A walk through disability history

Panel attendees view the exhibit.

The CPD celebrated both Human Rights Day and its 40th anniversary by opening a discussion of disability and human rights. We sponsored a poster exhibit on the history of disability in the western world in the Merrill-Cazier Library at Utah State University.

A panel discussion and the screening of the PBS Independent Lens film Lives Worth Living also examined the history of disability and advocacy. For media reports of those events, check out the links on the right side of this page. 

The posters offered a sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes exhilarating look at history. It portrayed disability and the way humans have responded to it in a way that impacted many viewers—including people who have worked at the CPD for years.  

If you missed it, you will soon be able to see it in the south hall of the CPD.

Here are some of the comments the exhibit generated during the time it hung in the Special Collections area of the library:

“Look how far we’ve come! Yet there’s still so far to go.”

“What is the root of evil? I think it is the inability of humans to see similarities instead of differences. This display was wonderful.”

“Living with a disability is only playing life on hard mode. If I lived in any other time, I would be institutionalized. Thank you for the display.”

“As I was reading the information on this display I realized how little I know about people with disabilities. The ‘piss on pity’ photo touched me the most and made me realize how I have been acting towards people with disabilitie.”

 “This was a wonderful display, well put together. I need much more time to understand.”

If you want to know more about these events, contact Jeff Sheen. We'd also like to thank Kelly Smith for the photos she took at the events. You can see more of them on our Facebook page. 

CPD by the numbers

The Interdisciplinary Disability Awareness and Service Learning class is held at the CPD. This year, its 15 class members will dedicate between 2,250 and 4,500 hours of their time to service learning.

Fun with food can improve nutrition

Touch sensitivity often correlates with aversion to the textures of some foods. Eat and play sessions at the CPD include having fun with different textures.

Every parent has seen a child refuse healthy food.

But sometimes eating difficulties can lead to problems in development or disrupt a whole family—even for years. Nutrition problems can lead to dental problems, obesity, lack of energy and delayed development.

"It can have such drastic effects in life down the line,” said Ryan Winn, who leads the Let’s Eat and Play (LEAP Frogs) class at the Center for Persons with Disabilities. The class is offered to families at the CPD’s Up to 3 Program who want to address feeding problems in very young children.

Perhaps the problem starts early on, as a newborn struggles to eat. Maybe it becomes more apparent later, when parents realize that their family schedule revolves around the tiny spurts of eating that that their healthy-looking child does, all day long, to maintain a healthy weight.

Vicki Simonsmeier directs the Pediatric Feeding Clinic at Utah State University (the clinic is affiliated with the CPD). The clinic often serves children referred from hospitals, and she often sees the self-blame that the parents of reluctant eaters feel every day. Eating seems like a basic activity, so if a child isn’t doing it, it’s easy for parents to blame themselves.

As it turns out, feeding is more complicated than it seems. Coordination of thirty-one muscles is required for a young child to learn to swallow.  Sometimes a child is born with a physiological problem that complicates eating, or he may develop one. Perhaps feeding blocks an airway and interferes with an even higher priority action: breathing. Maybe sensory issues mean the child doesn’t like the feel of a nipple or foods with certain textures. Or it could be that the wrong formula is upsetting the child’s gastrointestinal tract. ...

Whatever the problem is, if eating becomes an ongoing negative experience, it can lead to behaviors that may persist long after the physical problem is corrected. The CPD’s feeding-centered services are there to help children learn to like healthy foods. The feeding clinic works with children 0 to 12 years old, while LEAP Frogs targets children up to three. The approach in both programs is similar.

Read the whole story on the CPD Website.

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