I grew up in Kansas City, on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the state line, and smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley.
One of my earliest memories is of my dad, my three older brothers and me scrambling to get out of our station wagon and getting down into a ditch along the side of a highway to try and protect us from a twister roaring by only a few hundred yards away.
We all survived virtually unscathed, but to this day I can still hear the classic freight train noise of the intense wind and still feel the heaviness in my 4-year-old legs from the atmospheric pressure dropping so quickly and dramatically around us.
Soon after, the sirens were approaching as what I would later understand to be emergency medical service personnel and other responders descended upon the scene, including the fire chief, who just happened to be a lifelong friend of my dad. I remember thinking we were going to be OK once I saw him.
And so I find my heart especially heavy as I, like so many of you, watched helplessly the scenes of devastation unfold in the aftermath of the tornado that tore through Moore, Okla. on Monday. I also can relate to, though certainly not to the same degree, the sense of relief and the feeling that things will be OK some victims no doubt felt when EMS personnel arrived on the scene.
It's fitting then, maybe, that this week is National EMS Week. It is a time when we should all stop and think about how incredibly fortunate we all are that so many of our fellow citizens are willing to put everything in their own lives on hold in order to help others in their most desperate hours.
But perhaps a statement on National EMS Week released Monday by HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Nicole Lurie, MD, says it best:
"This week, our nation honors emergency medical service (EMS) professionals for their dedication to public service. As the HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, I know how important their role is in disasters. As a primary care physician, I know how important their work is every day. People rely on EMS in disasters and other public health emergencies, as well as for personal emergency care.
"We know that our healthcare system must be ready at a moment's notice to respond to threats to the public's health. Time and time again, disaster after disaster, EMS responders across the country have risen to that challenge, whether the community is impacted by a hurricane, wildfire, flood, bombing, chemical plant explosion, or pandemic flu.
"In recent disasters, we have witnessed EMS responders providing triage on the scene in Boston after the bombing, helping evacuate nursing homes in New York State after Hurricane Sandy, and caring for injured or ill patients as they were transported to hospitals in Texas after a plant explosion.
"Dozens of EMS responders give their lives every year in the service to our communities and our nation. Those who remain continue to take pride in being the people we can depend on even in difficult and dangerous situations.
"To become better prepared, the nation is moving increasingly toward building coalitions bringing together EMS providers, public health agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, healthcare providers, home health agencies, emergency management agencies, and local businesses.
"EMS is a critical partner in our healthcare system, so I encourage EMS professionals to take an active role in helping communities forge and strengthen these partnerships. Given the regular interaction EMS responders have with these organizations in the community, EMS is uniquely positioned to bring potential partners together to plan for and minimize the impact that disasters have on health.
"Disaster response and recovery requires a whole community working together. It's one mission, one team. EMS is a crucial part of that team, there when every minute counts."
Chuck Holt is on staff at ADVANCE. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is set to be released May 18 during the APA's annual meeting in San Francisco. In the days leading up to the official announcement of the changes, controversy began brewing.
ADVANCE has reported on the changes coming to autism diagnoses, most notably the elimination of the diagnoses Asperger's syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified. Moving forward, these diagnoses will fall under Autism Spectrum Disorders. In DSM-5, "autism" will truly be a spectrum. Patients will receive diagnoses of: mild (level 1), moderate (level 2) or severe (level 3).
Lori Sherry, president of the Asperger Syndrome Education Network, told The New York Times in March, "Our fear is that we are going to take a big step backward. If clinicians say, ‘These kids don't fit the criteria for an autism spectrum diagnosis,' they are not going to get the supports and services they need, and they're going to experience failure."
Other families, however, are embracing the change. Four of Kelli Gibson's sons have been given different labels (Asperger's, autism) under the DSM-IV, which was released in 1994. "To give it separate names never made sense to me," Gibson told CBS News. "To me, my children all had autism."
Asperger's elimination aside, the Associated Press points out other contentious changes:
- Extreme sadness, weight loss, fatigue following a loved one's death is now diagnosed as "major depression."
- "Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder," characterized by frequent, extreme temper tantrums, is a new diagnosis. The APA is adding the diagnosis because some children had been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder previously, but critics say it is turning normal tantrums into mental illness.
- "Mild neurocognitive disorder," characterized by mental decline that goes a bit beyond normal aging, is a new diagnosis. Affected people may find it takes more effort to pay bills or manage their medications. Critics say it will stigmatize "senior moments."
- Calling excessive thoughts or feelings about pain or other discomfort "somatic symptom disorder," something that could affect the healthy as well as cancer patients. Critics say the term turns normal reactions to a disease into mental illness.
- Adding binge eating as a new category for overeating that occurs at least once a week for at least 3 months. It could apply to people who sometimes gulp down a pint of ice cream when they're alone and then feel guilty about it.
Allen Frances, MD, retired Duke University professor who headed the psychiatry group's task force that worked on the previous handbook, says new diagnoses "would turn everyday anxiety, eccentricity, forgetting and bad eating habits into mental disorders."
"Way too much treatment is given to the normal `worried well' who are harmed by it; far too little help is available for those who are really ill and desperately need it," he writes in his book "Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life."
Unlike medical conditions, where a scan or lab work will help make a diagnosis, psychiatrists have to rely on symptoms alone to treat a patient, and often that treatment comes in the form of medications. Cynics of DSM-5 think some of the changes are due to Big Pharma's influence, and new diagnoses will mean new patient to write prescriptions for.
Would a psychiatrist actually "treat" downing that pint of ice cream in a sitting as "binge eating"? Highly doubtful. I think any healthcare provider using the new manual will fill in any blind spot with their professional common sense.
It has been called one of the best children's novels of all times, and anyone who has read it will most likely agree. "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White, for those few who don't know, is a story of an unlikely friendship between a spider and a pig. The spider, Charlotte, writes flattering adjectives about the pig, Wilbur, in the web above his stall, persuading the farmer to spare his life. Wilbur then becomes a fair sensation.
As I much I love the book, the story behind the book is wonderful too. White grew up with farm animals in New York state, and when he and his wife moved to a farm in Maine, memories of his childhood returned, specifically how he would observe a spider web in his pig's stall changing every day. In "The Story of Charlotte's Web," Michael Sims writes White never intended to write a story about an odd couple, but instead said, "This is a story of the barn. I wrote it for children, and to amuse myself."
The book is also a great learning tool. On May 23 at 4 p.m. ET, the ADVANCE webinar will explore how speech-language pathologists can use "Charlotte's Web" when helping students meet grade-level Common Core State Standards.
Maryellen Rooney Moreau, MEd, CCC-SLP, will explain how to use "Charlotte's Web" with Story Grammar Marker® and ThemeMaker® methodologies to demonstrate oral language, critical thinking, perspective-taking, problem solving, argument and opinion.
As White was able to marry his knowledge of farming and animals with his love of language, SLPs will learn how to connect narrative and information (expository) text to help students meet grade-level Common Core Standards.
Register today by clicking here.
I read this quote this morning, which I'm surprised I hadn't heard before. "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon." Those were the words of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to compete in the Boston Marathon in 1967.
I've only watched one marathon from the sidelines, and as a spectator, it is inspiring and makes you want to go out and accomplish any goal you ever thought of — can't imagine what it's like to accomplish that as a runner. What I liked best about the marathon was the interaction between the runners and the bystanders. I'll never forget a runner wearing a T-shirt that read "Yell ‘Go Bob.'" No one near me knew Bob, but everyone yelled for Bob. I'm sure there are runners in every marathon in every city with similar shirts — there probably was more than one at this marathon. But I'll never forget the look on Bob's face — thanks, accomplishment, pride. It was priceless.
There were thousands of people on April 15 along the Boston Marathon route from Hopkington to Boylston Street who shared these moments with anonymous runners before the bombings. Even watching the video of the finish line at the time of the first explosion, you see a remarkable scene of resilience when a man is thrown to the ground from the blast. He is Bill Iffrig, a 78-year-old retired mason worker resident of Lake Stevens, Wash., according to The Herald of Everett, Wash. Ten feet from the finish line, he got up and finished the race.
"I ended up second in my division," he said. "After you've run 26 miles, you're not going to stop there."
Stopped 1 mile short of the finish line was Team Hoyt, a 73-year-old father who has pushed his wheelchair-bound son in marathons and triathalons for 3 decades.
William Greer, 43, a legally blind man from Austin, Texas, ran in his first Boston Marathon with the help from Peter Segal, the host of the NPR quiz show "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." They finished 5 minutes before the blast. Greer was reportedly one of 40 sightless runners in the race.
Strangers encouraging strangers. Runners, who were probably told "you can't" because of their disability, their age, or back in 1967 their gender, proving that "yes, we can." And despite having just finished a marathon, some runners continued to run to the Massachusetts General Hospital to donate blood to those in need.
Switzer was right. Marathons are a great place to see human nature at its best.
As the owner of a 1-year-old rescue pup, I'm dog obsessed. My Facebook profile picture is of my dog. The backseat of my car is covered in a sheet for his frequent rides. There may be doggie treats in my coat pocket at this very moment.
Naturally, when the subject line, "Can Therapy Dogs Help Kids with Autism?," came in my email, I immediately read it. It was for a press release announcing news of a Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine article in which a team of Italian researchers reviewed six studies that looked at therapy and service dogs' effects on kids with autism. Their conclusion: it's paws-itive (I couldn't help myself).
The studies found kids to be more talkative, socially engaged, less aggressive, and smiling more when they were around therapy dogs. Two of the studies examined service dogs, ones that lived with the families to ensure the child with autism is safe. With help from the dogs, these children didn't wander and behavioral issues improved.
Like a lot of scientific studies, the authors say more research is needed to understand concretely the therapeutic effects of dogs on kids with autism.
I listened again to a 2005 radio interview with Temple Grandin where she explained how animals have helped her. She told NPR's Fresh Air host Terry Gross that people with autism connect with animals because they think similarly — not in language, but in pictures. Grandin describes autism as "a weigh station" between animals and humans, where people with autism can translate animal talk to English.
In Texas, the Austin Dog Alliance is honing in on that connection. Its K9 Tots Preschool is an Applied Behavior Analysis program geared toward children with autism, ages 3-5, which targets play and social skills such as appropriate classroom behaviors, functional play, and group activities. For older kids with high-functioning autism, the K9 Club reinforces and teaches appropriate social behaviors with therapy dogs. The Job Skills Training Program provides canine-related employment training for young adults with autism or other special needs. The program addresses the social etiquette of finding employment and working, as well as technical skills for jobs in shelters, doggie day care, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and veterinarian offices.
To view a slideshow of the dogs at work with kids in Austin, click here.
I'm an animal lover so I could look at pictures of dogs all day, but seeing these dogs at work helping kids to come out their shells is really remarkable, or dare I say it again, really paws-itive.
New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg has become the latest advocate for hearing-loss prevention. Specifically, he's aiming to help teenagers and young adults understand just how badly ear buds can damage their hearing.
With a $250,000 grant from the city's Fund for Public Health, the Hearing Loss Prevention Media Campaign will conduct focus-group interviews and will use Facebook and Twitter to spread the word of the ill effects of ear buds.
Going to the social media sites, users will learn how an iPod can hit 115 decibels in volume. Health officials say anything above 85 can damage the sensitive hearing neural apparatus. And teen hearing loss is a growing concern. The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found hearing loss skyrocketed 30% among teenagers and young adults between 1988 and 2006.
I don't think this campaign will have as much outcry as Mayor Bloomberg's other attempts at encouraging healthy behaviors — his crusade against the sale of soda in 16-ounces or larger containers or the 2007 law banning the use of trans fats in restaurants (which may have led to people making healthier food choices).
There will surely be retractors crying "nanny state" over this campaign, but I don't think it's justified. No one likes to hear someone else's music on a personal-listening device. Turning it down is doing everyone a favor.
I think real success from this campaign may have to come from Apple or other MP3 manufacturers. How about an app that would allow parents to set a control on a device that would not allow the volume to go over 85 decibels? It seems like there's an app for everything else, why not controlling volume? (If you know of such an app that already exists, post it in the comments).
Yelling "turn it down" hasn't done much good over the years — not sure whether Tweeting it will be any more effective.
By Barb Slocum, MEd, CCC-SLPWomen work hard. We work with commitment for our careers and for our families.
When we are young and have small children we literally work around the clock satisfying professional needs and the needs of our families. It is rewarding in many ways, but it is also exhausting.
We look forward to the days when demands will let up and we can have more time for ourselves. I looked forward to that time. I'm 68 years old now. I still work as a speech-language pathologist, and I still am called upon to meet the needs of my family.
|Barb Slocum, MEd, CCC-SLP|
In talking with friends and acquaintances, I realized they were experiencing the same thing. We wondered together — "When can we step away from all this responsibility and tend more consistently to ourselves."
I wanted to highlight what women in the "sandwich generation" are facing now — how much is automatically expected of us and how much energy and time it takes from us.
In fall 2010, I began to write "Sandwiched" which began as a story but turned out to be a play about a "sandwiched" woman named Bonnie (in her 50s or 60s) who is caught between helping her aging parents, as well as feeling she should respond to the needs of her adult children.
We watch Bonnie try to assert her own life process in the midst of these demands. She finally succeeds. It includes the issues of adult children living "back home" with their parents, working past retirement age, and the struggle with committing a family member to a nursing home.
Everybody wants to be taken care of, but nobody wants to do the "taking care of'' part.
If, as a caretaker, you want to have more of a life of your own, you need to learn to say "no" more often. Family will resist having to do without your help, but say "no" anyway. And you need to get rid of the guilt other people try to engender in you when you say "no" to them so you can say "yes" to yourself.
A reading of my play will be held at the Dramatists Theater Guild in New York, NY, at 7:30 p.m. March 22. The play "Sandwiched" will be produced in Endicott, N.Y., on June 7, 8, 9 and 14, 15.
My website, http://www.storyjewelswomansvoice.com/, also contains links to my Facebook page and my professional website. Look for trailers of rehearsals on my website in late April/May.
Barb Slocum, MEd, CCC-SLP, has been a full-time speech-language pathologist for the past 40 years. She currently works in a private practice working in early intervention and CPSE programs.Read more features by returning to the ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology home page.
By Becca EisenbergAs both a parent and speech-language pathologist, I view mealtime as a perfect opportunity to encourage and facilitate language, as well as engage a child in early literacy activities. Many times, parents feel overwhelmed and rushed during mealtime. When you add in sensory, language and behavioral issues, it can become a very stressful time.
I began a personal mission in my own home to turn my stressful mealtime with own 2 preschool children into an enriching learning experience that we can all treasure. It has been a bumpy road getting there, but now I feel that this time with my own family has become valuable learning time. My children are learning about healthy eating, their conversational and language skills have improved, and we are a closer family because of it.
Research shows that eating together can improve family relationships, encourage healthier eating habits, improve performance in school and help improve pragmatic language skills. Mealtime can also be an excellent time to work on social skills, language and literacy. I began on my own journey by taking away all electronic equipment at the table and replace it with books.
Reading to my children helped improve their language, improve literacy skills and became the ideal time to have a conversation about various topics (e.g. their day, what friend they played with at school, etc). During mealtime, I read books of their choice, asked questions, encouraged commenting, described the actions occurring in the story and pointed out various words in the story.
You may be asking yourself, how does this apply to speech-language pathology and my own therapy sessions? If you are working with a child who has attention and sensory issues, try sitting them down at the table in an appropriate comfortable position with a snack and then reading the book. Many children may be able to attend significantly better when eating a snack.
Begin with choosing a highly motivating book and a familiar snack (to decrease distraction). This can also be a wonderful opportunity to incorporate a sensory satisfying snack (e.g. a crunchy snack). If you are doing a home-based service, this may be a perfect opportunity to show a parent how the child can sit and attend to a book during a snack or meal (after you have done it a couple of times).
For example, when reading a book such as "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle, goals can include identifying and labeling colors, sequencing, numbers, answering "wh" questions, requesting, improving narrative skills, commenting, expanding vocabulary, actions and size concepts. An activity such as this can inspire a parent to start reading to their child on a daily basis at home. It may begin with one snack a day with a book and turn into five books during dinner. Once this becomes a routine in a house, this time can also be an ideal time to incorporate new foods and expand on a child's diet. A child who gets stressed from trying new foods may be more inclined to try a food if they are focusing on something else, such as a book.
Using this valuable time to meet our speech and language goals will be ideal for both us as professionals and our families that we work with. Training the parents we work with to engage in activities such as this one can have a very positive effect on not only the child who has a language delay or disorder but for the whole family.
Becca Eisenberg is a mom and speech-language pathologist. Read more of her thoughts about mealtime and language on her blog, www.gravitybread.com
Learn how early dietary experiences shape preschoolers' salt intake.
For those who wonder why speech-language pathology lends itself to public-speaking training, I can provide many reasons.
First, in order to diagnose a speech, language or voice disorder, one has to first and foremost understand the essence of "normal" optimal communication.
Second, our background and coursework has provided us with extensive knowledge about voice, articulation and appropriate non-verbal behavior. When working with clients such as professional voice users (e.g., broadcasters, members of the clergy, politicians, and others whose voice is their livelihood), we are uniquely qualified to provide information about everything from vocal hygiene and ideal pitch and volume to the physiology of clear articulation to the mechanics of body language.
|Stacey Marshall, MS, CCC-SLP|
Third, because we are qualified to treat myriad pathologies, should we find that a client does have a disorder, such as a voice or articulation disorder, we are trained to treat the disorder that hinders the individual from being the best speaker he/she can become.
There are graduate school programs embracing this role in their curriculum. When I attended UNC-Chapel Hill in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences for my master's degree, for example, Professor Celia Hooper, PhD, CCC-SLP, conceptualized a program she called "SIG" - "Speech Improvement Groups."
For those of us lucky enough to partner with Professor Hooper to put SIG into action, she had us work with various groups - student athletes, university professors and business executives - to whom we provided public-speaking training weekly.
The programs were inordinately popular, and the role of the SLP as public-speaking coach seemed to be a perfect fit for me.
My career path as an SLP has led me to become a public-speaking coach specializing in teaching clients to become the most optimal speakers they can be. I also write fictional children's stories, in which I sneak in tips for kids about how to speak clearly with a strong, confident voice and make use of effective and appropriate non-verbal communication.
The main character in my new children's book, "Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes," teaches kids to speak with confidence and poise, something SLPs do every day.
When you conjure up an image of the quintessential speech-language pathologist, public-speaking coach and author may not come to mind, but who better than an SLP to teach optimal speaking skills and write about them! By Stacey Marshall, MS, CCC-SLP
Stacey Marshall's book, Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes, is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and select retailers throughout the U.S. Visit her website at http://www.captaincourage.com/.
We have a free copy of "Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes" available to give away!
Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page with tools or tips you use to teach kids to speak with confidence and poise!
We will pick a comment at random on Feb. 27 and notify the winner!
Lazaro Arbos describes his life as a roller coaster.
The lows come when he attempts to speak. As someone who stutters, he struggles to get out his words. It started as a young boy growing up in Cuba and got worse when his family moved to Florida at age 10. So much worse he stopped speaking.
"No one wanted to hang out with me in school," he says, fighting back tears. "I had no friends to go out with, so I'd be home."
During his time alone, he discovered the highs. "Since he has so few friends, music became his life. I think without music, he wouldn't know what to do with his life," his father says.
Life today for Lazaro, 21, is reaching new heights. As a contestant on the 12th season of "American Idol," Lazaro left the judges and the audience of the televised singing competition awestruck. During his audition, which was broadcast in January, he struggles to introduce himself and the song he has chosen to sing. As he begins to belt out "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," his stuttering stops. As judge Mariah Carey says, his voice is "beautiful."
Another judge, Randy Jackson, was puzzled Lazaro was able to sing so effortlessly but speak so uneasily.
A lot of other people are wondering that too. Since Lazaro's audition appeared on the Fox program, the Stuttering Foundation of America has been flooded with calls and emails from people wanting to know how someone who stutters can sing so fluently.
The Stuttering Foundation explains brain functions for singing and talking aren't alike, and the way the vocal chords, lips and tongue work when someone speaks is not identical when someone sings.
Furthermore, singing doesn't have the time pressure as speaking nor is there communicative pressure. When we sing, we usually know the words by heart. Trying to retrieve words when speaking may play a role in stuttering.
Why this phenomenon occurs in people like Lazaro, however, isn't fully known. "Understanding what dramatically reduces stuttering during singing may eventually help us understand stuttering better," explains Barry Guitar, PhD, of the University of Vermont.
Jane Fraser, president of the Foundation, said speech-language pathologists can add singing to their therapy toolbox when working on fluency with children who stutter.
"It's a cool way to use biofeedback and helping children understand how they are using their voice box and mouth," she said. "Singing ‘Jack and Jill' or other nursery rhymes can also build their vocabulary and their confidence."
Confidence building often is the focus of avoidance-reduction therapy, Fraser said, where children who stutter learn how to raise their hand during class when they know the answer. For those kids, Lazaro can serve as an inspiration. So what if you stutter in front of the classroom. He stuttered on TV in front of millions of people, and got a standing ovation from the judges.
The season finale for "American Idol" is still months away, and how far Lazaro will go in the competition is not yet known. Already, though, Lazaro is proving like Carly Simon, B.B. King and many others, he can stutter and be a singing sensation.
Watching a PowerPoint presentation isn't the most exciting way to spend a night in front of the TV, but I've found myself in this scenario since discovering various TED Talks on Netflix.
If you're unfamiliar with TED Talks, it works like this: TED, an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a nonprofit organization that describes its missions as "devoted to ideas worth spreading." During various events and conferences throughout the year, speakers are invited to present on a topic of their expertise. In fact, they're told to "give the talk of their life (in 18 minutes of less)." The end products are usually educational speeches, so entertaining you may find yourself watching one after another in your living room.
I recently watched one that is a perfect fit for February — National Heart Health Month. In his TED Talk, Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, presented findings from his research on the impact of plant-based diet on heart disease.
He argues heart disease is actually a "foodborne illness," "a toothless paper tiger that needn't exist."
When he started to examine cardiovascular disease through a global lens, he saw low rates in countries where the people ate mostly plant-based diets. Back in Cleveland, he took 24 patients with heart disease and put them on this diet. Within 15 months, he started to see striking results in the vascular lab and on angiograms: arteries were no longer blocked and patients' health was improving. This study, he points out, was conducted before the invention of statin drugs, now the common way for doctors to lower cholesterol.
The study, he says, proved "with nutrition we can not only halt this disease, we can reverse it."
"It's striking to see what actually can happen when you give the body every opportunity it can, the healing capacity is incredible," he tells the audience.
Various foods, he points out, destroys the endothelium, a thin layer of cells inside the arteries. They include oils, fish, poultry, dairy, meat, caffeine and coffee — "anything with a mother or a face."
"When you eat a typical Western diet, you'll get a typical Western disease," he says.
Foods you should eat, he says, are whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables — "green leafy vegetables are like water on the fire."
Conventional cardiology, he says, is expensive, has high mortality and morbidity, and doesn't cure the disease. "When you're treating causality with plant-based nutrition, there's no mortality, no morbidity and the benefits improve with time."
It's remarkable to think the leading cause of death in women in the U.S. can be treated with a few changes in the kitchen. If I were someone in need of intervention for heart disease, I'd go on a vegan diet. Just look at Bill Clinton!
Until then, in an effort to stave off heart disease, I'll continue exercising and following the diet a dietitian friend of mine once suggested — anything is fine, in moderation.
Share your thoughts! Do you know anyone who has gone vegan to reverse heart disease?
The U.S. Department of Education today issued a statement declaring public schools at the K-12 level must provide opportunities for students with disabilities to participate in athletic programs.
A U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) report in 2010 found that many schools do not provide students with disabilities ways to participate in extracurricular sports activities. The report also noted that access to and participation in sports activities provide health and social benefits to students, and recommended the DOE clarify schools obligations to provide those opportunities to students with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The guidance letter released today from the DOE's Office of Civil Rights outlines the specific provisions of Section 504 that require districts to provide equal opportunities for participation in extracurricular activities to students with disabilities, and provides a number of examples of ways to appropriately provide those opportunities.
According to a DOE press release, examples of modifications to facilitate participation of students with disabilities in sports activities include:
- "The allowance of a visual cue alongside a starter pistol to allow a student with a hearing impairment who is fast enough to qualify for the track team the opportunity to compete.
- The waiver of a rule requiring the "two-hand touch" finish in swim events so that a one-armed swimmer with the requisite ability can participate at swim meets."
Schools may provide separate athletic options for students with disabilities when a specific student is unable to participate in existing programs, even with modifications or supports, or when students with disabilities interests and abilities cannot be effectively met by existing programs. However, whenever possible, schools should attempt to integrate students with disabilities into existing athletic programs with non-disabled peers. The guidance letter calls it "discriminatory" if a district creates a separate program for students with disabilities unnecessarily. Additionally, districts are encouraged to work with community organizations and other groups to provide these opportunities.
"Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in the press release.
Jill Glomstad is editor of ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners
This morning, President Barack Obama was sworn in to serve a second term as the 44th president of the United States. Despite a chilly morning in Washington, DC, a crowd of nearly 600,000 gathered on the national Mall to hear the president take the oath of office.
In the speech following his oath, President Obama called on Americans to realize their place in helping move this country ahead.
"You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country's course," he said. "You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time - not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals."
To move the country forward and protect those principles - for one, that Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - even baby steps will get us somewhere. Obama said we must act, "knowing that our work will be imperfect," and "today's victories will be only partial."
President Obama's speech perfectly echoed the sentiments of the day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or the National Day of Service. Hearing President Obama's words, maybe someone in the audience or at home will commit to move this country forward with an act of altruism.
Thinking big can lead to apathy. Try thinking small. After all, we, the people, have the power to move this country ahead.
Did you volunteer as part of the National Day of Service?
At the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 12, Alexis Wineman, 18, will attempt to make history. Alexis, the current Miss Montana, is trying to become the first winner with autism.
Alexis has spent the past 6 months raising awareness of autism in her home state through her platform, "Normal is Just a Dryer Setting‚ Living with Autism." In her biographical video, she explains, "I was diagnosed with a form of autism in the 7th grade and that is why I am so passionate about this cause." In her words, "We can help those with autism unlock the potential that lies within all of us." Powerful stuff for sure. It's not all serious though, as Alexis will be performing a stand-up routine for her talent competition.
She's gaining a lot of national attention already, and will be one of a handful of contestants spotlighted in a special edition of "20/20" "Pageant Confidential: The Road to Miss America," airing at 8 p.m. ET on Jan. 12, immediately before the pageant. In addition to being the only contest on the autism spectrum, she's also the youngest contestant in this year's competition.
Only 14 finalists will appear in the telecast, one of whom is chosen by online vote. Watch Alexis's video to see her make her case. Then be sure to tune into the live broadcast.
Whether or not she's crowned, Alexis' passion for raising awareness of autism spectrum disorders is something to emulate.
Last week, Newsweek published its final print issue. As a magazine enthusiast (I subscribe to many, I've studied them, and I work for one), I was saddened to hear the news. I remember a time when finding one of my favorite magazines in the mail meant I would be sitting on the couch for the rest of the night to read it from cover to cover.
But times change, and the reality is more and more publications are moving away from print formats and going online only. There are various reasons for this, including readers' preferences. Many don't want to carry around stacks of paper, and enjoy being able to read all of their favorite articles right from their laptop, tablet or smartphone.
I have to admit that I no longer subscribe our local paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, because it's more convenient and less expensive to read it online. Luckily, your subscription to ADVANCE has always been and always will be free. And you still have your choice of reading the traditional paper version or our digital edition.
To make sure it keeps coming (either to your mailbox or inbox), please update your contact information on an annual basis here.
And let us know. How do you read ADVANCE? Online only? Print and a little web?
Guest blogger Elizabeth Rosto Sitko is managing editor of ADVANCE for Long-Term Care Management.