Archive for the ‘Learning Disability’ Category

Skateboarding for Autism

Lyra Stephens

Lyra Stephens' 5-year-old son, Sewell, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2. Ph. Stacy Thacker, Gannett; image courtesy USAToday.

Depending on which side of the fence you sit, skateboarding is often viewed as an extreme sport of choice or a public nuissance. But in this article by USAToday, one roller derby mom is helping her young son with autism by supporting an organization that brings the sport of skateboarding to children whose disability most often restricts them from playing sports at all.

Most people understand the limitations placed on an individual with a physical disability to participate in sports. In fact, we are pretty used to the exhaltation that individuals with disabilities recieve when they are able to overcome their disability to become athletes. However, most people don’t think about how a disability such as autism can prevent a child from playing even the most unruly of neighborhood street sports with local kids. The thought eludes them and many can’t understand why, if there’s not a physical limitation, can’t a child with autism join in. But among other things, autism is a social disorder, making grasping the social dynamics of team sports difficult at best and impossible for most. Yet, co-founderof A.Skate and mom of a child with autism Crys Worley, has found that skateboarding is one sport that children with autism can excel at. The solitary nature of skateboarding provides the perfect physical outlet for children with autism and doesn’t force the child to combat awkward social dynamics.

The A.Skate program travels throughout the U.S. holding clinics for children with autism at no cost to the families, and even gives grants to children with autism for skateboarding gear. The organization also promotes awareness and educates families about the skateboard industry.

The article interviews roller derby mom Lyra Stephens, of Montgomery, Ala., who talks about her son’s autism and the challenges they faced. Currently Stephens is helping to support the A.Skate Foundation organization by organizing a benefit scrimmage that will bring three other derby teams from the region to Montgomery to help the cause.

You can read this and more here.

Your ADHD: Own It

Your ADHD Own It Guide

Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine, and American Deficit Disorder Association have teamed together to raise awareness for ADD and ADHD in their new campaign Your ADHD: Own It.

Visit to take the Adult ADHD Screening Test

ADHD Screening Test And while you’re there, sign up for a copy of Your ADHD Action Guide. The guide is FREE and sull of helpful tips, tools, and ADHD resources.

The leaders of CHADD and ADDA released the following joint statement: “There is a common perception among many young adults and adults that you can outgrow the ADHD you were diagnosed with as a child or adolescent. However, it is important for them to understand that this is not always the case and that the disorder can continue into adulthood.

“King’s Speech” receives praise from our youth

As state and community colleges continue to solidify their importance in today’s emerging economy and the economy of the institution’s own local community, GCCC — or should we say upcoming GCSC — has worked doggedly these past few years in blurring the lines between k12 and higher education.

A greater part of our campus’s mission is making higher education accessible to everyone. With that said, it is important that school age children see from a very early start that there is always a place for them among college graduates and that Gulf Coast State College is there with them every step of the way.

As a department who seeks to advocate and assist students with disabilities in higher education, it is extremely important that we know and understand where our current and potential students come from to help them get to where they want to be.

That being said, the Associated Press has done and interesting piece on the film “King’s Speech,” the story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it. For 11-year-old Erik Yehl, a Chicago boy who began stuttering in preschool, the movie’s message is, “I’m not stupid.”

Watch the story below:

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‘King’s Speech’ Gets Praise From Stuttering Kids, posted with vodpod

Can pesticides increase children’s risk for ADHD?

A study published in the June 6, 2010 Pediatrics journal adds to a growing body of scientific literature that points to possible developmental problems in children associated with exposure to organophosphate pesticides. These insecticides kill insects by attacking their brains and nervous systems. The Pediatrics study found that there was a strong correlation between evidence of pesticide exposure (as measured by pesticide byproducts called metabolites) found in the urine of children and the occurrence of ADHD. In fact, researchers found that a tenfold increase in metabolites was associated with a 55 percent to 72 percent increase in the likelihood of ADHD.

Neurology Now:
September/October 2010 – Volume 6 – Issue 5 – p 38
doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000389997.48835.0c
DEPARTMENTS: Your Questions Answered: ADHD

Dr. Mitchell L. Goldstein, M.D., specialist in child neurology and practices with Western Neurological Associates in Salt Lake City, UT, suggests that the simplest way to reduce pesticide exposure is to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, or if possible opt to purchase fruits and vegetables that are grown without exposure to organophosphate pesticides. However, he warns, children will still invariably have some exposure to pesticides in drinking water and the environment through breakdown of chemicals used in both residential and industrial settings.

Cued Speech

Last week we spent a fairly large post discussing some of the many types of sign language. This post is about another method of communication used by many deaf and hard of hearing as well as individuals with communication disorders, known as Cued Speech. The uniqueness of this form of communication lended that it would be more effective to explain its qualities with a post of its own.

Cued Speech is a mode of communication based on the phonemes and peroperties of traditionally spoken languages. In a laymen’s description, Cued Speech is a phonetic system of signed speech. Cueing allows users who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have language/communication disorders to access the basic, fundamental properties of spoken languages through the use of vision.

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Cued Speech, posted with vodpod

More videos on Cued Speech can be seen here.

Developed by Dr. R. Orin Cornett in the mid 1960s, he surmised that through mastering the phonemic base of a spoken language is the key to learning a language in all its forms–including reading, writing, speaking, and understanding. The primary goal of Cued Speech is improving literacy.

American English Chart for Cued Speech

American English Chart for Cued Speech

Cued Speech does not require any hearing or speech, nor is cued speech a language (a characteristic that Sign Langauge does have). Rather, cued speech is a closed system adapted to more than 60 languages and dialects–this is due to the systems use of showing the phonemes (consonants and vowels) of spoken languages visually. Cued Speech requires synchronization of both the hand and mouth to send complete messages.

So why utilize Cued Speech when there is already the accepted methods of sign language systems, which are in fact recognized languages? Well, there are some distinct advantages of Cued Speech. Studies have shown that cuers who are deaf or hard or hearing meet or surpass hearing peers in linquistic competence. These cuers can aquire and use the same language other family members use at home. They also receive visual access to English from their transliterators; therefore, they do not rely on interpretation. With the benefit of having earned English skills that match the skills of their peers, cuers also have an acurate phonological model of a spoken language–because of this they are also able to learn foreign languages as easily as hearing students.

Because of the unique qualities of Cued Speech, cuers bridge the gap between the deaf and hearing communities. Cuers are often fluent also in signing and so are able to easily communicate with the deaf while their phonetic skills learned through cueing allows them to interact with the hearing community because English is their first language, and they use speech, speechreading, and/or listening with hearing individuals. You can read more details on cued speech here and learn facts and debunk myths on cued speech here.

Don’t forget to visit the National Cued Speech Association’s official webpage for more information, videos, events schedules, conferences, and information papers. Visit at

ADHD Misdiagnosis

Yahoo! News recently published an article on misdiagnosis of ADHD in children. The article, written by Jillita Horton, examined other conditions that mimic ADHD. Misdiagnosis of psychological and neuropsycholigical conditions often occurs because of their borderline or overlapping symptoms. Also, psychological and neuropsychological testing by a psychologist who specializes in the testing is often the only way to accurately diagnose these conditions, however, many conditions only require a general physicians diagnosis to begin treatment.

What was most interesting about the Yahoo! article were the listing of many other disorders which could be the culprit, rather than ADHD. These conditions include:

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MasterChef America

Masterchef America

Masterchef America via Fox Broadcasting

Famed chef Gordon Ramsey took MasterChef, a wildly popular show on the BBC in the UK, as well as Australia and New Zealand, to America, capping off the last of Fox Broadcasting’s summer line up. If you didn’t keep up with the show as it was airing, no worries — full episodes of the show can be watched at with limited commercial interruption and finished in only a short 8 episodes.

Having its first run in America , the contestants were as diverse as the food they cooked. This years competition featured Jennifer, a homemaker with two special needs children, and Darrell who was born with Ectrodactyly, sometimes referred to as “Lobster-claw Syndrome.”

Both contestants only made is as far as the preliminary tryouts, but you can see them in action in the episodes Auditions Part 1 & 2 at

World of Jenks: Can’t Make Me Be

If you missed last night’s episode of World of Jenks, “Can’t Make Me Be,” featuring Chad, a 20 year old living with autism, then here’s your chance to watch it.

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World of Jenks: Can’t Make Me Be, posted with vodpod

Full episdodes of World of Jenks can be seen on

World of Jenks

World of Jenks

World of Jenks, aires Monday nights on MTv.

Andrew Jenks is a 24-year old filmmaker currently making his way on MTv. At 19, Jenks moved into a nursing home for over a month and documented what like was like when you are “near the end.” What began as a low budget summer project turned into a feature documentary that went on to premier on HBO and played in theaters areound the world. The feedback from this documentary spurred Jenks desire to tell the stories of his generation, and through filmmaking he wanted to capture what his generation thinks, how they act, and ultimately what they stand for. This became the inspiration to his new MTv show, World of Jenks.

Along with a small camera crew, Jenks embeds himself in various worlds and lives in the shoes of people his age from all walks of life. Jenks tries valiantly to full immerse himself in their world, to understand their lives from their perspectives. Though Jenks begins each documentary with an idea of what that person’s story is — like characters he’s read about and are now going to meet — he ultimately leaves with a different perspective and thus a story he never saw coming. This becomes an interesting facet that the audience also get to experience with each episode.

The second episode of World of Jenks aires tonight (Sept. 13 @ 10/9c) on MTv, and follows Chad, a 20-year old living with Autism.

For more on the episode and on World of Jenks, head on over to And don’t forget to watch tonight’s episode at 10/9c. You can also watch the full episode on after tonight’s premier.

Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses

Stouffer’s, with their “Let’s Fix Dinner” challenge, has taken the families of America to task to make the change from fast-food home dining to real family-time dinners. In particluar, the challenge followed the Jones family who, of their three children, have two autistic son’s, both of which have difficulties with speech and vocalization. The Joneses took on the challenge in the hopes that not only would their family structure grow stronger, but that the opportunity to be together would strengthen the boys speech and vocal ability. The videos below follow the family throughout the challenge and offer a depth and insight into the difficulties faced by autism, as well as some interesting insight into how autism affects the boys thinking processes.

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Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner: Meet the Joneses P…, posted with vodpod

It’s simply amazing what a difference having a family dinner can do not only for the family but also on a disability like autism!

See more families involved in the Stouffer’s Let’s Fix Dinner Challenge here.

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