Saturday, September 20, 2014

Depression, Due Process, Poetry, Gut Bacteria, and More

DEPRESSION. Of those who respond to our profile survey as newsletter subscribers, 41 percent rank depression as a "very important" factor in regard to their twice-exceptional children. By contrast, anxiety is ranked as very important by 71 percent; OCD by just 22 percent. Those high rankings are why we so often point to items on depression and anxiety, and in recent days we came across four items concerning depression.
  • A review of meta-analyses of research by the University of Bern showed that sports and physical activity can cause brain changes similar to those caused by medications, affecting serotonin levels, promoting cell growth in the brain, and reducing levels of stress hormones. Sports and physical activity had a greater impact on depression than on anxiety. Read more
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration urges parents to not to leave childhood depression untreated, and provides information on treatment and care. Read more
  • Next, PscyhCentral posted on its website an article titled "Helping Children Avoid Depression." The article emphasizes "thought training" to help a young person manage emotions and preempt depression. Read more
  • Finally, from Northwestern University comes news of a blood test to diagnose depression in adults. Developed by Northwestern University scientists, the test uses levels of nine RNA blood markers. Noteworthy in the article is that the same researcher who developed the adult test had previously developed a blood test to diagnose depression in adolescents; that test was announced in 2012. Most of the markers in the adult test are different than those used to identify adolescent depression. Find out more about the adult test; about the adolescent test
LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD in due process hearings is the goal of legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Currently, while parents can recover attorneys' fees if they prevail in a due process hearing, they cannot recover expenses incurred for expert witnesses such as psychologists or other experts. Harkin is introducing legislation called the IDEA Fairness Restoration Act to make those costs recoverable when parents prevail in a due process case. Find out more.

THE DAVIDSON INSTITUTE has issued new editions of two newsletters. The eNews-Update announces the 2014 Davidson Fellows; notes the 2015 Fellows competition; points to Jim Delisle's new book on American education, Dumbing Down America; and provides a variety of other news. The Educators Guild Newsletter for fall contains a Q&A with Christine Fonseca on introversion in gifted kids, and also provides guidelines for educators on working with introverted students.

WRIGHTSLAW FANS might be interested in knowing that they can get 25 percent off all products in the Wrightslaw store until September 25; find out more.

GOT A POET in your home or classroom? The National Student Poets Program has honored five teen poets who will serve as youth ambassadors for poetry and the art of language. The National Student Poets will lead readings and workshops at libraries, museums, and schools throughout the country, as well as participate in events such as readings at the Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of Education. Find out more about the National Student Poets Program.

THE COUNCIL FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDREN is accepting nominations for its "Yes I Can" awards celebrating the accomplishments of kids with exceptionalities; the CEC Professional awards for gifted and special educators; and CEC Student Awards. Nominations close October 31. Find out more.

SIZE AT BIRTH, ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH. Research from Denmark indicates that birth weight and length can partially predict the likelihood of being diagnosed with mental health disorders such as autism and schizophrenia later in life. If the following excerpt turns you on, you'll find this article interesting, we think: "The study tests predictions of the evolutionary theory of genomic imprinting -- the idea that during fetal development some genes inherited from the mother are expressed differently to those inherited from the father. The potential consequence of this asymmetry is that maternal and paternal genes in a fetus will not cooperate fully during this period, even though they subsequently have shared interests due to their lifetime commitment to the same body." Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS -- in the category of "something else to worry about." Worry about artificial sweeteners because they may change the bacteria in the gut and cause metabolic changes you don't want in you or your kids -- like glucose intolerance, obesity, or adult-onset diabetes. In a NewsWise writeup of the research, one of the researchers said about artificial sweeteners, "this calls for reassessment of today’s massive, unsupervised consumption of these substances.” He also said in a New York Times article about the research, "Given the surprising results that we got in our study, I made a personal preference to stop using [artificial sweeteners]."

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