‘Framing Britney Spears’ Doesn’t Bring Up Disability and That’s a Problem

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Britney Spears performing close up photo

Britney Spears is physically able-bodied, beautiful, and successful. It’s not what disability narratives have historically prized throughout the years.

Everyone has an opinion on Britney Spears, even if you think you don’t. Since the pop star’s infamous series of erratic decisions starting in 2007 — which led to her being placed in a conservatorship for the last 12 years — there have been numerous opinions stated about whether Spears is a prisoner or being protected. This week, FX’s “The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears” sought to lift the veil on what many people have heard about Spears and her confinement, but one word was noticeably absent throughout the hour-long broadcast: disabled.

Last year, as the #FreeBritney movement started up, disabled rights advocate and writer Sara Luterman brought up Spears’ conservatorship with regards to disability rights issues in The Nation. A conservatorship, as Luterman lays it out, is “generally imposed on people with a documented disability who are determined, by a judge, to be unable to care for themselves.” A conservator determines how the conservatee spends their money, takes care of themselves day to day, and anything else falling under a wide swath of things deemed necessary.

As Luterman points out, “Guardianship is most commonly used on young adults with intellectual disabilities and older adults with dementia. It isn’t clear how many people are under guardianship in the United States, but in a 2013 report, the AARP’s ‘best guess’ was 1.5 million Americans.

Yet within “Framing Britney Spears” the topic is never couched with regards to disability. Instead they make it clear that conservatorships are usually reserved for those who are elderly. The distinction is pertinent, as elderly doesn’t always mean disabled — but too often disabled always means elderly. The series also limits their discussions to #FreeBritney allies or those with legal connections to conservatorships, and never does it solicit the opinions of disabled rights advocates.

And this is disturbing, because there are elements of Spears’ life that definitely sound troubling — but when you factor in the more nefarious ways conservatorships control a person’s medical and, especially, sexual and reproductive health, it’s reminiscent of the numerous ways those with disabilities have been controlled and prohibited from being considered actual people.

Read the full article at Indie Wire.

Climate activists with disabilities fight for inclusion

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Climate activists with disabilities decry a lack of representation and burnout.

, ABC News

Despite 15% of the world’s population living with some form of a disability, research into the effects of climate change on the disabled community is still emerging.

Natural disasters resulting from climate change, like heatwaves and wildfires, disproportionately affect people with disabilities, according to advocates and activists. The harmful effects of climate change faced by disabled people are diverse and include — but aren’t limited to — reduced mobility, inability to regulate body temperature and respiratory problems.

Moreover, those with disabilities face further barriers in becoming advocates for environmental action and voicing their concerns, several experts who spoke with ABC News said.

While advocates claim the digital age has given climate change activists with disabilities more of a voice, they say the pandemic, which has forced society to live life even more online, has created more opportunities for those with disabilities; not just with work-from-home, but also to participate in activism.

Now, climate change activists with disabilities are increasingly demanding their place at the forefront of the climate change fight.

Yet, there remains an overall lack of visibility and literacy about the experiences of individuals with disabilities, Gregor Wolbring, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and an ability and disability studies scholar, told ABC News.

“You have to find a way that people are exposed more to disabled people in general,” Wolbring said.

In a recently published study looking at more than 5,500 abstracts of the academic climate change and environmental action literature, Wolbring and his colleague Chiara Salvatore found that none of these studies focused on youth with disabilities as environmental activists, and none dealt with the impact of environmental activism on youth with disabilities.

The 14 studies they identified that did address disability and environmental action did so in the capacity of impairments due to environmental issues such as toxins.

Recently, there were also claims that COP26, considered the largest and most significant climate change conference, was inaccessible to many with disabilities, even though COP President Alok Sharma in May 2021, promised the event would be the most inclusive COP ever.

Reports from the first week highlighted the inaccessibility of the conference venue as Israeli energy minister Karine Elharrar-Hartstein, a wheelchair user, was unable to enter.

The minister was eventually able to enter the venue after her concerns reached Israel and UK Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Boris Johnson, who issued her a public apology.

COP26 organizers also addressed the incident in a tweet and said, “#COP26 must be inclusive and accessible to all and the venue is designed to facilitate that.”

“I think people are definitely horrified at the lack of accessibility, but because it was solved for the Israeli minister, they don’t think it’s a problem anymore,” 17-year-old climate activist Scarlett Westbrook, who uses crutches, told ABC News.

From reports of having to walk over 10 minutes to enter the venue to the misuse of accessible elevators by camera crews, Westbrook said every part of the conference was “as inaccessible as it possibly could be.”

Click here to read the full article on ABC News.

People with disabilities still face barriers finding work during the pandemic—here’s how companies can help

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Photo of an asian woman in a dress and a cane. People with disabilities still face barriers finding work during the pandemic—here’s how companies can help

By Morgan Smith, Make It

For nearly 20 months, debates about the future of work have dominated meetings and Twitter feeds as the coronavirus pandemic upended every aspect of our jobs from commutes to office dress codes. These conversations continue to influence companies’ return-to-office plans and their remote work policies. But despite the pandemic taking a disproportionate toll on their job prospects and well-being, people with disabilities continue to be left out of many of these critical conversations.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than double that of those without: 9% compared to 4.4% as of September. People with disabilities are also far less likely to be employed than workers with no disabilities. There are several factors driving this disparity, including discriminatory hiring practices and fewer people with disabilities completing bachelor’s degrees.

The pandemic has only exacerbated this gap. Before the pandemic, workers with disabilities were more likely than those without disabilities to work from home, a new report from Rutgers University found. But because people with disabilities are more likely to hold blue-collar and service jobs, they have had far fewer options for remote or flexible work arrangements during the Covid-19 crisis, the report notes.

As employers announce plans to bring people back to offices and experiment with hybrid work schedules in the coming months, workers with disabilities and disability advocates are urging companies to rethink the structure of their organizations to better accommodate people with disabilities. “Folks with disabilities have been asking for flexible and remote work options for decades and have been consistently denied,” Maria Town, the president and CEO of The American Association of People with Disabilities, tells CNBC Make It. “Now we know these jobs can be done remotely — and people don’t want to see these options go away the moment we decide the pandemic is over.”

The pandemic created new challenges for workers who were already struggling
People with disabilities already experienced “significant” barriers while navigating the pre-pandemic job market — the pandemic has both amplified existing barriers and removed certain hurdles, Town points out. Job applications and interviews are increasingly online, but Town observes that many people with disabilities don’t have access to the assistive technology they need to navigate online job boards. “The expectation is that you will find and apply for jobs online, and for many people with disabilities, that’s not possible,” she says. “But they can’t approach a community center or store in person and ask if they’re hiring anymore, because it’s riskier during the pandemic.” Some people with disabilities are more likely to get infected or have severe illness from coronavirus, according to the CDC.

The ongoing pandemic has also heightened the isolation people with disabilities faced prior to the pandemic. A recent study published by the Disability and Health Journal shows that people with disabilities experience loneliness and social isolation at much higher rates than those without disabilities. “With social distancing and the rise in new variants, it’s even harder to find out about job opportunities and connect with others,” Town says.

People with disabilities have also struggled to get certain accommodations approved for their work throughout the pandemic. Town notes, for example, that some immunocompromised teachers have been asked to be in the classroom or host in-person office hours despite their concerns of falling severely ill from the virus. People infected with long Covid may also qualify as disabled, but struggle to get the accommodations and benefits that come with a more well-known condition.

Click here to read the full article on Make It.

How a 25-year-old with a disability lives on $33,000 in Chicago: ‘People don’t realize how expensive it is to be disabled’

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Britt Dorton, 25, is meticulous about her budget. She has multiple spreadsheets to document her earnings, bills and goals, and feels comfortable knowing every dollar is accounted for.

By Jennifer Liu, CNBC

Britt Dorton, 25, is meticulous about her budget. She has multiple spreadsheets to document her earnings, bills and goals, and feels comfortable knowing every dollar is accounted for.

For Dorton, planning ahead financially has been a huge part of her life since she was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses as a teenager. Dorton lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a hereditary degenerative disorder that affects her connective tissue, and complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS, an acquired chronic nerve pain disorder.

“My disabilities affect every aspect of my life, including my finances,” Dorton tells CNBC Make It. “Unless you have lived with a chronic illness or somebody that you love has, I don’t think a lot of people realize how expensive it is to be sick or to be disabled.”

There are obvious medical costs — doctor’s appointments (Dorton gets spinal injections three to four times a year to manage her pain, which cost $1,200 per session), medications ($60 to $150 per month), emergency hospital stays ($300 per visit) — totaling several thousand dollars per year.

There are also a lot of hidden costs like physical therapy, braces, orthopedic shoes to prevent dislocations, an Apple Watch to track Dorton’s heart rate and oxygen levels, or ergonomic equipment so she can work from home.

Making a living in Chicago
Dorton graduated from the University of Chicago in 2020 and began working for a legal aid clinic. Over the summer, she quit and took a part-time paralegal job at a civil rights firm so she could focus on studying for the LSAT. After taking the entrance exam in October, she transitioned to working for the firm full-time.

She also earns up to $1,200 per month through side hustles, including doing freelance social media work for an attorney, being a sensitivity reader for a YA novel about chronic illness and disability, and running ads and sponsored content on her personal social media platforms.

Dorton won’t start law school for another year, but it’s already a huge factor in her budget. She’s spent nearly $3,000 on prep courses, taking the LSAT and law school application fees before even stepping foot on campus. Then there’s the estimated $200,000 sticker price of tuition, which she hopes to cover through as many scholarships, grants, fellowships and other forms of financial aid as possible, before inevitably turning to student loans.

Dorton doesn’t expect to earn a lot of money once she becomes a lawyer — she wants to do pro bono public interest work advocating for disability and prisoner’s rights. It’s not exactly a lucrative field.

“As someone who’s chronically ill and disabled myself, working for my community and advocating for disability justice is something that’s really important to me,” Dorton says.

Living on just $33,000 in Chicago forces Dorton to be strict with her budget, but “it’s not impossible.”

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Dyslexia: The learning disability that is overlooked

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child with dyslexia, Joey Harrington, 13, sits with his computer at his home in New Paltz.

By Helu Wang, Yahoo! Sports

By the time Joey Harrington was in kindergarten, his mother, Kathy, realized that he was struggling with reading and writing. While his teacher at Wallkill Central School District said he would outgrow it, his reading scores kept going down. He was not identified as a child with special needs until five years later.

“I got so frustrated. I knew something was wrong,” Harrington recalled of the troubled journey that her family has gone through.

Even though Joey continued falling behind in reading and experiencing meltdowns, the school never evaluated him further, said Harrington. After the family had paid $2,600 for a private psychological evaluation, the district finally identified him as a special needs student when he was in fifth grade. The results showed he has dyslexia with language and learning disorders.

Many families across the region shared similar experiences: children showed signs of reading delay as early as in kindergarten, but they are not identified as special needs students until several years later.

Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities in the country, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities. It is a learning disorder that involves difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. The organization estimates about one in five children have learning and attention issues such as dyslexia and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Dawn Prati of Wallkill, a pediatric nurse practitioner who has helped families navigate the process, said one of the biggest challenges they face is children not being identified early. Many children with dyslexia do not benefit from typical reading support programs that are offered by schools, she said.

“Some people say you cannot diagnose dyslexia until third grade, which is not true. There are indicators before that,” said Prati. “The problem is that there is a period when the brain develops in kids when they are in kindergarten and they are attaining those building blocks. It’s super important to give them what they need to learn.”

Learning disability overlooked
Janice Vincenzo had trusted the school would do the best for her daughter until she found her then tenth-grader reading at a first-grade level. Her daughter had been identified as a student with special needs at third grade and was offered accommodations, including being assigned to a smaller learning group and offered extensions for testing, Vincenzo said, however, the accommodations covered up her daughter’s actual needs. In 2019, more than a year after Vincenzo requested her daughter to be evaluated, the Wallkill School District finally paid for a private evaluation.

“I didn’t realize it for many years that the accommodations they gave her in effort to help her succeed never allowed them to pinpoint what her diagnosis was,” said Vincenzo.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! Sports.

‘Deaf’ is not a bad word: ASL event teaches students deaf etiquette

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From left, Information Specialist, Debby Zeigler, has worked at GHC for 29 years and was previously a counselor for the deaf and hard-of-hearing program. Admissions Counselor, Trish Linsdey, is certified in ASL.

By Russell Chesnut, Six Smile Post

Students were given hands-on experience with American Sign Language and insight into the deaf community at Student Engagement’s ASL basics event on Oct. 18.

Information Specialist, Debby Zeigler, and Admissions Counselor, Trish Lindsey, led the class of 17 over Zoom and in person. Rebecca Cowan-Story translated for Zeigler, who was born deaf and uses ASL to communicate.

Lindsey and Zeigler used a slide presentation to teach the attendees how to sign the alphabet, colors, basic greetings and questions. The audience was encouraged to follow along to practice.

“I learned how to sign an entire sentence,” said Samantha Lewis, Cartersville student, “I was able to say it to our host and it genuinely made me happy.”

The event included a conversation about etiquette for communicating with those who are deaf.

“Speak directly and clearly,” said Lindsey, “Don’t feel like you’ve got to talk any slower. Definitely don’t speak up. Just keep talking normally.”

Lindsey said that even if there is an interpreter present, the speaker should still face and speak directly to the person they are communicating with.

Lindsey emphasized that using facial expressions when speaking to deaf individuals helps to convey meaning when signing.

“For example,” said Lindsey, “if I’m telling you I’m really upset about something, I’m not going to sit here and have a smile on my face, right? I’m going to look really upset about it, or I’m going to look really confused, or whatever that emotion is. You’re matching that with your face.”

The presentation included a list of do’s and don’ts to follow when communicating with deaf individuals.

“Number one: ‘Deaf’ is not a bad word,” said Lindsey, “One of the things that is important to know is it’s not a hearing impairment for them.”

Zeigler said “the term ‘hearing impairment’ itself really is offensive today to many people. It is very offensive to me.”

Terminology like “hearing impaired,” “deaf-mute” and “deaf and dumb” can be misleading and harmful when used to describe individuals who are deaf.

“When they say that I’m hearing impaired, I’m like ‘ugh!’” said Zeigler, “It’s almost like . . . If I were to drag my nails on the chalkboard.“

“A lot of people in the deaf community do not look at deafness as an impairment, because there’s nothing that they cannot do,” said Lindsey.

“If she (Zeigler) wants to go sit at a concert, she can go sit at a concert,” said Lindsey, “She drives. She goes to work. She goes and does all of these things we typically would do as just any other person who can hear.”

“So, for her that’s not an impairment. That’s just who she is,” Lindsey said.

An example of a hearing impairment would be if someone who grew up hearing lost their ability to hear.

“I walked away more aware of how to approach someone who is deaf,” said Lewis.

Student Engagement is using the ASL basics event to see if there is interest in an ASL club or certification course in the future.
Lewis says that if the certification course becomes a reality, she will be the first person to sign up for it.

Click here to read the full article on the Six Smile post.

First of its kind –The ZIPPIE Sphynx is a truly transportable tilt wheelchair specially designed for families on the move

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man pushing happy daughter in ZIPPEE wheelchair

Sunrise Medical is excited to expand the ZIPPIE pediatric mobility line with the new ZIPPIE® Sphynx™. For busy families that are always on the go, this compact, transportable wheelchair has static tilt and recline to accommodate various client needs.

The Sphynx’s patent-pending one-step fold is easy and intuitive, quickly transforming into an ultra-compact package that will fit within a compact car’s trunk. Weighing only 28 lbs., the Sphynx can be easily lifted for the ultimate portability.

With available tilt angles of 10⁰, 20⁰, or 30⁰, clinicians can select a seat position to accommodate weight shift as needed to support optimal posture. The Sphynx back support can be quickly adjusted from 85⁰ to 100⁰ recline to assist with feeding, digestion, respiratory function, and visual orientation. To support a broad range of users from pediatric clients to young adults with diverse mobility needs, numerous adaptable seating and positioning options are available, including JAY® and WHITMYER® options.

“At ZIPPIE, we wanted to design an adaptive stroller that could support active families when they want to get out and explore without compromising seating and positioning,” says Kelsey DiGiacomo, Pediatric Product Manager at Sunrise Medical. “The Sphynx is easy to transport for children who need postural support.”

For more information, please visit: www.sunrisemedical.com.

ZIPPEE wheelchair imageAbout Sunrise Medical: Committed to improving people’s lives, Sunrise Medical is a world leader in the innovation, manufacture and distribution of advanced assistive mobility devices and solutions. Distributed in more than 130 countries under its own 17 proprietary brands, the key products include manual and power wheelchairs, e-mobility products, motorized scooters, seating & positioning systems and daily living aids. Operating in 18 countries, Sunrise Medical group is headquartered in Malsch, Germany and employs over 2,200 associates worldwide.

For additional information, please contact David Algood; David.Algood@sunmed.com.

Barbara Gordon Will Use a Wheelchair Again Sometimes in Batgirls

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Barbara Gordon Will Use a Wheelchair Again Sometimes in Batgirls.

By Jude Terror, Bleeding Cool

Batgirls launches from DC Comics in December, a new series by Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad, and Jorge Corona starring, as the title implies, Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, and Barbara Gordon. Cloonan and Conrad did a promotional interview for DC’s website last weekend where they debuted plans to have Barbara begin using a cane and a wheelchair again. Not all the time, but sometimes. According to Cloonan, showing Gordon “in a chair again” was one of the things they pushed for when asked to work on the book. “She’s just going to have some days where she needs to use it,” Cloonan said.

Here’s what Cloonan and Conrad had to say about addressing Barbara’s “relationship with mobility and disability” in Batgirls:

BC: We are addressing it, I think, pretty head-on. Right now, Barbara has a chip in her back that allows her to walk again. But in our book, she has off days. She’s got bad days. So, we’ll see her using a cane. She does use a wheelchair occasionally. She’s got days when she’s just spending some time under her desk rearranging all the cables, you know? And I think anyone would want to spend the rest of the day sitting down. So, I think it’s just natural. We don’t make a huge deal of it because it’s such a big part of her character and her history. It’s not like we want to beat readers over the head with this idea. But at the same time, we want to show that it’s still part of her character. She is still disabled, even if she doesn’t always look like it all the time. She can walk around, but it’s still a part of her.

MWC: And we love that she’s become an icon for this community. It’s a community that we really want to serve. We’re going to do so to our greatest ability, without necessarily creating a different character entirely in our book. We can’t have her running and jumping through, I don’t know, ventilation shafts of whatever in one book, and then in our book have her be a representation of someone with different mobility skills. It’s just a continuity issue.

That said, I’ve got a past in working with people who have mobility challenges. And, like Becky said, it doesn’t always present in a way that becomes central to a character, and it shouldn’t be. It should be that the central thing going on here is this awesome character and her great personality, and then if we can also show her physical norm is different from maybe your physical norm, then great. And if it’s something that people can identify with and feel empowered by, we would love that.

BC: Yeah, and that’s what we’re really here to do. When we first got asked to work on Batgirls, one of the things we pushed for was, “Hey, we want to show Babs in a chair again, but she’s just going to have some days where she needs to use it, you know?” It’s such an integral part of her.

The writers also preemptively responded to criticism that the representation will be “half-assed.”

MWC: And we don’t want to make it feel like, “Oh, here’s like a half-assed representation of something.” Or, “Here’s an afterthought of what this particular modality can look like.” It’s really coming from the most genuine place that we have. It’s coming from a place of fandom of the character, her various iterations, and also of our great love for the fact that people have seen something there that looks like them. That feels like their life on a comic book page. We want to maintain that. We want to strengthen that moving forward.

BC: We don’t want to think that we’ve taken something away from people. We’re here to make people feel good, and we want to make a book that makes people feel good. And that’s a big part of it.

Batgirls #1 is out on December 14th. Read a preview below.

Click here to read the full article on Bleeding Cool.

The Tourette’s community is livid over the ‘TikTok tics’ media frenzy

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The Tourette’s community is livid over the ‘TikTok tics’ media frenzy

By Jessica Lucas, Input

Last month, a Wall Street Journal article titled “Teen Girls Are Developing Tics. Doctors Say TikTok Could Be a Factor” went viral on social media.

The piece reported a rise in young women presenting with symptoms of Tourette syndrome, a widely misunderstood neurological disorder that impacts roughly 0.6 percent of children and causes people to experience tics — involuntary and repetitive movements or sounds.

The Journal cited “a spate of recent medical journal articles,” in which doctors claim many girls with unexplained tics “had been watching videos of TikTok influencers who said they had Tourette syndrome.” The piece, which featured two teenage girls who linked their tics to TikTok, said that pediatric movement-disorder centers across the U.S. had reported “an influx of teen girls with similar tics.”

“PEOPLE automatically think we’re doing things for ATTENTION, or that there’s NO WAY that Tourette syndrome can be REAL.”
The article acknowledged that the “TikTok tics” epidemic was anecdotal and even quoted an academic who cast doubt on TikTok being the root cause of this phenomenon. “There are some kids who watch social media and develop tics and some who don’t have any access to social media and develop tics,” Dr. Joseph McGuire of Johns Hopkins University Tourette’s Center told the paper. “I think there are a lot of contributing factors, including anxiety, depression, and stress.”

But the headline was damaging enough. And it was worsened by subsequent coverage: Buzzfeed, the New York Post, People, and Business Insider ran with the story — all without any input from the Tourette’s community itself, which has been horrified by the press frenzy.

Ben Brown, host of the Tourette’s Podcast, has been deeply perturbed, as have his listeners. “There’s a lot of frustration. Some people are just livid,” says Brown, who is 41 and based in North Carolina. He was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at the age of five, but lived a “closeted” life with the condition while he worked as a photojournalist. Brown “came out” with Tourette’s when he launched his podcast in 2018.

“Now we have scientists who are saying things we know from experience are just not safe,” Brown says. He and many others living with Tourette syndrome fear the current rhetoric around TikTok tics could further stigmatize Tourette’s, especially for young women.

Britney Wolf is a 31-year-old Tourette’s campaigner from Ohio. “People automatically think we’re doing things for attention, or that there’s no way that Tourette syndrome can be real,” says Wolf, who was diagnosed with Tourette’s at the age of seven. She interviews people with the condition on her YouTube channel in a bid to challenge stereotypes. “There’s already so many of these people trying to tear us down,” she says, “and articles like this give them more fuel to start claiming that all advocates are faking it.”

Jaleesa Jenkins, a 24-year-old Tourette’s YouTuber from California, is most frustrated by the suggestion that Tourette-like symptoms can be “caught” through platforms like TikTok. “The idea is really oversimplified and really stigmatizing,” she says. “It’s just not true. It makes people afraid, suspicious, or scared to be around us.”

It seems that the recent press attention has undone years of campaigning. “People with Tourette syndrome have worked hard for a very long time to feel understood — particularly for people to understand that tics aren’t voluntary or done for attention,” says Dr. Christine Conelea. The clinical practitioner and researcher is an assistant professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Minnesota and has worked with Tourette’s patients for 15 years. “I worry that those who are doing advocacy on social media spaces will be questioned and targeted.”

Wolf finds the situation heartbreaking. “So many people have told me how much they have learned about Tourette’s because of people online,” she says. “It felt like we were finally getting somewhere. Now it feels like we’re being pulled back.”

Click here to read the full article on Input.

Medical Myths: All about epilepsy

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In our Medical Myths series, we approach medical misinformation head on. Using expert insight and peer reviewed research to wrestle fact from fiction, MNT brings clarity to the myth riddled world of health journalism.

By Tim Newman, Medical News Today

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), epilepsy affects an estimated 1.2%Trusted Source of people in the United States. That equates to around 3.4 million people.

Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source estimates that epilepsy affects around 50 million people. Of these, some 80% live in low- or middle-income countries.

The primary symptom for most people with epilepsy is seizures. These are surges of electrical activity in the brain. Where in the brain these seizures occur can alter how they affect the rest of the body.

Beyond managing seizures, people with epilepsy often have to deal with stigma. As the authors of one study write:

“The stigmatizing nature of epilepsy and its associated psychological distress have been reported to have a significant impact on the quality of life of individuals with epilepsy.”

One way of reducing stigma is to arm people with the facts about epilepsy. Below, we tackle 13 epilepsy myths. To help us, we have recruited the insight of Dr. Clifford Segil, a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.

1. Anyone who has seizures has epilepsy
Although epilepsy is probably the most well-known seizure condition, it is not the only one. Epilepsy is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, whereas other conditions may have different mechanisms.

For instance, low blood sugar or problems with the way the heart functions can cause non-epileptic seizures.

The most common form of non-epileptic seizures is dissociative seizures, or psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES).

PNES have an association with a range of factors, including mental health conditions and psychological trauma. It is worth noting that an estimated 10%Trusted Source of people with PNES also have epileptic seizures.

2. People with epilepsy cannot work
This is a myth. As Dr. Segil told Medical News Today, people with epilepsy or who have seizures “can work when their seizures are controlled by medicine.”

He also told us that he has “known fellow physicians with epilepsy.”

“There are only a few instances where having a seizure disorder disqualifies people from working, and these include being a pilot and truck driver.”

3. Epilepsy is contagious
This is an old myth that is still prevalent, particularly in some parts of the world, but it has no basis in fact — epilepsy is not contagious.

However, although experts know that epilepsy cannot transmit from person to person, identifying the cause is challenging. According to the WHOTrusted Source, “the cause of the disease is still unknown in about 50% of cases globally.”

The following are some of the potential causes of epilepsy:

  • brain damage that occurred during or just after birth
  • brain malformation with genetic origins
  • severe head injuries
  • stroke
  • brain infections, such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • some genetic syndromes
  • brain tumors

4. People with epilepsy are emotionally unstable
There is a significant amount of stigma attached to epilepsy. Part of this stigma includes the theory that people with the condition are more likely to be “emotionally unstable.” This is not true.

“Patients with epilepsy are not emotionally unstable,” Dr. Segil told MNT.

“It is unsettling to have a seizure disorder and know a seizure can strike any time, but most epilepsy patients are happy [and] most epilepsy cases are easily controlled using monotherapy, or one seizure medication.”

Click here to read the full article on Medical News Today.

A Future for People With Disabilities in Outer Space Takes Flight

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people with different disabilities checking their skills in zero gravity

, NY Times

Eric Ingram typically moves through the world on his wheelchair. The 31-year-old chief executive of SCOUT Inc., a smart satellite components company, was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a rare condition that affects his joints and blocked him from his dream of becoming an astronaut. He applied and was rejected, twice.

But onboard a special airplane flight this week, he spun effortlessly through the air, touching nothing. Moving around, he found, was easier in the simulated zero-gravity environment where he needed so few tools to help.

While simulating lunar gravity on the flight — which is about one-sixth of Earth’s — he discovered something even more surprising: for the first time in his life, he could stand up.

“It was legitimately weird,” he said. “Just the act of standing was probably almost as alien to me as floating in zero gravity.”

He was one of 12 disabled passengers who swam through the air aboard a parabolic flight in Southern California last Sunday in an experiment testing how people with disabilities fare in a zero-gravity environment. Parabolic flights, which fly within Earth’s atmosphere in alternating upward and downward arcs, allow passengers to experience zero gravity for repeated short bursts, and are a regular part of training for astronauts.

The flight was organized by AstroAccess, a nonprofit initiative that aims to make spaceflight accessible to to all. Although about 600 people have been to space since the beginning of human spaceflight in the 1960s, NASA and other space agencies have long restricted the job of astronaut to a minuscule slice of humanity. The American agency initially only selected white, physically fit men to be astronauts and even when the agency broadened its criteria, it still only chose people that met certain physical requirements.

This blocked the path to space for many with disabilities, overlooking arguments that disabled people could make excellent astronauts in some cases.

But the rise of private spaceflight, funded by billionaires with the support of government space agencies, is creating the possibility of allowing a much wider and more diverse pool of people to make trips to the edge of space and beyond. And those with disabilities are aiming to be included.

The participants in Sunday’s AstroAccess flight argue that accessibility issues must be considered now — at the advent of private space travel — rather than later, because retrofitting equipment to be accessible would take more time and money.

The Federal Aviation Administration is prohibited from creating safety regulations for private spaceflights until October 2023. Initiatives like AstroAccess are aiming to guide the way that government agencies think about accessibility on spaceflights.

“It’s crucial that we’re able to get out ahead of that regulatory process and prevent misinformation or lack of information or lack of data from making bad regulation that would prevent someone with disability flying on one of these trips,” Mr. Ingram said.

The group also hopes that making everything accessible from the get-go could lead to new space innovations that are helpful for everyone, regardless of disability.

Click here to read the full article on NY Times.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Abilities Expo — The Event For the Disability Community
    December 3, 2021 - December 5, 2021
  2. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  3. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  4. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. Abilities Expo — The Event For the Disability Community
    December 3, 2021 - December 5, 2021
  2. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  3. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  4. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022