Monday, April 20, 2015

Matching Keen Eye for Detail and Routine to Jobs in Technology Sector

As our International Conference nears (May 4-7 in NYC), it makes us proud to see former keynote speakers have such an impact. Thorkil Sonne of Specialisterne is just one example.
Although he enjoyed his first job in software development when he left university in the late 1970s, Thomas Madar found difficulty in fitting in. Like many people on the autistic spectrum, the now 58-year-old had problems in the working world and was dismissed as a poor communicator.
Thomas Madar
Over the coming years, he went from courses in third-level education to jobs and back again, but sometimes struggled in interviews where, by his own admission, he would not sell himself as someone who was likable and who fitted into teams.
When he got his current position as a software tester at Ernst & Young last year, he says his social skills had improved over the years. Also at hand was Specialisterne (Danish for the Specialists), a company which strives to match up people with autism to jobs where characteristics such as attention to detail and a an adherence to structure act as a competitive advantage.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Swim Team for Teens with Autism

A glimpse of what looks like an amazing documentary on The New York Times' Well blog. 
Team sports are a right of passage for many children, but kids with disabilities often can’t participate. A new documentary called “Swim Team” chronicles the Jersey Hammerheads, a swim team for children with autism.

“A lot of these kids don’t have friends. At one time or another, all of our kids have been ostracized,” says Michael McQuay, the Hammerheads’ coach. “For them to be part of a team is unbelievable.”

Tribeca Film Festival Documentary Explores Autism and Love

For all the research, hysterical media coverage, and hand-wringing there has been about autism in recent years, there’s shockingly little information on where the disorder overlaps with the most
fundamental thing about being human: love. People with autism have a hard time expressing themselves and communicating with others, but many of them express a desire for relationships—many are even married.

Iowa Official Fears 'Disaster' with Move to Medicaid Managed Care

Iowa Senate President Pam Jochum said Thursday she's worried that vulnerable Iowans face a "disaster" as the state implements a cost-saving plan to hire a private business to manage the Medicaid health insurance program.
Jochum, a Dubuque Democrat who has an adult daughter with severe developmental disabilities, said her family has the financial resources to care for her daughter if necessary. But she feels obligated to speak on behalf of other Iowa families who don't have enough money to care for their loved ones if Medicaid services aren't available.

Workers Still on Job After Settlement

ALBANY — Some of the employees named in a $2.25 million lawsuit stemming from the death of a client at the O.D. Heck facility in Nisakayuna continue to work for the state, caring for developmentally disabled people.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bills Strengthen Maryland Group Homes

Advocates for the disabled are hopeful that legislation passed by the General Assembly will give Maryland regulators more tools to fix dangerous conditions at state-licensed facilities — such as the one where a 10-year-old Baltimore boy died last year.
The two bills — the most recent of several reforms enacted after a Baltimore Sun investigation into group homes — empower regulators to respond more aggressively when they find problems at such facilities. The reforms are designed to improve how regulators monitor the financial stability and health care quality of state contractors hired to care for disabled adults and children.

Fighting for Sheltered Workshops

It's a hectic day at Production Unlimited in Watertown, N.Y. Everyone has to drop his regular work — making plastic binders, safety equipment, office supplies — for a huge order.

Beth Carpenter punches hole after hole into colored plastic tags. She and her co-workers are paid based on how fast they work, usually well below minimum wage. Carpenter has done all different kinds of tasks here for more than 15 years.
"And I like working here every day," she says. "I work here five days a week. That's why I'd like to make sure we fight to keep this place open."
It's no secret that New York state is phasing out sheltered workshops like this one.