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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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Special Education Office Moves Toward Measuring Student Outcomes

Education Week

Thirty-nine states have garnered a "meets requirements" rating from the U.S. Department of Education's office of special education programs on the quality of their programs for students with disabilities. The federal special education office is moving to a system that will require states to demonstrate how they are working to improve the educational outcomes for students with disabilities.

Dyslexia Researchers Launch Multicultural-Outreach Effort

Education Week

Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, the co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, based at Yale University, and longtime researchers of the reading disorder, have started a campaign to bring greater awareness of dyslexia to communities of color.

Six Ways to Get Your Child Back Into Learning

National Center for Learning Disabilities

For those with an LD—such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, or dysgraphia—going back to school might be a return to the constant reminder that they are “different” from their peers. When school starts, not only must children with LD switch their brains from “relax mode” to “learn mode,” they must meet the challenge of gradually more complicated assignments, getting comfortable with new teachers and classroom environments, and they have to again work harder to complete tasks that their classmates appear to do with ease.

Studies Reveal that Visual Attention is Boosted but Impulse Control Reduced by Video Games

Medical News Today

A person playing a first-person shooter video game like Halo or Unreal Tournament must make decisions quickly. That fast-paced decision-making, it turns out, boosts the player's visual skills but comes at a cost, according to new research: reducing the person's ability to inhibit impulsive behavior. This reduction in what is called "proactive executive control" appears to be yet another way that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior.

Seven Facts About Learning Disabilities and Written Expression

National Center for Learning Disabilities

Many people with learning disabilities (LD) struggle with written expression. For students with dysgraphia, the act of writing is difficult. Those with dyslexia often have serious difficulties with spelling. Also vulnerable are students who have weaknesses in areas such as vocabulary, reading and listening comprehension, word retrieval and information processing deficits.

Dyslexia Advocates Call for Changes In Classrooms, Standardized Testing

The Hartford Courant

Dyslexia advocates have had some success in the nation's capital and in changing the rules at some colleges and universities. Some colleges now allow dyslexic students extra time on exams and make other types of accommodations. In Washington, 55 lawmakers are currently part of a bipartisan Dyslexia Caucus.

ADHD May Be More Likely in Children with Asthma or Allergies

Medical News Today

Children with a history of asthma and various allergies may be at higher risk of developing ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), according to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Feds Urge Schools To Tackle Bullying Of Kids With Disabilities

Disability Scoop

In new guidance sent to educators across the country, federal education officials say that schools may be liable if they don’t properly address bullying of students with disabilities. The guidance details the unique obligations that schools have under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that children with disabilities are not victimized.

'Dislecksia: The Movie' Set For October Launch

Orlando Sentinel

Distribution company Area 23a will launch the documentary "Dislecksia: The Movie" theatrically in the U.S. throughout October in conjunction with National Dyslexia Awareness Month. The documentary includes classroom footage and interviews, presenting Hubbell's belief that dyslexia is a learning "difference" rather than a disability.

Handwriting Camp Helps Kids with LD

Standard Times San Angelo

Kathy Colunga, an occupational therapist at West Texas Rehabilitation Center, wrote a book called “Planet L: Where Letters Become Legible.” Colunga struggled with dyslexia and dysgraphia, a neurological disorder that leads to inappropriately sized and spaced letters, and writing wrong or misspelled words, throughout her life, inspiring her to help children who have the same learning disabilities. Planet L serves as curriculum for summer handwriting camp.

Helping Children with LD Using a Computer-Interfaced Drawing Pad

Medical News Today

For less than $100, University of Washington researchers have designed a computer-interfaced drawing pad that helps scientists see inside the brains of children with learning disabilities while they read and write. Researchers studied 11- and 14-year-olds with either dyslexia or dysgraphia, a handwriting and letter-processing disorder, as well as children without learning disabilities.

Test Scores Sink as New York Adopts Tougher Benchmarks

The New York Times

The number of New York students passing state reading and math exams dropped drastically this year, education officials reported, unsettling parents, principals and teachers and posing new challenges to a national effort to toughen academic standards.

Biological Deficit Causes Children with Dyscalculia to Have an Imprecise Representation of Numbers

Medical News Today

Researchers at the University of Graz in Austria surmised that a biologically driven deficit causes children with dyscalculia to have an imprecise internal representation of numbers, which explains their difficulty with the number line task.

More Students Are Taking Both the ACT and SAT

The New York Times

Not a single college requires it, but many applicants to the nation’s most selective colleges and universities are taking — and retaking — both the ACT and the SAT. Although almost every college for years has accepted either test, the SAT has long represented the gold standard. Yet the ACT has pulled ahead for the first time: 1,666,017 students took the ACT last year; 1,664,479 took the SAT.

Scientists Study Brain Activation When Processing Chinese Characters

Medical News Today

A recent study explores the neurological mechanisms underlying the process of reading in Chinese and potential treatments for difficulties experienced by those with dyslexia. Qing-Lin Wu and team from Taiwan Normal University divided 72 high-frequency Chinese characters into four categories: hand-action verbs with and without hand-radicals, and verbs not related to hand actions, with and without hand-radicals. Twenty-eight healthy participants, aged 21-30 years, underwent functional MRI scans while reading the characters.

With New Version Looming, States Rethink GED

Education Week

As implementation of the redesigned GED approaches, test-takers are rushing to complete the old GED test before Jan. 1, when the new version makes its debut. The 2014 version of the test will have more rigorous questions to align itself with the Common Core standards. It will also combine what were previously the writing and literature sections, bringing the number of test sections down from five to four. It will also now be completely computerized and test-takers will be required to use computer calculators.

U.S. Probes Use of Antipsychotic Drugs on Children

The Wall Street Journal

Federal health officials have launched a probe into the use of antipsychotic drugs on children in the Medicaid system, amid concern that the medications are being prescribed too often to treat behavioral problems in the very young. In New York, a spokesman for the state health department said some children between ages 1 and 2 received antipsychotics for conditions such as autistic disorder and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.

Mentoring Students to Prevent the ‘Summer Slide’

The New York Times

New research suggests that nearly all students lose a month or more of skills and knowledge over the summer break. However, not all kids are affected equally. Middle-class children who make trips to the library, travel and take classes, experience some slide in math but little in reading. Low-income students lose math abilities like their middle class counterparts. In addition, though, poor kids can lose between one and two months in reading achievement. One summer mentoring program in New York is working to ensure that everyone returns in the fall with the skills and knowledge they possessed the previous spring.

In Defense of Working Memory Training

The Creativity Post

The potential payoff of working memory training for helping those who could truly benefit from it is too great to not at least attempt to get this right, and take a more nuanced approach that takes into account multiple factors.

What the New SAT and Digital ACT Might Look Like

The New York Times

Big changes are coming to the nation’s two competing admissions tests. The president of the College Board, an architect of the Common Core, is intent on rethinking the SAT to make it an instrument that meshes with what students are learning in their classrooms. Meanwhile, the ACT, which has always been more curriculum-based, is the first of the two to move into the digital age. In adapting its test for the computer, ACT Inc. is tiptoeing past the fill-in-the-bubble Scantron sheets toward more creative, hands-on questions.

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