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The 2011 Basketball Draft Lottery & Neurofibromatosis

Living in South Florida, basketball has been a hot topic this year.  The formation of the ‘dream team’ including Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh has definitely created a stir.  While many eyes are still on the finals and who will win the championship, this week the basketball Draft Lottery was conducted.   The Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost Lebron James as their star player this year, definitely came out on top in the draft.  They now have the first and fourth selections in the 2011 draft this summer that can allow them to pick 2 top players to help rebuild their team.

basketball

The interesting point, which connects this post to education and special needs students  is that the individual who made the pick which allows the team to select the first player in the draft was the Cleveland Cavaliers  owner’s son , and good luck charm, Nick Gilbert.  Nick is 14 years old and became a celebrity overnight.  He was dressed to impress and has had many complements on his throw-back glasses and bow tie.  The unique thing about Nick is that he has a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis.  His popularity from this event will hopefully raise awareness about the disorder in hopes for a possible cure.

Neurofibromatosis

Neurofibromatosis, or NF, is a genetic disorder that caused the growth of tumors on nerve tissue.    The tumors can cause various problems with the skin, skeletal system, and other neurological problems.  The severity of the disorder can vary.  NF is also commonly linked with other learning disabilities, epilepsy and leukemia.  There is no cure for NF.  Therapy is done to reduce the number of tumors and surgery can remove the tumors, however more tumors will grow back.  If the tumors are cancerous, then chemotherapy is administered.  The Neurofibromatosis Association is hopeful that there will be a cure within the next 5-10 years.

Nick has had brain surgery and chemotherapy to help him to manage with the tumors and secondary complications related to NF.  Nick has also lost vision in one of his eyes.  Despite his health issues, he is a very optimistic and energetic boy.

Nick is also the ambassador for the Children’s Tumor Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports research and awareness of NF.  With his exposure on the Draft Lottery, I hope that Nick will be a great ambassador to encourage others to support the research of NF through various fundraising activities.  May is NF Awareness Month and May 17th is also World NF Awareness Day.  In conjunction with these events, during the Draft Lottery, Nick tweeted, offered special prizes, and encouraged participates to text in a donation to help support the Children’s Tumor Foundation matching all of the funds raised.

NF & School

NF can be very difficult for children in the classroom, especially if the tumors are large and in places that other students can notice like the face, neck, and arms.  Some of the most well-known cases of NF are stories that have been aired on television involving teenagers who have tumors on their faces and then undergo surgery to remove the tumor.

Students with NF can struggle mastering material, have difficulty with penmanship, and language delays among social concerns and issues.  Like with most disabilities, early intervention, building a good relationship between the teacher and the child and family, and understanding how the disorder will affect the child’s education are very important.

Links for Learning about & Teaching Students with NF

  1. Children’s Tumor Foundation
  2. Preparing Teachers to teach a student with NF
  3. Brochure including helpful facts and figures about NF

Article By Laura Ketcham

Picture By hitthatswitch

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