Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31

Human Interest:
Is it worth getting worked up over Halloween costumes? (NAMI blog, National Alliance on Mental Illness)
During this Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation, about 40 percent of Americans will wear costumes, and 30 percent will visit haunted-house attractions. Unfortunately, there are too many cases where haunted houses are set up as “haunted asylums” with depictions of people with mental illness as violent monsters. Costumes are also sold of “mental patients” in straitjackets.

Employment:
Pledging “I’m In To Hire” individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (Forbes)
Some of the world’s largest companies have launched initiatives to hire individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), in part as a public relations effort to repair their images in the community. But these employers have found that hiring individuals with IDD amounts to a smart business decision with extra dividends. Companies are rewarded with loyal employees with resilient work ethics and positive attitudes that are instilled into the entire team of co-workers. The work environment becomes more inclusive and customers who frequent these businesses even report higher levels of satisfaction.

Nutrition:
Healthy eating eluding many with disabilities (Disability Scoop)
People with disabilities are falling far short of consuming recommended levels of vitamins and other nutrients, according to a new study. Researchers looked at data on nearly 12,000 people, including over 4,200 with various disabilities, who participated in the government’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. People with disabilities were less likely than participants overall to follow guidelines on saturated fat, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium. Those with the most severe disabilities were least likely to report good nutritional habits, the study found.

Compound in cocoa found to reverse age-related memory loss (The Washington Post)
A new study suggests that a natural compound found in cocoa, tea, and some vegetables can reverse age-related memory loss. The compound, called flavanols, appears to increase connectivity and, subsequently, blood flow in a region of the brain critical to memory. The study, involving 37 healthy individuals aged 50 to 69 years, was built on previous work showing that flavanols extracted from cocoa beans had improved neural connections in mice’s dentate gyrus, a part of the brain involved in memory formation.

Rehabilitation:
Skin patch may offer a better means of treating diabetic foot ulcers (Gizmag)
Diabetic foot ulcers are slow to heal due to blockages in the blood vessels restricting the flow of oxygen to the wound and the impairment of a protein known as HIF-1α, the latter of which results in attacks on the genes responsible for the formation of capillaries at wound sites. A team from the Stanford University School of Medicine developed a transdermal skin patch that brings medication to the foot ulcer. It utilizes an array of micro needles to painlessly poke holes in the top layer of the skin, allowing for a gradual release of a drug that increases HIF-1 α in diabetics, in combination with an existing drug, deferoxamine.

Dogs help valley’s special needs kids develop new skills (The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, CA)
Three collies from nonprofit group K-9 Friendly Visitors, which provides services to deaf, hard of hearing, and special needs students in Palm Springs, CA, pay regular visits to area schools. For three years, the dogs have been helping students learn new skills and feel more connected with the world around them. The students in an adult transition program class at one high school range from 18 to 22. The class gives young adults who are unable to do the coursework required for a diploma the opportunity to continue developing their life skills. The therapy dogs help fulfill that mission. The article includes a video showing the dogs at work with the students.

Research:
New play method helps social skills in children with autism (Science World Report)
A recent study looked at how a new play method may enhance social skills among children with autism. Researchers examined “Integrated Play Groups” that focus on collaborative rather than adult-directed activities that are significantly more efficient for teaching autistic children the skills needed to interact with peers. The study, which involved 48 children with autism, showed that integrated play groups helped boost their ability to engage in pretend play.

Technology:
Your retirement may include a robot helper (MIT Technology Review)
As robots become safer, smarter, and more capable, robotics companies are eyeing elder care as a potential market. Estimates from the United Nations suggest the population over 65 worldwide will increase 181 percent between 2010 and 2050, compared to a 33 percent increase in people aged 15 to 65. That shift will create a large incentive to automate at least some assistive work. Some robots are already lending a mechanical hand. As part of a European Union-funded research project, senior citizens have had their homes equipped with sensors to track their activity and health. Some nursing homes give lonely residents a robotic seal called Paro as a companion. It responds to petting by cooing and purring and will cry if dropped or ignored.

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