Discussing dog breeds, dog-adoption, and the human-canine connection.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different....

Gracie contemplating the nature of life

I have a life.

Sort of.

That is to say, I do pursue at least one other interest besides catering to the lovely Gracie, Jenny, and Lil.

Jenny supervising my writing from across the room

Lil, encouraging me to feed her, again

 I am a disability service provider at a university; I work with the disabled students  making sure they receive the accommodations and services that will facilitate their education.
As education has become more inclusive, and support for a range of disabilities has become more adequate, disabled students are having increasing opportunities to go on to college.

When I was in first grade I was just one of a handful of students in my class with a reading disability; this was back in the day when such things weren't diagnosed and kids like us were put in the "slow group." Those of us who made it out of high school weren't interested in having any more to do with education because of all the misery it had inflicted on us by then.

I worked for almost a decade, mainly with animals and children (usually not at the same time,) before I  decided to try college again. I had continued to read and write a lot during those years and I found I could get through reading textbooks and writing papers better this time around. It was really hard and I learned there were some things I just couldn't do - like pull all nighters the way other students could. I also noticed again, that a lot of students who had similar disabilities to mine, decided that school wasn't worth the struggle.

This past year I decided to try and assist these students and their families in a larger way than I can in the individualized meetings I'm able to have in my office. Fast forward some months of hard work...and I've written a book and found a publisher.

Now for the next hard part - letting people know that this resource is going to be available.
I've noticed for a long time that there is a lot of overlap between the animal loving community and the disability community; a lot of us find animals provide a level of acceptance and comfort that we can't always find in other humans...it's not the humans' fault but face it, a Bull Terrier is more entertaining than the average person.

average person 

   average person vs. Bull Terrier

It occurred to me that perhaps the best way to get word of mouth started about this project was to reach out to my friends in the animal loving community, who probably also know at least one person who has disability touching their life.
(Is anyone else old enough to remember that old shampoo commercial - "You tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on....")

If you know someone who has a child that is considering college and has a disability - particularly a disability that impacts how the child learns - then perhaps you can let them know that I'm attempting to make more resources available to them (a lot of what I can currently find available for families is focused on disabled children who will not be going on to college; I thought the rest of us could use more support.)

In addition to the book - which the publisher wants people to pay for - I am starting several free related blogs. One for education and disability conversations (www.collegedisabled.blogspot.com), and one for conversations with and information for disabled students who want to go on to the highly competitive science, technology, engineering,  math, and related social science fields -- or STEM education (www.stemcollege.wordpress.com).
I'm going to place links for these spots on the sidebar of this blog, in case you do know someone who would like to check these newbie sites out.

And just in case anyone is interested in the book, I'll put a link in on the sidebar for that too.
Here's an image for those of us who like visuals:


Thanks everyone who does help get the word out - I really want more disabled students to be armed with the information they need to be successful in college!

Now be like Gracie and dash out to tell someone....


  1. Very interesting. In my non blog life Im a high school special education teacher. I work with students with very severe cognitive, emotional, and some physical disabilities. My students wont be going to college, due to their very severe cognitive disbalities, most are functioning at a pre-k level and can not read, write, or do more then basic math. The goal is to help them become as independent as possible. I firmly believe that that should be the goal of nearly every person. I think its great that you have given people an opportunity to stay in college and learn
    urban hounds

    1. I have a number of relatives who work in special education with this same student population - it is hard work and I tip my hat to those of you who do it. :-) It's great you have such cute and cuddly dogs to go home to! (Not to dismiss the value of your handsome cat.)

  2. this is just fabulous.....I think I am going to email you..

  3. this is Dakota's Mom...don't have your email address...would you please email me? cgittleman at mi dot rr dot com

    I don't see your email anywhere on the blog

    1. Hope I got that email right. I didn't realize how hard it is to find - my email is scattered in various posts around here but infrequently.

      If anyone has quesitons:

  4. Chris - congratulations on the book! That's awesome and I'm thrilled you're providing services like this! Best, Brenda

    1. Thanks Brenda!
      I'm lucky to have my canine family for de-stressing at the end of the day :-)

  5. Chris, so glad to read about this on your blog. What an accomplishment! Not only that you've actually written the book and found a publisher, but that you're putting your own life and professional experience to work in helping others. BRAVO! I'll be sharing...

    1. Thanks Sue!
      I realized a long time ago that whenever possible I needed to take the lemons in my life and make them a lemon slushy...or something like that ;-) As someone with disabilities (which weren't diagnosed until I was pretty much finished with school) I found it very challenging to get through school.

      This helped me understand the challenges students face. I've gotten close to passionate (I am still Scandinavian after all) about assisting more students in their preparation and success, and I really appreciate everyone's help in getting the word out that these resources are now available. I think the stem college blog site is looking particularly promising.

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