Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Importance of Seating and Positioning for Eating and Drinking


Over the past few years Mealtime Partners Newsletters have included several articles about the importance of correct seating and positioning for safe eating and drinking. There are several different issues that should be considered and this article will review some considerations that should be kept in mind when preparing a mealtime environment for someone who does not eat independently, or, who cannot take a drink without assistance.
The previous article in this Newsletter discusses eating difficulties. For people who experience these difficulties it is essential for them to be positioned appropriately at mealtimes for them to become proficient eaters. Inappropriate positioning can make eating more difficult and even dangerous, especially for those who have a tonic bite reflex or a tongue thrust. If providing food is difficult, there is a high likelihood that the individual will eat less because of the complexities associated with their meals; they are then much more likely to be under nourished, which leads to many other health issues.
Eating – For individuals who cannot feed themselves, it is important that they be seated in a stable position that puts their head in a position that enables them to open and close their mouth with ease, chew freely, and swallow without difficulty or triggering a gag reflex. Read the entire article....
Drinking - Good hydration is an essential part of maintaining a healthy body and general feeling of well-being. It is especially important to address the issue of providing enough fluids for those who are dependent upon another person for providing of all of their liquids. Because they are unable to take a drink when their body feels the need for liquid, they tend to drink less than they would if they could take a drink whenever they wanted. Read the entire article....
... For those who are able to drink through a straw or drinking tube, one of the hands free drinking systems from Mealtime Partners may help them drink independently.
More detailed information about seating and positioning for eating and drinking can be found in several of the earlier Mealtime Partners Newsletters as follows: the June 2009 Newsletter topic: Promoting a Chin Tuck for Safer Eating; the July 2009 Newsletter topic: Positioning for Eating; and the August 2010 Newsletter topic: How We Eat.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Boy With Autism Hits Himself when He Sees His Hands

--> I work with a 6-year old boy with autism who hits himself violently in the head whenever he sees his hands.  Over the summer the boy's mother put weights on his hands and the boy didn't hit himself when he was wearing the weights.  Now the weights don't work, the only thing that works is if the boy has a blanket covering his hands.

If the boy has a blanket over his hands he is able to play, utilize his hands functionally, and not hurt himself.  If the boy has mittens on he hits himself.  If the blanket is held above the boy's hands he does not hurt himself but will utilize his hands functionally. 

Anyone have any ideas??  This child needs help.

Autistic Boy Can't Put Food in His Mouth

--> I work with a boy with autism who is able to scoop and finger feed, has good fine motor/motor planning skills but is unable to put food in his mouth.  At meal times he sits with his caregiver (school staff or mom) and will scoop or pick up his food with his fingers, but when he gets a few inches from his mouth he freezes.

He will stick his tongue out to touch the food (frequently), but needs someone to push his hand to put the food in his mouth.  When you push his hand he resists so it's almost a fight to get the food in his mouth.  If you leave the boy with the food inches from his mouth he will scream and try to grab the caregiver's hand to help him get the food in his mouth.

If you ignore him he will get mad and pound the table and continue to try to get the caregiver to help him.  The boy seems to like to eat and will eat large amounts of a variety of foods.  From time to time if he is distracted he will be able to feed himself independently.

The boy's mother reports that he started this behavior over the summer after having a mitochondrial crisis.  I have found food issues with kids with autism linked to mitochondrial issues but not like this.  Anyone have any ideas? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to figure out total width of a wheelchair

Overall widths and other dimensions vary across several categories of Wheelchairs. Almost all wheelchair buyers should be concerned with some of the basic dimensions such as overall width. You should begin by scouting out the lay-of-the-land. Do this by identifying the smallest and narrowest doorways, passage ways, elevators, or whatever you can think of or visualize that will be part of your day. Around the home it's usually a bathroom door or narrow hallway that limits access. Heavier users with wider chairs may see obstacles at every turn.
In general, use the formulas below to determine the overall width of a wheelchair:
  • Transport Wheelchair: Seat Width + 3"
  • Standard Folding Wheelchair: Seat Width + 8"
  • Reclining Wheelchairs: Seat Width + 8"
  • Bariatric Wheelchairs: Seat Width + 8"
Using the formula above, a standard wheelchair with a standard size seat of 18" wide would be (18" seat width + 8" = 26" overall width).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Special Needs: How to fold and unfold a Convaid Rodeo Tilt 'n Space Stroller

How to fold the Convaid Rodeo Tilt from Convaid Wheelchairs on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Internet Marketing Training – 3 Simple Steps to Grow Your List with Blogging

Internet Marketing Training – 3 Simple Steps to Grow Your List with Blogging

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Special Needs: Transition Planning

Transition:  Planning For the Future
by Linda Jorgensen

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Most children begin seriously thinking about what they would like to be when they grow up while still in their early teens.  It is no different for a child with disabilities.  However, children needing extra help and services find that once they graduate from the education system the programs and supports they need change or often disappear altogether.  Given the changes currently occurring nationwide, it is imperative for parents to actively begin thinking about the transition process and what programs and services their child may need well before he/she graduates from the education system.   

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Multisensory Room/Snoezeleon Company-Fun Factory Sensory Gym

Custom Large Clinic

Custom Medium Clinic

Custom Snoezelen Rooms

Corner of a Custom Bedroom Gym
Custom School Gym
Custom School Gym in use
Custom School Gym
Custom School Gym
Custom School Gym in use

Custom School Gym - Ball Pit

Custom Snoezelen Room

Custom Clinic - Medium

Custom Clinic - Medium

Custom Garage Gym

Custom Garage Gym

Custom Medium Clinic

Children Enjoying A Medium Custom Clinic

Custom Rock Wall in Medium Clinic


Fun Factory Sensory Gym.

Fun Factory Sensory Gym LLC is the premiere custom therapeutic sensory gym design and installation company serving the whole US.  With flexible budgeting, financing, and payment plans, FFSG has the ability to create the most comprehensive designs for schools, clinics, homes, and more.  We take your therapeutic treatment needs and turn them into successful sessions with your clients, no matter the size or budget! Our custom gyms are great for working with people of all ages with all different therapy needs.

Our Mission.

Fun Factory Sensory Gym's mission is to create a therapeutic sensory gym based on your needs, your budget, and the size of your space.  We want everyone to enjoy therapy and progress rapidly, which is what our custom therapeutic sensory gyms will accomplish. 

Popular Therapeutic Sensory Gym Qualities:

  • Ladders
  • Trapeze Bars
  • Platform Swings
  • Jungle Gym (Monkey Bars)
  • Zip Line
  • Custom Storage Unit
  • Relaxation Corners/Booths
  • Fine Motor areas with built in fold up table
  • Balance Beam
  • Ball Pit
  • Steps
  • Slides
  • Scooter Ramp
  • Landing Decks
  • Swings 
  • Benches/Sitting
  • Rockers
  • Rock Wall
  • Castle Structures
  • Sensory Textured ramps

Additional Positive Attributes of a Custom Gym:

  • Increased usable floor space
  • Multiple treats can be performed at the same time
  • Changes are easily made at low costs (location change, change in your treatment needs, updates to gym, etc.)
  • Do not need to pay for complete set up
  • Storage units for all equipment help treatments run more smoothly
  • Color Match Technology to add the perfect touches to the atmosphere of your treatment area
Go to Website

Monday, July 30, 2012

What is Dandy-Walker Syndrome?

 Dandy-Walker syndrome is a condition that affects brain development, primarily development of the part of the brain that coordinates movement (the cerebellum). In individuals with this condition, various parts of the cerebellum develop abnormally, resulting in malformations that can be observed with medical imaging. The central part of the cerebellum, known as the vermis, is absent or very small. Cysts form in the fourth ventricle, which is a fluid-filled cavity between the brainstem and the cerebellum, causing the ventricle to enlarge. The part of the skull that contains the cerebellum and the brainstem, called the posterior fossa, is abnormally large. These abnormalities often result in problems with movement, coordination, intellect, and other neurological functions.


In 80 to 90 percent of individuals with Dandy-Walker syndrome, signs and symptoms caused by abnormal brain development appear within the first year of life. Most children have a buildup of fluid in the brain (hydrocephalus) that causes increased head size (macrocephaly). Affected individuals typically have intellectual disability that ranges from mild to severe, although some have a normal intellect. Children with Dandy-Walker syndrome often have delayed development, particularly a delay in motor skills such as crawling, walking, and coordinating movements. People with Dandy-Walker syndrome frequently experience muscle stiffness and paralysis of the lower limbs (spastic paraplegia), and they may also have seizures. Hearing and vision problems are sometimes a feature of this condition.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Costs of Healthcare

The Cost Conundrum

What a Texas town can teach us about health care.

by June 1, 2009

Costlier care is often worse care. Photograph by Phillip Toledano.
Costlier care is often worse care. Photograph by Phillip Toledano.
It is spring in McAllen, Texas. The morning sun is warm. The streets are lined with palm trees and pickup trucks. McAllen is in Hidalgo County, which has the lowest household income in the country, but it’s a border town, and a thriving foreign-trade zone has kept the unemployment rate below ten per cent. McAllen calls itself the Square Dance Capital of the World. “Lonesome Dove” was set around here.
McAllen has another distinction, too: it is one of the most expensive health-care markets in the country. Only Miami—which has much higher labor and living costs—spends more per person on health care. In 2006, Medicare spent fifteen thousand dollars per enrollee here, almost twice the national average. The income per capita is twelve thousand dollars. In other words, Medicare spends three thousand dollars more per person here than the average person earns.

Read more

Ideas for Traveling with a Special Needs Child

by Jamie Barnes from Complex Child Emagazine

It seems daunting--the idea of travel with a child who is medically complex. It can be an amazing opportunity for the whole family if your child can handle it! There is a lot of planning but it doesn’t all have to be last minute. Part of the planning process is just thinking things through. I had a notepad and pen on my nightstand to jot down the thoughts, ideas and to-do’s as I came up with them while drifting off to sleep. The other part of planning is working with medical providers on emergency plans, which may include ordering additional supplies/pieces of equipment not normally used.

A little background on the complexities we are dealing with: my son Hayden is six years old, is a fraternal quadruplet, and has an undiagnosed syndrome with the major symptom of cerebral atrophy. Hayden deals with multiple GI issues, including intestinal pseudo-obstruction and Morgagni hernia. He also frequently gets respiratory infections with monthly pneumonias. Hayden has pages of diagnoses, but to sum it up he has multiple and severe disabilities, uses a wheelchair and needs full support. Hayden has a G-tube for decompression and draining as well as a central line for nutrition and medications.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Schoolyard designed for children with autism

Schoolyard designed for children with autism

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux, is a condition that is a chronic problem for those affected by it. Common symptoms of GERD are heartburn (a burning feeling in the chest), a feeling of food being stuck behind your breast bone, nausea after eating a meal, a cough, a voice that is horse sounding or a sore throat. Symptoms can worsen at night when lying down. GERD is caused by stomach contents leaking back out of the stomach into the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). Gastric or stomach acid, food and drink, and/or pepsin (a digestive enzyme that’s main function is to break down proteins that have been eaten) may leak out of the stomach. The impact of these substances on the lining of the esophagus can be harmful because they are caustic and the continuous back flow irritates the esophagus and can cause GERD.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Special Needs: Diagnostic Differences between Educational and Medical Diagnosis of Autism

In Part 2 of this Autism Primer, Dr. Wilkinson offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about identification and educational planning for ASD. Resources are also provided that will guide you to further information. The content is intended to be informational only and does not constitute professional advice. 
Question: What is the difference between DSM-IV-TR and IDEA?
Answer: It is important to recognize that there is a difference between the clinical and the educational definitions of autism. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) are the two primary systems of classification. The DSM-IV is considered the primary authority in the fields of psychiatric and psychological (clinical) diagnoses, while IDEA is the authority with regard to eligibility decisions for special education in our schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles all students with special needs to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). According to the IDEA regulations, the definition of autism is as follows:
(c)(1)(i) Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. The term does not apply if a child’s educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in this section.
(ii) A child who manifests the characteristics of ‘‘autism’’ after age 3 could be diagnosed as having ‘‘autism’’ if the criteria in paragraph (c)(1)(i) of this section are satisfied.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Children With Autism DD: Special Needs: Suffer More Severe Symptoms When Born Either Preterm Or Post-term

Children With Autism Suffer More Severe Symptoms When Born Either Preterm Or Post-term

For children with autism, being born several weeks early or several weeks late tends to increase the severity of their symptoms, according to new research out of Michigan State University.

Additionally, autistic children who were born either preterm or post-term are more likely to self-injure themselves compared with autistic children born on time, revealed the study by Tammy Movsas of MSU's Department of Epidemiology.

Though the study did not uncover why there is an increase in autistic symptoms, the reasons may be tied to some of the underlying causes of why a child is born preterm (prior to 37 weeks) or post-term (after 42 weeks) in the first place.

The research appears online in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders.
Movsas, a postdoctoral epidemiology fellow in MSU's College of Human Medicine, said the study reveals there are many different manifestations of autism spectrum disorder, a collection of developmental disorders including both autism and Asperger syndrome. It also shows the length of the mother's pregnancy is one factor affecting the severity of the disorder.

While previous research has linked premature birth to higher rates of autism, this is one of the first studies to look at the severity of the disability.

Click here to

Friday, March 30, 2012

DIsabilities: New Patient Lift Like Nothing Else

I love the design of the lift and how it can work anywhere and fit anywhere. Traditional lifts are so large they can be difficult to use in a residential setting. I don't like the cranks on either side of the seat though, I think that would be difficult for an elderly caregiver and I think taking it apart may be difficult as well, but I love the idea. I wonder if its available stateside.  Check out this video.

Has anyone seen or used anything like this?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Special Needs: Parenting DD Children: Love Key to Brain Development in Children

Editor's note: Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Ever noticed how scientific opinions swing from one extreme to the other?
Take the importance of mothers in the development of children. In the early days of psychiatry almost every mental illness, from depression to schizophrenia to autism was blamed on bad mothering. Then in the 1960’s and 70’s the discovery of medications that helped these illnesses allowed psychiatry to reframe them as biological conditions, no different from cancer or heart disease. Parents were fully absolved for the mental illnesses of their children, except to the degree that they passed along bad genes that caused chemical imbalances in the brain.

Click here to continue reading.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The New and Improved Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning

  Because hydration is so important to good health, Mealtime Partners is emphasizing the use of hands-free drinking systems to facilitate consuming enough liquids for those who are unable to independently take a drink. In last months Newsletter the Front Mounted Drinking System was discussed. To continue providing details about our unique line of drinking products, this month we will describe the Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning. Even though this product has been available for some time it was recently updated to include a larger bladder and longer tube positioning capability. Also, the new system has an on/off valve. These changes were made to facilitate the drinking system being accessible to a wider range of users with more diverse positioning and hydration needs. Figure 1 shows the Hydration Backpack with Tube Positioning mounted on a manual wheelchair.
Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning
Figure 1 - The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning Attached to a Wheelchair            

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Special Needs: Cortical Vision Impairment and Education

by Hollen Partington

When my daughter Leah was two, her ophthalmologist told us that she might not be able to learn to read at a normal age.  He explained to us that children with nystagmus take longer to learn to read, if they read at all all, because it is so difficult for them to focus.  We hadn’t lost hope that day, but we gradually began to understand that her life was going to be forever affected by her plethora of diagnoses.  

Leah’s Vision Story
A 27-week preemie, born February 2004 and weighing 2lbs 8oz, Leah developed post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus at three weeks old.  She was shunted at that time, and during the next several months went from one shunt in the right ventricle to another in the left and ultimately a third shunt in her fourth ventricle.

The operation on her fourth ventricle proved tricky; it’s a small space at the base of the brain just above the brain stem and visual cortex. The neurosurgeon, though fantastic, nicked her optic nerve during the surgery in July 2004.  This forced Leah’s eyes to cross. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

DD Special Needs: Role of Primitive Reflexes and Learning Disabilities

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tax Deductions for Barrier-Free/Universal Design Home Modifications

Tax deductions for home –modifications, capital expenses incurred if home improvements are necessary for medical reasons. The following comes from I.R.S, Pub. 502, medical and dental expenses. 

"You can include in medical expenses amounts you pay for special equipment. Installed in a home, or for improvements, if their main purpose is medical care for you, your spouse, or your dependent. The cost of permanent improvements that increase the value of your property may be partly included as a medical expense. The cost of the improvement is reduced by the increase in the value of your property. The difference is a medical expense. If the value of your property is not increased by the improvement, the entire cost is included as a medical expense."

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Complete Guide to Special Needs Toilet Training

Toilet training children with disabilities is challenging, let's face it toilet training children without disabilities is challenging.  In many cases, toilet training children with disabilities is similar to training other children. It simply requires more patience and some extra support.   In our school we begin toilet training on a schedule sometimes putting a child on the potty once per hour until they start getting the idea.  

Some kids need the extra feedback of potty alarms.  I grew up with a child with Down syndrome in the 70's, her name is Krissy.  When Krissy was potty trained, around the age of 5, she had a potty alarm.  I would think that for kids with Down syndrome potty alarms would be beneficial because Down syndrome kids have low muscle tone.  Typically kids with low muscle tone have reduced tactile sensations and would not be as sensitive to having a wet diaper or pull up.

I feel toilet training a disabled child is of the utmost importance, not only for convenience but also to protect the child.  Over 50% of people with disabilities are sexually abused, potty training your child will take away opportunities of sexual abuse.

I found this guide to toilet training children with disabilitiesHere you'll find plenty of articles, strategies and tips for toilet training children with a variety of special needs. Plus you'll find resources for trouble shooting many types of potty problems like smearing poop, fear of the toilet and potty training regression. It's the most comprehensive guide of toileting resources for special needs parents and teachers with students who are not potty trained.

Guide to Potty Training Kids with Disabilities.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Understanding and Treating the Cognitive Dysfunction of Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease

[Source:  Science Daily]

Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic disorder in live born children arising as a consequence of a chromosomal abnormality. It occurs as a result of having three copies of chromosome 21, instead of the usual two. It causes substantial physical and behavioral abnormalities, including life-long cognitive dysfunction that can range from mild to severe but which further deteriorates as individuals with DS age.
It is not currently possible to effectively treat the cognitive impairments associated with DS. However, these deficits are an increasing focus of research. In this issue of Biological Psychiatry, researchers at Stanford University, led by Dr. Ahmad Salehi, have published a review which highlights potential strategies for the treatment of these cognitive deficits.
Read the Rest of this Article on

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Special Needs: IEP’s According to Dr. Seuss

Posted on by Heidi Kay

Thanks to Special Education for passing along this oldie but goodie that circulates the internet at this time of year!  Could the Cat in the Hat juggle IEPs like YOU can??

Image Credit:  The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

IEP’s According to Dr. Seuss – by:  Author Unknown

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ten Commandments for Parents with Children on the Autism Spectrum

1)      Thou shall not avoid my family when you see us in a public place. Autism is not a communicable disease. It is merely a way of life. You will not catch it by being my friend. Hang out with me and my family and learn about us. Once you understand our challenges it will be self-evident that we have hopes, dreams, and feelings. We love our children just as much as you love yours. Who knows, you might grow to accept us if you give us a chance.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Autism Brain Scan Signs Found At 6 Months Of Age

American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have discovered considerable differences in brain development at age six months in high-risk infants who develop autism, than high-risk infants who do not develop the condition.

Jason J. Wolff, Ph.D, lead researcher of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at UNC's Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD), explained:

"It's a promising finding. At this point, it's a preliminary albeit great first step towards thinking about developing a biomarker for risk in advance of our current ability to diagnose autism."

According to results from the study, autism develops in infancy over time, not suddenly in young children. Wolff said this raises the possibility "that we may be able to interrupt that process with targeted intervention."

Senior researcher of the study is Joseph Piven, M.D., director of the CIDD.

Results from the study are the most recent from the current Infant Brian Imagine Study (IBIS) Network. The network is headquartered at UNC and funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Click here to read the complete article.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Special Needs: Why do kids put things in their mouth?

There are different reasons why children put things in their mouth: 

1. If they are chewing it, they may be seeking proprioception input. So if you take it away, their central nervous system will find another way to get its proprioception input.

2. If they are sucking it, they may be seeking tactile input...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Positioning for Babies and Children with GERD or Respiratory Issues

Many special needs children and babies require special positioning after eating or when they sleep to prevent reflux or to enhance respiration.  I've just come across this Tucker Sling, which looks like a simple positioning solution.  Has anyone used it?  What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Special Needs Autism: Multisensory Room

By GARY WARTH | Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 9:00 pm

The soothing music, soft lights and pleasant aromas in the room would leave almost anyone with a calm and peaceful feeling, but they are having an especially positive effect on some students in special classes at two Escondido high schools.

"See the student who's rocking?" San Pasqual High classroom assistant Richard Shannon said Monday, as he pointed to a boy lurching back and forth in his chair. "We put him in there for the first time for a half hour, and he just sat and enjoyed it. That's the first time in about three years where he just sat still."
The Escondido Union High School District spent about $30,000 in federal stimulus money last year to create special "sensory rooms" at San Pasqual and Escondido high schools for the Specialized Transitions Adult Resource Training program, which teaches work and life skills to special-needs students ages 18 to 22.

EUHSD Special Education Director Susan Davis said she doesn't know of other public school districts that have created similar rooms for special-needs students, and she has heard of them in private schools.

"It's been shown to help them calm down, deal with their emotions and get 'reset,'" Davis said about the rooms' effects on disabled people.

Click here to

Special Needs Kids: Diagnosing Immunodeficiency

by Stefani Bush-from Complex Child emagazine

It’s 3am.  The silence of the room is interrupted by the urgent beeping of the thermometer in your child’s mouth.  No sigh of relief in sight…another fever…another illness…antibiotics aren’t working, and you’re at your wit’s end.  Morning slowly creeps in and you’re on your way to the pediatrician, again.  “This is the third illness in five weeks, this can’t be normal,” you cry.  But your words fall on deaf ears and a laid back response of, “Kids get sick, there’s nothing to worry about.”   Or is there????

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Autism and Special Needs Furniture

I just discovered this site on special needs furniture.  
This furniture looks as though it would be a great choice 
for positioning and calming for someone with special needs.  

This furniture is a great sensory integration tool for someone 
with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit disorder.


SOPA and PIPA- Results of Last Week's Internet Black-Out

Now that Congress has had time to process last week's internet blackout, a consensus has emerged: SOPA and PIPA are toxic for politicians, and going anywhere near them could cost them their re-election.
Freedom is winning.
Together, we've done something amazing-- never have so many people stood up to defend a free and open internet.  Here's a San Francisco Chronicle article about how it all came together: The Largest Online Protest in History Started Here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Autism and Difficulties with Eating


Autism is a relatively common developmental disorder. It is estimated to occur in 1 in every 1,000 births and occurs four times as frequently in boys as girls. Autism is typically diagnosed between the ages of 1 to 4 years and is characterized by speech and communication delays and difficulties; troubles with social behavior including failure to develop typical peer interactions and relationships; repetitive stereotypical behaviors and movement patterns; preoccupation with specific objects and intense interest in specific things, e.g., trains; non-typical interactions with toys, among other symptoms. Children with autism have sensory integration problems including being bothered by things that are rough on their skin (socks, shirts, underwear), loud noises, bright lights, smells, etc., and they like to have a routine and are distressed should a routine change. More information about autism can be found at many sites on the internet. NIH PubMed Health provides a thorough description. Also, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have an Autism Fact Sheet that includes a list of organizations that can provide more information.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Special Needs Travel: Waterford Ireland Accessibility

My traveling in Southern Ireland was done mainly via sailboat with Dermot Greer from Sailing Ireland.  Great way to travel really, I took sailing lessons while sailing port to port on the Southern end of Ireland.  We sailed during the day and stopped at small fishing villages at night for food, pints and local music at the pubs.  Good fun and I learned a lot about the Irish, sailing and accessible facilities.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stop SOPA and PIPA-Protect our Freedom of Speech Online

Friday, January 13, 2012

Flowers for Algernon a Science Fiction Short Story about a Man with a Cognitive Disability

I just read 'Flowers for Algernon,' a science fiction short story by Daniel Keyes copyright 1959.  'Flowers for Algernon' is about a man named Charlie with a cognitive impairment who has an operation to increase his intelligence. 

As the man becomes more intelligent he begins to see the world differently and people differently.  People also begin to see Charlie differently, by the end of the story its almost as if Charlie needed to increase his intelligence for people to see him as human, yet when his intelligence was at its pinnacle he wasn't seen as really 'human' either. 

As the story progresses Charlie becomes a genius, the hardest thing for Charlie is that he proves the increases in his intelligence are temporary.  Charlie begins to lose his intelligence as well as his memory of many of the things he did and learned.  I can't help but wonder if this is a bit like how someone with Alzheimer's feels. 

As I write this post I feel I just can't begin to give this story credit, please read it for yourself I'd love to hear your thoughts.

'Flowers for Algernon' by Daniel Keyes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Entrepreneur with Special Needs

I first heard about Barb from some locals on Pine Island.   Barb owns and operates a produce stand on Pine Island in Florida. Barb and her family moved to Pine Island from New York several years ago.  I was told Barb has Down syndrome, after meeting her I doubt that is the case, although she does have some sort of cognitive disability. I find her entrepreneurial story fascinating and unfortunately rare.

I write this post in hopes that many other people with disabilities will have the chance to create a life for themselves as Barb has done.  Undoubtedly Barb has had help but as Goethe says, ‘Act boldly and mighty forces will come to your aid.’

Barb agreed to photos and an interview, here is her story: