Blog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Let’s Get in Formation: 2016 Disability Policy Seminar

May 30, 2016

I attended the 2016 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. The three-day conference, April 10th – 13th, provided useful information on policies, and their impact on the disability community. I had the opportunity to meet with other LEND trainees, self-advocates, and family advocates, and it was inspiring to listen to individuals strongly advocate against inequality.

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Returning to My Origin Root of Self-Advocacy

May 27, 2016

My experience in Washington DC was like a dandelion that finally bloomed on a stone street. Ten years ago, I was a fresh teen girl who had just graduated from high school and had moved to study abroad alone. I entered the English Language Institute (ELI) at Gallaudet University, the only university for deaf students in the United States.

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The Waiting Game

May 23, 2016

Psychotherapy and psychological assessments are essential services for families of children with developmental disabilities. Additionally, comprehensive psychological assessments are a vital first step towards connecting families of children with developmental disabilities to needed services and resources. However, this valued service is unfortunately a limited resource even within large metropolitan communities, such as Chicago.

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Moving from Inclusion to Belonging within Faith-Based Communities

May 20, 2016

More recently, the topic of improving inclusion within communities of worship has been increasingly more popular in literature and an existing need for families who are a part of faith-based communities. But we often mistake the word “inclusion” for physical inclusion. Although physical accommodations are important, they do not address the social and emotional accommodations for individuals with disabilities and their families.

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Remembering the Glass Siblings

May 16, 2016

A few years back, Alicia Arenas presented an engaging and powerful TED talk in San Antonio regarding what it means to be a sibling of a child with special needs. In her presentation, Ms. Arenas discussed her own difficulties and hardships of having siblings with special needs. She readily admits to the audience that the story of her childhood “is not a fun story to hear,” and that she was frequently “traumatized” by her early experiences.

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Through Their Eyes: Families and Autism

May 13, 2016

All too often, families are often forgotten when teams of educators and professionals become so narrowly focused on supporting their students with disabilities. Particularly in special education, we become so engrossed in finding ways to support our students with disabilities that we forget support isn’t what we believe is helpful but what the families and children believe is important to them.

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Interprofessional Education Experience

May 9, 2016

Over the past several months, I have been fortunate to be able to apply the interprofessional skills we have been learning in our LEND didactic and clinical sessions into other aspects of my life.

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Relationship of Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System

May 6, 2016

According to The Sentencing Project, a group dedicated to research and advocacy within the U.S. criminal justice system, the United States has the largest incarceration total in the world at 2.2 million people. The prevalence of intellectual disability among prisoners is estimated between 4% and 10% with the prevalence of learning disabilities much higher at 50%. These two statistics beg the question of why? Why are there 1.1 million people with learning disabilities currently incarcerated?

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Out of my Mind and Going Bananas!

May 3, 2016

There is a girl. She is smart, funny and playful. She is quite the fashionista. She wears the cutest puffs, and she is known to wear the prettiest outfits with even prettier sparkly light up shoes! She gives the biggest hugs and wettest kisses. Let’s call her Banana. Why? Well, when you first see her, she usually says, “Nu-nan-na,” one of the few words that she knows.

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Service Animals for People with Disabilities

April 26, 2016

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I sat next to a young lady and her loud, misbehaving Chihuahua. While I am all for flying with pets (I bring my dog on almost every flight I take), I was extremely suspicious as to how her beloved pet was able to pass the rigorous tests necessary for becoming a certified service animal. After doing some web-based research, I realized that the problem of misrepresenting pets as service animals is actually quite prevalent in the United States.

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The Power of Positivity

April 19, 2016

During the past several months, I have had the privilege to work with many children with developmental disabilities, as well as their families. Every child that I have met has been unique, inspirational, and wonderful in his/her own way. I have met children who are brilliant at solving puzzles, children who can catch a ball better than I can, and even children who can identify more kinds of dinosaurs than I ever knew existed. The list goes on and on.

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Diverse Learners

March 28, 2016

Communities have come a long way in how communication occurs. Some people are born with a disability or disabilities, either cognitively or physically that may or may not impact their daily life. I like to think that everyone has a disability; it is just different for everyone. Others acquire it in their life span. Some people cannot speak, others cannot walk, others cannot see, and some have difficult processing information - but we all still manage to communicate with one another.

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Disability Around the World

March 23, 2016

When you travel to another country, it’s easy to pick up on all the cultural differences you see. The food is completely new to you, the houses are built different and maybe you struggle to communicate because the language is one you’ve never learned. When I travelled to Nicaragua over winter break with many of my physical therapy classmates, these were the first differences everyone noticed. A big difference that I wasn’t prepared to see, however, was how disability is treated there.

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The Budget Impasse

March 14, 2016

The budget impasse in Illinois is imposing a high cost on families of children with autism and the state. The showdown between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled State Assembly continues to have a devastating impact on autism services and families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) throughout the state of Illinois.

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The Club Sandwich Generation

March 7, 2016

I am a trainee through the family discipline, as the sister of a great lady with Down Syndrome. Last week, I had opportunity to attend the Arc of IL Executive Forum Leadership Conference.

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Respite Night

February 29, 2016

Once a month, I make the trek down to Highland, Indiana during the evening rush hour with a few of my fellow UIC physical therapy classmates to volunteer at Milestone Therapy—a clinic which provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy to children in need of these services. We, along with PT and OT student volunteers from other Chicagoland schools, make respite night possible at Milestone. During this event, parents can drop off their children (those receiving therapy as well as siblings) for a few hours to get some shopping done, relax at home, go out for a date night, and so on.

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Justice For All

February 19, 2016

Have you ever felt different? Unwanted? Unaccepted? Unappreciated? Have you ever experienced criticism for looking, acting or believing something different than what the accepted norm was? Can you imagine being labeled and referred to as a moron, an imbecile or an idiot based solely on an intelligence test?

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Uber and the ADA

February 5, 2016

I have a love-hate relationship with Uber. Mostly hate. I will be the first to admit that I am very appreciative of the fact that with a few taps of my fingers I can call on a vehicle to take me anywhere in the city that I’d like to go. However, we should not be fooled into thinking it is the best thing since sliced bread.

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Sexuality & People with Disabilities

January 21, 2016

Sexuality as well as sexual desires and relationships are important conversations with all young people, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are all sexual human beings and not discussing relationships can lead to risky and unsafe habits.

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First Timer

January 11, 2016


I would consider myself a person who has been immersed around children with a growing experience of working with children with disabilities. My partner, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He is a hospital administrator, with little patient care interactions. Just recently, I attended the Early Access to Care Event (EAC) to assist with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) screening services for families. That day, I brought a guest with me unexpectedly, with the purest intentions “to just volunteer.” Given this unique perspective of someone who has not spent much time with people with disabilities, let alone children with potential signs or behaviors of ASD, I decided to gain his perspective and learn about his encounters. This is what emerged…

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Moving forward

January 4, 2016

My parents, aunt, and sister moved to the Chicago suburbs this summer from over 800 miles away! I have to pinch myself every day to be sure that that this great dream is really true! I am so lucky to have my family living nearby! After decades of plane trips to visit my family, I am now able to walk to their home! It is truly wonderful!

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Student Exposure to Disability

December 14, 2015

As I contemplated both what I've learned this year through LEND, I had an immediate thought: We simply do not get the exposure to disability studies, special health care needs, or disability policies in our professional training.

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Disability in the Media

December 8, 2015

A current “hot topic” is how people with disabilities are portrayed in the media. In recent years, the amount of people with disabilities who are included in the media has increased greatly. The depictions of disability in the media can contribute peoples’ overall impression and understanding of disability.

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My Experience as an IL LEND Trainee

October 21, 2015

Even though it is still early in this semester, I have already found the sessions of the LEND program to be very informative and intellectually stimulating.

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What’s Self-Advocacy?

October 16, 2015

As I write this post, I wonder if you have thought about yourself as a self-advocate. I believe that each individual has a different interpretation of what a real self-advocate is, originally shaped by individual experience. So… I wanted to take a moment to share my story with you.

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2015 National Health Statistics Conference

September 15, 2015

With travel grant support from LEND, I attended the 2015 National Health Statistics Conference in Bethesda, MD.

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The Importance of Early Intervention (from PT)

March 19, 2015

As a second year Physical Therapy (PT) student, I was recently given the opportunity to attend the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Section Meeting in Indianapolis. It was a long weekend full of inspirational and enlightening lectures taught by the best and brightest of the PT world.

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Fear of the Unknown

February 5, 2015

Have you ever absolutely despised something with every fiber of your being, but you have no idea why? Or in other words, have you heard of politics?

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Where are your References?

December 1, 2014

It’s been roughly a decade now since the word references came into my life. I can’t stop thinking about this word. References, obviously refers to materials used to provide reliable information. I need references for a lot of things. When I write a paper for a school assignment, I must read a bunch of references before I can write anything, so that I learn more about the topic.

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Deaf Nation

November 10, 2014

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the DeafNation Expo – Chicago at Harper Community College. The Expo showcased various informational booths ranging from the latest in Video Phone technology to ASL-interpreted Christian music. Having never experienced Deaf culture in-depth, the experience at the expo was personally fascinating. The amount of social engagement and interaction was incredible.

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Global Tinkering

October 6, 2014

Check out this video of Assistive Technology done by an Occupational Therapist in the heart of Ecuador. With the growing popularity of 3D printers and MAKER Spaces, never before has Assistive Technology solutions been more accessible and adaptable to individual needs.

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Through Their World

September 23, 2014

In our second didactic experience, we had the opportunity to watch a compilation video, called Cripshots, of some wonderful theatrical, dance, and musical pieces performed by persons with disabilities.

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Meet the Parents

September 10, 2014

For the inaugural post of the 2014-2015 Illinois LEND blog, I thought maybe we should discuss a Ben Stiller comedy from 2000…
Just kidding. What the title actually references is the prevailing theme from our year’s first didactic session.

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