Thursday, April 30, 2015

ASD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, 2e Myths, and More

GENDER AND ASD. Disability Scoop tells us that, compared to boys, girls display different symptoms of autism, are diagnosed somewhat later on average, and are diagnosed at a much lower rate -- although the proportion of girls diagnosed with ASD has recently risen. Find out more.

DYSLEXIC AND DYSGRAPHIC BRAINS are different structurally than neurotypical brains, according to recent research at the University of Washington. According to a study write-up, "The researchers say the findings underscore the need to provide instruction tailored to each of these specific learning disabilities, though that is currently not mandated under federal or state law." Find out more about the differences and the educational implications.

LEADING WITH STRENGTHS is the topic of a post in "From Worrier to Warrior" by psychologist Dan Peters. Writing at the site of Psychology Today, Peters notes how positive psychology is helping educators and parents and kids focus on what's right as a starting place instead of on what's wrong. He notes how leading with strengths is especially important for twice-exceptional children. Find the post.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has two new articles of interest on its website. One contains advice on getting teens to agree to help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. If you've been in this situation you know how resistant children can be, but the article offers strategies such as choosing the way you "frame" the treatment, focusing on the teen's priorities, and finding a provider who's a good match for your teen personality-wise; find the article. The second article provides tips for parents on how to tell your child that he or she has received a diagnosis of Asperger's; find the article.

LD IN COLLEGE. An article in the Des Moines Register describes the results of a study of Iowa colleges in terms of how colleges and professors address students with "invisible" disabilities that can include chronic illnesses but also LDs, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. The study found that professors often get no training on teaching students with disabilities. The article notes that the way the student handles his or her situation can also make a big difference -- eg, actually talking to a professor about needs is much better than just handing over a request-for-accommodations form. Read more.

DIET AND ADHD. Professor David Rabiner writes at the site of SharpBrains.com about a review of several meta-analyses of diet and ADHD. The review covered restricted elimination diets; artificial food coloring exclusion; and fatty acid supplementation. Rabiner concludes that all three might have a moderate or modest effect, and then goes on to offer advice for dietary intervention with ADHD children. Find the article.

SENG. The newest newsletter from the organization is out, and it contains several items of interest. First, the organization has named an interim executive director, Elizabeth Ringlee, of whom SENG President Tiombe Kendrick-Dunn says, "I am very pleased to welcome her and look forward to working with her as we continue moving SENG's mission and vision forward!" Second, educational consultant Mike Postma has an article in the newsletter (and at the SENG website) titled "The 2e Students: Damaging Myths." Read it and see how many myths you recognize or personally encountered.

BELIN-BLANK. This organization's April newsletter is out, with several articles on April's publication of A Nation Empowered and an offer to give you that document; go there. (Then all you have to do is read it!)

DYSGRAPHIA, MATH, AND SCIENCE. LD Online offers some ideas for accommodating high school math and science students who have dysgraphia. Find the current newsletter.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Do you get "earworms," songs running through your mind you can't get rid of? Apparently they're the subject of academic research, and apparently the way to get rid of them is to -- chew gum. Read more, and pass it on. "We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine. We all live...."

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dark Side of Giftedness, a Neuroeducation Resource, More

SPEAK UP FOR KIDS 2015. The Child Mind Institute Sponsors this initiative during National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week, May 3-9. It includes awards to "change makers" who give voice to children's mental health; the release of the Children's Mental Health Report; and resources to enable advocates to "make a difference locally and across the nation." Find more information as April concludes. (National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week is evidently sponsored by the National Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health.)

THE DARK SIDE OF GIFTEDNESS? An article in the Calgary Herald focuses on some of the disadvantages of being gifted. Through a series of profiles, the author tells of gifted young people not fitting in, not being supported, not being nurtured -- sometimes with tragic results. The author writes, "To speak of giftedness as a disability seems counterintuitive. Part of the problem is simply semantic; the word 'gifted' suggests an advantage and does not conjure up the intense challenges these children can face." See what you think.

A NATION EMPOWERED. A writer at the site of Psychology Today interviews the authors of this new book from the Belin-Blank Center, the follow-up to A Nation Deceived. Read more about what the authors say about the benefits of acceleration, why it's not used more, and Common Core and gifted ed.

DUE PROCESS. If you're in or considering a due process proceeding because of the way a school or district has served (or not served) your twice-exceptional child, check out an article at Disability Scoop about a "Dear Colleague" letter the U.S. Department of Education sent to schools recently. The article provides some insights into school strategies when they push parents into such proceedings. Find it.

NEUROEDUCATION RESOURCE. We just discovered a temporary but interesting resource in the area of neuroeducation. It's a "learning zone" at a UK site sponsored by the Wellcome Trust. In this "zone," five scientists address questions from educators about topics such as gender, multiple intelligences, fish oil and cognitive performance, growth mindset, and many more. Questions come from all over the world, and answers are of interest to parents as well as educators. Find the resource. (And enjoy reading "British English.")

AUTISM RESOLVING. About one in 14 toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder no longer met the diagnostic criteria in elementary school, but most of those whose ASD symptoms resolved continued to have emotional/behavior symptoms and required special education supports, according to a new study. Read more.

FOOD THERAPY FOR ADHD. An article by an M.D. at the site of ADDitude provides advice about nutrition when it comes to kids with ADHD. Interestingly, the article starts out, "The best foods for children who have ADHD are the same as those for children who don’t have the condition." Is ADHD the second "e" at your house? Read more.

DON'T FORGET the UC Davis MIND Institute as a source of information about the "e's." For example, one of their past newsletters offers eight pages on the topic of ADHD. And the Institute has an ongoing "Distinguished Lecturer Series" in which presentations are often recorded and available as webcasts; find them. Or, just find out more about the Institute.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Achieving with LDs, ADHD & Writing, More

CAN YOU BE A GOOD STUDENT and still have learning disabilities? That's the title of an essay at the site of the Child Mind Institute. All of us here know the answer to that question, of course, even though we would probably qualify the answer to "yes, but." The author is a board member for the Institute and an achiever in business. In the essay she tells of the toll that her own LDs exacted as she was growing up. Many of the teacher comments she relates from growing up will resonate -- eg, "Is she not interested?" Find the essay.

AUTISM, PRODIGY: A GENETIC LINK. Researchers at Ohio State University have uncovered the first evidence of a genetic link between prodigy and autism. The scientists found that child prodigies in their sample share some of the same genetic variations with people who have autism. Read more.

ADHD AND WRITING. An article at Edutopia.org describes six challenges faced by students with ADHD when it comes to writing, and then offers solutions for each one. For example: to minimize the student's difficulty in concentrating on or grasping the assignment, give clear and concise instructions. Find the tips.

EXTRA TEST TIME: CHEATING? The website Understood tackles the issue of extra test time and how it can seem to be "cheating" to friends of the recipient of that accommodation. A writer offers ways to make sure the recipient understands the why and how of the situation, and then to help the recipient practice ways to explain the situation to friends. Find the article. Separately, Understood is asking its users and fans to vote for Understood in the competition for the annual Webby Awards. The site is in the "family/parenting" category. If you're a fan, add your vote. Voting ends today.

BPA, NEWBORNS. We've written about BPA and its effects on the body and mind. A new study indicates that infants are apparently surprisingly able to handle the BPA they come into contact with, chemically altering it into an inert form. Find out more.

MODELS OF EXCELLENCE. A blogger at Education Week compares performance models in athletics with models in academics, and contends that what we need in academics are tangible, analyzable models of work products that can illustrate what students should strive toward. He acknowledges that there are educational standards, as in the Common Core Standards, but goes on to make this analogy: "Picture the difference between reading a rubric of proficient play in soccer, and watching an Olympic soccer game." He also says that such models of excellence can work well in conjunction with the Common Core standards. Read the blog. (If you can't access the Education Week site, the same posting is here.)

AND FINALLY, THIS -- a mother's affect on teen driving. Researchers observed that teens driving alone found risky decisions rewarding. Blood flow to the ventral striatum, a "reward center" in the brain, increased significantly when teen drivers chose to ignore a yellow stoplight and drove through the intersection anyway. A mother's presence, however, blunted the thrill of running the yellow light. Read more.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Three Items on ADHD, Access to AP Courses, More

SQUIRM TO LEARN -- cute phrase, and it's used in the title of a research write-up explaining that kids with ADHD need to move to remember information and think through problems. So instead of telling these students to sit still, "you need to be able to facilitate their movement so they can maintain the level of alertness necessary for cognitive activities," according to one of the researchers. Activity balls and exercise bikes are two examples of tools that might help these kids perform well academically. Find the write-up.

ANTIPSYCHOTIC FOR ADHD KIDS. Researchers at Ohio State University have previously said that physically aggressive kids with ADHD could be helped by a combination of parent training, a stimulant med, and an antipsychotic drug. Now those researchers say the same combination, for the same type of kids, also reduces anxiety and social avoidance as rated by teachers. The reduction in anxiety supposedly leads to less disruptive behavior. Read more.

ADHD ITEM #3. Researchers have found, in animal models, that the absence of a certain enzyme causes a syndrome resembling ADHD. The study paves the way for a greater understanding of this childhood and adolescent disease, aiming at innovative therapeutic approaches. What did researchers see in animals lacking the enzyme? "We had seen that these mice had overly hectic movements, troubles in concentrating and learning, and they finally showed deficits in social interactions." Sounds familiar. Read more.

ACCESS TO AP COURSES. Many schools still have rules restricting enrollment in AP, IB, or other challenging coursework that would hinder typical twice-exceptional students from gaining access to those courses. These "gate-keeping" mechanisms might consist of GPA requirements, a good grade in a prerequisite, or obtaining a teacher recommendation. A writer involved in compiling the Washington Post's "Most Challenging High Schools" list noted the discrepancy among schools, saying " many schools still keep average students out of their best courses even though research shows they do better in college when given that opportunity." The writer was not writing specifically about 2e students; we're making that connection ourselves. Find the article.

THE TEEN BRAIN is always a topic that's good for discussion. A writer at the site of the Dana Foundation offers insights into the neurobiology of the teen brain. Find out how she and other researchers are trying to understand why so much teen behavior begs the question, "What were you thinking?"

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION FOR THE GIFTED. The spring newsletter of this organization is out, with a brief review of the association's recent annual conference and an interesting framework for applying conference content back in the classroom. Also in the newsletter: a link to handouts by presenters at the conference, some directly relevant to parents and educators of 2e children. Find the newsletter.

SUMMER CAMPS. Early Childhood Education Zone has released a list of 50 of what they call the best summer camps in the country. According to the organization, factors considered included camp accreditation, resources, experiences and programming for campers, and camps that best fit different kinds of children. The camps fall into several different categories including family camps, camps for boys and girls individually, camps for children with special needs, sports camps, co-ed camps, faith-based camps and educational camps. One of the camps mentioned is the Summer Institute for the Gifted. Find the list. (2e Newsletter's listing of camps comes out in the May issue.) Early Childhood Education Zone is the organization that 
in March released a list of "50 Best Playgrounds in America."

THE COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION. Does the school (or you) want to terminate IEP services? Wrightslaw offers advice in Special Ed Advocate about what you should know and do. Find the newsletter.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mental Health Advice, ADHD Stuff, Parenting, and Late Blooming

ADVICE FOR PARENTS: That's what the Chief of the Child Psychiatry Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health recently provided on the topic of kids with behavioral and psychiatric disorders. Those of us in the 2e community often have some experience with when and how to find help in this area, but Dr. Judith Rapoport gives some good, sensible-sounding, and often reassuring advice on when there's actually a problem; where to get help; medications; depression in kids; and more serious disorders such as bipolar disorder, autism, or psychosis. Find the advice.

NCLB/ESEA REWRITE. The Council for Exceptional Children has been monitoring this process and thinks that it doesn't go far enough, that "high ability students and preschool children are ignored in the bill." Find what the CEC thinks. Separately, The Washington Post reports on the rewrite, and painting a generally positive picture of the progress but including notes of dissent from Senator Elizabeth Warren; read the article.

LINKS BETWEEN ADHD, ASD. Some researchers focus on the mechanisms underlying each and see similarities, which would, in theory, lead to ways to develop effective behavioral therapies for those with the disorders. One particular researcher at the University of California has identified a genetic trait common to both ADHD and ASD which might be related to risky behaviors such as smoking or substance abuse. Read more.

ADHD MEDS is the topic of a communique from ADDitude, with several articles on the topic. Find it.

MAYBE BE CAREFUL WITH THAT TEEN -- he or she can be vulnerable to somatic symptoms caused by parental criticism, according to a new study reported at YaleDailyNews.com. One part of "parent management teaching" for this problem is focusing on the child's strengths. Sound familiar? Find out more.

MEET THE SCIENTIST. The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation has frequent webinars. On May 12, one is on "Mechanisms of Antidepressant Effects." Not sure what prerequisite knowledge is necessary, but the webinar is free. Find out more.

SENGINAR. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted has scheduled a webinar on developing talent and advocacy in the families of gifted children, with special emphasis on culturally diverse families. It's in the evening of April 30th at a cost of $40. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS: The "On Parenting" feature in The Washington Post on April 15th was titled "Why I'm not worried about my late-blooming teen." Said teen is allegedly "whip smart" but solidly average in many areas, according to mom, who was herself a late bloomer. Read more and take comfort.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Anti-gifted Bias, NCLB, Bidding on Goodies for 2e, and More

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, has won another top festival honor. On Saturday, April 11, the documentary won the award "Audience Choice -- Best Feature" at the Silver Springs International Film Festival. Find out more about the film.

NCLB UPDATE 1. The Washington Post has published an update on the current status of the re-authorization of this law. Apparently the National Education Association is pushing to make it go farther to serve less affluent children and to reduce inequities between rich schools and others. The article also provides some interesting perspective on the law's origins. Find the article.

NCLB UPDATE 2. The National Center for Learning Disabilities is encouraging support for the "Cassidy Amendment" to NCLB. This amendment, according to NCLD, "will allow schools to spend federal funds on training educators to understand, identify and address the early indicators of learning disabilities, like dyslexia." Get more information at the site of NCLD, and then find out more about taking action. 

FOLLOWUP. Recently, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation noted that gifted kids, especially economically disadvantaged ones, don't get the support they need. An opinion piece called "Gifted Students Are Still Stepchildren" takes up the theme. The writer says, "I detect a bias against gifted students that if directed toward any other group would be the cause of outrage and litigation." Pretty strong words. Read more.
BRIDGES ACADEMY, one of the few schools devoted to twice-exceptional students, is holding a fundraiser that doesn't require in-person participation. If you like "silent" auctions, check out the goodies at the school's auction page. Maybe you want to spend this Fourth of July on Nantucket? How about obtaining a "Women's Swag Bag" from the 2015 Golden Globes? It's there for the bidding. Let us know if you succeed in getting something good.
CO-LOCATION. A pediatrician and a mental health provider in one office? What a concept! Such an arrangement allows an office to better serve the 20 percent or so of children who will at one point need mental health problems addressed, according to a story at News4Jax.com. Read more.
NAGC 2015. Want an early peek at what the National Association for Gifted Children will be serving up in Phoenix this November? The organization is offering a preliminary schedule with information about general sessions, pre-convention sessions, and "Signature Sessions" that address the "whole gifted child." Find the preliminary program.
LTYM stands for "Listen to Your Mother," and it's a nationwide (39 cities this year) opportunity for women and men to get up on stage and read something they're written about mothering, and for others an opportunity to hear and appreciate those stories as audience members. A writer at The Washington Post tells more and provides a sample (very funny) story. Read more, then get inspired to bring something about twice-exceptionality to this forum!
DON'T FORGET that Judy Willis offers lots of resources at her web page. Willis is a neurologist turned middle school teacher turned professor of education. See her website for info on the neurology of learning.

Friday, April 10, 2015

New Belin-Blank Report, CCSS, NCLB, ADHD, More

"TOO SMART FOR THEIR SCHOOL'S OWN GOOD"? That's one take on how schools underserve five million bright students in the United States, and it's part of the debate stirred up by the publication of the Belin-Blank Center's new report, a sequel to A Nation Deceived from 2004. The update, titled A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America's Brightest Students, is a call for the increased use of acceleration options. The Des Moines Register has an article on the new report. Or, you can find out more and sign up for a copy of the report at the Belin-Blank website.

COMMON CORE IMPLEMENTATION. 
According to the American Institutes for Research, Kentucky adopted the Common Core in 2010, overcame challenges during the transition, and subsequently has students who have "made faster progress in learning" than under older standards. If you're following the debate on this topic, find out more.

REVISION TO NCLB. If you follow this topic, Education Week published a status report about a week ago on how negotiations look; find it.

REDUCING ADHD: MOVE UP IN THE WORLD? And not financially -- geographically. Evidently the prevalence of ADHD decreases as the altitude increases. Researchers note that breathing air with less oxygen can make the body produce higher levels of dopamine. They also point out that other factors could influence their findings. Read more.

CHILDHOOD PASSION. Seems it's the chic thing to have, as a kid. But a writer at the Motherlode blog takes issue; find the blog.

"LAZY" STUDENT? Could be your fault -- specifically, in the genes inherited from you. A twins study says that almost half of the differences in children's motivation to learn is explained by genes. This study could serve to take kids and even teachers off the hook -- at least somewhat. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Do your adolescents consume energy drinks? Caffeine overdose is a real thing, and it can even affect cardiac functioning. We know this falls into the category of "one more thing to worry about," but check out a write-up of research published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gifted Ed in Your State, The "Normal" Brain, More

STATES NOT "ACING" GIFTED ED. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has released a report on how the various states handle gifted ed -- whether the states monitor or report on GT programs, for example; whether schools are held accountable for increasing gifted student performance; or whether GT services are even required in a state. In its "report card," the foundation gave no A's, according to the Washington Post -- but lots of D's and some F's. The foundation's focus in general is on lower-income students, and the report faults states for the support given -- or not given -- to families of those students. Find the Washington Post article. Find the report at a new site called ExcellenceGap.org -- and see how your state ranks. (Ours? D-.)

NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT NAGC. The National Association for Gifted Children has announced its new executive director, Rene Islas, ex consultant and ex US Department of Education. Find out more at NAGC.

PRESCHOOLERS AND ADHD MEDS. Lots of preschoolers are already on meds for ADHD, according to a new report in the Journal of Pediatrics. You may read about this national survey at the Washington Post site; or read the journal report itself.

THE RELEVANCE OF PARENTING TIME has been under discussion recently because of the release of a study that said parenting time doesn't matter. We mentioned that study in our April 1 briefing. Many observers took that study as no joke. A writer at The New York Times dissected the methodology; find that. The Washington Post submitted some reader questions about the study to study authors and published the responses; find it. And the Motherlode blogger at the NY Times also commented on the study; read it. So: does the time you spend parenting matter? We think it does.

GIFTED RESOURCES NEWSLETTER. Jo Freitag's epistle tells us that there is a Kids Like Us fundraiser in Black Rock, Australia, on May 2. Kids Like Us is a support structure for 2e kids. Find out more about the fundraiser. Find out more about Kids Like Us. In Gifted Resources Newsletter you can also find an update on the Columbus Group symposium to be held this month in New Zealand. If you're a member of the 2e community Down Under, check out Gifted Resources Newsletter.

THE NORMAL BRAIN. Do you have one? Does that twice-exceptional child you raise or teach? There is no such thing as a normal brain, according to an essay in the AMA's Journal of Ethics. The essay notes how some conditions termed "disorders" may carry concomitant strengths. (Think, "Dyslexic Advantage.") The author espouses the concept of neurodiversity, saying "a more judicious approach to treating mental disorders would be to replace a 'disability' or 'illness' paradigm with a 'diversity' perspective that takes into account both strengths and weaknesses and the idea that variation can be positive in and of itself." Find the essay.

ADDITUDE is hosting a free webinar on April 8 titled "The Truth About OCD: Recognize Symptoms and Get the Best Treatment." Find out more.

SMART IEPS is a topic that Wrightslaw returns to periodically. The current and most recent issues of Special Ed Advocate give a primer on what a SMART IEP is. If you're involved in IEPs but haven't read Wrightslaw's suggestions, check them out.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Aspie Seeks Love, Drugs 2 You, NVLD, More

ASPIE SEEKS LOVE is the title of a documentary about a young man with Asperger's who is interested in finding a meaningful relationship. A respectful filmmaker captures about 100 hours of the young man's efforts over the course of three years. The resulting film is a prize winner. The filmmaker describes what the film came to be: "It’s a story about…his quest to learn about his own identity and to learn to be in the world with other people, to not sacrifice who he is to connect and find love.” Read more at Disability Scoop.

WHY YOUR KID MIGHT BE PRESCRIBED CERTAIN DRUGS. Publication bias. Apparently studies with positive outcomes -- eg, this drug seems to work -- are more than five times more likely to be published than studies with negative outcomes. "Outcome bias" and "spin" are also involved in the process that lets doctors know what drugs are out there that might -- or might not -- be useful to treat conditions such as your child's anxiety. Read more.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has a new article at its site on nonverbal learning disorders, describing how one apparently successful preparatory school approaches the problem. Covered are: assessing deficits; teaching the missing skills; using scripts; social learning; and more. Find the article.

GIFTED, THE GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS. A blogger at ChicagoNow.com wonders what the future holds for her precocious son. He gets enrichment. Seems well-rounded. Find out what she worries about.

OCD AND BRAIN NETWORKS. Using brain imaging, researches have found that communication between some of the brain's most important centers is altered in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. A researcher is quoted: "Children with OCD are beset by preoccupations and can't easily move on from certain tasks and behaviors. As all complex behavior arises from brain networks, being trapped in this mode must arise from impaired brain network interactions in OCD." Read more.

DONT FORGET the Davidson Institutes database of articles and resources on gifted (and 2e) topics. Find the database.