Tuesday, March 28, 2017

New in the Neighborhood!

April is Autism month, and the beloved public television show, Sesame Street, will celebrate the occasion with the TV debut of a brand-new character named Julia!

Though Julia, an adorable four-year-old Muppet with autism was first introduced in 2015, as part of nonprofit educational organization, Sesame Workshop’s online autism initiative, her prior appearances were limited to Sesame Street’s website, e-books, app and videos. On April 10, viewers of Sesame Street will meet Julia— the first new character to join the furry Muppet clan in ten years—for the first time.

According to a press release, Julia’s debut evidences the start of a “rich new phase of the [autism] initiative,” known as Sesame Street and Autism: See the Amazing in All Children … and signals “a strong, continuing commitment to the autism community.” Julia’s role has expanded because her creators realize that she can have reach more people and have a greater impact if the show’s viewers get to know her.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Happy Trails!

Well, folks, we’ve made it. We’ve reached the first day of spring. Regardless of what the weather is like in your area, you’re probably looking forward to a time very soon, when you’ll be able to go out and enjoy nature. That’s a good thing! According to the National Wildlife Association’s Be Out There campaign, spending time outdoors has substantial benefits to our physical, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. For children with disabilities, those benefits are even greater says Kathy Ambrosini, director of education at the Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, N.Y.  In addition to her professional credentials, Ambrosini is also the mother of a child with autism.

“For these kids,” says Ambrosini, “time spent in natural settings can offer relief from their symptoms and an environment that helps them to think differently as they begin to craft new strategies for managing their disabilities.”

But, if you or someone you love has a disability, finding safe and accessible places for a hike, bird-watching outing or picnic isn’t necessarily a given. Making the issue more complex is the fact that what’s accessible to one person may not be accessible to another.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Karen and Marie Killilea: Trailblazers in CP Awareness

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month and at Enabling Devices, we believe that one of the best ways of raising awareness is through books! Few books did more to raise awareness about CP and the potential of people with CP than the 1952 best-seller, “Karen” by Marie Killilea. Killilea also published a sequel called, “With Love from Karen” in 1963 and “Wren,” a children’s version of Karen’s story published in 1968.

Written long before the Americans with Disabilities Act and decades before people with disabilities had the benefits of technology, at a time when doctors routinely told parents whose children were born with CP to institutionalize and forget about them, “Karen,” which tells the true story of Karen Killilea, was nothing short of groundbreaking.

When she was born in 1940, Karen Killilea was three months early and weighed less than two pounds. As she failed to reach developmental milestones, Karen’s parents consulted with doctors who were unable to provide a clear diagnosis but were overwhelmingly pessimistic about the little girl’s prognosis. According to Marie Killileas’ 1991 obituary, doctors told her and her husband James that their daughter’s “case was hopeless”. They said that “Karen had no intellect, could never learn to walk or communicate with others.” But Marie knew they were wrong.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

How Horses Heal

Courtesy of PATH International
With only a couple of weeks until the official beginning of spring, many of us are raring to get outside. And when the weather’s fine, indoor therapy sessions may be the last thing you, your child or your clients want to do. Fortunately, some types of therapy are meant to take place out of doors. In fact, early spring is a great time to saddle up. For children and adults with special needs, spending time on and around horses can be great fun, as well as therapeutic.

There are two types of horseback riding especially for people with disabilities—hippotherapy and therapeutic or adaptive horseback riding. One of these therapeutic activities may be right for you, your child or a client.

Derived from the Greek word for horse “hippo,” hippotherapy is a medical treatment modality that utilizes the natural movements and unique qualities of horses to produce neurological changes that may result in improved posture, increased strength and coordination and sensory integration. Hippotherapy can be beneficial to individuals with neuro-musculoskeletal disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, neuromuscular disorders, post-traumatic brain injury, autism, ADHD and cognitive disorders. The therapy is prescribed by a physician and conducted by an occupational, physical or speech and language therapist who has received training and is certified in hippotherapy.