Thursday, October 31, 2013

Minnesota Accelerates Plan for Deinstutionalization

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon will unveil a detailed plan Thursday designed to end the unnecessary segregation of people with disabilities by dramatically expanding Minnesota’s range of community and home-based treatment options. Crafted by eight state agencies, the plan calls for transitioning thousands of people housed in state-run mental hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions to settings, such as Vail Place, that are less restrictive and more focused on integrating them into the community.
The wide-ranging proposal, developed in part because of a federal lawsuit, would accelerate the controversial deinstitutionalization of mentally ill and disabled persons that began in Minnesota in the 1970s, while altering the way state agencies deliver care for vulnerable populations.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maybe There Is No 'Autism Recovery'

I have been hearing the words "autism recovery" for over 13 years now. Truth be told, when my son was initially diagnosed 11 years ago, I too latched on to these words and held on for dear life. I mean, who wouldn't? If your child received a diagnosis of autism and you later hear the possibility of recovering from it, wouldn't you grab this thin strand of hope and at least try? I did. If autism recovery was possible, then we would achieve it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pregnancy Weight-Autism Link

New research from the University of Utah shows the answer to that question may be yes in some situations.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Charities Struggle with NYC Marathon

It's nice to know we are not alone.

By this time of year, the height of fall marathon season, the e-mails have long piled up: marathon aspirants seeking charitable donations from family and friends to help them secure a spot in a particular race. On race days, charity logos on runners’ gear have become as ubiquitous as mile markers, an integral part of an event’s feel-good message of fitness and philanthropy.
But some race and nonprofit organizers are worried that after years of booming, the charity-running industry may be wheezing like a runner at Mile 25.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Study: Multiple Medications Prescribed for Children with Autism

Many kids with autism are prescribed mood-altering drugs, sometimes several at once for long periods of time, according to a new study. So-called psychotropic drugs include antipsychotics like Haldol and Thorazine as well as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and stimulants like Adderall.

Audit Finds Problems with Tennessee Disabilities Department

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A scathing review of the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities uncovered a series of problems that directly impact thousands of state residents who live with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries and other disabilities.The agency did not perform proper background checks, and some subcontractors caring for patients had multiple drug convictions. The department spent millions of dollars to fix a computer system that is still not working. And the agency is violating state law and its own mission by not providing adequate care for people with developmental disabilities — a finding that department officials strongly disagree with.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Justices Return to Death Penalty Issue

WASHINGTON — More than a decade after the Supreme Court banned the execution of the “mentally retarded” in 2002 in Atkins v. Virginia, the justices agreed on Monday to clarify how states should determine who qualifies.
The new case, Hall v. Florida, No. 12-10882, arose from the 1978 murder of Karol Hurst, who was 21 and seven months pregnant when Freddie L. Hall and an accomplice forced her into her car in a supermarket parking lot. She was found in a wooded area, where she had been beaten, sexually assaulted and shot.

Honoring JFK and Heeding His Call on Mental Health 50 Years Later

Post from The Boston Globe by Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum, is a former member of Congress representing Rhode Island.

Fifty years ago this month, my uncle, President John F. Kennedy, signed the Community Mental Health Act, long-considered the law that laid the foundation for modern-day mental health care. In the decades since the landmark signing of that legislation, the mental health community has made great strides. But we have much more to do to honor President Kennedy’s legacy, achieve equality, and improve care for those suffering from mental illness, intellectual disabilities and addictions.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Blind Musical Genius with Autism

Be sure to watch the video.

Why's he doing that?' Freddie's father sounded more than usually puzzled by the antics of his son.After months of displacement activity, Freddie, 11 years old and on the autism spectrum, was finally sitting next to me at the piano, and looked as though this time he really were about to play. A final fidget and then his right hand moved towards the keys. With infinite care, he placed his thumb on middle C as he had watched me do before -- but without pressing it down. Silently, he moved to the next note (D), which he feathered in a similar way, using his index finger, then with the same precision he touched E, F and G, before coming back down the soundless scale to an inaudible C.I couldn't help smiling.

Three Ohio Brothers Fight to Stay In the Only Home They've Known

The house has been a mess for years, stuffed with seemingly all manner of paper, plastic, wood and metal. Stacks of videocassettes, broken electronics and knick-knacks spill onto the dirty, bowed floor. There’s no hot water, and the place smells bad.
From left, Fred, Chris and
Harry Klein.
Fred, Harry and Chris Klein can’t imagine living anywhere else. The brothers are struggling to understand why, for the first time in their lives, they might have to.“The city says it isn’t a safe house,” Fred said. “I’ve been here 70 years and it hasn’t hurt me yet.”

Saturday, October 19, 2013

One Play Makes Dream Come True

YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- With the final snap under Friday night lights, the dream of an 18-year-old with Down syndrome came true.As his team faced Poughkeepsie High School Josiah O’Brien, team manager of the Yorktown High School football team for four years, scored the final touchdown.With the crowd chanting “Josiah! Josiah!” he took a handoff on the 20-yard line and barreled straight ahead untouched to the end zone, where his teammates came to mob him.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Girls Under Diagnosed with Autism

A recent study published in the Journal of Autism and developmental disorders on October 9 has found that girls are highly likely to go undetected for Autism because they are calmer and less hyper-active than boys.

Saylor Family Files Wrongful Death Suit

A federal court will decide who, if anyone, is responsible for the death of Robert Ethan Saylor.
Patti Saylor outside Maryland
State House.
Saylor, 26, died in January as he was being forcibly removed from the Regal Cinemas Westview Stadium 16 theater by off-duty sheriff’s deputies moonlighting as mall security guards.

Search Continues for Teen with Autism

Fourteen-year-old Avonte Oquendo remains missing two weeks after he skipped away from his Long Island City school, despite an intense search that utilized everything from volunteer posters to infrared cameras and loudspeakers blasting his mother's voice to find him. 
Police said Friday morning that there have been no new developments in the search for the boy, who is autistic and cannot speak for himself. They released a new photo of the striped polo shirt he was wearing when he was last seen leaving school Oct 4. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

As Search Goes on for Teen with Autism, School Officials Face Questions

Eleven days after a teenager with autism walked away from his school in Queens in the middle of the day, a senior police commander, Chief of Department Philip Banks III, said on Tuesday that an intensifying search had failed to turn up even a trace of the student.
As the effort to locate the boy, Avonte Oquendo, continued, a lawyer for the family and advocates for children with disabilities said they were increasingly troubled by a prior mystery: How did the 14-year-old get out of the school to begin with?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sharing Diagnosis and Friendship

OSHOCTON, Ohio — Lacey Richcreek, 12, would like to be a counselor or physical therapist one day for people with developmental disabilities like her.
Lacey Richcreek, left, receives a
certificate of appreciation from
 Shannon Hammons for working
 with her granddaughter
Danielle Hardesty. 
“I like working with kids and making things possible, especially for kids younger than me,” Lacey said.She has an early start through a special friendship with Danielle Hardesty, 4. Both girls have cerebral palsy. Lacey walks with crutches and can speak with some trouble. Danielle is confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t talk. However, the two girls don’t have to speak for their families to see the bond they share and how Lacey has helped Danielle.

TSA May Have Perfect Job for Autistic Workers, According to Study

Think of the times when you've had to carry out a repetitive, boring task. Now recall how quickly your mind began to wander.
That is a significant problem in many real-world jobs, and is a special challenge for Transportation Security Administration baggage screeners at airports, who have to look at hundreds of X-rayed bags, trying to pick out dangerous objects from jumbles of hair dryers, toiletries, socks and shoes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Case Troubles Georgia Council

MACON, Ga. — The head of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) is speaking out about the pending case of convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill.Hill has been on death row in Georgia since the early 90's, but his execution has been put on hold several times.This morning, the United States Supreme Court ruled not to hear Hill's latest appeal.Hill was sentenced to death more than 20 years ago, after he murdered his cell mate while serving jail time for killing his girlfriend.Executive Director of the Disability Council, Eric Jacobson says the Supreme Court is failing to protect the nation's most vulnerable citizens.

Moving Toward Competitive Employment

If you work at the School of the Holy Childhood, and you haven't gotten your blood pressure checked in a while, you might be getting a note from Jan Bansbach.When she's not wrapping up cords or cleaning remotes in the school's Partners With Industry sheltered workshop, Bansbach, who is developmentally disabled, is helping out in the school's health office as a nursing assistant. Checking blood pressures is one of her specialties.She likes her job. Ask her and she'll tell you all about it, noting that she can't share any patient's information — that's confidential.
But her voice gets a little quieter when she talks about the notion of leaving the School of the Holy Childhood and trying to find work elsewhere.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The 'Twice Exceptional' Student

Inside a small classroom in a portable building, eight students and their teacher are reading together.
Teacher Benjamin Bannon reviews
 a writing assignment with his class.

“Accordingly the forger was put to death. The utterer of a bad note was put to death the unlawful opener of a letter was put to death.”
That’s from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
Many students don’t read this classic until high school. But these are sixth and seventh graders.

Ethical Issues and DNA Mapping Project

WASHINGTON — Little Amelia Sloan is a pioneer: Shortly after her birth, scientists took drops of the healthy baby’s blood to map her genetic code.
Holly Sloan and her baby Amelia.
Amelia is part of a large research project outside the nation’s capital that is decoding the DNA of hundreds of infants. New parents in a few other cities soon can start signing up for smaller studies to explore if what’s called genome sequencing — fully mapping someone’s genes to look for health risks — should become a part of newborn care.
It’s full of ethical challenges.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Autism More Common In Kids With Cerebral Palsy

As the prevalence of cerebral palsy remains largely steady, new findings from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that kids with the developmental disorder are at higher risk of having autism too.
Roughly 1 in 323 American 8-year-olds have cerebral palsy, according to findings reported this week. Of them, nearly 7 percent are also diagnosed with autism. That’s significantly higher than the 1 percent of all American kids estimated to be on the spectrum.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Shutdown and Disability Services

As the first U.S. government shutdown in more than 17 years takes hold, some programs benefiting people with disabilities will continue with business as usual while others grind to a halt.The shutdown, which began Tuesday, comes after Congress failed to reach a deal to fund the federal government for the new fiscal year starting in October. Under a shutdown, some services considered “essential” will continue operating while many other government activities will come to a standstill as 800,000 federal workers are sent home until a new budget takes effect.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Autistic Kids Get Less Sleep Than Peers Through Teen Years, Study Finds

A study from across the pond.

Children with autistic spectrum disorders have poorer sleep quality than their peers right up to their teens, reveals research conducted by an international team including researchers from Bristol.The findings, published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhoodshow total sleep duration is shorter and punctuated by more frequent waking at night and this poor-quality sleep may affect daytime learning and behaviour.