A Different Kind of Animal Therapy

The popular book and movie series which claimed so many fans is now taking on a new venture, where they’re helping a special group of individuals. You might recognize the names Hedwig and Errol, from the Harry Potter series, but those owls have yet to retire. Their new jobs these days involves taking trips to care homes and schools as a form of owl therapy in order to help children with physical and learning difficulties.

Although Hedwig is about to retire from outings next year, the others are still making the outings in order to help children with ADHD and Autism. Owls are trained at a young age, about three weeks old, in order to help support children with conditions like Autism and ADHD. Animal therapy is popular as a form of helping or assisting individuals with disabilities, and it’s shown to have a profound effect on them. Unlike other animals, however, owls seem to be a little more laid back because they don’t seek out attention, they just wait for it.

Owls like Hedwig and Errol currently reside at the Owl and Pussycat Center near Maud, Buchan-so it looks like it will be some time before they venture from Scotland, over to the United States. This is still an interesting take on animal therapy, and produces the same benefits as working with the typical animals like cats or dogs. The bonds they’re able to create with these owls allow the children to help build other bonds at home and in other areas of their lives.

The Center itself is a unique vision, built in a beautiful 30 acre historic wood and parkland environment. Families and groups are encouraged to visit the center, where they work with everyone in order to tailor the perfect visit. For the future the Owl and Pussycat Center is striving to create an interactive cat house for the therapy cats that acts as both a large enclosure and as suitable housing. The therapeutic environment will allow visitors to engage with the cats and will allow suitable access for any disabled clients.

Recently the Owl and Pussycat Center has introduced four new baby owls, who will soon be added to the forty other birds in residence.

Errol – a female Great Horned Owl, at the Owl and Pussycat Center
Hedwig from Harry Potter, at the Owl and Pussycat Center

End Of Life Planning For Individuals Of Special Needs

End of life planning for an individual with special needs is always a difficult consideration. And yet, it is a common topic regarding financial planning for a person receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or medical assistance. However, such planning creates an opportunity to ensure a person with special needs is adequately prepared in such a way that does not impact standing with SSI or Medicaid.

The federal government (and most states) highly encourage an end of life plan for those receiving SSI as part of their overall financial plan. There are many alternatives available to family planners, but in a situation such as this—where benefits can be jeopardized if the wrong product is used—an irrevocable burial trust is probably the best instrument to choose.  Continue reading "End Of Life Planning For Individuals Of Special Needs"

Risks of Rising Wages

Rising wages? That doesn’t necessarily sound like a bad idea. Rising wages means more money, and more money is a good thing. Usually.

In early 2014, the Obama Administration added a new change to its executive order that would raise minimum wage for employees under federal contracts to $10.10. At the urging of disability advocacy groups, President Barack Obama made sure to include workers with disabilities in this new chance. Although the promise has yet to be realized, papers have been signed and changes are already being made for employees who had previously received  a federal minimum wage of $7.25. Minimum wage has always been a controversial issue and the debate about its economic efficacy continues.

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Cool Tips for Hot Days and Heat Stress

Anara Midgett has some fantastic ideas that she shares when it comes to keeping cool during these summer heat waves.

For those in Pennsylvania, the week of the Fourth of July may feel like the state was temporarily transported to the middle of the Sahara, but hopefully with some air conditioning to combat the heat. Preventing heat stress is especially important during this time of the year, and children are especially prone to so much heat. Although turning off the lights and hiding under a fan may seem like the best idea, there are some other options out there.

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Morgan’s Wonderland

Summer brings to mind day dreams of sitting by the beach, coconut drink in hand, and the sun setting in front of you. But like any parent with children can imagine, this sadly remains a day dream most of the time. The kids are finally out of school, and when it comes time to take a vacation you know you’ll need to find the right spot. When it comes to accommodating the needs of your children if they have special needs, it’s even more important to make sure the vacation spot is able to make sure a vacation actually feels like a vacation.

If summer has become a boring repeat of hitting the same spots, it might be time to try out a new place.

Feeling bold and brave? If you haven’t visited Morgan’s Wonderland since it’s opening in 2010 in San Antonio, Texas, now is your chance. A park that was conceptualized as a special place for children and adults with cognitive and physical challenges, Morgan’s Wonderland strives to live up to the people it was inspired by. This place is one of the world’s first ultra-accessible theme parks, and has involved since into a 25-acre park that includes a friendly environment for people with special needs, their families, friends and caregivers. Gordon Hartman, inspired by his daughter Morgan, sought to create an environment that was both safe and relaxing. He wanted to create opportunities for his daughter and other children with special needs could connect. While most theme parks make it easy for children to interact and have fun-few are easily accessible if a child has special needs. So what exactly makes it different from the typical trip to Disneyland or Disney World?

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Couple Builds House Designed Around Children’s Special Needs

Couple builds house designed around children’s special needs – Columbia Daily Tribune | Columbia Missouri: Pulse.

The Cibula family has spent ten years worth of planning and building in order to create a new home designed to make the lives of their children easier. Their two sons, Joshua and David, will now be able to grow up in a home that helps give them some sense of independence. Their eldest, Joshua, was born with cerebral palsy, as well as intellectual disabilities and other physical issues that limited his mobility. Following the birth of their second son, David, who was also born disabled, the couple realized they needed a new home. A special kind of home.

What Jennifer and Andy Cibula didn’t want was the kind of home that looked like they were raising their children in an institution. Finally, after going through many architects who couldn’t quite grasp their dream, the couple ofund Bob Wilkoff of Archaeon Architects. Together they created a one of a kind home that will adapt to the children’s needs as they grow older.


Toughest Job In the World

They say April showers bring May flowers, and we can’t hope for a sunnier day with Mother’s Day coming up right around the corner.

Every day there are moms out there who help inspire their children to great heights, and they have one of the toughest jobs. When it comes to parenting a special needs child, it requires a heart that capable of containing all the love and happiness that comes with special role.

There really is no other role that requires you to be constantly on your feet, and comes with no vacations. This amazing video will give you a little laugh. Think you could handle this job?

How Are You Speaking Out?

There are a ton of groups out there today who are in support of finding ways to help individuals with disabilities, and they’re working hard to make sure their voices are heard. From finding ways of detecting Autism in children as early as possible, to raising awareness, it doesn’t seem possible for there to be a negative way to support Autism. One group is stirring a bit of a rift in the community for their questionable methods of supporting Autism. You may have heard of them, especially if you or someone you are close to has a developmental disability. Recognized as a major nonprofit in both the national and international Autism advocacy community, Autism Speaks is an organization that many believe to be an important player when it comes to Autism awareness.

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Are Smart Homes the Next Big Thing?

Smart home technology might just be the next best thing to sliced bread that you might not have heard of yet. But how great is it?

The newly developed Promixis Environment Automation Controller, aims to make life easier for those with limited mobility. 9% of the US population deals with some sort of limited mobility, or has difficulty with simple tasks. As we all get older, our range of physical ability slowly diminishes. PEAC says it brings together various technologies and services in order to provide control over your home and life.

Over the past few decades technology has become significantly more advanced. The PEAC might be what the Jetsons promised us, or at least on a smaller scale for now. Lights, doors, blinds, windows, TV’s, phones, and many items can be controlled by PEAC while still being accessible to able bodied people as well. The benefits of PEAC help make a huge difference with independent living. The interesting part is that the PEAC system relies on already available technologies, like Wi-Fi and smart phones, and the system does not rely on the internet. The system is designed to supposedly integrate with users’ assistive technology devices that they might already have.

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