The Office of Special Services Presents the Film FIXED, Mon. Oct. 26

fixed
In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Special Services (OSS) is working to raise awareness of disabilities by offering a movie screening of FIXED.

FIXED Mon., Oct. 26 from 1-3 p.m. (movie is 60 minutes, with a discussion afterwards for those who can stay) in room 1504.

What is FIXED about??

A haunting, subtle, urgent documentary, FIXED questions commonly held beliefs about disability and normalcy by exploring technologies that promise to change our bodies and mind forever. Told primarily through the perspectives of five people with disabilities: a scientist, journalist, disability justice educator, bionics engineer and exoskeleton test pilot, FIXED takes a close look at the implications of emerging human enhancement technologies for the future of humanity.

Check out the trailer here.

Please contact the Office of Special Services if you have questions or would like to schedule a discussion of the topic or a showing of the movie in your class.

Kathy Cook, Associate Dean
Office of Special Services
Ext. 4544

Disability Awareness Month Tip for Oct. 26: Facts About Anxiety

anxiety
In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Special Services (OSS) is working to raise awareness of disabilities by offering daily facts and tips about people with disabilities and living with disability. Please take a minute to read and broaden your understanding.

What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?

There are several recognized types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Panic disorder: People with this condition have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Other symptoms of a panic attack include sweating, chest pain, palpitations (unusually strong or irregular heartbeats), and a feeling of choking, which may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack or “going crazy.”
  • Social anxiety disorder: Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. The worry often centers on a fear of being judged by others, or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or lead to ridicule.
  • Specific phobias: A specific phobia is an intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as snakes, heights, or flying. The level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation and may cause the person to avoid common, everyday situations.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: This disorder involves excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.

What Are the Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder?

Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • An inability to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

What Causes Anxiety Disorders?

The exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown; but anxiety disorders — like other forms of mental illness — are not the result of personal weakness, a character flaw, or poor upbringing. As scientists continue their research on mental illness, it is becoming clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress.

Like other brain illnesses, anxiety disorders may be caused by problems in the functioning of brain circuits that regulate fear and other emotions. Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the way nerve cells within these circuits transmit information from one region of the brain to another. Other studies have shown that people with certain anxiety disorders have changes in certain brain structures that control memories linked with strong emotions. In addition, studies have shown that anxiety disorders run in families, which means that they can at least partly be inherited from one or both parents, like the risk for heart disease or cancer. Moreover, certain environmental factors — such as a trauma or significant event — may trigger an anxiety disorder in people who have an inherited susceptibility to developing the disorder.

Anxiety disorders affect millions of adult Americans. Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. They occur slightly more often in women than in men, and occur with equal frequency in whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?

If symptoms of an anxiety disorder are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by asking you questions about your medical history and performing a physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose anxiety disorders, the doctor may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health professional who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for an anxiety disorder.

The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on the patient’s report of the intensity and duration of symptoms — including any problems with daily functioning caused by the symptoms — and the doctor’s observation of the patient’s attitude and behavior. The doctor then determines if the patient’s symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate a specific anxiety disorder.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?

Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in the treatment of people with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, one or a combination of the following therapies may be used for most anxiety disorders:

  • Medication: Drugs used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders include anti-depressants and anxiety-reducing drugs.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This is a particular type of psychotherapy in which the person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes.
  • Relaxation therapy.

Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented?

Anxiety disorders cannot be prevented; however, there are some things you can do to control or lessen symptoms:

  • Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can increase anxiety symptoms.
  • Seek counseling and support if you start to regularly feel anxious with no apparent cause.

The above information and more can be found here, here and here.

Disability Awareness Month Tip for Oct. 23: Facts About Dysthymia

dysthmia
In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Special Services (OSS) is working to raise awareness of disabilities by offering daily facts and tips about people with disabilities and living with disability. Please take a minute to read and broaden your understanding.

Facts about Dysthymia
Dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh) is a mild but long-term (chronic) form of depression. Symptoms usually last for at least two years, and often for much longer than that. Dysthymia interferes with your ability to function and enjoy life.

With dysthymia, you may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy. People with dysthymia are often thought of as being overly critical, constantly complaining and incapable of having fun.

Dysthymia symptoms in adults may include:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Sadness or feeling down
  • Hopelessness
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Low self-esteem, self-criticism or feeling incapable
  • Trouble concentrating and trouble making decisions
  • Irritability or excessive anger
  • Decreased activity, effectiveness and productivity
  • Avoidance of social activities
  • Feelings of guilt and worries over the past
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Sleep problems

In children, dysthymia sometimes occurs along with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral or learning disorders, anxiety disorders, or developmental disabilities. Examples of dysthymia symptoms in children include:

  • Irritability
  • Behavior problems
  • Poor school performance
  • Pessimistic attitude
  • Poor social skills
  • Low self-esteem

Dysthymia symptoms usually come and go over a period of years, and their intensity can change over time. But typically symptoms don’t disappear for more than two months at a time. In general, you may find it hard to be upbeat even on happy occasions — you may be described as having a gloomy personality.

When dysthymia starts before age 21, it’s called early-onset dysthymia. When it starts after that, it’s called late-onset dysthymia.

When to see a doctor
It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or upset sometimes or to be unhappy with stressful situations in your life. But with dysthymia, these feelings last for years and interfere with your relationships, work and daily activities.

Because these feelings have gone on for such a long time, you may think they’ll always be part of your life. But if you have any symptoms of dysthymia, seek medical help. If not effectively treated, dysthymia commonly progresses into major depression. Sometimes, a major depression episode occurs in addition to dysthymia — this is called double depression.

Talk to your primary care doctor about your symptoms. Or seek help directly from a mental health provider. If you’re reluctant to see a mental health professional, reach out to someone else who may be able to help guide you to treatment, whether it’s a friend or loved one, a teacher, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.

The above information and more can be found here and here.

The Office of Special Services Presents the Film FIXED, Mon. Oct. 26

fixed
In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Special Services (OSS) is working to raise awareness of disabilities by offering a movie screening of FIXED.

FIXED Mon., Oct. 26 from 1-3 p.m. (movie is 60 minutes, with a discussion afterwards for those who can stay) in room 1504.

What is FIXED about??

A haunting, subtle, urgent documentary, FIXED questions commonly held beliefs about disability and normalcy by exploring technologies that promise to change our bodies and mind forever. Told primarily through the perspectives of five people with disabilities: a scientist, journalist, disability justice educator, bionics engineer and exoskeleton test pilot, FIXED takes a close look at the implications of emerging human enhancement technologies for the future of humanity.

Check out the trailer here.

Please contact the Office of Special Services if you have questions or would like to schedule a discussion of the topic or a showing of the movie in your class.

Kathy Cook, Associate Dean
Office of Special Services
Ext. 4544

National Disability Awareness Month Tip for Oct. 22: Facts About Stuttering

In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Special Services (OSS) is working to raise awareness of disabilities by offering daily facts and tips about people with disabilities and living with disability. Please take a minute to read and broaden your understanding.

International Stuttering Awareness Day – October 22
Did You Know?

  • Stuttering is a communication disorder involving disruptions, or dysfluencies, in a person’s speech, but there are nearly as many ways to stutter as there are people who stutter.
  • The National Stuttering Association is a non-profit organization – the largest in the world – started in 1977, dedicated to bringing hope and empowerment to children and adults who stutter, their families, and professionals through support, education, advocacy, and research. Our organization is largely volunteer run and member-donation funded.

Common Myths about Stuttering
People have found stuttering confusing for centuries, and as with so many mysteries, they have tried to explain it with folklore. For instance, people in some cultures once believed that a child stuttered because his mother saw a snake during pregnancy or because he ate a grasshopper as a toddler. We now know that stuttering is probably neurological in origin, may have genetic origins, and often results in emotional components.

However, myths about stuttering persist today. Here are just a few of them:

  • People stutter because they are nervous. Because fluent speakers occasionally become more disfluent when they are nervous or under stress, some people assume that people who stutter do so for the same reason. While people who stutter may be nervous because they stutter, nervousness is not the cause.
  • People who stutter are shy and self-conscious. Children and adults who stutter often are hesitant to speak up, but they are not otherwise shy by nature. Once they come to terms with stuttering, people who stutter can be assertive and outspoken. Many have succeeded in leadership positions that require talking.
  • Stuttering is a psychological disorder. Emotional factors often accompany stuttering but it is not primarily a psychological condition. Stuttering treatment often includes counseling to help people who stutter deal with attitudes and fears that may be the result of stuttering.
  • People who stutter are less intelligent or capable. People who stutter are disproving this every day. The stuttering community has its share of scientists, writers, and college professors. People who stutter have achieved success in every profession imaginable.
  • Stuttering is caused by emotional trauma. Some have suggested that a traumatic episode may trigger stuttering in a child who already is predisposed to it, but the general scientific consensus is that this is not usually the root cause of the disorder.
  • Stuttering is caused by bad parenting. When a child stutters, it is not the parents’ fault. Stress in a child’s environment child can exacerbate stuttering, but is not the cause.
  • Stuttering is just a habit that people can break if they want to. Although the manner in which people stutter may develop in certain patterns, the cause of stuttering itself is not due to a habit. Because stuttering is a neurological condition, many, if not most, people who stutter as older children or adults will continue to do so—in some fashion—even when they work very hard at changing their speech.
  • Children who stutter are imitating a stuttering parent or relative. Stuttering is not contagious. Since stuttering often runs in families, however, children who have a parent or close relative who stutters may be at risk for stuttering themselves. This is due to shared genes, not imitation.
  • Forcing a left-handed child to become right-handed causes stuttering. This was widely believed early in the 20th century but has been disproven in most studies since 1940. Although attempts to change handedness do not cause stuttering, the stress that resulted when a child was forced to switch hands may have exacerbated stuttering for some individuals.
  • Identifying or labeling a child as a stutterer results in chronic stuttering. This was the premise of a famous study in 1939. The study was discredited decades ago, but this outdated theory still crops up occasionally. Today, we know that talking about stuttering does not cause a child to stutter.

These are just a few of the common myths out there. Instead of perpetuating such myths, it is important to have the Facts About Stuttering!

The above information and more can be found here and here.