Derrick Coleman, fullback for the Seattle Seahawks and first legally deaf player on the NFL, surprised a couple of his biggest fans with tickets to the Super Bowl. Coleman surprised nine-year-old twins Riley and Erin Kovalcik while the girls were taping a segment for Good Morning America. The girls, who are also hearing impaired, had written Coleman a letter that went viral expressing their admiration of his accomplishments despite having a disability. Read more.
The Schneider Family Book Awards honoring books that highlight the disability experience were announced this week along with the renowned Caldecott and Newbery awards for children’s literature by the American Library Association. The awards are given to authors and illustrators in three different categories “for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” This year’s winners included stories about an artist wounded while serving in World War I, a princess with a foot deformity who helps chase dragons and a courageous American pilot who is captured by Nazis and sent to a concentration camp.
The Food and Drug Administration cleared a new blood test on Friday that can detect mental disabilities in infants. The laboratory test called CytoScan Dx Assay is not intended for prenatal screening but for helping doctors diagnose some developmental disabilities earlier, such as Down syndrome and DiGeorge syndrome.
Whereas other existing tests are generally only used after a child starts exhibiting signs of a disorder, doctors said the new test should be available to use before any signs occur to help get appropriate care right away. Read more.
In her new book “Raising Henry,” Columbia University professor Rachel Adams separates her son from his Down syndrome diagnosis. In this New York Times book review, Adams is applauded for making the argument that Henry’s diagnosis is a disability, not a tragedy, but is asked for more personal reflection of who Henry is. Read more.
Boys born prematurely are more likely to be at risk of disability than girls, according to new reports from the “Pediatric Research” journal. The research papers, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, concluded that baby boys have a higher likelihood of infections, jaundice, birth complications and congenital conditions in general but the biggest risk was preterm birth. The findings were published to coincide with the third annual World Prematurity Day on Sunday, Nov. 17. Read more.
People with disabilities will no longer be able to skip long lines at Disneyland and Walt Disney World starting Oct. 9. The change is in response to able-bodied patrons who were abusing Disney’s current disability policy that gives eligible visitors guest assistance passes for quicker access to rides. Read more.
New research suggests a connection between the “bonding” or “love” hormone oxytocin and those brain systems that produce pleasure and motivation. According to the study published in the journal Nature, interfering with oxytocin’s activity can inhibit social behavior, possibly demonstrating why some children with autism are not as interested in other people.
Despite an increased risk for complications from the flu, many children with disabilities are not being vaccinated.
According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about half of children with neurological conditions, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy and other disorders receive the flu vaccine each year. While that’s on par with the vaccination rate for all children, those with special needs face bigger health risks, even death, if they contract the flu. Read more.
The first national Miss Amazing pageant, for girls with mental and physical disabilities, was held in Omaha, Nebraska last week.
Jordan Somer, who founded Miss Amazing seven years ago when she was just 13-years-old, said every girl in the pageant receives a crown just for participating and pushing her limits. Pageant events, including evening wear and talent portions, are designed to boost confidence and self-esteem. Read more.
This Arizona family won’t let DNA, stature, brittle bones or wheelchairs get in the way of living.
Clockwise from top left: Richard Alexander, Johl Driscoll, Jacob Driscoll, a dog Riauna rescued, Riauna Driscoll, Jeena Driscoll, Spirit and Lauri Alexander. Photo courtesy Lauri Alexander
If Lauri Alexander could stand, she would be about 3’9” tall. But she can’t stand without support, and she can’t walk. She’s 49 now, with graying, sandy brown hair that reaches down her back. Her direct green eyes are set behind wire-framed oval glasses. Motherhood, brittle bone disease and congestive heart failure have taken their toll on her fragile body.
She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, more commonly known as OI or brittle bone disease. It renders the bones so frail they snap like twigs, affects stature and causes walking problems.
But Lauri always yearned to be a mother to both biological and adopted children, so against medical advice and the strong possibility of passing on her damaged DNA, she bore two children and adopted two more. Despite her disabilities, she took on seemingly impossible personal, medical and societal challenges to become a mother.