Premier Disability Event Comes to Lancaster, Pennsylvania This August

Living Well with a Disability Conference LogoBy Guest Blogger Theo Braddy, Executive Director, Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania

Whether caused by a sudden accident or the progression of a disease, a disability diagnosis can be confusing and, at times, even a bit frightening. Where should you go for support in your community? Who can provide appropriate home modifications? How do you continue living independently and experiencing life to the fullest? What does that even look like?

These are the questions we often hear from people who seek our services, and they’re the reason why we launched Living Well With A DisabilitySM in 2007 through the Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania. The program provides one central resource for people with any type of disability. By contacting the Living Well With A Disability hotline, people with disabilities can take part in an in-depth survey conducted face-to-face with a Living Well Specialist. Together, they determine the person’s goals, dreams and needs, and find the resources to meet them – some of which the individual may not have known existed.

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My Story: Onward and Upward

Photograph of Steve Wampler, his wife, son and daughterBy Guest Blogger, Stephen Wampler, Founder, The Wampler Foundation

My name is Steve Wampler. When I was born in 1968, I got stuck in my mother’s birth canal and was deprived of oxygen for a time. As a result, I have cerebral palsy. Having said that, I was the first-born child of parents who, after absorbing the initial blow, educated themselves about my condition and its severity and worked with doctors to try to understand all that I would face. They also got very thorough evaluations from medical establishments to determine what my life would be like, physically and mentally.

Once my parents had all the answers they needed, they were armed with information and ready to educate me. What they were told was that I would need to use a wheelchair my entire life, but that my brain function had not been impaired – basically I would have no balance or coordination, but I could be educated “normally.”

I would say that, given that knowledge, my first memories of my parents were both the love they had for me, as well as the expectation that in spite of my physical limitations, I would excel in my life and make the most of it in every imaginable way. Fast forward to today. I’m 44, have been married to my wife Elizabeth for 17 years, and we have a 13-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. Life is good.

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The Intersection of Foster Care and Mental Health

Logo for National Foster Care Awareness Month with the text "Change a Lifetime"

May is National Foster Care Awareness Month

By Guest Blogger Stephanie Orlando, Member, National Council on Disability (NCD), with the assistance of Robyn Powell, NCD’s Attorney Advisor

May is recognized as both National Foster Care Awareness Month and Mental Health Awareness Month.  What most people do not realize is the overlap that often occurs with these populations.

In the United States, there are more than 400,000 children and teens in foster care.  Research reveals that children and teens in the foster care system have disproportionately high rates of psychiatric disability. 

One study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that nearly half (47.9 percent) of youth in foster care were found to have clinically significant emotional or behavioral problems.  Likewise, researchers at the Casey Family Programs estimate that between one-half and three-fourths of children entering foster care exhibit behavioral or social competency problems that warrant mental health services.

Youth who have “aged out” of foster care also show high rates of psychiatric disability.  According to a study by the Casey Family Programs and Harvard Medical School, a high number of former foster children have psychiatric disabilities as adults.  Over half of foster care alumni had mental health diagnoses, compared to 22 percent of the comparison group.  

The disproportionate level of mental health diagnoses is perhaps most evident with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Thirty percent of foster alumni are diagnosed with PTSD, which is about twice the rate of U.S. combat veterans.

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My Story: Keeping a Secret to Achieve Workforce Inclusion

Photograph of John QuinnBy Guest Blogger John Quinn, retired Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and Author of Someone Like Me – An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy

There are approximately 22 million veterans in the United States today.  Chances are you know someone who served or is active in the Armed Forces.  The latest statistics also show that there are over 800,000 people with cerebral palsy in the U.S.  But have you ever met someone who served in the military while battling cerebral palsy? 

You have now. 

My name is John W. Quinn and I was born with cerebral palsy.  I couldn’t walk on my own until the age of four, due to being partially paralyzed on one side of my body and my left foot being two and a half sizes smaller than my right.  I wore eye patches to help correct my vision and heavy orthopedic shoes to straighten my spine, and endured grueling physical therapy sessions all throughout grade school to build up my “pipe cleaner” limbs. 

I kept this all a secret in order to join the United States Navy. In fact, I maintained the secret of my disability during my entire 20-year military career.  No one knew I had cerebral palsy as I served onboard battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers.  I stood every watch, participated in every drill and fought every fire.  I performed at the highest levels and retired in 2002 as a Senior Chief Petty Officer – the second highest enlisted rank you can hold in the Navy.  It was an honor to serve my country.

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Where to Find Telecommuting Jobs

Picture of fingers typing on a keyboardBy Guest Blogger Megan Totka, Chief Editor, ChamberofCommerce.com

Each year, the number of companies that embrace the concept of employees working from home increases. A U.S. Census Bureau report found that the percentage of workers who worked at home at least one day a week increased from 7 percent in 1997 to 9.5 percent in 2010.

That same report found that employees who work at home reported working the same amount of hours as in-office counterparts with the same level of productivity. Workplace flexibility was once considered just a perk for employees, but employers are now seeing the benefits of it for them. People who work from home save businesses money by using their own resources and utilities. They also tend to be more loyal to the company because their own schedules and needs are accommodated.

People with disabilities face fewer obstacles to workplace success when they are given telecommuting options. The technology exists for many jobs to be done partially, or completely, from a home office. For some, being self-employed is a viable option. For others who are more interested in landing a steady paycheck and benefits like health insurance, finding a larger employer with telecommute options is a better option.

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