Finding a Happy Ending for Mental Illness – Case Management

Mental Illness

Mental Illness – Perspective Through Story

Take some time to imagine this story about mental illness. A person opens their eyes to the first sign of sunlight, there is a sense of quiet, a hint of calm. Then, suddenly, a voice that does not belong to them interrupts their morning haze, shouting that this person is “worthless and should go back to bed.” And so the person does, missing the chance to fulfill their daily plans.

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Empowering People With Disabilities Through Empathy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in four Americans currently live with a disability. This means it is likely that you, someone you know, or someone you will meet has a disability or will develop one later in life. Yet the public is still either uninformed or misinformed about the modern-day obstacles facing persons with disabilities.

With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other key pieces of legislation, many barriers to access have been removed from public life. However, we must now move to address the social stigma surrounding this community. This problem cannot be solved by simply building a ramp or installing braille. We must instead work together to change hearts and minds in order to build a more inclusive society for all.

This stigma has had real-world consequences for this population. According to a 2016 survey by Total Jobs, one in four persons who are deaf reported they left their job due to discrimination at their places of employment. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor tells us that of those who were 16 or older, 19% of persons with disabilities were employed compared to 66% of those without a disability. These are not problems of “access,” they are problems of “perception” and perception can only be changed by increasing our capacity for understanding and empathy.

That’s why, to mark our 100th anniversary this spring, Easterseals New Jersey will be holding several pop-up events throughout the state we are calling “Exercises in Empathy.” At these events, people will be walked through short experience-based activities to learn more about disability. Activities include a limited mobility art station, a lip-reading exercise, a schizophrenia and depression experience, as well as a vision-loss/Usher syndrome activity.

Sharing in these experiences allows us to become more aware of not just the challenges having a disability can present, but how people overcome those challenges. This can be a powerful tool in removing the stigma surrounding disability. This shift in thinking is critical as we work together to build a more inclusive New Jersey.

We encourage you to experience our pop-up events. Visit www.easterseals100.org for more information and to learn how you can help create a future where everyone is 100% included and 100% empowered.


Brian Fitzgerald
President/Chief Executive Officer
Easterseals New Jersey

Upsides and Bird Boxes – The Disability in Film Conversation Continues…

Disability in Film

Disability in film isn’t a new topic, but recent films have taken on the subject matter both in positive and not-so-positive ways. We’ve had Bird Box, The Upside, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, and others. Television has also joined in with such shows as Speechless, Atypical, and The Good Doctor. We’re happy to see these projects come out and hope more will follow to help further expose people to the world of disability. Still, not all exposure is good exposure and we want to make sure we point out what’s working and what isn’t so we can all learn from these issues moving forward. For the purposes of this article, we’d like to focus on the two most recent films to be released, The Upside and Bird Box, to help us explore this topic of representation of persons with disabilities and special needs in our media.

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100 Years of Changing the Way the World Views and Defines Disabilities

Easterseals is 100 Years Young

In 1919, Edgar Allen founded a service organization that eventually became known as the National Society for Crippled Children which eventually became Easterseals. He discovered that people with disabilities were hidden from the public eye due to a lack of support in their communities. He wanted to change all that.

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We Need to Talk About Norm Macdonald’s Comment About Down Syndrome

Norm Macdonald Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome in the News…

Comedian Norm Macdonald recently came under fire for his comments about the #MeToo movement and expressing sympathy for Roseanne Barr and Louis C.K. We won’t wade into those waters, but instead we’d like to focus on the apology he delivered on his September 12th appearance on the Howard Stern radio show. This is where he went on to say the following about the victims of sexual harassment, “You’d have to have Down syndrome” not to “feel sorry for them.”

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Medication for Mental Health: Stopping the Stigma – Part I

Medication for Mental Health

Medication for Mental Health

It’s time to talk about medication. Not for a cold, not for an infection, but for managing the symptoms surrounding mental illness. Specifically, we’d like to address the stigma that surrounds just one of those three examples we just named. Taking medication for mental health should be treated no different than taking an aspirin for a headache. Something is causing us distress and we take medication to correct the issue. It’s as simple as that.

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Disability and Dental Care PART I – The Basics You Need to Know

disability and dental care

It is time to talk about disability and dental care. When you have a disability or special need, keeping up with daily dental care or finding a dentist that can cater to your needs can be quite a challenge. That’s why we sat down with Keith Libou, D.M.D. of Delta Dental of New Jersey. He answers all our questions about disability and dental care in a multi-part blog series. We hope these posts will serve as a useful resource for you or your loved one and give you something to smile about.

Read moreDisability and Dental Care PART I – The Basics You Need to Know

Where’s All the Accessible Transportation in New Jersey?

Accessible Travel

Accessible Transportation For All

There are plenty of ways to get around (or get out of) New Jersey. We have NJ Transit providing trips throughout New Jersey and into New York. Septa can take you into Pennsylvania and can be picked up inside Trenton train station. Cars and buses whiz through the Parkway and the Turnpike (at least when there’s no traffic) and you can book your next Caribbean vacation at Newark Airport. But can you take advantage of all these travel options if you or a loved one has a disability or special need?

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How I Make Accessible Trips from New Jersey to the Big Cities

Disability and the City

Those of us living in New Jersey are lucky enough to have easy travel access to two of America’s greatest cities: New York City and Philadelphia. However, having a disability can make these trips tricky to manage. Hi, my name is William Volkmann and I have Cerebral Palsy. When I was younger I could walk down city streets and hop into cabs, although it was demanding. Now that I’m older, I see now how much harder

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Tech & Disability: The Future of Access

Future of Access

The Future is Now!

Brain-Controlled_Prosthetic_ArmWithin the past few decades, technology has advanced to a point where science fiction has become science fact. From the internet to smartphones, we have seen a dramatic change in the way technology has affected our daily lives. This is perhaps most apparent when you look at the multitude of ways technology is helping increase accessibility options afforded to people with disabilities and special needs.

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