CATER TO ASPIES. Two Asperger Connection schools catering to students with Asperger's have opened in the North Carolina, and a third is in the works. The founder of the school has Asperger's, as do her two children. An article on the school notes that "Each Asperger Connection staff member is required to either have the syndrome, have children with the syndrome or have worked with Asperger students for at least 10 years." Read more.
EXERCISE is good for the brain and grades. Maybe you knew that, but now there's a study backing up that conclusion. Find the ammunition you need to get that gifted kid off the couch.
ASPERGER'S AND DRIVING. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (which evidently calls itself CHOP for short) has studied teens with Asperger's and the way they approach driving. The study looked at characteristics of those teens who were likely to become drivers, and also touched on a couple things parents can do to make sure their teen with Asperger's is ready to drive. Read more.
COMPETITION. The 2012 FIRST Robotics Competition is underway. If your gifted high school child is interested in robotics, find out more about this competition.
MATT COHEN, special ed attorney based in Chicago, has formed his own law firm "to better serve my clients and to improve and expand the services I have provided in the past," he says. "We will continue to provide special education and other legal advocacy, risk management, policy consultation and related client services, as well as training that I have provided to countless individuals and families, advocacy and professional groups, mental health and social service agencies and private practitioner for thirty years." Find out more in his January newsletter.
AND FINALLY, THIS. The makers of Play Attention have developed and are marketing a wearable (on the arm), wireless sensor that can report levels of attention, cognitive processing, relaxation, or anxiety and stress to a nearby PC, allowing its use in a variety of applications related to education,attention management, sports training, driving safety, or stress management. At the moment, however, the device and system costs $1795. Find out more at the website of Freer Logic, the developer, or read a press release about the product.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Presenting our first blog items of 2012...
ACCOMMODATIONS ON HIGH-STAKES TESTS. Many twice-exceptional students would benefit from accommodations on tests such as the SAT, whether the accommodation be extra time or help in receiving or expressing test-related content. USA Today says that the U.S. Justice Department isn't enforcing laws that allow these accommodations. Read more.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND. When your child's AD/HD demands medication to help blunt its effects, will you be able to get a proper supply of that med? Increasingly, the answer is "maybe," as a result of actions by the Drug Enforcement Administration trying to cut down on pill abuse and, possibly, by drug manufacturers trying to increase profits. If your gifted child has AD/HD, find out more about pricing and availability of AD/HD meds.
DYSLEXIA AND AUDITORY PROCESSING. French researchers have found abnormalities in the left auditory cortex in people with dyslexia which might interfere with verbal memory and speech. The cortex processed higher-frequency phonemes less efficiently. Read more.
HYPERSENSITIVITY AND OCD? A new study suggests that children who are hypersensitive may be more prone to develop OCD. The link? The development of "ritualistic behaviors to better cope with their environment," according to researchers. Find out more.
ALLERGY TESTING may not be completely accurate, contend two allergists published in the journal Pediatrics. Blood and skin tests may lead to over-diagnosis, according to the article, and may not be definitive in determining whether an allergy actually exists. Read more.
EDUCATOR'S RESOURCES. Edutopia has compiled its "Best of 2011: Our Favorite Educational Resources." The resources apply to areas such as differentiated instruction, engaging under-performing students, and project-based learning. Find the resources.
RICHARD CASH is presenting a SENG webinar titled "Self-Regulation: Essential Skills for Adolescent Gifted Students" during the evening of January 19th. From the webinar announcement: "This session will offer suggestions as to how to develop self-regulated learners and ideas of how to encourage autonomous learning." Find out more.