Giftedness and Exceptionalities in the News
2e IN TEXAS. Evidently 2e students in Texas -- or any student there needing special ed supports -- might not have been well served by the Texas Education Agency during the time the agency imposed percentage caps on the number of students eligible for special ed services. The U.S. Department of Education is stepping in and holding "listening sessions" for Texas parents (those are this week; see below), but according to RawStory.com, parents have already been airing complaints on the DOE site. Here's an example: "My 8 year old son has been formally diagnosed as ADHD, general anxiety, social anxiety, mild depression (that’s a new one after his first grade year), and a severe sensory deficit. He’s also highly gifted." He was evidently denied services. Find the RawStory.com article. The unit of the DOE that will be conducting the listening sessions during the week of December 12 is the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS). Texas parents can find a schedule of the listening sessions -- dates and locations -- at the OSERS site. As of last Monday morning, you could also read 97 comments from what appear to be mainly parents, many of the comments quite lengthy. (We didn't read all 97, sorry.)
SAT ACCOMMODATIONS. The College Board, owner of the SAT and other standardized tests, will make it easier for students with disabilities to receive accommodations to take its tests. According to the College Board, "Beginning January 1, 2017, the vast majority of students who are approved for and using testing accommodations at their school through a current Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will have those same accommodations automatically approved for taking the SAT®, PSAT™10, PSAT/NMSQT®, SAT Subject Tests™, and AP®Exams." Find the press release. Find a write-up in The Washington Post.
PISA TIME AGAIN. The results of the latest Program for International Student Assessment, PISA, are out, and things aren't looking exactly rosy for U.S. students, who tend to score in the middle of the pack. You can read more at the site of The New York Times, which observed the following about what makes for good results: "Generally speaking, the smartest countries tend to be those that have acted to make teaching more prestigious and selective; directed more resources to their neediest children; enrolled most children in high-quality preschools; helped schools establish cultures of constant improvement; and applied rigorous, consistent standards across all classrooms." (We -- the U.S. -- get 1 out of 5 on those criteria.) The Education Week "Inside School Research" blog also discusses the results. So does Science Magazine.
DYSLEXIA SCREENING IN OREGON. A recently-enacted law in Oregon requires that every student in kindergarten and first grade be screened for dyslexia, with the aim of implementing early intervention if needed. Other recent legislation in the state addresses teacher training for dyslexia. The Bulletin says that Decoding Dyslexia Oregon pushed for the legislation -- another example of good grass-roots advocacy, we say. Read more.
THE BUZZIES. Fox News in Wisconsin reports on a doctor -- and mom of 2e children -- who invented a device using bilateral stimulation to "interfere with your body's stress response" and make it possible for children with autism to focus better. A set of Buzzies consists of two devices, one worn on each side of the body. Find the article. Find a site that sells Buzzies. (Caveat: We have no first-hand experience with Buzzies; do your own due diligence.)
POLITICS. Like it or not, the new administration in the U.S. federal government will likely mean changes that affect the 2e community. Here is one area of concern. The Department of Education Office of Civil Rights handles double the number of complaints now as it did eight years ago. This is relevant insofar as the OCR enforces equal access to education for all, including kiddos with disabilities. Read more. Education Week also has an article on the future of the OCR; find it. Separately, The Atlantic has published an article in which experts speculate on whether the new president and his secretary of education will make changes that would affect the OCR. Read more.
Note: Some of these news items came to our attention through CEC SmartBriefs, Education Week, LD Online Newsletter, ScienceDaily, and other aggregators.
From Other Newsletters, Digests, Websites, and Blogs
THE CHILD MIND INSTITUTE is on Facebook, of course. (And Twitter, and Instagram.) Social media mavens can find the Facebook site here. The Institute is a great resource for families and for educators; find its website here. The Institute has also published a parents' guide to OCD on its website, covering what it is, signs, treatment, related disorders, and working with school. Find the guide.
CEC. Advocate! That's the verb form there, imperative mood, to be exact, and it's what the Council for Exceptional Children urges us to do: to "tell Congress to invest in education programs for children with exceptionalities now!" And you, dear reader, should be doubly motivated, seeing how that kiddo you raise or educate is multiply exceptional. Find out more about what CEC wants you to do.
DISABILITY SCOOP has published an article on the current status of the US Supreme Court's acceptance of a case involving free and appropriate education. This case is the Colorado case, where parents complained that schools did not offer FAPE to their son with autism and put him in a private school, then asked for reimbursement. According to Disability Scoop, many individuals and groups have weighed in, asking the court to side with the family when the case is heard in January. Read more.
DYSLEXIC ADVANTAGE. Our friends here are looking for volunteers (dyslexic and non-dyslexic) to help with the development of an affordable online test for dyslexia. If you, or a dyslexic kiddo you know, or someone else with an interest in dyslexia can help out, it'll be a service to the 2e community. Find out more; respond using this link.
LANDMARK COLLEGE has issued new editions of two e-newsletters, one on the college and one on the college's Institute for Research and Training. In the college newsletter, Landmark College students tell their stories on video, and the college announces other news, such as a $131,220 grant to "integrate, articulate and apply an approach to teaching and supporting writing across the curriculum that is unprecedented in higher education and holds potential for broad dissemination." Find the Insider. LCIRT announces a newly launched blog and upcoming events. The blog already features a variety of posts on topics such as cognitive flexibility, dyscalculia (is it real?) and mindfulness. Find the newsletter.
SMARTKIDS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES offers "6 great gifts for children with LD and ADHD." But these are not "traditional" gifts. Find out more. This organization has also posted a new article with tips for achieving stress-free holidays when your family might include kiddos of a certain persuasion. Find the article.
TiLT PARENTING. This website, for parents of differently-wired kids, has released Episode 37 in its podcast series, this one about girls on the autism spectrum and features a behavioral and educational consultant. From the preview: "In our conversation we talk about what high-functioning autism looks like in girls, the importance of letting kids in on their diagnoses as early as possible, why schools are missing catching autism in girls, and what the real challenges are for girls versus boys with the same diagnoses—low self-esteem." Find the podcast. Episode 36 was a conversation with the son of TiLT's founder, 12yo Asher, about diagnoses, labels, and stigmas. Find out more.
UNDERSTOOD is hosting an "Experts Live" webinar on December 22 titled "Twice-Exceptional: Helping Gifted Kids with Learning and Attention Issues." Amanda Morin presents. Find out more.
WITH UNDERSTANDING COMES CALM. This organization is sponsoring a May 2 screening of the movie "2e: Twice Exceptional" in Silver Springs, Maryland. Find out more. Separately, the founder of With Understanding Comes Calm, Julie Skolnick, is part of the group putting on Camp Summit East this August 19-26. The camp is for gifted kids and is 2e-friendly. Find out more at the site of the Summit Center, founders of the camp.
WRIGHTSLAW devotes a recent issue of Special Ed Advocate to Section 504, "the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities." As Wrightslaw notes, "Compliance is not optional." Find Special Ed Advocate.
Resources for Parents and Educators
2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL FORMING. The Edison Academy in San Luis Obispo, California, has sent out a call for input, saying, "We are in the beginning stages of forming a public charter school and need your input." The call for input also lists the educational principals of the proposed school, and they sound good. For example: "Providing dual differentiation: curricular modifications that simultaneously take into account both a student’s cognitive abilities and learning challenges." Find out more.
2e-FRIENDLY SCHOOL IN NEW YORK. A representative of West Hills Academy, in Huntington, New York, contacted us to let us know about the school. The representative wrote: "West Hills Academy, built on 24 years of education experience, is a private school for students in grades K-8. We specialize in meeting the needs of students who are struggling with the everyday challenges of the traditional school setting. We understand the importance of getting to know the child YOU know and creating a customized and flexible learning environment in which that child can reach his or her full potential." Find out more. (West Hill's parent organization is the Gersh Academy.)
2e SUMMER CAMP EARLY BIRD OFFER. Quad Manhattan, an after-school and summer "meeting place" for 2e kids, has announced an early-bird discount for next summer's camp. The offer is good through January 3. Find out more about Quad Manhattan; find out more about summer camp. Contact the camp director for more information about the early-bird offer.
2e-FRIENDLY FACEBOOK GROUP. Marcie Carlstedt Booth has established a closed Facebook group, Twice Exceptional/ 2E Network International. It is an outgrowth of her efforts in the Los Angeles area to serve families of bright children who have special needs. You may also contact Marcie by phone with questions: (818) 667-1950. Find the Facebook group.
DUKE TIP is sponsoring a writing and illustration contest as part of its 4th-6th grade talent search. If that bright kiddo you raise or teach might be motivated to participate, check it out.
Know of a resource you think we should share? Let us know!
Research, Recent Studies
* Genetics is part of ADHD, and new research provides more information on exactly how a "risk gene" might work. Read more.
* "There is growing evidence that the first approach in addressing ADHD should be either nonpharmacologic therapy, especially in younger children, or a combination of medication and lifestyle changes." This is from an article at Medscape on ADHD and whether to use meds. Find it.
* In children on the spectrum, anxiety is often masked by the symptoms of autism. But a new variant to a standard anxiety screening method has now proven effective in separating the two and it is leading to important diagnoses. Find a write-up.
* Those involved in diagnosing ASD might be interested in a Belin Blank study concerning the instruments used to make such a diagnosis under DSM-5. The study indicated that the ADOS (Autism Diagnosis Observation Scale) instrument alone is insufficient for making such a diagnosis, and should be used along with the ADI-R (Autism Diagnosis Instrument -- Revised). Find the study abstract.
* Patients with depression can be categorized into four unique subtypes defined by distinct patterns of abnormal connectivity in the brain, according to new research. Find a write-up.
* What to look for to find depression in kids? Watch for anxiety and irritability, according to British researchers. Find out more.
* Early-onset major depressive disorder (MDD) is common in individuals with a family risk of depression. So what signs or symptoms might precede that initial onset of MDD during adolescence among a high-risk group of children with depressed parents? Read more.
GENDER. Slight gender variations in attention scores have been well documented, but a new study from Harvard Medical School suggests that these minor gaps widen significantly in places with lower gender equality. Read more.
GUT FEELINGS. The microbiome may affect mental illness and interact with treatment. All who have experienced a 'nervous stomach' under periods of stress suspect that there is a link between our gut and our mood. Now researchers have received strong scientific support for exactly this link. Find a write-up.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. A sedentary lifestyle is linked to poorer reading skills in the first three school years in 6-8 year old boys, according to a new study. The study investigated the longitudinal associations of physical activity and sedentary time with reading and arithmetic skills in 153 children aged 6-8 years old in Grades 1-3 of the primary school. Find a write-up.
* When children are falsely successful at games and other challenges, it can lead them to ignore important information in and about the world around them, according to a new study. Find a write-up.
* And do you ever wonder what your picky eater will do when he or she grows up? The New York Times addresses that question; find the article.
* Psychology Today explains the results of a study of the link between parenting style and children's behavioral problems. According to Psychology Today, "The main finding was that children whose temperament is more 'difficult' (they were easily upset, less able to self-regulate) both benefit more from positive parenting and suffer more from negative parenting." Is volatility or self-regulation an issue at your house? Read more.
OCD. A recently-published study tested web-based cognitive behavioral therapy on adolescents with OCD. About 30 percent of treated subjects showed improvement effects ranging from moderate-large to very large. Commentary in Journal Watch, from the New England Journal of Medicine stated, "Study limitations included the lack of either an active Internet-based intervention or an in-person control group. If future studies are confirmatory, these positive findings will be especially important for children with OCD because multiple factors impede implementing in-person CBT."
PERSONALITY. A meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) has identified six loci or regions of the human genome that are significantly linked to personality traits, report researchers. The findings also show correlations with psychiatric disorders. Find a write-up
December 21, TECA Online Parent Support Group. More information.
December 22, Understood "Experts Live" webinar, "Twice-Exceptional: Helping Gifted Kids With Learning & Attention Issues." More information.
March 15-16, 2017, third annual Breakthroughs in Twice Exceptional Education conference, New York City. More information.
April 19-22, CEC 2017, Boston, Massachusetts. More information.
July 20-23, 22nd Biennial World Conference, Sydney, Australia. By the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. More information.
August 4-6, SENG 34th Annual Conference, Naperville, Illinois. More information.
Please note: For state association conferences relating to giftedness, see Hoagies' website. For additional conferences on learning differences, see the website of the Council for Exceptional Children.