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Posted: Sep 2, 2004 09:57

SEPTEMBER 2004

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RESEARCHERS DISCOVER "BAD BEHAVIOR" GENE
(July 21, 2004) A story in Better Humans reported that researchers at the Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland discovered that the gene previously linked to depression is now also linked to "bad behavior." Researchers said mistreatment in childhood activates the gene, but good parenting appears to neutralize those negative effects. www.betterhumans.com

A SIMPLE TEST?
(July 27, 2004) ABCNEWS.com reported that researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Dr. Philip Teitelbaum and Dr. Osnat Teitelbaum, the lead authors of a new study, say the brain disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, can be revealed in infants by tracking unusual body movements. The infants studied apparently had difficulty sitting and standing without hunching over. They also fell without putting their arms out to catch their fall. Teitelbaum says the babies did not display the protective reflexes that most infants develop and earlier diagnosis may one day lead to a better prognosis for children with Asperger's syndrome. http://abcnews.go.com

"DIFFICULT" CHILD COULD HAVE UNUSUAL DISORDER
(July 28, 2004) A story on NBC10.com, discussed how new findings show that some children labeled as "difficult, picky or over-sensitive," may have an unusual disorder that is often misdiagnosed as Autism. The child could have Sensory Integration Dysfunction, a complex disorder of the brain that causes children to misinterpret sensory information such as touch and sound. Lorri Massa, an occupational therapist said parents can look for specific signs that may cause an emotional meltdown such as irrational outbursts, not easily calmed, has a hard time transitioning from home to a family event and busy crowds. www.nbc10.com

PLAY ATTENTION HELPS ATTENTION AND CAUSE AND EFFECT
(July 29, 2004) A story on eSchool News online reported that a company in Asheville, NC has created an alternative to traditional medicinal treatments for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). By using technology originally created by NASA and the US Air Force, the solution, called "Play Attention", reportedly taps into brain waves through a red bike helmet lined with sensors. The sensors send information to a computer that controls the outcome of scenarios on the computer screen. This provides the user with the ability to practice something that most closely resembles an actual event. "Play Attention" allows the user to develop skills needed to perform better in a classroom, work, or a general setting. www.eschoolnews.com

ENGLAND HOME SCHOOLING INCREASES
(July 30, 2004) The Guardian Unlimited reported that each month more than a 100 families living in England are starting to teach their children at home and rejecting state education. According to a leading advocacy group, parents are attempting to avoid the pressures of SAT's and bullying. Last week, parent representatives met officials from the Department for Education and Skills to discuss plans to develop guidelines for all Local Education Authorities (LEAs) on dealing with families who home school. Parents are nervous of state intervention, fearing inspection by people who do not understand the different styles of teaching at home. Studies show 25,000 to 150,000 children are being educated at home for some or all of their school years. http://education.guardian.co.uk

BRAIN DEVELOPMENT DISTURBED IN AUTISM
(July 31, 2004) A story in the July 14, 2004 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience reported that a study by a group headed by David G. Amaral of the University of California, found that “boys between ages seven and 12 diagnosed with autism have larger amygdalas than neurologically healthy boys.” The amygdale is associated with emotional responses to social situations.

THOREAU: PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS AND NATURE
(August 1, 2004) A story in the Milford Daily News reported that a psychiatric consultant with the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department, Dr. Michael Sperber, wrote an intriguing analysis of Henry David Thoreau's personality. He illustrated how the writer coped with mental illness by immersing himself in nature. Sperber believes Thoreau was traumatized by witnessing his brother's death and that event created his "major bipolar mood disorder." Sperber used Thoreau's writings to reveal a tormented man who recognized his own "insanity" and turned to nature for solace. Sperber examined Thoreau's extensive journals and cited the author's frequent references to suicide, troubled dreams and feelings of sexual ambivalence. www.milforddailynews.com/artsCulture/view.bg?articleid=52919

TEXAS BOOT CAMP DIRECTOR SENTENCED
(August 9, 2004) The Tyler, TX Morning Telegraph reported the former director of a local state operated boot camp, now closed, was sentenced for sexual harassment while employed as a public servant and aggravated perjury. www.zwire.com

TEENS MAINTAIN POSITIVE OUTLOOK
(August 10, 2004) The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online reported that a national survey indicated that American teenagers, ages 13-19 are stressed out about grades and don't like the idea of a military draft. Of the 77 percent who said they think their parents are awesome, 50 percent said they get along with their parents very well, while 27 percent said extremely well. In contrast, 20 percent said they get along "just OK" and three percent said they did not get along well. Although six percent said they aren't sure about the future of the country, 26 percent admitted to being worried and pessimistic, but the majority of 68 percent said they felt hopeful and optimistic about the future. www.jsonline.com

TEXAS STATE REGULATION OF JUVENILE FACILITIES CRITICIZED
(August 15, 2004) The San Antonio Express-News online reported serious concerns about the safety of children in Texas's state run facilities. The allegations are that the state failed to follow-up on reports of abuse at Woodsite Trails, a state run foster care facility. According to the story, Child Protective Services began removing the boys from the facility because of serious problems with the state's management of this and other facilities. www.mysanantonio.com

SCHOOL DISTRICT’S USE OF PHYSICAL RESTRAINTS IN DISPUTE
(August 16, 2004) The Washington Post Intelligencer in Seattle, WA reported the Kent School District reaffirmed the use of metal handcuffs by school guards. In the past, security guards had used restraints in several instances, not because students posed a threat to themselves or others, in which instance, the district allows the use of cuffs, but because students did not follow directions. For these reasons, an independent panel recommended suspending the use of handcuffs. That panel said Kent security officers should not carry firearms, batons, Tasers or pepper spray. However, district officials say they need to be able to restrain kids in order to prevent "another Columbine." http://seattlepi.nwsource.com

NATION'S CHARTER SCHOOLS LAGGING BEHIND
(August 17, 2004) The New York Times reported the first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and public schools shows charter school students often doing worse than students in regular schools. Only 25 percent of the fourth graders attending charters were proficient in reading and math, against 30 percent who were proficient in reading, and 32 percent in math, at public schools. Chester E. Finn, Jr., a supporter of charters, said the findings should be considered as "baseline data," and could reflect the number of children attending had severe problems at their neighborhood public schools. www.nytimes.com/

A-LEVEL WAIT 'THREATENS HEALTH'
(August 17, 2004) The United Kingdom BBC News reported a study that suggests the stress of waiting for A-level grades could be damaging student health. Hertfordshire University researchers found 21 percent suffered from depression, 12 percent from insomnia and eight percent had experienced panic attacks. One in 10 of the 123 interviewed had sought medical help. http://news.bbc.co.uk

DISTRICT LINKS STUDENTS WITH CYBER CHARTER
(August 17, 2004) The San Mateo County Times announced the Burlingame California School District agreed to a two-year partnership with the California Virtual Academy Charter School, a new type of school that offers online teaching for traditional subjects. Rebecca Houser, operations administrator for the virtual academy said students learn at their own pace and must complete more than 800 lessons during the school year. A certified teacher grades the student’s assignments, tests to ensure comprehension, and at the end of the year, each student takes an assessment test. The State-funded academic program provides students with a computer, printer and necessary materials. www.sanmateocountytimes.com

WILL KIDS OPT FOR HEALTHIER SNACKS?
(August 17, 2004) The Desertnews.com in Utah reported that the Utah Department of Health is asking a few school districts to compare sales from all-healthy types of snacks in the machines to that of the traditional snacks usually available. The request stems from national concerns over childhood obesity; the large sums of money school districts receive from vending machine snacks; and how attempts to regulate vending machines in schools are not well received. http://deseretnews.com

NATION'S CHARTER SCHOOLS LAGGING BEHIND
(August 17, 2004) The New York Times reported the first national comparison of test scores among children in charter schools and public schools shows charter school students often do worse than students in regular schools. In public schools, only 25 percent of the fourth graders attending charters are proficient in reading and math, 30 percent are proficient in reading and 32 percent in math. A supporter of charter schools, Chester E. Finn Jr., said the findings are "baseline data," and may reflect how the number of children attending public schools has severe problems. www.nytimes.com

STUDY: PILLS AND TALK HELP DEPRESSION BEST
(August 18, 2004) An Associated Press article in the Richmond, VA, Times Dispatch reported on a study that found combining drugs with talk therapy works best in treating depressed adolescents. www.timesdispatch.com

UNSCHOOLING CATCHING ON IN TEXAS
(August 21, 2004) The Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, TX reported that “unschooling” is catching on with home-schoolers in Texas. Those using the “unschooling” approach believe the regular curriculum in public schools are too rigid to be healthy for the curious minds of children, and that the children should have some to a major say in what they study. www.dfw.com

ROBICHEAU REPLACES CONLAN AT VFFCMH
(August 23, 2004) The Vermont Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health, Montpelier, VT, 802-223-4917, vffcmh@together.net, announced that on July 1, 2004, Jana Robicheau replaced Lisa Conlan as Executive Director of the organization. Robicheau formerly worked for the Vermont Parent Information Center.

CHILDREN PREFER MOUSE TO PEN
(August 23, 2004) In an article by Scotland’s National Newspaper, the Scotsman, it was reported that in a survey conducted by Lexmark, the printer manufacturer, it was found that only one in five children believe handwriting will be useful in 50 years’ time. When asked to predict the tools that will be most used for homework in 50 years, 79 percent of the 3,000 children surveyed, said they anticipated they would no longer write their homework. Also, almost 86 percent of the children believe that computers will be the best tool for helping them with homework. http://thescotsman.scotsman.com

TEXAS TO OVERHAUL CHILDREN PLACEMENT
(August 23, 2004) The San Antonio Texas Express-News reported that due to several recent tragedies and a sense “that the state isn’t protecting some of its most vulnerable residents,” there is a momentum building to make some major changes in the system of caring for state placed children. www.mysanantonio.com

CYBERBULLIES REACH INTO VICTIM'S HOMES
(August 26, 2004) A story in the New York Times reported on the newest form of bullying by teenagers. “Cyberbullies” are using email and instant messaging to harass and publicly humiliate their victims with just a couple mouse clicks. Once confined to school or daytime hours, Cyberbullies are now reaching into the victim’s home and even the sanctity of their bedroom. www.nytimes.com




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