It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PLEASE Submit to the Disability Blog Carnival

Only 1 week to go until the January 8th 2009 edition of the disability blog carnival. I'm hosting, and the theme is things that are therapeutic for you. For example, what helps you deal with stress, anxiety, depression? How do you cope with your disability, your life? There is only 1 week left to submit a post. So far I only have 3 submissions and ideally I would like a minimum of 12. You can make your post as traditional or non-traditional as you like. If you've never submited to the carnival before, I highly reccomend it. It really drives traffic to your blog. To submit your post to the carnival you can go to the blog carnival form, post a comment here, or PM me. Unfortunately both methods involve CAPTCHAs, but at least Disaboom has an audio button. Also, remember that if you put 'disability blog carnival' in the title of your post Penny says she can usually find it. I can't wait to read what you write!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's an Asset?

About 6 weeks ago I posted an entry Mental Illness: Illness or Chronic Condition? I'd like to quote the end of that post:

Let people feel good about having a few screws loose in their head. There's nothing wrong with that. Teach them that there are positives to their condition. There have been some very famous people who were never the perfect picture of mental health.

Well, through alltop and then a click on someone's blog I ended up surfing the health section of for a bit and came across this great article, A New Face for ADHD, and a Debate. I'm very happy to report that some people get it.

Children with the disorder typically have trouble sitting still and paying attention. But they may also have boundless energy and a laserlike focus on favorite things — qualities that could be very helpful in, say, an Olympic athlete.

For that reason, some doctors are pushing for a new view that focuses on the potential strengths of the disorder. Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist and author whose books include “Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping With Attention Deficit Disorder From Childhood Through Adulthood” (Touchstone, 1995), says the current “deficit-based medical model” of the disorder results in low-self esteem.

“It’s not an unmitigated blessing, but neither is it an unmitigated curse, which is usually the way it’s presented,” said Dr. Hallowell, who has the disorder himself. “I have been treating this condition for 25 years and I know that if you manage it right, this apparent deficit can become an asset. I think of it as a trait and not a disability.”

The notion that a disability can be harnessed in a positive way is not a new concept...

Dr. Hallowell says low-self esteem and low expectations result from the way the A.D.H.D. diagnosis is presented to children, parents and teachers. He tells children with attention deficit that they have the brain of a race car, and he wants to work with them to build better brakes.

“We want to tell children, ‘You’ve got a difference, but not a disease,’ ” [emphasis added] he said. “Michael Phelps is one of any thousands of examples of mega-successful people, C.E.O.s and brain surgeons and famous writers, inventors and entrepreneurs, who have A.D.H.D.”

Other people apparently haven't hopped on the bandwagon quite yet.

“This reframing A.D.H.D. as a gift, personally I don’t think it’s helpful,” said Natalie Knochenhauer, founder of A.D.H.D. Aware, an advocacy group in Doylestown, Pa. “You can’t have a disability that needs to be accommodated in the classroom, and also have this special gift. There are a lot of people out there — not only do their kids not have gifts, but their kids are really struggling.” [emphasis added]

Ms. Knochenhauer, who has four children with the disorder, says they too were inspired by the astonishing performance of Mr. Phelps in Beijing. But she added, “I would argue that Michael Phelps is a great swimmer with A.D.H.D., but he’s not a great swimmer because he has A.D.H.D.”

Dr. Koplewicz, of N.Y.U., agreed. “There are lots of children in the world who have chronic illnesses or disorders like diabetes, allergies or dyslexia who accomplish great things in spite of the fact that they have these disorders,” he said. “I worry when we say A.D.H.D. is a gift, that this minimizes how real it is.”

I can go off more with my position on this debate, but I'd rather not. I'm more interested in what you think. Can you have a disability and a gift (ADHD and a bigillion olympic gold medals like Michael Phelps), as Dr. Koplewicz presents? Can your disability be your gift, as Dr. Hallowell presents? Or, as Ms. Knochenhauer presents, are both of those notions completely impossible? Maybe I'm preaching to the choir here at disaboom. I don't know...

Ok, I lied, I am going to comment ever so briefly. I feel bad for Ms Knochenhauer's kids...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All I want for Christmas is...

JEWS!!! Posting this b/c it's GREAT and most importantly, OPEN CAPTIONED!!! Happy Chanukkah everyone!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is it Funny?

It's OK that I have a few screws loose in my head. If one falls out, I have a spare one stored in my ankle.

For those of you that don't know, 1) I'm bipolar & 2) I have CP and had ankle fusion surgery 6.5 years ago that involved putting a screw into my ankle. I'll just leave it there for safe keeping <chuckle> .

My mom was having a really hard time several years ago, and my grandma said to her that you need to be able to do 3 things in life. (I hope I have this right) You need to be able to look yourself in the mirror, you need to be able to hold your head up in the community, and you need to be able to laugh at yourself.

I'm pretty good at laughing at myself, but it's rare that I reach that level of comic genius, or that my timing is so great. I just rediscovered that joke the other day when I was thinking about things in my head. ROFLMAO. Unfortunately, people don't always know how to respond to my unique brand of humor. Sometimes they stare at me. You can see the wheels turning in their head. Are they supposed to laugh at me or is doing so going to make them look like an asshole? Is it OK or is it offensive? I want to know what you think.

In high school I had a sweatshirt. Plain gray on the front. On the back the words 'slow moving vehicle' with an orange triangle slow moving vehicle sign above them. For a time it was my favorite thing to wear. In 9th grade I was in the library and a student in my class saw the back of my shirt and told me that I shouldn't wear it. I was being mean to myself and that's not right. I'm sorry, but it's not mean, it's funny.

I recently rediscovered this video after being sent it by my high school best friend about 6 years ago or so.

She loves penguins by the way. I need to take time out to explain that I don't limp. I WADDLE. People like to say that I limp, but I don't, and it really grates on me that people say that. People with di/triplegic CP don't limp. THEY WADDLE. *off my soapbox* She sent it to me and said that the one on the left was me and the one on the right was her. HA HA HA!!! We were really straight foward, blunt, and borderline mean to each other (or maybe it was just me?). That context makes it even funnier. Or is it not funny at all? You tell me.

I'm a big fan of both John Callahan and Josh Blue. Unfortunately I can't find my favorite Callahan cartoons to post, but if you didn't have a disability, you would probably think there was something seriously wrong with me for laughing at them. By the way, in case you're not familiar with Callahan, he's a former alcholoholic, now a quad from driving drunk. I do love his crip humor.

I was able to find my favorite Josh Blue joke after I did a little digging on you tube. My all time favorite JB joke is in the video below, 2:53-4:15. Unfortunately not captioned, so I will transcribe.

There were some great things about being over in Athens though. One of the things I'll never forget is there was a party for all of the countries involved, like uh, Ireland, Scottland, uh Maryland... <pause for laughter> Little geography humor. Uh... Anyway it was like half way through the evening at this party before I realized that more then 50% of conversations were not being understood. someone who's drunk and has cerebral palsy and speaks with a Scottish accent is really f-ing hard to understand .

I was watching this at home 2.5 years ago and laughing so hard. Mom, you have to come over here. "I just don't think that is funny. I really don't think it's funny." What's wrong with my mom? She rasied a crip, shouldn't she get some of this?


I just can't wait, you know, I told her when I first found out that she was pregnant, uh, that she should have twins, uh, that way, uh, I could have a practice baby. Alright hunny, uh, you pick the one you like, uh, I'm gonna hold the other one. Didn't anyone tell you not to shake a baby?! I'm just holding em! ... someone else sitting at the dinner table more messy then me...

Again, ROFLMAO. There are some other good one's on JB's CD... But what about when the person making the jokes DOES NOT have a disability? Is it still funny? The other day I walked into my building and the big TV was on in the lobby. It was on Chelsea Lately, a sketch comedy show on E! that I'd never heard of. They did a facts of life reunion skit.

At 2:19 Gerri Jewll walks in. The real Geri Jewell is a comic/actor w/CP. Transcript starts at 2:34 and goes to 3:27.

Gerri/Heather: Hey Natalie, You auditioning much?

Natalie: Not really.

Gerri/Heather: How bout Extreme Makeover: Home Edition cause you're as big as a house.

Natalie: You can't talk to me like that!

Gerri/Heather: Yes I can. I'm a stand up comedian with cerebral palsy. I can say whatever Iwant. What's the problem Jo? Your lesbian girlfriend not here to defend you?

Jo: Back off Gerri. Back off!

Blair/Chelsea: OK, sto-- stop the cameras! You guys this is really stupid. We're doing this whole skit because Heather can impersonate someone with cerebral palsy. We're making fun of this girl who was on the show 3 times. People don't even know who she is.

Heather: I was on Facts of Life 12 times according to wikipedia Blair.

Chelsea: Stop it Heather! Relax your neck! Stop it! Sto--

Heather: Ok Blair

Chelsea: Stop! Stop!

Heather: Alright...

Chelsea: Chelsea Lately is better then this. We are smarter then this and we--no. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. This isn't funny. Forget it. And I don't want to do this anymore, and I feel disrespectful enough.

What do you mean this isn't funny? It's hysterical. At least I think so. Do you think it's funny? Do you think it's offensive? I feel that if this show felt OK doing the skit then maybe society has started approaching an actual comfort level with crips in society. They're not making fun of Gerri. They're making fun of making fun at Gerri. They're making fun of political correctness. And I like it! I think it puts us more on an even playing field with the rest of able-bodied society. But maybe that's just me...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Announcing the Disability Blog Carnival Theme for Jan 8, 2009

I'm hosting the Disability Blog Carnival AGAIN! See my August 14th posting for an example of what a carnival is. The theme for this edition is things that are therapeutic. What helps you deal with stress, anxiety, depression? How do you cope with your disability, your life? I want to know! For me it's blogging and art, but what about you? I want to be a child empowerment specialist after all. I'm going to need some ideas for my future career... So start writing! To submit a post, go to the blog carnival form, post a comment here, or PM me. Unfortunately, both methods involve CAPTCHAs, but at least Disaboom has an audio button. Also, if you put 'disability blog carnival' in the title of your post Penny says she can usually find it. I can't wait to read what you write!

Art: Something Else Therapeutic/My Blogiversary & 100th Post

Sometime in November I realized that I had written 93 posts and that I could time things perfectly to write my 100th post on my blogiversary. I have nothing really to say that I haven't already said. In July I wrote about how My Blog is Group Therapy, and I few weeks ago I wrote about how I'm Thankful for the disability blogsphere. So instead of reitterating myself, I'm going to write about something else that is therapeutic for me: Art.

I used to be scared of Art. The very mention of scissors sent me into a panic attack. I had a very bad art teacher in 5th grade that traumatized me. I have impaired fine/ocular motor skills and he was an ass about it. Then summer 07 I signed up for Intro to Art Therapy. What I was thinking I don't know. Of course you have to do art in art therapy class. DUH! But that hadn't occurred to me. Guess what? Now I LOVE ART! Why? Because art isn't about the end product. It's about the process and how it makes you feel (I can hear my professor in my head. She only said that about 1000X Smile). I also love that now art has no rules. I had a stupid OT in elementary that used to make me color things in the same direction (it looks better) and was a stickler that I colored things in completely without white space. Who gives a rats ass? I've been specifically shading things in loosely and coloring in random directions just because I can.

I had put myself under a blogging ban for a week to make sure my 100th post was today, and I wasn't doing so well. I needed to write. So I did what I did the last time I wasn't blogging so much-- ART. This time I stuck exclusively to mandalas. I don't think I'd do the greatest job at explaining what a mandala is, so look at for a much better explanation.

My art therapy textbook talked about a study done with children awaiting medical procedures. It turns out that mandalas reduce both blood pressure and heart rate. They made kids less anxious. I didn't like mandalas the first time I tried one, but they seemed to grow on me. They made me feel better this last week. You'll notice the mandalas lining this post (bad camera phone pictures--sorry).

The first mandala I did on 12/10 (top left) is abstract like most mandalas are and made with the Crayola kids pick colors in my 64 crayon box. I find those to be very cheerful and the names are cute. It was inspired from this mandala that I did last spring (first one on the right) that had been sitting under my bed.

Next on the left I did another Mandala using the kid picks colors (2nd on left), still sticking with the abstract. From there I went to this blue and green mandala which I titled World of Holes (right above). It's important to note here that it is impossible to interpret the meaning and intent behind someone's art without talking to the artist. I did this in December, and it's round. Most people would think that it's supposed to be a Christmas ornament (you can tell better in person where it's not so washed out). It's not. I'm Jewish. Here it is also to note that in doing art therapy it is very important to just let your mind go where it goes. I wanted to stick with the abstract lines, and thus drew grey wavy lines. You know when you underline something wavy and then put little dots in between the waves? That's where the holes came in, albeit bigger then when you underline. I don't know why I colored it blue and green. I just did. But when I was finished I decided it looked like the world. This piece has some hidden very personal meaning that I don't wish to share. The ones with meaning always have a title...

Then I did this grey piece with flowers (left above). It's titled Pill Flowers. I got inspiration to do it by looking at the flowers on my comforter (they look nothing like this though). Pill Flowers is both medical art therapy and a utilization of assistive tech (low tech). I knew I wanted overlapping flowers of similar size and shape and without a circle in the middle. But I didn't know how to do it. I looked around my room. A pill bottle cap! of course. They're little enough and flat enough that I can see what my hand is doing when doing the petals on the far side of the flower. I find it weird though that the snap cap I grabed is from my lamictal bottle. I've been having issues with that lately. A subliminal message perhaps? I like this piece so much I just may frame it.

Since art therapy has no rules, why not extend out from your mandala, like the teapot I did with oil pastels awhile ago (on right), or draw a scene like the watermelon I did with chalk pastels for art therapy homework (left), or Rubber Duckie You're the One that I did last year with markers? I don't know why I felt the need to do Home Sweet Clean last December when I was really depressed and not leaving my room or talking to people. Or maybe I do... I did a piece a few days after most of these, which I havent taken a picture of. It's titled Sleep/Facial Disfigurement. If you know me in real life, you know why. For some more mandalas that delve into my psyche, see my post about art from last December. What is that white blob in the first picture in that post? No one's got it yet. Any more guesses?

I would also like to note that I don't just stick to mandalas all the time. Below I have a horse head, 4-leaf clover & horseshoe I did with oil pastels on November 3rd. Do you think it will bring me luck? I also have the front of a recipe card holder I did last summer. I made it out of an index card holder, tissue paper, clip art, and some mod podge.

How could I possibly end a post without including some DISABILITY PRIDE?!?! Below I have Free Our People done November 3rd, and Wheelchair Pop Art done for art therapy homework.

Monday, December 8, 2008

My "Hard Times" Song

This week's edition of the disability blog carnival (to be published Thursday) will be hosted by Shiloh over at Sunny Dreamer. The theme is "favorite texts for hard times (songs, poems, scriptures, quotes, ...). This blog carnival theme was pretty easy for me. Quite possibly the easiest carnival to write on. I've only listened to my "hard times song" a thousand times in the last year, and probably hundreds of times last fall alone.

Every few months I get sick of all of the songs on my Ipod (all 1888 of them) and MUST purchase a new CD through Itunes. Last Sept (07) my purchase was the Grey's Anatomy season 3 CD. My former roommates got me completely addicted to the show, and anyone who watches knows how absolutely awesome the background music is. At the time I was looking for something upbeat and fast to match my mania and calm my workshop anxiety. The fact that most (if not all) of the songs are indie/not well known appealed to me as well. What I found though, more then 2 great fast upbeat songs and other interesting mid-tempo songs, was a great slow song. My "hard times song" is Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson (see you tube video and lyrics below). I don't love the scenes from Grey's, I find them rather distracting, but she apparently hasn't produced a music video for the song.

The storm is coming but I don't mind
People are dying, I close my blinds
All that I know is I'm breathing now
I want to change the world
Instead I sleep
I want to believe in more than you and me
But all that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now
All that I know is I'm breathing
All I can do is keep breathing.
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing
All we can do is keep breathing now

I would like to write some deep dark long winded post about how this song connects to me and what it means to me, but I just can't do it. The fact of the matter is that the connection is just too obvious. Right after the workshop was over I went into a severe depression and couldn't get out of bed.

"I want to change the world/ Instead I sleep/ I want to believe in more than you and me/ But all that I know is I'm breathing/ All I can do is keep breathing"

What's more obvious then that? All I was doing at the time was sleeping, and anyone who knows me in real life can tell you how much I want to change the world. I want to work with 'crip kids' as a 'child empowerment specialist' (anyone who's going, 'what the heck is that?' I completely made it up, and will not reveal what the job will entail. You'll steal my fantastic idea...) I played the song over and over and sometimes it was the only thing that kept/stopped me from crying. "All I [could] do was keep breathing."

So that's my "hard times song." Even last week I was having a bad day and crawled into bed with my Ipod and played the song over and over. Sometimes all you can do is breathe, and that's ok. Eventually you'll change the world.

What's your hard times text?

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