Elisabeth Brentano

@elisabeth-brentano | contributor

27 Ridiculous Things People With Eczema Are Tired of Hearing

In the United States, over 30 million people have symptoms of eczema, according to the National Eczema Association. Of that number, more than 18 million people have atopic dermatitis, a more severe and chronic form of the skin disease. Eczema’s symptoms include dry, itchy, scaly skin, cracks behind the ears and rashes on the cheeks, arms and legs. The symptoms of eczema are different for each person, and they can be mild, moderate or severe. The rash may affect different parts of the body from time to time, and the itch can so bad that people will scratch themselves until they bleed, which leads to even more inflammation and itching. This is referred to as the itch-scratch cycle. It’s not contagious, an exact cause isn’t known and no cure currently exists, but for many people, it’s a manageable condition. Still, misconceptions surround it. So The Mighty teamed up with the National Eczema Association to ask those affected by the disease what they wish others would stop saying to them or their loved ones with eczema. Here’s what they had to say: 1. “Stop scratching!” — Laura McMurrey McNamara 2. “You’re bleeding!” — Adam Simpson 3. “Have you tried ______?” ( Especially if they suggest something stupid like essential oils, coconut oil, breastmilk, etc.) — Katie McGregory 4. “Did your son get bitten by a bunch of mosquitos?” — Sandy Austin 5. “Just ignore it and it will go away.” — Lucy Mercer 6. “Is it contagious?” — Kyle K. Wooten 7. “Why don’t you ever wear shorts or dresses?” — Melissa Falls 8. “People ask me what funny stuff I ate during my pregnancy that caused my kid to have eczema.” — Ummi Hanee 9. “What’s wrong with your face?” — Rachel Elliott-Golema 10. “[People say] I’m ‘fussy’ or ‘high maintenance’ because I use so many different cleansers and moisturizers and have to be careful about chemicals and fragrances.” — Becca Arm 11. “Whatever you do, don’t use steroids. You’ll get addicted and there’s a bunch of side effects!” — Jeff Kastner 12. “It’s just a rash, how bad could it be?” — Bethany Lynn Gorham 13. “I was once approached by one of my son’s classmates at a sporting event and told, ‘I know why he looks like that. He doesn’t take baths.’” — Joanna Dobos 14. “Do you have poison ivy?” — Olivia Lynn 15. “Oh, I have a wonderful (cream, lotion, essential oil, magic potion, fill-in-the-blank) that will clear that right up. Here, try some.” — Vicky Leedy Barrios 16. “Were you in a fire or something?” ( Yes, or something.) — Sand Rizzle 17. “You must have an unhealthy gut, your diet is the reason.” — Sigrid Abel 18. “Have you tried moisturizing?” ( I want to reply, no, it never crossed my mind.) — Maya Bewsher 19. “Why is your face red?” — Jeannie Delisi 21. “Well… what did you do to make your skin flare up?” — Amber Dobbins 22. “You need to put some lotion on that.” — Samantha Merryfield 23. “Your skin is so scaly.” — Essence Tillery 24. “Did you get sunburnt? Use sunscreen.” — Jeannie Delisi 25. “You know they have medicine for that.” — Jean Marie Leach 26. “Does she have chicken pox?” — Robyn Goodson Strickland 27. “You’ll grow out of it eventually.” — Melissa Troup Nichols For more information about eczema, be sure to visit the National Eczema Association’s website and Facebook page .

Fibro book

Elizabeth Christy has fibromyalgia, and over the years she has had a difficult time balancing motherhood, work and her chronic illness. What Christy found even more frustrating, however, was the lack of resources for kids and parents looking for a way to communicate about fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses. Her solution? Write a book and create a community that tackled all of these issues. Christy told The Mighty that she initially wrote her book, Why Does Mommy Hurt?, just for children, but once she started getting feedback from other parents, she wanted to offer them her support as well, so she started the Facebook community group, Parents With Pain. Christy told The Mighty that the stories in her book are based off of her interactions with my son Jimmy, who was 3 years old at the time. “I don’t expect the book to truly make him understand what its like to have chronic pain, but I hope it opens the door for us, and families like us, to have true, open and understanding communication about chronic pain and illness, and the emotions that go with it, on both sides,” Christy told The Mighty. MORE ABOUT FIBROMYALGIA: Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Facebook's Automatic Alternative Text Lets Blind People 'See' Photos

Facebook just launched a program that reads keywords related to images on users’ newsfeeds. Automatic alternative text, or automatic alt text, uses object recognition technology to offer a “richer description” of the photo content. On its Newsroom press page, Facebook stated that 2 billion photos are uploaded across its family of apps every day, and with “more than 39 million people who are blind, and over 246 million who have a severe visual impairment, many people may feel excluded from the conversation around photos on Facebook.” “Each advancement in object recognition technology means that the Facebook Accessibility team will be able to make technology even more accessible for more people,” the social network added. “When people are connected, they can achieve extraordinary things as individuals and as a community — and when everyone is connected, we all benefit.” Automatic Alternative Text from Facebook on Vimeo. In the video above, one user with a visual impairment says: That whole saying of pictures being worth a thousand words — I think it’s true, but unless you have somebody to describe it to you, even having three words, just helps flesh out all of the details that I can’t see. That makes me feel included and like I’m a part of it, too. Prior to this advancement, people using screen readers only heard the name of the person who shared the image, followed by the word “photo.” Now, when they scroll through their newsfeeds, they might hear, “Image may contain three people, smiling, outdoors.” Automatic alt text is first being launched on iOS screen readers set to English, but Facebook plans to add the program for other languages and platforms soon. “Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected,” the social network concluded in the video above. “And that goes for everyone.” You can read more about the development of automatic alt text here, and learn more in Facebook’s Help Center and at facebook.com/accessibility.

Disability Group Member Runs Ads Slamming Hollywood for R-Word Use

An ad running in The Hollywood Reporter is targeting the film and television industry for using language that mocks people with disabilities. Family Member, the group behind the ad, is a nonprofit organization that hopes to eradicate hateful speech about people with disabilities in news, entertainment and social media, according to its website. The ad first appeared in THR on March 31, and it will run for the next five weeks. Family Member founder, Hannah Jacobs, told The Mighty that Donald Trump’s recent interaction with New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a disability, was what provided the perfect push for the campaign. “We couldn’t ignore the uproar over his mocking of the reporter, yet question why there is very little mention in the press when people with disabilities are marginalized in film, social media and in entertainment,” Jacobs said. “We targeted Hollywood specifically because that’s where most of the content that both mocks and marginalizes people with disabilities is created,” Jacobs told The Mighty. “We are calling on the Hollywood community of Standards & Practices departments, screen writers, producers, directors, actors and comedians to consider who they hurt when their content contains material that mocks and marginalizes children and adults living with special needs and disabilities. Mocking disability is not funny and shouldn’t be tolerated.” Image courtesy of Family Member Jacobs told The Mighty that movies like “Tropic Thunder” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” made a mockery of people with disabilities. “If Ben Stiller had a child with a disability, the character of Simple Jack in ‘Tropic Thunder’ wouldn’t have been created,” Family Member wrote on its website. “If Justin Theroux had a child with an intellectual disability, you can bet that the phrase ‘never go full retard’ would not exist today.” “We believe the ad says it all,” the organization added. “If you were offended by Donald Trump’s mocking a reporter with a disability, then you must take a stand the next time you see the same thing on film, in social media or in a comedy club, because mocking disability just isn’t an option anymore.” h/t Disability Scoop Take the pledge! Sign up to support the elimination of the derogatory use of the R-word from everyday speech and promote acceptance and inclusion.

PBS Kids Show ‘Dinosaur Train’ Will Air 2 Autism Episodes

The hit PBS Kids show “Dinosaur Train,” produced by The Jim Henson Company, is airing back-to-back episodes on April 6 and 7 to promote autism awareness, according to the network. PBS teamed up with The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help families learn more about autism and to familiarize them with the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” initiative. The episodes, titled “Junior Conductor’s Academy: Part One” and “Junior Conductor’s Academy: Part Two,” will introduce a new dinosaur, Dennis Deinocheirus. Dennis is very knowledgable about dinosaurs, but he has trouble making friends. Despite his difficulties socializing, Dennis finds common ground with Buddy and the other characters on the program. “Like all dinosaurs, their new friend Dennis has his own dinosaur features,” according to a post on the show’s website. “And, like all of us, he has strengths in some areas and challenges in others.” PBS stations across the country will also be hosting screenings and events for the episodes. The episodes air on Wednesday, April 6 and Thursday, April 7, at 11:30 a.m in each timezone. Share your thoughts about the show on social media by using the #MeetDennis hashtag. Dinosaur Train and Arthur celebrate #NationalAutismAwarenessMonth with all new episodes April 5 & 6 on PBSKids! Check your local listings for more: http://to.pbs.org/23bfHnxPosted by Dinosaur Train on Monday, April 4, 2016 h/t GPB

Adams Butzel Recreation Center Bans Autistic Boy From Locker Room

After one mother’s 5-year-old son on the autism spectrum was banned from the women’s locker room at the Adams Butzel Recreation Center in Detroit, she sought help from the U.S. Attorneys office. U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade confirmed to the Detroit Free Press on Monday that the rec center has now modified its rules, which prohibited children older than 18 months from using locker rooms designated for the opposite sex. The mother, whose name was not mentioned in the statement, asked to bring her son into the women’s locker room because he needed help with his swimsuit. But the recreation center denied her request, telling her she either needed to bring a male relative to assist the child, allow a male staff member to help the child in the men’s locker room, or visit another club. The woman declined these options because she wanted to help her son at the recreation center closest to her home, reported local news site ClickOnDetroit.com, and she then filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorneys office. “Parents of children with disabilities work hard to make sure that their children have the same opportunities for recreation as children without disabilities,” McQuade said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “Our office is committed to supporting these families by working with them to bring down barriers that may be in their children’s way.” McQuade added that the city agreed to implement a new policy “requiring reasonable modifications to the center’s locker room policies for children with disabilities.” Children accompanied by an adult member of the opposite sex will now be allowed to change in a curtained section of the locker room designated for members of the adult’s sex, and children accompanied by an adult will also be allowed to use the lifeguards’ locker room. Staff at the Adams Butzel Recreation Center will receive training on the new policy and their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in public accommodation, employment and transportation, among other areas.

Birmingham Children's Hospital Offers Virtual Google Tour for Autistic Kids

The Birmingham Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, England, recently teamed up with Google and Autism West Midlands to create an extensive virtual tour for patients with autism and their families. It’s just like Google street view — but with a glimpse inside every door and room of the hospital. “We know that children with autism really struggle when they come to visit us,” the hospital wrote on its Facebook page. “They get anxious and upset about unfamiliar places and this can often be very hard for the parents too.” Image courtesy of Google You can drag your mouse across the screen to explore spaces, or you can use the arrow keys to digitally navigate the hospital. The hospital also provides links to 19 of its common areas if users want to search that way as well. In addition to providing families with a tool to “familiarize themselves” with the “hospital before their visit,” the facility also has a “Sensory Garden” where patients of all abilities and needs can play and relax. Image courtesy of Google To check out the virtual tour, visit the The Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s website here.

Disneyland Staffer Emily Gibby Searches for Autistic Guest Who Lost Lanyard

Emily Gibby, an employee at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, is trying to find an autistic patron who lost a lanyard near the park last week. One of Gibby’s colleagues found the lanyard at the Disneyland Hotel on March 24 and passed it on to Gibby, a Disney spokesperson told KTLA. The badge attached to the lanyard has a note which reads, “Hello! I am autistic, and I don’t talk much, but I would like to trade for Mickey pins!” Gibby posted a photo of the lanyard on her Facebook page, adding that she and her co-workers decorated it with even more pins and a medallion. Alright Cast Members I need your help! This morning during the pin release I was working, we found this red lanyard with…Posted by Emily Fuller Gibby on Thursday, March 24, 2016   Gibby wrote: Alright Cast Members I need your help! This morning during the pin release I was working, we found this red lanyard with four pins on it. It had a white note attached that said “hello I am autistic and I don’t talk much but I would like to trade for Mickey pins.” So we did what any Cast Member would naturally do.. We filled up his lanyard with Mickey pins and got him a Mickey medallion as well! But now we need everyone’s help in finding him/her!! Share this post and help us find our friend! Be on the look out! Multiple lines of business have already been contacted and informed that we have this lanyard at Pin Traders for him/her! Let’s work some magic and try to find our friend!! Many individuals with autism have sensory issues and may grow very attached to certain objects, or parts of objects, according to The National Autistic Society. “I have always known that people with autism have daily struggles that some of us will never realize, but recently I have learned that something as small as losing a possession could drastically change their day, week, or even their month,” Gibby wrote in a post on April 2. “Losing a small item could lead to large behavioral changes and meltdowns that can not be solved by just ‘buying a new one.’” “With so many big things happening all around the world, it’s important to remember the little things that might be really big things to a certain person,” Gibby posted April 1. If you have any information that might help, contact Disneyland’s lost and found department at (714) 817-2166. h/t Huffington Post

Peter Byrne, Man With Cerebral Palsy, Gets Customized PlayStation 4 Controller

Peter Byrne loves playing video games, but after recently purchasing a PlayStation 4, the avid gamer, who has cerebral palsy, was having difficulty using the system’s controller. “When I play, I would hit the touchpad with my hand,” Byrne, 21, told News 12 New Jersey. “It’s very sensitive, [so] it would pause the game.” Byrne,of South Amboy, New Jersey, contacted Sony about the issue, and the next day, a PlayStation employee named Alex Nawabi responded. Nawabi told Byrne he was going to take on the matter “personally and not on behalf of PlayStation,” Byrne wrote in a post on his Facebook page. After exchanging a few emails, Nawabi told Byrne he wasn’t able to come up with a solution, but he was still going to send Byrne a PlayStation goodie box. On March 29, Byrne received a package from Playstation. In it was a letter from Nawabi — along with a custom PlayStation 4 controller. Byrne was stunned — Nawabi admitted he wanted it to be a surprise, hence why he fibbed about the controller in their previous correspondence. “I never in my wildest dreams expected to receive a modified controller from PlayStation,” Byrne told The Mighty. “When I wrote my initial email I honestly thought they would just make note of it and maybe address it in the future. When I received the box I got choked up because seeing he spent 10+ hours, breaking 3 controllers and a bit of frustration to make the controller was amazing. I honestly was surprised he went above and beyond what I expected.” Byrne shared Nawabi’s letter on Facebook, along with a photo of the modified controller: I figure I share this story with everyone because it is too good not to share! When I use the PlayStation 4 controller…Posted by Peter Byrne on Tuesday, March 29, 2016   Byrne wrote: I figure I share this story with everyone because it is too good not to share! When I use the PlayStation 4 controller my game constantly pauses because my left hand hits the touchpad which is frustrating for me. Around two weeks ago, I decided to message PlayStation support and they gave this email address and said tell them my issue and wait for a response. A man by the name of Alex Nawabi from PlayStation messaged me and told me he was taking my matter personally and not on behalf of PlayStation. I explained to him my problem with a controller as well as my condition of cerebral palsy. I even had to give him a visual of what my left hand looked like gripping the controller. After a series of back and forth emails. Mr. Nawabi told me he was ordering some parts to come up with a solution for me. He emailed he last week saying that he tried to come up with a solution but it didn’t work. However, he would send me a PlayStation goodie box anyway. I received that box today and inside was the modified controller especially made for me and this letter. I honestly got choked up reading the letter as I did not expect anything like this to happen. Mr. Nawabi really cared about my situation and did this on his own time to make my experience better. I honestly can’t thank him enough for everything he did for me. Thank you Mr. Nawabi it really means a lot too me! “He said that it’s the first time he’s ever done something like this,” Byrne added to News 12 New Jersey. “He did more than I ever expected.” h/t Channel 9 News Australia

Katie Meade, Model With Down Syndrome, Lands Beauty & Pin-Ups Campaign

Katie Meade, 32, is the new face of Beauty & Pin-Ups, and this marks the first time a woman with Down syndrome has been featured in an ad campaign for a beauty product, according to People. “Katie is a role model for people of all ages, disability or no disability, because beauty belongs to everyone,” the brand wrote on its Facebook page. The brand named its new “Fearless” hair product after Meade, according to a video on its website. Beauty & Pin-Ups CEO Kenny Kahn told People he’d met Meade though Best Buddies International, an organization that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing opportunities for socialization and employment. Meade is an ambassador for Best Buddies International; when you purchase any Beauty & Pin-Ups product, a portion of the proceeds go to the organization. It’s been an exhilarating weekend for our @bestbuddies ambassador Katie Meade. Read how she is breaking boundaries for people with intellectual disabilities across the globe. She’s also breaking the internet… ? Tap the link in our profile to read her fearless story in @cosmopolitan! #bestbuddies #beautyandpinups #hellofearlessA photo posted by Beautyandpinups (@beautyandpinups) on Apr 2, 2016 at 3:44pm PD When you purchase any Beauty & Pin-Ups product, a portion of the proceeds goes right to Best Buddies International, an…Posted by Beauty & Pin-Ups on Wednesday, March 30, 2016   “It’s pretty cool because I love being a part of the Beauty & Pin-ups family, and I love being apart of Best Buddies and interacting with people,” Meade told People. “People see me for who I am and they see me not as someone with a disability, but that I have ability. And I like to try new different things and I inspire women to do that.” “Katie is a stunningly beautiful young woman who appears to be a natural in front of the camera,” Beth Sullivan, Chair of the International Down Syndrome Coalition, told The Mighty. “I expect to see a lot more of this young woman.” “Katie is the most recent model with Down syndrome to make headlines,” Sullivan added. “These models are putting Down syndrome in the spotlight and showing the world how capable and beautiful they are while simultaneously demonstrating that people with Down syndrome are competent and useful members of society and can add value to businesses and workplaces.” “She’s the type of inspiration the beauty world has been missing.” Thank you, People, for showing the world just how fearless Katie Meade truly is. Tap the link in our profile to read the article on our @bestbuddies ambassador that just dropped tonight!! ? #beautyandpinups #bestbuddies #PeopleMagazine #HelloFearlessA photo posted by Beautyandpinups (@beautyandpinups) on Apr 1, 2016 at 4:58pm PDT   Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today! Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes .