Key findings

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and the NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey, 2012

  • Nearly all (98.5%) youth aged 12–15 reported watching TV daily.
  • More than 9 in 10 (91.1%) youth aged 12–15 reported using the computer daily outside of school.
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After a concussion, people can have widely varying symptoms. These symptoms can include physical, mental and emotional problems, the researchers noted.

"While most people recover from a concussion within a week, a number of factors affect people's recovery, and studies have shown that teenage athletes may take up to seven to 10 days longer to recover than older athletes," the study authors said.

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I am in a five day workshop for finding strategies for teachers and helping support them in the classroom. Does anyone have any low cost/no cost incentive ideas for teachers? Thanks! 
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Hi -

As the NASP Membership Chair, I’d like to thank you for participating in the NASP Member Exchange this year. Your posts have helped to introduce fresh ideas, foster engaging discussions, and contribute to the dialogue of our profession.  I’m glad to see so many of you utilizing this NASP member benefit.

This NASP membership year will end on June 30th. If you haven’t yet renewed your membership for the 2014-15 school year, I encourage you to do so now.  I don't want to see you lose access to the vibrant NASP Communities because your membership lapses.

The membership renewal process is easy.  You can renew online at

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What social skills does a three-year-old bring to interactions with a new peer partner? If he has strong bonds to his parents, the child is likely to be a positive, responsive playmate, and he'll be able to adapt to a difficult peer by asserting his needs, according to a new University of Illinois study published in Developmental Psychology.

"Securely attached children are more responsive to suggestions or requests made by a new peer partner. A child who has experienced a secure attachment relationship with caregivers is likely to come into a new peer relationship with positive expectations," said Nancy McElwain, a U of I professor of human development.

In the study, the researchers assessed the security of child-mother attachment relationships for 114 children at 33 months, and parents reported on their child's temperament, including anger proneness and social fearfulness.  At 39 months, children of the same gender were randomly paired with one another and observed over three laboratory visits in a one-month period.

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In a study published in Science, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center show for the first time that sleep after learning encourages the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions from brain cells that connect to other brain cells and facilitate the passage of information across synapses, the junctions at which brain cells meet. Moreover, the activity of brain cells during deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep, after learning is critical for such growth.

We've known for a long time that sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. If you don't sleep well you won't learn well," says senior investigator Wen-Biao Gan, PhD, professor of neuroscience and physiology and a member of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. "But what's the underlying physical mechanism responsible for this phenomenon?

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Students with disabilities who were sexually abused in school settings were more likely to receive most of their education in self-contained settings, and slightly more likely to suffer abuse from an adult at the school rather than another student, according to more than 350 people who responded to a web survey on the topic. 

The survey respondents do not represent a random sampling of students with disabilities, nor were the reseachers—Stephen J. Caldas, an education professor at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., and Mary Lou Bensy, an adjunct professor of special education at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.—able to independently verify the survey respondents. 

However, the responses generally match already-known facts about students with disabilities. The four most populous states were also the top four states represented among survey respondents. The ratio of public to nonpublic students in the survey mirrored the overall population of students in those two systems nationwide. And, similar to other research, slightly more boys (54 percent) were reported as victims than girls. 

Among the information from the survey: 

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Research implying an increase in impulsive suicide attempts among US high school students over the last twenty years may have important implications for the detection of suicide risk among this age group. The authors of this study suggest that health care providers and school suicide prevention program staff who conduct suicide screenings may want to include questions about health-risk behaviors that are strongly associated with suicide (such as interpersonal violence, substance abuse, sexual risk behaviors, and unhealthy weight control behaviors), in addition to the usual questions about mood, ideation, and past attempts.

The authors based their data analysis on results from the bi-annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Respondents were categorized as being at low, medium, or high risk for death by suicide based whether they reported suicidal ideation or attempts in the previous year. The study found that there was a large decrease in suicidal thoughts among both female and male students over the years 1991-2011. During this period, there was no change in the prevalence of suicide attempts among male students and a small decrease among female students. According to the authors, this “suggests that impulsive or unplanned suicide attempts may have become more common.” They also report that “consistent with other research, we found the strongest associations between suicide attempts and the types of health-risk behaviors that may be associated with poor impulse control and aggression, including substance abuse, community- and school-related violence, and unhealthy weight control/disordered eating.”  Students at moderate or high risk of suicide were also found to have been less likely to use condoms than students judged to be at low risk.

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An accessible online library for people with print-based disabilities. Bookshare offers over 204,000 digital books, all available free for K-12, college, and adult education students in the United States (must submit proof of disability to Bookshare).

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"Victims of bullying who have been threatened, engaged in a fight, injured or had property stolen or damaged are much more likely to carry a gun or knife to school," said study senior investigator Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 15,000 U.S. high school students who took part in a 2011 survey. They found that teens who suffered many types of bullying are up to 31 times more likely to bring weapons such as guns and knives to school than those who have not been bullied.

The 20 percent of students who said they'd been bullied were more likely to be in lower grades, female and white, the researchers said. Almost 9 percent of them reported bringing weapons to school compared to less than 5 percent of kids who weren't bullied.

Those more likely to admit "packing" for school said they had:

  • missed school because they felt unsafe either there or on the way to school;
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Studies have shown that children who were born between 34 and 36 weeks' gestation (late preterm) have more social, behavioral and academic problems than children born at full term (37-41 weeks). However, few studies have looked at the brain structure of late preterm children.

Researchers from the University of Iowa conducted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans on 32 children ages 7-13 years old who were born at 34-36 weeks' gestation. In addition, they administered cognitive tests to the children, including the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Benton Judgment of Line Orientation (which assesses visual perception), Grooved Pegboard (which assesses fine motor skills and coordination) and Children's Memory Scale. Parents also completed a behavioral assessment.

Results were compared to 64 children born at full term who were recruited for another study in which they completed the same cognitive and behavioral assessments, neurological exam, and MRI sequences as the late preterm group.

Preliminary analysis showed differences in both cognitive function and brain structure in the late preterm children compared to full term children. Functionally, late preterm children had more difficulties with visuospatial reasoning and visual memory. They also had slower processing speed.

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Today the United States Department of Education issued guidance to school officials on how they should respond to sexual violence and other sex discrimination. The guidance focuses primarily upon Title IX, but it impacts upon several other statutes.
Although this issue is much broader than just a special ed issue, the Q & A document
does address students with disabilities in part.

B-3. What issues may arise with respect to students with disabilities who experience sexual 
Answer: When students with disabilities experience sexual violence, federal civil rights 
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Data for the study came from the National Health Interview Survey, which continually collects information about health and health care in the United States. All of the information on children is obtained through parental (or other guardian) responses. None of the information comes from medical records.

Overall, the researchers found that 7.5 percent of U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 were taking medication for an emotional or behavioral problem. Significantly more boys than girls were given medication -- 9.7 percent of boys compared with 5.2 percent of girls.

Older females were more likely than younger females to be given medication, but the age difference among males wasn't significant, according to the report.

White children were the most likely to be on psychiatric medications (9.2 percent), followed by black children (7.4 percent) and Hispanic children (4.5 percent), according to the report.

The study found that significantly more children on Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program were on medication for emotional and behavioral problems (9.9 percent), versus 6.7 percent with private insurance and just 2.7 percent of children without insurance.

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It's not just kids who are overdoing screen time. Parents are often just as guilty of spending too much time checking smartphones and e-mail — and the consequences for their children can be troubling.

Dr. Jenny Radesky is a pediatrician specializing in child development. When she worked at a clinic in a high-tech savvy Seattle neighborhood, Radesky started noticing how often parents ignored their kids in favor of a mobile device. She remembers a mother placing her phone in the stroller between herself and the baby. "The baby was making faces and smiling at the mom," Radesky says, "and the mom wasn't picking up any of it; she was just watching a YouTube video."

Radesky says that's a big mistake, because face-to-face interactions are the primary way children learn. "They learn language, they learn about their own emotions, they learn how to regulate them," she says. "They learn by watching us how to have a conversation, how to read other people's facial expressions. And if that's not happening, children are missing out on important development milestones."

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Neuroscientists at Brigham Young University studied a group of children three years after each had suffered a traumatic brain injury -- most commonly from car accidents. The researchers found that lingering injury in a specific region of the brain predicted the health of the children's social lives.

"The thing that's hardest about brain injury is that someone can have significant difficulties but they still look okay," said Shawn Gale, a neuropsychologist at BYU. "But they have a harder time remembering things and focusing on things as well and that affects the way they interact with other people. Since they look fine, people don't cut them as much slack as they ought to."

Gale and Ph.D. student Ashley Levan authored a study to be published April 10 by the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. The study compared the children's social lives and thinking skills with the thickness of the brain's outer layer in the frontal lobe. The brain measurements came from MRI scans and the social information was gathered from parents on a variety of dimensions, such as their children's participation in groups, number of friends and amount of time spent with friends.

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Parents of children with learning and attention issues are often bombarded with terms for how to describe their children's challenges. Some people seem to talk about dyslexia and ADHD as "disorders," while others refer to them as "disabilities." Sometimes it seems as though the terms are used interchangeably. But do they actually mean the same thing? And for that matter, why do some people avoid using either word and insist on calling dyslexia and ADHD "differences"? In fact, the three words carry different meanings, and which term is most appropriate may depend on the context.

"Disorder"   The word "disorder" is a medical term from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) V, the authoritative guide for mental health professionals in the United States. The DSM V defines "mental disorder" as follows: a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in an individual's cognition, emotion regulation, or behavior that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. From a parent's perspective, the term "disorder" is most relevant with your doctor and the healthcare system.

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Each year, underage drinking results in the deaths of about 4,700 people in the United States.

Research shows that teens who don't drink until age 21 are:

  • more than 80 percent less likely to abuse alcohol or become alcohol-dependent later in life than those who drink before age 15;
  • 70 percent less likely to drive drunk later in life than those who drink before age 14;
  • 85 percent less likely to be involved in an alcohol-related traffic crash later in life than those who drink before age 14;
  • more than 90 percent less likely to be injured while under the influence of alcohol later in life than those who drink before age 15, and
  • 90 percent less likely to be in a fight after drinking later in life than those who drink before age 15.

Making it clear to your teen that underage drinking is unacceptable

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Although charter schools have been a part of the nation's education landscape for more than 20 years, states still have a long way to go in paving the way for them to successfully educate students, finds a new report from a research and advocacy group that supports charter schools.

The Center for Education Reform released its 2014 Charter School Law Rankings and Scorecard earlier this week, grading charter school laws in 42 states and the District of Columbia.   

The first charter school law was passed in 1991. Since that time, charter school popularity has grown, particularly in jurisdictions with charter school laws characterized as strong by the center. Today, the average charter school waiting list is almost 300 students long—and that number is likely to grow, according to the report. The U.S. Census predicts an influx of over 11 million school-age children over the next 20 years, many of whom will presumably be seeking spots in charters.

The organization rates charter school law on six characteristics that it says are needed for strong charter schools: independent, multiple authorizers; few limits on expansion; equitable funding, and high levels of school autonomy, according to a press release.

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