Monday, November 9, 2015

Thanksgiving greetings

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Happy Thanksgiving

We wish all of our Connect-Ability friends a happy holiday. Remember to be thankful to all of your teachers, friends, and family members who are part of your life all year long. We're thankful for everyone who comments on our blog posts.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Luke comments on Out of My Mind

One of our newest Connect-Ability members who read Out of My Mind this summer has this to say about it:

The book is a great novel. I highly recommend it to anyone. My cousin was diagnosed with CMND (Congenital Muscular Dystrophy). I think the story was similar to the struggles he faces. He and Melody have mobility challenges along with trouble in school. I think his parents would like to read this book.

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When we learn about disabilities and how they affect the people who have them and their family members we become better people, more able to advocate for one another and more capable of having a diverse group of friends to learn from. We ought to be all about learning more and using that knowledge to make our world a more inclusive place. Thanks, Luke, for your comment.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Out of My Mind - Ashley's Review

I would rate Out of My Mind, by Sharon M. Draper, five stars because it teaches people with and without disabilities to see someone for who they truly are, not merely by the type of disability they may have. This book further promotes disability awareness through instructing readers not to look down on people who have a disability, not to use the word "handicapped" or "disabled," and not to underestimate one's mental or physical capabilities. Melody embodies the fact that, just because someone has a disability does not mean that they are not smart—they can understand. This novel was fantastic, and I loved reading it. I highly recommend Out of My Mind to those who haven't read it.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Connect-Ability Volunteers

Theresa and I are volunteering at a lunch program for children in Schenectady. Connect-Ability members like to spread the disabilities awareness message in their communities. Our CAN DO theme applies to doing our share to help others. We want everyone to know that people with disabilities can be the helpers. -Catharine

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review of Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind was an excellent book that realistically captured the childhood of a someone with cerebral palsy. It clearly showed the struggles Melody faced, both physically and emotionally, and how they challenged her spirit, not only her body. This book really captures and develops Melody's character and determination to live a "normal" life. That is something we could all learn from Melody—her will to live a "normal" life no matter the obstacles along the way.

Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Out of My Mind

During Connect-Ability's summer workshop, members discussed the novel, Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. This novel follows an eleven-year-old, named Melody's, struggles and triumphs. She is born with cerebral palsy that leaves her unable to walk or talk, but Melody's abilities far outshine her disabilities. Melody has a photographic memory and is extremely intelligent. Words constantly flood her thoughts, which she is physically incapable of saying, making her go out of her mind. Out of My Mind explores themes of tolerance, understanding, people-first, assistive-technology, and family and friends, and thus, Out of My Mind perfectly fit key ideas of Connect-Ability. Look out for more posts about this novel to come!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Read a good book this summer

Have you read the book Out of My Mind yet ?  My best friend Ashley and I read this book together.  The book was so good it was hard to put down.  We both have Cerebral Palsy so the book was highly relatable.  When Melody states “When people look at me I guess they see a girl with short, dark, curly hair strapped into a pink wheelchair.” It makes me think of how people stare at me and how they make assumptions about me without even knowing me. 
Does this happen to you?  How does it make you feel?     
I thought this book teaches really good lessons of what to do when people treat us differently. I recommend the book to those who haven’t read it.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Theresa's back to tell you more about CP

HI, I'm Theresa and I'm back to tell you more about Cerebral Palsy.
It is estimated that some 500,000 children and adults in the United States manifest one or more of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Currently, about 8,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with the condition each year. In addition, some 1,200 - 1,500 preschool age children are recognized each year to have Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common physical disabilities in the world. We should all know more about it and about the people who are living with it every day.   

               Cerebral Palsy is a physical disorder that can affect your voice, arms, legs, motor skills and eating.  The effects of having Cerebral Palsy can vary from person to person. Due to physical and other limitations people with Cerebral Palsy sometimes need accommodations.

            I have Cerebral Palsy. Some accommodations I had in school were extended time to walk or use my wheelchair in the hallway. I also got extended time to take tests and some of them were read to me. I have found that accommodations made my life easier and helped me to do what others can do.

            There are many ways people can get accommodations for Cerebral Palsy. Types of accommodations are:


Help in Performing Activities of Daily Living:

·        Provide an accessible restroom

·        Assign classrooms close to an accessible restroom

·        Allow the use of personal care attendants

·        Allow the use of a service animal

·        Schedule classes to allow extra time for activities of daily living (ADL)


Help in Accessing Classrooms:

·        Provide accessible parking, an accessible route of travel, and accessible entrances/exits

·        Install lightweight doors or automatic door openers

·        Maintain unobstructed hallways, aisles, and means of egress

·        Provide an accessible classroom desk or portable wheelchair desk


Help in Taking Notes:

·        Use a laptop computer with alternative computer input device/software

·        Use writing and grip aids

·        Provide a note taker

·        Provide a copy of the instructor’s notes or outline


Help in Studying and Test Taking:

·        Use a computer software program for self-editing, word prediction, and grammar/spell check

·        Use an electronic organizer, post notes/reminders

·        Allow extra time to complete homework assignments

·        Provide a scribe


Help in Communicating with Others:

·        Use a communication aid with speech output

·        Add communication software/speech synthesizer to a laptop

·        Use a speech clarification device





Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hello Connect-Ability ,

            I’m working at NYSUT this summer .  My first job is to get ready for the August 10th workshop.   Have you read the book Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper yet?  I have and I thought it was really good.  I could totally relate to it.  I don’t have the same type of Cerebral Palsy (CP) as Melody, the main character has.  I have Spastic diplegia .  It’s historically known as Little's Disease, and is a form of cerebral palsy (CP) that is a chronic neuromuscular condition of hypertonia and spasticity — manifested as an especially high and constant "tightness" or "stiffness" — in the muscles of the lower extremities of the human body, usually those of the legs, hips and pelvis.

               Spastic diplegia accounts for about 22% of all diagnoses of cerebral palsy, and together with spastic quadriplegia and spastic triplegia make up the broad classification spastic cerebral palsy, which accounts for 70% of all cerebral palsy diagnoses.

               But to get back to the book we’re reading for our next writing workshop. It’s a story about a girl with CP. I could relate to Melody’s accommodations at school.  I used to get extended time for test taking as well. 

               But I also understood how she felt when people looked at her funny and they still look at me funny sometimes.  Truth be told, I don’t like that. Instead people should smile and be friendly because that’s what I do when I meet someone.  I am looking forward to interesting conversations and discussions about CP at our next workshop




Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring is here?

Spring Flowers clip artHey Connect-Ability students,  Hope Spring has come to your neighborhoods. The winter was way too long. We are planning a summer time get together to focus on Sharon Draper's book, Out of My Mind. You all received a copy at our last get together in the fall. Our editor Isabel gave you a questions to think about as you read the book. The questions were connected to the Common Core Leaning Standards for English Language Arts. I'm looking forward to hearing what you thought of the book. Remember our Connect-Ability themes when you're reading and answering your question:

  • Inclusion of students with disabilities
  • Yes we Can attitude
  • Kids with disabilities are like kids without disabilities in most ways
  • Accommodations allow access
Tom and I will be back to you soon on the new dates for our next workshop. Send me any ideas that you have at


Thursday, December 11, 2014

snowflakeHappy Holidays to all of the Connect-Ability students who have helped with the blog all year long. We'll be back together soon to take on our 2015 activities to spread the disabilities awareness message and promote inclusion of people with disabilities. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 1, 2014

High and Mighty Therapeutic Riding and Driving Center

Connect-Ability would like to thank High & Mighty Therapeutic Riding and Driving Center, Inc. for welcoming Connect-Ability members and teaching us about therapeutic riding. Located in Ghent, NY, this beautiful stable provides horseback riding lessons to meet each rider's unique needs. They emphasize the many benefits of horses to children and adults with disabilities through very fun activities. If you want to learn more about High & Mighty, please visit their website:
           Thanks so much for having us visit! We'll be back!

Oxytocin? What is it?

Love your Dog
Interactions with animals can increase everyone's health. Studies have shown that levels of the hormone oxytocin are raised as a result of this. Oxytocin leads to feelings of relaxation and trust and can even allow the body to better adapt to highly emotional situations. Immune systems are also strengthened when people grow up with pets. Because animals such as dogs carry with them germs and dirt, people's bodies can learn to fight off these allergens at an earlier age. The chances of heart disease are also reduced from owning an animal, since animal-owners exercise while walking and playing with them. People with and without disabilities have many commonalities, such as this similar relationship with animals. Isabel K.

Therapeutic Riding

A day in the life of Thomas By Forest Daisy

I have a very important job. I am a Norwegian Fjord therapy Horse, which works at the High and Mighty Stables. My work is very important as I cater to all kinds of people with and without disabilities. I offer people a chance to do something they haven’t done before. Whether that is standing still and calm as they learn to groom me, or strapping into my harness and pulling my carriage for people with mobility problems to take them on a ride. What might seem small is not. As much as I enjoy being groomed, stroked, and loved, it is just as fulfilling to be the one giving the love. The people I help see my trust and I the trust in them. A lot can come from a simple stroke of my nose. The trust begins on the ground and grows to the high and mighty height from my back as I ride them through the obstacle courses, to all the mailboxes on the trails, or around the paddock. A day in the life of this 7 year old Norwegian Fjord they call Thomas is very important and fulfilling after all I help others find something in themselves that they themselves might have lost sight of. No matter what a person can help others, get help, and find a way to do what everyone else has the option to do. Like I said I have a very important job. Welcome to a day in the life of Thomas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hippo therapy is cool

Connect-Ability students visited the High and Mighty Therapeutic Riding and Driving Center in Ghent NY on November 7, 2014 as part of their two day fall writing workshop. We learned about the benefits of therapeutic riding for students with and without disabilities. The care and riding of horses can be a sport, an educational experience, a form of therapy, and a wonderful recreational activity. Three cheers to Laura Corsun and her staff and volunteers at High and Mighty who welcomed us, taught us and inspired us to write about hippo therapy and other kinds of animals that assist and support people with disability. Look for our blog postings and make your comments. We want to know what you think.