A Different “Quality Time”

A Different -Quality Time- Alan Rasof

When faced with the inevitable rocky patches of life, most couples are given the same time-tested advice: “Spend some quality time together.” Nothing at all is wrong with this; escaping for a nice hike in the woods or a cultural excursion can bring you closer as you are reminded of what brought you together in the first place.

But what about going against the grain? Sometimes the challenges that life throws at us are not so easily cured by your typical “quality time” movie date on the couch. Perhaps you’re going through something and your mind feels restless. What would it look like if you and your spouse actively worked against expectations of “quality” time? Instead of going on a trip that’s relaxing, what if you were to take up a challenge that’s taxing? Often times finding a distraction that you can participate in actively and together, is just the kind of cure you need to take your mind off the troubles of day to day life.

Few things can bring us together like the bonds formed during the journey towards a common goal or solution. So next time you want to spend some quality time, make the conscious decision to take the road less traveled. Sure, it may be harder, but coming out on the other side will leave the bond between you stronger than ever. Also, doing so is not something that can usually be completed in a single afternoon or a long weekend. No, these challenges weigh on you, force you to come up with creative solutions, and— most importantly— cause you to rely on your greatest love as a pillar of strength.

Maybe you need to get into shape. Try making quality time a joint exercise session, or time together in the kitchen trying out a new healthy recipe? If you’re battling certain vices, maybe your journey would include opening up to your spouse and starting a journey towards getting the help you need. And, all things permitting, if there is a problem at work that needs solving, why not get their opinion on it?

Remember, marriage is a partnership. So saddle up and help one another ride on to catch your dreams. The road may be tough, but the destination will be sweeter than that of any single vacation.

Common Forms of Cerebral Palsy

Common Forms of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term covering a group of non-progressive and non-contagious motor conditions that cause physical disability in human development, mostly in the various area of body movement. Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy usually show in the first year of life, sometimes even before birth.

The medical community has identified 3 types of cerebral palsy (however some people may have symptoms associated with different types, a condition known as mixed cerebral palsy.)

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy causes great tension in the muscles. Normally, muscle groups work in pairs. When one pair tightens, the opposite pair relaxes. Interruptions in messages between the brain, nerves and muscles cause difficulty with movements.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Children with ataxic cerebral palsy usually walk with their feet far apart. They find it hard to move quickly or precisely. They have trouble writing or buttoning their clothes. Ataxic cerebral palsy also causes something called intention tremor. If a child with this symptom reaches for a book, his hand and arm start to quiver. The movement grows worse as he gets closer to the shelf.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Children with athetoid cerebral palsy have problems controlling the movement of their hands, arms, feet and legs. It can be hard to sit or walk. Their movements may be slow and writhing or rapid and jerky. If the face and tongue are affected, the person has a hard time sucking, swallowing and talking. Muscle tone can change from too tight to too loose.

Things to Know about Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood, and children with CP and their families need support.

Learn more about CP and what signs to look for in young children:

  1. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
  2. CP is the most common motor disability of childhood. About 1 in 323 children have been identified with CP according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
  3. CP is more common among boys than girls, and more common among black children than among white children.
  4. Most (about 77%) children with CP have spastic CP. This means that their muscles are stiff, and as a result, their movements can be awkward.
  5. Over half (about 58%) of children with CP can walk independently.

Most CP is related to brain damage that happened before or during birth and is called congenital CP. Some of the factors that increase the risk for congenital CP are:

cerebral-palsy-11-things_a250pxEarly Signs of Cerebral Palsy

From birth to 5 years of age, a child should reach movement goals―also known as milestones―such as rolling over, sitting up, standing, and walking. A delay in reaching these movement milestones could be a sign of CP. The following are some other signs of possible CP. It is important to note that some children without CP also might have some of these signs.

In a baby 3 to 6 months of age:

  • Head falls back when picked up while lying on back
  • Feels stiff
  • Feels floppy
  • Seems to overextend back and neck when cradled in someone’s arms
  • Legs get stiff and cross or scissor when picked up

In a baby older than 6 months of age:

  • Doesn’t roll over in either direction
  • Cannot bring hands together
  • Has difficulty bringing hands to mouth
  • Reaches out with only one hand while keeping the other fisted

In a baby older than 10 months of age:

  • Crawls in a lopsided manner, pushing off with one hand and leg while dragging the opposite hand and leg
  • Scoots around on buttocks or hops on knees, but does not crawl on all fours




Three People With Cerebral Palsy Who Are Changing The Game

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological disorder that currently is currently affecting 764,000 people in the world today. Each year, about 8,000 to 10,000 babies and infants get diagnosed with this disorder according to cerebralpalsy.org.

Cerebral Palsy occurs as a result of a brain injury or malformation that occurs during a child’s development. The result is typically physical impairment. While many people with cerebral palsy are physically impaired, the way this symptom shows up is different for each person. There is a difference in the type of movement dysfunction, the location and number of limbs involved, and the extent to which the person is impaired from person to person.

Cerebral palsy is permanent and incurable, therefore those with cerebral palsy live with it for their entire lives. While many able-bodied people would think of this as something that stops people with cerebral palsy from doing what everyone else can, this is far from true. There pioneers are showing the world that cerebral palsy doesn’t have to stop anyone from reaching success.

  1. Bonner Paddock, the world’s first ironman with cerebral palsy

Bonner Paddock completed the 2012 Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii, making him the first person with cerebral palsy to complete the race. He was also the first person with cerebral palsy to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Paddock was very active as a child, playing competitive soccer and baseball. His CP was mild, though he would drag his feet and often lose his balance. He was not correctly diagnosed until the age of 11.

Paddock did not talk about his disability publicly until he was 30 years old. He went on to run a number of marathons in addition to the Ironman Triathlon. He also founded the One Man, One Mission Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money to build early-learning centers for children with disabilities.

2. Maysoon Zayid, comedian and inspirational speaker

Maysoon Zayid is a comedian, writer and actress who works hard to spread the word that cerebral palsy doesn’t have to hold you back. After experiencing obstacles in the acting world due to lack of representation of people of her race and with her disability, Maysoon became a comedian and is now making millions of people laugh. She has worked with many soap opera stars as well as Adam Sandler and Dave Matthews. Maysoon also founded Maysoon’s Kids, a charity that works to help Palestinian refugee children. She is also the co-founder of the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival.

3. Ollie Nugent, UK football player

Ollie Nugent is one of the most talented players within the world of Cerebral Palsy UK football. Nugent suffered a stroke when he was born, thus leading to cerebral palsy. Despite what his parents were told to expect, Nugent walked at only 10 months. He later began kicking a ball and the rest is history. He began playing at Tranmere Rovers at the age of eight.

Nugent’s cerebral palsy affects his eyesight (mainly peripheral) and his right side. He has adapted to this over the years. After years of determination, Ollie Nugent wants to become the first player with cerebral palsy to go professional. Nugent is working hard to show the world that cerebral palsy cannot stop him from reaching his goals.

Cerebral palsy may last a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean it has to hold people back. These icons are paving the world for people who live with cerebral palsy to show them that anything is possible.

Sports Illustrated Honors Teen Who Led Cerebral Palsy Walks

In my last blog post, I wrote about the inspiring and heart-warming story of Hunter Gandee, a teen hero who has brought tons of attention and awareness to Cerebral Palsy, a disease that affects his younger brother, Braden Grandee.

On Monday, Sports Illustrated announced its annual list of accolades. Earning the first High School Athlete of the Year award was the 15-year-old high school sophomore, Hunter Gandee.

“What an honor! I’m truly blessed!” Hunter tweeted Monday afternoon.

Hunter was 14 and Braden was 7 when the brothers first walked 40 miles together to raise money for a handicap-accessible playground at Braden’s elementary school, as well as increased understanding of cerebral palsy — a brain injury that affects movement, posture and muscle coordination.

Throughout the entire June 2014 walk, Hunter carried his brother on his back. One year later, the duo was back at it — this time walking 57 miles. The second “Cerebral Palsy Swagger” event was a step up challenge-wise, but the goal was the same.

“One thing I wanted to show through this walk is the power of the youth in our society,” Hunter says. “We saw a problem, we had an idea to create a solution, and the only difference from us and a lot of other kids is that we went out and tried it.”

Since completing the walks, the brothers have received attention from national media organizations, hoping to share their story. Hunter has received countless awards for his strength and determination, including most recently the Sports Illustrated accolade.

Hunter’s story will be featured in the Sports Illustrated magazine issue that hits the stands Dec. 21. He has also been invited to an awards dinner in New York to honor the athletes featured in the magazine, including cover athlete and tennis legend Serena Williams.

Here is a 10 minute video I found that shows the beautiful relationship between these two brothers. Enjoy:


Community Rallies Together To Build Accessible Playground For A Student With Cerebral Palsy


Douglas Road Elementary in Bedford township has a brand new playground, inspired by Braden Gandee, 9, who has Cerebral Palsy.

NBC News first introduced the Gandee brothers’ story in June 2014 when the pair set off — with Hunter carrying Braden on his back — from their home in Temperance, Michigan, and walked forty miles to the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus to raise awareness about cerebral palsy. Along the journey, people cheered them on.

The story of Braden and his brother Hunter made national news with what they called the “CP Swagger.”

All that attention brought generous donations from individuals across the country, including from teams of engineers who offered to build a new playground for the community, accessible to people suffering from disabilities.


Braden Gandee always had a simple dream: to play at recess alongside his classmates.

“I just had to sit back and watch them [friends] have fun,” said Braden “I really wanted to do what they did.”

With the help of dozens of volunteers, including his big brother, Braden and all his classmates can now play together.

“Before at recess, Braden was only able to do a few things: ride his power chair around the blacktop or use his walker,” Hunter Gandee, Braden’s brother said. “He had one handicap accessible swing.”

But now the possibilities seem endless.

“It’s just a good feeling,” Braden said. “Now I can go out and play with my friends.”

Kids with all different abilities can set sail on the new pirate themed, inclusive playground set.

“What’s really cool about it, is that Braden is going to be able to play with his friends,” Hunter told NBC. “It’s got special equipment he can use with his friends and he’s going to have so much fun.”

“3 weeks ago it was a dirt pile and an empty field,” Donnie Stevens, the president of the Parent Teacher Association at Douglas Road Elementary said.

The playground idea started some 18 months ago. The PTA spearheaded the fundraising after being inspired by the Gandee’s.

“The moment it became reality is when you see Hunter walking with Braden down that long hallway,” Stevens said.

He says the community really rallied around the effort, donating time and money to make it all possible.

“Piece by piece we got to where we’re at now,” he said.

The Gandee’s hope this will encourage other school districts and neighborhoods and most importantly educate people about Cerebral Palsy.

Watch this video to learn more about this inspiring story:

To read more about this story, click here


High School Students Use Their Engineering Club To Help A Fellow Classmate With Cerebral Palsy

A group of high school students in Green Township, Ohio, created a project for themselves that would help a fellow classmate, Jerry Potavin. Jerry is a student living with cerebral palsy.

Alan Rasof

Members of the Oak Hills engineering club designed and built a table to help classmate Jerry Potavin.

What started out as just another project for the engineering team at Oak Hills High School turned out to be much more then that for classmate, Jerry Potavin. Jerry is sitting easier now thanks to the selflessness of his peers at Oak Hills.

“I have always loved helping people, it’s just what I like to do,” says Oak Hills, senior, Dylan Noble. Dylan along with 5 other engineering students were contacted by their high schools engineering teacher to build something that would make Jerry a little more comfortable. “Once we finally delivered it to him, it was exactly what they wanted” says Dylan.

Alan RasofJerry has to spend a lot of time in his wheelchair every day and because of this he needs to spend a certain amount of time a day stretched out on a flat mat. Dylan and the engineering club built a table that would make it easier for Jerry to move around.

Laura Velasquez, one of Jerry’s teachers at Oak Hills said that when they brought the table down to show Jerry, their faces were lit up with joy and excitement. Their faces were just glowing, you could feel the overwhelming positive energy that they had, said Velasquez.

Velasquez said that the table has already made a difference for Jerry. “It makes him feel a lot more included, so that’s really wonderful,” she said.

Dylan Noble, along with the rest of his engineering team, have set such a great example for their peers. They have found a way to combine the skill sets that they have learned in engineering class with giving back to their community to most importantly, help a friend.

To read more about Jerry and his classmates, or to watch a video on this story, click here.


Abbey Curran: A Voice of Confidence

Abbey Curran, Alan RasofAbbey Curran was the first woman with a disability to compete and win in the Miss Iowa beauty pageant and later to compete in the Miss USA beauty pageant. After being diagnosed with cerebral palsy from birth, Abbey’s determination to exceed a wide range of expectations throughout her life is what has made her a powerful voice for young children with disabilities today.

As a child, Abbey was told that it wasn’t realistic for her to compete in a local beauty pageant because of her disability. As stated in an interview with CerebralPalsy.org, Abbey claims that her frustration turned into determination: “‘It made me mad when someone told me I couldn’t do something. I entered that pageant, and I was in the top 10,’” (Former Miss Iowa and Pageant Founder Helps Little Girls Recognize Their beauty). From that day on, if Abbey was ever told she couldn’t do something, it was her mission to prove them wrong.

When Abbey competed in the Miss Iowa pageant in 2008, she was told she would never win. But she did. She made history as the first woman ever with a disability to compete in the state competition, and the first to win. When Abbey then competed in the Miss USA pageant her confidence levels skyrocketed. Though she did not win, Abbey learned how much of a confidence boost participating in a pageant can be for young girls, especially young girls with disabilities who have been discouraged a multitude of times both at school and at home.

One day between pageants Abbey had a conversation with another girl who also had special needs. This girl toMiss You Can Do Itld Abbey that she wanted to compete in a pageant, but her parents told her she couldn’t because people would laugh at her. These words devastated Abbey, so in 2004 she created the first “Miss You Can Do It” pageant for young girls with disabilities, catered towards making girls with disabilities feel confident and beautiful just the way they are.

Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and braces are familiar sights at the pageant, and help to create a sense of empowerment as well as support for contestants who have special needs. In her interview, Abbey exclaims:

miss-you-can-do-it-w352“‘They get oodles of confidence; they’re the prettiest little girls. Everyone here likes them. They learn when they come to this pageant that they’re not alone. People aged 5 to 105 love them. They get to go home with something huge…They meet other girls they would not meet otherwise,’” (Former Miss Iowa and Pageant Founder Helps Little Girls Recognize Their beauty).

It is a very powerful thing when young girls see other girls and women who have disabilities so that they know they’re not alone – that thousands of girls around the world have similar struggles to their own. Abbey’s main goal for the Miss You Can Do It pageant is for everyone “to view those with challenges as people who have as much to offer as others,” (Former Miss Iowa and Pageant Founder Helps Little Girls Recognize Their beauty).

Abbey’s confidence and determination is something for young girls – with or without disabilities – to emulate. She is a true leader dedicated to making the world a better place by creating equal opportunities for these girls with a kind, compassionate heart. For more information about the Miss You Can Do It pageant, please check out their website here.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Alan T. RasofTypes of Cerebral Palsy are classified by which areas of the brain are affected and therefore which movement disorders occur. The following movement disorders are the most common to those affected by CP: stiff muscles (spasticity), uncontrollable movements (dyskinesia), and poor balance and coordination (ataxia). There are four main types of Cerebral Palsy categorized by these various movement disorders.

The first type of CP, and the most common, is called spastic Cerebral Palsy, which affects 80% of those diagnosed with CP. According to the CDC, “People with spastic CP have increased muscle tone. This means their muscles are stiff and, as a result, their movement can be awkward. Spastic CP is usually described by what parts of the body are affected,” (Cdc.gov). Spastic diplegia/diparesis, spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis, and spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis are all categorized under Spastic Cerebral Palsy.

Spastic diplegia predominantly occurs in the legs and most who are diagnosed under this category have normal movement and range in their arms. Many people who have spastic diplegia have trouble walking because their leg and hip muscles are extremely tight; and often times their will turn inward and cross at the knees. Spastic hemiplegia, on the other hand, affects only one side of a person’s body and the arm tends to be affected more heavily than the leg. Spastic quadriplegia affects all four limbs, the trunk, and the face of a person – it is the most severe form of spastic SP. Most people who have spastic quadriplegia cannot walk at all and have developmental disabilities, difficulty with their vision, and seizures.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is the second type of CP. Those who have dyskinetic CP have difficulty controlling movement of their legs, feet, arms, and hands, which results in having trouble walking and sitting down. According to the CDC, “Sometimes the face and tongue are affected and the person has a hard time sucking, swallowing, and talking. A person with dyskinetic CP has muscle tone that can change (varying from too tight to too loose),” (Cdc.gov).Alan T. Rasof

The third type of Cerebral Palsy is ataxic, which correlates with balance and coordination. Those diagnosed with this type of CP usually have a hard time with quick movements, or movements that require stability. Walking can be be unsteady and they may have trouble controlling their hands if they are reaching for an object.

Last, mixed Cerebral Palsy is the fourth type of CP, and happens to those who are affected by more than one type of CP. Most commonly, spastic-dyskinetic CP occurs as a mix, resulting in an individual’s increased muscle tone and difficulty controlling movement in their hands, arms, feet, and legs.

It is important that we are all aware of these different types of Cerebral Palsy so that research can be conducted to help ease pain and aid in controlling muscle movements on an individual scale. Each human being is affected differently by their CP, and the more we can understand as a society, the more help we can offer.