WXXI AM News

dialogue on disability

We talk about creative therapies for children with autism. Research proves that art can directly impact brain development in people with autism. We talk about the benefits of activities that incorporate music, dance, film, visual arts, writing, and more. 

We also preview the documentary, Generation A: Portraits of Autism and the Arts, which airs Thursday, January 26 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV. Our guests:

This program is presented as part of Dialogue on Disability Week – a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies – in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series. Dialogue on Disability is supported in part by The Golisano Foundation with additional support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.

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A new mandate from New York State is bringing big changes to organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We recently visited one organization that has been part of the Rochester community for 70 years.

Holy Childhood is getting ready to not only greatly expand the opportunities of its clients, but launch a new business.

In this special episode of Second Opinion LIVE, we talk about Down Syndrome. One in every 691 babies in the U.S. is born with Down Syndrome, making it the most common genetic condition. Approximately 400,000 Americans have Down Syndrome, and about 6,000 babies are born with the condition each year.

Kids with Down Syndrome face unique challenges as they transition from childhood to adulthood. We talk to a mother and son, and a pediatrician about what caregivers can do to help young people with Down Syndrome successfully transition into adult life. Our guests:

  • Valerie Rosenhoch, Down Syndrome advocate, and David’s mom
  • David Rosenhoch, self-advocate
  • Dr. Stephen Sulkes, professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center

This hour of Connections is part of the Second Opinion LIVE webcast series and also WXXI’s Inclusion Desk, spotlighting issues related to disabilities. The WXXI Inclusion Desk is part of Move to Include, a partnership to encourage thoughtful discussion about issues of inclusion and the differently-abled.

The Unified Sports program is growing in Western New York, but many of us are not familiar with the initiative.

Our guests explain how "unified" means inclusion, and how the program is impacting hundreds of students locally. You can watch a video of the program in action at Gates Chili High School and Spencerport High School. Our guests:

  • Billy Harmon, senior at Gates Chili High School, and student athlete with Unified basketball
  • Michael Saporito, tenth grader at Gates Chili High School, and student athlete with Unified basketball
  • Kimberle Ward, superintendent of Gates Chili Central School District
  • Tray Burton, Unified basketball coach at Edison Career and Technology High School in the Rochester City School District
  • Mike Murray, athletic director for Churchville-Chili Central School District
  • Dennis Fries, past president and current liaison to Unified basketball with Section V

Parents of children with autism have expressed their shock and concern after North Miami police shot a caregiver of a man with autism. Police have said that when Charles Kinsey was shot, they were trying to shoot the man with autism next to him. The officers mistook a toy truck for a gun, despite Kinsey's insistence that the man was frightened and not armed.

For parents, this is an extreme example of what happens when authorities are not trained to understand how to interact with people who have autism. From schools to police, parents want to know if proper training is happening. Our guests will discuss it:

  • Chief Michael Ciminelli, Rochester Police Department
  • Deputy Brian McCoy, Monroe County Sheriff's Department
  • Rachel Rosner, director of education and support services for AutismUp
  • Dave Whalen, director of first responder disability awareness training at Niagara University

ABC News correspondent John Donvan has a brand new book called In a Different Key: The Story of Autism. The book provides a tour of the history of autism -- from scandals and shame, doctors blaming parents for the conditions, to breakthroughs and success.

Donvan is coming to Rochester to be the guest speaker at AutismUp's annual gala on Saturday. The organization recently moved into a large new headquarters in Webster. Our guests:

Oak Hill is hosting the 2016 Simpson Cup, which is basically the Ryder Cup for disabled and injured veterans. Teams of 13 injured servicemen and veterans from the USA and the UK compete in this golf event every year. The event rotates host nations, raising funds for the On Course Foundation, an organization that supports the recovery of wounded, injured, and sick service personnel.

We meet the 2016 American and British captains (each wounded veterans), and we discuss broader issues related to supporting injured service members. Our guests:

  • John Simpson, founder of the Simpson Cup
  • Steve Ogletree, American captain living with depression and PTSD
  • Paul Swain, UK captain who lost an arm in a bomb blast in Afghanistan
  • Jeremy Bagley, executive director of JDRF Rochester and a 10-year veteran of the United States Army

Karen Gaffney is a disability justice advocate who has Down Syndrome, and perhaps you saw her TEDx talk that has now been viewed tens of thousands of times. She speaks about a range of issues: the fight for inclusion, the R word, and her concern about the use of prenatal screening for selective abortion.

Karen is in Rochester to help lead a discussion on disability rights. She's a guest of Feminists for Nonviolent Choices, which is hosting a screening of the film Lives Worth Living at the Little Theatre Thursday night, followed by a panel discussion. Our guests:

Rochester has become one of the largest regions in the country to participate in the national "Spread the Word to End the Word" day. It's all about the so-called "r word:" "retard" or "retarded."

The Golisano Foundation has helped launch the local effort, and we talk to various people about the impact of using a word that has become so hurtful to so many. Our guests:

  • Ann Costello, director of the Golisano Foundation
  • Cori Piels, inclusion specialist at Rochester AmeriCorps
  • Steve Salluzzo, president of Bishop Kearney High School

Children with autism are getting a performance specially tailored to their needs. The Rochester City Ballet is performing The Ugly Duckling in a way that is aimed at children with autism, or other disabilities that can cause sensory disturbances (see the study guide below).

Our panelists explain how they've done it, and we talk about the impact of inclusion in the art world. Our guests:

  • Jimmy Orrante, choreographer, The Ugly Duckling
  • Nichole Gantshar, executive director, Rochester City Ballet
  • Laura Silverman, Ph.D., assistant professor, neurodevelopmental and behavioral pediatrics, UR Medicine
  • Chris Tryon, child life specialist, Golisano Children’s Hospital, UR Medicine
  • Natalie Tryon, teenager who lives with autism
  • Lisa Carling, director of accessibility programs, Theatre Development Fund, National Autism Theater Initiative

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