Thursday, June 28, 2018

2e Advocacy, Excellence Gap, Dyslexia, More

ADVOCACY. In 2e Newsletter we sometimes highlight what individuals and groups have done (or can do) to boost awareness of and the rights of twice-exceptional children. A recent issue of The New York Times features an excerpt from a resource the Times publishes called "How to Participate In Politics." The excerpt, titled "How to Lobby Lawmakers," echoes and reinforces some of the tips we've relayed from @NAGCGIFTED Director of Government and Affiliate Relations William Knudsen. Find the excerpt (scroll down to 'How to Lobby Lawmakers")... and then consider how you might put the tips into action for the benefit of your family and the 2e community!

ACHIEVEMENT GAP TO EXCELLENCE GAP. The New York Times offers an article on the "excellence gap." If you've been paying attention to NAGC recently you're heard the term; in fact, NAGC's executive director Rene Islas is quoted in the article. Here's a paragraph that might tell you whether you want to read it: "Now, with test-score gaps narrowing but remaining stubbornly persistent after years of efforts, some in the education field are taking a fresh look at programs for advanced students that once made them uneasy, driven by the same desire to help historically disadvantaged groups. They are concerned not just with the achievement gap, measured by average performance, but the 'excellence gap; they hope to get more students from diverse backgrounds to perform at elite levels." Find the article, and note the relatively sparing use of the term "gifted."

DYSLEXIA. A dyslexic writer for Wired takes on a tour of her own personal journey, plus her investigations into the writing assistant Grammerly, fMRI research into brain activity during dyslexic interventions, eyetracking software to diagnose dyslexia, and more. One interesting quote from a researcher: "Research has shown that there are neurons that are literally tuned to [a particular] word. They own this word." Find the article, and thanks to Rich Weinfeld for pointing us to it.

MORE ON DYSLEXIA. Sometimes we learn history from obituaries, as we did this week with the death notice of Diana King, She was, according to her obit, "...a master teacher who helped generations of students struggling to read fluently, write and spell — and being stigmatized for it — because of an often undiagnosed learning disability called dyslexia." An interview a few years ago captured her saying this: "We continue to see the tragedy of a bright child coming home from school in the second or third grade in tears — ‘I’m the dumbest kid in all of the second grade’ — and getting stomach aches before they go to school, and all of this totally unnecessary and totally preventable." Find the obit.

EDUTOPIA offers tips for getting introverts to engage in class. Find them.

UNDERSTOOD has an upcoming expert chat with Ellen Braaten on "Understanding Working Memory." The chat is on July 2 at 12 noon eastern time. Find out more.

RESEARCH, SCIENCE
  • Causes of ADHD. "A study of 30,000 children from seven European countries found no association between prenatal exposure to air pollution and symptoms of attention-deficit and hyperactivity." Find the study write-up
  • School and IQ. "Children who have a higher early IQ are more likely to stay in school longer, according to a meta-analysis in the journal Psychological Science. But more importantly for teachers, for every year of education, students also gain on average one to five IQ points, with gains that continue into old age." Find the study write-up.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Endrew F Strikes Again; Graduation Advice, Including from a 2e ER Doctor; and More

ENDREW F STRIKES AGAIN. Education consultant Rich Weinfeld served as the expert witness for a 2e student in a case involving the appropriateness of the student's IEP and whether the local school district should pay for the student's placement at the private school to which the student's parents had moved him. According to Weinfeld, "The administrative law judge applied Endrew F throughout and concluded that a student who she had previously ruled was receiving FAPE, was not longer receiving FAPE by the Supreme Court's Endrew F standards. The result was a decision that the school district must fund a private placement that programs effectively for 2e students." You may find a copy of the 54-page decision online. A discussion of the case begins on page 26; the judge's orders are on page 53. Way to go, Rich!

UNEXPECTED. From the Washington Post: "People who know Sef Scott know he doesn’t normally speak. The 17-year-old from Plano, Tex., has autism, and other than quoting lines from favorite movies, he is mostly nonverbal. So the members of the Plano Senior High School Class of 2018 — along with Sef’s relatives and even his father — were stunned June 9 when he took the mic and addressed his fellow graduates." Read more, and view the unexpected -- and moving -- speech.

SPEAKING OF GRADUATION -- The New York Times solicited graduation advice from readers, with the caveat that the advice had to be under 50 words. One example: “Regardless of the walls you bump against during your roller-coaster ride, there will be moments in your life which bring you to tracks of clarity, where what you really want from life clicks.” Find the advice.

AND ANOTHER SPEECH, this one from an emergency room doctor who writes about his grade school experiences, "I had to go to early classes for kids with learning disabilities and, in fact, I was the last kid in my class to be allowed to write with a ballpoint pen." Now practicing in the community where he grew up, he says he still hears this: “You’re a doctor? I thought you were stupid. Can I see some ID, a diploma, something like that?” Read more about the doctor and find some of his speech.

SENG has scheduled a webinar for June 26 titled "The Importance of Supporting Parents and Families of Gifted/Talented and Twice-Exceptional Children and Youth." A fee applies. Find out more.

SCIENCE, RESEARCH, all from Science Daily.
  • Autism blood test. "One year after researchers published their work on a physiological test for autism, a follow-up study confirms its exceptional success in assessing whether a child is on the autism spectrum." Find the study write-up.
  • Genes and psychiatric disorders. "Researchers explored the genetic connections between brain disorders at a scale far eclipsing previous work on the subject. The team determined that psychiatric disorders share many genetic variants, while neurological disorders (such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's) appear more distinct. The results indicate that psychiatric disorders likely have important similarities at a molecular level, which current diagnostic categories do not reflect." Find the study write-up
  • Neurocircuits, treatment. "The findings of the studies highlight the complexity of brain inhibitory systems and the importance of taking a subtype-, circuit- and neuronal population-specific approach to develop future therapeutic strategies using cell type-specific drug delivery." Find the study write-up

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Brain Balance Centers, Self-Advocacy, SPD, and More

BRAIN BALANCE CENTERS. If you're considering obtaining treatment from a Brain Balance Center for your child, you might be interested in a recent NPR story on the organization. We also pointed to psychologist Devon MacEachron's blog posting on this alternative therapy several weeks ago.

EDUTOPIA presents a piece on self-advocacy for young people with LDs -- why it's important, what the research says, and how we can change things to allow young people to become better self-advocates. One "take-off" point: using the IEP as a learning experience for this skill. From the article: "Research shows that students who practice self-advocacy skills (those skills associated with understanding one’s rights and needs and communicating and acting on that understanding) and self-determination (the capacity to be the primary agent in one’s learning and life) have improved educational and life outcomes when compared to those who don’t." Find the article.

SENSORY PROCESSING. Understood offers resources on sensory processing issues:
  • A fact sheet to "get essential information about how sensory issues can affect kids" -- and to give to teachers. Find it
  • Pointers to what Understood calls "eight sensory-friendly games to help meet your child’s sensory needs." Find it
  • And "7 Tips for Taking Kids With Sensory Processing Issues to the Movies." Find the tips
EDUCATION POLICY, LAW. The Council for Exceptional Children's "Policy Insider" provides information on what education funding will look like for FY2019. Basically spending is unchanged from 2018, although it could be worse. Find out more.

TiLT PARENTING's most recent podcast is a discussion with psychologist/author Dawn Huebner about her new book, Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety. Find the podcast.

SCIENCE, RESEARCH.
  • ADHD meds. "Results of a prospective longitudinal cohort study published in Pediatrics suggest that long-term medication adherence among children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is correlated with treatment acceptance and parent perception of medication need." Find the study write-up
  • Southpaws and mental health treatment. "Treatment for the most common mental health problems could be ineffective or even detrimental to about 50 percent of the population, according to a radical new model of emotion in the brain." Find the study write-up
  • Vitamin, dietary supplements in young people. "A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows that since 2003, the use of alternative medicines, such as herbal products and nutraceuticals, among children has doubled. The University of Illinois at Chicago researchers who conducted the study cite an increased use of Omega-3 fatty acids and melatonin among adolescents ages 13 to 18 as the primary driver of the change, despite clinical recommendations against use of such supplements in children." Find the study write-up

Monday, June 18, 2018

Impulsive & Excitable; ACT & SAT?; "To My Class Clown"; and More

AN IMPULSIVE, EXCITABLE 7-year-old is the focus of an advice column at the Washington Post. Mom says, "He was doing okay, but it gets worse as the school year winds down and they are doing more fun, less-structured activities. I can help him at home, but it seems like his excitability and inability to manage his emotions are getting worse as he gets older." The columnist reminds us that impulsivity is a hallmark of childhood and discusses the maturation process, then offers a plan for dealing with the issues. The plan includes getting some testing, involving the school, and more. Importantly, the columnist writes: "Know this exploration is not a way to change your son; instead this is what parents and caretakers do to support the child we have in front of us." Find the column.

COLLEGE: NEED THAT ACT OR SAT? The University of Chicago is joining a few other institutions in eliminating the requirement that applicants submit ACT or SAT scores. According to USA Today, "The new policy, which is being implemented starting with the Class of 2023, is meant to help even the playing field for students coming from low-income and underrepresented communities, university officials said." Read more.

CHILD MIND INSTITUTE. In light of a couple recent high-profile suicides, the Child Mind Institute reminds site visitors of its parent's guide to helping a child in distress, "What to Do If You're Worried About Suicide." Hopefully you're not in need of this, but here it is.

WCGTC BIENNIAL CONFERENCE. Time flies, and the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children has announced the dates a location for its 2019 conference -- July 24-28 in Nashville, USA. Find out more.

ADDITUDE points to an article posted on its site -- can't tell if it's new or not -- titled "Culture Vs. Biology: What Really Causes ADHD?" Their article "tease" invites the reader to "Contrast and compare the controversial new theory that our fast-paced, stressed-out, consumer-driven lives cause ADHD with other scientific evidence to the contrary." Find the article.

RESEARCH, STUDIES

  • Reading, dyslexia. From Newswise: "Using MRI measurements of the brain's neural connections, or “white matter,” UW researchers have shown that, in struggling readers, the neural circuitry strengthened — and their reading performance improved — after just eight weeks of a specialized tutoring program." Find the study write-up
  • Depression. From Science Daily: "A simple, in-office EEG-based test can help determine if a depressed patient will do better on antidepressants or talk therapy." Find the study write-up
  • Autism. From the Deccan Chronicle: "Children with ASD are more than twice as likely to suffer from a food allergy than children who do not have it, according to the study from the University of Iowa.." Find the study write-up

EDUCATION WEEK TEACHER contains a letter written by a teacher to her class at the end of the school year. In it, she addresses her "class clown," her "quiet one," her "daydreamers and slow workers," and others -- and seems to have kind, understanding, encouraging words for all of them. Her great attitude toward her students is summarized in one of her concluding lines: "I wish I had more time with all you to watch you grow into the best versions of yourselves." Find the letter.

Friday, June 15, 2018

OEs, 2e in College, Resources, Events

THE CONCEPT OF OVEREXCITABILITIES is part of the gifted/2e culture -- a ubiquitous topic at conferences, in articles, and in conversations in the gifted/2e community. There's just one problem: The research supporting the concept may not be that strong.
  • Psychologist Devon MacEachron, in her most recent blog posting, examines the research and offers her perspective. MacEachron specializes in psychoeducational assessment and educational planning for children who are twice-exceptional. Read her blog
  • The author of the Homeschooling 2e blog reacted to MacEachron's article this way: "I KNOW overexcitabilities are real. I live with them." Find Homeschooling 2e
  • And if you're a believer in OEs, know that the 13th International Dabrowski Congress is scheduled for July 12-14 in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. Find out more

COACHING GIFTED COLLEGE STUDENTS is the topic of an article in Psychology Today by psychologist Dan Peters of California's Summit Center. In the article, he and colleague Paula Wilkes explore the issues that might affect gifted college students, how coaching can help, and the mechanics of the process. Find the article.

SUPPORTING COLLEGE STUDENTS WITH ADHD is the topic of a recent article in the Research and Training Blog at Landmark College. The article covers pharmacological support, educational support, psychosocial support, and behavioral support. Landmark is a college that recruits students who learn differently. Find the article.

TiLT PARENTING. If you're interested in finding out more about Debbie Reber's new book Differently Wired, check out a podcast at TiLT in which she discusses the book with a colleague. Find the podcast.

MORE ON GROWTH MINDSET. Education Dive takes a look at recent research on the effectiveness of this concept/practice. Read more.

UNDERSTOOD is offering an "experts chat" on the topic "How to Use and Incorporate Strengths in Your Child's IEP." The chat is scheduled for June 18. Find out more.

EARLY BIRDS: The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) has opened registration for next February's conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The organization says, "Join over 1,000 educators, researchers, practitioners, parents, adults with learning disabilities and others who have an interest in the field." Register early.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Suing Over 2e, Failure/Success, Events, and Articles

PARENTS OF GIFTED AND 2e STUDENTS have filed a federal lawsuit against the largest school district in Portland, Oregon, over its ACCESS Academy, which serves K-8 gifted and 2e students. The school district had planned to split ACCESS into two campuses. The parent group, "Save Access Academy," maintains that such a split would reduce the benefits students received and would, furthermore, run afoul of:
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Section 504
  • The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  • Oregon law.
You may find the details of the parents' complaint in the lawsuit; other information is also in a news article on the topic. [Don't mess with parents of 2e kiddos!]

FAILURE can be daunting to young people with the "gifted" label. The Atlantic writes that knowing how students like Einstein experienced failure can improve highschoolers' grades. The Teacher's College at Columbia University has creted the Education for Persistence and Innovation Center to study failure and success. The head of the center says that her main purpose "is to help students realize that failure is a normal part of the process of learning." Find the article.

ADDITUDE WEBINAR. On June 26, ADDitude has scheduled a free webinar titled "Parent Different: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World." The presenter is Debbie Reber of TiLT, and author of the book Differently Wired. Find out more.

UNDERSTOOD has posted what looks like a new article on changing from stimulant to non-stimulant medication or vice versa. Find the article.

SMARTKIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES has posted a new, short article titled "Best Sports for Your Child with ADHD." Find it.

TiLT. Don't forget that Debbie Reber is on a U.S. book tour promoting Differently Wired. The schedule: June 15, Seattle, WA; June 18, Portland, OR; June 20, Campbell, CA; June 21, Washington D.C.; June 23, Naperville, IL; June 26, New York City; June 27, Maplewood, NJ. Find out more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. The New York Times has what it calls The Learning Network, a site about teaching and learning which uses Times content. During the year, the Times solicits entries for an annual Student Editorial Contest, where, says the Times, "teenagers were invited to write on the issues they care about most." The Times has published excerpts from some of those essays, and they provide a fascinating look at what's on the minds of the authors. Find the excerpts.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Parent's 2e Resource, Newsletters & Podcasts, Education, Anxiety

WOW! IS WHAT WE THOUGHT when we looked through the resource guide for parents on twice-exceptionality published by the Davidson Institute. It's a 57-page PDF available on this link. It's divided into eight sections:
  1. Defining Twice-Exceptionality, noting the varying definitions of 2e and offering a parent tool to "write your own 2e definition" 
  2. Identification and Assessment, with an "Expert Q&A" with Megan Foley Nicpon, some resource highlights, and a side note about that bugaboo, labels
  3. Moving Forward, including an explanation of the strengths-basd approach, and a tool for building a strengths-based plan
  4. The 2E School Experience, addressing concerns common to the 2e experience in school, plus a Q&A with Heidi Molbak
  5. School Advocacy, with some especially useful-looking tools on skills such as framing issues appropriately
  6. IEPs and 504 Plans -- what they are, the differences, and resources for using them
  7. Educational Alternatives, including Expert Q&As with Wes Beach and Suki Wesling
  8. Life Outside of School, with information and tools to support your child's emotional needs, developing executive functioning skills, resources such as SENG, and more. 
This is a very impressive document. Our compliments to the Davidson Institute!

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IN THE CLASSROOM. At teacher describes at Education Week what it was like to try a certain kind of love for her students. "I wanted a love that could embrace unappealing characteristics and behaviors with humor, tranquility, and curiosity. It would not be transactional or affected by my students’ daily or cumulative decisions. It would accept that they would all disappoint me at various times, some more than others," the teacher wrote. It sounds difficult. The teacher would have to "go toward the most difficult students with additional compassion, rather than retreating in frustration when my initial attempts to change them failed." The change in mindset improved the teacher's experience... and students' experiences as well. Read more, and consider the implications for teaching this way to twice-exceptional students.

NEWSLETTERS, PODCASTS.

  • The June "Gifted Resources Newsletter" from Australian Jo Freitag is out. Find it
  • Julie Skolnik writes about summer, her upcoming plans, articles she's found of interest, and an in-the-works October virtual conference titled "2 Days of 2e." Find the newsletter
  • And in TiLT's latest podcast, writes Debbie Reber, "we’re talking about bad behavior. Specifically, The Good News About Bad Behavior. That’s the name of a new book by journalist, author, speaker, and parent educator, Katherine Lewis, and in this episode, Katherine and I talk about what our kids’ behavior is telling us and how we as parents, teachers, and other adults in kids’ lives can best respond to it while encouraging our kids to develop into healthy adults." Find the podcast
EVENT. Next week is the Utah Association for Gifted Children summer conference, in Park City. Find out more.

EDUCATION. We offer these items as perspective for the services our gifted and 2e students may get or not get.
  • Education funding. In the U.S. we collectively spend over a half trillion dollars a year on education. Education Week explains factors affecting this flow of dollars. Find the article
  • Spending by state. Education Week also provides information on per-pupil funding by state. How does yours stack up? Find out
  • Why teachers are striking. The New York Times looks at the reasons teachers are protesting, going back to decisions made during the Great Recession. Find the article
ANXIETY. Here are some recently-published items on the topic of anxiety, a condition which is not uncommon among twice-exceptional children.
  • An article from UConn says, "For anxiety, a single intervention is not enough." Find it
  • The Clay Center for Healthy Young Minds published an article by Ellen Braaten on generalized anxiety disorder. Find it
  • Science Daily says this: "Neuroscientists have identified a neural circuit in the amygdala, the brain's seat of emotion processing, that gives rise to anxiety. Their insight has revealed the critical role of a molecule called dynorphin, which could serve as a target for treatment of anxiety-related disorders..." Find it.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Gifted Going to College; ADHD Treatments; Mental Health; and More

SENDING A GIFTED KIDDO TO COLLEGE is the subject of a new post by psychologist Gail Post at "Gifted Challenges." She describes families unprepared for the competitive nature of college admissions; and the lack of appropriate guidance from school or even parents. She offers tips on helping a young person plan for college and finding colleges t hat offer the right fit. Find the blog, and be advised that you, dear parent, have some important responsibilities. Related to this is a post a month or so ago at Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities about  the pitfalls of college for students with LDs; find it.

ADHD TREATMENTS

  • Reuters Health reports on a study: "Researchers examined results from 54 studies of non-pharmaceutical ADHD treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, parent training, special diets, and supplements like omega-3 fatty acids. Overall, these studies were too small, brief or varied in how they measured results for researchers to draw firm conclusions about which approaches might actually work for kids with ADHD." Read more
  • On the other hand, an article in the Orlando Sentinel described a family in which the parents wanted to avoid medication to treat ADHD, using therapies like a diet free of gluten, sugar, and dairy. The article says, "Most experts agree that the combination of medication and holistic approaches, including behavioral therapy, exercise and talk therapy, offer the strongest treatment plan for most children," and then goes on to quote experts who may prioritize yoga and herbal supplements above medications. Read more
  • And then there's the possibility of using virtual reality as an ADHD treatment to lessen distractibility. ADHD expert David Rabiner, in an analysis of a study involving VR, noted that while it might have improved task performance, it did not change parent ratings of ADHD symptoms -- this in contrast to studies involving medication. Read more
  • The upshot? Try to figure out what's right for your situation... with the guidance of a professional. 

MENTAL HEALTH issues are now "a leading cause of disease burden in children aged 5 to 14 years" in both Europe and the Americas, according to recent research. What's more, the prevalence is not decreasing, as it is with other preventable diseases. Read more. On the same topic, an article at Psychology Today suggests that integrative behavior health is a promising way to deal with mental health problems in young people. With this approach, behavioral interventions are delivered to children by a pediatrician. Read more.

PAYING TEACHERS. In an interesting choice of headline wording, Education Week says that "Nearly Half of Public School Teachers Are Satisfied with their Salaries." Why the headline wasn't "More than Half of Public School Teachers Are Not Satisfied with their Salaries" we'll never know. On the same topic at the Washington Post, a headline says, "New polls find more Americans say teachers are underpaid -- and many would pay higher taxes to fix it." You can find out more about how much teachers get paid, and paid in your state -- at this link


LAST WEEK, TED.COM featured talks that might be of interest to that young person you raise or teach -- or to YOU. The Talk of the Week is by a young woman who at age 13 became the youngest winner of Google's Science Fair by inventing a "smart bandage" to track wound healing. And the Playlist of the Week consists of four talks on introversion, often a trait in the gifted/2e community. Of the four talks, one might appeal especially to young, would-be activists... and another especially to young tech geeks.