Archive for the ‘Did You Know’ Category

Asperger’s and Tourette Syndromes: a “Did You Know” PSA

In recent light, James Durbin, American Idol Season 10 hopeful has become a public face to Asperger’s and Tourette Syndromes. In an Idol interview, Durbin triumphantly declared “I have Tourette’s and Asperger’s, but Tourette’s and Asperger’s don’t have me.” But did you know that Asperger’s and Tourette syndromes are both conditions that commonly occur together and are three to four more times more likely to strike males than females.

Dan Aykroyd

Dan Aykroyd. Image via Google Search.

And did you know that before James Durbin, Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian, and musician, discussed publicly in an interview with Terry Gross on NPR (2004) his own experience living with Asperger’s and Tourette Syndromes.

Listen to that interview here.

Aykroyd’s acknowledgement of having both conditions was broached by Gross’s curiosity if research he had found stating that Aykroyd was diagnosed with Schizophrenia was true.

Here’s a snippet of that interview:

GROSS: Sometimes when I’m preparing an interview, I’ll read something about someone, and I’m not sure if they really said that or if it’s really true, because it sometimes isn’t. Ha ha. So, let me read you something that I read that you had said, and you can tell me if it’s true. And if it is true and it’s too personal, you can tell me that as well. But I read that when you were 12 you were diagnosed as schizophrenic and that you heard voices in your head and that you had to kind of keep that under control.

AYKROYD: Um, well, it was more of a Tourette’s thing than schizophrenia. I was analyzed as a Tourette’s and Asperger’s [child], which I still have a little bit today. You know, I mean, I grew up being pulled one way by my mother, who was very very strict, and then being relaxed by my father, who was very passive. I had the Tourette’s there pretty badly there, and I went to a therapist about it. At 12 years old I was able to have the luxury of sitting down with a therapist and talking through all kinds of things, books and music. She was quite influential in kind of evening me out. …Of course, now today they just give kids pills, but back then we didn’t have the benefit of all this sophisticated medicine. Whether it works or not, I don’t know. I think time will tell on that.

It was not so much [schizophrenia]. I think when I said that, I was kind of going to the extreme. It was not so much the schizophrenia part of it, but it was the Tourette’s/Asperger’s, which can be associated with hallucinogenic voices and that. I still have a little touch of that today. But I’ve been able to kind of defeat it without pharmaceutical medication. And I just find in my research and reading today that there’s a lot of people who have this kind of mild condition, and some of them get over it, and [for] some of them, it spins out where it affects them quite negatively.

GROSS: If you don’t mind my asking–

AYKROYD: I don’t.

GROSS: –what were some of the symptoms when you were 12, and were these things that you had to fight against to do the kind of acting & writing that you wanted to do, and did they feed that in any way?

AYKROYD: Well, it was mostly physical tics, you know, and nervousness kind of thing, and that kind of thing, you know, like grunting and tics and the classic Tourette’s type syndrome, that type of thing. But by the time I was 14 it was allayed and I really haven’t had too much occurrence except on the Asperger’s side, where I have a fascination with police, and I always have to have a badge with me. … I have a fascination with law enforcement and the police. My grandfather was a Mountie and that. If I don’t have a badge on me, I feel naked.

GROSS: I can’t tell if you’re kidding or not.

AYKROYD: No, no. It’s true. [Source]

Both Asperger’s and Tourette’s Syndrome are thought to have genetic components, and recent research has discovered a gene for a neurological disorder that includes autistic behaviors.

Most Affordable Colleges in America…a “Did You Know” PSA

Gulf Coast Community College

Photograph by Andrew Wardlow for The News Herald.

The more expensive four-year colleges get, the better community colleges start to look. In 2009, 3.4 million people enrolled in community colleges as full-time students, up 16.4% over the year before, according to the most recent data from the American Association of Community Colleges. No longer perceived as a consolation prize for students with lower grades, many community colleges now offer strong academics and courses that easily transfer to large public and private universities. Several states, including California and Florida, now have “common course numbering,” which means English 101 at a community college is equivalent to the same course at a four-year public or private institution, says an AACC spokeswoman. And they’re cheap. Some of the best, according to some ratings, charge less than $4,000 per year and many have instituted tuition freezes. In Maine, a tuition freeze means annual tuition at the well-regarded Washington County Community College is only $3,514–and enrollment at the school, which offers 15 associate’s degree programs–has increased of 10% in the past year, says Darin McGaw, dean of enrollment services. For those in need, they also offer financial aid and scholarships. [Source]

Click here to find out about schools offering FREE tuition?

Did You Know…

….this is what happens to the rest of the frog @_@ Makes you think twice about those all you can eat frog leg buffets, doesn’t it.

Comic Strip

Image found via Google search.

Just a little Tuesday morning humor to get you started.

Embossing before Braille: A “Did You Know” PSA

Did you know…

Page from ''Essay on the Education of Blind Children'' by Valentin Hauy

Page from ''Essay on the Education of Blind Children'' by Valentin Hauy (1786). Translation of the excerpt is as follows: Essay on the Education of Blind Children. Chapter 1. Aim of the Institute. Before providing an explanation of our Institute.... Image and translation via American Foundation for the Blind.

…that before Louis Braille brilliantly invented Braille, a condensed adaptation of a popular military form of communication in the battlefield called “night writing,” humanitarian and founder of the Royal Institution for the Young Blind in Paris (now the National Institute for the Young Blind), Valentin Haüy, had actually developed the first way to teach reading and writing to the blind.

Haüy had become particularly passionate about aiding the blind after witnessing the cruel and viscious teasing of an ensemble of inhabitants from the Quince-Vingts hospice for the blind by townspeople during the religious street festival “Sant Ovid’s Fair.” The blind were given dunce caps and oversized cardboard glasses and told to play their instruments, which resulted and a raucous cacophony of noises.

Haüy opened the world of written language to the blind by adapting the technique of embossing to a more permanent quality. Through embossing, text was raised on the paper and pressed against copper wire to retain their shape. This method was costly and time consuming to make, so publishers would put together in large volumes a collection of stories in a single volume binding to save on cost. This made the books quite heavy, sometimes weighing over a hundred pounds.

Haüy’s school had just three of these massive tomes of published works. Louis Braille read all of them.

Types of Sign Language: A “Did You Know” service announcement

Did you know…

That there are many types of sign language. Just las vocal language comes in many different langauges and dialects, sign language too comes in different langauges, dialects, and even versions of dialects.

Blueprint Sign Language

Album cover for Blueprint's album Sign Language. Image and a review of the album via Culture Bully.

First, the basics. Sign language uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning by simultaneously combining shape, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions. This is important as a sign not only conveys a word but also conveys a tone, both contextually and acoustically. For example, if you were to say a word emphatically, there are many things going on here the audibly convey a particular message. Your emphasis on the word, whether it be delivered by using a higher or lower pitch, the volume, and even tones such as sarcasm or gaiety are all being conveyed simultaneously by the interpreter with use of the sign, body movement, and facial expression. That’s a lot of visual information being received that we often as hearing individuals take for granted that our brain simply process.

In linguistic terms, sign languages are as complex and anthropologically diverse as oral, or acoustic, language. Professional linguists have studied many sign languages and found them to have every linguistic component required to be classed as a langauge. One of the major components to Deaf being a deaf culture is the complexity of its language.

Along with classified sign languages, sign systems are also sometimes developed within a single family. These terms are usually used in conversation only with other family members and friends who are familiar with the signs. They are informal systems of signing and are usually referred to as home sign or kitchen sign. While these informal systems are a bit more complex with families who rely on this system to communicate personally with one another, we have all created mini-versions of homesign within our own families. For example, that singular shaped hand gesture your baby does that only you and your family knows what the baby means (such as asking for a particular cup, or expressing wanting their bottle, or even a gesture they make when identifying a familiar sound)…yep…that’s home sign. This example is not to belittle sign systems, rather, it is to demonstrate just how intrinsic the use of gestures and hand movements are even to the hearing world.

While there are specific, classified types of Sign Language that make up the general base to signing systems, dialects are also created, oftentimes creating a version of the base sign system that is unique and prevailing amongst the deaf community of a local community. Famous examples of this include Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language in the USA, Kata Kolok in a village in Bali, Adamorobe Sign Language in Ghana and Yucatec Maya sign language in Mexico.

In this post, only the signs most prevalently to be encountered in the our campus will be discussed, but you can visit this article at for a complete list types of Sign Language.

Types of Sign Language:

American Sign Language Fingerspelled Alphabet

American Sign Language (ASL) Fingerspelled Alphabet. Image via Google search.

American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is a complete, complex language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the first language of many deaf in North America, and is considered the dominant sign language of the Deaf community in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in parts of Mexico. ASL is said to be the fourth most commonly used language in the U.S.

British Sign Language

British Sign Language (BSL) Fingerspelled Alphabet. Image via Google search.

British Sign Language (BSL). Though the United Kingdon and the United States both share English as a spoken and written language, British Sign and American Sign languages are quite different from one another and are not mutually intelligible. British Sign Language (BSL) makes use of space and involves movements of the hands, body, face, and head.

Signed English (SE). This system is preferred among primary and higher education institutions as it has one sign to represent each word in the English language. It is intended to be used to help with reading and writing, and has important signs to teach grammar.

Sign Supported English (SSE). This is the preferred method of hearing people to communicate with the deaf. SSE uses the same sign as British Sign Language (BSL), but unlike Signed English (SE), you do not have to sign every word. SSE also doesn’t have its own grammar system like BSL, enabling hearing people to use the sign system without having to learn a whole new grammatical structure. SSE can be picked up fairly quickly which expedites communication.

International Sign (IS). You may not come in contact with this system much here on our campus — yet, that is; we are growing — but IS is an international auxillary language used at international meetings, such as the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) Congress and events such as the Deaflympics.

Padget Gorman Signed Speech. This signing system is used with speech to help those with langauge difficulties. There are 37 basic signs which when combined can make over 4,000 more complex ones.

Pidgin Signed English (PSE). Another characterstic of language, like vocal language, sign language has a very crude signing system, in which elements of BSL and spoken English are combined to allow communication between hearing people and deaf people who only know the strict confines of sign language. This system is not recommended (the persnickety of proper grammar should cover both ears and eyes for this system).

And finally…

Finger Spelling. This signing system is generally used alongside sign language. It is used to spell out names, places, and anything else where there is not usually a sign for. Many times, new words take longer to be adapted into a singular sign, therefore they must be spelled out.

That mountain of snow you walked to school in everyday just became obsolete by tales of phones with cords. A “Did You Know” service announcement.

generation gap

Image via Google search.

Do you remember that sled piled three feet high with books that your parents use to treck up and down the side of a mountain in 12 ft. of snow in the middle of a blizzard just to get to school everyday. If you do…then, you’re ancient! If you have no idea what we’re talking about, then you’re probably a part of the Class of 2014 — or dare we say, younger.

For the Class of 2014, Clint Eastwood is known more as a “sensitive director” than as Dirty Harry. For students entering college this Fall, email is too slow, phones have never had cords, and the computers us 30-somethings played with in high school are now exhibits in museums. And few incoming freshmans will know how to write in cursive!

Too shocking to believe us? Then check out the Mindset List by Beloit College. The compilation, released today, is assembled each year by two officials, Ron Nief, former public affairs director at Beloit College, and Tom McBride, an English professor at the private school, and is meant to remind teachers that cultural references familiar to them might baffle, befuddle, or draw blank stares from college freshman (strictly speaking of this Fall’s freshmans, most were born in 1992). The intent is that by being aware of the generation gap helps professors craft lesson plans that are more meaningful.

For example, history professors, the Class of 2014 will associate the War in Iraq and Afghanistan with the disaster of 9-11 only, and a few may even know the termonology of Desert Storm and “that guy Sadam Hussein” fits in there somewhere. But for these freshman, they won’t know that U.S. conflicts with Iraq truly began with the Cold War and its conflict between the U.S., Russia, and Russia’s control of Afghanistan. For this generation of students, Russia and the U.S. have lived as neighbors in space, not as competitors in the “space race.”

The list is an interesting lesson in cultural perspective, comparing those thoughts, ideas, and objects that were controversial of yester year, to its modern counterpart that this Fall’s freshman’s live with. Plus, professors, the list may expand your current vocabulary to a more contemporary one — at the very least, you’ll know what the kids are talking about. 🙂

To see the list, visit

Ramde, Dinesh. “Wear Wristwatch? Use E-mail? Not for Class of ’14.” The Associated Press. 17 Aug. 2010. Web. 17 Aug. 2010.

First Aid for Seizures

As the summer ends and faculty and staff gear up for the upcoming Fall semester, one of the campus’s big focus is on training to keep our students safe. This effort is maintained by regular demonstrations and training classes on First Aid & Safety and training for use of the AED Defibrillators that are secured in every building on campus. Here at DSS we would like to contribute to this effort by teaching you First Aid for Seizures.

Not all types of seizures require first aid. In many cases all the person needs is emotional support, reassurance, and understanding. This guide is designed to assist you with generalized tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal/convulsive).

First Aid for Seizures

Available by the Epilepsy Association of Central Florida (EACF)

The Diagram anove provides a great visual representation of the important steps to assisting someone having a seizure. Now, here’s the steps:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Prevent injury. During the seizure, exercise common sense by insuring that there is nothing within reach that could harm the person if s/he struck it.
  3. Turn on side. Make the person as comfortable as possible. Also, loosen any neckware such as ties and/or open buttons to tight fitting collars.
  4. Do not hold the person down. This is as much a matter of your safety as it is their’s. Thrashing is a symptom of these types of seizures. The person having the seizure will be safe as long as you have followed Step 2.
  5. Do not place anything in the person’s mouth. Contrary to popular belief, a person having a seizure is incapable of swallowing their tongue.
  6. Keep onlookers away. We know, easier said than done, but most people will remain at a safe distance if they see the situation is under control.
  7. Try to keep track of the length of the seizure. This will be important for the person having the seizure and EMT’s to know.If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911.

  8. After the seizure, if they are not already in this position, place the person on h/er left side. Keep in mind that there is a small risk of post-seizure vomiting, even before the person is fully alert. For this reason, be sure the person’s head is positioned so that vomit will drain out of the mouth without being inhaled. Also, do not give the person water, pills, or food until they are fully alert.

  9. Look for an I.D.. Stay with them.
  10. Be sensitive and supportive. Offer help and reassurance.

Free Admission to National Parks…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement


Image found via Google search

The National Forestry & Wildlife Division offers a free lifetime access pass for any person with a disability or for the caregivers of a person with a disability. The pass allows access to ALL national parks for FREE!

Simply take a letter from your physician (*required) stating the disability to your local National Forestry & Wildlife Division to get the pass. Each pass will admit up to 4 adults, and children under 16 are always free.

For more information visit

Color Confusion…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement

Known as the Stroop Effect, after its inventor John Ridley Stroop (1935), the “trick” below is a bit of a colorful brain twister. The color names below are written in a variety of colors. Try reading the list out loud, as fast as you can. It’s harder than it looks. Your brain subsequently becomes confused because of the difference between reading the word and naming the color. Psychologists call the phenomenon interference.

Now try naming the colors of the words out loud, as fast as you can. Ignoring what the words say and paying attention only to the actual colors is a task most people find more difficult. It is harder to supress out well trained impulses to read what the word says–psychologists call this response inhibition. With practice the task gets easier, demonstrating our brain’s incredible ability to rewire itself.

Color Confusion

Want to take this brain twister a step further?

  1. Find the six words that correctly name the actual color the word is written in.
  2. Find the 12 words that correctly name the color of the following word or preceding word. Note: Consider that the word at the end of one line is followed by the word at the beginning of the next line.

Does your brain hurt yet? A color match game based on the Stroop Effect can be played on the game site While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the site’s other brain games and read interesting articles on how the brain works and tips for brain training.

Kim, Scott. “Color Confusion.” Neurology Now 6.3 (2010): 10. Print.

Jewish Disabilities…A “Did You Know” Service Announcement

Jewish Disabilities Yellow Badge

Image via search on Wikipedia

Did you know…

Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jewish persons in the Middle Ages. These restrictions included provisions requiring Jewish persons to wear specific and identifying clothing, such as the Jewish cap (Jewish males were required to wear while outside the ghetto in order to distinguish them from others) and the yellow badge (a cloth badge also worn to mark the individual as Jewish and intended to shame them). Other provisions included restricting the Jewish to certain cities and towns or within certain areas of town, called ghettos. Jewish individuals were even restricted from entering into certain trades.

Disabilities also included levying special taxes, exclusion from public life, and restraints on the performances of religious ceremonies.

Some countries took Disabilities even further, completely expelling Jews from their country. England, for example, expelled the Jewish community from its island, only readmitting Jews in 1665. Jews were also expelled from Spain in 1492 and were readmitted in 1868.

The Disabilities were lifted in the late 18th and 19th century, Revolutionary France being the first country to abolish them all together in 1791. Prussia soon followed suit in 1848. The United Kingdom followed a deacde later in 1858 and the Jewish Disabilities Bill of 1859 was passed, granting basic civil and political rights to Jews. The emancipation was made possible by the efforts of financier of precious metals Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid. Goldsmid went to become Britains first Jewish baronet. The newly united Germany completed the aboilition of Jewish Disabilities in 1871.

[Via Museum of Learning and Encyclopedia Britannica]

For more information on Jewish Disabilities, as well as services, events, and more on disabilities and the Jewish community. visit Jewish Family Service website.

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