Thursday, October 30, 2014

CAPD, ASD, ADHD, PLPs, and Some Resources

AUDITORY PROCESSING DISORDER is a not-uncommon second "e" in the twice-exceptional. This week, the site of the Child Mind Institute has three articles on the topic. (It's called central auditory processing disorder, or CAPD, by some.) One article tells what the disorder is; another provides symptoms; and the third offers help for kids with the disorder. Find the articles.

AUTISM AND GENETICS. Recent research indicates that more than a hundred genes may be involved in various forms of autism. The genes are mostly spontaneous mutations, not inherited. According to an NPR report on the research, one group of mutations can be found in Aspie-type boys, another group in children with low IQ. Another report about the research notes that further work may ultimately link a thousand or so genes to autism risk.

UNDERSTOOD, the new website on learning and attention issues, received a nice boost from a write-up in The New York Times last week. If you haven't checked out the site, perhaps read the article to see what you've been missing. Separately, Understood answers this week a common question about kids with ADHD -- should they avoid sugar? You might be surprised at the answer. Find the Q&A.

ADHD AND FISH OILS. We've blogged about this before, but there's new research on the topic. Evidently the omega-type fatty acids can help kids with one type of ADHD -- the inattentive type. The researchers also reported on the use of a cognitive training method for ADHD and oppositional defiant order that shows promise. Find out more.

SENG. The organization's October newsletter is out. One item introduces SENG's Interim Administrator, who takes over for the previous executive director Liz Campbell. Of note to our readers: Deborah Simon brings to her new duties both professional and personal experience in twice exceptionality. And another feature of the newsletter, 100 Words of Wisdom, this month focuses on the twice exceptional. Find the newsletter. Separately, SENG has an upcoming SENGinar on November 6 titled "Building Resilience in Gifted Children: Fostering a Sense of Autonomy and Confidence." Find out more.

CONFERENCE: NAGC MALAYSIA. On November 1, NAGC Malaysia will hold a conference in Sunway, Selangor. At least one of the speakers appears to be "2e fluent." In the neighborhood? Find out more at or on the conference's Facebook page.

EDUCATION WEEK reports on Vermont's introduction of personalized learning plans, or PLPs, for middle- and high-school students. The plans should help teachers gain understanding of students "interests, skills, college and career goals, and learning styles," according to the Education Week article. Dual enrollment is encouraged, along with standards other than test scores for showing subject-area mastery. Sounds like a good deal for twice-exceptional students in Vermont, indeed for all students. Find the article. (Free registration required.)

WRIGHTSLAW, in Special Ed Advocate, takes on the topic of bullying in school, including Office of Civil Rights considerations, how bullying of a student with a disability can lead to denial of FAPE (and the obligation of the school in such cases), and an article titled "When Teachers Bully." (Now there's a depressing thought.) Find Special Ed Advocate.

BRAIN MAVENS will be happy to know about a free neuroscience resource from Harvard University. It's an online course in the fundamentals of neuroscience, and apparently it covers, in an accessible way, topics such as the synapse and "excitation and inhibition." Find out more about the course. You can register through edX, Facebook, Google, or Twitter.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ADHD & Creativity, ASD & Siri, Astrology, and More

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN has Scott Berry Kaufman riffing on ADHD and creativity, with all kinds of goodies thrown in: Calvin and Hobbes cartoons; research findings including a study where "the poorer the working memory, the higher the creativity"; acknowledgment of "twice exceptional," although in quotes (maybe it's not really a term?); and a wind-up story about a poor student who went on to win a Nobel Prize. Find the blog.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has two new articles. One is on dialectical behavior therapy, described by the Institute this way: "DBT is a combination of CBT and the practice of mindfulness, and it's called 'dialectical' because it involves teaching kids two seemingly contradictory things at the same time: On the one hand they learn to accept their painful emotions (the mindfulness element) and at the same time they learn how to take control of their response to those feelings, to change the behaviors that haven't been working for them (the CBT element)." Find the article. The second article is an update on PANDAS, now called PANS, or pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome. It's a quick-onset condition that includes OCD with other serious symptoms. A book called Saving Sammy brought attention to PANDAS over the past few years. Find the article.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS AND AUTISM. A new study links levels of certain air toxins -- chromium and styrene -- to increased risk of autism. Families living in areas with higher levels of toxins during pregnancy and the first two years of a new-born's life had up to twice the risk of an autism diagnosis in their children. Read more.

IEPs, 504s, AND BULLYING. The U.S. federal government has reminded educators that schools have clear obligations to control bullying of children with disabilities covered by IDEA or Section 504. Got a twice-exceptional kid who gets picked on? Read the article.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE IEP ISN'T WORKING is the title of a feature at the site of ADDitude, which provides a look at "the most common problems parents face with their child's IEP or 504 plan, along with straightforward solutions. Find the feature.

TEACH TO THE KID, not to the test. That's the underlying philosophy behind personalized learning and behind universal design for learning, both of which would seem to be a boon to twice-exceptional students. You may find a primer on personalized learning at the site of Education Week and a primer on UDL at the site SmartBlog on Education.

SIRI MEETS A YOUNG MAN WITH AUTISM is the premise in a "Fashion and Style Section" (of all places) piece in The New York Times. It's related by a mom explaining how Apple's vocal "intelligent personal assistant" has engaged her 13-year-old son, who, like many people on the spectrum has impossibly deep fascinations with certain areas of life. The mom has even noticed an improvement in her son's communication with her. Find and read this sweet first-person piece.

AND FINALLY, THIS. We recently blogged about how the season of a child's birth seems to be linked to the speed with which it develops the capability to crawl, and then we threw in a joking comment about astrology. Now comes a study that says babies born in summer are more likely to experience mood swings as adults, and that winter babies are less likely to be irritable adults. The researchers don't comment on the possible mechanisms involved -- but the research results were presented at a credible sounding conference, that of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. We don't know what to think. Read it for yourself and decide whether you should be consulting a psychiatrist about your child's behavior -- or an astrologer.

Monday, October 20, 2014

2e at GAM, Brain Myths, Live Plays, and More

FULL STE2AM AHEAD was the theme of the Gifted Association of Missouri (GAM) annual conference this last weekend. A write-up of the conference at the site of KSMU, Ozarks Pubic Radio, explained the title. We cognoscienti understand the "STEM" part, of course. And "A" is for the arts. That "2"? It's to "square" the "E" and give a shout-up to the twice-exceptional. The executive VP of GAM was quoted as saying, “We have quite a population of kids that have areas of giftedness and areas of learning disabilities as well. It is very important that we get this message out to our patrons," the parents and educators of Missouri. Way to go, GAM. Find the write-up.

BRIGHT BUT NOT "LAUNCHING." The Clay Center at Mass General Hospital has a site called "Parenting Concerns," and a recent post there is about how teenagers can have trouble becoming responsible, productive young adults. The post concerns a young man with a high IQ who struggled early in his first year of college with an issue familiar to many parents of 2e kids -- organization. The writer, a college teacher of the young man, suggested an educational life coach, who guided the young man to improved results. The writer also relates the story of a young woman who achieved 700-level SAT scores but had attention issues; a life coach helped her. Find the post.

HOW UNDERSTANDING HELPS LAUNCHING. A first-person "In Our Own Words" post at Autism Speaks tells how a self-described high-functioning autistic achieved better acceptance and achievement at college by letting peers and professors know about his HFA. He says, "I wanted to take this opportunity for anybody else with HFA to speak out about your autism, and be proud of who you are, because we are truly unique in our own ways." Read his post.

BRAIN MYTHS. Research from the University of Bristol highlights seven "neuro-myths" that many educators around the world believe to be true. The researchers say that in those seven areas new findings from neuroscience are becoming misinterpreted by education, including brain-related ideas regarding early educational investment, adolescent brain development, and learning disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD. Some of the myths were new to us, for example that not drinking a certain amount of water per day causes brain shrinkage. Others are (or have been) "sacred cows" in the  child development arena -- such as the "right brain/left brain" concept. The researchers even say that there's no evidence to suggest benefits to teaching students according to their preferred learning styles. There's also the "we only use 10 percent of our brain" myth, one actually perpetuated in today's Zits cartoon. Read more.

LD? OR "LEARN DIFFERENTLY"? A post at deals with this distinction, and basically says that you've got to teach to the individual student and his or her needs, possibly obviating the need for labels. The writer offers some key steps for accomplishing that goal; four are systemic changes to the educational system, but one -- finding learning strengths and talents -- doesn't require top-down change. Find the post. Be advised, however, that if you strongly agree with the researchers in the previous item above, you might have trouble logically accepting some of the conclusions in this post.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Take your kids -- or your students -- to live plays. Compared to either reading the plays or seeing a screen version, live play attendance can make kids more tolerant and empathetic -- not to mention more knowledgeable about the play itself. Read about the research

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Attention Disorder Spectrum? Plus OCD, Exercise, and 2e Resources

THE ATTENTION DISORDER SPECTRUM? Researchers at two UK universities suggests that there is a spectrum of attention, hyperactivity/impulsiveness, and language function in society, with varying degrees of these impairments associated with clusters of genes linked with the risk for ADHD. So the way we should look at attention problems is not as a disease -- the way it's traditionally been viewed -- but as a spectrum or dimension along which an individual's "scores" might indicate more or less problems with attention, impulsiveness, and so forth. Find out more.

SPEAKING OF ADHD, the Child Mind Institute has on its site a new article titled "How to Help Girls with ADHD," acknowledging that girls face different challenges than boys when it comes to the disorder, and that in girls the disorder might be hidden. Go to the Child Mind Institute site.

OCD. An article in the "Well" section of The New York Times provides an overview of obsessive-compulsive disorder, along with some screening questions for identifying the disorder and some information about treatment. Evidently 60 to 85 percent of patients can achieve significant improvement through treatment. Find the article.

EXERCISE AND COGNITION. We've blogged recently about a couple studies showing a positive link between exercise in young people and enhanced cognitive ability. Also in the "Well" section of the NY Times, a writer elaborates on one of the studies we blogged about, the one involving pre-teens for an hour of vigorous after-school activity. Find the article.

UNDERSTOOD is a new resource for learning and emotional issues; it's sponsored by an alliance of organizations. Webinars and live expert chats will be features of the site, and one upcoming webinar is on October 20 at noon Eastern time. It's titled "Reading Issues and Dyslexia Basics," and will be presented by Linda Reddy, professor of school psychology at Rutgers University. It looks as if Understood will also use Twitter and Facebook to discuss issues. Go to Understood.

EDUCATION WEEK periodically offers "Spotlight" documents, collections of articles from the periodical that center on a particular topic. One Spotlight currently offered for free is "Special Education and the Common Core." If those two forces are in confluence at your house or school, maybe check out and download the Spotlight. (The Education Week Spotlights are different and unrelated to our "Spotlight on 2e Series" of informational booklets.)

WRIGHTSLAW, in its most recent edition of Special Ed Advocate, points out how to use the organization's Yellow Pages for Kids to find local resources for your family to help with issues such as evaluations, advocacy, educational consulting, or counseling. (We often refer readers to the Yellow Pages for Kids to find resources in the readers' geographic areas.) Go to Special Ed Advocate.

GIFTED RESOURCE. Great Potential Press, publisher of materials on giftedness, twice-exceptionality, and social-emotional topics, has established an online forum called "Goodreads." From the invitation to Goodreads: "You want a place bouncing with bright and talented people to talk about books, gifted education, psychology. You want a place to share ideas. We have one." Just launched, the group already has about 80 participants. Find Goodreads.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gifted Ed, Autism Study, Depression, More

GIFTED ED. In a recent column in the Washington Post, educational columnist Jay Mathews wrote a piece titled "Why Gifted Education Doesn't Make Sense." He focused on the exclusion of kids who just miss the gifted program cut-off, and on "the fact that gifted advocates have no evidence that gifted services produce results any better for the brightest children than the efforts many schools are making to provide challenging courses for the students who want them." Coincidentally, an article in the Indianapolis Star appeared around the same time Mathews' column did, with the title "Why Separate Classes for Gifted Students Boost All Kids." Based on research at Purdue University, the article reports that clustering high-achieving students allows other students more teacher time and the chance to grow academically. So that's kind of an unexpected, back-door rebuttal to Mathews' assertion; but Mathews promises more columns on gifted ed coming up.

A FAILURE OF PREDICTION was the catch-phrase in recent write-ups of MIT research on the cause of symptoms and behaviors in autistic people; we blogged about the item last time. TheFreep sent us John Elder Robison's response to the findings. Robison, author of the books Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby and a self-described autistic and autism advocate, calls the research conclusions "just wrong." He goes on to say, "with all due respect, this paper seems to be a perfect example of what happens [when] autistic behavior is interpreted by neurotypicals, as opposed to having the behavior explained by those who live it." Find the paper (click on the Adobe Acrobat symbol for the full PDF); and find Robison's rebuttal. (If you haven't read any of Robison's books, we thoroughly enjoyed Look Me in the Eye.)

ADOLESCENT DEPRESSION. Girls are evidently more vulnerable to depression caused by the stress of adolescence, according to a recent study. One possible contributing factor: "girls seemed to be exposed to a greater number of interpersonal dependent stressors" during adolescence. Got a 2e teen of the female persuasion in your house? Read more.

2e EVENT IN LA. The Greater Los Angeles Gifted Children's Association is sponsoring a November 1st event with a 2e thread. The Master's Class on Gifted Education, to be held at the Pasadena Convention Center, will feature Susan Baum presenting "The Twice Exceptional Learner: 5 Essentials for Meeting Their Needs" and "Strength-based, Talent Focused Education: A Positive Approach for Meeting the Needs of Twice Exceptional Students." Also presenting, Jennifer Krogh, with a session titled "Overexcitabilites and Sensitivities in Gifted Learners and Strategies/Interventions to Meet Their Needs." Find out more.

LD ONLINE FIND. Sometimes when we're on the trail of items for the blog we stumble across unexpected things we find interesting. That happened the other day at the side of LD Online, where we found a "personal story" about the world-famous artist Robert Raushenberg, who is dyslexic. The story describes several ways his dyslexia was instrumental in his artistic success. Find the article.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

ADHD, Autism, Resources, Sugar, and More

IT'S BEEN ADHD AWARENESS MONTH for nine days now, and if you'd still like to do something to spread the word about ADHD, check out the site of ADDitude Magazine. You'll find resources to help you advocate. Separately, ADDitude is offering a free webinar titled "Understanding ADHD in Women and Girls," to be presented on October 14 at 1 p.m. EDT. Find out more.

BETTER WAYS TO LEARN is the title of a recent piece in The New York Times offering tips on what makes learning truly effective -- and it's not just one-time, night-before-the-test cramming. If you or a 2e child you know could use better study habits, check out the article.

AUTISM BEHAVIORS: FROM UNPREDICTABILITY? An MIT study suggests that some autistic behaviors may come about because persons with autism may have impairments in their ability to predict the outside world. The chain: unpredictability leads to anxiety, which leads to certain autistic behaviors. One of the researchers stated, “We are saying that the world perhaps is appearing hyper-intense because it appears unpredictable." Read more.

AUTISM RESOURCE. The Center for Autism Research (CAR) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) launched its Autism Roadmap, a comprehensive, one-stop web site to help families find accurate, up-to-date information about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The web site provides customized information based on family needs. According to CHOP, families using the Roadmap will find directories of service providers, community resources, government programs, information and ideas for various stages of life, and explanations of the latest research on ASD treatments and intervention. Read more, or find the Roadmap.

ADHD RESOURCE. The Child Mind Institute has released "Parents Guide to ADHD," a 16-page PDF covering ADHD bsics, diagnosis, and treatment. Find the guide.

EVALUATION RESOURCE. "If you disagree with the school district's evaluation and/or recommendations, you have the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation at the school district's expense," says Wrightslaw. And in the current Special Ed Advocate, they tell you how to do it. Find the newsletter.

SCHOLARSHIP RESOURCE. We recently blogged about the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation's scholarship offerings for four-year colleges. The foundation also has a program called "Undergraduate Transfer Scholarships," which they call "the largest private scholarship in the country for community college transfer students." Eligibility requirements include a GPA of 3.5 or above plus unmet financial need. Find out more.

AND FINALLY THIS -- something else to worry about, possibly in a way you haven't worried about it before. Sugar can negatively affect the brain of adolescents (in rats, anyway), causing memory problems and brain inflammation. A researcher remarked, "The brain is especially vulnerable to dietary influences during critical periods of development, like adolescence." While the rats' intake of sugars was about twice that of the average human teen, the results of this study could be something to pay attention to. Read more.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mental Illness, 2e Resources, Seminar in Australia, More

IT'S MENTAL ILLNESS AWARENESS WEEK in the U.S., October 5th through the 11th. And before you rush on to the next item, consider that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), sponsor of the week, puts the following conditions under its list of illnesses: anxiety disorders, ASD, ADHD, depression, OCD, and Tourette's. So perhaps consider doing something to raise awareness of a condition that's personal to your family; the NAMI awareness week page has suggestions for how.

UNDERSTOOD is a new website launched by a coalition of sponsors to provide resources in the area of attention and learning issues. One feature is a "parent toolkit" with a variety of advice and tools. One tool suggests apps and games for your child depending on the child's issue and age; another provides personalized advice and interactive tools based on profile information you enter. Check out Understood.

DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. This organization's October newsletter is out, highlighting new YouTube videos on dyslexia, October webinars, the Karnia Eide Awards, and more. Find the newsletter. Or go to the Dyslexic Advantage website.

TED TALKS. We found a couple interesting TED talks about the brain recently. One is titled "A Neural Portrait of the Human Mind," and the presenter tells how her lab has pin-pointed certain functional areas in the brain -- one that is vital in recognizing faces, for example. She also give a lesson in scientific method along the way. Watch it (or read the transcript, but the visuals are important). A second presentation is titled "The Mysterious Workings of the Adolescent Brain," and it has to do with the pre-frontal cortex, decision-making, and maturity. If you've got a teen, you'll probably appreciate the talk. Find it.

2e SEMINAR IN AUSTRALIA. On October 7, in Deakin, ACT, Carol Barnes presents "Awesome at Thinking, Awful at Homework," a free seminar 
on twice exceptionality for parents and educators. Find out more.

JIM DELISLE, retired professor of education and author, has done a guest blog on Terry Bradley's website. It's titled "No, Not Everyone Is Gifted." In it, Delisle takes on Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 hours rule." Find the blog. Bradley is a gifted education consultant who is active in the gifted and 2e community and is president-elect of the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented.

P SUSAN JACKSON, psychologist and counselor to very highly gifted kids and their families, has announced the premier of her institute's film "RISE: The Extraordinary Journey of the Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted." Find out more on her Facebook page. Jackson says she might show the film while she is at NAGC next month.

AND FINALLY, THIS, thanks to TheFreep. The Onion takes on the issues of standardized curriculum and teaching to the test, noting how students are reportedly relieved at not being obligated "to excel as unique individuals." Read the report.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

ADHD Awareness, Special Populations, Due Process, and More

IT'S ADHD AWARENESS MONTH -- and ADDitude offers ways you can raise ADHD awareness, as if you weren't already enough aware of it in your home or classroom. Find out more.

'SPECIAL POPULATIONS" has a special meaning in gifted programs, denoting those gifted kids who might be of minorities, profoundly gifted, LGBTQ, or -- twice-exceptional! This year's leader of the Special Populations Network at NAGC is Wendy Leader, who coordinates the Colorado Twice-exceptional Project to train educators in that state about 2e issues. The Special Populations Network has established an award, the "Gifted AND ____" award, to honor individuals who do outstanding work with special populations. Find out more.

SPECIAL POPULATIONS 2. The U.S. Department of Education has announced the award of $3.9 million to partnerships of post-secondary institutions and school districts that focus on increasing the number of minority and other underrepresented students in gifted and talented programs.The new grants will allow these partnerships to take Javits Grant models that have proven effective on a small scale and expand the programs to multiple schools or districts. The awards are targeted at programs aimed at enrolling students that are economically disadvantaged, limited in English language skills or have disabilities. Read more about the grants. (Thanks to Jill K for bringing this to our attention.)

CTY COGITO AWARDS. The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) and Cogito award up to 10 grants each year to bright middle- and high-school students to conduct STEM research. Also included: pairing with a mentor for "virtual" support. Got a STEM-fascinated young person in your house or classroom? Find out more.

EXERCISE, in yet another of a series of studies announced recently, has been shown to have benefits for cognition and attention. The most recent study was on pre-teens and involved at least 60 minutes of after-school activity. Read more.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has posted two articles on behavior, one titled "How to Make Time-Outs Work" and the other titled "How to Give Kids Effective Instructions." We don't know how it is at your house, but time-outs at our house were never as straightforward as it seemed they should have been -- although maybe we got to the time-out part because we didn't give effective instructions in the first place. Anyway, if your 2e kids behave perfectly, feel free to ignore these articles.

DUE PROCESS HEARINGS are not as frequent as they used to be, according to a report at Disability Scoop. Seems that in 2004-2005 there were over 7,000 nationwide, and only 2,262 in the 2011-2012 school year. Was the decline in hearings because parents experienced fewer issues with the delivery of special ed services? Evidently not. Find the government report itself.

AMERICANS ARE MORE DEPRESSED now than they were in the 1980s, although the change in treatment numbers could be because of lessened stigma. For example, college students evidently are now 50 percent more likely to say they feel overwhelmed. See a write-up of the research. (Adults also were more likely to report that "everything was an effort" -- but parents of 2e kids know what that's like.)