Friday, May 30, 2014

2e Achiever, "Respect the Nerd," and More

LEARNING, LD, AND VENTURE CAPITAL. The radio program Marketplace yesterday carried a story about how venture capitalists are currently attracted to education as a potential field to make money. Interestingly, an entrepreneur quoted in the story had this to say: “I have a bunch of learning disabilities. I have ADD and dyslexia. I was diagnosed in fifth grade, and school was always really hard for me.” So he and his brother started a company to develop a tool, Remind101, to help teachers help students stay organized. The brothers are now in Silicon Valley, having raised $19 million in venture capital. Find the story.

ALSO IN MONEY-MAKING VEIN, a for-profit after-school math program, The Russian School of Mathematics, has chosen "Respect the Nerd" as the theme of its upcoming award ceremony in Newton, Massachusetts. You can read more at the school's website, but we don't see the imposing theme image there, so here it is:



EPIGENETICS, AUTISM. Researchers have identified two groups of genes that were epigenetically distinctive in children with ASD compared with typically developing children. Moreover, these genes are known to be expressed in the brain and code for proteins involved in nerve transmission functions previously shown to be impaired in ASD. The research illustrates how environmental influences rather than heredity might lead some children to be at higher risk for ASD. Read more.

IQ, FLAME RETARDANTS. Researchers at Simon Fraser University have determined that prenatal exposure to flame retardants can be significantly linked to lower IQs and greater hyperactivity in five-year old children. The researchers found that a 10-fold increase in PBDE concentrations in early pregnancy, when the fetal brain is developing, was associated with a 4.5 IQ decrement, which is comparable with the impact of environmental lead exposure. Read more.

MEDS AND TODDLERS. We blogged recently about the New York Times article concerning toddlers on stimulant meds. The exact context for the article was an examination of practices in medicating kids in foster care. For those interested in the fall-out of the article, The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has highlighted its guidelines for using psychtotropics for children in state custody; find those. In addition, an ACAAP member addressed the U.S. House Subcommittee on Human Resources during a hearing titled "Caring for Our Kids: Are We Overmedicating Children in Foster Care?" Find out more at the ACAAP site.

TEACHER'S REWARD. The phrase "reluctant learner" can often be applied to twice-exceptional children, so when we saw it in the title of a blog at Education Week Teacher we had to read the item. The teacher tells of her experience with a former student, Eddie. Writes the blogger, "Eddie distinguished himself almost immediately as the troublemaking ringleader. On any given day he could be argumentative, sarcastic, oppositional, sometimes lazy, and definitely mischievous." What comes next is unexpected and heartwarming. Plus the blogger also throws in 10 tips for dealing with "reluctant learners" -- Eddie's tips, not the teacher's. Find out how.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Advocacy, Assistive Tech, and More

OUT-OF-THE-BOX ADVOCACY goes "beyond traditional advocacy to take a stand and create change for your kids," according to advocate Lyn Pollard, a freelance writer and mom of two kids who learn differently. At the site of NCLD.org, Lyn offers a series of out-of-the-box suggestions such as "Talk LD in Your Community" and "Talk LD at Your Child's School." If you're early into your advocacy journey, check out the series.

ADVOCACY RESOURCE. This summer, the William and Mary Law School will hold its fourth annual five-day training program in special ed advocacy. Wrightslaw is a co-sponsor. According to an announcement of the program, the institute is "designed for experienced advocates, law students, new attorneys, and attorneys who are new to special education law." Find more information, or see the application and instructions.

RESOURCE FOR ASSISTIVE TECH. According to the Berkshire Eagle, Simmons College in Massachusetts has established a graduate program focusing on assistive technology. "Coursework includes topics, such as how to integrate assistive technology into a student's Individualized Education Plan (IEP); what are the best apps, devices and software to address different needs; how to develop curriculum in accordance with state assistive technology requirements;  [and] how to evaluate educational software and devices, among other subjects," says the Eagle. Read the article or go to the Simmons website to find out more.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. The May eNews-Update is out, featuring thoughts on dual enrollment (high school and college courses at the same time), news about various Davidson programs, a roundup of gifted-related legislation from states across the country, and pointers to a variety of resources on the web. Find eNews-Update.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New, Resources from the Publishers of 2e Newsletter

MEDS FOR TODDLERS. The New York Times reports that "more than 10,000" toddlers are on ADHD meds. Do these diagnoses and prescriptions follow established medical guidelines? Apparently not. The article notes that some experts view hyperactivity and impulsivity as "developmentally appropriate" for toddlers -- something most parents would probably agree with. On the other hand, we guess it's never too early to start our kids on drugs. :-(   Read the article.

SPEAKING OF MEDS -- the Child Mind Institute has posted an article on the use of "off-label" drugs for children. The article discusses the process of FDA approval and gives examples of off-label use for ADHD and depression. Also in the article: questions to ask your health-care professional about off-label use. Find the article.

WE HEAR STORIES about Asperger's being referred to as "engineer's disease." A study at the University of Texas has found that children of fathers who are in technical occupations are more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder. Children of dad engineers were two times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD; kids of financial professionals, four times; and kids of dads who are health care professional, six times. Read more (but not much more) at Science Daily.

SUMMER CAMP. Molly Isaacs-McLeaod, at the SENG site, offers tips for selecting summer camps and activities for gifted children. No specific 2e-related tips, but things to consider none-the-less. Find the tips.

100 WORDS. SENG also has a newsletter feature whereby those in the SENG community offer "100 words of wisdom." 2e Newsletter publisher Linda Neumann is featured in this month's SENG newsletter. Find out what Linda has to say.

2e IN DENMARK. Keep up on news from Denmark at the site of Twice Exceptional Denmark, http://paper.li/2eDansk/1391039263. The page currently points, among other places, to the blog Laughing at Chaos. See for yourself what else is on the page. (Most of it's in English except for this: "Twice Exceptional ie. Gifted with a Diagnoses (henviser til BMSF hvor der er øget kompleksitet pga. diagnose f.eks Ordblind, Autisme, OCD, Tourette. Dermed er børnene Dobbelt Exceptionelle)."

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY for the summer is out. Publisher Maurice Fisher presents several articles on various aspects of giftedness. One is by Joan Franklin Smutny, member of the 2e Newsletter Editorial Advisory Board, on a competition for students gifted in the arts, humanities, and creativity. Might that be your 2e child or student? If so, check out that article and others.

STRETCH GOAL? The Oxford Royal Academy hosts summer education programs for students from around the world on the campus of the University of Oxford. While the application process is competitive, there is also financial aid for those from "less affluent backgrounds," according to the Academy. Applications for this summer's programs are still being accepted. Find out more for your child or student -- or just dream about it would have been like to attend when you were young.

AND FINALLY, THIS. We'd be remiss if we didn't pass on this item in the category of "something else to worry about." Worry about school buses. In particular, worry about the windshield washer fluid in those buses. Why? "A form of bacteria responsible for respiratory illness, including the deadly pneumonia known as Legionnaire's disease, may be able to grow in windshield washer fluid and was isolated from nearly 75 percent of school buses tested in one district in Arizona, according to new research." Find out more.

Friday, May 16, 2014

News, Resources for Friday

SPD DIAGNOSIS: STILL NOT ACCEPTED? An article in the Washington Post notes that sensory processing disorder is still not accepted as a diagnosis by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and that the diagnosis didn't make it into the DSM-5, published last year. On the other hand, the article also quotes experts who do "believe." Find the article.

DYSLEXIC DISCONNECT. A blogger on parenting reports on evidence that there is a "disconnect" in dyslexics between the portion of the brain that processes sound and the portion that processes language. Research indicates that reading experience may play a big part in how dyslexia is manifested -- less experience means that less brain gray matter develops, which argues for intensive tutoring. Find the blog.

SES AND COGNITIVE ABILITY. If you're interested in the role of socio-economic status (SES) on cognitive development, check out an article at the website of the Dana Foundation. The article describes research into SES and specific aspects of cognition -- language, executive function, etc -- where developmental deficits arise early. The article focuses on language skills, one of the areas where SES seems to have a large effect. In addition, links between lower SES and structural/functional differences in certain brain areas -- the hippocampus along with areas of the cortex -- are also explored. Find the article.

A TEACHER'S DAY. Education Week Teacher, for National Teacher Appreciation Day, asked teachers who use Instagram to share their days via photos and commentary. The result is now online, and may lead to renewed appreciation of what teachers go through every day to educate our kids. Find the feature.

IN CHICAGO. The Child Mind Institute is hosting an event in Chicago on May 21 at the Museum of Science and Industry. Titled "Mind the Gap: Integrating Physical and Mental Health Care," the event is described as "a conversation about the integration of primary care and mental health services, and its promise of better access to quality care and improved outcomes for kids." If you're a fan of the Institute's work, find more information.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From the Publishers of 2e Newsletter

BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS 1. Your twice-exceptional child has ADHD, which tends to lead to a higher incidence of smoking. On the other hand, if your child with ADHD is taking stimulant medications, his or her risk for smoking is less, especially if your child is taking meds consistently. Read more in a press release from Duke Medicine. (Ironically, Duke University was founded by tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke.)

BAD NEWS, GOOD NEWS 2. A blog at the site of The New York Times points to research suggesting that ADHD meds don't have "long-term, lasting benefits," but also suggesting that mindfulness training could be a way to increase cognitive control and beat the ADHD monster. The blog mentions research on adults showing that mindfulness training can help with ADHD-related problems. Find the blog.

OCD BIOMARKER. According to Johns Hopkins University, researchers there say they have identified a genetic marker that may be associated with the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), whose causes and mechanisms are among the least understood among mental illnesses. One of the researchers says the finding could lead to more effective drugs to help people affected by OCD. Read more.

HOLLYWOOD AND MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS. The Child Mind Institute presented a panel last Thursday highlighting how entertainment professionals have helped shift perceptions of mental illness. Among the speakers were directors, producers, and writers. An article in USA Today tells the story.

"MOMMY BLOGGER." An attorney who is also a food-policy advocate muses on the label "mommy blogger" and how critics use that label to "de-legitimize" her views. Can you separate views, credibility, and advocacy from a role as a mom? Should you have to? We suspect this issue affects many accomplished and capable women in the 2e community as well. After all, 2e Newsletter co-founder Linda Neumann is just a "mommy publisher." :-)  Read more.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE NEWSLETTER. The spring edition of the Educators Guild Newsletter is out, focusing on Common Core Standards and their potential impact on gifted ed. An article in the newsletter lists tips for educators for implementing CCS with gifted students. Find the newsletter.

WRIGHTSLAW, in the current issue of Special Ed Advocate, focuses on FAQs about evaluations, tests, and assessments. Wrightslaw promises a preview of the new book All About Tests and Assessments and the chance to download a chapter from that book. Find Special Ed Advocate.

Friday, May 9, 2014

News, Resources from 2e Newsletter

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has a 2e-relevant article on its website, "What We Know about the Long-term Effects of ADHD Medications". The article "is intended to clarify the facts and help you make an informed decision about the risks and benefits of ADHD medication." Find it.

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY has published an article by a 17-year-old young man who describes his five-year battle with OCD and how he used cognitive behavioral therapy to control his obsessions, along with drugs, starting with baby steps called "exposures." This young man had connections to the people at the Child Mind Institute during his treatment, and it was an article there that pointed us to Psychology Today.

THE GIFTED LABEL was the subject of an article in Education Week we blogged about recently, mentioning its premise that need-based services were the crucial thing, not labels. This week Education Week published a rebuttal letter to the editor by Jim Delisle, whose point is simply "No label, no access" [to services]. Delisle calls the position of the original writers "quite naive." Find the letter and pick your side.

EDUTOPIA has a piece on its site called "Uppervention: Meeting the Needs of Gifted [there's that label again] and Talented Students," in which the writer offers strageties for challenging gifted kids. The term uppervention is used instead of intervention. The strategies include recognizing talent, making the uppervention student centered, and more. Find the piece.

CHESTER FINN asks if differentiated instruction is a "hollow promise" doomed to failure because of the unrealistic burdens it places on classroom teachers. He says, “'regular' teachers are tasked with customizing, tailoring, and individualizing their instruction so that administrators and policy types can declare with straight faces that their classrooms are diverse and inclusive and that every child’s singular education needs are being satisfactorily met." And he asks for evidence from readers that differentiated instruction is effective. Got that evidence? Find his request.

ADHD SUMMER CAMP. What is billed as the only program of its kind in Illinois is a seven-week program for children ages 6-12 with ADHD and other behavioral, emotional, and social difficulties. According to the organizers, "The comprehensive, evidence-based program provides a camp environment with a focus on social rewards and positive reinforcement through sports and recreation." Find out more.

SENG WEBINAR. The next SENG webinar is titled "Strategies for Dealing with Emotional Overexcitabilities," to be presented by professional coach Regina Hellinger. The session is described as a "look at the ways that we can be with our emotions, release them in positive ways, and use our intensities to access our greatest gifts and feel our deepest joy and life satisfaction." Find out more

TED TALKS FOR TEACHERS. TED has organized 10 talks on topics such as math, the "school in the cloud," reinventing liberal arts education, and more. Find the listing

LD ONLINE, in its May newsletter, offers ideas for summer learning: summer reading for kids with dyslexia; designing a summer audiobook plan; sports for kids with LDs; and more. Find the newsletter

2e PROVIDER DATABASE. Don't forget our database of service providers to the 2e community. It contains providers nominated by clients and providers who have nominated themselves. The database is at http://2edb.info; you may nominate a provider by going to http://2edb.info/submit and using 2edb as a username and access77 as a password. If you've had a good experience with a provider, please help out the community by sharing that information. Thanks!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY this Sunday to all you U.S. moms of 2e kiddos! Consider how boring and unengaging your life would be if your child were simply "normal." :-) 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

From the Publishers of 2e Newsletter

OUR BEST REGARDS today, National Teacher's Day, to all of you teachers in the 2e community who do your best to help twice-exceptional learners succeed. Thanks for your efforts!

MAY/JUNE ISSUE OUT. The May/June issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter just came out. If you're a paid subscriber and haven't received your copy, please let us know.

AUTISM RISK. Heritability and environmental factors are about equal when it comes to pinning down causes for autism, according to a new study. While the study showed that genetics is still very important -- a child whose sibling has autism is 10 times more likely to develop it as well -- the weight given to genetic factors is lower than the 80 to 90 percent sometimes cited. Environmental factors covered by the study included birth complications, maternal infections, and medications during pre-or perinatal period. Read more.

DEPRESSION BIOMARKER. Researchers have identified a protein that can be measured in the blood which helps maintain serotonin levels. The protein, a "serotonin transporter," works the same way in the blood as it does in the brain to regulate serotonin levels. Depression diagnosis through blood tests is a possibility in the not-to-distant future, according to a write-up of the study; find it.

GIFTED HOMESCHOOLERS FORUM, in its current newsletter, offers an article titled "The STEAM-Powered Education of Gifted Kids." (STEAM is STEM plus Arts.) The author describes her family's experiences and how they came to home schooling. Find the article. The author is also the creator of a website called SteamPoweredClassoom.com; find it. Of particular interest there is a page called "The Dream School: A Visioning Document."

TESTS AND ASSESSMENTS. We often get questions from readers about testing and assessment concerns for twice-exceptional students, especially questions dealing with parents' rights and schools' obligations. We usually wind up referring questioners to the Wrightslaw website. As it happens, Wrightslaw is now releasing a new book titled Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments. We haven't seen the book, but given what we know about Wrightslaw we'd bet that it's pretty useful. The book ships in June, just in time for over-the-summer study. Pre-publication price: $11.22. Find out more.

SUMMER PROGAMS AT BELIN-BLANK. The Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa offers residential summer programs for middle school and high school students of high ability. For some programs, students need to be nominated by their schools; for others, self-nomination is fine. Areas of study include computer technology, language, and other advanced-level topics. Find out more.

Friday, May 2, 2014

News, Resources from 2e Newsletter

NO COLLEGE FOR YOUR KIDDO? You're not alone. "Motherlode" at The New York Times asked readers for stories about kids choosing non-traditional paths, and got some good ones. Some of the reasons will certainly resonate with parents of 2e kids: "...loves to learn but heavy-duty academics are not something he relishes..."; "being intelligent is not the same thing as being scholastically inclined..."; a bright son "who struggled with attention deficit disorder, anxiety and depression throughout high school." Find the stories.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE, whose work we respect, is sponsoring an "Speak Up for Kids" campaign to highlight children's mental health. This is obviously part of what we do at 2e Newsletter and integral to our mission of "helping twice-exceptional children reach their potential." We ask that you find out more and "speak up" if you're so inclined. Find out more.

GENDER AND GRADES. The girls have the advantage-- despite the topic, in dozens of countries, and throughout the school years. A write-up at Science Daily explains the results and offers a few possible causes.

ADHD AND BRAIN IMAGING. Chinese researchers have used brain imaging to discover certain areas of altered brain structure and function in boys with ADHD. One area of the brain in which differences were found plays a part in executive inhibitory control. Find out more.

THE ADHD EXPLOSION is the topic of a free webinar scheduled by ADDitude for May 6th. The presenter is Stephen Hinshaw, author of, appropriately, The ADHD Explosion. Learn more.

ADHD AND NEUROFEEDBACK is the topic of a column by David Rabiner. At SharpBrains.com, he discusses new research on the topic. Find out more.

ADDITUDE offers a "slideshow" listing 11 actors, musicians, athletes, and others who have "made it big with ADHD." Find the slideshow.

OCD AND DBS. New research suggests that deep brain stimulation may be have some effect in OCD patients previously unresponsive to treatment. The mechanism is supposedly through the normalization of dopamine release in one part of the brain, the striatum, which is involved in reward and behavioral control. Read more.

AUTISM AND MOTOR SKILLS. Children with autism tend to develop gross motor skills more slowly than typical counterparts, according to research reported at HealthDay.com. The lag was not linked to intellectual ability. Read more.

LD NEWS offers articles on tips for helping a child with attention issues learn. The tips center on organization, strategizing skills, self-monitoring, and others. Find the newsletter.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE offers an article on how sensory processing disorders can affect students, and how SPD issues can be confused with ADHD. The article offers tips for dealing with SPD at school. Find the article.

THE SIEMENS COMPETITION in STEM is open for registration for 2014. Find out about participation at the Siemens Competition website.