Opportunities grow for students with autism, Down syndrome

Like many of his peers, Ben Majewski had a lifelong goal of going to college. Now, the 20-year-old who has Down syndrome and hearing problems is living out his dream despite his disability.

Majewski, a graduate of Newton North High School, is in his first semester at Massachusetts Bay Community College’s Wellesley Hills campus, taking a psychology class in career and life planning, getting tutoring, going to the gym, and making new friends.

“I got a buddy here, he has Down syndrome, he’s a veteran around here,’’ Majewski said. “He’s showing me the ropes, teaching me where everything is, and helping me meet new people.’’

Higher education used to be out of the question for students with intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorders, but now, there are increasing opportunities for such students to go to college in part because of a recent infusion of state and federal funds. In Massachusetts, the Inclusive Current Enrollment Initiative, a partnership between public high schools and seven community colleges that started in 2007, is helping students ages 18 to 22 with intellectual disabilities pursue higher education.

via Opportunities grow for students with disabilities – The Boston Globe.

SafetyNet available in Hillsborough County, Florida

SafetyNet is now available in Hillsborough County, Florida, to help find people with autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Down syndrome and other cognitive conditions who wander.

The same technology used to track animals and cars is now being used to track people.

The Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office uses the technology and says it will save lives.

Sergeant Jeff Massaro listens for a beep because that sound will lead him to a missing person.

“Those old shows where they were tracking migratory patterns of animals, this is the technology,” Massaro said.

While the radio frequency technology is old, it is now being used to find people.Massaro says people with dementia, alzheimer’s, and children that are autistic can benefit from the technology.

via Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office says technology using radio frequency finds people that wander..

Coventry, R.I., using SafetyNet to find missing people

Coventry is the latest community to begin using SafetyNet technology to track down missing people.

On Tuesday, the Coventry Fire Department demonstrated the new SafetyNet system.

Designed for people with Alzhheimer’s Disease, autism, or other cognitive disorders, the SafetyNet system comes with a transmitter that the patient wears on their wrist. If the person goes missing, the fire department can usually locate them within a matter of minutes.

via Coventry using SafetyNet technology to find missing people | WPRI.com.

Massachusetts mother raises Down syndrome awareness

Children with Down syndrome and children without disabilities have more similarities than they have differences.

That’s the message one Taunton mother is bringing to young students, educators and the community at large.

Rebecca Volpe organized the School Buddy Campaign, a fundraising and awareness initiative at Barnum Preschool in Taunton, which ran throughout the month of October. She gave several presentations about Down syndrome at the preschool, which is attended by her five-year-old daughter, Julia, and worked with teachers and students to collect coins for the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, a Down syndrome advocacy group.

via Taunton mother starts coin drive, raises Down syndrome awareness – Taunton, MA – The Taunton Gazette.

Hockey for kids with autism, Down syndrome

Hockey is big in New England – from the Boston Bruins to youth hockey teams. Boys and girls with autism, Down syndrome and  developmental disabilities get their time on the ice, too.

This news video is about a team in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, part of the Pawtucket Pirates Youth Hockey Association.

The Boston Bear Cubs will host the Special Hockey International 2011 tournament in Marlboro, Massachusetts, April 28-30.

Buddy Up Tennis for Down syndrome

Dozens of children and young adults with Down syndrome participate in an Ohio tennis program just for them — Buddy Up Tennis. The program pairs each young athlete with a volunteer buddy. The athletes play tennis for an hour and work on fitness for a half-hour each week. The program, which began at Columbus’ Wickertree Tennis and Fitness recently expanded to Columbus and The Club at Harper’s Point.

Organizers would like to see Buddy Up Tennis go national. Sounds like a good idea!

YouTube – Buddy Up Tennis for Down Syndrome – NBC 4 News.

Down syndrome mom answers questions

In an effort to raise awareness and understanding of Down syndrome, Krista answered some questions about Down syndrome for visitors to her blog, One Beautiful Life. We will share two here and suggest you follow the link to her blog to see her other thoughtful answers. (We love her answer on how to explain Down syndrome to children.)

Claire asked: I guess what I want to ask is, how can I (and my family) support you and other families that have a child with DS? What can we do to help? How can we get involved in raising awareness?

And then Christine asked: What can we do to support families who have someone with DS? And are there unintentional things we might ask or say that are offensive or unsupportive?

Okay Claire and Christine, I am going to let you in on a little DS secret. When somebody says to me, “Oh, I knew someone with Down Syndrome and they were just so sweet and joyful.” (and it happens often) I diplomatically smile and nod but really I want to say, “That may or may not be true and quite frankly, I have bigger plans for my daughter than being sweet- that’s what tootsies rolls are for.” So how can you help? Treat people with DS with all the same respect and intellect that you would treat anyone else. They all may appear to have the same cover, but the book contents are completely different. Did you know that some individuals with DS are married, have jobs and live completely independent lives? Practically speaking, if you know a family with a child with DS, rest and understanding is huge. We are investing 24/7 like other parents but in much more intentional ways – surgeries, therapy, exercises, speech, ot, physio, the list goes on. Those around us need to know it is a major part of our lives and it isn’t going away so we need to talk about it….a lot and we need time to rest.

Financially speaking there are many ways. The CDSS acts as Canada’s number one voice for individuals with DS. They fight for inclusion, equal opportunities and advocacy. Local organizations like Ups and Downs, provide community and education to families in their areas, and an organization like PREP focuses on education, speech and occupational therapy for kids with DS. All of which need financial support. Another way, is Reece’s Rainbow. DS kids need families to love them! And give them the support they need, but most of these kids are institutionalized by the age of 4. You can sponsor a child, which adds to the grant available to the parents that adopt them. See their Angel Tree on the side of my blog.

via One Beautiful Life: Answers.

‘Glee’ actresses with Down syndrome to be honored

Two actresses with Down syndrome who appear in recurring roles on Fox’s “Glee” will be recognized Thursday for positively portraying individuals with developmental disabilities.

The Arc will present Lauren Potter and Robin Trocki with the group’s first-ever Inclusion and Image Award during the advocacy organization’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla.

Potter and Trocki were selected for the honor for “breaking down barriers, increasing awareness and challenging stereotypes” through their roles on the show, according to officials at The Arc.

“We wanted to commend the actresses and the show in particular for providing positive portrayals of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Laura Hart, a spokeswoman for The Arc. “They’ve been seen throughout the world both on the show and as people and actresses who had a dream and have fulfilled it.”

On the show, Potter, 20, plays Becky Jackson, a high school cheerleader who’s taken under the wing of the squad’s hard-nosed coach Sue Sylvester. Meanwhile, Trocki portrays Sylvester’s sister, Jean.

Both women tried out for the roles on “Glee” last year after being contacted by a talent agency run by the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles.

via ‘Glee’ Actresses With Down Syndrome To Be Honored – Disability Scoop.

Man with Down syndrome opens restaurant, offers food and hugs

There’s a new restaurant in Albuquerque and while the food is good, the hottest thing on the menu isn’t food—it’s a hug.

Restaurant owner Tim Harris wants to offer a welcoming environment where you can grab something to eat while meeting friends. He didn’t let Down Syndrome get in the way of achieving his dream of opening a restaurant at Academy and Wyoming in northeast Albuquerque.

via Local restaurant serves unique specialty | KOB.com.

Down syndrome & autism dual diagnosis

Up until just a few years ago, it was thought that a person with Down syndrome could not have autism. Well that perspective has changed dramatically.

Just a few years ago…less than 10 years ago, the mother a child with Down syndrome would simply be told that her child had Down syndrome with a severe cognitive impairment.

They would make no effort to find out the cause of the supposed cognitive impairment.

A mother might be told, ” This is part of what happens with ‘low-functioning’ Down syndrome”.

We now know that this is not true.

It turns out that children with Down syndrome are even more pre-disposed to have autism spectrum disorder than the rest of the population.

via Down Syndrome & Autism Dual Diagnosis.