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Archive for December, 2013|Monthly archive page

Rate of Youth Suicide on the Rise

In Uncategorized on Saturday, 28 December 2013 at 07:23

i am not making any connections, just some personal observations.  i will go with what i personally have experienced.  it appears that anxiety, stress, school phobia, school avoidance, etc., etc. are on the rise.  when did i, personally, start to see this increase?  as the common core and emphasis on “the test(s)” was adopted and put in place. and prior to “the test” that is what your kids are taught: how to take a test, what will be on the test, how to answer based on the test (you get what i am stating here).  i just saw a kindergarten child’s “homework.”  it was a booklet in which they were to ‘practice’ bubbling in answers correctly.  hmm.  if you have to be taught to take a test, wouldn’t it appear the test might NOT be developmentally appropriate (i will not get into how little these tests really show, the unsound research, the pilot studies that were never paid attention to prior to adopting CCSS, etc.).

Here is the mission statement taken directly from the CCSS website (http://www.corestandards.org):

“:The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what studentsare expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.”

Here is the “disclaimer” (also from the website: http://www.corestandards.org/public-license):

Representations, Warranties and Disclaimer:

THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS ARE PROVIDED AS-IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, AND NGA CENTER/CCSSO MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS, IMPLIED, STATUTORY OR OTHERWISE, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF TITLE, MERCHANTIBILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, NONINFRINGEMENT, ACCURACY, OR THE PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF ERRORS, WHETHER OR NOT DISCOVERABLE.

so, basically, here are the standards, all the states must adopt them, they may not accomplish the heady goals and broken promises, BUT…we do not guarantee anything nor are we held liable for the ruination of education, the education “reform” movement, and creating robotrons for the future (but, they WILL know how to bubble in tests!).

Limitation on Liability:

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL NGA CENTER OR CCSSO, INDIVIDUALLY OR JOINTLY, BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY LEGAL THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER FOR CONTRACT, TORT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR A COMBINATION THEREOF (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH RISK AND POTENTIAL DAMAGE. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, LICENSEE WAIVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK LEGAL REDRESS AGAINST, AND RELEASES FROM ALL LIABILITY AND COVENANTS NOT TO SUE, NGA CENTER AND CCSSO.

so, this may actually hurt your student (via negligence or “otherwise) but they will not be held liable or, have to fulfill their contract/promises, and hey, if this does hurt your student/s, you are out of luck.  you have tacitly agreed (do you really think they need your ‘permission???) to all above as well as the fact that you have no recourse should anything happen.  Interesting they had to put that in there…

Youth Suicide; Look What We Have Done to Our Young

Introductory Essay By Betsy L. Angert |

Originally Published at EmpathyEducates. December 22, 2013

For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Approximately 4600 young lives are lost each year. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9–12 in public and private schools in the United States (U.S.) found that 16% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 13% reported creating a plan…
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Look what we have done to our young ones. We’ve locked them up in a world of “fun” and turned it upside down. Look what we’ve done to our sons and daughters. It begins at birth; we start to plan. Where are the best preschools? College may be pricey, but preschool will blow your mind, or your budget if you can afford to have one. The pressure is on – not just you, but your child. He or she must perform. Children as young as the age of 4, work to conform.

It may be an A or in the DNA, but whatever it is, it kills us. Oh, we can and do paint pretty pictures. But truth be told Kids ‘absolutely’ feel parents’ stress. Thirty percent [30%] of our young admit that they worry about family finances.

Still whether we are broke or with billfolds bulging, we look for the best, the best schools, the best grades, the best video games. And, oh yes, those test scores. In 2013, Washington D.C. charter schools announced that “for the purposes of assessing their academic progress and ranking schools according to the results students ages 3, 4, and 5 will be tested. The standardized exams are not intended to assess social and emotional learning. No, that is thought a frill. Instead let us convince the very young that the thrill is in academic skill.

Success is our societal standard. Regardless of the research and the opines of Developmental Psychologists we move forward leaving our children behind.

Bright lights. Big cities. Guns. Drugs. And Alcohol. Color me mellow, or color me blue. Small towns and the beautiful ‘burbs. Color me serene or color me chartreuse, green with envy, pink for pretty, but not pretty enough. Paint me Black for pride and then steep me in prejudice. Color me invisible in the land of invincibility or paint me like a rainbow and deny me my rights. It’s insane, inane and are we having fun yet?

There are shoes to fill, scores to achieve, careers to choose, college too. And yes, there is the dream. The life of a teen or a tween…It is not what it once was.

This is the new normal. Hypomania, anxiety, and yes the greatest high. I have 5,000 BFFs, 4,000 followers. For a price, you can get more. Yes, the cost may be cyber-bullies and then sadly, what for too many young ones, the cure is suicide. But hey, that is the price we pay. It will be fun – to look like a success, to run with the cool crowd, to have the latest ipad, iphone, to find Instagram fame. Perhaps it will deflect the depression.

Perhaps those were the days. In the 1930s, that is when we as a country were mired in depression or perhaps not. Life was slower then. There was less opportunity for fun. Nonetheless, people were not nearly as numb. A recent study shows, between the years of 1938 and 2007, on average five times as many students surpassed the thresholds set for mental health wellness.

“A few individual categories increased at an even greater rate — with six times as many scoring high in two areas:
– “hypomania,” a measure of anxiety and unrealistic optimism (from 5 percent of students in 1938 to 31 percent in 2007)
– and depression (from 1 percent to 6 percent)

Again we might ask; what have we done, done to innocence, excellence, and the idea of what is essential? We made the world move more swiftly. If this was for the sake of fun, our children say give me a gun, a rope…all I ever wanted was a reason to hope and to live a healthy life. But it seems that possibility is fleeting. Fast and fun can be fetching; it can be depressing. It can leave us guessing. Why might it be that…

1 in 2 teens have Attempted Suicide:Report

By Meghan Neal

Originally Published at The New York Daily News.

June 9, 2012, 12:12 PM

The Attempted Suicide Rate For High School Students Has Risen From 6.3% To 7.8% In The Last Three Years.

Teen suicide is a growing problem, a new study shows. Nearly 1 in 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide, and 1 in 12 has attempted it, according to the semi-annual survey on youth risk behaviorpublished Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More female teens than males have attempted or considered suicide, the survey found. The rate was highest among Hispanic females, at 13.5%, and lowest among white males, at 4.6%. Students struggled with suicide more during the first two years of high school – roughly ages 14 to 16. Rates dropped off slightly when students reached junior and senior year.

Overall, the suicide rate among teens has climbed in the past few years, from 6.3% in 2009 to 7.8% in 2011, numbers which reflect the trend gaining national attention as more teen suicides are reported as a result of bullying.

According to the survey about 20% of high-schoolers said they’d been bullied while at school, and 16% said they’d been ‘cyberbullied’ through email, chat, instant messaging, social media or texting.

As more and more forms of communication spring up, there’s opportunity for bullying to occur, which could eventually lead to an increased rate of attempted suicides, neuropsychologist Dr. Hector Adames told MSNBC.

“What happens with an increase in communication among students is that there’s more pressure. There’s more bullying,” he said. “When adolescence and children feel embarrassed, it’s kind of like the end of the world for them.”

Electronics are encouraging other risky behavior too, the CDC study found.
The majority of older teens admitted to texting or emailing on their mobile phones while driving – 58% of seniors and 43% of juniors.

Considering a typical teen sends and receives about 100 text messages a day, the figures aren’t too surprising, Amanda Lenhart, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, told the Associated Press.

The CDC anonymously surveyed more than 15,000 high school students in the U.S. over a one-year period, with a 95% confidence rate.

References and Resources…

worm eggs and hot baths…or pina coladas, getting caught in the rain?

In Uncategorized on Friday, 20 December 2013 at 17:33

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/818116?src=wnl_edit_tpal&uac=184795PG#1

Gene Linked to Asperger Syndrome, Empathy

In Autism Spectrum Disorders, Genes, Genomic Medicine, Neuropsychology on Friday, 20 December 2013 at 16:52

 

Gene Linked to Asperger Syndrome, Empathy

Scientists have confirmed that variations in a particular gene play a key role in the autism spectrum condition known as Asperger Syndrome. They have also found that variations in the same gene are also linked to differences in empathy levels in the general population. 

A study published this month in the journal Molecular Autismconfirms previous research that people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) are more likely to carry specific variations in a particular gene. More strikingly, the study supports existing findings that the same gene is also linked to how much empathy typically shown by individuals in the general population.

The research was carried out by a team of researchers led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen at the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University. Asperger Syndrome is an autism spectrum condition. The researchers looked for sequence variations (called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs) in the gene known as GABRB3 in a total of 530 adults- 118 people diagnosed with AS and 412 people without a diagnosis.

The team found that certain SNPs in GABRB3 were significantly more common in people with AS. They also discovered that additional genetic variations in the same gene were linked to scores on an empathy measure called the Empathy Quotient (EQ) in the general population.

AS is diagnosed when a person struggles with social relationships and communication, and shows unusually narrow interests and resistance to change, but has good intelligence and language skills. Most genetic studies of autistic spectrum conditions treat autism as if they are all very similar, whereas in reality there is considerable variation (e.g., in language level and intellectual ability).

Rather than studying people on the autistic condition spectrum, this new study looked only people with AS, as a well-defined subgroup of individuals within this range. The researchers examined the gene GABRB3 which regulates the functioning of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and which contains a number of SNPs that vary across the population.

The volunteers were tested for 45 SNPs within this key gene. The team had previously found that SNPs in this gene were more common in adults with AS and also showed a relationship with empathy levels and tactile sensitivity (how sensitive people are to being touched) in the general population.

 

Testing a new sample of volunteers who had not taken part in previous studies, the researchers found that three of the SNPs were again more common in adults with AS, and two different SNPs in the same gene were again related to empathy levels in the general population, confirming that the gene is involved in autism spectrum conditions.

Baron-Cohen said: “We are excited that this study confirms that variation in GABRB3 is linked not just to AS but to individual differences in empathy in the population. Many candidate genes do not replicate across studies and across different samples, but this genetic finding seems to be a solid result. Research now needs to focus on where this gene is expressed in the brain in autism, and how it interacts with other genetic and non-genetic factors that cause AS.”

The team was co-led by Dr. Bhismadev Chakrabarti from the Department of Psychology at Reading University. “Genes play an important role in autism and Asperger Syndrome. This new study adds to evidence that GABRB3 is a key gene underlying these conditions. This gene is involved in the functioning of a neurotransmitter that regulates excitation and inhibition of nerve cell activity so the research gives us vital additional information about how the brain may develop differently in people with Asperger Syndrome,” he said.

Varun Warrier, who carried out the study as part of his graduate research at Cambridge University, added: “The most important aspect of this research is that it points to common genetic variants in GABRB3 being involved in both AS and in empathy as a dimensional trait. Although GABRB3 is not the only gene to be involved in this condition and in empathy levels, we are confident that we have identified one of the key players. We are following this up by testing how much protein GABRB3 produces in the brain in autism, since a genetic finding of this kind becomes more explanatory when we can also measure its function.”

Source: Cambridge University

Retrieved from: http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2013/12/gene-linked-asperger-syndrome-empathy?goback=%2Egde_2514160_member_5819480722708119555#%21

Gene May Predict Human Response to Antidepressants

In Uncategorized on Friday, 20 December 2013 at 16:47

Gene May Predict Human Response to Antidepressants

 Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, but they don’t work for everyone. What’s more, patients must often try several different SSRI medications, each with a different set of side effects, before finding one that is effective. It takes three to four weeks to see if a particular antidepressant drug works. Meanwhile, patients and their families continue to suffer.

Now researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered a gene that may reveal whether people are likely to respond well to SSRI antidepressants, both generally and in specific formulations. The new biomarker, once it is validated in clinical trials, could be used to create a genetic test, allowing doctors to provide personalized treatment for depression.

Doctoral students Keren Oved and Ayelet Morag led the research under the guidance of Dr. David Gurwitz of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Dr. Noam Shomron of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience. Sackler faculty members Prof. Moshe Rehavi of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and Dr. Metsada Pasmnik-Chor of the Bioinformatics Unit were coauthors of the study, published in Translational Psychology.

“SSRIs only work for about 60 percent of people with depression,” said Gurwitz. “A drug from other families of antidepressants could be effective for some of the others. We are working to move the treatment of depression from a trial-and-error approach to a best-fit, personalized regimen.”

Good news for the depressed

More than 20 million Americans each year suffer from disabling depression that requires clinical intervention. SSRIs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa are the newest and the most popular medications for treatment. They are thought to work by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, leaving more of it available to help brain cells send and receive chemical signals, thereby boosting mood. It is not currently known why some people respond to SSRIs better than others.

To find genes that may be behind the brain’s responsiveness to SSRIs, the TAU researchers first applied the SSRI Paroxetine— brand name Paxil— to 80 sets of cells, or “cell lines,” from the National Laboratory for the Genetics of Israeli Populations, a biobank of genetic information about Israeli citizens located at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and directed by Gurwitz. The TAU researchers then analyzed and compared the RNA profiles of the most and least responsive cell lines. A gene called CHL1 was produced at lower levels in the most responsive cell lines and at higher levels in the least responsive cell lines. Using a simple genetic test, doctors could one day use CHL1 as a biomarker to determine whether or not to prescribe SSRIs.

“We want to end up with a blood test that will allow us to tell a patient which drug is best for him,” said Oved. “We are at the early stages, working on the cellular level. Next comes testing on animals and people.”

Rethinking how antidepressants work

The TAU researchers also wanted to understand why CHL1 levels might predict responsiveness to SSRIs. To this end, they applied Paroxetine to human cell lines for three weeks— the time it takes for a clinical response to SSRIs. They found that Paroxetine caused increased production of the gene ITGB3— whose protein product is thought to interact with CHL1 to promote the development of new neurons and synapses. The result is the repair of dysfunctional signaling in brain regions controlling mood, which may explain the action of SSRI antidepressants.

This explanation differs from the conventional theory that SSRIs directly relieve depression by inhibiting the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. Shomron adds that the new explanation resolves the longstanding mystery as to why it takes at least three weeks for SSRIs to ease the symptoms of depression when they begin inhibiting reabsorption after a couple days— the development of neurons and synapses takes weeks, not days.

The TAU researchers are working to confirm their findings on the molecular level and with animal models. Adva Hadar, a master’s student in Gurwitz’s lab, is using the same approach to find biomarkers for the personalized treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Tel Aviv University

Retrieved from: http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/news/2013/12/gene-may-predict-human-response-antidepressants?goback=%2Egde_2514160_member_5816703528286044160#%21

Asperger Syndrome Revisited

In Autism Spectrum Disorders, General Psychology, Psychiatry, School Psychology, Special Education on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 05:59

Asperger Syndrome Revisited

By: Lee Wilkinson, Ph.D.

The deletion of Asperger’s disorder (Asperger’s syndrome) as a separate diagnostic category from the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has been widely publicized. The new DSM-5 category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which subsumes the previous DSM-IV diagnoses of autistic disorder (autism), Asperger’s disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), reflects the scientific consensus that symptoms of the various DSM-IV subgroups represent a single continuum of impairment that varies in level of severity and need for support.

An important feature of the DSM-5 criteria for ASD is a change from three symptom domains (triad) of social impairment, communication deficits and repetitive/restricted behaviors, interests, or activities to two domains (dyad); social/communication deficits and fixated and repetitive pattern of behaviors. Several social/communication criteria were merged to clarify diagnostic requirements and reflect research indicating that language deficits are neither universal in ASD, nor should they be considered as a defining feature of the diagnosis. The criteria also feature dimensions of severity that include current levels of language and intellectual functioning as well as greater flexibility in the criteria for age of onset and addition of symptoms not previously included in the DSM-IV such as sensory interests and aversions.

DSM-IV Criteria in Practice

Problems in applying the DSM-IV criteria were a key consideration in the decision to delete Asperger’s disorder as a separate diagnostic entity. Numerous studies indicate that it is difficult to reliably distinguish between Asperger syndrome, autism, and other disorders on the spectrum in clinical practice (Attwood, 2006; Macintosh & Dissanayake, 2006; Leekam, Libby, Wing, Gould & Gillberg, 2000; Mayes & Calhoun, 2003; Mayes, Calhoun, & Crites, 2001; Miller & Ozonoff, 2000; Ozonoff, Dawson, & McPartland, 2002; Witwer & Lecavalier, 2008). For example, children with autism who develop proficient language have very similar trajectories and later outcomes as children with Asperger disorder (Bennett et al., 2008; Howlin, 2003; Szatmari et al., 2000) and the two are indistinguishable by school-age (Macintosh & Dissanayake, 2004), adolescence (Eisenmajer, Prior, Leekam, Wing, Ong, Gould & Welham 1998; Ozonoff, South and Miller 2000) and adulthood (Howlin, 2003). Individuals with Asperger disorder also typically meet the DSM-IV communication criterion of autism, “marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others,” making it is possible for someone who meets the criteria for Asperger’s disorder to also meet the criteria for autistic disorder.

Treatment and Outcome

Another important consideration was response to treatment. Intervention research cannot predict, at the present time, which particular intervention approach works best with which individual. Likewise, data is not available on the differential responsiveness of children with Asperger’s disorder and high-functioning autism to specific interventions (Carpenter, Soorya, & Halpern, 2009). There are no empirical studies demonstrating the need for different treatments or different responses to the same treatment, and in clinical practice the same interventions are typically offered for both autism and Asperger’s disorder (Wilkinson, 2010). Treatments for impairments in pragmatic (social) language and social skills are the same for both groups.

Application of the New Criteria

It’s important to remember that in the DSM, a mental disorder is conceptualized as a clinically important collection of behavioral and psychological symptoms that causes an individual distress, disability or impairment. The objective of new DSM-5 criteria for ASD is that every individual who has significant “impairment” in social-communication and restricted and repetitive behavior or interests should meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD.  Because language impairment/delay is not a necessary criterion for diagnosis, anyone who demonstrates severe and sustained impairments in social skills and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities in the presence of generally age-appropriate language acquisition and cognitive functioning, who might previously have been given a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder, will now meet the criteria for ASD.

The new DSM-5 criteria for ASD have created significant controversy over concerns that it would exclude many individuals currently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS, and thus make it difficult for them to access services. However, recently published field trials suggest that the revisions actually increase the reliability of diagnosis, while identifying the large majority of those who would have been diagnosed under the DSM-IV-TR. Of the small numbers who were not included, most received the new diagnosis of “social communication disorder.” Moreover, the accuracy of non-spectrum classification (specificity) made by DSM-5 was better than that of DSM-IV, indicating greater effectiveness in distinguishing ASD from non-spectrum disorders such as language disorders, intellectual disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and anxiety disorders. It is also important to note that all individuals who have a DSM-IV diagnosis on the autism spectrum, including those with Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS, will be able to retain an ASD diagnosis. This means that no one should “lose” their diagnosis because of the changes in diagnostic criteria.  According to DSM-5, individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, or PDD-NOS should be given a diagnosis of ASD.  Those who have marked deficits in social communication, but whose symptoms do not meet the criteria for ASD, should be evaluated for Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the DSM-5 category of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which subsumes the current diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), better describes our current understanding about the clinical presentation and course of the neurodevelopmental disorders. Conceptualizing autism as a spectrum condition rather than a categorical diagnostic entity is in keeping with the extant research suggesting that there is no clear evidence that Asperger’s disorder and high-functioning autism are different disorders. As Gillberg (2001) notes, the terms Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism are more likely “synonyms” than labels for different disorders. Lord (2011) also comments that although there has been much controversy about whether there should be separate diagnoses, “Most of the research has suggested that Asperger’s syndrome really isn’t different from other autism spectrum disorders.” “The take-home message is that there really should be just a general category of autism spectrum disorder, and then clinicians should be able to describe a child’s severity on these separate dimensions.” Unfortunately, many individuals may have been advised (or assumed) that a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder was separate and distinct from autistic disorder and that intervention/treatment, course, and outcome were clinically different for each disorder. While including Asperger’s Disorder under the DSM-5 category of ASD will likely continue to require a period of transition and adjustment, the proposed dimensional approach to diagnosis will likely result in more effective identification, treatment, and research for individuals on the spectrum.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders(4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders(5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Attwood, T. (2006). The complete guide to Asperger’s syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Carpenter, L. A., Soorya, L. & Halpern, D. (2009). Asperger’s syndrome and high- functioning autism. Pediatric Annals, 38, 30-35.

Eisenmajer, R., Prior, M., Leekam, S., Wing, L., Ong, B., Gould, J. & Welham, M. (1998)

Delayed Language Onset as a Predictor of Clinical Symptoms in Pervasive Developmental Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 28, 527–34.

Gillberg, C (2001). Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism: Shared deficits or

different Disorders? Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders, 5, 79-94.

Howlin, P. (2003). Outcome in high-functioning adults with autism with and without early language delays: Implications for the differentiation between autism and Asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 3–13.

Leekam, S., Libby, S., Wing, L., Gould, J. & Gillberg, C. (2000) Comparison of ICD-10 and Gillberg’s criteria for Asperger syndrome. Autism, 4, 11–28.

Lord, C. et al. (2011). A multisite study of the clinical diagnosis of different autism spectrum disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.148

Macintosh, K., & Dissanayake, C. (2006). Social skills and problem behaviors in school aged children with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 1065–1076.

Macintosh, K.E., & Dissanayake, C. (2004). Annotation: The similarities and differences

between autistic disorder and Asperger’s disorder: A review of the empirical evidence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 421–434.

Mayes, S., & Calhoun, S. (2003). Relationship between Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism. In M. Prior (Ed.), Learning and behavior problems in Asperger syndrome (pp. 15-34). New York: Guilford Press.

Mayes SD, Calhoun SL, Crites DL (2001) Does DSM-IV Asperger’s disorder exist? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 29, 263–271.

Miller, J. N., & Ozonoff, S. (2000). The external validity of Asperger disorder: Lack of evidence from the domain of neuropsychology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 109, 227–238.

Ozonoff, S., Dawson, G., & McPartland, J. (2002). A parent’s guide to Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism: How to meet the challenges and help your child to thrive. New York: Guilford Press.

Ozonoff, S., South, M., & Miller, J. N. (2000). DSM-IV-defined Asperger syndrome: Cognitive, behavioral and early history differentiation from high-functioning autism. Autism, 4, 29–46.

Szatmari, P., Bryson, S.E., Streiner, D.L., Wilson, F.J., Archer, L., & Ryerse, C. (2000). Two year outcome of preschool children with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. American Journal of Psychiatry, 15, 1980–1987.

Szatmari, P., Bryson, S., Duku, E., Vaccarella, L., Zwaigenbaum, L., Bennett, L. & Boyle, M.H. (2009). Similar developmental trajectories in autism and Asperger syndrome: from early childhood to adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 1459-1467.

Wilkinson, L. A. (2008). Adults with Asperger syndrome: A childhood disorder grows up. The Psychologist, 21, 764-770.

Wilkinson, L. A. (2010). A best practice guide to assessment and intervention for Asperger syndrome and autism in schools. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Wilkinson, L. A. (Ed.) (in press). Autism spectrum disorder in children and adolescents: Evidence-based assessment and intervention in schools. American Psychological Association (APA): Washington, DC.

Williams, K., Tuck, M., Helmer, M., Bartak, L., Mellis, C. & Peat, J.K. (2008). Diagnostic labelling of autism spectrum disorders in NSW. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 44, 108-113.

Wing, L. (2005). Problems of categorical classification systems. In F. R. Volkmar, R. Paul, A. Klin, & D. Cohen (Eds.),Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders: Vol. 1. Diagnosis, development, neurobiology, and behavior (3rd ed., pp. 583–605). New York: John Wiley.

Witwer, A.N., & Lecavalier, L. (2008). Validity of autism spectrum disorder subtypes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 1611–1624.

Lee A. Wilkinson, PhD, CCBT, NCSP is author of the award-winning book, A Best Practice Guide to Assessment and Intervention for Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Schools, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Retrieved from: http://bestpracticeautism.blogspot.com/2013/12/asperger-syndrome-revisited.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BestPracticeAutism+%28Best+Practice+Autism%29

 

Principal: ‘I was naïve about Common Core’

In Common Core, Education on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 18:40

Principal: ‘I was naïve about Common Core’

By: Valerie South

Here’s a powerful piece about how an award-winning principal went from being aCommon Core supporter to an opponent. This was written by Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York. She was named the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is one of the co-authors of the principals’ letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores, which has been signed by 1,535 New York principals.

By Carol Burris

When I first read about the Common Core State Standards, I cheered.  I believe that our schools should teach all students (except for those who have severe learning disabilities), the skills, habits and knowledge that they need to be successful in post secondary education. That doesn’t mean that every teenager must be prepared to enter Harvard, but it does mean that every young adult, with few exceptions, should at least be prepared to enter their local community college. That is how we give students a real choice.

I even co-authored a book, “Opening the Common Core,” on how to help schools meet that goal.  It is a book about rich curriculum and equitable teaching practices, not about testing and sanctions. We wrote it because we thought that the Common Core would be a student-centered reform based on principles of equity.

I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted.  The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.

I hear about those distortions every day.  Many of the teachers in my high school are also the parents of young children.  They come into my office with horror stories regarding the incessant pre-testing, testing and test prep that is taking place in their own children’s classrooms.  Last month, a colleague gave me a multiple-choice quiz taken by his seven-year old son during music.  Here is a question:

 Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?

 

  1. to force someone to do work against his or her will
  2. to divide a piece of music into different movements
  3. to perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra
  4. to pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated—I personally think it is a bit over the top.  What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.

I think that the reason for the quiz is evident to anyone who has been following the reform debate.  The Common Core places an extraordinary emphasis on vocabulary development. Probably, the music teacher believes she must do her part in test prep. More than likely she is being evaluated in part by the English Language Arts test scores of the building. Teachers are engaged in practices like these because they are pressured and afraid, not because they think the assessments are educationally sound. Their principals are pressured and nervous about their own scores and the school’s scores. Guaranteed, every child in the class feels that pressure and trepidation as well.

An English teacher in my building came to me with a ‘reading test’ that her third grader took. Her daughter did poorly on the test.  As both a mother and an English teacher she knew that the difficulty of the passage and the questions were way over grade level.  Her daughter, who is an excellent reader, was crushed.  She and I looked on the side of the copy of the quiz and found the word “Pearson.” The school, responding to pressure from New York State, had purchased test prep materials from the company that makes the exam for the state.

I am troubled that a company that has a multi-million dollar contract to create tests for the state should also be able to profit from producing test prep materials. I am even more deeply troubled that this wonderful little girl, whom I have known since she was born, is being subject to this distortion of what her primary education should be.

There are so many stories that I could tell–the story of my guidance counselor’s sixth-grade, learning disabled child who feels like a failure due to constant testing, a principal of an elementary school who is furious with having to use to use a book he deems inappropriate for third graders because his district bought the State Education Department approved common core curriculum, and the frustration of math teachers due to the ever-changing rules regarding the use of calculators on the tests.  And all of this is mixed with the toxic fear that comes from knowing you will be evaluated by test results and that “your score” will be known to any of your parents who ask.

When state education officials chide, “Don’t drill for the test, it does not work”, teachers laugh. Of course test prep works. Every parent who has ever paid hundreds of dollarsfor SAT prep knows it works —but no parent is foolish enough to think that the average 56 point ‘coaching’ jump in an SAT score means that their child is more “college ready.”

Test scores are a rough proxy for learning. Tests imperfectly examine selected domains of skills, so that we can infer what students know. Real learning occurs in the mind of the learner when she makes connections with prior learning, makes meaning, and retains that knowledge in order to create additional meaning from new information.  In short, with tests we see traces of learning, not learning itself.

What occurs in a “data driven”, high-stakes learning environment is that the full domain of what should be learned narrows to those items tested.  The Common Core, for example, wants students to grow in five skill areas in English Language Arts — reading, writing, speaking, listening and collaboration. But the Common Core tests will only measure reading and writing.  Parents can expect that the other three will be neglected as teachers frantically try to prepare students for the difficult and high-stakes tests.  What gets measured gets done, and make no mistake: “reformers” understand that full well.  In fact, they count on it. They see data, not children.  For the corporate reformers, test data constitute the bottom-line profits that they watch.

There is no one more knowledgeable about school change and systemic reforms than Michael Fullan.  He is a renowned international authority on school reform, having been actively engaged in both its implementation as well in the analysis of reform results.  I had the pleasure of listening to him this week at the Long Island ASCD spring conference.

Fullan told us that the present reforms are led by the wrong drivers of change — individual accountability of teachers, linked to test scores and punishment, cannot be successful in transforming schools.  He told us that the Common Core standards will fall of their own weight because standards and assessments, rather than curriculum and instruction are driving the Common Core.  He explained that the right driver of school change is capacity building.  Data should be used as a strategy for improvement, not for accountability purposes.  The Common Core is a powerful tool, but it is being implemented using the wrong drivers.

Fullan helped to successfully lead the transformation of schools in Ontario, Canada, and he has tried to influence our national conversation, but his advice has been shunned.  I will close with a final quote from Fullan and let readers draw their own conclusions:

A fool with a tool is still a fool.  A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool.

Retrieved from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/04/principal-i-was-naive-about-common-core/

Drug Firm Pays Billions for Misbranding Antipsychotics

In Medication, Medicine, Psychiatry on Thursday, 5 December 2013 at 10:04

December 04, 2013

Drug Firm Pays Billions for Misbranding Antipsychotics

Vabren Watts

Johnson & Johnson was sued for failing to report data suggesting increased risks for stroke and diabetes associated with the antipsychotic Risperdal.

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced November 4 that it will plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge that it misbranded the atypical antipsychotic drug Risperdal for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A part of one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. history, the pharmaceutical company has agreed to pay $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil investigations, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Risperdal (risperidone)—a dopaminergic antagonist—was FDA approved to treat schizophrenia in 1993 and approved in 2003 to treat mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. A complaint filed by the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleged that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a J&J subsidiary and Risperdal’s developer, began to market the drug from 1999 through 2005 to remedy agitation associated with dementia in the elderly and psychiatric disorders in children—indicating to physicians and other prescribers that Risperdal was safe and effective for these unapproved indications and populations.

According to the FDA, J&J received several warnings regarding its misleading marketing tactics targeted to physicians and consumers. After a whistleblower complaint was filed, the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations initiated a probe concerning J&J’s alleged misconduct.

“When pharmaceutical companies ignore the FDA’s requirements, they not only risk endangering the public’s health but also damaging the trust that patients have in their doctors and their medications,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA relies on data from rigorous scientific research to define and approve the uses for which a drug has been shown to be safe and effective…. Pharmaceutical manufacturers that ignore the FDA’s regulatory authority do so at their own peril.”

The Department of Justice further alleged that J&J was aware that Risperdal posed serious health risks, including increased risks for the onset of diabetes, breast development in boys, and strokes in elderly patients.

During the investigation, a physician who worked on a J&J study claimed that the company was “purposely withholding the findings” that showed that Risperdal increased risk for stroke in elderly patients after the company combined negative data with other studies to make it appear that there was an overall lower risk for adverse events. In addition, the company promoted Risperdal as “uncompromised by safety concerns (does not cause diabetes),” ignoring data that indicated otherwise.

As a result of its practices and misconduct, the company has agreed to submit to stringent requirements under a corporate integrity agreement with Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. The agreement is designed to increase accountability and transparency and prevent future fraud.

Psychiatric News contacted J&J to ask how the company plans to regain trust among clinicians and consumers. Michael Ullmann, J&J vice president and general counsel, replied in a statement saying, “This resolution allows us to move forward and continue to focus on delivering innovative solutions that improve and enhance the health and well-being of patients around the world. We remain committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and others to ensure greater clarity around the guidance for pharmaceutical industry practices and standards.”

Though J&J acknowledged that it improperly marketed Risperdal to older adults for unapproved uses, the pharmaceutical firm admitted to no wrongdoing for accusations that it promoted drug use in children and the developmentally disabled and that it provided kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists in exchange for writing more prescriptions.

The agreement will also resolve similar misbranding accusations for the company’s heart failure drug, Natrecor, and newer antipsychotic drug, Invega.

Retrieved from: http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=1788265

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