On Tuesday, July 20, 2021, Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, New York, commemorated the upcoming 31st anniversary of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” (July 26), with onsite activities with clinicians, patients, and special guests.
More than 50 patients from Blythedale’s Day Hospital, Mt. Pleasant Blythedale School and Inpatient program joined neurodiverse author Lindsey Rowe Parker (Richmond, VA) in the reading of her new children’s book Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down. The story follows a young girl with heightened sensory experiences through her day with fun, interactive sounds, and motions.
“Seeing everyone’s reaction to the book was awesome,”said Lindsey Rowe Parker, author of Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down. “I feel like when theysaw the character in the book struggling with some of thesensory differences it was relatable. When you seesomebody experiencing the world differently than you,give a little bit of empathy, ask questions, don’t judgeand try to embrace it.”
The Hospital’s Speech Pathology & Audiology Department, “Blythedale Bookworms” (coordinated through the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy program) and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Task Force teamed up to identify books with diverse protagonists and get them into the hands and homes of patients as part of a literacy outreach campaign for kids with varying abilities.
“Inspired by the Americans with Disabilities Act movement, we are also adapting some of the books at Blythedale to increase access for all kids who may have physical, cognitive or verbal differences that make a standard book inaccessible,” said Abigail Crane, Blythedale Speech-Language Pathologist. “We physically dissect the actual book which increases the child’s ability to have communicative impact while also making stories come alive in a new way.”
Some examples include page turners or cotton balls used tomake it easier for kids with physical limitations to manuallyturn the page, Velcro tabs attached to pages with removablelaminated core words, texture added for tactile feedback,and more. Watch the full video.
Blythedale’s onsite public school district, Mt. Pleasant Blythedale Union Free School District, also marked the anniversary of the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ with a capstone project completed by some of its high school students (who are also Day Hospital patients at Blythedale).
16-year-old Meghan Lyles of Wappingers Falls, New York (Dutchess County) researched and presented to her 12th grade class about the significance and impact of this landmark 1990 civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. Meghan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and has undergone numerous surgeries for scoliosis related to her spine.
“This project is about how we can all help people with disabilities, like myself, to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential,” said Meghan. “The ‘Americans with Disabilities Act’ is important to me because I know I wouldn’t want to be treated differently just because I have a disability, so why would anyone else?”