Saturday, August 31, 2013

Meet a Superhero with a Soft Touch

If you missed the CBS Evening News On the Road segment Friday night, you've got to watch this video. Great story!
WILMINGTON, Del. -- Jonathan Stoklosa is a young man who has incredible power - the power to lift your spirits and just about anything else. We met him "on the road."
Unlike most super heroes, Jonathan, 31, still lives with his parents."Come on!" shouted his mother from upstairs in their home.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Study: Transition Planning Shows Little Effectiveness

Compared to their same-age, typically developing peers, students with disabilities are less likely to take postsecondary classes (60 percent versus 67 percent) and be living on their own eight years after leaving high school (45 percent versus 59 percent)

Squeegee Squad Finds Niche

CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. -- Finding a job in this struggling economy can be difficult, especially for those with developmental disabilities. But, a group of special needs adults in Northwest Georgia has found a niche and is getting down to business.The Squeegee Squad is advancing their opportunities, one window at a time. The Chickamauga Squeegee Squad formed about a month ago. It's comprised of around a dozen developmentally disabled adults. They're offering their services all around Northwest Georgia to local businesses.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mom's Response to Autism Hate Letter

These words are from Karla Begley, mom to the 13-year-old with autism who was the subject of an anonymous hate-filled letter that made headlines around the world. Max's brother, Jack, 15, is also on the autism spectrum. Karla, 44, has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair so she's by no means a stranger to intolerance, though not like this. A reader from Ontario who knows Karla asked if I wanted to connect with her. I sure did. I asked Karla what response she'd give to that person; this is what she had to say.
Max and his mom Karla Begley.
I will not stoop to an insulting level. What I have to say is about tolerance, acceptance and respect for kids with special needs.
Nobody should ever write a letter that hurtful. 

House Bill 253:Costs Too Much, Helps Too Little

Opinion piece by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — For more than two decades in public service, I have worked with Missourians from all across our state — business and labor, rural and urban, Republicans and Democrats — to grow our economy,
Governor Jay Nixon.
create jobs and make Missouri a state where everyone has a fair shot at a good life and where our kids can grow up to achieve their dreams.
Along the way, we’ve cut taxes, made record investments in our schools, and stepped up to help our neighbors when disasters struck.Public service has always been a place where we have come together to get things done for the people we serve.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Defining 'Play' for Children with Autism

When free to choose, kids with autism pick games that engage their senses and avoid games that ask them to pretend, a new study finds.Experts said the results are not surprising. It's known, for instance, that when children do not show an interest in pretend play, such as "feeding" a doll, by about age 2, that is a potential sign of an autism spectrum disorder.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Links Seen Between Autism and ADHS

Kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are 20 times more likely to exhibit some traits of autism than children without ADHD, according to a new study.One of every five ADHD kids in the study exhibited signs of autism such as slow language development, difficulty interacting with others and problems with emotional control, said study co-author Dr. Joseph Biederman, director of the pediatric psychopharmacology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ex Wrestler Devotes Life to Caring for His Daughter with Special Needs

It’s a long journey from a fun-loving pro-wrestler to a stay-at-home dad caring for a child who can’t talk or walk and depends on him around the clock.
Steven Sharp with his daughter
Samantha Grace.
Watching over his softly silent 7-year-old daughter at his home right outside Fort Bragg, N.C., Steven Sharp calls her birth on Feb. 2, 2006 both the greatest and the worst day of his life.
“I was standing right there when my daughter was pulled out by the doctor,” Sharp, 39, told TODAY. “She was just as blue as can be, had to be resuscitated.”
Brain damaged since arriving into the world, Samantha Grace Sharp was given two years to live, but that grim life sentence has come and gone -- and she is hanging on. Still, her dad Steven, who has devoted himself to her care, is terrified she might be running out of time. So he’s trying to create a legacy for the little girl with a documentary he hopes will inspire others.

Family Finds 'Light at End of Tunnel' at Michigan Autism Center

PORTAGE, MI It was a year ago when Allan Macaulay left a family camping trip early after another one of his son’s violent outbursts, only to sit on Hiawatha Behavioral Health’s crisis hotline for an hour.
His family of five, then living in Engadine in the Upper Peninsula, was falling apart.
John Anthony with his parents
Allan and Jessica Macaulay. 
I called the crisis line because I want to know where the director lived so I could bring him to her house,” said Macaulay, 43. “I was so frustrated ... The aides were trying their best, but they didn’t have training. We wanted some professional help or someone who knew more than we did.”
John Anthony, 11, was diagnosed with severe autism when he was about 3 years old, and the help the family had been receiving just wasn't enough.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Utah Dad of Son with Autism Offers $100 to Identify Writer of Canadian Letter

A post from the blog of the Utah father of a son with autism who is offering a $100 award to anyone who can identify the author of that hideous letter sent to a Canadian family.

My offer has received a lot of attention in the last two days. The Cape Brenton Post has even written an article about it which can be found here:
I feel a responsibility to explain my intent in making this offer:
I believe in seeking the best possible outcome for all parties whenever there is a dispute. As I read the news articles, I could not help but think of how the author of that letter could exit the situation with the best resolution possible. The only solution I could discern would be for her to come forward herself, apologize publicly and profusely, recognize and take responsibility for her mistakes, perform a grand act of kindness (perhaps a new trampoline for Max!) and show tolerance in her future actions. This isn’t going to generate a positive outcome for her, but it would be the least negative and it will create the opportunity for these neighbors to build a better relationship and seek an amicable solution.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tricky Legislation Draws Attention in Fla.

BARTOW, Fla. — From predatory Medicaid HMOs to sharp cuts in the rates paid support coordinators, people attending a town hall meeting in Bartow on Wednesday had issues with the state system for helping people who have disabilities.Many problems they raised are real, said Barbara Palmer, director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.Rather than let them complain and go home, she told people who have experience with the system to join one or more state committees created to find solutions.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Police: Autism Letter Not a Hate Crime

A letter sent to the Ontario family of a 13-year-old autistic boy telling them to move or have him euthanized does not constitute a hate crime, police said Tuesday.The boy's grandmother, Brenda Millson, received the anonymous letter on Friday and immediately reported it to police.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letter Targets Teen with Autism

A disturbing letter targeting a teen with autism has shaken the boy's family and rallied the local community to their defense.The anonymous note was sent to 13-year-old Max's grandmother's house in Newcastle, Ontario, on Friday. Signed, "One pissed off mother," the letter refers to Max as a neighborhood "nuisance," "retarded" and a "dreadful" noise polluter. A photo of the letter was tweeted over the weekend by YouTube stars Lennon and Maisy, who identify themselves as family friends.

Thousands to Moving From Nursing Homes Into Community Under Pact

An agreement filed Monday in a federal court in Texas means thousands of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities now residing in nursing homes may be able to move into less restrictive settings in the community, a disability rights group announced.The result of a 2010 class-action suit filed by six plaintiffs — three from San Antonio — the two-year interim agreement requires the state to inform people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD, of alternatives to nursing homes, where they often don't belong and don't receive the type of services they need, said Garth Corbett, a senior attorney at the Austin-based Disability Rights Texas.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bicyclist with Cerebral Palsy Defies Odds

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Glenn Lucky was going to die when he was 15. His doctor told him so.
That was in early 1969, before man landed on the moon, the Beatles broke up and the pocket calculator was introduced. Lucky has stuck around to witness decades of wonders and inspire tens of thousands of people since, reaching an age at which he qualifies for senior discounts at diners.
At 60, Lucky has slowed just a little, friends say, but his tanned arms remain chiseled by his near-daily bicycle rides between Indian Hills and downtown Carson City.

Survey: Autism Harder to Diagnose Among Latinos

Screening for autism spectrum disorders in Spanish-speaking families has posed a challenge for many pediatricians, even those whose practice includes a high proportion of Latinos, a survey indicated.Only 29% of California pediatricians surveyed offered Spanish-language screening for autism and related disorders on the recommended schedule, Katharine E. Zuckerman, MD, MPH, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues found.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Autistic Kids Who Thrive in Math Show Different Brain Patterns

Such a fascinating study. Definitely worth a read.
Stanford researchers have unearthed clues about the formidable brains of some autistic children, suggesting that the diagnosis may signal a different cognitive style, not disability.
Superior math skills were found in autistic Bay Area children with average intelligence compared with matched children who were not autistic.

Aging Parents Fear the Future

Jessica Funkhouser’s specialty is putting together small clamps that attach conduits to the wall, but she has big dreams. At 28, she likes dragons and dinosaurs, heavy metal music and history. She wants to be a writer.
Tom Funkhouser and his wife,
Patti, right, with their daughters
Lori, 24, in pink, and Jessica, 28.
At Pride Industries’ Auburn workshop in California — where her father, 61-year-old Tom Funkhouser, a Navy veteran and Hewlett Packard retiree, works as a production trainer across the floor from Jessica’s work table — she puts on her turquoise earphones and deals with the clamps.“I usually just do clamp, clamp, clamp," she said.But she’s working, and she likes that.When she was born with a rare genetic disorder causing developmental disabilities and physical challenges, doctors told Tom and Patti Funkhouser that their tiny, dark-haired daughter would never walk or talk. She probably wouldn’t even survive childhood, doctors said.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Families, Providers Protest Lack of Payment for Early Intervention Services

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Health Department came under sharp criticism Wednesday from therapists and parents who said the switchover to a new payment system for early intervention providers is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Independently employed providers of speech, occupational and physical therapy for children with Down Syndrome and other problems haven't been paid in four months, they said. They traced the problem back to Cuomo's budget passed in March, which put in place a new billing system to replace a county-run payment program.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Obamacare: Some Complex Choices

The Affordable Care Act has set new standards — called — outlining what . But there's a catch: Insurance firms can still pick and choose, to some degree, which specific therapies they'll cover within some categories of benefit. And the way insurers interpret the rules could turn out to be a big deal for people with disabilities who need ongoing therapy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Autism Risk Tied to Induced Labor

Boys born to mothers who needed their doctor to start or help along the birth may have a higher risk of autism, a study found.Boys whose mothers had labors that were induced, which stimulates the uterus to bring on contractions, or augmented, which increases the strength, duration and frequency of contractions, had a 35 percent greater risk of autism then children whose mothers didn’t need those procedures to help the births, according to research in JAMA Pediatrics.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Internship Can Boost Employment Rates for Students with Autism, Study Finds

A year-long internship program assisted students with autism find and maintain employment after high school, according to findings in a randomized study recently published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
Young adults with autism spectrum disorders in the general population face unemployment rates of more than 80%; however, 87.5% of the trial participants of Project SEARCH, adapted for the study with ASD Supports, found employment

Oregon Families Fight New Provision of Affordable Care Act

SALEM, Ore. — Deana Copeland has cared for her 22-year-old, medically fragile daughter since she was born, but she's afraid that a new provision of the Affordable Care Act could force her to place her daughter in foster care.
Deana Copeland, right, has cared for
her daughter, Andrea Hood, since
she was born.

Her daughter, Andrea Hood, suffers from cerebral palsy, spina bifida and autonomic dysreflexia, a potentially life-threatening condition, and requires around-the-clock care. Copeland is both Hood's legal guardian and paid service provider, for which she receives $1,400 a month.
"I could never expect somebody else to address her needs the way I do," said Copeland, a Cornelius resident. "In our specific situation, it is going to cost the state exponentially more to do less care for Andrea if Andrea has to be cared for in a center."
That's because a new provision of the Affordable Care Act set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, would largely prohibit guardians from serving as the paid caregiver of an adult child with developmental disabilities. Disability rights advocates and state officials are fighting the provision and say it could restrict family flexibility and choice, especially for single parents who serve as guardians and use the caregiving allowance to stay at home.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Autism's Unexpected Link to Cancer Gene

Researchers studying two seemingly unrelated conditions — autism and cancer — have unexpectedly converged on a surprising discovery. Some people with autism have mutated cancer or tumor genes that apparently caused their brain disorder.

How Can Abuse of Special-Needs Students in School Be Prevented?

The media has been full of stories of children with special needs being abused in schools, by teachers, aides, or other students. Each story is more disturbing than the last, with distraught parents threatening lawsuits and criminal charges. How is it that a place parents trust, where they send their child in good faith, hoping to get them the help they need, can turn into a place of abuse and cruelty?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Kaiser to Pay $9 Million to Settle Autism Therapy Suit

Kaiser Permanente has agreed to pay up to $9 million to settle a class action that alleged the health plan illegally refused to provide behavioral therapy for autistic children before it was mandated by state law.The lawsuit was filed in Southern California in April 2009 on behalf of Andrew Arce of Los Angeles and others like him. Andrew was 2 years old when Kaiser denied coverage for applied behavioral analysis even though its own doctors said it was medically necessary.

NYS Lags on Firing State Workers Who Abuse People with Disabilities

ALBANY — One state worker bit a patient’s ear.Another sent threatening text messages to a female co-worker, according to state records, including one that said: “I’m gonna gut you like a fish blondie. Don’t even try to call the police.”A third, a nurse, left a patient naked and bleeding from a head injury on a bathroom floor, soaking in his own feces.And a fourth knocked a group home resident out of a chair, hit the resident on the back of the head and squirted water from a bottle in the resident’s face.
All of these state employees care for people with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses. They were all found culpable of wrongdoing in internal disciplinary proceedings. But none were fired.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Limited Funds, Lingering Bias Has Delayed States' ADA Compliance

GWEN IFILL: It's been 23 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act became law.Judy Woodruff reports on the advances and the setbacks in the continued fight to implement the landmark legislation.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Delaware Gov. Focuses on Lack of Jobs for People with Disabilities

DOVER, Del. — States should do more to hire people with disabilities, according to a new report from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. The former chair of the National Governor's Association made the announcement at the association's meeting held Friday in Milwaukee.
The report states 54 million Americans are living with a disability, but only 20 percent are employed or are searching for work. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Opinon: Disability No Excuse to Deprive Person of Civil Rights

Post from Susan Mizner, Director of Disability Rights Project of the ACLU.

The guardianship system in this country raises serious concerns. That's why the guardianship trial of Jenny Hatch, a vibrant and active 29-year-old in a battle over who controls her life, struck such a chord. Jenny spoke for many other
Jenny Hatch
people with disabilities when she said clearly in her trial: "I don't need guardianship. I don't want it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dating and Autism; When 'a Big Smile Can Be Frightening'

The way to Paulette Penzvalto's heart is through her Outlook calendar. “Honestly, if you want to be romantic with me, send an email through Outlook and give me all the possible dates, locations, and times, so that I can prepare,” she said.

The former Miss America contestant and Juilliard-trained opera singer knew she had a different conception of romance than her previous boyfriends had and, for that matter, everyone else.
“People tend to think of romance as spur of the moment and exciting,” she told me. “I think of romance as things that make sense and are logical.” However, she didn't know why until this year when, at the age of 31, when she was diagnosed with autism.

Autism and Child Pornography: A Toxic Combination

Post by Eustacia Cutler, mother of autism advocate Temple Grandin from The Daily Beast.
While in the throes of compiling a history of the social impact of autism, I came upon a story that I wish weren’t true.
A young male adult with autism took his computer in for repairs. The repair shop found child pornography on his hard drive and turned him in to the police. In court he was adjudicated a “predator”—a legal label he will wear for life. A label that will bar him from any job that involves children, and from any “assisted living” home for an adult such as himself.When child pornography hits the law the law is not friendly, no matter the circumstances—nor the understandable dysfunction of the perpetrator. One psychologist described to me her court experience with an adult autistic male. The Judge pointed at her and said: “You should be dealing with this before I have to deal with it.”One of the least understood and least discussed aspects of male sex offenders is the sexual response of those who live with autism. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Va. Woman Wins Case; Moves in with Friends

A 29-year-old Virginia woman with Down syndrome who successfully fought her mother's attempt to be her guardian has moved in with friends, according to one of the people she now lives with.In a case watched carefully by advocates for people with disabilities, Margaret Jean Hatch, who is known as Jenny, had been fighting for nearly a year to be able to choose where to live. She succeeded on Friday.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Former NFL Star Curt Warner Understands Challenges of Autism

Pa.— Legendary Penn State running back Curt Warner and his wife struggle with their twin sons’ autism diagnosis.
Curt Warner with his wife, Ana,
and oldest son, Jonathan.
One son started a fire that burned down their house in 2008. They’ve felt discrimination among other parents and teachers. And now that the twins are 19, the Warners are facing the reality that their sons aren’t going to do the typical young adult things, such as go to college.

Read more here:

Read more here: son started a fire that burned down their house in 2008. They’ve felt discrimination among other parents and teachers. And now that the twins are 19, the Warners are facing the reality that their sons aren’t going to do the typical young adult things, such as go to college.

Read more here:

New Jersey Agency Aims for Full Community Integration

UNION COUNTY, N.J. — Milagros Rivera doesn’t speak words and occasionally makes sounds. She spent most of her life at the state-run Woodbridge Developmental Center.But during the past few years, Rivera has lived at a group home in Roselle and has a job feeding papers into a shredder at Community Access Unlimited’s day program. Rivera takes her task seriously, straightening out some pages before feeding them into the shredder.“She’s very content,” said Bernadette Griswold, Community Access Unlimited (CAU) managing assistant executive director. “She’s an awesome person.
Having those with developmental disabilities fully integrated into the community is what Community Access Unlimited is striving for, especially with state plans to close two developmental centers; the Woodbridge Developmental Center and the North Jersey Developmental Center in Totowa.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Intensive Job Training Key for Young Adults with Autism

Intensive job training helps young people with autism get work, a small new study found.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can range from mild to severe, affecting social and communication skills. About 80 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds with an autism spectrum disorder are unemployed after leaving school, according to the researchers.

Proposed Group Homes Draw Anger

YORK COUNTY, Va. -- Plans for three group homes for people with special needs are proposed for a York County neighborhood that doesn’t want them.
Residents of the Lackey neighborhood are not on board with the project because they don't know anything about it. The project developer, Colonial Behavioral Health, has failed to do the proper groundwork to relieve fears residents have about the complications the facilities might bring to the neighborhood.

Caregivers Hired After Failing Background Checks, Audit Finds

OLYMPIA — Nearly two dozen people who failed criminal-background checks were allowed to work with developmentally disabled clients in Washington state, according to a state audit released Wednesday.
In conflict with state policy, some businesses hired the 23 caregivers even though they had past legal problems involving assault, theft, drug charges, abuse and financial exploitation, according to the audit. Officials said it wasn’t clear whether the caregivers had unsupervised access to the clients — something that would violate state law — but they assumed it happened in some cases within the supported-living program.