Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From the Week of January 11th

BRAIN RESEARCH PROGRESS REPORT. The Dana Alliance has published the 2009 Progress Report on Brain Research, highlighting recent work in a variety of fields, some of which might be of interest to those who raise, counsel, or educate twice-exceptional children. Among others, the report includes sections on brain research entitled:
  • Perspectives on Substance Abuse
  • The Quest for Better Schizophrenia Treatment
  • The Obesity Problem
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury [from a perspective of war-induced TBI rather than childhood TBI]
Also included is a roundup with a page or two each on topics such as OCD and treatment with SSRIs; autism genetics; and deep brain stimulation, along with a mention of its use in treating Tourette's. All sections, including the roundup, are available in html or PDF form on the website of the Dana Foundation. And while you're there, check out the other resources offered online, starting at the home page.

MONEY FOR IDEA. Here's the headline from a CEC (Council for Exceptional Children) Policy Brief:
"Economic Recovery Package Proposes Historic Infusion of Money to IDEA." Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes "unprecedented increases for IDEA Grants to States" and other programs. Through CEC's website you can, as CEC urges, "Take Action Now to Show Your Support!"

THE FINE ART OF CONVERSATION. An NPR story describes a young man who can tell you pi to 100 digits but, like many kids with Asperger's, doesn't do well with chitchat. The story describes a course developed at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute that helps kids with mild autism improve their social skills. Find the article.

DON'T LIKE DRUGS for AD/HD? An article this week in US News and World Report describes how behavioral therapy and parental retraining can be alternatives to meds. Now, we have always thought that the American Way involved getting results instantly, preferably from an aerosol can or a pill. But if you don't believe that, read the article. (As of this posting, there were 10 reader comments posted for the article, including some relating parental experiences with twice-exceptional children with AD/HD and one that labels pediatricians who prescribe meds for AD/HD as "drug-dealers.")

GIFTED STUDENTS AS "SPECIAL NEEDS." Steven Pfeiffer, a professor at Florida State, says that gifted children require just as much attention and educational resources to thrive in school as do other students whose physical, behavioral, emotional or learning needs require special accommodations.
Pfeiffer also acknowledges what those in the 2e community know -- that gifted students can often be perplexing and challenging. According to Florida State, a key area of Pfeiffer's research has been finding ways to best identify children who are gifted. He has developed a "Gifted Rating Scale" measuring aptitude in intellectual ability, academic ability, creativity, artistic talent, leadership, and motivation. Read the news release.

READING RESOURCE FOR THE "PRINT DISABLED." The non-profit organization Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic offers the nation's largest collection of audio textbooks, almost 47,000 works, according to a the San Louis Obispo, California, New Times. The fee-based service provides digital versions of tomes such as "Applied Calculus" which can be downloaded onto computers, MP3 players, or cell phones. Know a high-ability student who could benefit because he/she has dyslexia, visual impairments, or LDs? Read the article, or go to the organization's website.


TAMARA FISHER, in her most recent blog entry at edweek.org, writes about the job that the nation's education colleges are doing to prepare teachers of the gifted. She notes that only 81 US colleges or universities offer coursework in gifted education. [And the number offering coursework in educating the twice-exceptional is far fewer.] In the blog, Fisher describes the experience of a teacher-in-training in terms of trying to become knowledgeable about gifted education -- and offers a few tips of her own on how to educate future teachers about giftedness.
Read the blog entry.

CHALLENGE THOSE GIFTED STUDENTS. The Oracle Foundation has announced the ThinkQuest Narrative Competition 2009, a new educational competition. The competition is now open to teams of students, ages 9-19. Teams are invited to use OEF's ThinkQuest Projects platform to publish their ideas on topics of global importance, ranging from world hunger to environmental issues. Details on enrollment, deadlines, and prizes are here.

ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. David Rabiner's latest report on AD/HD research concerns how girls with AD/HD adjust during adolescence. According to Rabiner, the study authors extend previous work by "examining outcomes in multiple domains of functioning and focusing on the frequency of positive adjustments." The study should be here; allow a few days for it to be posted.

MANNERS? OR "SOCIAL SKILLS"? An MD (and presumably a pediatrician) describes in a New York Times column how he treated a very rude child for years, and uses that experience to explore manners in children, the parents' role in instilling manners, and what various experts (professors of pediatrics, Miss Manners) have to say on the topic. The MD concludes: "a child who learns to manage a little courtesy, even under the pressure of a visit to the doctor, is a child who is operating well in the world, a child with a positive prognosis." Read the column.

STORIES OF SUCCESSFUL ADVOCACY. In the January 13th edition of Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate, the Wrights provide stories of parents, teachers, and advocates who have achieved success. Need some inspiration as you advocate for that gifted or twice-exceptional child? Read the issue.

2e AND IDAHO'S TEACHER OF THE YEAR. The words "twice exceptional" were used recently in mainstream media reportage of Idaho's Teacher of the Year award. Robin Sly, according to news reports, focuses on 2e kids. Read a news account; read the Idaho State Department of Education announcement.

MORE ITEMS as the week progresses...

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