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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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Kids Getting More ADHD Drugs, Fewer Antibiotics


The number of drugs dispensed to U.S. minors has dropped slightly over the past decade, bucking the rise in prescriptions to adults, according to a government report out Monday. Antibiotics use fell by 14 percent, suggesting efforts to curb rampant overuse of the drugs "may be working," researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) write in the journal Pediatrics.

Does Your Child Really Have ADHD?

U.S. News & World Report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 5 million children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with the condition, making it one of the most common mental disorders in children and adolescents. This has even prompted declarations of an ADHD epidemic in America. Recent research, though, suggests that a child's sleep patterns could partly be to blame.

Britney Spears' ADHD Announcement Encourages Parents to Learn New ADHD Coping Techniques

PR Web

After music icon Britney Spears' behavior as a judge on the X Factor last week came under fire, the pop princess revealed that her behavior was caused by issues with ADHD. The singer claims that she has been taking breaks from her gig as a judge to help her refocus, since she is no longer able to take ADHD medication.

Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill

The New York Times

The boy exhaled. He leaned over, closed one nostril and snorted it. Throughout the parking lot, he said, eight of his friends did the same thing. The drug was not cocaine or heroin, but Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that the boy said he and his friends routinely shared to study late into the night, focus during tests and ultimately get the grades worthy of their prestigious high school in an affluent suburb of New York City.

The Questions About ADHD Drugs The New York Times Didn't Ask


The New York Times had a blockbuster front-page article on how healthy teenagers are misusing stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, usually used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in order to focus on studying and perform better on tests. The story does a fantastic job tracking the personal stories of high school and college kids who use these medicines to get an academic edge.

But it's worth looking at the science and medicine behind this trend, because it shows how our cultural misunderstanding of what these medicines do is leading to more — and more dangerous — stimulant use. The biggest question is this: how do we as a society decide how we want these medicines to be used?

Federal Special Education Budget Gets Initial Boost

Education Week, On Special Education blog

A budget proposal approved with a 10-7 vote today by a U.S. Senate subcommittee would boost special education spending for students age 3 to 22 by $100 million. However that and other proposed increases to special education spending, while promising to the disability community, face the hurdle of approval by the full Senate Appropriations committee later this week, and eventually, all of Congress.

Wider Letter Spacing Helps Dyslexic Children, Study Says

Science Daily

Increasing the spacing between characters and words in a text improves the speed and quality of dyslexic children's reading, without prior training. They read 20% faster on average and make half as many errors. This is the conclusion reached by a French-Italian research team, jointly headed by Johannes Ziegler of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (CNRS/Aix-Marseille Université).

The Cost of Literacy: Overcoming Learning Disabilities


Like one in five students, Jacob has language-based learning disabilities that affects his reading and writing abilities. His challenges include dyslexia, dysgraphia, slow processing and decoding issues. When asked what's hard about reading, the fourth grader answers, "Sounding out words. Sounding out words, yeah. It shouldn't. I just feel I have no time and I have to rush. So, it was hard for me to sound out words or read words or memorize words."

Cost of Prekindergarten Special Education Is Soaring

New York Times

New York City is paying private contractors more than $1 billion this year to operate a little-known special education program for 3- and 4-year-olds, nearly double the amount it paid six years ago.

Fake Version of ADHD Drug Adderall Being Sold Online, U.S. FDA Warns


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday said it has learned of at least two cases in which people received counterfeit versions of the 30-milligram dose of the drug with the wrong active ingredients — ones that treat acute pain, not attention problems. The fake pill is ineffective and may be harmful, the FDA said.

Small Change In Reading To Preschoolers Can Help Disadvantaged Kids Catch Up

NPR Health blog

Learning to read is an incremental process; you become familiar with letters, then words; the practice of reading from left to right; and eventually you put all that together and begin to read. But if a child's attention isn't drawn to the printed word, then reading to a child won't necessarily make them more familiar with what it means to read. How could teachers change what children saw and thought about when a book was being read? And how much difference would that make?

Including, Excluding Students With Disabilities Under NCLB

Education Week, On Special Education blog

Students with disabilities were largely excluded from state testing programs before changes to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1997 and the 2001 No Child Left Behind law. A new report looks at how many schools were held accountable for the performance of students with disabilities when it comes to state tests. It shows that some of the fears about students with disabilities dragging down the performance of a school under the No Child Left Behind law weren't realized.

New Law to Help Children with Dyslexia

Clarion Ledger

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill that will give dyslexic students in first through sixth grades the opportunity to move to other public or nonpublic schools employing dyslexia therapists. The law also establishes universal screening of children in kindergarten and first grade.

Romney Proposes to Boost School Choice for Students with Disabilities

Education Week, On Special Education blog

Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is expected to officially unveil his education platform as early as this week. Among the proposals is one regarding expanding school choice options for low-income students and students with disabilities. Romney says these parents would be able to choose which school their children attend, and the federal funds allocated to their education would follow them to their chosen campus, including any district public or charter school, online school or courses, private schools, or to a tutoring company.

Chronic Lyme Disease Linked to ADHD in Adults

Medscape News

Chronic lyme disease (CLD) has been linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, new research shows. "The association between ADHD and CLD has not been identified previously," principal investigator Joel L. Young, MD, medical director, Rochester Center for Behavioral Medicine, Rochester, Michigan, told Medscape Medical News. The survey results also corroborate earlier findings of a relationship between CLD and anxiety and depression, he said. Dr. Young presented his research here at the American Psychiatric Association's 2012 Annual Meeting.

ADHD Behavioral Therapy May Be More Effective Than Drugs in Long Run

Scientific American

Cognitive and behavioral therapies that help young people reduce impulsivity and cultivate good study habits are costlier and take longer to administer, but may be more efficacious over time according to new findings.

Executive Function in the Classroom & Educational Policy

Huffington Post

Executive function represents our capacity to self-regulate, encompassing everything from focus and impulse control to long term planning, prioritizing, organizing our lives and emotional control. It is required for social interactions and classroom learning. Imaging studies confirm that children with ADHD experience immature brain development, showing again that it's neither a child's fault, nor a parent's, nor society's.

Teen Impulsiveness Has Different Sources in ADHD, Substance Use

U.S. News & World Report

Teens with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and teens who start using cigarettes, drugs or alcohol tend to share at least one personality trait: impulsiveness, experts say. But a new brain-imaging study of nearly 1,900 14-year-olds finds that the brain networks associated with impulsivity in teens with ADHD are different compared to those who use drugs or alcohol.

Studies Shed Light on 'Twice Exceptional' Students

Education Week

Emerging research on the "neurodevelopmental paradox" of twice-exceptional students highlights the need for educators to take an earlier, more holistic approach to evaluating and teaching students with disabilities. Often, when people think of a gifted student with disabilities, they picture an autistic savant, like Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie "Rain Man," but in reality, "there are a lot of kids who are really struggling, and we totally miss them," said M. Layne Kalbfleisch, the principal investigator of the Krasnow Investigations of Developmental Learning and Behavior, or KIDLAB, at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Va.

Faltering in Special Education, LA Unified Seeks Answers

California Watch

After failing for the eighth straight year to meet service delivery targets for special education, Los Angeles Unified School District has begun interviewing staff to understand why records indicate thousands of students with disabilities are not receiving their prescribed services.

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