Thursday, October 13, 2016

Mental Health, Little Blue Pills, High-Stakes Testing, and More

A CAUTIONARY TALE OF ADDERALL appears in The New York Times Magazine. A young adult weaves her own experiences with the drug together with research on Adderall's effects and a history of its development and marketing. The writer describes the effects on her life of unprescribed and prescribed little blue pills -- the seeming ability to concentrate and accomplish school work, days without real sleep, changes in behavior patterns, a drug-induced anxiety attack, and more. If you have a young person who takes stimulant meds for ADHD, you might want to read this article.

DYSLEXIA AWARENESS MONTH. That's October, and a writer at Education Dive writes about dyslexia with words that can apply to any of the "e's": “The idea of unmotivated kids is a myth. If you see a kid who doesn’t want to learn, there’s a reason for it. Let’s find out what that is.” Among the points in the article: strategies for helping dyslexic students learn to read are well established; identification should happen early; and teachers might need extra training. Find the article.

2e MOVIE PROTAGONIST? There's a new movie out, "The Accountant," a pretty mundane title. Disability Scoop describes the movie this way: "an action thriller set in the world of corporate finance featuring a CPA with autism and savant-level math abilities and the deadly skills of a Jason Bourne-style assassin." Interested? Read more.

MENTAL HEALTH PARITY is the topic of a couple items in the news this week. One is in Forbes, where a psychiatrist describes what he sees as a major flaw in our health system: "the need for behavioral health care far outweighs its availability, in part because our system does not value or pay for it on par with medical and surgical care." He notes that this flaw has "devastating" consequences. Find the article. The second item was in conjunction with a series of articles to mark National Mental Health Awareness week, this week. The Press of Atlantic City noted Patrick Kennedy's advocacy for better mental health care, and quoted him as saying, "We have to flood the system with more money to build it up with more counselors, to build more facilities, get reimbursement for therapies, for treatment in schools, the criminal justice system and the workforce." Any parent who's had to find and pay for effective mental health care for a 2e kiddo will agree with that statement, we believe. Find the article.

ITEMS ON ADHD.

  • Newswise presents a piece called "Fact or Fiction: ADHD" to dispel myths and misconceptions about the condition. Find it
  • Science Daily reports on research indicating that children of mothers who took vitamin D during pregnancy with resultant high levels of the vitamin in the umbilical blood have fewer symptoms of ADHD at the age of 2½ years. Find it
HIGH STAKES TESTING. The dean of admissions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute explains why the school no longer will require prospective students to supply PSAT scores. The explanation notes biases in the test that are based on family income, race/ethnicity, and gender. If you're wondering how high-stakes testing might affect that 2e kiddo you raise or teach, check out this article.

COUNTERPOINT. Recently we pointed to a news item, a research write-up, that seemed to indicate that brain training games weren't effective. Last Friday, Education Week published an article titled "Yes, Brain Training Actually Can Work When Done Correctly." Find it, but rest assured that we haven't heard or read the last of this issue.

TiLT PARENTING has issued Podcast 29, "What It Takes to Live a Healthy, Fulfilled Life as Mother to a Differently-Wired Kid." (Is that a challenge? :-) ) Find it.

WRIGHTSLAW tells, in Special Ed Advocate, what to do when you need to obtain an assessment/evaluation for your child: what the law requires, benefits, and how to find an independent evaluator. An effective evaluation will be the foundation for planning and obtaining services for a child who struggles academically. Find Special Ed Advocate.

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