This Grandmother Started A Fashion Line For People With Down Syndrome

“I can’t believe I’m making a difference,” Karen Bowersox says, “all with a pair of jeans.”

The 65-year-old is the founder of Downs Designs, a company that makes clothing for people with Down syndrome.

“When [people with Down syndrome] are forced to wear clothes from everyday stores, the clothing makes them look different. All you see is the Down syndrome,” Bowersox told The Huffington Post. “When they wear our pants and they fit and they look and feel more comfortable, they can be confident in themselves. You don’t see the Down syndrome anymore.”

Bowersox’s granddaughter, Maggie, inspired the endeavor back in 2010. Maggie, now 9, has Down syndrome, and it’s been a challenge to find clothes that fit her, Bowersox told HuffPost.

Grandma had the solution.

Continue reading This Grandmother Started A Fashion Line For People With Down Syndrome

L’Arche: Bazaar, Talent Show to Raise Solidarity Funds – March 8, 2014

L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C. is committed to sharing financial gifts with communities around the world that have limited resources. While some L’Arche communities are supported by both generous friends and government funding, other communities are dependent on the donations received by communities like ours.

Dollars raised at this event will help our sister communities pay for basic necessities like housing, food and medicine, and assistant stipends. 100% of your tax-deductible gift goes directly to solidarity to be used where needed most. Can’t make it on March 8? Give a gift online, making sure to note “solidarity” in the comments.

Please join L’Arche Greater Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 8, 2014
2:30 – Bazaar
(cash or check)

3:30-5:30 Talent Show

5:30 Pizza Party 
(RSVP appreciated*)

$10 suggested donation
(cash, credit card, check)

Marymount University
Reinsch Library Auditorium
4626 North 26th Street
Arlington, VA 22207

more details

Jan Wintrol – Washingtonian of the Year: Leading the Way in Autism Education


[from the Washingtonian] Kids come to Ivymount from 11 local jurisdictions—and often have been bullied. The education plans they’re required to follow are based on a variety of emotional and educational needs, and no two are the same. One-on-one attention and data tracking to evaluate programs are of the utmost importance to Wintrol. Some students attend Ivymount for a short time before they’re mainstreamed; others stay till they’re 21. Those 16 and older do community work so they can develop skills that might help them land jobs once they leave.

Students and graduates who can are working—helping with hospitality and security at NIH, tracking down delinquent tax revenue for Montgomery County, labeling ice-cream containers at Moorenko’s warehouse. “They have to live in the community,” Wintrol says. “They can’t stay in the Ivymount bubble forever.”

The school’s programs aren’t kept in the Ivymount bubble, either. Staff does outreach to teachers and families, and in the next few years a program at the historic Stevens School in DC’s Foggy Bottom will train local special-education teachers.

Some people who hear about Ivymount tell Jan Wintrol she’s a saint, but she says, “It’s not magic, just a lot of hard work.”

NPR: “Florida Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana For Child Seizures”

Florida may soon become the latest state to allow doctors to prescribe marijuana. Advocates there are gathering signatures to put a medical marijuana referendum on the fall ballot.

But Florida’s Legislature may act sooner to allow residents access to a particular type of marijuana. Advocates say the strain called Charlotte’s Web offers hope to children with severe seizure disorders.

Paige Figi is a Colorado mom whose young daughter Charlotte suffers from Dravet syndrome. It’s a debilitating genetic disease that left the little girl unable to walk, talk or eat. Figi says an oil extracted from a particular strain of marijuana has helped save her daughter’s life.

“Charlotte is doing great,” says Figi, who was in Tallahassee, Fla., to testify at a legislative hearing. “She’s two years in to treatment. I would have brought her here, but she can’t leave Colorado.”

That’s because the marijuana extract her daughter depends on can’t legally be transported across state lines.

It’s from a variety of marijuana with very little tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the primary component that produces the high. Instead, the strain has very high amounts of another compound — cannabidiol, or CBD.

A few years ago, Figi told legislators, her daughter was having 300 seizures a week. After trying every drug and therapy she and her husband could think of, they started Charlotte on a marijuana extract that contained high amounts of CBD. She takes just a few milligrams of the oil each day in her food.

The results have been dramatic, Figi says. “She’s 99 percent — almost 100 percent — seizure-free,” she adds. “She has about one or two seizures a month now, [down] from 1,200.” Continue reading NPR: “Florida Bill Would Allow Medical Marijuana For Child Seizures”

WSJ: “Splintered System Often Fails Mentally Ill With Low IQs”

RIVERSIDE, Calif.—Deborah Clark said a voice named Dora told her to burn books in a hall closet. She lighted them while her elderly, ailing parents slept and then walked to the store to buy dog food.

Smoke from the fire in April 2012 killed both of them, the local coroner ruled. Prosecutors charged Ms. Clark with arson and murder. The 49-year-old woman is in protective custody in a Riverside County jail, awaiting a court hearing Thursday on whether she is competent to go on trial.

When her siblings visit, she asks if she can go home. Ms. Clark says she misses her mother and father and dreams about them almost every night.

Ms. Clark has schizophrenia and an IQ of 63. The voices she hears are a symptom of her mental illness, and her childlike mental functioning is a developmental disability. While her case ended in extreme tragedy, it spotlights the huge challenges facing an estimated 1.5 million people in the U.S. who suffer from a debilitating combination of mental illness and developmental disability. Continue reading WSJ: “Splintered System Often Fails Mentally Ill With Low IQs”

Identity Critique: “I AM NOT AN ASPIE”

Guest Blogger Morad Motamedi is a graduate of George Mason University Class of 2013 who majored in sport management. He graduated with a 3.7 GPA and was an honor roll student. His goal is to work in the sport industry such as a fitness center or a sports stadium.

My passion for sport has been a big force in my life. Sport has had an effect on my socialization and cultural expression. I am by nature a person who loves participation in sports and love being around people. Since my childhood, although I was very much interested in meeting people and making friends, for some reasons then unknown to me the opportunities never presented themselves. Early in my childhood, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is clinically defined as social communication disorder.

People with Asperger’s, I am told, have a poor self identity. Although I wanted to make friends and be part of a group, it must have been my inability to make conversation and communicate that prevented me to express myself in a meaningful and friendly manner. My love for sport opened the door to a very wonderful exciting world.

People with Asperger’s are called Aspies. I do not see myself in a different world. I have done mostly my communication with people through sports. Sport has been the main subject of my conversations, entertainment, education and social life. I travel often with my parents and wherever we go, the first place to visit is the main sport stadium in that particular city. I have been at TD Garden in Boston, Staples Center in Los Angeles, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Madison Square Garden in New York, Orioles Park in Baltimore, Football Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Olympic Village in Montreal, and University of Moscow Idaho sport facility.
Continue reading Identity Critique: “I AM NOT AN ASPIE”