The Other Side of Disabilities

The Office for Students with Disabilities Newsletter
            Division of Student Affairs

Volume X, Issue 5 November-December 2009 Editor:  James Walborn

Click here to listen to the audio version



During this special time of year it is appropriate to reflect upon the many reasons we have for being grateful. One way the OSD staff and student assistants showed their gratitude is by providing the bounty for the annual OSD Thanksgiving feast which fed over 80 hungry OSD students and special guests. We hope that everyone may have peace throughout the upcoming holidays.


The new OSD Testing Facilitator is Luciana Lima. Originally from Brazil, Luciana and her husband moved to the U.S. in 1999. While employed at the Karen Slattery Center and later the Admissions Office, she took classes and earned her BA in 2008 in Interdisciplinary Studies.  She is now taking classes to earn her MED in Higher Education Leadership.
“At the Admissions Office I would see a hundred people a day who I never see again. I love working at the OSD because you can build a relationship with the students. The OSD is a big family and everybody helps each other.”
Likes: “I enjoy all types of art. I love to do photography. I also do oil painting (I’m not too good). Luciana volunteers with the Humane Society. “I don’t like it when people mistreat pets.”  She rescued Jellybean, a beautiful Persian cat. “They now all live in peace, but at first Jellybean tried to taste my parakeets.”
Advice to OSD students: “Please get your Test Accommodations Forms in on time in order to ensure that you get your accommodations.”
Anything unusual in the fridge: “I don’t eat vegetables or red meat, and I’ve cut back on sugar. I love chicken, and black beans and rice. My husband just placed a case of Brazilian passion fruit juice in the refrigerator for me.”


The Owls Supporting Diversity Club won 3rd place in the Homecoming Parade Golf cart decoration competition, with the theme of service dogs and therapy dogs. Kudos to everyone who worked on the project.


The “Sunny Striders” 4-member team raised $3500 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association “Stride and Ride Walk of Hope.” The team of walkers and wheelchair users consisted of OSD students and staff: Amber S, Landon S, and team Captain Lauren S (her boyfriend was the fourth member). This team did great as the event earned $10,000 total. “We had a lot of fun and plan on doing it again next year,” says Lauren. 


Landon S is a FAU graduate student who has written the book, Living Bipolar . “This is something that I wanted to write to help others.  When you’re diagnosed as bipolar they don’t give you an instruction manual on how to live.”
Living Bipolar utilizes case studies to demonstrate the ways people have learned to cope with friends or loved ones who are Bipolar, utilizing interviews with a psychiatrist and a therapist to gain a medical perspective.
Landon shares, “I get racing thoughts so it’s hard for me to concentrate. My perception becomes skewed depending upon how I feel.” He may possess an over-inflated ego one time, but have no self esteem on another day. Then there are the side effects to the medications. “I get hungry, always have dry mouth, and have very vivid dreams which disrupt my sleep.”
“Exercise is important for mental health to burn off all of the manic energy.” Being part of a strong support group of people who understand is very important as well.
Landon emphasizes, “If this book were around when I was first diagnosed as Bipolar it would have saved me years of suffering and would have helped my family to understand what I was going through.” He concludes that writing it was easy compared to getting the book published. “I’m trying to find a Literary Agent who would represent me when dealing with a publishing house, so any suggestions would be helpful.” [please send your suggestions in care of the Newsletter Editor, ]


The OSD would like to congratulate everyone graduating this December. Here are two stories of OSD students that we think you will enjoy.


Karen S is graduating with her BA Degree in Music, Classical Guitar Performance. She has Asperger’s Syndrome which is often referred to as high functioning Autism. It is a developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life and interferes with the normal development of the brain in the areas of reasoning, social interaction, and communication skills. “I’m hypersensitive to a lot of noise and movement in my environment so sometimes I am overwhelmed,” Karen notes.
She wishes everyone to understand the misconception: “Sometimes people with Asperger’s Syndrome come across as lacking in empathy, but just the opposite is happening. We become overwhelmed with emotions and shut down. We have to show our feelings differently.”
“As a young child I had problems verbalizing, so I learned to express myself through my writing and music.” She has been giving concerts for years and is proficient in both the guitar and piano, which she teaches. “I’m finally getting my formal music degree as I’d previously been studying privately. My classes in music theory, history, and sight singing have made me more well rounded as a musician.”
While graduate school may be in her future, Karen’s current plans involve continuing to teach and give concerts. Her advice to others: “Seek assistance when you need it. It took me a while to get comfortable in asking for help. The OSD provides a peaceful and supportive environment.”
Likes: “I write poetry and like to swim. I enjoy outdoor activities and being with my friends.”
Dislikes: “There are people who will ask,  How are you? but then they don’t wait for the answer. It’s just a habit but it comes across as insincere.”
Anything unusual in the fridge? She laughed. “What’s unusual is that there is nothing in there. I’m horrible at grocery shopping. You might find a couple of bagels and a jar of Ragu.” Yummy.


Clifford J is graduating with his BA in Criminal Justice. Fluent in four languages, he hopes to work for Immigration and Naturalization Service upon graduation. “I wanted to be a cop but it requires a lot of physical activity.”
Attending college has not been easy as he has Sickle Cell Anemia, which causes him constant pain. In 2005 he had to miss a year away from FAU due to major complications from gall bladder surgery. A year later he was involved in a car accident which caused a traumatic brain injury, in which blood leaked into his brain. This has created memory issues and a learning disability, but he has not let this stop him.
The normal red blood cells are “O” shaped and move easily through blood vessels. But sickle cells are “S” shaped and can get stuck and block blood vessels. “They give you pain all over your body. I may be talking to you right now and laughing, but I’m always in pain. You have to learn to live with it.” He gets extremely frustrated with some of the medical establishment, who treats those with Sickle Cell Anemia as if they were common drug addicts. “They stereotype us when actually we are in Sickle Cell crisis. Then we need blood transfusions and heavy pain medication just to try to get us stabilized.”
Born in Haiti, Cliff is the oldest son of college- educated parents. “They were sweethearts since seventh grade,” he reflects. He is very appreciative for his supportive  family, and when not doing school work, “I like to hang out with them.” His family’s motto is, never start something that you cannot finish. “After my mom graduated from FAU with her Master’s Degree, I knew that I had to finish school.”
He concludes, “I want to thank Nicole and the whole OSD staff for helping me throughout all of my trials and tribulations.”
Anything unusual in the fridge: “It’s full of bottled water. It’s important that I stay hydrated so I carry water all of the time.”


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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: LA 240; phone 954.236.1222. Jupiter: SR 117; phone 561.799.8585, TTY 561.799.8565. Treasure Coast: JU 312; phone 772.873.3441.

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