Sunday, April 19, 2009

From the Week of April 19th

THE MANAGED CHILD. An article in the Montreal Gazette describes the pressures on today's children, their sense of entitlement, and their place on a pedestal. Also covered are changes and contrasts with previous generations in terms of such issues as media, structure of life, and expectations. Along with the observations and some of the implied parenting advice (too late for us), we liked the terms we found: "affluenza" for the sense that happiness is linked to material possessions; "severely gifted" for a child thought to be (rightly or wrongly) exceptionally smart of talented; "trophy child"; and others. Read the article.

THE NEXT DSM. If you're interested in getting a preview of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, check out an article at Clinical Psychiatry News. Some of the participants in building the next edition reportedly say that the DSM-V will place "a greater emphasis on the disability and functioning associated with psychiatric illness." This and other changes are supposed to make it easier to take into account co-morbidities (and those of you involved with twice-exceptional kids know how many are really 3e or 4e) and the "NOS" (not otherwise specified) dilemma. Publication is still three years off, but you can read the preview here.

2e IN LIFE, ART. The movie "The Soloist" is about a homeless, extremely talented musician who also may have schizophrenia. The talented British director of the film, according to an interview in the Houston Chronicle, is dyslexic and directs films with complex story lines. The director, Joe Wright, says his dyslexia, which was undiagnosed for most of his school career, leads him to "think about things in different ways and create different connections." He says he thinks "in moments of film." ["I am a clown," says the main character in Heinrich Boll's book The Clown, "and I collect moments." Sequitur? Non?] Read the article (and find how Wright's reaction to a friend's psychotic breakdown led Wright to deny the label of "mental illness" in favor of "personalities and perspectives of realities.")

LD AND GENDER. Science Daily reported on a study uncovering nine genes that apparently cause learning disabilities when the genes are "knocked out." These genes are all on the X chromosome, of which males have one and females two. LDs are more common in males, and researchers speculate that an X-chromosome genetic mutation has more impact on males. The research should affect future diagnosis, genetic counseling, and treatment development. Read the article.

GIFTED LEARNERS is the topic of what is probably the longest interview by Michael Shaughnessy (of Ednews.org) that we've ever seen. The interview, with authors Joanne Foster and Dona Matthews, covers a new edition of their book on gifted education; why and how
parents should be involved in their gifted child's education; and gifted girls. The interviewees also offer opinions on such topics as labeling (of programs versus the kids), acceleration and enrichment, and how to best serve borderline-gifted kids. Find the interview.

AD/HD AND COLLEGE. In its "Education Life" section on Sunday, the 19th, The New York Times offered tips and advice for families who will be sending an AD/HD child off to college in the fall. The article suggests that medications may have to be adjusted to adapt to a longer study day, that away-at-college students will lose family support, and that colleges should be chosen with support services in mind. The article also notes that college is often the time when undiagnosed AD/HD comes to light. Read the article.

WE MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS item in March -- an article in the Dana Foundation's BrainWork newsletter on the effect of AD/HD stimulant medications on the brain. According to the article, apparently those drugs do not adversely affect the development of the cortex, which undergoes "thinning" during adolescence. Instead, the drugs may normalize the brain's development. Researchers speculate that stimulants encourage the use of areas of the brain related to attention, which in turn makes the maturation process seem similar to that in "normal" children -- a "use it or lose it" proposition that involves the brain's plasticity. If you've got a gifted and AD/HD kid who's resisting meds, show'em this article.

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