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Free seminars to assist parents of gifted middle-schoolers

December 13, 2010

Parents of intellectually and academically talented middle school children can gain insight into a variety of issues associated with gifted education during a series of free seminars from January to June at Arizona State University’s West campus. The seminars are hosted by the ASU Outreach Program for the Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy, an initiative of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“Like the seminars we presented during the fall semester, the spring 2011 offerings will share the knowledge of experts from ASU and the community with Valley parents regarding the exceptional needs of their gifted children,” said Dina Brulles, who with colleague Kimberly Lansdowne directs the ASU Outreach Program for the Herberger Academy.

“The eight seminars will focus on different aspects of giftedness, so that parents can better understand what the gifted identification means in order to help guide and plan for their children’s education,” said Brulles, who will lead one of the spring seminars.

The schedule is:

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Smart Boys” by Sanford Cohn

How are smart boys faring in the 21st century? The prime objective in schools has been to bring the performance of students having trouble learning up to average. Smart boys are often ignored, as they are already doing above average work. In the absence of appropriate learning opportunities, these boys find avenues for learning outside of school; most often, they retreat to their computers. Video games and exploring the Internet offer them far more ways to experience novelty and complexity (the two most significant aspects of education for gifted learners). In this session, Cohn describes some of the problems gifted boys face in school and how we might improve schooling for them.

Sanford Cohn is a professor in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. He has co-authored with Barbara A. Kerr, “Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, and the Search for Meaning,” co-edited with William C. George and Julian C. Stanley, “Educating the Gifted: Acceleration and Enrichment,” and published numerous articles on assessment and identification of academically talented youth, program evaluation, and studies focusing on both the nature and nurture of intellectual talent. Cohn is a psychologist in Arizona with a small clinical practice devoted to highly able youths and their families.

Monday, Feb. 7, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children” by Paul Beljan

Gifted children often express behavior that is easily misdiagnosed as abnormal. However, many of these behaviors are normal for gifted children and their expression is likely due to asynchronous development. Regardless of these behaviors being ‘normal’ for gifted children, they often cause peer alienation, teacher frustration, and may lead to actual diagnostic disorders if they are not managed. These behaviors emerge from how the gifted child’s brain processes information and, therefore, require a behavioral intervention that is neurologically based.

Paul Beljan is a pediatric neuropsychologist who is in private practice in Scottsdale. Beljan Psychological Services focuses on the population of gifted children to help them become more understood and to understand themselves. Beljan is the past president of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology. He co-wrote “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults.”

Wednesday, March 9, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Smart Girls” by Robyn McKay

For smart girls to flourish, they need more than just their intellect. Creativity, emotional intelligence, mentors and allies each have a unique place in a bright girl’s life.  Join creativity researcher and ASU counselor Robyn McKay for a special conversation about the milestones and danger zones that smart girls encounter. Find out what parents can do to uplift, support, defend and applaud their gifted and talented daughters.

Robyn McKay has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Kansas, where she studied positive psychology and optimal human development. She is the co-founder of CLEOS, a creativity and talent development research laboratory at KU. McKay is on the staff of Arizona State University’s Student Counseling Services and on the faculty of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where she teaches Child & Adolescent Development. She is the founder of WISE – Women in Science and Engineering at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

Wednesday, March 23, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Mindful Parenting in a Neurodevelopmental Context” by Alison Reuter and Laura Wingers

Parenting a gifted or twice-exceptional child frequently requires thinking outside the box. Mindful parenting can enhance the parent-child relationship, increase parenting satisfaction, improve parents’ ability to creatively and effectively address challenging behaviors, support self-care, and manage stress. Attendees will 1) experience the practice of mindfulness, 2) learn what it means to parent mindfully, 3) understand the neurodevelopmental context for mindfulness practice and effects on attention and executive function systems and 4) learn ways both adults and children can incorporate mindful practices in their daily lives.

Alison E.F. Reuter is a licensed psychologist with 16 years’ experience in the mental health field. Reuter completed her doctorate in Counseling Psychology at Arizona State University and obtained post-doctoral fellowship training in health psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. She offers assessment and psychotherapy services for adults, adolescents and children. In addition to neuropsychological assessment, she specializes in child giftedness, behavioral medicine, autism spectrum disorders, depression, anxiety, trauma, and other issues of mental health.

Laura Wingers is a doctoral student in clinical psychology. Her training emphasis includes child and adolescent populations and neuropsychological assessment and intervention. Wingers has fourteen years’ experience working with children and families, providing assessment, psychotherapy and other interventions for children and adolescents with a variety of mental health and behavioral issues, and consultation with schools and community health service providers. She is currently completing a dissertation focused on parents’ help-seeking behavior during the gifted identification process.

Saturday, April 16, 9:00-10:30 a.m.

“Parenting Gifted Adolescents” by James Webb

In today's society, it is more difficult to successfully parent tweens and teens. Success is more than simple academic, vocational, or professional achievement. Resiliency, self-esteem, self-motivation and self-discipline are keys. Although relationships are of paramount importance, the pace of modern life and technological innovations often create barriers to relationships. This seminar describes practical parenting strategies to promote relationships that can help an adolescent find his or her passion in life.  Webb will provide specific approaches and techniques designed to help parents raise successful adolescents.  Learn how to help your gifted adolescents instill values, develop the ability to set priorities and the persistence to follow through on them, and achieve a sense of personal balance.

James T. Webb has been recognized as one of the 25 most influential psychologists nationally on gifted education. He consults with schools, programs and individuals about social and emotional needs of gifted and talented children. In 1981, Webb established SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted Children, Inc.), a national nonprofit organization that provides information, training, conferences and workshops, and he remains as Chair of SENG’s Professional Advisory Committee.

Wednesday, April 27, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Finding School Support for Your Gifted Child” by Dina Brulles

Parents of gifted children understand their children have unique social, emotional and academic needs. They become accustomed to advocating for, and searching for, the right educational program and/or teacher for their children. This seminar focuses on understanding the learning needs and affective concerns of the gifted child and how these relate to school. Brulles suggests positive and proactive ways parents can find a good match and build relations with the school.

Dina Brulles is the director of Gifted Education Services in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, where she has developed an array of gifted education programs. Brulles also serves as director of the Young Scholars Outreach Program at ASU and co-president of Gifted Education Consultants, LLC. She has authored a number of publications, including the books “The Cluster Grouping Handbook: How To Challenge Gifted Students” and “Improve Achievement For All and Helping All Gifted Children Learn:  A Teacher’s Guide to Using the NNAT.”

Wednesday, May 18, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Parenting the Net Generation: Student Safety and Netiquette” by Kimberly Elms

Keeping our kids connected and protected is the goal of this seminar. We take a look at the statistics of Gen Y and their application, appreciation, and approach to technology while exploring ways for parents to support their plugged-in kids while keeping them safe.

Kimberly Elms is a curriculum and instruction designer specializing in technology-rich learning experiences. She has written both online and hybrid curriculum for school districts and developed the curricula and instructional frameworks for digital learning centers. Elms is the current President of Arizona Association for the Gifted & Talented (AAGT).

Wednesday, June 8, 6:00-7:30 p.m.

“Understanding the Results of Intellectual Testing” by Paul Beljan

Intelligence tests are key measures in making the designation of giftedness.  However, parents and educational professionals may not understand exactly what the tests measure. This seminar explains how gifted intelligence is represented on the ‘normal bell curve’, what the subtests of intelligence tests measure, and how to interpret the relationship between subtests. Parents will gain a deeper understanding of the range of gifted intelligence.  This information is important for parents to have, as they are often the educational advocates for their children.

Paul Beljan is a pediatric neuropsychologist who is in private practice in Scottsdale. Beljan Psychological Services focuses on the population of gifted children to help them become more understood and to understand themselves. Beljan is the past president of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology. He co-wrote “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults.”

Seminars will be held in Room 299 of the CLCC Building on ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. The events are free and open to the public; visitor parking on campus costs $2 per hour.

More information may be obtained by phone at (602) 543-8274, via email at, or online at