New Study Finds Moms of Children with ASD Prone to Depression

Blog: Moms w/Depression new

Despite the joys it brings, the day-to-day grind of motherhood also brings a great deal of stress and anxiety. Mothering a child on the autism spectrum is especially challenging because children with ASD can exhibit difficult behaviors, such as tantrums and aggression. Additionally, mothers of children with ASD worry about their children’s development and their futures.

Perhaps not surprisingly, a  new study in the journal Family Process reveals that mothers of children with autism have higher rates of depression than mothers of typically developing children.

The study, “Is it Me or My Child? The Association Between Maternal Depression and Children’s Behavior Problems in Mothers and Their Children With or Without Autism” found that 50 percent of mothers with children on the autism spectrum had depressive symptoms, while only between 6 and 13.6 percent of mothers with typically developing children had symptoms of depression during the same time period.

Led by Danielle Roubinov of the University of California, San Francisco, the study took place over 18 months and included 86 mothers of children between 2 and 16 years old. Approximately half of the participants had children on the autism spectrum.

Mothers were assessed for depression using a tool called the Inventory of Depression Symptoms. They also completed the Child’s Challenging Behavior Scale. The two scales were used to determine whether mothers’ depressive symptoms correlated with their children’s behaviors and also looked at whether mothers’ depressions impacted their children’s behaviors.

Interestingly, the study found that “Child behavior predicted maternal depression, but the converse was not true, regardless of parenting stress levels or child’s ASD diagnosis.” Roubinov and her colleagues surmised that these findings might relieve guilt in mothers with autistic children who were concerned their depressive symptoms might negatively affect their children.

Relieving mothers’ guilt is of course, a good outcome. But it’s not enough. We’ve said it before, in previous blogposts, but it bears repeating. Caregiving is tremendously stressful to caregivers who can become vulnerable to mental and physical illness if they don’t practice good self-care.

Here’s a reminder of self-care practices that can relieve depressive symptoms:

Know the symptoms of depression
If you are experiencing persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt or unworthiness; losing interest in activities that once gave you pleasure; if you observe changes in your sleep or appetite, you may be depressed.

Seek professional help
Don’t assume that depressive symptoms will just blow over and don’t succumb to stigma about mental illness. Remember that mental illness is a health issue requiring treatment, just like heart disease or diabetes. If you believe that you might be depressed, reach out to a mental health professional for consultation, therapy and/or medication.

Take time to destress and rejuvenate
You may feel as if you have no time to spare, but it’s imperative that you allow yourself to take breaks when your fuel tank is empty. Don’t be afraid to delegate some of your responsibilities to a spouse, friend or family member. Giving yourself an opportunity to rest will give you the energy to maintain an optimal level of caregiving.

Do something you love
Sometimes, caring for a child with challenges is so all encompassing that moms put aside everything that once gave them joy. Even if it’s just once a week, give yourself permission to be with friends, take a fitness class, get a mani-pedi, or have a date with your spouse or partner.

Don’t try to do everything
Many moms believe that they have to be perfect or super-human. There’s no need to attend every family event, volunteer for every school outing, or cook a gourmet meal every night. In short, give yourself a break! You deserve it.

GUIDE Beauty Brings Inclusiveness to Cosmetics Industry

Blog: Accessible Beauty

(Founder Terri Bryant and Chief Creative Officer Selma Blair)

 

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Khalil Gibran

We couldn’t agree more. And yet… it can be fun to experiment with cosmetics. GUIDE Beauty, a company that makes cosmetics specifically designed for individuals with fine motor and dexterity challenges, makes being Instagram-ready possible for anyone who wants to enhance their natural beauty.

GUIDE Beauty was founded in 2020 by celebrity makeup artist Terri Bryant. Bryant, who had been experiencing unexplained stiffness and deteriorating fine motor and finger dexterity for years, was finally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in her early 40s. The diagnosis changed her life and career path.

“As a professional makeup artist, I felt a natural ability that most of my friends, family, and clients did not share,” Bryant said in a press release. “When that ability shifted due to the onset of Parkinson’s Disease it became so clear that my needs, like so many, had not been considered in the design and development of the products I had always used, so I decided it was time to create them.”

Bryant reached out to clean chemists and product designers trained in universal design to come up with her own line of vegan, gluten free, cruelty-free cosmetics and makeup tools that would make cosmetic application accessible to individuals with fine motor and dexterity challenges. She also tested the products on hundreds of makeup users of all abilities to ensure that they were effective for as many people as possible. As it turned out, the new product designs, including a “patented GUIDE Ring to steady the hand and make application smooth and easy” worked better for everyone. “When we design with all people in mind, we create the best products for everyone,” says Bryant.

In spring 2022, actress, memoirist and multiple sclerosis advocate Selma Blair became GUIDE’s Chief Creative Officer and a partner in the business.  Blair, who went public with her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2018, was passionate about the company’s mission, and had the public profile needed to grow the line and take the company to the next level.

“When I first held the GUIDE Wand, I immediately felt more confident than I ever had with a traditional pencil liner and found myself looking forward to doing my own makeup for the first time in a long time,” said Blair… “Upon meeting Terri, we bonded instantly over our mutual love of makeup and its ability to transform a face and a day. I’m thrilled to join her and GUIDE to create and advocate for a more inclusive world of beauty.”

Currently GUIDE offers universally designed eye liner, mascara, eye shadow, brow liner, and a range of accessible makeup brushes and applicators. Check out GUIDE’s website for tutorials on how to apply all their products.

988 Will Benefit Individuals with Dual Diagnoses of Disability and Mental Illness

988 Suicide Crisis

In 2021, Vivek Murthy, the Surgeon General of the United States, issued an advisory about the mental health crisis among teens and young adults in the United States. She stressed that “even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide.”

Murthy’s advisory emphasized that the pandemic has been especially detrimental to youth with disabilities who were forced to cope with the inadequacies of online learning, day program closures, caregiver shortages, reduced socialization opportunities and more. COVID-19 also added to the already significant stressors of parents and family members of disabled youth.

But disabled youth and their families aren’t the only Americans with disabilities who faced increased mental health challenges before and after the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that adults those living with disabilities are far more likely to experience mental health and substance abuse disorders than those without disabilities.

A new national hotline – 988 – which launched on July 16, may be one step toward mitigating some aspects of the crisis.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the hotline, designated by Congress in 2020, “offers 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.” The hotline will be “operated through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”

SAMHSA considers 988 “a first step towards a transformed crisis care system in America.” SAMHSA and others in the mental health and addiction fields believe that 988 will be more effective than the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline because it offers more direct access to the Lifeline network and additional mental health and addiction resources. It differs from the services provided through 911, which typically sends police, fire fighters and EMS teams to crisis locations.

Previously the National Suicide Prevention Hotline had a long phone number that was hard to remember. Advocates of 988 believe that having a 3-digit phone number that’s easy to remember, will also make a difference.

Kim Musheno, vice president of public policy at the Autism Society of America recently told Disability Scoop, “[we] are optimistic that 988 will benefit people with autism and other developmental disabilities, many of whom have co-occurring mental health conditions.”

Musheno explained that when individuals with autism and their families are confronted with a mental health or behavioral crisis, they “often have nowhere to turn. This often results in a call to the police or taking the individual to a hospital. Neither is appropriate,” said Musheno, who hopes that call center staff at 988 will be better equipped to handle mental health crises. This is especially critical in the case of developmentally or intellectually disabled individuals who may have difficulty expressing their needs to people who don’t have specialized training.

Despite positive reactions to 988, many disabilities activists believe that much more needs to be done to improve behavioral health services for individuals with disabilities and concurrent mental health disorders. For one thing, they say that call center staff should receive mandated training in working specifically with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition, they are calling for better community supports for disabled citizens.

Medical Students Need to Learn More About Needs of IDD Patients

Doctor's Day

Bet you didn’t know that March 30 is World Doctor’s Day! Enabling Devices salutes doctors as well as nurses and other allied health professionals for all they do for us on a regular basis. Where would we be without them, especially during the pandemic?

Yet, it’s also worth considering how doctors could do a better job of caring for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD).

If you or your adult child lives with an (IDD), finding doctors who truly understand your concerns can sometimes be challenging. That’s because most medical students receive next to no training in treating individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

According to the American Academy of Developmental Medicine (AADM), “those who pursue specialties in developmental medicine, [treating individuals with IDD] typically go into pediatrics. That’s not so surprising since, “for most of human history, the average life expectancy for people with IDD was less than 20 years,” says AADM. “Today, the life expectancy of a person with IDD is more than 60 years. The medical field, however, has not kept pace with this significant demographic shift.”

Clearly, this presents a major problem for IDD individuals when they grow into adults.

“The result of this [shortcoming in the medical field] has been high levels of unmet health needs, misdiagnosis, medical mismanagement, polypharmacy and avoidable medical expense,” finds AADM.

Since its inception in 2002, AADM has dedicated itself to improving the quality of healthcare for people with IDD. As such, the organization has spent years advocating for changes in medical school curriculums so that every future doctor has the skills they need to provide quality care to patients with IDD.

In 2009, AAMD founded The National Curriculum Initiative in Developmental Medicine (NCIDM), a program that aims to “define and integrate the concepts of developmental medicine into the medical school curriculum of every medical school in the United States.”

The initiative, led by Dr. Matt Holder, has the support of organizations and businesses including Special Olympics, Walmart Foundation, the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, the North Carolina Mountain Area Health Education Center, the WITH Foundation and the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine. So far, these funding partners have raised almost $2,000,000. According to NCIDM, an additional $1,000,000 is needed to ensure that all medical schools follow its developmental medicine curriculum. AAMD data shows the investment would be well worth it. It is estimated that Medicaid stands to save between $2 billion and $8 billion dollars a year, if the curriculum is adopted.

Yet, the initiative has been met with resistance from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, (LCME), a group cosponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association. To date, only 10 % of medical schools have adopted the NCIDM curriculum. These include prestigious institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Baylor College of Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, and Georgetown University.

Dr. Matt Holder, the doctor who heads up NCIDM, hopes that will soon change. “What we would hope to see is a long-term improvement in not only the ability of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to access care, but an improvement in the quality of care,” he told Disability Scoop in 2019.

“We know, for example, that by changing attitudes and at least having a willingness to see this population and not being intimidated, you won’t turn people away, or you won’t make it uncomfortable for them in your office so they go away.”

Those steps, which are way overdue, would certainly be positive steps forward!

Stay tuned for updates about this important initiative.

Eight Adaptive Exercise Products to Get You in Shape for 2021

People on wheelchair exercising

‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions and once again, getting in shape is at the top of many people’s resolution lists.

Staying physically fit is important for all of us, but especially for people with limited mobility who are susceptible to a variety of medical conditions.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “individuals with limited mobility are at greater risk for obesity or increased body fat, diabetes, and dyslipidemia (among other chronic conditions), putting them at increased risk for cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and death. Increased risk for morbidity and mortality may be due, in part, to the specific disease that limits mobility or leads to the use of a wheelchair, the treatment for the disease (e.g., steroids used to treat MS), and/or a sedentary lifestyle.”

Yet negative outcomes such as the ones referenced aren’t a foregone conclusion by any means.

On the contrary, there are many ways that wheelchair users can remain fit. One option is investing in adaptive exercise equipment designed specifically for wheelchair users. Here are some examples of adaptive equipment that can help you get in shape without leaving your home or your wheelchair. Remember—always check with your physician before beginning any exercise program!

1. Wheelchair Workout Kit
This kit contains everything you need to tone your muscles while sitting in your wheelchair. It includes five sets of progressive resistance tubes; two resistance tubes with handles and a combination hand/finger exerciser and a carrying case. Additionally, the kit comes with instructions for upper body and core exercises.

2. Thera-Band Progressive Resistance System
Strengthen your upper and lower body while increasing mobility, range of motion and coordination with these eight color-coded resistance bands that can be used while sitting in your wheelchair.

3. Pedal Exerciser for Lower and Upper Body
The Pedal Exerciser provides a cardiovascular and strengthening workout that’s just like riding a bicycle. Additionally, this product stimulates circulation, improves range of motion and increases muscle strength and coordination.

4. McLain Wheelchair Training Roller
This apparatus works like a treadmill to provide a great cardiovascular workout. At $1,050, the wheelchair training roller isn’t cheap, but it’s a wonderful tool for the serious athlete.

5. Thera-band Exercise Balls
Strengthen hands and fingers and increase flexibility and coordination with these five color-coded balls. Each ball comes with instructions for 24 exercises.

6. Bowling Ball Pusher
Bowl from your wheelchair with this ingenious device! Built out of steel and aluminum, the bowling ball pusher enables bowlers to push the bowling ball down the lane.

7. Grip Cuff
Designed for individuals with grasping disabilities, the grip cuff enables the wearer to grip weights or handlebars without pain or discomfort.

8. The Underwater Walker
If you have access to a swimming pool, the underwater walker is well worth the investment. This apparatus makes it possible for people with mobility limitations to walk independently in the pool.

Note: Enabling Devices has no relationship with the companies mentioned here and is not compensated for providing this information. The links here are for the reader’s convenience.

10 Ways to Keep Kids Busy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19

As the United States braces for the full impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, most schools, day programs, and extracurricular activities have been cancelled for at least two weeks and probably longer. Keeping children busy during this time will be challenging for all parents. But when your child has a significant disability, the demands are even higher.

So, what’s a special needs parent to do? There’s no magic bullet. But we’ve come up with some suggestions for getting you and your children through this unprecedented health emergency.

Talk to your child
Depending upon your child’s developmental level, they have probably heard something about COVID-19. Explain the coronavirus in developmentally appropriate language and give your child the opportunity to ask questions. “Your goal is to avoid encouraging frightening fantasies,” says the Child Mind Institute. Also explain how this will impact your family. For example, mom and dad will be working from home; school will be cancelled or online, etc.

Maintain a routine
Children, especially those with autism and other developmental disabilities may find schedule changes and unstructured time anxiety-provoking. Develop a schedule that includes wake-up and bedtimes, mealtimes, outdoor activities, learning sessions and free play. Review the schedule every morning, using visual prompts if they are helpful to your child. A Day in Our Shoes.com has printable schedules that you can download and use at home.

Hire a mother’s helper or two
School’s out for everyone, so hire some tweens to come over and supervise your kids. Their parents will thank you! It’ll be a win-win-win!

Tell a story
Story-telling is a great way for parents and children to bond. It’s also a wonderful way for children to learn. But children can benefit from story-telling even when you’re working in another room. Choose some audiobooks and have story-time at least once a day.

Water-play
Give your kids a sensory treat and make your home more sanitary by setting up a toy-washing station complete with sponges, scrub brushes and bubbles. Consider purchasing one of Enabling Devices’ water toys or bubble toys, so that everyone can join the fun.

Get Outdoors
It’s hard to find bright spots when you’re experiencing a pandemic, but at least it’s arrived just in time for spring. Make sure to build outdoor-time into your family’s schedule. Note: If playgrounds are part of the plan, make sure to take hand sanitizer and wipes for the equipment.

Try an online exercise program
Regardless of your child’s intellectual or physical limitations, there’s probably an online exercise program that meets their needs. Check out YouTube video workouts from Kym Nonstop, Spark or Scope. You can also try a Yoga for Kids video from Gaia.

Make slime!
Everybody loves slime! Here’s a great recipe from The Best Ideas for Kids!

Institute game-time
Board games are not only fun, they teach many valuable skills. Enabling Devices sells many adapted games, so everyone can play.

Learn online
Don’t let kids fall too far behind in their studies. Scholastic Learn at Home just launched 20 days of free online learning activities for kids stuck at home due to the coronavirus. The lessons are geared to preschoolers to 6th grade and beyond.

Browse Sensory Products

Six Steps to Fitness in 2020

Two People in Wheelchairs Exercising in a Dance Studio

What’s the most common New Year’s resolution for 2020? You guessed it. Exercise more. That makes sense, since, along with a balanced diet and good medical care, exercise is one of the most important components of physical and mental health. Though physical fitness is just as important for people with disabilities as it is for others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “children and adults with mobility limitations and intellectual or learning disabilities are at greatest risk for obesity.” Obesity leads to other health problems including: cardiovascular disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis and gout. So, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Starting an exercise routine when you or your child has a disability can be challenging. So, we’ve put together some suggestions designed to help you get started. Here’s to a fit 2020!

Consult with your doctor
Never begin an exercise routine without making sure it is safe. Your doctor can help you to determine the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise that’s appropriate for you. Check in with the doctor before making any major changes to your exercise regimen.

 Consider what types of exercise you might enjoy
Do you like water activities? Would you prefer exercising indoors or outdoors? Are you more successful working with a coach or therapist, or on your own? Selecting an exercise program that’s designed especially for you, will help to ensure success.

Buddy up
Many of us are more likely to stick with an exercise routine when we work out with a friend. Find someone who has similar fitness goals and you can encourage each other to keep moving.

Try something new
Too frequently, fears and insecurities prevent us from pursuing our goals. Adaptive sports such as skiing, basketball, skateboarding, horseback riding, biking and many more make it possible for people with mobility limitations to do things that they never dreamed possible. Visit disabledsportsusa.org to learn more.

Use fitness videos and audios
Many of us prefer to exercise in the privacy of our own homes. If that’s your preference, you can find many videos especially for wheelchair users on YouTube. Check out videos from KimNonStop or Lucy Wyndham-Read’s YouTube channels for some examples. For blind individuals, Eyes-Free Fitness offers exercise programs with non-visual cues and descriptions.

Take the Evolve 21 Challenge
The “first inclusive exercise app for people of all abilities,” the Evolve 21 Challenge (formerly known as the CPF Challenge) not only offers daily 7-minute routines of cardio, yoga and meditation, it’s also a fundraiser for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation!

Don’t quit!
Sticking with an exercise routine is tough for everyone. Chances are, they’ll be times when you just don’t have the motivation or will-power to work out. But staying fit isn’t about perfection. Rather it’s a lifelong process that leads to good health and well-being. If you fall off the exercise wagon, don’t give up! Get back on track as soon as you can!

We at Enabling Devices wish you and yours a very Happy New Year!