Looks like we have been sleeping on our blog lately!  We are back with another, so Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy any other celebration we may have missed.  So much Happiness, but what do you expect from a company named Happy Cup?

Full Life has released their monthly news letter, The Full Life and Times, for January and our employee Christina included a great breakdown of the flavors.

 

MEET THE FLAVORS OF HAPPY CUP, by Christina:

Here is a guide for you to choose your ideal bag of Happy Cup Coffee!

Boom! Boom! is a rich dark roast with smoky, bold flavors.  Morning Madness is a chocolaty espresso roast with a hint of roasted nuts and a touch of citrus.  Hot Bean has flavors of sweet milk chocolate with a hint of candied orange.  Decaffeination is crisp with hints of bakers chocolate and roasted nuts from Mexico.  The Buzz is a sweet coffee with notes of blueberries and dark chocolate.  Sip-A-Ragua is a light roast that is sweet with notes of toffee and caramel.  It is roasted light to highlight hints of dark cherries and figs.

Thanks Christina, such great flavors, which one should we have today!?

Image c/o http://filterfresh.com/blog/

Happy Halloween everybody!  If you happen to wake up tomorrow to a street filled with smashed pumpkins, we have the perfect idea for how to use them.  Make yourself a homemade pumpkin spice latte.  Okay, maybe don’t use street pumpkins, but still try the recipe.

Ingredients

    • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
    • 2 c. whole milk
    • 1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/3 c. brown sugar
    • 2 T. pure vanilla extract
    • 1 T. cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1 tsp. ground dried ginger
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
    • 1/4 tsp. allspice
to assemble the pumpkin spice latte:
  • Boom Boom! Dark Roast
  • slightly sweetened whipped cream
  • cinnamon
  • dark chocolate shavings

Preparation

to make the pumpkin spice mixture:

In a blender, combine all the pumpkin spice mixture ingredients. Puree for about 30 seconds. If you want a smoother mixture, puree for a couple minutes, or until the mixture is to your desired consistency.

to assemble the pumpkin spice latte:

Pour 1/2 cup (more or less, depending on your preference) of the pumpkin spice mixture into a large mug. Microwave for about 20 seconds, then add 1 cup of hot Boom Boom! Happy Cup coffee and stir. Top with a nice lofty pile of sweetened whipped cream. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. And if you’re looking for extra deliciousness, top with chocolate shavings. So pretty!

Pour the remaining pumpkin spice mixture into a quart jar or similar sized container and top with a lid. Store in the refrigerator. When ready to make another drink, shake the jar well and repeat the assembly of the pumpkin spice latte. The pumpkin spice mixture will keep well for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Source

 

Lauren Potter, who plays Becky Jackson on FOX's "Glee," with Jordyn Orr (Robin Sylvester), Gail Williamson and Robin Trocki (Jean Sylvester). (Credit - Gail Williamson)

ABC Good Morning America logoWe’re getting to the new Fall TV shows around here; and, there’s a wonderful trend emerging on our TVs: growing number of prime time actors and actresses with Down Syndrome in key roles.    Sydney Lupkin from ABC’s “Good Morning America” posted a touching story about these familiar and talented actors with Down Syndrome. 

Check it out below – and tune in to watch! 

 

When Gail Williamson was pregnant with her son Blair in 1979, there was no one on TV with Down syndrome to help make the diagnosis less scary.

Glee - Actors with Down Syndrome

Today, doctors tell parents that their babies will grow up and be like “Becky,” a character on FOX’s “Glee” who has Down syndrome – and quite a bit of sass as she rocks a cheerleading uniform at the fictional William McKinley High School.

“It changes it for parents,” said Williamson, the woman who connected “Glee” with Lauren Potter, the actress who plays Becky; Robin Trocki, the actress who played Sue Sylvester’s big sister, Jean; and Jordyn Orr, the baby who made her “Glee” debut as Sue’s daughter Thursday night. They all have Down syndrome.

And the ladies of Glee are not alone, said Willliamson, who now runs Down Syndrome in Arts and Media after spending 12 years at the California Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Actors with Down syndrome will also be on “Shameless,” “Blue Bloods,” “American Horror Story,”“Legit” and “The New Normal” this year, changing the public’s perception of the syndrome one viewer at a time.

Chris Burke - Actor with Down Syndrome

Chris Burke's "Corky" Thatcher role on "Life Goes On" was a pioneer for actors with Down Syndrome

Down syndrome hasn’t been this prevalent in entertainment since Chris Burke played Corky Thatcher on ABC’s “Life Goes On” from 1989 through 1993, Williamson said, adding that she remembers how life changed for Blair after it debuted.

“Waiters would turn to him and say, ‘What would you like to eat?’” she said, adding that they’d previously asked her what he wanted instead. “People didn’t realize they could talk to that face … I saw a change. I saw the difference. And I saw it again after ‘Glee.’”

Potter, 22, was a baby when “Life Goes On” was on television, so she said she never had a television role model who had Down syndrome. But now, people will run across parking lots and line up for her autograph as if she’s Santa Claus.

“I just felt like I wanted to cry,” Potter said. “They were saying that I was their inspiration. These fans are really my heroes.”

Her mom, Robin Sinkhorn, said the best thing is when college and high school students aren’t afraid to say hello, and tell Potter that she inspired them to learn more about Down syndrome. Potter is now part of an anti-bullying campaign and is on President Obama’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

“It’s pretty amazing what this kid has done, and this gift that ‘Glee’ and the producers of ‘Glee’ have given her,” Sinkhorn said. “She’s reached out to a lot of people.”

To the National Down Syndrome Society, the awareness from TV shows is a huge help because it generates interest in their website, research and fundraising, said Julie Cevallos, the organization’s vice president of marketing. She said web traffic data to ndss.org isn’t available as far back as late 2009, when Potter made her “Glee” debut, but they’ve seen a 10 percent increase between 2010 and 2011.

Considering that the average life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome went from 25 in 1983 to near 60 today, according to NDSS, there’s plenty of health research to be done.

For instance, Robin Trocki had to be written off “Glee” because she has Alzheimer’s disease, which is common in people with Down syndrome because the gene is located on chromosome 21, of which people with Down syndrome have three copies instead of two. (Sue’s new baby on the show is named Robin for her.)

NDSS is also working on a bill that would save families tax money if they include a person with Down syndrome.

But changing people’s perception is powerful all by itself, Cevallos said, adding that people find it surprising that many people with Down syndrome live independently and have boyfriends or girlfriends just like anyone else.

“It’s helpful in terms of getting an accurate picture out there,” Cevallos said. “There’s a lot of old stereotypes…A lot of people [with Down syndrome] are going to college and I don’t think the average person understands that.”

In fact, Potter attends theater classes at a community college. Jamie Brewer, who has Down syndrome and plays Adelaide on American Horror Story, said she is getting her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at a community college in Southern California where she lives. Just before talking to ABCNews.com, she was attending a math class.

Brewer, 27, said she’s proud of her acting, but being a role model for people with Down syndrome is just as important.

“The biggest thing is advocacy,” Brewer said. “You can really step up and say, ‘Hey, this is who I am. I have these great talents,’ and I want to be able to show that.”

iPods

iPods are not only a good source of tunes, but maybe a better tool for Autistic persons

From DisabilityScoop.com:

As more people with autism enter the work world, a new case study suggests that arming them with specially-programmed iPods may go a long way toward achieving independence on the job.

Researchers looking for new and innovative ways to help those with autism adapt to the demands of employment used the Apple iPod Touch as an assistive device with three adults with the developmental disorder. The results of the small case study — published this week in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation — were quite promising, they said.

For “Jeffrey,” 21, who struggled with transitioning from one task to the next as a custodian at Hardee’s, a series of alarms on the iPod helped keep him on schedule. The notes function of the device was also used to provide a checklist of responsibilities and remind him of calming techniques.

After just one week, Jeffrey was adept at using the iPod independently, researchers said, and no longer needed constant prompting from his job coach. He also stopped displaying behaviors like spinning, humming and stomping. A year later, researchers say that Jeffrey is still successfully using his iPod and is considered a reliable employee.

“This is an exciting time for anyone in the fields of education, physical rehabilitation, and vocational support, where we are seeing a long-awaited merging of consumer products and assistive technologies for all,” said Tony Gentry of Virginia Commonwealth University who led the research.

For the study, each person with autism was assigned a job coach and an occupational therapist who programmed their iPod to meet the specific employee’s needs. Researchers focused on the iPod Touch because it was the most suitable pocket-sized device on the market when the study was designed. The names of the participants were changed for the purposes of the report in order to protect their privacy.

In the case of “Grace,” a 60-year-old with autism, mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy, introducing the iPod Touch allowed her to independently and safely navigate her way to and from work. Before she had her iPod, Grace would often step into the street to look for the bus if it was late. Now, specially-programmed reminders and an instructional video prompt her to call the transportation company instead. Grace was also helped by having music at the ready to calm herself while she waits for her ride, the study said.

The third person to try the iPod Touch was “Lily,” a 20-year-old with autism and Down syndrome who is unable to read or tell time. Before receiving the iPod, she often became frustrated at her housekeeping job at a Virginia hospital when prompted by her job coach and was known to throw things, stomp, cry or call her mother.

Lily’s iPod was programmed with a series of apps to provide verbal alerts to prompt her throughout the day and customized picture books to help her cope with various scenarios she might encounter. Another app was also used to track her progress toward earning rewards for good behavior. By using the device, Lily soon needed her job coach to spend significantly less time with her, researchers said.

The participants are part of a larger four-year randomized trial. Though it’s not possible to draw firm conclusions from the case study since it involved such a small sample, researchers say that given the promising results so far, they are hopeful that they’ll soon be able to assess how beneficial iPods and similar devices are for workers with autism.

2012 Paralympics - London, UK

The Paralympics Games help to inspire a generation of adults with intellectual disabilities

As the Paralympic Games kick off last week in London, it marks the first time in 12 years that individuals with intellectual disabilities will be allowed to compete.

The international games for people with disabilities welcomed those with cognitive differences for the first time back in 1996. But just four years later, it was discovered that a basketball team from Spain which won gold in the 2000 games was largely comprised of impostors.

Subsequently, people with intellectual disabilities were barred from the Paralympics while officials worked to establish a system to reliably assess eligibility.

Now, athletes with intellectual disabilities will face off over the next week in the pool, on the table tennis court and in a handful of track and field events. Here’s a  full schedule of the 2012 Paralympic Games.  To be eligible for competition this year, they had to undergo psychological assessments and a series of sport-specific tests.

The return of athletes with intellectual disabilities is bittersweet for competitors like Jeffrey Ige of Sweden, who planned to go to the Athens games in 2004 before learning he would be disqualified.

“I was at my highest level then, I could have taken a medal if I’d had a chance to compete. I was really sad and upset,” he told the BBC. Click here to read the BBC’s full article, “How the Paralympics checks intellectual disability.”

How are you inspired?

Here’s a great story from Michelle Diament at Disability Scoop and “PBS NewsHour”:

 

A unique program at one Pennsylvania school is using the power of television news to teach social skills to youngsters with Asperger’s syndrome.

Students in the Asperger’s support program at Worrall Elementary School outside Philadelphia produce “Action 7 News,” using a green screen to bring everything from Major League Baseball to world events down to size.

While the kids have fun producing the broadcast, the program is pure therapy, say their teachers and therapists.  Standing in front of a camera helps the students learn to speak clearly.  It also gives them a chance to play back their reports and analyze their own presentation.  Meanwhile, reporting also offers the kids an opportunity to understand that issues are not always black and white.

The program appears to be paying off.  Once the students head to middle school, those with Asperger’s who’ve participated in “Action 7 News” are noticeably more capable socially than those who have not taken part, school officials say.

For the pint-size reporting staff, however, the best part of producing the newscast may be showing off their TV skills to the rest of the school. “I’ve never been this famous before,” one student told PBS.

It’s a great video – take some time to check it out:

What do you think of this innovative school program?

Donna Thomson and her father

For Donna, the language of love conquers all

 

We came across this touching story in Donna Thomson’s blog, “The Caregivers’ Living Room,” about a special connection with her father after he became nonverbal after .

 

For us, this had special resonance:

“I believe that our loved ones hear us, even when they cannot respond.  There is something very fundamental about love and loving words that can be experienced by everyone, no matter how disabling their conditions might be.”

Please take the time to read her story.  If you’re open, we’d love to hear your stories, too.

 

From Donna:

Our family was at the cottage recently when we got news of an old friend who had died young of a heart attack.  That got us talking about memories of infirmity and serious illness.  I began to recall my Dad – he was only 52 when he suffered his first stroke.  It was the result of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and smoking.  My Dad would go on to suffer two more catastrophic strokes, including the last one which killed him.

But, before he died, my Dad was non-speaking for two years.  During that time, he could walk, but mostly used a manual wheelchair to get around our house. He was depressed and frustrated that he could not speak.  Most of all, he despised being dependent – this was a decorated WW11 soldier who had been an elite ice hockey player and a successful businessman.  Nothing in his upbringing gave him the tools to deal with being completely dependent on others to complete simple activities of daily living.

I remember once when there was a snowstorm, my sister was planning to return to university after Christmas holidays.  She was chatting about plans to drive with a friend the next day when my Dad gestured emphatically for a pad and paper.  Always a talented artist, he drew a train.  ”Yeah!  Yeah!” he said, pointing to the image.  My sister booked a train ticket and Dad sat back, satisfied he had acted to protect his daughter from a possible car crash due to terrible weather conditions.

Just before he died, Dad was in a coma.  I remember sitting with him and talking.  I talked and talked about my life, my hopes and my dreams.  I don’t know if he registered all my words, but I remember being convinced at the time that he felt the love and yearning in my words.  Years later, sitting beside my mother in law just days before she passed away, I did the same thing.  I talked.

I believe that our loved ones hear us, even when they cannot respond.  There is something very fundamental about love and loving words that can be experienced by everyone, no matter how disabling their conditions might be.

This morning, a story in the Guardian newspaper tells the extraordinary story of man who, after suffering a catastrophic stroke followed by ‘locked in’ syndrome, suddenly woke up and recovered.  There is hope in this story and there is evidence that it’s worthwhile talking to our relatives who cannot answer.

 

Happy Cup Coffee - Autistic children and pets

Your furry friend could have great benefits for your autistic child

From our friends at DisabilityScoop.com, here’s a wonderful article about the fuzzy benefits of your favorite furry friend(s) on your favorite autistic kids. 

For individuals with autism, bringing a new dog or cat into the household can lead to significant social improvements, a first-of-its-kind study finds.

Researchers reported Wednesday in the journal PLoS One that those with autism displayed improvements in two areas — “offering to share” and “offering comfort” — within a few years of welcoming a new animal into their lives.

Similar progress was not observed among study participants on the spectrum who lived with a pet since birth or those who never had a pet at all.

“This study reveals that in individuals with autism, pet arrival in the family setting may bring about changes in specific aspects of their socio-emotional development,” wrote the study’s lead author, Marine Grandgeorge of the Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Brest in France, and her colleagues. “To our knowledge, this is the first study showing an association between pet arrival and changes in prosocial behaviors.”

For the study, researchers compared individuals with autism who had dogs, cats or small animals like a hamster or rabbit in their home since birth to a control group made up of people with similar characteristics but who never lived with a pet.

They also looked at those on the spectrum who got a pet after age 5 as compared to individuals with autism without pets.

The 40 study participants were assessed using a test known as the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, or ADI-R, that was conducted when they were ages 4 to 5 and then once more when the children were older.

Researchers also interviewed the individuals’ parents about the presence of any pets in their homes and, where animals were present, asked about the relationship between the person with autism and the pet.

While no change was seen for individuals without pets or those who had pets since birth, acquiring a new animal appeared to increase the likelihood of sharing and comforting parents or peers, two so-called prosocial behaviors.

The reason for the improvements is not entirely clear and more research is needed, the study authors said.

Interestingly, however, they indicated that children who acquired a new pet were much more likely to spend time petting or playing with their furry friend than those who had a pet since birth.

In about half of cases where a new pet came into the home, parents reported that they acquired the animal specifically for their child with autism, but whether or not that was the reason did not appear to influence the level of social progress that the individual achieved, researchers said.

We’d love to hear your stories!  Please share them!

 

 

 

From our friend, Michelle Diament’s 08/10/12 article at Disability Scoop about special needs shoes:

Nike logo

Local athletic apparel giant Nike, asked to make special needs shoes for a teen with cerebral palsy

 

An open letter asking the CEO of Nike to create shoes that are better suited for people with disabilities is going viral.

Matthew Walzer, a 16-year-old from Parkland, Fla. with cerebral palsy, took to the Internet earlier this week to ask Nike CEO Mark Parker to consider creating a line of shoes that are self-lacing.

“Out of all the challenges I have overcome in my life, there is one that I am still trying to master, tying my shoes,” Walzer wrote. “Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body. As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes.”

Walzer said that because of the support he needs, Nike athletic shoes are the only type of footwear he’s ever worn. Unfortunately, that means he’s unable to fully dress on his own.

“My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes everyday,” Walzer wrote, adding that he’s not the only one facing this challenge. “I hope that… Nike will consider being the forerunner in producing athletic shoes that will make the difference in the quality of so many lives.”

Now, Walzer’s letter is gaining traction, spreading on Twitter under the hashtag #NikeLetter.

The shoe blog Nice Kicks took notice of the effort and posted a video about Walzer’s letter, which has garnered over 10,000 views – you can check it out below. And, the blog has committed to send postcards to Nike with a link to the letter for every Twitter mention of the video.

 

Nike representatives did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment about Walzer’s request.

 

What a touching request – let’s support his cause!   Checkout Matthew’s video above and use the Twitter hashtag #NikeLetter to add your support and voice for #PeopleWPotential