Friday, March 29, 2013

Critics Turn to Academics To Do Cost-Benefit Analysis of OPWDD Services

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.  -- Faced with a $90 million cut to the state Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, Staten Island advocates for the disabled have been highly critical of the borough's Albany lawmakers for not doing enough to prevent what amounts to a 4.5 percent reduction in aid. 
Donna Long and Laura Kennedy
are among those critical to the cuts.
But now Assemblyman Michael Cusick and one of the sharpest critics of the cuts to OPWDD, parent and activist Laura Kennedy -- who branded the reductions "cruel and shameful" -- told the Advance Thursday they've come up with a "plan of action" going forward.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Opinion: 1-in-50, Big Lie About Autism

From Anne Dachel of The Age of Autism.
In 2006 and in 2007, I wrote stories on "The Really Big Lie About Autism."  This is of course the insane claim that the autism epidemic is simply the result of an expanded definition and greater awareness. 
Back in 2006, the rate was one in every 166 children and in 2007, it became one in every 150 children.  Regardless, whatever the rate, it's always because of the same thing: No real increase--greater recognition.
It's just been announced that we now have an autism rate of one in every 50 children, one in every 31 boys.  The official disclaimer is unchanged, as seen in media reports.

Gym Is Something to Cheer About

OK, we've been inundated with fiscal news for a bit, so let's go to one of those feel-good stories. Makes everything seem much better.
Chris Brown never thought any of her daughters would be involved in cheerleading. She thought that world was full of short skirts and superficial girls.
But Brown changed her mind when cheerleading became a life-altering experience for her daughter, who has Down syndrome.

NYS Sen. O'Mara Rips Governor for Cuts

ALBANY -- State Sen. Tom O'Mara (R-C, Big Flats) Wednesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to more fully roll back his cut to the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in the final 2013-14 state budget.
O'Mara said that both the Senate and Assembly had called for rejecting and fully restoring the governor's proposed $120 million or six-percent, across-the-board reduction to OPWDD – the lead state agency overseeing state assistance to programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Opposed to Cuts for Disabled, Freshman NYS Senator Votes Against Budget Bill

The freshman senator highlighted the 4.5 percent cut in the negotiated budget and grilled Senate Finance Chair John DeFrancisco on the potential impact. The cut is 75 percent of what was proposed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget, who called for a 6 percent cut that would cost $120 million.

OPWDD Needs Money More Than 'Tonight Show,' Assemblyman Says

ALBANY -- Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, is calling for fellow lawmakers to allocate $5 million he believes has been set aside to lure the "Tonight Show" back to New York and instead put the money toward the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
Jimmy Fallon of the "Tonight Show."

"The role of state government is to have spending priorities and protect our most vulnerable citizens in the state budget," Tedisco said in a press release. "Our policy should be looking out for families and people with developmental disabilities in communities like Ballston Spa, not giving taxpayer-funded handouts to support the lifestyles of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills."

Nebraska Seeks Funds for Services to Aid People on Wait List

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska needs to continue to whittle down a list of 2,200 people with developmental disabilities waiting for services, Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop and others told the Appropriations Committee on Tuesday afternoon. 
Lathrop introduced a bill (LB375) in this session of the Legislature that would appropriate money for services for people on the waiting list. The Legislature's preliminary budget proposes spending $1.9 million in 2013-14 and $3.9 million the next year for those services.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Simple Act of Kindness: Chili's Waitress Fixes Broken Burger for Autistic Girl

The inspiring story of a Utah Chili's waitress who "fixed" a sliced cheeseburger for a young girl is just one more example of how a simple act of kindness can have a large impact.
This part weekend, Anna MacLean, 25, took her little sister Arianna Hill out to lunch at Chili's before going to see the Easter bunny. MacLean told ABC News that Arianna, who is autistic, "was really enthusiastic" and "told the waitress, 'I'll have my cheeseburger.'"
But when the meal arrived, something was wrong: The burger was "broken," Arianna said sadly.
“Automatically we cut it in half so it’s easier for the kids to eat,” the family's server, Lauren Wells, explained later to CBS affiliate KUTV 2.

Climber With Down Syndrome Returns Home From Mount Everest

Elisha "Eli" Reimer landed at Los Angeles International Airport Friday night after making the 70-mile trek, which was more than a goal – it’s what Eli’s father calls the family’s mission.

1-in-50 School-Age Kids Has Autism: What Does This Really Mean?

Post by Babble's Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a native New Yorker. She's a secretary by day, grad student/blog writer by night and Mami round the clock. When Lisa’s son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism in May 2008, she found herself in a world she did not understand. Her blog, AutismWonderland, chronicles her family journey with autism and shares local resources for children/families with special needs.
The year I was born, the number of children diagnosed with autism was 1 in 5000. And I went through my school-age years and then some never knowing what autism was or anyone who had it. As I grew older, I had an idea it existed but it wasn't anything I knew about.
It wasn't until 2008, at the age of 33,  that I really learned what autism was. I had no choice to know because it was my two year old son, Norrin, who was just diagnosed. That spring I had entered the digital world of MySpace. I didn't know anyone else raising a child with autism. For a long time, among my network of friends, Norrin was truly 1 in 110.

New York State Lawmakers On Track to Complete Budget This Week

ALBANY -- State leaders are on track to finish the budget on time, even before the March 31 deadline.
Lawmakers finally agreed to and printed all of the remaining pieces of legislation late Sunday, four days after they had announced that they'd reached a deal.
They plan their final votes later in the week.

Specialized Dental Practice Helps Patients 'Who Really, Really Need It'

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Mornings with Drs. Steve Ellen and Diane Ede-Nichols at Nova Southeastern University’s spacious new dental clinic in North Miami Beach begin as they did in their former Davie cubicle — with rounds.
A caregiver holds a patient's hand
during a procedure.
They listen as five residents report their patient loads for the day in a litany of routine dental procedures, for clients who are anything but:

Read more here:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Carlucci Launches Petition Calling for Restoration of Cuts for People with Developmental Disabilities

Press Release from Senator David Carlucci:

With residents and agencies now fearing the potential fallout over possible budget cuts to our most vulnerable populations, Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) today announced a grassroots call to action to convince Governor Cuomo to join with state legislators in fully restoring the proposed 6% cuts to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, or OPWDD.
In doing so, the Senator has launched an online petition encouraging residents to demand that $120 million dollars in state-aid be reinstated to OPWDD, which in total would actually amount to $240 million dollars with a federal match included.

Adult Ward Should Have Right to Vote Says Court

The Tokyo District Court on Thursday ruled unconstitutional the provision in the Public Offices Election Law that strips the right to vote from adults helped by guardians.

A three-judge panel led by Judge Makoto Jozuka handed down the decision in a suit filed by a woman backed by an adult guardian against the government.
The decision was the first since the adult guardianship scheme was introduced in 2000.

The plaintiff, Takumi Nagoya, 50, a resident of the city of Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture, has Down’s syndrome and midlevel intellectual disabilities. Her 81-year-old father, Seikichi, was picked as her guardian in February 2007.

Scientists Find Age-Related Changes in How Autism Affects the Brain

Newly released findings from Bradley Hospital published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry have found that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect the brain activity of children and adults differently.
In the study, titled "Developmental Meta-Analysis of the Functional Neural Correlates of Autism Spectrum Disorders," Daniel Dickstein, M.D., FAAP, director of the Pediatric Mood, Imaging and Neurodevelopment Program at Bradley Hospital, found that autism-related changes in brain activity continue into adulthood.

"Our study was innovative because we used a new technique to directly compare the brain activity in children with autism versus adults with autism," said Dickstein. "We found that brain activity changes associated with autism do not just happen in childhood, and then stop. Instead, our study suggests that they continue to develop, as we found brain activity differences in children with autism compared to adults with autism. This is the first study to show that."

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Yorkers Continue Lobbying for Funds

ALBANY -- One of the areas of disagreement in the state budget centers on funding for services for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.

Governor Cuomo in his budget plan cuts $120 million in funding for groups that provide services to people with developmental disabilities. The cuts come after Congress determined that New York had been overbilling the federal government for Medicaid services for state-run developmental disability service centers. Providers of group homes, day programs, and vocational services say it's unfair to make up for the federal cuts at their expense. Some of the groups brought clients and their families to the Capitol for a silent vigil to protest the cuts.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mothers Fight to Pass Ava's Law for Autism Coverage

Melissa Solares says her son Arturo is now
 attending a regular preschool thanks to
intensive behavioral therapy.
Eight-year-old Ava Bullard comes bounding out of the Georgia Senate chamber, a smile stretched from ear to ear.Ava's mother, Anna, bends down to talk to her daughter over the din in the hallway. Her own smile is all business, with a wink to the camera.
"What did he say?" she asks, referring to state Sen. Tim Golden, head of the insurance committee. " Did you tell him we need a hearing?"
"No," says Ava. "But I will!"

Christie Touts Funding for People with Disabilities; Families Battle Bureaucracy

Frank Adu, C.O.O. of The Arc of
Middlesex County shakes hands
with Governor Chris Christie.

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie Monday praised his administration’s financial support for the developmentally disabled, including a "common sense reorganization of government ... to serve the needs of individuals."
But some parents say the recent reshuffling of responsibilities among the departments of Human Services and Children and Families is making it more difficult for their children to receive assistance. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pennsylvania Autism Services Hope to Make Inroads in Workplace

HAMPTON, Pa. -- Patrick Lah is good at his job as a janitor at the local Giant Eagle.
But he doesn't know his supervisor's name, he isn't sure how to ask for days off and, even if he wanted to be promoted, he would say he's perfectly happy with his current job.
As an adult with autism, Lah, 23, is stuck in a Catch-22. He wants to work and be involved in his community, but he's having trouble accessing social services that would provide him with behavioral counseling and job training he needs to succeed.

California Supreme Court: Special Ed Legal Costs Are Public

Interesting Oped piece from The Voice of Orange County.
The California Supreme Court has cleared the way for public disclosure of governmental legal costs in ongoing lawsuits where school districts, cities or other public agencies refuse to reveal the bills before litigation is complete.
In Orange County and other jurisdictions, governmental agencies frequently have declined to release the costs of ongoing litigation, contending such legal bills are exempt from disclosure under the California Public Records Act.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Opposition Emerging to Cuomo's Plan to Cut Funding

Scary times here in New York State. If you haven't been seeing as many updates on the blog, it's because all efforts are focusing on Advocacy. If you are a provider in NYS, hope you are contacting your local legislators and letting them know how these proposed cut will impact our loved one or the people you support.

The Democratic majority in the State Assembly and the coalition that controls the State Senate are both planning to propose restoring the full amount of money that the governor is seeking to cut, officials said on Thursday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

U.N. Reports Some Autism and Addiction Treatments Are Equivalent to Torture

So-called treatments for drug users and the disabled in some places of the world—including the U.S.— are far from helpful, says a new United Nations (U.N.) report.
The U.N. special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, presented the report to the agency’s Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, and says that some practices used to treat autism and addiction are “tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Legislators Vow to Block Cuomo Cuts

ALBANY — Legislators vowed Wednesday to block Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $240 million cut in budget funding for programs serving the developmentally disabled.

"We can't allow the balancing of the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable populations in the state of New York," said Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland County), the chairman of the Mental Health and Development Disabilities Committee. "So we're here today to say, don't turn your back on us. We're going to keep fighting. We're going to be working together in the Senate and Assembly to make sure these cuts don't happen."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Groups Push for Added Funds in NYS Budget

ALBANY -- Education groups want more school aid. Local governments want money for local roads. Lawmakers want to pare back cuts to health services.As the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo head into the final weeks of budget talks, the lobbying effort at the Capitol on Wednesday was in full swing. The budget is due by March 31, and lawmakers are expected to reach a deal before their spring break, which starts March 21.The budget season means a variety of groups are making a final push to make changes to Cuomo’s proposed $136 billion spending plan for the 2013-14 fiscal year. Usually, it means seeking more money for their interests.Today, we’re here to stand together and speak with one voice, to say that we cannot allow the balancing of the budget to be on the backs of those with disabilities,” said Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, at a noon news conference.

NY Service Providers Fight 6 Percent Cut

With the federal government cutting its Medicaid funding to New York, the state is poised to cut 6 percent from its funding to organizations that assist people with developmental disabilities, something local organizations say will greatly affect families they serve.Valerie Muratori, executive director of Saratoga Bridges, said the 6 percent cut means $1.3 million will be slashed from the organization’s budget.
“It’s really going to change the way we provide services,” Muratori said.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Even When Delayed, Most Kids Acquire Language

The majority of youngsters with autism who have severe language delay do eventually learn to talk, researchers say.
Some 70 percent of children with the developmental disorder who were not making meaningful phrases by age 4 ultimately achieved some form of speech by age 8 — whether talking in phrases or fluently — according to findings reported Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Waiver Aids Autistic Child and Family

Kyle Winter reads a book with
his father Jeff.
GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Eight-year-old Kyle Winter loves animals. He carries stuffed snakes, a big green alligator and plastic sharks with him at his home, identifying one snake as a boa constrictor and demonstrating the strength with which alligators can close their jaws on prey.
When he rides horses with Eagle Mount’s equestrian program, he makes sure to apologize to his horse if he accidentally bumps into him.Kyle is well-spoken, shows affection toward his parents, Susan and Jeff Winter, doesn’t always get along with his 11-year-old brother, Ryan, and takes extra time to play with the family labradoodle, Hannah, and tries to teach her how to roll over.