Tag Archives: disabilities

  • Autism Awareness: 10 Facts You Didn't Know

    According to the National Autism Association (NAA), Autism affects approximately 1 in 68 children throughout the United States.

    Usually appearing before the age of 3, autism is considered a bio-neurological developmental disability that impacts the normal development of the brain as it relates to: social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function.

    Below are some additional facts about autism, which you may have not known.

    by BLW Photography on flickr cc

    10 Facts About Autism

    1. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. [source]
    2. Autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet most underfunded. [source]
      Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse symptoms related to autism can be greatly improved and in some cases completely overcome. [source]
    3. Autism costs a family $60,000 a year on average. [source]
    4. There is no medical detection or cure for autism. [source]
    5. Beliefs in the late 1990s and early 2000s that vaccines may cause autism have since been disproven through numerous studies. [source]
    6. It is possible to detect signs of autism in infants as young as 6-18 months. For example, if a baby fixates on objects or does not respond to people, he or she may be exhibiting early signs of an autism spectrum disorder.[source]
    7. The most effective treatments available today are applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and occupational, speech and physical therapy, which have proven to be the most effective. [source]
    8. Autism was first described by Dr. Leo Kanner in 1943. He reported on eleven children who showed a marked lack of interest in other people, but a highly unusual interest in the inanimate environment. [source]
    9. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. [source]
    10. Most people who develop ASD have no reported family history of autism, suggesting that random, rare, and possibly many gene mutations are likely to affect a person's risk. [source]


    • http://nationalautismassociation.org/resources/autism-fact-sheet/
    • https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism
    • http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org/quick-facts-about-autism
    • http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
    • http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
  • Assistive Technology versus Adaptive Technology

    Before we can look at the potential differences between assistive versus adaptive technology, we must first look at how physical disabilities are defined in the United States.

    According to the United States Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS), disabilities can vary from person to person. Specifically, the ACS survey looks at six different types of disabilities. If respondents responded to having at least one of the following disability types, he/she was considered to have a disability. The different types of disabilities include:

    • Hearing
    • Vision
    • Cognitive
    • Ambulatory
    • Self-Care
    • Independent Living


    In the report,  Americans with Disabilities: 2010, more than 56 million people (roughly 18.7 percent) of the 300 million in the civilian non-institutionalized population were reported to have a disability in 2010. Of these:

    • Roughly 30.6 million individuals (ages 15+) reported ambulatory limitations of the lower body.
    • Roughly 10% had trouble walking a quarter of a mile.


    In older Americans (ages 65+), the chances for having a physical disability increase:

    • Roughly 15 million people (39% reported difficulty with ambulatory activities, of which 11.2 million had severe difficulty.

    photo by Pink Sherbet Photography on flickr cc

    Assistive Technology & Physical Disability

    Assistive technology is often associated with those who have physical disabilities. According to Disabled World, assistive devices (also referred to as 'ambulatory aids') are

    ...tools, products, or types of equipment that help you perform tasks and activities if you have a disability, injury or are a senior. Assistive  devices may also help you move around, see, communicate, eat, or get dressed/undressed.

    Examples of Assistive Technology:

    • Advanced technology walking products to aid disabled persons who would not be able to walk or stand at all (ex: exoskeletons)
    • Standing products to support people with disabilities in the standing position (ex: standing wheelchair)
    • Visual aids (ex: magnifying glasses, computer software for reading)
    • Seating products that allow for safe, comfortable seating (ex: therapeutic seats)
    • Walking aids (ex: canes, crutches, walkers)
    • Wheeled mobility products (ex: wheelchairs, scooters, scooter lifts, stair lifts)


    See additional examples of assistive devices here.

    Adaptive Technology & Physical Disabilities

    According to the Education Training and Technical Assistance Center at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), adaptive technology refers to:

    ...special versions of already existing technologies or tools, usually used by people with disabilities such as limitations to vision, hearing, and mobility. For example, in the early 1900s, FDR used a special car with hand controls because he was paralyzed from polio.

    Similarly, Wikipedia defines adaptive technology as any items that are: "...specifically designed for persons with disabilities and would seldom be used by non-disabled persons." In many cases, adaptive technology refers to electronic and information technology access.

    Examples of Adaptive Technology:

    Adaptive Technology and Resources Spring Expo

    In the Raleigh, NC area on May 9, 2015? Van Products will be hosting the Adaptive Technology and Resources Spring Expo from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event is FREE to attend, and it is a great, interactive day to help promote education and awareness of adaptive technology how it is being used to help families and individuals with disabilities.

    Watch the following video to learn more about the North Carolina Assistive Technology Program (NCATP), and stop by Van Products on May 9th to learn more!

  • April 2015 is Parkinson's Awareness Month

    April 2015 is Parkinson's Awareness Month. In this article, we take a closer look at Parkinson's Disease, from the history to current treatments, research, symptoms, and resources.

    What is Parkinson's Disease?

    Parkinson's Disease dates back to the mid 1800s when a British scientist, James Parkinson, first described "the shaking palsy" in an essay [source]. Today, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the disease is defined as a group of motor system disorders, "...which are the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells.

    Parkinson's disease is difficult to diagnose accurately as there are no blood or lab tests to help with diagnosis. As a result, diagnosing the disease is usually based on medical history and a neurological exam.

    by VinothChandar on flickr cc

    5 Facts About Parkinson's Disease

    Think you know everything there is to know about Parkinson's? Take a look at some of the following facts regarding this degenerative disease:

    #1 -  Parkinson's is chronic & progressive.

    Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time.

    #2 - Parkinson's affects many people.

    Parkinson's disease affects at approximately 1.5 million people in the United States.

    #3 - Parkinson's mostly affects older people.

    Parkinson's disease most commonly affects people over age 60; however, it can occur as early as age 20.

    #4 - Parkinson's has several telltale symptoms/signs.

    • Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following.
    • Tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
    • Bradykinesia or slowness of movement
    • Rigidity or stiffness of the limbs and trunk
    • Postural instability or impaired balance and coordination *[source]

    #5 - Parkinson's affects people differently.

    Each person with Parkinson's experiences symptoms differently. For example, some people may experience tremors as their primary symptom while others may experience problems with balance only.

    Looking at Parkinson's Disease in the Media

    In the following video, The Doctors, E.R. Physician Dr. Travis Stork, explains how Parkinson's disease upsets the balance of dopamine in the body, affecting movement and coordination, and describes some of the early warning signs of the disease. Additionally, May May Ali guest stars and briefly discusses her father, Muhammad Ali's struggle with Parkinson's disease as well as how viewers can find support.

    Parkinson's Resources:

    Find out more information about Parkinson's Disease by taking advantage of the following resources:

  • March is Cerebral Palsy Month - Some Facts You Should Know

    March 2015 is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance,

    Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. It is a permanent life-long condition, but generally does not worsen over time. It is due to damage to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

    Misconceptions About Cerebral Palsy

    One of the common misconceptions about CP is that it affects people universally. Not true. In fact, CP affects different people in a variety of ways, ranging from body movement to muscle coordination, to posture, balance and speech. One person with CP may experience visual impairments, while another may experience speech and/or hearing impairments.

    It is NOT a one-size-fits-all disability.

    In a recent article, published on CNN, Maysoon Zayid, vividly recounts what it is like to live with cerebral palsy:

    When I ask people what they think of when they hear the term "cerebral palsy," I usually get one of two responses. They either think of a smiling, crumpled child in a wheelchair on a poster or commercials on late night TV with lawyers enticing parents of CP kids to sue the pants off their obstetrician. What they don't think of are adults who work, have relationships, can have children and are fully functioning members of society.

    Zayid is an actress, professional standup comedian, and an advocate of those with disabilities. She brings up valid points as well as the all-too-often harsh truth behind some of the struggles that people with physical disabilities face.

    Reading further into the article, she mentions how adults sometimes struggle to find the care that they need - either because doctors don't understand their disability, or because the nomenclature surrounding cerebral palsy is still unclear.

    While there have been many advances in technology (ex: wheelchair vans, mobility equipment, etc.) to help physically disabled persons move around more easily, Zayid points out that, at the end of the day, the thing that people with CP want most is to be respected as equals.

    5 Facts About Cerebral Palsy

    The following are some facts you should know about cerebral palsy:

    • Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to 1 or more specific areas of the brain, which usually occurs during fetal development, before, during, or shortly after birth, or during infancy.
    • The majority of children who have cerebral palsy are born with the disorder, although cerebral palsy may remain undetected for months or years.
    • 75 percent of people with cerebral palsy also have 1 or more developmental disabilities, including epilepsy, intellectual disability, autism, visual impairment, and blindness
    • Cerebral palsy is increasingly prevalent, occurring in about 1 in 278 children.
    • Approximately 800,000 people in the United States are affected by cerebral palsy.


    Raising Awareness About Cerebral Palsy

    In recent years, CP has gained wider recognition, largely due to media attention following such Hollywood actors like RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad). However, others are stepping forward in their communities to help raise more awareness.

    In the following video, 14-year-old Amanda Dunn of Massapequa, NY speaks out on behalf of those with CP. The 8th grader was born with a rare form of cerebral palsy but has been defying the odds ever since, and now she has the support of her school and local community.

    Check out the video here.

    For other information about cerebral palsy as well as ways that you can get involved in raising awareness, check out some of the links below:

  • Winter Safety Tips for People with Disabilities

    As the many parts of the country deal with harsh winter weather and winter storms, people with disabilities will want to take extra precautions as some disabilities may increase limitations, such as being able to regulate/maintain body heat.

    The following are some helpful winter safety tips for those with disabilities to keep you safer and warmer this winter!

    by kelly.sikkema on flickr cc

    Tips to Help Disabled Persons Stay Safer This Winter

    If you (or someone you know) suffer from a disability, be sure to:

    #1 - Wear multiple layers of clothing.

    It is important to wear layered clothing during the winter because it keeps the body warm. Besides this, it is far easier to take layers off than to face the alternative: not having enough layers on to keep you warm. Additionally, you should be careful to wear a scarf, insulated gloves, doubled up socks, and a pair of lined, winter boots if going outdoors.

    #2 - Carry a cell phone.

    Even though it seems like a no-brainer, you should always carry your cell phone with you - even if it's to go to your mailbox. Too often, you hear about folks who manage to lock themselves out of their homes or out of their vehicles. Depending on where you live, you could be waiting a while before help arrives if you don't have a cell phone to call for help immediately.

    #3 - Sign up with the Special Needs Registry in your area.

    Each county within each state of the United States has what is called a "Special Needs Registry." This allows those residents who have special needs or who require special assistance to register with their county. In the event that there is a natural disaster or an evacuation, or something else that would require other assistance, your information will be on file in the area that you live in, making it more accessible to get the help that you need, when you need it most.

    Refer to your local community to find out more information. Here is an example of the Special Needs Registry in Fairfax County, VA.

    #4 - Always stock up on non-perishable food items.

    Whether you rely on home-delivered meals or have a used wheelchair accessible van for your own transportation, winter weather can affect EVERYONE.  In the event that you are advised to stay off of the roads until the weather has cleared, always be sure to keep plenty of nonperishable food in your pantry to last at least several days.

    #5 - Put together a prescription plan of action with your medical staff.

    In the even that you are shut in for an extended period of time due to weather, have a plan of action ahead of time to figure out how to handle prescription pill refill needs and other medical treatments/equipment, etc. This also includes having a back up plan in place in case your medical needs require the use of a power source, such as a battery pack or electrical source.

    For additional information about used handicap vans, contact us today by filling out our simple, online form here, or by calling us toll-free: 1.800.209.6133.

  • Make Your Home More Accessible in 6 Steps

    At Van Products Used Handicap Vans, our goal is to give you freedom of mobility by providing you with the used handicap vans and mobility accessories you need. With the winter in full swing, the following are some simple steps you can follow to help make your home safer and more accessible for those with physical limitations.

    by Jen Rossey on flickr cc

    6 Steps to a Safer, More Accessible Home

    1. Control the Clutter. Keeping clutter to a minimum not only keeps your home cleaner and less germ-filled; it also gives disabled persons easier access to move around. Consider rearranging furniture to give more room for wheelchairs to maneuver, for example.
    2. Consider Stairlifts. Stairlifts are a great option for physically disabled persons who live in homes that have stairs. Often, it is easy to feel discouraged or trapped in your home simply because of reduced or limited mobility. Stairlifts allow you to easily access all parts of your multi-level home while keeping you safe.
    3. Improve Your Lighting. Lighting solutions can make it easier to move around in the evening, particularly if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, etc. Something as simple as a nightlight can help to illuminate your path to help you see where you're going. Consider repositioning light switches to make them easier to reach. There are even automated lighting systems and remote controls to help you access lighting options within your home. Also be sure to keep fully charged flashlights in each room within easy reach, in the even that there is power failure.
    4. Use the Bathroom Easier. If you or someone you know is wheelchair bound, you may consider purchasing safety rails for both the shower as well as the toilet. In some cases, purchasing a higher toilet seat as well as having a walk-in-shower may make it easier to use the bathroom.
    5. Make Doorways Wheelchair-Friendly. Most wheelchairs and walkers require a door opening at least 36 inches wide. Make simple fixes by swapping conventional door hinges with double-jointed “swing-away” hinges. Other alternatives include widening doorways, installing pocket doors, or removing doors entirely.
    6. Offer Easy Access In and Out of Your Home. If your home has exterior stairs leading in, you may consider installing a wheelchair ramp instead, or consider installing an exterior wheelchair platform lift.

    At Van Products Used Handicap Vans, our mobility specialists are happy to discuss any of the above options with you in further detail. We also carry a large inventory of mobility equipment and accessories to help make your life more mobile.

    Call us today at (800) 209-6133 to find out more!

6 Item(s)