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I loved feeling special.

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Twice-Exceptional

Featured in this Issue

November/December 2007 Issue 25

For parents, teachers and professionals. Helping twice-exceptional children reach their potential.

N ewsletter

Our focus in this issue ­ Helping gifted kids with Asperger's.

Advocacy and Asperger's: The School Counselor's Role Animals Serving Kids with Asperger's Interview: Providing a Place of Acceptance

By Erin Lane and Doreen Underwood Who's in a great position to provide resources and communicate with kids, parents, teachers, and administrators? The school counselor. By Linda Neumann "Lassie" can pre-empt meltdowns, track kids who run off, administer deep pressure, and provide valuable companionship Licensed therapist Brian King runs a teen support group that helps Asperger's kids fit in.

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I hated feeling special. ­ Garrison Keillor,

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reminiscing on his gifted childhood at NAGC

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Also Inside

From the Publishers ...................................................................................................................... 2 Strength-based Programming: In the News and Educators' Perspectives .............................13 Resource: Autism Speaks and an Autism Video Glossary from FSU .......................................15 Event Coverage: NAGC's Annual Convention, and ADDA'S Fall Regional Meeting ................16 Book Reviews: Look Me in the Eye and School Success for Kids with AS ..............................20 Sylvia Rimm's Column: What Determines Giftedness? ............................................................22 Bob Seney on Books: Asperger's for Younger and Older Readers ...........................................23 Parents' Perspectives: Cathy Marciniak on "The System"...................................................... 24 Events ........................................................................................................................................... 26

Welcome!

Welcome to the November issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter! The focus of this issue is on ways of helping 2e kids with Asperger Syndrome (AS). In our lead article, educators Erin Lane and Doreen Underwood describe the role that the school counselor can play in helping teachers and parents understand and meet the needs of gifted Asperger students. Several articles on service dogs describe how these animals are beginning to play an important role in providing AS children with both physical and emotional support. In an interview with therapist Brian King, we see the importance of giving AS teens a place where they can find peers and acceptance. Readers wishing to read a primer on autism spectrum disorders and Asperger's before diving into specific articles in this issue can check the 2e Newsletter website. Along with our regular columns and features, this issue includes coverage from two conferences, a regional conference on AD/HD presented by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) and the 54th annual convention of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The NAGC session reported on in this issue is one of the many sessions 2e Newsletter covered. Look for coverage of others in the coming weeks on our website and in our next issue. We enjoyed having the opportunity to see and meet subscribers and friends of 2e Newsletter at the NAGC conference. We appreciate your kind words, support, and suggestions for the newsletter. Please feel free to let us know what you'd like to see in the newsletter ­ either in person when we meet at conferences or by e-mail. Here's another way to let us know what you'd like to see in future issues. At the end of this issue is a link to an online survey to gather your feedback on this issue. If you can take the time to complete the very brief survey, we'll really appreciate it because it will help us give you what you want and need in the future. We thank you for reading 2e Newsletter. ­ Linda Neumann and Mark Bade Glen Ellyn Media November, 2007

2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter is a bi-monthly publication about twice-exceptional children, children who are gifted and who have LDs ­ learning difficulties that go by many names, including learning disabilities, learning disorders, and just plain learning differences. Our goal is to promote a holistic view of the 2e child ­ not just the high IQ, or the quirkiness, or the disabilities, but the child as a whole person. Comments and suggestions are always welcome by phone, fax, or e-mail. 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter is published bi-monthly in January, March, May, July, September, and November. The cost for a one-year electronic subscription is $30. Contact us for group and institutional rates. Send changes of address to [email protected] or by mail to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, PO Box 582, Glen Ellyn, IL 60138-0582.

Linda Neumann, Editor; Mark Bade, Business Manager. Phone: 630.293.6798; Fax: 630.344.1332. Web: www.2eNewsletter.com. E-mail: [email protected] Editorial Board: Susan Assouline, EdS, PhD; Susan Baum, PhD; Kathi Kearney, MA Ed; Deirdre Lovecky, PhD; Marlo Payne Rice, MS; Linda Kreger Silverman, PhD; Joan Franklin Smutny, MA; Meredith Warshaw, MSS, MA. The contents of 2e Newsletter are not intended to constitute medical or clinical advice, which should be obtained from a licensed practitioner. The use of information from 2e Newsletter for commercial purposes is prohibited without consent in writing from Glen Ellyn Media. Copyright © 2007 by Glen Ellyn Media, unless otherwise noted. The yellow and red 2e logo on blue is a trademark of Glen Ellyn Media. We thank our supporters and subscribers.

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From the Publisher

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Advocacy and Asperger's: The Professional School Counselor's Role in Assisting Twice-exceptional Children

By Erin Lane and Doreen Underwood Being or having a gifted child with Asperger Syndrome (AS) can be extremely difficult and confusing. These individuals sometimes feel as though they have little support and contradictory knowledge about how to handle the issues they face. However, there is someone in the school whose job it is to advocate for them: the school counselor. School counselors can provide resources, talk with teachers and administrators, and check in with students and parents regularly. They can help to make sure the classroom teacher understands and implements recommendations made for these children. They can also be the support person to collaborate with the teacher to help facilitate classroom success. In this article we'll examine the role the school counselor plays, and we'll offer suggestions for accommodations and strategies to teach gifted AS children both at home and at school. Advocacy in the School An important part of a school counselor's job is to be aware both of the general issues involved with AS and how to accommodate for it in the classroom. Equally important is communicating with educators and administrators, keeping them up to date on the disability, and offering suggestions for working with these students in the classroom. Even more critical is remaining aware of current strategies as well as teachers' perceptions in regard to these twice-exceptional (2e) students. Too often, teachers and administrators expect that a child who is gifted can handle class work and peer interactions without any problems. However, this may not be the case, especially for gifted children with AS. One way for a school counselor to advocate for a 2e child with AS is to ensure that all educators in the school are informed about the characteristics of this disability and how they are manifested in a gifted child. Some common traits of gifted children with AS are: · Asynchronous development · Facility with rote memorization · High-level verbal skills · Elevated sensory perceptions · Concern with equality, honesty, and integrity (Webb, Amend, Webb, Goerss, Beljan, & Olenchak, 2005). In addition, these children tend to be highly inquisitive,

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What Do We Mean by "Advocacy?"

Advocacy in the school setting is defined as the act of working toward modifications in "existing or proposed policies, practices, and learning environments on behalf of all students and families" (Bailey, Getch, & Chen-Hayes, 2007, p. 101).

consumed by their interests, and have either an inability or marked impairment in reading social cues. They can also be inflexible, lack common sense, and tend to see things as black and white (Rosaler, 2004). Because some schools assume that AS kids are the same as autistic children, educators may place them in special education classes with students who have mental retardation or emotional disorders. This situation is not helpful for teaching AS students about social norms because most students in these classes have inappropriate social skills and are, themselves, unable to model suitable behavior. The special education classroom can even be a dangerous environment for the AS child, who tends to be naïve in social situations and may be taken advantage of by overly aggressive students (Rosaler, 2004). Another consideration is that the special education classroom does not address the unique learning needs of twice-exceptional children. Children with high IQs need content delivered at a faster pace with greater depth and complexity than the special education classrooms can usually provide. In the regular classroom, students with AS can rapidly memorize the facts being taught but need help making connections between their strength areas in content and new content. They connect with the concrete rather than the abstract, making it difficult to generalize from one area of learning and one situation to another. Because children with AS are often inward and narrowly focused thinkers, teachers need to broaden the knowledge base of these students and connect new knowledge to their interests or passion areas. The result will be that the student with AS will buy into the content being taught and have greater success in learning new things (Friedrichs, 2007).

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Advocacy and Asperger's, continued

Advocacy with Teachers Many times it is the school counselors who provide the first level of communication about students' special needs to the classroom teachers. Teachers see them as a resource to help with behavior modifications and instructional strategies that work with special populations. Working as a team, the school counselor and classroom teacher can develop effective strategies to meet the needs of twice-exceptional children with AS. Often, the school counselor is the person who communicates these strategies to teachers from year to year (Assouline, Nicpon, & Huber, 2006). Twice exceptional students with AS have unique characteristics that the school counselor needs to make sure classroom teachers are aware of. For example, the asynchronous development of motor skills can make writing by hand hard for them. Because these students tend to be more successful with oral communication, allowing them to express content verbally instead of in writing is an appropriate accommodation. Flexibility in how information is presented to gifted AS students and communicated by them is very important (Friedrichs, 2007). Students with AS are quite sensitive to the classroom climate and extremely aware of their successes and failures. Teachers need to foster an environment of acceptance in order for these twice-exceptional children to thrive socially. Ways to create this atmosphere are: · Collaborate with the school counselor to create small and large group lessons that include role plays and concrete examples of appropriate social interactions. · Develop a strict policy against teasing and bullying. · Have students role play social situations from varied points of view to foster an understanding of another perspective. · Provide opportunities for all students to interpret the impact of non-verbal communication (Silverman & Weinfeld, 2007; Webb, Amend, Webb, Goerss, Beljan, & Olenchak, 2005). Adhering to a routine can be another issue for gifted AS students. In schools, routines are sometimes broken for special events or for simple things like fire drills. When a broken routine disturbs a gifted child with AS, it's critical for teachers to understand what's happening and not assume that the student is being difficult. To avoid problems, teachers should inform the student of the upcoming break in routine, if possible; remind the student that this change in schedule is coming; and talk about how the student

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might respond to the change. Students who are informed can better prepare themselves and possibly experience less anxiety when the event occurs. Advocacy with Peers School counselors are trained to conduct both smalland large-group sessions to help children work on social conventions. Because gifted AS children struggle with peer relations, it's the school counselor's job to help encourage positive peer interactions (Webb, Amend, Webb, Goerss, Beljan, & Olenchak, 2005). Especially important for the school counselor is teaching all children to understand and support the growth of the gifted AS student. Gaining this understanding can be difficult for some students, but by and large children are interested in their peers and will respond well to learning more about why a gifted AS child behaves in a certain manner. The main task for the school counselor is ensuring that the material presented to classmates is both age and developmentally appropriate. During large-group lessons, the school counselor can work with all students in the classroom on appropriate interactions during unstructured time at school. Topics to address might include: · How to pass in the hallways · How to ask someone to play with you on the playground · How to play with others appropriately. As long as the school counselor has already addressed disabilities in general, and AS in particular, students are much more likely to be willing to talk about how to have these positive interactions, and also to serve as role models and teachers for a student with AS (Silverman & Weinfeld, 2007). In small-group lessons, where the school counselor has a specific group of students to work with on issues, activities like social stories can be very useful. Social stories do the following: · Set up a variety of social situations · Use extremely detailed sentences to describe the character's actions · Provide descriptions of typical reactions to the situations · Show students how to respond · Emphasize transferring what a student learns from the story to real social situations. A teacher or counselor can also personalize social stories and give them to

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Advocacy and Asperger's, continued

the student as a reference after the lesson is over. These activities provide opportunities for gifted AS students to observe and participate in positive, acceptable social situations. With ongoing practice and reinforcement, the gifted AS child can begin to internalize and learn appropriate social cues and interactions (Silverman & Weinfeld, 2007). [For an example of a social story, see the article "Giftedness, Asperger Syndrome, and the `Real World,'" by Teresa Bolick in the June, 2005, issue of 2e Newsletter.] Facilitating Parental Advocacy Learning to be an advocate for their children in the school system is imperative for parents or guardians of gifted AS students. Part of a school counselor's job is to make sure that parents have plenty of information and training as they learn to navigate the educational worlds of both the gifted and the disabled. School counselors can help parents in many ways to advocate for gifted AS students. Foremost is by listening to the parents. Active listening skills are essential in effective advocacy for students. Counselors can hear and understand the concerns expressed by parents, teachers, and children and then collaborate to create a comprehensive learning plan to insure student success. The school counselor can provide many other services as well to help parents and students advocate for the child's educational needs. Among these services are: · Interpreting teacher rating scales and achievement and ability test results · Determining if a 504 plan is an appropriate tool for a child's education · Providing information about the programming options available through the school system · Helping educate a child about topics such as selfawareness, self-advocacy, and problem solving · Promoting understanding of the unique social/emotional needs of the gifted AS student · Guiding the student in making educational or career choices after high school Facilitating change in both the school and school system through staff development that focuses on the needs of gifted AS children (Assouline, Nicpon, & Huber, 2006). School counselors can also provide strategies that parents can use at home. For instance, they can suggest activities to help a child understand social cues and social situations. Some examples are teaching manners by putting up wall posters as reminders to children to comb their hair or not pick their nose, or practicing the exact steps to express affection to a willing party. Because the constant training and advocating can be stressful, it's important for parents to know that the school counselor is there to help them find the resources they need. For instance, school counselors can suggest local or online support groups for parents, families, and gifted children with AS. These groups provide great opportunities for both parents and children to share everything from activities to the successes and frustrations that they're experiencing. · Conclusion In this article, we have described a number of ways school counselors can help ensure that gifted children with AS receive an education that meets their unique social, emotional, and learning needs. These professionals are equipped with the skills to advocate for these 2e students and to teach both parents and students how to advocate for themselves. School counselors can also help school personnel to better understand their gifted AS students. As parents, teachers, and administrators work together to implement an educational plan that meets the learning needs of gifted AS students, they can look to the school counselor as an advocate and resource.

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Some Resources for Parents and Teachers

The authors recommend these resources for finding useful information on working with AS children. Book: School Success for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome, by Silverman & Weinfeld (Prufrock Press, 2007) [See the review elsewhere in this issue.]

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Websites: · www.aspergersyndrome.com · www.teacherplanet.com/resource/manners.php · www.hoagiesgifted.org/aspergers.htm · www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=988

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Advocacy and Asperger's, continued

References Assouline S., Nicpon M., & Huber, D. The impact of vulnerabilities and strengths on the academic experiences of twice-exceptional students: A message to school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 10(1). Retrieved October 27, 2007, from EBSCO database. Bailey, D.F., Getch, Y.Q., & Chen-Hayes, S.F. (2007). Achievement advocacy for all students through transformative school counseling programs. In Erford, B. T. (2nd Ed.), Transforming the school counseling profession (pp. 98-120). Columbus, Ohio: Pearson. Friedrichs, T. P. (2007, November 7). "Duel" diagnoses in the twice-exceptional: Child-based vs. systembased explanations for challenges. Concurrent session presented at the National Association for Gifted Children National Convention, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rosaler, M. (2004). Coping with Asperger's Syndrome. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. Silverman, S.M. & Weinfeld, R. (2007). School Success for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press Inc. Webb, J., Amend, E., Webb, N., Goerss, J., Beljan, P., & Olenchak, F. R (2005). Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults. Scottsdale, Arizona: Great Potential Press. Erin Lane received a B.A. in psychology from Beloit College and worked at a private boarding school where she served as a teacher, Admissions Director, and finally, Dean of Students. She is currently earning a Master's degree in the Professional School Counseling program at the University of Iowa and also working toward an endorsement in gifted education. Doreen Underwood graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with an undergraduate degree in elementary education and received her endorsement in gifted education through the University of Iowa. She has worked in the field of gifted and talented education for the past 12 years and is now a TAG Facilitator in Davenport, Iowa. She is earning a Master's degree in school counseling with an emphasis in talented and gifted students through the University of Iowa. e

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On the 2e Newsletter Website: A Primer on Asperger's

Asperger Syndrome is a label for one of the five developmental disorders that comprise autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). These are a continuum of related developmental disorders that range from severe to mild. The developmental disorders are autism (autistic disorder, also called classic autism); Rett Syndrome; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder; Asperger Syndrome (autism "lite"); and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS). People with ASDs range in intelligence from mentally challenged to highly gifted. A few have savant abilities (abilities far beyond ordinary). Certain characteristics are common among individuals with ASDs: · Difficulty with social interaction · Deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication · Repetitive behaviors

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Narrowly focused interests Unusual responses to sensory experiences, such as certain sounds or the way objects look. About 1 in 150 children have an ASD, with more boys than girls diagnosed by a margin of about four to one. The incidence of Asperger's is often given as 2 or 3 in every 10,000 children, although some sources say it could be as high as 90 children in 10,000. Dr Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, identified the syndrome that bears his name in the 1940s. It was added to the DSM with the fourth edition in 1994. See the rest of this article on the website, including signs and symptoms; diagnosis; causes; addressing Asperger's; and giftedness and ASD. e

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Animals Serving Kids with Asperger's

By Linda C. Neumann For many people, the word service dog brings to mind a seeing-eye dog guiding someone who is visually impaired. If that's your image, you might be surprised to find out what service dogs are up to these days. The role they play in serving people with special needs is much broader than it once was. Today dogs are trained to help people with a wide range of physical and mental conditions such as hearing impairments, mobility problems, seizure disorders, and other chronic disabilities. Added to that list in recent years are autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Karen Shirk was a pioneer in using service dogs for this purpose. She is the executive director of 4 Paws For Ability, Inc., in Xenia, Ohio, a non-profit agency that places about 90 percent of the service dogs it trains with people on the autism spectrum. The remaining dogs are trained for other forms of service. The idea for using dogs this way grew in Karen's mind as a result of both her work experience and events in her personal life. For 20 years Karen worked with children who have autism. She also became ill with a disease that robbed her of many of her physical abilities. When she requested a service dog for herself, she was told that she was too sick to benefit from having one. Karen didn't accept that opinion and instead set out to find and train a dog herself. The result was a life-changing partnership with a dog named Ben, whose story is recounted on the 4 Paws For Ability website (www.4pawsforability.org). In 1998 Karen applied her own experience with Ben to setting up 4 Paws Karen Shirk For Ability, the first agency in the US to train service dogs for children on the autism spectrum. (Coincidentally, a group in Canada started doing the same thing at about the same time.) All dogs at the agency go through about one year of training. Each starts out with about six months of basic training, learning obedience, socialization,

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and other essential skills. Then Karen and her staff start making a match between the dogs in training and the families who have applied for a dog. Through a rigorous process of gathering information about the child and family, Shirk and her staff determine which dog has the characteristics best suited to the needs of each applicant and family. The goal, as she puts it, is to make sure the dog chosen for a child can cope with whatever quirks the child might have. The selected dogs then begin to receive more specialized instruction aimed at meeting their future owners' specific needs. The culmination of a service dog's training is a two-week class held at the 4 Paws For Ability facility. There the dog, the applicant, and parents meet and learn to live and work together. The child participates according to his or her ability. According to Shirk, the primary objective of the class is training parents, although some older children are able to take an active role in the training as well. These children learn to handle their dog ­ actually controlling the leash ­ with parental support. Shirk emphasizes that the person in control of the leash must be able to make mature, responsible decisions. According to Shirk, the matches made between dog and family work 90 to 95 percent of the time. When they don't, the agency looks for a different dog. In its new home, the autism assistance dog is able to perform many services that will benefit its new owners. Among them is the ability, on command, to interrupt the kinds of behaviors in a child that indicate a meltdown is coming. In this situation, the dog serves as both a distraction to the child and a calming influence. Other skills the dog might have learned during training are how to track a child who runs off and how to administer deep pressure by snuggling with a child who has sensory issues. In addition, the dog knows how to act appropriately in a variety of social settings, even perhaps in school. According to Shirk, some schools allow an autism assistance dog in the classroom with no problem; some can be talked into it; and others say absolutely not. The difficulty, she explained, is that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not directly address the use of service dogs. Until the law does address it, getting permission to enter classrooms is a situation that must be handled on an individual basis.

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affected, the dog shouldn't go there and call attention to the child's disability." What effect do these dogs have on children's lives? When asked that question, Shirk responds, "In no way did I ever envision how the dogs could change these kids. Sometimes there's little reaction at first and bonding takes place over time, but sometimes the change is immediate. One boy was fixated on the movie Troy. That was all he could talk about. Then he got his dog. He went shopping with his family, talked to people, and never once mentioned Troy. That was big for him. He talked about his dog, instead, and that was appropriate." 2e Newsletter thanks Dorothy Rittenberry for providing the initial idea and research for this article. e

Animals Serving Kids, continued

Shirk stated that the children who benefit from having a dog at school are those who are having meltdowns in class and who are unable to make friends. Then, having the dog there is in everybody's best interest. The dog's presence can help the child regulate his or her behavior and serves as a means to draw in other children and make forming friendships easier. On the other hand, she explained, "If the child's behavior and schoolwork are not

4 Paws client with buddy

Q & A with Karen Shirk

Q: What breeds make the best autism assistance dogs? A: All kinds of dogs are used, including mixed breeds. What matters is who they are not what they look like. Families who come to us for service dogs know that they can't pick the breed. Q: Are only large dogs used? A: Most are bigger dogs, like the size of a Labrador retriever, but for some children a smaller dog is better. For older kids with gentle behaviors, we tend to go smaller. Q: How much does it cost to train an autism assistance dog? A: Anywhere from $14,000 to $28,000. Q: Is that what families have to pay for a dog? A: We ask families to do fund raising for our agency, and we offer them information on how to do it. The amount we ask them to raise is what it costs to train the dog to meet their specific needs, usually between $11,000 and $14,000. In many cases they hold fund raisers, and some use the media. The average time a family spends on fund raising is six months. Q: How long is your waiting list for dogs? A: There is no waiting list. Usually eight months after they fund raise, the family receives a dog. Q: Do the dogs have to come back for follow-up training? A: No. We just ask families to submit an annual report from the vet and a report on how the dog is working out. They also need to supply references from people who see the dog in public so that we know the family is keeping up with training and the dog's behaving appropriately. e

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Lambert goes on to explain another benefit of having Zoro in the family. "Before we received Zoro from 4 Paws for Ability, you could count on one hand the number of nights our son had slept all the way through in his own bed. Since going to training and Laura Lambert, Justice, Zoro having Zoro in his bed, Justice has only gotten up twice. Both times he was easily led back to his room and put back to sleep with his dog next to him. After years of trying things like melatonin, sensory diets, and therapeutic auditory listening, we are thrilled! Our son's general anxiety level seems to be lessened just by having his `brother' ­ as he refers to his dog ­ around." Lambert is quick to admit that not all is easy now that Zoro has come to live with them. There's a lot of work involved in taking on a service dog, she explains, especially during the first year; and, yes, her son still has meltdowns. "But," she says, "we can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel. We are seeing improvements in his social interactions both in public and at school ­ a major bonus for any child on the spectrum!" e

How a Service Dog Can Help

"Before, any outing would be fraught with anxiety," states Laura Lambert, mother of Justice, a five-and-a-halfyear-old boy with Asperger's. "Just trying to convince him to get into the car for a trip to the mall, the grocery store, or a doctor's appointment was like pulling teeth. It usually involved a bribe ­ getting him something associated with one of his obsessive interests." Before refers to before Zoro, the autism assistance dog that became part of the Lambert family in September. Now, Lambert says, "we're thrilled with how this new addition is helping Justice." When it's time for an outing, she explains, "he [Justice] usually just asks, `Can Zoro come?' and happily gets the harness and tether so that his dog can come with him." The tether is a nylon strap that attaches from Zoro's working harness to a vest that Justice wears while out in public. The purpose is to keep Justice from darting off unexpectedly when he's out with his family. When tethered to Zoro, Justice can only go as far as the tether allows, which is about three feet. Because Zoro weighs close to 100 pounds and Justice weighs only 38 pounds, Zoro is an effective anchor. In describing the valuable role that Zoro plays, Lambert explains, "While Justice would fight having to hold our hands, for some reason he does not fight the dog. He just seems to accept it. Justice seems to feel more secure and less anxious when he's wearing the tether, but sometimes he prefers to hold a second leash that's attached to Zoro's harness instead."

For More Information about Service Dogs...

Visit these sites: · Assistance Dogs International, Inc. (www.adionline. org) ­ a coalition of not-for-profit organizations that train and place assistance dogs · International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (www.iaadp.org) ­ a non-profit, cross-disability organization that represents people partnered with guide, hearing, and service dogs · National Service Dogs (www.nsd.on.ca) ­ a Canadian non-profit registered charity that specializes in breeding, training, and placing dogs with children who have autism · Service dog directory (www.wolfpacks.com/serviced. htm) ­ an international listing of service dog resources

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Read these articles: · "A Miracle Dog for Reece" (http://autism.wilderwood. org/autism_articles_websites.html) · "One Boy's Best Friend" (www.cbsnews.com/ stories/2006/05/16/eveningnews/main1622372. shtml) · "Service Dog Charlie Is an Autistic Boy's Best Friend ­ But He's Not Allowed in Class" (www.autismconnect. org/news.asp?section=00010001&itemtype=news&i d=6123) · "Therapy Dogs Are Bridge to the World for Autistic Children" (www.boston.com/news/education/k_12/ articles/2007/10/21/therapy_dogs_are_bridge_to_ the_world_for_autistic_children) e

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Service Dogs: Not Always an Easy Fix

Eveline Schwizer's son Kilian was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2003. When she saw a TV show portraying a child with an assistance dog, she says, "My heart jumped when I saw what a dog can do for a child with special needs, especially because I thought that our son might also be able to build up a connection to the world through animals." The organization that trained the dog in the TV show was CCI, Canine Companions for Independence (www. caninecompanions. org), based in Santa Rosa, California. Kilian and Whisky However, Schwizer lives in Switzerland. There she found Le Copain, which is founded on the principles of CCI. The staff of Le Copain interviewed the Schwizers and found a dog they believed was a good match for Kilian ­ Whisky, a large chocolatebrown Labrador. As with 4 Paws for Ability, Le Copain uses a two-week training period in which the trainers, dog user, and parents work together. However, Le Copain's primary clientele consists of physically disabled persons. Kilian was only the second child on the autism spectrum Le Copain had worked with, and other clients participating in the class didn't know quite what to make of an Asperger's child. In addition, Le Copain is in a French-speaking canton of Switzerland; the Schwizers are from a German-speaking canton. "I had to practice my very rusty French," says Eveline; and Kilian needed to learn French commands to give to Whisky. Once the Schwizers returned home with Whisky, they found another challenge. Whisky figured out that the family had no experience with dogs prior to coming to Le Copain, and took advantage of that, beginning to disobey. Through persistence, patience, and discipline, Eveline became able to handle the dog, an animal she finds "profoundly gifted." "He stays calm, he is tolerant, he goes to Kilian even when he is not too friendly, and he is absolutely not aggressive or anxious," she says. Despite the challenges the family encountered, Eveline says she would ­ with changes ­ make the same choice again. e

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What Accounts for the Strong Bond between Children with ASDs and Animals?

Temple Grandin is a professor, author, speaker, and designer of livestock handling facilities. In her writings she explains the bond this way: As a person with autism, it is easy for me to understand how animals think because my thinking processes are like an animal's...I have no language-based thoughts at all. My thoughts are in pictures, like videotapes in my mind. [From "Thinking the Way Animals Do," by Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Department of Animal Science, Colorado State University, Western Horseman, Nov. 1997, pp.140-145.] Grandin also says: I think animals, children, and autistic people have simpler emotions because their brains have less ability to make connections, so their emotions stay more separate and compartmentalized.... Our brains function more like a child's brain or an animal's brain, but for different reasons. [Excerpt from Chapter 3 of Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, Scribner, 2004.] e

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A Place of Acceptance for Asperger Teens

An article in a Chicago newspaper earlier this year described a unique group for teens formed in a Chicago suburb. According to the Chicago Tribune article, "Free to Be Themselves," all of the members plus the leader of the group have Asperger Syndrome. The group was formed to give these young people a chance to meet and interact on their own terms. 2e Newsletter editor Linda Neumann interviewed the leader, 37-year-old Brian King, to learn more. Q: Were you pleased with the article about your teen group? A: It was a good article, but I didn't like the use of the terms suffer from, disorder, and syndrome. I prefer to use the term Asperger's/autism. Those other words pathologize it, make it a sickness. That tells kids "You're a sick person." They get treated as "less than" because of their unique characteristics. Q: How did you come to form this teen group? support; it's not a social group. With these kids, the social interaction has more to do with information gathering than connecting on an emotional level. They enjoy the validation, being treated with respect; and they share common frustrations and experiences. But no one is required to speak if they don't want to. I go with the flow of the group and don't structure it. Typically, issues come up ­ like how to make a friend ­ and I problem-solve with them. Q: Does belonging to the group bring about changes in the kids? A: It's empowering for them to be with kids like themselves. No one in the group is telling them what they should be and how they should act. They really come out of their shells when they see that there's no way they can mess up in the meetings. Without fear of social repercussions, they can let their hair down. It helps them to feel more normal, and some of the kids have formed friendships through the group.

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Interview

A: An advocacy organization called GRASP (The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership) Q: Has there been a lot of interest in the group in the approached me. They specialize in adult groups; but community? I wanted to start a teen group, and I talked them into A: Parents are very excited. The word got out to the it. I'm a licensed therapist, and it was something I had local schools and the been thinking of doing kids started coming. on my own. This way, I The schools are woefully "I talk about shifting the focus from have access to GRASP inadequate in meeting the leadership, which is Asperger's as a cause of suffering to needs of these kids. I don't filled with wisdom and blame them, though; they ignorance as a cause of suffering." resources. The goal of just don't know any better. GRASP is to empower people on the spectrum. Q: What do you see as the purpose of the group? A: My focus is on helping the kids fit in more. They come to me with devastated self-images and self-esteem. Q: How often do you meet and what happens at the meetings? A: We meet once a month and usually have around 15 kids. We don't do outings because the purpose is Q: How do the kids react when they learn that you have Asperger's? A: They don't see too many adults on the spectrum, so they ask me lots of questions. They want to know what it was like when I went to college. Their biggest concern is leaving home for the first time. Asking for help is sometimes the most challenging thing they face. Some will just refuse to talk to anybody.

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King, continued

Q: What advice do you have for people who are interested in starting their own group for Asperger teens? A: Align yourself with GRASP. You also need to have a background in group dynamics because you're dealing with people in a fragile state of mind. Plus, you need to know why you're doing it before you jump in. Q: What changes would you like to see for people with Asperger's? A: I give a talk on how to make the world more a more Asperger-friendly place. I talk about shifting the focus from Asperger's as a cause of suffering to ignorance as cause of suffering. If teachers understood these kids' inner experience with the world, and the culture and value of the autism population, it would be so much easier for them to work with these kids. If there's going to be research, let it be research to educate the public on how the mind works. Then they'll know that these kids aren't just lazy, or not trying hard enough. Brian King is a writer, speaker, and counselor in Naperville, IL. He provides coaching and social work services to individuals with Asperger's, their families, schools, and organizations that work with this population. To learn more about his work and read his articles, see: http://web. mac.com/brianrking/Im_An_ Aspie/Home.html. For information on the organization GRASP, see: www.grasp.org. e

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More Asperger's Resources

Jo Freitag's "Gifted Resources" electronic newsletter (www.giftedresources.org/) guided us to Awares.org, the U.K. site of three yearly online conferences and dozens of papers on autism and Asperger's. The papers from the 2005 and 2006 conferences are available free of charge. AWARES (All Wales Autism Resource) asks for a small donation (£6) through an online charity service to access conference materials from 2007 and future conferences. Check out the resources at www.awares.org/conferences. National Public Radio programs sometimes feature Asperger's or autism-related topics. For example, on November 5th, "Morning Edition" reported on research involving the stimulation of mirror neurons to treat autism. Mirror neurons are believed to be involved in imitation and empathy. Find the program and others on the topic at the NPR website. e

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The Value of Challenge and Strength-based Programming

Several stories that have come to our attention at 2e Newsletter seem to have some common themes. Challenged Underachiever First, there was the story that appeared in the Washington Post on September 25, 2007. In an article entitled "How a Virtual AP Course Changed Her Son," writer Jay Mathews describes underachiever Matthew. No amount of nagging could get him to stay engaged with his middle school coursework. Then something sparked his interest ­ his older brother signed up for an online AP biology course. Matthew asked if he could do the same. At first, his mother thought the eighth-grader was joking; but he was serious. Much to everyone's surprise, Matthew dove into the challenging task, devoting several hours a night to the online course and working much harder than he had ever worked before in school. The result was a grade of B and a tremendous boost to his self-confidence, so much so that Matthew, now a high school freshman, is looking forward to his next online AP course and possibly a career in medicine. Challenge: Good for Everyone Then, there was the story "Blurring Lines Among Both Students and Subjects," also by Jay Mathews, which appeared in the Washington Post on October 15, 2007. This article began by describing a sixth-grade boy identified with learning disabilities who "had asked for honors-level work and had thrived on the challenge." The boy's opportunity came as a result of what the writer described as "educational convention turned upside down." Three teachers teamed up to "experiment with placing honors, regular and special education students in the same rooms." They offered these students "a course that unified social studies and English, and [they encouraged] every child to reach higher than before." A special education teacher was there to provide support for those who needed it. The curriculum in these special classrooms was differentiated so that honors students were given more challenging assignments. However, all students had the opportunity to volunteer for higher-level work, and all took part in the same discussions of the course material, allowing some students who struggle with writing to shine. What the teachers found was that the challenge was good for all students. One teacher remarked that those not designated as honor student were motivated to "bring themselves up to these new expectations." A Follow-Up: Seeking Challenge Last, we received a follow-up to an article that appeared in 2e Newsletter in March of 2006. It was "The Story of One `Naughty' Little Girl," written by Michelle Gabriel, a mom from Australia. In it, she told the story of her family's long and often frustrating search for a learning environment where her twice-exceptional daughter Brooke would thrive. Michelle shared with us that Brooke decided to study abroad for a year during high school and found a program in Belgium that focused on the arts. While there, she decided that she needed greater challenges and changed to a more academically-focused program. Her new daily schedule includes French, German, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Math, Economics, History, Geography, and gym! Brooke is thriving and now considering a new goal for herself, studying international business when she goes to college. There's no telling what 2e learners (all learners for that matter) can do when we play to their strengths, build on their interests, and challenge them. Read more on strength-based programming on the next page. e

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Building on Strengths

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What Some Educators Have to Say About Strength-based Programming

From Susan Winebrenner The rule to follow when teaching students who are twice exceptional is simple. When teaching in their areas of strength, offer them the same compacting and differentiation opportunities available to other gifted students. When teaching in their areas of challenge, teach them whatever strategies they need to increase their learning success. Never take time away from their strength areas to get more time to work on their deficiencies. Never remediate their weaknesses until you teach to their strengths! ­ "Strategies for Teaching Twice-Exceptional Students," 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, October, 2003 From Susan Baum In addition to offering remediation, focused attention on the development of strengths, interests, and superior intellectual capacities is necessary. The students need a stimulating educational environment which will enable them to fully develop their talents and abilities. Enrichment activities should be designed to circumvent problematic weaknesses and to highlight abstract thinking and creative production. ­ "Gifted But Learning Disabled: A Puzzling Paradox," ERIC EC Digest #E479, 1990 From Marlene Bireley Just as the problems associated with learning disability must be addressed directly in order for crossover [twiceexceptional] children to succeed, these children must be provided with opportunities to develop their gifted traits. Their minds need to be challenged through higher-level thinking and the content of an enriched or differentiated curriculum. -- Crossover Children: A Sourcebook for Helping Children Who are Gifted and Learning Disabled, Council for Exceptional Children (2nd edition), 1995. e

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Building on Strengths

Founder of NCLD Dies

Sometimes you take organizations for granted, forgetting that real people somewhere and sometime are responsible for forming them. In the case of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, that person was Carrie Rozelle. Formerly married to Ralph Kent Cooke, Rozelle and Cooke had four children, two of whom had learning disabilities. One, Jack, had severe dyslexia which caused behavior and social problems. In 1977, Rozelle started the Foundation for Children with Learning Disabilities, which later changed its name to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. In her first marriage, Rozelle's father-in-law was Jack Kent Cook, a Canadian businessman who later became a U.S. citizen, owning the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Redskins among other businesses. The father-inlaw established the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in 1997. Read The New York Times obituary of Rozelle at the newspaper's website. To see what the NCLD has to offer, visit www.ncld.org. e

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Autism Speaks: Organization and Website

By J Mark Bade Autism Speaks is an almost-three-year-old organization dedicated to: "...funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals." The organization also fosters community, both by providing support to those affected by autism and by giving individuals a voice to urge the government and the private sector to take action regarding autism. AutismSpeaks.org The organization's website, autismspeaks.org, provides content covering: · Information -- what autism is, what to do about it, how to cope, and how to grow with it · Getting involved -- information about donations, events, and government affairs · Community -- message boards, family services, chapters, resources, and e-cards · Science -- news, research, resources and programs, and scientific meetings on the topic. The site in general is a comprehensive introduction to autism spectrum disorders. Video Glossary Probably the most innovative feature you'll find at AutismSpeaks.org is a video glossary ­ hundreds of video clips comparing children who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with typical children in terms of development and behavior. The material was developed by Florida State University and First Signs, Inc. An overview section includes videos conveying an overview of ASDs, typical developmental milestones, screening and diagnosis for ASDs, and reflections from parents with ASD children. Moving into the detail of the video glossary, you find sections on social interaction, communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, and regulatory and sensory systems. Under development are sections on treatments and outcomes. Here's how a typical section works. If you're curious about what differentiates an ASD child from a typical child in the area of social interaction, you click on that tab and explore four sub-areas ­ nonverbal behaviors, engaging in interaction, sharing attention, and social reciprocity. Choosing nonverbal behaviors takes you to a six-part series of video clips. At the top of the screen is a text overview of nonverbal behaviors. Below that you see two frames, the one on the left for a typically developing child and the one on the right for a child with ASD red flags. In one pair of clips, the clip on the left shows how a typically developing child will shift gaze from a toy to a clinician, mixing in a smile. Text under the frame explains the eye gaze behaviors while the viewer hears the natural sound of the child interacting with a clinician. The clip on the right, shown below with the permission of Florida State University, illustrates how a child with ASD does not look at the adult right next to him, even when frustrated.

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Resources

Registration is required to use the video glossary, and there's a user agreement to check. The site contains the usual disclaimers, explaining that the glossary is not a diagnostic tool, etc. Any parent with a concern or interest in the area of autism spectrum disorders should find this site useful and informative. e

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Event Coverage

NAGC Annual Convention

At most multi-day conferences, the last event is often sparsely attended by people whose energy and attention span are flagging. Not at this year's convention of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in Minneapolis. Conference-goers eagerly flocked into the convention center auditorium to hear Garrison Keillor, host of the NPR program A Prairie Home Companion, give us our own version of his weekly monologue. Attendees had plenty of energy left to give him two standing ovations ­ one before he even started to speak.

The entrance to the Minneapolis Convention Center

In addition to that treat, the 54th annual NAGC Convention had much to offer the parents, educators, and others interested in twice-exceptional topics. Coverage of one session appears in this issue, and more will follow in the next issue and on the 2e Newsletter website.

Gifted/Talented Students on the Autism Spectrum: Empirically Based Recommendations for Intervention

Presenters: Megan Foley Nicpon, Susan Assouline, and Matt O'Brien, all from the Belin-Blank Center, University of Iowa Going where few researchers have gone before, a team at the Belin-Blank Center used a Javits grant to analyze a group of gifted students on the autism spectrum and to formulate a set of interventions for academics, social skills, and other areas. As she introduced the session and the research project, Susan Assouline, Associate Director of the Center, said that the team focused on students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) because of the increasing numbers of students receiving such a diagnosis in the past 10 years. Also, she added, research on gifted ASD children is limited. For this project, the Belin-Blank team received special training from the University of Michigan on diagnosing ASDs. Megan Foley Nicpon, the center's lead psychologist, described the tools used to screen for giftedness and for ASDs. These included tests; observation; interviews; and reporting from parents, subjects, and teachers. Using these tools, the team identified 26 boys and 6 girls as gifted and as fitting into one of the categories of autism. The chart on this page summarizes the general and specific skills exhibited by the students in the study. It shows that while many cognitive skills were in the high range, reading comprehension (as opposed to word reading), match computation, and written expression were all relatively weak. Verbal and nonverbal reasoning skills were typically much stronger than working memory and processing speed skills,

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Gifted/Talented Students on the Autism Spectrum, continued

both of which affect academic functioning. Students scored in the middle range in these areas: working memory, math speed, writing speed, processing speed, fine motor skills, communication, and daily living skills. Overall, socialization is ranked as low, with no students scoring in the average range or above. For the students they raised or taught, parents and teachers alike reported difficulties adapting to change, unusual behaviors, and withdrawal symptoms. Self-perception by the students, however, was at odds with the teachers' and parents' reports. While 29% of the subjects reported anxiety or atypicality symptoms, 82% did not report interpersonal concerns, 92% felt self-reliant, and 83% had average self-esteem scores. As Dr Nicpon noted, "The students think they're just fine." Overall, the researchers uncovered what they call "extremely large discrepancies" in the various profiles assessed (cognitive, academic, adaptive functioning, and psychosocial). The team reasons that these discrepancies are confusing to the students and to those who raise and teach them. PhD candidate Matt O'Brien offered potential interventions and accommodations addressed at academics as well as at processing speed, writing and fine-motor skills, social skills, language and communication, and behavior. Stressing that an individual approach is required for each gifted/ASD student, O'Brien none-the-less presented tips for dealing with issues common to the group. Among these were: offer suggestions for relating to others, and introduce peers with similar interests. He gave additional tips that apply equally as well to all gifted/LD students: avoid timed tests, consider assistive technology, and allow an "escape plan" for learners with sensory issues who need to calm themselves. Illustration courtesy of the Belin-Blank Center. The handouts from this and other Belin-Blank presentations at NAGC are available at www.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank. e

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Event Coverage

Other Sessions of Note at NAGC

The ace team of 2e Newsletter staffers covered a number of sessions at the NAGC conference. Watch for coverage of these sessions to be posted on our website and in our next issue. Among the sessions we'll be reporting on are the following. Twice-Exceptional/Twice-Enigmatic: Research, Interventions, Learner Profiles ­ Connecting the Pieces. Linda E. Collins, presenter. Find out about a University of Kansas study of a group of 2e kids, along with ways to support 2e students, their parents, and their teachers. Social Skills Interventions for Children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders. Catherine Schreiber, presenter. The presenter shared research results on the effectiveness of various types of social skills interventions for ASD/Asperger's kids, including social stories, instructional programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, teaching and support groups, peer mediated strategies, and activity-based programs. How Parents Can Identify their Child's Level of Giftedness Prior to Formal Testing. Deborah Ruf, presenter. When was your child able to recognize colors? Show musical aptitude? Speak in longer sentences? The presenter covered how to use developmental milestones to determine a child's potential level of giftedness. The Forgotten Few: Meeting the Needs of African American Twice-Exceptional Learners. SaDohl Goldsmith, presenter. Despite the growing body of literature on 2e students, little exists on African American 2e students in general and even less on those identified with emotional and behavior disturbances. The presenter discussed strategies for identifying and serving this neglected population. Bullies and the Brain. Keri Guilbault, presenter. An absence of true peers can leave gifted kids vulnerable to bullying. The presenter described the causes and effects of bullying plus a bullying prevention program that she has developed. e

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ADDA Fall Regional Meeting

On November 3, 2007, the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) hosted a regional conference on AD/HD in Chicago. The theme of the conference, which receives financial support from the Shire Pharmaceutical Company, was "putting the pieces together." Coverage of two of the sessions follows.

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Event Coverage

The Importance of Imperfection: Lessons on Living Well with Difficulties, Differences, and Disabilities

Presenter: Sari Solden, psychotherapist, speaker, and author Sari Solden had a message that she wanted the audience to take away from her keynote address ­ Life is messy. Solden explained that we all have to accept that imperfection is the natural state of things, but it's especially important that those with AD/HD do so. Many who have the disorder work hard to hide their struggles, she observed. They try to appear like everything is fine, and they don't ask for help. Solden stressed that it's essential to reach a place where you feel safe enough to ask for help; and the way to reach that place is by accepting your imperfections. The problem, Solden explained, is that "We're afraid of acceptance. We think it means giving up, making excuses." She pointed out, however, that acceptance is really the precursor of change, and that the goal is to accept yourself as whole ­ not as perfect. Here, Solden said, parents can be great role models for their children with AD/HD. They can demonstrate how they handle the obstacles in their own lives, how they respect themselves and treat each other with respect, despite their struggles and limitations. Solden explained that people with AD/HD can also take lessons from different areas of psychology. From those who practice narrative therapy comes the advice to tell yourself a new story. Change from saying to yourself, "I'm a loser, I'm incompetent, I'm a mess..." Realize that there are other, positive ways to view yourself and spend time with people who can see you clearly and recognize your strengths. Regularly ask yourself these questions: How much time per week do I spend doing things I'm good at? How much time do I spend with people who value me? From positive psychology comes ideas about healing damage and building on strengths. She explained that damage comes from having a combination of gifts and deficits that make it hard to make sense of the world. If you have AD/HD, she said, you may try to explain it to yourself but not get it right. The result can be early wounding experiences that are difficult, but necessary, to overcome. "You need to deal with these [hurtful] experiences before you can move forward," she stated. Moving forward, according to Solden, is not necessarily finding solutions. It's more about striving for improvement. "You need to think about what you value, what's important to you as a person. Then you need to move toward it. Don't wait until you can say `OK, now I'm cured'," she cautioned. "The goal should not be to die clutter free; the goal is to have a meaningful life." e

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Event Coverage

Diagnosis and Treatment: Future Directions in AD/HD Treatment and Diagnosis

Presenter: Mark Stein, PhD, Professor and Director of the Hyperactivity, Attention, and Learning Problems (HALP) Clinic, Institute For Juvenile Research, University of Illinois at Chicago In this session, clinician and researcher Mark Stein discussed new trends in the treatment and diagnosis of AD/HD. He based his talk on 25 years of experience in working with children and adults who have the disorder. Changes in Diagnosing AD/HD Stein noted that many physicians are still unclear about how to diagnose AD/HD, especially in adults. One reason is the lack of effective diagnostic methods. Stein explained that today diagnosis is based on the criteria listed in the DSM-IV, the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The manual provides lists of criteria and specifies that a certain number of the criteria must be present to diagnose an individual with AD/HD. Stein noted that basing a diagnosis on these criteria presents some problems. One is that the DSM-IV fails to take into account age or gender differences. Younger people, for example, show more of the AD/HD symptoms than do older people. Stein is hopeful, however, that the next edition of the DSM, currently in development, will address that issue, especially considering that awareness of AD/HD in adults is growing. Another problem, according to Stein, is that the DSMIV looks only at symptoms and not at causes. He explained that different people may show the same symptoms for different reasons. The solution to this problem, he believes, will come through research. He expects the future to bring new ways to diagnose AD/HD using biological markers, perhaps through testing an individual's blood or reading the results of brain imaging. Stein also discussed the growing awareness of the need to rule out other explanations of inattention. He stated that he considers one of the most important assessments to give is an IQ test. He also discussed the growing awareness of the role that sleep plays in the ability to focus attention. Research has shown a strong relationship among snoring, insomnia, and inattention. A Move toward Personalized Treatment Stein discussed an area of research in which he has been active ­ personalized treatment. He described it as "finding the right dose of the right medication for the right person." Today, he explained, matching a medication to a patient's needs is not based on science, but on "the influence of drug companies." In the future he predicts that new research findings and new drug delivery methods will make important differences in how drugs are prescribed and in how effectively they work for the people who take them. Through his own research, Stein has found that individuals with AD/HD are more likely to have a particular genetic mutation. While this mutation does not account for all AD/HD, he explained, it does provide useful information for prescribing medication. Knowing whether or not a person has this mutation helps a doctor make better choices in both the type of medication prescribed and the dose. Stein stated that this is a very exciting time in terms of medication for AD/HD, despite the fact that no new drug discoveries have been made lately. Advances have occurred in drug delivery methods, producing medications with different time-release options as well as drugs delivered through skin patches. In the future, Stein expects to see more specialized medications available, rather than the "one size fits all" kinds of medications we have had in the past. He expects that drugs will be developed that target specific areas of the brain. He also expects that there will be greater focus on understanding all of the things a medication does in terms of side effects and functional outcomes ­ the realworld things that are important to the patient's quality of life. Stein also anticipates changes in the psychosocial areas of treatment for AD/HD. He cited one successful program aimed at families. It's a summer camp that combines drug treatment with plenty of outdoor activity for children and training for parents. e

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Look Me in the Eye

By John Elder Robison Crown Publishers, 2007 Reviewed by Linda C. Neumann The American Psychological Association defines resilience as "the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress." If there ever was a resilient child, it was John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's. In this memoir, Robison tells the story of growing up in a highly dysfunctional family, always feeling that he was different but not knowing why. Robison describes a childhood filled with plenty of trauma and stress. He grew up with parents who suffered from alcoholism and mental illness and who did not understand the reasons for their young child's unusual behavior. Robison himself could not understand why he couldn't fit in. He longed for friends but knew that he didn't have the ability to make them. He was constantly told, "Look me in the eye," by the adults who spoke to him; and he didn't understand why that was so hard for him to do. What sounds like a dismal tale, however, is far from it. The author tells his life story in what could be described as an Asperger-like (or Aspergian, as Robison puts it) voice ­ straightforward with little emotion and a good deal of humor. At times, he also inserts explanations of his thoughts and behaviors in terms of how people with Asperger's think and act. Despite the lack of understanding and support he received as a child, Robison was able to identify what he was good at and use that knowledge to make a life for himself. Eager to escape from home, he dropped out of high school and parleyed his talent with mechanical devices into several successful careers. The first was creating a fire-breathing guitar for the band KISS. Later careers involved designing toys and repairing and restoring classic cars. It wasn't until Robison was 40 years old that he learned about Asperger Syndrome. Then he began to make sense of things that had always puzzled him about himself and about the people around him. Finally, he understood that making eye contact is something that people with Asperger's find uncomfortable or impossible to do. Robison's story is a fascinating one, well told and insightful. It offers a different perspective on Asperger's, expressed in these words from the prologue of the book: Asperger's is not a disease. It's a way of being. There is no cure, nor is there a need for one.... My days of hiding in the corner or crawling under a rock are over. I am proud to be an Aspergian. To hear an interview with John Elder Robison, visit the website of the NPR program "The Diane Rehm Show" at: http://wamu.org/programs/dr/07/10/02.php. e

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Book Review

Mark Says...

When a good friend of mine was in mid life and his parents had already passed on, he was at a family event talking to an elderly aunt. "Of course, you know you're adopted," she said. "No, I didn't," he replied. Like my friend, John Elder Robison got a chance to reevaluate his entire existence to date from a new perspective when at 40 he was diagnosed with Asperger's. I like this book a lot, even though I'm only part-way through it. Linda told me to read it. Usually I only read collections of old Calvin and Hobbes cartoons.

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Robison gives me two things in his book. One is an understanding of what it's like to live as an Aspergian and what the criteria in the DSM really mean when they're manifested in a real life. The other is entertainment, because this is a funny book. Okay, it's sad, too, especially when Robison describes his parents and their behaviors. But to read Robison recount some of his childhood pranks, or the indignities he inflicted on his younger brother "Varmint" (with Robison's electronic Zap-a-Varmint invention, for example), or even his kindergarten Aspergian attempts to make friends, makes me laugh. Plus, with a cover like it has, how can it not be a great book? ­JMB e

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Book Review

School Success for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome

By Stephan M. Silverman, Ph.D. and Rich Weinfeld (Prufrock Press, 2007) Reviewed by Linda C. Neumann In School Success for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome child/adolescent psychologist Stephan Silverman and educational advocate Rich Weinfeld pool their expertise and experience. The result is a guide to help parents and educators understand Asperger Syndrome (AS) and meet the needs of children who have this autism spectrum disorder. The first several chapters of the book provide an overview of what is known about AS, how the disorder appears in a child, and how it is diagnosed. The authors discuss the difficulty of diagnosing AS and emphasize the importance of both an early and accurate diagnosis. As they explain, "Failure to identify it [Asperger Syndrome], and to do so early, may doom parents and teachers to set goals and expectations that are unrealistic and disappointing." In a chapter on parenting, the authors offer best practices for raising children with AS. Among the topics they address are how to deal with obsessions, tactile defensiveness, oppositional behavior, and social skills deficits. In addition, the authors provide many tips on how to encourage achievement, both at home and at school, and how to manage attention problems. The remaining chapters in the book address school. One lists best practices for teaching students with AS, and another looks at strategies and interventions that teachers can use. Covered in the latter chapter are topics such as how to deal with ritualistic behavior, emotional problems, organization issues, and social difficulties. In a chapter on school success, the authors describe what they call an exemplary program for students with AS. The chapter also discusses how to obtain services for students in public schools and various other schooling options for them. At the back of the book is a lengthy section of references and resources. Included are checklists and a quick reference guide to interventions for common problems in the classroom. The authors have filled this book with useful information presented in a clear and straightforward way. After reading it, parents, teachers, and others should be in a better position to work together to meet the needs of

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these children. As the authors state at the end of the book, "When educators and parents work as a team, employing the best practices described in this book in the best interests of students with AS, it is clear that these students can and will experience school success." e

What Is Asperger's?

In their book, authors Silverman and Weinfeld describe AS this way: AS is not so much something that someone "has" or a disease that one has contracted, as it is a whole personality that is atypical. It is something someone "is." Although AS falls on the autism spectrum, which encompasses a range of disorders with some core similarities, it is very much by itself in its consistency of symptoms and personal strengths and weaknesses, despite debates in the professional research literature. Asperger's syndrome is a unique way of seeing, interpreting, coping with, and acting in the world. e

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What Determines Giftedness?

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Dear Dr. Sylvia

Q

What is the best determination if a child is gifted? I believe our child is gifted, but the school system states he doesn't meet the standards they've set. He's nine years old, in fourth grade, and has always been the highest achiever in his class. He never has any difficulty learning things and is curious about everything. He reads at a seventh-grade level and tests at mid-fifth-grade level in math. The school hasn't permitted him to accelerate. I appreciate your help.

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The measure of a child's giftedness is more a matter of degree than either a "yes" or "no." Because giftedness is a relative characteristic, schools can differ in how they define which gifted children are in need of special programming. For example, in some schools a child who reads three years above grade level might be the only one

who is that advanced in reading and, therefore, in need of a grade skip in that subject. In other schools there may be six other children in the class reading at approximately that same level, making it possible to meet the children's needs in the regular classroom. Some schools have so many children who could be eligible for a gifted program that the regular classroom does provide enrichment for their giftedness, with only a few exceptionally gifted students selected for separate programming. Some schools use very flexible criteria; while others, especially those who have many gifted children, use very rigid cutoff scores. You shouldn't hesitate to ask the gifted coordinator about the criteria used for identification. More importantly, be sure to encourage your son with his continued good work. You can offer him additional special challenges at home that he can introduce into his classroom work. For

example, if he's studying biology in science class, he could go to a health or science museum to learn more about his topic for a project he's working on. Sometimes schools make errors or children perform poorly because they aren't feeling well the day of testing. Check with the gifted coordinator so that you understand better why your son wasn't selected for the program, and determine if he can be retested by an outside psychologist if you believe something interfered with his accurate testing by the school. Try to advocate for your son in a respectful manner so that the school doesn't feel that you're being antagonistic. Your son does have a right to be challenged in school, but it's also important that he not feel pressured so that he can develop a balanced sense of self. His attitude and his work ethic will surely pay off for him for the rest of his life, and no one is likely to ask him what his IQ score is.

Dr. Sylvia Rimm is a child psychologist and clinical professor at Case University School of Medicine, author, newspaper and magazine columnist, and radio/TV personality. You can visit her website at www. sylviarimm.com. To find out more about her new book Keys to Parenting the Gifted Child (3rd Ed.) or for a free newsletter about gifted children, IQ testing, or about how school pays off, send a large self-addressed, stamped envelope to P.O. Box 32, Watertown, WI, 53094, or go to www. sylviarimm.com for more information. e

We Misspoke

Gifted Child Today publisher Joel McIntosh pointed out an error made in the September 2007 issue of 2e Newsletter. In a book review we referred to his publication as a monthly magazine. He pointed out that it is a quarterly journal and further explained, "I made this distinction because the articles in the journal go through a rigorous peere Newsletter · November/December 007

review process that involves a review board of prominent professors in the field of gifted education and exceptional child education...one of the critical differences between Gifted Child Today and some of the other periodicals in the field." e

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A Look at Asperger's for Younger and Older Readers

In this column we not only want to share quality literature that will help parents and teachers guide children into positive reading experiences, we also attempt to identify books that address issues that our twice exceptional children may be facing. By reading novels that depict how others deal with the same or similar issues, the issue may be defused a bit. In addition, readers then have a model on which they may base their own behavior. With this in mind, let's direct our attention to two books. Both deal with Asperger Syndrome, and both are written by authors who are mothers of children with Asperger's. One is for younger readers, Baj and the Word Launcher, by Pamela Victor (2006, Jessica Kingsley Publishers). The other is for teenagers, Haze, by Kathy Hoopmann (2003, Jessica Kingsley Publishers). Baj and the Word Launcher is set in the future and has a bit of the science fiction genre that makes for more fun reading. Baj, who lives on the planet Aular, has Asperger's. His counselor, Mr. Pilma, has given him "a magical communication kit" to help him deal with his situation. Baj has trouble reading body language, making eye contact, and taking turns in conversation. With his new kit and the rules that he and Mr. Pilma have created, Baj begins to learn the complex rules of the social world. In the kit are an invisible "Calming Cape" that helps him to keep calm in difficult situations; a "Word Launcher" to help him decide the best words to use in a particular situation; and "Listening Aids" that help him focus on the important words when others speak. Baj and the Word Launcher is a great book for elementary classroom use. It can help classmates understand Asperger Syndrome, and it would certainly help the student with Asperger's to see how others are dealing with similar problems. The book is easy to read, topped off with humor, and has a few little subplots that make for an interesting story. Each chapter ends with a set of discussion questions that are helpful in understanding Asperger Syndrome and in helping students adapt their own behavior. This book is certainly worth the effort to locate. For a list of books reviewed or mentioned in past issues of 2e Newsletter, go to the books section of our website: www.2eNewsletter.com/books.htm. Haze by Kathy Hoopmann really grabbed my attention. This book is especially well written and was short listed for the 2003 Australian Special Education Needs Children's Book Award. Sebastian (Seb) is a teenager and a loner. He is brilliant with computers and numbers but hopeless with people. Moving into his teen years, Seb's undiagnosed Asperger's is creating more conflict with his parents, his teachers, and his peers. Plus, his aversion to social interaction comes into conflict with a growing interest in girls. Then enters Miss Adonia, a substitute teacher who teaches his advanced computer class. Miss Adonia takes an interest in Seb, impressed with his computer skills and knowledge. She suggests that he might research Asperger Syndrome on the web. Before long, however, we see that Miss Adonia's interest is more than just a teacher's concern for a student. Seb, it seems, is suspected of international computer fraud. Another sub-plot develops as well, involving Seb's friend Madeline. She, too, is skilled in computers and is being emotionally abused by a controlling mother. When a mysterious cyber friend of Madeline's is brought into to the plot against Seb, some interesting things happen. In short, this is a great little mystery story that will certainly hold the reader's attention. Haze deals with Asperger Syndrome subtly, but it still provides important information and describes the frustration that surrounds individuals who have Asperger's. All in all, this was a great read! I recommend it for any teenage reader. Both of these novels are recommended, not just for fun reading, but to gain insights into Asperger Syndrome. Happy Reading! Professor Emeritus Bob Seney is retired from teaching in the Masters of Gifted Studies Program at Mississippi University for Women. At conferences, he often presents a session titled "What's New in Young Adult Literature." Bob serves on the NAGC Board of Directors. Reach him at [email protected] muw.edu. e

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Bob Seney on Books

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"The System"

By Cathy Marciniak This new column offers a parent's perspective. Columnists rotate, each giving their perspective on raising twice-exceptional children. In this issue we welcome Cathy Marciniak, a parent who has written previously for 2e Newsletter. I went to my son Ten's art showing last night, held at the studio where he has classes and where he and Larry the Wordworking Guy fool around. There were about 30 people there ­ parents, teachers, artists, and students aged 5 to 55. I mentioned on the way home that Ten hadn't seemed as uncomfortable at this one as he was at last year's; he'd interacted with a lot of strangers and was very appropriate all evening. "That's `cuz I have a system, now," he explained. "Excuse me?" I said. "A system, for talking to people."

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Parents' Perspectives

"Do tell." "You ask the other person three questions about himself, and then you volunteer one statement about yourself. Like, you say, `Have you always lived in San Antonio?' and they say, `No, I was in Alabama before.' Then you say, `What is Alabama like?' and they tell you. Then you ask, `Do you miss it?' and they tell you; and THEN you say, `I moved here from Boston when I was five.' It's a system." Always three, I noted. Not two, not four, not three and a half? "Where'd you learn this system?" He shrugged. "It's just a system. I like systems." No lie, he does. I find it heartwarming, and fascinating, that his little over-logical brain is tackling appropriate social skills in such a purely characteristic way. I'm picturing patenting this system for AS individuals. Although it would be hilarious to see any group of people, all trying to practice it with each other ­ "WAIT; HOLD IT; SHUT UP! I haven't asked you three questions yet! It's still MY turn ­ don't you know the RULE?" e

Our Del.icio.us File Continues to Grow

Almost every day we at 2e Newsletter add links to our Del.icio.us file, links to current articles on giftedness, learning disorders, twice-exceptionality, and sometimes general health and developmental topics for children and adolescents. The links are accessible by label or keyword, often with modifiers. For an article that deals with possible causes of autism, for example, we might use the label autism_causes. We also use multiple labels for one article. For an article called "Are we too quick to medicate our children" that focuses on medication for bipolar disorder, we might use the labels bipolar and medication. We currently have over 270 items referenced and linked to. Find out if there are articles of interest to you at http://del.icio.us/2eNewsletter. Let us know if you find the site useful. e

e Newsletter · November/December 007

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The End of the Issue

Available Now from the Publishers of 2e Newsletter!

The first two booklets in the Spotlight on 2e Series. Perfect for those new to the "2e experience."

Information and resources to help parents understand, support, and raise a 2e child. Information and resources to help teachers identify and teach 2e students. For more information about the booklets, including tables of contents, or to order one or both booklets, see www.2eNewsletter.com. Regular price: $12.95 for one booklet, $22 for both. For 2e Newsletter subscribers, one booklet is $11, both are $22. Order now and get free shipping.

e Newsletter · November/December 007

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March 6-9, 2008, Annual Conference of the Council of Parent Attorneys & Advocates Conference (COPPA), Anaheim, California. For attorneys, special education advocates, and parents. More information. April 2-5, Convention and Expo of the Council for Exceptional Children, Boston, Massachusetts. Henry Winkler, keynoter. For teachers, administrators, students, parents, paraprofessionals, related support service providers to students with exceptionalities, disabilities, or giftedness. More information. April 4-6, 2008, Intelligence at Risk: Transforming the Educational Paradigm, Universal City Hilton, Universal City, California. By AEGUS (Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students). For educators, parents, clinicians. More information. July 9-11, 2008, Australian Association for the Education of Gifted and Talented (AAEGT) Biennial Conference, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. More information. July 10-13, 2008, 2008 ADDA National Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota. For adults with AD/HD and the professionals who work with them. More information at www. add.org. July 18-20, 2008, SENG 25th Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. For parents, educators, others. More information. September 16-20, 2008, 11th Conference of the European Council for High Ability, Prague, Czech Republic. Official language: English. For professionals, educators. More information at www.echa2008.eu/. October 30-November 2, National Association for Gifted Children Annual Conference, Tampa, Florida. For parents, educators, other professionals. More information at www. nagc.org. For state association conferences relating to giftedness, see Hoagies' website. For additional conferences on learning differences, see the website of the Council for Exceptional Children, www.cec.sped.org.

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Events

Back Issues Available

October 2003 (#1): Understanding 2e children December 2003 (#2): Public policy and 2e kids February 2004 (#3): Homework and 2e kids April 2004 (#4): AD/HD in gifted children June 2004 (#5): 2e Advocacy and the Montgomery County Public School System August 2004 (#6): Assessment and evaluation October 2004 (#7): Supporting students December 2004 (#8): A look at output, the work that twice-exceptional students produce ­ or fail to produce February 2005 (#9): Viewing learning and behavior problems through the lens of neuroscience April 2005 (#10): Parenting 2e children June 2005 (#11): Autism spectrum disorders August 2005 (#12): Teaching 2e students November 2005 (#13): Dyslexia as the second "e" January 2006 (#14): Schooling alternatives March 2006 (#15): Different learning styles May 2006 (#16): Identifying 2e kids July 2006 (#17): Older 2e kids September 2006 (#18): Writing and organization issues November 2006 (#19): Central auditory processing disorder January 2007 (#20): The Emotional side of 2e children March 2007 (#21): "Other" exceptionalities ­ TS, CP May (#22): 2e Down Under ­ Australia, New Zealand July 2007 (#23): Sensory integration issues September 2007 (#24): Response to Intervention Electronic (PDF) back issues are $7.00 ($3.00 for subscribers). Print back issues are $8.50 including US shipping ($5.00 for subscribers). Bulk discounts are available. A complete set of all back issues is $96 for print, $50 for PDF. For ordering information, see www.2eNewsletter.com, email [email protected], or call 630.293.6798.

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