Arapahoe and Douglas

Adjacent to each other, the counties of Arapahoe and Douglas are both doing something for the people with disabilities (PWDs) in their land.

The Arapahoe County is the third-most populous county in Colorado while the Douglas County is the eight. The two are a part of the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area, and have 572,003 residents and 285,465 residents, respectively (2010, US Census).

While there is no information how many exactly of its residents have disabilities, the counties have established and maintained till this day its organizations that could either educate or financially assist the PWDs among them. One such example is the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network (ADMHN) that provides behavioral health care and substance abuse treatment to those with severe and persistent mental illnesses here. Founded in 1955, it would work with other institutions as well as with the cities of Castle Rock, Centennial, Englewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, Parker, and Sheridan to be able to respond effectively to the community’s needs.

In the site of its Department of Human Services, there is the Douglas County Developmental Disability Mill Levy Grant Information that guides Coloradans how they could apply for medical assistance in their county. There is also the Douglas County Youth Initiative: Youth Resources Directory that lists the recreation programs, treatment options, and daycare referrals available. Families concerned on the lack of support and services for fellow residents with developmental disabilities had approached the County Commissioners’ Health Advisory Committee to form the Long Range Plan to Include Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

In here also is located the Developmental Pathways, which is one of Colorado’s 20 Community Centered Board (CCB) serving the residents with developmental disabilities. A 1963 statute authorized CCBs to be the one to provide the services for them.

In a joint effort with the National Association of Counties (NACo), both counties have a prescription drug discount card that could be presented in the participating pharmacies to save up to 24%. There is no enrollment form, no membership fee, and no restrictions on the frequency of use. The program also has laid out a safety feature so that the pharmacists could be alerted when a particular drug would be in conflict with another medication.

Along with the community of Adams, residents in Arapahoe and Douglas Counties are cared for by the Tri-County Health Department. The Arc Arapahoe & Douglas Counties, too, would also help in educating the residents with developmental disabilities as well as their families here .

“There is no place in our society for prejudice of any kind.” ~George H.W. Bush

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of The Arc Arapahoe Douglas

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ADHD/ADD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) is a neurobehavioral development disorder.

It is a kind of developmental disability that should be dealt with both psychotherapy interventions and medications; Medication alone cannot address the core issues a child or an adult with ADHD has. Likewise, psychotherapy and other specific therapeutic interventions are mandatory.

In psychotherapy (otherwise referred to as cognitive-behavioral therapy), the patients are assisted in their thoughts, feelings and emotions. There would be social skills training that teach patients the necessary behaviors in developing and maintaining social relationships. It is usually done in therapy offices or at homes by the parents themselves.

In medications, methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate, Methylin) and amphetamines (Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Adderall) are the most commonly prescribed. They are both beneficial in curving hyperactivity and impulsivity in the patients.

There are newer drugs to treat ADD/ADHD to date. These non-stimulant medications include the Strattera and Vyvanse. Adult patients, on the other hand, can take antidepressants (Tricyclics, Venlafaxine, Bupropion) that targets the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine as well as nicotine cravings.

And there are software and gadgets, too! MathPad, MathPad Plus and MathTalk present numbers onscreen, which can be read aloud by a speech synthesizer. Products featured in Independent Living Aids, MaxiAids, and AbleData range from pocket-sized to desktop-sized with an alarm to keep students moving along.

Audible.com and bookshare.org allow one to listen to books downloaded on a computer. Kurzweil 3000 improves reading speed and comprehension by converting a printed text to an electronic one.

Optical character recognition (OCR) programs—such as the WYNN Literacy Software Solution, Quicktionary 2 Scanning Translator, and Readingpen Basic Edition—can scan printed material into a computer or handheld unit. The scanned text can be read aloud on a computer screen through the speech synthesis/screen reading system in Aspire Reader 4.0, ClassMate Reader, and Read&Write Gold.

Portable word processors aid writing; some of them are even pre-loaded with word prediction and text-to-speech software. They are lightweight and battery-powered machines that can be brought to school. Examples of which are the AlphaSmart Writer Learning Neo, Fusion, and QuickPad.

For those whose oral language skills appear to be superior to their writing skills, there is the Dragon NaturallySpeaking, Simply Speaking, ViaVoice, and MacSpeech that can help them. Aurora Suite, Co:Writer, EZ Keys, and WordQ can “predict” and assist in producing grammatically correct and topic-specific sentences and paragraphs on a word processor.

Exercise, though, remains to be the most affordable treatment. The medical journal Pediatrics found out that kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health,” according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues.

“ADD is like going through life, carrying a one-man band contraption with a broken strap.” -Julia Smith-Ruetz

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the University of California Television (UCTV)

Of Young Voices

Proving their abilities beyond their physical incapacities are Angelique Vizorro, Brian Semeniego, Carla dela Cruz, and Daisy Panaligan. They are all members of the Young Voices, a global project of a United Kingdom-based health and welfare group that aims to fight work against poverty and social marginalization through film and music.1

Vizorro has been a part of the National Youth Commission (NYC) Government Internship Program that trained high school and college students alike for employment. She had graduated from STI College-Fairview and knew how to encode data, photocopy, scan, and file documents.

Semeniego has headed the YV-Iloilo Chapter and has represented the country in the workshop conducted by the he Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in Colombo, Sri Lanka last August 2010, and in the National Human Rights Forum led by the Presidential Human Rights Committee in April of the same year. He has hosted the radio program K-Forum before he became the youngest board member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-PINOY). To date, Semeniego intends to promote better accessibility for PWDs through his civil engineering degree.

Dela Cruz has undeveloped lower limbs. Despite of that, though, she was the one sent to Maryland, USA to study one high school year in 2004. She was the one sent to Ethiopia, Africa to attend a video filming workshop and she was the one of those awarded the Women Achiever of the Year last March 25, 2011. She is a cum laude of BS Education, major in Special Education, from the Trinity University of Asia.

Panaligan is an amputee since birth. She is a ballroom dancer as well, albeit on wheels. She is also an athlete and had won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 6th Asean Paragames in Solo, Indonesia.

1 Worldwide, there are 1200 PWD members of YV to date. They are from 21 countries and ages 16-25 years old. In the Philippines, YV is one of the core programs idealized by the LCD Foundation, involved as it was during the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Video courtesy of the LCD Young Voices

Sinagtala Home

In 1966, a “star of hope” was formed.

It was called “Sinagtala,” the first institution under the Philippine Cheshire Homes Sinag-Tala Association Inc. It was founded by Concepcion Magsaysay-Labrador, the sister of former President Ramon Magsaysay.

Sinagtala Home first opened its doors to 11 “severely disabled” men. Two years after, it started to house female paraplegics that the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) has already discharged. There are currently 21 male PWDs and 11 female PWDs in Sinagtala.

But even though physically disabled, the residents were taught to fend for themselves. They can do mouth painting, charcoal portraiture, design and manufacture of religious items, solihiya (seat cushion) repair, watch repair, and mobile phone repair.

Last March 23, 2010, Sinagtala Home collaborated with the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine to organize the “Phi Sets Sinag-tala in Motion: Adding Color To Their Lives…One Step At A Time.” There had been a medical mission at the 123 Sinag-Tala Road, Barangay Bahay Toro, Project 8, Quezon City; a physical assessment by Dr. Melissa Zamuco-Mercado, head of the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Makati Medical Center (MMC) and Dr. Estrella Sebe Sanchez-Fernandez, specialist in obstetrics and gynecology; a demonstration of some therapeutic exercises; and a wall-painting activity.

The said event was sponsored by the Sangguniang Kabataan of Magallanes and the Universal Robina Corporation. Sinagtala Home, however, is financially supported by a group of charitable Filipinos and through the earnings of the residents themselves.

“But the vision of the organization doesn’t just stop there – more than giving them a place of stay, the residents are encouraged to live productive lives through pursuing their own livelihood” ~ Phi Lambda Delta

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of winkedee

Rockville

There is a book pertaining to people with disabilities (PWDs) that eight of the residents in this city co-authored.

It’s entitled “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Improve the Health and Wellness of Persons with Disabilities” that builds upon the idea of promoting wellness and disease prevention to everyone. Challenges abound to the well-being of PWDs. Their health should just be placed squarely among the public health issues being researched, delivered, financed, trained, and studied upon.

Those residents are H. Stanley Eichenauer, Monique Fountain, Merle McPherson, Jeanne McDowell, Ruby Neville, Jon Perez, Bonnie Strickland, and Steven Towle.

There are also support groups in Rockville for PWDs such as The Arc of Montgomery County along the Southlawn Lane and the Head Injury Rehabilitation & Referral Services, Inc. (HIRRS). There is the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (JFGH) that can help PWDs adjust into the “adult community.”

Other organizations in the city share the same vision. The Kennedy Employment Program can let PWDs “grow, share and develop as independent adults.” The St. Coletta of Greater Washington can guide PWDs “to live as full and independent a life as possible.” The Outcome Service can assist PWDs in finding jobs.

Even in the field of sports, Rockville supports its residents with disabilities. It is where the Disabled Sport USA is, a community-based chapter network that aims to improve the lives of PWDs through sports. It is spearheaded by Kirk Bauer, an amputee who lost his leg from a grenade explosion in Vietnam.

“As a disabled Vietnam veteran and Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA for the past 30 years, Kirk Bauer firmly believes that the military philosophy of leadership by example is the most effective way to inspire others to dream big and achieve their goals.” ~ From the Disabled Sport USA website

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the Disabled Sport USA

New Vois Association of the Philippines

In March 2007, the Philippine Laryngectomee Club (PLC) decided to do something more than it had envisioned when it established itself 11 years ago.

It would not just support those with throat cancer but those with speech impairments as well. It would conduct esophageal speech training for people with disabilities (PWDs) in Quezon City.

An ex-officio member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-Pinoy), the New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) has been involved in monitoring the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). It assists in implementing Republic Act 10070 and Executive Order 417.

Last July 19, 2010, the NVAP rallied to raise awareness on the violations of the Magna Carta of the Disabled Persons (Republic Act 9442), specifically on the granting of the 20% discount on medical purchases. It led to several other lobbying activities at the House of Representatives and impelled the Mercury Drugstore Corp. to grant the said discount on March 1, 2011.

The NVAP also chaired the International Disability Day last December 3, 2010. It is also the one presiding over the annual Freedom Walk activity since June 2011.

“The event is dubbed the ‘Freedom Walk’ as a way for the PWD sector to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. This is also an expression of their desire to be free from shackles of discrimination, inequalities and poverty,” Captain Oscar Taleon, president of AKAP-Pinoy, was reported saying.

The Freedom Walk is usually participated in by the National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the House of Representatives Committee on Social Services, the Department of Health (DOH), the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Among the other non-government organizations (NGOs) that would also take part are the Philippine Academy on Rehab Medicine, the Philippine Federation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (PFRD), the Philippine Association of Citizens with Developmental and Learning Disabilities, the Autism Society of the Philippines, the Philippine Blind Union, the (AKAP-Pinoy), as well as the SM Disability Affairs Program. (Photo from the NVAP Facebook Page)

“NVAP activities revolve around the following three main issues: (1) cancer support and rehabilitation of speech-impaired PWDs, (2) tobacco control advocacy, and (3) persons with disabilities advocacy.” ~From the NVAP website

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the UPMMS Publicity

Reflections from the UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2014

If complications in pregnancy and childbirth can lead to disability, then special education in all school levels is really a must.

Complications related to pregnancy and childbirth have killed almost 10 million women since 1990, said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director, in a report. It is the highest lifetime risk for maternal death in Niger, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Angola, Liberia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali.

But special education should be more than teaching people with disabilities (PWDs). It should be more than designating special schools, special classrooms, and tsukyu (resource rooms) in Japan. It should be more than providing “accommodations” for those PWDs who would be taking national exams in Singapore. It should also be more than exempting students with hearing impairments in Finland from taking listening comprehension tests.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin had said. Since complications in pregnancy and childbirth are a factor to disability, lessons about it should be discussed in all kinds of schools!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~Nelson Mandela

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Sean Smith