Live Twitter Chat on Cerebral Palsy This Tuesday

Please join John W. Quinn (@johnwquinn), Tim Wambach (@HandicapThis), and I (@zacharyfenell) this Tuesday (December 3rd) on Twitter at 8:00pm EST as we host a live Twitter chat to discuss cerebral palsy, using the hashtag #CPChatNow.

If you followed my blog/Youtube videos for a while now, the names John W. Quinn and Tim Wambach will sound familiar. In fact I featured both John and Tim along with Tim’s friend/co-star Mike Berkson in posts dubbed “Personality Profile” during my blog’s early days (November/December 2011).

Allow me to revisit those posts and use quoted excerpts to introduce my co-hosts for the live cerebral palsy Twitter chat #CPChatNow.


Image created by Sarah O’Brien

John W. Quinn- “Quinn wrote Someone Like Me- An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy, a book noting how John overcame his cerebral palsy to enjoy a 20-year naval career.”

Tim Wambach- “Mike Berkson embodies this blog’s tagline ‘Putting  the ‘Cerebral’ in Cerebral Palsy’ so well I can’t think of a better candidate for my first personality profile here at Off Balanced. Where cerebral palsy limits Mike, close friend Tim Wambach enables. Together the two spread disability awareness in the form of a live stage show called ‘Handicap This.'”

Returning from flashback quote land, Tim documented the core to his friendship with Mike in the book How We Roll. Tim also serves as the president to a non-profit Mike inspired him to start, the Keep on Keeping On Foundation.

Certainly worth noting, both John and Tim boast Fortune 500 on their resumes. John does motivational speaking, empowering audiences varying from schools to the aforementioned Fortune 500 companies. Tim use to work as a trainer for Next Level Consulting, an organization which provides training services to Fortune 500 companies

Given John and Tim’s respective credentials I feel honored to share the virtual stage with them. We welcome your questions and look forward to answering them. So, make sure you login into Twitter this Tuesday (December 3rd) at 8:00pm EST (7pm CT/5pm PT) and use the hashtag #CPChatNow.

Tweet you later!

*To learn more about John W. Quinn visit For more on Tim and Mike’s endeavors, see Obviously you can learn more about me by looking around here and also by visiting


Follow Friday on Twitter- November 2013

November marks my third month presenting my “Follow Friday on Twitter” posts (published the fourth Friday every month). To put my new subscribers in the loop, I use this monthly post to give explanations why you should follow (on Twitter) specific individuals in the disability community.

New! After feedback last month from children’s author Jewel Kats, I decided to include links to spotlighted individuals’ Facebook pages too.

TwitterJohn W. Quinn (@johnwquinn) Facebook:  Official Page of John W. Quinn
I first became acquainted with John Quinn a few years ago when I tweeted him to share I bought his book Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy (read my review). John’s personable attitude led us to staying connected on Facebook and Twitter. Worth noting, John tweets links to his Youtube video blog which contains many interesting thoughts.

Lisa Friedman (@JewishSpecialEd) Facebook: Jewish Special Needs Education: Removing the Stumbling Block (Group)
The blogger behind the well-respected Jewish Special Needs Education, Lisa Friedman puts together the “Jewish Special Education Daily.” If you ever need information about religion in relation to inclusion, keep tabs on this daily.

Jon Bateman (@yyc_jon) Facebook: Jon Bateman
Like John Quinn, Jon Bateman displays a personable attitude. Jon happens to also write for The Mobility Resource, as I do. Follow him to keep up on his latest articles. He surely provides insightful reads.

Presenting The Sunshine Award

Last month Words I Wheel By blogger Emily Ladau nominated me for something called The Sunshine Award. Basically The Sunshine Award completes two tasks. First readers get to learn more about the recipient. Secondly the selected blogger receives the opportunity to spotlight fellow bloggers he or she feel make tremendous contributions to the blogging community.

Now after reading through other Sunshine Award posts I noticed some small discrepancies in the rules. Seeing how Emily nominated me though, I decided to abide by the rules she listed.

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger (Thanks again Emily!)
  • Share 11 random facts about you.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated. You cannot nominate the blogger that nominated you.

11 Random Facts About Me

  1. I volunteer regularly at the Euclid Adult Activities Center, a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities branch.
  2. Travel Souvenirs

    My travel souvenir collection.

    To commemorate the places I travel to, I collect drink glasses/shot glasses (pretty much shot glasses)

  3. I’m left-handed.
  4. In junior high I failed to make our school’s Power of the Pen team. These days I’m a professional writer, goes to show never give up! 🙂
  5. When I sported a goatee and buzz cut this past summer multiple people told me I resembled Breaking Bad character Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston).
  6. The first concert I attended came in 2006 when I saw Styxx perform at Blossom Music Center.
  7. I’m a Taurus.
  8. In fifth grade I wrote a report on assisted suicide, specifically focusing on Dr. Kevorkian. Thinking back, that’s pretty heavy material for a 10-year old to study.
  9. Cleveland Indians memorabilia covered my childhood bedroom’s walls.
  10. Writing led me to drinking coffee. I needed the extra caffeine boost one time to meet a deadline.
  11. You can learn more about my professional writing by visiting

Answers to Emily’s Questions

1. What causes are you most passionate about? Generally speaking I’m passionate about making a difference in other people’s lives. I want to serve as a catalyst for positivity.

2. What project is on your to-do list that you keep meaning to finish? I must say making Off Balanced available in paperback form.

3. What are you having for dinner tonight? Well, I ate enchiladas.

4. Facebook or Twitter? Both (Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter) 😉

5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? I think I would take a summer road trip across the United States.

6. Apple cider or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate unless we are talking about Halloween. I have pleasant memories sipping apple cider Halloween night after returning from trick-or-treating.

7. Favorite cake flavor? Ice cream cake

8. Why did you start blogging? I saw the potential networking opportunities involved with blogging.

9. Windows or Apple? I like to eat apples by the window…. just joking! Windows

10. Dogs or Cats? Dogs

11. Who would you most like to have dinner with, dead or alive? I think a family dinner with my relatives who have passed away possesses the potential for the most memorable dinner.

The Sunshine Award

Photo: Olga Pavlovsky from Cambridge, UK

Announcing the 11 blogs I find deserving for The Sunshine Award,

1. Teen Cerebral Palsy

2. Stand Tall Through Everything

3. Think Inclusive

4. Abler.

5. The Inclusive Class


7. Making My Mark

8. Jewish Special Needs

9. My Life, One Story at a Time

10. Kim Garst

11. Cewsh Reviews

Blogs one through eight all deal with disabilities in one fashion or another. Seeing how my interests transcend disabilities I purposely picked blogs representing a few other interests (My Life, One Story at a Time- reading, Kim Garst- social media, Cewsh Reviews- professional wrestling).

To those bloggers I nominated below you will find my questions for you, if you so choose to participate in The Sunshine Award deal.

11 Questions to Nominated Bloggers

1. What’s the most memorable birthday card you ever received?

2. How often do you vote (every election, only Presidential elections, not at all)? No need to share your party affiliation!

3. Fill in the blank: Butter is to bread as __________ is to me.

4. What was the best concert you ever been to?

5. Forget whether the glass is half full or half empty. What is in the glass?

6. How does country music make you feel?

7. What is your go-to spot for a fun night out?

8. What characteristic makes your very best friends stand out from your other friends?

9. Name the last great book you read.

10. Finish this sentence: When I hear someone reference Wikipedia I _______.

11.  What ordinary food item would you like Malley’s Chocolates to cover in chocolate?

Guest Post: Mental Health and Adolescence

Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from‘s Tammy Mahan. Consider according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), “Mental health issues can also be of concern as someone with cerebral palsy grows older.  The rate of depression is three to four times higher in people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.” The information below can hopefully help fight this trend.

Late childhood and early adolescence is when a number of problems with mental health occur. Studies have identified mental health problems, especially depression as the largest problem when it comes to diseases in young people. Those diagnosed with severe mental disorders during adolescence are labeled as unable to function in society. There are combinations of mental health disorders that make up perceptual, cognitive, effective and behavioral components.
Mental health disorders include:

  • Attention deficient disorder (ADD)/Attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorders
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder

Symptoms and signs of mental illness will vary. The behaviors, thoughts, and emotions of an adolescent are affected. There are a number of physical symptoms including:

  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Digestive problems
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abnormal behavior, emotions and thinking
Precursors to Self Injury

“Adolescents that may have had a past trauma perform self-harm.”

Adolescents may be sad, withdrawn or have mood swings that include out of control rage. The one suffering from mental illness may make self-depreciating statements, have distorted thoughts, or rebel. Adolescents that may have had a past trauma perform self-harm or can be hyperactive when a mental disorder is present.

Depression is serious illness involving more than being down for a couple of days. The feelings do not go away by themselves and can interfere with your day-to-day life.

Depression Symptoms:

  • Interest or pleasure is lost in activities that were previously enjoyed
  • Oversleeping or a difficulty getting to sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • Suicidal thoughts or thinking of death

Causes of Depression:

  • Biochemical factors
  • Psychological
  • Environmental
  • Genetic

It can be difficult to determine if an adolescent has a mental illness or not. There are behaviors that are considered normal in certain situations and cultures where they are not in other cultures.

Symptoms and signs may be indicators of mental illness when the ability to function from day to day is impaired and adolescents are miserable. Emotions such as anger or stress may be difficult for teenagers to cope with. They may have difficulty handling responsibilities of school or their own family.

It may be family members or friends that recognize the problem. Illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can be present and the adolescent might not even realize he has a problem.

There are behavior patterns and neural pathways that are established during adolescence that last into adulthood. Symptoms of depression are present in one of every four adults that suffer from ADD/ADHD.

Diagnosis and treatment of ADHD can be difficult when conditions co-exist. Overlapping symptoms of other conditions can lead to inaccurate diagnosis or ineffective medication. The risk is increased when other conditions are present. The risks include:

  • Anti-social behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Conduct disorders
  • Development disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicide

A thorough psychological evaluation of those suffering from ADHD should be done to determine if there is a mental illness such as depression present.

Tracking New Year Resolutions: October ‘13 Recap

The fact I’m still tracking my 2013 New Year Resolutions on November 1st makes me smile. Hopefully you can say the same.

Resolution #1- Utilize My Youtube Channel Via Vlogging
Specific Goal- Vlog Twice a Month
Accomplished? YES

Again I ended up waiting to the month’s final week to produce my videos. Heck, I recorded and published the second video “Invite to Visit the Handicap This! Blog” October 31st. Yet despite my procrastination I felt confident. Achieving resolution one has become a habit over the year, producing a responsibility I can’t ignore.

By the way my first video, embedded below, received some great feedback from viewers in the video’s comment section.

Resolution #2- Post Here on a Weekly Basis
Specific Goal- Post every Friday
Accomplished? YES

Okay, I missed my post Friday, October 18th. However, I compensated for the lapse by posting Wednesday, October 30th. That averaged me to a weekly post basis. Next month I will make an extra effort to meet my specific goal. Staying one day ahead mentally will allow me to succeed. So, I need to post Friday? Then I will target completing my entry Thursday.

Resolution #3- Keep to Due Dates
Specific Goal- Don’t Receive Any Inquiries About ETAs
Accomplished? YES

In my September recap I discussed how I must better care for myself physically and return to maintaining my time management journal. These tasks keep me mentally sharp and able to meet deadlines. Showing progress on both fronts, I kept to due dates. Even a last minute rewrite couldn’t cause me to fail. Admittedly though, I thrive on last minute pressure. Therefore such a situation puts me in my element.

Now onto November!