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"Charlotte’s Web" isn’t just a classic piece of children’s fiction, it’s also the name of one of the most coveted medical marijuana strains that is being used to treat children with epilepsy. The demand for Charlotte’s Web is so high by …

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Clearly Ice Bucket Challenge fad has outlasted just about all expectations. It’s almost as though it were invented in some kind of viral factory.

“If you think there’s something important to be done to help people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, then wouldn’t it make sense to include the vastly greater number of people with, say, multiple sclerosis as well? ALS is so rare—the association estimates that 5,600 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year—that it seems a bit odd as the focus of a major national philanthropic phenomenon. Giving a charity anunexpected windfall doesn’t always have wonderfully positive results. So maybe it’s time to stop giving to the ALS Association at this point. And start giving to a few other charities instead.”

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Seeing this busker in downtown, Toronto was a haunting reminder of how individuals with disabilities were presented as circus freaks back in the day. I was not alive at the time and yet it still haunts me. I am not sure why this man is abnormally tall and I believe that because of his bone structure it is not the result of genetics alone. Whatever his diagnosis is, I find it fascinating how he chose to dress up as Spock (not sure if it is due to his face or his height…though the facial resemblance is uncanny). As indicated by the tub on his belt with ‘tips for pics’ written on it, he is trying to make money by presenting himself in costume. Is this person doing this because it is the only job that society allows him to do based on his appearance? Is he making money because of his diagnosis? Is there nothing more to this and am I making more of it than meets the eye? Who knows. It just struck me as interesting because I know that people with disabilities do attempt to make money on the streets either as buskers or beggars (depending on where you are in the world). What can we do to change this? Does society feel the need to change this? Let’s ask the hard questions.

Seeing this busker in downtown, Toronto was a haunting reminder of how individuals with disabilities were presented as circus freaks back in the day. I was not alive at the time and yet it still haunts me. I am not sure why this man is abnormally tall and I believe that because of his bone structure it is not the result of genetics alone. Whatever his diagnosis is, I find it fascinating how he chose to dress up as Spock (not sure if it is due to his face or his height…though the facial resemblance is uncanny). As indicated by the tub on his belt with ‘tips for pics’ written on it, he is trying to make money by presenting himself in costume. Is this person doing this because it is the only job that society allows him to do based on his appearance? Is he making money because of his diagnosis? Is there nothing more to this and am I making more of it than meets the eye? Who knows. It just struck me as interesting because I know that people with disabilities do attempt to make money on the streets either as buskers or beggars (depending on where you are in the world). What can we do to change this? Does society feel the need to change this? Let’s ask the hard questions.

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This phone stand is an inclusive tool (for people of all abilities) because it is great for those who want to look at notes while making presentations or those who need to keep time. A tablet stand would be even more inclusive because of the size. If only all educators encourage use of such tools to be used in classrooms.

This phone stand is an inclusive tool (for people of all abilities) because it is great for those who want to look at notes while making presentations or those who need to keep time. A tablet stand would be even more inclusive because of the size. If only all educators encourage use of such tools to be used in classrooms.

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Autistic by Explanation

At breakfast this morning, one of the Counsellors at camp asked two brothers what kind of jobs they have. The elder able-bodied brother provided this explanation before telling the Counsellor what kind of job his brother had: He has Autism so he works at la di da place.

Why the label? Why do you need to highlight a person’s disability prior to providing further details/listing their achievements? Is the explanation REALLY necessary? His disability is not an invisible disability and even if it was, I don’t think an explanation is necessary nor appropriate. I recognize that his job is not a “regular job” that a mainstream able-bodied person of his age/maturity would participate in. What do you accomplish by pointing out his lack of ability in such a situation?

What really hit a nerve was that he did so nonchalantly while his brother was sitting right next to him. Not only are you identifying that he is “special” and does not fit in within society’s construction of the ”norm”, you are also doing it WHILE HE IS THERE. Where is the inclusivity? Why are you justifying why what he does is different, and perhaps unusual? If somebody did that to you, how would you feel?

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Identify yourself first

I’m at a camp for the blind and at the dinner table, the Counsellors always identify themselves prior to serving us or clearing up the table. I’ve made it a habit to identify myself to individuals who have vision loss, but I feel the need to do so even with those who have perfect or almost perfect vision. In fact, I think it would be awesome if everyone did this with everyone, regardless of disABILITY. I’m going to try this and see what kind of reaction I receive from those who are able-bodied. YAY experiment!

You can try it out at your end. Simply start with, “Hi/Hello/Hey it’s <insert your name>.” Try it out.

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Some facts on Autism:

The increase in number of people who are being diagnosed with autism are believed to be those individual who have been undiagnosed to date, according to experts. YorkU spoke with 3 experts on sit on the York Autism Research Alliance (YARA).

One of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the world

In the past 40 years, diagnoses have increased tenfold

In 1977, 1/2500 people were diagnosed with ASD whereas in 2009, 1/106 people were diagnosed

Males are four times as likely as females to have ASD

1/88 children is diagnosed, 1/54 are boys

Toronto District School Board now estimates that close to 3000 students are on the autism spectrum, Durham District School Board puts number 1/75

Source: article in YorkU Fall 2013 titled “Trying to demystify one of psychology’s most elusive developmental disorders: autism.”

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A bit about Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum of disorders are characterized by:

  • Impairments in communication and social interaction
  • Stereotyped or repetitive behaviours (i.e. rocking, hand flapping)

People with autism can have:

  • Unusual responses to others
  • Attachments to objects
  • Can be resistant to change in their routines (thinking/behaving flexibly is often an issue
  • Aggressive/self-injurious behavior is sometimes associated with ASD
  • Uneven skill development
  • Intellectual disability (not always)
  • Children with ASD don’t seem to be able to combine visual and auditory cues

Source: article in YorkU Fall 2013 titled “Trying to demystify one of psychology’s most elusive developmental disorders: autism.”

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"Often behavior that might deviate a bit from the norm might just be social anxiety disorder or mere eccentricity. So, in some sense, if the person is mostly comfortable with the things in his or her life an can function, why even call something like Asperger’s a disorder? Where it becomes problematic is when a person’s behavior makes the individual, or those around the individual, uncomfortable."

Bebko. Source: article in YorkU Fall 2013 titled “Trying to demystify one of psychology’s most elusive developmental disorders: autism.”

I say: So if the behavior doesn’t make outsider’s uncomfortable, then the label need not exist, no? If society got rid of its discomfort towards disabilities, it’s suddenly not a problem because the disability becomes part of the definition of “normal.”

 

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Muki Baum is a permanent fixture outside Holt Renfrew on Bloor St. W. If he had a million dollars, he’d buy a building for children with disabilities.

A sign on his scooter reads: “I was born with cerebral palsy and deafness but I want you to know that I am a person not a disability.”

Thirty years ago, she founded MukiBaum Treatment Centres, a non-profit charitable organization for those with developmental and emotional disabilities. Their facility on Samor Rd. near Dufferin and Lawrence Aves. was built, in part, with money Muki raised.

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"I believe that people do not have disabilities, only differbilities. They just do everything differently."

— Katie. Just heard it on CBC 99.1 FM - 10:35a.m. Today.

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"Attitude is what plays the biggest role in patient recovery. If a patient can maintain a positive attitude, he will go farther than those people who can’t."

— Dr. Nora Cullen of West Park Healthcare Centre in Toronto re: recovering from Brain Injury.

Source: Summer 2012 Rehab Matters publication pages 7-8. 

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Stats on Brain Injury

  • There are 27,000 children with ABI in schools
  • 20% of people in psychiatric settings appear to have a history of brain injury
  • In Ontario, 44 people sustain a brain injury daily.
  • Brain injury is the greatest cause of death and disability for people under the age of 45
  • Brain injury kills more children under 20 than all other causes combined
  • In Ontario, someone suffers a brain injury every 3 minutes.
  • 11,000 Canadians will die each year from Brain injury

Source: Summer 2012 Rehab Matters publication pages 7-8. 

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A little bit about Brain Injury

Nearly ½ million people in Ontario alone live with acquired brain injuries (ABI) and this number doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of people affected by ABI such as family, friends, employers.

There are almost 18,000 emergency room visits in Ontario as a result of traumatic brain injuries (TBI – meaning a brain injury caused by a blow to the head). The instances of TBI are greater than multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, HIV/AIDS, and breast cancer COMBINED.

Anyone can suffer a TBI, anytime, anywhere. Research shows that the use of safety equipment (WEAR YOUR HELMETS KIDS) reduces the chances of injury to the brain.

Source: Summer 2012 Rehab Matters publication pages 7-8. 

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A video on the benefits of conductive education.