Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Must-read, Anxiety, and Lots of Brain Stuff

MUST-READ. The Washington Post's "Answer Sheet" column features a 47yo educator who provides a great first-person account of what it was like for him to grow up on the spectrum -- early diagnoses of intellectual disability, then of severe learning disability; bullying and "educational exile" at school; and his parents' refusal to limit their son's potential. He's now an author and speaker as well as a teacher of middle-school students with ASD. In this piece you'll find passage after passage that resonates -- both the good and the bad that twice-exceptional kids (and their parents) experience. Find the column.

LOWERING KIDS' ANXIETY. A child/family therapist offers at PsychCentral "Five Ways to Lower Your Child's Anxiety." Tip one: monitor the media your child is exposed to for violent or aggressive content, which can fire up our friend the amygdala and create anxiety. Read more.

ANOTHER SUMMER PROGRAM. The March/April issue of 2e Newsletter, just out, contains our annual "Summer Camp" article listing 2e-friendly summer camps and programs. Right after we published the issue we heard about another one, this one a half-day "Comedy Summer Camp" for 2e learners in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The camp's organizer says that it will focus on social/emotional development and basic writing skills using humor. The camp includes improvisational play for social intelligence, stand-up comedy for emotional intelligence, and sketch comedy writing for basic writing skills. Find out more.

EARLY INFLUENCES ON "INHIBITORY CONTROL." A new study suggests that genetics are important in the way two-year-olds exercise inhibitory control -- not doing something they want to do -- but by age three the biggest influence on such control is parenting and the family environment. The lead study author noted how low levels of inhibitory control can contribute to issues such as ADHD. Find a study write-up.

BRAIN SCANS: DETECTING AUTISM. Scientists have reported a new degree of success in using brain scans to distinguish between adults diagnosed with autism and people without the disorder, an advance that could lead to the development of a diagnostic tool. Researchers employed a software algorithm that found 16 key inter-regional functional connections that those those with and without autism. Find out more.

BRAIN IMAGING FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER. Researchers have neuroimaging to develop a potential way to identify individuals with biopolar disorder. The basic technique is similar to the autism-detecting study above: looking for brain structure patterns that distinguish neurotypical subjects from those with bipolar disorder. Read more.

BRAIN MAPPING: IMPROVING. Salk Institute scientists have developed a new way to map the brain's network of connections that is 20 times more efficient than a previous version. This tool uses a modified version of the rabies virus that jumps between neurons, lighting up connections along the way. The illuminated map allows researchers to precisely trace which neurons connect to each other. Visualizing this neural circuitry can help scientists learn more about conditions ranging from motor diseases to neurodevelopmental disorders. Read more.

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