Monday, December 30, 2013

Can a Fruit Fly Help Explain Autism?

For President Obama, 2013 wasn't just the year of Obamacare. It was also the year of the brain.In April, Obama announced his Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies — an effort to unlock "the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

State Delays KareCare for People with Developmental Disabilities

When the state announced Friday that it would delay bringing long-term support services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into KanCare – the state’s privatized Medicaid program – Aldona Carney was thrilled.
That move had been scheduled to take place Jan. 1, despite the efforts of advocates of the developmentally disabled to delay or prevent it.

ead more here:

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Holiday Treat: 'Nutcracker' Comes to Life in Autism-Friendly Way

Bravo to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for offering this.

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh is a leader in making its performing arts accessible for people with disabilities — whether it’s a physical impairment, visual impairment, hearing impairment or a developmental disability.
“The Lion King’s” autism-friendly performance filled the Benedum Center’s 2,800 seats in September. Pittsburgh was only the third city in the country to offer it.
Now, Pittsburgh is the first to offer an autism-friendly “Nutcracker” performance at the Benedum Center Dec. 27.

New School Filling an Educational Void

One of those times we are proud to share a story about our elementary school -- Manhattan Star Academy -- for children with special needs.

Manhattan Star Academy, a privately-funded, non-profit school, hopes to bring to the Upper West side and Manhattan something that many parents of special needs children feel is lacking in the city school system: a place for their child.
The Academy is part of the YAI network, a network of schools, training and health and human service agencies in New York and New Jersey that focuses on special needs children, teens and adults. Manhattan Star Academy is in its fledgling stages, with 10 children enrolled at the YAI Central Building in Chelsea. But by next year, the school for children ages 5-12 (the first school in the network above the preschool level), hopes to be open at their new Upper West side location, for 55 students eventually, right around the corner from Lincoln Center.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Officials: Hundreds Deprived Services at Washington State Residential Center

SEATTLE — Last month, federal regulators determined that Washington state has for two years illegally denied needed services to 27 developmentally disabled residents at a Spokane-area facility.
It turns out the problem is much bigger.
Hundreds of residents may have been deprived of so-called specialized services — such as behavioral therapy, personal-care training and skill-building exercises — for as long as 21 years, state officials told The Seattle Times last week.

A Visit with Santa Minus Fanfare

There was no music playing, no lights twinkling and, perhaps most importantly, no crowds gathering. But the sober staging belied the excitement felt by the parents who brought their children, hoping this visit with St. Nick would be a successful one.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nonprofit Law Seeks to Cut Red Tape

The Nonprofit Revitalization Act of 2013 was designed by a coalition of nonprofit leaders, attorneys and a bipartisan group of legislators from across the state. It is the first major overhaul of nonprofit law in more than 40 years.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'R-Word' Campaign Hopes To Change Hearts and Minds

Sticks and stones, right? Not so much with the “R-word,” which has speared an education initiative to help promote inclusivity for the developmentally disabled.

Fla. Senate Official Plans to End Wait List

Florida's next state Senate president hopes to eliminate the backlog of people with developmental disabilities who are waiting to receive services in their homesSenator Andy Gardiner praised state leaders for directing $36 million in the last legislative session to a waiting list for home and community-based services under a Medicaid waiver. The state Agency for Persons with Disabilities sent out letters last month offering services to 695 Floridians who have been waiting for them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Study: Autism Higher Among Somali Children in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS — The incidence of autism spectrum disorder is higher among Somali children in Minneapolis than the city's children as a whole and it appears to affect them more severely, University of Minnesota researchers said Monday, validating the suspicions of many parents in the city's large East African community.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Disability Council Urges Delay of KanCare

WASHINGTON — The National Council on Disability today sent a letter to federal health officials urging them to postpone for a year consideration of a request by the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback to include long-term services for the developmentally disabled in KanCare.
The council, which held two days of hearings last week in Topeka as part of its ongoing study of the ramifications of Medicaid managed care, said Kansas officials need to collaborate more with developmentally disabled (DD) service providers and families before moving forward with their plans.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Profound Loss

We will be taking a break for the next few days to honor Thomas A. Dern, our C.O.O., who passed away suddenly this week. Our hopes and prayers are with his family.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Seeking 'Real Jobs' in Alabama

MONTGOMERY – An advocacy group for the disabled called for the state to phase-out what it called isolating and exploitative workshops and instead spend state dollars helping people with intellectual disabilities to get "real jobs."

Ellen Gillespie, executive director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, said the workshops, where people with disabilities are grouped together to do work, are supposed to teach job skills.  But in reality, she said, they become a “dead end” where people might spend years doing menial work for less than minimum wage.

Placenta, Calif. Pulls Plug on Center

We got an email from a follower who suggested we post this story from Placenta, California. How is it possible that sprinklers were overlooked when city approved a learning center for people with disabilities? Check out this video.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mother's Appeal: Friends and Acceptance for Her Daughter

The feel-good story of the day. We can use one.

They’ve never met her, but inspired by a parent’s simple appeal online, strangers around the world are reaching out to a little girl to let her know she’s not alone, she’s special and she’s loved.It’s all for Gabbie, a 7-year-old girl from Greenwood, Ind., who has a hard time fitting in at school. The second-grader has neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow and can lead to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children.

Agencies Challenge New Hampshire's Transition to Medicaid Reform

NASHUA – Clients, parents and employees of Gateways Community Services packed a showdown meeting at Harbor Homes last week on the state’s plans to impose cost efficiencies on a state Medicaid system considered to be hemorrhaging money.
Medicaid officials told the Governor’s Commission on Managed Care that more than 100,000 Medicaid subscribers on Dec. 1 smoothly switched into care management for their visits to hospitals, clinics, doctors and other medical providers.
New Hampshire is the 48th state in the nation to offer managed care under Medicaid and state budget writers are relying on the reform to save $16 million in state spending over the next 22 months

Friday, December 6, 2013

Autism Behaviors in Mice Decrease with Probiotics, New Study Finds

Probiotics seem to decrease autism-like symptoms in mice, according to a new study.When California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers treated mice bred to display autism-like behaviors with a probiotic therapy, they found that the mice were more communicative, less anxious and less likely to engage in repetitive digging behavior. The findings are published online in the Dec. 5 issue of the journal Cell.

Judge: Tenn. Center In Compliance; Dismisses 21-Year-Old Suit

A decades-old lawsuit over conditions at a West Tennessee institution for people with intellectual disabilities has been dismissed after a federal judge found the state met court-ordered improvementsThe 1992 lawsuit over conditions at the Arlington Development Center in Memphis was originally filed by the U.S. Department of Justice after investigators uncovered numerous problems, including failures to protect residents from abuse and neglect, to provide adequate medical care and to train staff properly.


Funds Reduce Fla. Wait List for Services

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — More than half of Floridians with disabilities will soon be moved off a waiting list to access services.Earlier this year, the Legislature approved $36 million to move approximately 750 individuals off the waiting list and start receiving services. But Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday he now expects those funds to reach approximately 1,600 people. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities developed criteria to enroll individuals with the greatest needs.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Editorial: Ready or Not, KanCare On Way

The privatization of long-term care of Kansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities launches in less than a month and is getting national attention. Here’s hoping the experiment goes well – unlike what some other Kansans and providers have experienced this year.
The National Council on Disability will hold hearings and panel discussions Wednesday and Thursday at the Statehouse in Topeka. A big focus will be long-term I/DD care, which shifts to KanCare starting Jan. 1.
This shift was strongly opposed by parents and other advocates for the disabled. They worry that the three private insurance companies that manage KanCare aren’t experienced with these services and may put profit before proper care.

Read more here:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Oxytocin Found to Stimulate Social Brain Regions in Children with Autism

The hormone oxytocin has been generating excitement — and caution — among people who care about autism.
Scientists have been eager to see if oxytocin, which plays a role in emotional bonding, trust and many biological processes, can improve social behavior in people with autism. Some parents of children with autism have asked doctors to prescribe it, although it is not an approved treatment for autism, or have purchased lower-dose versions of the drug over the counter.
Scientifically, the jury is out, and experts say parents should wait until more is known. Some studies suggest that oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone,” improves the ability to empathize and connect socially, and may decrease repetitive behaviors. Others find little or no impact, and some research suggests that it can promote clannish and competitive feelings, or exacerbate symptoms in people already oversensitive to social cues. Importantly, nobody knows if oxytocin is safe or desirable to use regularly or long term.