Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Gifted," ASD, Processing Speed, and More

GIFTED, the movie, sparked a conversation in the Toronto Star. First, a mathematics professor wrote an opinion piece taking umbrage at the Hollywood emphasis on nature rather than nurture in giftedness. In describing the development of himself and other exceptional students, he said: "Instead of inheriting a gift, we developed our grit." He suggests that all students be empowered through experiences with problem-solving, concluding, "...then all of our students will be gifted." The opinion piece generated a letter from the dad of a gifted girl pointing out how gifted children can be neuronally different and may also experience challenges from asynchronous development as well as from heightened sensitivities. M. Rene Islas, executive director of NAGC, also weighed in, asserting the uniqueness of gifted children and writing this: "Gifted children display cognitive, artistic, leadership or academic ability significantly outside the norm for their age. These traits require services that are typically not provided in regular school and classroom settings." Find the letters and see what you think.

THE DARK SIDE OF GIFTEDNESS. Are gifted individuals more prone to suicide? That's the question that an institute at the College of William and Mary will be attempting to answer, given the lack of prior research and data pertaining to the question. Tracy Cross, the executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at William and Mary, will lead the effort. Find out more.

ASD AND SUMMER. An article in The Hartford Courant covers a program that helps kiddos with ASD when routines change during the summer. The program is called "Summer Social Skills Immersion." Learning how to transition and be out in the community are focuses of the program. Find out more. Separately, an article in The New York Times describes how some airlines and airports are helping to ease the travel experience for passengers on the spectrum; find the article.

ASD AND THE GUT. Therapies to change the bacteria in the gut, through diet, pro-and prebiotic supplements, fecal matter transplants or antibiotics, could treat autism. A review of six decades of research linking the gut to brain development could pave the way for cheap and effective treatment. Find out more at Science Daily. On a related topic, an article in Journal Watch reacted to news of a recent study which yielded little evidence that special diets help address the symptoms of ASD. The Journal Watch reviewer noted that some types of supplementation were not examined. "Folinic acid has improved language in children with ASD and is important because it bypasses genetic defects that prevent normal metabolism of dietary folate. Other studies have found low levels of vitamin D in people with ASD, leading some authors to suggest ensuring adequate vitamin D in infants as a preventive measure. Finally, omega-3s have improved reading, spelling, motor skills, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity symptom scores in schoolchildren with developmental coordination disorder, suggesting that omega-3s might improve some behaviors and cognitive abilities in patients with ASD."

SLOW PROCESSING SPEED is the topic of several items at Understood. One article is on classroom accommodations; another offers "7 Ways to Help Kids with Slow Processing Speed Take Notes in Class"; and a third is an "expert's take" on whether slow processing speed can ever improve.

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH has announced the dates of its 2018 conference -- March 8 and 10 in Rockville, Maryland. Find out more.

TOMORROW, June 22, is SENG's webinar on gifted underachievement. Find out more.

EDUCATORS: If you're still looking for professional development opportunities, the Belin Blank Center at the University of Iowa says that it has openings in some of its workshops on gifted education. See the offerings.

DR SEUSS FANS, be aware that the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum has just opened in Springfield, Massachusetts, the boyhood home of Dr. Seuss. Read more about what it's like.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Most moms of children ages 0-5 have been criticized about topics ranging from discipline to breast-feeding -- most frequently from someone in their own family, says the write-up of new research based on a University of Michigan poll. And it's probably even worse for moms of "challenging" kiddos of the 2e persuasion. The poll included questions about what moms do in response to critical comments. Said the lead researcher, ""Family members should respect that mothers of young children may have more updated information about child health and safety, and 'what we used to do' may no longer be the best advice." Find the study write-up.

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