Sunday, June 30, 2013

Amanda Bynes, Drake Twitter: Actress Criticized For Using Downs Syndrome Reference In Slam Against Rapper

Amanda Bynes has made plenty of headlines for tweeting about how ugly (her new go-to insult) various celebrities are. But she may have finally gone too far when she made a reference to Down Syndrome in one of her latest tweets. 
The less-than-tasteful move came when she was dissing rapper Drake, her favorite subject for Twitter assaults. This time she posted a picture of the rapper along with the description: "They airbrushed @drake to make his eyes look like he doesn't have down syndrome!" Unsurprisingly, many were offended and the tweet was quickly removed. Tweets at the former actress referenced the post as "vile" and even "evil." 
Bynes later took to Twitter to issue an apology but apparently failed to notice what people were actually mad about. 
"I'm sorry about the tweets I said about @drake I didn't mean what I said," she tweeted. "I hope to become friends with him instead of smashing him!"
No comment on the use of Downs Syndrome as a comparison point however. Admittedly, Bynes' passive-aggressive behavior toward the rapper is the real attention grabber in this situation. The former starlet has wavered between having a crush on and totally hating Drake. Previously, the actress was all up-ons, requesting that the rapper "destroy" a certain feminine body part of hers. Presumably when he didn't give her a call after the inviting tweets, she began calling him ugly far more often than she has with other other targets such as Miley Cyrus. 
The ugly-train got a bit uglier when Bynes turned it on her own family Wednesday night. Bynes referred to her own sister as ugly, but it seems like another pseudo-come on to Drake. She was apparently telling the rapper she could still go for despite his ugliness, because her sister is ugly too, and Bynes still loves her, right? The tweet has since been removed. 

from Showbiz Spy by Chloe:
Amanda Bynes is still going strong with her offensive Twitter tirades.
The actress took to the social media site (AGAIN) to claim that Drake has Down syndrome, a tweet that naturally offended it’s users.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

McDonald's Apologizes After Employee Asks Police To Remove Woman With Down Syndrome

McDonald's, the world's largest fast food chain, found itself in hot water this week after an employee in Taiwan mistook a female customer with Down syndrome for a homeless person. The employee then called the police and asked the woman to leave, according to the Focus Taiwan News Channel.
Susan Lu, Operation Vice President for McDonald's Taiwan, reportedly issued an apology at a news conference in Kaohsiung on behalf of the company Wednesday.
"Our staff's treatment of Wang was really inappropriate and we apologize to her for causing her discomfort when she was intending to dine at our store," Lu said. "We are sorry about our failure to meet the expectations of the public."
When contacted for comment by The Huffington Post, Steve Mazeika, the McDonald’s Corporation supervisor of global external communications, reiterated Lu's sentiments.
“We would like to assure you that at McDonald’s, we value and respect all our customers and employees, and we believe every individual deserves great service in our restaurants,” Mazeika wrote in an email. “We have sincerely apologized to the customer and her family for the unfortunate experience, and at the same time, our colleagues in Taiwan are thoroughly investigating the matter."
This is the second time in the last two months that McDonald's has garnered criticism for offending customers with disabilities. In April, McDonald’s apologized for a Big Mac advertisement that some say mocked mental illness. The company, for its part, says the ad had not been approved.
Pizza Hut separately found itself in trouble earlier this month for a commercial that some say poked fun at people with visual impairments.

McDonald’s Taiwan Apology After Calling Cops To Deny Down Syndrome Customer
from the Inquisitr:
In the June 22 incident, a woman with Down syndrome named Wang tried to place her order at an outlet in Kaohsiung. The manager instead called the police to have her removed. According to a report in Focus Taiwan, he accused her of being a homeless person who was shouting and disturbing the other patrons.
However, many members of disabled groups believe that he was actually practicing discrimination against the woman.

Friday, June 28, 2013

graduate with Down syndrome ready for future

by Phil Gerber from the Observer-Tribune:
Overcoming challenges is nothing new for Timothy Taverna and the 20-year-old Long Valley youth is now on the cusp of one of his biggest challenges.
Taverna, who has Down syndrome,  graduated on Thursday, June 13, from  ECLC, a private, non-profit school formed in 1970 in Chatham for children 5 to 21 with special needs including severe learning or language disabilities, autism spectrum or multiple disabilities.
“It’s been very positive for Tim and for us,” said his mother, Laura. “He cried at graduation. He was bawling his eyes out and it made all of us cry too.”
The graduates all had the chance to address their peers at graduation. The young Taverna spoke about his goal of one day being married and living in Long Valley.
Mrs. Taverna said her son made friends and that his potential was realized and appreciated during his years at ECLC. It wasn’t always that way.
In 2001, the youth was a fourth grader at the Old Farmers School and was preparing to attend the middle school. His years in elementary school were often difficult as there were no other children with whom he could relate.
He enrolled at ECLC in Chatham in 2001, one of 212 children ranging from 5 to 21-years-old and grouped by abilities. And he never looked back as he’s had opportunities that were formerly not possible. He ran for the ECLC student council two years ago, but though he lost, it was an important experience, his mother said.
And he has learned critical life skills like how to buy train tickets and take the train to Summit or to New York City. And there have been weekly experiences that typical children might take for granted, like bowling or going for lunch at Burger King.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Middle Grade Mystery Book Featuring a Girl Spy with Down Syndrome – Sam’s Top Secret Journal

from Special Needs Book Review:
Folks at Special Needs Book Review are pleased to introduce you to a great middle grade mystery book, Sam’s Top Secret Journal: Book One – We Spy  by Dr. Sean Adelman. What is unique about this middle reader chapter book is that the main character is a tween with Down syndrome (DS). Dr. Adelman’s spy girl, Sam, is based on his own daughter, now 16 yrs, who has Down syndrome.
Teachers and parents will be happy to find a mystery/adventure for preteens and teens that meshes bullying, disabilities and a tween girl as main character. This is not a “how to” book, but a fun book for all kids to read and be introduced to a person with Down syndrome.
The author wrote he wanted to create characters that people could relate to and be inspired by.  In all of the reading he did with his kids he did not come across a story with a main character with Down syndrome.  Sam is a wonderful character and all the things she does in the books are based on his daughter’s abilities.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

10-year-old girl has dream come true, meets Justin Bieber

from ABC 10 News:
A 10-year-old girl from Hemet had her dream come true: meeting Justin Bieber.
Marisa Cox met Bieber backstage before his concert at the Valley View Casino Center on Saturday.
On Sunday, the singer posted a photo of himself, Marisa and her mother on Twitter with the message, "One of the best parts of the job. Nice meeting you Marisa. Stay strong for me!"
10News caught up with Marisa on Saturday afternoon at the Thairapy Hair Salon in Point Loma as she got all dolled up before the concert.
"She just keeps saying, 'Oh my gosh, so excited,'" said Adele Cox, Marisa's mother. "She doesn't know how to process it all. It's overwhelming."
Marisa was born with Down syndrome and suffers a life-threatening kidney disease following a kidney transplant. Her family told 10News the one thing that kept her spirits up during those long hospital stays was Bieber's music videos.
"I don't know what it is, but there's something about him that makes her feel better and happy, and when she's really, really sick in the hospital, I put this stuff up… it perks her up," said Adele.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shedding Light on Down Syndrome

from Wake Forest University:
Research and internship support aspiring genetic counselor
Newswise — Shortly after birth, Charlie Saffian was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
His sister Eleanor was nine at the time. At first, she didn’t know what to expect of her new baby brother.
“I remember looking around my school cafeteria and thinking there are a lot of people here with special needs, and I know nothing about them,” she said. “I didn’t know what my baby brother was going to be like.”
Day after day, Saffian said she came to realize her brother’s condition, a genetic disorder where an extra chromosome is passed to a child from one of its parents, did not make him any less of a person.
“Charlie does chores like the rest of us and cheers on the Bruins like the rest of us. He beats me at Xbox every day,” she said. “Charlie will take longer to learn how to do multiplication and read, but he is going to be able to do all that on his own time.”
Eleanor Saffian, now a rising senior at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C, said her lifelong relationship with Charlie inspired her to pursue a career as a genetic counselor – a job that will allow her to shed light on misperceptions about Down syndrome and help new parents with a Charlie of their own.

Monday, June 24, 2013

'Miss You Can Do It' pageant lets girls with disabilities know they're all beautiful

by person from FOX news:
We have all heard the expression "You can do it.’ Abbey Curran, former Miss Iowa USA, took that can-do attitude to heart when she made history in 2008 by competing in Miss USA as the first contestant with a physical disability.
Curran, who has cerebral palsy, decided to take pageants a step further, and created the Miss You Can Do It pageant for girls who have disabilities that range from spina bifida and cerebral palsy to Down syndrome.  HBO chronicled the pageant in a documentary of the same name.
“It has just been a crazy journey," Curran told FOX411's In the Zone. "In 2004, I started the pageant. We were pretty small the first few years. It was hard to find contestants. At the same time, was competing in pageants myself and then in 2008 I made history when I won Miss Iowa USA and competed in the Miss USA pageant. Then after that it kind of picked up. It was in People Magazine then Ron here saw a little picture of our first pageant."
It was that little picture that caused filmmaker Ron Davis to reach out to Curran.
“The one little picture told it all; five, six little girls on stage beaming with joy and happiness," he said. "The hair on my arms went up, but I did want to make sure it was not 'Toddlers and Tiaras' in wheelchairs."
The Miss You Can Do It pageant could not be more different from a glitzy, over-the-top 'Toddlers and Tiaras' pageant. Although the contestants don casual and formal wear, and grace the stage in hair and make up with an interview portion, the message is everyone is beautiful.
“The pageant is about inspiring girls, motivating them and giving them courage to go out and conquer the world, so this isn’t let’s glue on your fake eyelashes," Curran said. "But at the same time if that makes you feel comfortable and that’s what makes you confident, then go ahead and do it, but really you don’t need it because you already are beautiful."
It is Curran’s hope that her beauty queens will be treated equally one day.
“I really hope that our pageant gets well known," she said, "And people can respect our Miss You Can Do It queen like they would meeting Miss USA or Miss America.”
"Miss You Can Do It" airs Monday on HBO.

Read more:

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mom, daughters charged with starving family member with Down syndrome to death

by Joseph Kohut from the Scranton Times Tribune:
For two years, Robert Gensiak's world was his bedroom.
It was there, his family kept him from doctors, even when his skin cracked and bled and open sores formed from being forced to stay in his child-sized bed covered in feces.
And it was there, the 32-year-old Taylor man with Down syndrome wasted away to 69 pounds because his mother and sisters were starving him to death.
On Wednesday, about three months after Mr. Gensiak died, police charged his mother, Susan Gensiak, 59, of 12 Williams St., and two sisters, Joan, 35, and Rebekah, 24, with murder.
Read the complaint HERE
"This is the worst case of neglect I've seen the last 26 years," said Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola at a press conference Wednesday. "This family, the mother and two sisters, basically let this young man rot to death."
Mr. Gensiak had been weakening and could not walk without assistance by the time the family called an ambulance on March 19 at the urging of his doctor, Paul Remick, D.O., whom they had not taken Mr. Gensiak to visit for two years. Mr. Gensiak was taken to Regional Hospital where doctors said he had severe psoriasis associated with hypothermia. His body temperature was only 92 degrees.
He died March 20, and weighed just 69 pounds, police said.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pope invites a teen with Down syndrome on car for a spin

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has given a 17-year-old boy with Down syndrome the ride of his life — sort of.
Francis invited Alberto di Tullio up onto his open-top Mercedes at the end of his general audience Wednesday, letting him spin around on the pontiff’s white chair while tens of thousands of people looked on.
The boy’s father, Celestino di Tullio, told The Associated Press he choked up when Francis approached his son: ‘‘The pope saw him, embraced him. Then Alberto pointed to the car, and so he brought him up!’’
Perhaps Francis’ eye was caught by the blue-and-white-striped Argentine national soccer jersey Alberto was wearing — a gift that the di Tullio’s parish priest gave him Wednesday morning before they set out from Boiano, near Naples, for the audience.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crazy Hair for A Cause Fundraiser to promote NDSS, Pathfinder Village

From Pathfinder Village and News Channel 34:

Direct care professional Amber Warren of Norwich works each day to present choices and self-determination opportunities for people living with developmental disabilities. As a way to raise awareness for the National Down Syndrome Society, she is organizing a voting contest, Crazy Hair for a Cause, from now through July 16.
In this fun event, Mrs. Warren will gather votes for her next hair color through her National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) fund raiser page, . Voters will pay $5 to vote online through NDSS (through credit card), or may pledge $2 to vote if they use the non-credit card payment option; color choices are orange, bright red, green, blue, yellow and purple. A non-profit organization, NDSS is the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome, with headquarters in Manhattan.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

girl with Down syndrome, 12, beaten up by gang in park attack

A 12-year-old with Down syndrome has been hospitalised by a vicious girl gang who beat her up in a park.
The youngster was playing in a local park in Bolton, Greater Manchester, when she was assaulted by a group of older girls.
The girl was taken to Manchester Children's Hospital with a serious head injury.
At first she said she had fallen off a swing after the incident on Wednesday.
But her family later reported to police on Friday that she had been attacked.
The nasty assault happened in Bobby Heywood Park, Great Lever, at 7.30pm on Wednesday, June 12.
Police are now appealing for anyone who may have been in the park at the time, or has any information about what happened, to contact them.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Children, adults with disabilities learn to ride at iCan Bike camp

by Lauren Roth from the Orlando Sentinel:
Zane Paul, 16, had never learned to ride a bicycle. His father died of cancer when Zane was 4, and he was too scared to try riding after that.
When he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at the end of third grade, his mother thought he would never learn to ride.
"I figured that was not the worst thing. He walks; he talks," said his mother, Debbie Medina.
But when she found out that the Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida was sponsoring a week of iCan Bike camp, she signed up immediately.
The camp travels the country teaching bike-riding skills to disabled children and adults ages 8 and older. It first stopped in Orlando last year.
Monica Chandler brought her two older sons to camp then. This year, she brought her oldest back and enrolled her two youngest sons.
Tyler, 12, has Down syndrome; Ethan, 10, has Tourette's syndrome; and twins Wesley and Logan, 8, have developmental delays.
On Friday, the last day of camp, both Wesley and Logan were riding two-wheelers without a spotter.
Chandler's eyes widened as she saw Wesley's spotter back off for the first time. He pedaled solo across the parking lot at Freedom High School. "Good job, Wesley!" she shouted.
"Can you believe it?" she said to the other parents. "He was only on training wheels a few times, and now he's by himself."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free Webinar: Understanding Down Syndrome Research and How You Can Help

Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Global Down Syndrome Foundation and D.A.D.S Webinar:
Understanding Down Syndrome Research and How You Can Help

 On Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 5 p.m. MST, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and D.A.D.S. (Dads Appreciating Down Syndrome) are co-organizing an exciting webinar – "Understanding the Basics of Down Syndrome Research and How You Can Help."
The webinar will feature two of our nationally renowned scientists from the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, Executive Director Dr. Tom Blumenthal, and Director of Alzheimer's Research Dr. Huntington Potter. They will present an overview of current, important research aimed at benefitting people with Down syndrome.
Tom Blumenthal
Huntington Potter
Tom Blumenthal, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Huntington Potter, Ph.D.
Director of Alzheimer’s Research

From sleep apnea to autoimmune diseases to Alzheimer’s disease, this webinar will highlight the medical and cognitive challenges people with Down syndrome face and how research may hold the key.
Their presentations will also address how you can help given the disparity of research funding that currently exists for people with Down syndrome. Time will be provided for questions and answers.
Register for this important webinar now.
If you have a family member or dear friend with Down syndrome, if you are interested in research affecting people with Alzheimer’s or cognitive delay, this webinar is for you.
There’s no charge, and we hope you can join us for an enlightening and informative evening.
Michelle Sie Whitten
Executive Director, Global Down Syndrome Foundation

Connect with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation online:

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sarah Palin rips Bill Maher over alleged remark insulting son with Down syndrome

by John Jalsevac from
Sarah Palin lost her cool on Twitter today after reports emerged that comedian Bill Maher had insulted her disabled son Trig during a routine this past weekend.
According to Ron Futrell, a former TV host who was present at the gig, Maher referred to Trig as a “retard” in the process of making a joke about him.
When Futrell, who himself has a special needs child, reportedly stood up to the comic in defense of Trig, he was ushered out of the show.
Palin took to Twitter today, calling Maher a “bully,” and saying that “on behalf of all kids whom you hatefully mock in order to make yourself feel big, I hope one flattens your lily white wimpy a#*.”
She also said that she would be in Maher’s “neck of the woods” this weekend. “Care to meet so I can tell you how I really feel?” she asked.
The frequently offensive, liberal host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher has a history of targeting Palin and her son with offensive remarks, on various occasions referring to Palin as a “c—t," a "twat," and a "bimbo."
On another occasion the comic reportedly repeatedly referred to Trig as “it” during a monologue questioning Palin’s qualifications to be vice president, before concluding, “Does anyone in that party understand the concept of pulling out?”
In a post on his blog, Futrell said he was “disgusted and a bit surprised” by Maher’s joke, but even more disgusted by the crowd’s laughter, which he said was “the most disturbing part of all this.”
Maher has in the past referred to himself as "consistently pro-death."

Friday, June 14, 2013

3,000 People to Attend Down Syndrome Convention in Denver - GDSF Scholarships Available!

Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Dear Friends, Families and Supporters,
Exciting news! The 2013 National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention is going to be held in Denver from July 19-21st and Global Down Syndrome Foundation is the Chair of the host committee!
The convention boasts close to NINETY Down syndrome experts from around the world speaking at multiple workshops. The full schedule of workshops and speakers is now available and there is something for everyone.
If you have a family member with Down syndrome or you are a professional serving people with Down syndrome this convention is a must-attend. To ensure access to this wonderful convention that provides a roadmap for children and adults with Down syndrome to reach their potential, the Global Down Syndrome Foundation is offering $50 scholarships off registration. The scholarships will be offered on a first come first serve basis through our Christian Ransom Ball Scholarship Fund.
Please take a moment to register or pass this on to someone who would benefit from this life-changing experience. The discount code LSTMN3D will automatically process your $50 scholarship at registration checkout.
Thanks to our AMAZING 2013 National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention Colorado Host Committee members who are contributing to the success of this convention - Adam’s Camp, ARC Thrift Stores, Colorado Springs Down Syndrome Association, Denver Adult Down Syndrome Clinic, Down Syndrome-Autism Connection, The Rise School of Denver, and the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association.
Michelle Sie Whitten
Executive Director, Global Down Syndrome Foundation
Chair, Colorado Host Committee of the 2013 NDSC Annual Convention

Connect with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation online:

Jon Stoklosa shows his strenght and competes with a pro wrestler

Jon Stoklosa, Special Olympics Athelete bench presses 390 lbs easily and competes with a professional wrestler in arm wrestling.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

DSR Episode #20: Current Challenges – Ages 2, 4 and 7

In this episode Jason, Mark and Rick each give an update on their child and the current challenges they are facing for their age category.
Dexter, the walking man!
Jason’s Dexter is two years old and is now walking.  What a big milestone walking is! Go Dexter!  Jason has been having trouble finding the right preschool for Dexter.  Unfortunately they have had trouble with schools refusing Dexter based on his disability.  Is that even legal?  The worst one was the school that his older child attends.  That school turned Dex down without even evaluating him.  It seems that Jason and Colette have found a home for Dex now and it is working out, but it did bring them a lot of stress.  So I guess Jason’s big challenges are now related to school, but walking was a big milestone that happens in the 2-3 yr range for our kiddos.  Aren’t they cute when they just learn and they stumble around like drunks?  I love that age.
Luke and the nerds
The Owens Family is working on academics.  What nerds we are!  Luke seems to love letters and we have been pushing reading and writing with the Learning Program, Handwriting Without Tears, TV Teacher, magnetic letters, foam letters in the bath and the iPad.  He seems to be sucking it up.  In fact he just pointed out a typo for me while I was writing this.  We have been facing some school issues.  Our county wants to place him in Kindergarten this year even though he barely makes the age cutoff.  We want to hold him back.  We want him to REALLY be ready when he hits kindergarten where we plan to push for full inclusion! Negotiation with school officials I think will be our big challenge going forward.
Kayla and her court
Kayla turned seven years old recently.  Happy birthday, Kayla!  Kayla herself was unavailable for comment but Rick says their ‘current challenges’ revolve around school as well.  Rick’s big thing is communication.  It is important to respond quickly when things aren’t working.  If you put things off and say things like ‘we should just give it another month’, you can quickly miss a whole school year in an sub-optimal environment.  Rick says to keep pushing and go after the things you need.  We also talked about inclusion and what Kayla’s day was like.  Making friends and fitting in is also a challenge.
That’s our episode.  Sorry for the hiatus.  We had two postponements in a row.  One by a guest and one that is all Mark’s fault.  However we have some really great guests coming up so stay tuned!
We are the Down Right Awesome Dads and thanks again for listening!
Download Down Syndrome Radio, Episode #20.
Better yet…subscribe, rate us and leave a comment on iTunes!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Special needs, a special struggle

Diego is a 7-year-old boy with Down syndrome whose parents wish for him to get what most want for their children: the best education possible.
But determining what is the best education for Diego has become an issue of contention between El Centro Elementary School District and Diego’s parents, Keila and Everardo Rodriguez. So much so that since 2009 the district and the Rodriguezes have been at odds over the individualized educational program offered to their youngest son, who is just one of more than 3,000 special education students enrolled in county schools.
Disputes could not be resolved and consequently an unprecedented lawsuit in the Valley’s collective memory recently took place.

In the lawsuit filed late last year, the Rodriguezes asked that Diego be placed in general education with full-time support of an aide. According to the lawsuit’s ruling issued in April, Diego’s parents also contested the amount of therapy provided under his individualized educational program, or IEP, which defines the objectives and services a child with disabilities has. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013 Step Up for Down syndrome, fun for all

ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) – St. Louisans took part in the 2013 step up for Down syndrome, a fundraiser to help those afflicted with Down syndrome.  The event has been the largest such fundraising and awareness event for Down syndrome for the past several years.
In addition to the 1 mile walk, the festivities included food, fun, games and informational booths.

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Hundreds of walkers turned out Sunday morning to raise money and awareness for Down Syndrome.
The 2013 Step Up for Down Syndrome walk was held in Forest Park by The Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis.
This event has been the largest fundraising and awareness event for the organization in the last several years, and encourages people to support all the special people in our lives with Down Syndrome.
Last year, the event brought in more than $200,000, and organizers were hoping for record attendance this year.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Graduation a fork in the road for fraternal twins in Va.

by Robert Anderson from the Roanoke Times:
SALEM, Va.  — Almost every varsity baseball game at Hidden Valley High School over the past three years ended the same way.
With Nic Ratliff striking out.
Each home victory by the Titans from 2011 to '13 was punctuated by an unusual postgame ceremony near home plate.
Ratliff, the Titans' star senior shortstop, would hold a bat menacingly over his right shoulder as his twin brother, Ben, delivered three pitches.
Strike one.
Strike two.
Strike three.
Hidden Valley players would cheer and applaud. Then Nic would put his arm around his brother's shoulders and the two boys would walk off together.
Just like they did Friday.
Nicholas London Ratliff received his Hidden Valley diploma during the school's graduation exercises at Salem Civic Center.
Benjamin Paul Ratliff also wore a cap and gown as he took part in the ceremony with his classmates.
However, Ben was not handed the same diploma as his brother. He received a "certificate of completion" as a special education student in Roanoke County, although he will go through some additional programs at the high school. Ben likely will remain at Hidden Valley until he turns 22.
You see, Ben was born with two strikes against him.
Ben has Down syndrome.

Down Syndrome support group hits 'Monggi' photographers

MANILA, Philippines - A group of photographers using the term 'mongoloid' in reference to its members earned the ire of the Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines (DSAPI), prompting a change in the production company's name and logo.
Monggi Productions originally referred to its members as "mongoloid na pogi," before changing its name to "Motto ng Pogi" last week.
The change came upon the request of DSAPI parents who found the group's reference to people with Down syndrome offensive.
"We are all hurt by such terms, but the way for us to go is through showing them how wonderful our children are and that they have blessed our lives," DSAPI member Agnes Lapena said in the group's public Facebook account.
For its part, Monggi Productions made an apology in its own Facebook group, but insisted that it will keep its original name.
"It was not our intention to hurt or insult people with this affliction and we never will. We would like to inform you that your pleas have not fallen into deaf ears and has made our group more aware how offensive this word is. As of this writing, our group has already made corrective actions to remove this term from our page," the group said.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Missing Westford Academy student found

Rebecca Campbell, a senior, went missing this morning around 9:30 a.m. after being spotted in Westford Academy’s Bell lobby, an area inside the school where students gather before and after classes, according to Superintendent Everett V. Olsen.
Westford Police Provisional Captain Mark Chambers said at the scene that Campbell was being reunited with her mother around 1 p.m.
A condition of the child was unavailable as of 1:15 p.m.
At the scene, the woman who identified herself earlier as Campbell’s mother, was seen hugging people. There was a sense of relief among a group of officers in uniform and officials in regular street clothes.
An ambulance was sitting on Starr Road with its lights flashing.
As of noon, the North Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC), a State Police helicopter, Westford police and Olsen were on the scene. A woman, who identified herself as Campbell’s mother, was also on the grounds but declined to comment.
Police searched surrounding roads that abut the Patten Road high school, including the areas of Forge Village Road and Country Road. A portion of the woods behind the school was also being searched by police, which connects to the Robinson and Crisafulli elementary schools.
According to a reverse 911 call from Westford police, Campbell was wearing a red plaid shirt, tan pants, and gold socks when she was last seen. She has blonde hair.
Students were systematically released between 11:30 a.m. and noon Thursday in small groups from Westford Academy. Those who drove were escorted to their cars. Police searched car trunks earlier this morning in the school’s parking lot before anyone was able to leave.
A school official in the main office said the students were released in order to accomodate a police search of the building.
Sophomore Jackie Joncas said that she and fellow sophomore Owen Martel had been part of the systematic release this morning.
“They were escorting us to our cars and letting us walk home,” she said.
The two students said they live a block away from the school and planned to walk home.
Check back for updates as they become available.

Read more:
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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Vallejo woman determined to be healthy, loses 200 pounds

by Irma Widjojo from the Times-Herald:
Gone are the days of super burritos, pepperoni pizzas and cheese nachos.
Angelique Nabours went from 324 pounds to just a little more than 130 within a few years. The 39-year-old woman was born with Down Syndrome and had a lifelong weight problem -- until a few years ago when she had a seizure. "That really scared me," her mother Anne Nabours said. "We are still not sure what caused the seizure, but her weight had a lot to do with it." Angelique then moved into a major lifestyle change, including starting a diet and exercise regimen. In a little less than two years, she has lost nearly 200 pounds. "I work out every day," she said. "I feel fine, and I have more energy." The Vallejo woman works out either at the gym, or at home on her cardio machines while watching her favorite daytime talk show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show. In fact, Anne Nabours had the idea to call the Times-Herald about her daughter's journey after a comment she had made while watching a recent episode of the popular show. Angelique was exercising on her Air Walk when the show was featuring a winner of the popular weight-loss competition show "The Biggest Loser" who had lost about 100 pounds. "She stopped dead in her tracks and said, 'Hey, what about me?! Check it out!' " Anne Nabours said. "And I thought, that's right. She does deserve recognition." Anne Nabours said their goal was to get Angelique to 140 pounds. She reached the goal about a year ago, lost a little more, and has never weighed more than 140 since.
"She's such an inspiration," her mother said. "What's amazing is that she's doing it all on her own, and she keeps (the weight) off. It's her own determination." Angelique Nabours also meets regularly with a nutrition management consultant from Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center. She said she misses all of her favorite foods, which have now been replaced by vegetables, fruit and other healthier choices. "I still like them, but I know they are bad for me," she said. However, she's more excited about her whole new wardrobe. Due to her weight loss, she dropped 16 dress sizes and is now a size 10. "I can now wear cute, skinny clothes," she said. Her healthy habits also affected her parents. "I used to be a smoker, and I had to quit. That was hard," her father Ed Nabours said. "But what she's doing is ever harder." Angelique Nabours' simple advice to other people trying to lose weight is: "Don't give up." Contact staff writer Irma Widjojo at (707)553-6835 or Follow her on Twitter @IrmaVTH.

Friday, June 7, 2013

public raido segment on prenatal choices

from Public Raido Tulsa by Ari Shapiro:
And finally, we received a lot of emails about our segment on the difficult prenatal choices people make when they learn that a fetus may have a genetic abnormality. We spoke with two women, one who decided to carry her pregnancy to term, and another who terminated the pregnancy after learning of an abnormality.
Christian writes: My husband and I had genetic testing done with our first pregnancy because my test came up at an elevated risk for Down Syndrome, even though I was only 26 at the time. His first child from a prior marriage is severely developmentally disabled. When we learned our child would be born with Down Syndrome, we terminated the pregnancy, because it didn't seemed fair to bring a second special needs child into the family when there was no way of knowing how functional the baby would be, she writes.
Another listener, Lauren, shares her experience, writing: Today's show hits incredibly close to home. Six weeks ago, my husband and I went in for an ultrasound. Doctors proceeded to tell me about a heart defect they'd noticed in my son's ultrasound. They then continued to tell me how the defect is quite common in children with Down Syndrome. One week after the ultrasound, I got a call from the maternal fetal specialist saying the results from a test came back and were consistent with Down Syndrome.
Lauren writes that she plans to go through with the pregnancy, and she continues: The hardest part for us is still dealing with other people's reactions from hearing, bummer, we'd really hope for better for you to, you'll never be able to have time alone in retirement, or raising a child with special needs will bankrupt you as they reach adulthood. It's very hard to deal with loved ones whose opinions and outlook are openly pessimistic, she writes. For us, besides the fear of the unknown - open-heart surgery on an infant, raising a child with special needs - the fear of the familial negativity and distance is much greater.
Our address is: Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow the show there @totn. I'm @arishapiro.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Memory training study points to possible benefits for children with Down syndrome

A study, conducted by researchers at Down Syndrome Education International and published today in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, suggests that adaptive working memory training might offer sustained benefits for young people with Down syndrome.
People with Down syndrome tend to be more limited in their abilities to store and manipulate information over short periods of time (short term and working memory) than other people.
These memory systems impact many areas of learning, including the acquisition of vocabulary, grammar and reading skills. Improving short term and working memory function might therefore be expected to have important consequences for educational outcomes.
Studies published in recent years suggest that computerised adaptive working memory training may improve memory function for children with relatively limited working memory skills.
DSE therefore set out to explore if similar results might be achieved for children with Down syndrome by conducting a randomized controlled trial of Cogmed Working Memory Training with children with Down syndrome aged between 7 and 12 years.
The study was funded by The Baily Thomas Charitable Fund and Down Syndrome Education International, and the findings are published today in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
We found that children who undertook 25 session of computerized memory training, on average, achieved important gains in visuospatial short term memory and visuospatial working memory, compared to children not undertaking training.
This study suggests that adaptive working memory training could be a practical and useful intervention for children with Down syndrome. However, further research is required to confirm this. Future research is needed to explore if memory training can deliver improvements in verbal as well as visuospatial memory, and (importantly) if these gains subsequently lead to improvements in language, literacy and wider academic skills.
Read more about the trial...

Use this link for a free trial of the memory training software mentioned above from DSE and Pearson Education (click here)

teen teaches kids with Down syndrome how to have tutu much fun dancing

During the weeks of July 29 and Aug. 5, elementary and middle school aged children with Down syndrome are invited to ballet workshops through the not-for-profit, The Purple Tutu.
The mission of The Purple Tutu is to bring the beauty and artistry of ballet to dancers with Down Syndrome who may feel that classical dance training is out of their reach. The first workshop held in April was a huge success. A dancer’s grandmother said “I cried after attending the first class, cried “happy tears” because I was just overcome seeing the joy on the children’s faces and overcome with gratitude for The Purple Tutu”.
Students will be accepted on a first come / first serve basis. Each class will be taught at Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church. Classes will start at 9 a.m. and be built around attendance. Classes are at no charge, but donations are appreciated. All proceeds generated by The Purple Tutu will go to a scholarship fund to benefit the education of a child with special needs.
Participants are encouraged to wear sweatpants/yoga pants, a T-shirt and bare feet. Tutus will be provided for class use.
Holland McDowell, who founded The Purple Tutu, began her formal dance training at age 7 with Charleston Ballet Theatre School and has been dancing for nine years. McDowell is trained in classical ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and musical theatre. She has performed in productions including: Charleston Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Cinderella,” “Off to Oz,” “Willie Wonka” and “Alice in Wonderland.” She attended The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Summer Dance 2012 program.
McDowell currently studies under the direction of the Charleston Dance Institute, teaches ballet to children at Meeting Street Academy and attends the Academic Magnet High School (Class of 2015.)
If you would like to participate with the program or donate to The Purple Tutu, please email