Friday, May 2nd, 2014
A group of churches in Memphis have organized their first-ever prom for teenagers who live with disabilities like Down syndrome. More from ABC News on the “Memphis Joy Prom:”
[The prom was] complete with a red carpet, a makeup station, limos and tiaras for everyone. They had a prom dress donation drive in March, and a church member offered to cover tuxedo rentals from Men’s Warehouse, so the 110 attendees didn’t have to spend a dime.
“This was our first one, and it was unbelievable,” organizer Ashley Parks told ABCNews.com.
Parks said one parent sent a heartfelt note thanking her for loving her children “as much as God loves them.”
“We all cried over it,” she said. “It was one of many.”
But what made the Joy Prom different was that it allowed people 16 and up to attend. She said a couple with disabilities in their 60s went to Joy Prom because they never got to go to one when they were in high school.
Image: Prom corsage, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
The seniors on an undefeated Arizona high school football team are working as a team in a unique way–they’re lending advice and support to a special-needs girl who has been the target of bullies because of her health issues. The New York Daily News has more:
A group of kindhearted seniors on Arizona’s Queen Creek High School football team have lent Chy Johnson some tactical defense, helping a girl whose brain disorder once made her an easy target for bullies.
The new friendship started when Elizabeth Johnson, whose daughter said girls threw trash on her at school, contacted starting quarterback Carson Jones.
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“I emailed Carson, told him that Chy was having some issues, was just wanting some names,” she told a local television station.
“He took it a step further and went and gathered Chy up at lunch and she’s been eating lunch with them ever since,” Johnson said.
Jones, fellow teammate Tucker Workman and many other Queen Creek Bulldogs have also started looking after Chy throughout the day, a move that has stopped people from bothering her.
“I guess they’ve seen her with us or something,” Jones said.
Monday, April 2nd, 2012
Researchers at Ohio State University are conducting an ongoing study to see whether a new class of medications, behavior-focused parental training, or a combination of the two is most helpful for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
The medication is a non-stimulant drug known as atomoxetine. It is an alternative to a class of drugs known as psycho-stimulants, which are often prescribed for behavioral issues but can carry alarming and ultimately counterproductive side effects. Atomoxetine works on a different neuro-chemical in children’s brains, and researchers are hopeful it may show results when psycho-stimulants fail.
Some parents in the study are receiving the drug, while others are receiving professional training in ways to manage ADHD and ASD symptoms and behaviors. Still others are receiving both therapies.
“What we’re trying to do is have the greatest possible impact,” said Michael Aman, who is leading the study, in a news release. “Obviously, it gives us an opportunity to look at each technique in isolation, but more importantly, it enables us to look at the combination of the two treatments and to see if there is a bonus.”
As for the pill, Aman says “this is the first truly different medicine that has come along in several decades.”
Image: Father working with son, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
Reports of a 5-by-5-foot padded enclosure where misbehaving kids are sent as punishment has many parents in Arizona upset and disappointed. The state does not have any laws prohibiting seclusion and even restraint for students–some with special needs–who are majorly disruptive and need to calm down, according to local news station CBS 5. From CBS5.com’s report on the “scream rooms:”
Leslie and Eric Noyes are the proud parents of a 7-year-old boy.
“He’s just a great kid, you know?” Eric Noyes said.
The second-grader has some special needs, so he was placed in the special education class at Desert Sage Elementary School in the Deer Valley Unified School District.
One day he came home with a disturbing story.
“He has been complaining about being restrained – he uses that word, restrained. And being put into cool down,” Leslie Noyes said.
“I was thinking there’s probably some bean bag chairs, maybe some books and just a room to get away from his general class. I had no idea it was literally almost a padded cell,” Eric Noyes said.
Leslie went to school armed with a camera and took pictures as proof.
They show a 5-foot by 5-foot padded box placed inside an empty classroom.
“My son has said he’s been there anywhere from a few minutes to almost all day,” Leslie Noyes said.
CBS 5 News went to Deer Valley with the accusations that a young boy saying he wasn’t even let out to use the bathroom, and that he had to eat lunch in there.
They refused to speak with us on camera, but released a statement that reads in part, “If a child requires the use of seclusion/physical intervention, parents are notified as soon as possible within the same school day. Two adults always accompany the child when secluded. This is the last method of behavior management schools use with a student.”
Deer Valley’s spokesperson also said Eric and Leslie’s son has been in the room 17 times since October, but they deny he was left there any longer than 15 minutes at a time.
Image: Phoenix area “scream room” chamber, via KPHO.com.
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Thursday, February 9th, 2012
A nonprofit organization in New York will put on two Broadway shows specially modified for families with autistic children. The shows include matinees of “Mary Poppins” on April 29, and “The Lion King” on September 30.
The Theatre Development Fund offered its first autism-friendly play, an altered version of “The Lion King,” last October. Organizers say families who attended or heard about the show responded enthusiastically, asking for future productions.
From The Huffington Post:
Both shows, presented by Disney Theatrical Productions, will be slightly altered to make those with autism more comfortable, including cutting jarring sounds and strobe lights. Quiet areas with beanbag chairs and coloring books, staffed by autism experts, also will be created inside the theater for those who might feel overwhelmed.
To accommodate the special audience, experts identified several moments in “The Lion King” when the sound or lights needed to be toned down, but none was more than 30 percent softened. There were seven changes in all, including the volume adjusted down in the opening number, on steam blasts and on Mufasa’s roar at the Elephant Graveyard. Actors walking in the aisles were kept, to the delight of the audience.
The Huffington Post reports that the Theatre Development Fund consults with other theaters that want to put on their own autism-friendly shows.
Image: via http://brandonscottthomas.blogspot.com
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