Monday, April 30, 2012

Autism: The Puzzle Symbol - Take Action

These cards are for leaving in places where puzzle pieces are seen and for handing out to people who might benefit from this information.

Click on the links below the pictures for PDFs formatted for standard business cards. If you need help adapting these to another size, just let me know and I’ll try to help you.


Middle ear microphone aims to improve cochlear implants

U.S researchers are developing a tiny middle ear "microphone" that could remove the need for any external components on cochlear implants.

Led by University of Utah engineer Darrin J. Young, the research team has produced and tested a prototype of the device which uses an accelerometer attached to the tiny bones of the middle ear to detect sound vibration.

Conventional cochlear implants use an externally worn microphone, speech processor and electromagnetic transmitter, along with an implanted receiver and stimulator that's wired to the auditory nerves.

When sounds are picked up by the microphone and transmitted to the nerves via the internal stimulator, the patient hears.

While it has given hearing to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, this approach still has its drawbacks in terms of practicality, reliability and social perception.

“It’s a disadvantage having all these things attached to the outside” of the head, Young says. “Imagine a child wearing a microphone behind the ear. It causes problems for a lot of activities. Swimming is the main issue. And it’s not convenient to wear these things if they have to wear a helmet.”

While the conventional design doesn't make use of the ear canal and eardrum, Young's device does. It consists of a speech processor and transmitter implanted under the skin of the skull along with an accelerometer and a low-power silicon chip attached to the umbo (the point at which the eardrum connects to the three tiny ear bones).

This enables it to detect vibration of the eardrum (as occurs in normal hearing). From there the system acts like a conventional cochlear implant, transmitting vibrations as electrical signals to electrodes in the cochlea.

The use of an accelerometer rather is a key to the design. Unlike standard microphones that use a diaphragm to detect sound vibrations, the accelerometer won't become clogged by growing tissue when implanted.

There is also a caveat - users would still have to wear a charger behind the ear while asleep to recharge the battery.

Researchers found that the implant works best if the incus (anvil bone) is first removed surgically.

Young says tests in people are about three years away and has created this recording (with output going to a speaker rather than implanted electrodes) to demonstrate the device. Recognize the tune?

The research is published online in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

Source: University of Utah

Breastfeeding is associated with a Healthy Gut

Early colonization of the gut by microbes in infants is critical for development of their intestinal tract and in immune development.

A new study, published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology, shows that differences in bacterial colonization of formula-fed and breast-fed babies leads to changes in the infant’s expression of genes involved in the immune system, and in defense against pathogens.

The health of individuals can be influenced by the diversity of microbes colonizing the gut, and microbial colonization can be especially important in regulating both intestinal and immune development in infants. However, little is known about the potential interactions between the host’s health at a molecular level, their gut microbes, and diet.

The human intestine is lined by epithelial cells that process nutrients and provide the first line of defense against food antigens and pathogens. Approximately one-sixth of intestinal epithelial cells are shed every day into feces, providing a non-invasive picture of what is going on inside the gut.

In this study, the authors used transcriptome analysis to compare the intestines of three month old exclusively breast-fed or formula-fed infants, and relate this to their gut microbes.

Transcriptome analysis looks at the small percentage of the genetic code that is transcribed into RNA molecules and is a measure of what genes are actively making proteins. Concurrently the microbes (microbiome) were identified by genetic analysis.

The results showed that the breast-fed babies had a wider range of microbes in their gut than the formula-fed infants but that their immune systems had developed to cope.

Robert Chapkin from the Texas A&M University, who led this multi-centre study, explained, “While we found that the microbiome of breast-fed infants is significantly enriched in genes associated with ‘virulence’, including resistance to antibiotics and toxic compounds, we also found a correlation between bacterial pathogenicity and the expression of host genes associated with immune and defense mechanisms.”

He continued, “Our findings suggest that human milk promotes the beneficial crosstalk between the immune system and microbe population in the gut, and maintains intestinal stability.”

Friday, April 27, 2012

Intellectual disability: New Form discovered

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) led a study discovering a gene for a new form of intellectual disability, as well as how it likely affects cognitive development by disrupting neuron functioning.

CAMH Senior Scientist Dr. John Vincent and his team found a mutation in the gene NSUN2 among three sisters with intellectual disability, a finding to be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

The discovery was made after mapping genes in a Pakistani family, in which three of seven siblings had intellectual disability as well as muscle weakness and walking difficulties, says Dr. Vincent, who heads the Molecular Neuropsychiatry and Development Laboratory in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH.

Intellectual disability is a condition in which individuals have limitations in their mental abilities and in functioning in daily life. It affects one to three per cent of the population, and is often caused by genetic mutations.

Another study in the same journal, submitted together with the CAMH-led research, also identified NSUN2 gene mutations in Iranian and Kurdish families with intellectual disability.

As with the Pakistani family, first cousin marriages in these families carrying the mutations increased the likelihood of intellectual disability among their children, and enabled researchers to focus on areas to map genes.

“The combined results from these two studies mean that NSUN2 is among the most common causes of intellectual disability resulting from recessive genes,” says Dr. Vincent.

As a recessive disorder, a child must inherit one defective NSUN2 gene from each parent to develop intellectual disability. This gene, located on chromosome 5p, encodes a type of protein called an RNA methyltransferase.

At the cellular level, the researchers found that the mutated protein was prevented from reaching its target area within the nucleus of a cell. As a result, it was unable to perform its normal role in cell division and/or RNA methylation.

Collaborators from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Stem Cell Research in Cambridge, U.K., showed which type of brain cells were likely to be most affected by this mutation.

They are called Purkinje cells, a type of neuron that responds to the neurotransmitter GABA. Purkinje cells also control motor coordination, which were affected in the Pakistani family.

“We speculate that the muscle effects may result from the accumulation of the NSUN2 protein outside its target area in the nucleus,” says Dr. Vincent.

To date, Dr. Vincent’s lab has identified five genes causing different forms of recessive intellectual disability.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The ABCs of Early Childhood Education - Infographic

Click on the picture to see the full image.

Each year, the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) hosts Week of the Young Child, which focuses on bringing public awareness to the needs of young children and their families, and recognizes early childhood education professionals, services and programs designed to meet their needs.

With this year’s theme being Healthy Minds! Healthy Children, below is a helpful infographic that takes a look into some of the key fundamentals to child growth and development.

The ABCs of Early Childhood Education Infographic

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Paralysed Claire Lomas Continues to Walk the 2012 London Marathon in ReWalk Robotic Frame

Claire Lomas, paralysed in a horse riding accident, had some dashing male company as she continued her quest to complete the 2012 London Marathon yesterday.

Claire, 32, of Eye Kettleby, near Melton, is almost six miles into the 26-mile course, which she is walking in a Cyclone robotic suit, called ReWalk.

She was joined for the last mile of yesterday's leg, in south London, by former tennis ace Tim Henman and his wife, Lucy.

"I couldn't believe I was actually there with Tim Henman," said Claire.

"He was my favourite tennis player of them all and it was so strange to see him there in front of me. He's exactly like he is on the telly. I told him he used to put me through hell watching him play."

Claire, who was paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident five years ago, is aiming to complete the route in two weeks to raise thousands of pounds for Spinal Research.

She said: "It was a tiring day and I felt a little sore but having Matt and Tim walk with me really spurred me on – they are both lovely blokes."

Claire is walking in a pioneering suit using motion sensors, electronics and computers to help paraplegics walk again.

Tomorrow's leg will see her pass the Cutty Sark on her way through Greenwich.

More information can be found on her website

Below is a short video showing Claire training before the marathon. Other Videos uploaded by Claire can be found here:


Goodnight iPad, by Ann Droyd - YouTube

Last month, the web watched with equal parts amazement, amusement, and sheer horror as a one-year-old thought a magazine was an iPad and just last week, we were unsurprised to learn that a presenter’s toddler cousin walked up to a TV screen and tried to “swipe” it like a giant iPad.

So we find ourselves delighted by the release of Goodnight iPad — “a parody for the next generation” by Ann Droyd, winking at the long-gone quiet era of the Goodnight Moon classic and “adapting” it for the age of LCD WiFi HD TVs and Facebook.

Infographics: Why do Flash Cards work so well?

Flashcards–one of the oldest study methods around–is actually one of the most effective and now, with the proliferation of mobile devices, you can take advantage of the same benefits of flashcards in a new digitized form.

So how do flashcards work and why are they so effective? Take a look at our latest infographic, and get ready to ace your next exam.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Childhood reading can turn nightmares into life dreams

Edinburgh City Libraries’ reading champion Niall Walker talks about his work with young people who stay in residential care units

‘I don’t read books, I just don’t . . . oh, is that one about a dog?”, asked the 12-year-old girl in residential care.

It was. She liked it. Hopefully, next time I see her she’ll have picked up another.

Young people in Britain’s care system have experienced significant adversity and this can often affect their chances at school and beyond.

In adulthood they may have difficulty finding work, training or studying, and some will be at risk of becoming homeless or imprisoned. Their life chances have been hit hard by the negative experiences that brought them into care.

I believe that reading offers hope. In fact, we know that reading for pleasure is a more powerful indicator of a child’s educational performance than their socio-economic status or their parents’ education.

This creates better life chances for young people of any background – and, crucially, for our most vulnerable young people, reading can lead to emotional resilience, confidence, functional literacy, empathy and the ability to form attachments to others more easily.

This is where libraries come in. We are working hard to cater for vulnerable young people. This means improving access to books and other reading that matches their interests and abilities, and ensuring our libraries are always welcoming, safe and interesting spaces.

As reading champion, my objective is to develop strong and sustainable links between care staff and librariy staff so that young people are encouraged to use their local library and its resources at all stages of life.

In the past week, residential care staff have been volunteering to receive training in paired reading and literacy development to better support our looked-after children. Together, we are tailoring this service to each individual.

Funding from the National Literacy Trust’s Young Reader’s Programme is being used to provide them with books.

So far, 156 books have been chosen by Edinburgh’s young people in residential care.

Hopefully, that number will have increased by the time you’re reading this, as I’m due to visit a young woman who will almost certainly love Malorie Blackman’s Boys Don’t Cry, a teenage radical who will lap up George Orwell’s Animal Farm and a girl in need of some laughs, which Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid can provide.

My message to any young person who is searching for something fun to read is to visit your library and ask the professionals there for help and advice. Tell us what you’ve enjoyed reading before and we will find you one of many books you’ll enjoy.

The recent boom in publishing books for teenagers is unsurpassed in history. There are books written entirely about things you already love, and at a level you’ll be comfortable with. I’ve witnessed children and teenagers finding that “first book” about gamer records, kitten care, gross facts, otherwordly manga, cinematic graphic novels, Lionel Messi, and the best works of fiction.

The Reading Champion Project works closely with other partners, carers, teachers, families and, primarily, children in care. We must never underestimate how each individual can be full of surprises, with a lifetime of enjoying reading – and its benefits – ahead of them.

“Those books on hip hop you got me were good. Yeah I’ve finished them now. How about something about boxing . . . or y’know what, a couple of years ago I had to read a Rabbie Burns poem for school. Could you get me something by him?” This was a 15-year-old boy in a secure unit. My response: “Umm, yeah buddy. I think we’ll manage that.”

n World Book Night tonight is a celebration of reading and books which sees tens of thousands of people gift books to spread the joy and love of reading.

Five titles are selected and printed in their thousands in World Book Night editions. Givers apply to give away a particular book, which they must commit to give to those who don’t regularly read. Each giver receives 24 copies, which they will have picked up from their local bookshops and libraries in the week before April 23.

Edinburgh City Libraries staff will be giving out books at libraries and other locations and much-in-demand author Maggie O’Farrell will be at Central Library on George IV Bridge at 6.30pm – a real coup for Edinburgh.

Find out more at

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Children with Dyspraxia have problem with coordination and movement, so it is important when they have a problem like tying shoe laces or even playing sport is to keep practicing until they get it right.

Clearly, this seem simple but it is also important not to stress the child, these children will get easily stressed and its important to make it a game and not to show any failure, so its important to approach any activities is little stress as possible and there is no failure but fun.

You might say this is easier said than done. If a child has difficult learning to tye shoe laces, you simply get them to learn little put often and give them a reward to learning so there is reason for their success.
Simple techniques:-
  • Little but often
  • Make it fun
  • Goal for achieve at the end of each session of trying
  • Goal for achievement when they reach the end goal
  • Make it fun (don't make it stressful, if the child starts to get stressed stop and do something completely different)
For more information go to the Dyspraxia Advice website

Dyslexia and Reading: Pointing to Words Helps Children Read

Parents who point out words and letters to their children as they read aloud boost the youngsters' reading skills when they are older, according to a new study.

Showing capital letters and how you read from left to right and top to bottom of the page also improves the childrens' spelling and language comprehension skills.

"By showing them what a letter is and what a letter means, and what a word is and what a word means, we're helping them to crack the code of language and understand how to read," said Shayne Piasta, an assistant professor of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University, who led the study.

Under-fives who were taught to read this way developed more advanced reading skills one and even two years down the line compared to kids who didn't.

Researchers claim this is the first time a study has shown a link between referencing during reading and literary achievement in later life.

An earlier study showed untrained teachers referenced 8.5 times per reading session compared to 36 times for those who were trained.

Parents did it even less typically making only one reference in a 10-minute reading session.

However Dr Piasta, of Ohio State University, said only a 'slight tweak' was needed in what they were already doing to make a difference to their child's reading skills.

More than 300 children took part in her 30-week reading programme as part of Project STAR (Sit Together And Read), a randomised clinical trial to test the short and long-term impacts associated with reading regularly to preschool children in the classroom.

All came from low-income homes, had below-average language skills and were at substantial risk for reading difficulties later on.

They were separated into three groups; high-dose STAR which had four reading sessions per week, low-dose STAR which had two sessions and a third comparison group which also had four sessions a week.

Teachers were trained to make specific print references while reading the same 30 books to their students in the first two groups while teachers in the comparison group were told to read as they normally would and not make specific references.

The results showed that up to two years later children in the high-dose STAR classrooms had higher word reading, spelling and comprehension skills than the children in the comparison group.

The benefits were not as clear for those in the low-dose STAR classrooms but they still seemed to have slightly better skills than those in the comparison group.

Dr Piasta said it was particularly notable that students in the high-dose STAR classrooms scored higher on tests of reading comprehension.

"If you're getting kids to pay attention to letters and words, it makes sense that they will do better at word recognition and spelling.

"But the fact that they also did better at understanding the passages they read is really exciting.

"That suggests this intervention may help them become better readers," she said.

The study was published in the journal Child Development.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Talking about transition at Our Special Families Village

The Village is a growing community where families find information and mutual support. Sharon is the gifted and passionate creator of the Village. In this one-minute welcome video, she explains what you’ll find there.

The Village offers a growing collection of interviews on a wide range of topics.

Our audio interview is over an hour long. And we don’t tippy-toe around difficult issues.
It’s a candid dialogue about practical responses to tough questions:
  • how can parents negotiate their changing role during adolescence?
  • how can we support teens to make informed choices and speak for themselves?
  • what happens when there’s conflict on the IEP team?
  • how can teens find out about career options?
  • where do we start in the maze of adult agencies?
  • how can teens learn what to do when they face roadblocks?

If you’re feeling some anxiety about these topics, you’re not alone.

You can listen to our conversation here.


During the interview we talk about these resources:
A Maze of Agencies – Where to Start?
Problem Solving Graphic Organizer
My Next Move   
Reading Free Career Interest Tools  
Transition portfolios and planning tools  

Talking about transition at Our Special Families Village

Teenage Depression: SPARX Game as effective as Traditional Treatment

An innovative computer-based intervention for depressed young people, developed by researchers from The University of Auckland, has been shown to be at least as effective as standard treatments mainly comprising face-to-face therapy.

A research team led by Associate Professor Sally Merry developed and trialled the intervention called SPARX with the aim of giving young people easier, lower cost access to treatment.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) they assessed the effectiveness of SPARX in 24 sites around New Zealand, including youth clinics, schools and general practices.

Half of the young people participating used the new game and half received standard treatment through their doctor, school counsellor or other provider. SPARX was shown to be at least as good as the standard treatments.

SPARX uses CD-Rom based computer gaming to teach self-help for depression. It includes an interactive 3D fantasy game to teach young people the skills they need to cope with challenges and manage their mood.

In contrast to many other e-therapies, SPARX has been designed to help young people learn through action in a virtual world. It is based on cognitive behavioural therapy, a proven therapeutic approach.

“Using computer technology that young people are comfortable with is one way of making therapy more accessible, practical, and hopefully more fun,” says Dr Merry.

It has been designed to be easily accessed by young people directly or to be delivered easily in primary care settings. In 2011, SPARX won a UN World Summit Award recognising creativity and innovation in e-health interventions.


Depression is common among young people internationally and accessing help can be difficult. One in five New Zealanders will have experienced clinical depression by their eighteenth birthday.

Three quarters of young people with depression never receive treatment. “We want to intervene earlier and more effectively,” says Dr Merry.

SPARX was initiated by researchers, clinicians, and learning technologists at the University’s Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Department of Psychological Medicine.

It was developed with input from Māori, Pacific people, and other cultural groups in New Zealand. The programme was created with the assistance of a local game development company, Metia Interactive.

A number of actors, musicians and artists have generously donated their time and skills to the project.

The work was funded by the NZ Ministry of Health as part of the Primary Health Care Strategy to build and strengthen the capacity of the primary care sector to respond to mental health needs, and in this case adolescent depression.

More information on SPARX is available on

Visual Spelling - Let Me Learn

This is a great way to help children with their spellings.  Especially if they are visual learners and they are getting bored,  fedup or refusing to do their spellings.

All you need is some coloured paper, scissors, glue and your imagination.  Split the words by sound chunks like ‘ch’ or ‘ea’ or like in ‘make‘ the a-e makes the long a-e sound.

Let children decide how they want to remember their words as this will help them remember better when they do the test in class.

Let Me Learn is a special educational needs shop providing fun dyslexia resources for teachers and parents.

Visual Spelling

Dyslexia and punctuation Jenga - YouTube

Sorry but Parents' diet choice knowledge doesn't prevent Child Obesity

A study of the families of 150 preschoolers suggests that parents of healthy-weight and overweight preschoolers are generally well aware of dietary risk factors that fuel childhood obesity.

The research, conducted by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the All Children's Hospital in Florida, suggests that awareness alone is not enough to effect meaningful weight change, and that pediatricians should help parents with specific and tailored guidance on how to apply their knowledge in daily practice, the researchers said.

The study, published ahead of print on April 11 in the journal Clinical Pediatrics, also illuminates the gap between what parents know about the root causes of obesity and what they can actually do to maintain healthy diets for preschoolers, a group generally overlooked in obesity research and prevention.

"When it comes to obesity prevention, the focus tends to be on school-age children and teens, but a growing body of research has found a link between poor life-long health and being overweight as early as 2 years of age," said lead investigator Raquel Hernandez, M.D. M.P.H., a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define children with a body-mass index at or above the 85th percentile for their age as overweight. One-third of the 150 children in the current study were overweight, most from low-income urban homes, and more than 90 percent African-American.

"Childhood obesity is a complex, multi-factorial phenomenon but our findings reveal that, for the most part, lack of parental awareness of nutritional risk factors is not one of the drivers behind it," Hernandez said.

The investigators set out to identify parental perceptions of risk factors for childhood obesity and barriers to healthy weight and to determine whether the parents of healthy-weight preschoolers viewed such risks and barriers differently from the parents of overweight children. They didn't. The study found minimal to non-existent differences between the two groups.

One important risk factor remained seriously overlooked by parents in both groups: physical activity. Only 7 percent of parents in the healthy-weight group and 8 percent in the overweight group cited lack of physical activity as a top driver of unhealthy weight.

Recent studies have shown that few preschoolers achieve healthy levels of activity, and most remain sedentary 85 percent of the time, the investigators say. The results of the study suggest that parents undervalue physical activity in an age group often perceived as "active enough," and alerting parents to the risks of inactivity is critical in obesity prevention, according to Janet Serwint, M.D., of Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

"The importance of physical activity and age-appropriate exercise is one area where we could step up educational efforts," Serwint said. "Pediatricians should discuss specific and age-appropriate activity goals during well-child visits."

Nearly 40 percent of parents in both groups identified buying and preparing unhealthy food as the top contributor to weight problems at an early age. Similar numbers of parents in both groups (23 percent and 31 percent) cited using food as a reward for good behaviour as a risk factor for weight problems. A nearly equal proportion of parents in both groups (25 percent and 23 percent) said that asking the child to finish food on the plate was the most critical contributor to overweight or obesity.

Importantly, one-third of parents from both groups (35 percent and 33 percent) identified lack of control over the child's food choices as the top barrier to healthy weight -- a notable finding, the researchers say, given that most preschool children spend most of their waking hours in daycare or with alternate caregivers.

"Daycare providers, grandparents and others involved in a child's care are often just as important in achieving healthy-weight goals as the parents themselves, and parents should be encouraged to provide specific dietary and activity instructions to these influential caregivers," Hernandez said.

Co-investigators on the study included Tina Cheng, M.D. M.P.H., and Darcy Thompson, M.D. M.P.H., both of Johns Hopkins.

The research was funded by The Thomas Wilson Sanitarium for Children of Baltimore City.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Drugs: Speed and Ecstasy Use Linked to Teen Depression

The use of speed and ecstasy by secondary school pupils appears to increase the risk of depression by up to 70 percent, a study claims.

Scientists at the University of Montreal carried out research on almost 4,000 secondary school pupils to explore concerns that the two drugs, which have spread from the clubbing scene into schools, could cause long-term damage.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that those students who used either drug were between 60 and 70 percent more likely to exhibit heightened symptoms of depression.

The authors tracked the mental health of a sample of 3,880 teenagers from deprived areas in Quebec between 2003 and 2008, quizzing them on their drug use and later testing their mental health on a validated scale.

The use of speed (meth/amphetamine) was found to be more common, with 11.6 percent (451) admitting taking it, while 8 percent (310) admitted taking ecstasy (MDMA).

The use of both drugs was admitted by 6.7 percent of the sample. Teenagers in this group were found to be twice as likely to have depressive symptoms as those who used neither drug.

The authors claimed this pointed toward "additive or synergistic adverse effects of concurrent use".

"Our results provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first compelling evidence that recreational [ecstasy] and [speed] use places developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms," the researchers concluded.

While they admit that the causative contribution of drug use itself to depression is "relatively modest", they caution that even a modest contribution can have "significant clinical implications from a population health perspective".

They propose that further research should be undertaken to look into whether depressive symptoms are an effect of neurological damage, which adolescent brains could be more susceptible to, and are keen to examine the differences between adults and adolescents in this area.

Speed, or amphetamine, is a widely used drug in the clubbing and rave scene. The drug make people more awake, overactive and chatty. it is generally followed by a long comedown and can put a strain on the user's heart. It can also lead to anxiety, aggression and paranoia.

Ecstasy is popular because it makes users feel energetic and happy, allowing them to stay up partying into the early hours. Its use has been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems, while its comedown often leads users to feel lethargic or depressed.

Blood Test Diagnoses Depression In Teens

Diagnosing depression may soon include a simple blood test, according to research published Tuesday. new study. Researchers developed a blood test to identify markers for depression in teenagers that maylead to better treatments and lessen the stigma surrounding the condition.

Doctors currently rely on patients coming forward with symptoms to diagnose depression. However, differentiating between types of depression can be difficult without an objective diagnosis, researchers said. Instead, using a diagnostic blood test could allow for more personalized treatment.

"Right now depression is treated with a blunt instrument," Dr. Eva Redei, study author and professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University, said in a statement. "It's like treating type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes exactly the same way. We need to do better."

Previous studies identified 26 potential genetic markers for depression in rats. Redei and her team found 11 similar markers in depressed teens that they did not find in the control group.

"These 11 genes are probably the tip of the iceberg because depression is a complex illness," Redei said in a statement. "But it's an entree into a much bigger phenomenon that has to be explored. It clearly indicates we can diagnose from blood and create a blood diagnosis test for depression."

Some doctors remain skeptical of the findings since the study examined only 28 volunteers. Skeptics said research needs to show whether the markers can test a wider population and whether the markers are present in adults as well before the test can be considered viable.

"I think people are looking for a magic bullet, a single answer," Dr. Carol Bernstein, an associate professor of psychiatry at New York University, told ABC News. "But these disorders are much too complicated."

One in 20 Americans over the age of 12 reported feeling symptoms of depression between 2005 and 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include hopelessness, feeling like a failure, poor appetite and lack of interest in activities.

Depression affects approximately 1 percent of children under the age of 12, researchers said. But as children enter their teenage years, depression affects almost 25 percent. Depression that sets in during the teenage years has a poorer prognosis than depression that sets in in adulthood, increasing the risk of substance abuse, suicide and physical illness, researchers said.

Being able to diagnose depression with a blood test could mean more people getting treatment. None of the teens who were diagnosed with depression over the course of the study opted for treatment, most likely due to the stigma that comes with it, Redei said.

Depression is treated through a combination of medication and therapy, but many people see the disease as a defect and think it will make people view them as "broken", Dr. Jonathan Rottenberg, an associate professor of psychology at the University of South Florida, said in a Psychology Today blog post.

 The journal Translational Psychiatry published the study on Tuesday.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dyslexia: Beneficial Apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad

Take a look at our recommendations and then purchase the Apps from iTunes.
The pricing shown below is just a guideline as the prices change on a regular basis.

eBook Readers

VOD - Voice of DAISY

Voice of Daisy
The Voice of DAISY (VOD) is a player which plays and reads digital talking books created in the DAISY format.

The VOD is ideal for anyone who experiences difficulties with reading material, such as people with dyslexia or individuals with visual impairments.

The text is read aloud using text-to-speech with highlighting support. There are several functions available, such as: you can open with the last book played; you can go directly to a page by entering the page number and bookmarks can keep the actual time point.

Voice of Daisy Logo
  • Requires: iOS 3.2 or later
  • Device: iPhone 3G/3GS/4, iPod touch (2nd generation or later), iPad
  • Price: Approx. £17.99
  • Download: Voice of DAISY

Word Processing


Pages is a word processor for mobile devices. You can create, edit and view documents wherever you are. With 16 Apple-designed templates to choose from you can produce letters, reports, flyers, cards and posters and customise your documents with colours, fonts and textures.

You can view and edit Pages ‘09, Microsoft Word and plain text files, with the onscreen keyboard or a wireless keyboard with Bluetooth technology.  

Pages works with iCloud so your documents stay up-to-date across all your iOS devices - automatically. You can also easily import files from Mail, the web, a WebDAV service, or your Mac or PC using iTunes
 File Sharing.

  • Requires: iOS 5.0 or later
  • Device: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad Price: Approx. £6.99
  • Download: Pages


Oxford Deluxe - Oxford Dictionary of English and Oxford Thesaurus of English


Combining the entire Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE) and the Oxford Thesaurus of English (OTE) plus 70,000 pre-recorded sound files from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary makes this an ideal application for anyone needing access to the English language with dictionary definitions and more.

Features of the Oxford Deluxe include wildcard search, complete off-line use, bookmarks with editable notations and hyperlinking between dictionary and thesaurus plus to and from appendices.

  • Requires: iOS 3.1.3 or later
  • Device: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Price: Approx. £37.99
  • Download: Oxford Deluxe - Dictionary & Thesaurus

Dictionary-com App delivers reference content from and including nearly 1,000,000 words with definitions and 90,000 synonyms and antonyms. No Internet connection is needed to search words.

Features: alphabetical indexing, example sentences, custom backgrounds, favourite word lists and more.
When connected to the internet you can also access phonetic and audio pronunciation, spelling suggestions and word of the day.

  • Requires: iOS 3.0 or later
  • Device: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Price: Approx. £1.99
  • Download:

Oxford Medical Dictionary

The Oxford Medical Dictionary contains 12,500 terms and concepts used in medicine today. Written by distinguished practicing specialists and medical writers the entries are accessible and jargon-free.

Containing over 140 illustrations and diagrams, along with recommended web links this is ideal for anyone working in the paramedical fields: pharmacists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, social workers, hospital secretaries, administrators, technicians, and so on.

It will also be invaluable for medical students and practicing doctors.



Speak it! Text To Speech

Speak it
Speak it! has been designed for ease of use; simply enter the text you want to say and press the ‘Speak it!’ button. Features include: highlights word as they are spoken, ability to create audio files and email them, save phrases to have them repeated later, pause and resume speech playback, change the speech playback speed and much more.

Speak it! includes four quality voices: American Male, American Female, British Male, and British Female with the option of downloading other voices (which will incur an additional cost).

Speak it
  • Requires: iOS 3.0 or later
  • Device: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Price: Approx. £1.49
  • Download: Speak it!


ZoomReader (iPhone 4 only)

ZoomReader, from the makers of ZoomText, lets you magnify and read text. First take a picture with your in-built iPhone camera of an object, like a book, menu or even a medicine bottle before the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology will convert the image into text. ZoomReader will then read the text back to you using a natural sounding voice.

It is designed to be able to photograph an 8.5″ by 11″ document. ZoomReader includes colour filtering to make reading easier.

  • Requires: iOS 4.2+ Only
  • Device: iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S
  • Price: Approx. £13.99
  • Download: ZoomReader


Prizmo lets you scan and recognise text. Ideal for documents so you can share with other users and for business cards where the information can be extracted to create contacts on your phone.

Key feature of Prizmo is the highly accurate OCR technology in 10 languages: English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

  • Requires: iOS 3.1 or later
  • Device: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Price: Approx. £6.99
  • Download: Prizmo

Note Taking

Notebooks for iPad

Notebooks allows you to conveniently write, capture and organize your ideas, notes, reminders, journals, diaries or details of life that you want to keep close at hand.  

Notebooks for iPad allows you to easily create notes and documents and then file them away in notebooks or projects. Import and view PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and many other types of documents and file them with your notes.

You can manage your tasks using reminders and to-do lists and tick them off on completion.

Type your notes and texts, no matter how long they are. Draw with your finger or a dedicated stylus.

Select your favourite fonts, background colours and patterns. Quickly create new documents with the contents of the Clipboard or import web pages from Safari, Mail and other iPad apps.

Create as many nested books as you need with the ability to freely move, rename and restructure your documents and books. Full text search enables you to find notes quickly.

Protect your confidential documents with a passcode, Sync and back-up files via WebDAV and Dropbox.


File Management and Annotations

GoodReader for iPad

GoodReader for iPad handles large PDF and TXT files, MS Office files including .doc and .ppt, iWorks, image manuals, large books video and audio with great speed. PDFs can be opened and annotated with typewritten text boxes, sticky notes, lines, arrows and freehand drawings. Annotations can be collated and exported via email.

You can create folders, move, copy and rename your files; zip, email, unzip and unrar them; plus send your files to other apps. Files can be synced to a number of file management services including DropBox, iDisk, Google Docs and WebDAV.

There is very limited VoiceOver support so this app cannot be used to read aloud files.


Mind Mapping


iThoughtsHD is a mind mapping tool for the iPad. Mind mapping enables you to visually organise your thoughts, ideas and information.

You can use iThoughtsHD for: tasking lists, brainstorming, project planning, goal setting, concept mapping, meeting notes; it’s also ideal for revision and course notes.

You can import and export to and from many desktop applications and Cloud synchronise with Dropbox,, MobileMe andWebDAV.

The mind map features of iThoughtHD includes: multiple topic options, over 90 built-in icon and 45 clipart images. You can attach notes with hyperlinks to topics; assign different colours and shapes to topics and much, much more.



Pocket Informant for iPhone/iPod Touch

Pocket Informant
Pocket Informant is a fully integrated Calendar, Task, Contacts and Notes solution for your iPhone/iPod Touch that lets you focus on everything you do in a day - not just your Tasks list.

With this highly customizable tool, you have the power to change virtually every feature to suit your preferences.  It comes with a full-featured Notes tab and complete Contact management system.

Features for the calendar include: customisable views for Month, Week, Day, List and Today; alarms and icons; photo and contact linking and more. With the swipe of a finger, or the touch of a button, you can add, edit, share or delete your information.

Pocket Informant

Augmented Alternative Communication


Proloquo2Go provides a full-featured augmentative and alternative communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking.

It provides natural sounding text-to-speech voices (currently American, British, and Indian English Only), high resolution up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, and a default vocabulary of over 7000 items, advanced word prediction, full expandability and extreme ease of use.

Special Learning Practitioners, teachers and parents recommend it for children and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome, developmental disabilities, dyspraxia, motor neurone disease, stroke or traumatic brain injury.

  • Requires: iOS 4.2 or later
  • Device: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad
  • Price: Approx. £129.99
  • Download: Proloquo2Go


Calculator for iPad

Calculator for iPad is a standard and scientific calculator which features: advanced mathematical/scientific buttons in landscape view; basic calculation buttons in portrait view; calculate with degrees or radials; percent button will behave just like the original calculator; memory buttons will also behave just like the original calculator; button sound is mutable; invisible backspace button by sliding/swiping the result screen with your finger.

Also features 7 different themes: standard, silver keyboard, retro grey, sticky notes, pink keyboard, happy pink, and wooden.



PureAudio Live Recorder for iPad

PureAudio is a full function digital voice and audio recording application with enhanced Andrea’s patented digital noise reduction microphone technology.

PureAudio digitally reduces background noise, while enhancing the recorded sound quality and intelligibility when making recordings in real-world noisy mobile environments.

It has an intuitive, simple to use interface with a user guide to all features and functions.

Some of the audio features include: digital noise reduction software to remove repetitive background noise from recordings; microphone sensitivity boost allows for far field recordings and three different recording formats: WAVE, CAF, AIFF.

There are various recording and playback functions to make your life easier including fast forward and fast reverse during playback using finger swipe gestures or by using the audio position slider.

File management for recordings is available so you can add, delete, rename and rearrange recording categories. You can also transfer recordings using iTunes File Sharing and more.


Full Credit for assembling this excellent list of Apps goes to the people at

Spherovelo: Curvy ride-on aims to improve toddlers' balance and motor skills

We bet you can remember your first bike. We also bet it looked nothing like the Spherovelo - a sphere-based ride-on for children as young as one year old.

Makers Early Rider, from Henley-on-Thames, UK, say the Spherovelo has been designed to improve your little one's balance and motor skills, making it the perfect pre-cursor to a "normal" balance bike.

And those curves are not just there for the good looks, the bike has been created around the idea that spheres are better than traditional wheels because they are harder to fall off. In theory this means that a slight loss of balance should see the bike simply move to the side… rather than toppling over and leaving you with a crying toddler.

Designer Andy Loveland says that the idea for the Spherovelo first came to him about two years ago and he's spent the past 12 months working with some clever industrial designers to take his sketches and turn them into something you'll wish had been around when you were young enough to ride one.

In its ride-on stage (for riders at the younger end of the one to two-and-a-half age bracket) the two large spheres - which are encased in an extremely light, hard wearing nylon shell with a molded foam saddle - are supported by two stabilizing balls. While preventing the bike from tipping over, these mean it retains the ability to move in any direction.

Once little Johnny or Jill has mastered whizzing around the house, the stabilizing balls can then be removed to convert the Spherovelo into bike mode and make it unstable - forcing the young rider to utilize their developing motor skills if they want to continue scooting around and having fun.

A spokesperson for Early Rider said: "By replacing wheels with a certain arrangement of spheres we've been able to simulate a bike but with increased lateral forgiveness so that it becomes very difficult for a child to fall off or fall onto."

The Spherovelo is due to go on sale next month and will retail at around £69 (approx. US$103).