What Do YOU Know about UCP?

United Cerebral Palsy: Life without limits for people with disabilities

What do YOU know about UCP? We’re a network of affiliated nonprofit organizations working to ensure a Life without Limits™ for both children and adults with a broad range of disabilities and their families.

Tell Us More About The UCP Network.

UCP’s approximately nearly 80 affiliated organizations range from large providers like Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota, to smaller but no less impactful organizations from New England to California. Our affiliates’ influence can be felt as far away as Canada and Australia.

Each organization acts independently to provide the advocacy, support and services needed in their communities. Many have programs in place to address direct needs for therapy, housing, transportation, employment and family support. Many spend time advocating for public policy changes at the local, state and even national level. Many work to raise awareness of the issues facing people with disabilities and their families, and all work to secure the necessary resources to carry out UCP’s mission.

Who, Exactly, Do You Serve?

UCP is proud to serve people with a range of disabilities, their families, and by extension their communities. Sometimes, you will hear that 65% of the people served by UCP affiliates have disabilities in addition to, or other than, cerebral palsy. While percentages vary by affiliate and can change over the years, the truth is that UCP places a priority on serving people in need, regardless of diagnosis. UCP providers typically serve people with the most severe and multiple disabilities.24JL04GD

At the national level, UCP advocates for change in public policy. And, we work to raise awareness of the major issues common to many people with disabilities: access, resources, support and respect. At the local level, UCP affiliates work hard to provide the supports and services most needed in their communities. Their capacity to serve is only bound by the resources they have available.

If You Serve People with All Disabilities, Why Are You Called United Cerebral Palsy?

We are proud of our heritage. United Cerebral Palsy’s name has a long history, going back to 1949. In the 1940s, there were not many options for families of and people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. What began as the brainstorm of a few parents of children with cerebral palsy quickly grew in to a nationwide crusade to improve the lives of people with all disabilities. From it’s inception, UCP brought issues about cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to the forefront of the national media.

While the words “United Cerebral Palsy” do not fully express the scope of our work, UCP has served as a trusted name for millions of people for more than 60 years. As with many iconic brands, which have grown and evolved over time, the true heart of our identity lies in the associations people make when they hear our name, not in the name itself.11JE04GD

Why Don’t You Just Focus on Cerebral Palsy?

Because more than 176,000 people rely on UCP every day. If we can advocate for a public policy that provides access to more affordable housing options for with disabilities, should we apply that policy only to people with CP? If we can encourage respect for all people, should we only try to put an end to bullying against children with CP? If we can inspire an innovator to design a device that is more accessible, should we insist that only people with CP be able to use it? United Cerebral Palsy works hard to help individuals overcome barriers to a Life Without Limits™, and we have found that sometimes the biggest barriers of all are the ones that come with assigning labels and defining limits.

Strider Championship Series Begins April 25th in Bradenton, FL

The Strider Championship Series from Strider Bikes is designed to give children of all abilities aged two to five the chance to be apart of the thrill of racing bicycles. This year’s series consists of four national races, beginning April 25 in Bradenton, FL.Strider_bikes

Strider makes bikes for children as young as 18 months and children with special needs. The bikes don’t have training wheels, and are designed to help children of all abilities to focus on balance and leaning to help them learn how to ride.

You can find out more at www.strikerbikes.com

Strider Championship Series:

April 25 – Bradenton, FL

May 9 – Ventura, CA

June 6- Pittsburgh, PA

August 8 – Salt Lake City, UT

Disability Policy Seminar Brings Advocates to Capitol Hill

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Almost 700 disability advocates gathered at The Renaissance Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C.April 13-15 for the annual Disability Policy Seminar. Co-hosted each year by UCP, The Arc, SABE, AAIDD, AUCD and NACDD, this event brings together advocates, policy experts and people with disabilities and their families on Capitol Hill to discuss current policy issues important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to advocate for top priority policies by going directly to their representatives in Congress.

Take a peek at the event courtesy of photos from AUCD at https://www.flickr.com/photos/aucd.

Visit disabilitypolicyseminar.org for more general information about the event and to plan for next year.

 

My Brother Kain

Today is National Siblings Day, which celebrates siblings of every stripe, everywhere. However, for people with disabilities, the sibling relationship is often quite different than what is experienced by those who have brothers and sisters without disabilities. Yes, there’s love, and yes, there’s sometimes rivalry and tension. But so often the bond seems to go far beyond what you would expect of typical siblings. Siblings of people with disabilities are frequently the ultimate protectors, caretakers and friends, with a connection not always explained by simple family ties. Guest blogger and sibling Ashley Knapp is all of those things. We thank her for choosing to give us a glimpse into the world she shares with her brother. 

 

My younger brother Kain was born when my mother was 26 weeks pregnant. He had a rough time and was on a ventilator for the first 4 weeks of his life. His lungs hadn’t had a chance to develop, and the lack of oxygen caused his Cerebral Palsy. His retinas also detached causing him to lose his vision, leaving him completely blind. He also has a rare condition called contaminated bowel syndrome.

Ashley and Kain

Ashley and Kain

My bother has had hundreds of surgeries in his lifetime, which is hard to believe. However, he still wakes up with such a huge smile on his face every single day. My mother, Erica, always tells of how although my brother is barely verbal, as soon as he wakes up he is yelling my name. We have a bond like no other, and nothing will ever be able to get in the way of that.

At 18, immediately after graduating from Belmont High School in Dayton, Ohio, I left for the United States Army to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for boot camp. It was one of the hardest things I had ever chosen to do in my life. I had never been away from my family before, and kept pictures of them in my bible that I got to look at during our personal time

Ashley's brother, Kain

Ashley’s brother, Kain

and before I went to sleep. It wasn’t long before I was assigned to my first duty station at Fort Drum, New York.  At nearly 10 hours away from home, it was hard being away from my brother. The first year away, I sent him a ‘record yourself’ book so he could hear my voice every night. After a few years in the military, it was time to change my life path and I returned to Dayton, Ohio, where I still currently reside. I have started pursuing my

music career. Now I get to sing to him and watch his smile, with those big dimples, whenever I want and I love it. I love my brother. We have a bond like no other, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Ways to Get Involved for National Siblings Day!

April 10 is National Siblings Day! The brothers and sisters of people with disabilities have unique and undeniably valuable relationships with their siblings. Here are some ways for siblings – both children and adults – can get more involved in the movement for people with disabilities and each other!  

The Sibling Leadership Network provides siblings with information, support, and tools they need to advocate with their brothers and sisters and promote issues important to them and their families. There are now over 4000 members and 19 state chapters of the Sibling Leadership Network.

The Sibling Support Project is dedicated to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns. The project has created Sibshops, hosts online groups for sibs, and written books on siblings’ issues.

Books:

Check out The Sibling Survival Guide: Indispensible Information for Brothers and Sisters of People with Disabilities, written by members of the Sibling Leadership Network and the Sibling Support Project. And learn about other great books for and by young and adult sibs here!

Ways to Connect:

Whether they’re kids or adults, brothers and sisters tell us that there is no substitute for connecting with others who “get it.” Here are some options for sibs across the lifespan:

Adult sibs can:

Young sibs can:

  • Participate in Sibshops, lively peer support and information programs for school-age brothers and sisters. You can learn where they are being offered here.
  • Join the SibTeen Facebook page just for teen brothers and sisters (co-hosted by the Sibling Support Project and Siblings Australia)

Innovation Lab Design Challenge Debuts

Intensive Two-Day Event from UCP’s Life Labs Coming to Chicago 

 

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Life Labs initiative will bring an intensive, two-day design challenge called an Innovation Lab to Chicago May 19-20, 2015. Following successful events in London, Washington DC, and Sydney, Australia, the Innovation Lab (formerly called Enabled by Design-athon) brings together people from all walks of life under the principles of Universal Design to dream up the next big idea for people with and without disabilities.

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At each Innovation Lab, this diversity of talent from a variety of fields is coached to use human-centered Universal Design concepts to solve every day problems as part of a competitive yet collaborative design challenge for team prizes. Designers, engineers, inventors, makers and hackers as well as professionals and caregivers in the disability field are all encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives to the process.

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Innovation Lab Featured Speaker Paul Edlund – Microsoft Core Technologies Chief Technologist

The inaugural Innovation Lab scheduled for Chicago will take place at the Microsoft Technology Center and will be co-hosted by Smart Chicago. Smart Chicago is a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology by increasing access to the Internet, improving skills for using Internet, and developing meaningful products from data that measurably contribute to the quality of life of residents in the region and beyond.

“Here at Microsoft we are focused on improving the lives of citizens through technology,” said Shelley Stern Grach, Director of Civic Engagement at Microsoft. “The Innovation Lab focuses on the principles of design to provide opportunity and access to technology for diverse communities, and we’re excited to sMicrosoft Technology Center 2ee what the teams come up with.”

Teams will design and build prototypes or present plans that demonstrate how products can rapidly be created to better fit with people’s lives and needs, no matter what those need may be. UCP’s Life Labs is intent on creating a movement of accessibility for the masses so that mainstream products work for as many people as possible, including those with disabilities and older people. The Innovation Lab events are meant to challenge preconceptions of assistive equipment, showing how products can be personalized, purposeful and beautifully designed too.

“Rather than continuing to retrofit our world to accommodate people with disabilities, there’s no reason why we can’t design our world to work for people of all abilities,” said Marc Irlandez, Director of UCP’s Life Labs.

Registration is now open at http://ucpinnovationlab.org/ Space is limited.

 

Co-hosted by:

Life Labs Logo  smart-chicago-collaborative-logo-1024x269

 

Thanks to our sponsors:

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The Story of a “Passing Aspie”

The following blog post was contributed by Wendy Katz, who has Asperger’s syndrome, in the hopes that her personal story will raise awareness of the inner struggles of people who live with an “invisible disability” during Autism Awareness Month. Asperger’s is a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. 

My Beautiful Family (3)ResizeSome Castles Have Deep Moats

You probably know me.

At least you’ve seen me around town. I look just like any other soccer mom after all. I have matched clothes and cared for hair, and I go with my soon-to-be-stepdaughter and fiancé shopping at the mall and to the movies like anyone else. I had affluent parents and a good education. I was quiet and shy but sweet and was in the chorus and the National Honor Society in high school. I went to college and got a job, gave polite smiles to my coworkers in the hall and maybe even chatted you up at a cocktail party. I had a marriage that sadly ended in divorce and survived it stoically. I am sure that you know me, or think you’ve met someone just like me.

But the truth is that you don’t really know me at all. Like millions of others, I have what is called an “invisible disability.” Invisible disabilities are those that one cannot see on the surface. Many intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) fit into this category, such as learning disabilities, mild autism spectrum disorders like Asperger’s syndrome, and mild cerebral palsy. I’m a “Passing Aspie” – one of the ninjas of the invisible disability world. You have to know us fairly well to ever see our truth.

I coined the term “Passing Aspie” (short for Asperger’s). Asperger’s syndrome is a mild form of autism in which a person can speak clearly and has an average–to-devastating level of intelligence, but goes through life with social difficulties and often sensory issues. Even if you think you don’t personally know anyone on the autism spectrum, you have seen “The Big Bang Theory” and understand the portrait of Sheldon that is being painted there.

Passing Aspies are different. We are the people on the autism spectrum that you do not see wearing a visor to avoid fluorescent lights. We have learned to adapt, and honestly I doubt there are any accurate numbers on how many of us are out there because we rarely get formally diagnosed. That said, our inner brains and inner lives share autistic traits, and you cannot know our challenges unless we tell you. So today, in honor of Autism Awareness Month, I agreed to try.

Eyes and Excuses

More likely than not, you have noticed that people on the autism spectrum have difficulties with eye contact and visual recognition. I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child but I spent my childhood at war with my eyes. I have always been (and still am) visually unobservant and often use my other senses to compensate. I am nearsighted in the extreme but do not feel a need to wear glasses because my sensory world is still rich in so many other ways.

I spent my childhood with total face blindness, but I didn’t know what to call it. I never heard the term until I was old enough, through painstaking neural rewiring, to recognize at least the faces of those I saw frequently and the people I loved. (I still can’t recognize familiar actors in movies sometimes if they change their makeup or hair.) I learned to say the things that people expected to hear to explain why I couldn’t make friends in preschool. I was “bad with names” and couldn’t remember them. I was shy. Or, I “didn’t need friends.” Or the “other kids didn’t like me.”

The truth was both more obvious and far scarier: I couldn’t recognize anyone. If I played with a little blonde girl on the playground one day, I had no way of ever finding her again. I had no words to explain this because I was unable to comprehend why this was. I just figured that other children were smarter and better at seeing visual cues. I would try to tell my mother, but I doubt she ever understood the whole truth. I am sure that other children thought I was snobby or weird for pretending like we had never played together before, and so I was lonely.

The eye problem most commonly associated with people on the spectrum is, of course, eye contact, and I have that problem too. People always ask me why I can’t make eye contact. Actually, I can and do force myself to make at least brief eye contact with others as part of my passing act. But extended eye contact is emotionally painful if I am not truly intimate with you. The closest I can get to describing how it feels to me to meet someone’s eyes is to compare it to the feeling you would get if asked you to stare at a stranger’s naked body for several minutes. It feels embarrassing, awkward, invasive and socially wrong. I can hold my mom’s gaze or my fiancé’s (I do see him naked after all), but socially it just feels embarrassing. So I let people think that I am just shy.

Sensory-Overload Pokerface

In many ways, the hardest part about dealing with Asperger’s both as a child and a passing adult is sensory overload. I use my ears to compensate for my eyes and am better at recognizing people’s voices than faces. I am also a great mimic with an audiographic memory. This came in great handy for school lectures or eavesdropping (I got away with this like you wouldn’t BELIEVE.). But there is a dark side to sensory sensitivity!

I cover my ears while during fireworks and was afraid of the hairdryer until I was five years old. My sense of taste was way over the top along with my sense of smell, causing sensory pain that most of you cannot even imagine. On hot days in enclosed spaces, I would feel that I was suffocating because I could smell the individual odors of every person in the room. All of those different smells mixing together would make me dizzy, but what could I do? I was aware enough to know that no one else could smell what I did and that no one would believe me.

I gag at the bitter taste in vegetables. Needless to say, adults weren’t buying my explanation and accused me of faking it. Fruits have very strong smells that overpowered. me. For nutrition, I had to take vitamins and eat baby food well into the first grade. That ended after a friend told our whole class at school.

But these are only minor challenges compared to some of the invisible demons that come with my invisible disability.

Invisible Moat, Invisible Alligators

I have often been asked about the worst part of being on the spectrum. This is where the monsters come out. Sexual abuse is very common among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), three to four times more likely than for children without disabilities. When you realize that one in every five women is in the U.S. is sexually assaulted as a minor, you can see that many people with invisible and visible disabilities alike are sexually assaulted every day. I was no different.

When I was nearly six years old, my mother hired an ordinary female babysitter to watch me for during the summer while she and my father worked. Unfortunately, the sitter was a predator, and I was in no state to defend myself or report her. I totally repressed the memory for many years after struggling in vain to comprehend what was happening. The pain was right beneath the surface though, and when you can’t speak about your pain or even understand what happened to you, the effect is devastating.

I know you are wondering what kind of person would put their byline on an article that included this detail, and I will tell you. It’s a person determined to break the silence. I had many strikes against me when it came to getting help and healing for my abuse. Questions that parents normally ask children to get them to open up completely went over my head. I didn’t even understand that what I was forced to do was sexual abuse; I saw it as punishment and figured it was normal. And, I lacked the courage and the words to confront any adult’s behavior as “wrong”.

I want to let you know that although it is difficult to know if a person with an invisible disability is being abused, it is not impossible. Look for signs and read between the lines. We are human, and we do feel pain. For example, a scared child that is at a loss for words and calls her babysitter “mean” may be trying to tell you something, especially if she doesn’t verbalize negativity often. You may also notice that under the stress of abuse, the invisible disabilities in your child multiply. From age 6 on, my self-esteem plummeted. I developed claustrophobic behaviors and panicked if I had to wash my hair under the shower. I also spent larger amounts of time alone in various hiding places around my home. In addition to my increasingly apparent posttraumatic stress disorder, I suddenly began suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and began to behave erratically and suffer nightly insomnia. In another child, these would have been extreme warning signs, but because my behavior was somewhat odd to begin with, due to the autism, people let this go as more evidence of my disability.

Dragonslayer

So what I just described is a far cry from being a Passing Aspie you say. Well, that took many years and a lot of hard work on my part. I focused hard on grounding techniques, which helped me to mentally stay in the room with my classmates and break out of my dissociations. I worked up the courage to makeMy Beautiful Family one or two close friends, and as I fought to memorize their faces, the fog in my neural pathways lifted, and I began to see other faces. I practiced friendly facial expressions in the mirror until they felt less awkward. I traded homework help for social comfort.

By high school, my hard work had begun to pay off. New neural pathways took over my brain, and being social began to feel more natural. When I cracked under the stress of completing an extra hard course load with obsessive-compulsive disorder and became clinically depressed, I was finally got the treatment and medication I needed. One of my psychiatrists even figured out that I was on the autism spectrum. It was too late to truly benefit from services at that point, but knowing that I had a real disability and wasn’t just defective as a person helped me to forgive myself. I am proud of the work I did to make my life come together.

I have never been more proud of myself than the day I earned my Masters degree in Social Work and walked across the stage at George Mason University. I held several jobs working in foster care placement, a homeless shelter, and a nursing home and am proud to say that I never once got singled out as an Aspie or told that my work was impacted by my disability.

Am I Magic?

I get asked about “special” talents often. People want to know if I can do magic tricks like multiplying large numbers in my head or know what day of the week November 12th, 2028 will be. The honest but disappointing answer is that I do have a savant talent, and I just told you all about it. Being a Passing Aspie is harder than it looks. I don’t have the genius of many on the spectrum, but being me requires conjuring more strength, endurance and effort than you know. I noticed that unlike a lot of people my age, who typically sleep seven to eight hours a night, I need nine or ten hours to feel rested. I believe that this is the extra energy that my brain uses to filter out the sensory distractions and social challenges so that I can pass successfully.

By the time you notice the horrible beeping noise coming from the microwave at McDonalds, it has been hurting my brain for five minutes or longer. I no longer hear it, however, because my mind subconsciously noticed this immediately, determined that it was enough to make me crazy, and filtered out the noise. Also, the energy it takes me to make casual conversation with acquaintances and make eye contact while doing it would rival what it takes nuerotypical people to give a high-level presentation at work. My trick is that you don’t see it.

What Do You Mean, I Lack Empathy?

My biggest complaint as a Passing Aspie is listening to people go on about how people with autism lack empathy. Excuse me, but says who? Isn’t what you really mean that people on the spectrum don’t understand how YOU are feeling??

The truth of the matter is though that you don’t understand how people on the spectrum feel any better than we understand you. More than half of the time, you don’t even spot me hiding in the crowd. Before you reject this theory, ask yourself if you could do what I do every day of my life and pass in a room full of people on the autism spectrum the way I pass among you. Didn’t think so!

I don’t want to criticize neurotypical people. It’s just insulting and hurtful me to hear that I am believed to lack empathy when my best savant talent has been to develop empathy at such a level, that I cannot only pass as neurotypical and live in your world but very often translate between people on the spectrum and people who are not and represent both with a startling degree of accuracy.

If you have read this far, I want to thank you for having the empathy to hear my words and relive my struggles with me. Please show this empathy to others with invisible disabilities and imagine them walking in very uncomfortable shoes. If you truly can’t do this with compassion, then please keep it to yourself and do not talk about what you think you know about my autistic brothers and sisters.

 

 

A Journey to Self- Acceptance

This guest blog comes from Kim Collins, a 28-year old substitute teacher from Little Rock, AK. Kim shares with us her personal journey to self-acceptance, and how she realized that having Cerebral Palsy (CP) was her gift. 

I was born in July of 1987 two months premature to a very young mother. I originally weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces, but in the process of being flown to Little Rock Children’s hospital I lost all bodily fluids dropping my weight to 1 pound 3 ounces. I was not formally diagnosed with Spastic Cerebral Palsy until the age of three. Doctors told me that having CP was a result of being in the birth canal too long. Once diagnosed, I was not expected to meet any milestones, essentially being labeled as “failure to thrive”. This meant that being able to walk, talk, or even feed myself were probably out of the question. I was and still am very fortunate to have a loving mother and family. Although the diagnosis sounded grim, and after the initial shock, my mother fought on her own to get me in to see the proper orthopedic specialists.

Kim Collins

Kim Collins

Cerebral Palsy mostly affects the right side of my body and both sides below my waist. I’ve had 13 different corrective surgeries. I spent nearly every summer in cast correcting various issues. This is due to the fact that I was born premature the muscles in my feet and my legs were underdeveloped causing the bones in my ankles to shift into incorrect positions. I had hip grafts placed in my feet to restructure my ankles among other things. My last surgery was the summer before I began college in 2006. I believe the moments in between each of those major surgeries have made me the individual that I am.

My mother treated me like any other child and that helped tremendously. Aside from the surgeries, which were required in our minds to improve my quality of life, I was just your average child; I played outside, went to school, back talked, and when my brother came along when I was two, we were double trouble! Even though I could only crawl on my hands and knees I gave him, my mom, and everyone a run for their money. As a teenager, being “different” was hard to understand. I always asked: “Of all people, why did I have to be different?” I shed many a tear, and I wished that there were a magic pill, or some way for me to have new legs. With my mother’s help, I learned to embrace my differences. I consider myself to be exceptionally creative when it comes to doing everyday activities. I may not get dressed or cook meals like the average person, I have to get creative in the way I manage to do it.

Never let a medical diagnosis determine your life and the goals you have set for yourself. Had my mother settled for the diagnosis I was given, I would be bedridden with around the clock assistive care. Instead I am well educated, physically active, and socially accepted by many. I work, travel, have healthy relationships, and would hardly describe my life with the words Cerebral Palsy or having a disability. Individuals can be rude, but I find mostly it is because of their lack of knowledge and sense of fear to ask. I encourage people often to ask me any questions they want, because if I do not give them the opportunity to ask, how will they learn? If I can educate others I can essentially promote acceptance. Always look for the silver lining. In the toughest of situations, decide what the positive is, no matter how big or small. It may be the only thing that can get you through. Never be afraid or too stubborn to ask for help. I used to be this way and still have a tendency to do so sometimes. I had someone tell me once if “I do not let others help me how were they supposed to learn how?” So next time you ask for help just remember that you are teaching someone and giving them the opportunity to give back.

Kim and her boyfriend, sightseeing

Kim and Her Boyfriend

My lifetime accomplishment as of now is the fact that I did not let my disability dictate my attitude and overall my life. I have accomplished a high school diploma, an associate’s degree, and a bachelor’s degree. I walked the stage on each occasion with the help of friends. This is a feat that was never supposed to be achieved. I am a walking talking testimony. I would like to think I would still be the humble sweet optimistic person I am without my disability, but a big part of me says God knows what he is doing when he gives us this lifelong trial. I would not take the pill. Having this disability is my tool, and God has given me a purpose. Fortunately, over time he has given me the attitude and support system to complete this purpose. I am a sister, daughter, teacher, friend, girlfriend, granddaughter, and more. Then I have Cerebral Palsy. It does not define me, and it does not have to define you.

Everybody Matters: The Hite Family

When Janelle Hite gave birth to her triplets at only 24 weeks, she knew that every moment with them counted. Sadly, one of her triplets passed away after only a day. Both twins struggled for survival, with Nathan becoming septic and having to lose his right hand. Months later, both twins were diagnosed with CP. After four and a half months, Janelle was finally able to bring her boys home.

Nathan Hite

Nathan Hite

She sought the assistance of her local UCP affiliate when the twins were nine months old. Since Owen and Nathan’s needs are complex, the family depended on UCP’s early intervention program. Led by the National Office in Washington, DC, UCP has network of nearly 80 affiliates that provide families with support, advocacy, and programs such as Early Intervention. In addition to the program allowing the boys to alternate physical and occupational therapy, their doctor is right there with them, saving the family a trip to the hospital. The family spends a lot of time there; Hite estimated that the boys have had over 600 therapy sessions in a year’s time. UCP has a great relationship with the school system, having staff visit them to make sure they are getting the services they need, while learning along with the other students.

Hite cannot say enough about the staff at their local affiliate: they know the boys by name, their individual needs, as well as their genuine warmth and care for the well-being of her boys. She says they encourage them even when times get hard and want the absolute best for them. She says although neither of the boys can walk, they can say a few words and communicate to their therapists, their family, and each other. They use augmentative

Owen Hite

Owen Hite

communication devices. Nathan uses a flat touch-screen (similar to an ipad). The device gives him the ability to choose symbols. He can also type out his family members names! Owen uses a mounted computer that gives him the ability to select letters and word choices with his eyes. “Technology is amazing, and it’s opened up a world of endless possibilities for our children and others!” Hite says.

The boys are inseparable with their older brother Logan. Although there are many things that the boys are still unable to do, Logan chooses to share a room with his younger siblings and spends hours playing with them, even if he is three years older. The twins are now five years old and The Hite’s recently added another member to their family. They adopted 8-year-old Karis from Ukraine. Like her siblings, Karis also has learning, speech, and physical disabilities. The family figured that they had the extra room, augmentative devices, and great therapists. Most of all, they have an abundance of love to share. “We believe everybody matters. We want all of our children to be who they are meant to become. They’re all perfect, just as they are. Whatever we do in life, they’ll be right there with us. We want them all to see the world as we do and have the same opportunities,” Hite says.

Your support of UCP makes success stories such as the Hite’s possible. Find out more about how you can help today.

Videos Show That #CerebralPalsyCAN During Awareness Month

March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. Throughout the month, United Cerebral Palsy will be encouraging people with cerebral palsy to share the many things they enjoy and can do using the hashtag #CerebralPalsyCan on social media. On March 25, National CP Awareness Day, UCP and our partners in this campaign (listed below) will will feature submitted videos on our social media channels and websites.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad diagnostic term used to describe a problem with movement and posture, due to damage or abnormalities in the brain that makes certain activities difficult. It is the most common motor disorder and the second-most common disability found in children. UCP aims to demonstrate through short, light-hearted videos that people with cerebral palsy have a range of interests and abilities, and in that respect are no different than anyone else. Find out more about the campaign and watch the video on My Life Without Limits, UCP’s new online resource and community for individuals with a range of disabilities at www.mylifewithoutlimits.org.


#CerebralPalsyCan Campaign Partners

United Cerebral Palsy: http://ucp.org/
My Life Without Limits: http://mylifewithoutlimits.org/
HandicapThis!: http://handicapthis.com/
Love That Max: A Special Needs Blog: http://www.lovethatmax.com/
The Cerebral Palsy Swagger: http://cpswag.blog.com
Ms. Wheelchair Michigan: http://www.mswheelchairamerica.org