Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Special Ed, ASD, Anxiety, Gifted Adults, More

ANYONE WHO'S HEARD JONATHAN MOONEY talk about the "short bus" will appreciate an opinion piece in last Sunday's New York Times. Titled "A Special Education," it describes the writer's early experience with special ed in upstate New York. Some of the experiences are funny, some sad, some pivotal. As an adult, the author now describes himself as "a writer and musician." Read this special opinion piece.

NEW ASD THEORY. Researchers at Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory think there's a set of genes affecting brain development that might be vulnerable to spontaneous mutation and, as such, the cause of about half of the cases of ASD. This view is different than one in which a group of individually harmless mutations cause ASD when they occur in combination. Read more.

THE ANXIETY CYCLE. Are you anxious? Is your spouse? Do you worry about affecting your children, or "infecting" them with anxiety? The University of Connecticut and Johns Hopkins tested a family-based intervention therapy to try to forestall anxiety in the children of parents with anxiety disorders, and it was apparently successful. According to a write-up at Science Daily, "The families who participated in therapy were taught to identify the signs of anxiety and how to reduce it. They practiced problem-solving skills, and exercised safe exposures to whatever made their child anxious." Read more.

A RECOMMENDATION. A stalwart newsletter supporter recently emailed us with this message: "A book you need to get and read: NeuroTribes. The best thing I've read in several years (and I read a lot)." Find out more at Amazon, and thanks, Steve.

FOR EDUCATORS, and maybe parents too. A recent playlist of the week from TED consisted of nine talks from inspiring teachers. TED says, "A great teacher can change the trajectory of your life. Here, talks from teachers you'll wish you had." Find the playlist.

SENG WEBINAR. Coming up on October 6th is a webinar from Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) titled "If I'm So Smart, Why Am I So Dumb?" It's for gifted adults, which probably includes our entire community here. SENG says the presenter "will present strategies and resources that have helped these adults live more meaningful and fulfilling lives." Find out more.

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, will be screened at 6:30 on October 1 at Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall on the University of Denver Campus 1999 E. Evans Avenue, Denver. There's no charge, but registration is required.

UNDERSTOOD is offering on October 1st live, 24-hour access to experts who'll answer questions via Twitter or Facebook or video chat. Find out more at Understood.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Anxiety and Depression; Finding the Gifted; tCDS for ADHD; and Big Macs

ANXIETY *AND* DEPRESSION. We know lots of 2e kids have anxiety, and lots have depression. We suspect that many kids have both. A series of "cartoons" at Medical Daily illustrate what it's like to have both. The cartoons are by the creator of the comic strip "The Awkward Yeti." Find the cartoons and explanations.

GIFTED, RICH, POOR. The Washington Post writes about a program in Broward County, Florida, where schools in 2005 began testing all students in second grade to screen for possible giftedness. The screenings and follow-up tests were "a huge success in identifying poor, minority students qualified for gifted programs," although recently the racial and economic discrepancies have started to widen again. The article explains some reasons why most school districts don't find gifted kids who are poor or minority. Find it. As to the backsliding, one administrator in the Broward district is quoted as saying, “This is very common in education. Things just move around and around in a circle.”

tDCS FOR ADHD? Can transcranial direct current stimulation help cognitive performance in those with ADHD? What is apparently the first study to test the hypothesis says no. Find the results and statistics and explanations in a study at PLOS One.

AND IF THAT STUDY INTERESTED YOU, read another, this one about teachers' attitudes toward kids with disabilities of all sorts, including LDs and ADHD. The study results indicate that four factors can make teachers less amenable to the inclusion of kids with disabilities. Those factors are teacher age, gender, training, and sense of self efficacy. Find the study and wonder how it affects your twice-exceptional child.

IT'S STILL BACK-TO-SCHOOL TIME, we guess, and the website Understood offers some "conversation starters" for parents to use with teachers in discussing supports and services, evaluation reports, teaching approaches, behavioral problems, and social/emotional issues. If any of those apply at your house and you anticipate upcoming conversations with an educator, perhaps check these out.

ALSO ON PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION, Wrightslaw this week in Special Ed Advocate offers advice for parent-teacher team building. Find it.

ASSUMING THAT ADHD is the cause of attention problems in a child can be a bad idea sometimes, according to a new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute. The article discusses other possibilities, including anxiety, OCD, stress, and LDs. (ADHD is technically an "other health impairment," not a specific LD.) Find the article.

AUTISM RESOURCE. The National Autism Center has published a new version of its autism manual for educators. The Center says on its website: Since the manual was first published in 2010, tens of thousands of copies have been downloaded or purchased by teachers and front-line interventionists from across the country and throughout the world. Responses to a national survey indicate that the first edition of the manual made a significant impact on improving educators’ knowledge about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and providing effective interventions for students on the spectrum. The free manual and other resources are available at the Center's website.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Maybe you can't "guilt" kids out of nasty habits, but maybe you can "gross" them out of the habits. If you have a child enamored of Big Macs or similar fast foods, check out an infographic titled "What Happens One Hour After Eating a Big Mac?" It covers the effect of the calories, sugars, sodium, and trans fats. It also covers digestion time (long). Mmmmmm. Find the infographic.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Resources, Follow-ups, and Items that Disturb

ON A SHOESTRING. We deeply appreciate the support of our readers in snazzy Zip codes, and we also appreciate that some families have less resources than others. There's a "blog hop" at the site of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum titled "Parenting Gifted/2e Kids on a Shoestring." Represented in the blog hop are 11 writers offering their tips for parents. Find the blog hop. (And from Danny and the Juniors: "Well, you can swing it you can groove it/You can really start to move it at the hop...")

FOLLOW-UP. We wrote about a study indicating that not all ADHD diagnoses are performed in accordance with guidelines issued by the American Pediatrics Association. The Boston Globe has a follow-up article for those interested in the discussion, suggesting that we could also look at the study results from a more positive point of view; find it. And for those of you who want to test yourselves on your knowledge of ADHD signs and symptoms, Medscape offers a quiz at its website.

ANOTHER FOLLOW-UP. We mentioned last week the young man in Texas who was handcuffed and interrogated by police after he brought a homemade digital clock to school and teachers confused it with a bomb. A writer in the Dallas News used that incident to point out the need for special services to gifted kids, and how those gifted kids might have trouble fitting in. Read the article. Separately, another piece highlighted a school's reaction to an 11-year-old (and supposedly gifted) student in whose backpack the assistant principal found a lighter and a marijuana-looking leaf (in reality from a maple tree), both possibly planted there by classmates. The reaction: suspension from school for a year. Read more.

AUTISM AND VACCINES, back in the news. Yep, anyone who watched or read about last week's presidential candidate debate probably heard that the topic had been raised. Disability Scoop reacted; so did The Washington Post.

DYSLEXIA AND THE ADA. The Dyslexic Advantage blog highlights five "must-know facts" about dyslexia and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The facts cover testing/retesting for dyslexia, protections in taking exams, and more. Find the facts.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's September eNewsletter is out, featuring information about scholarships, resources, legislation/policy, and much more. Find the newsletter.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Meds for Kids, College Helps Aspies, More

TWO CAUTIONARY STORIES are in the news this morning about drugs for kids. The first is about the antidepressant Paxil and how original drug trial data has now been reanalyzed to show that it was more dangerous for teens than originally thought. The second is about the antipsychotic Risperdal and how it might have been over-marketed for uses other than its original use (treating schizophrenia in adults), uses that included treating autism in kids. 

ILLINOIS COLLEGE HELPS ASPIES. Eastern Illinois University, in Charleston, has launched a new program to help undergraduates who have autism and might need extra support. The program offers extra acclimatization, mentoring, and support groups, among other features. Read more.

ADHD/AUTISM DIAGNOSIS INTERFERENCE. Being diagnosed with ADHD can delay a diagnosis of autism in children who have both, according to a study published in Pediatrics and written up at Medscape. Compared to children who had only ASD, children with comorbid ADHD and ASD were diagnosed with ASD about three years later. The upshot? More vigilance for ASD when children present with ADHD symptoms. Find the write-up.

BPD: A "TANGLE" OF SYMPTOMS. An article in the Washington Post describes one young woman's struggle with borderline personality disorder and the efforts of scientists to understand the symptoms and appropriate treatments of the disorder. Of note is that BPD sufferers commit suicide at a rate higher than sufferers of depression or schizophrenia, and that BPD might affect 16 million Americans. Find the article.

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. Don't forget that this site has a variety of tools and resources besides the articles we often point to. For example, there's a Parents' Guide to Getting Good Care (for children). It includes a mental health guide, symptom checker, guide to mental health specialists, guide to learning specialists, guide to evidence-based treatments, and more. Find the Guide.

ADHD OR OCD -- ADDitude offers on its site a 10-slide guide for differentiating the two conditions. Go there.

TALKING TO TEACHER about executive function issues is the topic of a nine-slide guide at the site of Understood. Tip 1: Request a meeting early in the school year. Find this and the other tips.

WRIGHTSLAW. Need to get organized to advocate for your child's special needs treatment this school year? Wrightslaw offers a checklist to get you on track, along with other tools to help make this year successful. Find out more.

AND FINALLY THIS -- for educators. Fed up with the rat race? Want to teach where parents live a self-sufficient, "alternative" lifestyle in an "idyllic" but out-of-the-way Scottish community? Where your class size will be only five children? There's a place for you -- find out where.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Truly Individualized Learning; The Science of Adolescence; and More

INDIVIDUALIZED LEARNING through brain imaging is the goal of a researcher at Ohio State University who has just received a National Science Foundation Grant. The project will look for the neural underpinnings of student strengths and weaknesses, hoping to discover biomarkers that would then allow the development of truly individualized learning plans to help learners reach their potential. Read more.

THE SCIENCE OF ADOLESCENCE was the topic of a recent Diane Rehm show. Program guests discussed what neuroscience has taught us about the teen brain. Parents and educators can see the transcript at the site of the show.

TEMPLE GRANDIN FANS might be interested to know that she'll be in Florida on Septermber 24 touring the beef and dairy teaching units at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, after which she'll present a free lecture titled "Helping Different Kinds of Minds Be Successful." Find out more.

BACK TO SCHOOL MEANS... homework. Which can involve parents directly or indirectly. This week at least two sources offer advice to parents on homework:
THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has posted a new article on the phenomenon of losing interest or motivation at school, including tips for figuring out what might be at the root of the problem. The article notes that skills deficits can be a problem, as with an LD; and that emotional difficulties such as depression or anxiety might be the cause. Find the article.

ADDITUDE has recently featured two articles that might be of interest to parents and educators of twice-exceptional children. One artlcle covers the confluence of ADHD and executive function disorders; find it. The other article is titled "A Complete Guide to Natural ADHD Treatments"; find it.

IN CALIFORNIA? Doesn't matter, 'coz this event is a webinar. On September 28, Susan Daniels, of the Summit Center in California, is presenting "Living with Intensity: Understanding the Gifted Child," discussing overexcitabilities in the context of giftedness. Find out more.

NEW MEXICO IN THE WINTER? Why not? And that's where neuroscientist M Layne Kalbfleisch has scheduled two February workshops. The blurb for the first promises, "Workshop participants will learn basic principles of the brain’s function and plasticity – how it learns, remembers, creates, and imagines in childhood and across life; the difference between good and bad stress; and new skills to keep it healthy, enhance memory, and support skill and talent." The second workshop builds on content and experiences from the first and is called "a deepening retreat." Both events are at the Ghost Ranch.

2e: THE MOVIE. Upcoming screenings include:
  • October 13 at 7pm at the ArcLight Cinema in Bethesda, Maryland. Tickets $8.50. Find out more
  • October 28 from 7-9 at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York. Suggested donation $10. Pre-registration required. Find out more.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Javits Grant, ADHD Diagnosis, More

JAVITS GRANT IN FLORIDA. Seminole County Public Schools has received a Javits Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the representation in gifted programs of underrepresented groups. The five-year, $2.4 million grant will "include alternative methods of identifying giftedness," which sounds like it might be of benefit to twice-exceptional students as well as other underrepresented groups. Read more.

EARLY ADHD DIAGNOSIS: VALID? According to Healthday, many -- about a third -- of kids in the U.S. diagnosed with ADHD are labeled before the age of six. The problem? Apparently there's a lack of tests to reliably diagnose that early. The HealthDay article describes a government report on the matter. Also mentioned: that psychiatrists are involved in only about one-fourth of those early diagnoses. Find the article. Or, read more directly from the Center for Disease Control.

DEPRESSION: EVIDENCED-BASED THERAPY. Cerebrum republished an article from a couple years ago on whether certain patterns of brain activity can indicate what kind of treatment will be most successful. Find the article.

2e NEWSLETTER WEBSITE. The public area is now updated with articles from the July/August issue. Non-subscribers may read news from the 2e Center for Professional Development, a brief roundup of 2e-friendly private schools (more every year!), news, events, and columns including Dear Dr. Sylvia, Bob Seney on Books, and Parent's Perspective. Go to the website.

ABOUT CHILDREN. We used to enjoy a site called StoryPeople and just rediscovered it, finding this tiny "story": "I hope it will be said we taught them to stand tall & proud, even in the face of history & the future was made new & whole for us all, one child at a time." The site's creativity also lies in the illustrations they provide with each story. See the illustration for this story.

FALL BOOKLET SALE. Through the end of September, non-subscribers to 2e Newsletter may purchase any Spotlight on 2e Series booklet for $11, plus shipping. To take advantage of this offer, go to this special page. (Newsletter subscribers received information about the sale this morning.)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hyperactivity in ASD, Getting Kids to Talk about their LDs, and More

HYPERACTIVITY IN ASD may be reduced by a drug called guanfacine, according to Psychiatric News. An "alert" from that publication reported on a study involving the effects of an extended-release form of guanfacine on children with ASD who were also hyperactive, impulsive, and distractible. The non-placebo-treated children showed a steep drop in the "aberrant behavior checklist." Read more. (Thanks to Kim for pointing us to the article.)

TALKING ABOUT LDs. It can be tough for a child to talk about his or her own LD, even though such self-disclosure can be a start to good self-advocacy. A new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute offers help to get kids talking -- why speak up, how to help kids speak up, what the kids should say to teachers, and help in talking to peers. Find the article.

DEPRESSION IN 13 CHARTS. That's what StumbledUpon pointed us to at the site of The Idealist Revolution -- 13 graphics that help non-depressives get a feel for depression. If this is an issue in your family, find the charts. (We especially liked numbers 1 and 9.) Separately, the Brain and Behavior Foundation presents a free webinar on September 8 titled "New Approaches to Treating Depression." Find out more.

FRESH AIR ON WEDNESDAY featured an interview with the author of NeuroTribes, and examination of the history and myths of autism. The book's subtitle is "The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity." Find the audio interview and textual highlights.

EXERCISE AND TEENS. Bad news. Evidently "guilting" teens to get more exercise doesn't work, according to a study on middle-schoolers by researchers from the University of Georgia. But you probably knew that based on your experience trying to "guilt" young people into doing anything. Read more.

FOLLOWING THE TEEN HERD -- at least, to the extent of having close friendships -- may have benefits for physical health in early adulthood. Researchers found that physical health in adulthood could be predicted based on the quality of close friendships in adolescence. In addition, efforts to conform to peer norms were actually linked to higher quality health in adulthood. Read more.

CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION FOR THE GIFTED. This organization's summer newsletter is out; find it. In addition, the organization has issued a call for presenters at its 2016 conference in February. The last day for submitting proposals is October 10. Got something to say? Find out more.

KENNY'S DREAM FOUNDATION is a non-profit organization formed in 2014 to help those affected by Tourette Syndrome (TS), It was formed in memory of Kenny Boyajian and is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to help those affected by Tourette Syndrome, by providing scholarships and camp tuition to children and adults with TS, while promoting awareness and acceptance. Find out more about the organization.

WRIGHTSLAW is on Session 5 of its 2015 Summer School on advocacy. In this session, according to Wrightslaw, "You'll find what you need to learn to become an advocate and where you can get training. You'll also find a reading and resource list." Go to summer school!

IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA? The Summit Center is hosting an October/November discussion group for parents challenged by gifted and 2e children. The groups follow the SENG Model Parent Group format. Find out more.