Friday, September 5, 2008

For the Week of August 31st

FOR BRAINY BRAIN FREAKS. We haven't mentioned this resource for awhile -- Eric Chudler's Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter. Each month, Chudler, a faculty member at the University of Washington, e-mails a new edition to subscribers, covering topics such as what's new at the the Neuroscience for Kids website, brain trivia, a site of the month, and pointers to various recent news items on neuroscience. In the current issue, September's, Chudler explains how school buses came to be yellow -- and how scientific evidence now supports the wisdom of that choice. Current issue not yet posted; see last month's issue here.

EDUCATION REFORM. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has released a 35-page booklet called "A Parent's Guide to Education Reform." The bulk of the booklet deals with school choice as a solution; part of the organization's website is also devoted to that issue. Find the booklet here.

ANTIPSYCHOTICS IN KIDS. Science Daily previewed research results on the benefits and risks of antipsychotic medicines in children, along with their impact on individual well-being, social, educational, and/or vocational functioning, and "disease burden." The net-out, in the words of the preview:

  • Early intervention with an effective and well-tolerated antipsychotic provides symptomatologic improvement in some mental disorders in children and adolescents that may modify the actual course of the disease associated with these disorders.
  • Children and adolescents seem to have a higher risk than adults for experiencing adverse events such as extrapyramidal symptoms, prolactin elevation, sedation, weight gain, and metabolic effects when taking antipsychotics.
  • Patients and their families should be included in a careful risk-benefit assessment before prescribing any specific antipsychotic.
If you have a gifted child using antipsychotics as treatment for a conduct disorder, Tourette's, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or tics, you might be interested in this document.

BEHAVIOR AND EMOTIONAL DISORDERS IN TEENS is a topic that concerns any loving parent and probably every teacher of middle school and high school. Parents and teachers know that learning challenges can lead to such disorders in high-ability children, and that the disorders can alienate students from adults or classmates. The results can be a high drop-out rate. Education Week reported this week that a consortium of seven universities have received funding for a National Research and Development Center on Serious Behavioral Disorder at the Secondary Level. The article describes some of the interventions to be evaluated for addressing the problem. Read it.

ADDRESSING BARRIERS TO LEARNING. That's the goal of the ENEWS newsletter from the School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA. Their September issue is just out, 11 pages of pointers to articles, publications, links, and other resources. While we don't ever recall seeing twice-exceptionality explicitly addressed in the newsletter, some of the content might be of interest to the intended audience, "those concerned with enhancing policies, programs, and practices related to addressing barriers to student learning and to promoting mental health in schools." For example, the September edition asks for readers' takes on the issue of enhancing school/family/community collaboration to help at-risk children; points to a variety of professional articles on topics in children's mental and physical health, articles with titles such as "How do school connectedness and attachment to parents interrrelate in predicting adolescent depressive symptoms?"; and recognizes a variety of articles on policy, system, law, ethics, finance and statistics. Find the newsletter here, along with archives of past issues.

WRIGHTSLAW. The September 3rd edition of Special Ed Advocate provides back-to-school tips, including ways to create high expectations, build resilience, and defeat the first-day jitters.

MORE ADVOCACY RESOURCES. Rich Weinfeld and Michelle Davis, directors of the Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute in Maryland and authors of Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book, are offering a four-session workshop beginning in October for parents, graduate students, educators, and other professionals with an interest in advocacy and special education law. Find out more.

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