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Did you do it? Did you rock out with your socks out? Did you wear your crazy socks to raise awareness for World Down Syndrome Day?

I did not; I decided to wear my plain white socks, just like I do every day.

Why?

I was not thrilled with the idea of wearing such different attire that causes a person to stand out from another. I do love the idea of raising Down Syndrome Awareness but not this way. The Down syndrome community has always talked about and advocated for those blessed with Down syndrome to be treated just like everybody else, to be included rather than be excluded.

So what do we do, we have a day where we call attention to how different we are from others. How our socks make us stand out and create curious looks. Does this support the idea of inclusion or rather does it continue to show that those with Down syndrome stand out from others and deserve curious looks?

Last year we were more alike than different. We celebrated the success and belief that those with Down syndrome are just like you and me.

This year we take a huge step backwards and say….

“We are more different than alike”

Published in everyday life
Thursday, 16 August 2012 19:40

Record Number of Women at Paralympic Games

At London 2012, a record 1,513 female athletes will compete across 18 sports, which is more than double the 700 female athletes that took part in the Barcelona 1992 Games two decades ago.

Tine Teilman, Chairperson of the IPC Women in Sport Committee which helps to raise the profile and involvement of women in Paralympic Sport, said: "It is very encouraging that the number of female participants in the Paralympic Games has doubled during the last 20 years. I am sure we will see many sportswomen through inspiring and exiting performances become strong role models for others."

The London 2012 Games run from 29 August – 9 September. Of the 20 sports that will be played in London only Football 5-a-Side and Football 7-a-Side do not feature female athletes.

 

Read more about the Paralympic Games and the female athletes at Paralympic.org.

Published in do-gooding
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 22:01

Senate Bill 946

California is officially the 28th state to enact autism insurance reform by signing SB.946, which requires coverage of proven behavioral treatment therapies starting in July 2012.

"Courage and common sense have prevailed as Governor Brown has chosen to side with California families and taxpayers, rather than the health insurance lobby," said Autism Speaks Co-founder Bob Wright. "Autism Speaks singles out Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg whose unwavering leadership and commitment led to this success."

Authored by Senator Steinberg, SB.946 clarifies settlements negotiated by the Brown administration last summer with two major health plans that behavioral health treatments, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA), are eligible benefits with no caps on age or amount of benefits. The settlements initially appeared to provide the needed coverage, but contained a flaw that substantially negated their intended impact, requiring the legislative remedy provided through SB. 946.

The law began taking effect July 1, 2012, as health plans renew policies and sunset in 2014. By virtue of the early intervention provided through ABA, California taxpayers are expected to save $140 million a year in special education and social service costs, according to an independent analysis by the California Health Benefits Review Program. In addition, the improved access to ABA therapy could create at least 20,000 new jobs.

"This is a victory for the thousands of California families who have had to pay out-of-pocket costs for autism treatment considered medically necessary," said Steinberg. "I commend the Governor for signing SB. 946 and adding California to the long list of states mandating that health plans pay their fair share. This day would have never happened if it were not for the countless families and advocates who have been working tirelessly on this issue for many years. Our work is not done. As soon as our economy improves I will work to ensure every child, every young adult, and every family in California has affordable access to this therapy."

The new law explicitly preserves the obligation of health plans and insurers to provide services under California's existing mental health parity law, through which many families have been able to secure coverage for other treatments such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, and treatment of co-morbid physical health issues.

Thousands of California families, in the absence of insurance coverage, have been forced to pay out-of-pocket or rely on taxpayer-funded programs for behavioral health treatments, which can cost $50,000 a year or more. Autism Speaks has helped lead the fight in statehouses across the nation to end such insurance company discrimination. This year alone, laws have been enacted in Arkansas, Virginia, West Virginia and Rhode Island; and a bill passed this summer by the New York Legislature awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature.

Since 2006, the prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in 110, including 1 in 70 boys, prompting the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to call autism a public health challenge. Estimates of the annual cost of autism to the nation have ranged as high as $90 billion. The number of California children with autism has not been calculated precisely, but estimates range at 30,000 children.

"The use of early intervention treatments, such as ABA, can substantially increase a child's independence, thereby reducing future taxpayer costs for special education and social services," said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks' executive vice president for programs and services. "In states that have enacted autism insurance reform, actual experience has demonstrated the impact on premiums has been far below estimates offered by insurance industry lobbyists."

Courtesy of Autism Votes.

Published in do-gooding
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 20:57

Spiderman VS Real Spiders

The launch of the fourth Spiderman film on July 3rd marks the perfect time to contemplate --ahem -- spiders. AKA: arachnids, derived from the Greek word meaning "get this creepy thing outta here." Just kidding; it's actually from Arachne, a mythological Greek weaver who was turned into a spider.

The alter ego of Spiderman, Peter Parker, became a superhero when he was bitten by an irradiated spider that injected radioactive chemicals into his body, giving him superhuman strength and agility, the ability to cling to most surfaces and thus run up walls, and a spider-sense that warns him of danger.

Spiderman vs Real Spiders

We were curious: How do Spiderman's abilities stack up against those of a real spider?

Strength and Agility: Spiderman is famed for his web-suspended swings from building to building over city streets. You can find examples of equally amazing leaps and bounds among real arachnids if you take a look at the jumping spiders. In a single leap a jumping spider can cover as much as 50 times its own length. It does so by using a powerful internal muscle that blasts fluids from the body into the legs, flinging the spider through the air (if the current holder of the world record for the long jump, Norwegian Arne Tvervaag, could make a comparable leap, he'd cover about 300 feet from a standing start; instead his record, set in 1968, is 12 feet 2 inches).

Walking Up Walls: Thanks to a stick-to-almost-anything skin, Spiderman can walk up walls. So can most spiders (if you're a tarantula, do not try this at home — you're too big and meant for burrowing). Each leg of a spider capable of climbing walls ends in a brushy covering of hair, and the end of each hair is in turn covered with microscopic organs that can take hold of small bumps in most surfaces, allowing the spider to go up walls and even across ceilings. This ability may be defeated by very smooth surfaces, such as that of a bathroom sink.

Spider Sense: Spiderman is able to sense danger lurking near, the warning signal coming as a pain in his head that varies with the intensity of the threat. Spiders can detect danger coming their way with an early-warning system called eyes. But that's not all: their most important source of information about the world and its hazards comes from highly sensitive hairs that cover the bodies of most spiders. These hairs perceive even low-level vibrations coming through whatever surface a spider is standing on. Many species also bear hairs that sense vibrations in the air, including sound.

Webs: Spiderman can fire strands of web from his wrists. Early in his career, he invented devices for doing this, but in later incarnations he developed biological adaptations that allowed him to make webs naturally. He can capture villains with the sticky stuff and use it like ropes for swinging from building to building. Real spiders produce several types of webs — some that are not sticky but serve as a superstructure for webs, some that are sticky and capture prey, some used for wrapping up prey in neat little packages (which, in some species, are given as gifts by males to females while courting; whether Spiderman has super gift-giving powers remains unrecorded). Some smaller spiders producer gossamer web, used as a sort of sail that catches the wind and can carry a spider far and wide, which probably explains in part why spiders are found almost everywhere in the world.

Spider silk comes from glands on the arachnid's posterior, with different silks produced by different types of glands. Some silks are comparable in strength to high-grade alloy steel and can stretch up to four times their relaxed length without breaking. Made basically of protein and water, the silk is extremely light weight once it dries. A single strand long enough to encircle the globe would weigh about 1 pound 2 ounces!

Still curious about the creepy-crawlers? Check out How Stuff Works.

From the National Wildlife Federation.

Published in social
Thursday, 31 May 2012 20:27

Dandelion is hiring!

Love Dandelion? Help us bloom -- let's grow together!

We need charismatic special needs parents to get Dandelion into the hands of people who need it most — parents just like you. You'll spend 15-20 hours per month attending community events and stopping by parent support groups, play groups, and storytimes to drop off magazines and explain what Dandelion is about: a resource to connect and empower the community.

You'll have the flexibility to create a schedule that works for you, and we offer a small monthly stipend. If you like networking with the community on a personal, face-to-face level, we want you on our team! If that sounds like you, send us a message: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Published in do-gooding
Thursday, 31 May 2012 17:37

Prom at the Packard Children's Hospital

More than 125 young patients and their guests are eagerly anticipating the longest-standing children's hospital prom in the Bay Area.

The Mysteries of the Deep theme begins this Friday night (June 1, 2012) at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, where hospital schoolteachers from the Palo Alto Unified School District are putting the final touches on this year's very special evening. Beyond providing an end-of-school rite of passage, the eighth annual prom offers a rare chance for teens and other patients, many of whom have life-threatening illnesses, to immerse themselves in an age-old, non-hospital experience—this year full of aquatic adventures and treasures.

"It's so important for these kids—some of whom will never go to their school prom—to have a night where they can forget they're in a hospital and just be kids," said teacher Kathy Ho, who leads the coordination of an event that gets bigger and more imaginative every year.

Mysteries of the Deep offers a transformative experience from the moment guests step into the hospital elevator—decked out entirely as an underwater submarine—and descend deep, deep down to the Ground Floor. The school captains have it all charted out. Emerging into a kelp forest, kids will admire schools of fish, jellyfish, and other sea life suspended from the ceiling as they pass through a coral reef and enter prom.

More than 100 volunteers and local businesses have worked tirelessly for months to make this night possible, including DreamWorks (providing much of the art design and decoration), Anthropologie, Selix Formal Wear, Symantec, Genentech, Weir Catering, Feet First Entertainment, Sugar Shack and many more. Because of their generosity, kids will enjoy shaking their fins to tunes spun by a live DJ, diving into delicious catches of the day, throwing their bait out on the casino table, and exploring underwater adventure games including Poseidon's Pearl, Shark Attack, and Tic Tac Tuna.

Anyone attending the hospital school over the past year is invited to bring a guest, including brothers and sisters who relocated to the area while their sibling received care. Even past-year prom goers are hooked, some flying in from as far as Hawaii and Arizona.

"It's amazing how many of our former patients and students are coming back to the hospital to volunteer at prom," marveled Kathy. "The older teens are making plans with the younger students, encircling them with a sense of community, and creating a haven for the sickest of kids. That's what it's all about."

Read more about Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford here.

Published in social
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 19:32

Free Autism Insurance Workshops

Learn How to Navigate California Mandated Autism Coverage, Senate Bill 946: Trumpet Behavioral Health Launches California Autism Insurance Education Program to Help Parents Understand Their Rights, Maximize Funding Options and Access Care for Their Children with Autism.

Families paying out-of-pocket costs for autism treatment will soon get much-needed relief. Starting July 1, the new California Autism Insurance Mandate requires health plans to cover treatment for children with autism as a medical benefit. But as July fast approaches, one of the state's largest treatment providers says parents are not sure of what is covered or how to access coverage.

WHO:

Trumpet Behavioral Health (TBH) provides autism treatment for children and adults at its centers and in schools and family homes. The Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider is already answering dozens of questions a day from concerned and confused parents.

WHAT:

TBH is launching a statewide program to help families prepare for these changes. The initiative includes free eligibility reviews, workshops for parents, and TV, radio, social media and print advertising.

WHY:

Parents are excited about the coming changes. But many families are not sure how to access their coverage or what specifically is covered by their insurance. Many need help understanding the complexities of the California Autism Insurance Mandate (Senate Bill 946).

HOW:

Free Insurance Eligibility Reviews and Workshops. Parents can complete their requests online at MyAutismInsurance.com or they can call toll-free 1-855-824-5669 (select option 2).

Parents also can attend free workshops to learn what their health plan covers and to ask questions of TBH's insurance specialists. To view a complete list and register, please visit AutismCali.com.

TBH will help parents learn how to secure insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis, Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

WHEN / WHERE:

May 29: San twlqje

May 30: Woodland Hills

June 5: Eureka

June 6: Foster City/San Mateo

June 7: Santa Rosa

June 12: Santa Clarita

June 13: Woodland Hills

June 14: Long Beach

June 19: Oakland

June 20: Walnut Creek

June 21: San Rafael

June 26: Hayward

June 27: Pleasanton

June 28: Brentwood

July 11: Irvine

About Trumpet Behavioral Health

For more than 30 years, Trumpet Behavioral Health has provided families in California with exceptional, outcomes-based treatment using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). TBH offers early intervention at its intensive treatment centers, as well as home-based and in-school services. TBH is one of the state's largest providers of autism treatment. TBH's Board Certified clinicians and professionals serve families in the communities of East Bay, Humboldt, North Bay, Hayward, San Mateo, San twlqje, Salinas/Monterey Bay, Orange County and Los Angeles.


Published in do-gooding
Thursday, 29 March 2012 21:34

Autism + Household Chemicals

Today, the Centers for Disease Control updated its estimate of autism incidence in this country to an eye-popping 1 in 88 (from 1 in 110).

While the exact causes of autism remain unknown there is substantial evidence implicating environmental contaminants including chemicals. This evidence was best summarized by Dr. Phil Landrigan, Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Mt Sinai School of Medicine in his peer-reviewed 2010 paper, "What causes Autism? Exploring the environmental contribution."

Since then a 2011 Stanford University study of twins -- the largest ever -- implicated environmental factors for 57% of autism cases. Current policy at the federal level does not require chemicals to be evaluated for neurotoxicity (or any other health effect), and many known neurotoxins are used in commerce today. The CDC's chemical "biomonitoring" program has identified neurotoxins among the industrial chemicals it has detected as widespread in average Americans.

Responding to the announcement, Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, said, "Autism already takes an enormous toll on American families so it is bad news, indeed, that it is getting worse. As evidence accumulates that unregulated chemicals contribute substantially to autism, chemical policy reform becomes even more of a moral imperative. This spring the US Senate can help alleviate the problem by passing the Safe Chemicals Act, which would, for the first time, create an orderly process for identifying the chemicals that contribute to conditions like autism and apply appropriate restrictions."

--Statement from Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families

Published in health
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 21:12

Autism + Bunnies + Light It Up Blue

Lindt Celebrity Gold Bunny Auction benefits Autism Speaks for Autism Awareness Month by Dandelion magazine blogsLindt, the swiss chocolatier, is holding a benefit auction: 75 of their signature gold bunnies, each with a celebrity's signature, are up for grabs -- and 100 percent of the proceeds benefit Autism Speaks

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, these porcelain versions of the Lindt bunny will be auctioned on eBay March 8-18. Which means that you still have time to snag a bunny signed by Kristin Chenoweth, Harrison Ford, Peyton Manning, Brad Paisley, Katherine Heigl, Regis Philbin, Sara Jessica Parker....

Click here to read more about Lindt's Celebrity Gold Bunny Auction, view all of the celebs, and place your bid.

PLUS, Autism Speaks encourages you to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) and "Light It Up Blue." Now in its third year, the "Light It Up Blue" campaign helps raise awareness about autism. Iconic landmarks around the world show their support by sporitng a blue facade -- and you can too, whther it's your front porch or your Facebook icon.

Click here to learn how you can help shine a light on autism and to view pictures of blue-facaded landmarks, from Niagra Falls in Canada and the Canton Tower in China to the Palacio de Belles Artes in Mexico and the Terminal Tower in Ohio.

Published in do-gooding
Thursday, 08 March 2012 22:58

Autism Sings

Normally he's lost for words but put him in front of a microphone and Kyle Coleman can belt out a hit.

For most of his life Kyle, who has autism that rendered him mute, never spoke a word. Now at age 25, Kyle is breaking his silence and recording an album. The album, "Kyle, Therefore I Am," will be available on Amazon and iTunes on April 2. Money raised will go to the National Autistic Society.

I know what you're thinking -- how is this even possible...?!

Rewind to 2009, when his mother took Kyle to a music therapy session. There, Kyle not only picked up on music immediately (recreating his favorite songs through instinct), Kyle found music to be a natural way to express his emotions. Emotions that he could never previously express.

Kyle has recorded nine covers in addition to one special tune that was written about autism specfically for him to sing. The album's release is set to coincide with World Autism Day.

Dandelion recently featured a story about music therapy: click here to read on.

And, check out our very own Rhythms & Melodies blogger, who shares her passion and insights on the amazing power of music.

Published in do-gooding
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Dandelion is a free quarterly magazine that serves as a resource for Bay Area and Sacramento families of children with special needs: autism and Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, those who are blind, deaf, in wheelchairs, learning disorders, sensory issues and every special need in between. Dandelion’s mission is to create and empower a community of local families through a variety of media by providing a database of resources, trusted and thought-provoking editorial content, an up-to-date calendar of special needs-specific events, noteworthy news, as well as contributions to the community.