Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tim Shriver & Stephen Colbert Discuss the R-Word

Tim Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, held his own last night with Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report talking about ending use of the r-word. Great awareness. Great exposure. Kennedy hair.

Love him!

For those who still aren't aware, the currently acceptable term (replacing the r-word) is intellectual disabilities, chosen by the athletes themselves.

Personally, I love using people's names.

It's about respect for all, especially for this often forgotten population.

Watch the interview here.

Photo of another terrific RicStar's Camp participant by Erik Taylor Photography 2011. Reminder: 2011 camp registration is still on going.

How I Got My Literary Agent

For all those wanna-be authors curious about how I got my agent, especially those with a great story of their own to tell, follow this link. Maybe something in my journey will help you realize your own dreams.

There are few overnight success stories.

Photo of my realizing my long-time dream of seeing my book published and on the parenting shelves of Barnes & Noble in New York City (face out!!) by Jenna Winter.

Did You Know? -April is National Autism Awareness Month

1 in 110 children.
1 in 70 boys.

Find out more here.

Photo of another terrific RicStar's Camp participant, Ben, by Erik Taylor Photography 2011. Reminder: 2011 camp registration is still on going.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Words of Wisdom from the Dalai Lama -April 2011

"Whatever your actions, it's the intention you hold in your heart that truly matters."
-the Dalai Lama

Special Needs Shout Out! -Paralyzed Bride Prepares to Walk Down the Aisle

If you're familiar with my work, you know I'm all about proving stats wrong, inspirational tales, and championing the underdog. Which means, I love sharing feel-good special needs stories with you whenever I can. Because wedding season is almost upon is, here's a seasonal story I think you'll like, and another reminder that very little in life worth achieving comes easily. This tale is no exception.

Read 'Hard work gets a paralyzed bride-to-be ready to walk down the aisle,'

Dreams do come true.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Patiently Waiting for Spring

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Food for Thought 2011 -the FDA, Food Dyes & Hyperactivity

Many people have questioned whether or not all those lovely colors and additives in children's cereal and other good-tasting stuff may contribute to hyperactivity in kids, a connection neither proven nor disproven, so far. Now, the Federal Drug Association (FDA) is taking a closer look regarding this discussion and potential link during a two-day meeting being held today and tomorrow.

Read 'FDA Weighs Food Dye, Hyperactivity Risk,' here.

Just don't mess with my Girl Scout Cookies or Turtle Sundaes.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Special Needs Television Alert- Tim Shriver on The Colbert Report Tonight

Per my friends at Special Olympics: Chairman and CEO, Tim Shriver, will appear on
The Colbert Report on Comedy Central tonight at 11:30 p.m. discussing a variety of topics, including the on-going R-word campaign. The program will repeat several times on March 31st. Check local listings for times.

Tim Shriver is one terrific spokesman.

Update: Less than 1,500 pledges needed to reach the 200,000 mark. Please consider adding your voice to this important Special Olympics campaign.

Judy Winter

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with the L.A. Kings Day in Los Angeles

Short notice, but if you're in Los Angeles today, consider attending Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day with the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles at the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Game.

Here are some basics from the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA):

All children and any adults with Down syndrome may participate in the Tunnel Team where we all line up and high five the Kings team as they take the ice. Meet behind section 110 by the Wells Fargo ATM's at the end of the first period.

The same children and adults will participate in our DSALA Bench Spotlight. Meet at the same place when there is 5 minutes left in the 2nd period. We will go to the Kings bench for the cameras to spotlight us on the big screen.

For more info, to add your name to the tunnel team list, and to ensure seats are still available, contact DSALA at 818-786-0001.

Photos DSALA Buddy Walk Judy Winter 2011

Judy Winter

On Going Registration for 9th Annual RicStar's Camp

REMINDER: Photo Op! -Christopher & Dana Reeve 2011 Photo Contest Announced

There's still time to enter your photo in the photo contest. Entrants must be living with paralysis. Details here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recognizing World Down Syndrome Day 2011

Some of my favorite people in the world happen to have Down syndrome, like my friend the very talented working actor Blair Williamson, participants in the annual DSALA Buddy Walk, many of our terrific campers at RicStar's Camp, and the brand new voice of special needs advocacy Lauren Potter from Glee. This post is for them and for all those with Down syndrome.

Celebrating you.

Find out more about today's World Down Syndrome Day here.

Photos Judy Winter 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Special Needs Shout Out! -Matthew Sanford & Yoga for Those with Special Needs

Teaching yoga to those with special needs is a wonderful, healing practice, and becoming more common. But when your yoga teacher is Matthew Sanford of Mind Body Solutions, and he's a paraplegic, that's a remarkable and inspirational tale worth sharing.

Love yoga. Love this story.

Find out more about this terrific resource here.


Photo Judy Winter 2011

Did You Know? March is Parenting Awareness Month

No one is more important in the life of a child, than a loving, involved parent, and no one is asked to work harder at this role than the loving, dedicated, gutsy parents of special needs kids.

No one.

You have the power to change lives, including your own.

Photo Detroit Public Library by Judy Winter 2011/Educate yourself.

Judy Winter

Playing Photographer -Fun Photos

With the ever growing, even dire need for charitable support/efforts worldwide, I find this simple sentiment at the University of Michigan Museum of Art especially appropriate.

But I'm still a Spartan.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

On Going Registration for 9th Annual RicStar's Camp

For more info, click here.

Update -Spread the Word to End the Word 2011

Just 5,000 more pledges needed to reach the 200,000 mark. Please consider adding your voice to this important Special Olympics campaign.

R should stand for respect.

Judy Winter

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Remembering & Celebrating Dana Reeve

One of the highlights of my professional career was interviewing Dana Reeve for my book. I found her charming, funny, gutsy, well spoken, and very wise. Had she lived, today would have been Dana's 50th year of life.

I will always be grateful that her words of wisdom live on through my work and that of others. I'm also thrilled that the important resources she helped create continue through the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the Paralysis Resource Center, two of my favorite resources.

Like her husband, Dana Reeve was a remarkable individual and activist and she is sorely missed, including by the special needs community that she served so well.

I will be forever grateful for my time with her, and I will never forget her.

For more about today's celebration of Dana Reeve's life and work, click here.

Photo courtesy of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

Irish Blessings & MSU Spartans- Go Green!

If this is March Madness, then MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo must be dancing.

Spartan grad/fan that I am, here are a few of my many images that celebrate the wee bit o' the Irish in ye or a whole lot of Spartan, or both.

Go Green!

Photos by Judy Winter 2011. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Celebrating March is Reading Month!

Reminder that March is Reading Month! So pick up a book and read to yourself and to your kids.

I love books and indulge in them every month. In fact, I'm juggling four right now.

Great escape.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Special Needs Casting Alert! -Toys r Us Looking for Models for 2012 Differently Abled Toy Guide

Toys 'R' Us is looking to cast children with special needs between the ages of 12 months to 10 years for its annual Toy Guide for Differently Abled Kids. Deadline to apply is April 15th.

Find out more here.

It's one of my favorite things.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Update on Fancy Nancy Contestant, Fancy Audrey

You may recall from a past post, that
six-year-old Audrey Presby, was in the running to become part of the popular 'Fancy Nancy' book series about confident young girls who love to dress up.

Thanks to your votes, the adorable California girl, who has Down syndrome and Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis ended up #17 out of more than 600 entries in the Fancy Nancy Fantastic Photo Contest and is still in the running for this gig. A panel from HarperCollins, publishers of the series, will select the winner.

Recently, Fancy Audrey got to spend time with the books' illustrator, Robin Preiss Glasser. Read about that here.

How cool would it be to have a child with special needs included in this traditional and popular fancy girl book series? Very cool indeed.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

The Devastation in Japan

My heart and prayers are with the people of Japan as they face such terrible, on-going devastation in their country.

At horrific times like these, words fail.

Here are some ways we can all help.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Judy Winter

Special Needs Reminder -I am NORM Campaign

Reminder: If you haven't already done so, consider checking out the NORM campaign I've blogged about in the past. Worth the time.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Sexiest Man Alive? -Disability Scoop Interviews Zach Anner

Another quick update on Zach Anner, winner of his own travel show on the Oprah Winfrey Network
(OWN). The terrific special needs resource Disability Scoop, recently interviewed Anner and the article is filled with insightful and thoughtful responses from the Texas-based comedian.

I laughed when the talented and funny Anner also stated that one of his goals now is to become People's Sexiest Man Alive. Given Anner's success getting himself on and then winning his own travel show on OWN, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he does just that. In addition to being smart and talented, Zach Anner is one handsome dude.

Can a Facebook push be far behind? Ah, the power of social media.

Read the interview

Photo of RicStar's Camp participant Lauren by Jenna Winter 2011.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

21 Days of 21 Quotes from 21 People with Trisomy 21/Down Syndrome

In honor of the upcoming World Down Syndrome Day March 21, this comes via my friends at the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA), although others are doing it, too.

Seems like an appropriate way to offset my earlier post about a new blood test to detect Down syndrome in pregnancy.

Follow the quotes here.

Meet Zach Anner's Mom

Check out an interview with Zach Anner's mom, Susan, on the popular special needs parenting website Love that Max. Think I know where Zach,winner of his OWN Show, got his cool sense of humor, and his zest for life.

Go Zach and Susan!

See my previous Zach Anner blog with all those cool Anner links posted on February 26th.

Special Needs Kudos! -BraunAbility & MobilityWorks Gift Van to Ousted American Idol Chris Medina & Fiance Juliana Ramos

Chris Medina fell just short of making it into the top 24 in this year's
American Idol, but his brief exposure on the mega-hit show, and his emotional personal story, continues to reap valuable benefits.

Medina and his beautiful fiance Juliana Ramos, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a car accident that left her a wheelchair user, have been given a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan with an automatic ramp and approximate value of $45,000.

Kudos to BraunAbility and MobilityWorksfor making this good news happen.

Because my son was a wheelchair user, I know that this incredible gift means increased freedom and valuable mobility for the couple already seriously challenged by the daily reality of Ramos' accident.

Read the Chicago Sun Times piece announcing the gift here.

Yet another reminder that disability can happen to anyone at any time.

Special Note: Kudos to the Chicago Sun Times reporter, too, for using the term brain injured instead of brain damaged in this piece.

Photo of Michigan ADA 20th anniversary participant by Judy Winter 2011.

On Going Registration for 9th Annual RicStar's Camp

For more info, click here.

Special Needs News! -New Blood Test to Detect Down Syndrome?

In an AOL News Now report that is bound to excite many families, while causing concern and much valuable, complex and heated discussion about ethical issues and those with special needs, scientists in Cyprus appear to be just one to two years away from a blood test that could detect Down syndrome in pregnant women. The potential find is being called a game changer.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ten Key Tips for Working with Special Needs Families

(Copyright Judy Winter 2011/ all rights reserved)
  • Remember –children with special needs are PEOPLE FIRST! Try not to define them or their families by disability. Use people's names.
  • Avoid use of limiting labels and outdated terminology. Words are mighty powerful-be careful how you choose them and how you use them. Would what you are saying or doing would be good enough for your own child/family? Be sensitive to the fact that you are talking about someone’s child/sibling/grandchild, etc.
  • Highlight the strengths of a child or family before addressing the challenges at hand. Focus on the needs and potential of the child. Look beyond disability to focus on individual ability. It can make a difference in how you view and interact with that child, and on how you problem solve.
  • Check for personal biases regarding individuals with special needs and work hard to change them. Avoid judging families, especially when you lack accurate, balanced information. Work instead to better understand and respect the needs of diverse families in an increasingly global society. The only person we have the right to judge is ourselves. Through your own actions, model necessary change.
  • Recognize the importance of open, honest and respectful communication between professionals and families and model it accordingly. Work hard to become a more skilled listener. Avoid using emotional, condescending language like ‘false hope’ and ‘dealing with reality.’
  • Include parents in important decisions regarding their children whenever possible.Teamwork is vital to the success of children with special needs. Work hard to promote and model dynamic partnerships between professionals and families; share your ideas with your peers. Remember the important role/needs of siblings in the family unit.
  • Adhere to the laws protecting the rights of individuals with special needs, including the right to privacy. Avoid water-cooler talk that is not productive, positive or factual. Don't open yourself up to possible libel or slander.
  • Model leadership designed to help all children and families succeed, no matter how small the gain. Ask yourself what you have to learn from a particularly challenging situation.
  • Advocate for needed change within your own profession. Uphold the highest professional standards and be proactive, not reactive in your daily actions. Do your profession proud. Recognize that one person-YOU- can make a difference in a child’s life. Do that honor justice.
  • Never lose your sense of humor! Humor is a terrific stress release and a great coping tool.
SPECIAL NOTE: Feel free to copy, distribute or refer to these special tips, but please credit Judy Winter author of Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations.

Photo by Jenna Winter 2011

Judy Winter

Lauren Potter aka GLEE'S Becky Jackson on Entertainment Tonight

Lauren Potter, a.k.a. Becky Jackson from the mega-hit FOX series GLEE, continues her media appearances and vocal support of the spread-the-word-to-end-the-word campaign including on Entertainment Tonight, where Potter also announced that a mega fan is now her new boyfriend.

"Enough is enough," Potter says of use of the r-word to put others down. I agree.

Watch the ET interview here.

You can also read a People magazine article about Potter and bullying here.

Lauren's recent media interviews, plus the appearance of Marlee Matlin on The Celebrity Apprentice, James Durbin making it into American Idol's Top 13, and Zach Anner gettin his OWN Show have this special needs activist feeling that Feb/March have been terrific months for special needs awareness.

The times, and special needs awareness, they are a changin'.

Photo Judy Winter 2011

Special Needs Shout Out! New York Times-Fan Helps Game Designers Open Doors

Hans Smith is a 24-year-old Boise State student with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. He also loved playing baseball video games on his Playstation 3, but he had difficulty with the game because of his challenged motor skills.

That's all about to change. Smith recently served as a consultant to Sony Computer Entertainment America in the design of the new version of MLB The Show baseball video game being released tomorrow that makes the popular new game more accessible to those with special needs. Smith's involvement with game designers began after he sent a heartfelt thank you to Sony to tell them how much he loved playing baseball video games, especially since he wasn't able to play the game on the field.

The design team took notice.

Read (New York Times) Fan Helps Game Designers Open Doors in Virtual World here.

Yet another way technology is helping change the world for those with special needs, and another way those with special needs are themselves contributing to such change.