Archive for the ‘Psychiatric/Emotional Disability’ Category

Brain pacemakers may be the new medicine in treating psychiatric illness

brain pacemaker

Brain pacemaker of the future? Image via Julich Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine.

Earlier this week the Associate Press published an article on new research that is attempting to use pacemakers in the brain to control psychiatric diseases. You can read that story here.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has proved to be a successful and powerful method of blocking the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. However, blocking mental illness isn’t quite so easy, the main problem being where exactly in all that gray matter of the brain should scientists put the brain pacemaker?

But scientists are pushing to expand research into how well these brain stimulators are able to tackle the most severe cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourettes’s Syndrome.

Unlike tremor patients, who may see immediate relief of their symptoms, psychiatric patients who respond to DBS tend to improve gradually. Doctors are also cautioning that just because symptoms may lessen with DBS, it doesn’t mean that they could or should abandon traditional forms of therapy. Furthermore, patients who undergo DBS as a method of treatment also require help learning how to function, much the same as hip replacement patients who undergo physical therapy.

If you would like to know more about the surgical process of DBS and the use of a brain pacemaker to control symptoms of psychiatric disability, continue reading this article which gives a very nice overview of all of that. The article also explains the difference between what DBS does for patients with Parkinson’s versus what is expected in its application of treating psychiatric illness.

What scientists have been able to deduce through research is that with the brain pacemaker, somehow behavior therapy begins working, perhaps enabling the brain to better remember lessons.

Continue reading here.

Neergaard, Lauran. “Trying Brain Pacemakers to Zap Psychiatric Disease.” Yahoo! News. Associated Press, 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2011.

Young people winding up in nursing homes becomes a growing trend

About one in seven people now living in a nursing home in the United States is under 65. This number has risen about 22 percent in the past eight years to about 203,000, according to an analysis of statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These numbers have continued to climb as mental health facilities close and medical advances keep people alive after suffering traumatic injuries. [Source]

Quadriplegic Adam Martin

Quadriplegic Adam Martin, in a photo taken December 13, 2010, receives physical therapy from physical therapist Wes Bower at the Sarasota Health and Rehabilitation Center, the nursing home he currently resides in. Photo by Chris O'Meara; courtesy Associated Press

In a recent article published by the Associated Press, journalist Matt Sedensky interviews two quadriplegics just 26-years old who currently reside in nursing home facilities. The full article can be read here.

Advocates who help young patients find alternatives to bursing homes — advocacy organizations such as Paraquad — say that people are often surprised to learn that there are so many young people living in the facilities; estimates show about 15 percent of nursing home residents are under 65.

Federal law requires states to provide alternatives to institutional care when possible, though it implementation is determined by the state and varies from place to place. Navigating this system can be labrynthian and oftentimes requires a knowledgable advocate, and, sometimes, litigation.

Not all young nursing home patients are there for the long haul, as recovery in a nursing home is cheaper for insurance companies than in a hospital.

Still, the psychological impact for the newly disabled and their social needs can be even more demanding than their physical needs. Living in a nursing facility can pose problems at best and damaging effects at worst for these individuals. Many of the young residents sink into depression because of their physical limitations and loneliness as their nursing home conditions have them living with elderly patients with dimentia, alzheimers, and/or living in the end stages of their lives.

And the same generational issues that exist in the world outside are exacerbated by the close confines of the nursing home walls. Older residents complain about loud music and visitors. Young residents find it difficult to live so near individuals living in the end stages of their lives, eating the food on a menu designed for the elderly, and even more difficult is living in an environment that is sad most all of the time.

To read a more personal account of what its like to be young and living in a nursing home, you can read the complete article, from which this post is written, here.

If you or someone you know is under the age of 65 and living in a nursing home or similar facility and wishes to live independently, organizations like Paraquad may be able to assist you. Visit Paraquad at or call at (314) 289-4200. For TTY call (314) 289-4252.

Other organizations, such as the federal-state program Vocational Rehabilition (VR), may be able to help with home modifications. Contact your local state agency.

Sedensky, Matt. “More Young People Are Winding up in Nursing Homes.” Yahoo!News. Associated Press, 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 10 Jan. 2011. .

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:

Continue reading

America’s Got Talent Top 10: Christina & Ali

We watched Christina and Ali grow with each performance as they competed on the Summer’s hit show America’s Got Talent. The girls made it into the top 10, their Semi-finals performance beating out that of Connor Doran’s indoor kite-flying performance. Below is their performance in America’s Got Talent Top 10, singing “I Love You, I Do”:

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Christina & Ali, posted with vodpod

This was Christina and Ali’s final performance; they did not move on to America’s Got Talent Top 4. But we wish Christina and Ali all the best as they continue forward in their lives and continue their advocacy and awareness for cystic fibrosis.

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.

Bravo’s Work of Art: Erik Johnson

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist- Erik Johnson

Bravo's Work of Art: The Next Great Artist- Erik Johnson; photographer Andrew Eccles

We brought you the interesting personality of Miles Mendenhall from Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist, but now we’d like you to meet Erik Johnson.

Visit Bravo’s Workf of Art official page for all the skinny on the artistants (artist + contestant = artistant; wish we had thoughf of it but this was all Bravo’s brilliance), video clips of the show, private confessions and interviews, bios, and hear from the judges.

While Erik is new to the fine arts industry, his unique perspective and passion for art rose from his found passion for filmmaking. His short film “The Ghost of Christmas Presents” put him on the art world’s radar with its debut at Cannes Film Festival in 2006.

Though Erik was eliminated in Work of Art’s latest episode, it wasn’t up until the latest few episodes that producers focused in on Erik’s personal story. Though admitting that he was always an artistic child, Erik credits a motorcycle accident as the catalyst for the sudden explosion of artistic vision in his later years, after he was left partially brain damaged to the left hemisphere of his brain.

View Erik’s profile here and don’t forget to check out the portfolio gallery of his past works made available by Bravo.

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