Thursday, July 28, 2016

Fed Help for ADHD, Non-academic Skills, Kid POV Podcast, and More

U.S. D.O.E ADDRESSES ADHD. According to the Los Angeles Times, the United States Department of Education has issued guidelines for schools regarding their responsibilities for students with ADHD. Evidently "schools must obey existing civil rights law to identify students with the disorder and provide them with accommodations to help them learn." Also from the article: "The guidelines make clear that school districts should evaluate students who may have the disorder even if they show high academic performance. Parents are entitled to ask that a district evaluate a student." This is all good news for the 2e community. Find the article. Find the D.O.E. press release. Find the Department's "Know Your Rights" document on this topic.

GOT A "CHALLENGING" KIDDO? The Child Mind Institute offers an article with tips for hiring and keeping sitters. Tip 1: "Before airing your dirty laundry, show them a smile or two." Find more.

NON-ACADEMIC SKILLS are addressed in an article at Education Week. From the article: "A growing body of research, drawn from the science of child development, demonstrates the extent of the impact that non-academic and social-emotional skills—such as self-regulation, problem-solving, social awareness, and growth mindset—have on academic outcomes and success in the workforce and in life." The article also notes that ESSA requires states to include at least one non-academic measure for school accountability. Find the article.

ASD MEDS. Disability Scoop notes that some medications commonly used to treat children on the spectrum can cause weight gain. Those drugs include Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Abilify. Read more.

KIDS AND PSYCHIATRIC HELP. An article at the Observer describes the advantages to identifying and intervening with children's mental health issues early, although a lack of child psychiatrists can be an impediment. The article notes some of the indicators of problems, and also how the same disorder can appear differently in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Find the article.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's July eNews Update is out, with news about the Thiel Foundation, the new DITD website, state legislative news, and more. Find the newsletter.

TiLT. A new podcast at this site for parents of "differently wired kids" features the 11yo son of the site's founder answering questions from other kids about his social life -- such as what his friendships are like, what happens when you have a meltdown in front of a friend, and more. Find the podcast.

STUDIES AND RESEARCH. Here are recent research-related items that have crossed our desk -- or our computer screen:

  • ADHD, ASD, OCD. A team of scientists has found similarities in brain impairments in children with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. The impairments are in the white matter connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. Find the study write-up
  • ADHD MEDS. New research provides some of the first evidence that medications taken by millions of American children to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder offer long-term benefits. Researchers found treatment with ADHD medication made children less likely to suffer consequences of risky behaviors such as sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse during their teen years, and injuries. Find the study write-up
  • SOFTWARE FOR ADHD. Pediatricians are getting an assist from a web-based technology to improve the quality of ADHD care and patient outcomes. The software has been selected by the American Academy of Pediatrics for a five-state collaborative. Find the study write-up
  • TOURETTE'S. A drug used for schizophrenia can apparently ameliorate the severity of tics in children with Tourette's. Find the study write-up
  • ANXIETY, MINDFULNESS. Participants with anxiety disorder went through a mindfulness-based therapeutic intervention, and as a result "the anxiety... was significantly reduced following treatment, and the more mindfulness they practiced, the less anxious they felt." Find the study write-up

Monday, July 25, 2016

Dealing with Being Different, Some Upcoming Events, and More

"FINDING DORY" RESONATING. We've read several accounts of how the "Finding Dory" sequel resonates with viewers who have "challenges." Sunday we found one by a writer with dyslexia, who shares his appreciation and his own story. From his piece: "My parents were both highly intelligent, my dad a PhD, and I had an advanced vocabulary as a result.... When the dust had settled and all the testing was complete, I was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. My parents were shocked and heartbroken. My father, in his fear, became distant." Find the piece.

"WHY CAN'T I be like everybody else?" Ever heard that from a twice-exceptional kiddo? A writer who has a 2e child describes in The Washington Post her son's difficulties with school. Read what teachers said (and what you might have heard yourself over the years) and read the mom's great response to her child. Find the article.

WOMEN AND ADHD is the topic of an article at "Broadly." The take-off point is a description of the Better Together Festival, for women with ADHD, but the article also recounts the history of ADHD awareness for women. From the article: "there's an estimated four million girls and women who are not receiving the treatment they desperately need because no one realizes they have the disorder." Read more. Separately, an "Ask the Experts" feature at the site of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities note that there might potentially be different brain mechanisms for ADHD in girls than in boys; find the feature.

ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION IN CHILDREN is the subject of an article in the Miami Herald, which notes the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that children be screened yearly for depression. The article offers tips for talking to a child about the conditions; a description of treatments; ;and some lifestyle changes that can help. Find the article. Separately, Healthline discusses the implications of the recent study (mentioned in previous postings here) showing that only one antidepressant is safe and effective in children. Find the article.

SUMMIT CENTER. This practice that serves twice-exceptional children and their families is offering an August 30 webinar titled "Time Management Skills for Your Child." A fee applies. Find out more.

CINDY HANSEN, an educational therapist, is offering a free webinar on August 11 titled "Revealing Hidden Strengths: Tips to Engage and Support Struggling Learners with Superior Abilities" -- eg, those 2e kiddos. The webinar is for advocates, educational therapists, teachers, counselors and parents. Find out more.

WEINFELD EDUCATION GROUP EVENT. On September 24, the Weinfeld Education Group presents its annual "Diamonds in the Rough" conference in the Washington, D.C., area. Some of the sessions deal with college for students with learning challenges. Find out more.

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, the movie, has a screening today at the New Hope, Pennsylvania Film Festival, at 6:30. Hurry on over to the festival's site to find out more.

STUDY: DOGS DE-STRESS FAMILIES with kids on the spectrum, according to new research. Find out more.

OCD. The Child Mind Institute offers an intensive OCD program aimed at getting beneficial results in weeks rather than months. Find out more. Separately, a new study concludes that patients with OCD are 10 times more likely to commit suicide, a figure apparently at odds with previous beliefs. Read more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Javits, Special Ed, Dyslexic Advantage, the Brain, and More

JAVITS FUNDING is not imperiled for 2017, according to the NAGC's Jane Clarenbach. She writes, "this is the first time in many years that the fate of the Javits program does not hang in the balance until the last possible moment in the appropriations process." That's good news. Maybe the funding will be doubled or tripled sometime soon, to a level where it could do more good (our opinion, not NAGC's). Read Clarenbach's optimistic report.

DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. This non-profit's July newsletter is out, and it includes lots of features: an article on "Finding Dory" and how Dory's parents treat their "different" child; a profile of a dyslexic photographer; an article on Roald Dahl and his dyslexia; and much more. Find the newsletter.
THE LAW AND SPECIAL ED. First, Wrightslaw, in Special Ed Advocate, starts a four-pert "summer school" around the topic of documenting and recording IEP meetings. Part 1: "Learn why, and how, to tape-record IEP meetings." Find Special Ed Advocate. Second, an article at Disability Scoop details what happened when a school retaliated against a mom who was advocating for her daughter's special ed services. Go to the article.
TiLT PARENTING presents another in its series of podcasts, this one about a mom who found how nature could relieve her differently-wired daughter's anxiety. Find the podcast.
UNDERSTOOD offers a couple of possibly 2e-relevant items. One is about the importance of avoiding burnout for kids with learning and attention issues; find it. The other is an upcoming live expert chat with a clinical neuropsychologist about back-to-school anxiety and stress; find it.
BRAIN STUFF. Some significant news items about the brain, predicting intelligence, and academic performance: 
  • Brain map. A new map by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis lays out a very detailed landscape of the cerebral cortex – the outermost layer of the brain and the dominant structure involved in sensory perception and attention, as well as distinctly human functions such as language, tool use and abstract thinking. Find a press release/study write-up; find an article in The Washington Post
  • Intelligence. Human intelligence is being defined and measured for the first time ever. It turns out that the more variable a brain is, and the more its different parts frequently connect with each other, the higher a person's IQ and creativity are. Find the study write-up
  • Academic achievement. Scientists have used a new genetic scoring technique to predict academic achievement from DNA alone. This is the strongest prediction from DNA of a behavioral measure to date. Find the study write-up. (Don't get too excited, however -- the researchers were able to explain only 10 percent of differences in achievement, leaving 90 percent to other variables.)

Monday, July 18, 2016

2e-Friendly School, Back to School, 2e the Move, and More

NEW 2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL GETS PRESS. FlexSchool's second location, in New Haven, Connecticut, made the New Haven Register this morning. The newspaper noted the nature of the school's target audience and quoted founding head of school Heidi Molbak on the school's educational practices. Find the article.

BACK TO SCHOOL. Right, we know. It seems a little early to think about that, even though we saw those words for the first time this season as we scanned news items for the blog and briefing today. However: for our September issue we'd like to do an article on ways to get the new school year off to a good start for 2e kiddos. We're betting that our resourceful, astute, and persistent readers have discovered some pretty good techniques, and if you'd like to share them we can base the article on what we hear. Some potential examples: writing an explanatory letter to the teacher (what do you put in it that works?); meeting with the principal (how do you make it a productive meeting?); implementing strategies/systems of various sorts. Please share by email with Mark at you-know-where. Thanks! (And sorry to interrupt your summer.)

2e: TWICE EXCEPTIONAL, THE MOVIE. This movie's producer offers up a "bonus clip" in which the a family discusses the issues involved when their twice-exceptional son chooses not to go to college after high school and takes an unusual “gap year” instead. Find the clip.

INTERVENTION FOR AT-RISK COLLEGE ENTRANTS. In The Washington Post, Daniel Willingham reports on an intervention that can help ensure the college success of two types of at-risk students: those from disadvantaged backgrounds; and those who are the first in their families to attend college. The brief, online intervention was trialed in three varieties, all of which were effective: one acknowledging that feeling out of place was common but noting that most young people do okay; one focusing on the growth mindset; and one combining the first two. Find out more.

ALZHEIMER'S LINK TO CHILDHOOD. Brain scans of almost 2,000 children revealed structural and size patterns associated with a gene known to play a role in about 25 percent of Alzheimer's cases, according to the Los Angeles Times. The gene also was related to cognitive function, working memory, and attention in the children. The newspaper noted that the findings "suggest that Alzheimer’s may be much more than a disease related to the brain’s inability to clear beta amyloid plaques. Instead, it may be useful to think of it as a developmental disorder." Read more.

AUTISM WEBINAR. On August 9, from 2-3 pm Eastern time, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation will offer a Meet the Scientist webinar titled "Autism: Understanding the Causes and Developing Effective Treatments." If this topic is of interest to you, find out more.
RESEARCH, STUDIES. Here are three recent study summaries of possible interest to members of the 2e community:
  • Children as young as 9 months-old prefer to play with toys specific to their own gender, according to a new study. The research suggests the possibility that boys and girls follow different developmental trajectories with respect to selection of gender-typed toys and that there is both a biological and a developmental-environmental components to the sex differences seen in object preferences. Find the study write-up. (These results are probably no surprise to the parents reading this.)
  • A single brain receptor is responsible for a range of symptoms in mice that are reminiscent of obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to a new study. The findings suggest that OCD and other psychiatric disorders could be amenable to treatment using a class of drugs that is already being investigated in clinical trials. Find the study write-up
  • Fathers play a surprisingly large role in their children's development, from language and cognitive growth in toddlerhood to social skills in fifth grade, according to new research. Find the study write-up

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Education, Schools, Screen Time, More

A 2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL in Reston, Virginia, is apparently in financial trouble a year after opening. According to a news report, financial mismanagement has put School for Tomorrow in jeopardy of failing. The school's community is looking for a way to raise money and/or attract enough additional students for the 2016-17 year to make up a financial shortfall. Find out more.

NJ FUNDING SQUABBLE. In Rockaway, New Jersey, the school district is apparently caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to requirements to provide gifted programs and to identify students with dyslexia. On the one hand, the programs are government mandated, and expenses for them keep rising. On the other hand, the state provides a decreasing amount of funding. One wrinkle is that the dyslexic identification program is federally mandated, and the state is not required to pay for it. Read more.

ESSA. If you have opinions about how the replacement to NCLB should be implemented, the U.S. Department of Education is accepting input from the public until August 1, according to Understood. Find out more.

SCREEN TIME FOR TODDLERS is the topic of a new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute. It's not a black-and-white issue because of the diversity of media available and the parent's role in how the child is involved with the media. If screen time is an issue in your house, find the article.

WRIGHTSLAW. Special Ed Advocate answers questions from parents in the current issue. Among them:
  • Should we threaten to sue the school over the placement decision?
  • Should I hire an advocate?
If your relationship with your school is contentious, perhaps check out Special Ed Advocate.

TiLT PARENTING has posted another podcast, this one titled "Understanding and Navigating the Parent-Teacher Relationship." It features an accomplished second-grade teacher and author. Find out more.

RESEARCH AND STUDIES. The results of several potentially 2e-relevant studies have been published recently.
  • Scientists have shown how manipulating a novel target in the brain using gene therapy could lead to new treatments for depression. Decreasing a set of proteins in the hippocampus reduced depression-like behavior in mice. If replicated in humans, the findings could inform fresh therapies for millions of patients who do not respond to existing treatments for depression. Find the study write-up
  • The immune system affects -- and even controls -- social behavior, a new study has found. Researchers discovered that blocking a single type of immune molecule made mouse brains go hyperactive and caused abnormal behavior; restoring it fixed both. The discovery could have implications for neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia. Find the study write-up
  • Eating cinnamon might improve learning ability. A study by neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center found that feeding cinnamon to laboratory mice determined to have poor learning ability made the mice better learners -- at least, when it came to find their way around a maze. (But then again, what else is school?) Find the study write-up.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Homework, ASD, Depression, Anxiety, Temple Grandin, and More

DO YOUR HOMEWORK ON HOMEWORK. Homework has no effect on younger students, and a "modest" effect on the academic achievement of older students. That's the starting point for a piece by educational researcher Daniel Willingham in The Washington Post. In the piece he notes a study that calls into question the validity of our assumptions for older students, but the piece certainly begs the question (again) of why younger students get homework. Find the piece.

ASD DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT RATES. State mandates requiring commercial health plans to cover the cost of services for children with autism spectrum disorder have resulted in an increased number of children being diagnosed and treated for ASD, according to new research. And the longer the mandates are in effect, the larger the increase in ASD diagnosis. Find out more.

UNDERSTOOD offers nine ways to show empathy for kids with learning and attention issues. For example: "Don't just assume." Ask directly about what your child is feeling or experiencing. Find the tips.

EPIGENETICS, DEPRESSION. Mayo Clinic is highlighting the potential merits of using precision medicine in prescribing antidepressants, according to a news release. Knowing a patent's genetic makeup can help a treatment provider choose among the 20 FDA-approved treatments for depression. Find the news release. And, if this topic is of interest to you, check out a background piece on epigenetics.

  • University counseling centers often have waiting lists for students seeking help with anxiety or depression, according to Inside Higher Ed. If you have a college-age 2e kiddo, perhaps check out what's going on with college and university counseling centers. 
  • HealthDay reports that depression affects about three million teens per year, a rate of about 11 percent. Find out more
  • Research at the University of Texas indicates that low attention control in early adolescence is related to a genetic risk factor for four different anxiety disorders. Young teens who suffer from anxiety are also more vulnerable to additional problems like depression, drug dependence, suicidal behavior, and educational underachievement. Find out more
TEMPLE GRANDIN IN THE CHICAGO AREA. On Wednesday, September 21, the Glenbard Parent Series will sponsor Temple Grandin in two free presentations, one at 3 p.m. and one at 7 p.m., titled "Different Not Less." Find out more. This series of presentations is for parents, students, and professionals and focuses on issues facing young people. Upcoming 2016 topics include coping strategies to regulate anxiety; motivating teens; breaking free of over-parenting; and developing executive functioning skills. Find out more on Facebook.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Gifted Ed, Anxlety, Labels, Depression, and More

EDUCATION WEEK, in a blog, posting, offers "14 Things Gifted Students Want Teachers to Know." The posting is based on the personal experiences of a gifted advocate and his family. Example: "I don't want to be singled out." Example: "I need to know I'm gifted." See how many you agree (or disagree) with based on your experience with gifted/LD kiddos. Find the posting.

GIFTED ED: EQUITY VERSUS EXCELLENCE. Professor Scott Peters of the University of Wisconsin, a frequent speaker at gifted conferences, has published a blog posting about equity in gifted education. The issue: making sure that gifted ed is available to develop advanced abilities in students who can benefit from gifted services. The confounding factor: making sure that low-income or ELL students achieve access to those services. Read the blog.

THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE has posted an article titled "Intensive Treatment for OCD and Anxiety." It describes a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that apparently can get results in weeks rather than months. Find out more.

THE GIFTED CHALLENGES BLOG took on the tricky topic of labels in a posting recently. By default, 2e kiddos are going to have a label (besides "gifted"). But, as psychologist/blogger Gail Post recommends, "The language we use matters. Let's be careful with how we label others." Read more.

TiLT. This site, for parents of "differently wired kids," has posted some advice on travel and vacation strategies featuring TiLT's founder and her 11yo son. Debbie Reber writes, "Asher and I share what we’ve learned over the years when it comes to making sure everyone’s needs and expectations on any given vacation are met, or at the very least, addressed, and walk listeners through the different schedules and planners we’ve we incorporated into our vacation prep. (We also share our planning templates below for free download!)." Find the advice.

BELIN-BLANK, at the University of Iowa, is hosting a conference July 24-26 on academic acceleration based on the Center's book A Nation Empowered. Participants will include researchers and educators. Find out more.

DEPRESSION. A Denver psychiatrist, at the site of, gives a detailed perspective of current knowledge about depression and its mechanisms. Among his points:

  • The same depressive symptoms may, in different patients, be caused by different neurological processes.
  • Brain imaging can detect (in the lab, anyway) different subtypes of depression and predict who will respond well to antidepressants. 
  • A variety of brain injuries/conditions -- traumatic brain injury, for example -- can masquerade as "endogenous" depression.
  • Inflammation may be involved in certain types of depression. 
  • And, importantly: "We have a huge amount of neurobiology research now to conclude that the 20th century neurotransmitter theories of psychopharmacology basically are false." 
Find out more.

ADHD. Attention problems in childhood can have a lasting impact. A new Duke University study found that children with attention problems in early childhood were 40 percent less likely to graduate from high school. Find the study write-up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

2e-Friendly Schools, OCD, ADHD, More

2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL IN AUSTIN. A parent in Austin, Texas, contacted us to let us know about Ko School and Incubator. The parent wrote, "In one short year, my son went from barely surviving to thriving. While Ko School does not exclusively cater to 2e students, the small, multi-aged class sizes, emotional/social learning included in the curriculum, and the school's unique way of individualizing each child's educational experience, allow many self-directed 2e students who fail in conventional school settings to excel." Find out more.

2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL IN ADELAIDE. A friend of the newsletter in Australia tells us that Dara Village School for the gifted is scheduled to open in Adelaide, South Australia, at the beginning of 2017. She writes, "All teaching staff will have a master's in teaching gifted students and with this specialized knowledge 2e students will be very welcome!" Find out more.

OCD PRIMER. An article at UK Business Insider offers insight into what OCD is like in real life as opposed to the way it can be depicted in pop culture. The article covers triggers and treatment with input from psychiatrists and researchers. Find the article.

ADHD CAMP. A summer camp in Tennessee is one of just a few that is devoted to the treatment of ADHD by means of strengthening social skills and focus, according to The Tennessean. Role-play between campers and counselors is one learning tool, as is group discussion and a point system for rewards. Read more.

JEN THE BLOGGER writes about poetic justice as her twice-exceptional son returns to the sleep-away Camp Invention he loved as a younger child -- only this time, at 15, he's an intern helping counsel and supervise younger campers and counselors-in-training. Jen gets the last laugh on several matters. Find the blog.

JOURNAL WATCH. This service from the New England Journal of Medicine commented on a couple studies that are of potential interest to parents. 
  • One study indicated that students with a concussion were, a week later, experiencing academic dysfunction much at a much higher level than students who had suffered injuries to extremities, but that after a month the differences were negligible. Commenting on those and other study results, Journal Watch said: "...depending on the point in the academic semester or year at which the injury occurs, even a few weeks can have a significant negative impact on academic success. These findings confirm prior work showing that girls and students with multiple prior concussions will need more careful follow-up by pediatricians and school officials." 
  • The other study is one mentioned in this blog on June 10 about the efficacy of antidepressants in young people. Journal Watch commented: "These findings provide little support for administering antidepressants during childhood. However, an epidemiological study of suicide rates, conducted after the black-box warning, suggests otherwise: As prescriptions for antidepressants decreased, suicide rates increased (Am J Psychiatry2006; 163:1898). Eventually, personalized biomarkers will pinpoint patients who can benefit from antidepressants. In the meantime, medication may be appropriate for moderately or severely ill children and teens when nonpharmacological interventions fail." As always, consult with your own medical professional.
(Journal Watch access is by subscription only.)

  • Self-talk. A UK professor and his colleagues tested which physiological skills would help people improve their scores in an online game. According to a study write-up, people using self-talk -- for example "I can do better next time" -- performed better than the control group in every portion of the task. Find the write-up
  • More to worry about. In a new report, dozens of scientists, health practitioners, and children's health advocates are calling for renewed attention to the growing evidence that many common and widely available chemicals endanger neurodevelopment in fetuses and children of all ages. Find the write-up
  • Parenting. Youth who experienced high parental warmth and support are less civically engaged in young adulthood -- in comparison to their peers who received less parental affection. The surprising finding challenges the widely held belief that positive parenting leads to positive outcomes for children and youth in virtually all life domains. Find the write-up