Today is World Down Syndrome Day! The United Nations first declared March 21st as World Down Syndrome Day in 2012 in order to raise global awareness of Down Syndrome. The goal is to create a global community and raise awareness of what Down Syndrome is, and how individuals with Down Syndrome play an important role in our lives. Here is a link to Down Syndrome International’s website detailing the history of this day, world wide events taking place today to raise awareness and more. I hope everyone finds something helpful here!
Wow March is a busy month! Between St. Patrick’s Day, Lent, and the beginning of Spring it can be hard to remember all the other things we celebrate this month. Earlier this month, I highlighted March as National Developmental Disabilities Awareness month. Now I would like to highlight another big observance occurring this month: National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month. Cerebral Palsy is the most commonly diagnosed motor disorder and the second most common disability in children. Roughly 764,000 people in the U.S. have Cerebral Palsy and for most it is effectively managed through continued care and treatment. 2 out of 3 people with CP can walk and 3 in 4 can communicate verbally. Please check out this link to for some really great videos highlighting people with CP: http://ucp.org/tag/national-cerebral-palsy-awareness-day/. And don’t forget that March 25 is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day! Help us celebrate and raise awareness by wearing green on Friday March 23!!
March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month! First introduced by President Reagan in 1987, the proclamation called on people to provide opportunities and encouragement for those with developmental disabilities to reach their fullest potential. This social change was made possible by the deinstitutionalization movement started in the 1970’s. The movement continued into the 1980’s and laid the groundwork for this remarkable presidential proclamation. This movement also paved the way for supported employment programs, programs to provide job coaching and training, and programs to provide career planning for individuals with developmental disabilities. For the first time, there was a shift in thinking about individuals with disabilities and young people as well as their parents made living a productive life in the community their goal. And this goal was increasingly attainable! At the same time, there were advances in health care which ensured that people with disabilities would live longer lives. This lead to a new national conversation about the spectrum of services needed for individuals with disabilities to lead full and productive lives. In 2004 the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was passed, guaranteeing early intervention, special education, and high school transition services.
I’m proud of how far we have come. I know there is still work to be done for our sons and daughters who have developmental disabilities. I also know we are all up to the challenge. Let’s use this month to honor the spirit of the original presidential proclamation to “ provide understanding, encouragement and opportunities to help persons with disabilities to lead productive and fulfilling lives.”
Recently Prevention Magazine contacted Reiko Donato, a friend of our program, to do a phone and email interview with her about why she trains for Iron Man races! The article is very interesting and highlights why self-care is so important. Please take a moment to read the article here. As Reiko notes in the interview, when her daughter was first diagnosed with TSC 18 years ago her life expectancy was 35 years old. What isn’t mentioned in the article is that in the years since that diagnosis research, funding and new treatments have helped to drastically increase that life expentancy.
We like to think that good work is always rewarded. But what if some people who could do good work can't their foot in the door in the first place? That's where recent hiring initiatives that look beyond unfair stereotypes come in, as Lee Cowan reports in our Cover Story:
Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pauley thought he had it all figured out when it came to looking for a job.
He had a detailed spreadsheet of each and every position he applied for -- at least 600.
But despite his degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University, he went two years with barely a nibble.
Did he get discouraged? "Oh my gosh, my morale really started to drop towards the end," he said. "In fact, there were days where I would either hardly fill out any applications at all, or just simply not apply on anything."
He knew he had the smarts for most jobs; he was a former Spelling Bee Champ, after all. But Pauley struggles with social and communications skills because he's also autistic.
While precise numbers are hard to come by, by some estimates at least 80% of adults with autism are unemployed, even though their IQs are often well above average.
Sometimes their job skills can present themselves in unique ways. For Christopher, it's video games. His ability to recognize patterns and his acute attention to detail -- both hallmarks of autism -- make his playing the video game Rock Band look pretty easy.
And they are the same skills he was hoping would impress prospective employers in the computer programming world. But he always had to get past that interview, which was a challenge at best.
Cowan asked, "Was there, in any of those interviews, a time where you just wanted to tell somebody, 'Look, I know my social skills maybe aren't quite what you expect, but I know I can do this job, and I know I can do a really good job if you give me a chance'?"
"But you never said that to anybody?"
"Most of the time, no," he replied.
"I just wasn't comfortable. It makes me come across as desperate."
At Microsoft, however, there was no need to hide his autism; they were looking for it.
"It's a talent pool that really hasn't been tapped," said Jenny Lay-Flurrie, the chief accessibility officer at tech giant Microsoft outside Seattle.
"There really is, and was, a lot of data on the table that said to us that we were missing out. We were missing out on an opportunity to bring talent in with autism."
Cowan said, "So in a way, it sounds like this was almost a business imperative."
"Heck, yeah!" she laughed. "People with disabilities are a strength and a force of nature in this company, myself included."
Lay-Flurrie, who is profoundly deaf, communicates by reading lips and working with an interpreter. She helped create a hiring program for Microsoft back in 2015 designed to better identify candidates with autistic talents.
Instead of the traditional job interview focusing so heavily on social skills, the company has replaced it with a vetting process that lasts for weeks, and team building exercises like one called the Marshmallow Challenge.
"Being able to watch a candidate in that environment as opposed to sitting across the table interviewing them makes all the difference in the world," said Cowan.
"Every difference," said Lay-Flurrie. "Every day, in any company, in any role, you're going to be asked to work with someone else to figure out a problem or a challenge, or a project."
"And yet in that scenario, they're not as self-conscious that they're being observed for a job -- they're just doing a task."
After Christopher Pauley went through a similar, unconventional interview process back in 2016, Microsoft quickly hired him as a software engineer.
His manager Brent Truell says he was immediately impressed by Christopher's "out of the box" thinking.
"When we are faced with really complicated problems, the solutions to those aren't always simple," said Truell. "And Christopher always kind of brings new insights. And having that creative mind, he always brings something new to the team, which is really exciting."
Article shared from:
Feb 12, 2018
In 2003 Congress declared November National Epilepsy Awareness Month. The goal is to end the stigma surrounding the disorder and generate compassion for those living with epilepsy. The awareness brought to epilepsy during November is so important because epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disease in our nation. Statistics show that 1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their life. The goal of National Epilepsy Month, according to the Epilepsy Foundation, is to raise awareness and teach what a seizure is and is not. The focus this year is on reducing the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy using the #Aimforzero campaign. I urge you to visit the Epilepsy Foundation’s website for National Epilepsy Awareness month to learn more about the #Aimforzero campaign.
Happy National Caregivers Month!! According to Caregiveraction.org this year’s theme for National Caregiver’s Month is Caregiving Around the Clock. I know there are so many parents and family members working with the special needs population who completely understand that concept! Celebrating these tireless caregivers during the month of November gives us the chance to learn about and raise awareness of family caregiver issues, increase support for these caregivers and most importantly, it gives us a chance to thank them for all that they do.
Caregivers Action Network began promoting November as National Caregivers Month in 1994. In 1997, President Clinton the first National Family Caregivers Month Presidential Proclamation and every president since has done the same. You can view this year’s Presidential Proclamation on the Caregiver Action Network’s website.
To all the caregivers out there, thank you! In the spirit of support, below are the Top 10 Tips for Caregivers from the Caregiver Action Network’s website.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and this year’s theme is Inclusion Drives Innovation. As I’ve followed different activities going on this month, I’ve come across two schools who are starting this process early and paving the way for their students to succeed in the years to come. Below are articles about the two programs. The first comes from the blog Mrs. Ds Corner where the author lays out exactly how she and the 2nd grade gifted teacher at her elementary school started a Coffee Cart Friday program at their school. I love reading the goals she set for her students and how she accomplished them! The other program I recently found out about was created by a teaching team at an Alaskan high school. Every other Friday students in this classroom based business make Frito pies for students and staff for lunch. Here is the full article written by the Alaskan Dispatch News. It’s wonderful to see these programs teaching these skills at an early age and setting these students up for success!
Today it’s time to highlight one of our Academy participants here at Great Prospects. Not only does Donna participate in our program three days a week but she and a friend have their own business as well. These two young ladies hand make cards for all occasions. They debuted their business, Just for You Card Art, at the 2010 National Down Syndrome Congress and recently exhibited their work at the 2017 IDEA Conference at St. Simon’s Island. Please take a minute to check out their handiwork at www.justforyoucardart.comwww.justforyoucardart.com!
Jen Pair will be our official photographer of this years Season Sips!
Please check out Jens' web site - www.photos.jenpairphotography.com/