Disability Advocates/Consultants of South Texas

What's New/News:                                             Vol. 2, Issue 8


I would like to discuss some possible heat-related disabilities in this newsletter. One area of concern is "near-drowning". "Near drowning" occurs when a person is revived after almost drowning. Sometimes that person is fine. If he or she is revived in time, the body continues to function and the brain continues as it always did. However, if the person was without oxygen for too long, the victim may remain in a coma, may wake up but with severe brain injuries, leaving the victim unable to reason and care for himself, or he may be fortunate and have only some lessor brain involvment. A learning disability may be evident from that time onward. Why take the risk?

Adults should always be aware of where their children are if a pool is nearby. Children under ten should be under the careful eye of an adult lifeguard when playing in the water. Children from 11 - 15, should be supervised but can play in the water using a buddy system. A child of that age should be told that she must know where her buddy is at all times and that she is responsible for that buddy. The two must be together at all times. An adult should be in the area and available. After age 15, I still recommend the buddy system with or without adult supervision. Someone in the pool area should know CPR. A telephone should be easily accessible in case of an emergency also.

Another area of concern is children, adults with paralysis, and pets left in hot cars. Children, adults with disabilities and animals should not be left in cars with the windows up or cracked. If the child or pet does not die in the car from the intense temperatures that occur within two to three minutes, then there is a good chance of that person or pet suffering brain damage. Again, the answer to this problem is prevention. No living creature should be left in a hot car this time of the year even for a few seconds.

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Maternal Drug Use and Learning Disabilities

Research is showing the long-term effects of children born to mothers who took drugs during pregnancy. One of the most dangerous drugs is alcohol. If a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy then there is a chance that her child will be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Children with FAS generally have smaller heads. They often have learning disabilities; some of which may be severe. These children may require long-term intervention and may never recover.

Some mothers will take the risk believing that she would need to drink quite a bit of alcohol before the baby could have brain damage. However, that is not the case. Even small amounts of alcohol can result in FAS. Taking the risk is simply not worth the years of payback later.

Tobacco smoked during pregnancy can cause lower weight babies. These babies have a higher risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Is a cigarette really worth the life of your child?

Of course, people have been experimenting with all sorts of drugs that are not legal such as cocaine and crack. These drugs effect the normal development of brain receptors. These receptors help transmit signals from all parts of the body including the skin, eyes, nose and ears. Children born to these mothers often have very serious learning problems. They lack impulse control. Since their ability to process information is impaired, they get garbled messages. They can see, hear, touch, taste and smell but the receptors confuse the information leaving these children unable to adequately interpret the signals.

Teachers of crack-cocaine children complain that these children are the most difficult to teach. Can you imagine trying to learn when all the signals are distorted? You get information but it's not the correct information. Some excellent resources on drug use during pregnancy can be found on the web at:

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Other Good Resources to Check Out

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A woman wrote to me asking me if pregnancy was a disability. She was having very serious problems getting around. Unfortunately, unless there is another disease or problem associated with the pregnancy, pregnancy is considered a normal process. Under the law, pregnancy itself cannot be defined as a disability. No one legally must provide accommodations or modifications. However, general kindness and courtesy would dictate that women in the last trimester of pregnancy should receive some accommodations. They are the mothers of the next generation. Perhaps we could extend some assistance to help promote healthier, happier mothers and children (just a thought).

Someone wrote to me asking about obtaining SSI. I have worked with that system for years and have found myself totally frustrated. Perhaps someone out there has some keys for applying and managing to survive the maze. Any hints?


Take Care,



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