Thursday, March 28, 2013

Girl Explains Autism in Creative Way

Here is a great video where a little girl explains Autism in a very creative way.
Let us know your thoughts!

Click here to watch it:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Teen with Down Syndrome Makes History

 A teen with down syndrome recently made history as the first person with down syndrome to make it to the base camp of Mount Everest, the world's tallest mountain. This feat was accomplished in 10 days by Eli Reimer as he and his team traveled in below freezing weather to reach an elevation of 17,000 feet. Go Eli!

Most Inspirational Duo in the Ironman Race

Dick and Rick Hoyt, better known as Team Hoyt, are a father and son duo who race in the Ironman. This is no ordinary father and son team. This team is arguably the most inspirational team to ever race. Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation at the time of his birth. His parents, Dick and Judy, went against the advice to institutionalize him and
instead let him live his life as any other person would. In 1977, Rick told his dad he wanted to run in a 5-mile benefit run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. After the race, Rick said, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped." Since then, Team Hoyt have ran in over 1,000 races and have even biked and ran across the United States, completing 3,735 miles in 45 days. If this story has taught us anything, it is that perseverance and determination go a long way. There is no "I can't do it." There is only "Yes, you can!"

Update: 04/24/13

Rick and Dick Hoyt were on mile 25 of the Boston Marathon when they realized something to be wrong. Team Hoyt was expecting last week's Boston Marathon to be their last time competing in the race, but because of the bombing, they will return next year to honor the victims.

A Girl with Autism and Her "Broken Burger"

By now, many of you have read the viral story about a girl with autism and how a waitress and manager at Chili's Restaurant Chain fixed her broken burger. If you have not read the story, here it is, straight from the girl's older sister:

"I want to share the experience that my husband, 7 year old autistic sister and I had today at the Chili’s location in Midvale, UT. Arianna, my little sister, didn’t waste any time when our waitress, Lauren, greeted us at our table. Arianna promptly ordered her cheeseburger with pickles, french fries, and chocolate milk before Lauren could even take our drink order. Lauren smiled and told Arianna, “Okay! I’ll be right back with your chocolate milk!”. When we got our food I was wondering why Arianna wouldn’t touch her cheeseburger, but was going to town on her french fries. I asked her, “Arianna are you going to eat your cheeseburger?” She calmly said, “No, I don’t want it.” Cheeseburgers, or ‘Krabby Patties’ as we sometimes call them, are her FAVORITE! So this behavior was VERY strange. So I asked her, “Why don’t you want it?”. She replied, “It’s broken. I need another one thats fixed.” Then it dawned on me why she wasn’t eating it. It’s because it was cut in half. 
Being a child with autism, she has to have certain things in a particular order at all times. One slight change in her routine can change the course of the day instantly. When Lauren came back to check on us, I asked if we could order another cheeseburger and just add it to our check. She had a concerned look on her face so I explained that Arianna has autism, and that in her mind, because the cheeseburger was cut in half, she thinks its broken and can’t eat it. I told Lauren I knew it sounded silly, but if we could just order an additional one we will gladly pay for it because there was nothing wrong with the one that was originally brought out. Lauren was so sweet and just smiled and went along with Arianna, telling her “I brought you a broken cheeseburger?! You know what, I’ll have them cook you a new one!” I loved this because rather than just taking it from the table, she actually TOLD Arianna what she was doing. While this seems insignificant, by her telling Arianna what she was doing, we avoided a melt down. The manager, Bradley Cottermole, then came to our table, kneeled down, and said to Arianna, “I heard we gave you a broken cheeseburger! I am so sorry about that! We are making you a brand new one that isn’t broken, with pickles! I’ll bring you some french fries to munch on while you’re waiting, ok?” 
A couple of minutes later, Lauren arrived back at our table with cheeseburger #2. Arianna said, “OH FANK YOU! You fixded my cheeseburger!” When Lauren walked away, Arianna just sat there for a second and looked at her new burger. She looked like so deep in thought....just staring at it....then she let out a big ”OH I missed you!!” and started kissing the burger over and over again. I showed Lauren this picture and said, “I think we glorified the cheeseburger too much!” She busted up laughing, and asked if she could go show her manager. She came back a minute later and said she showed everyone in the back kitchen area too, and that it made them all laugh and smile. 
 I was so touched by this experience. Especially since I know people who have been asked to leave restaurants when their child with autism is being disruptive. I expected a few different things with this scenario based on past experiences, but I did NOT expect such kind and compassionate mannerisms from Lauren and Bradley. Everyone, from the hostess to the chef, played a role in what most people would think isn’t a big deal. But this entirely shaped how the rest of our day would go. I know...a cheeseburger cut in half literally could make or break our day. In this case thanks to the professionalism of the crew in Midvale, it made our day. And I’m sure Arianna brightened up at least one of the employees days with her silly little personality. Thank you."
I believe what this story teaches us is that it is essential to demonstrate kindness to everyone, even if it means having to go out of your way to do so.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Deaf Toddler Hears His Mom for the First Time

We tend to forget the value of things that seem to come naturally to us like hearing our husband's snore or the sounds of our mother's voice. Earlier today, we posted a video about a woman hearing herself for the first time, the joy that came from hearing herself laugh. Now, we will be posting a few videos about children hearing their mothers for the first time as well as mothers hearing their children for the first time. The joy that these people get from hearing their loved ones speak is overwhelming.

In this video, a toddler hears his mother's voice for the first time:

Here, a mother hears her 8 year old son's voice for the first time:

Inspirational Video from Ellen Show

Ellen DeGeneres had a guest on her show recently, and the video clip from the show is touching. Ellen's guest, Sloan Churman, was deaf since childbirth and recently had a surgery, a procedure that costs $30,000 per ear, to allow her to hear for the first time. Ellen finally has a great surprise in the end for the guest and her family. Here is the video clip:

The Sloan was invited onto the show after a video of her hearing herself for the first time went viral. Here is the link to that video:

Success with Our Celebrity Bartending FUNdraiser!

Hello all!

We would like to thank everyone who came out to our Celebrity Bartending FUNdraiser. It could not have been successful without your help. Below, we have a picture of one of the night's celebrities, Barry Van Dyke, and our board member, Lisa Davis.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Employment for People with Disabilities

Here is a great article enlisting the efforts some governors make in order to promote employment for people with disabilities:

MTV's "World of Jenks"

MTV is putting the spotlight on what it is like to transition to adulthood as someone with disabilities. The documentary style show, "World of Jenks," is hosted and documented by Andrew Jenks who lives with three people, each for a year, and follows their journeys. Among those three people is Chad DenDanto, a man diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which is on the autism spectrum, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Jenks states that “We realized (at MTV) that we had an opportunity to humanize and destigmatize what it’s like to have autism. One in 88 American children have autism now. It’s something prevalent that could use more mainstream media attention.” We agree, Jenks, and we would like to thank you for allowing Chad's autism to no longer define him.

For the website of "World of Jenks, please visit:

"Dolls for Downs"

When people look at dolls, they tend to gravitate towards the ones that look like them. Dolls today are made with different genders, races, and there is even a line of dolls for cancer patients. But, there was not a single doll line for people with disabilities. Imagine the disbelief of Hannah Feda, a girl with down syndrome, when she continued to flip through catalogs and states to her mother "none of these dolls look like me. not one." Hannah's mother, Connie Feda, decided to create a line to provide children with down syndrome and other disabilities a chance to have a doll that looks like them, that they can relate to. Feda created this line and called it "Dolls for Downs." She states that the dolls are not only fun to play with, but they provide occupational therapy skills ,for its users. Feda continues by saying that users who have not developed certain motor skills can learn with the doll's clothing and removable features such as buttons, zippers, velcro, ties and snaps. We applaud Feda for creating such a difference with her unique product.

To purchase "Dolls for Downs," please visit:

America's Choice is Alexis Wineman, a Contestant with Autism

As we have been promoting all along, people with disabilities can do anything. Even win the prestigious title of "America's Choice" in the famed Miss America competition. Alexis Wineman, a beauty queen with autism, was chosen as the "America's Choice" this year.

Learning to Walk Down a Curb

Here is an uplifting video about a 4 year old boy who is completely blind and learns how to walk down a curb independently. As the description of the video shows, it is "a lesson in bravery."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

FDA Approved Bionic Eye Offers Partial Vision to the Blind

The FDA has recently approved a Bionic Eye device called the Argus II.This new device offers partial vision to the blind, a landmark in the field of corrective technology. The Argus II allows people with a certain type of blindness to see the presence of people or cars, crosswalks on the street, and sometimes large numbers or letters. The Argus II is made by Second Sight Medical Products and helps to treat people with severe retinis pigmentosa. How the device works is impressive in the field of opthamology. The device is essentially an artificial retina that allows visual signals to bypass the damaged portion of the retina and be transmitted to the brain. In the future, the company that created the Argus II plans to revolutionize the opthamology field further by implanting electrodes directly into the brain's cortex to address all types of blindness. For now, all of us at EmpowerTech are impressed with the company's technological advances, and we cannot wait to see what they develop in the future.

For more information on the Argus II, please visit: