Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.
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Instead of waiting for a child to experience reading delays, scientists now say they can identify the reading problem even before children start school, long before they become labeled as poor students and begin to lose confidence in themselves.
While some educators remain skeptical, brain research is slowly migrating from the lab into the classroom, both in predicting which students may have learning difficulties and intervening to help students diagnosed with disabilities.
Motherlode Blog, New York Times
The parent of a second grader newly diagnosed with dyslexia wrote me asking if I knew of any apps that might help her son with reading and math. She'd searched and come up with nothing and so did I, with the same result. I asked Warren Buckleitner, who reviews children's technology for The Times's Gadgetwise blog, what he'd recommend.
ADHD Dad Blog, ADDitudeMag.com
"What's wrong with you?!" I yell at my 23-year-old ADHD son after a thoughtless incident with a tattoo gun. Then I remember myself at that age... and hope I can survive growing up all over again.
Funding for four centers to conduct research on the causes and treatment of learning disabilities in children and adolescents has been provided by the National Institutes of Health.
TIME Ideas Blog
"The Diet Factor in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder," the much-cited study released by the journal Pediatrics this week, did not make much of a case for using dietary change to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But it did make an interesting case for using food control to treat parents' angst about their kids' ADHD.
Jason Greene can easily predict which customers ask for Ritalin or Adderall. Their faces are new to him, but their anxious looks have become familiar. "The parents do get a little rattled sometimes when they are trying to help their children," said Greene, a pharmacist at Reeves-Sain Drug Store in Murfreesboro. The independent pharmacy has picked up new customers due to a shortage of ADHD medicines that has parents scurrying from drug store to drug store as if competing in a poker run.
ADHD Parenting Blog, ADDitudeMag.com
School-related anxiety was making both Natalie and me sick literally. Until a meeting with her pro-active special-ed teacher proved that ADHD guardian angels do exist.
The Boston Globe
"Dyslexia is our best, most vivid evidence that the brain was never wired to read," writes Maryanne Wolf, and she's got the word on why. Wolf is director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts and a professor of child development. She also has a son Ben, who went to the Rhode Island School of Design, draws like a dream and is dyslexic. But more to my purpose, she's the author of a madly fascinating book called "Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain."
You may remember the controversial studies linking food coloring and additives to hyperactivity in kids. Or you may know parents who have pinned their hopes on an elimination diet to improve their kids' rowdy behavior. A review paper published in the journal Pediatrics evaluated the evidence from many studies on this topic. And it concludes that changing a child's diet is usually not enough to effectively treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Voice of San Diego (CA)
It was the biggest change in the way San Diego Unified educates its students with special needs in a decade, and we wanted to know how the district had coped with the transition. In 2008, after a report concluded that children with disabilities were too often being segregated into separate classrooms, the district began a concentrated effort to include far more children with special needs in general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools. The shift required a complex reorganization of where kids with special needs would go to school. Rather than being grouped at relatively few sites that focused on special education, thousands of students with disabilities instead began flooding into their local schools.
Toronto Star (Canada)
Thousands of Ontario students with ADHD who are struggling in the classroom now have the right to receive help at school, according to a statement from the Ministry of Education. A memorandum to school boards quietly posted on the ministry's website last month says children with conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are entitled to special education supports and services if the condition interferes with their learning.
Drugs designed to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have been widely available for decades, but America now faces its most severe shortage of these drugs since they came on the market. Meanwhile, more and more health professionals are recognizing the viability of effective meditation for overcoming ADHD.
New York Times
Medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are in such short supply that hundreds of patients complain daily to the Food and Drug Administration that they are unable to find a pharmacy with enough pills to fill their prescriptions.
On Special Education Blog, Education Week
College entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT aren't always reformatted for students with disabilities the way they should be, a recent report from the Government Accountability Office finds. The same goes for some tests that students need to get into graduate school, medical school, law school, and other programs.
National Public Radio
More than half of American public schools don't have a full-time nurse, and the situation is getting worse as school systems further cut budgets. This year, 51 were laid off in Philadelphia's public schools, 20 in a Houston suburb, 15 in San Diego and dozens more in other school systems nationwide.
Even as it prepares to open five new classrooms for special education students this week, the Boston public school system is facing a class-action lawsuit in federal court asserting that the district routinely violates state and federal law by delaying evaluations and classroom placements for preschoolers with special needs.
Problems in how people with dyslexia process the sounds they hear may be at the heart of this learning disorder, new research suggests. The study findings, published in the Dec. 22 issue of the journal Neuron, may one day lead to better therapies for children and adults who are diagnosed with this common yet still ultimately mysterious condition.
A new federal study criticizes the Justice Department for failing to enforce laws that provide disabled students with special accommodations for taking the SAT, bar exam and other high-stakes tests.
On Special Education Blog, Education Week
Response-to-Intervention, an approach that involves using an escalating set of techniques to address skills a student is struggling with, got a boost in 2004, when the federal law changed to require states to let districts use it if they chose. The hope was that its use would help distinguish between children who truly have specific learning disabilities and students whose learning difficulties could be resolved with general education interventions. Sure enough, in the last few years, the number of students identified as having learning disabilities has dropped. But there are still lots of questions about how RTI is used, and whether it's being used correctly, considering the federal rules about identifying students with disabilities haven't changed.