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.

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