Monday, April 25, 2016

Autism, Some Interesting Ideas, a Couple More Summer Camps, and More

AUTISM: WHAT WE KNOW. We know that children on the spectrum might not "read" emotions well, and researchers at the University of Vermont think one reason might be that those kids focus on a speaker's mouth rather than the eyes -- especially when emotion in involved in a conversation. The study author's speculation is that the mouth is easier to try to pay attention to with an overtaxed brain. Read more.

AUTISM: WHAT WE DON'T KNOW. A brief blurb at Medical News Today describes a "meta-analysis" on autism. From the blurb: "A recent review that examined all published studies on anatomical abnormalities in the brains of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder found substantial discrepancy throughout the literature regarding the reported presence and significance of neuroanatomical findings." The senior author is quoted as saying, "We still have a long way to go...." Find the brief blurb, or the study abstract, but us ordinary people don't get access to the article itself without paying lots. Separately, a researcher in Toronto thinks it might be time to re-examine ADHD, OCD, and autism -- the boundaries between them, the way they're diagnosed and treated, etc. The reasons? Variations in individual presentations; lack of effective across-the-board treatment for kids with the same diagnosis; and the extent of comorbidity between the three conditions. Can she convince the mental health community they've had it wrong for all these years? Find out more.

VIDEO GAMES: ESCAPE? Another study that comes to us via Medical News Today says that video game addiction can be a means of escape, especially for young men with issues such as ADHD. Know a problem gamer? Read more.

ENOUGH STUDIES, here's an interesting idea, especially for homeschooling parents. You know how MOOCs (massive open online courses) don't tend to foster high completion rates, even though they would seem to be a great resource for accelerated, enriched, or homeschooled kids? Maybe some in-person peer or tutor support would help, and that's the concept behind "Learning Circles." KQED News says, "Learning Circles add a social element to what is otherwise a solitary learning experience by bringing people together in person to take an online course together over six to eight weeks, with the help of a facilitator." Find out more.

ANXIETY AS A MOTIVATOR -- of bad behavior. KQED News has posted an article about how difficult behavior can be caused by anxiety, and also offers an explanation along with tips for preventing or dealing with that behavior in the classroom. Find the article.

IDEA POPULATION INCREASES. So says Education Week, citing numbers from the U.S. Department of Education. According to the article, 5.83 million students were covered by IDEA as of fall, 2014. Some of the increase may stem from aberrations, such as a large increase from one state or changes in identification policies. Read more.

BAD RAP FOR FRUCTOSE. The corn-syrup sweetener has been linked to ADHD and a host of physical problems, and research says it might damage "hundreds of genes," according to a study write-up at Science Daily. If fructose sweetener is of concern to you -- and if you want to find out what helps counteract its effects -- see Science Daily.

MENTAL HEALTH -- Is there an app for that? There might be sometime soon, if the results of the inaugural Innovation Lab competition from the American Psychiatric Association pan out. The competition seeks ideas for improving access to care, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. It will be important for the ideas to be evaluated scientifically. An article on the competition at TheWeek.com notes that Luminosity was fined $2 million for making claims the company couldn't prove. Read more.

CAVEAT EMPTOR. One of the latest chic gizmos in the treatment (or mistreatment) of the brain is transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). While it has legitimate uses, it's also sold directly to consumers for a little more than $100. In the spirit of "hang on a minute," it's worth noting that not all of the effects of tCDS are understood. Recently, for example, researchers concluded that tCDS can actually disrupt the performance of difficult tasks. Read more.

ANOTHER SUMMER CAMP: Since we published our annual summer camp article, we've heard from several camps we didn't know about. We blogged about one last time. Another is in the UK, PowerWood Summer Camp, from August 6-13. The organizer calls it a "charitable event for families living with intensity, super-sensitivity and hyper-reacticivity (OE)." A fan of the camp says, "PowerWood camp gives space for the grown-ups to relax, as the children do as well. Simone’s (PowerWood’s founder) workshops are inspiring, empowering and validating.... I discovered a new way to understand and interact with behaviours in myself and my children that are efficient and peaceful." Find out more.

AND ANOTHER. Ignite! summer intensives in Texas serve gifted, talented, and high ability scholars in half-day sessions that meet Monday through Friday. Included are a variety of programs for students K-12 in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The organizer says that Ignite!, while not officially a 2e venture, definitely attracts those students. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Jen the Blogger lists "Sixteen Things Parents of Gifted Kids Are Sick of Hearing." You know some of them, but unless your "internal voice" is as strong and vehement as Jen's you probably haven't thought of some of her responses. Find the blog.


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