Mentorship is Key: Parent, Mentee & Academic perspectives through Film

Film is a powerful educational tool that engages multiple modalities. Join us on July 22nd, 2022 @5pm ET for a session at the 2022 SENG conference to learn how mentorship fits within the NEST! parenting trifecta. What comes to your mind when you think about mentors? Through the use of film clips from the documentary “O’Kelley Legends: 2e Behind the Scenes”, we illustrate different mentor-mentee relationships. The documentary is produced by The O’Kelley Lab.

Dialogue on Wellbeing & Resilience

Join us virtually for a dialogue on wellbeing and resilience with our panel at July 21st 202, 7pm ET. What is wellbeing? What is resilience? Are they related? Nicole Mattingly, a gifted adult parenting her gifted teens, shares her journey and 4 tips. Mahala Bruns a gifted adult shares her journey and tips for “people who love gifted folks”. Jordan shares his current journey as a twice-exceptional teen navigating the college experience.

Can’t attend live? SENG conference is available to access offline for 3 months.

Mental Health Initiative Singapore 2022

#BetterTogether, an initiative by the People’s Action Party (PAP) to raise awareness and drive collective action for mental health in Singapore was launched on April 30th, 2022.

It was important for all stakeholders to participate in the June 24th, 2022 follow-up public engagement session. Attendees included various Singapore governmental agencies, parents, academics, clinicians, school counselors, and community mental health providers. We had a rich and open 2.5-hour-long discussion.

2022 15th International Dabrowski Congress

Looking forward to presenting and attending the 15th International Dabrowski Congress on July 18-19, 2022 with my fellow Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted Board members Karen Arnstein and Carrie Pokrefke. I will be presenting “1st Generation South East Asian American Self and Parental Reflections on Positive Disintegration.”

K-12 & Higher Education

Hosts & Panelists

It was such a pleasure to be in Episode#111 on the movement to align k-12 and beyond educational pedagogies with Silver Lining for Learning June 25th 2022, 530pm ET.

The hosts at Silver Lining for Learning include

Chris Dede -Timothy E. Wirth Professor

Learning Technologies
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Curt Bonk

Curt Bonk – Professor

curtbonk.com

Instructional Systems Technology
Indiana University

Punya Mishra

Punya Mishra – Associate Dean & Professor

punyamishra.com

Scholarship & Innovation
Arizona State University

Yong Zhao

Yong Zhao – Foundation Distinguished Professor

 zhaolearning.com

School of Education
University of Kansas
and Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Wellbeing & Resilience for the gifted

I am so excited to host the opening panel session for the SENG 2022 Annual Conference: “Wellbeing and resilience for the gifted: Narratives from multiple perspectives.” Join us, on July 21st, 2022 online from 7-830pm EST.

Panelists: Malaha Burns, Ph.D., Nicole Mattingly, M.A., Jordan O’Kelley, & Lin Lim, Ph.D.

Life is unpredictable and it is difficult to know what to expect for the future with high certainty. Wellbeing and resilience play critical roles in the gifted journey to prepare us for uncertainty across our lifespan. Join us on a journey through personal narratives with our panelists. Our panelists include a twice-exceptional neurodiverse teenager, a radically accelerated gifted adult, a radically accelerated gifted academic and parent of two profoundly gifted boys with diverse needs, and a first-generation immigrant parent and researcher of two profoundly gifted children – daughter and son with diverse needs. Engage in authentic conversations around wellbeing and resilience with our panel.

What does math have to do with human development?

Quark Collaboration Interview: Human Range: My Life, My Story

Conversations beyond Math & Education with Dr. Po Shen Loh

It was such a pleasure for Quark Collaboration to interview Dr. Po Shen Loh on our episode for “Human Range: My Life, My Journey” We had a great dialogue around human development throughout our conversation about math and education.

Here are some of our favorite Dr. Loh quotes from this episode:

“Have a comfortable chair, where you would like to sit and think… a lot!”

” I want to do something that does not exist, yet”

“Creative math IS out of the box thinking”

“Math is one of the most misunderstood concepts”

Negative Life Experiences of 2e Children May Equate to Trauma

Read my latest article in the National Association for Gifted Children’s (NAGC)Parenting for High Potential Magazine – June 2022 Issue. It discusses the impacts of negative life experiences of twice-exceptional children and provides tips and strategies for parents to address 2e trauma.

Note that this article requires a subscription or membership to NAGC

Modern Trends in Caring for the Gifted

I am looking forward to this day-long Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Education Regulations and Policies for the Gifted Initiative workshop. Gratitude for the collaborative systems-level goals success approach with the team and support staff. Personal learning and growth with this more than a year-long international, cultural, linguistic, time, conceptual, technological, and logistical coordination and collaboration to bring this critical topic of caring to fruition. I applaud their partnership with UNESCO to create “learning cities” working towards inclusive lifelong education for all including within communities, families, and the workplace.

Building Solid Parenting Foundations

Attend the GHF annual conference June 3-5, 2022 live for free. Access to information and education is a systemic barrier to equity and quality of life. Join me for a presentation and conversation on June 4th, 2022, at 1:45 pm EST and two other sessions during this conference.

Cal State LA Office for Studies with Disabilities

Building positive relationships across different key lifespan transition stakeholders form an important component for complex outlier family health and wellbeing. As a parent of two complex outliers, it gives me great joy and comfort to know that we are making a difference through our openness and willingness to share and engage in dialogue around multiple perspectives (experiential to research) to build common language and understanding.

Big shout out and thank you to Cal State LA’s Office for Students with Disabilities for hosting our presentation on the importance of mentors. Also a big shout out to SENG outreach (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) and the O’Kelley Lab. Looking forward to sharing our presentations with other school districts, communities, higher education, and workplace stakeholders.

Amy Clark, SENG SMPG Facilitator

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” -Maya Angelou

Amy Clark is a doctoral student at Bridges Graduate School studying Cognitive Diversity in Education with a focus on Innovative Leadership. She has a Certificate in Twice-Exceptional Education, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and a Master of Computer Science with a focus on Human Factors. 

Her decades-long career in innovation, research, and design at some of the world’s most creative companies has helped millions of people to feel empowered with tools that become part of their everyday lives. She has led initiatives spanning multi-disciplinary worldwide teams to launch new products while championing the needs of individual users due to her passion for understanding human behavior. When it became clear that the learning environments available to her son could not meet his needs, she shifted her focus to innovating within education. 

Amy found her love of twice-exceptional education through the creation of Chestnut Ridge Academy, which she founded to serve her son by creating highly customized experiences for gifted and exceptional minds. In addition to her daily role as a tiny-school leader, she supports families on their own unique journeys. She guides parents to better understand their exceptional children and to uncover strategies for both educating and parenting differently through her company, Exceptionally Engaged. 

In addition to her work with individual families, Amy supports educators in their approaches to engaging unique learners by recommending technology, customizing curriculum, and advocating for the learner’s specific needs. She also collaborates with students to identify and provide opportunities for exploring their areas of deep interest through mentor relationships. Amy is an active SENG member, conference attendee, and trained SMPG in-person and online facilitator. 

National Summit for Educational Equity

Join me at the 2022 National Summit for Educational Equity Conference organized by the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE). The theme is “Pathways to an Equitable Workforce”.

VOICES: “WE KNOW YOU FOR THAT” GUEST – Jordan O’ Kelley

Our guest today is Jordan O’Kelley, author, inclusivity, and strength-based mentor teen advocate, part of The O’Kelley Lab, and an aspiring astrophysicist who entered college at 14 years old.

“Be passionate about your education! It is up to YOU!” ~ Jordan O’Kelley

NASA N3 Internship from the voice of Jordan O’Kelley

Jordan O’Kelley is a teen advocate for inclusivity and strength-based mentorship approaches. We asked Jordan to share with our readers, his 2021 NASA N3 Neurodiversity Network program experience. In the words of Jordan:

“The NASA N3 program is a Summer internship program created by Physics professor and STEM educator Dr. Lynn Cominsky at Sonoma State University. Her program was funded with a $5 million grant from NASA last year to give Neurodiverse High School students interested in STEM careers opportunities to work with NASA Subject Matter Experts in a mentor capacity. Dr. Cominsky believes that success for ASD students going into STEM careers will depend on them having opportunities to develop relationships with mentors in their chosen fields of interest, which she refers to as long-term mentors. 

Last year’s pilot program consisted of 16 interns, completing 160 hours of remote research each spread out over the summer. Upon completing the program’s presentation, the interns received a stipend of $1000.  I was fortunate enough to work with Dr. David J. Thompson the head researcher of the FERMI Gamma-Ray Telescope, out of NASA Goddard. It was a life-changing experience. I always thought I wanted to do physics but had no idea what that would really be like until after I experienced working with Dr. Thompson. My internship experience was invaluable as I can now say with confidence that I want a career in Astrophysics.  

Dr. Cominsky and her team carefully pair each intern candidate in the program with a NASA subject matter expert in their field of interest. For my project, I researched pulsars and black holes in-depth with Dr. Thompson with the goal of putting together the information in an educational video for my end project. Besides staying connected to this program I also continue to promote the great work that the NASA N3 program is doing.” ~ Jordan O’ Kelley.

Stay tuned for our upcoming episode of Voices: “We Know You For That” podcast with Jordan O’ Kelley.

Check out our previous guests below:

Voices: “We Know You For That” Guest – Liana Yarckin

Welcome to another episode of “Voices – We Know You For That”. Our guest is Liana Yarckin, a watercolor fine artist and youth art mentor located in Dallas, TX. Please visit her website, Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.

Differentiation Squared – Publication in Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented

We are pleased to share our hour-long presentation: ” Differentiation Squared: Strategies for Struggling Gifted Students.” Published in TEMPO+, an on-demand publication by Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT).

TAGT has generously offered a 2-weeks free subscription to our readers. Sign up at https://tempo.txgifted.org/trial-registration/, then read our article here: https://tempo.txgifted.org/differentiation-squared-strategies-for-struggling-gifted-students/

We are available for professional development and outreach activities. Looking forward to connecting with you.

Cheers,

Lin & Rashmii

2022 Annual Gifted Education Policy Symposium & Conference

Participated in a great invited panel on “Diversity in Gifted Education Research” this afternoon. This session was hosted by Dr. Dina Brulles with five different focus areas in gifted education research presented by five presenters including Dr. Terry Friedrichs, Dr. Ann Robinson, Dr. Gilman Whiting, Dr. Dina Bruilles, and myself.

I presented a segment on ” Diversity in Gifted Education Research: Asian American, Pacific Islander & AAPI Communities”

TAGT TEMPO+ Article

Limited time Free Access:

TAGT is offering my colleagues and followers a free temporary subscription to TEMPO+: Sign up at https://tempo.txgifted.org/trial-registration/, then read my article at http://bit.ly/TEMPOTestOptional

Quark Collaboration Advisory Panel: Harri James O’Kelley, California

WHO

Harri James O’Kelley is an actress, a script supervisor, a storyteller, and a writer-director.  She has written and directed a feature film, four award-winning shorts, and now her first documentary, “O’Kelley Legends:  2e Behind the Scenes.”  Out of her passion for gifted and special needs education, Harri has also created The O’Kelley Lab with her family— a grassroots effort to lend support and create new therapies for 2e and gifted individuals.  Through storytelling and humor, she shares her journey as a parent advocating for her three neurodiverse children

Quark Collaboration Advisory Panel: Magalie A. Pinney, Massachusetts

WHO

Magalie A. Pinney is a Financial Services professional from the USA who is certified in the field of gifted and talented education by the University of Connecticut, Neag School of Education. She received a Communication baccalaureate, cum laude, and is pursuing a Masters’ degree. She is an advocate, chairperson, and board member for Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education (MAGE). She serves on the GTAC Gifted Talented Advisory Council to her state’s board of education and department of education.

Quark Collaboration Advisory Panel: Joi Lin, Colorado

Who

Joi Lin is a PhD student of curriculum and instruction, specializing in gifted education leadership at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver. She currently works as a graduate research assistant and as Director of Professional Education at the Gifted Development Center. She chairs the Education and Gifted Youth Committee at the Mensa Foundation, serves on the board of SoulSpark Learning, and is a co-founding member of Gifted and Talented Leaders of Color and Allies. She identifies as a profoundly gifted millennial who is a multiracial, multicultural, multipotentialite woman of color. Joi has worked as a secondary math teacher and has educational experiences in charter, public, private, parochial, and international schools.

Alignment with Quark Collaboration

Joi’s Voice:

“I earned my M.S. degree in industrial and organizational psychology, and my research interest is supporting the career development and wellbeing of the gifted and the professionals who support us. My expertise aligns with Quark Collaboration’s mission to support the holistic development and dignity of adults, particularly neurodiverse adults, across their lifespans.

While I could list aspects of my identity that are often deemed deficit (non-male, non-white, etc.), I have received so much social and economic privilege throughout my life. Adopted and naturalized American citizen; only child of a military officer’s family; both parents with college degrees, both had MAs before I graduated high school; private school from preschool through some college; a bounty of clubs, music and dance lessons, lessons, and camps; comprehensive travel to nearly every state and a dozen countries; employment as a graduate research assistant which is paying my PhD tuition… I know more than anyone the value of socio-economic resources when nurturing ever-more-equitable human development.”

Baylor GT Parent Conference 2022

Baylor GT Parent Conference has just concluded last Saturday. Grateful for the opportunity and patience while navigating virtual presentation technology whilst traveling. A great internet connection is not to be taken for granted. Thankful to my QuarkCollaboration team member Cherin Escher for being a great spot and double-checking to make sure our presentation goes smoothly.

W&M 2e Annual Conference 2022

Join me for 2 Parents & Educators Sessions at the William & Mary Twice-exceptional Annual Conference, February 25-26, 2022. I love that affordable parent conference rates are available. Hope you can join live or watch the recordings at a later date.

I will be presenting the following sessions:

Differentiation squared: Moving towards holistic embodied education of 2e learners

NEST! guiding framework: Visualizing the 2e learner-educator success.

Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented Conference 2022

Looking forward to presenting these two sessions at the Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented (AAGT) 48th Annual Conference, Feb 10-11, 2022.

N.E.S.T.! Learner-Teacher Conceptual Guiding Framework

Variations 2e Magazine Winter 2022 Volume 7, 44-52

This guiding framework was the synthesis and intergration of interdisplicinary ideas, concepts, and approaches that resonant with me in this moment in time. Here are 2 preview pages to share with readers. The full article is available through 2enews.com.

Here are some upcoming 2022 conferences where you can attend a presentation about this guiding framework:

Voices: “We Know You For That” Guest – Madeline Chun

Madeline Chun is a High School Junior from Texas. She is the Co-founder of KAYAT, and our guest on the Voices: “We Know You For That” Podcast.

The brain basis for integrated social, emotional, and academic development: How emotions and social relationships drive learning. Immordino-Yang & Chrone (2018)

photo of head bust print artwork
Photo by meo on Pexels.com

Key points of interest

What does brain development involve?

Brain network formation is reflective of a person’s experiences over time, through the reorganization, pruning, and generation of neural connections. Brain development is dependent on interactions between evolutionary paths determined by biology, genes, age, environment, and past experiences.

Can brain science be translated directly into educational policy or practice?

Authors argue that in the majority of the cases, knowledge of brain science does not translate directly. However, they propose that educational policies and practices that take into consideration knowledge on how the brain develops are more likely to promote learning and development. The authors conclude by supporting an integrated whole-child approach to education as the only option that will foster brain development and learning for children.

Although I agree that the authors’ proposal makes logical sense in theory, the challenges will in the careful considerations and selections of WHICH brain science knowledge should be considered in educational policies and practice, WHO should be making the decisions and recommendations, can decisions service ALL students, and HOW do we adjust individual variability? Studies often report averages between groups, however, within-group variability exists. I propose that the goals of educational policy and practice should be to address individual variabilities versus incorporating findings from brain studies that address the average. The goals of educational policy have to be clear as that guides implementation and practice.

Genes and Epigenetics (Environment) interact together contributing to brain development.

While genes provide the limits and constraints (potential) of our development, epigenetic (environmental) conditions affect the process. Both interact dynamically over time. The authors wrote that all children, except in cases of rare severe life-threatening genetic orders, ALL children have the genes essential for brain development and the ability to learn. Under optimal conditions, our development is constrained by genes, while sub-optimal conditions hinder potential to be expressed.

Relationships and social interactions shape the health of the body and the brain.

Our physiology are co-regulated within relationships, which impact our brain functioning.

Most active brain changes occur in the prenatal period through childhood, adolescence, and transition to parenthood, and old age.

The authors highlight opportunities for learning and supports during each of the periods below:

  1. Early childhood – sensory and motor regions become more efficient and interconnected
  2. Middle to late childhood – brain developing networks across regions
  3. Early to middle adolescence – emotional reward, sensitivity to social reputation and higher-order thinking circuits become more developed
  4. Late adolescence to early adulthood – brain circuits in 2. and 3. continue to mature.

Current brain scientists focus on connectivity networks between regions that facilitate different activity modes important for thinking and learning.

The basic structure of such networks seems to be present at birth, over time the networks change according to how the brain is used, in response to environments, opportunities, and relationships.

Three major networks that support mental capacities: executive control network (ECN) (attention- external signals), default mode network (DMN) (internal directed, interpretive and reflective signals), and the salience network (SN) (emotion and facilitate switching between ECN and DMN).

Educational Implications

Authors propose that optimal learning environments should attend to age-appropriate ways to develop each of the three major networks.

Physiological preconditions that must be met for optional brain development and learning.

Authors include sleep, physical activities, nutrition, emotional well-being, social relationships, cultural well-being, and safety/belonging.

Conclusion:

This article makes the case that physiological, academic, social, and emotional development are interlaced, therefore the call for collaborative educator-community partnerships is essential to support families and children’s health and well-being. Supportive parenting, relationships, community, and school programs can help foster resilience against stress.

Data Visualization: An Excercise in Perspective

Figure 1

Dual differentiation is a key educational pedagogical approach for all committed to the success of twice-exceptional (2e) learners (Baum et al., 2001). Has this approach become more widespread since 2001? One way to investigate this question is to utilize big data visualization techniques such as the Google Books Ngram Viewer (Google Ngram). is a search engine tool that can be utilized to visualize trends over time. Google Ngram allows for frequency tabulations of word searches in books published between 1800 to 2019 in various languages such as English (American English, British English), French, Italian, Russian and more.

Figure 1 above shows the Google Ngram for the terms “gifted education”, “special education” and “dual differentiation” between 1800-2019. 1964 has been highlighted as the year the term “special education” began to increase rapidly in books. As we take a closer look at the “special education” book publication peak in 1996 (Figure 2)

Figure 2

books that contain the term “special education” was appearing 51 times more frequently compared to books containing “gifted education” and 6,625 time more frequently than books containing “dual differentitation”. Books containing “Gifted education” appeared 130 times more frequently compared to books containing “dual differentiation.

Figure 3

From figure 3, we can see that by 2018, “special education” terms are found approximately 13.7 times more frequently in books compared to “gifted education”, and 2,270 times more frequently compared to “dual differentiation”. Books containing “gifted education” was 166 time more frequent compared to “dual differentiation” books. “Dual differentiation” books have increased 332 times in frequency between 1996-2018.

When we add in books on “education” to compare with “gifted education”, “special education”, and “dual differentiation” using the 1964 year from the above exercise,

Figure 4

the change in the scale of our perspective paints quite a different picture as shown in figure 4. When we scale our perspective out to look from a macro or higher level of analysis, data visualization here shows us that we need more books written not only on “dual differentiation” but also for “gifted education” and “special education” since 1800! From this view, “gifted education”, “special education” and “dual differentiation” data looks flat, when in fact figures 2 and 3 show that special education books have been decreasing while gifted education and dual differentiation books have been increasing since 1996-2018.

The higher level wider scale perspective points out that within the context of education, we should be advocating for more books in areas of gifted, special education, and dual differentiation. Dual differentiation pedagogy arose from those involved with learners who demonstrate high potential with at least one area of disability that requires simultaneous dual differentiation considerations at all times to nurture holistic human development and success throughout their lifespan.

These various Ngram search terms demonstrate the importance of considering different levels of analyses simultaneously, in order to form a more holistic and complete understanding of any phenomena of interest. We need to apply this approach towards human development and growth as our children are influenced not only through our individuality but also through our immediate environments such as school and home, but also our larger environment including socio-economic-cultural influences.

Figure 5

Back to our initial question on how widespread has dual differentiation pedagogy become since 2001? The general answer is that although English language books that contain the term “dual differentiation” has increased 332 times in frequency between 1996-2018, it only represents 0.00000719% of all English language books which contain the term “education” in 2018, according to the results of Google Ngram.

References

Baum, S. M., Cooper, C. R., & Neu, T. W. (2001). Dual differentiation: An approach for meeting the curricular needs of gifted students with learning disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 38(5), 477–490. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.1036

SENG SMPG Facilitator: Rashmii Mahendra, MBA

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”   (The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost, 1915)

Rashmii Mahendra, MBA, has had an amazing journey that spans across three continents. She completed her degree in Social Sciences from a Russell Group university – University of Manchester, now known as UMIST, in the U.K. She then completed her MBA  from the U.K. and began her corporate career of 12 years  in India within Fortune 500 Multinational companies within the Human Resources, Learning & Development and Project Management departments. She is a Master Diversity facilitator and has trained in various Fortune 500 companies as a Freelancer for 5 years before embarking on her interest in the field of cognitive diversity. Diversity and Inclusion are of paramount importance to Rashmii.

Her inspiration for research into the field of neurodiversity was her son, who is Autistic and profoundly gifted. He never quite fit into the “norm” and his gifts sparked a question of are we truly servicing children who are gifted outliers, those that have acute challenges as well as huge potential. How can we redefine, reimagine and reservice those that are hidden for who they truly are? The educational system has to be transformed to make learning fun for all the students and not just some students. 

Rashmii is an advocate for twice-exceptional students and is a SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) facilitator where she co-facilitates for the community providing support groups for parents. She has completed a Graduate Academic Certificate in Twice Exceptional Education from Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education. Rashmii is currently developing educational tools for her doctoral project, to engage students through game playing and positive identity formation. She is also a student in UCLA pursuing a certificate in Business Studies with Leadership.

Rashmii is committed to providing resources and tools to help families and educators understand and serve their neurodiverse students better. Her interests are in the field of arts and sciences and she enjoys writing.

Quark Collaboration

After a year of collaboration with uncountable hours of joy, tears, and personal fulfillment working with a group of dedicated volunteers of multicultural women dedicated to bettering the lives of complex outliers, happy to announce that the Quark Collaboration Website is finally up in time to celebrate 2022.

Looking forward to furthering interdiscplinary translational dialog with all complex outlier stakeholders across the lifespan promoting equity through Neuro-socio-economic-cultural dignity.

William & Mary 2e Conference

Join me during the following conference sessions in February 2022:

NEST! guiding framework: Visualizing 2e learner-teacher success.”

Differentiation Squared: Moving towards holistic embodied education of 2e learners.”

Thanksgiving 2021

Thanksgiving is a time for family, reflection, and gratitude. This year takes on important significance as we look back at the past, full of unplanned adjustments and experiences. It is easy to focus on what we have lost – we already know that was before. It is much harder to look through the eyes of opportunities, wonder and growth.

For 2021, during thanksgiving let us scale our perspectives wider and further than we have ever done. This image of orange crystals was taken during my recent visit to the Perot Museum, Gems & Minerals exhibit. When I took this photo, I wondered about the subjective experiences of this same piece of crystal as I imagined looking from different scale perspectives.

A little child may be too short to see past the base rock and can only see the bottom brown rocks, without seeing any crystals. This child may think, what can be so interesting about this piece of rock, looks like many rocks I see?

Another who happens to be walking right by the display at eye level may stop to marvel at this piece, perhaps thinking – looks like venom’s teeth ….

Yet another walking from the other side of the gallery past this display may be drawn to other crystals within this orange crystal display and not even notice the crystal in this post.

Same crystal, many different subjective authentic experiences by different individuals. Who is to say that one perception is more “right” or more “true”? It is only through communication with the intent to understand the other’s perspectives that the wonders of human diversity truly jumps out. Let this thanksgiving be the start of our wonderous journey through the perspective of opportunties, wonder, and growth.

Jan 2022 SENG SMPG International 2e Parent Group

Wonderful quarterly SMPG facilitator support group hosted together with Joan Larson (SMPG trainer) and Caroline Lubbe (SENG board member). We had facilitators across the US and Europe join us to share experiences, resources and to find better ways to support parents we serve.

When technology increases opportunities

Thankful to the new opportunities for sharing ideas with colleagues around the world. The Nov 7th, 3am Pacific Standard Time keynote was certainly a challenging yet exhilarating. I am grateful to the questions, excitement and interest generated from this presentation. Technology advancements allowed for this particular opportunity to occur.

Looking back to my primary and secondary education where everything was done with paper and pen/pencil, and computers were for a select few till the present day where I have 2 laptops, an ipad, a smart phone and various other smart internet connected devices inside my home, the pace of change has been fast and furious. Although I started on this technology journey reluctantly, it has opened up new pathways to connect with others that would have been out of reach before.

12th Annual Awareness Film Fest

Embed from Getty Images

Attended the 12th Annual Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles held Oct 21-31st this past weekend to support The O’Kelley Lab documentary: ” O’ Kelley Legends: 2e behind the Scenes”.

On behalf of the SENG board of directors, Caroline Lubbe and I attended the event to support the O’Kelley Family and their documentary inspired by our founder James Webb.

I attended 4 films, “O’ Kelley Legends: 2e behind the Scenes”, “So OCD”, “The Weight of Perfection”, “Neurodivergent”. All films around mental health, societal-individual expectations and identity. Purchase virtual tickets by clicking on the Awareness Film Fest image below. Your purchase will allow access to all films throughout the festival period.

GT Advocacy with SENG

Parent advocacy is a critical component in building positive and strong collaborative relationships in our public schools for gifted students.

Join board members from the Gifted Education Family Network at the upcoming SENGinar, Oct 19, 2021, 7:30-9pm EST. Can’t make it? register to access the recording.

GHF Expert Series Parent Chat: Sept 10, 2021

Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to “To empower every gifted family to make strategic, proactive, and intentional educational choices.”

Please join me for a conversation!
You are invited to a Zoom webinar. (Link leads to the event in the GHF Forum)
When: September 10, 2021 04:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Cultivating Awareness and Acceptance for the Neurodivergent.

Conversations from the heart with Dr. Nicole Tetreault.

It was such a pleasure to speak with my colleague and friend, Dr. Nicole Tetreault on parenting, education and being neuro diverse.

Please read this post completed for Gifted Education Family Network.

Learning, Development, Multi-systems

Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education (BGS) will always hold a special place in my heart, being their FIRST alumni in 2020. Being a part of an organization/system from the start is a different experience and journey than being part of an organization/system that is already established. People vary in their preferences and feelings on this. I always enjoyed being part of something new that is developing.

I truly enjoy this morning’s session with my BGS community sharing my journey, ideas, current thinking and work in progress applying interdisciplinary ideas, tools and methods to further understand twice-exceptional individuals.

I look forward to working closely with my fellow associate deans Dr. Susan Daniels, Dr. Nicole Tetreault, and Dr. Matt Zakreski.

Considering Curriculum: Finding What Works

Honored to participate in the recently concluded inaugural Gifted Homeschoolers Forum (GHF) conference which was held June 4 -6, 2021. It was such a pleasure to listen and interact with the different panelists involved in this moderated session led by Dr. Sarah Mendonca.

GHF’s stated mission is to “empower every gifted family to make strategic, proactive, and intentional educational choices.”

Having tried many educational options from public, private to homeschooling between my two children, the lack of access to information and a framework to guide making suitable intentional educational choices are some of the largest hurdles I faced, and the impetus for my current journey.

#SENGFamChat

International SENG Facilitator Virtual Support Focus Group, May 26th 2021.

Our first #SENGFamChat was a success! Facilitators across the US and globe (UK, S. Africa, Germany, Spain, France, Serbia, Italy, Netherlands, Croatia) participated, or stopped by to say hello during our 90min long focus group.

Many areas of common need and support were voiced direct from facilitators on the ground supporting parents. Magic happens with all stakeholders (SENG board members, SENG trainers and SENG facilitators) engage in collaborative conversations together. Here’s to many more #SENGFamChat regular meetings!

Collaborative Nurturance of Gifted Outliers Through Strong Educator-Parent-Practitioner Relationships

Conversations with Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented May 18th, 2021

As research, clinical and practical knowledge of neurodiverse gifted children increases, what do we know about gifted outliers such as twice-exceptional and highly or profoundly gifted? How do we tie all these into a cohesive guiding framework to foster nuanced understanding and collaborative solutions between educators, parents,  practitioners and gifted outliers themselves. We invite you to journey with Caroline Lubbe and Dr. Lin Lim through their challenges of educating, parenting and understanding gifted outliers and what drives them to seek and propose increased collaborative relationships between educators, parents, practitioners and gifted outliers.

2021 International Women’s Day Roundtable

Refreshing to be part of the roundtable discussion in celebration of 2021 International Women’s Day that also include male colleague perspectives. Our conversations were richer as a result of the wide range of participants during our round table session.

Dallas Round Table participants included:

Conversations with CAGT 5.18.21

Looking forward to the upcoming live Facebook session hosted by Mark Hess, President Elect of Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented, May 18, 2021. 5pm MDT/ 4pm PDT.

Title: Collaborative Nurturance of Gifted Outliers Through Strong Educator-Parent-Practitioner Relationships.

As research, clinical and practical knowledge of neurodiverse gifted children increases, what do we know about gifted outliers such as twice-exceptional and highly or profoundly gifted? How do we tie all these into a cohesive guiding framework to foster nuanced understanding and collaborative solutions between educators, parents,  practitioners and gifted outliers themselves. We invite you to journey with Caroline Lubbe and Dr. Lin Lim through their challenges of educating, parenting and understanding gifted outliers and what drives them to seek and propose increased collaborative relationships between educators, parents, practitioners and gifted outliers.

16th International Conference: Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. Oxford, UK.

The Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Research Network  began in 2006 through a common interest in interdisciplinary approaches with the aim of forging linkages across disciplines, cultures and countries.

This year, the conference will be held in Oxford, UK. Another year of adaptation and hybridization in an effort to continue intellectual discourse with international colleagues.

I am looking forward to presenting and attending this conference, as I continue my message of global thinking paired with small local actions to effect change.

May 2021- Virtually Paris

COVID adaptations to Conference Presentations and Attendances

Presenting a paper on: Understanding Twice-exceptionality (2e): A Multi-systems Perspective.

Wishing to be able to present and attend in person this year in historically and culturally rich Paris, France. Looking forward to attending in person in the future. Looking forward to rich conversations with international attendees, colleagues and presentators.

Au revoir

Mission (Im)Possible: Transform 2e and Neuroscience knowledge into Action

My recent Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted Webinar (SENGinar) is now available on through the SENG speaker series Vimeo.

Many twice exceptional children’s needs in the sensorimotor, social, and emotional areas are not met in schools or within the family, causing few brain resources to attend to cognitive processing demands placed on them.

In this interactive workshop, participants will gain a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of 2e children, test their knowledge of brain science, and gain hands-on experience in applying one multi-use and multi-function communication and understanding strategy. Participants will leave empowered to apply free tools and strategies for both parenting and advocacy. 

Baylor Annual GT Parent Conference April 2021

Keynote Zoom session 4/17/2021

Excited to attend the second Annual GT parent conference organized by Baylor University April 17th 2021.

Over a year has passed since the inaugural Annual GT Parent Conference in February 2020, which I was honored to present with several fellow board and members of the Gifted Education Family Network in a panel discussion session.

The Key Note Speaker for this years conference is Dr Michael Matthews. This topic is close to my heart as a parent of two PG children investigating human development frameworks that are relevant to gifted families and in particular PG neuro-diverse families.

Do you have a narrative you would like to share with me? Please connect with me.

Gifted Education Family Network April 2021 Newsletter

April Newsletter is out!

Contents this month:

  • This weekend – join us at the Baylor GT Parent Conference!
  • Virtual Cardboard Challenge – registration still open!
  • Focus on Parents and Community: Erasing the Color Line in Texas Gifted Education
  • Alert: Texas Legislature appears hesitant to release federal relief funds to schools
  • NEW: Twice-Exceptional (2e) opportunity to connect
  • Celebrations

More Than an Acronym: A Journey through 2e

Ben Koch, M. Ed., Co-founder of Numinds Enrichment, and I had an opportunity to get together to converse about my journey that led to the intersection between education, parenting and research domains.

SENG SMPG Facilitator: Danna Drewett, M.A.

Ex Malo Bonum” – Latin saying – From the bad comes the good.

Danna is a former consumer products entrepreneur and quantitative analyst who has found a passion for gifted and twice exceptional education. 

She is the founder of www.twicegifted.org, a website that lists resources for those seeking information for gifted and twice-exceptional learners.

Danna is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a masters degree from King’s College London. She is currently pursuing a masters degree from Johns Hopkins in Gifted Education and is the mother of a 2E profoundly gifted dyslexic girl and young boy.

Danna is a trained SMPG in-person and online facilitator.

Normality, Justifiability and Abusiveness in Physical and Psychological Behaviors

Lim, L., & Malley-Morrison, K. (1999). Normality, Justifiability and
Abusiveness in Physical and Psychological Behaviours. Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development, 9:2, 52-67, DOI: 10.1080/21650993.1999.9756115

Blast from the Past

An email in my inbox prompted this search for my 1999 publication in the Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development. It has been over 20 years and this topic seems even more relevant today. I have included my abstract of the article above.

Re-reading this article, I can not help but reflect on George Lakoff’s writings regarding metaphors and frames. I highly encourage reading his books and watch his youtube recordings.

2e Research Translation into Action: educator perceptual biases, socio-economic factors and parental attitudes.

Image assessed Feb 16, 2021: <https://bit.ly/2ZnOQdF&gt;

It is often difficult to directly apply research into application or policy in real life. It is the issue of scaling from one level of analysis into another. The more levels of analysis to scale through, the applications becomes more challenging due to the dynamic and multi-directional interactions between the self and our environment. Hence the need for translational researchers and skill building to bridge research to application or policy.

This article I wrote for the 2enewsletter is an illustration on how we can began to integrate, and evaluate research into possible action.

The Acute Case for Chronic Health: Vital Lessons to Weather Duress. Dr. David Katz

Center for BrainHealth presentation, February 9, 2021.

Takeaways in no particular order.

Social Determinants of health is important.

Most devastating health impact is the feeling of powerless.

Total Minimization Framework: Minimize total harm through vertical interdiction, predicated on hierarchical responsibility (what can you do for your country and what can your country do for you), allows for shared risk mitigation and invites teachable moment for health enhancement. COVID teaches us about our poor cardiovascular (poor diet) health, and is a case study for learned helplessness at a massive scale.

Empower people via risk stratify population, risk match policy guidelines, risk reduction with lifestyle as medicine, and test, mask, distance, sanitize, shelter, vaccinate as warranted.

Cited 500,000 premature death a year in U.S due to poor diet (2019). Obesity increases COVID risks.

Best defense against chronic disease and unforeseen health threat such as COVID is good health. Total health – feet, forks, fingers, engine and love. what is good for you will be good for your brain also.

Will power PLUS skill power. Just gaining knowledge is not enough.

Lifestyle is the best medicine, culture is the spoon. Diet is a vital sign.

No brain is an island, it is essentially connected to both the body and body politic (social). Brain health is holistic.

Healthy brains bedrock: understand to overcome, lifestyle of medicine, mental excerise and social interactions.

Find out more about:

Dr. David Katz

The Brain Health Project

How Brain Circuits Function in Health and Disease: Understanding Brain-wide Current Flow.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Presentation: Dr Kanaka Rajan, Feb 9th, 2021.

Takeaways

Dr Rajan described computational models to “reverse engineer” how our brain works, which include building single region to multi-regions Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs), multi-region RNNs that capture within and inter-area interactions, last but not least, her team is constraining the multi-region RNNs model based on collected data.

CURrent-Based Decomposition (CURBD): New framework for tracing neural paths across multiple brain regions in development by Dr Rajan and her team.

Helplessness shown to involve persistent stress in response to adversity in experimental settings (active to passive coping (learned helpless state)) – toy models, larval zebrafish, rats etc. This presentation used studies on learned helplessness, and larval zebrafish in particular as an illustration on how to computationally scale up single region RNN model into a multi-region RNN model of the neural dynamics in the larval zebrafish, in order to infer within and inter-area effects between different RNN regions. CURBD method can dis-entangle time effects, alternative to traditional functional connectivity methods.

Reflections

Watching the presentation on rat and zebra fish experiments, I wondered about predictable versus unpredictable adversity and variations in response to different types of adversity, which was not the focus of the presentation.

Dr Rajan said that in their computational modeling, general behavior seem to be captured pretty well by their CURBD and that was good enough. Does it matter for computational models to be able to capture general behavior and ignore nuances? My current thoughts are that general behavior modeling is a good initial start, however computational modeling will need to move into capturing nuances to be useful to understand humans. Urie Bronfenbrenner‘s ecology of human development tells us that interactions between systems changes the system itself in the process. how can computational modeling capture this?

Visit Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to view this presentation and watch other presentations.

Bridging Neuroscience and Education.

Baker, D. P., Salinas, D., & Eslinger, P. J. (2012). An envisioned bridge: Schooling as a neurocognitive developmental institution. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2(S1), S6-S17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2011.12.001

Summary

Baker et. al. (2012) synthesized literature from two groups in the social science discipline and proposed that the integration of such research provides more valid contexts for bridging education and neuroscience discourse.

The two groups of research or discourse include the social construction of cognition through science and education, and evaluative neuroscience findings on causal neurological hypotheses between neurocognitive development and schooling.

The authors make the argument that formal education should be considered a neurocognitive-developmental institution (environment) through their discussions that demonstrate:

  1. Schooling impacts neurological and cognitive development
  2. Increase in mass education across societies increase the social significance of education attainment and exposes humans to periods of more uniform environments (schools) and thus humans have more similar social values of the role of education (isomorphism).
  3. Mass schooling should result in cognitive improvements on the population level ( i.e., the Flynn effect (Trahan et. al., 2014) and also impact outcomes in other social environments such as the mass education-population health hypothesis by Baker et al., (2011) and changes in job content over time.

In the next section of their paper, the authors highlighted three strains of neuroscience findings to illustrate how formal schooling additionally impacts naturally occurring human cognitive development over time:

  1. Neural plasticity
  2. schooling impacts on literate and illiterate population
  3. Educational impact on learning in typically developing children and adolescents

Baker et.. al (2012) made the case that their discussions above demonstrated “a profound symbiotic relation across the individual, institutional, and societal levels that influences and shapes neurocognitive development.” (p.15). They conclude that this relationship provides the basis and opens the possibility to bridge brain-mind-education through the lens of education as a social, historical, and cultural environment that interacts with the cognitive (brain and minds) environment.

I would like to go a step further to propose that school and education serve the function of human development from a broader level of analysis, and therefore requires collaboration with all stakeholders such as researchers, parents, policymakers, businesses, employers, and students themselves. It is only when common grounds and goals between all stakeholders are found through the considerations of the whole system that the brain-mind-education partnership can truly take off to produce meaningful outcomes.

References

Baker, D. P., Leon, J., Smith Greenaway, E. G., Collins, J., & Movit, M. (2011). The education effect on population health: a reassessment. Population and development review37(2), 307–332. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1728-4457.2011.00412.x

Trahan, L. H., Stuebing, K. K., Fletcher, J. M., & Hiscock, M. (2014). The Flynn effect: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin140(5), 1332–1360. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037173

Equity and Excellence in Gifted Education

Reflections

February is Black History Month, and I was reminded of the Gifted Education Family Network Blog that recently featured an interview with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis on “challenges advocates must address in order to achieve equity and excellence in gifted education.

Reading the interview again, the importance of being able to identify contextual factors from dispositional factors and targeted training for educators stood out to me. When we ignore considerations for contextual influences on behavior or performance, dispositional factors can be wrongly attributed. How can educators know what they do not know, until they are exposed to what they did not know before?

National Association for Gifted Children released a statement that “All gifted students won’t matter until all Black gifted students matter, too.”

Power statement, as a whole is made up of ALL its’ constituent parts. Any parts that are excluded makes the whole incomplete. Is this an oversight or deliberate actions? Intent is a separate issue from the current state of matter. Instead of getting focusing on intent, let us also be moving towards restoring the whole.

Namkung, J. M., Peng, P., & Lin, X. (2019). The relation between mathematics anxiety and mathematics performance among school-aged students: A meta-analysis.

Review of Educational Research, 89(3), 459-496. doi:10.3102/0034654319843494

This article is a meta-analysis on data selected from 131 previous studies. The meta-analysis investigated 478 effect sizes. The researchers aim to investigate which prevalent theories of math anxiety and performance have empirical support. The theories included in this meta-analysis include:  Bidirectional Theory (temporal relations),  Cognitive Interference Theory (working memory and difficulty of mathematical tasks) and Deficit Theory: (grade level)

Article Summary

The purpose of the meta-analysis was to identify the relationship between math anxiety and performance for school aged children. Additionally, the authors aim to investigate if grade level (elementary versus secondary), temporal relations, difficulty of math tasks, dimensions of math anxiety measures, perceived importance (effects on grade) mitigated the relationship between math anxiety and performance.

Results of the meta-analysis was a moderate negative relation between math anxiety and performance for both elementary and secondary students, the higher the math anxiety, the lower the math performance. This relationship was found to be affected by dimensions of math anxiety, difficulty of math performance, and perceived importance of math performance.

Stronger  negative correlation was found with math performance when math anxiety measures used included both affective (negative physical and emotionality) and cognitive (negative thoughts) dimensions.

Math anxiety was found to be more greatly negatively associated with multi-step math performance then basic math performance.  Additionally, math anxiety was more negatively associated with math performances that affected grades.

Results of the meta-analysis indicate that math anxiety exists even in elementary grades and that teachers and parents should be on the lookout to identify and provide intervention in younger children.

The researchers conclude their findings provided most support for the bidirectional theory.

Reflections

The finding that math performance is more strongly affected by advanced mathematics skills compared to basic math skills, points to the possible increasing importance of math anxiety and effects on math performance as the complexity of math skills increases over time. Increased complexity in math skills required over time may create a feedback loop reinforcing math anxiety. 

This finding indicate that interventions need to not just focus on math anxiety but also on remedying math skills together in order to be successful. Additionally, the finding that math anxiety is more strongly negatively related to math performance that affects grades points to the consideration for math anxiety intervention to not only be  behavioral (e.g.relaxation, modeling) but also cognitive (e.g. worry, preoccupation with performance)  aspects of math anxiety.

How might this research impact grading and assessment practices within the field of math education? 

Lauer, J. E., Esposito, A. G., & Bauer, P. J. (2018). Domain-specific anxiety relates to children’s math and spatial performance.

Developmental Psychology, 54(11), 2126-2138. doi:10.1037/dev0000605

This article is an empirical research conducted by the authors on 394 elementary school children , in order to investigate the relationship between domain-specific anxiety,  math and spatial performance.

Article Summary

Lauer, Esposito and Bauer (2018) seek to investigate five main areas through their study:

  • Relationships between verbal, math and spatial anxiety. Verbal, math and spatial anxiety were found in their study to be positively correlated with each other and were not mitigated by gender or grade (age). 
  • Relation between math anxiety and achievement. The authors found that math scores can be only predicted by math anxiety, when reading skills and other domain-specific anxiety (e.g.verbal anxiety) were controlled. Additionally, increased negative relation was found as age increased between math anxiety and performance, while working memory and gender did not affect math anxiety and performance relationship.
  • Relationship between spatial anxiety and performance. Results show that although math, spatial, and verbal anxiety were all correlated negatively with spatial performance, none of the individual domain- specific anxieties (math, spatial and verbal anxieties) were uniquely predictive of spatial performance in elementary school children. Additionally, spatial anxiety and performance were unmitigated by gender and working memory. The spatial anxiety and performance effect was no longer significant after controlling for math and verbal anxiety.
  • Relationship between verbal anxiety and reading ability. Verbal anxiety only (not math or spatial anxiety) was found to account for differences in reading performance in their study.
  • Age, gender or working memory was not found to influence the relationship between verbal anxiety and reading ability. Gender differences in domain specific anxieties and performance was the last question the study addressed.  Girls were found to experience significantly greater math and spatial anxieties compared to boys in all grades, while there were no differences in verbal anxieties. There were also no gender differences in math, spatial and reading performance. Additionally, working memory and age did not affect gender and performance in this study.

Findings of this study imply math and spatial anxieties reported by elementary school girls are unrelated to actual performance differences. The educational implication of such findings is that teachers and parents should pay attention to girls experiencing math or spatial anxieties and to help them ease their anxieties as early as possible to minimize impact on future math and spatial performance.

Beilock and Willingham (2014) suggested emotional writing and parental involvement in domain specific activities (reading, math) at home as possible strategies to reduce anxieties. Additionally, the authors suggest that teachers and parents should address and challenge cultural stereotypes gender domains with young children to overcome perceived attitudes towards math and spatial performance.

Reference

Beilock, S. L., & Willingham, D. T. (2014). Math anxiety: Can teachers help students reduce it? ask the cognitive scientist. American Educator, 38(2), 28.

Math anxiety: Can teachers help students reduce it?

Math anxiety: Can teachers help students reduce it? Ask the cognitive scientist. Beilock, S. & Willingham, D. (2014). American Educator, 38(2), 28.

This article is an explanatory piece focused on providing teachers with current interdisciplinary research findings on math anxiety and math performance that can be translated into classroom strategies.

Article Summary

Beilock and Willingham (2014)  focused on the when and where regarding math anxiety in order to answer what can be done about it. They reported that math anxiety can start as early as early elementary school and is predictive of math performance. Math anxiety negatively impacts working memory, leaving fewer resources for solving math problems in general.

An interesting finding from some research studies reported by the authors was that higher working memory has stronger negative effects on math anxiety and performance relationship. In addition, the lack of basic math skills and teachers’ math anxiety affect students’ math performance negatively. Timed math tests were found to be more strongly associated with math anxiety and poor math performance. Freewriting prior to a math test regarding emotions students associate with math anxiety can help reduce performance differences between low and high math anxiety students.

Beilock and Willingham (2014) suggested several strategies that teachers can utilize to help reduce math anxiety in students.

  1. Teacher training focused on how to teach math to ensure confidence will reduce teacher anxiety, which in turn will increase math performance in students. 
  2. Teachers can encourage parental engagement with their young children around math at home to boost basic math skills, better equipping young children to learning math in school environment.
  3. Alleviating time pressures on math tests.
  4. A teacher should also pay attention to his/her response towards students when they encounter difficulty in math. Attention should be paid on potential  messaging implied by a teacher’s response to his/her student. Emphasizing hard work and effort to overcome difficulties conveys belief in a student’s math ability. A teacher can provide concrete strategies for problem solving and study habits to further aid the student. 
  5. Leaving some time prior to a math test to prompt emotional free writing on feelings about the upcoming test can help tighten performance gaps between students with high and low math anxiety.

How can you apply this piece within your own system be it as a parent or through educational use?

Full Grade Acceleration Resources for Parents

This free full grade acceleration resource is published by Gifted Education Family Network (Texas non-profit) and Gifted Unlimited summer 2020.

This resource first addresses several myths and concerns, followed by a section on parental considerations to evaluate acceleration options and fit. It concludes with a section on current Texas legislation governing academic acceleration, which parents from other states can use as a guide to locate their local state legislation regarding gifted education related laws.

The Power of Neurodiversity: Chapter 10 – Thomas Armstrong

Chapter 10 -The Future of Neurodiversity

As I read through this book, in addition to watching a few of Thomas Armstrong’s youtube videos such as “ 17 Reasons Why I Believe ADHD is Not a Legitimate Medical Disorder” (Armstrong, sept 2019), and ‘Channeling the Creative Energies of ADHD-Diagnosed Kids” (Armstrong, April 2018), the constant theme that struck me is the duality of neurodiversity. This implies that neurodiversity itself isn’t good or bad but are dependent on many other contexts from cultural, biological, socio-economical and historical, which then determines which how parts or whole of neurodiversity is perceived.

We have to be very careful to be clear to discuss judgements, values and perceptions of neurodiversity contextually.  In terms of learning and education, what are the goal/s to prepare students adequately for 21st century jobs? With goals, we can then use them as a talking point to demonstrate the necessary of neurodiversity in our current day and age with our goals. At the same time, we have to point out how different the neurodiverse were valued throughout history, which demonstrated that there isn’t a neurotype that is best, but how all neurotypes can be productive members of society today with thoughtful support and modifications as we will not know which neurotypes will be needed in the future. Perhaps, the best way is to find another word instead of neurotypical and neurodiverse to really illustrate the most important point I think Thomas Armstrong is trying to make, that every individual has our own unique profiles of how we learn, our interests, our strengths and challenges.

References:

Armstrong,T. (Sept 2019). 17 Reasons Why I Believe ADHD is Not a Legitimate Medical Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRbbpZKrPd8

Armstrong, T. (April 2018). Channeling the Creative Energies of ADHD-Diagnosed Kids. Retrieved from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLA2I-Y08hM

The Power of Neurodiversity: Chapter 9 – Thomas Armstrong

Chapter 9 – Neurodiversity in the Classroom

In this chapter, Armstrong (2011) suggests eight ways a classroom can be considered neurodiverse friendly. I chose two that resonated with me most to share with readers: his seventh and eighth suggestions.

Armstrong’s (2011) seventh suggestion for a neurodiverse classroom includes fostering human relationships which will in turn foster individual growth and learning.

This includes more than the main teacher. It also involves specialized personnel (co-teaching), tutors and aides, and even parent volunteers. This type of learning environment also allows for peer teaching among students. This type of neurodiverse classroom can be a more ideal type of classroom as it allows students to come into contact with different types of adults with different personalities, there is more oversight, understanding of what is going on with students, and allows more “in the moment” teaching. Even the adults in such environments can also be learning and growing due to the multiple-way interactions between adults, adult-student, and student-student. Students also learn through observations and interactions. Armstrong (2011) gave the example of the positive effect Isabel (Autist) brought to other students in this chapter. With more adults that can help ensure emotional connections with students, and between students, this allows learning to occur. Richardson Davidson (2019) spoke in an interview by Krista Tippett that all sensory input passes through our emotional brain first, illustrating the importance of first ,creating an emotionally safe environment, before learning can even occur. 

Questions that come to mind regarding Armstrong’s (2011) seventh suggestion includes:

a) Cost and the need to fundamentally change not just the current education system but also an overhaul of physical classroom spaces.

b)Logistics of parent volunteers such as whether there is the need to undergo training? Impacts of inconsistencies in volunteer presence. 

Armstrong’s (2011) eighth suggestion for a neurodiverse classroom is concerned with “ipastive progress” (p.200). This means that each child’s progress is measured against the child’s previous performance. This way of measuring progress truly reflects the acknowledgement and embodiment of neurodiversity, everyone has their own path of growth and development. It is not possible to have one way of assessment if you acknowledge the existence of neurodiversity, unless there is a connotation that there is only one right or best way. Moving to an Ipastive progress method takes away any hierarchical implication imposed on neurodiversity and instead view people as unique collections of varying abilities, all capable of meaningful contribution to society (which I hope is the goal of education).

If we can only realize two out of the eight suggestions from Armstrong’s (2011) book, I believe these two suggestions lay the foundation and will help guide curriculum, instruction, classroom design and student management.

How is progress to be measured in Ipastive progress? Is it being measured in a way that considers the individual child’s strengths or are we measuring progress based on subjects all students need to master? Why not allow children who may also know or show strong interests/strengths earlier to pursue that specialization path when specialization occurs eventually in higher education? At the same time, children who may not yet know what they would like to do/learn, continue to expose them to a breadth of topics/subjects with the intent of discovery of interests and strengths. 

I had first hand experience of what can happen when schools are held responsible for all student performances on normative assessments without regard to variations in human development and neurobiology. While substitute teaching in the positive behavior support (PBS) room, I was asked to monitor a cognitively challenged eighth grader so he could complete his homework. This student freaked out whenI did not give him the answers to the questions but tried to guide him along by giving him hints and pointed out the answer is in a particular paragraph. I was then shown by the regular staff member the correct way to “help” the student, ie  by telling him what the answers were and he just wrote them down. I wondered, how he was going to pass and ever pass any of the state exams? The main aide in the PBS room told me later, “that’s all we can do for these kids”. The system has to change if we want to capture all citizen’s ability to contribution meaningfully in our society.

References

Tippett, K (Host). (2019, February 14). Richard Davidson A Neuroscientist on Love and Learning. [Audio podcast episode]. https://onbeing.org/programs/richard-davidson-a-neuroscientist-on-love-and-learning-feb2019/

The Power of Neurodiversity: Chapter 8 – Thomas Armstrong

Chapter 8 – Thinking in a Different Key

The most striking insight I had was that the individual’s experiences of schizophrenia has not been taken into context in the current medicalization of schizophrenia. Some hallucinations are experienced positively, mood enhancing, create enhancing, but these are not taken into consideration, the medical goal is to eliminate the “disease”.  In addition, Armstrong wrote that the individualization on how schizophrenia can be managed needs to be taken into consideration. He gave the example of Josh Nash and  Elyn Saks to illustrate how they differed in finding ways to manage unwanted symptoms.  Simply being accepting of schizophrenia seems to allow them to have more positive outcomes (Armstrong, p.172), this approach together with getting individual feedback will allow more appropriate management of unwanted (by individual, not dictated by society) symptoms.

Question to the author: Reading about your chapter on Schizophrenia, with studies showing progressive loss in brain in areas affecting sensory experience, language and auditory experiences, reminds me of Oliver Sack’s audible book “Hallucinations” which I am currently listening to during my long daily driving commute. Can you address such hallucinations which are linked to sensory deprivation, illness or injury in the brain with Schizophrenia? What would FMRI look like between people described by Oliver Sacks and Schizophrenia during an episode? If we can cure schizophrenia, should we?

This is a ted talk of Oliver sacks talking about hallucination.

Note: Oliver sacks interview at minute 51, where a similar question is brought up by Neil DeGrasse Tyson … “If we could cure hallucinations should we?”

Awakening the Genius in Every Child: discovering and reviving the natural motivation that exists in all children at birth. – Thomas Armstrong (2013)

Awakening the Genius in Every Child: discovering and reviving the natural motivation that exists in all children at birth. Thomas Armstrong (2013).

Reflections

Thomas Armstrong (2013) talked about his definition that all children are “Genius” in the youtube embedded in this post. What does he mean? He meant “genius” in the sense that we are all genesis (born) to geniality (joy) of learning.

When Dr. Armstrong gave an expanded talk to students at the Bridges Graduate School of Cognitive Diversity in Education, there were differing opinions amongst our graduate students. The civility of our differing opinions and willingness to engage in the dialog was a great tie-in with Nel Nodding’s (2018) education for caring. Everyone benefits from being open to listening to differing opinions.

Regarding labels, I found it helpful when we did not have language or schema to describe our 2e child. The labels helped me narrow down which areas to focus on, in terms of a more targeted framework, to begin researching information to then use that information to reflect and evaluate applicability for my child and our family experience in particular. As I learned more, these labels freed our family, at the same time these labels became “LABELS” where they started to become limiting to how others saw our family and son, instead of seeing HIM. Labels are double-edged swords. We have to be careful as we develop over time, and our identities do not become defined by labels.

Additionally, due to our own personal experiences along our path of discovery and exploration, I see the need for constant balancing between the duality of labels whereby it can be freeing yet limiting or even harmful, depending on the person and environmental interactions including physical, and social-cultural and interpersonal.

If I had not had some basic knowledge on giftedness and ADHD, my son would have likely been diagnosed with ADHD and with a strong push for medicating our son from the school. It was through our own observations and basic psycho-educational report that led us to investigate developmental vision, sensory processing, and other possibilities before even considering ADHD. During Dr. Armstrong’s talk, I shared that my son used to be always constantly moving and touching everything, the true underlying causes of his behaviors were because he had vision issues, couldn’t cross mid-lines and had poor visual-motor coordination. These caused him to present as someone that likely would be labeled medically/clinically or educationally as ADHD. After his vision therapy, he has now swung to the other end of ADD (now called ADHD with attention deficit) into the deficient end according to the clinician and some of his teachers, instead of the hyperactivity end. They had not considered once his gifted dimensions as a cause for ADD-like behaviors. How can anyone pay attention all the time when the tasks are boring day in and out, while his brain is contemplating ideas such as the meaning of life, death, and the universe?

The other thing I found interesting from Dr. Armstrong’s talk is the “identity first” and “person-first” use of language. I have struggled with this thus far. Dunn and Andrews (2015), wrote that the American Psychological Association advocates for the person-first language, just like Thomas Armstrong in our talk today, while most individuals with disabilities prefer the use of identify-first language, which was also echoed by some of our colleagues. The authors suggested five ways that using BOTH languages would increase psychologists’ disability cultural competence. Choices made by different groups on their preference on using identity-first or person-first language can help psychologists to honor the particular group’s preference when writing about them. the authors state that knowing when to use identity-first or person-first language with a particular group is a signal of the psychologist’s professional awareness and a way to offer respect and social support to the group’s choice.

Reference

Dunn, D. S., & Andrews, E. E. (2015). Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists’ cultural competence using disability language. The American Psychologist, 70(3), 255-264. doi:10.1037/a0038636

Thepublicvoicesalon. (2018, February 17). Nel Noddings on Education for Caring [Video]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/jU_2-4SR-gk

Lovett, B. J., & Sparks, R. L. (2013). The identification and performance of gifted students with learning disability diagnoses: A quantitative synthesis.

Journal of Learning Disabilities, 46(4), 304. doi:10.1177/0022219411421810

Table 1

Reading this journal article, I was struck by the lack of empirical studies on gifted with learning disability (G/LD) population in the research literature and the wide variabilities in inclusion criteria for different studies. There was only about 5% of written G/LD articles that report empirical data.

I have presented Table 1 above to visually display the IQ and achievement levels under various conditions based on the empirical research investigated by Lovett and Sparks (2013).  The pink colored tab represents the conditions with the highest number of identified G/LD and the red tab represents the smallest number of identified G/LD.  I suspect that the IQ-achievement level discrepancies shown in most studies using relative discrepancies would not flag such students in school as having learning disability (LD), their achievement is still average or less than 1 standard deviation (SD) below average. Making the case that such students require special education (SPED) services may be challenging. 

An empirical study published by Barnard-Brak et. al. (2015) used a sample of 13,176 special education elementary children to investigate how many of those pre-identified LD students fit gifted criteria and how many were actually participating in gifted programming. Their finding indicated that only 11.1% of the 9.1% of sample who qualified as gifted (scoring in top 10% of WJ-III) were actually participating in gifted programming. Their findings indicate an under identification of G/LD population, even within the population that had be subject to stringent SPED admissions criteria. I believe that aiming to increase and capture gifted students that already qualify for SPED services is viable, feasible and morally the right thing to do as research continues on proper identification, characteristics and programming. This approach allows for educators and researchers to continue making positive impacts to service such students as more research can be conducted using pre-identified SPED populations.

The second area that caught my eye in this article is the authors’ presentation of the weighted mean test scores used in multiple studies.  I have replicated it in for easy reference below in Table 2. The authors combined different versions of the Wechsler tests ( WAIS and WISC) to create the weighted mean scores. My understanding is that between different versions of the Wechsler tests, sub test changes may affect scores for different populations. For example, Kuehnel, Castro, and  Furey (2019) compared the VCI in WISC IV and WISC V in 48 childrens with ASD. The WISC IV included three subtests (Similarities, Vocabulary, and Comprehension)  to create  the composite VCI, while comprehension subtest was dropped in calculation of VCI in WISC V. Comprehension test is the most difficult for ASD population as “success on the Comprehension subtest requires linguistic sophistication that many individuals with ASD do not possess, given commonly occurring core expressive and receptive language deficits (Kwok, Brown, Smyth, & Cardy, 2015), as well as pragmatic language deficits (Whyte & Nelson, 2015)” (Kuehnel, Castro, &  Furey, 2019). The researchers found statistically significant score increase in the composite VCI in WISC V. Findings as such signals that careful consideration is required when making the decision to include/exclude studies in aggregate studies investigations.

Score# studiesTotal NWeighted M
Wechsler FSIQ17983122.8
Wechsler VIQ15934118.6
Wechsler PIQ15934125.9
WJ reading Cluster544295.8
WJ Mathematics Cluster5442111.1
WJ written language Cluster544093
Table 2

Creating weighted mean scores for the various WJ clusters without grouping students into various groups that demonstrate LD in reading, math, written language or any combination of the three abilities, creates potential  “masking effect” on the resulting scores. “Masking refers to the principle that many gifted students with learning disabilities have patterns of strengths and weaknesses that make them appear to have average abilities and achievement” (McCoach, Kehle, Bray, & Siegle, 2001). I would use this information to advocate for future studies to investigate specific G/LD types, or types of processing/skills (e.g advanced reasoning, basic processing skills,  higher order thinking)  in order to minimize masking effects. Ottone-Cross Et al (2017) found that GLD had similar  higher order processing demands as the GT group but presented with significant weakness in decoding and math computation (lower-level processing demands) similar to SLD samples in their study.

Last but not least, LD label within the G/LD context having a very different meaning then the label LD as academic impairment in a “normative absolute sense” (Lovett & Sparks, 2011, p.313). This way of viewing LD within the G/LD context emphasizes the deficit model view of education, whereby you receive support only AFTER you have failed. I would like to propose a modified view of looking at the G/LD inclusion criterias. If the student is working at the right academic challenge level, can the child be successful without support? The complexity of G/LD is that LD doesn’t show when the academic level is way below the abilities of the child. On other hand, when the academic challenge is raised to the right level, such children often can not perform up to their potential as they no longer can use their strengths to compensate for the weaknesses. Currently, based on my still growing knowledge in 2e area, I feel that comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation can highlight potential issues for the child as school work progressing towards the ability level of the student.

References

Barnard-Brak, L., Johnsen, S. K., Pond Hannig, A., & Wei, T. (2015). The incidence of potentially gifted students within a special education population. Roeper Review, 37(2), 74. doi:10.1080/02783193.2015.1008661

Kuehnel, C. A., Castro, R., & Furey, W. M. (2019). A comparison of WISC-IV and WISC-V verbal comprehension index scores for children with autism spectrum disorder. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 33(6), 1127. doi:10.1080/13854046.2018.1503721

McCoach, D. B., Kehle, T. J., Bray, M. A., & Siegle, D. (2001). Best practices in the identification of gifted students with learning disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 38(5), 403. doi:10.1002/pits.1029
Ottone-Cross, K., Dulong-Langley, S., Root, M. M., Gelbar, N., Bray, M. A., Luria, S. R., . . . Pan, X. (2017). Beyond the mask: Analysis of error patterns on the KTEA-3 for students with giftedness and learning disabilities. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 35(1-2), 74. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1130079&site=ehost-live&scope=site

The Power of Neurodiversity: Chapter 7 – Thomas Armstrong

Chapter 7: The Rainbow of Intelligences.

One thing that struck me the most as I read this chapter, was that over time, an instrument can be used so differently from the original intention of the creator. In this case, the IQ test.

Henry Goddard, had a totally different working idea of intelligence (IQ representing a single innate entity that can not be changed through training) from Alfred Binet (students can improve their performance through further development and learning).  The origins of the IQ test, began as a quest to find a way to identify and help students in need. This was then taken after William Stern gave the test scores, by Goddard and Terman, to be used not to provide help to those that need it, but as a tool to justify labeling people into various groupings, with its implied stereotypes that came with each grouping. In other words, reading this part of Armstrong’s chapter, reminds me again how important it is to also consider the context, beliefs and historical situations under which concepts and psychological tools are created, definitions and assumptions used when such tools are created. Over time, has any of those components changed and if so how it changed and how the change/s now affects the results of such a tool.

Question to the author: Can you discuss how Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences, affects our current education system in terms of curriculum differentiation between different groups of students? How do we incorporate Gardner’s multiple intelligences into our education system? 

Prevalence of Clinically and Empirically Defined Talents and Strengths in Autism. By Meilleur, A., Jelenie, P., & Mottron, L. (2015)

J Autism Dev Disord 45, 1354–1367 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2296-2


Article Summary

The authors conducted two studies in order to investigate the following three research questions. First, what is the prevalence of outstanding abilities, as measured by special isolated skills (SIS) and perceptual peaks (PP), in Autistics. Second, any predisposing factors for each type of outstanding abilities. Third, any co-occurrence of outstanding abilities between SIS and PP modalities. The authors aimed to better understand the contributions of educational and expertise opportunities on talent and strength building versus innate talent and strength predispositions. 

For prevalence, in the first study, which consisted of 254 Autistics with various age (2-39 years) and FSIQ (40-130) range, it was found that 62.6% of their participants displayed SIS talent in one of the following areas: Memory, Visuospatial, Reading, drawing, music and computation. The top two SIS  talent areas were Memory at 52.5%, followed by visuospatial talent at 32%. In the second study, 43 Autistics were randomly selected from study 1. It was found that 57.5% of the subjects displayed strength in at least one perceptual performance task as measured by pitch discrimination and modified block design. 88.4% were found also to show any talent between SIS and/or PP compared to 13.2% in the 38 typically developing (TD) controls subjects.

For predisposing factors, the authors found higher intelligence (Raven progressive matrices(RPM)and  Weschsler’s GIQ) and older ages in study 1 between Autistics with SIS compared to Autistics without SIS. There was no sex differences between the two groups. Study 2 found that only Wechsler’s GIQ was associated with PP only in Autistics, while age, sex and RPM had not effect on either group. For Autistics in study 2, lower GIQ favored the presence of PP.

For co-occurrence of strengths between SIS  and PP, authors found that 83% of Autistics in study 2 that presented PP also presented at least one SIS in general. Their analysis on SIS and PP in similar talents, found that Autistics with SIS in music were not more likely to have a PP in pitch discrimination compared to Autistics with similar intelligence without SIS in music. Similarly,  for Autistics with SIS in visuospatial activities or drawings, they are not more likely to have PP in block design compared to Autistics with similar intelligence without SIS in visuospatial activities. The same was found between SIS in memory and PP in block design. The only exception found was that SIS in memory was associated with PP in pitch discrimination when intelligence was controlled for by Weschler’s GIQ.  The findings suggest that having strengths in one modality does not increase chances of having another talent in the same modality. 

The authors conclude by suggesting that SIS is correlated to age and intelligence and that experience is involved in the development of such strengths/talents, while PP (unrelated to SIS) strengths/talents seem to be more genetically defined. This research study also shows that Autistics present with more occurrences of SIS and/or PP over TD population. 

I would love to hear your thoughts after reading the summary of this research article.