Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dyslexia, Advocacy Opportunity, PD, and More

REMEMBER MEL BROOKS? He married Ann Bancroft, and they had four children. One of them, Max, is dyslexic. Here's part of what Max, age 45 and a dad, says about his dyslexia when he was growing up: "Dyslexia in the late '70s, 1980s was unheard of. Dyslexia — they didn't even call it a disability back then; it was just 'laziness,' 'goofing off,' 'you're not trying hard enough.' 'You can do it but you don't want to do it' — that was a big one of my teachers." His mother put her career on hold to help. Read more at NPR

ADVOCACY OPPORTUNITY: QUICK DEADLINE. We just heard from our friend Heidi, who is an adviser to the Untapped Potential Project (UPP). working to change education policy at the state level for kids who learn differently. UPP is asking for short video statements recorded on mobile phones. Here’s what UPP says: "UPP is submitting a video to potentially participate in America Succeeds Edventure Shark Tank. In our pitch, we would like to support the stories of individual families and their experience with the current educational system as well as build research on the 'State of 2E.' UPP is compiling clips from kids and families to help us tell the story of the problem. If you have a twice-exceptional child (or know a parent who does), we would appreciate it if you can send a video recording from your phone describing your child's experience in regards to the following questions:
  • Why didn't the current system work? 
  • Why did IEPs (or not qualifying) not do the job? 
  • Was the current system sympathetic to your needs? 
  • Were the proper accommodations made? 
  • How about the current charter school system as an alternative - did it work? 
  • How about private schools - were they the solution, and if so, tell us about the costs. 
  • What would be perfect? Is it some new system of personalization of all of the above or something else? 
"Please use all three of these methods in your video:
  • One word 
  • 3-4 words 
  • 2-3 sentences 
[NOTE: The three alternative deliveries give the video producers flexibility in terms of how they incorporate content into the final product. –2e Newsletter]
"Please send your video to sinthu@powerupp.org by Friday, August 18th. Here's the link to a sample video; feel free to reach out if you have any questions!" [NOTE: If a minor 2e child supplies his or her own video statement, the parent will need to sign a release available from sinthu@powerupp.org.]

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY. Gifted Research and Outreach, a California organization active in the gifted and 2e communities, is offering a one-day continuing education event in LA titled "A Multidisciplinary Approach to Serving the Gifted Population." Some content is 2e-related, and participants will receive a copy of Great Potential Press' Misdiagnosis book. Find out more

AND MORE PD. September 4 is the deadline for applying to an online course from Landmark College, "Understanding and Supporting Diverse Learners." Says Landmark, "This course provides a core understanding of learning theories, frameworks, and best practices for working effectively with students who learn differently. Participants will explore definitions, research, historical trends, and legal mandates related to learning disabilities (including dyslexia and dyscalculia; ADHD; and autism spectrum disorder (ASD)). Students will deepen their understanding of innovative practices, incorporating Universal Design, executive function supports, and emerging educational technologies. They will explore how these approaches can be applied and adapted to provide optimal learning." Find out more.

GENERAL INTELLIGENCE. So what's the "g" factor? A researcher involved in a new study poses different ways to conceive of it: "Is it a causal factor, an artifact of the way we create cognitive tests, the result of our educational environment, a consequence of genetics, an emergent phenomenon of a dynamic system or perhaps all of these things to varying degrees?" Their conclusion: cognitive abilities such as reasoning skills and vocabulary reinforce each other in a "mutualism" model. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. According to Science Daily, scientists have used magnetism and injected magnetic particles to activate tiny groups of cells in mouse brains, inducing bodily movements that include running, rotating and losing control of the extremities -- an achievement that could lead to advances in studying and treating neurological disease. This magneto-thermal stimulation, says Science Daily, "gives neuroscientists a powerful new tool: a remote, minimally invasive way to trigger activity deep inside the brain, turning specific cells on and off to study how these changes affect physiology." Find out more, and consider whether this tool would ever allow you to have a remote control for your misbehaving kiddo.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Neuromyths, Back to School, Mental Health Programs, and More

NEUROMYTHS. A survey has shown that many educators, and even those with neuroscience training, believe in neuromyths -- common misconceptions about the brain and learning, and that that neuromyth beliefs are remarkably prevalent. One example of a neuromyth: that kiddos with dyslexia will commonly write letters backwards. According to Science Daily, "The public believed 68% of the neuromyths, educators 56%, and surprisingly, respondents with neuroscience training endorsed 46%." Find the Science Daily write-up. Find the study article itself, or the list of neuromyth questions. Separately, find an article at TED on why some children write "mirror" words or even sentences. Separately again, read a short article in Costco Connection about dyslexia that includes common misconceptions about the condition, eg that dyslexics see things backwards. 

BACK TO SCHOOL.
  • Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities offers four tips for "easing back-to-school jitters; find it
  • Evolved.com provides a parent to-do list; find it
  • And the University of Alabama/Birmingham offers a brief article titled "Easing the Back-to-School Transition for Children with Special Needs"; find it
RESEARCH ABOUT ONLINE LEARNING for students with LDs is the topic of an article from the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT). The research, according to LCIRT, is to "explore how our students most effectively communicate in online classes and explore ways to improve student effectiveness in these spaces." Read more.

SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS can be effective in improving mental health and related outcomes, according to a research review in the September/October issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The programs deal with problems such as anxiety, behavior disorders, ADHD, and depression. The eight largest such programs have reached tens of millions of children. Read more at Science Daily. Separately, The CT Mirror notes that budget cuts in Connecticut might adversely affect gains that state has made in school mental health services; find out more.

THE G WORD is a documentary in production about giftedness, learning and high intelligence. Some of the content is drawn from Big Minds Unschool in California. Find out more about the documentary, whose producer was at the recent SENG conference.

EDUCATION LAW AND POLICY.
  • We've written on the topic of reduced civil rights enforcement before, but an article at Politico notes that the current U.S. Department of Education administration is closing lots of education-related civil rights complaints. According to Politico, investigators have been told to "narrow their focus to the merits of a particular claim, rather than probing systemic issues." Read more
  • The Washington Post provides a summary of the accomplishments and agenda of the secretary of education over the past six months; find it
  • And the Associated Press recently interviewed the education secretary; find a transcript
AND FINALLY, THIS. Science Daily tells us that in the largest functional brain imaging study to date, researchers compared 46,034 brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) imaging studies provided by nine clinics, quantifying differences between the brains of men and women. One conclusion? "The brains of women in the study were significantly more active in many more areas of the brain than men, especially in the prefrontal cortex, involved with focus and impulse control, and the limbic or emotional areas of the brain, involved with mood and anxiety." Read more.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Anxiety, Genetics/Environment, Items from SENG, and More

STRESS AND ANXIETY. A psychologist from Boys Town writes in The Washington Post about stress and anxiety in teens, and what parents can do to help. Basic steps include: looking for signs; letting kids know it's okay to feel upset; and having more family time. Read more. Separately, an article at Philly.com is titled "How family doctors can help kids and teens fight depression and anxiety." It is based on reportage from a panel session at a recent National Medical Association. Panel members urged practitioners to: look beyond the words, because irritability or boredom can be signs of depression; look for excessive cellphone use; and recognize that regular family dinners might not occur in some homes. Panelists noted that some families might not trust mental health professionals as much as the family doctor. Said one panelist, "“No kid should leave your office without a safety plan." Read more. Also on the topic of what the family doctor can do to find or treat mental health issues, The Agenda feature at Politico.com notes an Alaskan healthcare system that built mental health into its primary care practice. Read more. (Also at Politico.com "5 must-reads on mental illness."

WE'LL HEAR MORE ON THIS. The University of Chicago issued a press release about research results published this week. The research analyzed genetic and environmental influences on common diseases in almost half a million people in 130,000 families. The research revealed surprising correlations between diseases -- for example that migraines "appeared to be most genetically similar to irritable bowel syndrome." Here's what the press release says, in part: "...the team created a disease classification based on two measures. One focused on shared genetic correlations of diseases, or how often diseases occurred among genetically-related individuals, such as parents and children. The other focused on the familial environment, or how often diseases occurred among those sharing a home but who had no or partially matching genetic backgrounds, such as spouses and siblings." Among the conditions categorized are ADHD, anxiety phobic disorder, depression, mood disorder, and substance abuse. The release contains a chart showing the various relationships between diseases, genetics, and the environment -- but it's not for the faint of heart to try to figure out, although readers here certainly have as good a chance as anyone to make sense of it. Find the press release, and watch for further explanation of this (we hope) in the mainstream media over the next week or so.

THANKS TO THE SENG CONFERENCE, we have three items to offer:
  • Josh Shaine, the organizer of the Beyond IQ conferences, successor to the Hollingsworth conferences, has a Facebook group called Gifted "Underachievers" -- his quotes, not ours. If this topic interests you, perhaps check it out
  • The Fringy Bit is a group of resources from two family therapists from Wisconsin, one of whom we met at the SENG conference. "Kids on the fringe" are like the ones you raise and educate. The couple's goals are to provide support and connection to the Fringy Bit community -- support via podcasts, Facebook, a blog, and more. Find out more
  • The conference was also inspiration for Jen the Blogger to write about her gratitude for some things that happened during the conference, more specifically how one of her sons engaged with the 2e community there. Those active in the 2e community know that the individuals responsible for one's participation in the community are often wary of being associated with it themselves. But not so in this case. Find Jen's blog
TiLT PARENTING has released its newest podcast, this one about the experiences of Debbie's son at summer Space Camp. It's a follow-up to an earlier podcast about the son's preparations for the camp, eg in terms of predicting and planning for "tricky situations" that might arise at camp. Find the podcast.

AND FINALLY, THIS. A 9yo boy applied to become NASA's planetary protection officer, a new position at the agency. One qualification he listed, according to The Washington Post: "My sister thinks I'm an alien." He actually got a good reaction from NASA -- although not the job. Read more.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Laugh and/or Cry, Become an Assistant Head of School, See Us Live-streamed, and More

PARENTS, YOU'RE NOT ALONE. You know that from this site and others. But if you want to read what other parents hear about their kiddos and then either laugh or cry, check out the site of Romper. A mom of a 2e kiddo put together a page called "10 Special Needs Moms Share the Worst Thing They Heard About Their Child." Examples? He'll grow out of it. You vaccinated him, that's why he's on the spectrum. Or, if you loved him more.... Ugh and ugly but might make you feel better.

NOT NAPOLEON'S WATERLOO. A foundation in Waterloo, Iowa, has raised and funded education-related grants and initiative to the tune of over $1 million in the past five years. The latest donation is to support twice-exceptional students. Read more.

JOB OPPORTUNITY. FlexSchool New Haven in Connecticut, a school for gifted and 2e kiddos, is looking for an assistant head of school for the upcoming school year. If you're interested -- or if you know someone who might be -- find out about the mindset of the successful applicant, his or her responsibilities, desired qualifications, and more at our website.

2e NEWSLETTER co-publisher J Mark Bade finally made it to social media at last weekend's SENG conference when Julie Skolnick, of With Understanding Comes Calm, live-streamed on Facebook his response to the question, "What would you most want to see for 2e children." You can see the response at our Facebook page, or, with responses by Mike Postma and James Webb, at Julie's FB page.

AUTISM SPEAKS is revamping its strategic plan and scientific priorities and, according to Disability Scoop, "is collecting feedback on what type of research the group should be emphasizing or avoiding as it distributes funds going forward." If you have opinions on the focus of autism-related research, find out more.

TSK, TSK NYC. First it was Texas, putting a cap on the percentage of students eligible for special ed services. Now, it seems, New York City schools have been short-changing special ed students by not providing services in-house but rather issuing "vouchers" for obtaining those services from private providers. Trouble is, few providers accept the vouchers, and it's up to parents to coordinate and travel to services that should have been provided on school time; this according to Disability Scoop. Read more.

EXERCISE AND ADHD is the topic of an article at US News. Does it help? If so, what kind of exercise or sports? Find out more.

SUGAR AND MENTAL HEALTH are examined in an article at Medical News Today. Several studies indicate that sugar consumption can lead to -- not just be "linked to" depression. The article gets into "the science of sugar" and "sugar and neurons," as well as ways to cut sugar from the diet. Find the article.

HOW'S YOUR COMMUNICATION with your child? If you're like many parents of smart kiddos who also have learning challenges, communication at home is often less than ideal. Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities offers a new post, "10 Ways to Improve Communication with Your Child."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Thoughts from SENG

The annual conference of SENG, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is just over. We spent several days there covering sessions and keeping a presence in the exhibit area there in the Marriott Chicago hotel of Naperville. The program included lots of good speakers, some of whom you'll read about in upcoming issues of 2e Newsletter. Here are some thoughts and impressions...

The 2e community might have an emerging "poster child" in researcher/author Scott Barry Kaufman, who gave a keynote on Saturday morning. Simultaneously engaging, funny, and informative, Kaufman, whose CAPD landed him in special ed as a child, sensed the audience was, as he said, "my crowd." Kaufman has a new book coming ut soon, "Twice Exceptional: Supporting and Educating Bright and Creative Students with Learning Difficulties," that will include chapters by authors familiar to  many readers of 2e Newsletter. In addition, a TED Talk by Kaufman on twice exceptionality will be available in the next week or so.

The conference seemed well attended. As usual, attendees were all motivated by the chance to share information about gifted kiddos and the social-emotional, mental health, or learning issues they might have. Our impression is that parents find it easy to make connections at these SENG conferences, and that the professionals in attendance seem willing to be accessible. Our impression is that parents are probably the biggest segment of the audience, then educators, then service providers.

The conference is 2e Newsletter's opportunity to make connections as well. For example, at our exhibit table we met a counselor from Asheville and one from Denver. Since we sometimes get calls from parents looking for resources of one sort or another in different parts of the country, and new connections help us point to those resources.

Sometimes at the conference we are able to point parents to resources that are right there at the conference. We pointed one local family to a suburban counseling/psychological services group that apparently does a lot of work with 2e children. The group had an exhibit table and was also giving several presentations.

We hear lots of stories from families, some about successes for their 2e kiddo because of a school district willing and able to take on the kiddo's challenges. We also hear about districts unwilling or unable to serve our kids. And sometimes we hear truly scary stories, for example about children way too young who are encountering existential concerns.

We re-establish connections with others who serve the 2e community and get inspiration on ways to serve the community. And we always receive inspiration from the "high achievers" we talk to -- those whose lives are virtually consumed by the roles they've chosen in the community as leading-edge educators, researchers, presenters, or information disseminators. They all have our deepest respect.

SENG's interim director Mike Postma, on the job for a few months, gets LOTS of credit for pulling together the successful conference in the midst of staff changes and other challenges. Hats off to Mike!

And we always appreciate it when an attendee stops by our exhibit table to tell us they've found the newsletter informative and useful. Feedback like that at a conference like SENG can keep us going for another year!

Watch for more information about the conference in our next newsletter issue and for pics on our Facebook page as soon as we go through them.




Thursday, August 3, 2017

Conferences, Resources, and Stuff from Other Blogs and Sites

CONFERENCES
  • The 2e Center for Research and Professional Development at Bridges Academy has released more information about its October symposium, "Vision and Leadership in 2e Education," to be held in Los Angeles. The event is intended for just about anyone in the 2e community. Find out more
  • Twice-Exceptional Children's Advocacy, TECA, has released more information about its October conference, "Building 2e Awareness and Community," in the New York City area. The event is directed at those in the 2e community in the New York tri-state area. Find out more
  • And SENG's annual conference kicks off today in Naperville, Illinois. Find out more

RESOURCES
  • Understood provides back-to-school letters you can adapt and use to help this year's teacher understand your child's learning challenges. Find them
  • NCLD, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, now offers a resource on personalized learning. Says NCLD: "This resource hub contains information, case studies, and recommendations -- all with an eye on the needs and success of students with disabilities -- tailored for parents, educators, school communities and policymakers, wherever and however they may be approaching personalized learning. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this addition to NCLD.org is the culmination of a three-year exploration of how students with disabilities can benefit from efforts to customize their learning to align with their strengths and interests." Find it

FROM OTHER BLOGS AND WEBSITES
  • Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities tells what to watch for in terms of red flags for dyslexia that should prompt early intervention. Go there
  • ADDitude, noting that pediatricians vary in their capability to serve as mental health resource, tells "how to solve the patient-provider mismatch." Go to ADDitude
  • With Understanding Comes Calm offers the newest edition of its Gifted and Distractible newsletter. Read Julie's piece "Running to Stand Still" about the emotion and dedication shown by parents in the 2e community. Find "Gifted and Distractible.
  • At the Gifted Development Center, Bobbie Gilman and Linda Silverman consider the situation where an anything-but-average child earns average test scores. Go to GDC
  • And TiLT Parenting has released Episode 5,000 -- wait, "only" Episode 68 -- in its rapidly growing podcast series. Says TiLT founder Debbie Reber, "In today’s episode, [consultant/author] Rachel and I will look at what the research has to say about the impact of video games in our kids' lives, bust some myths about the potential harms and benefits of video gaming, and answer questions posed by members of the TiLT Parenting Facebook page. Whether your child is into Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Slime Rancher, Hey Day, or any other online games, I guarantee you’ll take away some nuggets from today’s episode." Take Debbie up on her guarantee

AND IT'S OFF to the SENG conference!







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 EdSurge.com, 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 EdSurge.com write-up; find Inspire on Amazon.

EDUCATION POLICY AND LAW.
  • 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 Romper.com. 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 POLICY AND LAW.
  • 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.



Friday, June 30, 2017

Identifying Giftedness and LDs, Personalized Learning, and More

THE RECENT NCLD REPORT on the incidence of learning disabilities is the take-off point for an article at EducationWorld.com titled "Ways to Better Identify and Support Students with 'Invisible' Learning Disabilities." The author provides reasons even gifted kiddos may not be diagnosed and receive services, then riffs on three remedies to the situation as proposed in the NCLD report -- get the word out, develop structures, and follow up. Find the article.

BEING MISSED AS GIFTED. 2e kiddos face the double hurdles of being identified with an LD (see the item above) and being identified as gifted. The Brainware Learning Company offers reasons why bright children might not test as gifted, using findings by Scott Barry Kaufman. The article also posits a new view of giftedness that encompasses many "flavors" beyond fluid intelligence -- flavors such as spatial giftedness, verbal giftedness, and others you might see in the child you raise or teach. Find the article.

WHO GETS TO BE GIFTED is the name of a short documentary featuring leading experts on the topic. The film's blurb says: "In this powerful 12-minute piece, director/producer Marc Smolowitz sits down with five of our nation's most dynamic thought leaders to contemplate issues of race, gender, class and sexual identity, especially in relationship to gifted education, the IQ and 21st century ideas around what constitutes intelligence." Find the video.

A CUSTOMIZED EDUCATION would seem to be ideal for a twice-exceptional student -- or any student, really. The Chan-Zuckerberg duo, according to Education Week, "[is] gearing up to invest hundreds of millions of dollars a year in a new vision of 'whole-child personalized learning,' with the aim of dramatically expanding the scope and scale of efforts to provide every student with a customized education. The couple has selected a former Deputy U.S. Secretary of Education to head the initiative. Find out more.

NAGC, in a recent communique to members, said this: "We are celebrating the Fourth of July early! Yesterday, the State of Connecticut took a bold and important step in supporting the special needs for all children with extraordinary gifts and talents when Governor Malloy signed into law An Act Concerning Services for Gifted and Talented Students. Find out more about the bill.

TO BE GIFTED AND LEARNING DISABLED, the 3rd edition, is now available from Prufrock Press. The three authors are Susan Baum, Robin Schader, and Steven Own. Those in the 2e community may use a code for 20% off the price of the book on the Prufrock site. Go to the book's page and then enter code TBGLD20 at checkout to receive the discount.

NY METRO PARENTS has a (sponsored) article titled "Why Do So Many Gifted and Talented Children Hate to Write?" The authors state, "Gifted children need a structure from which to build, process, and organize their ideas, a creative infrastructure to distract them from the arduous task of doing so--along with a dab of mathematics." Read the article to find the structure.

POLICY AND LAW. Education Week takes a look at how assessments under ESSA will affect high school students with disabilities; find the article. And The Washington Post describes how the proposed healthcare bill might cut funds schools use to help special-ed students; find the article.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

IEP Success Story, ADHD, Tourette's, OCD, Podcasts, and More

OUTSIDE-THE-BOX THINKING benefits both the student and the school. Parent, advocate and author Amanda Marin writes at Education Week about a success story -- yes, success -- for a twice-exceptional student at the hands of a creative school administration and staff. The story involves a teacher frustrated by her inability to understand the student in question... a social worker... and a hard-working IEP team, all backed by a school principal who encouraged collaboration and innovative thinking. Find the story.

ADHD IN THE FAMILY. How does a family plan and organize when both child and parent have ADHD? That the topic of an article at the Huffington Post, and it offers ways to "re-frame ADHD more collaboratively." For example: Follow routines together; create reminders together; and more. Find the article.

ALSO ON ADHD.

  • A study write-up at Medical News Today noting that people who go to bed late have less control over ADHD symptoms. Find the write-up
  • "Five Must-read Articles, and an Online Course, to Help Children with ADHD" at the Huffington Post. Find it
  • "When ADHD is All in the Family," an article at ADDitude, offers more ways to deal with the shared diagnosis. Find the article
  • A long-lasting ADHD drug from Shire has been approved by the FDA, according to Reuters. Read more
TOURETTE'S is the topic of a couple recent articles.
  • A study write-up at Science Daily says that researchers have identified structural changes in two genes that increase the risk of developing Tourette syndrome; go to Science Daily
  • Another write-up at Science Daily notes that children with Tourette's may have an elevated rate of autism symptoms. This study was a follow-up to research by the same team showing that Tourette's, OCD and ADHD share common symptoms and genetic relationships. Find the write-up
OCD, INFLAMMATION. Certain psychiatric conditions -- depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder -- have been found to be associated with neurinflammation. A new study also links OCD to neuroinflammation, leading to new understanding of the condition as well as possible treatments. Read more.

DANGER. Still in the research realm, a new study by the University of Toronto found that the lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts was much higher for women who had been diagnosed with learning disabilities (16.6%) compared to women who had not (3.3%). Men with learning disabilities also were more likely to have attempted suicide compared to men without learning disorders (7.7% vs 2.1%). Read more.

SUMMIT CENTER has released two new podcasts. One is with Chicago-area coach/consultant/author Kimberlee King on a topic from her book, Parenting Is Hard; Suffering Is Optional. According to the podcast's intro, "Kimberlee Anne and Dr. Dan [Peters] discuss many compelling topics in today’s podcast, including how to be happy despite chaos, judgment (don’t do it!), gratitude, radical self-acceptance, ego, present parenting, self-improvement, perfectionism, cutting the proverbial umbilical cord (especially if our kids have challenges) and so much more." Find the podcast. The other podcast is titled "Secrets of Simplicity and Living Better," with parent/author/entrepreneur Mary Carlomagno. Find the podcast.

TiLT PARENTING. Another week, another podcast or two from TiLT, for the parents of differently-wired (aka 2e) kids. The newest podcasts cover "How Parents Can Survive (and Thrive) Over the Summer Break" (Episode 62) and, in a conversation with TiLT founder Debbie's son, travel and vacation strategies (Episode 63).

AND FINALLY, THIS. Parents who are struggling to understand and raise their children naturally have a need to communicate with other parents about parenting, and about the challenges they face. A Washington Post article points out how what might seem like an invitation to give parenting advice might not really be such -- and how to avoid giving unwanted advice and provide what a challenged parent really needs. Chances are parents in the 2e community are probably more often at the receiving end of this dynamic -- but it doesn't hurt to be able to recognizes "non-listening styles" in others or in oneself. As the article concludes, “Most parents just want someone to listen to their experiences without judgment." Find the article.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"Gifted," ASD, Processing Speed, and More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 19, 2017

Accommodation and Self-Advocacy, Depression, ASD, Law and Policy, More

STANDARD TEST ACCOMMODATIONS. In The Hechinger Report, a young man writes about being refused extra time in a state test that is the gateway to a prestigious scholarship competition. He is multi-exceptional, and makes exceptional use of analogies and metaphors in his arguments for accommodations in such testing. For example: "Does a person who needs glasses have an unfair advantage over someone who does not?" The author also confronted the testing body on a number of issues and received responses unsatisfactory to him... or received no response at all. The young man is already a great advocate for himself and for other 2e students. Find the article.

DEPRESSION is the topic of two articles in mainstream media outlets in recent days. Forbes ran an article titled "The Strategies that Science Actually Shows Are Effective for Depression," covering cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, short-term therapies, exercise, mindfulness and meditation, medication, and more. The article also states, "As always, finding a therapist you trust and connect with is often the first step to figuring out which route to take." Find the article. The second article was in US News and titled "Do Alternative Therapies Work for Depression?" It covered approaches such as St John's Wort, Omega-3 fatty acids, and SAMe in some detail, and in less detail covered yoga, sunlight, vitamin D supplements and meditation. The article's net-out: "The only proven alternative therapy for depression is exercise," followed by the same ask-your-doctor caveat as in the Forbes article. Find the US News piece. Separately, the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation posted about animal research indicating that inhibiting an enzyme called GLO1 could be a way to quickly treat depression; read more.

FLEXSCHOOL has issued a press release about a newly formed advisory team to support its mission, which is "to create spaces where gifted and twice-exceptional students all over the world are accepted, valued, and supported." With operating campuses in New Jersey and Connecticut, the organization plans to open a Manhattan campus in 2018. Read more.

UNDERSTOOD. Don't forget that this organization offers frequent online events on topics of potential interest to the 2e community. For example, this week's events cover homeschooling and ADHD, AT for writing, and working memory. Find out more.

ASD. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers have identified certain brain regions that significantly correlate with an increase in social abilities following a virtual environment based training program. Adults on the autism spectrum who showed greater activity in the social brain network prior to the training improved more in emotion recognition than those who showed less activity. Find the study write-up. Separately, another study has found that individuals with ASD who avoid eye contact may do so because it is neurologically uncomfortable. Find the study write-up.

EDUCATION LAW AND POLICY. Education Week has recently run two articles on the law and federal policy as they affect education.
  • Perhaps you're aware that IDEA has never really been fully funded by Congress at the originally intended level, 40 percent of its total cost for special ed. Instead, the federal government pays only about 15 percent of its expenses, with states and districts paying the rest. Legislation on the table now would require the feds to meet the 40 percent standard. Read more
  • Will students who use vouchers to receive a private education receive IDEA protections? That's the question explored at the second Education Week article. Find it
AND FINALLY, THIS. The organization Save the Children has issued a report ranking 172 countries in terms of the best and worst places to grow up, taking into account quality of life, mortality rates, nutrition, and more. All of the top countries were European except South Korea, which tied for 10th spot. Find the list at USA Today or in Save the Children's report

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ADHD Diagnosis Rate, ASD in the Classroom, a Teacher's POV, and More

ADHD DIAGNOSES, MEDS. In 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines for diagnosing and treating ADHD. Since then, according to a recent research update from the AAP, both the rate of diagnosis and the use of stimulant meds have remained constant. Find AAP's research update. On the other hand, the title of a recent article at Psychiatric Times is "Are We Overdiagnosing and Overtreating ADHD?" The article covers several studies of incidence and treatment; however, it looks as if the data used is generally from 2011 or earlier. Find the article. (Free registration required.)

MORE ON ADHD. Understood has posted a piece titled "ADHD and Mood Swings: What You Need to Know." Got that problem at your house? Find the piece. Separately, in our previous blog posting we referred to a study write-up that indicated car crashes might not be as big a danger for teens with ADHD as previously thought. A few days later, we see a study saying this: "Adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are licensed to drive less often and, when this group is licensed, they have a greater risk of crashing." Read more.

ASD IN THE CLASSROOM. The New York Times reports on an approach in the classroom to helping students on the spectrum adapt and learn. It's called ASD Nest and is in use in dozens of schools in New York City. Eligible students are evaluated as being capable of grade-level work. Read more.

EDUCATION WEEK offers "spotlights," collections of articles on particular topic. One is on special ed and includes articles of possible relevance to members of the 2e community, who have legs in both the gifted camp and the special ed camp. Some of the topics in this spotlight include personalized learning for kids with LDs, vouchers and special ed, and RTI. Find the spotlight.

THE RISE ACT. NCLD is advocating for the RISE act, legislation that would help ease the transition to college for students with learning and attention issues. At the NCLD site you can find out more and have your chance to advocate for the bill.

TiLT PARENTING has introduced a new podcast, this one about nurturing character in differently-wired kiddos. Find the podcast.

AND FINALLY, THIS. It's a safe bet that many parents might not appreciate what it's like to be a teacher -- what makes the job tiring... and what makes it rewarding. There's a short but expressive video on the topic that's worth watching. So far it's received almost 20 million views. You can find it at the site of Education Week, where there's other commentary on the topic, or at the Facebook page of the video's creator.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2e Stories, Anxiety, James T. Webb Interview, Attention, and More

DON'T FEEL BAD if you had trouble figuring out what was going on with your 2e kiddo before you knew he was twice-exceptional. At the Huffington Post you can read about a family in which the two parents have a combined three advanced degrees in education -- but who went through the same puzzle-solving most of the rest of us did before encountering, for the first time, the term "twice-exceptional." And the mom transitioned into a role familiar to those here: “warrior-research mother.” Find the story.

LABELS FOR DIFFERENTLY-WIRED KIDS. TiLT Parenting pointed us (thanks, Debbie) to an essay by a mom in Singapore who with her family this summer "will traverse twelve time zones to the other side of the globe as a step towards acceptance." In the family is a very bright 7yo differently-wired boy who on the trip will receive an assessment. The essay is in the form of a letter to the boy's teacher and is titled "Please Don't Label My Son." And the "acceptance part of the journey? "If we are to 'help' my son — accept and embrace him with empathy and unconditional love — we must learn to quiet the noise of our interpretations so that we can understand the nuances of his." Find the essay.

THE "GIFTED" LABEL. We in the 2e community get to explain two (or more) labels to our offspring. Psychologist Gail Post writes at her blog about how to explain the "gifted" label. Find the blog.

AN ANXIOUS NATION was the title of an article from The New York Times before some editor changed the title, using a reference to the "United States of Xanax."  (We like the first title better.) The article is about the ubiquity of anxiety in social media, blogs, Broadway shows, TV, and books. How ubiquitous? "According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38 percent of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26 percent of boys, have an anxiety disorder." This article provides some reasons for the prevalence of anxiety, and notes the benefits of efforts to bring anxiety into "the open." You won't, however, find much help for that 2e kiddo you know who worries a lot. Find the article.

JAMES T. WEBB, psychologist and founder of the organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, is interviewed by Adrienne Van Den Bos. You can find a PDF version here, or, if you're on LinkedIn, find a a link here.

ATTENTION. We have three items for you from the past few days on the topic of attention:

  • TED, in its weekly playlist, pointed to a talk by a neuroscientist who explains what happens when we pay attention; find it
  • US News published an article about how ADHD symptoms manifest differently depending on gender; find the article
  • And NewsWise reported on a study indicating that car crashes might not be as big a danger for teens with ADHD as previously thought; read more.
UNDERSTOOD has issued the following request. "Please share your thoughts on the IEP process. We want to hear from both parents and educators about your experiences. What do you think about the process for having a child evaluated? How is your school using the IEP to provide individualized teaching and personalized learning? Understood appreciates your help in completing a brief 5-minute survey." Go to the survey.

AND FINALLY, THIS. Remember the Georgia teacher who recently gave an end-of-year award to an ADHD student for being "most likely to not pay attention"? Last week a middle-school teacher in Texas handed out some awards in a similar vein. The student who got the "most likely to become a terrorist" award was not amused... nor was the school district, especially (presumably) after the incident received local television coverage. The teacher is no longer employed by the district, according to reports. Read more.