Friday, May 31, 2013

Opinion: Let's Talk About Autism in Public Places

Writer Bridget Mora's son, Holden.
Editor's note:Bridget Mora is the mother of a 5 ½-year-old son with an autism spectrum disorder. A resident of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, she is a member of the board of the Autism Society of North Carolina Orange Chatham Chapter. She also blogs about autism.
Ashley Bays took her toddler into M Spa Salon in Portage, Michigan, for a simple haircut but left with a "severe tongue lashing," according to a witness whose Facebook post about the event went viral.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Study Focuses on Autism Language Skill Development and Behavior

PITTSBURGH — Niko Stevens loves playing with his big brother, Shawn.Niko is 3. He is autistic and doesn’t speak.“He can’t say well, ‘Mommy, I just want a hug. Mommy, I just want a kiss,’” says his mother, Violet Stevens.
A new study finds the way an autistic child’s brain responds to words at an early age can help predict the child’s future language skills and social behavior.

Autistic High School Football Player in New Jersey Files Suit

The parents of a Brick Township High School placekicker with multi-symptom autism and other developmental disabilities filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic s Association violated their son’s civil rights by denying him a fifth year of eligibility.
Anthony Starego with his parents
Reylene and Ray Starego.
The complaint against the NJSIAA, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in Trenton, claims Anthony Starego is entitled to play football this fall under the federal Americans with Disability Act (ADA), which states in part that reasonable accommodations must be made to include those with disabilities in interscholastic competition.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Idaho Group Asks to Make Medicaid Lawsuit Class-Action

BOISE, Idaho — Thirteen severely disabled residents who sued the state last year after their Medicaid budgets were dramatically cut are asking a federal judge to make the case a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the roughly 3,600 people who receive medical care through Idaho's Developmentally Disabled Medicaid Wavier program.

Labor Laws Allow Less Than Minimum Wage for Workers with Disabilities

There’s currently proposed legislation for a higher minimum wage at both the state and federal level. But some of the fastest growing fields, like homecare and restaurant workers, aren’t included in the minimum wage. WBEZ’s Front and Center series, Exceptions to the Rule, introduces you to people who aren’t protected by the same labor laws as everyone else.
Michael Grice
When I meet Michael Grice, he’s sharply dressed in a turquoise pinstripe shirt and nice beige slacks. He says people are quick to judge him because he has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair, so he pays special attention to his appearance.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Autistic Find Job Niche in Tech

Phillip Griffin graduated high school with honors in 2009, but despite his good grades and interest in math and science, finding a job proved difficult .
That's because Griffin, 22, has autism spectrum disorder, a developmental disorder characterized as difficulties with social interaction and communication – making job interviews a nightmare.

Illinois Temporarily Halts Transfer of Residents From Developmental Center

CHICAGO — Illinois officials agreed Thursday to temporarily halt the movement of residents out of an institution for the developmentally disabled in the southern Illinois city of Centralia.

At the request of U.S. Northern District Court Judge Ruben Castillo, the state agreed to stop the transfer of all but one resident out of Murray Developmental Center until a hearing next week on a temporary restraining order requested by residents' families.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

N.C. Group Home Residents Face Crisis

Residents of group homes for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled could find themselves without somewhere to live come July 1, a repeat of a crisis they faced earlier this year, and lawmakers crafting a new state budget say they are stumped for a long-term solution to the problem. 
Federal and state regulators changed the rules for who is eligible for so-called "personal care services" last year in an effort to keep from running afoul of laws that require those with mental illness to be kept out of institutions if at all possible. 
That change change in rules meant many residents of group homes, settings where workers ensure people take their medicine, brush their teeth and carry out other activities of daily life, lost funding for those services. Operators of group homes say that, without that personal care service money, they won't be able to continue serving those residents.

California Self-Advocates Rally at Capitol

Californians with disabilities and groups supporting them gathered at the Capitol Wednesday a daylong push to make their voices heard and to lobby for restoration of past budget cuts affecting them.
To kick off the event, speakers exhorted hundreds of participants gathered near the Capitol's west steps to chant, "We're here, we're loud, we're disabled and we're proud."

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

German Software Firm to Hire Hundreds of Workers with Autism

A German software giant has announced it intends to employ hundreds of people with autism as software testers and programmers in a global drive over the next seven years.

SAP, which has already launched pilot projects in India and Ireland, said that the move aimed to find workers "who think differently" in the hopes that this would lead to innovative ideas and advances.
By 2020, one percent of SAP's currently 65,000-strong workforce is expected to be affected by autism, a company spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Couple Finds a Home

So happy for this couple and their families.

After months of waiting and legal action, Paul and Hava Forziano, a pair of newlyweds with developmental disabilities, have finally found a home where they can live together.
Paul and Hava Forziano
at their wedding.
In July, the couple will move to a one-bedroom apartment in a Riverhead group home run by East End Disability Associates, according to Roseann Forziano, the groom's mother.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Burt Bacharach Revisits Autistic Daughter's Death in Memoir

NEW YORK -- Burt Bacharach knew writing a memoir would be emotional — not because of his never-heard backstage tales or his tumultuous marriages. He knew that being honest would force him to come to terms with the death of his daughter.
“It was very tough because I had to revisit what that period was and go deeper into it,” he said of his daughter Nikki’s premature birth, years of emotional issues, and eventual suicide at the age of 40.

Law Limits Award to Abused Workers

A jury verdict earlier this month to mentally disabled workers who were abused and forced to live in a “house of horrors” has been drastically slashed after trial.
The bunk house at Henry's Turkey
After deciding that Texas-based turkey processing plant Henry’s Turkey Service subjected the workers to abuse, discrimination and physical punishment at home and at work, the jury awarded $7.5 million to each of the 32 workers.

Monday, May 20, 2013

N.J. Developmental Centers Brace for Huge Change

TRENTON -- With its imposing, Victorian-era buildings and leafy, college-like campus, the Vineland Developmental Center was in its time a state-of-the-art institution for treating young women with complex mental and emotional disorders.
At its peak in the late 1950s, just over 2,000 women lived at the center. Once there, often at the behest of families that no longer could care for them, they could expect to stay for life.No longer.

Friday, May 17, 2013

CDC: 1-in-5 Kids Have Mental Disorder

Millions of American children suffer from depression, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders and an array of other mental health issues, and the prevalence of such conditions is rising, a new study shows.
Roughly one in five children experience a mental disorder in a given year, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The costs for health care, special education, juvenile justice and other services for people under age 24 with mental disorders total nearly $250 billion each year, the report shows.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Autism in Flight Prepares Kids for Travel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- A month ago, Ruth Goldman couldn't imagine taking her twins to the airport to board a plane. Her 11-year-old sons have autism and don't react well to unfamiliar sights and sounds.
Daniel Goldman at the security check.
"It just wasn't even on the list," said Goldman, of Miramar.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Caring for a Sibling with Special Needs

They've been called the "club sandwich generation" – those who raise their children while taking care of aging parents while watching over a third generation. And sometimes that generation is your own generation – that of a brother or sister who has significant special needs.
 A recent Easter Seals Sibling Disability Study survey reported that while 80 percent of respondents expected to eventually be their sibling's primary caregiver, only 33 percent felt financially prepared to someday step into that role. It also noted that more than 65 million people – 29 percent of the population in the United States – provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly family member or friend in any given year, logging an average of 20 hours a week. Much of that care, the survey noted, is for an adult brother or sister.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Trudge to the Roots of Autism

Much of autism’s mystery and fascination lies in a paradox: On one hand, autism seems to create a profound disconnect between inner and outer lives; on the other, it generates what the neuroscientist Oliver Sacks calls
an essential and “most intricate interaction” between the disorder and one’s other traits.
In the autistic person, it seems, hums a vital and distinctive essence — but one whose nature is obscured by thick layers of behavior and perception. Or, as Temple Grandin puts it, “two panes of glass.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Autistic Teen On Way to Nobel Prize

As a child, doctors told Jacob Barnett’s parents that their autistic son would probably never know how to tie his shoes.
Jacob Barnett
But experts say the 14-year-old Indiana prodigy has an IQ higher than Einstein’s and is on the road to winning a Nobel Prize. He’s given TedX talks and is working toward a master’s degree in quantum physics.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Landmark Class-Action Lawsuit Settled

SPRINGFIELD -- Her supporters, which have grown since 1998 from a small number of family members to a legion of disability rights advocates, were there to support Loretta
Loretta Rolland, center, smiles
as she leaves U. S. Federal Court
with her brother Alfred Rolland
and her sister Claire Harris.

Rolland even if she could not physically applaud herself.
A courtroom filled with advocates, attorneys, state disability rights officials and workers, came to testify at and witness a hearing in U.S. District Court that signaled the dismissal of the Rolland class action suit on Wednesday. The landmark suit against the state was settled as public agencies made substantial progress in moving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities to community settings.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Disabled Couple and Parents File Suit

PORT JEFFERSON, N.Y. — With the beaming smiles of newlyweds, Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels hold hands, exchange adoring glances and complete each other's sentences. Their first wedding dance, he recalls, was to the song "Unchained ..." ''Melody," she chimes in.
They spend their days together in the performing arts education center where they met. But every night, they must part ways. Forziano goes to his group home. His wife goes to hers.
The mentally disabled couple is not allowed to share a bedroom by the state-sanctioned nonprofits that run the group homes — a practice the newlyweds and their parents are now challenging in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Monday, May 6, 2013

NYS Legislators: Cut Hollywood, Save OPWDD

As New York approaches its record-breaking year for television production, not everyone is pleased with the film and television tax credit program that provides incentive to producers to film in New York.

According to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, this season, state numbers show that there have been 19 pilots and five shows that went straight to series filmed in the state. The current record is 20 pilots shot during the fall of 2010 to spring of 2011.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Autistic Twins Hoping for Calm Races After Trauma of Boston

BETHPAGE, N.Y. — Alex and Jamie Schneider run seemingly on instinct, saying nothing and drifting into a cone of concentration. They are autistic 22-year-old identical twins from Long Island whose passion is to run for miles at a time. The twins, who are nonverbal and can exhibit severe behaviors like self-injury and
Alex Schneider with Kevin McDermott.
tantrums, have completed more than 120 races, including five marathons and eight half-marathons, over the past seven years.
They thrive on the repetition and routine of racing,” said their mother, Robyn Schneider. “You finish, get a medal, high-five everyone at the finish line and go home.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Paying for Finn, a Special-Needs Child

Author Jeff Howe with son Finn.
What's wrong with this child? There are a lot of ways to answer that question.I don't mean that in an every-child-is-unique-as-a-snowflake way. I mean that my wife, Alysia, and I are pretty sure that Finn hails from some distant, unknown planet.

Half of All Autistic Kids Will Run Away; Tragedy Often Follows

Within hours one day in April, two children went missing hundreds of miles apart from each other.On the surface they appear to have little in common.
Savannah Martin, 7, died in 2011 after
she drowned in a pond near her home.
Angelo Messineo is a 16-year-old from Georgia. He was found alive on a horse farm four days after he disappeared from school on April 16. Alyvia Navarro, 3, of Wareham, Mass., was pronounced dead hours after she was reported missing, drowned in a pond near her grandmother's home, on the same day.
They are just two of the thousands of children who went missing last month.But Angelo and Alyvia have one thing in common, and it's a trait shared with at least one child who goes missing every day in America. They are autistic.

Defying the Odds with a Job

LAWRENCE, Kan.  — Lawrence man Ryan Banning is in every sense of the word an entrepreneur. For more than a decade, Banning, 36, has operated his own business, Ryan's Vending Service, managing a dozen or so vending machines in Lawrence.
He's always looking to expand, he said as he loaded the soda and snack machines at the Lawrence Municipal Airport recently.
And the bottom line for Ryan, who has Down syndrome, is that he enjoys the work and turns a profit.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

$240 Million Awarded in Landmark Workers Case

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Robert Canino sobbed in a Davenport federal courtroom Wednesday when the judge announced the $240 million verdict.
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission attorney advocated four years for 32 mentally disabled men and convinced a jury after five days of emotionally brutal testimony that their chances at normalcy and happiness were stolen by Henry's Turkey Service.

States Get Ranked on Disability Services

Arizona is the place to be when it comes to services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to a new national ranking.
The listing is part of a report set to be released Thursday by United Cerebral Palsy, which ranks disability services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Autistics Kids Respond to Kelly the Robot

Using a kid-friendly robot during behavioral therapy sessions may help some children with autism gain better social skills, a preliminary study suggests.

The study, of 19 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), found that kids tended to do better when their visit with a therapist included a robot "co-therapist." On average, they made bigger gains in social skills such as asking "appropriate" questions, answering questions and making conversational comments.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Autistic Brain

The following article is adapted from Temple Grandin's The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, released yesterday by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I was fortunate to have been born in 1947. If I had been born 10 years later, my life as a person with autism would have been a lot different. In 1947, the diagnosis of autism was only four years old. Almost nobody knew what it meant. When Mother noticed in me the symptoms that we would now label autistic—destructive behavior, inability to speak, a sensitivity to physical contact, a fixation on spinning objects, and so on—she did what made sense to her. She took me to a neurologist.Bronson Crothers had served as the director of the neurology service at Boston Children’s Hospital since its founding, in 1920. The first thing Dr. Crothers did in my case was administer an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to make sure I didn’t have petit mal epilepsy. Then he tested my hearing to make sure I wasn’t deaf. “Well, she certainly is an odd little girl,” he told Mother. Then when I began to verbalize a little, Dr. Crothers modified his evaluation: “She’s an odd little girl, but she’ll learn how to talk.” The diagnosis: brain damage.

The Reality of Finding a Job with Autism

Smiling is something 30-year-old Sarah Still constantly has to remind herself to do, especially when she is going into a job interview.
Still has Asperger's, a high-functioning form of autism. For the past 10 years, she has experienced the highs and lows of being on the autism spectrum while trying to work in professional settings.