Program helps developmentally disabled succeed in college

As a child, Megan McCormick of Lexington was told by her parents that her Down syndrome meant she would “have to work much harder” than those without disabilities to achieve what she wanted.

Her parents, James and Malkanthie McCormick, both physicians, never treated her any differently than her five older brothers and sisters though, a fact she credits with helping her graduate high school in 2007 with a 3.75 grade point average, and give her the confidence to enroll in Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington.

“It’s hard, but I’m pushing on,” said the 22-year-old, who so far is earning As and Bs, and is focused on becoming a certified occupational therapy assistant.

McCormick said her success is due in part to a program run by the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute called the Postsecondary Inclusion Partnership. The program provides support for individuals with intellectual and related developmental disabilities to attend regular college classes at postsecondary institutions around the state. Those disabilities can range from Down syndrome to autism, and also can include individuals who have experienced brain injuries.

via Program helps developmentally disabled succeed in college | courier-journal.com | The Courier-Journal.

Colorado Springs center to teach life skills to autistic, developmentally disabled people

The tidy apartment near Constitution Avenue and Union Boulevard has it all: washer and dryer, stove, microwave and refrigerator, a TV and sitting area, a furnished bedroom and a handicapped-accessible bathroom.

All that’s missing are the 24 teens and young adults expected to occupy it — not as tenants, but as students.The apartment is one of several real-life teaching rooms at the Foundation for Successful Living, a new center that aims to give autistic and developmentally disabled people ages 14 to 21 the social and vocational tools they’ll need to transition from classrooms into their communities.

At the apartment, the students will learn to do laundry, make a bed, clean, plan meals, cook and keep a budget. In the room with the ersatz bank and post office, they’ll get lessons in handling money, keeping a checkbook and sending mail. The grocery store is where they’ll shop for canned goods and other ingredients for the meals they’ll prepare in the apartment, and the bakery is the place where they’ll practice ordering from a menu, paying for their food, counting change and beefing up their social skills.

via Center to teach life skills to autistic, developmentally disabled people | microwave, constitution, apartment – Local – Colorado Springs Gazette, CO.

Down syndrome patients are living longer despite health challenges

Dr. Roger Ladda, a pediatrician and clinical geneticist at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, said many families who have a child with Down syndrome find it is not the devastating event they expected.

“There is the recognition that the perfect baby they were expecting didn’t arrive, but our experience is that parents rapidly adapt,” he said. “Fundamentally, that general perception about Down syndrome is founded on misinformation of the ancient past leading to anticipation of a much worse condition. The outlook for children with Down syndrome is really quite positive. Their survivability and quality of life has been transfigured in the last 40 years.”

People with Down syndrome are living longer now — to age 50 and well beyond — thanks to advances in medical technology that can repair many of the congenital malformations they were born with, Ladda said.

“The heart is the major issue,” Ladda said. “Forty to 60 percent of Down syndrome babies have heart problems, and it’s essential that they be evaluated in the newborn period.” Often the babies suffer from an atrial septal defect — a hole between chambers of the heart, which can usually be repaired with surgery, he said.

via Down syndrome patients are living longer despite health challenges | PennLive.com.

Down syndrome dancer is headed to Disney World

Thalia Arvelaez, a teenager with Down syndrome, is at a dance camp in Tampa this week. In mid-July, she’ll be at Disney World, dancing for the National Down Syndrome Congress. In November, she heads to Argentina to dance and raise Down syndrome awareness. Thalia’s teacher says she is a joy to watch. Her mother says Thalia loves applause — and when people give her flowers!

Tampa, Florida – Among the tapping toes at this summer camp class at the Patel Conservatory, you’ll find a pair of fancy feet belonging to Thalia Arbelaez. She loves to dance-all types.

“I like ballet, hip-hop, jazz, tap,” Thalia starts ticking off the list.

Thalia knows she looks a bit different than her classmates and she refers to herself as “special”. The 17-year-old has Down syndrome, a genetic condition that changes a child’s development, and she was born with a host of health problems.

Alicia Arbelaez recalls what doctors told her shortly after her daughter’s birth. “The doctor come to tell me, ‘this child is never going to walk.’”

But walk Thalia did and dance lessons at age 2 soon followed.

via Down syndrome dancer builds bridges with her feet | Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota, FL | WTSP.com 10 Connects.