Sunday, June 28, 2009

From the Week of June 29th

SAY IT AIN'T SO! Seems like as long as we've been doing 2e Newsletter we've reported on the yearly battles to maintain Javits GT education funding in the U.S. budget. We assumed things would improve with the new administration, but NAGC reports that President Obama's 2010 budget eliminates the token amount ($11 million) that is the benchmark for the program's funding. If you're not tired of advocating for this funding, go to NAGC's site to see what you can do.

SPREADING THE WORD, ONE MEDIA OUTLET AT A TIME. The site of News Channel 5 in Tennessee has a piece introducing the concept of "twice exceptional" to its audience. We can't claim any of the credit for it, but it's great to see spreading awareness of the challenges faced by our gifted, LD kids. Find the article.

VALEDICTORY TIME. Find out what's on the mind of seven gifted high school students in New York City as they prepare to get on with their lives, courtesy of
The New York Times. Of note: four of the seven are from immigrant families. One student's response to a question about how it feels to graduate and embark on the rest of your life, answerable in one word, said: "Finally?" Read it.

2e IN CANADA. At the Canadian Parents website is a forum called "Gifted and Learning Disabilities?" Not sure why the question mark is there, maybe forum members are still not convinced it's possible (any answers on that from Canada? :-) ), but we know our Canadian friends are eager for 2e news and resources in their fair country. Find the forum, which is a subset of a "Bright and Gifted Children" area.

PLACEBO IN KIDS CHANGES CAREGIVER BEHAVIOR. Science Daily reports a study showing that parents and educators who assume a child is receiving stimulant medication for AD/HD tend to view those children more favorably and treat them more positively -- regardless of whether the children were actually medicated. So instead of "seeing is believing," we have "assuming is believing." Find the article.

MORE NEWS as the week goes on...

Monday, June 22, 2009

From the Week of June 21st

"BEST BLOGS." We're pleased to be included in the Doctors Eide's picks for "Top 10 Dyslexia Blogs" at Go there to see the rest of the list. Also at right now, a list of "10 Best Brain Blogs." Find it. By the way, if you haven't visited the Eides' "Dyslexic Advantage" blog lately, it's been much expanded since it opened a short while ago; go there.

A MOM RECOUNTS: TWO 2e DAUGHTERS. In the online Daily Kos (the source of the name is a long story, Google it), a mother blogs about her two 2e daughters and their experiences as they grew up
in different school districts in Texas. Some familiar situations for 2e parents, but also some surprises. Read it.

ON THE CASE. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday, June 22nd, involving tuition reimbursement for a child who a district never found eligible for special ed services and never provided any; the parents unilaterally withdrew their child, placed the child in a private school, and requested reimbursement from the public school district. Shortly after the decision, Pete and Pam Wright of Wrightslaw issued a review of the decision along with supporting documents. Got issues with whether your school district is providing a FAPE for your twice-exceptional child?
Go to Wrightslaw. [UPDATE 1: The New York Times and Education Week also reported on the decision.] [UPDATE 2: CEC, the Council for Exceptional Children, later in the week issued a statement expressing concern with the Supreme Court's decision. From the statement: "
Unilateral placement lawsuits are expensive and divert much needed resources from classrooms to private schools. Moreover, this ruling may encourage parents to bypass the IEP process entirely." Read it.]

ADVOCATING FOR PRIVATE PLACEMENT. Coincident with the Supreme Court decision, this week's issue of Special Ed Advocate from Wrightslaw carries a story of a mother's experience in documenting her case, using advocacy skills, and winning a private placement for her autistic son. Also in the newsletter -- how to create a paper trail. Find Special Ed Advocate.

FAPE-RELATED LEGALITIES IN MILWAUKEE. The Milwaukee Public School System has been ordered to search for students from 2000 to 2005 who should have received special ed services but didn't, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The object: providing compensatory services to the students if necessary. Find the article.

ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE for June has been posted by David Rabiner on his website. In this issue, Rabiner reports on a study indicating that fluid IQ -- our ability to adapt our thinking to new situations -- is improved by working memory training. Find the review.

ADVICE FOR THE GIFTED. In her most recent posting on "Unwrapping the Gifted," gifted educator Tamara Fisher offers high-ability kids some of the same advice she gives her own students -- "Ask for help," for example, "Love hard work," and more. Find the blog.

SILLY BUT CERTAINLY QUALIFYING AS DISPLAYS OF GIFTEDNESS... as well as displays of several varieties of "intelligence." The manufacturer of Duck brand duct tape sponsored a contest called "Stuck at Prom" for 2009 high school prom attendees who wear "complete attire or accessories made from duct tape." Judging is on the basis of workmanship, originality, color, accessories, and, to stimulate the economy, "quantity of duct tape used." The prizes: scholarships. The company has posted pictures of the finalists and urges site visitors to vote for their favorites. If nothing else, these kids are creative (not to mention industrious; according to the pictures, one couple spent 700 hours on the project, using 40+ rolls of tape). Enjoy the finalists.

MORE NEWS AND RESOURCES as we find them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From the Week of June 14th

CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY can make a difference for many gifted students who have receptive or expressive difficulties -- and the tech-savvy teacher can use technology to engage learners in new ways. Education Week is hosting a free online chat called "Cutting Edge Classroom Technology" next Tuesday, June 23rd. We don't know if they'll cover assistive technology, but if tech in the classroom interests you, it might be worth checking out. Find out more. (To save time, consider accessing the chat transcript after the event to find topics of particular interest to you. For example, see the transcript of a recent Education Week chat with Carol Ann Tomlinson on differentiated instruction. The down side: you lose the chance to ask questions.)

HARD WORK EXEMPLIFIED. Anyone with an LD or other cognitive/emotional obstacle to learning has to work harder than his or her peers in order to achieve. The Washington Post carried a story about a young man with TBI and his efforts to graduate from high school and enter college. Although many of his grades were Cs and Ds, he excels in a couple special areas of interest, one of which is history. According to the article, he scored a near-perfect score on a statewide history exam; "I did it with my eyes closed." Find the article.

WE DO THIS FOR YOU. Since it seems to be a slow week news-wise, let us pass on some of the world-shaking information we find in the press releases we read daily in our attempts to find items of interest on giftedness, twice-exceptionality, LDs, education, parenting, and so forth. Over the last few days we've learned:
  • That Tropicana thinks we should get more fruit in our diets, scolding us that seven in ten American adults don't get their daily four servings. Are they genuinely concerned for our health?
  • That "summer is here," lately the lead sentence in many press releases. Zzzzz.
  • And, finally, that California's Hughes-Elizabeth Lakes Union Elementary School District has selected Forsythe Transportation to provide bus service (honestly!). And you thought you were well-informed.
We won't even bore you with all of the releases that start, "Today, [Company Name], the leading provider of [some product or service], announced [a self-serving initiative to make more money while seeming to do public good]."

EVENT ALERT. Over on the right side of this screen is a listing for a June 18th Webinar featuring expert on 2e Mary Ruth Coleman. The Webinar is hosted by Our Gifted and Talented Online Conferences, courtesy of admin and owner Sally_L, who plans to donate proceeds from the event to establish a scholarship for a grad student in gifted education with a special interest in twice-exceptionalities. The event will be this Thursday morning, but it will be recorded and accessible to registered participants for three weeks afterward, so you can time-shift if you like. If you're interested in this event, check it out and register at the OGTOC site, then go join that organization's online social networking site to receive event information and take advantage of the other features of the site.

NO SERVICES FOR YOU -- JUST TRY HARDER. An occupational therapist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area writes in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the plight of kids with "soft" developmental disabilities. She tells of working with kids with average or above-average intelligence (and even those whose IQs astound her), kids who look and act okay and whose teachers feel should just try harder. The author notes the self-reinforcing spiral of poor achievement, poor self-esteem, and helplessness. One of her calls to action: "We are a use-and-toss society. We cannot afford to use and toss children who learn differently." Read the article.

GOT A GIFTED KID ON AD/HD MEDS? WORRIED? The U.S. FDA recommends that people continue taking stimulant meds even though a new study showed an increased incidence of sudden death in children taking the meds. According to the The Wall Street Journal, limitations in the study affect the conclusions which may be drawn. Read the article.

MORE ITEMS (if we don't die suddenly from Ritalin) as the week goes on...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

From the Week of June 7th

GIFTED EDUCATION QUARTERLY'S Maurice Fisher is the subject of an interview at Fisher talks about starting the publication, the current issue, and his choices for topics which need more discussion in the area of gifted education. Find the interview.

FOLLOW-UP. Our posts during the week of May 17th included one about three high-achieving Emanuel brothers, one of whom, Ari, has AD/HD and dyslexia. A New York Times article this week profiling Ari includes mention of the difficulties and quotes Ari as saying that, for dyslexics, efforts to overcome their disabilities
“actually provides them with insight to find inventive solutions to life and in business that others when they’re in those situations probably never find." The article also mentions a YouTube video in which Emanuel discusses his dyslexia. Find the article (it's mostly on Emanuel's business activities). Find the YouTube video (Ari is about 5 minutes into the video).

FOR PARENTS. The issue of the extent of parental control exists in any parent/child relationship, but with gifted children it may take on additional significance. A movie called "Vitus" portrays a young man who is intellectually and musically gifted. His parents put a lot of pressure on him in terms of how he should use his gifts; and Vitus' reaction to that pressure is at the crux of the movie. From a review in the Los Angeles Times: "
It's admittedly cynical and materialistic when it comes to some of the things Vitus uses his brilliance for, but its warmth and allure takes your mind off its baser instincts. So few films successfully capture the wonders of childhood or the challenges faced by families with gifted children." Read the review. Your amateur movie critics at 2e Newsletter recommend this movie.

DO YOU FOLLOW HIGH SCHOOL RANKINGS? Newsweek has issued its annual ranking of public high schools; find it.

PROFOUNDLY GIFTED? Check out the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted (PEG) at Mary Baldwin College. But be forewarned, it's for young women only. The typical student starts after middle school and graduates in four years. An article in Education Week describes the program; find it.

MORE ON MUSIC THERAPY. You might remember two mentions of music as therapy in previous posts. An article in the New York Daily News describes how one doctor contends that music can help people with different kinds of brain damage and conditions such as autism and AD/HD through such effects as establishing new pathways, increasing dopamine production, or coordinating areas of the brain. Read it.

ADAPTING TO LEARNING PROBLEMS. One of the lead paragraphs in an article in the Pennsylvania Patriot-News went like this: "'She seemed to struggle and yet was so very bright,' said Jenny Rubin of Harrisburg. 'On one of her first spelling tests, all the words were correctly spelled but were mirrored letters.'" The article went on to discuss parents' reactions to the discovery of LDs, reading problems and interventions, and how kids can adapt or overcome such problems. Find the article.

EXERCISE AND LEARNING. Exercise helps students in lots of ways, and here's a kernel from an article in Edutopia that says it all. "Not only can regular workouts in the gym or on the playground improve attention span, memory, and learning, they can also reduce stress and the effects of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and even delay cognitive decline in old age." Find out more at Edutopia.

EEG TO DIAGNOSE AD/HD? We've mentioned in previous posts that most doctors don't recommend brain imaging as a diagnostic tool, but that may be changing. An article in MIT's Technology Review describes a product from an Israeli company that builds on recent enhancements in the technology to detect brain patterns characteristic of conditions such as stroke victims and individuals with AD/HD. The company hopes to have a product ready for clinical use in 18 months. Read the article.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From the Week of May 31st

GIFTEDNESS, SCHOOL, AND PERSONALITY TYPES. Deborah Ruf, whose Minnesota company Educational Options evaluates and assesses gifted children, has posted three of her articles on personality type and the school environment, according to her e-newsletter. The articles are:
You may sign up for the Educational Options newsletter here.

FIGHTING FOR FAPE, REDUX. In the May/June issue of 2e Newsletter we published an article about a family fighting their school district for reimbursement for private education, contending that the school failed to properly educate their son. The New York Times now informs us that a similar case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In it, the family contends that the school denied special education services even though the child was never evaluated for AD/HD. The school says
, cleverly, that because the child did not receive those services they are not required to reimburse the family for private education. Read more.

READING ABOUT EXCEPTIONALITIES. CEC SmartBrief pointed out to us that Publisher's Weekly just posted an article titled "Special Books for Special Needs." Along with two books addressing giftedness, the list includes books dealing with autism and Asperger's, OCD, AD/HD, and sensory integration issues. Find the article.

DISCLOSING DISABILITY. What to say, when to say it, who to say it to, and what not to say -- every parent of exceptional or twice-exceptional kids faces disclosure issues. On a site called Disability Scoop, a parent and therapist offers tips. Find it.

NEURAL GAMMA OSCILLATIONS. If you liked our item called "On the Matter of Attention"
on the role of gamma waves in attention from the week of May 10th, check out a new article in Science Daily on the same topic -- gamma oscillation, attention, and intra-brain communication. Read it.

WORKING MEMORY PRIMER, STUDY. If working memory is an issue with that gifted child you know, check out an article on the topic at According to the article, one in 10 students may have difficulties with working memory. The article covers the study findings and how working memory affects academic performance. Read it.

EDUWONK. There's a website by that name, and we like the connotation. If you're the type who might fit the label, check out "The Condition of Education 2009," just published by the U.S. Department of Education and brought to our attention by Education Sector, the owner of The report summarizes developments and trends based on 46 indicators, the indicators being "
a consensus of professional judgment on the most significant national measures of the condition and progress of education for which accurate data are available," according to the website. Go there and dig deep!

MORE NEWS as we find it...