Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Enabling Devices’ Book Shelf

As National Autism Awareness Month 2016 comes to a close, we’ve taken a look back at some of the best books on topics related to autism, published during the past year. These fascinating and inspiring reads, for adults, teens and children should keep you busy for many months to come.

For Adults
In this exhaustive and compassionately written history of autism, Silberman calls into question many of our assumptions about autism and the modern “autism epidemic.” “Neurotribes” takes the reader on a journey that begins at the infancy of autism research, through early treatments and theories about the condition’s etiology, to the work of psychiatrists, Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, to modern-day battles within the autism community and the current movement to embrace neuro-diversity.  Don’t miss the foreword by the late Oliver Sachs.
This new memoir by a man with autism tells the true story of how engineer, John Elder Robison’s life changed after his participation in a 6-month brain therapy experiment with transcranial magnetic stimulation. TMS, a noninvasive technique currently approved for patients with medication-resistant depression, uses electric currents to activate and deactivate particular circuits in the brain. The treatments Robison received, targeted his frontal lobe, enabling him to experience empathy for the first time in his life. Robison’s revelations, the science informing TMS and what it teaches about the plasticity of the brain is nothing less than mind-blowing.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Getting In Sync for National Autism Awareness Month

When it was first published in 1998, “The Out-of-Sync Child,” by former preschool educator, author and speaker, Carol Stock Kranowitz, was a revelation for many parents, teachers and therapists. The book explained so much about why some children reacted so differently than others to the same situations, experiences and activities. These children, many of whom were on the autism spectrum, had a disability called sensory processing disorder, wrote Kranowitz. Although SPD was not a new phenomenon – it was formerly known as sensory integration dysfunction—until the publication of “The Out-of-Sync Child,” it was not well recognized outside of the occupational therapy world.

Today, we understand that children with SPD react the way they do because their nervous systems aren’t functioning optimally. These children may be overly sensitive to touch, tastes, smells, pain, temperature and sound. Additionally, some crave sensory stimulation though deep touch and roughhousing, jumping, swinging and twirling. Sometimes, sensory sensitivities make it difficult for children to enjoy themselves. Yet, with the help of an occupational therapist who can prescribe appropriate activities and modifications, children with SPD can overcome many of these challenges.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stressed Out By Vacation Planning? A New App Is Making Travel Accessible To All

With spring break in the rear view window, many of us are turning our attentions to summer vacation planning. Although planning a family trip can be fun, it does have its challenges. After all, coming up with a destination and itinerary that suits each family member while also adhering to a timeframe and budget is no small feat. The task can seem even more daunting when one vacationer requires special accommodations because of a disability.

English entrepreneur, Srin Madipalli, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and uses a motorized wheelchair, discovered this first hand in 2010, when he took six months away from his job at a law-firm to travel. Madipalli found the experience “eye-opening.”

“It was extremely difficult to find information on adapted accommodation and transport. A lot of times it involved hours of searching online, taking a major risk and hoping for the best. While I enjoyed the challenge, it also felt very frustrating and I'd often just like the planning to be easy!” 

While traveling, Madipalli reached the conclusion that technology could offer solutions for the frustrations faced by him and other travelers with disabilities.

“Such systems have revolutionized travel for other customer sectors, [think: airbnb], so why not for the accessible travel market?” he wondered.

When he returned to the UK, Madipalli and his childhood friend, Martyn Sibley, an avid traveler who also has SMA, co-founded an online magazine called Disability Horizons. The publication covers a variety of topics including employment, entertainment, relationships, technology, news and travel. Through the magazine’s online community, Madipalli and Sibley learned that others were also concerned about the lack of travel resources for those with disabilities. Always up for a challenge, they decided to see what they could do to change the status quo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sesame Workshop Celebrates National Autism Awareness Month with New and Amazing Digital Content!

Who doesn’t love Sesame Street? Last year, the groundbreaking children’s television program gave us another reason to love it when digital Sesame Workshop introduced its first character with autism, an adorable orange Muppet named Julia. Now, just in time for National Autism Awareness Month 2016, Sesame Workshop announced, in a press release, that it has unveiled the second phase of its Emmy-nominated autism initiative, Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children.

Phase Two will include the release of 12 new videos featuring children with autism and Muppet, Abby Cadabby, plus a new animation featuring Julia.

“The new content is part of a suite of free resources for families, teachers, providers, and caregivers available on the Sesame Street website and as an app for iOS and Android,” the press release said.

In case you missed it, Julia arrived on Sesame Street in Oct. 2015, as part of a new initiative created to address the misconceptions and stigma around autism spectrum disorders, which according to CDC estimates, affects one in 68 children in the U.S.