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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

IDEA, ASD in College, Depression, and More

IDEA: 42ND ANNIVERSARY. The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) points out that November 29 (yesterday) was the 42nd anniversary of the signing of the legislation that became IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Today, according to CEC, about seven million children, many of them presumably twice-exceptional, receive IDEA services. Find out more. Separately, you can read an account of a high-profile IDEA case -- Endrew F -- at the site of The Denver Post. The article describes the family's long fight with schools and the courts, a fight that they eventually won in the Supreme Court of the United States. Find the article. Separately again, Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate in its most recent edition promises to teach you about "tutoring as a direct service under IDEA, not an accommodation or modification. Find out why some schools say no to services." Find Special Ed Advocate.

CAMPUS LIFE ON THE SPECTRUM. US News recently ran a piece titled "Families: Learn How to Find Autism-Friendly Colleges." The theme: "consider the type of support that is helpful for their high schooler and look for colleges that can provide these services." According to the article, about 60 colleges have autism support programs. Read more. Separately, NPR has a series called "Been There: Lessons from a Shared Experience," and a recent piece from the series dealt with how to navigate life on campus when you're on the spectrum. Find it.

DEPRESSION. In The Washington Post, a resident physician in psychiatry offers his perspective on the treatment of depression -- meds, therapy, or both. He describes the use of cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants, along with research on the effectiveness of either or both. Also covered: alternative treatments such as exercise and transcranial magnetic stimulation. If depression is a challenge for your 2e kiddo, check out this article -- but, as always, rely on the advice of a professional familiar with your particular situation.

PSYCHOLOGIST DEVON MACEACHRON, in her blog, takes on the question of whether giftedness or effort is a bigger factor in "success." She notes how in the 1980s and 90s practice and effort were seen as the major factors, and how the pendulum has lately been swinging back toward innate ability. She notes how a model by Francoys Gagne, "A Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent," involves factors besides innate ability, even factors such as chance and the environment. MacEachron's conclusion: " many domains, it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition to predict high achievement. The development of gifts into talents is a process impacted by environmental, intrapersonal, and chance factors." But you should read the blog yourself. 😀

TiLT PARENTING's most recent podcast is a conversation with Seth Perler, an executive functioning coach. TiLT founder Debbie Reber says, "Seth explains what executive functioning is and how it impacts our kids, talks about the challenges we face in supporting our kids in the current educational paradigm, and gives us suggestions for how we can prioritize our efforts to help our kids while also keeping our eye on the big picture and what’s really important (hint: It might not be what you think). Find the podcast.

DYSLEXIA. Science Daily reports this: "Researchers have recently looked at the purely motor aspects of writing in children diagnosed with dyslexia. Their results show that orthographic processing in children with dyslexia is so laborious that it can modify or impair writing skills, despite the absence of dysgraphia in these children." Read more.

EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW. If you've been following the U.S. Department of Education's reported shift to a narrower enforcement of civil rights discrimination (eg, based on LDs and other disabilities), check out a piece at ABC News on the topic. On the same topic, special ed attorney Matt Cohen says this in his more recent newsletter: "The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has developed a preliminary revision of OCR Guidelines for how complaints will be handled that, if adopted, would substantially change the way the office handles complaints and limit the scope of the complaint process. Two major changes being discussed are 1) to limit investigation of individual complaints to the complaining party's situation, rather than investigating whether the alleged misconduct was part of a systemic violation, and 2) allowing OCR to potentially resolve complaints with the school district before even informing the parent of the outcome of the investigation. These changes have the effect of limiting OCR's ability to pursue systemic problems and limiting the ability of parents to have equal involvement with the school districts in the complaint process." Find the newsletter.

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Making It" with Dyslexia or Autism; Labels; Research Participation Opportunity; More

THE HECHINGER REPORT published a first-person piece from a young person with dyslexia. "For most of my childhood, I always felt just a little bit too slow, or just a little bit too dumb. I knew I was smart, but it seemed like I could never quite get there." Read more about how this student succeeded.

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT of the Dog in the Night-Time is a story about a mystery-solving teen boy with autism. The novel was turned into a hit Broadway play. A staging in Syracuse, New York, features as its lead actor Mickey Rowe, who is, according to The New York Times, "thought to be the first openly autistic actor to play the role." The article highlights how "role" can be important in the life of an autistic person. For example, Rowe tells the reporter during an interview, “This is easy-ish for me because you’re a reporter; I’m the interviewee, We have specific roles. If we met on the street, that would be more scary.” Find the article.

LABELS, MINDSET. A Stanford professor teaching high-achievers began to see, according to KQED News, "how being labeled 'gifted' or 'smart' as children stunted even these bright and successful young people." The professor made a short video in which Stanford students talk about the labels they grew up with and the effects. Find the article and the video. (Thanks for TiLT for bringing this item to our attention.)

RESEARCH PARTICIPATION OPPORTUNITY. The organization Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) will be conducting focus groups in December to gather information on charter schools, choice, voucher programs, and implications for students with disabilities. COPAA says, "The findings in this report will primarily serve to assist policymakers, including the White House and Congress, and state and local education agencies with insight needed to make policy decisions designed to improve the outcomes for students with disabilities in charter schools and voucher programs." COPAA seeks "
Parents of students with disabilities or students who are attending, have attended or tried to attend a charter school." Find out more.

TESTS AND ASSESSMENTS are crucial in identifying and securing services for twice-exceptional children. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities offers a primer on IQ tests and index scales; find it. For a deeper dive, check out Wrightslaw's book All About Tests and Assessments, now in its second edition.


  • The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University holds an annual seminar on twice-exceptional learners, saying "The yearly seminar provides parents, educators, and students with information and strategies on supporting these learners..." This year's presenter is Lois Baldwin. The event is scheduled for January 24 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Find out more
  • The Weinfeld Group has announced the featured keynote presenter for its "Diamonds in the Rough" conference scheduled for March 9-10 in Rockville, Maryland. The keynoter is Joyce Cooper-Kahn, author of Late, Lost, and Unprepared: A Parent's Guide to Executive Functioning. A 2e Newsletter staff member who has covered other presentations by Cooper-Kahn calls her "really good." Find out more
  • "Surviving the College Transition: A Gifted Undergraduate's Perspective" is the title of November 30 SENG webinar. Got a transition coming up? Check out the webinar
POLICY, LAW. The Council for Exceptional Children has come out in favor of the new nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education. Why is this post important? CEC notes that the person in it can "ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education and early intervention services." Read more.

TED sponsors local TEDx Youth events for young people, designed, according to TED, "to empower and inspire young people." One such talk is titled "Activism Needs Introverts." Acknowledging that for introverts "traditional forms of activism like marches, protests and door-to-door canvassing can be intimidating and stressful," the talk suggests involvement through craftivism, "a way to get people to slow down and think deeply about the issues they're facing, all while engaging the public more gently." Intrigued? Find the talk. Or, find out more about TEDxYouth.


  • From Science Daily: Physical fitness in children may affect their brain structure, which in turn may have an influence on their academic performance, new research indicates. Find the study write-up.
  • From Medical News Today: "A new study examined how obstructive sleep apnea in children may interfere with memory consolidation, and it also uncovered a potential method of predicting the level of disruption caused by the associated sleep loss." Find the study write-up
  • From Newswise: University of Kentucky researchers have developed an after-school program using "small group activities and novel learning strategies" to help students with ADHD succeed at school. Read more
  • And from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation: "New Analysis Finds Behavioral Therapy Should Be Combined with Medication to Relieve Severe Anxiety in Children." Read more.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A 2e School Program, Items on ADHD and Anxiety, and Lots of Research -- Plus Thanksgiving

WE'VE COME A LONG WAY, in some respects and in some places. In Waterloo, Iowa, the Waterloo Schools Foundation provided a $10,000 grant to help start the "Expanded Learning Program" in Waterloo schools. The program focuses on 2e students. Explaining 2e to the school board, the program coordinator said, “it’s gifted with a disability. So we turn it into a strengths-based instead of a deficit model.” Our compliments, but too bad it often takes private grants and non-budgeted funds to start such programs. Read more.

ADHD. Medical News Today offers a list of "The 10 best blogs for ADHD." If this is an "e" you're concerned about, check out the list.

SMART KIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES has published an article about the behavior behind ADHD. From the preface: "Understanding what drives the behavior of your child with ADHD may help you respond in supportive and compassionate ways rather than with anger and resentment." Find the article.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE. This organization's November newsletter is out, featuring what's new in gifted ed; news of Davidson's various ventures; legislative and policy news, possibly from your state; resources from the web; and news items. Find the newsletter.

TiLT PARENTING. The latest podcast from TiLT is with the founder of the "Hey Sigmund" website, Karen Young. TiLT founder Debbie says the podcast concerns anxiety in children. "Karen will tell us exactly what it looks like, how we can recognize it in our kids, what to do about it, and how to talk with our kids about it. Karen also tells us about her new book which she wrote specifically for children with anxiety, called Hey Warrior." Find the podcast.

HECHINGER REPORT published a first-person piece from a young person with dyslexia. "For most of my childhood, I always felt just a little bit too slow, or just a little bit too dumb. I knew I was smart, but it seemed like I could never quite get there." Read more about how this student succeeded.

RESEARCH: ADHD. Healthday published the results of a study indicating that "calm, positive parenting" can help children deal with their emotions and behaviors. (And we all know how difficult staying calm can sometimes be.) Read more.

  • A recently-published study followed the treatment trajectories (psychotherapy, drugs, or no treatment) and results in terms of suicide attempts or hospitalization. Of interest: the lowest incidence of those adverse outcomes came with psychotherapy alone. Read a study write-up
  • Researchers using MRI have discovered a common pattern of structural abnormalities in the brains of people with depression and social anxiety, according to a new study. Read a study write-up.
  • Other research examines the co-occurrence of ASD and depression. According to US News, "individuals who have both autism spectrum disorder and depression are different than those who have just one or the other – and inflammation of a certain protein may be one of the causes. There isn't treatment for these individuals currently, nor is much known about why or how depression in autism spectrum disorder develops." Read more
RESEARCH: AUTISM. From Science Daily: "Researchers from the University of Surrey have discovered that experiences of social and emotional exclusion in mainstream schools can adversely affect how pupils with autism view themselves, increasing their risk of developing low self-esteem, a poor sense of self-worth and mental health problems." Read more.

  • One study has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a very effective treatment for OCD. Read more at PsychCentral or Science Daily
  • Another study says that CBT plus something called POsitive Fammily Interaction Therapy reduces symptom severity in OCD. Read more
AND FINALLY, THIS, apropos of nothing but Thanksgiving, a story title from the Washington Post: "What I learned when I tried to make my blended family a gluten-free, kosher, no-soy, vegan, organic, low-acid, no-dairy Thanksgiving." Find the story.