Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tax Gift? Plus Holiday "Candy," Food for Thought, and More

LAW AND POLICY. There's some good news in the revised tax plan for those  parents in the 2e community trying to afford private schools. The 529 education savings plans will now apply to elementary and high school education. The catch: having enough money in the first place to afford a private school for that 2e kiddo -- but maybe the tax provisions will help. Read more.

HOLIDAY CANDY. Producer Tom Ropelewski has released another sneak peek from the upcoming documentary "2e: Teaching the Twice Exceptional." The clip is called, "The Value of Arguing." Ropelewski tells us to expect the documentary in March of 2018. Find the clip.

GIFTED ED 2017 is the theme of psychologist Gail Post's most recent communique at "Gifted Challenges." As she describes it, the post highlights "My top picks for interesting, controversial, and thought-provoking articles from the past year." In the mood for "thought-provoking"? Find the blog.

TECA. Twice-Exceptional Children's Advocacy has announced its January schedule of online parent support groups. Check it out.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Landmark College has announced the next courses in its professional certificate program, "Executive Function and LD: Integrating Strategies, Study Skills, and Technology." The courses are also available on an individual basis. Find out more

UNDERSTOOD has scheduled an early January online chat entitled "Activities for Developing Your Child’s Executive Functioning Skills," with Stephanie M. Carlson. Find out more.

DEPRESSION. The Dana Foundation has posted a new article titled "Neuroimaging Advances for Depression." The editor's intro to the article says: "While neuroimaging applications for identifying various types of depression have made enormous strides in recent years, no findings have been sufficiently replicated or considered significant enough to warrant application in clinical settings. Our authors are well equipped to tell us what the future may bring." Find the article.

CONDUCT DISORDER. Medical News Today often publishes press releases but sometimes offers what we guess is original content, as with a recent article on conduct disorder. The article provides an intro, a description of symptoms, and information on diagnosis, treatment, and causes. The article notes that conduct disorder occurs frequently with other conditions, including ADHD, ODD, anxiety, and depression. Find the article.

NUTRITION. The interesting premise of a study write-up at Medical News Today is this: "A good night's sleep and a higher IQ could be achieved by eating fish at least once per week — for children, at least." The IQ payoff: 5 points. Read more. And another study indicates that "children who eat healthfully are more likely to be happy, and those who are happy are more likely to eat healthfully." Researchers found there is an association between adherence to healthy dietary guidelines and better psychological well-being -- which includes fewer emotional problems, better relationships with other children, and higher self-esteem -- two years later. Read more. And on the flip side, the popularity of energy drinks and junk food might have unique risks for teenagers who consume too much of them during the later stages of brain development, according to new research. These are just two of the factors potentially affecting teen brain development examined in a new special issue of Birth Defects Research: The Teenage Brain. Read more.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Advocacy, Requests for Help, "Motivationally Gifted," and More

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR GIFTED CHILDREN (NAGC) has reacted by letter to the Q&A that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued recently concerning the Endrew F decision and its impact. The letter is supportive of some of the language in the Q&A regarding the opportunity (via IEPs) for students with disabilities to "meet challenging objectives." The letter goes further in support of twice-exceptional students, stating: "NAGC respectfully encourages the U.S. Department of Education to further clarify that IEP Teams should enable twice-exceptional children to be involved in and make progress towards above grade-level challenging objectives when appropriate." Our compliments to NAGC for stepping up for the kiddos in the 2e community! Find the letter.


  • For a 2e prospective PhD student in the Boston area, can anyone recommend a tutor to help strengthen math skills and enhance GRE scores? The ideal tutor would be comfortable both with higher math (statistics, etc.) and working with a gifted adult who has 2e strengths and deficits. The right recommendation will help this student succeed! Email Mark at you-know-where.
  • A family new to the 2e community is looking for a 2e-friendly school in the San Diego area. If you know of one, please let us know.
"MOTIVATIONALLY GIFTED" people are the subject of an article at Quartz. See what contributes to it, how these people compare to "regular" gifted people, and the significance of the research behind the article. Read it.

FIRST-PERSON BOOK. Peter Flom, who has written for 2e Newsletter, has a book out called "Screwed Up Somehow But Not Stupid: Life with a Learning Disability." From the Amazon blurb: "When Peter Flom was five years old, his parents were told that he had 'minimal brain dysfunction' and would never go to college. Peter skipped one year of high school, did college in three years, got his BA at twenty and now has two MAs and a Ph.D. He’s married and has two sons. He also has a different diagnosis: Nonverbal Learning Disability. In “Screwed Up Somehow but Not Stupid,” Peter describes what it’s like to live life with a learning disability, but also with some abilities." Find the book.

TiLT PARENTING's newest podcast is titled "Jessica Lahey Talks about the Gifts of Failure for Our Kids." TiLT's Debbie says, "Jess shares her insights about how we can best prepare our kids for an independent, successful adulthood in the way we practice autonomy supportive parenting versus overparenting, what it means to let our kids 'fail' to help them thrive, how we can help our kids learn how to 'sit with frustration,' and much more." Find the podcast.

  • A live event in Los Angeles featured experts at a "Depression Grand Challenge" on the causes and treatment of depression, and also on what UCLA is doing in the field. Read more.
  • An article at Psychiatric News notes that antidepressant prescriptions for young people are rising, in spite of a drop a decade ago after "black box" warnings about the meds and suicidal ideation. Researchers write, “A return to the rates of antidepressant use before the black-box warning raises concern that this thoughtful accounting of the risks and benefits may have dissipated over time.” Read more. (Reading this article alone, however, begs further investigation into the risks of antidepressants for young people; as always consult with a qualified professional.)
  • From Medical News Today: "A new method to measure brain connectivity — as tested by the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom — has found that people with depression have changes in the brain systems involved in memory and reward." Read more
EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. The revisions to the U.S. tax law passed this week will have effects on education, but we'll wait a bit for the dust to settle and analysts to study the final legislation. Hopefully we'll have analyses next week.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Events, A Newsletter, and Lots of Research

EVENT: ATTITUDE. ADDitude's free webinar with Dr. William Dodson on December 19, titled "How ADHD Shapes Your Perceptions, Emotions, and Motivation," is full -- but a replay will be available the afternoon of the 19th. Find out more.

EVENT: SENG. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the gifted offers a webinar on December 21 titled "Isolated Identities: Perspectives of Gifted LGBTQ+ Teens and Young Adults." A fee applies. Find out more.

EVENT: WALLACE SYMPOSIUM. Belin-Blank has released more information about the spring Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development, which it holds in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University. The event website now has a speaker list; go there.

NEWSLETTER. The Davidson Institute's Educators Guild winter newsletter is out, featuring the topic of acceleration. The newsletter also points to professional development resources, general resources, and news items of interest to those who teach gifted students. Find the newsletter.

ON EDUCATION, in general. You might have heard of recent research about schools across the country that provided some surprising results -- such as Chicago students learning faster than most other districts. An article in The New York Times takes a look at that research, which examines learning growth and the socioeconomics of various districts. Read the article.

  • Depression -- the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation notes a study that may point to a new class of antidepressants based on tianeptine, which targets opioid receptors in the brain. Read more
  • ASD -- Science Daily says, "Scientists are examining the feasibility of treating autistic children with neuromodulation after a new study showed social impairments can be corrected by brain stimulation." Find the study write-up
  • ADHD -- MedicineNet reports on research indicating that ADHD has different effects in the brains of boys than girls. Read more
  • Dyslexia -- A new study has found that the brain responses of infants with an inherited risk for dyslexia predict their future reading speed in secondary school. Find the study write-up.
  • Working memory -- From NewsWise: "Mount Sinai researchers have found a positive relationship between the brain network associated with working memory—the ability to store and process information relevant to the task at hand—and healthy traits such as higher physical endurance and better cognitive function." Read more
  • The brain and disorders -- New findings will help to identify the genetic causes of brain disorders: researchers have presented a systematic catalog of specific variable locations in the genome that influence gene activity in the human hippocampus. Find more at Science Daily
AND FINALLY, THIS. Hold that kid. "The amount of physical contact between infants and their caregivers can affect children at the molecular level. The study of DNA methylation patterns showed that children who had been more distressed as infants and had received less physical contact had a molecular profile that was underdeveloped for their age. This is the first study to show in humans that the simple act of touching, early in life, has deeply-rooted and potentially lifelong consequences on genetic expression." From Science Daily.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Advocacy, Policy, Resources, Blogs...

PARENTAL ADVOCACY. A young woman in West Australia was refused extra time on a standardized university-admission test, despite having been granted extra time in high school because of her dyspraxia. The girl's mother, not happy about the lack of accommodation, teamed with an expert and the media to get the story out and hopefully raise awareness of twice-exceptionality. Read more, and remember that you can do this too.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS, VOUCHERS, DISABILITIES. The move to vouchers has led to concerns about how private schools would be accountable for handling students with disabilities. CEC's Policy Insider is paying attention, and tells of a recently released report on the topic done by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO). According to Policy Insider, "the GAO found overall that private school choice programs lack consistency with regard to accountability, lack mechanisms for providing accurate information to the public and families and fail to provide parents with information about changes in rights afforded by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act." Read more.

LD IN COLLEGE: RESOURCE. Here's what Wrightslaw says about its most recent issue of Special Ed Advocate, which focuses on college and LDs. "...this issue of the Special Ed Advocate provides loads of resources, in-depth information guides, and good advice about what to look for and how to choose a continuing education program." Find the newsletter.

LANDMARK RESOURCE. Landmark College offers a resource for working with diverse learners. The college says, "It is brief and intended to be used as a tip sheet and reminder of these practices, not as an in-depth guide." Find it.

RESOURCE FOR DR. VISITS. At the Homeschooling/2e blog, the author writes about the frequent lack of understanding by pediatricians and doctors of giftedness and 2e and the consequent effect on appointments and diagnosis. As part of the blog, she mentions the Gifted Homeschoolers brochures that parents can print out and give to doctors, explaining those two topics we live with. Find the blog.

JEN THE BLOGGER is unusually contemplative in her most recent blog post. The theme? "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"... and how the label on the apple might mean something for the tree. Read it if you dare.

TiLT PARENTING's most recent podcast is "A Conversation with Susan Hyatt about Launching Her Differently Wired Son." Debbie writes, "...many of us question whether or not our kids will ever launch at all. I hope you find this conversation, as well as Susan’s infectiously positive and powerful outlook on life, inspiring!" Find the podcast.

SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW! In our most recent blog posting we noted SENG's call for proposals for next year's conference. Now we note NAGC's request for proposals for its 2018 convention next November, submission deadline January 21. We urge you to check out NAGC's request, think about it, and submit a proposal if you think what you have to say would benefit attendees at the NAGC convention, who are mostly (but not limited to) educators.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Got a young musician? There might be a benefit. According to Science Daily, "New research links brain structure to an individual's likelihood of experiencing hallucinations and to their musical aptitude. Participants with higher musical aptitude showed lower hallucination proneness." Read more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Endrew F and FAPE; "This Thing Called Autism"; And More

IDEA, ENDREW F. The U.S. Department of Education has released a Q&A document to provide guidance on the implications of this year's Endrew F ruling by the Supreme Court. It addresses questions such as
  • How did Endrew F. clarify the standard for determining FAPE and educational benefit?
  • How can an IEP Team ensure that every child has the chance to meet challenging objectives?
  • Is there anything IEP Teams should do differently as a result of the Endrew F. decision?
Find the Q&A. Separately, Education Week reported on commentary by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on the Endrew F case in which she said: "Personalized, student-centered education can help all children thrive, especially children with disabilities. Their education should embrace their diverse traits and aspirations, rather than limiting them with a one-size-fits-all approach." Read more

BOY TO CLASSMATES: "I have this thing called autism." A fourth-grader crafted (with help from his parents) a video to communicate to his classmates the reasons he might seem different and explaining what life and school are like from his perspective. For example: “I can hear and see a lot of things and sounds all at the same time, which sometimes makes it hard to focus on one sound or thought.” The video evidently opened up communication with his classmates. Find an article about the video and also a link to the video. 

MENTAL HEALTH AND THE YOUNG. NBC News did a piece on mental health issues in teens and children in the U.S., noting that while 20 percent of American children have a diagnosable mental issue, only 20 percent of those actually receive treatment. The article notes how depression may first manifest in irritability or anxiety. Find the piece

LANDMARK COLLEGE, in particular its president, Peter Eden, was the focus of an article at Education Dive. The president explains Landmark's approach to serving its student body -- for example, the use of universal design for learning, UDL. He also covers the research and professional development work done at the college, which has $3 million in grant funding for its research center. Eden is quoted: "At the end of the day, what we do is provide an opportunity for young people who do not do well in a traditional one-size-fits-all higher ed model, we give them an opportunity to show us their strengths and their potential." Read more

FACEBOOK APP FOR KIDS. Of the recent release of a Facebook app for kids, The New York Times has this to say: "Facebook immediately reignited a furious debate about how young is too young for children to use mobile apps and how parents should deal with the steady creep of technology into family life, especially as some fight to reduce the amount of time their sons and daughters spend in front of screens." Read more about the different sides of the debate. Separately, the Dana Foundation recently published an article titled "The Truth about Research on Screen Time"; find it

LYING. A guest blogger at ADDitude writes on "The Ugly Truth about ADHD and Lying." The blogger has a twice-exceptional son who evidently, as the saying goes, has a fluid relationship with truth. Find the blog

  • A new article presents the challenges in using three major diagnostic manuals from a scientific perspective and offer some recommendations for re-conceptualizing the mental disorders they describe, according to Science Daily. The researchers "identified four challenges to understanding and classifying mental disorders: what varied combinations of factors cause them, how to diagnose them given that they are not actually distinct categories, thresholds for diagnosis and other purposes such as treatment, and co-morbidity -- the fact that most people with mental illness meet the diagnosis for multiple mental disorders." Read more
  • Newswire reports on research that will help clinicians decide whether to prescribe talk therapy or medication to treat anxiety. An EEG-based test evidently will predict the efficacy of CBT. Read more
  • And finally, this. Making eye contact with an infant makes adults' and babies' brainwaves 'get in sync' with each other -- which is likely to support communication and learning. Read more.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dyslexia, OEs, Labels, Events, More

BAD NEWS FOR DYSLEXICS. American Public Media has found that “across the country, public schools are denying children proper treatment and often failing to identify them with dyslexia in the first place.” Says Radio WAMU, which aired a story on the situation: "The APM findings also show that the way schools handle recognizing and educating students with dyslexia could have implications for how all children are taught to read. We look at how one special needs population affects early childhood education and literacy rates across the board." Listen here, and be sure to check the comments on the broadcast's page. You'll see some familiar situations. 😣

BAD NEWS FOR SMART PEOPLE? Scientific American notes a couple of seemingly contradictory findings. While people of high intelligence tend to be healthy and successful, a survey of Mensa members revealed that they were more likely to suffer from mood disorders, anxiety, ADHD, and autism. The researchers evidently explain this by suggesting a "hyper brain, hyper body" hypothesis -- your basic overexcitabilities. Read more.

MORE ON LABELS. In our last blog we referred to a piece on how the "gifted" label can be important for those who fit it, even though it might have disadvantages. Now a piece in Education Week considers labels of disability -- the advantage (or necessity) in obtaining services, but also the the downside of perception by others. The authors write, "We wonder how those children are waiting to be seen as whole young people and not as labeled with an anchor that prevents their ability to soar." Read more.

2e EVENT. The Iowa Talented and Gifted Association is holding a two-day workshop on twice-exceptionality next April 13-14 in Cedar Falls. The intended audience consists of educators and administrators. The goal: to "assist district teams in developing plans to address [2e] challenges and to learn instructional approaches that emphasize rigor.... Each team attending will leave with a district plan draft for serving twice exceptional students as well as strategies designed to provide appropriate classroom instruction." Find out more

UNDERSTOOD EVENTS. The organization Understood has frequent Facebook chats and other interactive events on topics of interest to those who raise and educate twice-exceptional children. Coming up: accommodations for reading and writing; dyscalculia; and technology for reading. Some chats are in Spanish. Find out more and check back often.
RISPERDAL is being increasingly prescribed to children for aggression or irritability. If a health professional has mentioned that drug to you, check out a new article at the site of the Child Mind Institute.
SMART KIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES is launching a campaign to profile kids who pursue achievement in spite of LDs. Not only can you read the stories of others, but the organization says, "These are your children’s stories. Please share them with our Smart Kids community..." Read more.
GIFTED AND DISTRACTIBLE. The newest edition of Julie Skolnick's newsletter is out, featuring a blog post by Julie on loneliness plus pointers to articles and news of what she is doing in the 2e community. Find the newsletter.
TiLT TALKS TO SENG. The latest podcast from TiLT Parenting is a conversation with Michael Postma, executive director of the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted. The topic: the plight of gifted and 2e kids. Find out more.
  • Education Dive, in its annual awards of recognition, has named the Every Student Succeeds Act as the "Policy of the Year." If you're looking for a primer on what this law is, go to Education Dive
  • U.S. K-12 spending is still below what it was before the recession that began in 2008-9, according to Education Week, which refers to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think-tank. From the article: "Experts in general say states' school spending is being squeezed by pension and Medicaid costs, declines in capital, sales and commodity tax revenue, and a series of tax cuts in a handful of especially conservative states." Read more. This topic is also covered at The 74
  • Medscape reports this: "Cognitive-behavioral sleep interventions provide the greatest benefits to adolescents with higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, whereas other adolescents with sleep problems respond less well." Find the item
  • Science Daily reports on the effects of lack of sleep in teens -- mood disorders and even addition. Read the study write-up
  • Also from Science Daily: "People with major depressive disorder have alterations in the activity and connectivity of brain systems underlying reward and memory, according to a new study. The findings provide clues as to which regions of the brain could be at the root of symptoms, such as reduced happiness and pleasure, in depression." Find the study write-up.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lots of Good Stuff!

ZONA, an Arizona publication "focused on spreading the word about all the good kids in our communities," recently published a piece about a high-achieving young lady who is a talented musician and does very well academically. She also has ADHD. From the profile: "Sometimes it can be difficult for Olivia to stay on task, but she is aware and works hard to self advocate and most of all, to never give up." Read more about Olivia.

READING BETWEEN THE LINES. Sometimes in an article about a public figure there's a tidbit that makes you wonder if the subject is in reality a member of the 2e community. Money Magazine did a recent article on Chip Gaines, who appears on HGTV in Fixer Upper. The tidbit: Gaines couldn't read in first grade. According to his account of first grade, "...they said 'Hey, here’s a simple book we want you to read' I said 'Hey, that’s great, sounds fascinating! What do you do with this thing? Chew on it?'" And at that early age he became, in his words, a salesman and a BS-er. Sound suspicious? Read the article and form your own opinion.

PARENTS BUILDING AWARENESS. Three families in Solon, Ohio came together in support of 2e issues and ended up sparking an expanding dialog which has now become a statewide conference hosted by the Summit Educational Service Center (ESC) in Cuyahoga Falls. Expert speakers will present on a variety of high-impact topics facing families and educators: executive functioning; gifted operating standards; social emotional support; identity development; and parent/self advocacy. The conference is on March 10. Find out more.

THE GIFTED LABEL. It's important, says psychologist Gail Post, and she gives lots of reasons why identifying and labeling gifted children helps. "If we can't give it a name, we can't adequately address it. Until we recognize that giftedness must be understood and served within the educational system, gifted children's emotional and academic needs will suffer. And they will continue to receive misdiagnoses and inaccurate labels." Find Post's blog.

RESEARCH PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITY. A doctoral student in special ed at Vanderbilt University is interested in IEP meetings and about the experiences that parents or legal guardians of students with disabilities have during these meetings. She says, "If you choose to participate in the study, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about yourself, your child, your child’s most recent IEP meeting, and your relationship with the members of your child’s IEP team. The study will take about 30 minutes to complete." There's also a chance to win a gift card. Prospective participants may find the survey here.

PROSPECTIVE CONFERENCE PRESENTERS: We know you're out there. We urge you to consider submitting a proposal to present at SENG's 2018 conference in San Diego, California. Think about something you know that would benefit others, then check out SENG's call for proposals. But don't procrastinate; the deadline is December 29.

RESOURCES. Sharp Brains has provided a list of "Top Resources for Educators on Learning and the Brain." Included: books, conferences, and websites. Find the list.

SEQUEL TO "2e: Twice Exceptional," the movie. Here's what producer Tom Ropelewski says: "While we're putting the finishing touches on the new film, '2e2: Teaching the Twice Exceptional,' here's Sneak Peek #2 -- M.S. Humanities teacher Stuart takes a creative approach to teaching perseverance to 2e students. I hope you enjoy it!" Find the sneak peek.