Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Child Genius documentary video link

Many readers have shown interest in this documentary, so am posting this link to it in response to this interest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Child Genius Documentary part 3-6

Find the other episodes at these links
Part 4
part 5
part 6

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fun writing activity: Sticky note stories

Here's another creative tip for written output struggles.

Use post-it notes or stick notes to tell a story. It works very well if you have all kinds of different sized and shaped and coloured Post-its. Begin big using a large piece of card. There are sooo many ways to do this, but a few I've found especially helpful are both you and the child write single words and then together build some silly sentences to warm up.

You can then proceed to an actual story. Sticky notes because of their size limit the amount of words and it's much more manageable for the child to tackle writing on that smaller space than a big blank page. You add the notes side by side to form the story. Take breaks to reread what the child has created and that should create impetus to continue. The tactile aspect of manipulating the post it notes really makes it fun for the child.

If you can find sticky notes/post-its which are in the shape of speech bubbles you can use them on pictures to illustrate speech. They can also be very fun to write a story and then every time someone speaks use a speech bubble for the words. The story will look fun and the child should get caught up in noticing when the next speech bubble is needed.

If you can find them shaped like flowers or animals you can place a single one in the middle of a page and build a story with small square ones around the shape in the middle. So a story about a flower or a ladybird. You can also cut out regular yellow square ones into particular shapes and build stories from there.

These ideas work very well as "guessing games" where you're building stories together and the child has no idea what's coming next. Humour is a great tool, so add humorous twists to the stories to keep the child interested.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tips for dealing with output and ADHD or problems commencing work

One of the big challenges for children with Written Output issues (and/or attention deficit) is beginning their work. It can take a long time to settle down and get started and they can tend to procrastinate with small distractions, but in reality their head may be hopping with ideas and the thought of not being able to output them at the desired rate is a very good explanation of why it's so difficult to start.

It can really help such children if from the outset they have some sense of a time expectation. This can be especially pertinent to children with attention issues for whom the concept of time can feel overwhelming. Therefore I recommend you equip the child with a palm sized kitchen timer and suggest to them you're going to spend 5 mins or 10 mins on x task. You may find the child settles down and begins much swifter because suddenly time has a manageable box around it and the ding or beep of the timer gives them comfort and the confidence to commence. It's important to let the child set and control the timer.

It's especially challenging for children who brains are abuzz with ideas that when they consider it's going to be very difficult to physically get them down on the page, they tend to become discouraged. This will give rise to an unwillingness to commence or a suggestion they don't have any ideas or they can't do it.

I think it can help to have realistic expectations so therefore if the child has a very significant idea they are trying to nail it's better to offer to scribe for them or let them dictate it while you touch type. It's critical to address this sense of ideas being stalled because if you don't, the child can perceive they have no hope of realizing a whole idea on paper. Gradually though with less extensive projects you can negotiate more writing on their end (or typing if they are willing.)

The only way to crack the resistance to writing is to give the child the experience of seeing their ideas materialize. It might help to imagine that for a child with written output troubles it's the equiv of running a long race when you're exhausted having taken two strides.

Ideas can be documented in many, many ways aside from neat paragraphs. If the child is showing acute frustration introduce an alternative such as "a picture with words." On a large sheet of paper they draw a picture and then using single words they can tell the story in the picture. You can then take these single words and build them into sentences and gradually the child can see the idea emerging.

Grab a tape recorder and have the child speak into it. Then the child can in their own time slowly transcribe their idea or story onto the page. This will help relieve some of the pressure and frustration.

Inspiration software is a really great investment. If you cannot afford it, which many families can't, do the same thing with a pencil and paper. Brainstorm words, link ideas and show the child how to form something from nothing. Use devices like multi coloured pens with different ideas. It can help the child to physically switch material. It's makes the consistent act of writing seem less daunting because there's some associated action and decisions to make.

Remember if the child is having a difficult time, get creative rather than insistent.

Andrew Wakefield story links

Following the Andrew Wakefield story with interest. I'll be posting all sides/views of the story as info for readers. It's an important case to watch.

From the Scotsman
DOCTORS working on the research programme which sparked the MMR controversy recruited vulnerable children directly from their GPs for unnecessary invasive testing, a hearing was told yesterday.

From BBC: MMR doctor 'broke medical rules'

On the other side here's a piece interviewing some of Wakefield's supporters:
"This is a show trial that has nothing to do with the truth,” Bill Welsh, a campaigner from Edinburgh and a grandparent of Luke, aged 12, said. Luke cannot talk.

Here's the blog of Brian Deer. the journalist who investigated the so called Lancet Scandal.

This is an opinion piece by a GP, more of a humorous take on patient expectations of being paid a fiver to get a blood test.

If anyone has other pro-Wakefield links please comment because I'd like to upload both sides more equally.

Dept of Health and Human Science overview on ADHD

Here's a link to US Dept of Health and Human Sciences (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) overview on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Lots of resources and links, including symptoms overview, which may be useful to parents tackling or wondering about such issues.

Latest on ADHD: Studies Track Treatment Outcomes for Kids With ADHD

Studies Track Treatment Outcomes for Kids With ADHD
Meds plus behavior therapy work best, but symptoms can return
(HealthDay News) -- Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) showed sustained improvement but were still at increased risk of behavioral problems in the years after treatment, say researchers.
Four studies appearing in the August 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry evaluated the outcomes of children who participated in the Multimodal Treatment Study of Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA), the first major randomized trial comparing different treatments of ADHD. The initial results of MTA were published in 1999.

Full story here

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pediatric Ritalin may affect young brains

NEW YORK -- (Press Release) -- U.S. medical researchers have discovered use of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Ritalin by young children might affect their brains.
The Weill Cornell Medical College animal study is among the first to investigate the effects of Ritalin (methylphenidate) on the neurochemistry of the developing brain.
Between 2 percent and 18 percent of U.S. children are thought to be affected by ADHD and Ritalin -- a stimulant similar to amphetamine and cocaine -- remains one of the most prescribed drugs for the behavioral disorder.
"The changes we saw in the brains of treated rats occurred in areas strongly linked to higher executive functioning, addiction and appetite, social relationships and stress, said Professor Teresa Milner, the study's lead author. "These alterations gradually disappeared over time once the rats no longer received the drug."
The scientists said their findings suggest physicians should be careful in their diagnosis of ADHD before prescribing Ritalin. That's because Ritalin might be helpful in battling the disorder but harmful if given to youngsters with healthy brain chemistry.

The research appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.

OT link and Handwriting without tears

Canadian Occupational Therapy Resource Site you search this site you'll find articles on handwriting etc.

Handwriting Without Tears
Developed by an occupational therapist and handwriting specialist, Handwriting Without Tears is an easy way to teach pre-printing, printing, & cursive. I've heard from one parent who found this useful to her child, but have not actually yet tested it myself.

Dygraphia strategies link

Came across interesting dysgraphia link with a comprehensive list of symptoms and strategies. If you're worried about your child, or yourself for that matter it might be useful to take a look at the list. If you've already received a dysgraphia diagnosis the strategies could be of interest. There are 41 writing strategies listed. And here, handily, are the spelling ones:
Strategies For Spelling Difficulties:

1. Encourage consistent use of spell checker to decrease the overall demands of the writing task and encourage students to wait until the end to worry about spelling.
2. Encourage use of an electronic resource such as the spell check component in a Franklin Language Master® to further decrease the demands.
3. Have the student look at each word, then close their eyes and visualize how it looks, letter by letter.
4. Have the student spell each word out loud while looking at it, then look away and spell it out loud again several times before writing it down.
5. Have the students break the spelling list down into manageable sections of only 3 to 5 words. Then take a break after mastering each section.
6. Have a scrabble board and computer accessible for affected students

Bravo to whomever gave such comprehensive thought to this topic!

Comprehensive dysgraphia overview

Again, excellent overview at this W Virginia School of Medicine college website including some very detailed info on Occupational Therapy -- a practical and essential consideration if you have the cash to pay for it. (Unless you're fortunate enough to live in a place where it's funded! UK perhaps?)

If you've, or your child have experience with OT please post a comment, so others can learn more. Thank you to anyone who has emailed to say how useful you're finding this blog. It's wonderful to know that parents are finding it informative and helpful. Will be updating more regularly so please check back for latest progress on useful strategies I've unearthed.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Gifted children 'caused distress by TV news'

A leading Australian expert on gifted children has warned parents about the effects of watching television news.

University Professor Mirica Gross says highly-gifted children are often more sensitive and deeply feel the sadness of others at a very young age.

Read full story here

Illinois: Programs for gifted get poor report cards

Administrators are calling for a revitalization of programs for gifted students as personnel turnover and a lack of oversight have weakened middle and high school academies in the Rockford School District.

Read full story here

ADHD program analysis information

I post this here as a point of information only. It caught my eye and maybe of interest to some readers, but should not be seen as an endorsement as I have not actively researched it myself. It appears to be some kind of cognitive therapy program. If anyone has any feedback or knowledge on it, as to whether it is effective in what it purports to offer please post a comment.

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Dr. Patricia O. Quinn, MD, Director of the National Center for Girls and Women with ADHD has issued a Critical Analysis of Legacy Parenting's 'Total Transformation Program.' Developed by behavioral therapist James Lehman, The Total Transformation is a step-by-step system for parents and caregivers to assist them in changing defiant or out-of-control behavior in children who may have ADHD and are "acting out."

The Total Transformation Program is available through Legacy Parenting Company

UK news report and discussion on Wakefield Autism case

UK news story

Here's a link to a news report in which two doctors, one a supporter of single vaccines and another British MP and doctor debate the Andrew Wakefield case and autism issues surrounding it.

UK: Latest on Wakefield case

UKThe doctor who provoked a scare over a potential link between the MMR vaccination and autism paid children at his son's birthday party £5 each to give blood for his research, an inquiry heard today.
The General Medical Council (GMC) also heard allegations that Andrew Wakefield subjected several children to a series of inappropriate invasive medical tests and gave one an experimental drug.

Dr Wakefield and two other doctors who published the now infamous study linking the combined measles, mumps and rubella jab with bowel disease and autism could be struck off the medical register if the disciplinary panel finds them guilty of serious professional misconduct.

Full story here

Profile on Andrew Wakefield here

Saturday, July 7, 2007

UK: New health fears over big surge in autism

From Sunday's (July 8th 2007) UK Observer:

The number of children in Britain with autism is far higher than previously thought, according to dramatic new evidence by the country's leading experts in the field.
A study, as yet unpublished, shows that as many as one in 58 children may have some form of the condition, a lifelong disability that leads to many sufferers becoming isolated because they have trouble making friends and often display obsessional behaviour.

Seven academics at Cambridge University, six of them from its renowned Autism Research Centre, undertook the research by studying children at local primary schools. Two of the academics, leaders in their field, privately believe that the surprisingly high figure may be linked to the use of the controversial MMR vaccine. That view is rejected by the rest of the team, including its leader, the renowned autism expert, Professor Simon Baron-Cohen.

Read just published article in its entirety here

Friday, July 6, 2007

Researcher sees link between vitamin D and autism

Globe and Mail

The growing prevalence of autism is one of the biggest scientific whodunits in the medical world, with few clues for its rising incidence.

But a U.S. researcher is advancing a controversial hypothesis: that autism is related to vitamin D deficiency during fetal development and early childhood.

Dr. John Cannell, a psychiatrist and prominent vitamin D advocate, says flagging levels of the vitamin in pregnant women and young children could be the elusive factor explaining the rising rate of autism.

The evidence for such a link is circumstantial, and autism experts describe the hypothesis as speculative. But Dr. Cannell, founder of the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit advocacy group, says autism rates have skyrocketed in lockstep with medical advice given to the public since the late 1980s to avoid all exposure to bright sunshine.

To read the rest of the story please click here