Friday, June 20, 2014

Meds, TV Violence and Kids, and More -- Including Something Else to Worry About

DOSING YOUR KIDS. Twice-exceptional kids are likely to, at some point, be on meds for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other conditions. A new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute discusses considerations for finding the right dosage of particular medications, providing some general guidelines ("start low and go slow") as well as medication-specific guidelines. Find the article.

U.S. SENATE: MORE $ FOR SPECIAL, GIFTED ED? The Council for Exceptional Children reports that Senate subcommittee has recommended increases in spending in some areas of special ed and gifted ed. Under the proposal, Javits funding -- called "the sole federal investment in gifted education" -- would rise from $5 million this year to $7 million in FY 2015. (It used to be has high as $11 million.) So here's our favorite calculation: $7 million divided by the number of children in the U.S. 18 or under (~74 million) comes out to -- WOW! -- about 10 cents per kid. Find CEC's report.

SENG CONFERENCE. July 1st is the closing date for advance registration for the SENG annual conference, to be held July 18-21 in San Jose. After that, walk-ins will be accepted if space is available. Also, no child/teen program registrations will be accepted after July 1, according to SENG. Find out more.

TV VIOLENCE EFFECTS. Last time, we blogged about video game violence and its effect on empathy. Since then, a new study indicates that exposure to violence on TV show leads to "indications of less mature brain development and poorer executive functioning." The study found a link, not causality. But the lead author says, "The take-home message from this study is the finding of a relationship between how much violent television we watch and important aspects of brain functioning like controlled attention and inhibition." Read more.

APROPOS OF SUMMER? Children who spend more time in less structured activities — from playing outside to reading books to visiting the zoo — are better able to set their own goals and take actions to meet those goals without prodding from adults, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder. The study also found that children who participate in more structured activities — including soccer practice, piano lessons and homework — had poorer “self-directed executive function,” a measure of the ability to set and reach goals independently. Read about the study in a press release from the U of Colorado.

CHALK ONE UP FOR NERDS. "Cool" teens may later have more trouble with drugs and relationships, according to a new study. By "cool," the researchers meant young teens who acted old for their age -- "pseudomature." The study's lead author is quoted in the L.A. Times as saying, "They are gaining the appearance of maturity, but they are not gaining actual maturity.” Find the article.

AUTISM PIONEER DIES. The New York Times carried an obituary for psychiatrist Lorna Wing, who it says "is widely credited with recognizing autism as a spectrum of related problems, rather than as a single condition." She "rediscovered" the work of Hans Asperger and named the mildest variant of autism. Read more.

THIS ONE'S FOR YOU. "The Neuroprotective Effects of Education" is the title of an article at the site of the Dana Foundation. Graduating from high school is good; graduating from college is even better. From the article: "Research published in the past few years suggests that it can strengthen the brain, making it more resistant to the ravages of old age, and perhaps mitigating the damage that occurs after traumatic brain injury." Read the article.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Something else to worry about: the herbicide Roundup -- appearing in breast milk. As you can imagine, chemical manufacturers, the EPA, and environmentalists -- including moms -- have different opinions about the risk involved. Read more.

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