Friday, August 1, 2014

Autism, ADHD, SPD, Dyscalculia, more

THE KIDS WHO BEAT AUTISM is the title of an article in the Magazine section (that means it's kind of long) in the upcoming Sunday New York Times. It tells the stories of some of the small percentage of children who, after being diagnosed with autism so severe that they are non-verbal, seem to "grow out" of it, sometimes with the help of applied behavior analysis or other therapies. Included is a bittersweet account of two families, each with autistic boys; one lost his autistic traits, the other did not, even though both families were working with the same (and very expensive) behavioral analysis therapies. The article also touches on whether autism is or should be "cured." For example, one "recovered" autistic teen says about being autistic, "When I was little, pretty often I was the happiest a person could be. It was the ultimate joy, this rush in your entire body, and you can’t contain it." Find the article.

AUTISM VERSUS SPD. Researchers have found that children with sensory processing disorders have decreased structural brain connections in specific sensory regions different than those in autism, further establishing SPD as a clinically important neurodevelopmental disorder, according to a press release from the University of California at San Francisco. The impetus for the study? The lead researcher is quoted as saying, ""With more than 1 percent of children in the U.S. diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and reports of 5 to 16 percent of children having sensory processing difficulties, it's essential we define the neural underpinnings of these conditions, and identify the areas they overlap and where they are very distinct." Read more.

TEENS AND INSOMNIA. Got a teen with sleep problems? That child could be at risk for depression and anxiety, according to research from an Austrailian university. The researchers estimate that 11 percent of teens experience insomnia at some point. Read more

THIS ONE'S FOR YOU, PARENTS. Got a kid with ADHD? Got ADHD yourself? A recent study found that parenting skills are better in parents whose ADHD is treated with medication -- disciplining more consistently, for example, or using praise. Find out more

PARENTING RESOURCE. The National Center for Learning Disabilities has announced an upcoming "digital destination" called "Understood" to help with attention and learning issues. Developed in conjunction with 14 other non-profits, Understood is "unlike anything available today," according to NCLD. Curious? Find out more

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has a new article on its site about parenting pre-teens, offering advice on what to do when "our cute, cuddly little children, once so willing to climb into our laps and share their secrets, suddenly want little or nothing to do with us." Tips include: don't feel rejected; set aside time for your child; be indirect in extracting information; and more. Find the article

DYSCALCULIA seems to be linked to deficits in reading and spelling as well as math. While perhaps five percent of children have this arithmetic-related issue, what's news is that more than half of those children will also suffer from reading or spelling disabilities. Find out more

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE's most recent eNews Update is out, with items about what's new in gifted ed, Davidson news, a legislative update, and pointers to various web resources. Find the newsletter

NEUROFEEDBACK AND ADHD is the topic of an article by David Rabiner at SharpBrains.com. Rabiner reviews a study supposedly yielding good results from just 12 neurofeedback sessions rather than the typical 30 or 40. Rabiner discusses the results and limitations of the study. Read more

ADDITUDE has a sample letter for parents to adapt in introducing an ADHD child to the child's teacher at the start of the new school year. The letter models how to describe your child in general as well as a list of techniques that the teacher might find useful in certain situation, for example offering a "flash pass" to allow the child to leave the room for a break (to control anxiety). Find the letter. 

DIDN'T GO TO THE SENG CONFERENCE? You can get a feel for it in a slide show posted at YouTube

THE TEMPLE OPTION is the name of an alternative admissions process for Temple University in which students may choose not to use standardized text scores, such as the SAT or ACT. The university says it "is responding to the growing body of research evidence that shows high-school GPA, class rank and 'noncognitive' factors (such as a student's grit, determination and self-confidence) are more reliable predictors of college success." Temple joins other universities in offering this option. The option is available to students applying for entry in 2015. Read more

AND FINALLY, THIS. Those sweet beverages might do more than add calories for your child -- they might also impair the ability to learn and remember. An animal study found that these ill effects were particularly noticeable during adolescence. One mechanism: inflammation of the hippocampus from sugar-sweetened beverages. Find out more.

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