children

Holiday hackathon makes toys accessible for children with disabilities

Mickey mouse, doll, elephant and flamingo toys

Local roboticist teams adapt interactive toys for easier manipulation

By: ASU Now

Two local robotics teams just made the holidays more accessible for 20 local children who face challenges manipulating interactive toys.

Arizona State University’s Desert WAVE and a high school team from Chandler, Arizona, called Degrees of Freedom, joined forces last weekend at CREATE at the Arizona Science Center, to “hack” toys for children with disabilities. Both teams were founded by the local Si Se Puede Foundation.

“When I look at the kids that we are able to help, I see just that: kids,” said Desert WAVE member Jessica Dirks, an ASU sophomore with a double major in human systems engineering and robotics. “They have hopes and dreams and love toys just as much as I do. The only thing separating us is the size of a switch — and that is something I am confident and capable of changing for these fellow dreamers.”

While commercially adapted toys exist for children with physical limitations, they can cost up to four times the retail cost of similar, off-the-shelf toys. The adaptations made during the event cost less than $5 in parts and required basic electrical skills, like soldering, provided by the two teams.

The modified toys help children develop functional skills like problem-solving, offer a foundation for socialization, and perhaps most importantly, have fun with toys.

“My favorite moment of this event was right after I finished adapting my first toy,” said Khushi Parikh, a sophomore at Gilbert Classical Academy and part of the Degrees of Freedom team.

Read the full article here:https://bit.ly/2M8fII7

Navigating education options when your kid has a disability

Photo of the headline of the NYT Parenting article by Amy Silverman
A screenshot of Amy Silverman’s essay in NYT Parenting on choosing a school best suited for her daughter.

The New York Times Parenting section recently featured an essay by NCDJ Board member and journalist Amy Silverman, who elucidates the challenges parents face when it comes to choosing the right school for kids with disabilities. Silverman discusses what it was like to transition her daughter Sophie, who has Down syndrome, into a local elementary school and describes navigating red tape and school administrators to ensure Sophie would receive support services suited to her needs.

The article also mentions that it is important for parents of children with disabilities to understand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and provides a link to an overview of the federal law.

You can read Silverman’s essay in the New York Times online by clicking here.

Blind students perform tap routine with professional ballet troupe in Pennsylvania

A group of students from the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia recently treated audiences to a tap dance alongside members of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s youth troupe. The performance was part of the ceremony for Art-Reach’s 2018 Cultural Access Awards which aim to promote participation in the arts amongst people with disabilities. Journalist Monica Marie Zorrilla documented the emotional performance for local outlet ‘BillyPenn.

Easter activities for kids with disabilities

Local CBS station in Dallas/ Fort Worth visited a festive Easter egg hunt designed specifically for kids with disabilities. The video report, posted to YouTube, describes how the eggs make loud beeps so that people with sensory disabilities can find them. The event was organized by local community members and many parents  appreciated how the overall tone of the festivities was tailored to accommodate kids with high anxiety.

‘The Silent Child’ about deaf girl wins 2018 Oscar for Best Short Film

A short film about a 4-year-old deaf girl called “The Silent Child” won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). The film’s title character is played by Maisie Sly who is deaf in real life. The film was written by UK actress Rachel Shenton and directed by her fiancé Chris Overton. During the awards ceremony Shenton used American Sign Language to translate her acceptance speech, which doubled as a passionate description of communication challenges faced by children with disabilities.

“Our movie is about a deaf child being born into a world of silence,” said Shenton. “It’s not exaggerated or sensationalized for the movie. This is happening, millions of children all over the world live in silence and face communication barriers, and particularly access to education. Deafness is a silent disability. You can’t see it and it’s not life-threatening, so I want to say the biggest of ‘Thank yous’ to the Academy for allowing us to put this in front of a mainstream audience. ”

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for “The Silent Child”. CLICK BELOW to watch Shenton and Overton’s acceptance speech.

Schneider Family Book Awards honor authors of kids books with disability themes

Fiction is an engaging way to introduce children to the topic of disability. The annual Schneider Family Book Awards are chosen by the American Library Association and honor exceptional books about disabilities targeted at kids and teens. This year’s award-winning books  include characters who are deaf, have autism and use sign language. Check out the full list by clicking here to read Disability Scoop’s report.

Baby with Down syndrome wins Gerber photo contest, making history

For the first time in its 91-year history the Gerber Baby Photo Contest chose a baby with Down syndrome. The winner is Lucas Warren of Dalton, GA and his prize includes a $50,000 paycheck and Gerber advertising contract. Click here to see more photos of adorable Lucas and watch an interview on The Today Show with him and his parents.

Check out the National Down Syndrome Society’s “Preferred Language Guide” for a quick and helpful tutorial on communicating about DS.

Photo of 1 year old Lucas Warren, the winner of Gerber's annual baby photo contest. Lucas has Down syndrome. Lucas wears a light green shirt, white pants, and a blue bowtie. He smiles cheerfully into the camera.
Lucas Warren, Gerber’s 2018 Spokesbaby and winner of their annual photo contest. Lucas is the first contest winner to have Down syndrome. Credit: Cortney Warren, Lucas’ mom

‘Doomed by Delay’: NCDJ co-winner Callahan has new story on Krabbe disease

If a hospital fails to identify symptoms of a debilitating disease in infants it could spell disaster for patients as they grow up. In her story “Doomed by Delay,” Chicago Tribune investigative journalist Patricia Callahan describes the struggles of parents of children with Krabbe disease who weren’t properly diagnosed until it was too late to salvage their motor functions. Callahan is the 1st place co-winner, along with Michael J. Berens, of the NCDJ’s 2017 Katherine Schneider Award for Disability Journalism.

In a related report, Chicago Tribune photographer Brian Cassella interviews the mother and caretaker of a 6-year-old living with Krabbe disease.

Tampa Bay Times publishes 10yr update on Pulitzer-winning “Girl in the Window”

Danielle was almost 7 years old when detectives removed her from a filthy house in Plant City, Florida. She was so malnourished and neglected that doctors predicted she would be disabled for the rest of her life. The Tampa Bay Times’s Lane DeGregory won the 2009  Pulitzer Prize for her profile of Dani and her adoptive family. Yesterday, Nov 29, DeGregoy published a fascinating update about Dani’s condition. Check out DeGregory’s latest report by clicking HERE, and to read the original award-winning story click HERE.

ABC’s “Good Doctor” features guest actor with autism

The primetime ABC drama “The Good Doctor” follows the career and personal life of a young surgeon with autism. The title character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, is played by Freddie Highmore who does not have autism. However, Monday night’s episode (Nov 13th) was unique in that a guest role featuring a character with autism was played by Coby Bird, an experienced actor with autism. This article on The Mighty by Elizabeth Cassidy describes Bird’s work and perspective on his character.