Monday, July 31, 2017

SENG Conference, Ed Tech, Strength-based Parenting, More

SENG. The annual conference of the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted begins later this week in Naperville, Illinois. For members of the 2e community, the SENG conference is a great place to learn about gifted and 2e issues and to meet parents, educators, and clinicians who are involved in those issues. It's a national and international conference but especially accessible this year to those who live in the Midwest. (And there are kids' programs during conference hours if you want to make attendance a family affair.) The program listing is posted at the SENG site. 2e Newsletter will attend. See you there?

EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY is the topic of an article in The Economist, which contends that technology (at last) has the capability to make personalized learning a reality. The author traces the roots of ed tech to BF Skinner and his 1950's teaching machine, and sets forth certain conditions for the success of personalized, adaptive learning this time around -- including teachers' willingness to use new technology. One point of contention (to us) in the article was this: "...'personalised learning' must follow the evidence on how children learn. It must not be an excuse to revive pseudoscientific ideas such as 'learning styles.'" We suggest that the experiences of those who raise and teach 2e students lead to caution in dismissing individual differences (capabilities and preferences) in the way students receive and express information. We also assume that a robust personalized learning system would be able to present information in several alternative ways. Find the article.

THE BRAIN'S EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT was the topic of a Cerebrum article we pointed to recently. Those who prefer to receive their information aurally 😊 may hear a podcast on the same topic and with the author of the article. Here's the Cerebrum site, and here's the site hosting the podcast.

STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES are both in the mix in our interactions with 2e kiddos. The Washington Post ran an interview with the author of the  book The Strength Switch, subtitled "How the New Science of Strength-Based Parenting Can Help Your Child and Your Teen to Flourish." The intro to the interview starts this way: "You see your child made four As and one D on their report card. Do your eyes skim over those excellent grades and immediately focus on the D?" Well, parents? Are you like most of the rest of us? Want to change? Find the interview.

DEPRESSION. US News offers tips for treating depression in children in a recent article covering psychotherapy as well as meds. Find the article.

UNDERSTOOD is offering a free "live chat" this Thursday at noon Eastern time. It's titled "Talking to Your Child about Their ADHD and Dyslexia Diagnosis." Find out more.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTION. "As children age into adolescence and on into young adulthood, they show dramatic improvements in their ability to control impulses, stay organized, and make decisions," says the first sentence of an article at Medical News Today. So yes, parents and educators, things are supposed to get better over time. Want to find out how and why and what goes on in the brain to aid improving cognitive control? Read the article.

U.S. EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. School vouchers have been proposed the the new education secretary as a way to improve the American educational system. Scientific American, in its August issue, writes about the evidence supporting (or not) the proposal, citing limited trials and mixed results. If you're lucky, you can read the Scientific American article for free; if not, you can read about it and get additional commentary in The Washington Post.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Giftedness," Homeschooling, Curiosity, and More

GIFTED CHALLENGES. In this blog, psychologist Gail Post offers "six reasons to stop treating gifted kids as 'special.'" For example: it can make love seem conditional on achievement. She writes about what "special" really means, and notes how the "special" or "gifted" label can cause backlash from neurotypical families. Post doesn't suggest ignoring the needs of gifted kiddos, saying it should be treated "as a trait that needs attention and care." Find the blog, and know that Post responds to comments posted there.

THE HECHINGER REPORT notes that homeschooling is thriving, witih about 1.8 million of kids in the U.S. homeschooled. The report says, "clearly it’s time for states to do more to acknowledge the viability of homeschooling as an educational option, and provide direction and information for parents seeking non-traditional schooling." Neither the word "gifted" nor "exceptional" appear in the article, but it's a good overview of the advantages of homeschooling, and it points out the double burden of expense (school taxes and family educational expenditures) faced by homeschooling families. Find the report, and if you're considering homeschooling your 2e student check out the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, GHF.

DO YOU HAVE A KIDDO who has “the recognition, pursuit, and intense desire to explore, novel, challenging, and uncertain events"? That's curiosity, and an article at The Atlantic explores how the motivation of curiosity plays into the development of giftedness. This is an interesting article about factors which contribute to "giftedness." Find the article.

MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT. A new article at the site Psychiatry Advisor offers advice for parents of children who are or might be seeking mental health services. The article addresses adolescent willingness to accept mental health services, how to react to suicide threats, and some of the risk factors for suicide. Find the article.

TiLT PARENTING offers a new podcast in which Debbie Reber talks with a mom, Tia, who has traded in her MBA and career in global advertising to raise three children, one differently wired -- "a twelve-year-old twice-exceptional daughter who has several processing and learning differences, including dysgraphia, dyslexia, and dyscalculia, as well as being gifted." Debbie says, "In our conversation, [Tia] shares her story, as well as tells us about her own roadblocks along the way of coming to terms with how unique her daughter was and finding a place of accepting what is." Find the podcast.

SMART KIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES has posted a new, short article preparing for a smooth transition to college. Find it.

US NEWS has published an article parsing executive function and ADHD, and offering suggestions on how parents can improve executive functioning skills in their kiddos. Among the suggestions: use visuals and simple planners; consider timers; and use acronyms. Read more.

Monday, July 24, 2017

High Cognition, Depression, Research, Stress, More

HIGH COGNITION? According to Curious Mind Magazine, those who are highly intelligent might be night owls, live in organized chaos, and swear more than other people -- in other words, they can be "messy, profane night owls." The magazine cites research for each of these traits. Find the article. Separately, a New York University study indicates that high cognitive abilities are actually linked to a greater risk of stereotyping -- but also to the ability to "unlearn" those stereotypes with additional information. Find the study write-up.

DEPRESSION. A research fellow at the Yale School of Medicine writes in Scientific American about the use of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression. Yale has used the drug in a clinical trial in which adolescents participated. The author, who observed the trial, wrote this: " I could see the weight of depression lifted from these patients within hours. Adolescents who were previously ready to end their own lives became bright and hopeful. Psychiatry has never seen a drug intervention so powerful and fast acting." As we've written before, the drug has side effects and its long-term effects are unclear -- a concern if the drug is administered every few weeks. Still, the research on ketamine and related drugs is encouraging to those who know teens with severe, treatment-resistant depression. Find the article.

MORE ON RESEARCH. The Child Mind Institute has a project called the Healthy Brain Network Biobank, a collection of neuropsychiatric data from hundreds of children. The database is intended for "open sharing with multidisciplinary scientists to accelerate discovery in developmental neuroscience." But families who participate benefit as well: " Participating families are evaluated by licensed clinicians and receive a feedback report detailing the results of their evaluation. If indicated, we’ll refer them for treatment and services within their community," says the Institute, which also encourages donations to help support the project. Find out more, and consider how such a database might help in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting our 2e kiddos (as well as all children).

COPING WITH STRESS is the topic of a new study from Vanderbilt University. A study write-up describes the various coping mechanisms young people might use for stresses such as anxiety and describes which mechanisms are most effective (like constructive communication) and which are maladaptive (like avoidance). Find a study write-up.

EDUCATOR'S RESOURCE. Amazon is introducing "Inspire," a library of free, open-education resources. According to, if you have an Amazon account you can see and download resources. Amazon is still apparently working on a "share" feature that is somewhat trickier to implement because of copyright considerations and teachers' propensities to distribute freely. Go to the write-up; find Inspire on Amazon.

  • Education Week describes how the U.S. Department of Education might lose $2 billion in funding for teacher-training programs. Is that the right way to help teachers learn about 2e kiddos, along with all the other things we expect teachers to know? Find the EdWeek article
  • The Washington Post reports on the new Secretary of Education's first speech dealing with special ed, and education writer Valerie Strauss is not impressed. Find the article.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Parenting, Panic, Emotional Development, Depression, and More

PARENTS OF GIFTED KIDDOS will likely appreciate an article from The Washington Post in which a mom (who doesn't like the "gifted" label) describes some of the conundrums we encounter with high-ability young people -- the intensity, early cognitive development, asynchronous development in other areas, and how to enable the child to grow up "normally." Also covered: the lack of a "community" of other parents with similar experiences. Find the article.

EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, said in a recent speech that “When it comes to educating students with disabilities, failure is not an option. De minimis isn’t either." This according to Disability Scoop. DeVos then went on to apparently link serving those with learning disabilities to school choice: "Parents of children with disabilities know best. They should be the ones to decide where and how their children are educated." Read more.

PANIC ATTACKS are the subject of a new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute. The article includes a characterization of a true panic attack and its physical symptoms, and describes how it can lead to panic disorder and avoidance. Also covered: treatment. Find the article. Separately, Healio this week published an article describing how primary care pediatricians can diagnose and treat anxiety disorders in children. Find out what Healio thinks your pediatrician should know.

WRIGHTSLAW, as it does every year, is offering "summer school" for parents, "a series of self-study readings, written assignments, and maybe even a quiz or two, that will help you prepare for the next school year." Didn't do all the reading and research you meant to during the past school year on topics such as IDEA, IEPs,and special ed law? Check out "summer school."

EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE BRAIN is the topic of a new article at the site of the Dana Foundation. The editor's introduction says, "From our earliest days, the brain rapidly develops thinking, mobility, and communication skills. But not quite as quick to develop are the parts of the brain that regulate and process our emotions. New research is helping scientists learn about areas that are crucial to emotional development, and how our surroundings fit into the picture. The findings could have far-reaching implications for both parents and policy-makers." Find the article.

CERTAINTY VERSUS UNCERTAINTY in the process of raising a differently-wired kid -- that's the topic of a new podcast from TiLT Parenting. From the introduction to the podcast: "During our talk, Allison [Carmen] and I look at the very real toll of being addicted to certainty, especially for parents raising differently-wired kids, which, as we all know, comes with absolutely zero guarantees and certainty when it comes to what the current path or the future might look like. Allison shares her thoughts about how embracing just one simple word — maybe — can completely transform the way we’re experiencing our everyday lives." Find the podcast.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's July e-newsletter is out, with news from the field of gifted ed, from the various Davidson programs, and from the area of law and policy related to gifted ed. Find the newsletter.

LANDMARK COLLEGE is partnering with MIT to host the LD Innovation Symposium on September 29 in Boston, subtitled "Diverse Technologies for Diverse Minds." The keynote is titled "ADHD and Learning: A Perfect Storm," and Landmark promises additional details on other sessions soon. Find out more.

PANDAS/PANS. Researchers from the PANS Research Consortium have published guidelines for therapies to deal with PANS and PANDAS, which involve the sudden onset of OCD and other symptoms in children. Read more.

DEPRESSION. Scientists have linked specific wiring in the brain to distinct behavioral symptoms of depression. In a new study, researchers found brain circuits tied to feelings of despair and helplessness and were able to alleviate and even reverse such symptoms in mice, according to Science Daily. Find the research write-up. Separately, Medical News Today examines the link between diet and depression, based on recent research on the impact of diet and depression. The article also lists foods and nutrients that might help alleviate depression, foods to avoid, and other factors that might affect depression. Find the article.

ADULT ADHD is different than childhood ADHD, according to Medical News Today, which provides a list of symptoms along with guidelines for diagnosis and treatment. Read more.

Monday, July 17, 2017

ADHD, Growing Out Of, Summer, and More

THOSE WITH FAMILIES IN THE "ADHD ZONE" will likely be interested in an obit of Keith Conners (think "Conners Scale") appearing in The New York Times, which is really a recap of thinking about ADHD since the 1950s. The final quote from Conners in the obit: "The numbers [of diagnoses] make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous. This is a concoction to justify the giving out of the medication at unprecedented and unjustified levels.” Find the obit.

ADHD MEDS, IRRITABILITY. If you're in the ADHD zone and have concerns about whether ADHD meds can cause irritability in your child, you might be interested in the results of a Yale University study showing that while amphetamine-derived meds, like Adderall, are associated with increased irritability, methylphenidates, like Ritalin, are not. Find the study write-up and, as always, consult your pediatrician or psychiatrist.

DEVON MACEACHRON has posted a piece at her blog about "growing out" of LDs, ADHD, or Asperger's. Does that happen? The psychologist answers, "probably not," but she notes that career choices can help individuals find success in the right environment. She writes, "...children don’t usually grow out of it, but they may not be troubled by the different way their brain is wired when the demands of the environment change. In fact, having a differently wired brain may confer distinct advantages." Find the blog.

SMART KIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES offers ways to insert learning into common summer activities such as shopping at the supermarket, planning a vacation, cooking, and taking a nature walk. Unless you've shipped that 2e kiddo off to three-month summer camp, check out the tips.

AND FOR THE END OF SUMMER, Gifted Homeschoolers Forum has opened registration for its fall series of online education programs. For 2e kiddos attending regular school, these programs could be a means of enrichment. GHF says, "GHF Online is 2e-friendly and willing to work with you to make reasonable accommodations for your child's individual needs.." Find out more.

THE BRAIN AND BEHAVIOR RESEARCH FOUNDATION has posted an article on its website on a topic we've mentioned in passing before -- biological overlap in disorders that are diagnosed and labeled separately. In particular, the article notes the differences and similarities in gray matter with bipolar and anxiety. Read more.

UNDERSTOOD is offering a "Live Expert Chat" on the topic of executive function tomorrow, Tuesday, July 18 at 3pm ET. The event's blurb says that professor/researcher Stephanie Carlson will be "on hand to explain what happens in the brains of kids with these issues, and what the latest research shows." Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS, in the spirit of "the tree doesn't move far from the apple." A LinkedIn post at the Gifted Talented Network pointed us to the Gifted Adults Foundation and a newly-issued leaflet called "Exceptional and profound giftedness in adults." You can find the leaflet -- and lots of others on related topics -- at the site of the foundation. See the last leaflet in the list.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Clinicians, Depression, Brain Stimulation, and More

MEMBERS OF THE 2e COMMUNITY are likely, at some point, to have to deal with clinicians about a child's cognitive or emotional issues. The "article of the week" at the site of the Child Mind Institute tells parents what to look for in a diagnosis -- how to judge that a clinician is taking care. It covers actions the clinician should take (for example, doing a broad evaluation), tools the clinician might use, and tips on finding a qualified professional. Find the article.

DEPRESSION AND GENDER. Medical News Today reports on research indicating that depression affects male adolescents and female adolescents differently. The difference was detected in a research setting while using fMRI. The research results would seem to encourage gender-specific treatment approaches for adolescents with depression. Read more.

BRAIN STIMULATION FOR LDs? A small study seems to indicate that a type of brain stimulation called transcranial random noise stimulation (tRNS) improved the ability of children with mathematical learning disabilities. While acknowledging that more research remains to be done, one of the study authors said, "Our research suggests that children with learning difficulties might benefit from combining their learning with tRNS, which has been suggested to improve learning and alter brain functions in healthy adults." Find the study write-up.

ARE YOU ORGANIZED? If so, good for you. If not, perhaps check out podcast Episode 65 in TiLT Parenting's series. The episode is titled "Bringing Clarity into Your Home, Spaces, and Life." It's a conversation with a "professional organizer," and you can bet there's a slant toward families of "differently wired kids." Find the podcast.

GOOD NEWS ON ADHD MEDS? An Indiana University study indicates that ADHD meds are tied to a lower risk (about one-third lower) of alcohol and drug abuse in teens and adults. The study used data on three million Americans identified with ADHD. Find the article.

UNDERSTOOD this week reposts an article from last year titled "7 Things I Wish People Knew about Parenting a Child with Auditory Processing Disorder." A parent offers advice about what works and what doesn't when communicating with a child with APD. Find the article.

EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. Disability Scoop reports this: "Less than half of states are meeting their obligations to appropriately serve students with disabilities under the nation’s special education law." You can find out if your state meets its obligations in the Disability Scoop article. Separately, if you're looking for a brief (60-second) summary of what the current administration's plans for the U.S. education budget are, Education Week has just what you're looking for.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2e Scholarship, the Terror of Not Being Able to Read, and More

HERE'S WHAT WE NEED MORE OF -- scholarships available to students at private, 2e-friendly schools. FlexSchool has awarded a student at its New Haven, Connecticut, campus a scholarship valued at half of the tuition for the student's high school tenure. The William Morse Scholarship is named in honor of a mentor to FlexSchool's founder, Jacqui Byrne. Read more about the scholarship and its inaugural recipient.

JONATHAN MOONEY, in a short piece newly posted at Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, describes the intense terror of read-aloud time at school when he was young and unable to read. Find it. Mooney, of course, went on to be a Rhodes Scholar finalist and a persistent advocate for kids with learning and attention issues.

MEDSCAPE offers us two items of possible interest depending on your family situation:
  • A "Midyear Review" provides guidelines on a variety of topics from a variety of medical sources. For example, one set of guidelines is on childhood obesity; another is on preventive health care for children, from the AAP; and yet another is "guidelines on depression with mixed features." Find the guidelines. (Free registration might be required.)
  • Also from Medscape, an article reporting on research that indicates medications can boost academic performance in ADHD patients. Find it
ONE OF THE NEWS SOURCES we scan is an e-newsletter from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and their most recent missive points to two articles of possible interest to parents in the 2e community. One offers tips to identify whether a teen might be misusing his or her ADHD meds, just something else for you to worry about; find the article. The other article is titled, "9 Books to Help Your Child with Anxiety," and it's from Check out the books.

RESOURCE. Don't forget that Wrightslaw has a "Yellow Pages for Kids," organized by state, that might help you find resources of various types as you raise or teach that 2e kiddo. Wrightslaw does encompass twice exceptionality on its site, having a topic area devoted just to 2e, but in checking out resources in the Yellow Pages we recommend making sure that the provider or vendor is conversant with both the gifted side and the LD side. Go to the Yellow Pages.

EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. In an article datelined July 9, Education Week again visits the issue of protecting student civil rights in the new U.S. administration. The article covers a recent letter sent to the Department of Education by U.S. lawmakers concerned about staff cuts and rollbacks of earlier civil rights procedures. Remember that this issue is of relevance to the 2e community insofar as civil rights apply to those with disabilities, including learning disabilities. Read the article.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Gifted Ed, Scholarships, Dyslexia, OCD, Depression, Allergies, Sleep

AUSTIN SCHOOLS AND DYSLEXIA. The Austin, Texas, school district is making a special effort to identify and service students with dyslexia, according to the city's American Statesman news outlet. During the past school year, the school provided intervention services to about 8,600 students with dyslexia, this after admitting "We were missing a lot of kids." The number of students now served represents over 10 percent of the students in the district. Read more.

WHO GETS GIFTED ED? Education Week analyzed data from the what we assume is the civil rights section of the U.S. Department of Education regarding the incidence of gifted ed in the various states. According to Education Week, about seven percent of students are in gifted programs nationwide, even though many schools don't offer such programs. You can find out how your state does and read more at the site of Education Week or in the following graphic from the site: How Accessible Is Gifted Education in Your State?

THE ANNE FORD AND ALLEGRA FORD THOMAS college scholarships for graduating high school seniors with ADHD or an LD are awarded annually. The winners for 2017 have already been announced, but if you have a student who'll be a senior next year perhaps check out the scholarships at the site of NCLD and put it on your calendar for next year.

OCD AFFECTS THE WHOLE FAMILY. You know that if you've got it in your family, but a communique from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation documents just how and how much disruption can occur. Find out more.

DEPRESSION. A new study reported at Science Daily has pinpointed how one particular gene plays a central role in depression -- either protecting from stress or triggering a downward spiral, depending on its level of activity. Find the study write-up.

ALLERGIES can affect your kiddo's emotional and cognitive life, according to a couple recently-published items. An article in The New York Times is titled "As Pollen Counts Rise, Test Scores Fall"; find it. And UPI reports on research finding a link between food allergies and anxiety and suggesting several possible explanations; find it.

SLEEP AND YOUR KIDDO. We've been saving up items on sleep that describe ways in which sleep habits can help or harm that young person you raise or teach. Here they are...
  • A Washington Post article provides guidelines for the number of hours of sleep for different ages and points out some of the factors contributing to lack of sleep. 
  • Medical News Today reports on research that explains how poor sleep quality can affect learning.
  • The Brookings Institution has posted a report urging that we "start high school later for better academic outcomes," explaining why it's a good idea and noting that it should be feasible without undo expense. 
  • The UK Guardian, in an article, doesn't like the effect of late-night mobile phone use on teens' sleep or mental health. 
  • And a TED talk by a sleep researcher/clinician/mom discusses "how early school start times deprive adolescents of sleep during the time of their lives when they need it most."

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Growth Mindset, the Gut, Gifted Competition, and More

GROWTH MINDSET has been discussed, promoted, and presumably encouraged in young people for the past few years. An idea fostered by Carol Dweck, it has evidently been been subject to hype and false claims, according to an article in Education Week by a fellow education researcher and professor. If you're curious how the term and concept have been misappropriated, check out the article.

THE MICROBIOME. Researchers have identified gut microbiota that interact with brain regions associated with mood and behavior, identifying behavioral and neurobiological differences associated with microbial composition in healthy humans. Some of the conditions associated with maladaptive gut bacteria are depression and anxiety. Read a study write-up. And by coincidence, you have an opportunity to learn more about the microbiome and mental health in a free "Meet the Scientist" session put on by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation on July 11. Find out more.

NEW BOOK FROM GHF. Gifted Homeschoolers Forum has announced a new publication, From Home Education to Higher Education: A Guide for Recruiting, Assessing, and Supporting Homeschooled Students. According to GHF, the author reaches out to higher education professionals as well as homeschooling parents. The book encourages professionals to to recruit, assess, and assimilate homeschooled students so that they may better enter and thrive in colleges and universities. At the same time, says GHF, the book offers advice to homeschooling families to help them discover what admissions professionals want in an ideal applicant, better preparing them to write those essays, answer those questions, and work with the admissions professionals at their chosen schools. Go to GHF's site, but note that the book is not yet listed in the GHF Press section.

GIFTED CREATIVITY COMPETITION. The Midwest Torrance Center for Creativity has announced a competition for students 8-18 to submit works in the areas of writing, music, visual arts, and inventions. Deadline: August 21. Find out more.

  • Education Week has published an article titled "What Can New Voucher Studies Tell Us about Students with Disabilities?" Two studies, according to the article, showed this: "Students who used vouchers in the state to enroll in private schools showed no academic gains in their early years of enrollment, and in some cases lost ground." Read more
  • The New York Times notes in an article that the U.S. Department of Education intends to scale back civil rights investigations -- investigations that cover many area but also include, for example, whether a 2e kiddo is discriminated against when he or she is denied gifted services. Read the article
  • And Education Week recaps the K-12-relevant highlights of the 2016-17 term of the U.S. Supreme Court. Find the article
AND FINALLY, THIS. Older dads may have "geekier" sons, according to research reported at Science Daily. Find out more.