Disability Education Series: Autism

Disability Education Series will run at least once a week and will educate and inform readers of An Able-Bodied Education about a number of different disabilities. The interviews will be presented in a question and answer format and will feature individuals from various disability services around the province. The hope is that this series will answer the questions that many people have always been afraid to ask of people with disabilities. 

Q: What’s your name?

A: Betty-Ann Garreck.

Q: What’s your position?

BG: I’m the Co-ordinator of Autism Kamloops.

Q: What is Autism?

BG: Autism is a spectrum disorder also known as a pervasive development disorder. It is a neurodevelopmental disability affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction. No two people with the disorder are alike.

Q: How prevalent is Autism?

BG: In Canada 1 in 91 children have Autism.

Q: What’s something that everyone should know about Autism or when interacting with people who have Autism?

BG: They may need additional time to process a question and time to formulate and deliver the answer. Some may be non-verbal and may communicate with pictures or PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). Be patient. Continue reading

Disability Education Series: Cerebral Palsy

Disability Education Series will run at least once a week and will educate and inform readers of An Able-Bodied Education about a number of different disabilities. The interviews will be presented in a question and answer format and will feature individuals from various disability services around the province. The hope is that this series will answer the questions that many people have always been afraid to ask of people with disabilities. 

45418_152541418092521_4485111_aQ: What’s your name?

A: Deirdre Stevens

Q: What’s your position?

DS: I’m the Family and Individual Support Worker for the Cerebral Palsy Association of B.C.

Q: What is Cerebral Palsy?

DS: Cerebral Palsy is the result of an injury to the developing brain at any time during pregnancy, birth, or until the age of three. The injury to the brain interferes with messages from the brain to the body affecting body movement and muscle coordination. CP doesn’t damage a child’s muscles or the nerves connecting them to the spinal cord—only the brain’s ability to control the muscles.

Q: How prevalent is Cerebral Palsy?

DS: The best statistics that we have about the number of people affected by CP are that approximately one in 500 babies are diagnosed with CP, and approximately 10,000 people are affected with CP in British Columbia.

Q: What’s something that everyone should know about Cerebral Palsy? 

DS: As a support worker I think that the general public should know that CP affects every person’s body differently. It can range from mild to severe and can affect the entire body or only one limb. When interacting with people with CP it’s important to remember that they are just like everyone else and have the same feelings, thoughts and frustrations as other people.

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Your Thursday moment of positivity…

So this is starting to be a bit of a regular thing, I come across and get sent so many amazing videos that I usually need to take at least one day each week to share with all of you.

This week, I have two videos and they are quite possibly my favourites this year. Special thanks to Jackie and Mary for sharing!

Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs

Breakfast, Lunch and Hugs is a video about Tim Harris, who lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Tim has Down’s Syndrome but he hasn’t let his disability dictate the direction of his life, and has spent the last five years bringing happiness and positivity into the lives of others, while furthering his own professional goals.

Tim owns his own restaurant, Tim’s Place, and is a graduate of Eastern New Mexico University. Check out the website for Tim’s Place and watch the video to learn more about this amazing story.

The Coronado High School Basketball Team

I’m a sucker for a good sports story.

The Coronado high school basketball team honoured their team manager, Mitchell Mitchell Marcus, in a pretty special way in the final game of the season. Mitchell, a basketball fanatic, has a developmental disability, but the Coronado high school basketball team didn’t let that stop them from letting Mitchell suit up for the team. What happens it pretty wonderful.

Disability Services

A few weeks ago I met with Marge Huntley, the Manager of Disability Services here at Thompson Rivers University, for a short interview about the Disability Services office and how they help students. Originally, I planned to write this blog in Q&A format, but decided it would probably make for a boring read. Instead, below are some of the interesting things I learned in my interview.

  • The Disability Services office is the only office on TRU’s campus that serves students with disabilities. They are responsible for helping students on all of TRU’s campuses, including Open Learning.

    The Disability Services office has been helping to "level the playing field" at TRU since its inception -Image courtesy of The Sheaf

    The Disability Services office has been helping to “level the playing field” at TRU since its inception -Image courtesy of The Sheaf

  • The Disability Services office defines disability in a manner that aligns with the Ministry of Advance Education, as well as schools from across the province, in order to ease transitions between institutions. In order to receive aid from Disability Services students must demonstrate—with professional documentation to support—that they have a permanent disability that in some way impacts their ability to be successful as a student.
  • The Disability Services office is tasked only with accommodating students with disabilities that impact their academics. However, the Disability Services office will often  help in other situations involving disability, like asking facilities to shovel a certain part of campus to improve accessibility after a large snowfall. While their focus is on permanent disability, they will also do their best to support students who have broken limbs or are recovering from surgery if they require specific academic accommodations.
  • Last year (2011-12) the Disability Services office served 520 students across TRU’s campuses, including applicants; that number is up thus far this year. The Disability Services office administered 1,012 exams in 2011-12. Continue reading

If you enjoy this blog…

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog over the past couple months, there’s plenty of other material on the web you’ll enjoy. Below I’ve included two links to websites that have compiled some of the leading blogs on disability from around the web. Take a read through, there’s some really great stuff here!

Enjoy!

http://www.e-bility.com/links/blogs.php

http://joshvandervies.com/10-top-disability-blogs/

UN votes down disability legislation…

This isn’t new news, but I thought it was worth a share anyways.

In December, the US Senate voted against a United Nations (UN) treaty titled the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, that would have guaranteed equal rights for people living with disability. According to UN Enable, 154 countries have signed the the treaty and 124, including Canada, have ratified it.

The purpose of the convention is “To promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”

The details of the convention can be viewed in full on UN Enable.

Both Stephen Colbert and John Stewart, in their usual satirical genius, took a look at what can only be described as a ridiculous decision by the senate.

One last thing, I’m not poking fun at the situation, I think it’s truly sad that the United States Senate would vote down a treaty of this nature. Colbert and Stewart do a great job of illustrating that point.

Colbert on the US Senate voting down the UN disability treaty

Stewart on the US Senate voting down the UN disability treaty

Your Thursday moment of positivity

Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli has been astounding people for years with his dancing abilities. Patuelli was born with Arthrogryposis, a musclular disorder affecting his legs.

Patuelli is known around the world and even performed at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Paralympics. He’s also made appearances on “America’s Got Talent,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” and a number of television talk shows.

Enjoy and remember, anything is possible!

Five books about disability that everyone should read

I’m an avid reader and though I’d never thought about it until recently, I’ve read a lot of books about disability. Below are five of my favourites, including a brief synopsis and review. They’re ranked, with number one being the best by far, but all five are exceptional.

And here we go…

images5. Blindness, by José Saramago

Blindness isn’t strictly a book about disability, but disability plays a large role in the story. Hit by a strange, unknown illness, an unnamed city suddenly finds its residents going blind. The illness spares virtually no one and before long panic sets in amongst those who have managed to keep their vision. To prevent the illness from spreading, the blind are confined to an abandoned mental hospital, left to take care of themselves with minimal supplies and even less leadership.

Narrated by the only woman in the hospital who has managed to keep her vision, Blindness is a story about how the illness impacts the lives of those affected and about the cut-throat society developed within the hospital when people are left to their own devices.

Terrifying, heartwrenching and at times infurating, Blindness analyzes the way that individuals treat one another when faced with unexpected adversity. Heroes emerge, villains impose their will – but like all individuals who are faced with a disability, those who want to, find a way to survive and adapt.

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Why Oscar Pistorius can still be seen as a hero in the disabled community

Photo by Mia Elliott

Photo by Mia Elliott

This isn’t a sports blog. But the Oscar Pistorius story isn’t just a sports story.

Bruce Arthur wrote an amazing piece on Pistorius in the National Post a few weeks back, give it a read. It provides a bit of background info on the charges Pistorius is facing and has informed a lot of my personal thoughts on what is a complicated issue.

Can Pistorius still be viewed as a role model?

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