Friday, September 12, 2014

Exercise, Autism Intervention, GHF Anniversary, and More

GIFTED HOMESCHOOLERS FORUM is observing 10 years of service to the families of gifted and twice-exceptional children. You can read more about the anniversary here, or visit the group's website here. Congratulations to GHF! (And does this mean that Corin is now 10 years older than when we first met her? No way!)

EXERCISE before school might reduce the symptoms of ADHD in young students, according to researchers at Michigan State University; read more. Separately, a recent Finnish study shows that higher levels of physical activity are related to better academic achievement during the first three school years, particularly in boys; find out more.

AUTISM INTERVENTION. A small study at the UC MIND Institute administered an intervention to infants who showed early signs of autism -- decreased eye contact, etc -- which, with heavy parental involvement seemed to allow the little ones to catch up with typically developing peers by age 2 or 3. The researchers noted the importance of early identification, as early as six months. The intervention was based on the Early Start Denver Model. Read more. Separately, another study indicates that the same sex hormone that helps protect females from stroke may also reduce their risk of autism. In the first look at a potential role of the female sex hormone in autism, researchers have found expression of estrogen receptor beta -- which enables estrogen's potent brain protection -- is significantly decreased in autistic brains. The receptor also plays a role in locomotion as well as behavior, including anxiety, depression, memory, and learning. Find out more


NEAR VERMONT? Landmark College is holding its second day-long symposium on "new and emerging technologies for people who learn differently," according to the organization. Speakers include Ben Foss, founder of Headstrong Nation; Jon Landis from Apple; and Dr Mark Hakkinen from Educational Testing Service. The three (respectively) will speak on:
  • "A Blueprint for Learners: Using Technology to Support Students Who Learn Differently"
  • "Accessibility and Current and Emerging Technologies"
  • "Why Mobility Matters"
Find out more.
NEAR LOS ANGELES? The Summit Center still has seats left for the September 18th event "Be an A+ Parent of Gifted & Twice Exceptional Learners: Focus on What Matters!" Presenters are Dr. Dan Peters, executive director of the Summit Center, and Melanie Prager, J.D., C.P.E. Find out more

THE DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE NEWSLETTER for September is out, previewing two upcoming dyslexia- or 2e-related webinars, presenting two recordings of conference sessions on dyslexia and innovation (one a "young professionals" panel), and giving a pointer to a recent Scientific American article on the advantages of dyslexia. Find the newsletter

DOES GIFTED EDUCATION WORK? FOR WHICH STUDENTS? That's the title of a paper issued by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research. It's based on a study of one large urban school district. The key contention: "Our findings suggest that a separate classroom environment is more effective for students selected on past achievement – particularly disadvantaged students who are often excluded from gifted and talented programs." That is, those selected on achievement rather than IQ seem to benefit most from gifted classrooms. See a summary of the paper (scroll down to the third item); or try to access the paper itself. (It's evidently freely available to some groups -- like government employees or residents of developing nations -- but not others.)

CARGO-CULT NEUROSCIENCE. A writer takes aim at "neuroscience" applications in business and education that might not be exactly rigorous. Actually, the term "cargo-cult science" has an interesting origin that makes  this Sydney Morning Herald article worth looking at all by itself; find it. 

AND FINALLY, THIS. Researchers compared the fatty acid profiles of breast milk from women in over two dozen countries with how well children from those same countries performed on academic tests. Their findings show that the amount of omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in a mother's milk is the strongest predictor of test performance. It outweighs national income and the number of dollars spent per pupil in schools. Read more. Then go chow down on nuts and seeds. 

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