Monday, December 22, 2008

From the Weeks of December 21st and 28th

We anticipate that news, resources, event announcements concerning giftedness, learning disabilities, education, and child development will slow down over the year-end holidays, so -- one post for the next two weeks. We'll update it as we find things to bring to your attention.

BEST COLLEGES. US News and World Report has announced "America's Best Colleges 2009." High-performing high-schoolers and their families may be interested in categories such as "Top Public Schools" or "Best Engineering Schools." For twice-exceptional students, one interesting ranking might be "Freshman Retention Rate"; although that ranking doesn't explicitly address support for students, it seems likely that would be a contributing factor and worth checking into at the schools ranked. Besides the information freely available online, additional information is available in a "Premium Online Edition" for $14.95. Find the report.

COMEDY WRITER MEETS THE SAT. Ever think that the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) could be livelier? Comedy writer Charles Horn has, according to the LA Times, written a book called The Laugh Out Loud Guide to the SAT, using humor to make preparing for the test more interesting. Horn is not exactly uncredentialed; he received a doctorate from Princeton, has experience as a software engineer, and -- as he struggled to get his comedy career going -- tutored high school students for the SAT. Find out more and see sample questions in the article.
(And see if you can derive the answer to Question 4.)

A 4.0 AVERAGE BUT STRUGGLING WITH MATH. An
educational columnist in the Flint, Michigan, Journal offers advice to an apparently twice-exceptional college junior who writes in asking for help. The student attended a private high school for the gifted, has a 4.0 average in college, but struggles with math and has been avoiding it in college. The columnist offers a couple tips for dealing with the immediate problem, suggests assessment, and points out the advantages that an LD label can bring in terms of accommodations. Read the column.

MEDICINE AND MONEY. Those who read this blog and our monthly briefing know that we have a concern with the way money can apparently influence medical opinion when it comes to diagnosing and treating young people with exceptionalities. (Blog posts from the weeks of 11/16 and 7/13 point to articles on the topic.) On December 24th, one of our favorite comic strips, Boondocks (discontinued but repeating in perpetuity, like Peanuts), covers the topic. Huey, the pre-adolescent black revolutionary and social critic, is ill but doesn't want to go to a doctor because "Western medicine is too corrupted by capitalism," preferring instead the fictitious website everythingcankillyou.com. Read the strip, and remember that money's effect on our kids' medicine is a serious issue. (Is everythingcankillyou.com really a fictitious site? Seems that on the day the strip reappeared, December 24th, some enterprising soul re-registered what had been an expired domain name.)

AS WE GET CLOSE TO THE NEW YEAR, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers "20 Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Kids." The resolutions are grouped into those for preschoolers, kids five to 12, and kids 13 and up. The resolutions are pretty idealistic -- "I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink" -- but who knows, if you have a receptive child give it a try. Plus, the site lets you email the resolutions directly to the child of your choice, saving you the lecture. See the resolutions.

MORE ON DSM REVISIONS. A blog entry at SharpBrains.com questions the entire psychiatric diagnosis process, suggesting instead that psychometrics be used rather than clinical diagnosis based on symptoms. The blog notes, "
it is perfectly possible to treat someone based on continuous measures of distress, impairment and functioning using evidence-based cut-off points to judge whether a particular treatment should be applied." An example? The way we manage hypertension. Read the blog entry.


TROUBLED STUDENT MAKES GOOD. The founder of Jimmy John's Sandwich Shops, James Liautaud, was not a model student at his private prep school in Elgin, Illinois. According to the New York Times, he was a trouble-maker who was nearly expelled. But because the dean of discipline at the school believed in him and was able to guide him, he graduated. Then, without going to college, he founded what would become an 800-store empire. Recently Jimmy John gave Elgin Academy $1 million for a new building, with the condition that the dean's name be on the building. Read the story, and consider that perhaps giftedness doesn't need to go to college to succeed, and that behavioral issues may disappear along with adolescence.

MORE NEWS as the year draws to a close.

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