Monday, November 30, 2015

Several ADHD Items, U.S. Education Legislation, More

EDUCATION IN THE USA will change in response to legislation now in process at the federal government level. A bill called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is ready for vote in House and Senate after a joint conference ironed out differences between the two august bodies. NAGC's Jane Clarenbach has posted about some of the implications for gifted education, which include recognition of the needs of gifted students in teacher training; retention of Javits funding; and certain reporting changes that NAGC thinks are advantageous. Find Clarenbach's statement. Separately, the Council for Exceptional Children reported on the progress and pointed to a House summary of the act; find the summary. Looks like the federal government will be less likely to impose state standards or national standards, to impose requirements for "adequate yearly progress" at schools, or mandate teacher evaluation systems. None of the materials we read mentioned provisions for the twice exceptional; maybe those'll emerge as time goes by. (Try holding your breath.)

CEC has posted information about its April convention in St. Louis, including descriptions of sessions. We found a handful of sessions on giftedness or twice exceptionality. See for yourself.

ADHD MEDS. A new study urges caution on prescribing methylphenidate (Ritalin, et al) for ADHD. From a write-up on the study at Science Daily: "When researchers combined data from identified trials, they found that methylphenidate led to modest improvements in ADHD symptoms, general behaviour, and quality of life. Analysis of adverse effects showed that children were more likely to experience sleep problems and loss of appetite while taking methylphenidate. However, the researchers' confidence in all results was very low..." [Highlight is ours.]  Read the write-up to learn more, but if nothing else this might suggest a query to the pediatrician who prescribes meds for your ADHD child. (But why should we worry about flawed research; it's only a few million of our kiddos we're talking about. :-( ) Read about another study on ADHD meds and sleep problems, published in the journal Pediatrics and described in the Albany Daily Star.

ADHD DIAGNOSIS. Who diagnoses ADHD in children, especially children under the age of 6? Mostly pediatricians and other primary care physicians. Parents and other caregivers identify the minority of cases. In contrast to some recent studies, this one found that diagnoses seemed to be fairly well substantiated and corroborated across environments. Read more.

GOT AN APATHETIC TEEN? His or her brain might work differently than brains in motivated young people. Find out how.

REMEMBER THIS RESOURCE -- Wrightslaw's Yellow Pages for Kids. We refer to it when we're trying to track down a resource or service provider in different parts of the country, because it's organized by state. The current Special Ed Advocate will tell you "how to use the Yellow Pages for Kids to find accurate information, resources, and help in your state," says Wrightslaw. Find out more.

DOUBLE-TAKE. We were scanning headlines in news digests as we looked for items for this blog and came across one that read, "Students Help UF/IFAS Professor Breed Better." Huh? Oh, wait, there were two more words after "Better" -- "Tastier Peppers." Okay, next item...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bullying, Visual Processing, Attention, Resources, More

ADHD MEDS, BULLYING. It seems that kids who have been prescribed stimulant meds for ADHD are at greater risk of being bullied. The reason: other kids might want to buy, steal, or coerce a change in possession of the meds, a condition called "diverting," where a prescribed medicine doesn't get to its intended user. Read more in Time Magazine.

QUICK TEST FOR VISUAL PROCESSING SPEED. Researchers at the University of Georgia developed a device using flashing light of two different wavelengths, creating a flicker. The rate of flicker is sped up until the study participant can no longer distinguish the two wavelengths, giving a "critical flicker fusion measure" that can predict the participant's level of executive functioning. Read more.

QUICK TEST FOR ATTENTION. A simple test using a raisin and a plastic cup can predict how well a toddler will perform academically at age eight, according to new research from the University of Warwick. Toddlers are shown the raisin that is placed within reach under the cup and instructed to wait until researchers told them it was okay to touch and eat the raisin. Toddlers who couldn't inhibit their behavior were found in a follow-up study to be performing less well in school seven years later than those who could wait the allotted time. Find out more.

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS QUARTERLY. The Winter edition of this publication is out. In it, according to GEPQ:
  • Harry Roman examines some of the skills necessary for effectively teaching STEM topics to gifted students. 
  • Hanna David discusses research on what makes an effective teacher of the gifted. 
  • Kathryn P. Haydon discusses methods for developing creativity in the classroom and home. 
  • Michael Walters describes one of the great anthologies of world literature.
Find the Quarterly.

DISABILITY SCOOP has revamped its website. Among the articles currently featured is one titled "Greater Transparency Urged for College Disability Services." Find the article and the redesigned site.

GIFTED RESOURCE. The University of California/Irvine is offering a free webinar series on a variety of gifted topics that include leveraging technology to teach the gifted, the spiritual lives of gifted children, and teaching interdisciplinary concepts. The webinars will take place in February of 2016. Find out more. (Focus on the box on the right-hand side of the page; also described on the page is a for-fee, for-credit certificate program.)

RE-IMAGINING SCHOOL is the title of a playlist of 10 talks at, with speakers such as Sir Ken Robinson, Salman Kahn, and Dave Eggers. Doesn't look as if any of the topics are specifically 2e -- but we'll bet that each talk gives you at least one take-away idea or inspiration. Find the playlist. (If nothing else, Robinson's memorable piece is both funny and sad.)

PARENTAL ASPIRATIONS FOR KIDS. When parents have high hopes for their children's academic achievement, the children tend to do better in school, unless those hopes are unrealistic, in which case the children may not perform well in school. That's the net-out sentence in the write-up of a study published by the American Psychological Association. So be careful out there, parents! Find the write-up.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Jen the Blogger strikes again, this time on the "ups and downs," metaphorically speaking, of parenting twice-exceptional children. If you're the parent of a 2e child, you might identify. Find the blog.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

2e Adults, ADHD, PD, the U.S. Department of Education, and More

2e ADULTS. Know one? Are you one? Dan Peters and Paula Wilkes from California's Summit Center explore the topic in a Q&A at the site of Psychology Today. Find the blog.

MINDFULNESS, WORKING MEMORY. Mindfulness training might help improve working memory capacity, according to study from the University of Cincinnati. The study compared groups receiving mindfulness training, yoga sessions, and no intervention using tests of working memory before and after the interventions. Only the mindfulness group showed improvement in working memory, according to a write-up of the study. Read more.

ADHD RATES are rising globally, according to Katherine Ellison, author of Buzz. She also writes in the New York Times "Well" blog that "public understanding has not kept pace." Evidently recognition, treatment, and acceptance lag in the rest of the world. Find the blog.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has a new article titled "Why Autism Diagnoses Are Often Delayed." Apparently kids with autism are often first diagnosed as having ADHD or sensory processing issues, which prevents early intervention for ASD. Read the article.

OHIO 2e PD EVENT. Michael Postma, Ph.D. is presenting a one-day session titled "Critical Issues in the Identification and Education of Twice-exceptional Students" on December 10th in the Cincinnati area. The audience is specified as administrators, counselors, psychologists, classroom teachers, intervention specialists, gifted specialists, and more. Registration ends about a week before the event. Find out more.

WRIGHTSLAW. The current Special Ed Advocate covers considerations in drafting an IEP, and how a draft IEP is not "set in stone." Read more about the drafting process. Separately, if you're in Oklahoma don't forget that on December 3rd Wrightslaw presents training that's free to parents, family members, and those who work with kids with LDs and reside in Oklahoma. The training is sponsored by the Oklahoma Disability Law Center and held near Oklahoma City. Find out more.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's November e-newsletter is out, covering news of the Davidson Fellows award ceremony, the Google Science Fair, STEM, and more. Find the newsletter.

UNDERSTOOD right now is offering several things that might be of interest to those in the 2e community.

  • On November 23, Understood presents an interview with Michal Yudin of the U.S. Department of Education on the use of the terms dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Find out more
  • Understood also offers "At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations for Slow Processing Speed" on its website; find it.
  • Also on the site: "Respecting a Child's Processing Speed in a Fast-paced World"; find the article
IDEA RESOURCES. One of our sources pointed us to a page at the site of the U.S. Department of Education. The site notes the 40th anniversary of IDEA. It also lists some "select federal resources" associated with the anniversary. Of special interest is a "Dear Colleague" letter from this November 16th emphasizing that "an individualized education program (IEP) for an eligible child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must be aligned with the State’s academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled." This is to discourage lowering of expectations, and it certainly applies to 2e students. Find the letter and the resources.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Dyslexia, RTI, Depression, More

DYSLEXIC ACHIEVER. That's the label for actor and screenwriter Justin Theroux. In an interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross he described his early struggles with dyslexia, according to Understood. Find out more. Separately, Understood on November 17 offers a webinar titled "If My Kid Is So Smart, Why Is He So Slow?" The webinar deals with processing issues. Find out more.

FOLLOW UP ON HANDCUFFING LITTLE KIDS. In several places we've noted the handcuffing of the Kentucky 8 YO boy with ADHD, and in our current issue of the newsletter Bill Dickerman reflects on the incident. Now, the New York Times weighs in; find it.

GOT A STRONG-WILLED 2e KIDDO? A writer on parenting at the Washington Post suggests you look past the immediate disadvantages to you and take a longer view of the advantages. Read more.

RTI falls short of its promise, according to Education Week. Experts have told us how RTI might be bad for identifying and serving the twice-exceptional, but this article seems to imply that RTI might not be as generally helpful as forecast. Read more.

$2M FOR KETAMINE STUDY. The Australian government is funding a $2M study to see if the drug ketamine is an effective, safe treatment for depression that does not respond to other treatments. A trial of 200 patients is scheduled to start in April of 2016, according to ABC News Australia. Find out more.

PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION. The website Raising Digital Natives offers nine tips for parents who communicate with school. Number 1: "Start with empathy" because of the nature of the teacher's job. Read the tips.

Friday, November 6, 2015

2e-Friendly Schooling, A.T. for Dyslexia, U.S. DOJ/ADA on Accommodations, More

A FAMILY IN ORLANDO, Florida (ZIP 32814) is looking for a 2e-friendly middle school, public or private, for sixth-seventh-eighth grades for their son. Gang: can anyone offer what would be a much-appreciated suggestion for this family? Email Mark at you-know-where. Thanks for any input!

ARIZONA 2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL. Raising Arizona Kids contains an article about a Phoenix school that serves the twice exceptional and includes comments from neuropsychologist Paul Beljan, a frequent presenter and writer on 2e topics. In the article, Beljan provides some insightful (and scary) comments related to misdiagnosing giftedness as pathology. And it's great to know about this 2e-friendly school! Find out more.

TECHNOLOGY ASSISTS FOR DYSLEXIA. KQED News, in an article titled "Tech Tools that Have Transformed Learning with Dyslexia," describes a very bright fifth-grade boy who had great difficulty writing and whose teacher got him started with an iPad. This and other students had great results with the tool. The boy's teacher is quoted as saying, “The same kid who would give me one incomplete sentence is now telling me in complete paragraphs exactly what he knows.” Find out more.

ELIMINATING THE ASPERGER'S LABEL. Apparently, whether a child is labeled with Asperger's, or on the autism spectrum, or with no label at all makes no difference to the way the child is perceived by others. Researchers who used a survey to gather reactions to the various ways of describing ASD found that the label "had no bearing on the likelihood that those surveyed would harbor stereotypes, prejudice or discriminatory attitudes." Read more at Disability Scoop.

OXYTOCIN, AUTISM. A small study in Australia suggests that doses of oxytocin administered via nasal spray can provide "significant improvements in social, emotional and behavioral problems." Not clear from a write-up of the study: how severe the study subject's problems were. The write-up notes plenty of caveats, including a lack of knowledge of the long-term effects of the hormone. Read more.

KIDS AND MEDIA USE. The American Academy of Pediatrics is revisiting its 2013 recommendation that children older than 2 get two hours or less of screen time per day, according to the Huffington Post. The new guidelines are expected to be released on 2016, and it sounds as if they'll take into account recent changes in the use of technology and associated opportunities, as well as the effect of parents' own screen use on the family. Find out more.

MULITPLE MEDS. Is that 2e kiddo you raise on more than one medication? A new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute addresses that situation, which is called "polypharmacy" and is becoming more common. Find out more about risks and things to consider.

UNDERSTOOD has on its site a video of actress Wendy Davis talking about her ADHD and her daughters. Understood says, "In this series of videos, hear her story about growing up with ADHD, how it helped her as an actress, and how she responded to her daughter getting the same diagnosis." Find the videos.

ADVOCATE FOR GIFTED AND SPECIAL ED. As the parent of educator of 2e children, you have a foot in two camps -- gifted ed and special ed. The Council for Exceptional Children offers you a chance to "tell Congress to invest in programs for children with exceptionalities." Find out more and take action.

ADA RESOURCE. If you'd like to go right to the source to discover the U.S. government's policy on accommodations for standardized and high-stakes testing, there's a PDF on ADA requirements located in the Disability Rights section of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice that might interest you. It tells what kinds of tests are covered (like the SAT); examples of accommodations, including extended time or a distraction-free room; eligibility for accommodations, even for those with "a history of academic success"; documentation to support a request for accommodations; and more. Find the document.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Another Muppet with ASD, Gifted Ed, Working Memory, More

MUPPET UPDATE. In the blog MotherLode, Jennie Baird notes that the recent heavy news coverage about a new, autistic character in the Muppet family overlooks an existing character -- Fozzie Bear -- is perceived as "on the spectrum" by many, including the writer's 14-year-old son with high-functioning autism. The blog posting delves into the family's history with the young man's diagnosis and the fact that he is now an honors student who can, in the writer's words, "'pass' as a regular, funny, quirky teenager." Read more.

GIFTED ED FOR MORE. An article in Education Week addresses the prevailing advantage kids have who come from families that are "whiter and wealthier" in getting into gifted and honors classes at school. A school system in Elk Grove, California, is used as an example of how things can go wrong unintentionally and what can be done to change the situation to make access to gifted ed more equitable. Measures include a more universal screening for the gifted program. Find the article.

THE HEART AND ADHD MEDS. Patients with what's called "long-QT syndrome" (based on a characteristic of an electrocardiogram) and who took ADHD meds were at greater risk for later "cardiac events." The study write-up didn't seem to imply these events occurred in young people, but if nothing else the write-up would seem to encourage parents to know their child's heart health and condition before diving into meds. Find the write-up. (The Mayo Clinic says that signs and symptoms of long-QT syndrome may occur any time from early in life to old age.)

WORKING MEMORY. Working memory, something many 2e kids have issues with, is apparently more complex than previously thought, according to a recently-published study. Evidently it depends on rhythmic activity in the hippocampus. If the topic of working memory is important at your house, check out the study. Separately, the title of another article on working memory says all you need to know to decide whether to find out more: "Working on Your Tot’s Memory Now Can Help His High School Success."

THE REPRODUCIBILITY PROJECT. No, not that reproducibility. Rather, the reproducibility of scientific studies. We've written about this before and how it should make us at least a little hesitant to blindly accept study results as valid and unimpeachable, but a new article at the site of the Dana Foundation covers the issue. Find the article.

DYSLEXIA: INTERVENING EARLY. Don't wait to intervene with young people with dyslexia -- that's the message from a new study. The authors conclude that implementing effective reading programs as early as kindergarten or even preschool offers the potential to close the achievement gap that arises in children with dyslexia. Read more.

DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. If dyslexia is an "e" of concern to you, it's likely that the organization Dyslexic Advantage and its newsletter will be of interest. The most recent newsletter, which you can sign up for at the site of Dyslexic Advantage, covers: the recent Dyslexic AdvantageLeadership Conference on Dyslexia and Innovation; the passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of Project READ; a new dyslexia law in California; and much more.

BEACON SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE. The Beacon School, an accredited, coed, independent school for intellectually curious learners in grades 3-12, will be hosting an Admissions Open House event on Sunday, November 8, 2015, from 1:00pm until 3:00pm at 111 West North Street in Stamford, Connecticut. Beacon School bills itself as 2e friendly. The open house is for admissions for the 2016-17 school year. For more information on Beacon School, contact Meredith Hafer, the Head of School, at 203-200-7244 or

BELIN BLANK CENTER. According to this organization, part of the University of Iowa, on September 9, 2015, the Center celebrated the appointment of Dr. Susan Assouline, Director of the Center, as the Myron & Jacqueline Blank Endowed Chair in Gifted Education. Find this and other Belin Blank news in the organization's most recent newsletter. And congratulations to Susan, a member of the 2e Newsletter Editorial Advisory Board.

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, has a screening in Australia on November 27 on the campus of Sandringham College. The event is sponsored by Kids Like Us. Fnd out more on page 12 of Jo Freitag's Gifted Resources Newsletter.

WRIGHTSLAW, in Special Ed Advocate, tells us that teachers as well as parents often have trouble implementing IEPs due to misinformation or lack of guidance from school administrators. Wrightslaw says, "In this issue of the Special Ed Advocate you'll find strategies teachers and parents can use to get better special education services for children. Learn how to handle obstacles within your school system."

GOING TO NAGC NEXT WEEK? The 2015 conference mobile app is available at this site. The app, among other things, allows you to browse and choose conference sessions and contains a map of the conference location, always a handy thing to have.