Thursday, September 30, 2010

LOTS OF AD/HD NEWS. UK scientists say that they have the first direct evidence that AD/HD is a genetic disorder. According to one of the researchers, "Now we can say with confidence that ADHD is a genetic disease and that the brains of children with this condition develop differently to those of other children." Find out more. In Attention Research Update, David Rabiner looks at a study linking western-style diet to the risk of AD/HD, and concludes that while a link exists, it can't be classified as "causal." Read his report. Finally, two articles appearing recently examined AD/HD in adults -- one in US News ("Can Your Relationship Survive AD/HD?") and one in Parade (Do You Have Adult AD/HD?"); we offer the latter two pointers because, as a subscriber once pointed out to us, "The apple never falls far from the tree."  :-)
PARENTS: MOTIVATED TO TEACH? A new US government website describes the rewards and challenges of teaching. As the parent of a 2e child, at the very least you'd bring a useful perspective to the profession. Find the site
WORRIED ABOUT CHILD SAFETY? Underwriter's Laboratories has released a list of the safest large cities for families with young children. According to the UL, if you live in one of the following places, you're in a top-10 safe city: 
  • Boston
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Minneapolis, Minn.
  • New York
  • Portland, Ore.
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Tampa, Fla.
  • Virginia Beach, Va.
The labs screened the 50 largest US cities. Read more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FIGHTING FOR FAPE -- AND WINNING. In May of 2009 we published a story in 2e Newsletter about a Texas family involved in a legal wrangle with the Klein ISD over the district's alleged failure to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for their twice-exceptional son, Per Hovem. The family prevailed in a due process hearing, in which the hearing officer ordered the school district to pay for the completion of the young man's high school education at Landmark School in Massachusetts, where his parents had already unilaterally enrolled him. The school district appealed the decision. Yesterday, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, agreed that Klein ISD had failed to provide a FAPE to the 2e student and ordered the district to reimburse the family for the educational expense at Landmark (but not for the residential expense). Excerpts from the decision:
  • "KISD determined that Per was eligible for special education services under the IDEA; it cannot excuse a failure to provided special related services addressing his unique needs merely because he is highly intelligent and ahead of many regular education students in his areas of strength.
  • "While KISD was clearly not required to cure or remediate Per’s learning disability, it was required to address his learning disability. Instead the record supports a finding that KISD ignored Per’s area of weakness and even chose to obscure it by highlighting Per’s success in areas not impacted by his learning disability.
  • "In sum, the Court finds that Per’s IEP at KISD was not reasonably calculated to provide him with some “meaningful” educational benefit, with progress which is neither trivial or de minimis, and ultimately a FAPE “tailored to the child’s unique needs by” means of an appropriate IEP."
No word at present on whether the school has or will use more legal avenues of appeal. Congratulations to Per's parents and attorneys.
BOSTON-AREA GIFTED EVENT. A variety Massachusetts gifted organizations are sponsoring an event on Sunday, October 17, at Boston University. Titled "Educational Forum for Intellectually Curious Students and their Families," the event will feature presentations (one on overexcitabilities and giftedness), roundtable discussions, an exhibit hall, and interactive activities for students. Find out more.
NEW JERSEY NEED FOR 2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL. A family in the South Orange area is looking for a 2e-friendly school for their six-year-old boy. We ask readers with suggestions to send them to us, and we'll forward them. Thanks!
REMEMBER THE VALUE OF A STANDOUT KINDERGARTEN TEACHER? The estimated value of a stand-out kindergarten teacher was estimated at $320,000, based in the increased later earnings of his or her students. We blogged about that on July 30th. The economist who derived that value has been awarded a MacArthur Genius Award. Find out more.

Monday, September 27, 2010

MENTORS AND MENTEES. That's the subject of several articles in the  newest issue of the Educators Guild Newsletter from the Davidson Institute. Included are an interview with a mentor to one of the 2010 Davidson Fellows, tips for students on finding a mentor, and a pointer to the 41-page document Mentorships: A Guidebook, from the Institute. See the newsletter.
HEALTHCARE REFORM CHANGES. Families of 2e children often depend on healthcare professionals for assistance in terms of diagnosis, medications, and therapies. On September 23rd, some of the U.S. healthcare reform changes went into effect. Changes affect preventive care, exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and lifetime limits. WebMD has posted a new section on the reform on their website; find it.
GRADE-SKIPPING is the topic of a Jay Mathews column in the Washington Post. Although it's now out of fashion, he's for it. He cites a Belin-Blank study on acceleration, and points out that acceleration could provide academic challenge in the absence of gifted education classes, which may face budgetary constraints. Read the column.
STRESS, DEVELOPMENT, AND DISORDERS. Researchers now say that stress can affect our bodies by altering gene activity, for example turning on genes that are supposed to be silent. This affects fetal development but also the body's functioning in later life. Find out more.
NEED A SERVICE ANIMAL FOR YOUR 2e CHILD? Regulations have changed, and CEC points out that the state of Florida has developed guidelines for evaluating requests for service animals. Find the CEC comment.
SCHOOL REFUSAL. We posted about this topic on September 16, but a recent Wall Street Journal article also covers the topic. As many as 28 percent of children may exhibit this behavior at one time or another, according to the article. If your 2e child is one of them, check out the article.
ON RTI. UCLA, in the newsletter Addressing Barriers to Learning, has published an article called "Moving Beyond the Three-tier Pyramid: Fitting RTI into a Comprehensive System of Student and Learning Support." And that title pretty much lets you know whether or not the article will be of interest to you; if so, find it here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE DUKE GIFTED LETTER for fall is out. Articles include:
LEFT BRAIN/RIGHT BRAIN. Bunk, says Daniel Willingham, drawing on a current article in the Psychological Bulletin that reviewed dozens of brain imaging studies of creativity. Creativity, supposedly a right-brain activity, turns out not to be well localized. While Willingham accedes to using  the terminology as shorthand, he'd like us to be more accurate when it comes to actually applying the concept. Read more.

TV'S "PARENTHOOD" AND ASPERGER'S. A Baltimore Sun columnist noted the return of NBC's series about a family in which a child has Asperger's, and consulted with an expert about the show's depiction. Read it.

BIPOLAR DISORDER AND COLLEGE. College can often "unleash" bipolar behaviors. CNN discusses stressors/triggers, consequences, and strategies. Find the article.

CONCUSSIONS. Yes, we've posted about it before, and yes, there have been many recent media pieces about the issue of concussions in young athletes -- but we feel compelled to note how concussions may affect your bright scholar/athlete. It turns out that the effects of concussions are long-lasting, and can affect areas of the brain associated with attention in particular, according to an article in The New York Times. The article raises the question of whether youngsters' resilience to many brain traumas holds true for the effects of concussions as well. Read the article. Separately, Education Week published an article on the same topic; find it.

FAPE. Read about it on the Wrightslaw website, in the most recent edition of Special Ed Advocate. Find out about "the legal concept of FAPE, who is responsible for providing a free, appropriate public education and what the courts have said about how it is delivered."

STRESSED AT 11 IN THE UK. Testing and pushy parents are leaving 11-year-olds in England and Wales stressed out, according to an article in the Daily Mail. The anxiety centers around a system of testing in science in use in those countries. Read more

FINAL SEVEN DAYS FOR FREE SHIPPING. Contact us if you haven't received notice of the "free shipping" offer for purchasers of the "Spotlight on 2e" series of booklets from Glen Ellyn Media, publisher of 2e Newsletter. The offer ends September 30th. Or find more information here

Happy change of season, wherever you might be. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

BULK UP THAT HIPPOCAMPUS. Kids who are more physically fit have a bigger hippocampus and perform better on memory tests. The hippocampus is a part of the brain important in learning and memory. Ergo, exercise can lead to better fulfillment of your bright child's potential. Find out more.

SENG WEBINAR. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted is sponsoring a free webinar "Family Event," intended for parents and children, or students and teachers, to watch together. The purpose of the Family Events: to give gifted children "relateable role models who have experienced great success in navigating the world as gifted individuals and implementing out-of-the-box thinking in their lives." The first event features Phil Gordon, former National Merit Scholar and renowned poker player. The webinar is on September 30 in the late afternoon/evening (or the middle of the night), depending on where you are. Find out more.

NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE. The substantial Magazine section of the Sunday New York Times, which we sometimes skip because we find it intimidating, last weekend featured education. Among the articles:
  • One on the LiveScribe pen that records sound along with what you write; we blogged about this recently (we say smugly)
  • One on the history of classroom technology, from the writing slate onward
  • One on using video games to teach
  • And one on how technology is "redefining what it means to be a student -- or a teacher.
Plus there are lots of other pieces with titles such as "Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter" and "Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind?" Be brave and find the Magazine section.

ON HEALTH, AND PUZZLED. We read about a hydration product approved by schools "across the country" for distribution because it is "free of sugar, calories, unnecessary additives and its proven commitment in the fight against childhood obesity." Well, that sounds like water, and indeed the product's name is a take-off on the word. Among the different variants of the product are one which is pure spring water (for the body) and another which is water with oxygen added (for energy). Other variants are for the brain (with electrolytes added) and for power (with magnesium). We wondered why kids would have to buy a hydration product when water was available in school. THEN we stumbled on other news, in the Los Angeles Times, about a bill to require California schools to offer free water with lunch. The problem: perhaps 40 percent of California schools do not provide access to free water where students eat. But will kids drink water that's not a "product" and slickly marketed? And will they drink anything that's not sweet or colored? Find the product website. Find the LA Times article.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WE RECENTLY TALKED TO A MOM of a 2e child who really didn't want to go to school because of challenges he faced there. A New York Times article deals with the issue of school refusal, or school avoidance. Sometimes the problem, says the article, can be traced to anxiety or depression, but there are many factors at play. Read the article.

OCD, TOURETTE'S -- parents who have bright kids with either of those conditions might be interested in recent articles on their basis and therapy, according to a piece in Science Daily. The entire current issue of Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology is devoted to the topics. Find the Science Daily piece, and from there the link to the Journal.

SPOTTING DEVELOPMENT, DISORDERS, IN CHILDREN'S BRAINS. Advances in interpreting data from brain scans may offer ways of detecting abnormalities in development. Researchers have constructed a "normal" development curve with which individual scans can be compared. Find out more.

WRIGHTSLAW AND IDEA. Here's what Wrightslaw promises in the current edition of Special Ed Advocate:
" will learn how to use IDEA and state academic standards as a tool to negotiate a better educational program and develop your child's IEP. Find out how to use IDEA and the No Child Left Behind Act to improve educational outcomes and results." Find the issue.

DIFFERENT LEARNERS, and how to teach them, is the topic of a new book by a Canadian educator. If you're looking for ways to motivate and engage learners who seem to struggle in "traditional" settings, find out more about the book and the author.

EDUTOPIA features three pieces on teaching to the individual -- two on differentiated instruction/personalized learning and one on "embracing individual smarts." Plus you can vote in a poll on whether multiple intelligences can be cultivated in one classroom. Find the issue.

COMPETITION FOR EDUCATORS -- specifically, for educators using UDL in the classroom. CEC describes the contest and how The National Center on Universal Design for Learning is soliciting entries from educators on the use of UDL. Find out more.

THE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER ISSUE of 2e Newsletter just was emailed to subscribers. If you're a paid subscriber and didn't get your copy, let us know.

CHECK DELICIOUS to find pointers to news items that didn't make it into this blog postings -- postings dealing with AD/HD, Tourette's, ASD, and more. Our Delicious bookmarks are here.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

FOLLOWING UP. Several mental health professionals took the time to write and respond to the recent article in The New York Times about the misdiagnosis and medication of a toddler, blogged about last week. Find the letters.

TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING. A Washington, DC, technology blog writes about a California school experiment with iPads that will replace algebra textbooks for 400 eighth-graders. One of the participants in the program is a textbook publisher. The iPads will offer access to digital versions of the textbook along with instructional videos. Read more, and consider the ramifications for differentiation for gifted and 2e students. Separately, Edutopia featured an article on integrating technology into elementary schools, and another on how technology can facilitate differentiation.

DYSLEXIC ACHIEVERS. Read about a congressman and about a researcher/computer expert who both relate their early struggles with dyslexia and how they persevered and overcame. Find the article. (And find another article on the topic in the upcoming issue of 2e Newsletter, out soon.)

CHICAGO-AREA WORKSHOP. School psychologist Michael Gladstein, featured in a recent issue of
2e Newsletter on the various professionals that can help families of 2e children, is presenting a workshop titled "Executive Function: Key Techniques to Improve School-related Behaviors." The workshop is to be held the evening of October 5th in the Park Ridge, Illinois, offices of Kinetic Konnections, the program's sponsor. A $10 fee will be donated to a worthy cause. Find out more by contacting the sponsor at

THE TEEN BRAIN. If you have a real interest in the teenage brain -- and we mean $175 worth of interest -- check out an NYT Knowledge Network course called "Exploring the Teenage Brain." The course lasts from September 20th until October 15th and involves weekly online live sessions as well as self-paced lessons. Find out more.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

COMMON WISDOM VERSUS COGNITIVE SCIENCE. That's the face-off described in an article titled "Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits" in The New York Times. Here are two examples from the article. Researchers have found that when children study in different places, rather than simply in one room, they learn better. And studying a variety of material in a single session, rather than concentrating on one topic, seems to work better. And then, of course, there's the issue of "learning styles." Find the article.

PUT YOUR HAND DOWN, SMARTY... and let one of the other kids answer the teacher's question. If the brightest kids in the class are forced to do that, a UK professor says, it can help the class as a whole learn more quickly. Find out more.

GENES, DOPAMINE, AND GPA. A Florida researcher has published a paper linking certain dopamine gene variations to grades, and the effects can be large. Says the researcher, "For example, the GPA of a student with specific variants of three dopaminergic genes might be around 2.8, versus a GPA of around 3.3 without the variants." Read more.

RESOURCES FROM AACAP. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, in response to the recent New York Times article we blogged about concerning a young child's misdiagnosis and over-medication, has listed some of its resources and guidelines for medications for young people. One is a "Practice Parameter on the Use of Psychotropic Medicine in Children and Adolescents"; find it here. For families, the Academy offers "Psychiatric Medication for Children and Adolescents," a three-part resource:
If you have a bright young person on meds, check these out.

"DARK" FICTION AND TEEN BRAINS. Got a gifted or 2e child who loves Harry Potter or Twilight? Over the weekend, Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss noted a conference at Cambridge University called "The Emergent Adult -- Adolescent Literature and Culture.” The conference was multidisciplinary in nature and focused on the effects of teenage fiction in many media -- effects that might be psychological, physiological, chemical, or sociological. Strauss did an email Q&A with the conference organizer to try to pin down some of the effects, in the process covering topics such as the "deep imprints" of dark fiction such as the Harry Potter series; possible negative effects; trends in young adult literature; and what parents should do about letting kids read the stuff (nothing except maybe discuss it with them). Read the column.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NEW AD/HD RESOURCE CENTER. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has just launched a resource center on AD/HD. The center includes sections for frequently asked questions; facts for families; video clips on certain AD/HD topics; pointers to clinical resources; pointers to research and training; books, and the importance of getting help, along with a list of child/adolescent psychiatrists by geographic area. The center joins others offered by AACAP in the areas of anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, depression, disaster, military families,and ODD. Find the centers.

TODDLERS ON ANTIPSYCHOTICS. By the time he was three, the subject of an article in The New York Times had five different diagnoses and five different medications. It all started with the toddler screaming, throwing objects, and even hitting his head on the wall or floor. But those behaviors prompted a pediatrician to apply a label of autism and prescribe Risperdal, an antipsychotic which has never been approved for children younger than five. And the diagnoses and drugs kept coming. Finally weaned off drugs at a university-affiliated program, he is now described by his mother as "an intelligent person. He’s loud. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s bouncy. I mean, there’s never a dull moment." He has even earned an "A" and praise from his kindergarten teacher. Read the article.

ADOLESCENT MINDFULNESS. It can help boys, according to a new study at the University of Cambridge, giving them "increased well-being, defined as the combination of feeling good (including positive emotions such as happiness, contentment, interest and affection) and functioning well." Read more.

FROM SHARPBRAINS come two new articles, one on why working memory matters in the knowledge age and the other on what everyone should learn about the brain.

NINE PERCENT DYSLEXIC. So says Dr. David Marks, Director of the Learning and Development Center at Mt. Sinai in New York, when it comes to the incidence of dyslexia in the general population. In an article in the New York Daily News, he defines dyslexia, gives signs and symptoms, describes traditional treatment and recent breakthroughs, and what parents can do in terms of questions to the doctor, communicating with school, and getting informed. Read the article.