Friday, May 29, 2015

Finding a School, Anxiety, OCD, and All Kinds of Other Stuff

FINDING SHANGRI-LA -- or, at least, the right school for your gifted or 2e kiddo. That's the topic that Dr. Michael Postma takes on in a posting at the site of 2eLearners.org. He lays out questions to ask concerning: how the school selects for special programming; whether the staff is empathetic and understanding; social/emotional support; curriculum; and more. Postma is a former educator and administrator who now consults, speaks, and writes about "the holistic development of twice-exceptional children and other non-typical learners." Find the post.

2e AWARENESS IN SINGAPORE. A teacher in Singapore writes in The Straits Times to make readers aware of "a small percentage of children called 'twice-exceptional students.'" The writer notes the "masking" effect and the requirement for "an environment that will nurture their gifts while attending to their learning disability." Couldn't have said it better ourselves. Way to go, Arnold Chua Chee Keong. Find the letter, and don't forget that you, O Blog Reader, can write similar communiques to local, regional, or national media.

TODDLER TEMPERAMENT. Researchers from The Ohio State University studied microbes from the gastrointestinal tracts of children between the age of 18 and 27 months, and found that the abundance and diversity of certain bacterial species appear to impact behavior, particularly among boys.The researchers were primarily interested in the gut microbiome and its relation to stress hormones and certain chronic illnesses, but discovered, for example, that boys with a certain microbiome were more extroverted. However, researchers say that parents shouldn’t try to change their child’s gut microbiome just yet. Scientists still don’t know what a healthy combination looks like, or what might influence its development. Read more, but hold the probiotics for now.

ANXIETY 101 is the name of a workshop at the counseling center at the University of Central Florida, according to The New York Times, and it's one of the ways colleges are trying to accommodate the nearly one in six students diagnosed with anxiety. The stories of some of the students mentioned were downright scary, in spite of the fact that anxiety on campus has become "almost a cliche." Find the article.

ANXIETY FOR HEAVY HITTERS. The Brain and Behavior Research Foundation is offering a free webinar on June 9 titled "Child and Adolescent Anxiety: Psychopathology and Neuroscience." The webinar blurb is a little vague about exactly what will be presented or the intended audience, but be advised that the main presenter is a NIMH scientist with a current interest in "examining the degree to which mood and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents are associated with underlying abnormalities in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and other brain regions." Find out more.

THE SERIOUS SIDE OF OCD is treated in an article at USNews.com. The article describes the consequences for some sufferers as well as treatment options that include -- for seriously affected and otherwise treatment resistant patients -- brain surgery of three different types. Find the article.

CONCUSSION AND ACADEMICS. If your smart kiddo is at risk of a concussion or has suffered one, check out an article at SharpBrains.com about the effects of concussion on school performance. Read more.

SENSORY STIMULI IN ASD. New research illustrates that "noise" affects the way autistic individuals integrate multi-sensory sensory signals. In a test where subjects were asked to determine the direction of "movement," ASD subjects performed as well as non-ASD subjects with "non-noisy" sensory input signals, but worse with noisy signals. Actually, this research is impossible to explain in just a few sentences -- if it's relevant or of interest to you, find the press release describing the study.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Today is "529 Day" -- May 29 -- which we hadn't heard of before and which seems to be sponsored mostly by institutions with a financial interest in getting you to save for your kiddo's college days. But, to adapt the old Chicago joke "vote early and vote often," it's always a good idea when it comes to college tuition to "save early and save often." We've been through it. And there you have it -- our adult advice for the day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dyslexia and Vision, Summer Camp, SPD, Parenting

DYSLEXIA, VISION PROBLEMS -- no link? A recent study, the results of which will be published in the journal Pediatrics, indicates that most children with dyslexia have normal vision. An ophthalmologist commenting on the study at DoctorsLounge.com said, "...there is really no connection between any ophthalmological disorder and dyslexia." (Quick: close your eyes and spell ophthalmological.) The researchers who did the study say that eye training and vision therapy are of no help in treating dyslexia. Read more.

SUMMER CAMP might be coming up for your gifted child. An alum of the Johns Hopkins CTY summer camp reminisces about his summers there: discovering others like him, discovering there were others lots smarter than him, and finding that his life after first attending "basically consisted of going to CTY in the summer, and then waiting eleven months to go back to CTY, where I would experience the magic all over again." The writer, now a financial/investment consultant, expands his riff into the power of a bunch of smart people all working for the same company. But before he drifts off topic he writes, "The one thing I’ve learned in my career is that you do not short gifted and talented camps. Ever." Read more. (Alums of other summer camps for the gifted: Comments?)

UNDERSTOOD has posted a nine-minute primer on sensory processing disorder, narrated by a young man (really young) who has it. Find it.

UNDERSTANDING TODDLERS. For all you parents who have already been through "toddlerhood" but might face another round, an article at the site of The Washington Post offers five tips for understanding them and helping them thrive. The advice includes avoiding "overcorrecting, criticizing, and trying to tame erratic behavior." The tips include: stay close even when it's hard; you're in charge; be consistent; be realistic; and accept your child for who she is." Find the article.

MORE ON PARENTING. If you've been following the story of the Maryland parents who believe in raising "free range kids" but ran afoul of the law and child protection services, be advised that the parents have been cleared of child neglect, in one case anyway. Still pending: a similar charge resulting from a second incident in which their children walked home alone from a park. Read more.

PARENTING IN THE MILITARY. Wrightslaw's Memorial Day issue of Special Ed Advocate is devoted to information for military families who may be facing transfers and moves this summer. If that's you, check it out.

FOLLOW-UP. If you read the dust-up between Jen the Blogger and the Today Show, you might be interested to know that Jen has posted a rehash of the dialog in a new post. Her almost-final line: "So to recap…gifted is. Keep the conversation going, and keep it civil. I’ll keep advocating for gifted kids and their parents, and I hope you join me." Find the blog.

SENG. The deadline for the early-bird registration for this July's conference in Colorado is May 31. Be advised. (It's a good conference; we recommend it.) Learn more.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Personalizing Education, Mocking the Gifted, Processing Speed, and How the Brain Processes "Speed"

EDUCATION: A "HUMAN BUSINESS"? Is it? In an Education Week interview, Sir Ken Robinson talks about problems with current education systems and how he advocates personalizing education, not standardizing it. This is the guy who gave what is evidently the most-viewed TED Talk ever, the one titled "How Schools Kill Creativity," which besides being thought-provoking is also very humorous, believe it or not. So read the interview to see what education could be like for your child -- for all children -- then go watch that TED talk if you haven't already.

TODAY SHOW, YESTERDAY. Something on yesterday's Today Show got Jen the Blogger dangerously excited, not a good thing. On the other hand, it snapped Jen into best form -- insightful, punchy, and fun to read, even if the topic is outrageous. Way to go, Jen! Find the blog.

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. Some of our 2e kids are pretty touchy, can tend to emotional or behavioral problems we don't necessarily understand, and can disrupt family dynamics between parents and siblings. A new article at this site is titled "Five Ways to Support Siblings in Special Needs Families." Read the article.

PROCESSING SPEED as a topic gets lots of interest from parents, educators, and counselors of the twice exceptional. A UK study draws some links between slow cognitive processing speed and depression and anxiety. But the study provides evidence that depression and anxiety may be the effects of slow processing speed, not the other way around. Of interest is that this was a 20-year longitudinal study, with processing speed tested at age 16 and depression and anxiety at age 36. Read more.

PRIMER ON ADHD STIMULANT MEDS. Want to see how amphetamine-based drugs affect the brain? The American Chemical Society has produced a short video about the background and use of amphetamine. You can see it at the site of MedicalDaily.com, and read some additional explanation.

EDUCATORS GUILD NEWSLETTER. The spring edition of this publication from the Davidson Institute is out, featuring a Q&A with a professor of education on the topic of character traits like hope and grit, along with male/female differences in cognitive development and how that affects education. Also in the newsletter: pointers to a variety of education and gifted ed resources. Find the newsletter.

NAGC has released detailed session information for its annual convention this November in Phoenix. Find the schedule.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Acceleration, Depression, Giftedness, and The Little Prince

BLOGGING ON 2e. An anonymous writer at the site of the Institute for Educational Advancement did a piece that was included in Hoagies' recent "blog hop" on twice exceptionality. Titled "Beneath the Surface: Twice-exceptional Students," the piece uses, among other references, a couple quotes from The Little Prince to help explain 2e, including one of our favorite quotes from de Saint-Exupery, "... It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Right, parents of 2e kids?)  Find the blog.

"2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL," the documentary, comes to Bethesda Maryland, this October 13 thanks to the sponsorship of the organizations With Understanding Comes Calm and Weinfeld Education Group. The screening will be at ArcLight Cinema; tickets are priced at $8.50. Find out more.

MORE ON ACCELERATION. An expert on gifted education is featured in an article at ChicagoNow.com. In it, Katie McClarty discussed a longitudinal study she conducted on the effects of grade skipping, finding many positive benefits. The caveat: parents evidently must keep close tabs on student needs year by year. Read more.

TALKING ABOUT DEPRESSION. The Washington Post, in its On Parenting department, has an article titled "How to Talk to Your Teen about Depression, Suicide." It's not a pleasant topic, but depression and anxiety do plague 2e young people. If yours shows signs of depression, maybe check out the article.

ACADEMICS IN KINDERGARTEN? Hold on, says a bunch of stakeholders -- it might not have a beneficial effect and might even slow cognitive development. Find out why the trend to early academics has detractors.

ADHD: 1 IN 10. That's the current news -- the Centers for Disease Control have reported a one-in-ten rate of ADHD diagnosis in children. The spin? The rate is unchanged since 2007. Read more.

TALKING TO THE PEDIATRICIAN ABOUT KIDS' BEHAVIOR ISSUES. Most parents don't do it, partly because they don't believe tantrums, or anxiety, or concentration is a medical problem. Depression is apparently an exception to the rule. Read more at the site of Michigan Radio or see the University of Michigan press release on the study.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's May eNews-Update is out, featuring news of the Intel Science Fair; a Jack Kent Cooke report on gifted, low-income students; Davidson Academy's inclusion on a list of "most challenging high schools"; and a variety of Davidson news. Find the newsletter.

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. The summer edition of this publication is out. One item that might be of interest is a seven-plus-page article on differentiation by Sally Reis and Josephy Renzulli. Find GEPQ.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ASD in College, Anxiety, Baby Talk, and More

FOLLOW-UP. We wrote last week about a seminar/workshop to be held next month for parents and educators of twice-exceptional children. Scheduled for June 14-18 in Abiquiu, New Mexico, it features neuroscientist Layne Kalbfleisch as presenter. She is offering a special rate to readers of 2e Newsletter. If readers give her name, LAYNE, at the time of registration, they will be able to stay in a double-occupancy room with private bath and receive meals and course tuition all inclusive for $650, a significant savings from the published rate of $1,045. Find out more.

ASD IN COLLEGE. Mercuryhurst University, in Erie, Pennsylvania, has a program called Autism/Asperger's Initiative, designed to not only provide academic instruction but also skills and knowledge in other areas necessary for success in "real life." An article at Today.com gives a great success story and tells how Mercuryhurst is working with other colleges to create similar programs. Find out more.

GENDER DIFFERENCES IN ASD. Two recent studies highlight how autism is different in males than in females. The MIND Institute at UC/Davis noted differences between males and females with ASD in the area of the brain called the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain. MIND research also discovered that behavioral differences between girls with ASD and typically developing girls were much greater than in the corresponding differences between ASD boys and typically developing boys. Find out more, and find out much more about the brain-difference research here.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has on its site a new article titled "Why Childhood Anxiety Often Goes Undetected (and the Consequences)." You know whether you need to read this article; find it if you do.

UNDERSTOOD has two features that might be of interest to parents and educators of the twice exceptional. One is an article describing Henry Winkler's new book, Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards, starring Hank Zipzer as a kid with dyslexia. According to Understood, this book is part of a prequel series to the originals, taking place before Hank's diagnosis. Read more. Understood also offers an blog posting titled "If My Kid Is So Smart, Why Is He So Slow?" We at 2e Newsletter know this issue is a big one for the parents and educators in our audience. The posting consists mostly of excerpts from the author's book on the topic; of note also are dozens of reader comments, many of which will likely resonate with readers here. Find the blog at Understood.

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS is the subject of the current issue of Special Ed Advocate from Wrightslaw. (No, we hadn't heard the term applied to education before either.) But if you've got a beef with school over services, sounds like this might be something to know about. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS -- baby talk. A write-up of a study from McGill University says that a research team there "has discovered that six-month-old infants appear to be much more interested in listening to other babies than they are in listening to adults." And you thought you were the center of that infant's universe. Actually, when you fed back baby talk to that infant and got a smile, you were doing a service. Read more.

TOO MANY ITEMS to fit in this posting; read more items in the mid-May E2e Briefing, out in a day or two. Don't get the briefing? Sign up here

Monday, May 11, 2015

Kicked Off the Plane, DSM-5 Resource, SENG Honor Roll, More

SMART, AUTISTIC, AND KICKED OFF THE PLANE. An incident on a United Airlines flight in early May prompted anger from the mom of a girl with ASD after they were asked to get off -- from first class, no less -- during an emergency landing prompted by a "behavior issue" in the girl. The issue: apparently needing some warm food to help keep calm and under control. The mom describes her daughter as smart but with difficulty in social situations. According to news reports, a paramedic responding during the landing referred to "an over-reactive flight attendant." United stood by its flight crew's actions. Autism Speaks issued a statement saying, in part, "The incident aboard the United Airlines flight underscores the vital importance of awareness and education so that people are better equipped to recognize the signs of autism and support those with special needs." Read more.

IS THAT 2e CHILD A STUDENT-ATHLETE? A new study published in Pediatrics highlights problems in the classroom that might be caused by concussion -- among them "concentrating, keeping up, and paying attention in school," according to a write-up in Time Magazine. Read more.

DSM-5 RESOURCE. The American Psychiatric Association has released Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5, explaining disorders and treatment in "plain English." The consumer guide is not free -- it'll cost you about $20 on Amazon -- but if you have encounters with mental health professionals it could be worth it. Find out more.

SENG offers lots to think about this week. On May 12 psychologist Dan Peters presents a "SENGinar" on stealth dyslexia; find out more. Earlybird registration rates for SENG's annual conference end at the end of this month. And SENG offers an end-of-the-school-year chance to recognize an educator who might have made a difference in the life of that gifted child you know. A donation of $50 or more allows you to list that educator on the SENG Honor Roll with its attendant recognition (part of which is a one-year subscription to 2e Newsletter, compliments of us because we support SENG). Find out more.

ADDITUDE offers a free webinar (if they were like SENG they'd call it an ADDinar) this Wednesday on sensory processing disorders and ADHD. Learn more.

2e: THE MOVIE. If you're in the LA area, you have two chances on May 30 to see the documentary 2e: Twice Exceptional, one in late morning in Hollywood and the other in late afternoon in Beverly Hills. No word on dress codes for either of these events. Find details.

SUMMER READING. Scholastic encourages summer reading and has set up a Summer Reading Challenge to get young readers involved. As part of that, according to the Washington Post, Scholastic asked some of its authors to tell how they get kids excited about reading. Want to know? Find out more.

DON'T FORGET that we have lots of 2e resources listed on in the public area of our website -- articles, websites, free downloads, and books. Find the resource page.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a fad among some people to treat conditions or boost brainpower. The University of North Carolina School of Medicines has cautions, saying that tDCS, the most common form of electronic brain stimulation, can actually lower IQ scores. So: use AC instead? Maybe -- researchers at the med school are investigating that "alternative" as well. Read more, and maybe for the time being find other ways to stimulate your brain.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

U.S. D.O.E. 2e Letter; 2e Blog Hop; More

GO, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION. According to Disability Scoop, the U.S. Department of Education has reminded state directors of special ed that twice-exception children must be evaluated and served under IDEA. The letter refers to 2e kids as "children with disabilities with high cognition." Disability Scoop puts quotes around term "twice exceptional" (it's not real?), but that's okay, we'll take what we can get. You can find the "Dear Colleague" letter here. And psychologist Dan Peters, who evidently reads, interprets, reasons, and writes much faster than we do, has already done a great blog posting at Huffington Post in response to the OSEP "dear colleague" letter; find it.

HOAGIES' GIFTED has posted a "blog hop" on the topic of 2e kids. The 15 blogs listed come from a variety of sources and address a variety of topics. Find the blog hop.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE offers a new article title "Tips for Beating Test Anxiety." Kids with "e's" can be especially prone to test anxiety, based on past, stressful experience. The article offers strategies for better studying, test-taking, and "finding sucess." Read more.

UNDERSTOOD currently offers on its website an piece titled "Classroom Accommodations to Help Students with Executive Functioning Issues." Find it.

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH, by the Weinfeld Education Group, is scheduled this year for Sunday, September 26, in Rockville, Maryland; registration is now open. It's for families of kids with special needs. Some of the sessions might be of interest to families with 2e kids. Find out more.

GIFTED HOMESCHOOLERS FORUM offers online resources -- courseware -- for families who choose to homeschool. The organization has just announced enhancements for the coming school year. Find out more.

WRIGHTSLAW, in the current Special Ed Advocate, stresses the advantages of being a strong parent advocate for your child in IEP meetings. Wrightslaw\s says that in this issue of its newsletter "you will learn the law and regulations about your rights and parental role in the IEP process. Learn how to be an effective parent advocate or get tips for hiring a lay advocate of your choice." Need to be a better advocate? Find out more.

BRAIN AND BEHAVIOR RESEARCH FOUNDATION. This organization has posted two articles which might be of interest to parents and educators of twice-exceptional children. One discusses how activity levels in the receptors for serotonin might affect impulsivity and aggression; find it. The other is a review of a recent study of genetics and cognition. It starts off, "In people who do not have autism, genetic variations that increase the risk of autism spectrum disorders appear to confer a small boost in cognitive abilities." Find the article.

AND FINALLY, THIS. We scan lots of news and press releases looking for items for this blog, and run into some pretty amazing stuff. We nominate the following press release heading as our Title of the Week: "5-aminolevulinic Acid Trial to Correlate Intraoperative Fluorescence Intensity with Histologic Cellularity." Want to read the release? Go here. Then tell us what it's about.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Some BIG News Items, Resources

2e AND SPECIAL ED SERVICES. According to Disability Scoop, the U.S. Department of Education has reminded state directors of special ed that twice-exception children must be evaluated and served under IDEA. The memo refers to 2e kids as "children with disabilities with high cognition." Disability Scoop puts quotes around term "twice exceptional," but that's okay, we'll take what we can get. Read more.

IT'S NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH, by proclamation of the U.S. President, no less. As part the month, the Child Mind Institute sponsors Speak Up for Kids, as we've mentioned in earlier posts. And as part of Speak Up for Kids, the Institute has released The Children's Mental Health Report. Here's what the director of the Institute says about the report: "In the Children's Mental Health Report we've gathered the best information about the scope of children’s mental illness in America. The findings are staggering. More than 17 million kids have a psychiatric disorder and only 35 percent of them get help. We hope this high-impact, interactive presentation of the data will help start a vital conversation among health care providers, families, and lawmakers." Go to the site for Speak Up for Kids.

NEW SCHOOLS FOR THE 2e. Recently we've discovered three schools devoting themselves to educating the twice exceptional. They're in various stages of "lift-off," with two up and running and one scheduled to open in the fall. We hope to provide more information on each in 2e Newsletter in coming months. In the meantime, depending on where you live, you might have an educational resource nearby.
  • Arete Academy opened in the fall of 2014 in Hopkins, Minnesota. Find out more
  • McNaught School in San Jose, California, describes itself as "an independent micro-school for gifted students with dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, high-functioning autism, and Asperger's." Find out more
  • In Orange County, California, the founder of Reid Day School and Center for Brain-Based Excellence is planning a fall, 2015, opening. Of note is a partnership with Summit Center to provide psychological and educational services for students. Find out more

THE GAP YEAR. The Motherlode column in The New York Times recently addressed the issue of the gap year between high school and college, presenting the perspectives of parent, student, and university. The writer's "spiel" to students having difficulty: "The university isn’t going anywhere and you only get to do college once. Perhaps you could take a break and come back when you’re ready to make the most of this opportunity.” Read more.

HEAVY-DUTY 2e CONTENT -- delivered in what sound like restorative surroundings. Neuroscientist Layne Kalbfleish will deliver seminar content over five days for parents and educators of the twice exceptional at the Ghost Ranch Educational and Retreat Center in New Mexico. Learn more.

EVER ON THE LOOKOUT for ways to edify our discriminating audience (that's you), we were scanning TED's weekly email "This Week on TED.com" for videos of interest. There was a playlist of "The Funniest TED Talks," so we looked at that, and yes, there was a talk we've mentioned before -- Sir Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity, which we highly recommend. But there was another video on the list -- "It's Time for the 'Talk.'" If you're a parent, you'll likely enjoy both of these talks. And if you get caught up in the others, let the rest of us know which are worth watching. 

MOTIVATION FOR YOUR ADHDer? The site of ADDitude has a piece called "6 Stories of ADHD Triumph." The profiles include a singer-songwriter, a customer-service guru, a novelist, a psychologist, the holder of the Guinness World Record for Greatest Memory, and a municipal special events coordinator. Find the profiles.