Babies Having Strokes?

By Kerry mellin
on May 22, 2017

Babies Having Strokes? Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month
This is not easy to talk about, but did you know that Strokes are the leading cause of serious long term disability in the United States?  A common misconception is that strokes only affect adults; in fact, children can also have them. Even those who are physically healthy can suddenly experience the symptoms of a stroke. However, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable! 

One of the best tools in combating strokes is raising awareness. 

May is Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. Several groups around the nation are taking this opportunity to promote ways to prevent strokes. One of the biggest campaigns for Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month is being led by CHASA (Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association). Every year they encourage people to “streak” for Pediatric Stroke Awareness. A “streak” means doing something several times throughout the month to raise awareness. For example, you can read a book to your child every day, because children with strokes often struggle to read. You can run a mile every day, to raise awareness for how strokes make it difficult to walk. You can even dye a purple “streak” into your hair as a conversation starter about pediatric strokes. “If these little stroke survivors can do some of the hard things they do every single day of their lives, then we can do something to honor them.”

 
Basically, CHASA encourages people to take part in simple tasks that we take for granted, and use them as an opportunity to educate people around them about the realities of pediatric strokes. 
 
Nancy is a mother whose son Robbie had a stroke while he was just an infant. A few years ago, Nancy streaked for Pediatric Awareness Month by posting a blog every day in May about her son’s disabilities. There are dozens of ways you can “streak” for Pediatric Awareness Month, so get creative and make a difference!
 
Strokes mostly afflict adults, so the signs are usually missed in children and teens. It’s important to know the signs so that you’re prepared. The easiest way is to remember the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911. If your child exhibits any of these signs, it’s worth it to call 911 (or the emergency number in your country). When children have strokes, they also tend to show signs of numbness on one side of the body, sudden confusion or difficulty speaking. 
 
It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but raising awareness of pediatric strokes can reduce the negative effects that they have when they go unnoticed. The easiest way you can “streak” for pediatric awareness month is by wearing purple, and talking to people about what it represents!

purple ribbon for pediatric stroke awareness month

April is Occupational Therapy Month

By Ali Mellin
on April 20, 2017

april is occupational therapy month

The journey to independence after an injury, illness or other debilitating event presents several challenges to everyday life. But lucky for us, we have occupational therapists to help overcome those challenges! Occupational therapists (OTs) make it their mission help patients regain their ability to perform everyday life tasks after injury or illness. OTs truly make the world a better place!

This month is Occupational Therapy Month. Every year in April, occupational therapists from around the country take time to inform others of the importance of occupational therapy, and educate people on what occupational therapists do. Occupational therapists are responsible for helping people gain (or regain) the ability to complete everyday tasks or “occupations.” Occupational therapists have to customize their methods for each patient they work with, due to the fact that people are at different stages in their physical limitations. Their job is labor intensive, but their work is crucial for helping physically disabled or rehabilitating individuals gain their independence.

Different groups around the nation are taking this month to educate people on what occupational therapy really is. The students at James Madison University hosted a wonderful event for Occupational Therapy Month that was open to the entire student body. Here students were encouraged to write down the occupations most important to them, and to not take for granted the daily tasks they are able to perform. The students also set up a sports area to attract other students, with the hope of educating them on occupational therapy. One of the attendees was Mark Andrews, the founder of the nonprofit charitable organization ‘Therapeutic Adventures Inc.’ “With occupational therapy, you’re working with individuals not only in the workplace, but as they integrate back into society, and sports and recreation are a big part of that,” Andrews said. “So we’re out here to support what the students are trying to do and also to get the word out about what we’re doing.”

Andrews supplied the event with a very popular attraction-- a three-wheeled bike that’s operated by a hand crank instead of pedals. The bike is a perfect demonstration of a device that can be used in occupational therapy to help those with disabilities get back to doing the activities they love.

This year is more noteworthy than normal, as the occupational therapy field is celebrating its 100th anniversary! The profession started during WWI, when OTs first helped soldiers back into shape after they returned home from war with injuries. Since then, OTs have continued to help patients with everything from regaining strength to relearning how to engage in daily activities such as cooking and showering. The world wouldn’t be the same today without the hard work and dedication of occupational therapists!

After an injury or surgery, occupational therapists are usually the first line of support. OTs look at patients’ lifestyles, and the activities they do throughout the day to create customized solutions for them. Their main goal is empowering patients to accomplish the goals in their lives. “The role of an occupational therapist is to restore as much function as possible to a person who’s been incapacitated, and help that individual return as much as possible to doing the things that he or she loves to do,” said Ginny Holcomb, occupational therapist and co-owner of Teton Therapy.

The world needs occupational therapists. They are the people who dedicate themselves to helping others regain their lives. This month marks the profession’s centennial anniversary, and the field is only continuing to grow. No matter how big or small the issue may be, occupational therapy can make a lasting difference on a patient’s quality of life.

Life without a Limbs can be Limitless!

By Kerry mellin
on March 20, 2017

 

Beauty Always Finds A Way and If you’re an amputee or are related to an amputee, you know that disability doesn’t mean inability. Some of the most physically capable, active, artistic and inspiring people are individuals with limb differences.   

Today we wanted to share a few stories of  amputees who are overcoming their challenges, and using their examples to inspire others around the world. Although amputations come with their own unique set of difficulties, these amputees never let anything get in the way of their goals.

Travis Mills

Travis Mills was an army Staff Sergeant on his third deployment. While on foot patrol one day, an IED exploded that caused his right arm, right leg, left wrist and a portion of his left leg to be disintegrated. He woke up four days later as a quadruple amputee. Mills told his wife to leave him, but she stayed by his side the entire time. After 19 months of grueling rehabilitation, he learned to walk, and live again. Now Mills is a living inspiration to thousands of people across the country. He goes mountain biking, snowboarding, skydiving and does plenty of other extreme sports. On top of that, Mills recently bought a property that he’s transforming into a camp to help other wounded veterans.

Staff Sergeant Mills has also written a book, “Tough as They Come,” that talks about how he overcomes his struggles, and continues to live a purpose-filled life. Mills is quoted saying, “I’m able to inspire and change people. I don’t do it by saying, ‘You think you have it bad? Then look at me.’ I’ll never play that card.”

DJ Vanderwerf

DJ is a college student who grew up with a prosthetic leg. “You know, I’ve never really known the difference between having a prosthetic leg and just being a normal kid, because I’ve had it my whole life,” DJ said. When he was a child, DJ always wanted to play sports, and he soon decided that he was not going to let his limb difference stop him from doing what he loved. When he got to high school, DJ quickly became a star player on the varsity golf and basketball teams. Later, he was made starting quarterback on his football team!

Earlier this year, DJ’s story received the most votes for the WBIR10 News contest, which meant that his story would be shared with millions of viewers in a 30-second Super Bowl ad! It was something that DJ says was a dream come true. DJ Vanderwerf’s life is a constant reminder that anything is possible.

Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Camp

Every year, the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (WWAST) hosts a kids’ camp for children with amputations or missing limbs. The coaches of the camp are all WWAST members themselves, and serve as mentors to the children for the week. The camp is something that is loved by everyone involved, as it lets kids look up to positive role models who are also amputees, and it gives the WWAST players an opportunity to serve their community. The camp teaches children that “Life without a Limb is Limitless!” Michelle Williams, a mother of a kids’ camp attendee said, “I truly do not think I will ever be able to tell you how much the WWAST Kids Camp week meant to Bryce and to me. I watched my son become a much stronger person, with a more can-do attitude than he had before. You created lifetime friends and memories in one week!”

With thousands of other similar stories of people overcoming the challenges presented by having missing limbs, it’s easy to see that life withou

Artist's Stunning Photos Shatter Misconceptions About Disabilities

By Kerry mellin
on March 20, 2017


Ceridwen Hughes, a photographer from North Wales, wants the world to view disabilities differently.

In an effort to change people’s perspectives, he created a photo project called “We Can…” that focuses on what people with disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot.

“People make assumptions based on the way people look and act and do not always see the person behind the condition,” Hughes told The Huffington Post.

The photographer visited Coleg Cambria, a school in Northop, North Wales, that has a program teaching independent living skills to people with disabilities. He spoke to students while taking their portraits.

“Just because a person has a disability does not mean that they do not have dreams and hopes for the future,” Hughes said. “Many people with disabilities want to work and be valuable members of the community, and often they just need that opportunity.”

Hughes’ striking photos are accompanied by honest interviews with his subjects about what they wish other people understood about their condition. The images highlight the unique abilities of those with disabilities; in the United States, that’s approximately one in five people.

“We wanted to make people think and realize that disability has benefits,” he said. “I want to encourage people to look beyond the disability and see the opportunities that being different brings.”

This article originally appeared on the HuffingtonPost.com.
Click here to read the complete article

ABLE. A better way to save for people with disabilities.

By Kerry mellin
on February 21, 2017



ABLE Accounts: What You Need to Know

ABLE accounts are “tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families.” You might be wondering what this means, so today we’re going to go over what ABLE accounts are, how you or a loved one could benefit from having one, and the eligibility requirements to qualify.

Let’s dive right into it!

Living with a child with a disability comes with a number of additional costs. Assistive technology, healthcare, and personal assistance insurance all come at a high price. For this reason, many people with disabilities depend on a variety of public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, and others. The issue however lies in the fact that these individuals are deemed ineligible for these assistance programs should they report more than $2000 in a savings. This means that in order to remain eligible for these programs, disabled individuals have to live under the poverty line.

This is where ABLE accounts come in. As of December 19th, 2014, the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience Act) was signed into law-- enabling disabled persons to continue to have access to necessary health benefits without losing the ability to save money for the future. Healthcare and other services paid for through an ABLE account will not replace the benefits provided by SSI, SNAP, Medicare, etc. but instead supplement them.

A number of people may be eligible for ABLE accounts without even knowing it. If you contracted a serious disability before the age of 26 and are currently receiving benefits from SSI, then you are automatically eligible for an ABLE account. If you don’t currently receive SSI benefits, you might still be eligible. However, you will have to get a letter of certification from a doctor indicating that you have significant functional limitations, as well as meet Social Security’s criteria regarding severe disabilities. It should also be said that you can still be eligible for an ABLE account after you are 26 years old, so long as your disability manifested itself before you were 26.

Gifts of up to $14,000 (total per year) can be put into an ABLE account from a beneficiary without having to be reported. The total amount an ABLE account can hold is set at $300,000 by most states, but SSI benefits will stop if funds exceed $100,000. However, Medicaid benefits will remain active despite the total amount in the account.

Money in an ABLE account can be used for any “qualified disability expense” covering any expense that comes as a result of living with a disability. These expenses include employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, healthcare expenses, education, housing, and many others. Essentially, if your disability demands a certain expense, it can be covered by your ABLE account.

Not all states currently offer accounts under the ABLE program. However, you can still apply for an out of state ABLE account in states such as Ohio, Nebraska, and Tennessee.

Living with a disability comes with a number of extra expenses that make life more difficult. If you or a loved one are living with a serious disability and find yourself struggling financially, then starting an ABLE account is a solution.

To learn more about ABLE accounts, click here.

Ten Fingers are Overrated!

By Kerry mellin
on February 21, 2017

 

Lucky Fins Rule!

If you’ve seen anyone with a Lucky Fin, chances are you probably didn’t even notice anything different about them. You might have seen them playing catch, climbing, running around and having fun!

The Lucky Fin Project is an organization which was created by Molly Stapleman in 2010. Their goal is to “celebrate, educate, support, and unite families and individuals with limb differences.” Molly based the name “Lucky Fin” off of the title character “Nemo” from Finding Nemo-- who didn’t allow his smaller fin to stop him from accomplishing great things. In the same spirit, the Lucky Fin Project was founded.

Molly found that the term “Lucky Fin” was a far easier term to say than more technical sounding names such as: symbrachydactyly, amniotic band syndrome or radial dysplasia. These limb differences happen during pregnancy, so usually parents don’t even know about them until the child is born. However, it’s Molly’s mission to show the world that being born with a “Lucky Fin” isn’t exclusively a curse. Since 2010, Molly has been making bracelets celebrating limb difference and sending them out all over the planet. As of this moment, she has sent out more than 10,400 bracelets!

One of the goals of the Lucky Fin Project is to break the stereotypes surrounding limb difference. This organization and the people who are a part of it are all key examples of what individuals with limb differences can do when they set their minds to it. In fact, being born with a limb difference can have a positive effect on a child’s problem solving abilities. Dan Stapleman is quoted as saying, “We’ve kind of hypothesized that, because of [limb differences] these kids are born problem solvers. They figure out ways to do things and they just grow to be these incredible kids with incredible minds, because out of necessity, they’ve had to use that part of their brain.”

Caiti Riley, an amputee herself and founder of the Amputeez apparel company is quoted saying, “People ask me, if I wish that I was born with two well-functioning legs, and the answer is no! I like who I am now, and who knows who I would be if that wasn’t the case.”

Many of the members of the Lucky Fin Family are models, athletes, actors, and musicians who are making the best of a bad situation. One inspiring story comes from George Dennehy-- a man who was born without arms. George is a very talented musician who plays a number of instruments with only his feet. By the age of eight, George had learned to play the Cello, and in the following years he became so talented that he began playing with regional orchestras. Since then, George has developed a passion for playing the guitar and piano, and he has even released several songs online. Click here or on the image below to see him playing a song he wrote.

Another great story is found in a man named Hilmi from Singapore-- an entrepreneur and family man who was born without his left thumb. “Hi I'm Hilmi and I'm 33 years old. I’m happily married with 3 beautiful children. I own a design and printing company. And yes, I was born without a thumb on my left hand. My life motto is ‘I'm not unique but I'm limited edition.’”

Limb differences are just another way that people are unique! For more information about the Lucky Fin Project, you can visit their website by clicking here. Also make sure to like them on Facebook.

Click here to see a short video about them.

 

Disability or Super Ability?

By Kerry mellin
on January 24, 2017

Disability or Super Ability?

There are roughly 50 million children and adults in America with a physical or mental challenge, making up nearly 20 percent of the entire population. Of these 50 million  people, 3 million are children in between the ages of 5-17. The most common disability that affects children in the US  is autism, which affects 1 in every 68 children. One of the hardest things for people with autism is forming relationships. For children on the autism spectrum, having conversations and staying focused in the classroom can be hard-- both mentally and physically. However, even though people tend to focus on the negative things associated with autism, there are many interesting traits that people on the spectrum show. For example, although it’s hard for some autistic children to focus on subjects they aren’t interested in-- they often have a massive understanding of topics that they do find interesting. While many autistic people have trouble discerning emotions, they might also be able to see situations/problems with a more logical perspective than the average person.

Although growing up with a developmental disability like autism, or a physical limitation may be challenging, they can also give people a uniqueness that can benefit them later in life.

Take Susan Boyle,  a person with Asperger syndrome who has inspired millions of people around the world. In 2009, she stole the show on Britain’s Got Talent with her beautiful rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream.” Her success on the show instantly put her into the spotlight, and allowed her to sell over 14 million records! Boyle didn’t even learn of her condition until after her fame, and says that learning of her Asperger’s was actually a quite a relief!

Dan Aykroyd is another person who has achieved tremendous fame despite his disabilities. Aykroyd has both Tourette’s syndrome and Asperger syndrome. His disabilities caused him to be obsessed with law enforcement, and ghost hunting; which is what eventually led him to come up with the idea for his film Ghostbusters. “One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement-- I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea for my film, Ghostbusters, was born.”

Stephen Schuman was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Doctors suggested institutionalization because they believed Stephen would never speak, and grow up to be a danger to himself and to others. His mother believed otherwise, and decided to continue to support her son no matter the cost. Stephen said his first words at the age of six, and has since grown into a productive and well loved member of his community. He is a full-time cook at a local restaurant, and works to promote Autism Awareness.

Although there are millions of children with disabilities, many are accomplishing great things in their lives. People who were born with conditions that society tells them will prevent them from living to the fullest, are living fulfilling lives that touch the hearts of many. It’s important to remind children with disabilities that their disability doesn’t prevent them from living great lives, nor does it define them. In so many cases, it’s the disability that gives a person their specific talent that they then can use to give back to the world!

Children With Special Needs: How to Find the Right Shoe

By Polina Tolkacheva
on September 26, 2016

Children With Special Needs

Finding the right pair of shoes for children with special needs can be difficult. Some of these children have a hard time expressing their needs. With out having their needs properly communicated, it can be hard to determine whether a pair of shoes truly fit their feet or not. 

Karen Wang wrote an article on friendshipcircle.org that gives 17 tips on how to find the right shoes for your child with special needs. Her first suggestion is to figure out what fit your child prefers. She further explains that some children like the comfort of shoes with high tops, while others prefer a looser fitting shoe. Taking the time to let your child make their own decisions based off of their preference will help ease the shoe picking process. 

Click here to read the full article by Karen Wang at friendshipcircle.org, and to get more tips on how to find the right shoe for children with special needs. 

 

How to Care for Someone With a Physical Disability

By Merrily Mellin
on September 23, 2016

How to Care for Someone With a Physical Disability

Knowing how to properly care for an individual who has a physical disability can be tough. You want to make sure that you are helping them as much as needed, but you also don't want to offend them by being overly helpful.

Julie Howard's article on blogher.com gives 6 tips on how to care for someone with a physical disability. Her first tip is to learn as much about the form of disability that you are dealing with as possible. She continues to explain the importance of knowing how to tell when there is a problem, and what to do about it.

Click here to read the full article by Julie Howard at blogher.com. 

The Importance of Including Children with Disabilities at School

By Kerry mellin
on September 22, 2016

Children who have disabilities, whether it be mental or physical, often feel excluded. 

It is important to make sure that all children are included in school activities. Other students need to learn to accept students for who they are, rather than what they look like. 

The best way to include children with disabilities in school activities, according to the YouTube video by UNICEF, is to make sure that the school is handicap accessible. This means building ramps so that students in a wheel chair are able to easily maneuver their way around.

It is also important to let the child know that they are wanted in the activities.For example if everyone is outside on the playground and there is a child alone in a class room, wave at them through the window, or go into the room and tell them to come play.

Click here to see the YouTube video by  UNICEF to learn how to make sure that all students feel included at school. 

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From the Blog

Babies Having Strokes?

May 22, 2017

This is not easy to talk about, but did you know that Strokes are the leading cause of serious long...

Read more →

April is Occupational Therapy Month

April 20, 2017

The journey to independence after an injury, illness or other debilitating event presents several challenges to everyday life. But lucky...

Read more →