Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Children Under Four and Children With Autism Don't Yawn Contagiously

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2010) — If someone near you yawns, do you yawn, too? About half of adults yawn after someone else does in a phenomenon called contagious yawning. Now a new study has found that most children aren't susceptible to contagious yawning until they're about 4 years old -- and that children with autism are less likely to yawn contagiously than others.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, appears in the September/October 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.
To determine the extent to which children at various stages of social development are likely to yawn contagiously, the researchers studied 120 typically developing 1- to 6-year-olds. Although babies begin to yawn spontaneously even before they leave the womb, most of the children in this study didn't show signs of contagious yawning until they were 4.
The team also studied about 30 6- to 15-year-olds with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), comparing them to two other groups of typically developing children with the same mental and chronological ages. The children with ASD were less likely to yawn contagiously than their typically developing peers, the researchers found. And children with diagnoses that imply more severe autistic symptoms were much less likely to yawn contagiously than those with milder diagnoses.
"Given that contagious yawning may be a sign of empathy, this study suggests that empathy -- and the mimicry that may underlie it -- develops slowly over the first few years of life, and that children with ASD may miss subtle cues that tie them emotionally to others," according to the researchers. This study may provide guidance for approaches to working with children with ASD so that they focus more on such cues

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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS

Handwriting Is Real Problem For Children With Autism

ScienceDaily (Nov. 10, 2009) — Handwriting skills are crucial for success in school, communication, and building children's self-esteem. The first study to examine handwriting quality in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has uncovered a relationship between fine motor control and poor quality of handwriting in children with ASD, according to research published in the November 10, 2009, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, compared handwriting samples, motor skills, and visuospatial abilities of children with ASD to typically developing children. The researchers found that overall, the handwriting of children with ASD was worse than typically developing children. Specifically, children with ASD had trouble with forming letters, however in other categories, such as size, alignment, and spacing, their handwriting was comparable to typically developing children. These findings build on previous studies examining motor skills and ASD conducted in 2009 by Kennedy Krieger researchers.
Parents of children with ASD are often the first ones to observe their child's poor handwriting quality. This study identifies fine motor control as a root source of the problem and demonstrates that children with ASD may not experience difficulties across all domains, just forming letters. By identifying handwriting as a legitimate impairment, parents, teachers and therapists will now be able to pursue techniques that will improve children's handwriting.
"The ability to keep up in classes and convey ideas through handwriting is fundamental to life," said Christina Fuentes, lead study author and researcher at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "Knowing the causes of impairment allows us to strategically identify techniques that will help children with ASD improve their handwriting. Our study suggests that teaching children how to form letters, in combination with general training of fine motor control through techniques that include stabilizing the arm and the use of proper writing utensils, may be the best direction for improving handwriting performance."
About the study
Researchers administered a total of three tests to 14 children with ASD and 14 typically developing children. The handwriting samples were scored on legibility, form, alignment, size and spacing. The children's motor skills were then assessed using the Revised Physical and Neurological Examination for Subtle Sign (PANESS). The PANESS consisted of multiple categories such as gait tasks (heel walking), balance tasks (hopping on one foot) and timed movements (repetitive and patterned movements). Lastly, the children's visuospatial skills were assessed using the Block Design test in which they were timed to reconstruct large designs by properly assembling a set of blocks.
With no significant difference between the typically developing children and children with ASD groups in age, perceptual reasoning IQ, and the Block Design scores, a significant difference was found for performance on the PANESS, with the typically developing children performing better. Researchers found children with ASD's total handwriting scores were lower than typically developing children due to the quality of their letter formation. Researchers also found that motor ability, specifically for timed movements, was a strong predictor of handwriting performance in children with ASD as opposed to age, intelligence, and visuospatial abilities.
"Identifying this fine motor deficiency in handwriting provides important insight about ASD," said Dr. Amy Bastian, corresponding study author and Director of the Motion Analysis Laboratory at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. "It provides another example of motor skill problems that may give us cues for other deficits with socialization and communication. Furthermore, occupational therapists and teachers can now take the information from this study and apply it to the students they see on a daily basis."
This study was sponsored by Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Health.

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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Kennedy Krieger Institute, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Cognitive Skills in Children With Autism Vary and Improve, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2010) — People with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to have a specific profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses -- difficulties appreciating others' thoughts and feelings, problems regulating and controlling their behavior, and an enhanced ability to perceive details -- but few studies have tracked children's cognitive skills over time. Now new longitudinal research provides clues that can inform our understanding of ASD.

"Parents and clinicians already know that the behavioral signs of ASD wax and wane throughout development," notes Elizabeth Pellicano, senior lecturer of autism education at the Institute of Education in London, who carried out the study. "What we know a lot less about is how the cognitive skills of children with ASD change over time. In this study, we found that these skills vary from child to child, and also that some of them can improve over time."
The research, which was conducted in Western Australia, appears in the September/October 2010 issue of the journal Child Development.
The cognitive strengths and weaknesses typically exhibited by people with ASD include difficulties predicting others' behavior based on their thoughts and feelings (so-called theory of mind) and problems regulating and controlling their behavior (termed executive function), combined with an aptitude for detecting parts of objects or small details (also called weak central coherence).
The study assessed 37 children with ASD and 31 typically developing children when they were 5 to 6 years old and again three years later. The researcher explored children's theory of mind by asking children to watch a series of social interactions on video and predict a character's behavior based on his or her mental state. She tested children's executive function by having them take part in problem-solving tasks that required them to plan ahead and show flexibility. And she assessed children's central coherence by asking them to construct patterns from wooden blocks and search for shapes hidden in pictures.
On the whole, Pellicano found, children with ASD exhibited the same profile that's typically associated with ASD, both at the start of the study and three years later. But a closer look at individual children's patterns of performance revealed that not all children with ASD displayed the same profile of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Instead, the profiles of cognitive skills varied from one child to the next: For example, while one child with ASD showed difficulties in theory of mind alone, another child showed problems in theory of mind plus executive function.
Furthermore, although previous research has reported little change over time in theory of mind and executive function skills of children with ASD, this study found that most of the children's skills in these areas improved considerably over time: Most of the children had better appreciation of others' thoughts and feelings, and they were better able to plan, regulate, and control their thoughts and actions over the study's three years.
"These findings are encouraging," notes Pellicano. "They stress the importance of understanding the breadth of cognitive skills -- a set of weaknesses and strengths -- in children with ASD, and how these skills progress over time. A key question for the future is whether there are approaches that can facilitate progress in some of these areas."

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS

Children's Brain Development Is Linked to Physical Fitness, Research Finds

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2010) — Researchers have found an association between physical fitness and the brain in 9- and 10-year-old children: Those who are more fit tend to have a bigger hippocampus and perform better on a test of memory than their less-fit peers.

The new study, which used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the relative size of specific structures in the brains of 49 child subjects, appears in the journal Brain Research.

"This is the first study I know of that has used MRI measures to look at differences in brain between kids who are fit and kids who aren't fit," said University of Illinois psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Art Kramer, who led the study with doctoral student Laura Chaddock and kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman. "Beyond that, it relates those measures of brain structure to cognition."

The study focused on the hippocampus, a structure tucked deep in the brain, because it is known to be important in learning and memory. Previous studies in older adults and in animals have shown that exercise can increase the size of the hippocampus. A bigger hippocampus is associated with better performance on spatial reasoning and other cognitive tasks.
"In animal studies, exercise has been shown to specifically affect the hippocampus, significantly increasing the growth of new neurons and cell survival, enhancing memory and learning, and increasing molecules that are involved in the plasticity of the brain," Chaddock said.

Rather than relying on second-hand reports of children's physical activity level, the researchers measured how efficiently the subjects used oxygen while running on a treadmill.

"This is the gold standard measure of fitness," Chaddock said.

The physically fit children were "much more efficient than the less-fit children at utilizing oxygen," Kramer said.

When they analyzed the MRI data, the researchers found that the physically fit children tended to have bigger hippocampal volume -- about 12 percent bigger relative to total brain size -- than their out-of-shape peers.
The children who were in better physical condition also did better on tests of relational memory -- the ability to remember and integrate various types of information -- than their less-fit peers.
"Higher fit children had higher performance on the relational memory task, higher fit children had larger hippocampal volumes, and in general, children with larger hippocampal volumes had better relational memory," Chaddock said.
Further analyses indicated that a bigger hippocampus boosted performance on the relational memory task.
"If you remove hippocampal volume from the equation," Chaddock said, "the relationship between fitness and memory decreases."
The new findings suggest that interventions to increase childhood physical activity could have an important effect on brain development, Kramer said.
"We knew that experience and environmental factors and socioeconomic status all impact brain development," he said.
"If you get some lousy genes from your parents, you can't really fix that, and it's not easy to do something about your economic status. But here's something that we can do something about," Kramer said.

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The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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教學計劃的設計應該是學生可以掌握的個別活動,讓他們可以從一個小階段循序漸進到下一個階段,逐步完成全項目標 。



因為學生未必能在同一時間處理多項信息,教師宜每次給予學生一個信息,等他完成後,才給他另一個指示 。

為使學生容易掌握學校和課室的規則及程序,教師宜向學生提供圖象、時間、等候、程序及符號的提示 。



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Living with Siblings Who Have Learning Disabilities

    By Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D.
    Published: July 1 2008
    "Don't forget about me!"
    Seeing the Forest Through the Trees
    Raising children is a wonderful journey that has rewards and challenges every step along the way. Parenting children with special needs (whether they have health issues, problems with learning and behavior, and even exceptional abilities) is especially labor intensive. The attention and energy expended to meet these special needs and keep a healthy balance between home and school can be all-consuming and at times exhausting. As a consequence of this day-in and day-out juggling act, the feelings and needs of non-disabled siblings might be unintentionally overlooked.

    Being on "LD alert" 24/7 can be very tiring, and parental stress and fatigue alone takes a toll on siblings who continually have to figure out how they fit into the flow of family activity and emotions and how their needs for attention, approval and assistance can be met. With parents needing to devote additional time and resources to helping one child, the overall family dynamic is easily thrown off balance.
    Siblings Have Feelings Too
    What could siblings be thinking and feeling as they watch their brother or sister struggle with learning? If they could find the right words, they might touch upon the very same emotions that were described by a psychologist in the 1940s who proposed a model of understanding human behavior. This 'hierarchy of needs' can readily be used to understand some of the emotions that need to be appreciated, understood and addressed by parents and other adults in order to help siblings cope with feelings of anger, jealousy, worry, guilt, and embarrassment that comprise their personal "baggage" as siblings and family members.
    Physiology (having to do with comfort and the physical body)
    "How come he gets more hugs than I do? And for things that are expected of everyone, like finishing homework!"
    Safety (dealing with the need to be protected from harm)
    "Why can't he make his own sandwich? He just needs to be careful with the bread knife.
    "What's the big deal about him riding his bike to school?"
    Belongingness and love (feeling attachment to others)
    "It seems like she's always the first one to get attention."
    "I'm always doing things for her; when was the last time she did something for me?"
    Esteem (having your thoughts and actions valued by others)
    "If you ask me, I'd tell you that you need to back off a little; you're doing things for him that he should be doing for himself."
    "What about my report card? Pretty good, huh?"
    Knowledge and understanding (seeking information)
    "When will her LD go away?"
    "Is she ever going to be able to do her work on her own?"
    Aesthetic (deriving pleasure and triggering emotion)
    "He's got a great laugh, even though his sense of humor is weird."
    "I wish I knew how to really help him when he's feeling down on himself."
    Self-actualization (having "peak experiences" that provide self-fulfillment)
    "I know we're very different, but we'll always be there to support each other."
    "They said he couldn't learn how to play guitar, and I taught him!"
    Transcendence (connecting to something beyond yourself to help others)
    "Everyone deserves to be appreciated for who they are and not just what they can do."
    "I know how important it is to spend time with him and his friends; they really look up to me and know that I will treat them with respect (even though they can be annoying and immature at times)."
    Vying for Attention
    It's only natural that siblings will compete for their parents' attention, and it's no different in families where there is a child with special needs. Misbehaving or acting out is often the way that children call attention to themselves, but underlying these actions is more often than not a genuine call for help. It is not uncommon for siblings of children with LD to share that they:
    Feel jealous of the extra attention being paid to others in the family
    Think they alone feel the way they do and see themselves as "outsiders" in their own families
    Resent all the attention being paid to others and wonder what they could do to regain some of the spotlight
    Feel guilty that their sibling has a "problem" when they don't
    Are embarrassed by having to make excuses or explain why their sibling can't do certain things or needs special attention
    Are worried about their parents and how hard it is for them to meet everyone's needs in the family
    Children with LD need special types of services and supports to succeed in school, at home and in the community. These demands will change over time but may continue throughout their lives. And while the demands upon families may decrease, the feelings that parents and siblings carry with them often remain.
    Some Take Away Tips
    Avoiding comparisons that point to weaknesses
    Make sure to notice (and even celebrate) special abilities or successes
    Do not assign family members to particular roles based on their skills and abilities
    Especially during stressful times, try to find opportunities to laugh!

    Retrieved from:
    Image retrieved from:

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010




















    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Inadequate Sleep Leads To Behavioral Problems, Study Finds

    A recent Finnish study suggests that children's short sleep duration even without sleeping difficulties increases the risk for behavioral symptoms of ADHD.

    During the recent decades, sleep duration has decreased in many countries; in the United States a third of children are estimated to suffer from inadequate sleep. It has been hypothesised that sleep deprivation may manifest in children as behavioral symptoms rather than as tiredness, but only few studies have investigated this hypothesis.
    The researchers at the University of Helsinki and National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, examined whether decreased sleep leads to behavioral problems similar to those exhibited by children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
    280 healthy children (146 girls and 134 boys) participated in the study. The researchers tracked the children's sleep using parental reporting as well as actigraphs, or devices worn on the wrist to monitor sleep.
    The children whose average sleep duration as measured by actigraphs was shorter than 7.7 hours had a higher hyperactivity and impulsivity score and a higher ADHD total score, but similar inattention score than those sleeping for a longer time. In multivariate statistical models, short sleep duration remained a statistically significant predictor of hyperactivity and impulsivity, and sleeping difficulties were associated with hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. There were no significant interactions between short sleep and sleeping difficulties.
    "We were able to show that short sleep duration and sleeping difficulties are related to behavioral symptoms of ADHD, and we also showed that short sleep, per se, increases behavioral symptoms, regardless of the presence of sleeping difficulties", says researcher Juulia Paavonen, MD, PhD.
    "The findings suggest that maintaining adequate sleep schedules among children is likely to be important in preventing behavioral symptoms. However, even though inadequate sleep seems to owe potential to impair behaviour and performance, intervention studies are needed to confirm the causality," Paavonen continues.

    'Why' Just Has To Be The Most Often Used Word After 'No'

    Children have a wonderful tendency to learn what it is that we attempt to teach them. In fact, they have an innate need to learn, evidenced by the “why” stage of their life. In their toddler years, the curiosity of children influences them to ask the question “why” in as many ways as they can think up in the course of a day.
    “Why is the sky blue?” the inquisitive child wants to know. Patiently, you answer, not even sure if your answer is totally accurate, but understanding that an answer must be given.
    “But why?” are the next words out of the young child’s mouth. A little less patiently now, you give the same answer but word it differently in the vain hope that the child won’t realize that it is indeed the same answer.
    “But why?” are again the next words that issue forth from that sweet little face that is causing your blood pressure to rise and your thoughts to swirl tumultuously towards unsafe territory.
    For the third time, you answer the question, flailing around in your mind for a failsafe answer that is sure to end this stream of seemingly endless whys. No luck occurs and the question is again asked.
    “Why, mommy, why?” For what seems like the tenth time, you answer the question. This time you are wishing that you had paid more attention in school during science class instead of looking out the window and daydreaming about the idyllic life you were going to lead.
    You wonder why you didn’t pay attention instead of thinking about graduating, meeting Prince Charming, getting married, and having a little darling baby to love and cherish. “So much, for the love and cherish part,” you think. Why didn’t anybody tell you about this part of it? “Oh, no. There’s that awful word, “why” again!” Finally, you concede that you aren’t really sure and the two of you will have to ask dad.
    Children in their infinite wisdom are enamored by their parents. They are awed by their amazing presence that seems to overshadow everything and everyone else around them. Children are sure that mom and dad know everything about anything.
    In fact, children ask each question in total innocence with the simple need for the truth. Parents become frustrated by their own sense of inadequacy and the knowledge that the “why” is going to be repeated again and again, not just today, but every day for a long time.
    Would it be better to admit, hey I don’t know? Certainly not, if you do, then the question simple changes to “why don’t you know?” Surely, that will be a bit more frustrating than to have to answer an innocuous question for what seems like a gazillion times.

    Article written by Susan M. Keenan.

    All opinions expressed are that of the writer.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Multiply your child's intelligence from birth!

    Time: September 25 · 9:00am - 1:00pm

    Location: KidzGrow @ Ground Floor, 39 C Chong Thuah Building, Weld Quay Penang

    Over the last few decade, we have learned that given the right stimulation our learning capabilities can be enhanced. We also know that every child is born with certain reflexes and senses that needs to be stimulated from as young as possible, to ensure that they develop appropriately and timely, to prepare them for the massive developmental changes from being a helpless baby to childhood, youth and ultimately adulthood. ...

    So, come join us to get insights from an experienced Occupational Therapist on:-

    *Which are the senses to stimulate in your child to enhance learning
    *What are the types of stimulations and How to put them into practice in your daily routine to help your child grow stronger, faster and smarter
    *What are the “yes yes” and “no no” practices (traditional conventional or modern)?
    *Is your child developing according to the milestones? When to be concerned?

    The Speaker

    Eugenie Chan is a community occupational therapist, with more than 40 years of experience in disabilities management: having graduated from the School of Occupational Therapy, SGS Medical College, Bombay in 1962 under the Colombo Plan.
    After having worked in the Government Service for 10 years, she decided to follow her passionate calling to bridge the rehabilitation services delivery gap by developing Community Based Rehabilitation Programs in training the primary level caregivers to efficaciously carry out the routine rehabilitation tasks within the community - based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) strategy in:
    · Improving rehabilitation services delivery to persons with disabilities,
    · Providing access to rehabilitation opportunities at community level for persons with disabilities,
    · Respecting the Human Rights of persons with disabilities.
    Besides her hands-on experience as an Occupational Therapist and Trainer-of-Trainers, Eugenie also holds a Professional Trainer’s Certificate on Training Needs Analysis, an Advanced Certificate in Business from Macquarie University, Australia, an MBA degree from Leicester University, UK.
    She is a life member of All India Occupational Therapists Association (a Founder Member of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists), a life member of the Malaysian Occupational Therapists Association and an Associate Member of the Malaysian Council for Rehabilitation.

    Who should attend?
    Parents to-be
    Parents of new born babies
    Parents of children age 5 and below
    Caregivers / Nannies / Teachers
    Anyone who handles babies/children regularly

    Fees : RM30.00 per pax (including workshop materials and refreshments)

    Early bird registration: RM5/- discount per pax
    (Registration before 16 September 2010)
    Group registration : RM5/- discount per pax
    (Group pax : 5 and above)

    Limited to 20 Seats only. First come, first served basis

    Payment has to be made prior to the event. A place is reserved when full payment has been made. Any payment made is not refundable unless due to cancellation by the organizer.


    Tel : 04–2633229 Fax : 04-2631229
    Email :
    Website :

    Closing date : 23 September 2010

    Substitution of participant(s) is allowed provided Kidzgrow is notified of the name of the new participant(s) at least 48 hours prior to commencement of the seminar.

    Kidzgrow reserves the right to cancel, reschedule or postpone the seminar due to unforeseen circumstances. Every effort will be made to inform the registered participants.

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    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Video Series: Norman Doidge on Brain Plasticity

    A series of video of Norman Doidge, the author of "The Brain That Changes Itself", during speaking tour to Toronto, Denver, Beijing, and Australia. On the videos, he shared about the history of brain research, and current brain plasticity revolution.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Brain Boost: Speed up Your Child’s Processing Rate

    It’s a couple of weeks into the school year … how’s it going? If your answer is “not so hot,” maybe your child could use a boost to get onto the right track.
    On page 28 of our Fall issue (yes, it’s now available digitally as well as in print!!), writer Gina Parsons shares local educators’ insights into possible problems and solutions. Some kids will benefit from testing for learning issues; others may get all the help they need from a tutor.

    Another option is a computerized learning program that zeroes in on brain processing skills. Don’t let your eyes glaze over – this is fascinating stuff. Our brains are sort of like computers. They have a processing speed. But because we’re on the inside, we may not be aware that our mental “computer” is running more slowly than it could be. To someone on the outside – for example, you watching your child – the poky pace may be more apparent.
    “Speed of processing is absolutely essential,” said Dr. Paula Tallal, a cognitive neuroscientist who helped develop a computerized language intervention called Fast ForWord about 15 years ago. That program is only available in a professional setting, but a new one derived from it is now being made available for the first time for used at home by parents. BrainPro is for children whose brains could be processing faster, sequencing info more correctly, recalling it better and paying attention longer – yes, it turns out that we can train our brains to do all of this. How cool is that?
    “The brain is highly modifiable in terms of these basic building blocks for learning,” Tallal said. BrainPro uses game-like exercises to challenge children’s abilities just enough. The program’s smart algorithms adapt individually to each child’s level, mouse click by mouse click, to make sure kids’ answer accuracy rate stays around 80 percent. It ratchets up the difficulty of the exercises kind of like your trainer at the gym gets you lifting heavier weights, adapting to each individual. Remote support tutors help parents monitor their child’s progress.
    “The intent is to improve basic cognitive skills and language processing skills in terms of being able to really process the components of language and especially the sounds inside of words. To become a proficient reader, the child must become aware that it is the sounds inside of words that go with the letters. so these must be heard correctly and in the right order ,” Tallal said. “Spoken language is very important in the school years, not only because it is the foundation for reading, but also because a large percentage of what goes on in classrooms is the teacher standing up talking.” Children who have difficulty keeping up in the early grades may continue to struggle because “teachers use more complex language as you get older,” Tallal said.
    Parents use complex language too. “A lot of times, parents think their kids are just not being cooperative, but it may well be that they gave them a series of commands that are more than their brains can process, remember, sequence and then take action on.”
    A tool that helps with schoolwork AND chores? Sign me up.
    In all seriousness, Tallal, co-director of the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University in Newark, N. J., is a great advocate for making sure all kids reach their potential. She appreciates all the resources schools put into improving curriculum, learning materials and training, but she points out that these approaches build content. “The one thing that is really new is the understanding that it is possible to improve the learning capacity of the brain the child brings to the classroom, ” she said.
    When parents buy a BrainPro subscription, they get a highly intensive set of online “brain fitness” exercises plus the remote tutoring service. They monitor their child’s practice (and keep in mind, the exercises look like computer games) and the program sends their child’s data over the Internet to the tutor so that together they can track the student’s progress. After several weeks, the child’s brain will be able to process faster (which means they can take in more information), attend for longer periods of time, and retain more of what they learn and they “graduate” from the program. “Once your brain is operating at a more efficient level, it will keep practicing at that level as it learns in everyday life,” Tallal explained.
    A unique feature of these computer programs is that they are highly individualized and adapt to the level that is optimal for each child, to assure a high level of success. Children as young as 5 through adults can use BrainPro (or another program, BrainSpark, that provides cognitive enhancement to children already doing well). “The most important thing is for a child to experience a high level of success in learning situations so they don’t get the idea they can’t do it, and turn off to learning.”
    And the best news of all is that like physical fitness, the research shows that our brain can benefit from brain fitness workouts at any age, so it is never too late to start.
    By Amy De La Hunt, Health Blogger for SmartParenting
    Retrieved from:

    Friday, September 3, 2010









    中 國字有非常多的音義。比方說「天、天花、天花板」,只要加一個字,全部改變。如果要讓孩子學東西,不管學什麼,閱讀是根本。若心裡沒有這個詞彙,他根本沒 辦法斷詞。孩子有斷句上的問題時,唯一的方法就是閱讀。腦神經和閱讀有何關係?過去對於中風,左腦受傷右邊癱掉的病人,我們會說,你要學用左手吃飯、穿衣 服,但現在我們把左手綁起來,強迫他右手動。為什麼?若你沒有主動要動,神經就沒辦法再連在一起。這也是為何孩子若不主動要學,怎麼教也沒有用。



    為 何主動學習才有用,被動學習沒有用?德國的實驗發現,學習一定要很早開始,腦部這塊區塊才會愈來愈大。過了青春期,就算每天練八小時也沒用。這曾引起歐洲 父母的恐慌,那小孩不是要從週一補習到週六?但後來經過實驗發現,只有自願主動學習,學習的區塊才會變大,對腦神經連結的密度才有幫助。被動是沒有用的。






    卡 森(BenCarson)是底特律做腦部皮質切除手術最多的醫生。他住在貧民區,有一天,他媽媽一指關了電視說,我到中產階級人家幫傭,發現別人有書,我 們沒有。她強拉他上車,把他丟在最遠的圖書館。多年後卡森成為名醫重遊故地,發現他的朋友一半吸毒死掉,一半在街角要錢。他非常感慨,「當年母親那根手指 頭。改變了我的一生。」



    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    How Does Learning Coach Technology Work?

    By Valerie Beattie, Ph.D

    Scientific Learning’s Reading Assistant software helps students develop their reading and fluency skills. Have you ever thought about the technology that was used when building this software? When students sit down in front of the computer and begin their session, what is going on “behind the scenes” as Reading Assistant presents students with a passage to read, records their reading and then gives them a quiz at the end of a passage in order to evaluate comprehension of the material? Let’s take a look at how the software is designed.
    Reading Assistant software is unique in its ability to listen along and help students as they read out loud and it uses technology to provide a quality Guided Oral Reading experience for students. This guided oral reading practice is crucial to developing reading fluency. Scientific Learning uses a combination of speech recognition technology and knowledge of the reading process to provide this Reading Verification capability.
    The Sphinx open source speech recognition system from Carnegie Mellon University is integrated into Reading Assistant and processes the user’s reading. We have enhanced this software to meet the needs of the education market by adding acoustic models for children’s voices and acoustic models for regional dialects. We have also added the capability to adapt to the user’s voice and speaking rate, detect off-task speech, and detect audio issues so that these can be corrected if possible.
    Techniques and analysis based on knowledge of the reading task are combined with the core speech recognition system to enable “Reading Verification.” The reading verification enhancements fall into three categories. Timing analysis identifies the hesitations and dysfluent pauses in a student’s reading. Pronunciation error analysis looks for specific mispronunciations, or partial pronunciations, of words. Word categorization allows the system to treat words differently, depending upon their importance in a given text and whether they are new vocabulary. Finally, Reading Verification analysis as a whole guides a user interface designed to promote fluency, by minimizing interruptions and distractions while at the same time providing help when it is needed.
    The performance of Reading Verification is optimized using our extensive automated testing capability. Settings, techniques, and acoustic models are tested and adjusted using recorded audio from hundreds of product users. The goal of this optimization is to identify reading errors, but at the same time we must not disrupt fluency. Therefore we do not want to stop a student on an acceptable reading of a word. In the classroom environment, the Reading Verification process must accommodate a wide range of voices (such as different accents) as well as variable audio conditions (including background noise).
    Reading Assistant provides essential one-on-one feedback during guided oral reading to develop a student’s reading skills. We use a combination of speech recognition technology and expert knowledge of the reading process to deliver this capability. Our unique ‘Reading Verification’ technology has been awarded three patents so far, with additional applications in process.
    Learn more about the Reading Assistant software and the results students have achieved using this innovative software.
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