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12-02-2014

Clarkson University's Rondalyn Whitney Publishes Chapter in Book on Living with Disabilities

Clarkson University's Rondalyn V. Whitney OTR/L, FAOTA, has written a chapter for a new book on living with people who have disorders or illnesses considered "invisible disabilities."

Rondalyn WhitneyWhitney, the director and founding chair of the proposed Occupational Therapy program and associate professor of occupational therapy at Clarkson, has published her chapter, "Confession," in the book, Easy to Love but Hard to Live With: Real People, Invisible Disabilities, True Stories. The book contains essays by adults and their loved ones on living with autism, mental illnesses, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, attention deficit hyperactive disorder and other "invisible disabilities."

There is no such thing as a "normal" child, Whitney said, and this is becoming increasingly true. At the same time more children are being given official diagnoses, society is moving toward a place where little differences in children are being exacerbated.

"We're getting into a society where we're more stressed and hurried, and a child that might have been typical in a different time they can't bear the load," she said. "We ask 5-year-olds to write a sentence, and developmentally that's completely inappropriate, and so the children have a meltdown."

Whitney said her chapter is about her perspective as a mother raising children who are unique and sometimes challenging, as well as the experience some parents have raising children with disruptive behavior disorder -- a clinical diagnosis. She said some people in the public give themselves permission to criticize parents of children who are challenging, but those people should learn to be more accepting.

"There's a continuum that we all move on, and the continuum depends on our day," she said. "Overall, we need to be kind when a parent is dealing with a child who is challenging and not be judgmental or cruel."

The objective of the book is to normalize the experience of raising children who are challenging, Whitney said. Many parents hide children who are challenging, but a better understanding of disabilities would allow families to participate in more events without fear of social censure.

"This book is about opening the curtain and really helping people understand the experiences of others, so we can perhaps promote more compassion and, in turn, have better participation and wellness in families as they struggle with many things," she said.

Whitney said she is working on other books about living with an illness or disability, and she looks forward to collaborating with various departments at Clarkson on projects that will help serve humanity.

"It just seems like every door I open here can lead to opportunities that will ultimately make a huge difference," she said.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/rwhitney.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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