Wheels of Justice campaign

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 9.42.20 PMOlin, T. (2015, July 23). ADAPT activists protesting for accessible transportation in Philadelphia in 1990. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://www.arts.gov/art-works/2015/ada25-disability-rights-through-tom-olins-lens (Originally photographed 1990)

 

This photo, taken by Tom Olin, caught my eye immediately as I was looking for artifacts related to self-advocacy. In black and white, the photo depicts a group of men and women of varying ages, most in wheelchairs. Many of them are holding signs and one of them reads “I CAN’T EVEN GET TO THE BACK OF THE BUS.” These protesters are gathered around in the street next to a bus. The caption reads “ADAPT activists protesting for accessible transportation in Philadelphia in 1990.”

I learned a lot more from this resource than I initially thought I could from a photograph. I first realized that I did not know what “ADAPT” was and decided to look it up. I discovered that it stood for “Americans Disabled for Accessible Public Transit” and was later changed to “Americans Disabled for Attendant Programs Today.” I learned that ADAPT organized the Wheels of Justice campaign in Washington, D.C., in order to ensure the follow-through of transportation provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act. On July 26, 1990, the ADA was passed by Congress and signed by the President. It ordered all public buses to be wheelchair accessible. This resource is relevant to my research because it provided me with a visual of what self-advocacy can potentially look like. I recognize that it does not always come in the form of protest, but it is not unrealistic.

 

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Stop Trying to Be Normal Already

black_venetian_style_masquerade_party_mask_W-2802B__03987.1466125598.500.750Roggli, L. (2016). Stop Trying to Be Normal Already. ADDitude, 17(1), 30.

This short article comes from a magazine that is produced and distributed with the purpose of empowering individuals with Attention Deficit Disorder and their families. This particular article talks about how many times individuals with ADHD put on “masks” in order to appear more “normal.” The writer discusses the seven most popular masks and goes on to say that when an individual has been “wearing” one of them for a long time, it can be difficult to release it. It is important to let your “Authentic Self” shine, surround yourself with people who love you, and give yourself time to adjust.

One thing I learned from this article was that some people with ADD put on “The Perfectionist” mask and work hard to overcompensate for ADHD by displaying control issues. Another mask I was not aware of was “The Superhero,” and the wearer is constantly trying to win people over by doing favors for people and never asking for any help for himself/ herself. I recognize that not everybody with ADHD will fall under one of the categories listed, and may not even be wearing a “mask” at all. However, this resource helps me to understand some of the possibilities I may be facing as a teacher. It has shed light on some of the perspectives that I need to understand in order to embed confidence building in my teaching.

The IEP Process Explained

Article link: The IEP Process Explained

IEP-SHirtThe Individualized Education Program Process in Special Education. (n.d.). Retrieved June 26, 2017, from http://www.specialeducationguide.com/pre-k-12/individualized-education-programs-iep/the-iep-process-explained

 

This article summarizes and explains the IEP process. It starts by giving a brief account of how the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) came to be and how the purpose of the IEP process is to focus on helping the student reach his or her full potential. The article covers how to determine eligibility for services by listing the 13 categories under which a child can receive services and by explaining how children can be evaluated for eligibility. The second part of the article explains the components of the IEP, such as who attends the meeting and what goes into the document. Explanations of present levels of performance, offer of FAPE, academic and/or behavioral goals, accommodations and modifications, transition plans, signature pages and meeting notes are all provided in this section along with a brief description of what happens at the meeting. Finally, it is stressed that lines of communication between IEP team members should remain open throughout the school year, not exclusively during the IEP meeting.

I am familiar with almost all of the information in this article as I have been learning about IEPs extensively for the past year. However, I was able to refresh my memory about timelines for actions that must be taken in the IEP process, such as “An initial IEP (the first one) must be in place within 30 days of the evaluation meeting determining eligibility.” Through this article, I was also connected with several other resources that can help me advance my knowledge of the IEP process. It is important for me as a Resource Specialist to understand this process, not only because it is my job, but in order to educate my students about IEPs and how they can contribute to their own.

DREDF: The Blog

DREDF: The Blog

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 9.59.33 PMTischer, I., Wong, A., Stein, K., Nold, D., & Mayerson, A. B. (n.d.). DREDF: The Blog. Retrieved June 26, 2017, from https://dredf.org/web-log/

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) is an organization that was founded in 1979 and serves as a civil rights law and policy center. The organization is run by individuals with disabilities and guardians. DREDF: The Blog contains posts from various individuals about a wide variety of topics within the realm of disability advocacy. Some of the most recent blog post titles include: “My Medicaid, My Life” and “Universal Design, Accessibility, and the Streets of Lima, Peru.” There was one blog post with a title and snippet that caught my eye and caused me to read it in it’s entirety. The post was called “No Roll-Backs On My Civil Rights: A Past Plaintiff on Opposing H.R. 620, the ADA Notification Act” and was written by Ingrid Tischer, a woman with muscular dystrophy which requires her to take advantage of sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act that require accommodations in public facilities. She recounts an experience that occurred in 2013 when she and her husband stayed in an “ADA-accessible” hotel room that did not actually meet regulations.

One thing I learned from Tischer was how much intimidation and humiliation contributes to the process of filing a lawsuit for these types of experiences. Tischer talks about having to share very personal information, such as the manner in which she urinates in order for investigations to take place. This resource also inspired me to look further into H.R. 620 and see how it applies to this story. I can sympathize with the author who feels that the language of the law is contradictory. On the one hand, it holds adults living with disabilities responsible for educating business owners about ADA access violations, but on the other hand it implies that the ADA is too complex for business owners to always be in compliance. This resource helped me to realize that as important as it is to be educated on methods of self-advocacy, we cannot always hold people with disabilities and their guardians responsible for upholding the law. There must be a better way.

“Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

Here’s the link to the music video: “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

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Bedingfield, N., Brisebois, D., & Rodrigues, W. (2004). [Recorded by N. Bedingfield]. Unwritten [CD]. BMG Music.

“Unwritten” by English singer and songwriter, Natasha Bedingfield was the most played song on U.S. radio during the year 2006. It has been used as the theme song for The Hills, a reality television series and made it to number five on the Billlboard Hot 100, earning Bedingfield a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. “Unwritten” is a very popular song from my childhood/ early adolescent years, and one that I always felt was very empowering. However, being only about twelve when this song reached it’s peak, I never delved into why I felt it was so powerful. It isn’t until now that I listen to the song and examine it’s lyrics:

I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined
I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, oh, oh

I break tradition, sometimes my tries, are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten
The rest is still unwritten

Oh, yeah, yeah

During this process, I learned that there is not a lot of information as to what inspired Bedingfield to write this song and what specific meaning she was trying to convey to her listeners. This leads me to assume that the artist wanted the meaning to be left up to interpretation. In my own interpretation of the song, I learned that it can be used to empower young people to take control of their own lives and take action in standing up for themselves and what they believe is right. It can be understood to mean that the spirit of life is to embrace your ability to create your own path. This resource has helped me to understand how music can be used to spark enthusiasm for self-advocacy.

Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

Watch the video: Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 2.49.51 PM

Grandin, T. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2017, from https://www.ted.com/talks/temple_grandin_the_world_needs_all_kinds_of_minds#t-1154938

In this TED talk, livestock handling designer and autism activist, Temple Grandin, summarizes her perspective on the benefits of focusing more on students with autism. She gives explanations about how kids with autism can have “different minds” and should never be lumped together as being very similar. Grandin says that many of the geniuses who work in Silicon Valley have some form of autism and expresses her frustration with the lack of effort by teachers in finding value in students on the spectrum. She explains that most kids with autism demonstrate one or several “fixations” and that it is important to capitalize on those fixations to find something that the child can excel at.

I have always admired Temple Grandin because of her ability to travel the world and speak to massive audiences about her expertise, despite her noted difficulty with social skills. Each time I listen to her speak or read her writing, I learn something new. In this lecture, I learned that there are three main types of thinking. One of them is photo realistic visual thinking which characterizes people, like Grandin, who think “in pictures.” The second kind of thinking is pattern thinking which characterizes people who are especially gifted in music and math. The third is the verbal mind, which belongs to people who are not as visual, but think using language. Another new piece of information I obtained is that research has shown that the wiring in the brain of a person with autism can look very different from a typical brain. Grandin shows some of her own brain scans as opposed to a “control” subject’s brain. The wiring is color coded and you can see that neurons in the primary visual cortex are much longer in Temple Grandin’s brain! This resource was especially beneficial to my research because it provided me with another successful individual who has a disability, but also serves as an example of someone promoting self-advocacy.

Celebrity Spotlight: How Michael Phelps’ ADHD Helped Him Make Olympic History

Read the article: Celebrity Spotlight: How Michael Phelps’ ADHD Helped Him Make Olympic History

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 1.01.40 PM

Team, T. U. (n.d.). Celebrity Spotlight: How Michael Phelps’ ADHD Helped Him Make Olympic History. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/personal-stories/famous-people/celebrity-spotlight-how-michael-phelps-adhd-helped-him-make-olympic-history

This article gives a brief outline of the life of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, and his experience with ADHD. Phelps remembers having a “bumpy” childhood during which he struggled greatly with inattention and loved being the center of attention. Humorous anecdotes were given about some of the antics Phelps would perform in order to get a reaction out of people. Around the age of 7, Phelps started swimming at a club with his sisters. Contrary to what some might assume, Phelps initially loathed swimming. Eventually, however, he found his comfort zone and by age 10, was a nationally ranked swimmer. It wasn’t until 6th grade that he was diagnosed with ADHD. In 2000, Phelps swam in his first Olympics at age 15 and has medaled at every summer Olympic event since.

One thing that I learned from this article is that in some situations and for some individuals, having ADHD can enhance performance. In Phelps’ case, swimming helped his mind “slow down” and made him feel more in control of himself than when he was sitting in a classroom. He had so much energy that he could swim for three hours every day after school, which undoubtedly helped him to quickly become a great swimmer. Another thing I learned is that aside from being the most decorated Olympian of all time, Phelps has started a foundation with the hopes that he can convert the pool into an outlet for other kids with ADHD and learning issues. This resource has provided me with an initial look into the life of a very successful young individual who has used his self-awareness to propel him to greatness.