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‘Woof to Wash’ laundry machine lets dogs help people with disabilities

By Nadine Kalinauskas | Good News – Tue, 26 Nov, 2013
A man from Leeds has invented a dog-controlled washing machine.
The "Woof to Wash" machine has a bark-activated "on" switch. A special "paw" button allows the pooch to easily open and close the machine's door.
The inventor, John Middleton of U.K. laundry company JTM, intends for the "Woof to Wash" machine to make laundry an easier task for people living with disabilities by letting them delegate the trickier parts of the job to support dogs who have been trained to load and empty the machines.

Read the whole article at Yahoo News 
(http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/good-news/woof-wash-laundry-machine-lets-dogs-help-people-173054560.html)

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Inspired By Dance Video, Paralyzed Woman Learns To Walk Again


The Huffington Post  |  By 
A Chicago-area woman paralyzed from the neck down has found inspiration and the ability to walk again in a very unlikely source: from a young woman who, through online videos, documented her journey of learning to dance over the course of a year.
Cynthia Abrams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, found herself at a dead end after she could no longer afford physical therapy. While searching the Internet for alternative options, she stumbled upon a video by Karen Cheng, who'd decided to dance every single day for an entire year. Inspired by Cheng's dedication, Abrams wrote her an email asking for advice.
Read the whole article at Huffingtonpost
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/13/cynthia-paralyzed-give-it-100_n_4267574.html?utm_hp_ref=tw)

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'Disabled' Mannequins Remind Us That Beautiful Doesn't Mean 'Perfect'


The Huffington Post  |  By 
It's no secret that the smooth, plastic bodies staring out of store windows aren't true physical replicas of the people who stare back at them. But there's no reason they can't be.
Pro Infirmis, an organization for the disabled, created a series of mannequins based on real people with physical disabilities, working with individuals like Jasmine Rechsteiner, a Miss Handicap winner who has spine malformations, and Erwin Aljukić, an actor with brittle bone disease. The project's title? "Because Who Is Perfect? Get Closer."
Read the full article at Huffingtonpost
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/03/disabled-mannequins-video_n_4379586.html)

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Sixteen-Year-Old British Boy Musharaf Asghar Will Make You Want To Chase Your Dreams (VIDEO)

Posted: 
This speech isn't the most elaborate we've ever heard, or the most profound -- but it's still completely extraordinary.
That's because for Musharaf Asghar, public speaking is no easy task. The 16-year-old British student has struggled with an acute stammer for much of his life.
Asghar appears in a documentary series called 'Educating Yorkshire,' which captures the educational and social challenges he faces as a result of his speech issues.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/27/musharaf-asghar-speech_n_4164764.html

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Study: Average Person Becomes Unhinged Psychotic When Alone In Own House



Once in the confines of their own home, the average human being becomes what can only be described as clinically insane, researchers say.
ISSUE 49•36 • Sep 6, 2013 ITHACA, NY—Citing a range of behavior that experts could only describe as “profoundly disturbed,” a new study released by Cornell University’s psychology department Thursday revealed that most otherwise normal people transform into complete psychotics when alone in the confines of their own homes.

The study, conducted in the households of millions of Americans over an 11-month period, states that from the moment the average person sets foot inside their front door, they begin exhibiting wildly unhinged mannerisms, including loudly talking to themselves; suddenly snapping their fingers for brief, three-to-five-second bursts for no reason whatsoever; and walking into their bathrooms, staring into the mirror, inflating their cheeks while making a grotesque face, and then leaving as if what they did was completely normal.

Read the full article at the Onion 
(http://www.theonion.com/articles/study-average-person-becomes-unhinged-psychotic-wh,33762/?ref=auto)

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Stephanie Feyne | Authenticity: The Impact of a Sign Language Interpreter’s Choices


 | August 27, 2013

Stephanie presented, Authenticity: The Impact of a Sign Language Interpreter’s Choices, at StreetLeverage – Live 2013 | Atlanta, GA. Her talk explored how the choices made by sign language interpreters affects the perception of Deaf people and how interpreters can present a more “authentic” representation of someone’s message.
You can find the PPT deck for her presentation here.

Authenticity

(The examples in this article are of female interpreters and male Deaf individuals in order to accommodate the gendered demands of English pronouns. This may or may not reflect the actual identities of the people involved.)
In this presentation I will be discussing the concept of “authenticity” during interpretation – what it means and why I use this term.
We interpreters know we are responsible for the transmission of the content of speakers’ messages. An additional responsibility is to express the manner in which one person speaks, which allows the other participant to get a glimpse of who the person is.
Last month a Deaf teacher was presenting in front of a group of hearing children. I was interpreting for him. He told them to copy his notes from the board. I interpreted that in the first person, “copy what I wrote…”
A first grade girl spun her head towards me in disbelief. “You didn’t write anything!” she exclaimed. I agreed with her, that I hadn’t, but I then explained that our job as interpreters is to say what the Deaf person said. She thought about this for a second and replied, “Oh, you’re pretending to be him.”
That struck me as a profound statement. And, of course, she was absolutely correct! That’s exactly what we interpreters do – we take on the identity of the Deaf person as we represent their message so that the hearing person knows who they are.

We speak not “FOR” the Deaf party but “AS” the Deaf party. Our utterances are expressed in the first person:  ”I don’t understand my homework”, “I want to work for your company”, “My daughter is sick.”
Read the full article at Street Leverage 

( http://www.streetleverage.com/2013/08/stephanie-feyne-authenticity-the-impact-of-a-sign-language-interpreters-choices/#sthash.DYfS1q6I.dpuf )

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RemPods





An innovative new approach which uses pop-up rooms designed to be reminiscent of a bygone era is helping to reassure dementia patients.

RemPods - which are set up like rooms from past decades - are used to help calm those in hospitals and care homes by taking them back to more familiar times.

Designed in retro themes they are filled with authentic furniture and memorabilia which is hoped to get dementia sufferers talking about the memories they still retain.


Richard Ernest
Richard Ernest (right) has now got the financial backing of two 'Dragons' including Deborah Meaden (left). The concept involves the creation of pop-up rooms reminiscent of a bygone era

The pioneering design includes a 1950s pop-up pod, pub, cinema, dance hall and vintage store, as well as many others with features from the 1960s.

They have now become a fixture in more than 40 NHS Trusts, care homes, day centres and care charities since the company was founded in 2009.

And in a further boost to the unique nostalgia product creator Richard Ernest, 35, has now got the backing of two judges from BBC2’s Dragons’ Den to roll the pods out worldwide.
 
    Mr Jones and Ms Meaden agreed to each give £50,000 to the project in exchange for a 22.5 per cent share.
    Richard described the process of going on the show as 'one of the scariest things I’ve ever done' and now intends to break into the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

    The father-of-two, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, first came up with the idea of the pod after forming a close friendship with an elderly neighbour and his wife - who suffered with dementia.
    dementia pod
    Here a 1950's cinema dementia pod is pictured. Mr Ernest, from Gloucestershire, came up with the idea of the pod after forming a close friendship with an elderly neighbour and his wife - who suffered with dementia

    Over a period of several months Richard drove Sydney Swash, 98, to and from a care home to see his terminally ill wife.

    When she sadly passed away, the pair became close friends, going to the cinema together and to the local pub. 

    Richard had also been going through a tough time after losing his job and splitting up with his girlfriend, so they became inseparable.

    The trips with Sydney, who is now in a care home himself, became the inspiration behind Richard’s innovative product, Reminiscence Pods, or RemPods for short.


    Read the full story at the Daily Mail 

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    Man with OCD Blows Internet Away with Hauntingly Stirring Love Poem



    When a poem is powerful enough to get the Internet to stop and take notice, you know it must be something truly special.
    And Neil Hilborn's love poem "OCD" absolutely is.
    Performed during the Individual Finals of this year's Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam, Hilborn's ode to love in the time of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is poignantly punctuated by the poet's palpable on-stage struggle with nervous tics threatening to derail the entire thing.
    After a video of a recital rushed to the top of Reddit this morning, Hilborn made a surprise appearance in the thread to take questions from his newfound fans.
    In his responses, Hilborn confirmed that he has undergone extensive therapy over the past several years which has helped substantially reduce the intensity of his symptoms.
    He also reveals that the poem was originally written some two years ago, and the girl in question has heard it, which lead to an appropriately revolving relationship of getting back together and splitting up a number of times before Hilborn finally called it off.
    If you're looking for more from Hilborn, make sure to check out his other Rustbelt entry, "Mating Habits of the North American Hipster" — the only performance in the entire tournament to earn a perfect score.




    Read more at the Gawker 



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    The Disorientation of Dyslexia, ADD: Is It A Gift?


    By 




    According to Ron Davis, the disorientation of dyslexia may very well be a gift. The creator of the Davis Dyslexia Correction Center and the Davis Autism Approach, Davis says that people with dyslexia, unlike most of us, have a genetic ability to disorient themselves with no external stimuli. Their brains go into a disorientation mode on their own.

    For example, if we are looking out a train window in a standing train, and another moving train goes by slowly, we may become disoriented and feel like we’re moving.

    Read more at Psych Central 

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    Depression in diabetes patients linked to dementia, study finds




    (HealthDay)—Type 2 diabetes patients who suffer depression also have more significant mental decline than those without depression, a new study finds.
    Diabetes and depression are common among older people and up to 20 percent of adults with type 2 diabetes have , according to background information in the study. In addition, both of these disorders appear to be associated with an increased risk of .
    "Both depression and diabetes have been identified as  for dementia in general and Alzheimer's disease in particular," noted Dr. Marc Gordon, an expert not connected to the new study.
    Researchers led by Dr. Mark Sullivan of the University of Washington, Seattle, tracked outcomes for nearly 3,000 people who had  and were at high risk for heart disease. The patients' thinking and memory (or "cognitive") abilities and levels of depression were assessed at the start of the study and the participants were followed for 40 months.
    Read the whole article at Medical Xpress 

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    Ambassador for disability-inclusive development


    29 July, 2013

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Minister for International Development Melissa Parke talk of the need to raise the profile of people with disability in developing countries.
    Minister for International Development, Melissa Parke, today announced the Government’s decision to establish a new Australian Ambassador for Disability-Inclusive Development.

    Minister Parke said the ambassador will advocate for people with disability in developing countries to have access to the same opportunities as others and an equal say in the decisions that affect their communities. The appointment process will take place in the coming weeks.

    “Australia will be the first country to have an ambassador focused solely on disability-inclusive development. We are demonstrating to the world how central the matter of disability-inclusion is to our international aid efforts,” Minister Parke said.

    Read more at AUSAID 

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    Game Controller for the Physically Disabled


    at 7:24 am. 

    Nice to see this Game Controller for the Physically Disabled. It is sure to help out many people. Caleb Kraft has made a new site for this project, check out  The Controller Project. If you want to help out please get in tough with them!
    “Custom gaming controllers can mean a lot of things. They could be big easy buttons for someone with muscle control issues or they could be a fancy cockpit for someones favorite flight sim. Either way, off-the-shelf systems are disgustingly expensive and are often not quite what is needed for the job.”


    Read more at Hack Gadgets 

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    Student-built wheelchair runs indefinitely on solar power

    Student-built wheelchair runs indefinitely on solar

    June 6, 2013

     A solar-powered wheelchair designed by students at the University of Virginia has won first prize in a competition, Change My Life in One Minute, to mark World Cerebral Palsy Day. Entrants to the competition were asked to come up with an innovation that could make a significant difference to a person with a disability. The solar-powered wheelchair can run continuously powered only by the sun.

    Apparently inspired by the folding roofs of convertible cars, students fitted a wheelchair with a custom-built 1-sq m (11-sq ft) solar panel which the team of students claims allows the wheelchair to travel indefinitely at 1 mph without drawing power from the battery.
    At 5 mph, the wheelchair can run for 4.5 hours, which the students say is a range increase of 40 percent. They also point out that the panel brings the added benefit of providing shade to the user. The wheelchair is also fitted with USB ports for the charging of electronic newfangledom.
    The team takes away a prize of US$20,000 which the team will use to perfect the chair, before shipping to Alper Sirvan in Turkey, who came up with the suggestion for the project. Any remaining prize money will be returned to United Cerebral Palsy.
    In November 2010, inventor Haidar Taleb set out to cross the United Arab Emirates in a solar-powered wheelchair over the course of 11 days.
    There's more technical info on the University of Virginia's wheelchair in the video below.
    Read more at Gizmag

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    This Crazy Exoskeleton Suit Gives Schoolgirls (or Anyone) Super Powers - Video







    This Crazy Exoskeleton Suit Gives Schoolgirls (or Anyone) Super Powers

    ANDREW LISZEWSKIMonday 1:16pm

    There are two paths to gaining super powers that don't involve mutations, radiation, or intergalactic origins. You can go the RoboCop route, where your body—or what's left of it—is permanently melded to a robotic frame. Or the Iron Man route, where you temporarily don a robotic supersuit and kick ass. The latter approach is, of course, the most desirable, and thanks to Japan's Sagawa Electronics, for $124,000 it could be your reality.

    Read more at Gizmodo

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    Intimacy in an Iron Lung


    Intimacy in an Iron Lung

    The developing status of sexual surrogates for the disabled, as part of a right to health and well-being: So wrong?

    "As my father lay dying and his private nurses washed him, made him comfortable and gave him his medication, they also lingered gently over his private parts as they sponged him. These were mountain girls from the state of North Carolina to whom death and sex were integral with life."

    So comments Google+ user Ray Chatham in the discussion surrounding a short documentary released last week from The New York Times' Stefania Rousselle. Rousselle investigated the state of sexual surrogacy for disabled people in France, where it is contentiously illegal.

    Surrogacy involves paying a professional who engages in intimate contact (broadly defined, though certainly not always intercourse) with a patient. It technically began in the early 1970s, and is maybe best known as something done to help people with extreme anxiety about sex to gradually work past it.

    In a different sense, it's also used for patients with serious physical disabilities -- and, maybe even thornier, mental disabilities like dementia. You might remember the 2012 film The Sessions, for which Helen Hunt got an Oscar nomination playing a surrogate who worked with a poet paralyzed by polio. The story was based on the real experiences of Mark O'Brien, who by the end lived in an iron lung for all but a few hours per week, and ultimately lost his virginity to a surrogate.

    Read more at the Atlantic 

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    Watch How Silly People's Reaction Times Are in Slow Motion



    Watch How Silly People's Reaction Times Are in Slow Motion

    CASEY CHANFriday 9:00pm



    This is fantastic. Distort measured people's reaction time by making them catch a falling ruler to see how quickly (or slowly) their brains can translate what they see into what they do. Putting the video to slow motion emphasizes how silly our reaction times can be. Some of us are so slow we might not even catch the ruler!
    Reaction time is a complicated thing! Most people have a delayed response of about 190 milliseconds. Using a falling ruler to test people's reaction times cleverly gives the test a form of measurement. And though you'll probably laugh and be surprised at how slow people can be, don't make too much fun of them because we're all probably just like that. 

    Watch the video here at Gizmodo

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    Rewiring a Damaged Spinal Cord [Video]


    Rewiring a Damaged Spinal Cord [Video]

    New treatments leverage “neuroplasticity,” the nervous system’s innate ability to repair itself



    When Christopher Reeve became quadriplegic, there was little hope for patients with spinal cord injury. Now researchers are combining what they know about the central nervous system’s ability to rewire and regrow with a new understanding of the hidden smarts of the spinal cord to dramatically improve treatments.
    Even the most devastating spinal cord injuries usually do not completely sever the link between the brain, spine and the rest of the body. Scientists are now finding ways to make the most of the remaining connections using a variety of technologies. Studies on electrical stimulation and locomotor training (a treatment that relies on human or robotic assistance during a walking exercise) suggest that it is possible to regrow damaged neuronal circuits in the brain and spine and recover some voluntary control. Some of these studies find that circuits in the spinal cord itself can be coaxed into helping the body move again.
    When we walk, two sources of information are processed by the spinal cord. One comes from above: instructions from the brain about where we want to go based on what we see. The other comes from below: sensory information from the muscles, tendons and skin. After a spinal cord injury the communication lines between the brain and spinal cord are cut or dramatically diminished, depending on the severity of the event. Without instructions from the brain, doctors and researchers thought it impossible to regain any type of control over the limbs. But unlike fixed mechanical circuits, the brain and spinal cord are malleable. The axiom in neuroscience is “neurons that fire together wire together,” meaning that connections between neurons grow or atrophy based on activity.
    One promising approach is to help paralyzed patients go through the motions of walking with “assistive” technologies supporting their weight. By amplifying the sensory signals that come from the joints as they move and from the soles of the feet as the pressure is rhythmically switched from one foot to the other, researchers think they can compensate for the lack of a strong brain signal. Clinicians use devices such as the Lokomat that support the patient’s weight with a harness and move his legs on a treadmill via robotic leg braces. Susan Harkema, director of the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, notes that when weight-supported on a treadmill, newborns show the right stepping patterns even though they can’t initiate walking on their own. This suggests that some motor “programs” are stored directly in the spinal cord, and can be triggered by sensory input. According to neurologist Volker Dietz, a professor emeritus at the University of Zurich who continues to do research at Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, scientists have whittled it down to two essential inputs to get stepping patterns in the muscles: contact with the ground and flexion and extension of the hip joint. When researchers measure the activity of the spinal circuits of a paralyzed patient on the Lokomat, they find that the pattern is the same as the one found in healthy volunteers. The difference is that the signal is not strong enough to contract the muscles. Locomotor training is meant to increase the spinal signal.
    Read the full story at Scientific American 

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    Medical Sex Workers



    This is a sensitive, if not controversial discussion on why adults with severe mental and physical disabilities are not given chances to explore their sexuality.  

     In this short Vice video we meet a female medical sex worker who's job at the White Hand organization involve giving severely disabled clients non-intimate sexual relief. We also meet her client, a man with Cerebral Palsy (?).    

    The mindset is that since sex is a basic human need, it should come as no surprise that despite whatever the disability, that sexual desire and yearning for closeness does not necessarily go away.  

     In turn, when the general public naively denies or refuses to acknowledge the very real sexual feelings of someone with Cerebral Palsy, Dementia, Spina Bifida etc., they are also denying them a chance to be fully apart of society and enjoy/explore their own urges.   

    This video is in Japanese so enabling the Youtube close caption (cc) is needed.   

    [WARNING: This video does contain some graphic content. Although it is censored, viewer discretion is advised.] 

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    A Prosthetic Limb, Controlled by an Amputee's Thoughts






    Cyborgs are here -- or, at least, they're in DARPA laboratories.
    For a while now, the Defense Department agency, alongside civilian researchers, has been working to develop prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by the brains -- as in, the thoughts -- of their wearers.

    And one of the most promising of those prosthetic devices, especially for near-term, practical application, has been something that emphasizes the "man" in "bionic man." (Or, of course, the "woman" in "bionic woman.") DARPA, through its Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) program, has developed a prosthetic interface that relies on "targeted muscle re-innervation." TMR works, DARPA says, by essentially "rewiring nerves from amputated limbs," allowing the wearer of a given prosthetic to control the device with his or her existing muscles. The approach relies on signals, from nerves or muscles or both at the same time, to control the prosthetics and provide direct sensory feedback to the wearer. Limb to brain and back again.


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    If Your Shrink Is A Bot, How Do You Respond?




    Her hair is brown and tied back into a professional-looking ponytail. She wears a blue shirt, tan sweater and delicate gold chain. It's the first time she has met the man sitting across from her, and she looks out at him, her eyes curious.

    "So how are you doing today?" she asks cautiously, trying to build rapport.
    "I'm doing well," he answers. His eyes blink.
    "That's good," she continues. "Where are you from originally?"
    "I'm from L.A.," he tells her, and this makes her smile slightly.
    "Oh!" she says with surprise in her voice. "I'm from L.A. myself!"
    She is from L.A. She was created in Los Angeles and "lives out her life" there on a computer screen in a lab at the University of Southern California. She's not a real woman but a virtual one, created to talk to people who are struggling emotionally, and to take their measure in a way no human can. Her makers believe that her ability to do this will ultimately revolutionize the way mental health care is practiced in this country. Her name is Ellie.
    There's Power In A Well-Timed 'Uh-Huh'
    The project that resulted in Ellie began almost two years ago at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies. Two scientists in particular are responsible for her existence: psychologistAlbert "Skip" Rizzo and computer scientist Louis-Philippe Morency.
    Rizzo and Morency spent months laboring over every element of Ellie's presentation and interaction with patients, experimenting with a range of different personalities, outfits and vocal mannerisms.
    "Everything has been thought of," says Morency. For example, when patients talk, Ellie encourages them to continue talking with a well timed "uh-huh," just as real people do.
    YouTube
    "We have recorded more than 200 of these uh-huhs," Morency says, "and these are so powerful. Because a simple 'uh-huh' and a silence — if they are done the right way — can be extremely powerful. So we spent a lot of time on these little details."
    But the most important thing about Ellie is not her skill at gently probing all of the people her scientist brings into the lab to talk to her. Her real value, the reason she was built at all, is her skill at taking and analyzing thousands of measurements of those people.
    Under the wide screen where Ellie's image sits, there are three devices. A video camera tracks facial expressions of the person sitting opposite. A movement sensor — Microsoft Kinect — tracks the person's gestures, fidgeting and other movements. A microphone records every inflection and tone in his or her voice. The point, Rizzo explains, is to analyze in almost microscopic detail the way people talk and move — to read their body language.
    "We can look at the position of the head, the eye gaze," Rizzo says. Does the head tilt? Does it lean forward? Is it static and fixed?" In fact, Ellie tracks and analyzes around 60 different features — various body and facial movements, and different aspects of the voice.
    The theory of all this is that a detailed analysis of those movements and vocal features can give us new insights into people who are struggling with emotional issues. The body, face and voice express things that words sometimes obscure.
    "You know, people are in a constant state of impression management," Rizzo says. "They've got their true self and the self that they want to project to the world. And we know that the body displays things that sometimes people try to keep contained."
    So, as Ellie gets the person in front of her to ruminate about when they were happy and when they were sad, the machines below her screen take measurements, cataloging how much the person smiles and for how long, how often they touch their head.
    Morency says the machines record 30 measurements per second, or "about 1,800 measurements per minute." Literally every wince, pause and verbal stumble is captured and later analyzed.
    Ellie was originally commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense. After all of the deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military was seeing a lot of suicides and wanted to find a way to help military therapists stop them. Soldiers don't always like to confess that they're having problems, but maybe their bodies would say what their words wouldn't.
    via NPR

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