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 Delicious.com 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.

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