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What is Orton Gillingham?

What is Orton Gillingham?

Orton Gillingham is an approach designed to target reading, spelling and writing skills. It is an evidence-based approach frequently recommended for students who demonstrate challenges in these areas, particularly students with a diagnosis of dyslexia or a reading disorder. Blog-Orton Gillingham-Main-Landscape

Orton Gillingham is phonetically based, meaning that it educates students on how letters are linked to certain sounds, and in what context (e.g. when a “c” followed by “e,” “i” or “y” it says the /s/ sound). The approach is systematic, structured and repetitive, so that each lesson builds on previous knowledge and has a predictable routine.

It is also multi-sensory, in order to target all pathways of learning: visual, verbal, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. The instruction is customized to fit the student’s individual needs related to literacy.

How does Orton Gillingham work?

The Orton Gillingham approach is comprised of five levels. Upon initiation of therapy, a pre-test will determine which level best suits the needs of the individual. Each session includes a review of the phonetic rule learned in the previous session, through a variety of multi-sensory exercises. These activities include letter and sound identification, blending of sounds to create non-sense words, reading and spelling both words and sentences, reviewing of sight words, and oral reading practice.

The student must demonstrate mastery of the target skill (90% or greater on both reading and spelling tasks), before learning new material. Upon completion of a level, a post-test is given to determine the student’s understanding and retention of the knowledge for that level, before moving on to the next.

Orton Gillingham is typically provided by a Speech Language Pathologist, Reading or Academic Specialist. It is most effective when the student participates in sessions at least twice a week.

Click here to learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Orton-Gillingham Reading Center.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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Sending a Child with Autism to School

Sending a child with autism to school can be a very overwhelming process, not just for the children butBlog-Autism-Main-Landscape also the parents. The key to success is starting the process early so that your child will have all of the supports they need to make not just their first day successful but their entire school year. While the process will be slightly different for each child due to their specific needs, here are some general guidelines to follow to ensure your child’s success when sending them to school.

Before the First Day

  • Finding the right school and classroom: The first place to start when preparing to send your child with autism to school is by selecting the best school for your child. During the previous Fall or Spring, start touring schools and meeting with the teachers and administrative staff. You want to make sure that the school and classroom setting you choose will be the most beneficial for your child’s specific needs! You can start the IEP process with testing as well to ensure that when the school year begins, your child has all the supports they need on the very first day.
  • Social story: Once you have found the right school for your child, write a social story about the various rooms of the school and their teacher. Talking to your child’s teacher before writing it will also ensure you know what rooms your child will be frequently in for their classes. Just make sure to get permission first from the school before taking any pictures.
  • Practicing: Starting new routines can be hard for children with autism so by practicing the routine a week or two before school starts, your child will most likely be more successful on their first day. When practicing, consider all of the new variables for your child, such as wearing a backpack or school uniform, practicing carrying a tray of food, or waiting outside for the school bus.

On the First Day

  • Safety and Sensory Needs: It is always better to be over prepared than underprepared. If you are concerned about your child’s safety, consider an I.D. bracelet, which can be purchased online or at local stores such as Walgreens. If your child has any sensory needs, have their supports ready and available. These could include headphones, chew tubes, a fidget toy, sunglasses, and/or a compression shirt. Make sure if you are sending any of these to inform their teacher and administrative staff as well.
  • Other Materials: Sending an extra pair of clothes is always a good idea. While schools often have some extra clothes for children to wear, children with autism may be sensitive to different scents or textures and as a result refuse to wear the communal clothes. If allowed, consider bringing a water bottle or a preferred snack to eat at specified times.

Other Considerations

  • Dietary Needs: When you are finding the right school and preparing your child for success, dietary needs can be frequently overlooked. Communicate with your teachers and administrative staff what your child’s dietary needs are currently, such as small frequent snacks vs. a large meal or starting by eating in a quieter area of the lunchroom. While you can have goals for your child to eat the school provided meals with their peers in the lunchroom, moving slowly towards these goals will make your child more successful not just during lunch and snacks, but all day by not having your child feel hungry.
  • Communication: It is important to be very clear and honest about what type of communication you would like with the school and how often. Oftentimes children with autism are not able to recall and tell you what happened at school. An agreed upon communication system can alleviate this concern and also be used as a tool to work on recall.

After your child’s first successful day at school, make sure to congratulate not just your child and the school, but also yourself for starting the hard work early. As the school year unfolds, remember to stay in communication with your child’s teachers and administrative staff to make adjustments as needed and enjoy watching your child with autism succeed at school.

For additional information, check out our other Autism and school blogs.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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The Benefits of Bilingualism

There are definitive advantages for children who are learning two languages simultaneously. Though parents may question whether or not they should teach their child to be bilingual, research has proven that bilingual children develop language skills in the same manner as peers who are learning one language.

Parents should begin using both languages from the start and continue to give their child opportunities tobilingual hear and communicate in both languages throughout their daily routines. Bilingual children typically have a dominant language; that is, one that they know better and use more proficiently. Learning two languages simultaneously does NOT hinder speech and language development. If a child truly has a language disorder, this will be evident in both languages. Additionally, bilingualism may confuse grammatical rules or use words from both languages in the same sentence, and this should not be concerning.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, research has demonstrated a variety of benefits to being bilingual including:

  • Being able to learn new words easily
  • Playing rhyming games with words like “cat” and “hat”
  • Breaking down words by sounds, such as C-A-T for cat
  • Being able to use information in new ways
  • Putting words into categories
  • Coming up with solutions to problems
  • Developing good listening skills
  • Connecting with others

Language learning follows patterns. Developing sounds in the first language may further support how a child learns and uses their second language. ASHA also reports that currently 1 in 5 individuals over the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home. Subsequently, simultaneously language learning is becoming more common and is expected to increase over time.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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How Teachers Can Help a Child With Tourettes

When you look at someone with Tourettes, all you see or hear are the tics. You don’t see the constant struggle, the constant commotion that is going on inside the person’s body. Although it might be easy to assume that when a person is not ticcing, they are okay or calm or not experiencing anything related to Tourettes, more often than not, that assumption would be entirely incorrect.

Here are a few tips on how teachers can help a child with Tourettestourettesteachermain

  1. Trust that if the person did not have an urge to tic, they would not be doing the tic. Know that although there might be some level of control for some kids some of the time, it is difficult to control and takes an inordinate amount of energy. The consequence of “not-ticcing” is often delayed tic-bursts, decreased concentration, lost instructional time and/or social time, and muscle soreness.  The consequence of ticcing is often embarrassment, shame, isolation, muscle soreness, decreased concentration, loss of instructional and/or social time.
  2. Ignore the tics. Don’t worry what the other kids will think or if they will become distracted. Be the role model. Keep on and so will the kids. They will get used to the noises just like you would get used to hearing the sound of a fire truck if you lived near a station or the smell of baked goods if you worked in a bakery.  If the noises bother you, just remember they bother the child a whole lot more…and he can’t walk away from himself.
  3. Remember that, as bad as the tics can be, they are usually just the tip of the iceberg. The common Tourette Syndorome (TS) co-morbid conditions are OCD, ADHD and Learning Disabilities.  Your student is battling, not only a body out of control, but some major disabilities that even adults have difficulty living with.  Remember this is a real, neurological disorder that the child did not ask for and does not want.
  4. Learn as much as you can about the disorder(s) and the child. Just because you knew one kid with Tourettes in the past does not mean that you know anything about the current student. Listen to the parents. Contact the child’s private clinicians. Ask questions. Above all, if the adults in the child’s life feel it is appropriate, talk to the child!  Let him know you are trying to understand, that you will do your best to protect him from the bullies, and that you care.  Let him know it’s okay to tic if he needs to and come up with safe places if he needs to leave the room.
  5. Does your student have behavioral issues? It’s possible that things you think are “bad behaviors” are manifestations of Tourettes. The shouting out? Tourettes. Doing what the teacher says NOT to do?  TS is a disorder of disinhibition. If the child hears “Don’t run” he will most likely feel compelled to run. If he knows he shouldn’t be saying certain words or doing certain things, the premonitory urge will center around those words or those actions and it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for him to control the urge.
  6. Work with administrators to schedule a teacher in-service for all the adults working with the child, including the related arts teachers, lunch monitors and bus drivers. TS does not go away when the child leaves your room. Children with TS need to know that there are in a safe place with understanding adults who will support them.
  7. With parent permission, set up a peer in-service. Have someone who is knowledgeable about TS speak to the students. There are organizations that have teens, young adults and adults who can provide this service.  This will help all the children, including the one with TS, feel less fearful and more comfortable with each other.

Click here for more information on what it’s like to live with Tourettes.

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About the Author: Shari was the 3rd person in IL to be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome (1976). Her parents co-founded the IL TS chapter along with several others, including Joe Bliss. In 1978, while at a board meeting in her parent’s home, Mr. Bliss told Shari about his theory of premonitory urges and provided some tips and tricks on how to control the tics. It was the first time Shari felt “understood” and attributes much of her success to Mr. Bliss and his strategies. She co-founded the Illinois Tourette Resource Network in 2014 and is honored that she can continue the legacy of providing TS support to the Illinois community.

What We Can Learn From Julia: Sesame Street's New Friend With Autism

5 Things We Can Learn From Julia: Sesame Street’s New Friend With Autism

This fun-loving friend is the newest member of one of our favorite childhood shows. The only difference with Julia is that she has Autism. In an attempt to increase awareness and provide resources to families of individuals with Autism, Sesame Workshop created Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children. These resources include videos from all different points of view, visual supports for daily routines, a visual storybook of Julia and Sesame Street friends, tips for anyone who wants to learn more about Autism, as well as, an outlet to share your own story.

Here are some things everyone can learn about Autism from Julia:

  1. Communication comes in all different forms. Individuals with Autism may use several What We Can Learn From Julia: Sesame Street's New Friend With Autismdifferent means to communicate their wants and needs. These may include vocal communication, sign language, picture communication systems, voice out-put devices, simple gestures or eye contact, or a combination of several. No one way is better than the next, it all depends on the child.
  2. Sometimes less is more. Speaking in fewer, more succinct words, can help individuals with Autism process the information more quickly. It’s important to allow people to be successful in their environment.
  3. Be patient. All learning takes time. Once skills are learned, that time is worth it.
  4. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. Just because someone has a diagnosis of Autism, doesn’t mean they aren’t just as different as each other individual to the next. Finding and incorporating what makes them happy can create better and more long-lasting relationships.
  5. Sometimes everyone needs a break and time alone. Just like all children, sometimes individuals with Autism enjoy receiving attention from others, and sometimes they want to enjoy more simple things in life like calm and quiet. Be respectful to all of your friends and family and just remember, we’re all amazing.

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Reading Skills By Grade (7-10)

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (7-10)

Ready, set, school! Wondering what reading skills your child should have by the end of their respective grade? Refer to the grade-by-grade guide below, based on the Illinois’ common core standards.

By the end of 7th grade your child should be able to:

Analyze how elements of a story interact Analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds on a verse or stanza Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure contributes to its meaning Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal with a historical portrayal of the same time period
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound Analyze how two authors writing about the same topic shape their presentations of key information

By eighth grade your child should be able to:

Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development Analyze how a text makes connections and distinctions among and between individuals, ideas, or events
Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text Evaluate advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums to present a topic Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound Analyze two or more texts on the same topic that provide conflicting information

By ninth/tenth grade your child should be able to:

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences from the text Provide objective summaries of texts Analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text Analyze how the structure of a text, order of events, and manipulation of time create mystery, tension, or surprise
Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the US Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work Analyze seminal US documents of historical and literary significance

All standards have been reported from the Illinois State Board of Education. Additional standards are expected that have not been stated above. If you are concerned with your child’s reading skills, seek the guidance of a neuropsychologist who can help refer you to the appropriate support system.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reading Skills By Grade (4-6)

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (4-6)

The new school year is upon us! Do you wonder what reading skills your child should have by the end of his or her respective grade? Refer to the grade-by-grade guide below, based on the Illinois’ common core standards.

Reading Skills By Grade:

By Fourth Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in text describe a character, setting, or event in depth explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose compare and contrast points of view
read and comprehend stories, dramas, and poetry explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in historical, scientific, or technical texts determine meaning of academic and domain-specific words or phrases describe text structures (problem/solution, cause/effect, comparison, chronology)
interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively and use it to understand text integrate information from two texts in order to write or speak about the topic knowledgeably accurately read unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context or out of context read on-level text with purpose and understanding

By Fifth Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

quote accurately from text when explaining explicit information vs inferences compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events determine meanings of words and phrases, including figurative language explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fit together to provide an overall text structure
compare and contrast stories in the same genre determine two or more main ideas of a text, explain how they are supported by key details, and summarize the text draw on information from multiple print or digital sources to answer questions or solve problems efficiently read on-level with purpose and understanding

By Sixth Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through details describe how a story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes and how characters responds or change explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator compare and contrast experience of reading a story/drama/poem with listening to or viewing audio, video, or live version
analyze how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text determine meaning of words and phrases, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings integrate information presented in different media or formats and in words to develop understanding of a topic/issue read and comprehend literary nonfiction

All standards have been reported from the Illinois State Board of Education. Additional standards are expected that have not been stated above. If you are concerned with your child’s reading skills, seek the guidance of a neuropsychologist who can help refer you to the appropriate support system.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (K-3)

Reading Skills: A Grade by Grade Guide (K-3)

Believe it or not, the new school year is almost here! Are you wondering what reading skills your child should have by the end of his respective grade? Refer to the grade-by-grade guide below, based on the Illinois’ common core standards.

A Grade by Grade Guide to Reading Skills:

In Kindergarten Your Child Should Be Able To:

retell familiar stories ask and answer questions about stories (with support) identify parts of a book (covers and title page) demonstrate understanding of features of print
recognize and name all upper and lower case letters recognize and produce rhyming words demonstrate letter-sound correspondence segment syllables
isolate and pronounce sounds in words read common high frequency words read emergent reader texts follow words left to right, top to bottom, page to page

In First Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

describe characters, settings, and main events in stories identify main topic and recall key details decode two syllable words ask and answer questions about text
explain major differences between books that tell stories and those that give information identify similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic recognize features of a sentence (capitalization, first word, ending punctuation) decode regularly spelled one-syllable words and irregularly spelled words

In Second Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

describe how characters respond to major events describe overall structure of a story compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels
decode words with common prefixes and suffixes identify main idea of multiparagraph text read and comprehend informational texts determine meaning of words and phrases in an age-appropriate reading

 

In Third Grade Your Child Should Be Able To:

retell stories, fables, folktales, and myths explain how details support the main idea distinguish literal from nonliteral language decode multisyllabic words
compare and contrast books in a series compare and contrast two texts on the same topic read and comprehend informational texts of different subject areas distinguish own point of view

All standards have been reported from the Illinois State Board of Education. Additional standards are expected that have not been stated above. If you are concerned with your child’s reading skills, seek the guidance of a neuropsychologist who can help refer you to the appropriate support system.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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How to Choose the Right School Advocate for Your Child

Have you heard the phrase “Free Appropriate Public Education?” If you have a school-aged child with special needs, most likely you have.  This is because a FREE and APPROPRIATE education is guaranteed by law.  Sometimes, however, this is easier said than done.  Although it’s relatively simple to learn the laws and understand your rights, obtaining appropriate services, goals, accommodations, modifications, placement, and an adequate ongoing education is often much more difficult.  The process can be frustrating, overwhelming, confusing, and time-consuming.

That is why many parents choose to work with a School Advocate.  They feel that it “levels the playing field” and that they have a much better chance ensuring that their children’s needs will be met.   How, though, does one go about choosing an effective School Advocate?  There are several important items to consider when choosing an Advocate that will be most effective for your child and your situation.  The first is that ANYONE can call themselves an “Advocate”. There is no certification or licensure or specialized education needed to be a special education advocate. This is why it is extremely important to ensure that your Advocate is knowledgeable and experienced.

Following are some key questions and thoughts to consider when choosing your School Advocate:

  1. In order to effectively advocate for your child, the Advocate needs a solidschool advocate understanding of the law. School teams often use terms you might not be familiar with and reference “law” that may or may not be accurate.  An experienced Advocate can provide you with explanations, accurate information and be able to counter the school’s arguments when they are telling you things that might not be true, might not be the whole truth, or when they fail to tell you all of the options.
  2. An effective Advocate understands school systems, teaching methods, curriculum, and interventions. She knows how to measure your child’s progress in school and how to use this information when developing the IEP.
  3. An effective Advocate understands and can interpret evaluation scores. Although school staff will tell you their interpretation, it is always wise to have an expert independently review the results.  A qualified Advocate can review all the data and explain to you what they mean, how they apply to your child, and for which services your child may or may not be entitled based on those results.  An effective Advocate is the link between the evaluation and your IEP team.
  4. The IEP is the hallmark feature of your child’s programming and should to be written by someone who thoroughly understands each aspect of this document. A qualified special education Advocate will be able to review the IEP, section-by-section, and provide you with a detailed list of suggestions to improve the IEP in order to meet your child’s needs.  Are the baseline data adequate to write the goals?  Are the goals meaningful and supported by the data?  Are there sufficient goals to ensure progress? Are your parent concerns written in a manner that truly reflect what you stated?  Are your child’s needs properly identified?  Is your child being provided ample services to address the goals?  Are the specialists providing enough “minutes” to meet your child’s needs?  Are the accommodations and modifications appropriate?  An experienced Advocate can also analyze the IEP in relation to past IEPs and evaluation data and provide you with an informative summary that will help you know if your child’s services are progressing in a manner this is truly adequate and supportive.
  5. An effective Advocate will educate and empower you to become a better advocate for your child. She will teach you how to plan and prepare for meetings, how to ask questions to get the information you need, how to write effective emails and letters, and how to navigate the process.  A well-trained Advocate will also help you know when you need advice from an Attorney.
  6. An effective Advocate can take the emotion out of the process.  She should be able to remain calm…and not be too aggressive or too timid.  An Advocate should be able to diplomatically handle conflict in a way that helps you feel comfortable throughout the process while ensuring that your child has everything necessary to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education.

Click here to learn more about School Advocacy at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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The Importance of Person First Language

The language we use and the labels that we place on individuals are powerful. In today’s society we rely heavily on medical diagnoses to define a person’s values, their strengths and weakness, their education, the services that people are eligible to receive and ultimately their future. Too often an individual’s diagnosis is used to define them as an individual – the retard, the autistic boy, the stutterer. Person First Language is a way to put the person before the disability, “describing what a person has, not who a person is (Snow, 2009).

The Importance of Person First Language:

In reflecting on the importance of person-first language, think for a minute how you would feel to be defined by yourPerson First Language perceived “negative” characteristics. For instance, being referred to as the heavy boy, the acne student, or the bald lady. To be known only by what society perceives as negative characteristics or “problems” would completely disregard all of the positive characteristics that make you as an individual who you are (Snow, 2009). Individuals with disabilities are more than their diagnosis. They are people first. The boy next door who has autism is more than an autistic boy, he is a brother, a son and a friend who happens to have autism. The girl who stutters in class is more than a stutterer – she is a daughter, a sister, and a best friend who has a fluency disorder.

Contrary to society’s definition, having a disability is not a problem. When defining a person by their disability, there is a negative implication that that person is broken. Especially within the health care field, it is imperative that we as professionals, co-workers and human beings begin to focus on other’s strengths. By focusing on the strengths of individuals who have disabilities, we are setting up our clients and friends for success. Using person-first language is a great first step to this change of thinking.

Use the table below to help guide your language in following person-first language recommendations:

Rather than… Please Say…
Autistic Child who has autism spectrum disorder
Stutterer Boy/Girl who has a fluency disorder
Retard A child with a cognitive defect
Slow child A child who has a learning disability
Non-verbal child She communicates with her device
Down’s kid Child who has Down’s Syndrome

This table is by no means a definite list. However, it can help build a framework for the importance of person-first language and how to implement it into your own language. When you are unsure of how person-first language applies to a situation, remember the emphasis is on the person as a whole – putting the person before his or her disability.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Snow, Kathie (2009). People First Language. Disability is Natural. Retrieved from www.disabilityisnatural.com