Social Networking and Disability

April 6, 2011

Social Networking and Disability

Quest | March 31, 2011 | By Michael P. Murphy

When I graduated from high school in 1984, there were no tearful farewells to friends and girlfriends while a New Wave soundtrack played in the background like some John Hughes movie.

Frankly, I was relieved to be free to start my writing career, and hopefully be heralded as the next William Gibson. When my science fiction failed to sell, I switched to writing thrillers and, consequently, hoped to be called the next Frederick Forsyth. I’ve been so busy trying to break into the literary (or pulp) world that I’ve never spent much time poring over scrapbooks.

Now that I’m in my 40s, and finding it increasingly difficult to relate to everything from popular music to slang, I wonder whatever happened to the people with whom I’d swap cassettes (that’s how we listened to music in the pre-download days), trade comic books, gripe about school, and gather at my house for weekend-long Dungeons & Dragons sessions.

Like many with disabilities, travel is pretty much impossible for me, so I’ve never attended any class reunions. However, I’ve been able to overcome feelings of isolation through the use of modern technology. In this case, I’m talking about social networking.

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Apple iPad Helps Give Voice To Those Who Can’t Speak

April 5, 2011

Apple iPad Helps Give Voice To Those Who Can’t Speak

FOX 8 (Cleveland) | April 5, 2011 | By Debra Alfarone

When you think of Apple’s top-selling “it” product, the iPad, you probably think of long lines for the product at Apple stores, and maybe even the wealthy techno-yuppies that carry it around, but the iPad is also being used in a more altruistic manner to speak for those who can’t.

Speech therapists at Lincoln Community School in Bayonne, New Jersey have been using an iPad complete with Prologuo2go software ( to teach autistic children, many of whom don’t speak, to communicate.

Speech therapist Carmella Barbieri works closely with the children, “It’s great, so he can express a sentence to his teacher or to his peers and can communicate with others through devices like this.”

The device can spell out commands and requests and speak them aloud, such as “I need apple juice'” or “I need to go to the bathroom.”

Principal Dennis Degnan says the iPad has been a huge success, “It’s automatic feedback and it makes them feel good about themselves.”

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Author’s style and “robots” inspire students

March 16, 2011

Author’s style and “robots” inspire students | March 15, 2011

Cool hip tunes blasted the library at Claxton Elementary School as author Sigmund Brouwer of Nashville, entertained the students with his Rock -n-Roll Literacy Show.

He says, “Good songs, like good stories make you feel something. That’s my pitch to kids. Grab a story and you get lost in it like you get lost in a good song.”

One of the students Connor Murphy has been reading a series of bBouwer’s books called Robot Wars.

“They are about a kid (in a wheelchair) who can control robots through his brain, and solves the mysteries through his brain,” according to Brouwer.

Lise Murphy says, “It’s been wonderful, “it’s been a great addition to his Christmas gift.”

Connor’s mom says the books were a Christmas gift Connor enjoyed so much, the family tracked down Brouwer to visit the school.

“Connor got hooked on them, he and my husband read them nonstop for about two months.”

Lise says Connor can easily relate to the stories, he has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and lost most use of his muscles, but has plenty of brain power, like the boy in the books.

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FightSMA Marks 20th Birthday with New Home on the Web

February 18, 2011

FightSMA Marks 20th Birthday with New Home on the Web

Press Release | February 18, 2011

(Richmond, Virginia) – Parents fighting spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic killer of children under two, need help and information. Recognizing that need, FightSMA, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure for SMA, is announcing the launch of its all new website,

“When we set out to redesign, we looked at the enormous amount of information we have for SMA parents, and hoped to make it more accessible and easy to find,” said FightSMA co-founder and president, Martha Slay. “The new website features better categorization and a more flexible design that will help us in our fight, and a new website is a great way to celebrate our birthday!”

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Family turns grief into a gift for toddler

January 28, 2011

Family turns grief into a gift for toddler

Global | January 28, 2011 | By Linda Hoang

Click HERE for the video.

When Kaitlyn Harapchuk was three months old, she was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that affects muscle movement.

Doctors told Kaitlyn’s mother Hali that she probably wouldn’t live to be a year old. But Hali wouldn’t accept it.

“There’s always miracles,” she said.

Hali found special doctors and support groups that could help her daughter live well past the one year benchmark she had originally been given.

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New Test Finds 580 Fatal Diseases Before Conception

January 23, 2011

New Test Finds 580 Fatal Diseases Before Conception

ABC | January 18, 2011 | By SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES

Craig Benson thought his 5-year-old daughter just needed eye glasses when she complained about not being able to see the television set in 2008. But after consulting specialists, the family learned their beautiful daughter had a fatal neurodegenerative disorder — Batton disease.

“In an instant, a word we had never heard of changed everything,” said Benson, 48, and CEO of an Austin, Texas, biotech company. He and his wife Charlotte never knew they were carriers of the rare disease.

Christiane, now 8 and legally blind, faces a grim prognosis: seizures, memory loss and finally death by her late teens or early 20s. She is one of about 700 other Batton cases in the country.

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Online system allows boy to attend class

January 8, 2011

Online system allows boy to attend class | January 8, 2011

In discussing the special arrangements for teaching Grand Gorge kindergartner Dylan Utter, Mary Lucas, Roxbury Central School Committee on Special Education chairwoman, said that this is the first time the school has dealt with such a situation. Utter is unable to attend class because of the effects of spinal muscular atrophy.

She didn’t know of a similar situation in the Otego-Northern Catskills Board of Cooperative Educational Services district.

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Santa Makes Terminally ill Child’s Wishes Come True with an iPad

December 27, 2010

Santa Makes Terminally ill Child’s Wishes Come True with an iPad

Chip Chick | December 27, 2010 | By Ali Heriyanto

The iPad has been used in so many different ways in its relatively short time on the market. It’s not only enhanced our portable entertainment experience but also aided us in ways when it comes to work or just socially. But probably the most touching use of the iPad that we’ve seen yet, is with Nora. Nora is only 2 years old and unfortunately suffers from SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy). She received an iPad from a generous person who donated it to her this Christmas. This iPad has unsurprisingly helped make Nora’s 2nd Christmas even more special. Every day is precious to Nora and her parents, so every little bit of pleasure this child experiences only helps her remaining days on earth, no matter how few they may be. The interesting thing to observe is that even though Nora is seriously disabled, she still lights up at the sight of the iPad and figures out how to use it within minutes… just the simplest programs have engaged her.

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iPad is Truly Magic, Revolutionary for Disabled Boy

December 19, 2010

iPad is Truly Magic, Revolutionary for Disabled Boy

tom’s Guide | December 19, 2010 | By Marcus Yam

Touch screen devices existed long before Apple decided to utilize the technology for its iPhones, iPods and iPads, but its iOS devices have hit the mainstream in a capacity to reach everybody – and we mean every body.

Those with disabilities that keep them away from computing through traditional inputs, such as the dexterity-requiring keyboard and mouse, often find much to like about touch screens. Touch screens make it simple, as the user simply must touch or flick to navigate.

7-year-old Owen Cain from Brooklyn, NY has suffered from spinal muscular atrophy Type 1, a debilitating motor-neuron disease, since infancy. Doctors say that he would be paralyzed for life and that he would die at about two years of age.

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Ajax student uses webcam to join peers in classroom

December 17, 2010

Ajax student uses webcam to join peers in classroom | December 17, 2010 | By REKA SZEKELY

AJAX — Like any other Grade 1 student, Tristen Moses gets excited about going to school.

But instead of a traditional classroom, Tristen logs on via webcam from his living room where he can see his classmates at Bolton C. Falby Public School and his classmates can see him.

It’s all part of an innovative program created by Tristen’s teachers and the Durham District School Board and a team at the Grandview Children’s Centre.

Tristen has spinal muscular atrophy and was diagnosed with the condition when he was just 17 months old.

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