The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
Division of Student Affairs

Volume IX, Issue 5 December 2008 Editor: James Walborn



The Owls Supporting Diversity club's main mission is to promote disability awareness. Members have come up with a unique way of sharing their knowledge. There is now a Disability Awareness Advice Box in the OSD Boca office in which people with disabilities can anonymously provide suggestions to be shared with the FAU community. We will then publish them in this newsletter. Here are a few of their suggestions.
Asperger’s/High Functioning Autism: Someone can have a very high IQ and still be autistic. Just because someone with Asperger’s may appear to not have feelings does not mean that they do not have them. Someone with Asperger’s may seem like a “loner” but they often really desire close friendships.
Cerebral Palsy: Treat me normal, its just a physical limitation. However, that physical limitation doesn’t make up who I am as a person.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): With the location of my injury in the right frontal lobe of my brain, for left handed people such as me, short term memory issues are prevalent. Also my injury almost completely eliminated my sense of smell. Most importantly, those with TBI must never drink alcohol.
Visual Impairment: “Right on red” is a privilege, not a right. Pedestrians have the right of way.


Congratulations to Michelle Shaw and her group of volunteers for their creative efforts during the Homecoming Office Contest. The OSD tied for second place on the Boca Campus.


Susie Y, a senior in Graphics Design, is a work study student for the OSD this semester. “The Work Study program is available for students who need financial aid,” Susie explains. “This allows students to attend classes while working flexible hours on campus.” Two years ago she became a volunteer notetaker for students with disabilities and she also has volunteered her artistic abilities for the Office’s creative endeavors. “People here are very friendly; it’s almost like a family.” Previously she hadn’t met many people with disabilities, “my impression has changed a lot. I am quite reserved sometimes, but by meeting people here I’ve learned to be more confident with myself, and to be a little more social.” She advises, “volunteering is a great opportunity to help others, even if it’s just taking notes for them. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment.”


The OSD continued its annual tradition by providing 70 turkey dinners with all the trimmings to students with disabilities, as well as FAU staff. During this special time of the year it is appropriate to pause and reflect upon the many reasons for which we have to be thankful.


The OSD is seeking to fill the position of Coordinator of Deaf Services. If you know of any qualified applicants for this interesting position please ask them to check out the position on the Human Resources Employment webpage at https://jobs/fau/edu.


In 2007, 36.9%of working-age (21-64) people with disabilities were employed, compared with the 79.7% of people without disabilities. Moreover, researchers found that 24.7% of working-age Americans with disabilities lived in poverty, compared to 9.0% of those without disabilities. (Statistics from the 2007 American Community Survey data)


The OSD would like to congratulate all of the students who are graduating this December. Here are some of their stories.


Ryan G is very proud of earning his MBA from FAU. He is a high level Quadriplegic, cervical 3 & 4, who became paralyzed as a teenager while swimming with his friends. “We used to jump from rope swings into the lake, and none of us got hurt until my accident. I climbed up a 36 foot tree and jumped. The impact of hitting the water shattered my spinal cord.”
Ryan is very civic minded and is active on many different committees including the FAU ADA Accessibility Committee, the Broward County Consumer Protection Board, the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Society of Broward County, and he is a representative on two committees for the city of Coral Springs. “I really enjoy it. It is an opportunity for networking and to meet a lot of new people,” Ryan notes. He credits his family and friends with his success, and is very appreciative of the OSD and the Director, Nicole Rokos, for all of the services and support that he has been provided while at FAU. Some advice he wishes to share about achieving goals is, “patience, motivation, and perseverance.”


Nicholas R is graduating with his Bachelor's Degree in Social Work. He has renal disease and has gone for dialysis three times a week for the last 18 years. “A bad experience I had with a social worker at the dialysis treatment center at the time was my inspiration to reach out and help others,” and he has been advising many of the new patients there ever since.
His wife and family encouraged him to return to school, so in 2004 he enrolled in the Social Work program at FAU. He was very concerned that his two school days a week would not allow him enough time to complete the College requirements in the allotted five years (the process of dialysis exhausts him during the treatment days), but he is happy to have made it under the wire. Although full-time employment while maintaining his dialysis schedule is unlikely, the agency where he is finishing up his internship is willing to discuss part-time employment.
Until a year ago he was on a tournament softball league. “I try not to make my disability a nuisance to myself.” One time his team went to the Nationals and he had to travel an hour away from the site for treatments.
He works out at the gym and still plays some softball. “Staying in shape is why I have lasted this long on dialysis,” he explains. His advice to others, “Just because we have a disability, don’t look at us any differently; give us the same understanding you would give anyone else.”


Tashara C has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in elementary education. “I see everything and see nothing” she states, as she sees peripherally because her central vision is deteriorating. She has Stargardt's disease (a form of Juvenile Macular Degeneration) and cannot drive or see regular print, “so I have to find a way around what others consider the normal way of doing things.”
She utilizes various types of assistive technology, magnifiers, and audio recording devices when dealing with everyday life situations and in teaching her grade school class. However, her 3.9 GPA clearly demonstrates her successful ability to cope.
She is the single mother of two boys, one of whom is a special needs child. “He has learning difficulties... and other things are going to happen as he gets older. I have to monitor him constantly.” Her advice to others includes, “don’t give up on those things that you want to do in life. It doesn’t matter if you fall, because we all fall. What matters is what you do after you fall.”


Laura Clarke is a non-traditional student and a 12 year FAU employee who is the Business Assistant for the Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Brown. She has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. “I received my Associate’s Degree in Accounting in the 1960's and had a life and family,” she states. The move to Florida was prompted by her husband John’s health issues. He is employed as the OSD Computer Programmer, and Laura is also an OSD volunteer notetaker. She acknowledges, “I always wanted to go back to school... but let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.



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This newsletter is available in alternate format upon request from the Office for Students with Disabilities. Boca: SU 133; phone 561.297.3880, TTY 561.297.0358. Davie: MD I, Room 104; phone 954.236.1222, TTY 954.236.1146. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.


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