Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How Can We Help?

When Enabling Devices (then Toys for Special Children) was founded in 1978, the idea of adapting and creating toys and other products for people with disabilities was groundbreaking. In the nearly four decades that have elapsed, awareness of the needs of people with disabilities has increased, and the field has become more crowded. Consumers can now access our products or products made by our competitors from a variety of sources. Yet, Enabling Devices still stands out because of our longstanding commitment to providing personal, individualized and customized services to our clients.

Over the years, we have responded to clients’ unique needs by adapting and creating new products especially for them.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers' contributions are invaluable!
Despite significant increases in the numbers of stay-at-home fathers and dads who take active roles in the care of their children, many parenting magazines, books and blogs are geared almost exclusively toward mothers. Likewise, fathers are often overlooked at their children’s schools, by pediatricians and other clinicians. That’s unfortunate since research shows that paternal involvement is extremely important to children’s development in a myriad of ways. With Father’s Day just around the corner, this week’s blog addresses dads’ invaluable contributions to their children’s lives.

Involved fathers have smarter children
Studies have shown that engaged fathers are more likely to have children that have higher IQs and do better in school. For example, a recent study published in the Infant Mental Health Journal found that “the association between paternal interactions and cognitive outcome is evident at a very early age.”  More specifically, the study reported that babies who actively engage with their fathers, perform better on cognitive tests.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Musical Musings

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.”
― Plato

The power of music and its significant healing properties are well-known.  According to psychologist David M. Greenberg, writing for Psychology Today, “Music is much more than mere entertainment. It has been a feature of every known human society—anthropologists and sociologists have yet to find a single culture throughout the course of human history that has not had music. In fact, many evolutionary psychologists today make the argument that music predated language. Primitive tribes and religious practices have used music to reach enlightened states for thousands of years, and Pythagoras used music to heal different psychological and physical ailments. Currently, cutting-edge scientific research has shown the effect that music has on the brain, the individual, and society.”

Like their non-disabled peers, people with physical and developmental disabilities can benefit tremendously from interactions with music. While listening to music improves quality of life for just about everyone, some people with disabilities can also experience profoundly positive effects from taking part in adapted music lessons and/or music therapy. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. In this week’s post, we outline the differences between these two modalities and note the benefits of each.

What are adapted music lessons?
Adapted music lessons have the same goal as conventional music lessons: to teach the musical skills necessary to play an instrument. Yet adapted lessons are taught by teachers or music therapists skilled in providing an especially individualized approach to learning. Trained to evaluate the learning needs and styles of each student, adapted music teachers can tailor their lessons to the strengths and weaknesses of their students. They utilize a variety of strategies to help students to accomplish their goals.

According to Jennifer Hezoucky, a therapist at Life Song Therapy, adaptations for music students with physical disabilities may include: “Color-coding or large-print/chord music; learning songs using color or number codes; over-sized guitar picks; alternate tunings for guitar; adapted equipment for specific needs (such as switch-adapted instruments available through enablingdevices.com).

Adaptations for students with developmental or intellectual disabilities may include the use of “visual aids to structure the lesson and reduce frustration; non-verbal communication; a focus on preferred songs and music genres; communication devices; [the incorporation of] music games, rhythm instruments, movement and singing to maintain and maximize learning,” says Hezoucky.

What is music therapy?

In music therapy, music proficiency isn’t the goal. Rather, music is a means to achieving other goals. According the American Music Therapy Association “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.”

For example, notes music therapist Geoffrey Keith of Success Music Studio, “a music therapist may teach a student a song to help him to remember how to tie his shoes, or sing a song with him so he can work on saying a particular consonant that he struggles to say more clearly, or to help get out strong feelings attached to a traumatic experience.”

For more information about music therapy, visit musictherapy.org.
For more information about adapted music lessons, visit successmusicstudio.com.




Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Five Strategies for Raising Graduation Rates for Students with Disabilities

Recent data shows that high school graduation rates in the United States are higher than in any other time in history. According to the 2017 Building a Grad Nation Report by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, in 2015, “about half of all states reported high school graduation rates of 85 percent or more.” By 2020 those states are poised to graduate 90 percent of their high school seniors.  
But sadly, the data on students with disabilities tells a very different story. The same Grad Nation report also found that “Thirty-three states reported high school graduation rates for special education students below 70 percent, and nearly half of those 33 had graduation rates for students with disabilities below 60 percent.  Four states—South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and Nevada—graduated half of their special education students.” Unless the graduation rates of students with disabilities, poor and minority students improve, the Grad Nation report concludes that the country won’t meet the 90 percent graduation mark.

In an article for Nonprofit Quarterly, Noreen Ohlrich, calls the gap in graduation rates between those with disabilities and without them “scandalously wide.” So, what if anything can be done to level the playing field? Here’s what some of the experts recommend.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Five Tips for Accessible Gardening

Though it happens every year, the arrival of spring is always a source of joy. For many of us, spring is the time for tending lawns, planting flowers, and beautifying decks, patios and window sills. The benefits of being out in nature are well known but bear repeating. According to the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley, spending time out of doors in natural spaces reduces stress … makes you happier … relieves attention fatigue, increases creativity … may help you to be kinder and more generous and make you feel more alive.”

Like everyone else, people with disabilities reap tremendous benefits from experiencing nature. Yet, they may face greater challenges when it comes to creating and maintaining their outdoor spaces. Thanks to adaptive gardening tools, and thoughtful landscaping design, the challenges are surmountable. Here are some tips for making gardening accessible to all.

1. Make room for a wheelchair
Make sure paths are flat, hard, and at least three feet wide to accommodate a wheelchair. Paved paths are ideal for wheelchair users but if that’s not possible in your garden, keep grass well-mowed and dirt paths even and well-maintained. If there are stairs in your garden, replace them with a ramp.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Happy Mother's Day - Take a Break!

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, many of us are buying cards or gifts and planning meals or excursions to pay tribute to the mothers in our lives. Those of us who are mothers ourselves may be contemplating the joys of motherhood, while also looking forward to some TLC from our children, spouses or partners. Despite our love for our families, sometimes Mother’s Day TLC means getting away from the people we love most. Like the old TV commercial with the mom in the bath tub who asks her Calgon bath oil to “take her away,” sometimes mom just needs a break, some time to herself, and a chance to let go of both personal and professional responsibilities.

Getting away from it all is hard enough when your child doesn’t have significant disabilities. It’s a whole lot more complicated when your child has special emotional, behavioral or physical needs. It can also be even more essential to your health, the health of your family and ultimately, the health of your special needs child.

Finding care for a child with special needs is not as simple as calling the teenager down the street, or asking a grandparent to pitch in. When a child has complicated health issues, it’s essential that whomever is in charge, has the skills or training to keep them safe and contented.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Enabling Devices Book Shelf

A year has passed since we last surveyed some of the newest books on topics related to disabilities. As the weather warms, and many of us look forward to reading by the pool, on the porch, or while on summer vacations, we’ve compiled a list of five notable books published or released in paperback or E-book within the past year.

Being a Kennedy has always meant being in the public eye. Yet, due to the intellectual and physical disabilities she sustained during her birth, Rosemary Kennedy, the third child of Joe and Rose Kennedy, was kept out of the limelight. In this 2015 biography, now available in paperback, Kate Clifford Larson explores Rosemary’s tragic life.

Despite her vivacious personality and beauty, Rosemary’s parents were ashamed of her limitations and feared that the family’s image and social status would be diminished, if those outside the Kennedy clan knew about Rosemary’s disabilities. Thus, they pushed Rosemary beyond her capabilities, sent her away to schools and tried all sorts of questionable therapies including a traumatic and debilitating lobotomy in her 20s, in ill-fated attempts to “cure” her.