Monday, October 27, 2008

From the Week of October 26th

AD/HD AND COLLEGE. The Washington Post published an article on October 25th about the transition to college for students with AD/HD. The article profiles one high school senior and his family as the student prepares to choose and attend college. The issues -- evaluations, a transition to self-directedness and self-advocacy, and finding colleges that provide help to 2e and LD students. Read it.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY is a war thing, right? Wrong. It can happen to anyone, and its effects on young people (and older people as well) can be life-changing. The Dana Foundation just published an article about traumatic brain injury (
TBI) that included the story of a three-year-old who suffered a playground injury that led to cognitive and emotional difficulties. When the cause of the problems was finally diagnosed 16 years later, it was too late. Read the article.

PSYCHOLOGIST STEVE CURTIS was interviewed recently by CNN on the topic "Helping Kids Cope: When the Economy Hits Home." Curtis, author of the book Understanding Your Child's Puzzling Behavior, offered tips and advice for communicating with and reassuring children in times of family economic stress. See it.

NEUROSCIENCE AND THE CLASSROOM. The Washington Post ran an article this Tuesday exploring a variety of neuroscience topics and myths, all focused on what neuroscience is doing for education. For example, kids with a "primitive, intuitive sense of the size of numbers" perform well in math classes; and brain studies have changed the way educators treat students with autism or Asperger's. The article also runs through a brief list of educational theories that claim to be based on science but turn out to be myths. Read the article.

MORE NEUROSCIENCE. A Popular Science feature called "The Brilliant 10" about science achievers profiled the work of Rebecca Saxe of MIT in the area of social neuroscience. Saxe, according to the article, uses the tools of neuroscience to study infants, trying to determine how our brains create accurate impressions of the world. As it turns out, Saxe describes her work on Theory of Mind at an MIT page called "SaxeLab." Find it.

HABIT VERSUS LEARNING... AND OCD. A study reported this week in the New Haven Register hypothesizes that certain memory lapses may stem from conflicts in two parts of the brain. One, the striatum, stores habits. The other, the hippocampus, handles new challenges, according to the article. (The hippocampus is also responsible for turning information into memory, and is severely affected by Alzheimer's.) The lead researcher says that OCD and some aspects of autism could be "habit learning gone wrong," and that a better understanding of how the two systems interact might lead to better treatments. Read it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From the Week of October 19th

TEACHING THE GIFTED AND 2e is what Linda Collins, of a school in Overland Park, Kansas, does every day. In an interview with Michael Shaughnessy of, you can read about Collins' "Teacher of the Year" award, how she views the rewards and challenges of teaching gifted children, and her work with twice-exceptional students. We've heard Collins speak at conferences, and her sessions are always full-to-overflowing with ideas, revelations, and the results of her 20 years' experience in teaching. Read the interview. (2e Newsletter subscribers can find our coverage of a SENG conference session by Collins in the September, 2008, issue of the newsletter.)

BF SKINNER LIVES. If you believe in behavior analysis and modification, you might be interested in a panel discussion sponsored by the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, on October 24th at 5:15 pm. The session is titled "Unraveling Autism: What's Next in Treatment and How Do We Best Train Practitioners to Provide It?" The school says of applied behavior analysis that "this therapeutic system has become known as the only effective treatment for helping children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities improve their social, motor, verbal, and reasoning skills." More information.

SERVICE DOGS GO ROBOTIC. An article in the November, 2007, issue of 2e Newsletter described some of the ways service dogs can assist children with Asperger's, sensory issues, and other problems -- for example, by interrupting behaviors leading up to a meltdown, being a calming influence, or applying "deep pressure" by snuggling. An article appearing in MIT's Technology Review this week describes how researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing robots to mimic the actions some service dogs perform. The robot E1-E can respond to commands given by a laser pen or by voice to do things such as fetching a towel. But will it be able to cuddle satisfactorily or provide a good lick on the face? Read the article.

AD/HD KIDS AND FAMILY LIFE. Parents with children who have one or more exceptionalities know that raising such children can lead to stress in the spousal relationship. Unfortunately, a study reported this week in Science Daily confirms this, showing that parents of a child with AD/HD are almost twice as likely to divorce by the time the child is 8 than parents of children without AD/HD. Other factors contributing to the risk of divorce included the severity of coexisting disorders in the children with AD/HD, such as ODD or conduct disorder. Do the results extrapolate to 2e families harboring issues such as Asperger's, dyslexia, sensory integration issues, and other exceptionalities? Be careful out there, parents of 2e kids.

SCHOOL FOR DYSLEXICS. Greengate School, a small private school in Huntsville, Alabama, is for dyslexics. It was founded by the mother whose son is dyslexic; many of the teachers have dyslexic children. Families of some of the students have moved to Alabama from other states so that their children could attend Greengate. According to an article in the Huntsville Times, staff and students draw inspiration from posters and quotes of dyslexics such as John F. Kennedy, Wernher von Braun, and Walt Disney. Read the article. Go to the school's website.

AUTISM MYTH-BUSTERS. Autism is an emotional or mental health disorder, right? We are in the middle of an autism epidemic, right? Well, ABC News on October 23rd published responses to what they call 10 common myths about autism. Read the myths and responses.

VIRTUAL SCHOOLING. Parents and educators of gifted students often turn to non-traditional resources in order to provide for their students' needs. Online learning is one. The fifth Virtual School Symposium (VSS) on K-12 online learning is October 26-26 in Glendale, Arizona. About 1,200 online learning experts and educators are expected. According to the symposium host, The North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL), students enrolled in an estimated one million K-12 online courses last year in the United States. Read about the symposium. Read about NACOL.

WORDS OF WISDOM for kids now come at the touch of a button, according to the manufacturer of Life Learning Devices (LLD). For US$29.95 parents can purchase the Secrets of Life and Words of Wisdom LLD. According to the company, "
Life Learning Devices are placed on the kitchen table, beside a coffee pot, on a clothes dresser, on the desk at work or on a nightstand... [P]arents can now easily and consistently expose their children to the values and mindsets of some of history's most accomplished icons... Legendary achievers and innovators have followed certain secrets that allow them to do great things in life. This LLD delivers these secrets along with mantras and quotes that motivate people to make their dreams a reality. Belief systems and values of people who have fulfilled their dreams are shared with the touch of a button." And at $29.95, it's surely a lot less expensive than a college education. And if you find the secret of life, let us know. Visit the LLD site.

Friday, October 17, 2008

For the Week of October 13th

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND. The October/November issue includes an article titled "Tempering Tantrums" on the topic of emotional outbursts in toddlers, especially excessive "rage attacks" which may indicate problems. The article covers "normal" tantrums, tantrums in willful children, and the influence of genetic factors and language delays. You can read the abstract here, but you'll have to pay SciAm Mind or go to the library if you want to read the full article. Also in the issue: an article on panic and anxiety attacks, which can be triggered by a build-up of stress and may have genetic underpinnings. If your gifted or 2e kid has anxiety issues, you might be interested in the article, this one free on the Mind site.

ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. The October edition of David Rabiner's newsletter covers the development and testing of a program designed to teach basic organizational skills to school-age children with AD/HD. The results: encouraging, according to Rabiner. The newsletter should be here -- but you might have to wait a bit until it's posted.

Outstanding 7th graders from families with financial need are invited to apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program. Successful applicants receive educational advising, financial support for educational opportunities during high school, and the possibility of a college scholarship. Twice-exceptional students are encouraged to apply. Applications are available beginning in January are due April 27, 2009. For more information, see

BUST THE BULLY. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that six Utah schools and nearly 50 schools in other states have introduced a web site to allow students to anonymously report bullies. See the site at

FOOD DYES REDUX. We've covered this before -- food additives that seemingly lead to hyperactive behavior -- but new research noted this week in the Los Angeles Times says that the dyes may be worse than thought. The article cites a recent UK study showing eight- and nine-year-old children having a "significantly adverse affect" from dyes. The UK government then nixed the additives in foods. One expert says that US food manufacturers are putting increasing amounts of the dyes into their products -- as much as five times as much over the past few decades. Read the article.

GT ADVOCACY AND LD ADVOCACY. A column at points out ways to broaden the support for GT education by comparing GT advocacy and funding levels with special ed advocacy and funding levels over the post-World War II period. While 2e kids and parents have an interest in both areas, the disparity in spending between the two is startling; the columnist points out that special ed spending
nationally is 100 times GT spending. His recommendations: lobby state senators and representatives; contact the local school superintendent; write to the media; and check NAGC for an advocacy and legislation toolkit. Read the article.

LD ONLINE -- AT FACEBOOK. LD Online is now also on Facebook. If you visit the organization's page there, you'll find a few videos, a "mini-feed" with news stories, recent articles, discussion boards, wall posts, and more. Find the page at Facebook. There's a place on the page where you can sign up for Facebook (if you're not a member) and take full advantage of the LD Online page as well as the rest of Facebook. Get hip! :-)

THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS held its annual conference and exhibition this week in Boston. Some of the sessions dealt with topics such as AD/HD. If we can track down coverage of those sessions we'll pass them on. (You can find coverage of some sessions at MedScape; free registration required.) In the meantime, if you visit the AAP's site you can find some resources for AD/HD, autism, and child development.

Monday, October 6, 2008

From the Week of October 5th

PROJECT EYE-TO-EYE. If you admire the work of Jonathan Mooney in highlighting how learning disabilities can undermine self-esteem in any child, you might be interested in Project Eye-to-Eye, a non-profit organization which, through mentorship, aims to "build self-esteem, develop meta-cognition and implement asset-based academic accommodations" in children with LDs or AD/HD. The organization is holding a fall fund-raising program called 20/20 (oops, eye-to-eye, 20/20, just got that) asking for $20 donations and that donors forward a solicitation email to 20 others. Find out more. (Mooney is the co-author of Learning Outside the Lines and a frequent speaker at gifted/LD events)

CHILDREN AND CLINICAL STUDIES. Have an interest in research in children, or thinking about enrolling a child in a clinical study? The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have a website that offers parents and health care providers with "an insider's guide to children's medical research," according to the NIH. On the site is an award-winning video featuring young people talking about conditions they have and their experiences, along with interviews with clinicians and parents. Visit the site.

DUKE GIFTED LETTER. The Fall edition of the Duke Gifted Letter is online and features an article called "Guiding the Gifted to Honest Work" -- a description of problems such as plagiarism along with guidelines for fostering ethical school work. Also included: articles on differentiated instruction and on the recent Fordham Report on high-achieving students in the era of NCLB. Find the letter.

WRIGHTSLAW. The October 7th edition of Special Ed Advocate focused on how to prevent reading difficulties and reading failure -- risk factors, preventing reading difficulties, and the best ways to teach reading. Read the newsletter.

JAVITS GRANTS. Ever wondered where the money goes from this "poster program" for gifted education? NAGC has posted the abstracts for 2008 grant recipients. One of the funded projects, from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, focuses on 2e students (called "2X learners" in the abstract). The objectives of the project are to establish a protocol for identifying 2e students, implement professional development for teachers of 2e learners, and establish a training program for parents of 2e learners. Find the abstracts.

AD/HD STIMULANTS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE. The correlation isn't what you might think. On October 8th, researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital announced that "treatment with stimulant drugs does not increase and appears to significantly decrease the risk that girls with AD/HD will begin smoking cigarettes or using alcohol or drugs." The hospital noted that the results parallel the findings of earlier studies of the effect of AD/HD stimulant drugs in boys. Read the press release.

INSURANCE AND PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS. Monahan & Cohen's Special Education ENews brought us links and information about the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act, which requires insurance companies to cover mental health treatment at the same level as physical health. The bill applies to plans sponsored by businesses with 50 or more employees. Find more information at the CHADD site.

GIFTED WEB RESOURCES. The website of Prufrock Press, publisher of materials in the area of giftedness, contains several links to resources for gifted young people -- one on virtual field trips, another introducing symphonic instruments and performance, and another devoted to Nate the Great. Find the resources and descriptions at Prufrock Press.

PRIVATE SCHOOL HAIKU. How admirable!/ to see the tuition bill/ and not think life is fleeting. (From Basho, tr. R. Hass)