Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Oasis of Care and Caring

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A mother needs to get her son out the door. Thick white socks cover his contorted feet, a coat drapes his twisted shoulders, a water bottle with a straw nestles in the concave of his chest, and black straps on his wheelchair secure his wrists. He is 33 years old, and she has to get him to an appointment.

“I always forget something,” the mother, Mimi Kramer, says, looking about her small, immaculate house. “Oh. A change of pants, just in case.”
Her son, Trey, has intellectual disability, autism and cerebral palsy. He was a joy as a child, she says, but with puberty came violent acts of frustration: biting himself until he bleeds, raging against sounds as faint as a fork scrape on a plate, lashing out with his muscular right arm. He nearly bit her finger off one Kentucky Derby Day when she tried to swipe away foam that he had gnawed from his wheelchair’s armrest. 


But he’ll also definitely make you smile when he’s happy,” says Ms. Kramer, 52, a slight, divorced woman who has raised her son mostly alone. “His smile will light up the room.”

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nat'l Association of Medicaid Directors Chief Sites Middle Ground in Expansion

Matt Salo, executive director, National Association of Medicaid Directors, says there are many concerns associated with Medicaid expansion.

 “The biggest question for many states is, are they going to be able to do the expansion their way, or is it going to be a one size fits all?” said Mr Salo.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Editorial: Republican Govs Rethink Obamacare

Tennessee, like most states led by Republican governors, was so adamantly opposed to Obamacare that it rejected the money Washington offered to expand Medicaid coverage.


Now Gov. Bill Haslam is having second thoughts. He has watched several hospitals in his state close down because they could not afford the care they provided to the poor and uninsured. Even the hospitals that survived are taking a hit.

So now the governor is calling a special session of the state’s Legislature in January to reverse course.

Preparing Special Ed Students for Jobs

JORDAN, Minn. — Each student needs to prepare for life after high school while still sitting in class before graduation day.

Every high school student needs to think about pursing a higher education or be ready to enter the workforce with necessary skills that match jobs in technical or service industries.

Special education teacher Vanessa Bigaouette teaches a Transitions class at Jordan High School that prepares juniors and seniors for life after high school. The curriculum covers subjects like planning for post-secondary education or training, employment and independent living.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cheers for More Medcial Access, But Few Providers Pose Obstacles In New Mexico

Access to medical care for autism may expand in multiple ways during the new year in New Mexico. Health care advocates are simultaneously celebrating the developments while preparing for the next hurdle.


On Jan. 1, a law goes into effect requiring state health care programs to cover diagnoses and treatment for autism.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Judge Throws Out Wage Rule for Home Health Workers

Department of Labor regulations that would have extended federal overtime and minimum wage pay to home health care workers for the elderly and disabled employed by third party businesses come January were thrown out by a federal district judge in D.C. on Monday. 
The decision sides with the Home Care Associates, the International Franchise Association (IFA) and the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, which argues in its suit against the Department of Labor that the rule would have a “destabilizing impact” on the entire home care industry and adversely affect access to home care services for millions of elderly people. 

Report Issued on Medicaid HCBS

In case you missed it Kaiser Family Foundation has issued its Medicaid Home and Community-Based Programs report.

As states continue to implement various aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), developing and expanding home and community-based alternatives to institutional care remains a priority for many state Medicaid programs. While the majority of Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS) dollars still go toward institutional care, the national percentage of Medicaid spending on home and community-based services (HCBS) has more than doubled from 20 percent in 1995 to 45 percent in 2012. State Medicaid programs are operating in an environment of slow economic recovery and as of 2014, are facing the competing priorities of implementing the ACA’s new streamlined eligibility and enrollment processes and determining whether to adopt the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. States also are choosing among the ACA’s new and expanded LTSS options, some of which offer enhanced federal matching funds, to expand beneficiary access to Medicaid HCBS.

With Caregiver Pay Hike, Feds Warn States About ADA Obligations

As new rules roll out mandating better pay for in-home care workers, federal officials say states must not compromise the rights of people with disabilities in the process.
Starting in January, home care workers will qualify for the first time for federal minimum wage and overtime protections. Now, the Obama administration is warning states not to forget the needs of people with disabilities — who often rely on in-home care providers — as they implement the new policy.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Opinion: A Disabilities Rights Movement Gains Momentum 2 Years After Death

An interesting opinion piece by David M. Perry, who writes on language and power at How Did We Get Into This Mess? He is a history professor at Dominican University

You’ve heard this story before: A large man was confronted by law enforcement officials over a minor issue. He didn’t initially comply with their orders, so they grabbed him and put him on the ground. In the process, the man asphyxiated. The law enforcement officers were not charged by a grand jury.

This tale is not about Eric Garner, but about Ethan Saylor. Ethan, a 26-year-old man from New Market, Maryland, with Down syndrome, died almost two years ago on January 12, 2013. He was killed over the price of a movie ticket, breathing his last on the floor of a cinema, asking for his mother.

New York School District in Court Over Special Education Placements

EAST RAMAPO, N.Y. — Officials in a New York school district are taking the state Education Department to court — again — to continue their battle against what the state says is repeated noncompliance with a law that requires disabled students to be educated in the most mainstream setting available.
The East Ramapo, N.Y., school board has agreed to pay attorney David Butler and his associates at their regular rate, $650 to $450 per hour, to initiate an appeal of the education officials' recent determination that the district "needs intervention" to satisfy requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Passage of ABLE Act Rights a Wrong

Passing the U.S. House 404-17 earlier this month and the Senate 76-16 on Tuesday, the ABLE Act lived up to its name and showed the country at least one topic able to hurdle congressional gridlock: helping Americans living with disabilities.

To right what he called an injustice, North Carolina’s Republican Sen. Richard Burr has worked eight years to get the Achieving a Better Life Experience or ABLE Act into law.




Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/18/4413934/bipartisan-passage-of-the-able.html#storylink=cpy

Florida Seeks Fairer Funding Formula

 — Complying with a court ruling, the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities on Thursday held a hearing about a mathematical formula that helps determine how much money is spent on services for developmentally disabled Floridians.
The 1st District Court of Appeal in July found that the agency did not properly carry out a law that created what are known as “iBudgets.” The law was designed to provide set amounts of money to people with developmental disabilities, depending on their needs, and then give them flexibility in how the money is spent on services.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Focusing on Mental Health of Children with Intellectual Disabilities

From Melbourne, Australia, some interesting research.

Research to improve the wellbeing of children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or autism, and their families, has been presented at the MIND-IT Research Group conference in Melbourne.
The research team, supported by the
 Monash Warwick Alliance, aims to identify the challenges faced by families along with the positive experiences involved with raising a child with a disability and to successfully translate research findings into on-the-ground treatment, support and services.
The MIND-IT team including
 Associate Professor Kylie Grayand Dr Glenn Melvin of Monash University, and Professor Richard Hastings and Dr Vaso Totsika of the University of Warwick highlighted a clear need for better identification of mental health problems and access to improved treatments and services.

Retired Cop Educating First-Responders

A retired police officer from Lansing has made it his mission to educate first-responders and others about how to more effectively interact with people with autism spectrum disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in 68 American children is affected by autism spectrum disorder, and research indicates autistic people are seven times more likely to come into contact with law enforcement.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Neurodiversity Is Next on the Civil Rights Agenda for Workplace

A burgeoning civil rights movement is poised to change the workplace, and it revolves around differences in brain function. Advocates for neurodiversity say that it’s just as critical to business success as gender or racial diversity in the labor force. 

A growing number of companies actively recruit candidates on the autism spectrum for tasks that are suited to their strengths, such as those involving large amounts of data or rigorous attention to detail. They include SAP, Freddie Mac, ULTRA Testing, as well as specialized recruiting and placement firms for people with neurological differences.

Opposition to KanCare Proposals

TOPEKA — Groups that advocate for Kansans with disabilities and for frail seniors say they will file objections to proposed changes in the waivers defining the state’s approach to Medicaid-funded services that help them live in community-based settings rather than in nursing homes.

“There are service reductions built into the waivers, plain and simple,” said Sean Gatewood, interim director of the Kansas Health Consumer Coalition. “That’s a major concern, absolutely.”

The Medicaid services at issue are provided under agreements with the federal government known as waivers that allow states to use alternative methods to pay for or deliver health care services.

N.J. Teachers Accused of Insulting Special Ed Students in Online Chat

Heard about this story this morning and really have to wonder what the teachers were thinking? And can totally understand the reaction of parents. Lesson learned: Don't put anything out there, even when your chatting, that you don't want to see in the news (or on Page 1, as we used to say at newspapers).

EDISON, N.J. — Parents of Edison special education students are furious in the wake of accusations that Edison schoolteachers participated in an online chat that insulted the types of kids they've spent their lives advocating for.

"This is my district, and it hurts even more," said Andrea Siragusa, an advocate for special education students like his son, a 7th grader in Edison's schools. "What is the rest of the class learning from a teacher like that?"

Monday, December 15, 2014

Benefits of Exercise and Autism

Anthony Angelico is strong. His push-ups are performed with impressive stamina, and he can take on hurdles both forward and backwards. His coach, Dave Geslak, who has helped him implement this exercise regimen, is certainly proud of his many physical strides.

NIH Cancels Child Health Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has cancelled its plan for an ambitious, multi-decade study of environmental influences on children's health, agency director Francis Collins has announced.
The National Children's Study (NCS), commissioned by Congress in 2000, was to assess how physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial factors affected 100,000 children from birth to age 21. The NIH has spent $1.2 billion on the effort and enrolled roughly 5,700 children in a pilot study at 40 centers around the United States. But a combination of scientific disagreements and mismanagement has delayed the study's official start
.

False Prenatal Tests Trigger Abortions

Zachary Diamond and Angie Nunes look at their "wonderfully healthy" 6-month-old son Solomon, knowing they might have terminated the pregnancy — all because of a popular prenatal test that was wrong.

The Portland, Oregon, couple was encouraged to use a new noninvasive blood test that their doctor said was "99 percent" accurate in predicting chromosomal abnormalities.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sandy Hook Prompting Focus on Mental Health of Adolscents

Today, Dec. 14, is the second anniversary of the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  The national dialogue over this searing tragedy until now has largely been about gun control. But a report released last month by the Connecticut Office of Child Advocate on the developmental history of the killer, Adam Lanza, including his mother’s parenting decisions, suggests that we urgently need a discussion about when and how to intervene when a parent is actually damaging the mental health of a child, especially an already troubled one.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Half of Medicaid Providers Not Available to Treat Patients, Report Finds

WASHINGTON — Large numbers of doctors who are listed as serving Medicaid patients are not available to treat them, federal investigators said in a new report.

“Half of providers could not offer appointments to enrollees,” the investigators said in the report, which will be issued on Tuesday.

Many of the doctors were not accepting new Medicaid patients or could not be found at their last known addresses, according to the report from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. The study raises questions about access to care for people gaining Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Google and Autism Speaks Team Up

Google and an autism research group have launched a new program to help scientists study autism and come up with new treatment options.
The group is Autism Speaks, an organization founded by Suzanne and Bob Wright after one of their grandchildren was diagnosed with autism. Bob Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and former CEO of NBC and NBC Universal. 
Autism Speaks has teamed up with Google for a project called MSSNG to create the world’s largest database of genetic information on people with autism. The director of MSSNG is a famous geneticist, Stephen Scherer. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Simple Christmas Wish

This year, a boy in Blaine, Wash., made a simple request for mail and now he's getting dozens of gifts daily from folks he has never met.
William, who has autism, doesn't speak, so he signs or writes most of his thoughts. His dependence on written communication might explain why this year he wants correspondence for Christmas.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Medical Homes Seeking Better Outcomes

WASHINGTON — In health policy circles, they are called “super-utilizers,” but the name isn’t meant to connote any special powers. Just the opposite.
They are people whose complex medical problems make them disproportionately heavy users of expensive health care services, particularly emergency room treatment and in-patient hospitalizations. The cost of treating them is huge: Just 5 percent of Medicaid’s 68 million beneficiaries account for 60 percent of the overall spending on the program.

Managed Care Pilot Meets Resistance

California’s initial efforts to move almost 500,000 low-income seniors and disabled people automatically into managed care has been rife with problems in its first six months, leading to widespread confusion, frustration and resistance.
Many beneficiaries have received stacks of paperwork they don’t understand. Some have been mistakenly shifted to the new insurance coverage or are unaware they were enrolled. And a third of those targeted for enrollment through Nov. 1 opted out, indicating they will stick with their traditional coverage.

Friday, December 5, 2014

California Santa Turns Away Young Girl with Autism and Her Dog

A young girl with autism needed to teach a California Santa Claus about the real spirit of Christmas.
Abcde Santos and her family were refused to be greeted by a Santa Claus at The Shops at Mission
Viejo Sunday, because he claimed he was afraid of the girl's service dog pit bull named "Pup-Cake."

A Rare Vote with Heart

There are many votes members of Congress cast that mean absolutely nothing. Procedural motions. Uncontroversial bills and amendments that are forgotten as soon as they are voted on.
Then there are other votes — those constituents may never notice but that are, for some lawmakers, unforgettable.
On Wednesday, the House passed a bill, 404-17, that would establish tax-exempt savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill, which is expected to pass in the Senate, exempts savings, up to certain levels, and distributions from those savings for individuals and families applying for means-tested federal programs.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Connecticut's Tug-of-War Over Funds

The long-running debate over institutionalized care for the developmentally disabled took a new twist Wednesday as it ran headlong into the state’s budget woes.

Armed with a court expert’s new recommendation to close Southbury Training School, several advocacy groups argued Connecticut unfairly spends too much of its limited resources on a small class of institutionalized disabled while ignoring thousands awaiting community-based care.

Report: India's Women 'Treated Worse Than Animals' in Institutions

This is such a disturbing story from India that we couldn't ignore it. Bravo to Human Rights Watch for its report and bringing attention to the issue. Something has to change.
 
NEW DELHI — Women and girls with intellectual disabilities or mental illness in India are subject to forced institutionalization in sometimes overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, verbal and physical abuse, and medication without consent, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch on Wednesday.
The group interviewed 52 women and girls who had been institutionalized because of mental disabilities in the last two years, as well as their families, staff members at the institutions where the patients were treated as well as doctors in four Indian states. The report found 31 cases of electroconvulsive therapy administered “without consent,” though in many cases familial consent replaced patient consent, said Dr. Sanjeev Jain, a psychiatrist in New Delhi.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Child Speech Screenings Proposed

December 02, 2014 03:58 pm Chris Crawford – According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, speech sound disorders affect 10 percent of children overall. Language difficulty is estimated to affect between 2 percent and 19 percent of preschool-age children, and specific language impairment is one of the most common childhood disorders, affecting 7 percent of children. Of the more than 2 million Americans who stutter, half are children. 
Yet despite these statistics, screening for these issues hasn't proved to be either effective or ineffective. 
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) posted a draft recommendation statementon Nov. 18 that re-examined screening for speech and language delay and disorders in children age 5 or younger and found that current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of routine screening.


Mom Knew She Could Wait No Longer

For Nicola Bridges, the wake-up call that changed her life came on March 27, 2013. That’s when the Ramona resident’s phone rang in the middle of the night with news that her son, Jack, was hovering near death in a Maryland hospital.
Nicola Bridges and Tony Oxley left their corporate jobs last spring to purchase the rundown ranch.
Jack Godfrey suffered a severe brain injury when he was assaulted by a fellow student outside a bar near their University of Maryland campus. Although given just a 10 percent chance of recovery, he survived and — after many months of intensive therapy and several subsequent seizures — he returned to school. The experience of nearly losing her eldest son convinced the 48-year-old Bridges that the dream she’d harbored for nearly 20 years could wait no longer.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Congress Expected to Vote on ABLE Act

Congress is set to act this week on legislation that would allow people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their government benefits.
Supporters say they expect the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act on Wednesday and they’re hopeful that the Senate will follow suit on Thursday.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Settlement Relieves Maine Familes

For Cathy Dion of Greene, last week’s class-action lawsuit settlement with state health officials means her autistic son, Ben, will finally come off a waiting list for day treatment.
“He’s been on it since September 2012,” said Dion. Ben, now 20 years old, had received services through the public school system until June, but since then the Dions have been paying out of pocket for care.

Delaware Divided on Housing Issue

The debate that divides Delaware's disability community, especially in matters of housing, has plenty of sharp edges.
Those edges have come into plain view since the federal agency that decides how to steer taxpayer support for disability services has changed the rule on how it will fund home- and community-based services.

NYS Program Focuses on Palliative Care

ALBANY —  The American Cancer Society and 17 other groups in New York state have launched a new campaign to help New York’s 908,000 cancer survivors and millions of others living with life-altering health conditions.
Their goal is to draw public attention to the availability of “palliative care” — help with issues like controlling pain to make life a little easier to bear for those with a chronic illness, whether they are sick and suffering or the disease is in remission and manageable.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ACLU to Monitor Punishments in Miss.

Mississippi's disproportionate use of harsh punishments like seclusion and restraint on disabled and minority K-12 students will get extra scrutiny by the American Civil Liberties Union, which this month won a $350,000 grant to monitor the practice.
Jennifer Riley-Collins
The grant, awarded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will fund the two-year project spearheaded by ACLU of Mississippi. During this time, the ACLU will not only monitor use of restraint and seclusion in school districts but will engage key stakeholders in advocating for the phasing out of this practice in favor of positive behavior interventions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Disney Autism Lawsuits Refiled

A court battle over disability access to Disney theme parks has been renewed, with 28 new separate lawsuits being filed in Orlando recently against the entertainment company.
The lawsuits were previously filed in a joint format. But a judge had ruled in November that the  lawsuits should be filed separately because circumstances surrounding each plaintiff were unique

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rule Makes It Tough to Meet Rising Demand for Long-Term Services

WASHINGTON — For more than 30 years, states have been finding new ways to care for aged and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries without confining them to nursing homes. The number of people living in skilled nursing facilities has declined significantly over the past decade, despite a marked increase in the number of elderly in the U.S.Starting this year, a new federal rule will require states to ensure that long-term care alternatives to nursing homes — such as assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, group homes and adult day care — work with residents and their families to develop individual care plans specifying the services and setting each resident wants. The overarching goal is to create a “homelike” atmosphere, rather than an institutional one and to give residents choices about their care.

Pope Urges 'Network of Support and Services' for People with Autism

Catholics must help to break down the isolation and stigma that surrounds people with autism spectrum disorder, Pope Francis said.
The Pope made the comments in an address to hundreds of parents and children affected by autism in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican on Saturday.
He appealed for the creation of “a network of support and services” to assist people on the autism spectrum.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Bullied Because of Disabilities

From Same Difference blog for people with disabilities in the UK, where it's Anti-Bullying Week. 


Research shows disabled children are much more likely to be bullied. Three young people who were once victimised tell their stories and share tips on tackling the problem.
This year’s Anti Bullying Week has been asking schools to give particular attention to children with disabilities or special educational needs. The organisation behind the campaign, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), has published new research on attitudes to disablist language this week and cites other recent research which shows eight out of 10 children with learning disabilities have been bullied, and that disabled children at primary school are 50% more likely to be victimised.
Rebecca, Maxine and Ammaar were at the receiving end of bullying. They explain how they got through it in the hope that their stories will help those having trouble now.

A Remarkable Bond

I generally flip around the news stations when on the elliptical machine or treadmill at the gym. But this morning, I came across this amazing feature from ESPN's E-60 and thought you had to see it.

Owen is a nine-year-old boy facing things no child should go through. His best friend is Haatchi, a remarkable dog. Together the two are part of a story that provides inspiration for anyone facing adversity.
Both the boy and the dog have gone through hard times, which makes there bond stronger. Haatchi was less than a year old when he was deliberately tied to a railroad track in North London and hit by a train. His tail was severed and his rear leg severely damaged. The dog managed to walk away and hid for around five days before he was rescued. He ultimately lost his leg and tail, but the lack of them did not stop him from embarking on a remarkable journey with Owen who suffers from a rare genetic condition.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Company Hopes Test Will Revolutionize Autism Diagnosis and Treatment

MADISON, Wis. — Madison stem cell research company Stemina Biomarker Discovery plans to introduce a metabolism-based autism blood test to the public in 2017.

Changing the Look of Advertising

Something a little lighter but just a wonderful initiative. You may want to share the challenge with families.
PALOS PARK, Ill. — Fairies are everywhere, their little wings hanging askew as they pose in front of a 100-year-old barn in a Palos Park backyard. But these are no ordinary fairies —s ome are in wheelchairs, others have Down syndrome, they’re every ethnicity and age. And in the midst of the fairy fray stands the person who brings the magic to the photoshoot—photographer Katie Driscoll.

Driscoll, a Palos Park mom of six children, is the force behind the Changing the Face of Beauty campaign, a grassroots project that aims to include children of all abilities in the media and advertising.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Medicaid at 50: Challenges Remain

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of several posts stemming from presentations given at “The Law of Medicare and Medicaid at Fifty,” a conference held at Yale Law School on November 6 and 7
Medicare and Medicaid were passed to serve as safety nets for the country’s most vulnerable populations, a point that has been reemphasized by the expansion of the populations they serve, especially with regards to Medicaid. Yet, even after 50 years, the disabled population continues to be one whose health care needs are not being met. This community is all too frequently left to suffer health disparities due to cultural incompetency, stigma and misunderstanding, and an inability to create policy changes that cover the population as a whole and their acute and long-term needs.

Family Fighting Plan to Relocate Son

NEW YORK — Parents were racing against the clock Tuesday to keep their children with disabilities safe as the state plans to pull them from their current care facilities.
As CBS2 first reported, it’s a challenge facing New Jersey families, but now one family in New York is facing the same painful dilemma.
The state wants to move Cheryl Lloyd’s 22-year-old son from his current facility, but his mother said the new place is just plain dangerous.

Realizing Dream, Opening Own Business

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — Ian Barbour always knew he wanted to run his own business, but it wasn't until he started working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) that his dreams became reality. Ian, who has autism and other developmental disabilities, was determined to make something of himself.
Ian and his VR Counselor, Pamela Cramer, worked together to find a career specifically tailored to his needs. Pam referred Ian to a company that helped him find the perfect business to launch and created a business plan to help him be successful. They decided Ian's best bet was to open his own vending machine company. That's when everything began to come together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Opinion: Nowhere To Go

Maybe it's me, but attitudes like this are going to prevent our field from promoting real, meaningful inclusion of people with developmental disabilities, including those with dual diagnosis, in the community. With proper staffing, a transition plan, and careful coordination, the transition can be successful. And there needs to be adequate supports -- perhaps the center's staff -- to ensure a smooth transition.

Last summer, New York’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announced plans for the gradual closure of the Broome Developmental Center (BDC), expected to be fully implemented by March 2016.
Paige Gittelman/ Editorial Artist
The BDC houses and treats patients who have been dually diagnosed as both mentally ill and developmentally disabled. Proponents of closure — a plan to consolidate New York’s 24 state psychiatric hospitals into 15 locations — argue that the integration of patients into community settings will significantly reduce costs for the state and end the unwarranted segregation of dually diagnosed individuals.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Feds Remind Schools of Obligation to Provide Communication Supports

The Obama administration is reminding schools of their wide-ranging responsibilities to students with disabilities who struggle with speech and other communication difficulties.

In guidance issued Wednesday, federal officials said the nation’s public schools have obligations under three separate laws to “ensure that communication with students with hearing, vision and speech disabilities is as effective as communication with all other students.”

25 Years Later, Some See Real Progress

Read on. This is not just about physical limitations - but all individuals.

When New York City announced 30 years ago that it was spending more than $50 million for buses with wheelchair lifts, Ronnie Raymond rolled her eyes. The founder of a reinsurance brokerage firm, she commuted by bus “and I never saw anyone in a wheelchair, anywhere,” she says. “So why spend all that money?” 
The city had already invested in 1,362 accessible buses, and only 10 to 20 people citywide a day boarded in a wheelchair. 
“The reason I didn’t see anyone in wheelchairs,” Ms. Raymond later realized when she herself developed multiple sclerosis and had to use a wheelchair, “was because they couldn’t get anywhere.” Most could not even get to the bus stop. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Raising Funds to Pursue Their Passion

If you missed the PBS NewHour last night, a wonderful story of empowerment and pursuing a passion.

Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt are best friends. Three years ago, these teenagers with Down syndrome had the idea to make a zombie movie. Now, with help from their supporters, they have raised more than $50,000. The PBS NewsHour's Mike Melia reports on their project and how it reflects a shift toward empowering people with developmental disabilities to express themselves creatively.

Access to Autism Services Soars in Pennsylvania, Census Finds

The number of  Pennsylvanians accessing services for autism jumped from 20,000 in 2009 to 55,000  this year.The 2014 Autism Census statistics were released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative.

NYS Justice Center Secures Indictments

ALBANY — New York State’s Justice Center has secured indictments against two aides who allegedly abused a disabled man in a Niskayuna facility.
Yosmarvi Tovar and Dominique Mortimore allegedly pushed a man off the couch in an effort to have him take a shower and they were indicted by a Schenectady County grand jury.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Report: African-American Students Moved to Special Ed at High Rate

BOSTON — Young black males in Boston are being dumped in special education classes and separated from their classmates at an alarming rate, a stunning new report out today reveals, prompting minority leaders to call for immediate reforms.
 NAACP Boston President Michael Curry
“It’s an unintentional consequence of bad policies,” said Najma Nazy’at, director of the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project. “I believe that how it happens here is through pushing out the young people who they just assume are going to create the most problems.”

Bills Delivered to Cuomo

Interesting item from the Healthcare Association of New York State.

The New York State legislative activity has resumed as the Legislature this week delivered a package of nearly 90 bills to the Governor for consideration.  Following action on this package of legislation, there will be 138 additional bills that still require the Governor’s approval or veto before the end of the calendar year. 
The package of bills sent to the Governor this week includes several healthcare-related proposals, including four bills related to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), one related to Office of Mental Health (OMH), a drug disposal demonstration program, and two bills related to the use of accelerated death benefits:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Group with Special Needs Turned Away

After this disturbing story, the store has issued an apology. Opportunity for Bath and Body Works to educate its staff . 
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A field trip to the Chesterfield Mall for students with special needs was disrupted Thursday when teachers say an employee at the Bath and Body Works refused to allow their group to enter the store.

Seventeen students from Fort Zumwalt North High School went on the trip to practice life skills, and were in small groups with staff to find stores and products in a scavenger hunt activity.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Can Google Find Cure for Autism?

Over the past 10 years, no disease has become so familiar to Americans, yet remained so mysterious, as autism.

Now affecting 1 in every 68 children born in the United States—up from 1 in 166 a decade ago—the condition has so far resisted nearly all efforts to cure it, curb it or even precisely define it. As a result, speculation and controversy surrounding the disease has mounted, leaving parents unsure what to believe and doctors frustrated with a lack of options.

A Mother's Story of Raising Her Child with Down Syndrome

One mother's journey, bumpy for certain, but ends with acceptance and Seeing Beyond Disability.
As a 30-something living in New York City, Gina LeVeque had an exciting career in journalism, a passport with stamps from Italy, and a long-term boyfriend. To an outsider— and even to LeVeque at the time— her life looked picture-perfect.

When LeVeque learned she was pregnant in the fall of 2007, she and her boyfriend celebrated. They talked about getting married and building a family.
But during a doctor’s visit that October, LeVeque— like hundreds of other expectant moms in the United States today— received news that would shake her seemingly idealistic world: Her child, which she had been carrying for about 14 weeks, had Down syndrome.