Friday, February 25, 2011

ENCOURAGE AN ASPIE by showing him a great piece from the opinion pages of The New York Times, written by an oncologist in Kuala Lumpur who provides "an alternate view."  Based in self-awareness and empathy, the piece is a great example of insight, self-acceptance, and comfort. "You are different and you are special," says the column. "Many proud Aspies and I stand with you. You are not alone." Find it.
ASPIE HIGH-TECH COMPANY. Aspiritech, a Chicago-area software testing firm, hires Aspies exclusively, according to ZDNet. The article recounts the traits that would seem to lead to success in technology and software development. Read the article.
SEROTONIN AND ASPERGER'S. Is there a pattern to this post? Just chance. A third item on Asperger's that came to our attention today is the role that serotonin plays in autism. Apparently 30 percent of autism cases have "a serotonin component" which may be helped with the medication busprione, which is usually used for anxiety and depression. Find out more about how the drug helps social interaction (in mice, anyway).
MENTAL HEALTH IN INFANTS AND TODDLERS can be an issue because of the notion that these children do not develop disorders, or will grow out of them. Either trauma or the stress of everyday life can cause problems, according to an article at PsychCentral, which recommends early screening and increased training of healthcare and education professionals to recognize and deal with infant/toddler mental health issues. Find the article.
CEC ON U.S. EDUCATIONAL FUNDING. Watching the action in the Congressional sandbox as the players cut funds and restore, posture and obfuscate, and get very little done at all? The Council for Exceptional Children has just posted its analysis of the current House Funding Bill, which restored IDEA funding -- but cut half a billion from other education programs to do so. Read more, and watch your blood pressure.
AND FINALLY, THIS. Got a happy kid? She or he will more likely be a happy adult. Sounds reasonable, but now there's evidence to back it up. Find out more.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

THE TRANSIENCE OF AD/HD. Is it permanent and lifelong? Transient? Something in between? A study reported in Scientific American Mind indicates that more than half of children diagnosed with hyperactive AD/HD or inattentive AD/HD did not qualify for a diagnosis at a two-year follow-up. For children with combined-type AD/HD, between 18 and 35 percent lost their diagnosis. You can read part of the article at the SciAm Mind site
AD/HD SCHOLARSHIP. We recently saw notice of the Novotni College Scholarship available for college students with AD/HD, issued by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association. You may find more information about this and other AD/HD-related scholarships at or at the site of the woman for whom the scholarship is named. Application deadline: March 15.
SENSORY INTEGRATION RESOURCE. If your bright young person has sensory integration issues, you might be interested in a free e-newsletter from S.I. Focus Magazine. Check it out.
GIFTED EDUCATION, DOWN THE TUBES. Budget cuts are affecting the world of gifted education, as evidenced by an article in The New York Times last Saturday. We all want that "Sputnik moment" President Obama referred to -- but evidently we don't want to (or can't) pay for it. Read more about funding for gifted education across the country.
GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. On the other hand, Maurice Fisher's newsletter on the topic is still free, and he's just released the Spring issue of this 25-year-old publication. In it: an excerpt from a book co-authored by Susan Assouline on the topic of the development of mathematical talent; and an article titled "Why Gifted Students Need Trained Gifted Teachers." Find the newsletter.
NOT PAYING ATTENTION. We recently pointed to an item in Scientific American on how the wandering mind has led to historical creative breakthroughs. Now comes an article on the same topic in the Wall Street Journal, noting the link between daydreaming and creativity. Part of the article relates how AD/HD kids actually turn out to be more likely to be creative in terms of being recognized at art shows or science fairs. It turns out that being distractible and having a high IQ leads to open-mindedness and problem-solving ability. Read more.
BIOMARKER FOR AUTISM? ABC News reports on a study of brain waves in infants that indicates a distinctive pattern of waves in babies who might be at a higher risk for the disorder -- eg, who have older siblings with the diagnosis. Find out more.

Friday, February 18, 2011

IDENTIFYING AD/HD. Researchers are getting closer to finding biomarkers that will identify those with AD/HD; up until now, we've used observations of behavior. An article in Education Week discusses two recent studies showing physiological differences between children with AD/HD and without. Both studies tracked hand movements; the second one, according to a researcher, may be a quantifiable measure of the disinhibition of behavior and concentration. Find the article.
LANGUAGE AFFECTS MATH? Also in Education Week, an article notes a connection between language skills and the ability to understand math concepts. The connection begins with -- bear with us -- deaf Nicaraguan adults who did not know a formal sign language compared to those who did know such a language, and their respective math skills. Researchers abstracted their findings to kids with certain language disorders along with math difficulties. Find out more.
LD: "LEARNING DIVERSITY," not "learning disability." That term cropped up in an article in the Massachusetts South Coast Today. The article was on dyslexia and featured the director of the Sally Borden School at Friends Academy, who provided a snapshot of kids with dyslexia and also of ways to help them read and learn. The author, a developmental psychologist and professor, offers his own advice at the end of the article to parents observing their child's development. Read more.
EDUCATIONAL VIDEO GAMES. What would they look like? Read an expert's opinions.
MISSED THIS WHEN IT APPEARED. An article in the Wall Street Journal during January covered the use of electricity in treating mental conditions such as depression, OCD, panic, schizophrenia, addictions, and memory problems. Learn about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Deep Brain Stimulation, and Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation at the Journal's site. Separately, you may find links to two additional articles on deep brain stimulation for depression here and here.
FROM UC DAVIS MIND INSTITUTE: The January Distinguished Lecturer event was on pediatric anxiety, and is available by video at the Institute's site. Warning: The content looks heavy; read the abstract here.
AND FINALLY, THIS. Got a wandering mind, or a gifted kid with a wandering mind? Check out a slide-show feature at relating a few great achievements that sprang from daydreaming and downtime.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

IN THE NEWS. Well, there's lots of things in the news, but one issue of concern to the GT/LD community is federal funding to gifted and special education. Budget wrangling has begun (does it ever cease?) and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) provides some analysis. Read it.
AD/HD. Expert Dr. Russell Barkley answered readers' questions in yesterday's issue of The New York Times, including queries on whether AD/HD is even an illness, neurological examination for AD/HD, and seeking professional help. Find it. Separately, Carla Crutsinger of Brainworks responds to the issue of whether to medicate an AD/HD child or not, more specifically to help a mom with four bright kids, the oldest with AD/HD. Read what Crutsinger recommends.
HOAGIES' GIFTED. We feel compelled to occasionally mention this resource for those in the 2e community. Not only is there a mind-boggling collection of resources and pointers for general giftedness, but Curator of All Things Gifted (our tag for her) Carolyn K also provides a substantial section on twice-exceptionalities. This site is often one of the first things we recommend when someone contacts us looking for resources. Find it.
BRIGHT BUT AGGRESSIVE KID? Worried about what the future might hold? A Dana Foundation article covers the topic. It's called "Forecasting Aggression: Toward a New Interdisciplinary Understanding of What Makes Some Troubled Youth Turn Violent." Read it.
NAGC NEWS. If you're not a member of the National Association for Gifted Children but are interested in the kind of things they offer and pursue, take a look at a recent newsletter from the organization. Topics include how the NAGC works to raise awareness of gifted education at the state level; the organization's take on the effect of budget wrangling on high-potential students; and 2e resources in the NAGC bookstore. (What?! No "Spotlight on 2e Series" booklets from 2e Newsletter?  If you've bought, read, and liked one of our booklets, tell NAGC to carry them! :-) Or, just order them from us.) Find the NAGC newsletter.
SURGERY FOR OCD? An article on the topic of brain surgery for psychiatric issues mentions its use for certain severe cases of OCD, and highlights the debate on such surgery. If severe OCD is an issue for that gifted kid you know, check out this article.

Monday, February 14, 2011

KID-INSPIRED RAGE. Did you ever spank or slap your kids? Ever think about it? In an op-ed piece in the NY Times, Katherine Ellison, author of "Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention," reflects on violence in the home, a reflection precipitated by a horrific event in the news. Find it
NAGC WEBINARS. On a list of upcoming NAGC "Webinars on Wednesdays," we notice that on April 27th the topic is "Twice Exceptional: The Curious Dilemmas that Occur at the Intersection of Gifted and Special Education" The presenter is Shelagh Gallagher, of Engaged Education in Charlotte, North Carolina. Find out more about "WOW."
AD/HD COACHING. Another recent article on the topic is at the Seattle Times website, featuring thoughts from coaches and "coachees." Read the article which mentions the Edge Foundation, "a Seattle-based nonprofit that matches ADHD students with coaches who, through weekly meetings by phone or Skype, teach them the skills to make college worth the money and time."
FREE SPIRIT PUBLISHING. If you're a fan of this company's offerings on topics such as giftedness and self-help for young people, be aware that the company now offers many titles as e-books. Find out more
KID-SAFE SOCIAL NETWORK? A new site,, purports to offer safe social networking for kids 13 and under. The subscription-based site uses technology such as biometric facial recognition technology; the computer's webcam is used to verify that the person logging in is actually the child who is registered for the site. If your young person is longing to get involved online, you might check out the site at the site's parent resource center.  
STRESS, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION. The stress hormone cortisol is abnormally high in some children with behavior problems, abnormally low in others. Now researchers think the difference is caused by the length of time the children have experienced problems, and that the stress response can be blunted over time. This leads them to suggest that interventions should begin as soon as behavior problems begin. Read more.
ENERGY DRINKS: A CAUTION. Energy drinks may pose a risk for serious adverse health effects in some children, especially those with diabetes, seizures, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavior disorders. A new study, “Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults,” in the March issue of Pediatrics, determined that energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit to children, and both the known and unknown properties of the ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, may put some children at risk for adverse health events. You may read an abstract of the article on the Pediatrics site; you may read another report about the research here
AND FINALLY, THIS. Scooby-Doo had dissociative identity disorder. That's the conclusion of a writer in Wired Magazine who analyzes the characters in this early cartoon series. Find out how he diagnoses Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, and others.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

DIET AND IQ. Diet in early childhood can affect later IQ, according to a study reported in Science Daily. In a longitudinal study of kids born in 1991 and 1992, the type of diet at age 3 -- processed, traditional, or health-conscious -- resulted in a a few points of difference in IQ at age 8 and a half. Find out more, and then either flagellate or congratulate yourself for the way you fed that toddler.
KID ON FACEBOOK? Now your gifted kid can use a Facebook app to tell how likely he or she might be to get into a particular college. Find out more.
THINKING ABOUT E-LEARNING for that bright, homeschooled kid? Be prepared to be very involved as parent. That's the message in an Education Week article. Find it.
INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION? Education Week has published a newsletter called Digital Directions, billed as "trends and advice for K-12 technology leaders." Read an issue.
EDUCATION NEWS.ORG. Michael Shaughnessy interviews a school psychologist about the nature of gifted kids and the challenges they face in school -- such as peers, bullying, and emotional issues. Find the interview.
PARENTING BOOKS. In 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, we routinely review books we feel will be of use and of interest to the 2e community. In the Newton Patch, a "hyperlocal" news outlet for Newton, Connecticut, we encountered this paragraph that piqued our interest: "Whether a child is 'spirited,' 'difficult,' 'indigo,' learning disabled, out of the box, food sensitive, hyperactive, obsessive/compulsive, 'explosive,' un-focused, gay, speech-delayed, spiritual, sensitive, 'out of sync,' shy, coping with a parent’s divorce, gifted, or unmotivated -- there is a book available." The writer provides descriptions of some of her favorite parenting books encountered over the years, including titles such as The Edison Trait -- Saving the Spirit of Your Nonconforming Child. Find the list, see if you agree, and  maybe let us know if you have favorite books our community should know about.
AN UPSIDE TO AD/HD. New research indicates that adults with AD/HD are more creative. The researcher attributes it to "a different way of thinking." Read more
COLOR AND MOOD. In the decor of Waldorf Schools, first established by visionary Rudolph Steiner in 1919, color plays a very important and intentional part. Now a writer for St. Louis Today interviews a color expert from the Paint Quality Institute on "color psychology." What color should your child's bedroom be? Find out which colors have what effects. Here's a hint: red is probably not the first choice for a child's bedroom.
AND FINALLY: OVER THE TOP? BabyFirst, a cable and satellite channel, has announced the launch of BabyU, which they call "the most comprehensive online learning destination for babies and toddlers under age three." You can find out more at the BabyFirst site. Looks like it's subscription-based.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

JACK KENT COOKE YOUNG SCHOLARS. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has a Young Scholars Program which provides financial assistance and other help to high-achieving eighth-graders and high-schoolers who have financial need. Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development is assisting in building awareness of the program, and has established a web page of information about it. The application deadline for the 2011 year is April 25th. Find out more.
TEACHER'S RESOURCE. E-School News reports on a service called VuSafe to assist educators in finding relevant, safe YouTube videos for use in the educational process. Find the article.
SMART KIDS WITH DISABILITIES. This organization publishes an e-newsletter. In January's edition, you may read articles on tackling writing problems, teaching your child about friendship, and a profile of Olympian Greg Louganis, who had childhood difficulties with reading and speech. Find the newsletter.
THE DANA FOUNDATION has a "neuroeducation" page that contains "news, events, and commentary on bridging neuroscience and education." We are sure that you, O Inquisitive Ones, will find it interesting. Go there.
CO-MORBID WITH AD/HD. Kids with AD/HD are prone to other issues as well. Research evidently reported in Pediatrics indicated that nearly 70 percent of kids with AD/HD have one or more other co-morbid mental or physical problems. The issue is not posted on the Pediatrics website, but WebMD has a long article on the research; find it.
SUSPENSION AND EXPULSION. We don't like to think about this topic when it comes to gifted kids, but twice-exceptional kids sometimes have behavior issues that can get out of control. (Remember the elementary school boy whose school filed police charges after his Aspie outburst?) The current Special Ed Advocate from Wrightslaw deals with behavior problems and the rights of kids in this area. Read the newsletter
THERAPY DOGS AND AUTISM.  The website of television station KSDK has an article and video about an autism specialist who uses a therapy dog to relax her young patients  Find it.
SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL SKILLS TRAINING apparently works, improving not only attitudes and behaviors but also academic performance -- this according to a study reported by the Ivanhoe Newswire. Read more.
AND FINALLY, THIS. We've blogged often about the adolescent brain and how it differs from the adult brain. The National Institute of Mental Health website contains a report of a study of the difference in functioning of adolescent versus adult rats in a learned task involving a reward. The twist -- researchers tracked the firing of individual neurons. At the moment of reward, there was less inhibition in certain neurons in the adolescent brain -- meaning neuronal activity was stronger. Here's what the researchers concluded: "The reduced inhibition they saw in adolescents suggests that they may respond more intensively than adults to reward. These more powerful responses may help explain the increased vulnerability of adolescents to the rewarding effects of alcohol and drugs. In addition, findings of differences in the regulation of neuronal firing observed in adolescents may ultimately help explain why schizophrenia—a disorder thought to represent an imbalance in inhibitory and excitatory activity in the brain—so often has its onset during adolescence and early adulthood. The exaggerated balance of excitatory and inhibitory activity in the brain observed in this work, superimposed on a genetically determined vulnerability to schizophrenia, might be a factor tipping someone towards illness." The original study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience this year. Go to the NIMH site.

Friday, February 4, 2011

SENG SURVEY FOR PARENTS OF GIFTED. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted is sponsoring a survey to help educate doctors and the public about gifted kids and to support appropriate training for doctors and medical personnel. SENG invites parents of gifted children to participate in the survey. Find out more.
BRAIN IMAGING FOR DIAGNOSIS? Not yet, but maybe soon. ABC's station WLS in Chicago reported on research at the University of Illinois/Chicago where researchers are attempting to use brain imaging to "see" disorders such as AD/HD and to differentiate AD/HD from bipolar disorder. Read more.
LD IN COLLEGE. As many as 8 percent of first-year students entering four-year colleges in the United States self-report that they have AD/HD or a learning disability, according to research from UCLA. The percentage has increased in recent years. An article in the UCLA Daily Bruin provides background information on the ADA and how UCLA handles such students; read it.
CHILDHOOD IMMUNIZATION RECOMMENDATIONS UPDATED. Read in US News about the most recent guidelines on vaccination from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
AUTISM AND "THEORY OF M IND." Research at MIT indicates that those with high-functioning autism "appear to have trouble using theory of mind to make moral judgments in certain situations," and to have trouble understanding the intentions of a second party. Read more.
AD/HD AND NUTRITION. Parents sometimes suspect that AD/HD symptoms may be worsened by certain foods; now a study in the Netherlands showed that an "elimination diet" improved symptoms in 46 percent of the children participating. The elimination diet reduces the foods in the diet most likely to cause allergic reaction. Read about the study.
COMPETITION. Discovery Education and 3M have announced the 2011 call for entries for the 13th annual Young Scientist Challenge, the nation's premier science competition for students in grades 5th through 8th. Ten finalists will be selected to receive an all-expense paid trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. to compete in the final challenge in October, 2011. The winner will receive $25,000 and the title of "America's Top Young Scientist."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

ASPERGER'S IN COLLEGE. The Brownsville Herald had an article on the topic of college for high-functioning autistic kids, including a profile of one young man about to graduate from high school. The article names some universities that provide support for students with high-functioning autism, and mentions the organization Achieving in Higher Education with Autism/Developmental Disabilities (AHEADD). Find the article.

SENG NEWSLETTER. The January issue of  SENG Vine, a newsletter from the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is out. It contains an article on dealing with existential depression in gifted young people, based on content from the SENG Model Parent Group. Also in this issue, an interview with Professor Jean Sunde Peterson of Purdue University on social and emotional issues in gifted kids. Find the newsletter.

SPEAKING OF DEPRESSION: A recent study links omega-3-deficient diets with mood disorders such as depression -- in mice, at least. Significantly, intra-uterine development characterized by a lack of these fatty acids may influence emotional behavior in adulthood. Read about the study.

SPEAKING OF NUTRITION: Worry about those energy drinks your kids or students consume? We do. An article in The New York Times explains possible ill effects. Find it.

GIRLS AND VIDEO GAMES. ABC News notes a study showing that girls who played video games with their parents "behaved better, felt more connected to their families, and had better mental health than those girls who did not play video games with their parents." We're not talking Grand Theft Auto, but age-appropriate video games like Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band, and Guitar Hero. The effect did not extend to boys. Read more.

RTI: PART OF THE EVALUATION but not a substitute for the entire comprehensive evaluation for specific learning disabilities. That's the message in an Education Week blog "On Special Education," which discusses the contents of a recent memo on the topic from the federal Office of Special Education Programs.  Find out more.

SMART KIDS WITH LDs. The 2011 Smart Kids with LD Youth Achievement Award is open for nominations. It's given to "a student 19 or younger who has demonstrated initiative, talent, and determination resulting in a notable accomplishment in any field," according to the organization. The entry deadline is only two weeks away. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. We were intrigued by an ad in a newspaper this morning announcing the Fall, 2012, opening in New York City of a school for children 3 to 18. "Avenues," billed as a rigorous "world school," will eventually have campuses in 20 major world cities and will prepare students for global life, emphasizing cultural studies and language. Find out more at the school's website.