Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ohio Radio DJ Suspended

A northeastern Ohio disc jockey has issued an on-air apology and been suspended after coming under fire for mocking a caller who has Down syndrome.
The DJ, identified only as “Mo” on the WDJQ-Q92 website, says he believed the woman was a prank caller and he “played along” on Jan. 21, when he made fun of her speech, laughed at her and told her, “I can laugh at you and you won’t know who to call to say you’re offended. Very good.”

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Flack for Flacco After Poor Word Choice

The NFL's decision to bring the Super Bowl to the New York metro area next year was expected to generate controversy for being the first cold weather, outdoor championship game. But the choice of words a football star used to describe his feelings on the outdoor game have him eating crow, and has some fans switching loyalties.
When asked by a Denver-based reporter his opinion of the Super Bowl being played next year in New York, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said in a Monday news conference, “I think it’s retarded.”

Radio Host Mocks Woman with Disability; Family Responds

Kellie Baker and her family being
interviewed by a local TV station. 
STRASBURG, Ohio --- The family of Kellie Baker of Strasburg hopes to raise awareness of bullying of people with disabilities after she was mocked by the host of a show on an Alliance radio station.
“My feeling is, if I can change the way one person thinks or feels, it would be phenomenal,” said Baker’s mother, Gigi Standiford. “Even better would be to change the way they react to people with disabilities.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Replacements Anger Striking School Bus Drivers and Matrons

School bus drivers and matrons
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Momentum on the picket line grew among the striking yellow school bus drivers and matrons as they watched newly-hired replacements pick up their abandoned routes on Tuesday morning.

Between 50 and 60 buses rolled out of the Atlantic Express depot in Chelsea, according to Huguenot resident Ernie Maione, a member of Amalgamated Transit Union 118 who has been driving a special education route for more than 30 years.

School Sports Inclusion Obligations Clarified

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance Monday clarifying school districts’ existing legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities. In addition to explaining those legal obligations, the guidance urges school districts to work with community organizations to increase athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, such as opportunities outside of the existing extracurricular athletic program.

CDC Awards Disability Research Contract

RTI International has won a five-year, $10.2 million contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to advance developmental disability research.
The research is aimed at determining the causes and prevalence of developmental disabilities, such as autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and hearing or vision loss, the company said in a release.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Brotherly Love Prompts Autism App

When Jonathan Izak looks at AutisMate, he only wishes something similar had existed when his brother was younger.
The iPad app, which Izak and colleagues have spent the last 18 months creating, is designed for autistic children — kids like Izak’s brother.

I think it definitely would have helped him (with his) acquisition of language,” Izak said.
In recent years, the iPad has been a hotbed for apps designed to help those with autism and other special needs, so AutisMate will have plenty of company when it hits the App Store later this week.

Psychiatry's Bible, DSM-5, Is Complete

For more than 11 years, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been laboring to revise the current version of its best-selling guidebook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (see " Psychiatry's Bible Gets an Overhaul” in Scientific American MIND). Although the DSM is often called the bible of psychiatry, it is not sacred scripture to all clinicians—many regard it more as a helpful corollary to their own expertise. Still, insurance companies in the U.S. often require an official DSM diagnosis before they help cover the costs of medication or therapy, and researchers find it easier to get funding if they are studying a disorder officially recognized by the manual. This past December the APA announced that it has completed the lengthy revision process and will publish the new edition—the DSM-5—in May 2013, after some last (presumably minor) rounds of editing and proofreading.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Equal Opportunity for School Athletics

The U.S. Department of Education sent out one of its clarifying “Dear Colleague” letters today, this one explaining school districts’ legal obligations to provide equal access to extracurricular athletic activities to students with disabilities.
According to US DOE: Students with disabilities have the right, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, to an equal opportunity to participate in their schools’ extracurricular activities. A 2010 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that many students with disabilities are not afforded an equal opportunity to participate in athletics, and therefore may not have equitable access to the health and social benefits of athletic participation.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Raising Autistic Teens Grounds Dolphins' GM

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Jeff Ireland holds one of the most scrutinized jobs in South Florida as general manager of the Miami Dolphins.
Admitting he’s in “a big offseason for us,” Ireland perhaps faces more pressure than at any point during his five years on the job.

Pig Is Rx for Child with Down Syndrome

A South Florida family went hog wild, after they were allowed to keep their pet.
"She calms him down when he's very agitated," said Heather Ray. "He does get very agitated easily. She helps as a calming effect to him. She gives him the acceptance that not all special needs people really get in our society unfortunately."

From School to Success

Shane Zanni

READING, Mass. -- Shane Zanni has much in common with his fellow students at Reading High School. He likes watching the New England Patriots, he enjoys hanging out with friends, and – once he graduates – Zanni hopes to start a career.
Unlike most other students however, Zanni also has a developmental disability which can sometimes make schoolwork a difficult challenge. But that challenge isn’t stopping him from reaching his goals thanks to EMARC’s School to Work Transition Services program

Brain Scans Predict Early Language Skills

The anatomy of the hippocampus and cerebellum, brain areas associated with motor skills and memory, can predict children’s language abilities at age 1.
The study is the first to associate these brain structures with future language skills.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

High-Tech Tools Help Kids with Autism

As he leaned intently over a glowing flat screen filled with birds and pigs, little Caleb Bowser motioned to his mother excitedly.“Pig!” he said, looking up from the images on an iPad that has opened up a new world for the 3-year-old autistic child.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

'Far From the Tree' Charms Katie Couric and Others

Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree” may have the most intriguing table of contents ever.
“Deaf,” “Dwarfs,” “Down Syndrome,” “Autism,” “Schizophrenia,” “Prodigies” and “Transgender” are some of the blunt chapter titles.
Solomon spent more than 10 years interviewing parents ofchildren who were different from them in a significant respect. He investigates questions such as how hearing parents can raise a deaf child to be fluent in both sign language and written English and whether it’s right to give hormone blockers to a pre-teen who wants a sex change.

My Son Had Autism; Then He Didn't

From Huffington Post Parents' Shawn Bean, Executive Editor, Parenting Early Years.

I'm trying to hold him, but he's squirming. The airport lounge is packed with people, and I can feel all eyes on me: the dad who cannot appease his toddler. Brandy sees me struggling, and comes up with a quick fix. She flips over the stroller. She places Jackson next to it. He begins to spin one of the wheels with his hand. He keeps spinning it. Over and over and over. He's completely absorbed. I look at Brandy quizzically. She shrugs.
Jackson was 3 years old at the time, and by all accounts -- from mother's intuition to the experts' definition -- he was on the spectrum. The behavioral psychologists saw what we saw, but were hesistant to make an official diagnosis. His brain is still developing. So much can change in six months. So time passed. His clothes went from 4T to 5T. Birthday candles were lit, blown out, and saved in the kitchen drawer. By age 6, the appointments with the behavioral psychologists were over. The autism books came off my wife's nightstand. Our tears were redirected to other things like kindergarten graduations.

The 'Other' for Far Too Long

California has been at the forefront of our country's drive to embrace its diversity. When people talk about promoting diversity, they usually are referring to people of varying race, religions, or sexuality living peacefully side by side in society. A truly diverse society embraces everyone for both their differences and their similarities, with the understanding that people are people. The reward for this inclusion is great: The more cohesion a community has, the stronger and more productive the community.
But, there is one population that has often been left out of this tapestry of diversity that we have all worked so hard to weave. Even in these progressive times, there is a group of people, labeled "developmentally disabled," that are often still treated as second-class citizens because they are "different." Unfortunately most people with developmental disabilities are tolerated, but not embraced as assets to our community. At best, they are treated as special guests or welcomed visitors. At worst they are ignored or actively discriminated against.

Monday, January 21, 2013

DSM Panel Shifts Course on Definition of Intellectual Disability, but Not Autism

Experts behind the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders didn’t back down on major changes to the definition of autism, but appear to have made an about-face when it comes to intellectual disability.
Initial plans to revise the diagnosis of “mental retardation” in the forthcoming fifth edition of the psychiatric manual called for the condition to be renamed “intellectual developmental disorder.” Critics blasted the proposal because it was inconsistent with the more commonly accepted term “intellectual disability” which has already been adopted in many federal and state laws.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Waiter Refuses to Serve Customers Who Insult Child with Special Needs

Michael Garcia, a waiter at
Laurenzo's Prime Rib.
When a group of regulars insulted a special needs customer at his restaurant, waiter Michael Garcia served them a dose of bravery.
"My personal feelings just took over,” said Garcia, a waiter at Laurenzo’s Prime Rib in Houston, told KTRK. “And I told this man, 'I'm sorry, I can't serve you.'"
The restaurant might have lost a few customers that day, but the waiter is still being hailed for his bravado.

California Developmental Center Docked Millions

California's largest board-and-care center for the developmentally disabled will surrender more than $1 million a month in federal funding for failing to protect patients from abuse and provide quality medical care, state officials announced this week.
In December, state regulators cited the Sonoma Developmental Center for numerous violations that put patients with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities at risk of serious injury and death. Regulators have threatened to close a major portion of the century-old institution, home to more than 500 patients.

Family Shares Story of Coping with Autism

Occupational therapist Becky Sellers,
right, and therapist Nicole Best, in back
try to calm teenager Levi White
during a meltdown.
SMYRNA, Tenn. — Levi White cannot use words to communicate. Instead he moans, grunts, grimaces, stomps his feet and slaps or flaps his hands.
His mother and two siblings guess what he wants. If they’re wrong, the 240-pound 12-year-old has a meltdown, and no one wants that.
Levi is among the 11.3 percent of American children who have some form of autism.

'He Knows He Has This Disability, but It Doesn't Stop Him In Any Way'

PHILLIPSBURGH, Pa. -- A "Rudy moment."
Jan Pierre "J.P." Canlapan
That's how Phillipsburg High School swimming coach Tracy Herdline described the scene at a meet during the 2009-10 season.
The race was the 50-yard freestyle. The swimmer was Jan Pierre "J.P." Canlapan.
J.P., a freshman at the time, entered the event after one of his teammates graciously gave up his spot in the race. J.P. jumped in and finished, without stopping, in 52 seconds.
"He's so far back because he's swimming it in 52 seconds and everyone else is doing it in 24 seconds, but he finished," Herdline said. "Everyone stood up and everyone applauded. [Coach] Tracy [Ruane] and I were bawling. The parents are in tears. It was just very touching."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kennedy Acknowledges Funding Woes in Visit

Pearl Cody meets with U.S. Rep.
Joseph Kennedy III during his tour.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. — Attleboro Enterprises provides a number of services for about 200 area adults with developmental disabilities, but many of the services are paid for with endangered federal Medicaid funds.That's one of the reasons CEO Gerard Pilkington invited U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III to tour the organization's facility in North Attleboro Thursday.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Study: Some with Autism Diagnosis Can Recover

What do you think of the findings from this study? Really eager to hear from you.

Doctors have long believed that disabling autistic disorders last a lifetime, but a new study has found that some children who exhibit signature symptoms of the disorder recover completely.
The study, posted online on Wednesday by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, is the largest to date of such extraordinary cases and is likely to alter the way that scientists and parents think and talk about autism, experts said.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The R Word is Never Acceptable

The great U.S. Supreme Court Justice and American civil rights hero Thurgood Marshall once wrote that the plight of persons with developmental disabilities was not unlike a “regime of state-mandated segregation…that in its virulence and bigotry rivaled, and indeed paralleled, the worst excesses of Jim Crow.”
Despite progress, though, it is undeniable that Americans with developmental disabilities still remain second-class citizens in the eyes of the law and our fellow human beings. Those with developmental disabilities are rarely heard from in our popular culture or social policy or political dialogue. Part of this tragic injustice is the ridicule of the developmentally disabled, and there is no greater symbolic gesture of this ridicule than the accepted use of the word “retarded” in day-to-day speech.

Opinion: Measuring Success of Services

Post from Jonathan Walters, Executive Editor of

Jonathan Walters
The importance of performance measurement in tough fiscal times can't be overstated, but I also don't think there's any more important policy area to which it applies than human services.
Recently, I spoke at a conference for the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) on the fiscal outlook for 2013. Joining me was Bill Pound, executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Both of us predicted that Congress would ultimately cobble together some unsatisfying, short-term gimmick for avoiding the so-called "fiscal cliff," and we both suggested that whether we went off the cliff or not, folks in human services -- including those focused on developmental disabilities -- were going to continue experiencing the big fiscal squeeze. I went on to suggest that anyone not focusing more tightly on results-informed budgeting and policy would wind up in even worse shape.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wyoming's Medicaid Overhaul Taking Shape

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Wyoming lawmakers are still ironing out details of legislation that would overhaul the state’s Medicaid program.
The legislation, now before the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, would implement a number of reforms to Medicaid. State health officials and advocacy groups say the bill could decrease costs, while making new services available to those already enrolled in the program.
Health officials spent Monday detailing how the reform package could address the increasing cost of Medicaid, which provides health coverage to about 77,000 poor and medically needy people in Wyoming.

Newtown Shooting One Month Later

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- His parents remember Dylan Hockley as such a happy child.
He was 6 and full of joy, his mother, Nicole Hockley, says.
She said he was always smiling and described his laugh as infectious. When his dad would return to their Newtown, Connecticut, home each day, Dylan would run to his father, Ian, saying,"Daddy!"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Vaccine Court Awards Millions to Two Children with Autism

From Huffington Post's David Kirby.

The federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, better known as "vaccine court," has just awarded millions of dollars to two children with autism for "pain and suffering" and lifelong care of their injuries, which together could cost tens of millions of dollars.
The government did not admit that vaccines caused autism, at least in one of the children. Both cases were "unpublished," meaning information is limited, and access to medical records and other exhibits is blocked. Much of the information presented here comes from documents found at the vaccine court website.

Childhood Obesity Tied to Medical and Developmental Conditions, Researchers Find

While a great deal of research on childhood obesity has spotlighted the long-term health problems that emerge in adulthood, a new UCLA study focuses on the condition’s immediate consequences and shows that obese youngsters are at far greater risk than had been supposed.
Compared to kids who are not overweight, obese children are at nearly twice the risk of having three or more reported medical, mental or developmental conditions, the UCLA researchers found. Overweight children had a 1.3 times higher risk.

Miss Montana Reaches Semifinal in Pageant

Montana's Alexis Wineman, who has spoken about having been diagnosed with autism when she was 11, was chosen by fans online and made it to the semifinal of the Miss American Pageant Saturday night. The following post is a story from before the pageant about Alexis.

Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana,
during Saturday's Pageant.
Seven years ago, a bubbly and emotional Montana girl received news that her brain functioned differently than others: She was diagnosed with autism. On Saturday, that same girl competed for the crown of Miss America.
Alexis Wineman, 18, is the youngest of the 53 women vying for the title of Miss America in Las Vegas on Saturday. But Wineman hasn't always lived a life of glamour, having been diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified) at 11 years old. According to the Autism Speaks website, someone with PDD-NOS "has some but not all characteristics of autism or ... has relatively mild symptoms."

Flu Outbreaks and What It Means for Children

From Pamela Wilson, BellaOnline's Children with Special Needs Editor.

Seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for all children and teens with neurologic conditions, including babies over 6 months, especially those who experience difficulties with muscle or lung function, have smaller airways as is common in Down syndrome, or have difficulties swallowing, coughing, or otherwise clearing fluids from airways.

We continue to learn about how suspected flu pandemics will adversely affect children with disabilities as statistics and stories from the 2009 Swine Flu (A1N1 Influenza) and other recent outbreaks are collected. A high risk of life-threatening complications have been found for children who have intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, seizure disorders, MD, stroke, cerebral palsy or other brain or spinal cord problems. The nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for children under the age of two or those with chronic health conditions.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Autism: It's Impact and Reality

PHILADELPHIA -- The impact and reality of autism is still a mystery to many people, but in our region, there are people who are trying to get a better understanding and take direct action as well.
One of the challenges of autism is trying to make ordinary tasks easier. That means explaining and training, like the project now underway that is spreading nationwide.
Dr. Wendy Ross’s program to train airport and airline employees to make it so much easier for families with autistic children to fly is now at six airports, with more to come. Dr Ross’s program began in Philadelphia.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Shattering the Stigma

When Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman, sashays onstage at Saturday's 2013 Miss America Competition, she will be making history as the pageant's first-ever autistic competitor. She isn't alone in bringing awareness to the disorder: She joins the ranks of Daryl Hannah and other celebrities putting a face on Autism.

Once taboo to talk about, autism has been thrust into the mainstream spotlight in recent years by celebrities affected in some way by the disorder.

Op-Ed: Pennsylvania Service Cuts Run Deep

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- It seems Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander believes people are unaware of the extent of the cuts the Corbett Administration has made and continues to make that hurt Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens. Despite Alexander's recent statements to the contrary, there have been so many service cuts to vital human services it is helpful to review some of the highlights of the first two years of this administration.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ex-Madam Plans Brothel with New Customer in Mind

What better way to kick off the weekend!

For 20 years, Becky Adams was one of Britain's top madams, running an illegal escort agency and catering to the sexual needs of thousands of men.
"Madam Becky," as she was called, was arrested several times but never charged.
"But I got to the stage where I was so successful that, in the end, I was looking at going to prison," said Adams, 44. "I had to hide away from the police in France until it all died down."
In 2009, she sold her business to one of the call girls, and in 2010 returned to her home in Buckinghamshire to write a memoir about her exploits that won the Brit Writers Award in 2012.
Surprisingly, the book also won the Erotic Award, given by Outsiders, an organization that helps the disabled to lead full lives, including a sex life.
So now, Adams, now the mother of two daughters, 23 and 17, and a grandmother, has turned a life of profit into one of persuasion.
Today, she is a sexual activist -- still a madam, of sorts -- who uses her experience running a brothel to help the disabled satisfy their sexual desires.

Florida Agencies Unveil Plan to Improve Care

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida state agencies are taking new measures to help parents with medically fragile and disabled children.Officials on Thursday announced a plan to provide disabled children with care coordinators — 28 nurses who will help parents deal with the multiple agencies involved in their children’s care.

N.J. Doctor Fired for Unauthorized Research

The office door of Dr. Philip May.
TRENTON — The doctor accused of performing unauthorized medical research on intellectually disabled residents at a state institution in Union Township has been fired, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services said Thursday.
The doctor, Philip May, was let go last month after he refused to participate in an internal hearing on charges that he abused clients at the Hunterdon Developmental Center, engaged in inappropriate physical contact and falsified documents, the spokeswoman, Nicole Brossoie, said.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Parents Cover Feature Girl with Spina Bifida

This is just great news! Parents magazine, a mainstream publication, has opened its eyes and seen the light that children with special needs are CHILDREN! More of the world needs to begin seeing beyond disability.

The February issue of Parents magazine arrived the other day, and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the cover. Right there, front and center, is 3-year-old Emily Keicher, who has spina bifida.
Emily is beyond cute and has an infectious smile. She has a walker and leg braces, too. I love seeing a child with a disability on the cover of a major national magazine. Even better, she’s not out there because there’s a story in the magazine about kids with special needs. She’s there just because. And that makes my heart soar.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Speech Therapy for Toddlers

From Babble's Beth Anne Ballance.

A little over a year ago, I made one of the hardest phone calls – I called the pediatrician and asked for an appointment because I had concerns over my toddler’s speech.  The next day, I sat in the pediatrician’s office with Harrison quietly zooming cars at my feet and I explained that he had completely regressed in speech. He maybe had twelve words and about half of those were in his own language that only me and my husband understood. I told the doctor about the head banging Harrison did from frustration, the screaming and whining and me nearly pulling my own hair out from frustration. The inability to communicate with my child was breaking down our relationship and creating horrible stress in our fa

Feds Scale Back Maine's Medicaid Cuts

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Obama administration has rejected Republican Gov. Paul LePage's plan to cut health care coverage for more than 20,000 low-income Mainers but left intact provisions approved by the former GOP-controlled Legislature that will eliminate benefits for another 12,600 residents.
The administration denied Maine's request to eliminate Medicaid coverage for Maine parents who make between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty level and to drop coverage for 19- and 20-year-olds, changes that combined would have eliminated coverage for more than 20,000 people.

Baby Born with Birth Defect Every 4.5 Minutes

Every 4.5 minutes a U.S. baby is born with a birth defect, a leading cause of death among infants, federal health officials say.
Coleen Boyle, director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said birth defects account for about 20 percent of mortality in the first year of life.
In addition, babies born with birth defects have a greater chance of illness and long-term disability than babies without birth defects, Boyle said.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Florida Governor Presses Feds on Medicaid

TALLAHASSEE -- After emerging from a meeting with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Gov. Rick Scott said Monday he asked for the federal government to “expedite” approval of Florida’s controversial proposals to shift most Medicaid beneficiaries into managed-care plans.
But Scott offered few details about their discussion on another major issue — how, or if, the state will carry out key parts of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Opinion: Putting a Price on Special Education Will Promote Equal Access

TRENTON -- Last week, NJ Spotlight’s John Mooney interviewed Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), acclaimed architect of New Jersey’s new tenure law, about her education agenda for 2013. Ruiz said that “she wants to focus on special education in the coming year, specifically helping families of students with disabilities navigate the system,” adding, “how do we as a state create opportunities for families who really feel they haven’t that access?”
The issue of equal access to high-performing schools for children from all families, regardless of wealth, ZIP code, or parental advocacy, infuses education reform discussions in New Jersey and elsewhere. Locally, it’s the heart of our Abbott rulings, funding formulas, and charter school wars. Nationally, the issue of access informs debates on school choice, teacher and administrator accountability, and measuring student outcomes.

Study: Overactive Brain Hinders Autistic Teens

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A new University of Michigan study finds that an overactive part of the brain hinders autistic teens from coping in unfamiliar social settings, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and anxious.
Seeing the same faces repeatedly can negatively affect autistic children, especially in social situations. If a teen looks away or does not pay attention, this is often interpreted as someone who isn't interested in other people, says University of Michigan researcher Christopher Monk.

Beauty Queen with Autism Vies for Crown

Six months of perfecting her interviewing skills and polishing her comedy routine will be put to the test this week when Alexis Wineman, 18, steps before the judges in her quest to become the first Miss America with autism.
The reigning Miss Montana, Wineman arrived in Las Vegas last week for the Miss America pageant with her parents and two sisters — one of them her twin — after a two-and-a-half-day drive from her hometown of Cut Bank, Mont. A week of interviews and competitions kicked off Monday ahead of the televised pageant Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Florida Seeks to Overturn Autism Ruling

MIAMI, Fla. -- Already facing sharp criticism over policies that have resulted in the rationing of care to severely disabled children, Florida healthcare regulators are challenging a federal judge's order that the state provide a costly -- but potentially life-changing -- treatment to children with autism.
Last spring, U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard struck down the state's refusal to pay for applied behavior analysis (ABA) for autistic children, calling the state's policy "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable."

Read more here:

Employers Learn Disabilities Can Mask Abilities

Jamie Bunker works as a culinary
assistant in the catering kitchen of
Vintage Estates in Yountville.
Great story that hopefully will open eyes of other employers. There's no reason that every person with a disability can contribute to the community by working.

YOUNTVILLE, Calif. -- For many adults, self-image is tied directly to one’s job.
Employment makes a person feel like part of the community — a contributing member of society, said Beth Kahiga, executive director of Napa Valley Support Services. Without employment or other meaningful activity, people become prone to depression and other mental health issues. This is especially true for disabled adults, who face even fewer job opportunities, she said.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

France Still in Dark Ages About Autism

Of the many myths about autism, the belief that it is a mental illness has been soundly discredited in the U.S. but it persists in other countries and most of all in France. A year ago, “Le Mur” (“The Wall”), a documentary about two autistic boys more than ruffled a few feathers in France’s well-established community of psychoanalysts. Filmmaker Sophie Robert showed how one autistic boy, Guillaume, was treated with the “American” approach of behavioral teaching and fared far better than another, Julien, who underwent analysis while living in an asylum for six years. Three French psychoanalysts interviewed for the film sued Robert for misrepresenting them and their profession.

Returning to Yesterday

A post by Age of Autism contributor Cathy Jameson

While people are divulging their resolutions this week, I hear the making of solemn promises – to do better for themselves, to do better for others or to do better for the world.  I make all kinds of promises throughout the year that I work toward, but I am not a typical New Year’s resolution maker.  I consider myself more of a constant work in progress, so I applaud those of you who have a habit of making (and keeping) resolutions year after year. 
As I listen to the goals my friends have made with these resolutions, I can’t help but think about simpler times.  Many of the resolutions have folks returning to activities or events that they had enjoyed from the past—to be the weight they were 20 years ago, to finish a project they started before kids arrived on the scene, to get back to playing a sport they loved, or to find time to enjoy a skill or craft they had perfected before joining the rat race.  For many, finding that former weight, that oneness of self or being able to carve out a bit of time where the rest of the world doesn’t matter for a moment is important.  Whodoesn’t love the chance to feel like they are in charge of their life again whilegaining some positive results in return? 

Fewer Babies Born Prematurely in New York

Fewer babies are being born too early in New York and that means fewer infants are at risk for birth defects, according to the state health department.
Births before 37 weeks accounted for 10.9 percent of all births in 2011, a drop from 12.2 percent in 2009, according to the numbers released Friday by the New York State Department of Health.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Giving a Voice to Autism

The main argument in favor of realistic novels, aside from the pleasure in reading them, is that they instruct us. By recognizing ourselves in fictional characters sent slaloming through the moral and ethical gates of life, we find our own repertoire of choices widened at those crucial moments when we, too, have to figure out what to do when a parent dies, a spouse deserts us, or the pilot gets on the PA system and advises us all to pray.
But what if a story is told by a man whose disabilities make it difficult for him to express his thoughts? My first novel was recounted in the third person and described, with fair autobiographical fidelity, my growing up with an autistic brother. I'm currently writing a novel told entirely from that autistic brother's point of view, and I find myself continually shoved up against a paradox: How do you make interesting a world which is by definition pathologically self-enclosed? How does the tool kit of the novel, with its venerable elements of dialogue, landscape and plotting, persuasively present the first-person experience of someone who is overstimulated by the input of life and yet lacks the cognitive means to process and communicate it?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Autism Strains Yet Strengthens a Marriage

Nancy Clarke and Jay Petrow.
From The New York Times' Booming Blog's Making it Last column, profiling baby boomer couples who have been together for 25 years. This post is by Steven Petrow.

Last summer, Nancy Clarke, 54, and Jay Petrow, 53, celebrated their silver wedding anniversary with family members in the backyard of their Westport, Conn., home. As Jay's brother, I was best man at their 1987 wedding at our parents’ house in Southampton, L.I., and since then have watched as he and Nancy have taken on an extraordinary challenge — raising an autistic and seriously disabled son, William, who is now 19.
For two decades Jay worked “10 to 10” as a magazine art director, and then five years ago decided to make a new beginning, starting a landscape design company. Nancy, a Princeton graduate and former Wall Street trader, became a stay-at-home mom after William’s birth. They also have a daughter, Anna, who’s 15. Following is a condensed and edited version of our conversation about their marriage.

Federal Insurance Providers Not Required to Cover ABA Therapy for Families with Autistic Children

BALTIMORE -- Autistic children of federal workers in 22 states begin receiving insurance coverage this month for a key behavioral treatment, under a decision by the Office of Personnel Management.
Maryland, home to the third-largest population of federal workers in the nation, is not one of them.
"These families desperately need the best coverage for their kids," said Stuart Spielman, senior policy adviser and counsel for Autism Speaks. He said the advocacy group would petition the OPM to expand its coverage as quickly as possible.

Higher Payments May Prompt More New Jersey Doctors to Accept Medicaid Patients

A two-year project is under way to encourage primary care doctors to accept Medicaid-eligible patients by paying for many services at the same level as Medicare.
Many poor or disabled patients have limited access to healthcare because so few doctors have been willing to accept the low Medicaid reimbursement rates.
The federal government will cover the difference between Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for 146 primary-care services from Jan. 1 through the end of 2014. The increased payments will be made to family physicians, pediatricians and internal medicine doctors who specialize in primary care.

Officials Quell KanCare Confusion

When Kansas Medicaid recipients received their KanCare enrollment packets last fall, they were given a simple directive – check the three insurance companies that will be taking over the state’s Medicaid program to be sure your primary care provider and other health providers are covered, then choose a plan accordingly.
But while KanCare went into effect on Tuesday, the same problem remained for more than 3,700 Miami County residents enrolled in Medicaid. When looking up the list of Kansas providers, there’s a gap in the “O” section where Olathe Health Systems should be listed – but isn’t. Since the company owns the county’s only hospital, Miami County Medical Center, as well as family care clinics in Paola, Osawatomie and Louisburg, the absence of the health group from the three plans’ lists of providers is worrisome for the county’s Medicaid recipients.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

5 Pending Medicaid Waivers to Watch in 2013

In the midst of the national push for Medicaid reform, one albatross is often cited by state policymakers for impeding their progress: the federal waiver process. The long and short of it is that it takes too long to get a waiver approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) if a state has an innovative idea to test. There are horror stories about waivers taking more than a year to be approved, even if they’ve been approved in the past and states are just looking to continue their programs. Six former governors (three Democrats and three Republicans) issued a report last year, bemoaning the problems with the waiver process and offering their recommendations for fixing it. CMS officials have acknowledged that it could be streamlined, though no specific improvements have been named or acted upon.

A Different Approach to Therapy

Kristen Earley runs with her horse,
Star, at the North Carolina Therapeutic
Riding Center.

MEBANE, North Carolina — At age 6, Abigail Baggett wanted nothing more than to play soccer with her friends.
But battling cerebral palsy, the youngster faced major challenges, often stumbling when she tried to run up and down the field. The first time Abigail refused to go to physical therapy, her parents began searching for another outlet.

Judge Orders Therapy for Ohio Toddler

Robert and Holly Young watch as
their son, Roman, 2, plays at  home.
CINCINATTI -- A federal judge ordered state officials on Wednesday to provide speech therapy and other care to an autistic boy in Clermont County who has gone without those services for more than four months.
The judge stopped short, however, of a more sweeping order that the boy’s parents say is needed to get crucial, comprehensive care to their son and other autistic children across Ohio.

Drums a Hit with Autistic 12-Year-Old

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Ask Ian Engelsman his musical inspirations, and he'll give you an earful.
Dokken, Slaughter, Skid Row and Twisted Sister. White Lion, W.A.S.P., Judas Priest and, his mother's favorite, Pink Floyd. He doesn't care much for The Who. And, did you know, nearly all of the songs on The Outfield's album featuring their hit, "Your Love," are only about 3 minutes long?
Ask Ian about his bright blue Ludwig drum set, and he'll explain the different types of drums. Snare. Bass. Toms.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Autism Coverage Goes Into Effect in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska -- One of the new laws set to take effect in Alaska will require health insurance policies to cover treatment of autism spectrum disorders.
All or portions of a number of bills became law, effective Tuesday, with the start of 2013. Another new measure provides tax incentives to encourage oil and gas exploration outside the North Slope and Cook Inlet.

Program Helps Navy Families

Respite care giver Rosie Taverez
helps Karen Smith with Smith's
12-week-old daughter Kayla
while Connor Smith, 3 looks on.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Karen Smith was seven-months pregnant in July and walking the aisles of the wholesale store Costco when she received the call.
The voice on the phone said she and her family were no longer on the waiting list and had been accepted in the Navy Exceptional Family Member Respite Care Program.
“I broke down crying in the Costco,” she said, “because it meant that God did answer my prayer.”

Hoping for a Job

Touching story from abroad. 

Get Hired hopeful John Heslop is hoping 2013 brings him work – not least so he can buy presents for people next Christmas.
The former TV repairman has been unemployed for exactly two years. And he said one of the worst things about being jobless is not having the cash to buy gifts for loved ones.

2013 Year of Transition for New Jersey Health Care

TRENTON -- There is at least one certainty for New Jersey's healthcare environment in 2013 -- it will be very different a year from now.
The major pieces of the federal Affordable Care Act will be rolled out on January 1, 2014, but preparations for those changes are already underway and will dominate the healthcare landscape in New Jersey and across the country this year.
A set of related issues are at the forefront of those changes: whether the state expands Medicaid eligibility; whether it forms a partnership with the federal government to operate a health benefit exchange or allows the feds to be the sole operator; how a wide-ranging state Medicaid waiver is implemented; and how New Jersey’s providers expand new models for healthcare delivery.
Each of these issues have the potential to make a difference in how New Jersey residents receive healthcare, as well as how doctors, hospitals, and other providers are paid.