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Down Syndrome Ireland – Concert this Saturday!

Monday, May 16th, 2011



Hi  All- see below email – please give your support by attending if you can!


My name is Helena Byrne and I’m organising a concert in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland this coming Saturday 21st of May in Dublin. I was wondering if it would be at all possible for you to include the details of the event in an email or newsletter of any kind to inform your members.

The details are:

A musical variety of Jazz, Classical, Blues, Folk and much more! Featuring Helena Byrne ( and Tom Conroy ( to name but a few!

Saturday 21st May from 7.30pm to 10pm in The Exchange, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Tickets €5 at the door. Raffle and donation box on the night also.

Raffle prizes include a make-up session with professional make-up artist Dena Rowe, two day photography training with Dublin photographer David Doyle and family tickets to Dublin Attractions.

Facebook Event Page:!/event.php?eid=108476869237595

I would greatly appreciate any promotion you could do for this event.

If you need any further information please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,

Helena Byrne

Williams Syndrome – One family’s story

Monday, May 9th, 2011



Ann Breen with daughter Karen

MY HEALTH EXPERIENCE: It took three years to find out our daughter had Williams syndrome, writes ANN BREEN 

THE LOWEST POINT of my life was the day I had to watch my baby daughter rolling around on the floor of the livingroom in pain and knowing that there was no point in picking up the phone because nobody would listen.

We had already been to the most eminent doctors in the country and they told us she wasn’t in pain, yet she so obviously was. We had no idea what we were dealing with and that was the worst part of the early years of her life.

Karen was born on August 19th, 1983, at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, after a normal pregnancy. My late husband Paschal and I were thrilled that the baby was a girl, as we already had a boy of two-and-a-half called Mark.

As an infant, Karen had difficulty in feeding and keeping her bottle down. She began to suffer what we thought was colic, crying for three to five hours at a time during the night. This persisted until she was about nine months old. She refused solid food and, despite many visits to the local hospital for observation and investigation, no one could pinpoint what her problem was.

It was also apparent at this stage that Karen’s development was very slow. She was making no effort to walk and was not terribly interested in what was going on around her. Then, she developed a rectal prolapse. After the awful shock the first time it happened, I had to learn to cope with it. This was when the doctors told me it was not causing Karen any pain and that it would correct itself when she got older.

She was referred to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin for investigation in November 1984. While there, she had surgery on two hernias. At this stage Karen was a year-and-a-half old. She had had such a hard time since she was born that we felt that we hardly had time to get to know her as an individual.

However, I did know one thing about her – she had a very loving smile and during the short periods when she was well, that loving personality shone through. There were many times when her little smile had saved her from my wrath at five o’clock in the morning!

The feeding problems, the constipation, the rectal prolapse, the vomiting all continued over the following months. The rectal prolapse was now so bad that something had to be done about it. Eventually, a wire was inserted into her anal opening. This, with the aid of copious doses of laxatives each day, solved the problem, giving both Karen and ourselves some respite.

Karen was assessed by a psychologist with the Brothers of Charity and described as “significantly delayed”. She had been so ill all her life that she had not picked up the normal things babies learn. She had to start practically from scratch. Also, she was still only eating baby food at almost two-and-a-half.

By Christmas 1985, she was still suffering. I brought her back to the local hospital on December 31st, 1985, and told the paediatrician we needed to know what was wrong with Karen. It was awful not knowing what the problem was, if she was going to live or die, what was round the corner for us. We were living from day to day and all of us were beginning to crack under the strain. Mark, our son, had received very little of his parents’ attention since Karen was born, so he too was suffering. Yet again we were referred back to Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin.

On 27th January, 1986, Karen was diagnosed as having Williams syndrome. I felt numb. Having waited so long to be told, I could not take it in when finally it happened. I suppose I had always hoped that whatever it was could be fixed by medication. I had not expected a “syndrome”, especially one I had never heard of. Paschal and I spent the next couple of months trying to come to terms with the situation. We did not know where to turn for information on Williams syndrome. We looked at our beautiful daughter and wondered what her future would be.

Then something brought me out of my lethargy. My colleagues at work collected money and sent me and Karen to Lourdes on a pilgrimage. When we returned, I set about finding out as much as I could about Williams syndrome. I made contact with one other family who had a WS son through the Gay Byrne Hour on radio. I also contacted a professor in Kentucky, in the US, who had an in-depth knowledge of WS and who spent a lot of time talking to us and explaining the condition.

I set up a support group for other WS families, the Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland, which became a registered charity. The group has since taken up a huge part of my life.

Karen attended St Hilda’s Special School in Athlone until she was 18 when she moved onto the Brothers of Charity Services in Ballinasloe. As she grew, she developed a friendly personality but did not relate to her peers very well and was always a loner. Like most WS individuals, she has obsessions.

When she was 14, Pat Kenny of RTÉ was the love of her life. Music is her big love now: she plays the keyboard and listens to everything from Westlife to Imelda May. For six summers, we went to a week-long music camp in the US and started our own camp in Ireland in 2001. We also went to the European Special Olympics in Holland in 2000 where Karen won medals for swimming. These are only some of the things she brought to our lives.

Karen is now 27. She will never be able to live independently of me or a carer and will never be able to get a job. You have to be fairly strong-minded to deal with the idea that you will have somebody dependant on you forever. When you have a child with a disability, you never get away from it. It’s the first thing you think about in the morning and the last thing at night. It’s an awful responsibility.

Since Paschal passed away in 2008, that has rested solely on my shoulders. The law of averages says I’ll be gone before her. I know Mark will always look out for Karen, but he works in Dublin and has his own life. He can’t be expected to look after her for the rest of her days: there will have to be some other arrangement in place after I’m gone.

On a more positive note, Karen has brought so much to our lives.

In conversation with Michelle McDonagh 


Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic condition estimated to occur in 1/20,000 births which causes medical and developmental problems. It is present at birth, and affects males and females equally. It can occur in all ethnic groups and has been identified in countries throughout the world.

Most young children with WS have similar facial features, which tend to include a small upturned nose, wide mouth, full lips, small chin, and puffiness around the eyes.

Other common features of WS are heart and blood vessel problems, feeding difficulties and irritability during infancy, kidney abnormalities, hernias, musculoskeletal problems and developmental delay/learning disabilities.

Most individuals with WS are missing genetic material on chromosome 7, which may be the cause of medical and developmental problems. A person with WS has a 50 per cent chance of passing the disorder on to each of his or her children.

The Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland (WSAI) provides members with support through annual conferences, social gatherings and regular newsletters. It also works to make the medical profession more aware of Williams syndrome. To receive membership information and an information pack, contact Williams Syndrome Association of Ireland, 13 Kilgarve Park, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, tel: 090-9643247,, or e-mail

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Speech and Language Tips!

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Stepaside Speech and Language Therapy

085 2175111



Children learn so much from their parents and the people around them. Here are a few hints to ecourage your child to learn more language.


v  OWL:  

Observe – to see what your child is interested in

Wait – to give your child a chance to initiate or get involved in an activity. Waiting can be hard to do! Try counting to 10

Listen – to what your child is trying to tell you


v  Modelling – repeat back what your child has said to you correctly e.g. child “Peter falled”, adult “Yes, Peter fell”.


v  Recasting – repeat back what your child says and add a word or two, e.g. “Yes, Peter fell and he got wet”.


v  Be face to face – make sure you get down to the child’s physical level so you can look directly into each other’s eyes. It will help them to listen and to copy your mouth.

v  Imitate – do or say what your child does or says.


v  Interpret – Messages are often unclear. Use actions, gestures and words to interpret their speech.


v  Comment – make comments when children initiate. Your comments give children information they can learn from. Use short simple comments.


v  In everyday situations – e.g. bath time, mealtime, playtime, talk to your child as much as possible, labelling things in the environment. Use lots of repetition during your interactions as this is a good way of teaching your child new words.


v  Simplify your language and try using short phrases and single words as your child will have more difficulty with longer more complex sentence forms. Children are more likely to copy simplified language.


v  Sharing books –Label pictures as you turn the pages, point to the pictures and encourage your child to point too.


v  Use gesture – For example, “we’re going to wash our hands”, pretend to wash your hands. Children respond well to the additional visual cue.


v  Nursery Rhymes / songs – Sing nursery rhymes and songs as these have predictable words and phrases and often have actions that go along with them. 


v  Turn-taking – When you say something give your child an opportunity to say something in response by waiting a few seconds. Similarly when your child attempts to say something acknowledge this attempt by responding verbally.


Ruairi Quinn – what a disappointment!

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011


“My heart goes out to any parent with a child with special needs,” he said this morning. “I’m blessed that I’m not in that position. One couldn’t but empathise with the anguish and the energy that parents with a child with special needs display. Any mother, any father would go through the wall for their child and I understand that.

“What I’m saying is the amount of special needs teachers has grown exponentially since the time they were introduced and we’re going to look at how to use them more effectively.

“The Republic of Ireland has lost its economic sovereignty. We are effect in receivership. We don’t control our financial destiny at the present time. We can only get the money to pay a lot of people based on the terms of the troika bailout deal,” he said.

Addressing the INTO conference yesterday, he warned teacher union delegates of a stark and difficult road ahead. In his first address as Minister for Education, he outlined the range and extent of the economic crisis and said he wanted to be frank about the resources available.

The Minister said that “the budget figures for 2011 will stand and will not be reviewed” and there was no commitment to reverse the 10,575 cap on the number of special needs assistants.

The Minister stressed that resources for education would not be improved, and that earlier decisions would not be reversed.

“To put it bluntly, the money dispensed by ATMs to all public servants . . . is made available to Ireland by the European Central Bank at fortnightly intervals. Every two weeks the governor of the Irish Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, has to confirm to the ECB that Ireland is meeting the terms of the bailout,” Mr Quinn said.

He reminded delegates that there was a trade-off to be made for the Croke Park agreement that included a net reduction in teacher numbers in 2011.

These are Ruairi Quinn’s words yesterday at the INTO conference in his first speeech as Minister. This hard man talk is really easy to do when you are talking about depriving special needs children of their education – after all they can’t exactly do anything about it!

It is not empathy we want as parents of special needs children – we want action – and that action is just to implement Governmment Policy of  the last 20 years as set out in the Salamanca Statement and is actually in legislation with the EPSEN Act 2006.  Why be so dam arroagant about what can and cannot be done – why was that same attitude and beligerance not found when ex AIB Managing Director  Colm Doherty walked away with Ruair Quinns Blessing with 3 million euro of unearned income. Where was all the fighting talk when it came to renegotiating the terms of the bailout -as Mr Quinn’s party said they would do before being elected.

Another fraud has just been  perpertrated on the Irish people by electing a Government who promised us real Change but who have in actual fact not only brought no change – but have reiterated that they actually don’t intend changing anything.

Blaming the EU for not having the courage to implememt real change is not something you should be proud of Mr Quinn. Reforms that are needed are ultimately cost beneficial.

“Any mother, any father would go through the wall for their child and I understand that” ….. actions speak louder than words – I am sure that must have come up in one of those stories read to you at bedtime! SHAME ON YOU!

Monday, April 18th, 2011


Below are some books we found on the above website- we hope they might prove useful to some of our readers!

Books on Parenting Children with Special Needs or Disabilities

Disability Books Home

bkdontswear Don’t Swear with Your Mouth Full! When Conventional Discipline Fails Unconventional Children
By Cary S. Chugh
“In this self-published parenting book, Cary Chugh (a child psychologist in private practice in New York State) explains his theory that traditional parenting techniques may not work over the long term with certain children. He provides advice on teaching the rules and enforcing more appropriate behavior, including proper expression of emotions and carry-through.It is helpful for parents to have many techniques, especially when dealing with more difficult behavior, and this book provides an interesting insight into ways to be more effective.” (Allison Martin)
Read My Full Review | Order Book from Amazon
bkconnectedchild The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family
By Karyn B. Purvis, David R. Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine
“This book deserves a wide audience; not only is it beneficial for among parents struggling with attachment or behavior issues, but it will also benefit health care professionals and therapist working with these families. Based on practical experience and research, this book provides detailed and practical techniques parents can use in teaching their children appropriate ways to behave, while responding in a loving manner. It is especially useful for children from preschool to early middle school age with special needs such as sensory integration dysfunction, ADD/ADHD, mild autism, and other developmental impacts.” (Allison Martin)
Read My Full Review | Order Book from Amazon
bkchickensoupspecial Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs: Stories of Love and Understanding for Those Who Care for Children with Disabilities
By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Heather McNamara, and Karen Simmons
“This collection of personal stories from the sublime to the heartwarming makes a wonderful gift for anyone who has been touched by a child with special needs. Real life vignettes are clustered under topics from community, milestones, breaking barriers, gratitude and fostering independence. These sweet stories exemplify the struggles, fears, battles, and celebrations of life with a child with special needs, including mental retardation, autism, sensory integration, cystic fibrosis, and many other disabilities.” (Allison Martin)
Read My Full Review | Order Book from Amazon
bkloveyoutopieces Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs
By Suzanne Kamata
“A thought-provoking and emotional literary journey through the voices of their parents into the lives of families of children with serious disabilities. This professional edited collection of short stories and poems provides a glimpse into the struggles of living with long term disabilities that are rarely visible to the “normal” world. The breadth and intensity of this collection will take your breath away while captivating your interest.” (Allison Martin)
Read My Full Review | Order Book from Amazon
123magicchidren 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12
by Thomas W. Phelan
“1-2-3 Magic is a truly life changing child discipline method that has helped many parents over the years. For the right situation it really is akin to magic, as Dr. Phelan’s methods work where many other parenting approaches are quite ineffective. The techniques described in 123 Magic work even with children who have only a emerging understanding of cause and effect, thus they are helpful for children who have ADD/ADHD, high functioning autism, sensory integration dysfunction, mental retardation, emotional delays, or other special needs.” (Allison Martin)
Read My Full Review | Order Book from Amazon
bkbattlecries Battle Cries: Justice for Kids with Special Needs
by Miriam Edelson

A comprehensive and thoughtful analysis of the serious, lifelong difficulties facing families of children with severe disabilities, with emphasis on interaction and support within their communities. These struggles (and joys) are given human face through detailed interviews with eight Canadian families who have children with severe disabilities, including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, Trisomy 18, deafness, CMV, and brain damage related to oxygen deprivation. In sum, Battle Cries is an excellent resource for policy makers, professionals working with special needs children, and parents of children with special needs. (Allison Martin)
Order Book from Amazon | Read Full Review | Author Interview
bkwhendisable When Your Child Has a Disability
By Mark L. Batshaw, M.D.

“If you are the parent of a child who has multiple special needs or are looking for a scholarly and readable introduction to children’s disabilities, then When Your Child Has a Disability is a “must read” resource. Relevant and reliable, it is the most comprehensive overview for parents of special needs of children that has been published to date.”
Order Book | Read Our Review | Author Interview

The Child with Special Needs; Encouraging Intellectual and Emotional Growth
by Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D and Serena Weider, PhD.
“Offers lots of good info and advice. The cover says, ‘The comprehensive approach to developmental challenges including autism, PDD, language and speech problems, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, ADD and related disorders.” I like their attitude, approach and perspective. Chapter 2, called “Biological Challenges” starts with:  ‘Frequently, children who are born prematurely, with low birth weight, who don’t get enough oxygen at birth, or who have injuries to their nervous systems may have biological differences that compromise development.’ The categorise the differences in three different ways:  1) sensory reactivity 2) sensory processing and 3) muscle tone, motor planning and sequencing.” (Joan Mckenty)
Order Book

bkbrothersisters Brothers and Sisters
by Laura Dwight

“Heartwarming children’s picture book about children with special needs and disabilities, written from the point of view of their siblings. I highly recommend this special needs children’s book for libraries, schools, doctors, therapists, or home.”
Read My Full Review | Order Book from Amazon | (More children’s book reviews).
bkparentsguidedd A Parent’s Guide to Developmental Delays : Recognizing and Coping with Missed Milestones in Speech, Movement, Learning, and Other Areas
by Laurie Fivozinsky LeComer

“The quality of the identification and explanation of the various types of delays and disabilities is exceptional and will be useful to any parent who is worried about these issues. Normal development, indications of problems, specific examples, parenting suggestions, and treatment are presented in each chapter in a well thought out and informative manner. The overall tone of the book is encouraging and supportive for parents who are concerned about their children. This book provides a wealth of information for parents and professionals. It would be an invaluable addition to any library and for any teacher, doctor or therapist who works with parents.” (Allison Martin)
Order Book | Read Full Review
bkparentspecialneeds A Parent And Teacher’s Guide to the Special Needs Child
by Darrell M. Parke

“This parenting book provides provides suggestions and anecdotes on parenting children with chronic illnesses or medical conditions, based on Foster Cline’s Love and Logic parenting theory. The goal of Parenting Children with Health Issues is to avoid being overprotective as a parent, stifling your child’s eventual competence or independence. Examples are given in this book for many types of health condition and special needs. Parents of children with cystic fibrosis with find many of the tips and real life experiences to be of special interest, as Lisa Greene parenting two children with cystic fibrosis.” Allison Martin
Order Book from Amazon | Read Our Full Review
bkyouwilldream You Will Dream New Dreams: Inspiring Personal Stories by Parents of Children With Disabilities
by Kim Schive and Stanley D. Klein (Editors)

A touching collection of stories and writings from parents of children who have special needs. The disabilities confronted include cerebral palsy, autism, Down Syndrome, mental retardation, illnesses, and more.
Order Book from Amazon
bkpediatricmassage Pediatric Massage Revised for the Child with Special Needs
by Kathy Fleming Drehobl, Mary Gengler Fuhr

“A workbook and guide for infant therapists and caregivers looking for new techniques to use with children with special needs. It provides a holistic approach to massage for children with special needs, fully addressing concerns about which techniques to use and the latest research on massage.”
Order Book from Amazon
bkdiscipline Discipline That Works: 5 Simple Steps
by Joyce Divinyi

“There is a lot of good advice packed into this excellent little book on behavior. It provides five methods for parents of children who are elementary age through teenage to guide their children to behave appropriately. These methods include using short positive commands, questions, and teaching skills. Topics include coping wth boredom, being bumped in the hall, doing chores when asked, redirecting to proper behavior and much more. This advice is useful for all parents, including those whose children have ADD, LD or Asperger’s Syndrome.”
Order Book
bkportinastorm Port in the Storm: How to Make a Medical Decision & Live to Tell About It
by Dr. Cole A. Giller

“Exceptional advice on collecting information and making a decision on medical care. This book covers using hte internet, understanding statistics, reading scientific literature, choosing a doctor, clinic and medical option, and much more.”
Order Book
bkparent2 The Parent to Parent Handbook, Connecting Families of Children with Special Needs
By Betsy Santelli, Florene Stewart Poyadue and Jane Leora Young

“Every parent support group, and every person starting a local parent support group, will find that they refer to this book over and over. Written with compassion and experience, it would be hard to find a better guide for your journey – both personal and as an organization.”
Order Book | Read Our Review
bkwhenworry When You Worry About the Child You Love : Emotional and Learning Problems in Children
by Edward Hallowell

“This compassionate book provides an overview of a number of special needs and personality variations in young children. Dr. Hallowell present concrete information in a parent friendly manner. An excellent book for parents who wonder if their child has a emotional or psychological disability. Also recommended for parents who are in the early stages of understanding the various special needs labels.”
Order Book
bklivingskinsm Living in My Skin, An Insider’s View of Life with a Special Needs Child
By Lori Hickman

“Parents of children with a variety of disabilities speak about their lives with searing honesty… I recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand special needs families.”
Order Book | Read Our Review | Interview with Author
bkspedguidesm Parents’ Complete Special Education Guide
By Roger Pierangelo, Robert Jacoby

“An overview of the complex procedures and criteria for special education in the United States.”
Order Book | Read Our Review

In Time and With Love : Caring for the Special Needs Baby
by Marilyn Segal

“Puts the guidance directly in the hands of those who need it – parents raising their special children. An overview of various developmental areas in which young children might need extra assistance, with detailed advice on how best to meet their needs as they grow.”
Order Book | Read Our Review

bkaftertears After the Tears : Parents Talk About Raising a Child With a Disability
By Robin Simons

“Wonderful advice and inspiration for parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.”
Order Book | Read Our Review

Toys and Assisitive technology in Kildare

Saturday, April 9th, 2011



Kildare Library and Arts Service are please to introduce our collection of toys and assistive technology for children with more significant needs. The collections are based in Leixlip and Athy Libraries but can be accessed free of charge through any Kildare Community Library – we have 15 libraries throughout the county and a mobile library service.


To promote the collection a series of lectures will be held during April and May in Athy and Leixlip Community Libraries. The lectures are free of charge and are aimed at parents and teachers of children with special needs and learning difficulties and any professionals working in the area of disability.


I would be very grateful if you would could promote the collection and the lectures through your website I’ve attached poster and the leaflet  – would you be able to forward them onto members of your forum living in Kildare who might be interested in this new service?


The catalogues for the toy and technology collection are available free of charge from any library or to view and download from our website:


For further enquiries about the Toys, Technology and Training Project, to book a place at any of the free lectures or to receive a catalogue please contact


Athy Community Library                Leixlip Community Library

Emily Square                                                Captain’s Hill

Athy                                                    Leixlip

059 8631144                                     01 6060050         



Yours sincerely,


Gillian Allen

Executive Librarian

Leixlip Community Library

Extraordinary Lives

Saturday, April 9th, 2011


Extraordinary Lives, a book was launched on Wed 23rd March to mark the 50th anniversary of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) whose 20,000 members, staff and volunteers are committed to improving the lives of people with physical disabilities throughout Ireland.

The book charts a changing society, from a time when most people with special needs lived behind the closed doors of institutions to enjoying full, active and independent lives in communities today.

It also celebrates the achievements of individual IWA members through the decades: people like Martin Naughton, a champion of the independent-living movement who was sent from his native Spiddal as a child to be reared in a Dublin institution, Paddy and Micheál Saunders, driving instructors with the IWA, Anne Ebbs, a founder of the Paralympic Council of Ireland, Yvonne Fahy, who became disabled following a car accident at the age of 24 and many others.

Extraordinary Lives costs €24.99, is available from Easons stores nationwide and directly from the association at All proceeds go to the Irish Wheelchair Association.

Overcoming Learning Difficulties- Yes we can!

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011



March was National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in America.

American society has come a long, long way in its treatment of people with developmental disabilities, yet when some parents hear that type of diagnosis, their heart might fall. They might hear ignorance from uninformed people that could make them despair. But there a so very many people with developmental disabilities who have gone on in life to become extremely well-recognized, very accomplished, well-respected and famous. This is part one of a series of people who you will recognize, all of which were diagnosed with varying types of developmental disabilities.

New York State OPWDD explained, “Developmental disabilities are a variety of conditions that become apparent during childhood and cause mental or physical limitation. These conditions include autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, mental retardation, and other neurological impairments.”

As a parent, when your child is labeled with a learning disability, or as the CDC calls an “intellectual disability,” the outlook may “feel” a bit depressing. But take heart! From entertaining us, to making our world a much better place, all of these individuals were characterized as having a “learning disability.”

Famous comedians Jay Leno and Whoopi Goldberg suffer from dyslexia and were labeled as having a learning disability, but it didn’t hold them back in life. Other famous actors and actress with a learning disability include: Suzanne Somers the “dumb blonde” on Three’s Company, and Cher who became a successful singer, actress and entertainer. Rocky star Sylvestor Stallone who is a multi-millionaire and famous actor who didn’t give up after being labeled as having a learning disability. The Bionic Woman, Lindsay Wagner won critical acclaim for her a science-fiction TV series and also won Emmy, 1976-1978, as Best Actress. Famous actor, Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Tom Cruise had a reading disability – his learning disability didn’t hold him back from fame or fortune.

Other people who became wildly famous despite having a learning disability include:

  • Walt Disney the famous cartoonist, winner of 29 Oscars, creator of Mickey Mouse, and entrepreneur who opened Disneyland in 1955.
  • Albert Einstein who is considered one of the greatest scientists, and minds, of all time.
  • The 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower had a learning disability.
  • You know Ford vehicles? Well Henry Ford had a learning disability but he established Ford Motor Company which helped revolutionize the American automobile industry.
  • Third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who also helped write the Declaration of Independence was said to have many learning disabilities. It certainly didn’t stop him.
  • Bruce Jenner an Olympic Decathlon champion was diagnosed as dyslexic, a learning disability, yet he was a a 1960 Olympic gold medal winner.
  • Basketball legend Erving Magic Johnson had a learning disability in the area of reading, but he still led the Los Angeles Lakers to 5 NBA Championships, picked up three League MVP’s and three Finals MVP’s.
  • Despite a learning disability, John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, was the youngest man ever to be elected as President.
  • Robert Kennedy served as Attorney General, but he had a learning disability.
  • Olympic diver Greg Louganis had dyslexia, but he is considered one of the world’s greatest divers.
  • The scientist who made major contributions to medicine and chemistry, Louis Pasteur, was said to have a learning disability.
  • Famous American Army General George Patton, also known as “Old Blood and Guts” had a learning disability. Patton commanded the 3rd Army, World War II, and was leader in the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.
  • Still think a learning disability can affect if people can be good with money and finances? It didn’t stop Charles Schwab the founder of Charles Schwab Corporation Brokerage Firm.
  • Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1925, George Bernard Shaw had a learning disability. Yet he was one of the most famous writers of the 1900s, having written 50 plays.
  • The 1st President of the United States, George Washington, is believed to have had learning disabilities that kept him from being able to spell and affected his grammar usage, yet he became America’s first president!
  • Both brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright had learning disabilities. Yet the Wright Brothers invented and built the first successful airplane. Then they made the world’s first flight near Kitty Hawk.

There are hundreds of famous people who could be on this list. Next week, we’ll look at many more people who the world would be much worse off had they “quit” because they had a developmental disability like ADHD, deafness, epilepsy, dyslexia, or blindness.

Image Credit: foxspain

Author: Tessa

Taken from

If you think that is abuse ……

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011



A CHILD not read to when going to bed at night was an abused child, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn told the Dáil.

“If a home does not cherish literacy, it is a form of abuse,” he said.

Mr Quinn said literacy started in the home. “By the time a four-year-old arrives in junior infants, outcomes in literacy have already been significantly determined by the commitment of parents, no matter what class or socio-economic group,” he added.

The Minister said he had raised concerns in the past about the State’s “wonderful” education system not delivering. He added that party colleague Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a primary school principal in Dublin’s inner city, was the first to highlight the need for a right-to-read programme.

“I will be looking at that not to scapegoat teachers or schools, because we are all failing, as parents, society and families, and we must find a way collectively to deal with the issue,”said Mr Quinn.

Mr Quinn said a middle-class child from a committed family arrived in school at four years of age with a vocabulary that was twice that of a child from a disadvantaged family.

He intended, he said, to devolve back to school principals more autonomy and independence to do what they considered to be best.

“It is wrong that we have 3,200 primary schools, stretching from the Aran Islands to the inner city of Dublin, or disadvantaged rural areas in Border counties, with a one-size-fits-all curriculum and little discretion for the principal.”


Another First for William Loughnane!

Sunday, March 20th, 2011


A SPECIAL Olympic gold medallist has become the first person in the country with Down Syndrome to pass his driving test.

William Loughnane (26), from Clooney-Quin, Co Clare, got rid of his L plates after recently passing the theory and driving test.

His latest achievement has been hailed by Pat Clarke, the president of Down Syndrome Ireland.

Mr Clarke said that to the best of his knowledge William was the first person in Ireland with Down Syndrome to hold a full driving licence. “For people with Down Syndrome it shows that if they persevere they will get to where they want to get to,” he added.

William, who works in a Centra shop in Ennis, won two gold medals, three silver and two bronze for gymnastics at the 2003 Special Olympic games in Dublin. Four years later, he claimed six gold and one bronze medal in China.

His father Liam helped him with the principles of driving. “I showed him the ropes. He only started in November,” Liam said.

Irish Independent