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Inclusion Desk

The Inclusion Desk is a multi-platform reporting effort by WXXI News to inform and transform attitudes and behavior about inclusion. The Inclusion Desk grew from the Move to Include partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation. Through programming and special events, WXXI and the Golisano Foundation look to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

It’s Dialogue on Disability Week at WXXI. Throughout the week on Connections, we’ll host a series of conversations about inclusion and disability rights.

This hour, we discuss speech therapy with a local mother whose young son has benefited from services provided by a number of community agencies, including the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center. Cooper was diagnosed with several conditions, including Global Body Dyspraxia, Apraxia of Speech, and Sensory Processing Disorder. His mother, Meghan, joins us to share his story and how his communication skills have developed as a result of different therapies. We also discuss the impact of early intervention services and more. In studio:

  • Meghan, Cooper’s mother
  • Sara Calus, physical therapist, and lead PT/OT clinician at the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center
  • Debra L. Cecere, licensed speech language pathologist at the at the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center
  • Valorie Stotz, licensed speech language pathologist, and preschool administrator

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

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The Mary Cariola Children’s Center is announcing a name change as the organization works to evolve its brand.

The non-profit, which provides education and other services for people with disabilities will now be known as “Mary Cariola Center, Transforming Lives of People with Disabilities.”

President and CEO Karen Zandi says the change reflects the fact that the organization also provides services to adults in residential and community services programs.

Max Schulte / WXXI NEWS

Deaf refugees often have histories of being oppressed and marginalized in their nation of origin. Advocates in Rochester have organized to help folks adapt and become self-sufficient here in New York state -- folks like Sangita and Purna Kami.

Sangita Kami has been deaf all her life. Her husband, Purna, says he was born hearing, but became deaf after he fell from a tree when he was 8 years old. 

Autism Council of Rochester

Last summer, 11-year-old Jacalvionne Boyd, who has autism, walked away from his home on Avenue E in Rochester over 20 times.

Once, he was found 10 miles away in Gates. His mother called police to track him down.

"His mom had newly moved here to Rochester and didn't have any supports or services in place," said Lawana Jones, founder and executive director of the Autism Council. 

Denise had no idea her student loans could be erased. In 2007, a truck rear-ended her car. The accident ravaged her legs and back, and the pain made it impossible for her to work.

"I have basically been in pain — chronic pain — every day," says Denise, who asked that NPR not use her full name to protect her privacy. "I live a life of going to doctors constantly."

John Schlia

Auditory processing disorder, or APD, can cause language delays, affect learning, and make it harder for kids to interact with others. One Rochester-based audiology office is trying out an unusual approach to help children get tested for APD, with an interactive mural. 

Those with APD can be hypersensitive to stimulation - like sounds, textures, and light. This makes it harder to test kids in order to complete a diagnosis.

Local disability rights activist Stephanie Woodward recently wrote an opinion piece for the Spina Bifida Association about why she loves her disability. Woodward was born with spina bifida and has been an outspoken advocate for disability rights and disability pride.

In her piece, she writes, "Because I love my disability identity, I have never seen my disability as a problem. And because I have never seen my disability as a problem, I have never supported curing spina bifida or even preventing it. In fact, when I hear someone say 'I think the world would be a better place if we could prevent babies from having your disability in the future,' what I hear is 'I think the world would be a better place without people like you.'"

Many people praised Woodward's comments, while others pushed back. Woodward joins us for the hour to discuss her perspective and disability pride. In studio:

This story is reported from WXXI’s Inclusion Desk

Max Schulte / WXXI News

Anthony Zastrow is a senior at Penfield High School. On Monday morning, though, he was hustling up and down a basketball court in the new Golisano Training Center at Nazareth College.

Zastrow was playing on an inclusive basketball team made up of high schoolers with and without disabilities. Still catching his breath after subbing out in the first quarter of his first game at the training center, Zastrow described his team.

Adaptive Play at The Strong Museum

Oct 21, 2019
The Strong - Museum of Play/Facebook

The non-profit group Endless Highway teamed up with The Strong National Museum of Play for its first Adaptive Day of Play for youth and families living with physical disabilities on Sunday.

The idea is to create more inclusive family experiences, and more than 90 people participated.

Endless Highway founder Bob Tortorella says that The Strong has always been a place of inclusivity for families with children with disabilities.

Max Schulte/WXXI News

The two gold medals wrapped around the neck of Amanda Vito are bouncing and clinking as she walks around the massive track at the new, 108,000-square-foot Golisano Training Center at Nazareth College.

Vito looks up at the big electronic scoreboard, and then turns her attention to a far corner of the track.

"Wow!" she said with a smile. "That's where the pole vault is."   

Amanda is a multi-sport athlete who competes in track, bowling, soccer, basketball, bocce, and swimming. But track and field is her passion.

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