Professor Owl’s June 2012 Newsletter

June is here and summer is just around the corner! This month Professor Owl has plenty to share with you including our Heroes of the Month, interesting articles, as well as our usual Professor Owl’s book recommendations!

Also, take Professor Owl’s reading challenge – write and let us know what books you are enjoying and win prizes. **Remember though you must let your parents know that you are writing to us…**

June is Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Awareness Month

By Sylvia McGrath

Spina bifida is a birth defect that involves the partial development of the spinal cord or its coverings. The term spina bifida comes from Latin and literally means “split” or “open” spine.

Types of Spina Bifida:


The causes of spina bifida are mainly unknown. Some data suggests that genes may play a role, but in most cases, there is no genetic connection. A high fever during pregnancy may increase a woman’s chances of having a baby with spina bifida.

There are two types of spina bifida they are spina bifida occulta and spina bifida manifesta:

  1. Spina bifida occulta: is the mildest form of spina bifida (occulta means hidden).

Most children with this type of defect never have any health problems, and the spinal cord is often unaffected.


  1. Spina bifida manifesta: includes two types of spina bifida:
  • Meningocele involves the meninges, the membranes responsible for covering and protecting the brain and spinal cord. If the meninges push through the hole in the vertebrae (the small, ring-like bones that make up the spinal column), the sac is called a meningocele.
  • Myelomeningocele is the most severe form of spina bifida. It occurs when the meninges push through the hole in the back, and the spinal cord pushes though. Most babies who are born with this type of spina bifida also havehydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid in and around the brain. Due to the abnormal development of and damage to the spinal cord, a child with myelomeningocele typically has some paralysis. The degree of paralysis largely depends on where the opening occurs in the spine. The higher the opening is on the back, the more severe the paralysis tends to be.

Children with spina bifida often have problems with bowel and bladder control, and some may have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other learning difficulties, such as hand-eye coordination problems.

Children that have problem with their bladder sometime have to wear special adult diapers as you grow older there is a an operation that helps your bladder hold much more urine, and you will be able to stay dry all by yourself.

You will spend most of your time in a wheelchair; sometimes you will have a physiotherapist who will help you stand walk and exercises. There are also braces that can be fitted to help support your spine.

Swimming is a great exercise for you, quite a few children from Variety Village have gone on to swim in the special Olympic.

A woman named Joni Eareckson had her spine damaged in an accident and she now teaches school and loves to sings with her children.  She has written two books, tapes and draws pictures with a pencil in her mouth.

To read more about Joni please visit the following links

For more information on Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, please visit the following web sites.


Camps for Special Needs

By Sylvia McGrath

courtesy of

Summer 2012

Children of all ages just love summer camps, especially the children with special needs. These children and their parents both benefit from the camp experience; this is where children facing unique challenges can participate in a summer camp.

Families and parents get a rest from the challenges presented by their special needs child, knowing that he or she is participating in the classic children’s vacation experience – summer camp.

While some special needs camps focus on children with diseases such as cancer many others offer programs specifically geared toward children with autism, learning disabilities such as ADHD, or other challenges.

In this specialized environment, children can grow in new ways and view themselves differently. As one young camper puts it, “I feel like a normal child.”

Special needs camps offer trained staff and an environment created specifically for the needs of a child. Not only do the camps give them a safe environment, they can also challenge children to grow in new and unique ways so that he or she may gain just a little more independence.

There are some camps that offer programs where a special needs child can be included with other children, whether those children are not disabled in any way or face challenges different from those of your child, whether those are physical, learning, or emotional. Sending a child to a special needs camp will in all probability be a very beneficial growth experience for all involved.

For more information:

Other special needs camps:

Funding Options

Special needs camps can be very expensive and not all parents can afford the luxury. There are some funding options available, but warns RCSN’s Gary Shulman, “The early bird catches the worm, or in this case the funding.”

Parents should contact their local Developmental Disability Service Office, which receives a small summer camp allowance from the office for People with Developmental Delays (OP-WDD). Be sure to submit applications for family reimbursement no later than December or January for the following summer.

Fraternal clubs or Rotary Clubs may provide summer camp grants. In addition, many camps have scholarships or sliding scale fees, or are willing to arrange manageable payment plans.

Dr. Glickman reminds us that ultimately, “your child is in camp to have fun. I have found that the best time is had, and the most growth occurs, when parents make sure to choose a camp for their child that can adequately meet their medical, social, nutritional, and behavioral needs, and then just let the camp do what they are trained to do: Show the campers a great time.”

If you have found a special needs summer camp that meets your needs,but can’t figure out how to pay for it, then visit the links below:-

Special Camps:
Another excellent way to locate a camp is through the Ontario Camping Association’s web site, which lets you search for a camp based on a wide variety of criteria. Check out their web site: has a listing of summer camps on their web site:

The following publications often provide articles and sections on summer camps:-

The Sara Elizabeth Centre (Blue Veil Ministry) in Etobicoke offers a summer camp for ages 18+ with a physical or developmental disability. Camp located at Kipling and Westway, Operates 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. This is an arts-oriented camp. For more information, visit their web site (,, or call 416-747 -9796.
Muki Baum runs a children’s day program.

Remember no matter where you live, most camps are booked solid by the end of May, so get your applications in as soon as possible.

Going to catch supper.
Photo credit:Creative Commons


Professor Owl’s Book Corner

Professor Owl’s Reading Challenge

Welcome, my name is Professor Owl.

On my face, there is never a scowl,

For you see I am a happy bird,

I can make a difference word by word.

I will teach you how to love to read,

And for today that’s my good deed.

In my corner, you will find,

Books and news of every kind.

I challenge you to read five pages a day,

And then you can go out play.

By Sylvia McGrath

Book of the Month

Mikolay Has a Secret (“Mikolay & Julia Adventures”) by Magda Olchawska (Mar 29, 2012)


Available in Kindle version Price : CND $0.99

Another great job by a very talented writer.

This is a wonderful way to introduce parents and children to the difficult disorder of dyslexia.  Many children have felt the baggage of shame and fear along with being laughed at.

There is a lasting impression that those people affected are less intelligent, when in fact, the opposite is true.

The author does a beautiful job of explaining how the disorder may be interrupted through the eyes of a child, and how it can make that child feel. She lets the reader know the feelings associated with struggling to read are normal and a child should not be afraid to tell someone of their difficulty. It is wonderfully written with sensitivity and insight. The illustrations in this series are bright, engaging and fun.

Professor Owl’s Book Corner would love to see more books like this – if you are a children’s writer writing for children with special needs, we would love to hear about your stories and feature your them in our book corner.

Professor Owl’s Book Recommendations 

Boy in Motion: Rick Hansen’s Story [Hardcover] by Ainslie Manson (Author), Renne Benoit (Illustrator)

Price CND: $12.99

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes [Hardcover] by Eric Litwin (Author)

Price: CDN$ 13.71

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations [Hardcover] by Amy K Rosenthal (Author) Jen Corace (Illustrator)

Price: CDN$ 12.26


Smiley Book

Calling all budding book reviewers!

Have you read a book recently that you think Professor Owl would enjoy?

Please send in your reviews! Be sure to include the complete title of the book and the authors name so that we can give proper credit! 🙂

Variety Village Logo

TDSB Students and Teachers Win Gold at National Championships!

On May 26, the Variety Village Synchro Club captured its first national championship by winning the 11-12 team event at the 2012 Canadian Espoir Championships synchronized swimming competition. Variety Village won gold at the competition with a winning score of 62.646.

Of the ten team members on the Variety Village Synchro team, seven are TDSB students and two of the coaches – Ms. Burns-Melbye from Walter Perry JPS and Ms. Koptie from Ionview PS – are TDSB teachers.

Variety Village and TDSB are very proud to have Canada’s finest synchronized swimmers among us. Congratulations!


For more information on Variety Village Aquatic Programs, Visit their website:

Variety Village

3701 Danforth Ave.

Scarborough, ON M1N 2G2

P: 416.699.7167 x 249

F: 416.699-4845

Please support Variety Village – the sport, fitness and life skills facility for people of all abilities. Variety’s programs promote inclusion, awareness and adapted activities. For more information or to make a donation, contact us at416-699-7167 or

Tijan’s Wish

Tijan is a 17 year old from Pembroke who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Tijan’s illness does not stop him from being an avid outdoorsman. He truly enjoys camping, the outdoors and mainly fishing.

His wish was a fly-in fishing trip with his father, grandfather and uncle.

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and local supporters, Tijan’s wish came true in July of 2009. One of Tijan’s highlights was the fact that he caught the biggest fish, a 22-inch pickerel!

For the Month of

June 2012

Campers Helping Campers            


Campers Helping Campers is an annual fund raising program that takes place from May-October and involves the generous support of staff, volunteers, campers and members of Camping In Ontario.

Who does CHC support?

Funds raised through Campers Helping Campers are used to support participants in March of Dimes Canada’s Outdoor Recreation Programs. Funds are used to subsidize the costs associated with supporting a person who lives with a disability so they can enjoy a summer camping experience.  Costs that are covered include:  specialized travel to and from the camp, meals, Attendant Care, accommodations, supplies and day trips.

 How do I get involved?

Involvement in Campers Helping Campers requires a desire to assist in the raising of much needed funds through a wide range of activities and/or programs.  Various program ideas are available (see below for suggestions) and with your help, additional support can be generated for Campers Helping Campers starting this summer.

As a camper simply approach your campground owner/manager and ask for their support of your desire to get involved in Campers Helping Campers.  Depending on the nature of your idea, be sure to ask for their permission to assist in the hosting of an event or activity at their facility.  Be sure to remind them, this program has been active since 1969 in hundreds of campgrounds across Ontario.  Be sure to ask your fellow campers to assist, perhaps as part of a committee if required.

As a campground ask your campers or recreation committee to host a special event or activity in support of Campers Helping Campers.  If volunteers are difficult to find consider some of the programs listed below such as placing a Candy/Gumball Machine or Hope with Art Easel in your campground. Corporate and Individual Donations are always welcome.

Start today by contacting:

Dennis R. Ullman
Co-ordinator, Campers Helping Campers
(905) 718-8123


To find out more about March Of Dimes , please contact their head office at:

March of Dimes Canada
10 Overlea Blvd.
Toronto , Ontario
M4H 1A4
Telephone: 416-425-3463
Fax: 416-425-1920
Toll Free: 1-800-263-3463



One thought on “Professor Owl’s June 2012 Newsletter

  1. Pingback: Developmental Delays In Kids-Bringing Out Their Best | Parenting Coach For Parents Of Special Needs Children

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