Thursday, June 28, 2012

Phonological Awareness: Instructional and Assessment Guidelines

This article defines phonological awareness and discusses historic and contemporary research findings regarding its relation to early reading.

Common misconceptions about phonological awareness are addressed. Research-based guidelines for teaching phonological awareness and phonemic awareness to all children are described.

Additional instructional design guidelines are offered for teaching children with learning disabilities who are experiencing difficulties with early reading.

Considerations for assessing children's phonological awareness are discussed, and descriptions of available measures are provided.

Row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily;
Life is but a dream

Bow, bow, bow your boat
bently bown the beam.
Berrily, berrily, berrily, berrily;
Bife is but a beam.

Sow, sow, sow your soat
sently sown the seam.
Serrily, serrily, serrily, serrily;
Sife is sut a seam.

Activities like substituting different sounds for the first sound of a familiar song can help children develop phonological awareness, a cognitive substrate to reading acquisition.

Becoming phonologically aware prepares children for later reading instruction, including instruction in phonics, word analysis, and spelling (Adams, Foorman, Lundberg, & Beeler, 1998; Chard, Simmons, & Kameenui, 1998).

The most common barrier to learning early word reading skills is the inability to process language phonologically (Liberman, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1989).

Moreover, developments in research and understanding have revealed that this weakness in phonological processing most often hinders early reading development for both students with and without disabilities (Fletcher et al., 1994).

No area of reading research has gained as much attention over the past two decades as phonological awareness.

Perhaps the most exciting finding emanating from research on phonological awareness is that critical levels of phonological awareness can be developed through carefully planned instruction, and this development has a significant influence on children's reading and spelling achievement (Ball & Blachman, 1991; Bradley & Bryant, 1985; Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1989, 1991; O'Connor, Jenkins, Leicester, & Slocum, 1993).

Despite the promising findings, however, many questions remain unanswered, and many misconceptions about phonological awareness persist.

For example, researchers are looking for ways to determine how much and what type of instruction is necessary and for whom.

Moreover, many people do not understand the difference between phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics.

Still others are uncertain about the relationship between phonological awareness and early reading.

Read more of this article here: Phonological Awareness: Instructional and Assessment Guidelines | LD Topics | LD OnLine

Dyslexia in the Workplace

Fear of discrimination by managers and bullying by colleagues prevents many people from disclosing the fact that they have dyslexia. (Trades Union Congress UK).

Estimates vary, but 5 to 15 percent of Americans - 14.5 to 43.5 million children and adults - have dyslexia.

The British Dyslexia Association estimates that ten percent of the population are affected by dyslexia to some degree.

Dyslexia is a neurological genetic condition that can make reading, writing, spelling and auditory processing difficult. There is no cure for dyslexia.

Researchers have not yet been able to agree on what causes dyslexia. One theory suggests dyslexia is caused by a difference in the way the brain functions.

Though most people handle language in the left hemisphere of the brain, a person with dyslexia tends to use the right hemisphere for dealing with language (which is best at handling space and patterns).

It has been suggested that this, to some extent, can be remedied by teaching the brain to use the left side of the brain.

Another theory suggests that dyslexia is caused by a malfunction of the inner ear. This malfunction causes signals sent to the brain to become "scrambled".

Famous and successful people had dyslexia: Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, and Walt Disney. People with dyslexia can be good lateral thinkers, problem solvers and communicators and often are strong in practical and creative areas.

Many dyslexics excel in lateral thinking, are creative and innovative, and are aware of links and associations that may escape the more linear thinker.

They often have good powers of visualization, excellent practical skills, and an untaught intuitive understanding of how systems work.

Employees with dyslexia tend to write down inverted phone numbers and financial figures. They can spend a long time trying to interpret a memo.

They hide their illiteracy and get other people to read and write for them. Many can suffer headaches from trying to read accurately.

They can find it difficult in formulating their own thoughts rapidly enough to take part in discussions. For managers, the loss of productivity can be enormous if the condition goes undetected and strategies not implemented to assist the employee.

Dyslexia can be a 'hidden disability' and can go unnoticed in early years and continue through adulthood.

Many people with dyslexia are unaware of their condition and are likely to be anxious, frustrated and suffer from low self-esteem at work.

Though when diagnosed, the majority of dyslexic adults are relieved to discover their condition. It answers the questions they lived with for so long on as to why they had difficulties in school.

Read more of this article here: Dyslexia in the Workplace

The Dyslexia Quandary

Although the goal of inclusion of the term dyslexia into a diagnostic manual is to make it easier for individuals to get recognition and help for their difficulties, the flip side is that the label can come with a stigma, or be used as a barrier.

As long as dyslexia is deemed a “disorder,” educators and employers will continue to look at dyslexics as being less capable and less deserving of advancement.

Perhaps the time has come to recognize that “dyslexia” is a characteristic, not a disease. Because it is common — perhaps impacting as many as 20% of all schoolchildren to some degree — maybe it should be the responsibility of educators to learn how to teach children with dyslexic characteristics within the normal classroom environment.

That is, perhaps parents should be relieved of the educational burden of proving that there is something wrong with their children in order to get specialized services. The burden should shift to educators to learn to reach and teach all of their students, not just the ones who have “average” or “typical” learning styles.

Read more of this article here: The Dyslexia Quandary

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Diabetes Reversed In Mice Thanks To Stem Cell Transplant

Canadian scientists were able to reverse diabetes in mice with a human stem cell transplant, igniting hopes for a cure for the widespread disease, caused by the failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin to stabilize blood sugar levels in humans.

A paper outlining the work, led by Timothy Kieffer of the University of British Columbia and conducted in partnership with New Jersey-based company BetaLogics, appeared in the journal Diabetes on Tuesday.

Diabetic mice were weaned off of insulin after receiving the pancreatic stem cell transplant, which restarted the cycle in which insulin production rises or falls based on blood sugar levels.  Three to four months later, the mice could maintain healthy blood sugar levels even after being fed a lot of sugar.

"We are very excited by these findings, but additional research is needed before this approach can be tested clinically in humans," Kieffer said in a statement on Tuesday.

The researchers cautioned that their study used mice that had a suppressed immune system, the better to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells.

"We now need to identify a suitable way of protecting the cells from immune attack so that the transplant can ultimately be performed in the absence of any immunosuppression," Kieffer said.

In 2009, a different team of researchers led by scientists from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and Northwestern University reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that they were able to successfully reverse type 1 diabetes by injecting 8 patients with some of their own stem cells.

Some studies have shown that this kind of stem cell transplantation is only a temporary fix - after anywhere between six months to three years, the insulin-producing cells are again attacked by the patient's immune system.

SOURCE: Rezania et al. "Maturation of Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Pancreatic Progenitors into Functional Islets Capable of Treating Pre-existing Diabetes in Mice." Diabetes 27 June 2012.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reading Difficulties: The evolution of those annoying online security tests

A free tutorial website, Duolingo, aims to translate the entire web with the help of people starting to learn a new language.

It's a project born out of guilt from the man behind one of the most annoying features of web surfing - those online security checks involving random words.

Duolingo hopes to convince millions of people to work for free and thus translate all web content in a matter of years.

It may sound like an ambitious plan but it's not the first time founder Luis von Ahn and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University have enlisted a global workforce to work for nothing.

As a 22-year-old graduate student in 2000, von Ahn invented the Captcha - those distorted images of words and numbers used to sign in to ticketing and social media websites, among others, which users have to decipher to prove they are human.

The software is used by more than 350,000 websites to prevent computer programs from attacking them with spam. In 2007, von Ahn realised that 200 million Captchas were being typed by people all over the world every day.

"At first I felt really good about that because I thought, 'Look at the impact that I've had'," he says. "But then I starting feeling bad."

Typing each Captcha takes about 10 seconds, he estimates. Multiply that by 200 million, and humanity as a whole is wasting about 500,000 hours on these security codes every day.

He decided to put these hours to good use and devised ReCaptcha, a system that uses each human-typed response as both a security check and a means to digitise books one word at a time.

At the same time the New York Times was digitising 156 years of its archive using a team of typists. Over a decade, the typists had transcribed 27 years of newspapers. The paper began using von Ahn's software and in 24 months had transcribed the remaining 129 years of archived newspapers.

ReCaptcha was acquired by Google in 2009, and it is still used widely to tell humans and spamming programmes apart. But its translating software is exclusively available to Google's Books project to transcribe every book in the world.

All of that doesn't detract from the fact that for most people, these security codes are nothing more than a frustrating waste of time. For those with dyslexia or sight problems, they can be a serious barrier to internet use.

Dr Sue Fowler, at the Dyslexia Research Trust, says the codes only add to the trouble dyslexics have filling in web forms. "Even looking at it closely, I wouldn't know what to do with it," she says.

There is an audio alternative, but these are even more confusing as most just sound like a flurry of noise.

And the automated security codes are getting more and more difficult. Some of the latest manifestations can appear as a jumbled blur of letters, numbers and punctuation that is almost indecipherable.

"As of a few months ago, if we showed someone a ReCaptcha they were successful at it about 93% of the time," says von Ahn, adding that once that drops to 75%, users give up on trying to access a site.

Since selling ReCaptcha, von Ahn has teamed up with one of his graduate students, Severin Hacker, to create software that gives the user something in return for their time and effort.

The answer is Duolingo, a site that gives free language tutorials and in exchange solicits aspiring linguists to translate sentences from the internet.

At present, it only caters for English speakers looking to learn French, German or Spanish, and Spanish speakers who want to learn English. They start with very simple sentences and work up towards more complex ones, increasing their value as a translator as they progress.

Does Social media help autistic children ‘navigate the world’?

Jordan Hilkowitz is layering household products into a beaker for his latest science experiment.

Right beside his mom’s coffeemaker on the kitchen counter, he is preparing a video entitled Layers and Density, describing each step for his 3,800 YouTube channel subscribers and more than 1.5-million viewers.

It’s an extraordinary feat considering that five years ago, the 10-year-old autistic boy was non-verbal.

Jordan, better known as Doctor Mad Science, also has an audience of researchers who are intrigued by the fact that social media could be useful therapy for children with autism.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has written nice comments about my video’s [sic],” he posted on a previous video.

“I sometimes have a hard time making friends and I now know there are some nice people out there.”

One in every 150-160 children has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, neurological conditions that affect communication and social interaction.

But a growing number of children and young adults are harnessing the power of social media to bring them out of their shells, bolster their confidence and tell their stories – giving scientists a new and potentially transformative avenue to explore in the already extensive field of autism research.

Autistic children have long been drawn to technology, but what is it about these new forms of social media that changes behaviour?

“That part is very much a mystery. But it’s certainly attracting the attention of researchers,” said Peter Szatmari, a leading autism researcher, who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience at McMaster University and McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont.

One theory, Dr. Szatmari said, is that the human face doesn’t have the same drawing power for an autistic child, and that something about technology triggers the motivation that’s lacking in face-to-face contact.

“This can really have a big impact in helping people with ASD navigate the world and be able to do things that we never thought possible before,” he said.

Marc Sirkin, vice-president of social marketing at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group in the United States, said Jordan and others are using social media in such astounding ways that those who work with them are forced to take a second look.

Carly Fleischmann, a non-verbal autistic teen from Toronto, for example, tweets about her disorder and other topics to more than 24,000 followers, and Nichole Lee, a 21-year-old from Utah, has a YouTube channel where she posts video blogs and speaks about autism.

“We think about people with disabilities [as] being intellectually disabled. As it turns out, there’s a large part of the autism community that’s not intellectually disabled. They’re just unable to communicate,” Mr. Sirkin said.

Jordan began posting science experiments on YouTube a year ago with the help of a babysitter. His interest in science came at an early age – he collected rocks, worked on circuits and, at one point, installed pulleys all over his house.

When his focus turned to experiments, his babysitter suggested he appear on camera because she thought it would force him to work on his speech and perhaps gain confidence.

Jordan searches for kid-friendly science experiments online, conducts them before the camera, and helps edit the videos.

He’s made about $2,200 through his YouTube business, with the goal of earning enough to buy a Macbook.

For Jordan’s mother, the greater value is emotional.

Stacey Hilkowitz remembered that she once needed the help of security guards at the mall to remove Jordan when he was having a screaming fit, and how he would smash his head against the floor.

“I’m so embarrassed,” Jordan piped in, covering his face with his hands. Ms. Hilkowitz quickly turned the conversation to how Jordan has changed, crediting that transformation to his appearances on YouTube.

He’s loud and confident, his speech has improved, he has friends, and even served some time in school detention this year.

“I know it sounds funny, but those are the types of things we want to see,” said Ms. Hilkowitz, who has an older daughter also diagnosed with autism.

“This is a good year for you, Jordan, a very good year,” she said to her son.

Sometimes Jordan has wanted to quit. He has been hurt by comments about his voice and the fact that he doesn’t enunciate well.

These days, Ms. Hilkowitz deletes damaging comments early in the morning. Viewers try to boost his confidence as well. “Six dislikes?????? Don’t worry you can always knock back their job applications in twenty years time,” one wrote.

Jordan is buoyed by those comments. “It really gets to people,” he said. “Like with my disability, it really gets people realizing that anyone can do [anything].”

Dyslexia: A Hidden Disability - YouTube

"Dyslexia: A Hidden Disability," produced by the Kennedy/Marshall Company, is an excellent documentary on adults and children who have dyslexia and the doctors and educators who are working to make a difference in their lives.

It features interviews with Steven Spielberg, Charles Schwab, Whoopi Goldberg, Sally Shaywitz, and Craig Watkinson.

LEGO® DUPLO® and ALSC: Imagination - Read, Play and Build!

LEGO® DUPLO® and the Association for Library Services To Children (ALSC) have joined hands to celebrate and support local libraries.

The most nominated library in the "Read! Build! Play!" project receives $5,000 for books and supplies.

The top 200 libraries receive a special LEGO DUPLO Read! Build! Play! toolkit chock full of cutting edge, early literacy programming that combines preschool books with a versatile collection of DUPLO bricks.

Get inspired at home with a version of that toolkit by downloading the LEGO DUPLO Parent Activity Guide (PDF).

The ALSC is dedicated to the constant improvement of library service for children.

With 4,000 librarians, literature experts, publishers, and faculty members, the ALSC generates new programming that's at the forefront of our nation's literacy campaigns. Get involved

LEGO® DUPLO® Read! Build! Play! Project

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dyslexic Artist and The Chronophage: Time-eater at Museum

The 3.3 metre Midsummer Chronophage, which has no hands or numbers and is inspired by the idea that everyone experiences time differently, will be on display from Thursday 24 May 2012 until Sunday 13 January 2013.

Dr Taylor’s clock is controlled by a Chronophage, which is a mythical beast that eats time. It slowly opens its jaws for 59 seconds and then snaps shut on the 60th – chews the minute – swallows it. Then, you can never get it back… 

Dr Taylor explains:
"It takes a dyslexic inventor to produce a clock without hands that that also plays games with you. Once you have seen the Chronophage all other clocks will seem rather boring - all they do is tell the time. 
This one surprises you, sometimes stopping, running fast or backwards as it tells relative time and yet still managing to be accurate to within 100th of a second on every fifth minute.
"It was Einstein who said Time was relative. When asked for an example, he paused and then said, “If you think about it, an hour spent on a park bench with a pretty girl passes in a moment, but a moment sat on a hot stove seems like an hour.""
The clock face is made of 24ct gold-plate, on stainless steel. It was formed into its wave shape by several underwater explosions. 

Accurate time is shown once every five minutes through the light slits which replace traditional hands and numbers. 

A fabulous light show is created in concentric circles as each minute passes. The hour is struck by the sound of a chain clanking into a small wooden coffin concealed in the back of the clock to remind us that our time on earth is limited.
The Chronophage which chomps away time on top of the clock was inspired by the work of the horologist John Harrison (1693-1776). 

Harrison is famous for his portable sea clocks, invented to solve the problem of measuring longitude at sea, and for his many inventions to increase the accuracy of timekeeping, including the grasshopper escapement.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, Director, National Museums Scotland, said:
"I am delighted to have this spectacular timepiece on loan. The Chronophage is a beautiful and amazing work of engineering, and is certain to generate a huge amount of public interest."
The clock represents a fusion of art and technology. It took more than two years to make and involved over a hundred people including artists, engineers, scientists, jewellers and calligraphers. 

It is up to the observer to decide whether this is simply a beautiful clock, or a work of art or even an installation on Time.

Dr Taylor said:
"The Chronophage is a unique blend of art and science, and each one is completely unique, with a different mythical creature eating away time. I’m grateful to National Museums Scotland for the opportunity to exhibit the Midsummer Chronophage in one of the most amazing public spaces in Scotland."
Dr John C Taylor is an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, best known for his ubiquitous kettle safety switch or thermostat which turns the kettle off when it has boiled or overheats. 

The Chronophage is one of only three in existence, with another at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and the third, featuring a Chinese dragon, set to go to Shanghai. A fourth is currently in development.

The clock is displayed alongside two more traditional clocks: a panelled Longcase Clock by Ahasuerus Fromanteel, dating from around 1660 and an Ebonized longcase wooden regulator designed by John and James Harrison, circa 1726.

On Friday 6 July at the National Museum of Scotland, American author Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter will be in conversation with Dr John Taylor. 

John Harrison, the inspiration behind the Chronophage, appeared as a main character in Longitude, and was played by Michael Gambon in the BAFTA-winning TV adaptation of Sobel’s book, which also featured Jeremy Irons, Bill Nighy and Brian Cox. The event is part of the RBS Museum Talks series.

Notes to Editors
1. The Year of Creative Scotland begins on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. 

More information about the programme can be found at: The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL.

2. Please note that National Museums Scotland (no ‘of’ or ‘the’) is our corporate name. Our individual museums are called the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life, the National Museum of Costume and the National War Museum.

Dyslexia and the Artist: Corpus Clock and Chronophage

Known as the Corpus Clock, the machine has been invented by and designed by Dr John Taylor, a dyslexic artist, for Corpus Christi College Cambridge for the exterior of the college's new library building.

The Clock was unveiled on 19th September by Stephen Hawking, cosmologist and author of the global bestseller, A Brief History of Time.

Dr Taylor, an inventor and horologist, has put 500,000 pounds of his own money and seven years into developing the clock, which has been inspired from a design by a clock made by the legendary John Harrison, the pioneer of longitude.

Of John Harrison's many innovations, he came up with the 'grasshopper escapement, explained Dr Taylor, referring to the device used by Harrison to turn rotational motion into a pendulum motion for timekeeping.

No one knows how a grasshopper escapement works, so I decided to turn the clock inside out and, instead of making the escapement 35 mm across, it is 1.5 m across, he said.

He calls the new version of the escapement a Chronophage (time-eater) a fearsome beast which drives the clock, literally eating away time.

The Chronophage is currently installed and on public view in Edinburgh, at the National Museum of Scotland.
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Ben Passmore displays his painting on Dyslexia

A STUDENT has told his personal experiences of Dyslexia through an exhibit.

Ben Passmore, 27, who is doing a part-time Foundation Diploma course at City College Brighton and Hove, has exhibited his painting at the college’s Visual Arts End of Year Show.

Ben, from St Leonards, said: “I came up with this idea of ‘visual dyslexia’ through the problems I have with written words.

“When I’m reading, I see words jump and sometimes overlap so it is very confusing and frustrating for me. With this exhibit, I’ve tried to do the same with visual information and create a visual image that is frustrating to the viewer. Being at City College has really helped me to explore these sorts of ideas and push my work further.”

The exhibition features final projects from more than 300 students who complete their courses this year.

City College’s Visual Arts End of Year Show is to the public during the college’s Open Day Summer Extravaganza tomorrow (Saturday), from 11am to 3pm at its Pelham Street Central Campus in Brighton. Admission is free.

DIABETES Type 1: An artificial pancreas will defeat it

At best, Type 1 diabetes is a huge nuisance and at worst a constant threat of death for up to 3 million Americans whose pancreases don't produce insulin.

Technology has improved the life of some diabetics, with insulin pumps replacing manual injections and glucose monitors that keep constant watch of diabetics' blood-sugar levels, reducing the need for finger-pricks.

Yet diabetics are still required to frequently monitor and adjust their insulin levels. Now one company, Animas Corp., has completed the first successful human trial of a made-for-market artificial pancreas that takes care of everything automatically.

Are we on the verge of relegating type 1 diabetes to an easily manageable condition? Here's a look at the quest to ease the lives of diabetics:

How does an artificial pancreas work?
The replacement pancreas ties together an insulin pump, a glucose monitor and a computer system that automatically adjusts insulin levels, creating a "closed-loop" system.

Animas' Hypoglycemia-Hyperglycemia Minimizer (HHM) currently uses a laptop to predict how much insulin a patient will need, based on individualized algorithms, and regulates levels accordingly, but the company hopes its artificial pancreas will soon be operated by smartphone, or a processor in the insulin pump.

There are a number of rival artificial pancreases in development; one from Boston and Harvard unversities, and the other from the University of Virginia and an international consortium of researchers, which already operate by smartphone.

How did the HHM work in the field?
The artificial pancreas worked very well, but the trial only had 13 subjects, lasted about 20 hours, and took place under constant medical supervision at a hospital.

The next step will be having patients use the HHM part-time in the hospital and part-time at home, then finally letting diabetics use it completely on their own.

The artificial pancreas developed by the University of Virginia just started outpatient testing, and researchers expect the trials to ramp up and last through 2013.

Is an artificial pancreas a sure thing?
"Diabetics regularly receive glowing news about the latest and greatest leaps forward in insulin technology," and they're often disappointed, says Heather McClellan at The Escapist.

This looks to be different, and an artificial pancreas is probably in the cards. That could be great, if diabetics are willing to entrust their lives to a machine that will "always carry the risk of mechanical failure or a snafu in the software."

So when might diabetics be able to use one?
An artificial pancreas is "still a long way off," says Meeri Kim at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

How long? "I wish I could give you a time frame, maybe two years, four years, a decade," says Animas chief medical officer Henry Anhalt.

"Given the regulatory hurdles, we are moving as quickly as possible." Even when the pancreas does hit the market, it won't be cheap: An Animas insulin pump alone costs $6,343, for example.

Still, many insurers will probably pick up the tab. If science pulls this off, diabetics will not only live better and healthier, but potentially eat normally, too, says Andrew Tarantola at Gizmodo.

We will essentially have "solved type 1 diabetes."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A woman's new thinking turns heads - Using the brain's Neuroplasticity

When Barbara Arrowsmith-Young realised her brain wasn't working, she changed it. Now others are following her.

IT'S the kind of memory that stays with you. When she was in first grade, Barbara Arrowsmith-Young's Canadian primary school teacher told her mother, in her presence, that she had some kind of "mental block", and would never be able to learn.

 Now that she has helped more than 4000 learning-disabled children overcome precisely that kind of diagnosis, of course, she can laugh at it. But she didn't at the time.

Arrowsmith-Young, now 61, talks fluently and passionately and with great erudition. She has a masters degree in school psychology. She has published a groundbreaking, widely praised and enthralling book called The Woman Who Changed Her Brain.

But back at school — indeed, up until she was in her mid-20s — she was desperate. Tormented and often depressed. She did not know what was wrong.

On the one hand, she was brilliant. She had near total auditory and visual memory. "I could listen to the 6 o'clock news, and reproduce it word-for-word at 11pm," she says. "I could open a book, read the first sentence, the second, the third, visualise them. I could memorise whole exercise books."

On the other hand, she was a dolt. "I didn't understand anything. Meaning just never crystallised. Everything was fragmented, disconnected."

She could recite film scripts, but not grasp the relationship between the hands of a clock to tell the time. So in exams, she often got 100 per cent.

Other times, whenever the task involved reasoning, logic, connection, interpretation, or when she simply pulled in the wrong information from her memory, she would get 10 per cent.

"The teachers did not understand," she says. "At school I used to get the strap, for not trying. They really thought I wasn't trying."

Her mother, a teacher, devised a series of flash cards with numbers and letters and, by dint of much hard work, she achieved literacy and numeracy, of a sort.

"For a long time, I reversed almost every letter and number," she says. "I was just not attaching meaning to symbols."

In secondary school, and later at university, she disguised her learning disabilities by working 20 hours a day: "I used to hide in the bathroom when the security guards came around the college library at night, then come back out and carry on."

The breakthrough came when she was 26. A fellow student gave her a book by a Russian neuro-psychologist, Aleksandr Luria: The Man with a Shattered World.

The book contained Luria's research and reflections on the writings of a highly intelligent Russian soldier, Lyova Zazetsky, who had been shot in the brain at the battle of Smolensk in 1943, and recorded in great detail his subsequent disabilities.

For the first time, Arrowsmith says, "I recognised somebody describing exactly what I experienced. His expressions were the same: living life in a fog.

His difficulties were the same: he couldn't tell the time from a clock, he couldn't understand bigger and smaller without drawing pictures, he couldn't tell the difference between the sentences 'the boy chases the dog' and 'the dog chases the boy'. I began to see that maybe an area of my brain wasn't working."

Reading Luria's research, Arrowsmith-Young learned that the bullet that struck Zazetsky had lodged in his left occipital-temporal-parietal region — the critical junction where, in principle, all incoming information from the lobes responsible for sight, sound, language and touch is synthesised, analysed and made sense of.

She realised that, in all probability, this was the region of her own brain that had been malfunctioning since birth.

Then she read about the work of Mark Rosenzweig, an American researcher who found that laboratory rats given a rich and stimulating environment, with play wheels and toys, developed larger brains than those kept in a bare cage.

Rosenzweig concluded that the brain continues developing, reshaping itself based on life experiences, rather than being fixed at birth: a concept known as neuroplasticity.

Arrowsmith-Young decided that if rats could grow bigger and better brains, so could she. So she started devising brain stimulation exercises for herself that would work the parts of her brain not functioning.

Read the full article here: A woman's new thinking turns heads

Dietary Changes and Milk fats alter gut bacteria causing degenerative bowel diseases

The rise of inflammatory bowel diseases could be down to our shifting diets causing a "boom in bad bacteria", according to US researchers.

Mouse experiments detailed in the journal Nature linked certain fats, bacteria in the gut and the onset of inflammatory diseases.

The researchers said the high-fat diet changed the way food was digested and encouraged harmful bacteria.

Microbiologists said modifying gut bacteria might treat the disease.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, affect one in every 350 people in the UK. When the gut becomes inflamed it can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

The researchers at the University of Chicago said the incidence of the diseases was increasing rapidly.

They used genetically modified mice which were more likely to develop IBDs. One in three developed colitis when fed either low-fat diets or meals high in polyunsaturated fats. This jumped to nearly two in three in those fed a diet high in saturated milk fats, which are in many processed foods.

They also suggest an effective means of dealing with such diseases, by simply reshaping the microbial balance of the gut”

Dr Roy Sleator Cork Institute of Technology

These saturated fats are hard for the body to digest and it responds by pumping more bile into the gut.

This changes the gut environment and leads to a change in the bacteria growing there, the researchers said.


One bacterium in particular, Bilophila wadsworthia, was identified. It thrives in the extra bile produced to break down the fats. It went from being incredibly rare to nearly 6% of all bacteria in the gut in the high-fat diet.

Prof Eugene Chang, of the University of Chicago, said: "Unfortunately, these can be harmful bacteria. Presented with a rich source of sulphur, they bloom, and when they do, they are capable of activating the immune system of genetically prone individuals."

However, he said this could lead to possible treatments as the gut bacteria could be "reshaped" without "significantly affecting the lifestyles of individuals who are genetically prone to these diseases".

Commenting on the research, Dr Roy Sleator, from the Cork Institute of Technology, said: "Not only do the authors provide, what is in my opinion, the first credible explanation as to how Western diet contributes to the unusually high incidence in inflammatory bowel disease; they also suggest an effective means of dealing with such diseases, by simply reshaping the microbial balance of the gut."

Brain Training is Life Changing! - YouTube

NB: We are not endorsing Learning Rx or any other products or services on this site and include this video and others for information only. This will allow our readers to stay informed about what is available in the Dyslexia and the Learning Disorders Environment and to be able to make informed decisions about their own specific needs. Enjoy!

Dyslexia: Message from a Teacher who is Dyslexic

Rocky Perry wrote his first book back in 2009 while he was studying Early Childhood Education at Dalton State College.

He has always tried to do the things that are hardest for him. He learned to read and write later than most people due to his Dyslexia, which was diagnosed with in the early eighties.

Writing a book, like getting his degree, presented some unique challenges. This first book was written using Dragon Naturally Speaking speech to text software.

He did finish the book and when he looked back at all the things he'd learned from the experience, he knew he had to keep writing.

"In the early eighties I was diagnosed with Dyslexia. It wasn’t until sixth grade that I learned to read. Most every book I read before thirty was an audio book and school was always a huge struggle."

"At thirty six, I am a college graduate, a teacher, author of several books, and a father of three great kids. I am doing the best I can. Dyslexia is still a struggle."

"I give a lot of credit to people who have helped me along the way, and of course technology. Without technology I am certain I would not have made it through high school, much less any of the other endeavours I have accomplished in my life."

Read more about Rocky on his blog: Mom, My Teacher is Dyslexic

We do not endorse any product or service on this blog but we do encourage you to become familiar with technology that can act as a tool and help you overcome the difficulties you face when managing your Dyslexia.

Henry Winkler: Podcast by the Dyslexic Author of Children's Books

Actor Henry Winkler: Insightful Podcast by the Dyslexic Author of Childrens' Books

Henry talks openly about his children's books and how they were lossely based on his own childhood and experience as a dyslexic child and man.

Henry is the father of 3 very successful children who also experience dyslexia in their daily lives.

Learning Disabilities, What Are The Different Types? - YouTube

Dyslexia: Learning Difficulties examined

Learning difficulty, although sometimes called a learning disorder or learning disability, is a classification that includes several disorders, in which a person has difficulty learning in an expected or typical manner.

Learning difficulties;
  • are rarely simple, there is normally additional complexity associated with the condition,
  • can be isolating and reduces confidence and self esteem,
  • can make life problematic for a person to learn as quickly or, more relevantly, in the same way, as others.
  • are not indicative of cognition or intelligence level, only indicative of the need for alternative ways in which to learn.
  • cannot be 'fixed' or 'cured', only managed,
  • make people face unique challenges that last their entire lifetime.

Interventions may be used to help the individual learn or develop strategies that will foster their future success.

The causes of learning difficulties are not always well understood and not always apparent but selectively, some are;
Common Causes of Learning Difficulties
Learning difficulties range from mild, through varying degrees of complexity, to severe but, given support and understanding, people with learning difficulties can and do, lead very normal lives.

Many people with learning difficulties go on to hold very intellectually demanding positions and function at a very high level in our progressive societies.

Some causes of neurological impairments include:

• Accident in baby or childhood - may be caused by malnutrition, head injury or toxic exposure
• Heredity or Genetics - Certain conditions may run in the family
• Poverty - may be a result of a lack of parental reinforcement or affordability of support from specific medical or academic sources
• Problems during pregnancy and/or birth - may result from fetal exposure to alcohol or drugs, oxygen deprivation, anomalies developed in the brain, low birth weight, injury or illness or premature or prolonged labour

One major factor for many people who face learning difficulties is that they are unable to express their feelings easily in words and their actions may have to speak for them.

Their behaviour and moods may change and their inability to express themselves may result in depression, sadness, anxiety and other mental health issues, which are generally treated separately from the underlying condition.

A more 'holistic' view is always more beneficial to the management of your health and welfare and is particularly important in managing learning difficulties.

Can Psychotherapy Help with Learning Difficulties
A diagnosis of any learning difficulty may be potentially devastating to a person and their family.

Both the person who faces learning difficulties and their family members will need to learn coping skills for the difficulty as well as emotionally.

Stress associated with learning difficulties can accumulate which may make the coping process even more difficult and the selection of coping strategies inappropriate.

Learning difficulties are most often present over an entire lifetime, so learning effective and appropriate methods of coping are essential to successful management.

Psychotherapy and the teaching of behavioural strategies or techniques, often work best for individuals who struggle with learning difficulties.

For children, play therapy may be helpful if the therapist uses it to teach interaction techniques. Children and adults may also do well in therapy and most will benefit from joining a mutual support group.

Dyslexia Study: CYP19A1 gene and the linkage region of speech and language disorders

Paper Abstract

Inspired by the localization, on 15q21.2 of the CYP19A1 gene in the linkage region of speech and language disorders, and a rare translocation in a dyslexic individual that was brought to our attention, we conducted a series of studies on the properties of CYP19A1 as a candidate gene for dyslexia and related conditions.

The aromatase enzyme is a member of the cytochrome P450 super family, and it serves several key functions:
  • it catalyzes the conversion of androgens into estrogens; 
  • during early mammalian development it controls the differentiation of specific brain areas (e.g. local estrogen synthesis in the hippocampus regulates synaptic plasticity and axonal growth); 
  • it is involved in sexual differentiation of the brain; 
  • and in songbirds and teleost fishes, it regulates vocalization. 
Our results suggest that variations in CYP19A1 are associated with dyslexia as a categorical trait and with quantitative measures of language and speech, such as reading, vocabulary, phonological processing and oral motor skills.

Variations near the vicinity of its brain promoter region altered transcription factor binding, suggesting a regulatory role in CYP19A1 expression. CYP19A1 expression in human brain correlated with the expression of dyslexia susceptibility genes such as DYX1C1 and ROBO1.

Aromatase-deficient mice displayed increased cortical neuronal density and occasional cortical heterotopias, also observed in Robo1−/− mice and human dyslexic brains, respectively.

An aromatase inhibitor reduced dendritic growth in cultured rat neurons. From this broad set of evidence, we propose CYP19A1 as a candidate gene for human cognitive functions implicated in reading, speech and language.

Download the Paper PDF here: CYP19A1 Gene

Read the Full Text Preview at SpringerLink

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Treatment reverses brain abnormalities

Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children normalizes disturbances in the neuronal network responsible for attention and executive function, according to a new study.

“OSA is known to be associated with deficits in attention, cognition, and executive function,” said lead author Ann Halbower, MD, Associate Professor at the Children’s Hospital Sleep Center and University of Colorado Denver.

“Our study is the first to show that treatment of OSA in children can reverse neuronal brain injury, correlated with improvements in attention and verbal memory in these patients.”

The results will be presented at the ATS 2012 International Conference in San Francisco.

In the study, children (ages 8-11) with moderate-severe OSA were compared to healthy controls.

Brain imaging with magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging was performed at baseline in 15 OSA patients and seven controls, along with neuro-psychological testing.

OSA treatment consisted of adenotonsillectomy followed by monitored continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or nasal treatments. Brain imaging and neuropsychological testing was performed again in 11 OSA patients and the seven controls six months after treatment.

Compared with controls at baseline, children with OSA exhibited significantly decreased N-acetyl aspartate to choline ratios (NAA/Cho) in the left hippocampus and left frontal cortex, along with significant decreases in the executive functions of verbal memory, and attention.

Following treatment, both left and right frontal cortex neuronal metabolites normalized, and hippocampal metabolites improved with a medium effect size (0.5).

More complete reversal of hippocampal abnormalities was seen in children with milder OSA when apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) improved (although this is very preliminary data).

Verbal memory and attention improved with medium to large effect sizes. Improvements in attention and verbal memory were correlated with normalization of NAA/Cho in the right and left frontal cortex (p=0.5).

“We have demonstrated for the first time that treatment of OSA in children normalizes brain metabolites in portions of the neuronal network responsible for attention and executive function,” concluded Dr. Halbower.

“We speculate that if OSA is treated earlier, there may be a more brisk improvement in the hippocampus, a relay station for executive function, learning, and memory.”

“Our results point to the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of OSA in children, as it could potentially have profound effects on their development.”

The secret to a longer life - Fatherhood?

Being a parent has many benefits, but could it actually prolong your life?

The complete answer is, Perhaps. According to researchers who spent 10 years studying more than 130,000 retired men age 50 and over, the number of cardiovascular-related deaths was 17 percent higher among the childless than among dads.

Here's what you should know:

What were these researchers studying?
Dr. Michael Eisenberg and his team at Stanford University set out to shed more light on the known connection between male infertility and health problems like testicular cancer, according to Britain's Daily Mail.

 So in 1996, Eisenberg began following 135,000 men over the age of 50 who were married or formerly married; some had children, others didn't. He then tracked heir death rates over the course of 10 years.

What did they discover?
"Childless men were more likely to die during the follow-up period than fathers," says Alice Park at TIME. But the most surprising finding?

"Most of the deaths were heart related." That was a shocker to researchers, who thought they'd find higher rates of cancer deaths.

Why would childless men be more susceptible to heart disease?
Researchers don't know how many of the men were childless by choice or because they were infertile, but infertility can be linked to heart disease.

"Infertile men tend to have abnormal testicular function," says Park, and the testes produce testosterone.

"Abnormal testosterone levels may cause HDL, or 'good' cholesterol, to drop." Perhaps, Eisenberg posits, "this impaired testicular function, which is [showing up] as infertility early in life, sets the stage for a higher risk of cardiovascular events later in life."

Is everyone sold on this theory?
No. "I lean toward another theory, myself," writes Bruce Goldman at Scope. "Having kids is just plain good for you."

Perhaps "the cumulative blessings accruing from taking care of kids [outweighs] the acute brain damage arising from those early sleepless nights," and makes dads healthier in the long run.

Language: How we gave colours names, and it messed with our brains

Imagine that you had a rainbow-coloured piece of paper that smoothly blends from one colour to the other. This will be our map of colour space.

Now just as you would on a real map, we draw boundaries on it. This bit here is pink, that part is orange, and that’s yellow.

Here is what such a map might look like to a native English speaker.

If you think about it, there’s a real puzzle here.  

Why should different cultures draw the same boundaries?

If we speak different languages with largely independent histories, shouldn’t our ancestors have carved up the visual atlas rather differently?

This question was first addressed by Brent Berlin and Paul Kay in the late 1960s.  

They wanted to know if there are universal, guiding laws that govern how cultures arrive at their colour atlas.

Here’s what they found. Languages have differing numbers of colour words, ranging from two to about eleven. Yet after looking at 98 different languages, they saw a pattern.

It was a pretty radical idea, that there is a certain fixed order in which these colour names arise. This was a common path that languages seem to follow, a road towards increasing visual diversity and they suggested that the road looked like this:

The figure above is really telling a story. What it says is this. If a language has just two colour terms, they will be a light and a dark shade – blacks and whites.

Add a third colour, and it’s going to be red. Add another, and it will be either green or yellow – you need five colors to have both and when you get to six colours, the green splits into two, and you now have a blue.

What we’re seeing here is a deeply trodden road that most languages seem to follow, towards greater visual discernment (92 of their 98 languages seemed to follow this basic route).

Critics of Kay and Berlin said they were reading too much from too little. Some argued that their study was too small, that they surveyed too few people from each language.

They also said that study was skewed, as most the languages were from industrialized societies with written scripts. And to top it off, their methods weren’t very quantitative.

To respond to these criticisms, the authors launched what they called the World Colour Survey, a project that started collecting data in the late 1970s. This was a survey of 110 languages, all spoken by pre-industrial societies, many that have no written script.

Read more of this article here: Empirical Zeal

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dyslexia: 50 years old dyslexic man says "my life is a living hell"

This is a video response to a comment left under Dyslexic Brian's My Dyslexia Life Story video.

It is understandable that dyslexia can have such a negative impact on a person's life especially if they are struggling to understand and overcome it fully.

Dyslexia need not destroy your life. We all have much to do and need to reach out more.

PTSD: Anti-anxiety Drug Calms Fears by Altering Brain Chemistry

An advance in understanding the brain’s fear circuitry has been revealed by a research team. They say it may hold particular promise for people at risk for anxiety disorders, including those suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Findings are reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“What is most compelling is our ability to translate first from mice to human neurobiology and then all the way out to human behaviour,” says Ahmad Hariri, a neurobiologist at Duke University. “That kind of translation is going to define the future of psychiatry and neuroscience.”

The common thread in their studies is a gene encoding an enzyme called fatty acid amide hydrolase, or FAAH.

The enzyme breaks down a natural endo-cannabinoid chemical in the brain that acts in essentially the same way that Cannabis, aka marijuana, does (hence the name endo-cannabinoid).

Earlier studies had suggested that blocking the FAAH enzyme could decrease fear and anxiety by increasing endo-cannabinoids, which is consistent with the decreased anxiety some experience after smoking marijuana.

In 2009, Hariri’s lab found that a common variant in the human FAAH gene leads to decreased enzyme function with affects on the brain’s circuitry for processing fear and anxiety.

In the new study, Andrew Holmes’ group at the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse tested the effects of a drug that blocks FAAH activity in fear-prone mice that had also been trained to be fearful through experiences in which they were delivered foot shocks.

Tests for the ability of those mice to get over their bad experiences found that the drug allowed a faster recovery from fear thanks to higher brain endo-cannabinoid levels.

More specifically, the researchers showed that those drug effects traced to the amygdala, a small area of the brain that serves as a critical hub for fear processing and learning.

To test for the human relevance of the findings, Hariri’s group went back to the genetic variant they had studied earlier in a group of middle-aged adults.

They showed study participants a series of pictures depicting threatening faces while they monitored the activity of their amygdalas using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. They then looked for how the genetic variant affected this activity.

While the activity of the amygdala in all participants decreased over repeated exposures to the pictures. But people who carried the version of the FAAH gene associated with lower enzyme function and higher endo-cannabinoid levels showed a greater decrease in activity.

Hariri says that suggests that those individuals may be better able to control and regulate their fear response.

Further confirmation came from an analysis led by Duke’s Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt of 1,000 individuals in the Dunedin Study, who have been under careful observation since their birth in the 1970s in New Zealand.

Consistent with the mouse and brain imaging studies, those New Zealanders carrying the lower-expressing version of the FAAH gene were found to be more likely to keep their cool under stress.

“This study in mice reveals how a drug that boosts one of the brain’s naturally occurring endo-cannaboids enables fear extinction, a process that forms the basis of exposure therapy for PTSD,” Holmes says.

“It also shows how human gene variation in the same chemical pathways modulates the amygdala’s processing of threats and predicts how well people cope with stress.”

Studies are now needed to further explore both the connections between FAAH variation and PTSD risk as well as the potential of FAAH inhibition as a novel therapy for fear-related disorders, the researchers say.

More news from Duke University:

DiabetesUK: Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Video - YouTube

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hearing loss may change brain structure

"In the case of tinnitus, surprisingly, there were few changes to brain structure despite changes to function, suggesting that when sensory deprivation is accompanied by self-generated noise, it may be better at preserving neural tissue," says Fatima Husain.

Researchers used two different imaging modalities in studies of people with hearing loss, normal hearing, and those with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

People in the hearing loss group showed structural changes in their brains.

“This suggests that functional changes due to sensory deprivation may result in long-term structural changes,” says Fatima Husain, a Beckman Institute faculty member at the University of Illinois.

The goal of the study was to investigate structural gray and white matter changes related to tinnitus and hearing loss and try to dissociate them from changes due only to hearing loss. (Credit: Fatima Husain)

“However, in the case of tinnitus, surprisingly, there were few changes to brain structure despite changes to function, suggesting that when sensory deprivation is accompanied by self-generated noise, it may be better at preserving neural tissue.”

Husain and her collaborators on the study measured neuroanatomical changes in gray and white matter in the brains of participants with only bilateral hearing loss (HL), participants who had HL and tinnitus (TIN), and a control group with normal hearing (NH) without tinnitus.

Their study, reported in the journal Brain Research, looked at neuroanatomical alterations associated with hearing loss and tinnitus.

Read the original study DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.10.095

The researchers used structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine changes in gray matter, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), to identify changes in white matter tract orientation.

While tinnitus is often accompanied by hearing loss, not everyone with hearing loss experiences tinnitus.

The goal of the study was to investigate structural gray and white matter changes related to tinnitus and hearing loss and try to dissociate them from changes due only to hearing loss.

“We observed that the HL group had the most profound changes in both white and gray matter relative to the other groups,” Husain says. The gray matter decreases seen in the HL group relative to the NH group were in the anterior cingulate, putamen, and middle frontal gyrus.

Two of these regions, the anterior cingulate and frontal cortex, were “also implicated in our companion study that studied functional response of the brain in the same group of subjects and points to involvement of the attention processing network.”

By dissociating the effect of tinnitus from hearing loss, the researchers concluded that “hearing loss rather than tinnitus had the greatest influence on gray and white matter alterations.”

Husain directs the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science.

More news from the University of Illinois:

Informed Parents of Vaccinated Children - 10 Facts on Vaccines

Here are ten facts you should know about vaccines

  1. Vaccines are made by taking a weakened live OR killed version of a virus or an inactivated toxin. [Ref: 1] The first step is to harvest or grow the pathogen.  Viruses are grown in cell cultures.  Bacteria are grown in devices.  Some viruses are grown on chicken egg cells, some on human cells derived from fetuses aborted decades ago. [Ref: 2]  This is not a threat to human health at all.
  2. Vaccines use ingredients such as aluminum salts, formaldehyde, or MSG in the process.  These are not toxic in the amounts in vaccines. [Ref: 3][Ref: 4]  Formaldehyde is also produced naturally in the human body as a part of normal functions of the body to produce energy and build the basic materials needed for important life processes. This includes making amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins that the body needs.[Ref: 5]
  3. Some people think vaccines are the cause of asthma, allergies, autism and a whole host of autoimmune disorders.  But, there is no evidence to support this.
  4. Vaccines contain an inactivated (killed), weakened form of the germ, or a germ component. When introduced into the body, the dead or harmless germ causes an immune response without causing the disease. The immune system develops antibodies that will effectively kill or neutralize the germ if exposed to it in the future. The antibodies circulate in the bloodstream. Vaccination protects a child against infection with a germ without the child ever suffering through the disease.
  5. Vaccines are given in multiples because it is the most efficient way of administering them.[Ref: 6]  The safety of the vaccine schedule is proven and vaccines are very well researched.
  6. Vaccines work by introducing a substance called an antigen that, when introduced into the body, stimulates the production of an antibody. Antigens include toxins, bacteria, foreign blood cells, and the cells of transplanted organs.  The human body is exposed to antigens every day, all day long.  There are antigens all around us.  So, the human body is fully equipped to handle the antigens in vaccines.  The number of antigens in the vaccine schedule is nothing compared to the germs a child encounters on a daily basis. 
  7. There is no increased risk of SIDS with immunizations. [Ref: 7] In fact, vaccines are associated with a decreased risk of SIDS, according to all SIDS information.  There is also no evidence linking vaccines with increased risk of autoimmune diseases.
  8. The statistics about autism and special needs children are scary to read until you learn that more diagnosis means more children are getting help in school. In past generations, children with any kind of special needs were simply kicked out of school.  Or, they were institutionalized for life.  Now, we diagnose and treat them.  Rates of autism are up but rates of mental retardation are down. Why, because of better diagnosis.
  9. Vaccines eradicated polio and smallpox.  And polio does not exist today under a different name. [Ref: 8]
10.  You don’t have to vaccinate your children.  Most US states allow exemptions for school enrollment.  You can always home school or move if your state does not allow exemptions.

No one will ever force you to vaccinate but, herd immunity is very real and you should consider how keeping your children healthy from vaccine-preventable diseases helps keep everyone healthy. [Ref: 9]

Read More at their Website: Informed Parents of Vaccinated Children

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A father's love is one of the greatest influences on personality development

A father's love contributes as much -- and sometimes more -- to a child's development as does a mother's love. That is one of many findings in a new large-scale analysis of research about the power of parental rejection and acceptance in shaping our personalities as children and into adulthood.

"In our half-century of international research, we've not found any other class of experience that has as strong and consistent effect on personality and personality development as does the experience of rejection, especially by parents in childhood," says Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut, co-author of the new study in Personality and Social Psychology Review.

"Children and adults everywhere -- regardless of differences in race, culture, and gender -- tend to respond in exactly the same way when they perceived themselves to be rejected by their caregivers and other attachment figures."

Looking at 36 studies from around the world that together involved more than 10,000 participants, Rohner and co-author Abdul Khaleque found that in response to rejection by their parents, children tend to feel more anxious and insecure, as well as more hostile and aggressive toward others.

The pain of rejection -- especially when it occurs over a period of time in childhood -- tends to linger into adulthood, making it more difficult for adults who were rejected as children to form secure and trusting relationships with their intimate partners.

The studies are based on surveys of children and adults about their parents' degree of acceptance or rejection during their childhood, coupled with questions about their personality dispositions.

Moreover, Rohner says, emerging evidence from the past decade of research in psychology and neuroscience is revealing that the same parts of the brain are activated when people feel rejected as are activated when they experience physical pain.

"Unlike physical pain, however, people can psychologically re-live the emotional pain of rejection over and over for years," Rohner says.

When it comes to the impact of a father's love versus that of a mother, results from more than 500 studies suggest that while children and adults often experience more or less the same level of acceptance or rejection from each parent, the influence of one parent's rejection -- oftentimes the father's -- can be much greater than the other's.

A 13-nation team of psychologists working on the International Father Acceptance Rejection Project has developed at least one explanation for this difference: that children and young adults are likely to pay more attention to whichever parent they perceive to have higher interpersonal power or prestige.

So if a child perceives her father as having higher prestige, he may be more influential in her life than the child's mother. Work is ongoing to better understand this potential relationship.

One important take-home message from all this research, Rohner says, is that fatherly love is critical to a person's development.

The importance of a father's love should help motivate many men to become more involved in nurturing child care. Additionally, he says, widespread recognition of the influence of fathers on their children's personality development should help reduce the incidence of "mother blaming" common in schools and clinical setting.

"The great emphasis on mothers and mothering in America has led to an inappropriate tendency to blame mothers for children's behaviour problems and maladjustment when, in fact, fathers are often more implicated than mothers in the development of problems such as these."

Related Link: FathersNet

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Newcastle conference to highlight issue of dyslexia

Parents, teachers and health experts are invited to attend “Dyslexia Matters” at the Centre for Life, in Newcastle, on Saturday.

Liz Ferguson, from organisers Dyslexia North East, said: “This is a golden opportunity to show people that dyslexia should not be an obstacle in making your way in life.

“Unfortunately there is still a huge lack of understanding about dyslexia and related problems, but this conference will help to address the many challenging issues, raise awareness and show what help and support is available.

“It will also reassure people affected by dyslexia and other associated conditions that they are not alone.”

Speakers at the event include Sarah Tall (Your Amazing Brain), a dyslexic who was expelled from playschool and struggled to read but went on to get a First Class Honours degree and teach history in China, Oxford, London and Dundee.

Sarah has a particular interest in what is special about the brains of people with dyslexia and says it is no coincidence that so many have achieved so much.

Another speaker is Andrew Dalziell, director of the Movement and Leaning Centre in Scotland, who has spent the last 10 years helping children and adults with specific learning difficulties and supported international athletes to achieve their optimal sporting performance.

The final speaker is Lee Pascal, a teacher specializing in dyslexia and co-author of the BBC Adult Literacy Handbook and a contributor to the Dyslexia Handbook.

Anyone wanting to attend or find out more information should contact Liz Ferguson by calling 0786 826 3696 or go to

Dyslexia and Creativity

Looking back in history, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Jørn Utzon, Agatha Christie and Albert Einstein were all dyslexic. So the question is, is dyslexia linked to creativity?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. It appears that more dyslexic people simply elect to work in the non-linguistic creative professions. To be successful, dyslexic people actually have to work harder to overcome their linguistic challenges.

Fortunately, the best predictor of anyone's performance is not their IQ or personality, it is the amount of time one spends on a particular task.

Dyslexia is hereditary and one can learn to live with even the most severe dyslexia. A dyslectic person may not be well suited for teaching English or working as an editor in a publishing house, however, it does give them a distinct advantage in other creative professions.

Having struggled with reading and writing, the dyslectic person has failed early and often, thereby teaching them to persevere. As Winston Churchill, another dyslexic, creative individual, noted: "Never give up - -never, never, never give up."

What then are the advantages of being dyslexic in overcoming challenges? The early age confrontation of apparently insurmountable challenges teaches the dyslexic person to persevere in the face of failure.

They learn early to look at problems from multiple angles and use other skills to succeed.

Dyslexic people often colour-code information to aide their learning, use three-dimensional drawings to solve algebra problems and come up with intricate mnemotechnical cues to improve retention.

Working on small creative tricks to overcome challenges may help make them better prepared to solve problems. It has been said that "luck is when opportunity meet preparation" and dyslexic people could thus appear to be "luckier" problem solvers.

This prompts the question: Might people who are actually good at spelling be at a disadvantage?

Since reading, writing and arithmetic are given a high priority in most school systems and IQ and other standardised tests favour people with linguistic skills, perfecting what one is being rewarded for can narrow one's development in other areas where there was the possibility to excel.

One of the secrets to life is to avoid chastising oneself over what is not done well. A dyslexic person may never become the best speller; however, a person can live happily with being mediocre in this area and simply delegate the more demanding writing tasks.

Being content with being average in one area, dyslexics are freed up to invest the over 10,000 hours required to become an expert in another area.

They can then leverage their inborn abilities and turn those abilities into a strong competitive advantage in an area in which they excel.

The Creative Economy may be the fastest growing segment of the Western World and creativity is now, more than ever, the source of this progress.

By encouraging people early on to find and grow their unique natural abilities to innovate and appreciating them for what they create, rather than for what they consume, we will have created yet another novel way of spelling success.