Author: dcadmin

There’s No Love Like a Dogs Love


There’s no love like a dogs love. As man’s best friend, dogs have that unique gift to make you feel loved and cherished. They also, as researchers say, have that distinctive ability to lower stress levels, which can be extremely beneficial especially when it comes to children on the autism spectrum as well as family units as a whole.

Without a doubt, parents of children with autism can experience increased anxiety and stress as these circumstances can often bring a unique set of challenges. There have been many previous studies that have found that animal assisted therapy can greatly impact the lives of children with autism. Aside from the obvious fact that dogs can provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship, they can also act as a social lubricant, as it teaches autistic children how to effectively interact with a living being.

Children on the spectrum can often struggle with interaction with others, as they may not know how to properly communicate with their peers, which can make it somewhat difficult for them to form friendships. However, as research has shown, children’s assertiveness was greater if they lived with a pet. Say for instance, a child with autism invites their peers to play with their dog, the dogs can serve as a bridge that may help the child with autism communicate more effectively with their peers.

According to disabilityscoop, researchers at the University of Lincoln in England conducted a study with two different groups; they looked at 22 families of kids with autism who owned a dog, and 15 similar families without pets. After a little over two years went by, parents in both groups exhibited decreased stress levels however the impact was considerably more noticeable in the families that owned a dog (with 20% of parents moving from clinically high to normal stress levels).

Furthermore, researchers found that the stress-shrinking effects of a dog seemed to stand the test of time and discovered a vast reduction in dysfunctional interactions between parents and their kids among the pet owners, thus having a pet dog considerably improved overall family function in comparison to the other control group families.

Just as DirectCourse provides support to direct care professionals so they may be better suited to care for those affected by disabilities, four legged friends can also provide support to those affected by disabilities!

Many families have the debate of whether or not to get a dog, weighing the negatives and the positives, deliberating over the amount of responsibility it takes to care for one long term. Bringing a dog into any family is a big step, but for families of children with autism, getting a dog should be a decision that is not taken lightly; families should do their research before bringing home a dog as well as involve their children with autism in the decision.

Learn more about DirectCourse.

“We’re the Superhumans:” A Look at the 2016 Paralympic Games Ad Spot

Occasionally, a book, song, film or even an advertisement comes along that has the ability to stir something in us, to evoke a powerful emotional response. From the beginning drum roll, to the warm and affectionate tone of the music (a cover of Sammy Davis Jr’s Yes I can, sung by singer Tony Dee from his wheelchair), to the final flip of a wheelchair, Channel 4’s trailer for the 2016 Paralympic games entitled “We’re the Superhumans,” does precisely that.

Watch the ad

A follow up from the 2012 award winning advertisement,  “Meet the Superhumans,” this striking, incredibly infectious ad spot impressively shows how much excitement one can produce if you cram the talent of 140 athletes, musicians, and ordinary people with disabilities into three minutes of television. From a pilot steering an airplane with her feet, to a blind pianist, this unconventional yet powerful video is a testament to just how much those with disabilities have the ability to overcome.

Since airing back in July, according to, the advertisement has received millions upon millions of views (with more than 23 million people watching it on Facebook alone). So what is it about this advertisement, a mere 3 minutes long, that has made it so successful?

The idea behind the ad, as explained by Dan Brooke who oversaw the ad for Channel 4, was to portray that anyone can overcome a disability and be a superhuman; that everyday people do amazing things. It was “an unbridled celebration of ability, by both elite Paralympians and everyday people,” said Brooke. Essentially, it is meant to inspire the disability community to be more, to be a beacon of light, to shake off that “victim of circumstance” stigma.

The spot surpasses its specific marketing message by envisioning a world in which people from all walks of life can achieve fulfillment and perform to the absolute best of their ability. Potentially one of the most inclusive ads ever developed as it presents the incorporation of people with disabilities into nearly every aspect of daily life.

In a more broad sense, this is not simply the story of people without limbs who achieve great things; it’s more than that. It also tells the story of how far we have come as a society as we continue to move forward, rid ourselves of fear and contempt, about revolutionizing public attitudes to disability forever.

The Paralympics have and continue to act as a great reminder of all the adversity we can overcome with the right mindset and motivation. You better believe we at DirectCourse will be watching the games come September 7th!

The 26th Anniversary of the ADA: Progress and Lingering Obstacles

Last month marked the 26th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by President H.W. Bush in 1990. A law that ensured that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else; giving civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. What a significant milestone for the disability community! Celebrations took place across the nation, as many saluted its impact in creating a more inclusive society.

The way we look at disability and the way we define disability has changed significantly since the inception of the ADA. The ADA was able to create easily understood and conceptually sound structures for how accessibility and non-discrimination can work in real life practice. Prior to its passing, most people—even most of the disability community—had no real clue what actual equal opportunity might look like. For the 6.5 million students and the approximately 50 million adults living with mental or physical disabilities, the ADA has removed significant barriers and has empowered many to make of their lives what they wish.

We bring this up because it serves as a significant memorandum of how far we have come in creating a nation that recognizes those from all walks of life, and that we function more efficiently as a nation when we draw on the talents of all people. However, it also serves as a reminder of how we must continue the momentum, as we still have work to do!

One major concern that lingers is the fact that there are still too many people with disabilities who are unemployed; there still remains a degree of bias from employers. Some critics of the ADA have argued that some employers are afraid to hire a person with a disability because they fear it’s going to cost them a considerable amount extra (for training, accessibility, etc.). However, upon further research, they would see that the actual costs involved can be very little. The fact is, some of the laws put into place by the ADA still remain unenforced. It’s too easy for businesses to claim that accessibility/training is too burdensome or to avoid hiring people with disabilities altogether. Preconceived notions about people with disabilities remain; whether they are acknowledged or not. Thus it’s important that we continue to educate in order to help overcome potential risk aversion.

DirectCourse is proud to provide online education resources to direct care professionals. We aim to continue to reduce barriers for those with disabilities so they can receive equal opportunities, and live happy, inspired lives!

This anniversary is an important reminder that we all need to continue to eliminate barriers in both the physical and online world so those with disabilities can achieve their full potential at work and in life.

More than a wheelchair; Emojis to better represent people with disablilties

Every day, billions of emojis are sent back and forth on social media applications and have come to play a quite significant role in the world of text communication. There has been quite a bit of initiative to make emojis more diverse, to depict people with different skin tones and same sex couples and so on; however, there is only one to represent disability – a wheelchair user sign, which is also often used as an accessible toilet sign.

One London based advocacy group paralympic-emojis_blog-image-2decided to take matters into their own hands. “This one symbol can’t represent me and the people [with disabilities] I know. To truly represent the world we live in, [we] should be included in a way that reflects the diversity of our lives,” said Rosemary Frazer, the campaign for Scope, a British charity that provides support, information, and advice for more than a quarter of a million people with disabilities and their families every year.

With over 1,800 different emojis and only one that just slightly represents the disability community, Scope recognized that the disability community deserved further representation. They polled more than 4,000 Twitter users to discover that 65% believe one emoji to represent disability is simply not enough.

Even despite a recent emoji keyboard update, which now includes medals and sports to commemorate the Olympics, there was no recognition of the Paralympics. Thus Scope got to work, and recently created a series of 18 new emojis that can be used to portray people with varying abilities in hopes that their efforts would influence and inspire Unicode, the organization that oversees emojis, to represent people with disabilities in a positive light. Their icons include wheelchair users, individuals with prostheses, a service dog, those with hearing impairment, and other disabilities engaging in a wide range of activities. The charity has also released emojis featuring several Paralympians, including four-time gold medalist swimmer Ellie Simmonds and world famous tennis player Jordanne Whiley.

This brings us to another important matter; those with disabilities do not necessarily want to be treated differently, they do not want to be perpetually handled with kid gloves and to be constantly reminded that they are vulnerable. In fact, many studies show that in the work place, those with disabilities can often be more productive, more hard working, and more loyal than their co-workers that do not have disabilities.

One of the first steps in achieving equality for the disability community begins with the care they receive from health professionals, which is why at DirectCourse we offer important training in our College of Recovery and Community Inclusion. This teaches our mental health practitioners how to help those with mental health conditions lead self-directed, satisfying lives.

People with disabilities make up nearly 20% of the U.S. population, a considerable number; thus it’s important we consider their point of view. They simply are asking to be treated as equals, to get the recognition everyone else does, the recognition they deserve. They crave the same representation as someone with a different skin tone, or someone with a different ethnic background. So if someone from a varying cultural background achieves representation on the emoji board, why can’t we create a few more emojis for the disability community? We wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few emoji keyboard updates we saw an incorporation of a few more emojis!

Why Hiring Those on the Spectrum is Good for Your Company

According to Disability Scoop, an estimated 50,000 students with autism graduate from high school each year, entering into the scary realm of adulthood. However, now that they are adults and no longer children, they enter into a world where they may not have access to the support systems they were given in childhood. Thus, more than one third of these individuals find themselves not working, and not receiving the life skills or vocational training during such a critical time in their lives.

Those with autism are not given the same opportunities as those without. They are expected to adapt to the standards of the “neurotypical,” making it very difficult to achieve the same levels of success as those without autism let alone allow them to rise to positions of influence or power. What most people fail to realize however, is that individuals with autism can bring immense value to organizations.

For instance, autistic minds thrive and even enjoy performing tasks that may be repetitive and structured; tasks that may be less dependent on social graces than a detail-oriented and focused mind (intense focus comes naturally to those with autism). Those with the neurotypical mind often have a very difficult time focusing on routine, unvaried tasks, they get easily distracted and bored quickly, hence making the turnover rate in those types of jobs relatively high. However, for those with autism, the job may light a path to the future, and the turnover rate is less than ten percent.

Those on the spectrum have many incredible strengths that employers may want to tap into. Not only are they hyper-focused, but they can also bring an enormous degree of creativity, as their brains are wired differently than your neurotypical one. Their imaginations can be boundless! Beyond their potential for extreme creativity, they can also be incredibly driven, especially if they are working on something that ignites their passionate side; their focus and work ethic become nearly unsurpassable.

Microsoft for example, who recently launched a small pilot program last year in an effort to hire more people with autism for full time positions is leading the way in the “neurodiversification” of their workforce. They see the potential and benefits of hiring individuals on the spectrum. Northeastern University also recently hired its very first employee from Project SEARCH, a program that places young adults with autism in a 10-week internship program in universities. With the right programs in place, these employees can thrive!

One of the first steps towards a more neurodiverse workforce is educating managers and those who have hiring power. The DirectCourse College of Employment Services courses explore many ways in which those affected by autism, or any disability, can find meaningful, fulfilling jobs. Its training programs ensure that everyone at an organization delivers the best guidance throughout finding and maintaining meaningful employment.