Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dyslexia, Advocacy Opportunity, PD, and More

REMEMBER MEL BROOKS? He married Ann Bancroft, and they had four children. One of them, Max, is dyslexic. Here's part of what Max, age 45 and a dad, says about his dyslexia when he was growing up: "Dyslexia in the late '70s, 1980s was unheard of. Dyslexia — they didn't even call it a disability back then; it was just 'laziness,' 'goofing off,' 'you're not trying hard enough.' 'You can do it but you don't want to do it' — that was a big one of my teachers." His mother put her career on hold to help. Read more at NPR

ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY: QUICK DEADLINE. We just heard from our friend Heidi, who is an adviser to the Untapped Potential Project (UPP). working to change education policy at the state level for kids who learn differently. UPP is asking for short video statements recorded on mobile phones. Here’s what UPP says: "UPP is submitting a video to potentially participate in America Succeeds Edventure Shark Tank. In our pitch, we would like to support the stories of individual families and their experience with the current educational system as well as build research on the 'State of 2E.' UPP is compiling clips from kids and families to help us tell the story of the problem. If you have a twice-exceptional child (or know a parent who does), we would appreciate it if you can send a video recording from your phone describing your child's experience in regards to the following questions:
  • Why didn't the current system work? 
  • Why did IEPs (or not qualifying) not do the job? 
  • Was the current system sympathetic to your needs? 
  • Were the proper accommodations made? 
  • How about the current charter school system as an alternative - did it work? 
  • How about private schools - were they the solution, and if so, tell us about the costs. 
  • What would be perfect? Is it some new system of personalization of all of the above or something else? 
"Please use all three of these methods in your video:
  • One word 
  • 3-4 words 
  • 2-3 sentences 
[NOTE: The three alternative deliveries give the video producers flexibility in terms of how they incorporate content into the final product. –2e Newsletter]
"Please send your video to sinthu@powerupp.org by Friday, August 18th. Here's the link to a sample video; feel free to reach out if you have any questions!" [NOTE: If a minor 2e child supplies his or her own video statement, the parent will need to sign a release available from sinthu@powerupp.org.]

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY. Gifted Research and Outreach, a California organization active in the gifted and 2e communities, is offering a one-day continuing education event in LA titled "A Multidisciplinary Approach to Serving the Gifted Population." Some content is 2e-related, and participants will receive a copy of Great Potential Press' Misdiagnosis book. Find out more

AND MORE PD. September 4 is the deadline for applying to an online course from Landmark College, "Understanding and Supporting Diverse Learners." Says Landmark, "This course provides a core understanding of learning theories, frameworks, and best practices for working effectively with students who learn differently. Participants will explore definitions, research, historical trends, and legal mandates related to learning disabilities (including dyslexia and dyscalculia; ADHD; and autism spectrum disorder (ASD)). Students will deepen their understanding of innovative practices, incorporating Universal Design, executive function supports, and emerging educational technologies. They will explore how these approaches can be applied and adapted to provide optimal learning." Find out more.

GENERAL INTELLIGENCE. So what's the "g" factor? A researcher involved in a new study poses different ways to conceive of it: "Is it a causal factor, an artifact of the way we create cognitive tests, the result of our educational environment, a consequence of genetics, an emergent phenomenon of a dynamic system or perhaps all of these things to varying degrees?" Their conclusion: cognitive abilities such as reasoning skills and vocabulary reinforce each other in a "mutualism" model. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. According to Science Daily, scientists have used magnetism and injected magnetic particles to activate tiny groups of cells in mouse brains, inducing bodily movements that include running, rotating and losing control of the extremities -- an achievement that could lead to advances in studying and treating neurological disease. This magneto-thermal stimulation, says Science Daily, "gives neuroscientists a powerful new tool: a remote, minimally invasive way to trigger activity deep inside the brain, turning specific cells on and off to study how these changes affect physiology." Find out more, and consider whether this tool would ever allow you to have a remote control for your misbehaving kiddo.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Neuromyths, Back to School, Mental Health Programs, and More

NEUROMYTHS. A survey has shown that many educators, and even those with neuroscience training, believe in neuromyths -- common misconceptions about the brain and learning, and that that neuromyth beliefs are remarkably prevalent. One example of a neuromyth: that kiddos with dyslexia will commonly write letters backwards. According to Science Daily, "The public believed 68% of the neuromyths, educators 56%, and surprisingly, respondents with neuroscience training endorsed 46%." Find the Science Daily write-up. Find the study article itself, or the list of neuromyth questions. Separately, find an article at TED on why some children write "mirror" words or even sentences. Separately again, read a short article in Costco Connection about dyslexia that includes common misconceptions about the condition, eg that dyslexics see things backwards. 

BACK TO SCHOOL.
  • Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities offers four tips for "easing back-to-school jitters; find it
  • Evolved.com provides a parent to-do list; find it
  • And the University of Alabama/Birmingham offers a brief article titled "Easing the Back-to-School Transition for Children with Special Needs"; find it
RESEARCH ABOUT ONLINE LEARNING for students with LDs is the topic of an article from the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT). The research, according to LCIRT, is to "explore how our students most effectively communicate in online classes and explore ways to improve student effectiveness in these spaces." Read more.

SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS can be effective in improving mental health and related outcomes, according to a research review in the September/October issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The programs deal with problems such as anxiety, behavior disorders, ADHD, and depression. The eight largest such programs have reached tens of millions of children. Read more at Science Daily. Separately, The CT Mirror notes that budget cuts in Connecticut might adversely affect gains that state has made in school mental health services; find out more.

THE G WORD is a documentary in production about giftedness, learning and high intelligence. Some of the content is drawn from Big Minds Unschool in California. Find out more about the documentary, whose producer was at the recent SENG conference.

EDUCATION LAW AND POLICY.
  • We've written on the topic of reduced civil rights enforcement before, but an article at Politico notes that the current U.S. Department of Education administration is closing lots of education-related civil rights complaints. According to Politico, investigators have been told to "narrow their focus to the merits of a particular claim, rather than probing systemic issues." Read more
  • The Washington Post provides a summary of the accomplishments and agenda of the secretary of education over the past six months; find it
  • And the Associated Press recently interviewed the education secretary; find a transcript
AND FINALLY, THIS. Science Daily tells us that in the largest functional brain imaging study to date, researchers compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women. One conclusion? "The brains of women in the study were significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than men, especially in the prefrontal cortex, involved with focus and impulse control, and the limbic or emotional areas of the brain, involved with mood and anxiety." Read more.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Anxiety, Genetics/Environment, Items from SENG, and More

STRESS AND ANXIETY. A psychologist from Boys Town writes in The Washington Post about stress and anxiety in teens, and what parents can do to help. Basic steps include: looking for signs; letting kids know it's okay to feel upset; and having more family time. Read more. Separately, an article at Philly.com is titled "How family doctors can help kids and teens fight depression and anxiety." It is based on reportage from a panel session at a recent National Medical Association. Panel members urged practitioners to: look beyond the words, because irritability or boredom can be signs of depression; look for excessive cellphone use; and recognize that regular family dinners might not occur in some homes. Panelists noted that some families might not trust mental health professionals as much as the family doctor. Said one panelist, "“No kid should leave your office without a safety plan." Read more. Also on the topic of what the family doctor can do to find or treat mental health issues, The Agenda feature at Politico.com notes an Alaskan healthcare system that built mental health into its primary care practice. Read more. (Also at Politico.com "5 must-reads on mental illness."

WE'LL HEAR MORE ON THIS. The University of Chicago issued a press release about research results published this week. The research analyzed genetic and environmental influences on common diseases in almost half a million people in 130,000 families. The research revealed surprising correlations between diseases -- for example that migraines "appeared to be most genetically similar to irritable bowel syndrome." Here's what the press release says, in part: "...the team created a disease classification based on two measures. One focused on shared genetic correlations of diseases, or how often diseases occurred among genetically-related individuals, such as parents and children. The other focused on the familial environment, or how often diseases occurred among those sharing a home but who had no or partially matching genetic backgrounds, such as spouses and siblings." Among the conditions categorized are ADHD, anxiety phobic disorder, depression, mood disorder, and substance abuse. The release contains a chart showing the various relationships between diseases, genetics, and the environment -- but it's not for the faint of heart to try to figure out, although readers here certainly have as good a chance as anyone to make sense of it. Find the press release, and watch for further explanation of this (we hope) in the mainstream media over the next week or so.

THANKS TO THE SENG CONFERENCE, we have three items to offer:
  • Josh Shaine, the organizer of the Beyond IQ conferences, successor to the Hollingsworth conferences, has a Facebook group called Gifted "Underachievers" -- his quotes, not ours. If this topic interests you, perhaps check it out
  • The Fringy Bit is a group of resources from two family therapists from Wisconsin, one of whom we met at the SENG conference. "Kids on the fringe" are like the ones you raise and educate. The couple's goals are to provide support and connection to the Fringy Bit community -- support via podcasts, Facebook, a blog, and more. Find out more
  • The conference was also inspiration for Jen the Blogger to write about her gratitude for some things that happened during the conference, more specifically how one of her sons engaged with the 2e community there. Those active in the 2e community know that the individuals responsible for one's participation in the community are often wary of being associated with it themselves. But not so in this case. Find Jen's blog
TiLT PARENTING has released its newest podcast, this one about the experiences of Debbie's son at summer Space Camp. It's a follow-up to an earlier podcast about the son's preparations for the camp, eg in terms of predicting and planning for "tricky situations" that might arise at camp. Find the podcast.

AND FINALLY, THIS. A 9yo boy applied to become NASA's planetary protection officer, a new position at the agency. One qualification he listed, according to The Washington Post: "My sister thinks I'm an alien." He actually got a good reaction from NASA -- although not the job. Read more.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Laugh and/or Cry, Become an Assistant Head of School, See Us Live-streamed, and More

PARENTS, YOU'RE NOT ALONE. You know that from this site and others. But if you want to read what other parents hear about their kiddos and then either laugh or cry, check out the site of Romper. A mom of a 2e kiddo put together a page called "10 Special Needs Moms Share the Worst Thing They Heard About Their Child." Examples? He'll grow out of it. You vaccinated him, that's why he's on the spectrum. Or, if you loved him more.... Ugh and ugly but might make you feel better.

NOT NAPOLEON'S WATERLOO. A foundation in Waterloo, Iowa, has raised and funded education-related grants and initiative to the tune of over $1 million in the past five years. The latest donation is to support twice-exceptional students. Read more.

JOB OPPORTUNITY. FlexSchool New Haven in Connecticut, a school for gifted and 2e kiddos, is looking for an assistant head of school for the upcoming school year. If you're interested -- or if you know someone who might be -- find out about the mindset of the successful applicant, his or her responsibilities, desired qualifications, and more at our website.

2e NEWSLETTER co-publisher J Mark Bade finally made it to social media at last weekend's SENG conference when Julie Skolnick, of With Understanding Comes Calm, live-streamed on Facebook his response to the question, "What would you most want to see for 2e children." You can see the response at our Facebook page, or, with responses by Mike Postma and James Webb, at Julie's FB page.

AUTISM SPEAKS is revamping its strategic plan and scientific priorities and, according to Disability Scoop, "is collecting feedback on what type of research the group should be emphasizing or avoiding as it distributes funds going forward." If you have opinions on the focus of autism-related research, find out more.

TSK, TSK NYC. First it was Texas, putting a cap on the percentage of students eligible for special ed services. Now, it seems, New York City schools have been short-changing special ed students by not providing services in-house but rather issuing "vouchers" for obtaining those services from private providers. Trouble is, few providers accept the vouchers, and it's up to parents to coordinate and travel to services that should have been provided on school time; this according to Disability Scoop. Read more.

EXERCISE AND ADHD is the topic of an article at US News. Does it help? If so, what kind of exercise or sports? Find out more.

SUGAR AND MENTAL HEALTH are examined in an article at Medical News Today. Several studies indicate that sugar consumption can lead to -- not just be "linked to" depression. The article gets into "the science of sugar" and "sugar and neurons," as well as ways to cut sugar from the diet. Find the article.

HOW'S YOUR COMMUNICATION with your child? If you're like many parents of smart kiddos who also have learning challenges, communication at home is often less than ideal. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities offers a new post, "10 Ways to Improve Communication with Your Child."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Thoughts from SENG

The annual conference of SENG, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is just over. We spent several days there covering sessions and keeping a presence in the exhibit area there in the Marriott Chicago hotel of Naperville. The program included lots of good speakers, some of whom you'll read about in upcoming issues of 2e Newsletter. Here are some thoughts and impressions...

The 2e community might have an emerging "poster child" in researcher/author Scott Barry Kaufman, who gave a keynote on Saturday morning. Simultaneously engaging, funny, and informative, Kaufman, whose CAPD landed him in special ed as a child, sensed the audience was, as he said, "my crowd." Kaufman has a new book coming ut soon, "Twice Exceptional: Supporting and Educating Bright and Creative Students with Learning Difficulties," that will include chapters by authors familiar to  many readers of 2e Newsletter. In addition, a TED Talk by Kaufman on twice exceptionality will be available in the next week or so.

The conference seemed well attended. As usual, attendees were all motivated by the chance to share information about gifted kiddos and the social-emotional, mental health, or learning issues they might have. Our impression is that parents find it easy to make connections at these SENG conferences, and that the professionals in attendance seem willing to be accessible. Our impression is that parents are probably the biggest segment of the audience, then educators, then service providers.

The conference is 2e Newsletter's opportunity to make connections as well. For example, at our exhibit table we met a counselor from Asheville and one from Denver. Since we sometimes get calls from parents looking for resources of one sort or another in different parts of the country, and new connections help us point to those resources.

Sometimes at the conference we are able to point parents to resources that are right there at the conference. We pointed one local family to a suburban counseling/psychological services group that apparently does a lot of work with 2e children. The group had an exhibit table and was also giving several presentations.

We hear lots of stories from families, some about successes for their 2e kiddo because of a school district willing and able to take on the kiddo's challenges. We also hear about districts unwilling or unable to serve our kids. And sometimes we hear truly scary stories, for example about children way too young who are encountering existential concerns.

We re-establish connections with others who serve the 2e community and get inspiration on ways to serve the community. And we always receive inspiration from the "high achievers" we talk to -- those whose lives are virtually consumed by the roles they've chosen in the community as leading-edge educators, researchers, presenters, or information disseminators. They all have our deepest respect.

SENG's interim director Mike Postma, on the job for a few months, gets LOTS of credit for pulling together the successful conference in the midst of staff changes and other challenges. Hats off to Mike!

And we always appreciate it when an attendee stops by our exhibit table to tell us they've found the newsletter informative and useful. Feedback like that at a conference like SENG can keep us going for another year!

Watch for more information about the conference in our next newsletter issue and for pics on our Facebook page as soon as we go through them.




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Conferences, Resources, and Stuff from Other Blogs and Sites

CONFERENCES
  • The 2e Center for Research and Professional Development at Bridges Academy has released more information about its October symposium, "Vision and Leadership in 2e Education," to be held in Los Angeles. The event is intended for just about anyone in the 2e community. Find out more
  • Twice-Exceptional Children's Advocacy, TECA, has released more information about its October conference, "Building 2e Awareness and Community," in the New York City area. The event is directed at those in the 2e community in the New York tri-state area. Find out more
  • And SENG's annual conference kicks off today in Naperville, Illinois. Find out more

RESOURCES
  • Understood provides back-to-school letters you can adapt and use to help this year's teacher understand your child's learning challenges. Find them
  • NCLD, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, now offers a resource on personalized learning. Says NCLD: "This resource hub contains information, case studies, and recommendations -- all with an eye on the needs and success of students with disabilities -- tailored for parents, educators, school communities and policymakers, wherever and however they may be approaching personalized learning. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this addition to NCLD.org is the culmination of a three-year exploration of how students with disabilities can benefit from efforts to customize their learning to align with their strengths and interests." Find it

FROM OTHER BLOGS AND WEBSITES
  • Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities tells what to watch for in terms of red flags for dyslexia that should prompt early intervention. Go there
  • ADDitude, noting that pediatricians vary in their capability to serve as mental health resource, tells "how to solve the patient-provider mismatch." Go to ADDitude
  • With Understanding Comes Calm offers the newest edition of its Gifted and Distractible newsletter. Read Julie's piece "Running to Stand Still" about the emotion and dedication shown by parents in the 2e community. Find "Gifted and Distractible.
  • At the Gifted Development Center, Bobbie Gilman and Linda Silverman consider the situation where an anything-but-average child earns average test scores. Go to GDC
  • And TiLT Parenting has released Episode 5,000 -- wait, "only" Episode 68 -- in its rapidly growing podcast series. Says TiLT founder Debbie Reber, "In today’s episode, [consultant/author] Rachel and I will look at what the research has to say about the impact of video games in our kids' lives, bust some myths about the potential harms and benefits of video gaming, and answer questions posed by members of the TiLT Parenting Facebook page. Whether your child is into Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Slime Rancher, Hey Day, or any other online games, I guarantee you’ll take away some nuggets from today’s episode." Take Debbie up on her guarantee

AND IT'S OFF to the SENG conference!







Monday, July 31, 2017

SENG Conference, Ed Tech, Strength-based Parenting, More

SENG. The annual conference of the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted begins later this week in Naperville, Illinois. For members of the 2e community, the SENG conference is a great place to learn about gifted and 2e issues and to meet parents, educators, and clinicians who are involved in those issues. It's a national and international conference but especially accessible this year to those who live in the Midwest. (And there are kids' programs during conference hours if you want to make attendance a family affair.) The program listing is posted at the SENG site. 2e Newsletter will attend. See you there?

EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY is the topic of an article in The Economist, which contends that technology (at last) has the capability to make personalized learning a reality. The author traces the roots of ed tech to BF Skinner and his 1950's teaching machine, and sets forth certain conditions for the success of personalized, adaptive learning this time around -- including teachers' willingness to use new technology. One point of contention (to us) in the article was this: "...'personalised learning' must follow the evidence on how children learn. It must not be an excuse to revive pseudoscientific ideas such as 'learning styles.'" We suggest that the experiences of those who raise and teach 2e students lead to caution in dismissing individual differences (capabilities and preferences) in the way students receive and express information. We also assume that a robust personalized learning system would be able to present information in several alternative ways. Find the article.

THE BRAIN'S EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT was the topic of a Cerebrum article we pointed to recently. Those who prefer to receive their information aurally 😊 may hear a podcast on the same topic and with the author of the article. Here's the Cerebrum site, and here's the site hosting the podcast.

STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES are both in the mix in our interactions with 2e kiddos. The Washington Post ran an interview with the author of the  book The Strength Switch, subtitled "How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish." The intro to the interview starts this way: "You see your child made four As and one D on their report card. Do your eyes skim over those excellent grades and immediately focus on the D?" Well, parents? Are you like most of the rest of us? Want to change? Find the interview.

DEPRESSION. US News offers tips for treating depression in children in a recent article covering psychotherapy as well as meds. Find the article.

UNDERSTOOD is offering a free "live chat" this Thursday at noon Eastern time. It's titled "Talking to Your Child about Their ADHD and Dyslexia Diagnosis." Find out more.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION. "As children age into adolescence and on into young adulthood, they show dramatic improvements in their ability to control impulses, stay organized, and make decisions," says the first sentence of an article at Medical News Today. So yes, parents and educators, things are supposed to get better over time. Want to find out how and why and what goes on in the brain to aid improving cognitive control? Read the article.

U.S. EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. School vouchers have been proposed the the new education secretary as a way to improve the American educational system. Scientific American, in its August issue, writes about the evidence supporting (or not) the proposal, citing limited trials and mixed results. If you're lucky, you can read the Scientific American article for free; if not, you can read about it and get additional commentary in The Washington Post.