Thursday, August 30, 2012

AD/HD IN COLLEGE. The Child  Mind Institute offers 10 tips for going to college with AD/HD. Among them:  go to class; and sleep. Find the article and the rest of the tips. The article also contains a pointer to advice for parents of college students with AD/HD.
AUTISM, INFLAMMATION. We recently posted an item about a New York Times article linking inflammation to autism. It seems caution might be advised in accepting that author's hypothesis about the connection. A commentator at the site of the Child Mind Institute calls the hypothesis "a tantalizing thread based on pieces of research most readers won't be able to evaluate, and offered as an opinion piece with no comment from scientists." Read more from the Child Mind Institute.  
MATH AND BRAIN HEMISPHERES. A study indicates that a strong connection between brain areas in the left and right hemispheres facilitates basic arithmetic. One of the researchers suggests that disrupted or inefficient inter-hemispheric communication might be associated with dyscalulia. Read more.
AUTISM INTERVENTIONS. An analysis of interventions for adolescents with autism concluded that "there is insufficient evidence to support findings, good or bad, for the therapies currently used." Interventions monitored included treatments to improve social skills; medical treatment; and vocational interventions. Read more.
INTROVERTS, EXTROVERTS. A study following the progress of shy children in preschool indicates that they begin at a disadvantage and don't gain as much during the year as peers who are more pushy and outgoing. Read more.
DORE ACADEMY. This school in North Carolina that caters to students with AD/HD and dyslexia has received a $1.1 million donation from a dyslexic who succeeded in business; the donation will allow the school to expand to four times its current size. The school will be renamed in honor of the donor, John Crosland, who was quoted in a Charlotte Observer article as advising students, “[D]on’t be bothered by what other people say about you. Even if they say you are dumb.... If you try hard enough, you can overcome anything.” Find the article.
"BACK TO SCHOOL" are words we've read dozens of times over the past few weeks as we've trolled for useful items for this briefing. Wrightslaw offers 10 tips for the new school year that could be useful for parents of twice-exceptional children. The list starts out:
  1. Re-read your child's IEP
  2. Meet with your child's teacher
...and goes on from there. Find the tips.
CHALLENGE OPPORTUNITY. Each year, the Spirit of Innovation Challenge (Conrad Challenge) gives high school students around the world the opportunity to create commercially-viable products to address issues of global sustainability for the benefit of humanity. Students create an innovation that is interesting to them and is of value to humanity. Participation is free and open to all students around the globe and uses an online community to facilitate student, teacher and mentor collaboration. Supporting the program is a robust online library and a network of world-renowned scientists, engineers, academics and business leaders who assist students in developing their ideas. Are you raising or teaching a bright student interested in STEM? Visit www.conradawards.org.
NOT JUST IN TOYS AND PLASTIC BOTTLES.We've blogged about phthalates and their potential  link to conditions such as AD/HD. The substance is found in many plastics, including toys. But a press release from the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice says that 75 percent of children’s school supplies tested in a laboratory had elevated levels of toxic phthalates, including popular Disney, Spiderman, and Dora branded school supplies such as vinyl lunchboxes, backpacks, three-ring binders, raincoats, and rain boots. Want to protect your child from this endocrine disruptor? Read the press release, or read an article based on the release.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/08/28/3482876/11-million-gift-prompts-dore-academy.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, August 27, 2012

News Items from the Publisihers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

AUTISM AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM. The New York Times, in an opinion piece,  suggests that as many as 30 percent of autism cases may be attributed to immune system dysregulation. Chronic immune system activation, perhaps beginning in the womb, leads to inflammatory conditions and symptoms of autism. Read more.
IQ OR CHARACTER? What makes kids succeed? IQ? Character? A New York Times book review of How Children Succeed says that book's author, Paul Tough, hypothesizes that "noncognitive skills, like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence, are more crucial than sheer brainpower to achieving success." Furthermore, the chance to encounter and overcome failure is character-building, and many American kids are missing out on character-building experiences. Find the review.
GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS NEWSLETTER, the fall edition, is now available. It features an article on how RTI fits with gifted education and two Ray Bradbury remembrances. Find the newsletter.
THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT. Endocrine disruptors. We've blogged about this recently, but Sunday in the (what else) New York Times Nicholas Kristoff wrote about the ways chemicals in our environment can harm us and even our descendants. Kristof admits, "Like a lot of Americans, I used to be skeptical of risks from chemicals like endocrine disruptors that are all around us." His attitude has changed. He now says that the threats posed by such chemicals need to be addressed. Read his column.  
NOT MANY ITEMS TODAY -- but these should be enough to think about until our next posting. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE is the topic of a blog posting at the Scientific American site. The blogger says of the Institute, "an extraordinary cluster of professionals are working to understand, improve and advise the rest of us about the mental health of our children." Noting that the Institute is just three years old and the only U.S non-profit devoted to children's mental health, the blog describes some of the troubles the Institute may help with, including anxiety, AD/HD, and ODD. Find the blog.
THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE is a source we often point to for information and resources for the twice-exceptional community. This week the organization's site features two articles on the topic of AD/HD. In an "Ask an Expert" column, a pediatric psychopharmacologist (whew!) addresses the question "Is AD/HD really a psychiatric disorder?"; find the column. And a blog at the site reacts to the recent New York Times opinion piece about problems in diagnosing AD/HD; find the blog, titled "When the AD/HD Diagnosis is Wrong."
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SCHOOL FOR SPECIAL NEEDS is the title of a recent NPR program in which three moms share their experiences and opinions on a topic many of us have been through. One mom, a lawyer, has a son with AD/HD and other issues; a second mom has two daughters with Down Syndrome; and a third mom, who son is on the autism spectrum, has blogged about her family's journey. Guided by the program host, the moms/experts offer sound advice such as "remember that you are the expert on your child"; and educate yourself to be your child's best advocate. Listen or read a transcript at the NPR site.
EDUCATION REVOLUTION. We enjoy Costco because it offers quality at a value price. Even their ad-filled customer magazine, Costco Connection, often contains surprisingly useful information. The current issue features an interview with Sir Ken Robinson (the hook: he's a Costco member) titled "Teach Your Children Well" (okay, cheap title) that presents Robinson's views on the current state of education and what, ideally, could be done about it. He calls the current system "industrialized" and developed to suit the mindset of the industrial revolution. He discusses  how great schools will personalize education rather than mass-produce it, and how good educators will "take account of how different children actually learn" -- a not-too-startling concept to parents of twice-exceptional children but still, evidently, news to most people. Anyway, there are passages in this interview that will likely resonate with you if you take the time to read it. Find it.
AUTISM AND DAD'S AGE. They're linked, evidently, according to a new study reported in The New York Times and published in Nature. The link could account for as much as 20 to 30 percent of autism cases.
STUDY HARD, CHANGE YOUR BRAIN -- at least, that's what happens to students prepping for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), according to a new study. Researchers found that intense prep for the test "actually changes the microscopic structure of the brain, physically bolstering the connections between areas of the brain important for reasoning." Read more.
MUSIC AND LISTENING. Kids who play musical instruments, if only for a few years, turn out to be better listeners later in life, their brains better able to process complex sounds. Say the researchers, "Based on what we already know about the ways that music helps shape the brain, the study suggests that short-term music lessons may enhance lifelong listening and learning." Find out more.
AND FINALLY, THIS. Each August, the U.S. Census Bureau issues back-to-school-related statistics. This  year's press release notes that 27 percent of students 12 to 17 were in a gifted class in a recent year, and that 70 percent of students 6 to 17 reported being highly engaged in school. The words "twice exceptional" were not in the press release, but you can read it anyway if you like.

Monday, August 20, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

THE AD/HD CONUNDRUM. Is the AD/HD-like behavior the result of AD/HD? The classroom environment or the teacher? Asynchronous development? If the meds help, does that mean the problem is AD/HD? In an opinion piece in the New York Times, a mom recounts her family's experience when her son's teacher suggested that AD/HD medications might help her son be more successful -- i.e., fit in better -- at school. They tried it. It seemed to work -- for awhile. The mom began to suspect other factors were at play. Finally the son refused to take the meds out of health concerns. Five years later, off meds, the son loves school, does well, and stays organized. Read the article and see what  you think. Separately, Fox News has published a list of five tips for parents whose kids might have AD/HD; find those.
GIRLS AND STEM. NPR reports on an album of songs called "Science Fair" that has the purposes of "raising awareness and firing up the imagination" when it comes to girls and science. Find out more.
TEMPLE GRANDIN has written an essay for "Take Part" in which she urges educators to look beyond the labels; to work to expand kids' abilities; to "never hold a gifted child back"; and to play to students' strengths. Read the essay.
EFFECTS OF ANESTHESIA IN EARLY CHILDHOOD. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exposure to anesthesia before the age of three may adversely affect the use of receptive language, expressive language, and abstract reasoning. You may read an abstract of the study results, published in the journal Pediatrics, at the Academy's website.
GREAT POTENTIAL PRESS has published a book called College at 13, by Razel Solow and Celeste Rhodes. According to the publisher, the book descdribes 14 highly gifted young women who began college in their early to mid teens, skipping much or all of high school. The book describes the women's experiences along with what they are doing now. Author Solow says that one of the subjects was twice-exceptional, with AD/HD. Solow wrote an entire chapter on her, focusing on her adoption and her ADHD; the young woman eventually became a doctor. Find out more. Separately, Great Potential Press is celebrating 30 years of existence with a 30 percent off sale. Go there.
FOR PARENTS OF KIDS WITH LDs. An Eide tweet tipped us off that LD.org is offering a free ebook on the topics of:
  • Building a Good Relationship with Your Child’s Teacher
  • Essential Skills for Becoming Your Child’s Advocate
  • Advocating for your School-Aged Child
  • Making the Most of Your Parent-Teacher Conference
  • Creating Great Expectations for an Effective Meeting” worksheet
GOT A KID who's interested in the arts? Evidently people who sing, dance, draw, or act -- or watch others who do -- are more altruistic, not to mention more tolerant and civically engaged. Read more
TRANSDISCIPLINARY WORKSHOP is offering an event this fall presented by Susan Baum and titled "Instructional Strategies for the Twice-Exceptional Child." The workshop is scheduled for November 2 in Portland, Maine. Find out more. 
THE OLYMPICS. We posted a short 2e-related piece on the Olympics last week, playing off of Oscar Pistorius' abilities (great sprinter) and disabilities (no lower legs). In a blog, Stephanie Tolan reflects on the Olympics, specifically in the context of wholeness and balance. Read the blog
ON LINKED-IN? A current discussion there is on the topic of college choices for bright students with attention issues, and participants weigh in with their opinions (MIT, good; Georgia State, bad; Western Georgia U, good; and more). The discussion is here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

A SUPPORT GROUP for parents, guardians, and caregivers of 2e teens with mental illness/mood disorders begins this fall in Massachusetts. According to the organizer, the group will be small (6-8 adults) and will meet every Monday evening in the Newton/Watertown/Cambridge area (exact location still TBD). The group will be facilitated by a licensed mental health clinician who has worked for many years with teens with mental illness/mood disorders. For more information, contact hgitelman@comcast.net or (617)547-0611.
ADDITUDE is offering back-to-school resources on its website. One is a free download titled "Classroom Accommodations for School Children with AD/HD"; another is a sample letter to introduce your AD/HD child to this year's teacher; and a third is a sample letter to request accommodations. 
THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has also posted a back-to-school resource intended to help your children get a good start in college "by finding the support they need"; find the article.  In addition, this site also currently has a video on "internal compulsions" -- hard-to-spot OCD rituals; find out more. Finally, you'll also find an article on how occupational therapists can help children in areas such as attention, sensory processing, and motor skills; read it
AD/HD AND GIRLS. The American Psychological Association has published a study indicating that girls with AD/HD are more at risk for self-injury and suicide attempts as young adults. If this finding is of interest to you, read more. 
AD/HD SUMMER CAMP. Professor Mark Stein of the University of Illinois at Chicago founded and runs a Camp STAR for seven weeks during the summer in the Chicago area. According to an article on the camp, it is "a summer treatment program that looks and functions like a camp" for children with AD/HD. The cost? Over $6,000. One parent was quoted as saying she saw "amazing changes" in her son. Find more information
AD/HD AND MATH. About.com has updated an article on AD/HD and math skills, exploring why math can be difficult for kids with AD/HD and providing tips for improving math skills in kids with AD/HD. Find the article.
TODDLERS WHO SNORE may be more prone to behavioral problems at age three. An article in Family Practice News suggests that physicians screen for snoring. Read it
RELUCTANT WRITERS is the topic of an article in Education Week. A teacher explains techniques for helping students share their thoughts in writing, including daily journaling. The teacher has tried her methods with gifted kids, ASD kids, and ESL kids, among others. Read the article. (And remember that we at 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter also offer a "Spotlight on 2e Series" booklet called Writing and the 2e Learner.) 
MATT COHEN'S NEWSLETTER. In his August issue, special ed attorney Cohen addresses RTI ("dream or nightmare?"); a new colleague at his firm writes on the topic of executive functioning deficit as a cause of underachievement. Find the newsletter.
SPRING IN AUSTRALIA -- it's coming, and Jo Freitag has published a list of extension and holiday programs in her Gifted Resources Newsletter. Find it
ANOTHER THING TO WORRY ABOUT. The lead sentence from this article in Science Daily says it all: "Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical widely used in hand soaps and other personal-care products, hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level, slows swimming in fish and reduces muscular strength in mice, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado." Read more. Oh, wait -- the researchers also say, "These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health."

Monday, August 13, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

THE HOMESCHOOLING OPTION. For parents of bright but unchallenged kids, or of gifted and learning disabled kids, homeschooling can be an option to cater to strengths and accommodate any weaknesses. An essayist in the Wall Street Journal describes with  humor and insight her experiences with homeschooling, how it  has evolved over the years, and what the possibilities are with homeschooling. (The essay's first sentences: "I don't know how most people spend their second morning home schooling. I spent mine hyperventilating into a paper bag.") The essay is an excerpt from the author's newly-published book. Read the essay, or listen to the author on NPR's Diane Rehm show.
STRESS AND LEARNING. The brain evidently learns differently when stressed, according to a new study. Non-stressed subjects showed activity in the hippocampus, important for long-term memory. Stressed subjects used a brain region used in unconscious learning, and could not articulate the steps they used to solve the problems they did. Read more.
BRAIN-BASED PARENTING. That's the title of a new book which focuses on "the neurobiology of underlying attachment, attunement, and good and not-so-good parenting," according to a review of the book in the Huffington Post. The reviewer says, "the book takes work," but concludes "stay with it and you will be rewarded, as will your progeny and the others that constitute your emotional world." Find the review.  
ANTIPSYCHOTICS IN KIDS. The use of antipsychotics in youth has grown over the past several decades, according to an article in the Huffington Post. And doctors now sometimes prescribe antipsychotics off-label for AD/HD, even though the meds may have serious side effects. If your doctor is hinting about prescribing antipsychotics for your gifted child with AD/HD, read this article.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. In the July (just posted) edition of this newsletter by David Rabiner, the professor reviews a study that "provides the strongest evidence to date that benefits from working memory training can generalize to academic settings." Find the newsletter.
CELEBRITY DYSLEXIA WATCH. A New Jersey newspaper has picked up on a connection between the coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan, and that professional football team's newest celebrity player, gifted (and notably religious) quarterback Tim Tebow. Evidently both have dyslexia. Interestingly, when Tebow was asked how he learns, he responded that he was a kinesthetic learner. The article quotes Tebow as saying, “So much in football is touching, feeling, walking through, writing it on boards, drawing Xs and Os. And all those are the best for me.” Find the article.
ON THE OLYMPICS. When we talk about the best way to treat twice-exceptional children, it's always something along the line of "nurture the strengths and accommodate the weaknesses." You might recall that some of those accommodations -- like extra time in high-stakes testing -- often draws skepticism or resentment from the general population. Last week in the Olympics we saw a twice-exceptional competitor -- a gifted runner competing with prosthetic accommodations for his missing lower legs. South African Oscar Pistorius and his country's 4x400-meter relay team made it to the Olympic finals. While the team didn't get extra time on this particular test, some competitors thought Pistorius' prosthetic blades gave him unfair advantage; however, biomechanical experts concluded that he actually had to expend more energy and in different ways than his "typically-developed" rivals. Even though his team didn't win a medal, Pistorius became a crowd favorite at the Olympics, according to news reports.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

DYSLEXIC DIFFERENCES. Researchers in Leipzig have conducted experiments which seem to pinpoint certain dyslexic-specific processing problems. The experiments compared brain processing during a task requiring the recognition of speech sounds with brain processing where the subjects listened to the speech sounds without having to perform the task. The found differences between dyslexics and neurotypical subjects in the first case but not the latter. The researchers concluded, "The problem, therefore, has nothing to do with sensory processing itself, but with the processing involved in speech recognition." Read more.  
HIGH-FUNCTIONING GIRLS UNDER-DIAGNOSED? That's the suggestion behind a study exploring the diagnosis of  high-functioning autism in girls versus boys. One possible reason: better adaptive skills in girls. Read more.
50 GIFTED LINKS. The Online Education Database has a page with "50 Essential Links for the Parents of Gifted Children," covering organizations, Twitter, blogs, and articles. You'll find some familiar links there and hopefully some new and useful links. Find the links.
GIFTEDNESS BLOGGER. An Australian blogger on the topic of giftedness recently explored "the power of little words" in a way related to twice-exceptionality. For example: gifted and learning disabled; gifted but learning disabled; gifted or learning disabled. Find her reflections.
PREDICTORS. If your preschool kid pays attention, he or she is more likely to finish college; early reading and math supposedly do not predict college completion. Read more. And if your kid grows up grateful, he or she is more likely to be a happy teen. Find out how.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

ARE YOU "EX-URBAN"? The Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University is reaching out to rural, high-performing kids with a program called "Rural Connections" that involves scholarships to CTY residential enrichment programs. An Education Week article provides more details; find it.
2e PROGRAM IN DC. NAGC pointed us to an article about a one-year-old program at a Washington, D.C., Jewish school. Called "Twice Exceptional" and led by a former staffer at the Montgomery County Public Schools, the program's aim is to "provide the correct accommodations and materials for students who may be misunderstood in the classroom." Read more
ALSO FROM NAGC. The NAGC publication Gifted Child Quarterly is soliciting empirical or theoretical articles for the fall, 2013, issue, which will deal with twice-exceptionality. The deadline for proposals is September 1, so if you're interested, find out more from the publisher or from NAGC
GOING TO COLLEGE WITH AD/HD. PsychCentral offers an article called "Colleges Gear Up to Help Students with AD/HD." The article covers some of the roadblocks AD/HD students may face and advice on how to get around those roadblocks. Find the article
PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT is the topic of an article in The New York Times. From the article: "..the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. These 'authoritative parents' appear to hit the sweet spot of parental involvement and generally raise children who do better academically, psychologically and socially than children whose parents are either permissive and less involved, or controlling and more involved." Read more.
TODDLER GEOGRAPHY. A UK toddler named Sherwyn can apparently identify all of the world's nations on a world map and match them with their flags. His parents plan to have his IQ formally assessed -- but they have to wait until he's three. Find out more.

Friday, August 3, 2012

News Items from the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

SPRINGSTEEN, DEPRESSION. Musician Bruce Springsteen revealed in a profile in The New Yorker that he has had bouts of depression for decades. The Child Mind Institute noted the profile and commented on its importance, saying "his candor could actually save lives other than his own. The biggest contributor to teenage suicide is unrecognized mental illness. Especially at risk are teenage boys who hide their depression and anxiety from their parents and friends, because they are ashamed to admit their feelings of despair and worthlessness. What we need most... is prominent role models to tell teenage boys that it's not unmanly to ask for help." Way to go, Bruce. Read the Child Mind Institute piece.
VIDEO GAMES AND AD/HD. The Child Mind Institute also has a piece on its site titled "Do Video Games Cause AD/HD?" Quickly, the piece says the answer is no -- but goes on to examine the attention-holding appeal of video games. Read more. Separately, a Wall Street Journal article describes how two start-up companies are developing video games to treat AD/HD, and are trying to get FDA approval for those games. Find the article
VIDEO GAMES AND DEPRESSION.New Zealand psychiatrists have developed a video game for 13- to 17-year-olds which helps them fight depression. Aimed at teens who might not seek help, the seven-level game involves, in part, blasting negative thoughts with fireballs. The game is based on cognitive behavioral therapy. Find out more.
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION. University of Miami researchers have tested an approach to treating coexisting anxiety and depression in children. Called Emotion Detectives Treatment Protocol (EDTP), the treatment involves weekly group therapy; in a study, the therapy greatly improved participants' anxiety and/or depression. Read more.
AD/HD, GIRLS, SOCIAL SKILLS. This week the Child Mind Institute posted an "Ask an Expert" column that answers the question, "How can I help my daughter with the social issues that come with AD/HD?" Structured play dates are part of the answer. Read more.
THE BRAIN. Imaging of the brain can detect some of the structural and functional differences that point to high intelligence -- overall brain size and prefrontal cortex activity, for example. Researchers now suggest that the strength of the neural pathways connecting the left prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain is another factor, one that can explain perhaps ten percent of individual differences in intelligence. According to one of the researchers, "This study suggests that part of what it means to be intelligent is having a prefrontal cortex that does its job well; and part of what that means is that it can effectively communicate with the rest of the brain." Find out more.
THE BRAIN AND AD/HD. Researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health studied the brains of typically developing kids and those with AD/HD, finding that from age 10 to 17 the kids with AD/HD had brains that developed more slowly in some respects. Specifically, the area of cortical surface in the frontal regions reaches a milestone in AD/HD kids almost two years later than in typically developing kids. One researcher says, "As other components of cortical development are also delayed, this suggests there is a global delay in AD/HD in brain regions important for the control of action and attention." Find out more.
UNWRAPPING THE GIFTED. Tamarra Fisher starts tweeting, and offers other sources of tweets that those in gifted education might want to follow. Find her recommendations.
WRIGHTSLAW. Special Ed Advocate in late July covered documentation for special ed -- and if your gifted child has an IEP or 504 plan, you might want to know what Wrightslaw thinks you should do to organize, date, and store documents related to those plans. Read the newsletter.
MORE ITEMS SOON!