Friday, November 28, 2014

Depression, Brain Training, Un-named Twice-exceptionality, More

'TIS THE SEASON TO BE -- depressed, at least for some people, especially those sensitive to the change of seasons. (Readers Down Under can ignore this item.) ADDitude offers tips for dealing with winter depression when ADHD is part of one's neurological mix. And an article at the site of the Child Mind Institute points out that the Thanksgiving holiday can be a good time for parents to check on the mood of their college freshmen, home after being on their own for a few months and maybe showing signs of depression; find the article. The site of Brain & Behavior has a new article titled "New Brain Biomarker Found for Depression Risk in Young Children." A part of the brain called the anterior insula is apparently smaller in volume in kids with predisposition to depression; read more. And three items at Science Daily deal with depression, telling us that:
  • Teens who mature early are at greater risk of depression.
  • When adolescent (animals) consume a diet high in fructose, it can worsen depressive- and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress. Fructose is a sugar commonly added to foods and beverages.
  • Group mindfulness treatment is as effective as individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in patients with depression and anxiety.
So how do you feel after reading all these items on depression?

BRAIN TRAINING. The Child Mind Institute has a new article on its site about computer-based brain training for kids, how it works, and whether it's effective or worth the time and money. Brain training can be used to help kids pay attention, process information faster, remember more, and be "cognitively flexible." If you've been considering it for your child, check out the article.

BRIGHT AND LAZY? Jay Matthews, in the Washington Post, wrote an article titled "For Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities, Homework Can Be Torture," in which he tells of a family's frustration with school because a child who scored in the 99th percentile in math couldn't get into a top math group in class. The reasons? ADHD and executive function issues. Even at a private school, the child couldn't get an accommodation such as less repetitive homework. The article doesn't use the word twice-exceptional, nor is the word in any of the 182 comments on the article (assuming our browser's search function works correctly). 2e, the condition that must not be named.  Find the article.

SPECIAL ED ATTORNEY MATT COHEN, in his November e-newsletter, covers several topics that might be of interest to parents or educators of twice-exceptional students. One item concerns Office of Civil Rights guidance for schools regarding bullying of students with disabilities, which includes 2e students. Another item implies that, in at least one US Circuit Court district, schools have an obligation to disclose RTI data to parents as part of efforts to determine whether a learning disability is present. Find the newsletter.

WRIGHTSLAW, in the current issue of Special Ed Advocate, points out that IEPs are not cast in stone, and that you (parents) can ask to revise an IEP. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. We learn all kinds of things as we look for items for this blog. For example, we just learned that habitual napping is common among first-year university students in Australia, and that such napping "may be used in an attempt to compensate for the detrimental effects of excessive sleepiness." Find out more.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ADHD, Homeschooling, ASD, and Winnie the Pooh

SHARPBRAINS.COM, in its November 24th Update, provides lots of articles that might be of interest to those in the 2e community, including pieces on whether cognitive therapy should be the first-line treatment for depression; whether there's a link between ADHD and creativity; mindfulness in education; and ADHD in high school. (For those of us who are older, there's also a piece on vitamin B12 and dementia (maybe no benefits).) Find the Update.

HOW AUTISM FREED ME to be myself is the title of a TED talk by a 16-year-old young woman, who tries to dispel stereotypes and celebrate uniqueness. (She has two siblings with autism who are non-verbal.) She calls autism an ability, not a disability. See the talk or read the transcript.

BLOGS. At the site of SENG, Amy Golden Harrington reviews three blogs with a 2e connection. One is by a 2e adult; another is on OEs and homeschooling; and another is from a mom of two gifted, intense, rivalrous, homeschooled boys. Find the reviews.

EXPLAINING OUR KIDS TO OTHERS is usually a challenge for the parent of a twice-exceptional child. Maintaining composure while hearing others react to our situations can also be a challenge. At ADDitude.com, read 21 comments by others that readers submitted, top picks in the category of "hurtful things said by people who just don't understand." Find the comments.

FOLLOW-UP. The article "One Drug or Two" in The New York Times, which we mentioned last week, generated a good deal of response by well-credentialed readers of The Times. Find that feedback. (Find the original article.)

UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPTS? If you have a few minutes to be confused, or indignant, or dismayed, check out two recent columns in venerable Parade Magazine. In one column, the columnist responds to a parent complaining that he/she is homeschooling a gifted child because the child wouldn't get the attention he needs in public school. In the other, a follow-on, the columnist responds to a parent asserting that gifted kids might be "special needs" in social areas.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Winnie the Pooh was reportedly nixed as the mascot for a town playground because he is inappropriately dressed and of dubious sexuality. Reporting on the town's decision, NBC News said, "Sure, Winnie is a honey junkie who spends most of his time with a chronically depressed donkey and a suspiciously energetic tiger, and if you don't want your kids hanging with that sort of crew, then fine. But if you don't want Winnie at playgrounds because he doesn't wear pants and has no external genitalia, you're living in the past, my friend." Read more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2e I, II, III... and More

2e I. Jen the blogger has a nice piece at Laughing at Chaos titled "To Be Both Normal and Extraordinary." She muses on the dual nature of 2e kids -- extraordinary but normal -- and how "the only way our kids, all of our kids, are going to thrive is if we celebrate their extraordinariness while we simultaneously treat it as the most normal thing in the world." Find the blog

2e II. Eric Parsons, at the site of the Center for Talent Development writes about "non-normative behaviors." Recognize those? The gifted behaviors? The LD-based behaviors? The "nerd" label? The "outsider" feeling? He notes a sliver lining, how "Through linguistic re-appropriation and public forums unconstrained by geography, robust communities of self identified ‘nerds’, ‘geeks’, ‘weirdos’ etc. have developed around one key principle: enthusiastically pursuing and sharing interests without regard for prevailing socio-cultural norms." In other words, as Jen said above, "normal." Find the post

2e III. "Why We Should Stop Worrying if Other People Like Our Kids" is a Huffington Post blog by Lisa Abeyta, mother of two 2e kids, which she says is "is usually a daily adventure into the unknown, especially when a child is young -- because the exceptionalities are rarely identified. leaving parents a bit off kilter as they struggle to understand their child's unique approach to life." She tells a very uncomfortable story -- very uncomfortable to any parent -- in which she does something any parent will cheer. She writes, " I have... come to understand that it is so not my job to make my kid feel defective because he doesn't fit in the right box," and she has stopped worrying whether others are comfortable around her kid. Find the post


SCOOPED! We just finished writing up an NAGC session we attended by Matthew Fugate of Purdue University. The topic: giftedness, ADHD, and creativity. But Scott Barry Kaufman, writing at the site of Scientific American, has already addressed the study by Fugate that was core to his presentation. Here's the Kaufmann article -- but we'll add some details in our session write-up, coming soon. 

EXERCISE AND ADHD. We've blogged recently about the positive effects of exercise on cognitive functioning. An article at the site of the Child Mind Institute reflects on the results of one of those studies. Find the article.
ADHD AND MARKETING. A researcher describes five reasons for the global surge in ADHD diagnosis. Of the five, three have to do with "marketing." Read more.
"OWNING" DYSLEXIA. The organization Understood presents a webinar on Friday the 21st at noon ET titled "Why It's Important to Help Kids 'Own' Their Dyslexia." Find out more.
CONFERENCE TIP. A steadfast member of the 2e community suggests that readers here might be interested in the International Conference on Thinking, scheduled for June 29 through July 3, 2015, in Spain. She says, "There is a strong education strand and some excellent speakers: Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg, Edward De Bono, David Perkins, Robert Swartz, Art Costa, and many more." Find out more.
AND FINALLY, THIS -- FOR YOU. That's right, for you gifted parents or educators or counselors of the gifted. A 40-year longitudinal study indicates that profoundly gifted men and women measure success differently by the time they reach mid-life. Results of the study, from Vanderbilt University, show how the men and women have achieved, spent their careers, been paid, spent their time, and "invested" in family. So see how your peers report in on their lives. (Although you, O Gifted Reader, may be somewhat younger than the roughly 50 years of age enjoyed by the study participants.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Medications, ADHD, Depression, Dyslexia, Video Games, and More

ONE DRUG OR TWO is the title of an article in The New York Times, which starts with the situation of a five-year old already on ADHD meds whose mother is considering adding an anti-psychotic because of the boy's difficult behavior. "In 2012 about one in 54 youngsters ages 6 through 17 covered by private insurance was taking at least two psychotropic medications," says the article. If your family is on the threshold of multiple drugs -- or if you have a concern about medications in kids -- read this article.

PSYCHIATRISTS are the ones who prescribe anti-psychotics and other meds used by 2e kids -- but psychiatrists are increasingly difficult to gain access to, one reason being their relative scarcity, especially for child psychiatrists. Find out why in an article at TheConversation.com.

ON THE TOPIC OF MEDS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has evidently expressed "concern" that two generic versions of Concerta are not therapeutically equivalent to the branded drug. It's something to know about if your 2e kiddo is taking one of the generics.

DON'T LIKE MEDS? Maybe you can treat ADHD with food. That's the topic of an upcoming free ADDitude webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 19 at 1 pm ET. A blurb for the webinar says that the topics covered will include:
  • Foods that can help improve your mood, memory, motivation, and focus
  • How an elimination diet can help manage ADHD symptoms in children
  • Four simple steps to recognizing "good" and "bad" foods.
Find out more. Also from ADDitude, an article called "ADHD and Depression: Diagnosing, Treating, and Managing a Dual Diagnosis"; find it.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING is the topic of a recent article on the site of the Davidson Institute. It's titled "Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning -- What Is It, Why We Need It, and How Parents Can Support Our Children's Development." Find the article. Separately, researchers at New York University say that an educational approach focused on the development of children’s executive functions -- the ability to avoid distractions, focus attention, hold relevant information in working memory, and regulate impulsive behavior --improved academic learning in and beyond kindergarten. A write-up of the study notes that because some effects were especially pronounced in high-poverty schools, the findings hold promise for closing the poverty-related achievement gap and suggest that an emphasis on executive functions in kindergarten may reduce poverty-linked deficits in school readiness. Find the writeup.

DEPRESSION in preschoolers changes the brain, in particular the right anterior insula, an area involved in emotion, perception, self-awareness and cognitive function, according to a press release about a research study. The researchers note that their findings could provide a biomarker for those at risk for the recurrence of depression as well as clues for the diagnosis and treatment of depression. Find out more. Separately, other research indicates that major depressive disorder could be thought of as an infectious disease caused by parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Researcher Tuhan Canli, Ph.D., provides three reasons for his reconceptualization of MDD. First, he points out that patients with MDD exhibit illness behavior such as loss of energy, and that inflammatory biomarkers in MDD also suggest an illness-related origin. Second, he describes evidence that parasites, bacteria and viruses infect humans in a way that alters their emotional behavior. Thirdly, he introduces the notion of the human body as an ecosystem for microorganisms and the role of genetics. Find out more. Separately again, researchers at Mt. Sinai school of medicine have proposed a new model for depression. According to this model, the brain’s ability to effectively deal with stress or to lack that ability and be more susceptible to depression depends on a single protein type in each person’s brain. The Mount Sinai study findings challenge the current thinking about depression and the drugs currently used to treat the disorder, for example the mechanisms involving serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Read more.

DYSLEXIA ASSIST. A font and a redesigned dictionary are being developed by separate individuals to help dyslexics. The font, from a dyslexic designer, uses typographic elements, a dark blue color, and more space to help readers understand text. The dictionary is from a father-and-son team and uses a morphological approach to organization rather than a phonetic approach. Read more.

DIET, KIDS, AND MENTAL HEALTH (such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders). They're connected. Find out more.

LD IN COLLEGE. The most recent LD Online newsletter focuses on getting kids with LDs ready for college, with articles on building college-level reading scores, planning for college with an LD, and taking that SAT. Find the newsletter.

AND FINALLY, THIS. They help, they harm, they build skills or they make kids aggressive. It seems as if every study about video games we read has a different conclusion than the last. This week's study is described in a write-up with this title: "Playing Action Video Games Can Boost Learning." It compared action games to non-action games. Find the write-up and decide for yourself if it applies to your gaming kiddo. (Interestingly, the Office of Naval Research, the Swiss National Foundation, The Human Frontier Science Program, and the National Eye Institute supported the research.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans' Day, Education Policy, Child Mind Institute, More

IT'S VETERANS' DAY in the U.S., a day on which we express appreciation for the service of those currently and formerly in the Armed Services. Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate observes the day by providing resources to help military families with exceptional (or twice-exceptional) children. If yours is a military family, or you know such a family, perhaps check out Special Ed Advocate today.

IF THE U.S. ELECTION last week didn't burn you out, perhaps you'd like information on what the election results might mean for education policy in this country. To that end, Education Week is offering a free event, to be streamed via the Web, on Wednesday, November 12 at 1 ET. Find out more.

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. We're fans of this organization, and we have two bits of news about it. First, the organization hosts an annual Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture. This year's speaker was actress Lorraine Bracco ("Goodfellas," "The Sopranos"); she addressed her battle with dyslexia and depression. ("Depression is a vortex," she says. "You don't have it, it has you.") Find an account of the lecture. The second item concerns the co-founder of the Institute, Dr. Harold Koplewicz. He was recently named a WebMD Health Hero. Find out more.

ADHD FOLLOWUP. We recently pointed readers to an article in The New York Times titled "A Natural Fix for ADHD." If you read that article -- and it certainly generated a lot of interest on our Facebook page -- you might be interested in some of the letters to the editor of the Times concerning the article. Find them.

EDUCATING 2e LEARNERS. Susan Baum, Robin Schader, and Thomas Hebert have published in Gifted Child Quarterly an article titled "Through a Different Lens: Reflecting on a Strengths-based, Talent-focused Approach for Twice-exceptional Learners." The article reports on the experiences of 2e students at a private school for the twice-exceptional. From the article abstract: "Findings indicate areas of change and development across cognitive, emotional/behavioral, and social domains and identified five factors underlying student growth: psychological safety, tolerance for asynchrony, time, positive relationships, and the consistent use of a strengths-based, talent-focused philosophy. Data also revealed four benefits from the talent development opportunities offered by the school. Participating in talent development activities enabled students to become part of a social group; to overcome some social, emotional, and cognitive challenges in context; to develop ongoing mentor and professional relationships with people in talent areas; and to develop expertise in an area of talent. This research supports the incorporation of a strengths-based, talent-focused approach for twice-exceptional learners." Find the article at the site of SAGE Publications.

PERSONALIZED LEARNING sounds like it would be good, in theory, for any learner and especially for twice-exceptional learners. The approach incorporates strategies such as the use of learner profiles; personalized learning plans; competency-based progression, and flexible learning environments. An article at Chalkbeat.org describes how some schools in Tennessee have been using personalized learning and the results. Find the article.

Friday, November 7, 2014

ASD Celebrity, Note-taking, Helicopter vs Rescuing, More

FAMOUS ON THE SPECTRUM. That's Jerry Seinfeld, according to an NBC interview the comedian gave to Brian Williams. He says he has trouble with social engagement, and with taking language literally. Read more.

2e-RELATED SEMINAR IN CHICAGO. Well, Evanston, Illinois, actually -- at the Center for Talent Development on Northwestern University's campus. It's a free primer titled "Recognizing the Capacities of Twice-exceptional Learners," presented by Erik Parsons, and it's presented at 9:30 and 12:30 on Saturday the 8th. Find out more.

ADHD AND PAH. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the air increase the chances that a child will be be diagnosed by age 9 with ADHD -- specifically, inattentive ADHD. PAH are air pollutants from a variety of sources. Read more.

ON NOTE-TAKING. We blogged on a recent pan-versus-laptop study that seemed to indicate that students taking notes by pen retained information better. However, an article at the site of Edutopia asks, "what if we approach the concept by identifying what is best for individual students?" That's reasonable -- we in the 2e community are always happy when our kids are considered on the basis of their individual needs. The writer goes on to consider four factors in choosing AT for note taking, including support for the student's learning needs, the ability to save notes in different locations, the ability to search the notes, and the ability to share. Find the article.

"HELICOPTER" VERSUS "NO-RESCUE." Almost by definition, our 2e kids have a problem -- or even multiple problems. As such, our natural instinct as parents is to try to help. But helping is a spectrum disorder, too -- too much can damage a child. What's the ideal? A writer in "Motherlode" in The New York Times addresses this issue. Find out what she arrives at between "helicopter" and "no-rescue."

DR. JUDY WILLIS is presenting a "Learning and the Brain" session on December 3 and again on December 4 in Southern California. For educators, it's titled "Powerful Classroom Strategies from Neuroscience Research," and it deals with (among other issues) maximizing student attention, helping construction of working and long-term memory, motivation, and promoting growth mindsets. Find out more.

SOCIAL ANXIETY is the topic of a couple of new articles at the site of the Child Mind Institute. One article deals with how the fear of the way you appear can get in the way of functioning; the other offers tips for managing social anxiety. Both articles are written "to" teen readers.

IF ONLY IT WERE TRUE FOR 2e. As a final item, we offer a pointer to a study write-up that says sometimes adding disorder to existing disorder can lower the overall disorder (of a system). Alas, it apparently applies only to disciplines such as chemical physics, statistics, and economics -- and only in some cases. Find the write-up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Conferences, ADHD, Dyslexia, More

GOING TO NAGC? If you're there on Thursday, a "pre-conference" day, check out a 12:30 session called "Twice-Exceptional Children: Making Inroads." From the session blurb: "This session will highlight leaders in the field of twice-exceptional, describe our past, and draw directions for the future. Efforts of the National Community of Practice on 2e will be described, including a definition of 2e and implications for legal issues, research, practice, and policy. Panel members, who are founders of the 2e concept and advocacy, will share their histories, share practical strategies and suggestions, and share their desires for the future." Find out more

ON ADHD. "...people with ADHD may not have a disease, so much as a set of behavioral traits that don’t match the expectations of our contemporary culture." This is from an opinion piece in The New York Times, written by a psychiatrist/professor who offers a different way to look at ADHD and some suggestions for better matching the ADHD person's traits to his/her environment. Find the piece

CHADD's ANNUAL CONFERENCE is in Chicago this year on November 13-15. Find more information at the organization's website

PEDIATRICIANS AND ADHD. A study published in the journal Pediatrics indicates that pediatricians may not consult the DSM when diagnosing ADHD, may not gather behavior ratings from parents and teachers, and may rely on meds rather than therapy or a combination. Read more at HealthDay.com. 

GIFTEDNESS AND DYSLEXIA intersect in the research of Jeffrey Gilger, who has contributed to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. In the current issue of The Examiner from the International Dyslexia Association is a Q&A with Gilger about his work on dynamic visual-spatial thinking in dyslexia; find the article. Find The Examiner

DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. The November issue of this newsletter is out. Among the features are two profiles of creative dyslexics, actor Channing Tatum and artist Michael Allen; and offers of two "card templates" titled "What is Dyslexia?" and "What Is Dysgraphia?" Find the newsletter

STEM, PRAISE, AND DWECK. At the site of The Atlantic, Carol Dweck is interviewed on "the best way to help kids feel confident enough to stay the STEM course." You already know the basics of Dweck's message; see how she applies it to STEM

IN AUSTRALIA. Via Jo Freitag's Gifted Resources newsletter we discovered the following events:
Freitag also reminds readers of the 2015 World Conference by the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, to be held August 10-14 in Denmark. 

2015 SENG CONFERENCE. SENG is now accepting presentation proposals for its 2015 conference in Denver, July 24-26. Got an idea? Find out more

CAN'T MAKE YOUR KIDS SMARTER? That's the contention of a study from Florida State University. Researchers said that parenting behaviors such as reading bedtime stories, conversing, and eating dinners together don't affect kids' IQs. Seems like heresy -- decide for yourself

AND FINALLY, THIS. Symptoms of mental illness in children and adolescents aren't increasing -- at least, not in Canada, where a large study was conducted. Researchers examined data concerning ADHD, aggression, depression and anxiety, and suicidal inclinations. Read more.