Thursday, May 31, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e:Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

WORKING MEMORY TRAINING: NOT USEFUL? A meta-study published by the American Psychological Association indicates that working memory training may not be useful in treating AD/HD. While the training improved performance on tasks involved in the training, the performance improvement does not appear to "generalize" to other tasks. The study's lead author is quoted as saying, “In the light of such evidence, it seems very difficult to justify the use of working memory training programs in relation to the treatment of reading and language disorders. Our findings also cast strong doubt on claims that working memory training is effective in improving cognitive ability and scholastic attainment.” Read more.
ANTIOXIDANT TREATMENT FOR AUTISM. A Stanford University pilot study found that the antioxidant N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) "lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reducing the children’s repetitive behaviors." The university says, "Although the study did not test how NAC works, the researchers speculated on two possible mechanisms of action. NAC increases the capacity of the body’s main antioxidant network, which some previous studies have suggested is deficient in autism. In addition, other research has suggested that autism is related to an imbalance in excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain. NAC can modulate the glutamatergic family of excitatory neurotransmitters, which might be useful in autism." Read more.
DEPRESSION AND BIOMARKERS. If depression is one of the learning and living challenges your twice-exceptional child faces, you might be interested in a new article at the Dana Foundation site. The article describes advances made in finding biomarkers for depression and using those biomarkers to determine which anti-depressants might be most effective. The article also provides a look at current thinking on the causes of depression. Find the article.
THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has posted several items relevant to those who raise and teach twice-exceptional children. One is an article is called "Mindful Parenting: How to Take the Stress Anxiety out of Raising Kids." A second item is a short video, "The Pain of Hiding OCD," describing how kids may hide OCD at school  and then "explode at home."
DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. In their blog, the Drs. Eide raise a concern about proposed revisions to the DSM criteria for dyslexia, a change the Eides say "will reduce the likelihood that dyslexia is specifically recognized and remediated." More to the point for parents and educators of twice-exceptional students is that the changes might lead to less use of the ability/achievement discrepancy to uncover problems; without such testing, say the Eides, "many gifted dyslexic students won't be recognized for their gifts or dyslexia." Find the blog.
GIFTED PARENT BLOG. Chicagoan Matt Kelley blogs and posts resources for the parents of gifted and 2e kids at giftedparent.org, "dedicated to all gifted and twice exceptional children and parents"; find the blog. At another site, giftedprograms.org, Kelly provides information about services and resources for the 2e community; find that site
DON'T FORGET VISION. A story at the site of Chicago radio station WBEZ "focuses" on the importance of proper vision in effective learning. A vision expert is attributed as finding that "of academically and behaviorally at-risk children ages 8 to 18 years old, 85 percent had vision problems that were either undetected or untreated." Find the article.
GREAT POTENTIAL PRESS has established a guest blogger series by pediatrician Marianne Kuzujanakis, M.D. The first few weekly postings are on the connections between giftedness, AD/HD, autism, and misdiagnosis. Find the blog, which has four posts to date.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

IDENTIFYING LDs. Education Week noted recently that the use of RTI is spurring interest in how exactly to identify learning disabilities. The publication reports that the National Center for Learning Disabilities has issued new guidelines telling how it feels students with LDs should be identified, recommending a multi-pronged approach including assessment tools, observation, and screening out problems with vision, hearing, etc. Find the Education Week article. Or, go to the NCLD site.
SPD? OR SOMETHING ELSE? Reuters reports on new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics which suggest that doctors be careful not to miss another underlying condition when diagnosing or treating children who appear over-sensitive to stimuli. The article notes that children with AD/HD, Asperger's, or anxiety may have symptoms similar to those of sensory processing disorder. Find the article.
EXCLUDING 2e KIDS. A California attorney has blogged about a case where a magnet school did not have to admit a presumably otherwise gifted student because the student's writing abilities fell below the threshold required of all applicants. It begs the question, what if that magnet school is the best one available to nurture the student's strengths? Find the blog
AUTISM DIAGNOSES: 5 AND OLDER. HealthDay reports on findings by the National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control on  the diagnosis and treatment of autism. The findings include the fact that over half of diagnoses occur when the child is five year of age or older; and that over half of kids with ASD get at least one psychotropic medicine. Find the article
DITD eNEWS-UPDATE. The May edition of this newsletter from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development is out. It features news from gifted education, from Davidson, about legislation, and about web resources. Find the newsletter
AND FINALLY, THIS. Diane Tran is an 11th grade honor student at Willis High School in Houston, Texas, who was placed in jail after repeated truancy. She apparently works a full time job plus a part-time job to help support her family while taking advancement and dual credit college level courses in high school. A Texas judge ordered  Ms. Tran to pay a $100 fine and spend 24 hours in jail as a lesson. In response,  the Louisiana Children's Education Alliance established a campaign to raise funds to help Tran. According to a press release, the website www.HelpDianeTran.com and Facebook page www.Facebook.com/HelpDianeTran have greatly increased awareness to the plight of Ms. Tran and raised more than $50,000 to help her and her family. The president of the Louisiana organization said, "Our hearts broke when we read Diane's story. It's bad enough that she's the victim of the failing public education system, but for the judicial system to attempt to use her as 'an example' to others is reprehensible." Google "Diane Tran" for more information, opinion, and outrage.

Friday, May 25, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

SHY? OR INTROVERTED? Is that quiet gifted child you raise or teach shy or introverted? In a recent article, Education Week addresses the issue of introversion -- its effect in the classroom, its prevalence, and its differences from shyness. According to the article: "There's a distinction between shyness—generally associated with fear or anxiety around social contact—and introversion, which is related to a person's comfort with various levels of stimulation." The article provides tips for helping the introverted student succeed in the classroom. Read the article.

AD/HD AND SUMMER VACATION. About.com has a piece that provides "summer survival tips for parents of children with AD/HD." Covered are topics such as structure, avoiding the "summer slide," summer camp options, and whether to take a break from meds. Read more.

LD RESOURCE. A special ed teacher, as a project for course in special ed law, created a website called Special Education Nation. The site provides information on the 13 legally-recognized disabilities in the U.S., including specific learning disabilities, ASD, and the umbrella category of "other health impairments" into which AD/HD falls. For each disability the site provides information such as a definition, causes, characteristics, instructional strategies, and the effect on adolescents. Find the site.

STUDENT RESOURCE. A website called sophia.org claims to offer "25,000 tutorials on a variety of subjects including math, science, English, and more taught by hundreds of teachers and education enthusiasts using a mixture of text, audio, video, and slideshows." According to the organization, Bill Nye (the Science Guy) will be part of a a Summer Challenge program on June 5 that will offer students a weekly chance to win iPads if they complete tutorials and quizzes on the site from June 5-July 29, 2012. Find the site.

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. The summer issue of this journal is out, and it includes an article on stimulating summer reading for the gifted and another by 2e Newsletter editorial advisory board member Joan Franklin Smutny on teaching gifted English language learners. Find the journal.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

2e ACHIEVER. Brian Grazer is an Oscar-winning writer/producer with dyslexia. In an interview at the site of the Child Mind Institute, he talks about school (horrible), who supported him (grandmother), the things that gave him confidence (sports) or devastated him (sports), and more. It's a great interview laced with humor and insight. Read it.

TOURETTE'S DOCUMENTARY. A young man with Tourette's has partnered with an "American Idol" finalist who also has a Tourette's to create a documentary about what it's like to have the disorder. According to Fox News,  Areil Small from Chicago once had a principal who told him, "Well you know, I don’t really think you have Tourette’s. I think you’re just using that as an excuse for bad behavior." Read more about the young man and the documentary.

GIFTED PROGRAM FUNDING. Education Week covered the current state of funding for the Javits Program (still $0) and discusses efforts to revive it. Read more.

fMRI PRIMER. Find out about the current state (and some of the history of) magnetic imaging in a Nature magazine article from this past April that we evidently missed at the time.

LOUD MUSIC CAUSES RISKY SEX? Cause and effect? Or just coincident? A study reported in Pediatrics linked "risky music behaviors" to other behaviors. Here's a capsule from the article on what the study found: "Risky music-listening behaviors are highly associated with traditional health-risk behaviors. Risky MP3-player listeners are often cannabis users. Frequent visitors of music venues are less often cannabis users, but are often binge drinkers and have sexual intercourse without using a condom." Our parents were right: Rock and roll IS the devil. Find out more; or download a PDF of the article.

DYSCALCULIA. LD.org recently published an article called "Dyscalculia: The Importance of Mathematics in the LD Equation." If this brand of LD is of interest to you, check out the article.

BEZOS SCHOLARS PROGRAM. Amazon's founder has funded a unique intellectual experience for those who are chosen to attend. The Bezos Scholars Program @ the Aspen Institute has announced the selection of the 2012 Bezos Scholars. The all-expense-paid scholarship brings together 12 of the nation's top public high school juniors and 12 exceptional educators for a week of exploration, dialogue and debate at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. Find out more.

AND FINALLY THIS -- something more to worry about. It seems that researchers have found that the descendants of animals exposed to certain compounds have "an increased reaction to stress," even when that exposure was generations earlier. Putting in human terms, ""The ancestral exposure of your great grandmother alters your brain development to then respond to stress differently. We did not know a stress response could be programmed by your ancestors' environmental exposures," according to one of the researchers. So we now mix nature, nurture, and heritable epigenetics? Read more.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

VIEWING AD/HD. An article by a developmental behavior pediatrician at the Huffington Post emphasizes how AD/HD should be viewed as a developmental delay in executive function skills. The article describes how executive function affects learning in the classroom and how educational policy could change to benefit kids with AD/HD. Find this article.
PRUFROCK PRESS is offering a free download of a portion of Beverly Trail's book Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children. The download consists of the first two chapters of the book, "Unique Learners" (including identifying 2e children) and "Response to Intervention" as a way to find and intervene with these kids. Find the download.
ADDITUDE is offering a free handout, The Babysitter's Guide to AD/HD, that explains AD/HD symptoms to the babysitter and offers tips on working though common challenges, surviving separation anxiety, encouraging positive behavior, and understanding stress points. If AD/HD is the flavor of that second "e" at your house, this might be worth a look. Find it.
LD ONLINE's May newsletter is out, and it focuses on motivation as the key to academic success, including one article on  motivating kids with AD/HD. These articles are directed at both parents and educators. Find the newsletter.
BRAINWORKS, in its May newsletter, addresses a parent's request for advice: "My 8th grade son is very intelligent, but he struggles with making decisions." Find out what Carla Crutsinger has to say about the problem.
ABOUT.COM has posted an updated article titled "Mindful Awareness and AD/HD," describing how that technique can help a person with AD/HD. Find the article.
SUMMER APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAM. We mentioned this program awhile ago, but the Institute for Educational Advancement's Apprenticeship Program still has available spaces. According to the Institute, this is "a residential summer program that provides gifted high school students with an invaluable and intensive learning opportunity working with teams of professionals in medicine, industrial design, science, law and business at some of the nation's leading universities, corporations, and research facilities. Participants of the Apprenticeship Program apply their talents in real-world environments where they are encouraged to employ creative problem-solving techniques and strive to realize the full intellectual and personal potential of their intelligence." Find out more.
DYSLEXIA-VILLE.COM. A Harvard-educated, Academy Award-winning producer is putting together a team to build Dyslexia-ville.com, a web-based resource for young people with dyslexia. Says the producer, who herself is dyslexic, "This virtual city on the web will be a home, safe haven, and launching pad to success for the approximately 1 in 8 children who live with dyslexia. Since we know how visual kids with dyslexia tend to be, the D-ville site is colorful, vibrant, and completely interactive." She is seeking funding at Kickstarter.com to help build the site. Find out more.
RESOURCES. eSchool News reports on six websites offering special ed resources for parents and teachers. The sites offer assistive technology, apps, and more. Find the report.
WRIGHTSLAW. Any child with a learning disability, including 2e children, can benefit from an evaluation to identify the learning issues and provide a plan for addressing those issues. The current issue of Special Ed Advocate includes articles addressing evaluations. Find it.
DESTINATION IMAGINATION global finals begin May 23, and the problem-solving competition will be streamed online 24 hours a day. Over 1200 teams will be competing for world honors. Find out how to watch.
AND FINALLY, THIS. Parents are happier, according to new research. From the authors of the paper "In Defense of Parenthood": "We are not saying that parenting makes people happy, but that parenthood is associated with happiness and meaning. Contrary to repeated scholarly and media pronouncements, people may find solace that parenthood and child care may actually be linked to feelings of happiness and meaning in life." So there -- it's okay to feel good about being the parent of a child -- and especially one of those great 2e kids.  Read more.

Monday, May 14, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

ACT, SAT ACCOMMODATIONS. We noted last week a Chicago Tribune article "exposing" how well-off families supposedly gamed the system by using LD diagnoses to get extra time for their children on standardized tests such as the ACT. An Education Week blogger on the topic of special ed took notice of that article as well, and responded in a posting today, May 14. The blogger found that, nationwide, about five percent of ACT takers were accommodated in one way or another in the 2010-2011 school year. SAT did not provide comparable numbers, but said that 85 percent of accommodation requests were approved. The blogger also noted a U.S. Government Accountability Office report indicating that getting accommodations can be expensive or difficult in other ways. Find the blog.
ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY. An article in the The State (South Carolina) newspaper described how one private school educator -- who struggled with dyslexia as a child -- uses various forms of high-tech (iPad) and low-tech (rocking chair) methods to help students learn better. She uses A.T. to help students with dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyslexia, among other conditions. Find the article. Separately, a writer at the Mashable website has posted "10 Ways to Optimize Your iPad for Kids with Special Needs." Go there.
ASD IN COLLEGE. At WebMD, a writer explores the issues involved for those with autism in transitioning from secondary school to college or other ventures. The writer notes a survey that found one in three autistic teens went on to college, and describes the process that one family (which happened to be that of an executive vice president of Autism Speaks) went through to explore options for their autistic son. Go to the article.
AND FINALLY, THIS. The psychiatrist who led the task force that created the DSM-IV wonders in a New York Times opinion piece whether the American Psychiatric Association should lose its controlling monopoly on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. He writes, "Times have changed, the role of psychiatric diagnosis has changed, and the association has changed. It is no longer capable of being sole fiduciary of a task that has become so consequential to public health and public policy." Read more

Thursday, May 10, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

EDUCATION WEEK published an article on twice-exceptional students on May 8, its first article on the topic that we can recall. The article quotes a number of experts who are familiar to those who read 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. Keep it up, Education Week! Read the article
LANDMARK COLLEGE, which bills itself as "the college of choice for students who learn differently," has announced that it will offer its first bachelor's degree, in liberal studies. To date a two-year school offering an associate's degree, Landmark will also offer new associate's degrees in life sciences and computer science/gaming. The new programs will launch this coming fall. Find out more.
BEACON COLLEGE, which currently bills itself as "the only four-year accredited college in the nation for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD)," has established a program whereby its students mentor elementary-school students who have learning disorders. The result: mentors and those mentored both blossomed, according to an article in the Leesburg, Florida, Daily Commercial. Read more.
MAURICE SENDAK. If you have a twice-exceptional kid of the more "intense" variety, you might have identified with Max and his family in "Where the Wild Things Are," by Maurice Sendak, who died this week. We read it to our kids, and remember it still. The New York Times has an obituary.
HIGH SCHOOL RANKINGS. If such rankings are of interest to you, US News & World Report's 2012 Best High School rankings are out. Find them
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. The April edition of David Rabiner's e-newsletter is out. In it he reviews a study of an AD/HD intervention called TEAMS (Training Executive, Attention, and Motor Skills). According to Rabiner, "The premise of TEAMS is that consistently engaging children with AD/HD in activities that challenge and exercise particular neurocognitive functions can strengthen the underlying neural activity that support these functions and thereby diminish AD/HD symptoms." The intervention reduced symptom severity and the amount of impairment from symptoms. Find the newsletter.
PRUFROCK PRESS, in one of its blogs, highlighted four resources for teaching twice-exceptional students, among them 2e Newsletter (thank you). Find the other resources.

Monday, May 7, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

ANXIETY IN THE CLASSROOM. The Huffington Post ran an article for teachers on identifying anxious students, offering tips on recognizing the condition, its effects, and differences from more "predictable" disorders. From the article: "This invisible disability can greatly affect academic performance as well. Anxiety impacts a student's working memory, making it difficult to learn and retain information. The anxious student works and thinks less efficiently, which significantly affects the student's learning capability." Read more.
SHIFTING DISABILITIES. "Traditional" disabilities for kids such as asthma are no longer in the "top 5," being replaced by conditions such as AD/HD, autism, and other mental, emotional, or behavioral problems, according to a report written up in The Columbus Dispatch. Find out more.
THIS WEEK (May 6th) is "Exceptional Children's Week," according to the Council for Exceptional Children; get their take on it. It's also "National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week," according to the Child Mind Institute; find out more
THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE surveyed parents about their beliefs concerning AD/HD, LDs, and mental health. Some of the beliefs may be of interest to those in the 2e community. For example: "63% of parents said... Too many children are being diagnosed with ADHD when they just have behavioral issues." And about a third of parents ascribed AD/HD to bad parenting. So take that, all you bad parents out there! :-(  Read more
DSM AND AUTISM. Some observers of proposed changes to the DSM have feared that some children now diagnosed as having an ASD would be excluded under new criteria, thereby possibly losing services or accommodations. A new study indicates that the new criteria might not have that effect. Read more.
POST-TERM KIDS: MORE AD/HD? HealthDay reports that children born post-term are more likely to have AD/HD and other problem behavior. Find the HealthDay report; find the study.
EDUCATOR'S RESOURCE: GOOGLE. Technorati notes features in Google online apps, including Google voice, that can help kids stay organized, help teachers send reminders, allow teachers to send brief "snippets of instruction" that a student can replay, or help students record and review their own speech. Find out more.
GIFTED DEVELOPMENT CENTER. The May newsletter is out and profiles GDC staff member Miriam Darnell, who long-time readers of 2e Newsletter know as an innovator of getting 2e kids to read using "Druidawn." Also included: a review of GDC's participation in the creation of extended norms for WIPPSI-IV and a sad item about psychologist George Dorry, a one-time contributor to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter.  Find the GDC newsletter.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

ACCEPTING AD/HD. At the ADDitude website you can find the story of a minor league baseball player who made it to the bigs after accepting his diagnosis and starting meds. And then? "His rocky career path became a Yellow Brick Road. He finished the season with a .292 average and batted .306 for Chicago Cubs' AAA team in 2008. The next year, 2009, he signed, finally, at 31, with the San Francisco Giants, and he was key to helping them win the World Series in 2010." Read more about this gifted athlete and how what he learned can help young people with AD/HD.  
ASD AND COLLEGE. An article at the site of the Child Mind Institute offers advice pointers to resources for young people on the spectrum who want to go to college. The platform for the article is the experience of a young woman who is a junior at Vassar College. Find the article.
NOT ENOUGH SLEEP? Researchers have linked problems with learning, attention, and behavior to "excessive daytime sleepiness" -- EDS. This condition may exist even with no evidence of sleep apnea or diminished sleep time. The rate of occurrence? As much as 15 percent of children. Read more.
EDUCATION WEEK is offering five of its "Spotlights" free of charge. These include "Implementing Online Learning," "Special Education," and STEM." Find out more.
SENSORY PROBLEMS SEMINAR IN D.C. AREA. Carol Kranowitz presents "The Out-of Synch Child: Sensory Challenges and Sensory Solutions" during the evening of May 17 in Rockville, Maryland. Find out more.
EDUCATOR RESOURCES. Tamara Fisher, in her "Unwrapping the Gifted" blog, offers up a slew of professional development opportunities for those who teach gifted and advanced learners. Find her list.