Criminal Minds Season Premiere Features a Disability

Criminal Minds‘ eighth season premiered on CBS Wednesday, September 26th and featured a deaf unsub (unknown subject). The episode entitled “The Silencer” follows our (we Criminal Minds fans’) favorite fictional FBI profiling team as they track down a murderer who sews his victims’ mouths shut. Actor Troy Kotsur guest stars playing the criminal John Myers.

Criminal Minds

Criminal Minds showcases FBI profilers solving brutal crimes by delving into and understanding criminals’ minds.

Personally I found season eight’s premiere episode a refreshing surprise. Too often on television and in the media people with disabilities get portrayed in a helpless light. Our society tends to pity individuals with handicaps as evident by word choices like “cerebral palsy sufferer” and “wheelchair bound,” phrases commonly included within disability related news stories. Such terminology represent a lacking comprehension regarding life with a handicap.

The Criminal Minds team discovers this lacking comprehension leads John Myers to his murderous ways. During the show we learn Myers’ mother berated her son for his deafness, aggressively discouraging sign language and correlating John’s disability with poor intelligence. She attempts to “fix” him, having an experimental hearing implant inserted into him. His introduction into the hearing world triggers Myers’ stressor and eventually influences him to start killing.

Despite the fact the season eight Criminal Minds season premiere contained a fictional storyline, I believe the episode ultimately offers worthwhile didactic value. For example, different doesn’t mean broke. Interestingly enough by “fixing” her son John Myers’ mother actually broke him. Wouldn’t you agree? If you missed Criminal Minds season eight, episode one “The Silencer” Wednesday, watch at and then share your thoughts via a comment below.

*Also make sure you don’t miss out on my latest Off Balanced publicity efforts. Read my second Life of the Differently Abled guest post “Online Dating and Cerebral Palsy,” listen to my Inclusive Class podcast appearance from Friday, September 28th, and watch my Off Balanced cyber reading on Youtube. 


Book News: Watch the Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A Now!

The Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A arrived on Youtube sometime late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. I read a selection from Chapter 4, “My First Crush.” Following the reading I answer questions about publishing and disabilities. View below!

What’s Next?

My second guest post for Laura Forde’s Through My Eyes: My Life with Cerebral Palsy blog will get published shortly. I discuss my experience as an individual with cerebral  palsy using the online dating service e-Harmony. If you missed my first post for Laura, no more excuses! “How Cerebral Palsy Helped Shape My Work Ethic

On Friday, September 28th I will join The Inclusive Class’ Nicole Eredics and Terri Mauro to discuss Off Balanced and my experiences inside mainstream, inclusive classrooms. You can listen in live by visiting at 9:00am EST on the 28th.

Update on Cyber Reading, Plus More

As you might notice I still need to post the Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A. I originally planned to post the video to Youtube Monday, September 17th. Unfortunately, I fell behind on my to-do list so I currently remain at work on the video’s production. However, I’m almost 100% certain the Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A will get posted before the week’s end. In the meantime I invite you to checkout my latest articles for The Mobility Resource.

EXCLUSIVE: The Desktop Desk Increases Accessibility Inside the Classroom and Beyond

I interview special education teacher and Desktop Desk inventor Robert Mayben. The Desktop Desk enables greater table accessibility for individuals with disabilities. While I could describe how the assistive technology device helps people with disabilities, I’m probably best off recommending you read the product’s testimonials at

Desktop Desk in use

The Desktop Desk increases people with disabilities’ abilities to use laptop computers. Photo provided by Robert Mayben.

Robert and I discuss the origin behind the Desktop Desk and how the device assists building  stronger communities through sponsorship programs. The article also includes an exclusive $400 discount for Mobility Resource readers (valid throughout September). If the Desktop Desk sounds like something which could enhance the life of someone you know, make sure to read my article and learn more about the deal.

Children’s Author Zach Wood Aims to Increase Disability Awareness

Imagine my book Off Balanced but geared to young children rather than teenagers. You now hold the core concept behind Zach Wood’s Carlos Goes to Preschool and Carlos Rides the School Bus. I greatly admire Zach for his mission to raise disability awareness amongst kids in preschool and elementary school. In our Skype interview we talk about his goals with the Carlos Series, future writing projects, and other ambitious disability awareness goals. I  especially advise the read for preschool/elementary school teachers and parents with young children who have disabilities.

Remembering 9/11

11 years ago today tragedy struck the United States when hijackers turned commercial airliners into weapons attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Hijackers on a fourth plane, Flight 93, looked to hit Washington D.C. The flight ended up crashing in a Pennsylvania field after passengers heroically sacrificed their lives to thwart off the attack.

Like anyone old enough to remember, I can easily recall where I was September 11, 2001 when the horrible events unfolded. I was a high school freshman. Still recovering from the back surgery I talk about in Off Balanced, my school day didn’t start until second period. Watching Fox 8 News’ Morning Show, as I did every morning before school, I saw “Breaking News” flash across the television screen and video showing the World Trade Center attacks aired.

Once at school I found classes lost focus while concern and confusion spread. Throughout the morning lessons halted as teachers searched for available TVs in order to gain access to the news. When word about the Pentagon crash and Flight 93 emerged people wondered, “What’s next?” Rumors created factual chaos. I remember overhearing a peer ask a lunch monitor, “Is it true they hit the Eiffel Tower?” I actually share the story in Off Balanced to illustrate how jaded I became towards my peers following my surgery’s complications.

Yet I don’t mention in my book the tremendous pride I felt watching the news later in the day. Maybe my tweet earlier this evening sums up my pride’s source best.

9/11 11 Years Ago Today Tweet

On September 11, 2001 Americans put all differences aside and united as one.

To witness so many Americans put differences aside and unite as one proved incredible. The way America responded to 9/11  I can say with sincere conviction on that September day in 2001 the United States was “one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Book News: Announcing the First Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A

This month I will post the first Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A to Youtube. The video will go live Monday, September 17th. I plan to read a selection from Chapter 4, “My First Crush.” Fellow author Neil Matheson (Daddy Bent-Legs) specifically references this chapter in his Off Balanced book review, writing “A chapter which Fenell devotes to re-telling of his first high-school crush is sincere, brutally honest in parts, and heartfelt.”

Q & A questions will come via social media. I welcome any inquiries regarding Off Balanced, disabilities in the media, writing a book, and/or the publishing process. You can submit a question here by commenting below. You may also tweet them to me on Twitter or post them on Facebook. For example questions, view the following Youtube video I uploaded back in May for Book Readers. Get your questions sent in by Friday, September 14th.

On Deck

Besides the upcoming Off Balanced Cyber Reading/Q & A, I’m looking forward to appearing on The Inclusive Class podcast Friday, September 28th. I will discuss inclusion inside mainstream classrooms with hosts Nicole Eredics and Terri Mauro. The podcast airs on Blog Talk Radio Fridays at 9:00am EST. You can listen to past The Inclusive Class podcasts at

The Inclusive Class

Who: Zachary Fenell
What: The Inclusive Class Interview
When: Friday, September 28th at 9:00am
Why: To discuss Off Balanced and inclusion in mainstream classrooms.

What Does Labor Day Mean to You?

Today we Americans celebrate Labor Day. To recognize the holiday I want to ask, what does Labor Day mean to you? Do you value the day’s significance or just relish the day off from work and/or school?  For anyone unfamiliar with the idea behind Labor Day, here you go (courtesy of the Department of Labor website).

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Honestly, I didn’t know the meaning behind Labor Day until I started researching for this blog post. As a kid I saw Labor Day as a chance to share this brilliantly lame joke, “What’s Labor Day? The day pregnant women are suppose to go into labor?” Har, har. 😉

Nowadays, through word association I correlate Labor Day with cerebral palsy. You see, the word “labor” makes me think “cerebral palsy” because CP creates a need to work harder than the average person. If you read my book Off Balanced (available on the Kindle and Nook), you know as an adolescent I tried to hide my disability and blend in with my peers. I needed weekly physical therapy to stay at my physical best and attempt this. However, even then I remained no match for my peers.

A decade later I’m no longer trying to compete with those around me but I still must exercise regularly so I can remain my best and make the most from every day. The exercising doesn’t feel like extra labor because I’m use to that being my life. Yet Labor Day reminds me I do need to do a little extra to reach my potential. By appreciating what I usually take for granted as ordinary life I remember to not always burden myself with worries, like I tend to do at times.

Does Labor Day hold a unique significance to you? Share by commenting below.