Tuesday, November 30, 2010

EDUCATIONAL NEUROSCIENCE. A SharpBrains.com blog posting notes that teacher ed programs are now being encouraged to include neuroscience relating to child and adolescent development. The blogger then lists 24 books for educators and for general readers. Find the list.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. In November's edition of this e-newsletter, David Rabiner examines a study in which parents were enlisted as "friendship coaches" for their AD/HD offspring in the hopes of helping the children achieve greater social success. The study indicated that parent friendship coaching helped kids with AD/HD in their social skills and peer relations, although not to a "normal" -- non-AD/HD -- level. Read Rabiner's newsletter.
WRIGHTSLAW. A late November edition of Special Ed Advocate noted the 35th anniversary of IDEA and provided a history of the legislation. Find Special Ed Advocate.
EDUCATION WEEK CALENDAR. The bastion of education-related news Education Week encourages organizations to share upcoming events with them for possible inclusion in a variety of calendars appearing in Education Week, Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook, and edweek.org. The deadlilne for submissions is December 15. Find out more.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

GOT AN IEP for that bright but struggling child? Here's what Wrightslaw says about the IEP: "The success of your child's education may depend on how well you document what happens during the IEP process." This weeks' issue of Special Ed Advocate covers how to create a paper trail that supports your position. Find it
SHARE A SUCCESS STORY WITH CEC. CEC is the Council for Exceptional Children, with activities in both the area of special ed and the area of gifted ed. As part of its advocacy for stakeholders, CEC is looking for success stories from programs such as IDEA or Javits grants. Here's the back story, in words from a CEC solicitation for those stories: "Every year, CEC publishes the Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children, providing an overview of federally-funded programs - IDEA and Javits grants - that impact the lives of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. The Outlook is distributed to members of Congress, federal agencies, and other leaders in the education community with the hope that a better understanding of such programs will lead to increased federal funding for special/gifted education programs... Throughout the Outlook are personal stories and photos of children and youth participating in special education, early intervention, and gifted education programs across the country.  These success stories help put a human touch on the graphs and charts that typically illustrate the need for increased funding for programs such as IDEA and the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act." So if you have a twice-exceptional child or student who has benefited from IDEA or Javits funding, let CEC know. Read more about CEC's request here. Find a story submission form here

BELLYACHES IN KIDS. Are they real, especially in light of normal test results? Such a condition is called "functional abdominal pain, and some parents and clinicians may tend to write them off as imaginary. But a recent article suggests that some children may be especially sensitive to sensations transmitted by the enteric nervous system, which controls the gastro-intestinal tract. Further, such problems may be best treated through the brain -- by guided imagery, hypnosis, or even low doses of SSRI anti-depressants. If your bright child is troubled by bellyaches, check out the article

LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION AND THE BRAIN. The neural networks involved in language comprehension have been mapped using MRIs of brain-injured and normal subjects, and it turns out to be complex: "The network included a core region within the left mid-temporal lobe of the brain, and extended to the frontal and parietal cortex in both halves of the brain -- all connected by long distance communication pathways." Future studies will look at the networks involved in talking, reading, and writing. Read more.

CREATIVITY, PSYCHOPATHOLOGY. Scientific American teases us by posting part of an article called "The Mad Artist's Brain: The Connection between Creativity and Mental Illness." It turns out, according to a new study, that people who think in a divergent, out-of-the box fashion have lower dopamine receptor activity in the thalmus -- just as do people with schizophrenia. The article quotes the study author: "Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box.” Find the start of the article

GENES, NEUROTRANSMITTERS, AND INATTENTION. Researchers have discovered a gene that could lead to increased inattention by allowing competition between brain networks. Researchers say the gene is neither a cause nor a diagnostic marker for AD/HD, but that the gene's effects on neuronal signaling could help explain AD/HD. Find out more
CAFFEINE AND SUGAR WORK? SAY IT AIN'T SO! A recent study shows that caffeine and glucose combined can improve attention and working memory. Does this mean that the proverbial cup of coffee and a donut boost mental processing? Maybe -- glucose is the form of sugar that is "brain food," and it's a component of sucrose, or table sugar. Sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose in the stomach, and the resulting components rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine. Maybe your AD/HD kid who demands caffeine and sweets has a biological reason. Read more.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2e IN HARD TIMES. What do educational budget constraints mean for 2e students, students who are perhaps double vulnerable to losing support? 2e Newsletter editor Linda Neumann, in an article just published in Gifted Education Press Quarterly, thinks that some of the things that can benefit 2e learners don't necessarily require money. Find out what she thinks! Also in the issue: an article on empowering gifted students to create their own future -- instead of the one chosen for them -- by 2e Newsletter editorial advisory board member Joan Franklin Smutny. 


CYBERTHERAPY. In 2e Newsletter we've written about cyber abuse and cyber addiction; now comes cybertherapy in a variety of forms, according to an article in The New York Times. For example, a patient wearing a headset in which he sees a virtual audience can practice, with a human therapist's guidance, to dispel a fear of speaking. The US military uses the technique to treat PTSD. Virtual confidants can encourage self-disclosure, a crucial first element in therapy, perhaps funneling the confessor into therapy with a human. Researchers can even "insert" a treatment subject into the virtual body of someone who's old or of a different race to increase empathy. (Bully treatment, anyone?) Read the article


EDUCATION REFORM. If you're interested in the big picture of education reform in the United States, you might be interested in an interview with Arne Duncan, Department of Education head, in the Wall Street Journal. An excerpt sets the tone for his mission: "We're going to confront everybody and have been—including the unions. And everyone has to change, so anyone who thinks that unions are the only challenge is missing the boat. We have to challenge parents; we have to challenge students themselves; we have to challenge school-board members; we have to challenge politicians at the local, state and federal level." Find the article

CREATIVITY -- FROM COURTSHIP OR PARENTING? What fosters creativity in human evolution? Researchers hypothesize, based on a an experience such as Disneyland, that it could be a way to help parents bond with their children and to pass on traditions and cultural knowledge. Want to explore that idea? Do so here

GIVE THANKS. It's Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and Edutopia has a way for you to give thanks via Facebook or Twitter to an educator or colleague who has helped or inspired you. Here's what they say: "...we'd like to use this thread as a way for community members to thank another community member, colleague, student, parent, business/organization, administrator..and basically anyone else who's helped you stay in the profession you know and love." Find the thanks-giving page.

MORE ITEMS COMING SOON -- gotta go help with the Thanksgiving preparations. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

ATTENTION SPAN AND TECHNOLOGY, PART I. A looong article in The New York Times examines the effects of technology and immediate reward/feedback on young people. The issue: whether "developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention." The story profiles several students, including one "whose ability to be distracted by computers is rivaled by his proficiency with them"; his grades range from F to A. Also profiled: a young woman who sends and receives 27,000 texts a month. Find the article, and consider what it means for your twice-exceptional child or student.
ATTENTION SPAN AND TECHNOLOGY, PART II. Are attention spans increasing? Being diminished? A short essay in The New York Times Magazine considers "attention span." From the essay: "A healthy 'attention span' becomes just another ineffable quality to remember having, to believe you’ve lost, to worry about your kids lacking, to blame the culture for destroying." The author's conclusion? Find it.
AD/HD PERSPECTIVE. The author of the new book Buzz about herself and her son as the family dealt with his (and her) AD/HD wrote a column in the Washington Post summarizing some of her experiences and her opposition to the $5B "AD/HD-industrial complex." If you thought you spent a lot of time and money as you tried to deal with your gifted-AD/HD child, check out her column.
GIFTED COMPETITORS. The annual Siemens Foundation competition in math, science, and technology is coming to a close. Regional winners are being announced, and the final judging occurs on December 6th. If you'd like to read about some amazing young people and some amazing projects, check out a press release about regional winners from New York and Indiana; and see other press releases at the Siemens Foundation site. Separately, the Wendy's  High School Heisman competition, which recognizes high school seniors for excellence in academics, athletics, and leadership, has posted state winners at the competition's site
IDEA'S ANNIVERSARY. The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) is 35 years old, and the U.S. Education Secretary expressed his commitment to it while also acknowledging that not every child with a disability gets a "world-class education."  Read more. Separately, an Education Week writer notes that the number of students identified with specific learning disabilities has dropped in recent years; find out how and why

Saturday, November 20, 2010

MORE ON GIFTEDNESS FROM THE GLOBE AND MAIL. A few days ago we noted an article on giftedness appearing in the Toronto Globe and Mail. It turns out that the article was one of a series run by the paper during the week. See the latest article, with links to the others.
ARTISTIC DYSLEXICS. LD Online pointed us to a brief piece in the UK Daily Telegraph linking the artistic success of Da Vinci and Picasso to dyslexia. The article referred to a Middlesex University study testing the visuo-spatial ability of dyslexic and non-dyslexic subjects. Read more. (So how valid are these posthumous diagnoses?)
NEWS FROM SENG. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted has published an interview with psychiatrist Mark Goulston on parenting gifted children, including consideration of the children's social-emotional needs. Find out about "empathy jolts," "power thank you's," power apologies," and more. In addition, SENG has announced an upcoming webinar from Victoria Ragsdale, titled "Is it a Gift or a Curse? What it means to be an outlier and what to do about it." Find out more. Finally, the organization has also posted an article about gifted homeschooling, in which the author presents her "top ten reasons" she's glad she homeschooled.
THE DIANE REHM SHOW: ANXIETY DISORDERS. A recent edition of this NPR program covered anxiety disorders, a topic we know is of interest to the readers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. Here's the blurb: "Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting children and adults. Yet out of the estimated forty million American’s suffering from it, only about a third receives treatment. The latest in research, treatment and education of this illness, and how to distinguish a disorder from everyday anxiety." Guests in the discussion include highly credentialed psychiatrists and researchers. Find it. Also of note: many listener comments posted at the site.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CHILDHOOD MENTAL DISORDERS and how we perceive them -- and react to them -- is the topic of an essay by a child psychiatrist at the Huffington Post site. The writer notes how we may try denial, shame, or blame instead of acceptance. The writer says: "If we embrace the reality of childhood psychiatric disorders and then refuse to judge and blame each other for them, we will be far more successful in reducing the suffering of kids and families, improving prevention efforts, and removing the barriers to treatment." Find the essay.  
PROBLEM VIDEO GAMERS -- 5%. That's the figure given in the aftermath of a study of 4,000 Connecticut high school video gamers. The signs of problem gaming were " having an irresistible urge to play, trying and failing to cut down on gaming, and feelings of tension that could only be relieved by playing." Read the article. (The current issue of 2e Newsletter carries an article by Kevin Roberts on cyber addiction -- what it is and how to deal with it.)
TALK VERSUS MEDS FOR PEDIATRIC ANXIETY. An fMRI scan may be able to differentiate kids who will benefit from talk therapy for pediatric anxiety and thus may not need medications. The difference: "children and adolescents, ages 8 to16, who show fear when looking at happy faces on a screen inside an fMRI scanner were those who had least success with an eight-week course of cognitive behavioral therapy." This was compared to kids who showed fear while looking at fearful faces. If you've got a bright but anxious kid, read more.
GIFTEDNESS -- LABEL, DOWNSIDES. An article in the Toronto Globe and Mail warns that both gifted programs and giftedness itself can have downsides. The article invokes Carol Dweck and her warning that the label can imply something bestowed rather than to be earned, and notes how accompaniments of giftedness -- high sensitivity, asynchrony, dealing with expectations -- can sometimes be troublesome. Find the article.
GIFTED IN MATH. Danielle Wang of Campbell, California, won the $25,000 prize for first place in the second annual Advantage Testing Foundation Math Prize for Girls competition on Saturday, November 13. Ms. Wang, an eighth-grader enrolled in the California Virtual Academy, received the top score on the 150-minute exam for high school girls. Find out more about the contest.
OPINIONS WANTED. A 2e Newsletter subscriber is looking for opinions on three books she's considering for purchase, wanting to know if others in the 2e community are familiar with them and have found them useful. The books are:
Got an opinion to share? Let us know. Thanks!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION. The New York Times ran a column the other day that wasn't about giftedness, or LDs, or even about the nuts and bolts of education. It was about power and politics versus accountability and coherent management -- in education, specifically in the New York City school system. The occasion was the departure of Joel Klein as chief of that system, and the venue was a column by a business writer for the Times. We have generally ignored the New York City schools as we have blogged and published the newsletter over Klein's tenure; little of what we read seemed relevant. The Times column, however, gave a different perspective to how we can look at education, and  at how a leader who believed "in the transformative power of education" (and who took the job with no preset ideas) could try to fix a broken system. Some of the lessons mentioned do apply to the education of that twice-exceptional child you know. You may find the column at the Times site
PARENTS' STRESS -- EFFECT ON KIDS. While parents may think that the stress they undergo has little or no effect on their children, offspring of those parents will indicate that they notice, and that the stress bothers them. About one-third of the chldren surveyed reported stress symptoms themselves as a result of parental difficulties, according to a Wall Street Journal article. Read more, and don't underestimate the effect of your problems on your children.   
UNIVERSITIES RANKED. The website StateUniversity.com has listed the top 2000 universities. The top three are MIT, Standford, and California Institute of Technology. Some of the ranking factors that might be relevant to 2e applicants include ACT/SAT scores of attendees, student retention, and student/faculty ratio. You may find the ranking and information about how the schools are scored at that website.
GIFTED ATHLETE, GIFTED STUDENT. A pre-med student at Stanford who got straight A's last spring is also the only two-way (offense and defense) starter in Division I college football. His coach, former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, describes Own Marecic as "the football player I always wanted to be," according to an article in The New York Times. While  his parents worry about the possibility of concussions, Marecic says that he's having "the time of his life." Read the article.
BRAIN CONNECTIONS IN AUTISTICS. Autism Speaks has funded research into brain research on autism, and the results of one of those studies, recently published, indicates that the brains of autistic persons show differences in the way neurons and axons connect different parts of the brain. In autistic brains, some neurons branch more by way of axons, leading to more "local" connections as opposed to "long-distance" connections to other parts of the brain. Read more about the findings and a  hypotheses stemming from the study.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

EPIGENETICS AND  MENTAL DISORDERS. The New York Times wrote about how environment and experience affect the function of genes in allowing -- or not allowing -- the expression of  mental disorders. For example, well-mothered rats alters genetic expression in offspring to better handle stress. If you're interested in how experience and environment may affect the development of your children, read the article.
ART CHASING LIFE. The television show "Parenthood" features a family in which an 8-year-old boy has Asperger's, which evidently is a focus of the program. Disability Scoop recently ran an interview with Max Burkholder, the young actor who plays the Aspie. Burkeholder tells how he's like the character and not, and how he preps for the part. Find the interview.
VISUAL VERSUS SPATIAL. Scientific American examines the topic of spatial intelligence, noting how in one long-ago study of genius two future Nobel prize winners were excluded because their IQ scores didn't place them in the top 1 percent. The article says that a possible explanation is that the Stanford-Binet IQ test, along with others, fails to recognize spatial ability, critical to engineering and science. The authors contend that "Due to the neglect of spatial ability in school curricula, traditional standardized assessments, and in national talent searches, those with relative spatial strengths across the entire range of ability constitute an under-served population..." Find the article.
STUDY AID. Scientific American also carries news that indicates a light electrical current applied to the right place in the skull can improve numerical learning. Apply it to the other side of the skull and subjects experience a fall in the ability. Is this math aid for your bright student? Find out more.
LANG SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE. The evening of November 18, the Lang School for 2e children in New York City will host an open house for parents and professionals with an interest in learning more about the school. Find more information at the school's website
HOMEWORK HELPERS. As The New York Times notes, "some harried parents with cash to spare have been turning to homework helpers who teach organizational skills and time management, or who sometimes just sit there until the work is finished." Want to know more? Read the article.
NUTRITION, EXERCISE. Want to know how your family stacks up against others when it comes to nutrition and physical activity. Do your children recognize what they should be eating most of ? How often to yiou eat out? Find out where you stand (or sit) with the results of an American Dietetic Association study.
AD/HD. Three items noted in LD Online's email newsletter concern AD/HD: a report that the number of AD/HD children in the US has risen by about a million over the past few years, and the consequences; an op-ed piece in the LA Times where a mother reacts to research indicating that AD/HD may be genetic; and a story titled "The Inner Life of AD/HD," where teens with AD/HD share what it's like to have it.
LD AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. There's a link. While only about 4 percent of children have hypertension, those who do are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with AD/HD or LDs. Read the article.
INSPIRATION FOR TEACHERS. At Edutopia.org, a teacher points out how the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lectures can inspire, giving links to some particular examples. The breadth of the lectures is likely to mean that parents will find inspiring, relevant lectures as well. Find the teacher's article. Find the main TED site.

Monday, November 8, 2010

EFFECTIVE CHILD-REARING. An article in Scientific American Mind provides an analysis of effective child-rearing practices. Researchers distilled 10 skill sets from the "literature," then surveyed 2000 parents to determine which skills are most important  in "bringing up healthy, happy, and successful kids," according to the article. Number one: giving love and affection. Numbers two and three: managing stress and having a good relationship with the other parent. Low on the list: the use of behavioral management techniques, a finding that makes us personally happy because we never did as much of that as we thought we should. You can read some of the article at the SciAm Mind site.
MORE ON PARENTING. Science Daily points us to research showing that parents' efforts in educating their children is more important than efforts by the school or by the children themselves. The study also found that the socio-economic status of parents has an effect on the effort a school puts out. Read more.
ACCOMMODATIONS FOR ACT, SAT. If your gifted/LD child needs accommodations for college entrance exams such as the SAT or the ACT, check out an article in The New York Times, called "Accommodations Angst." The article provides statistics on the percentage of accommodation requests approved by the College Board and ACT. You'll also find background on the law and disability rights, plus some tips on how to gain the accommodations your child might need and deserve. Find the article.
VIDEO RESOURCE. The UC-Davis MIND Institute offers free online videos on a variety of topics of interest to those who raise, educate, and counsel twice-exceptional children. Topics include AD/HD, advocacy, ASD, assistive technology, learning disorders, treatment/therapy/intervention, and more. For example, under the topic "learning disorders," a visitor can choose from videos with titles such as:
  • Functional Brain Imaging Studies of Reading and Reading Disabilities
  • The Linguistic Basis of Reading Disabilities
  • Assessing Communication Skills of Young Children with Multiple Disabilities/Sensory Impairments: An Interdisciplinary Approach
The videos are presented by a variety of professionals; most are at least an hour long. Find the videos
NEW YORK SPD WORKSHOP.  Parents of children with a sensory processing disorder (SPD) and clinicians treating children with a SPD can learn about the latest research and treatment techniques at a full-day workshop to be held at Columbia University's Faculty House in Manhattan on December 3. The workshop will teach parents and clinicians how to create a tailored sensory experience for children, movement skills in the school and home environment and offer tips on seeking funding for the child's treatment. The workshop will also be available in Philadelphia. More information.
FAST FOOD AND YOUR CHILD. USA Today reported on research done by Yale University on nutrition and fast food. [That might be an oxymoron.] Research covered 3000 kids' meal combinations served up by eight chains. The findings: only a dozen or so of those meals are healthful. Read the USA Today article. Or, find out a lot more about the topic at the Fast Food Marketing site.

Friday, November 5, 2010

AUTISM'S FIRST CHILD -- That's the title of an article in Atlantic Magazine about the first person to receive that diagnosis, in a medical article in 1943. The writers of the Atlantic article tracked down Donald Triplett, the boy who was the subject of the article, to see what his life was like. The result is an engaging and enlightening piece. Find it.
PERCEPTIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESS. A survey reported in the Los Angeles Times sheds light on peoples' perceptions of those with mental illness and on how comfortable people are in associating with those with mental illness. There's been increased "enlightenment" in some ways -- but social stigma is largely unchanged. Find the article.
CHILDHOOD STRESS AND LATER DEPRESSION may be linked, according to a study reported in Science Daily. Researchers have noted that elevated stress levels in adolescence, as measured by the amount of the hormone cortisol, doubles the risk of developing a serious mood disorder as a young adult. Find the writeup.
DEFINITION OF GIFTED. Ever wonder how "gifted" is defined? This year, the National Association for Gifted Children revised their definition. You may find that definition, along with some implications of giftedness, on the organization's website.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

THE GOVERNOR'S RACE IN CONNECTICUT is a win-win situation in one respect; no matter which candidate is elected, Republican or Democratic, the outcome will change perceptions of disabilities. The Democratic candidate is dyslexic, and according to an article in the Norwich Bulletin was labeled mentally retarded as a child. The Republican candidate has a form of facial paralysis, which he does not consider a disability but which he says has increased his awareness of the effects of disability. Read the article.
SENG WEBINAR. The next webinar from the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted is titled "Existential Depression in Gifted Children and Adults," and will be presented on November 18th  by James T. Webb, SENG's founder and head of Great Potential Press. Find out more.
DYSLEXIA-FRIENDLY READING PROGRAM. An Arizona school district intends to reduce the number of students in special-ed programs by using a "dyslexia-friendly" phonics-based reading curriculum. The twist? All students are taught using the curriculum. Find out more.
EARLY INTERVENTION IN AUTISM. The New York Times described the adaptation of an autism therapy originally designed for toddlers to be applied to infants as young as six months. The intent: to intervene as early as possible, preventing off-course development that prevents the infant from learning to read faces and learning emotional cues. "Infant Start" is a pilot program, hampered by the lack of a formal diagnosis for autism before age 2; but it could lead the way to more formal, randomized trials. Read the article.
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