Monday, May 25, 2009

From the Week of May 24th

THE DOCTORS EIDE, FERNETTE AND BROCK, of the Eide Neurolearning Clinic and authors of The Mislabeled Child, have established the "Dyslexic Advantage Community" on Ning, a social networking site. They call it, "a community on the Internet that celebrates the gifts and talents of dyslexia as much as its challenges." (And we've learned from the Eides that "dyslexia" is much more than the classic letter/word confusion.) Go here to find out more or to join.

THIS HARVARD-BOUND VALEDICTORIAN IS DYSLEXIC. In middle school, her low standardized text scores kept her out of gifted classes, according to an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But in high school she worked extra hard (taking 15 AP classes along the way) and was inventive in her learning techniques, depending heavily on flashcards. She discovered she was dyslexic, ironically, through her studies in an AP psychology class. Read the article.

RIGHT BRAIN, LEFT BRAIN -- WRONG? A neuroscientist rants a bit on The Huffington Post about right brain/left brain distinctions, partly in response to a new, best-selling book proclaiming the right brain as the way of the future. Joseph LeDoux, who also plays in a rock band called The Amygdaloids, points out that what we have are brain systems, sets of interconnected neurons. Systems beget brain functions. Both systems and functions, says LeDoux, "span the brain vertically and horizontally -- they are not isolated in one hemisphere," although systems may be preferentially located in one hemisphere or the other. The point: it's not one hemisphere or the other that performs a function, rather a system that may be located in one hemisphere or the other. Go here to find the seemingly well-reasoned rant.

MIDWEST GIFTED AND TALENTED SYMPOSIUM. We just received notice of a five-day symposium on the needs of gifted and high-potential learners, to be held June 14-18 in Austin, Minnesota, in the far southern part of the state. The symposium is billed as an opportunity for educators, counselors, administrators, and parents.
According to the website of one of the sponsors, keynoters include Dr. Jaime Castellano, Paul Douglas, Debra Frasier, Dr. Jane Kise, and Dr. James Webb. Find out more.

THE GLAMOUR OF BRAIN IMAGING. We here at 2e Newsletter are as fascinated as anyone else by the use of brain imaging in connection with giftedness and other exceptionalities; perhaps that shows in our choice of items in the blog, briefing, and newsletter. But such imaging has its limits. An article titled "Neuroimaging: Separating the Promise from the Pipe Dreams," just published by the Dana Foundation, provides important information for anyone considering the use of neuroimaging for diagnosis or treatment. An excerpt:
"[A]lthough brain imaging has provided solid evidence of alterations in brain structures and functions associated with many psychiatric disorders, it can be used neither to diagnose such disorders nor to determine exactly how treatments work." Read more. (And be assured that there are clinicians out there treating 2e young people who will suggest brain imaging for diagnosis and treatment.)

AD/HD -- DISSENTING OPINION. If the concept of AD/HD did not exist prior to the middle of the 1900s, did Mozart have AD/HD? Einstein? A Canadian researcher says that while hyperactive behavior has always existed, only recently has it been pathologized and treated. According to Science Daily, the researcher says that AD/HD as a disorder depends on social context, which changed in the 1950s. Read the article.

AN HONORS STUDENT is pictured in a New York Times article about teenagers and text-messaging. The article reports that the almost 80 messages per day sent or received by the average teen might be having significant effects -- anxiety, distraction, grade problems, sleep deprivation, and even repetitive stress injuries. Is your bright child joined at the thumbs to his or her wireless device? Read the article.

AD/HD, KINDERGARTEN, AND THE FUTURE. A study reported by several media outlets indicates that a child who shows attention problems in kindergarten might not learn as much in their K-12 careers as other students. Read about it in US News and Science Daily. The US News article ends by quoting one researcher:
"ADHD is underreported and under-appreciated as a source of long-term academic failure. Studies clearly show that early investment in children pays off big later on." And that quote leads quite nicely into our next item...

RABINER REPORTS ON AD/HD TREATMENT STUDY -- and not just any study, but what he calls "the largest AD/HD treatment study ever conducted." Hundreds of children diagnosed with AD/HD were assigned randomly to treatment by either medication, behavior therapy, a combination of medication and behavior therapy, or routine community care. David Rabiner's analysis highlights findings in terms of the persistence of the treatment benefits; how response to initial treatment may predict later outcomes; and the overall adverse long-term effects of childhood AD/HD. Find the analysis.

2e HUMOR IS SCARCE THESE DAYS. Check out an old highlight from Frazz, this one, as most concerning gifted kids in the strip, featuring Caulfield.

FOR MILITARY FAMILIES WITH LD KIDS, Wrightslaw took the opportunity of the recent U.S. Memorial Day to provide information about relocation and associated transitions. Summer is the peak moving season for military families. The information might be useful to any family moving with an exceptional or twice-exceptional child. Find Special Ed Advocate.

SMART KIDS WITH DISABILITIES -- the organization, that is -- recently held its annual benefit. The organization presented its 2009 LD Youth Achievement Award to a young man for his
accomplishments as an Intel Science Contest semifinalist, AP scholar, Coca Cola Foundation Scholars finalist, varsity football and soccer player, and dedicated community service activist. Read more, including the honoree's statement, "maybe I don't want to be normal..."

Will more news be forthcoming this week? Stay tuned...

Monday, May 18, 2009

From the Week of May 17th

GIFTED/LD ACHIEVER. The Emanuel family in the Chicago area has provided the nation with President Obama's chief of staff (Rahm), a special adviser to the Office of Management and Budget (Ezekiel), and the CEO of the second-largest talent agency in Hollywood (Ari), according to an article in The New Yorker. Which of the three gifted brothers has an LD? Ari, who had to achieve in spite of dyslexia and AD/HD. From the article: "Ari’s grades were invariably the lowest. Because he is dyslexic, he had trouble with words. And, because he has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, he had trouble concentrating on the words he was having trouble with." Read about some of Ari's childhood challenges.

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY's summer edition is out, with articles gifted education in China and parent/school communication in gifted education, among others. Find the Quarterly.

AUTISTIC ADVOCATE. Newsweek profiled 21-year-old Ari Ne'eman, an Aspie college student who has founded the non-profit Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. According to the article, Ne'eman champions "neurodiversity" and sees autism not only as a disability but as a different way of being. Advances in genetics related to autism bother him, and he's especially leery of any genetically-based prenatal test for autism. Read the article.

SENDING THAT BRIGHT, LD KID TO COLLEGE? Find out about the rights and protections your child has under Section 504 and ADA in this week's edition of the Wrightslaw Special Ed Advocate. Also read about accommodations, self-advocacy, and resources. Find Special Ed Advocate. You can also read a separate article from the Worcester, Massachusetts, Telegram about college choices for young people with LDs; go there.

SYNCHRONICITY. The last issue of 2e Newsletter featured differentiation, and last week's EdWeek chat with Carol Ann Tomlinson was on the same topic. Now comes notice that Prufrock Press is offering a 20 percent discount on a book for teachers titled Differentiation Made Simple, by Mary Ann Carr. We've not read about the book or seen reviews, but if you believe in cosmic timing or things happening in three's, you can check it out at the Prufrock site.

YOU KNOW YOUR KID'S BRAIN IS DIFFERENT THAN YOURS. A study reported in Science Daily tells how:
Instead of having networks made of brain regions that are distant from each other but functionally linked, most of the tightest connections in a child's brain are between brain regions that are physically close to each other. But even though the brains may be organized differently, children as young as seven have brains that are capable. Says a researcher, "It's differently organized but at least as capable as an adult brain." Unfortunately, the article didn't say much about what the difference means in the real world of family and school. Read the report.

MORE ADVANCED PLACEMENT.'s Michael Shaughnessy interviewed a researcher analyzing the use of AP classes and exams in the United States. Students are taking more courses and exams, evidently to help with college applications. Find out more.

ASPIES: LACKING EMPATHY OR FEELING TOO MUCH? The Toronto Star reported on a theory that Aspies feel too much -- that they are hypersensitive to experience and have an overwhelming fear response. Find the story. (On the other hand, the article also quotes an Asperger's Association official as saying, "If you've seen one Aspie, you've seen one Aspie.")

MOTHERS: HERE'S YOUR JUSTIFICATION for that morning sickness you had. You were carrying a bright kid. Researchers at a Toronto hospital studied a group of women who had morning sickness during pregnancy and compared them with a group who didn't have morning sickness. The result: the children of morning-sick mothers were somewhat more intelligent than children from the other group of mothers, as manifested in performance IQ scores and certain language skills. Read the article.

MORE NEWS as the week goes on...

Monday, May 11, 2009

From the Week of May 10th

FRIDAY: EDWEEK CHAT ON DIFFERENTIATION. The current issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter focuses on differentiation and cluster grouping and includes material by Carol Ann Tomlinson, a differentiation expert. At 3 p.m. (Eastern) this Friday, May 15, Education Week offers an online chat on the topic with Professor Tomlinson. Find out more. (Transcripts are available for completed chats.)

LAUGHING AT (OR WITH) THE GIFTED. Tamara Fisher's latest blog entry drew our attention to the network television show "The Big Bang Theory," a sitcom portraying young, gifted, academician/researchers at Caltech -- four men and a woman. Fisher says she's hooked on the program, and provides links to some episodes of the show available online. Find her post.

LAUGHING AT (THE COMIC WITH) AD/HD. In an article in the Toronto Star, a Canadian comedian describes the effect of AD/HD on his life and work. Not diagnosed -- as sometimes happens -- until an offspring received the label, Rick Green is involved in a national public-awareness campaign on AD/HD, according to the article. An interesting sideline: the article included language from an AD/HD expert who contends that attention deficit results from childhood stress, a theory new to us. Find the article.

A SECOND "e": BURNOUT? Science Daily reports a Finnish study showing that up to 20 percent of success-oriented, upper-secondary-school females suffer from school burnout, which can in turn lead to depression. (Boys, according to the researchers, "
tend to develop more of a cynical, negative stance towards school.")
The article also reports on higher education burnout. Read it.

FOLLOW-UP: MUSICAL PHARMACOLOGY. In an item the week of March 29th, we mentioned a New York Times article on musical pharmacology. This week, we heard from Dr. Roland Haas, CEO of a firm offering a product mentioned in the article. He suggests that those interested in more information on the topic go to his firm's site, (English version available). He and a colleague who was quoted in the Times article have also written a book; more information here. Finally, on the topic of the influence of music in education Hass suggests the writings of Hans Guenther Bastian, although a quick Google search tells us that you won't get far without a working knowledge of German.

2e BUT COLLEGE VALEDICTORIAN -- thanks to his mother's homeschooling. A Georgia mother declined to believe early prognoses that neither of her sons would be able attend college. One son was dyslexic and dysgraphic; the other dyslexic with auditory processing issues. According to the article, the first son is the valedictorian of his class at Augusta State University, and the other son will graduate from the college this summer. Read the article. [UPDATE 5/15: Read a post-graduation article about the event and the valedictorian.]

WRIGHTSLAW THIS WEEK. Here's what's in it, according to the publishers: "
In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate we answer questions about behavior assessments, positive intervention plans and support, and what you can do to get help for children with behavior problems." If the topic rings a bell with you, check it out.

LD ONLINE'S RECOMMENDED BOOKS. Books of note highlighted in an email today include: Understanding Your Child's Brain and Behavior from Birth to Age 6; A Guide to Collaboration for IEP Teams [good luck -ed.]; Levine's A Mind at a Time; Accommodations in Higher Education Under the ADA; Addressing the Challenging Behavior of Children with High Functioning Autism/Asperger Syndrome...; Attention, Memory, and Executive Function; Understanding the Social Lives of Children [scary thought]; and more. Find the recommendations here.

2e NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS, please note that the contents of the May/June issue of 2e Newsletter are now posted in the subscriber-only area of the website. You know where it is; if not, ask for a reminder. Non-subscribers may find some of the content in the public area of the site, in particular: "Fighting for FAPE," the story of a family looking for educational justice for their 2e son; Part 3 of the "Mythology of Learning" series written by experts from Bridges Academy; Bob Seney's column reviewing literature likely to appeal to 2e readers; "Ask Dr. Sylvia," advice from Dr. Sylvia Rimm; and the "Parents' Perspective" column, this one by Sarah Garrison.

SPOTLIGHT ON 2e SERIES. Many of you are aware that Glen Ellyn Media also offers a "Spotlight on 2e Series" of booklets on various aspects of twice-exceptionality. For the rest of May, we're offering free shipping on the booklets, and many subscribers and non-subscribers alike are taking advantage. Subscribers, check your email inbox; non-subscribers, go here to find out more about the booklets and see the offer.

2010 2e CONFERENCE. The Weinfeld Education Group and AEGUS (Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students) are planning a conference called "Diamonds in the Rough: Smart Kids Who Learn Differently." For educators, parents, and students, the conference is scheduled for March 11-13 of next year in Chevy Chase, Maryland. According to the organizers, highlights will include best practices for identifying the aforementioned kids; research-based strategies and interventions for helping them; the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Dr. Susan Baum; and a presentation by Jonathan Mooney. We'll pass on more information as we receive it.

SMART, BUT NO OUTPUT. Lorel Shea, the gifted education editor for Bella Online, has posted an article about what happens and what to do when a child's input facilities work just fine, and the child is able to learn all kinds of things -- but the child has difficulty with output in the form of written expression. See the article.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY FOR WRITING. By coincidence, we just received a press release noting that AlphaSmart's NEO 2 classroom device now has Text2Speech features that allow learners to hear back what they keyboard into the device. In addtion, NEO 2 works with Google Docs and allows students and teachers to wirelessly access, store, edit, and share documents. Looks like there are some other handy features for teachers, too. We've had personal experience with AlphaSmart's products and have been impressed. Find out more.

SO HOW'S THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR KID? Science Daily reports on a study of tension in the relationship between parents and child. Among the findings: parents are bothered more than the kids, older children bother parents more than younger ones, and daughters can be more aggravating than sons. Read the report.

RECOVERY FROM AUTISM? USA Today reports on a study of 58 mildly-autistic children with above-average IQs. At least ten percent of the children, after years of intensive behavioral therapy, were no longer considered autistic. Read the article.

ON THE MATTER OF ATTENTION. A recent New York Times article focuses on attention and concentration. The article says that novel stimuli tend to gain the brain's attention, even over something you're trying to concentrate on. The brain can override this voluntarily, but overriding involves syncing neuronal oscillation (gamma waves) to direct the brain to attend to something else. But there's more: apparently, pulses of light have the capability to induce gamma waves in the brain. One scientist foresees using low-wavelength light to penetrate the skull and help direct attention by synchronizing neurons -- no more Ritalin. Also in the article: tips for increasing concentration, and the assertion that "multitasking is a myth." Read the article.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

From the Week of May 3rd

OUR FACEBOOK PAGE is deactivated for reconfiguration; we'll be back. (Coincidentally, USA Today this week reported on the question of whether Facebook use is linked to poor grades; read the article. We can attest that Facebook might lead to degraded on-the-job performance by newsletter publishers.)

PHOEBE IN WONDERLAND. A writer and mom who is a good friend of 2e Newsletter and whom we consider a reliable source recently copied us on an email raving about "Phoebe in Wonderland," a movie involving an eccentric, intelligent young girl, her parents, and an insightful, sympathetic drama teacher. Here are some of things our friend says about the movie:
"The movie reveals the inner struggles of a young girl who knows she is different and doesn't know why she does the things she does... It is like no other movie that I've ever seen because of the reality that is portrayed by the characters, yet they don't tell you what her 'problem' is. My son and I saw it together and we both said we could relate to Phoebe and her mom, respectively... 2e folks will relate to all of the characters, especially Phoebe..." We checked the movie trailer and heard a great line from Phoebe's drama teacher: "At a certain point in your life, probably when too much of it has gone by, you will open your eyes and see yourself for who you are -- especially for everything that made you so different from all the awful normals."

TWO-DAY INSTITUTE ON 2e. Our friends at the University of Iowa's Belin-Blank Center inform us that they're hosting their fifth Advanced Leadership Institute this June 25th and 26th. Called "Twice-Exceptionality: Examined and Explained," the event is for those who interact with 2e kids as school administrators, educators, and parents. According to Belin-Blank, experts will discuss gifted learners who are also affected by autism spectrum disorders, specific learning disabilities, AD/HD, and hearing and/or visual impairments. Find more information. (If you're thinking of attending and like to stay at B&Bs, check out A Bella Vista, just blocks from the campus.)

DEBORAH RUF's EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS NEWSLETTER arrived today with a couple items that might be of interest to parents and educators of gifted/LD childen. First, an article by Dr. Ruf, "Independence and Relationship Issues in Intellectually Gifted Adolescents," is now available online at the site of Talent Development Resources. Ruf's goals with the paper: to "
review some of the issues of friendship and romance among extremely gifted adolescents and young adults; and two, [to] touch upon some ways parents and counselors can correctly guide adolescents toward appropriate friendships, romance, and independence." The newsletter also reminded us that Ruf publishes a blog; her most recent post is about boys and trouble in school, with the thesis that "boys in general are not as flexible, adaptive, or malleable as girls and they are more overtly harmed by the way we 'do school' than girls are." Find the blog.

PAIRINGS: AD/HD. Articles we discovered today reported on two separate links between AD/HD and other conditions. One link is between AD/HD and sleep problems in adolescents. A study reported in Science Daily shows that young people diagnosed with AD/HD are more likely to have current and future sleep problems and disorders. The researchers suggest that an AD/HD diagnosis should indicate screening for sleep problems and psychiatric comorbidities. Read the article. (We've mentioned other articles over the last several years on the same topic; find them at our site.) A second link reported is with hypertension; researchers presenting this week at a Pediatric Academic Society meeting noted that children with hypertension are four times as likely to have an LD or AD/HD. The researchers expressed concern that the rise of the incidence of obesity in U.S. children makes this connection especially important. Read more.

PAIRING: MENTAL HEALTH AND BULLYING/RACISM. Similarly, two articles this week noted links between bullying and racism and the mental health of young people. A USA Today article reports that children of color who perceive racist mistreatment are several times more likely to have symptoms of depression; read it. The second article, in Science Daily, notes that children who are bullied at school over several years are much more likely to develop psychotic symptoms in early adolescence; read it.

WRITTEN WORDS AND THE BRAIN. A study from Georgetown University reported in Science Daily finds that our brains process written words as unique objects, as "whole word units." Neurons in the left visual cortex show selective activation for individual words. This activation is presumably learned through experience, which means that the research has implications for the future detection, diagnosis, and treatment of reading disabilities such as dyslexia. One researcher is quoted as saying, "...we would expect reading difficulties if neurons never become well tuned to words, making reading a slow, arduous process, just like it would be if reading all nonwords." (This is exactly how we've heard dyslexic conference presenters describe their own experiences with reading.) Read the article.

WRIGHTSLAW'S SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE often contains information useful to those raising and educating 2e kids. The current edition of the newsletter focuses on the school consequences of behavior problems caused by disabilities, and those in the 2e community certainly know how outbursts, meltdowns, and the like can be associated with AD/HD, Asperger's, and sensory problems. One article in Special Ed Advocate covers the "manifestation determination review," a hearing involved in expelling a student for conduct-related issues. A key sentence in the article: "Consequences for problem behaviors should not discriminate against a child based on his disability." (Tell this to the 2e Newsletter subscriber whose son faced police charges as the result of an Aspie response to confrontation by a teacher.) Other current Wrightslaw articles cover what schools are required to do with regard to children's behavior problems; and how IDEA 2004 affects schools' abilities to suspend children with disabilities. Got a behavior-challenged 2e kid? Find Special Ed Advocate.