In the first six books of Epilectra, five superheroes with disabilities are introduced:

EPILECTRA has epilepsy.

INSULATOR has diabetes. 

C.P. has cerebral palsy. 

AUPTICUS has autism.

 ENDOGIRL has endometriosis                                                                   

These are the initial conditions on which we've focused.

According to the Center for Disease Control,

in America:

  • 1 in 4 individuals is diagnosed with a disability in his/her lifetime

  • 1 in 10 people develop diabetes; 10% of them (1 in 100) have type 1 diabetes

  • 1 in 10 people will have a seizure and 1 in 26 is diagnosed with epilepsy

  • 1 out of every 54 children is placed on the autism disorder spectrum

  • 1 in every 323 children is diagnosed with cerebral palsy

  • 1 in every 10 women of childbearing age suffers from endometriosis*

       *Though endometriosis is often incapacitating, it is not an officially recognized as a disease by the CDC

Some Teaching Moments ...

*These explanations are fairly simple. For a more in depth understanding, please consult your physician

 

DIABETES

The pancreas produces the hormone insulin which acts like a key, opening the body's cells to sugars from food and creating energy. When the body can't process sugar correctly, it collects in the bloodstream and can eventually cause serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. At this time, there is no cure for diabetes, but there are effective ways to manage it.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 -- same disease; different causes, natures, treatments, and outlooks

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any (or enough) insulin, so insulin needs to be given to the body from an outside source such as an insulin pump, pen, or syringe. Once insulin is administered, the body knows what to do with it.  

In Type 2, the pancreas creates insulin but the body doesn't use it well. Those over the age of 45 with an unhealthy lifestyle are at highest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but the percentage of teens and young adults with this disorder is growing. Adopting a healthy lifestyle that covers diet, exercise, doctor visits, and possibly medication is the best way to manage Type 2 diabetes.

EPILEPSY & SEIZURES

Having a seizure does not mean you have epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures (John Hopkins Medicine). We all have a 10 % chance of having a seizure sometime in our lives, and that risk increases if we've suffered a brain injury or a stroke. When someone has a seizure, the electrical activity in their brain goes temporarily haywire. If someone with epilepsy undergoes an EEG, a test that measures brainwave activity, the results are likely to show abnormalities such as slowing or spiking. The likelihood of developing epilepsy increases if you suffer a traumatic brain injury, but in 2 out of 3 cases the cause is never identified.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are many types of epileptic seizures. These are classified into two groups.

1.  Generalized seizures that affect both sides of the brain. These may include:

  • Absence seizures, also known as petit mal, may involve rapid blinking or staring off into space.

  • Tonic Clonic seizures, also known as grand mal, can involve crying out, falling down, jerking movements, and losing consciousness.

2.  Focal seizures, also called partial seizures, are located in just one area of the brain. These may include:

  • Simple focal seizures, which affect a small part of the brain and can cause twitching or a change in sensation such as a strange taste or smell.

  • Complex focal seizures, which may cause confusion and disorientation.

  • Secondary generalized seizures, which begin in one part of the brain and spread to other parts.

Seizures usually aren't dangerous unless they last for longer than 5 minutes. Only then does help need to be called. Otherwise, it's important to make sure someone experiencing a seizure doesn't hurt themselves by removing dangerous objects from their vicinity and helping them lie down on their side so they don't choke (if they're unconscious). Often, "triggers," like flashing lights, altitude, or even stress, precede a seizure. But it's not unusual for a seizure to have no apparent trigger. Many people experience an "aura" prior to the onset of a seizure, which usually takes the form of an unusual or heightened sensory experience. The period immediately following a seizure is called "post-ictal." Most people are confused during this time period, especially in its first 10 to 20 minutes, After that, it's typical to be exhausted.

AUTISM

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. The ways in which people with autism learn, think, and

problem-solve can range from gifted to severely challenged. While ASD occurs across all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, it is about 4 times more common in boys than girls.

Typical autistic behaviors may include avoiding eye contact, preferring to be alone, difficultly understand others' feelings or discussing their own, preferring not to be held or touched, repeating  words or phrases, repeating actions, and having trouble with changes in routine.

According to the Center for Disease Control. there are 3 types of autism spectrum disorders:

1.  Autistic Disorder, also know as classic autism

2.  Asperger Syndrome, people that have milder symptoms of autistic disorder and are highly functioning

3.  Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified

A 2012 Time article outlined parallels between individuals with extreme talent and those with autism and explained why a small percentage of ASD individuals are deemed "genius." Similar traits included hyper attention to detail, the ability to maintain focus, extraordinary working memory, the tendency to be male, the result of difficult pregnancies, obsessiveness, and poor social skills. The article continued to to explain that there may be similarities in the brain wiring of these two groups with excessive local connections that led to heightened perception and attention and diminished wiring between distant brain regions that tended to align with system overload, sensory overstimulation, and amplified fear.

There's no cure for ASD, but there are a multitude of treatments. Applied Behavior Analysis is a notable treatment approach that is adaptable for different age groups and encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative ones while improving a variety of skills. Other treatments include Assistive Technologies, which uses tablets to enhance communication skills, and Floortime, which focuses on the management of emotional, relational and sensory input. For older ASD individuals, Occupational Therapy, Social Skills Training, and Speech Therapy can be beneficial. Finally, medications are available that can help manage typical ASD tendencies such as high energy, inability to focus, and depression.

CEREBRAL PALSY

Cerebral (having to do with the brain) Palsy (muscle weakness) or CP affects a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture.  CP's symptoms vary greatly -- from not being able to walk at all to being a little awkward. They fall into 3 categories:

  • "spasticity" or stiff muscles

  • "dyskinesia" or uncontrollable movements

  • "ataxia" or poor balance and coordination

There are 4 types of CP:

1.  Spastic CP - This is the most common type of CP, affecting 80% of those who have the condition.  People with spastic CP have increased muscle tone, so much so that their muscles are stiff and their movement awkward.

2.  Dyskinetic CP - These individuals have problems controlling the movement of their hands, arms, feet, and legs, which makes it difficult for them to sit and walk.  Movement can be slow and writhing or rapid and jerky, and can change day to day or even within a single day.

3.  Ataxic CP - This form of CP is characterized by problems with coordination, which can make walking, writing, or even reaching for something difficult.

4.  Mixed CP - These individuals exhibit symptoms of more than one type of CP, most typically spastic-dyskinetic.

85-90% of CP cases are caused by brain damage that occurs before or during birth when the brain is very vulnerable. Its likelihood is increased by being being born too small or too early, being born a multiple, being conceived by in vitro fertilization, or having a mother who had infections during pregnancy or complications during birth.

There is no cure for CP, but treatment can improve the lives of those with the condition tremendously.  Common treatments include medicines, surgery, braces, and physical, occupational and speech therapies.

ENDOMETRIOSIS

Endometriosis affects women in their child-bearing years.  This typically painful condition occurs when the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of a woman's uterus, grows on the outside of it.  There are three types of endometriosis based on where the tissue grows:

1.  Superficial peritoneal lesion - This is the most common kind and is when lesions occur on the peritoneal, the thin film lining the pelvic cavity,

2.  Endometrioma (ovarian lesion) - This is when dark, fluid-filled cysts form inside the ovaries.

3.  Deeply infiltrating endometriosis - This type grows under the peritoneum and can involve organs near the uterus such as the bowels or bladder.  It occurs in about 3% of cases.

Symptoms of endometriosis are especially common and painful during a woman's period.  They can include back pain, severe cramping, especially heavy bleeding, diarrhea or constipation, painful sex, fatigue, and infertility.  Endometriosis is a factor for about 40% of women who have trouble getting pregnant. 

According to The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, endometriosis has 4 stages.  Stage and symptom degree don't necessarily correlate:

Stage I (minimal):  A few small lesions and no scar tissue.

Stage II (mild):  more lesions, but still no scarring.  Less than 2 inches of the abdomen is involved.

Stage III (moderate):  Deeper lesions with possible scar tissue around the ovaries or fallopian tubes.

Stage IV (sever):  Many lesions with possible large cysts in the ovaries and scar tissue around the ovaries and fallopian tubes or between the uterus and lower intestines.

There is no current cure for endometriosis, but there are many things that may help.  Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories can offer pain relief, as can a warm bath, heating pad, and regular exercise.  Birth control that lowers the amount of estrogen in the body can help, and there are various surgical options.  Please speak with your doctor if you think you might be suffering from endometriosis and to discuss treatment options.

ROLE MODELS

IF THEY CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!

People with disabilities have accomplished great things in numerous fields.  

Here are just a few:

SPORTS

Trophy

DIABETES

  • Gary Hall is an Olympic swimmer who was diagnosed with type 1 in 1999.  Determined to keep competing, he was recognized as "the world's fastest swimmer" in 2000 and retired in 2008 with 8 Olympic medals, 5 of them gold. (verywellhealth.com)

  • Robin Arzon, Peloton's Vice President of Fitness Programming and instructor, is a type 1 and wears a pod when she's on her cycle or tearing up the track. (wikipedia, peloton.com)  

  • Jay Cutler, former Chicago Bears quarterback, was diagnosed as type 1 at 24 while he was still active.  He wore a pump then and still does today. (webmd.com, goodhousekeeping.com) 

  • Dave "Boomer" Wells was a New York Yankees pitcher with type 2 diabetes. (health.com, goodhousekeeping.com

  • Earl "The Pearl" Monroe was a professional basketball player with type 2.  He played guard for both the Baltimore Bullets and the New York Knicks. (health.com, goodhousekeeping.com

.........

EPILEPSY

  • Alan Faneca was a guard in the NFL for 13 seasons playing for the Steelers, the Jets, and the Cardinals before he retired in 2011.  He earned nine Pro Bowl appearances, eight All-Pro selections, and one Super Bowl ring.  His first seizure was at the age of 15. (wikipedia)

  • Spenser Jaye is a Regional Ambassador for the Epilepsy Foundation's Athletes with Epilepsy.  She played Division 1 soccer with University of Hawaii and with San Francisco State University.  After receiving her degree in Sports Marketing, she continued to play internationally with the Guam Women's National Team. (athletesvsepilepsy.com)  

  • Chanda Gunn is an American ice hockey goaltender who helped the U.S. women's team win a bronze medal in the 2006 Winter Olympics.  She was 9 when she had her first seizure. (teamusa.org)

AUTISM

  • Born in 1996, Michael "Mikey" Brannigan is an American Track and Field athlete who won the Gold Medal in the men's 1500-meters race at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.  He didn't compete at the collegiate level because his autism kept him from meeting NCAA academic standards. (ongig.com)

  • Jim Eisenreich played first base and outfield in Major League Baseball for 5 different teams, beginning his career with the Minnesota Twins and finishing it with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He spent his longest stint with the Kansas City Royals and won the team's Player of the Year title in 1989. (ongig.com)

  • Jessica-Jane Applegate is a British swimmer who holds 24 Gold Medals in Paralympic events, 11 British records, and a world record for her 100-meter freestyle butterfly. (ongig.com)

  • Armani Williams is an American NASCAR racer who's debut season with Fast Car Racing was 2020. (wikipedia)

CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Bonner Paddock was the 1st with CP to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2008 and the 1st to complete an Ironman Triathalon unassisted in 2012. (disabled-world.com)

  • Jerry Traylor jogged across America with the help of crutches.  He's also participated in 35 marathons, enjoys parachuting, and has climbed to the top of Pikes Peak. (disabled-world.com)

  • Justin Gallegos was a runner with University of Oregon in 2018 when he was approached by NIKE to sign a three-year contract.  This made him the first athlete with CP to represent the brand. (cbsnews.com)

SCIENCE

Test Tube

DIABETES

  • Morris Braunstein invented liquid crystal technology, a technology used in digital watches, microwave ovens, and laptop computers.  He died in 1995 at the age of 68. (diabetesdaily.com)

  • Albert Ellis, an American psychologist who died in 1955, is responsible for developing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. (diabetesdaily.com)

  • Cynthia Ice was a software engineer at IBM until her death at age 49 in 2008.  Ice was pivotal in the development the Lotus brand's accessibility for the blind and disabled.  She became blind in her 20's due to diabetic retinopathy. (diabetesdaily.com)

  • George Minot was an American doctor and winner of the 1934 Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on pernicious anemia. (diabetesdaily.com) 

  • Thomas Edison, described by many as "America's greatest inventor," developed devices in the fields of electronic power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. (diabetesdaily.com)

EPILEPSY

  • Albert Einstein was a German physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity, one the two pillars of modern physics.  The other is Quantum Physics. (epilepsy.com)

AUTISM

  • Temple Grandin is the author of numerous papers on animal behavior and the inventor of the Hug Box, a device to calm those on the autism spectrum. (abadegreepregrams.net, menshealth.com, ongig.com)

  • Bram Cohen is the computer programmer who created BitTorrent, the communications protocol for peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet. (ongig.com)

  • Michelle Dawson is a Canadian researcher challenging ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis)-based techniques for studying autistic brains.  Rather than studying how autistic brains are broken, she is studying how they work.  (ongig.com)

  • Charles Darwin was an English biologist famous for this theories on evolution. (AsperberSyndrome.me.uk)

  • Henry Cavendish was a British chemist and physicist credited with the discovery of hydrogen. (Applied Behavior Analysis Program Guide) 

CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Farida Bedwei is a South African software engineer who's been hailed as a critical figure in financial technology, pioneering cloud platforms that make small loan decisions available to consumers worldwide. (mentalfloss.com)

  • Though Dr. Janice Brunststrom-Hernandez barely survived her birth and had little chance of walking or talking, she grew up to become a pediatric neurologist, helping children with cerebral palsy live their best lives. (mightymamabear.com)

BUSINESS

Calculator

DIABETES

  • David Weingard is the Founder of Cecelia Health, a NYC-based telemed company dedicated to diabetes patients.    He left Microsoft to start Cecelia Health after receiving his own Type 1 diagnosis in 2008, and he named the company after the diabetes educator who "made time to fit him in."  In addition to its 250 physicians, the company works with pharmaceutical and insurance providers. (ceceliahealth.com, forbes,com)

  • Damon Dash has Type 1 diabetes and is the founder of Roc-A-Fella Records. (wikipedia)

  • Charles Ginsburg, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 4, achieved 7 patents, numerous honors and awards, and induction into both the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.  He was an engineer and inventor recognized for developing the first videotape recorder. (wikipedia)

EPILEPSY

  • Keith Wallace was born in 1969 and developed epilepsy after a tragic car crash.  He worked for years making wine in both the Napa Valley and Chianti. (wikipedia)

  • Katie Hopkins, British reality show contestant and business woman, developed epilepsy as a teen. (wikipedia)

AUTISM

  • Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft. (menshealth.com, abadegreeprograms.net)

  • Steve Jobs is the co-founder of Apple, Inc. (menshealth.com)

  • Satori Tajiri created Pokemon. (allthatsinteresting.com, abadegreeprograms.net))

  • Dr. Vernon Smith is the Founder and President of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, which is the application of experimental methods to study economic questions such as markets, decision making, bargaining, and social preferences.  His work earned him the Nobel Prize in Economics. (abadegreeprograms.net) 

CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Micheal Kutcher (actor Ashton is his fraternal twin brother) is an Assistant Vice President with Transamerica in Denver, CO, and does motivational public speaking.  He's beaten the health odds twice -- with a CP diagnosis at age 3 and with a heart transplant at age 13(wikipedia)

  • Abby Nicole Curran was Miss Iowa in 2008 and the first contestant with a disability to ever compete in the Miss USA Pageant.  She has gone on to found the nonprofit charity The Miss You Can Do It Pageant for girls and women with special needs. (mangarhealth.com) 

  • Lawrence Carter-Long is the Executive Directer of The Disabilities Network of NYC having initially joined the nonprofit as its Network Coordinator in 2005.  His expertise on the disabled community's issues make him a sought after speaker on everything from the media's portrayal of disability to the its wide ranging struggles in areas from self-determination to housing. (www.dnnyc.net)

Eagle

POLITICS & LAW

DIABETES

  • Sonia Sotomayor has Type 1 and is an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. (goodhousekeeping.com)

  • Theresa May is a former British Prime Minister with Type 1 diabetes. (goodhousekeeping.com)

EPILEPSY

  • Napoleon was a French statesman and military leader who became famous as an artillery commander during the French Revolution. (epilepsiemuesem.de)

  • Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist.  Born into slavery, Tubman is famed for escaping and then risking her own life to rescue more than 70 other slaves via the Underground Railroad. (oprahmag.com)

  • Theodore Roosevelt, the nation's 26th president, is quoted, "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure ... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." (healthline.com)

  • John Roberts is the 17th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, a position he's held since 2005. He's also a Harvard Law School graduate. (wikipedia)

  • Tony Coelho is a former U.S. Congressman from California who developed epilepsy at age 16. (wikipedia)

AUTISM

  • Joshua Collins, 26, was prepared to be the first openly autistic congress member when he pioneered the left-leaning Essential Workers Party in Washington state's August '20 primary elections.  Though he didn't earn enough votes to continue his congressional aspirations, he isn't giving up. (themighty.com, ballotpedia.org)

  • David K. Nelson of Utah is an American activist for the protection of equal rights for the LGBTQ community.  He's been active in politics since 1982. (wikipedia, ongig.com)

  • Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, is believed to have fallen on the spectrum based on many noted behaviors, including his discomfort as a public speaker, his difficultly relating to others, his sensitivity to loud noise, and his constant companionship of a pet mockingbird. (appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com)

CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Paul Maynard of the U.K. has been the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for he Department of Transport since 2019, and has been a member of Parliament since 2010.  He also has epilepsy.  Both conditions are a result of being strangled by his umbilical cord during birth. (wikipedia)

  • Robert Halfon of the U.K. has been a member of the Education Select Committee since 2017.  He joined Parliament in 2010. (wikipedia)

Bookshelf

LITERATURE

DIABETES

  • Anne Rice has Type 1 and is best known for her dark novel, Interview With A Vampire(goodhousekeeping.com)

  • Devon K. Grayson has Type 1 and is a comic book and graphic novel writer and novelist.  She's written a plethora of works for DC, Marvel, and Image Comics, as well as IDW Publishing. (wikipedia)

EPILEPSY

  • Norwegian writer Bjornstjerne Bjornson won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Literature for his writing. (wikipedia) 

  • R.D. Blackmore was the author of Lorna Doone(wikipedia) 

  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky was a famed Russian novelist who often incorporated his experience with epilepsy into his work. (wikipedia)

  • American contemporary author and filmmaker Micheal Crichton's books have sold more than 200 million copies worldwide.  They include Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and The Lost World, all of which he made into movies.  HIs best known TV series is ER, which he wrote based on his Harvard medical school education. Crichton died in 2008. (onlinelibrary.wiley.com)

AUTISM

  • Susanna Tamaro is an Italian author with numerous titles.  The most well known, Follow Your Heart, was translated into more than 35 languages, made into a film, and became the Italian book most sold in the 20th century. (www.bitfeed.co

  • Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish prolific children's author who's stories include The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Snow Queen, and The Emperor's New Clothes(Applied Behavior Analysis Program Guide) 

  • Lewis Carroll was an English writer of children's books who penned Alice's Adventures in Wonderland(Art of Autism) 

  • Jane Austin, a British novelist, is best known for her books Pride & Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. (Applied Behavior Analysis Program Guide) 

CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Shelly Weiss has written a series of children's books featuring relatable characters that help kids learn about various disabilities.  Dillon the Dolphin educates children about CP.  Other conditions addressed in the series include anxiety, depression, ADHD, and autism. (goodreads.com)

  • Christy Brown was an Irish painter and writer who could only paint or write with his the toes of his left foot.  His life is immortalized in the Academy Award winning biopic My Left Foot starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Brown. (mangarhealth.com)

Mic

THE ARTS

Paint Brush

DIABETES

  • Oscar winner Tom Hanks was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2013. (webmd.com, goodhousekeeping.com)

  • Nick Jonas, formerly of the Jonas Brothers and now a solo performer, was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 13. (webmd.com)

  • Bret Michaels, lead singer of the band Poison, was diagnosed with Type 1 at age 7. (webmd.com, goodhousekeeping.com)

  • RaeLynn learned she had Type 1 in 2012.  Her second single, God Made Girls, went Gold just two years later.  She's won two CMT Awards. (wikipedia)

  • Star Wars and Indiana Jones legend, George Lucas, lives with Type 2. (goodhousekeeping.com)

..​

EPILEPSY

  • Bud Abbott of the famed comedy duo "Abbott and Costello" lived from1895 until 1974 and had epilepsy his entire life. (wikipedia)

  • Elton John is a famed contemporary English singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer known for hits such as Your Song, I'm Still Standing, Tiny Dancer, Bennie and the Jets, Circle of Life, and Rocket Man.  He's sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the world's best-selling music artists.

  • Lil Wayne, an American rapper born in 1982, has had epilepsy since childhood. (wikipedia)

.....​

AUTISM

  • Sir Anthony Hopkins has an extensive acting career and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar for Silence of the Lambs.  His most recent films are The Two Popes, in which he stars as Pope Benedict XVI, and The Father, in which he stars as Anthony. (Mercury News, TheAutisticPage.com) 

  • Matt Savage is an accomplished musician with perfect pitch and a composer who focuses on the jazz genre.  He balances a professional music career with teaching at colleges near his home town in MA. (AspergersSyndrome.me.uk, ongig.com) 

  • Darryl Hannah is an American actress with a prolific movie and television career that began in 1978.  She has starred on screen in hits including Blade Runner, Splash, Steel Magnolias, and Kill Bill. (TheAutisticPage, menshealth.com) 

  • David Byrne was a founding member, lead singer, and guitarist of the American new wave band, Talking Heads.(allthatsinteresting.com) 

  • Dan Akryod is a Canadian actor and an original member of "The Not Ready for Prime Time Players" on Saturday Night Live.  Also on SNL, he created The Blues Brothers with John Belushi, which went on to become an actual band and film.  He conceived and starred in Ghostbusters, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Driving Miss Daisy(TheAutisticPage, menshealth.com) 

CEREBRAL PALSY

  • Josh Blue is an American comic who won season 4 of Last Comic Standing. (disabled-world.com)

  • Dan Keplinger is an artist whose work is shown in galleries across the country. (disabled-world.com)

  • R.J. Mitte is an actor and model who plays a character with C.P. on the AMC series, Breaking Bad(disabled-world.com)

  • Geri Jewell starred on the TV series, The Facts of Life.  She was the first actor with C.P. to be cast in a primetime show. (disabled-world.com)