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GOT AN IEP for that bright but struggling child? Here's what Wrightslaw says about the IEP: "The success of your child's education may depend on how well you document what happens during the IEP process." This weeks' issue of Special Ed Advocate covers how to create a paper trail that supports your position. Find it
SHARE A SUCCESS STORY WITH CEC. CEC is the Council for Exceptional Children, with activities in both the area of special ed and the area of gifted ed. As part of its advocacy for stakeholders, CEC is looking for success stories from programs such as IDEA or Javits grants. Here's the back story, in words from a CEC solicitation for those stories: "Every year, CEC publishes the Federal Outlook for Exceptional Children, providing an overview of federally-funded programs - IDEA and Javits grants - that impact the lives of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. The Outlook is distributed to members of Congress, federal agencies, and other leaders in the education community with the hope that a better understanding of such programs will lead to increased federal funding for special/gifted education programs... Throughout the Outlook are personal stories and photos of children and youth participating in special education, early intervention, and gifted education programs across the country.  These success stories help put a human touch on the graphs and charts that typically illustrate the need for increased funding for programs such as IDEA and the Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act." So if you have a twice-exceptional child or student who has benefited from IDEA or Javits funding, let CEC know. Read more about CEC's request here. Find a story submission form here

BELLYACHES IN KIDS. Are they real, especially in light of normal test results? Such a condition is called "functional abdominal pain, and some parents and clinicians may tend to write them off as imaginary. But a recent article suggests that some children may be especially sensitive to sensations transmitted by the enteric nervous system, which controls the gastro-intestinal tract. Further, such problems may be best treated through the brain -- by guided imagery, hypnosis, or even low doses of SSRI anti-depressants. If your bright child is troubled by bellyaches, check out the article

LANGUAGE COMPREHENSION AND THE BRAIN. The neural networks involved in language comprehension have been mapped using MRIs of brain-injured and normal subjects, and it turns out to be complex: "The network included a core region within the left mid-temporal lobe of the brain, and extended to the frontal and parietal cortex in both halves of the brain -- all connected by long distance communication pathways." Future studies will look at the networks involved in talking, reading, and writing. Read more.

CREATIVITY, PSYCHOPATHOLOGY. Scientific American teases us by posting part of an article called "The Mad Artist's Brain: The Connection between Creativity and Mental Illness." It turns out, according to a new study, that people who think in a divergent, out-of-the box fashion have lower dopamine receptor activity in the thalmus -- just as do people with schizophrenia. The article quotes the study author: "Thinking outside the box might be facilitated by having a somewhat less intact box.” Find the start of the article

GENES, NEUROTRANSMITTERS, AND INATTENTION. Researchers have discovered a gene that could lead to increased inattention by allowing competition between brain networks. Researchers say the gene is neither a cause nor a diagnostic marker for AD/HD, but that the gene's effects on neuronal signaling could help explain AD/HD. Find out more
CAFFEINE AND SUGAR WORK? SAY IT AIN'T SO! A recent study shows that caffeine and glucose combined can improve attention and working memory. Does this mean that the proverbial cup of coffee and a donut boost mental processing? Maybe -- glucose is the form of sugar that is "brain food," and it's a component of sucrose, or table sugar. Sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose in the stomach, and the resulting components rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine. Maybe your AD/HD kid who demands caffeine and sweets has a biological reason. Read more.