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Welcome to our blog.   Please note that this page is open to the public, so any comments made by members will be visible to the general public also.  At this time, only members can make comments to the posts. 

  • September 03, 2023 4:25 PM | Pamela Shaw (Administrator)

    This year, the Illinois Association for Gifted Children and the national group, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted, are partnering to bring parents in the Chicagoland region a Regional Parent Conference!

    CGCC will have an exhibitor booth at the conference and CGCC Board members will be giving a panel presentation, "Walking the Journey of Parenting Bright, Complex Kids."

    The keynote speaker will be Jen Merrill, author of If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice Exceptional and the Laughing at Chaos blog.

    Early Bird registration will save you $75 on registration prior to September 15, so don't wait! Please see here for more information and to register. We hope to see you there! 
  • July 18, 2023 5:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Worried about your child making the transition from high school to college? Keep him from drifting into academic free-fall with these tips for planning ahead, choosing courses, and encouraging self-advocacy.

    Many students with ADHD do well in high school, but struggle with grades and being on their own in college. Parents send their son off to his dream college, having every reason to believe he will excel, only to have him flunk out in the first semester. Students whose parents and teachers coddle them in high school are especially prone to failure. In fact, too much parental hand-holding in the junior and senior years, say experts, is a warning sign that the student may have trouble in college.

    “Many parents control their children’s lives,” says Carl Thum, Ph.D., director of the Academic Skills Center at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. “When the student enters college, he can’t manage the newfound freedom without his parents’ daily guidance.” As if that weren’t enough, college rarely provides the same level of support and one-on-one attention that high-school special-ed programs do.

    The bottom line? The student drifts into academic free-fall.

    To help students with ADHD successfully move from high school to college, experts recommend that parents use the following strategies before heading off to campus:

    Plan Ahead

    “Poor time management trips up many students with ADHD in college,” says Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, an ADHD coach based in Virginia, who works with kids, teens, and college students. “Have your student choose a planner – whether it’s an online version, a smartphone, or a traditional paper format – and practice scheduling her day before she heads off to college.”

    It’s vital that students be able to schedule – and execute – daily activities on their own, says Patricia Quinn, M.D., a developmental pediatrician, who specializes in kids and teens with ADHD, and author of ADD and the College Student. “Have your student pay attention to managing time around life activities, such as socializing and extracurriculars, not just around academics,” says Quinn. Because parents often do a lot for their kids – grocery shopping, laundry – students aren’t aware of how time-consuming managing day-to-day necessities can be.

    Find a Point Person

    “When you research prospective colleges, find out if there is enough on-campus support to help your student with the transition,” advises Thum. “Be sure that a dean, a counselor, an ADHD coach, or someone in the disabilities office is tuned in to the problems that students with ADHD face,” he says. The student, not the parent, should contact this point person during the junior or senior year of high school.

    Before starting the first semester, your son should talk with the contact person about the accommodations he will need – and the backup documentation that is required to get them. Thum also advises students to “find someone in the campus infirmary or health clinic who can meet with him once or more a semester to do a med check.” Students who continue taking ADHD medication in college need to adjust the dosage to accommodate new academic demands – two-hour-long lecture classes, for instance.

    Encourage Self-Advocacy

    Students should practice advocating for themselves – approaching teachers to ask for extended time on tests, say, or for permission to record lectures — before the first day of classes. Says Quinn: “Starting in the eighth grade, talk with your son about how his ADHD affects him, socially and academically. Be sure he is aware of his academic strengths and weaknesses.” Quinn suggests that ADHD students know their learning style – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic – and have suitable study techniques to prepare for tests. Students should also have a feel for which courses play to their strengths and which ones will be a problem.

    Mix It Up in the Classroom

    “Half of doing well at college is course choice,” says Thum. “Students with ADHD shouldn’t dumb things down, but they shouldn’t overextend themselves either.” Thum advises that students not load up on lecture classes, a poor fit for a kid who is easily distracted. Smaller classes or courses that require doing projects are better.

    Selecting the right courses can be tough during the first semester or two, because students don’t know what they are interested in,” Thum says. “They need to seek the advice of a dean or special-ed counselor, who can guide them. Poor course selection is a key reason some students with ADHD get into academic trouble.”

    Stay Involved

    Parents play an important role in a child’s college success, but it is different from the one they played in high school. “Support your child,” says coach Sleeper-Triplett, “but don’t jump in to fix problems. If your son doesn’t get along with his roommate, be a sounding board, not a problem-solver. Ask him to come up with potential solutions, and subtly steer him toward the most effective option. If your child is in a real bind, step up your involvement: Don’t solve the problem for him, but be supportive and available to talk it over. You might also call your child’s advisor, in confidence, and suggest that he have a one-on-one with him.”

    A friend of mine was glad she encouraged her son’s independence in high school. “In freshman year, I would sit by him late into the night when he wrote papers,” she says. “But I did less and less as time went on. By the time senior year came around, I did hardly any handholding.” Now that her son is in college, she answers questions and gives guidance without doing his work. He is flourishing.

    Taking a Break

    If your child leaves college for a semester or two because of poor grades, try the following tips to get her back on academic track when she returns:

    • Debrief without shame and blame “Have someone who is objective debrief the situation,” advises ADHD coach Jodi Sleeper-Triplett. It could be a psychologist, clergy member, or a trusted family friend who can review what the student did-and did not do-in college. Be sure the person talks with your student about forms of support she will need when she returns. “It’s important that the student be encouraged to figure out what worked well at school and what didn’t-and to get through this often-painful process without harsh judgment.”
    • Stay active Students should spend their time away from college working at a job, traveling, or engaging in self-study, suggests Carl Thum of Dartmouth’s Academic Skills Center. “Have them do something productive – not just play video games,” he says. “Ninety percent of the time, students are more focused after a year of doing something meaningful.” The benefit of staying active is that the student can regain the self-confidence she lost.
    • Seek more support Experts advise students to return to campus with a proactive approach to getting help. “In almost every case, students who had to leave college for some time didn’t take advantage of support while they were there,” Thum says. “When they get back, they need to talk with their professors and deans, and find out about-and learn to use-supports at college.”

  • June 06, 2023 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Great 5 minute video from Bright & Quirky regarding this topic:

    If your bright child resists the very thought of reading, or learning non-preferred subjects, should you push them anyway?

    According to Melanie Hayes, EdD, Director of Big Minds Unschool, this pattern is not unusual in bright and quirky kids.

    Listen as Dr. Hayes shares quick tips on how to proceed in this delicate situation. The answers may surprise you.

  • May 08, 2023 7:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    ADDitude  Newsletter

    Q: My teen has ADHD, and sometimes, she can be very sensitive. When she confides in me, I don’t always know when I should give her advice and when to stay quiet and just listen. How can I tell which response is best?

    When your teen opens up, try to determine whether she just wants a safe space to vent or she is uncertain and seeking guidance. Knowing is half the battle. A teenager’s primary job is to move away from their parents little by little to eventually become fully independent. Teens are a lot like toddlers—venturing farther from you to test their independence, but still requiring support as they face a host of dangers they don’t understand. Your role is to encourage safe exploration and stand by.

    You can do this by listening reflectively and asking thoughtful questions. Your best strategies will be to reflect on what you’re hearing, to be honest about your own uncertainty, and to ask what she needs. If she does want guidance, be sure to keep your advice simple, brief, and nonjudgmental.

    You might say something along these lines:

    • “It sounds like this situation with Suzie is really frustrating. I have some thoughts about how you might handle it, but I’m not sure that’s what you want right now.”
    • “Seems like you’re facing a tough choice. What would be the positives if you made choice A? What about B? Are there any negatives to either choice?”
    • “Gosh, that is a dilemma. How would you feel if you didn’t (do the thing, say the thing)?”
    • “I see how much thought you’re giving to this, and I get how challenging this must be. What does your gut say?”

    Walking alongside her as she thinks about and solves her own problems is far more powerful, and supportive of a growth mindset, than is solving the problems for her. But don’t be surprised if she resists answering your questions. If her response is a sigh and an eyeroll, show your reflective listening with responses like, “I get it. Wow, that’s hard.”

    Remember to acknowledge her thoughtfulness, as praise is scarce for many teens who have ADHD. You might say, “Thanks for including me as you think this through. I’m really impressed by how you’re handling it.” For a teen who struggles (and let’s face it: what teen doesn’t?), knowing you’re her ally, confidante, and biggest cheerleader can be the best scaffold in the world.

  • May 08, 2023 1:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Attitude Newsletter

    As an educator dedicated to supporting students with ADHD and other learning differences, I’ve delivered many presentations over the years to teachers of students who learn differently. One training session, in particular, stands out. I desperately wanted to effect real change, and I remember putting immense pressure on myself to drive home the importance of inclusive teaching strategies.

    As I quietly reflected on how to achieve that, I jotted down a list of essential presentation components: statistics on learning differences, findings from peer-reviewed journals (naturally), quotes from psychologists — anything I thought would make an impact on this group of teachers. Still, for all their compassionate intentions, it was possible they would forget my words by Monday morning.

    Then I realized what was missing: the human element. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a powerful way to appreciate (or try to appreciate) the lived experience of others. That’s what I wanted the teachers to do.

    On the day of the training, I asked the teachers to try some exercises to better understand the top challenges facing their students with learning differences. I still use these and other simulations for educators today.

    Simulations for Educators: Activities to Understand Students with ADHD and LDs

    To Simulate Difficulty with Focus

    For this activity, I have teachers read a short text on a screen and try to retain key points (like names, dates, and places) without taking notes and while loud, distracting noises (traffic, children playing, birds tweeting, and so on) play. The text also disappears off and on the screen during the activity, interrupted by intermittent thought bubbles that display questions like, “I wonder if it’s going to rain later” and “Did I remember to switch off the gas?”

    Without warning, the text abruptly disappears from the screen, replaced by a series of questions about the text. The teachers then have a few minutes to answer those questions.

    To Simulate Sensory Overload

    I ask teachers to take a short quiz in this activity, but the quiz isn’t the main point. The purpose is to gauge how they feel in their environment as they’re taking the quiz and as multiple environmental changes are taking place, unbeknownst to them. These changes are meant to provoke strong sensory responses similar to those experienced by students with sensory processing challenges.

    Before starting the quiz, I have teachers sit uncomfortably close to one another (within reason). I also bring in a few extra lamps. During the quiz, I turn up the heating, turn on the extra lamps, keep blinds wide open if there is bright sunlight, type loudly on my keyboard, and shuffle papers. I also start a ticking countdown timer or coordinate ahead of time with the room next door to have them make lots of noise during the quiz.

    To Simulate Auditory Processing Difficulties

    In this listening exercise, teachers have to write as I read aloud from a passage. (I choose an intermediate-level text). However, embedded into every sentence is a completely made-up, nonsense word. As I read, I do not stop to explain or spell this word. I continue to read as if I’ve said nothing unusual, ignoring the looks of confusion and other reactions from the audience.

    To Simulate Visual Strain

    Many students with dyslexia experience visual perception issues that affect reading. (Though visual strain is also common in dysgraphia and other learning differences.) Black text against white backgrounds tend to cause most visual strain, even causing letters to appear blurry, distorted, and at different line heights. This is somewhat straightforward to simulate. I have teachers read blurry black text printed on a white sheet of paper, and I ask them to compare that to the experience of reading the same text, but printed in blue and on cream-colored paper. The latter, of course, reduces visual strain.

    Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Helping Neurodivergent Students Succeed

    Ultimately, a neurotypical person can never truly understand the neurodivergent experience. But, without fail, there is always a tangible shift in the room following these exercises. I know that I’ve hit the mark when I hear “wows” and see heads nodding — or shaking. Teachers will share that the activities made them feel “stupid,” “frustrated,” “uncomfortable,” and “ashamed.” They are instantly curious and eager to know what they can do to avoid making their neurodivergent students feel this way. They want to know how to become inclusive educators who can help all students succeed. They want to enact real change.

  • March 26, 2023 3:41 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “How was your day?” “Fine.” It’s not exactly illuminating conversation, is it? Unfortunately, many kids with ADHD don’t leap at the opportunity to talk to Mom and Dad about how their day at school went — especially if it went poorly. Here’s how parents can encourage better communication (hint: it starts by asking the right questions).

    Kids don’t like to share their thoughts and feelings about school, especially if they have had a rough day. Unfortunately, many children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a lot of rough days at school. Many of them find school a slog — seven hours of falling short of expectations and feeling bad about themselves. Who would want to talk about those experiences every day?

    Liz Evans, a mother of three and a former educator who blogs at Simple Simon and Company (, wanted to get more out of her two tight-lipped children, Simon and Grace. When she asked how school was, they grunted “Fine” or “Good.” Nothing else.

    Evans wanted more feedback, as many parents do. So she blogged about a list of questions to ask that get them talking. According to Evans, some questions have led to interesting conversations, hilarious answers, and insights into how her children think and feel about school. Her question-and-answer strategy worked. Simon and Grace started speaking in full sentences. If your child is quiet about school, try out some of Evans’s questions on him or her:

    1. What was the best thing that happened at school today? (What was the worst thing that happened at school today?)
    2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.
    3. Whom would you like to sit by in class? (Whom would you not want to sit by in class? Why?)
    4. Where is the coolest place at the school?
    5. Tell me a weird word that you heard today (or something weird that someone said).
    6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?
    7. How did you help somebody today?
    8. How did somebody help you today?
    9. Tell me one thing that you learned today.
    10. When were you the happiest today?
    11. When were you bored today?
    12. If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed someone up, who would you want them to take?
    13. Who would you like to play with at recess whom you’ve never played with before?
    14. Tell me something good that happened today.
    15. What word did your teacher say the most today?
    16. What do you think you should do/learn more of at school?
    17. What do you think you should do/learn less of at school?
    18. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?
    19. Where do you play the most at recess?
    20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?
    21. What was your favorite part of lunch?

    Evans’s favorite answers came from questions 12, 15, and 21. The “alien” question gives kids a non-threatening way to say who they would rather not have in their class, and encourage a discussion to ask why, potentially uncovering issues you didn’t know about.

    “When I asked question 3,” says Evans, “I discovered that one of my children didn’t want to sit by a best friend in class anymore — not out of a desire to be mean but in the hope that she’d get the chance to work with other people.”

    “As my kids get older,” says Evans, “I know I’m going to have to work harder to stay engaged with them — but it’s going to be worth the work.

  • February 27, 2023 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If your child has ADHD, give her some alone time — you just might be blown away by her creativity, and she’ll get a major self-esteem boost.

    Giving time, space, and freedom to middle-schoolers with ADHD to do what they want to do, without criticism, works wonders for their confidence. Downtime gets their dopamine flowing, not only through the thinking parts of the brain but the reward centers as well. It may be the only time of the day that they feel comfortable in their skin.

    For kids with ADHD, any pressure to achieve can cause tension and discouragement. Children with ADHD are especially sensitive to criticism. It takes a lot of positive responses to counteract one negative response. And it’s hard for them to get positive responses when day-to-day tasks seem boring, they are struggling to meet other people’s goals, and they are discouraged from thinking outside the box.

    Life on the Wild Side

    Kids with ADHD show their creativity best when they are left to their own devices. Natural improv comedians, they pick something up and think, “What can I do with this?” “I wonder what would happen if…”

    How can parents help their kids express their authentic selves? Here’s how.

    TIME: Don’t over-schedule your child’s time. Allow him time to do nothing. He (and his friends) will fill the time with something. It’s no secret that kids with ADHD have an abundance of creativity, just looking for an outlet.

    SPACE: Creativity is usually messy. Set aside part of a basement or garage for your child’s projects. Or give the kitchen over to him for an afternoon. Some middle-schoolers I know do their projects at one end of a walk-in closet or in a tree house.

    MATERIALS: Help your child to assemble a mini-junkyard — duct tape, wire hangers, round oatmeal boxes, shoe boxes and Styrofoam packing, cardboard tubes, scraps of fabric or wood, things with parts missing, old wheels from a toy. Other raw materials are paper, pens, and markers.

    Access to tools goes along with a selection of materials. A good gift for a middle-schooler is a toolbox equipped with basic tools. You can never have too many scissors, staples, metal rulers, or screwdrivers. Drop your old sheets, shower curtains, and shirts into the junkyard for messy activities.

    FREEDOM: Once equipped, don’t tie your child’s hands or mind with rules and directions. Forgo critiques, unless safety requires otherwise. One 13-year-old I know told her mom she wanted to make a dress. The mother gave her some remnants, needles, and thread, and let her try.

    The daughter was happy with the shapeless garment she created, and happy enough with the experience of making the dress, but her mother’s response was, “I thought you wanted to make a real dress.” Instead of a put-down, she could have said, “I like those colors together” or “That was fast.”

    Offer help; don’t urge it. If the child is disappointed in the results, and says, “This is crooked,” or “I thought it would turn out bigger/different/straighter,” that is the time to say, “If you want, I’ll show you how to use a pattern” or “There are ways to prevent that. Let me know if you want me to show you how.” If you take over their projects, kids will feel inadequate and afraid that their interests are not up to your expectations.

    [How “Making Connections” Helps Kids with ADHD]

    When a parent shows confidence in his middle-schooler’s choices, and encourages her to follow her own plan or whim, that confidence is contagious. She learns that her choices are sometimes right, that her personality is OK, and that it is fine to do things because they feel right, even if they don’t serve someone else’s purpose.

    “Look What I Did!”

    Some kids I know with ADHD have used their downtime to:

    • Cut a large bamboo cane and make six-ounce drinking glasses from it.
    • Dam up a small stream. When the dam broke, they built a bridge over it.
    • Write poetry, stories, jokes, and even chapters of a novel or autobiography while trapped in the car on a family road trip.
    • Transplant sprouted acorns and other tree seedlings into a “tree farm,” and tend it for several years.
    • Write, stage, rehearse, shoot, and edit a video.
    • Train a dog to shake hands with either front paw.

  • February 23, 2023 1:02 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    From the William & Mary School of Education web site . . .

    What is the 2e at William & Mary Conference? 

    The 2e @ W&M: Twice Exceptional Conference focuses on twice-exceptional (high-ability/gifted with learning differences/disabilities or neurodiverse) children at home and school.  The conference aims to provide information, resources, support, and community building opportunities to educators, administrators, parents, practitioners, counselors, and district personnel.

    When is the conference?

    This time, the 2e at W&M Conference is online February 24-25, 2023. The 2021 and 2022 conferences were also online and are available for purchase below.

    2023 Registration Information

    • Full Conference: $200
    • Full Conference Early Bird: $175 (until Jan. 9th)
    • Parent Only Sessions: $100
    • W&M Students: $30
    • Division Access (up to 15 participants): $2,000

    See the conference web site for details on schedule, presenters, and registration.

  • December 15, 2022 6:59 PM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    From 12/15/2022 Argonne National Laboratory email:

    Are your female students curious about science and the world around them? Are they natural problem solvers? Are they compelled to understand how things work? Have them come join Argonne National Laboratory in exploring the world of engineering and science at the 21st Annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED).


    8th grade girls interested in STEM


    Friday, February 17, 2023

    8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


    Argonne National Laboratory

    TCS Conference Center

    9700 S Cass Ave, Lemont, IL 60439


    Register Online by January 27, 2023 to be entered into the lottery.

    Click here for complete details and registration.

  • September 14, 2022 10:30 AM | Linda Zanieski (Administrator)

    From Educational Programs at Argonne National Laboratory 9/14/2022 email . . .


    Council Seeks High School Students To Share Their Voices

    The Argonne Education Teen Advisory Council (ATAC) is an opportunity for young people to strengthen the impact of Argonne’s educational programs by providing feedback on current and future activities. While the ATAC is not a hands-on STEM program, as a member, you’ll have access to STEM professionals and resources that align with your interests in a variety of fields. You’ll also have the opportunity to virtually learn what it’s like to work at a United States Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory.

    Membership on the ATAC is a commitment that requires you to contribute your time, energy, and ideas for the council. We will meet virtually every Thursday after school and occasionally meet in person at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont and Argonne in Chicago at Harper Court. This council will run from November through May 2023.

    Applications Due October 15, 2022. Click here for complete details and to apply.

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