Monday, September 29, 2014

Child with Autism Astonishes Art World

A five-year-old girl with autism has garnered praise across Europe, Asia and America for her astonishing artwork.
Iris Grace, who lives with her family in Leicestershire, began painting last year, and has already been praised by buyers, collectors and galleries for her work's intense colour, immediacy, and open composition.
Her paintings are sold to private art collectors in the UK and around the world for thousands of pounds each, with all profits going towards art materials and therapy.
Arabella Carter-Johnson, Iris’s mother, said that Iris loves being outside and that she can see “so much of nature in her paintings”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kid Rapper Defends Sister

Over the years, pint-sized rapper MattyB has built quite a following online.
At last count, his videos had a whopping 1 billion views. 
Not bad for an 11-year-old. 
But it's his most recent endeavor – a YouTube video defending his younger sister, Sarah Grace, who has Down syndrome – that is really lighting up the Internet. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thinking Beyond the Bus

We've been doing this with some individuals in our community-based programs. Opposed to take a van to a center, individuals may travel independently or with staff who live nearby directly to their volunteer site.

OAKLAND, Calif. — When one thinks of school transportation, a yellow school bus is what usually comes to mind.  But for many Bay Area kids with special needs, getting to school can be much more complicated.

School districts are required by law to provide transportation, if needed, to fulfill students’ special needs and they use a variety of methods to do that.  Sometimes that means transporting students miles away from home by car service, taxi and even employee’s personal vehicles to get them to a specialized school.  
It usually takes 9-year-old Joseph Ferguson about an hour to make the 26 mile trip from Oakland to San Francisco to get to school. Specialists at the Edgewood Center in San Francisco help him with his learning, emotional and developmental disabilities.  Normally, a school van drives him, but on Friday his ride was more unconventional when a woman his family had never seen before showed up at his door.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Panel to Focus on Job Opportunities for People with Disabilities

A new advisory committee is in the works that will be tasked with helping government officials improve job prospects for people with developmental disabilities across the country.
The U.S. Department of Labor is soliciting nominations for individuals to serve on the panel known as the National Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities.

Brainwave Test May Detect Autism

Measuring how quickly a child's brain processes sounds might help identify the severity of autism, according to a new study.Observing children's brainwaves may also allow identification of autism earlier than is currently possible, the study authors reported.
"The finding that the brain's response to certain types of information is associated with autism severity is hugely promising," said senior researcher Sophie Molholm, an associate professor of pediatrics and neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Tax-Free Disability Savings Account Deal

Federal lawmakers say they’ve reached a deal to move forward on legislation that would establish a new way for people with disabilities to save money without jeopardizing their government benefits.
Members of the U.S. Senate said Friday that they have an agreement that will allow the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act to proceed.

DOL Grants Promote Employment

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy has announced a total of $8,422,574 in continued funding for organizations that develop models, provide technical assistance and share best practices to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
"Individuals with disabilities have skills and experiences that employers need," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "These federal grants will help connect these workers with employers and put them on the path to economic self-sufficiency."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Harkin Dismay Over Senate Failure to Ratify Disability Treaty

WASHINGTON -- Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement last week following the objection of a Republican Senator to proceed to a vote and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) - a treaty that builds upon the  (CPRD) - a treaty that builds upon the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to create a framework for disability rights laws in other countries. Harkin is the Senate author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act

Friday, September 19, 2014

ASD Coverage Options Scarce for Adults

It’s getting easier for parents of young children with autism to get insurers to cover a pricey treatment called applied behavioral analysis. Once kids turn 21, however, it’s a different ballgame entirely. 

Many states have mandates that require insurers to cover this therapy, but they typically have age caps ranging from 17 to 21, says Katie Keith, research director at the Trimpa Group, a consulting firm that works with autism advocacy groups. In addition, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced that all Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Programs for low-income families must cover comprehensive autism treatment for kids—until they’re 21.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Use of Shocks at Massachusetts School Attracts FDA Attention

CANTON, Mass. — Some cut themselves. Others slam their heads against walls or desks — so hard that one girl detached both retinas and a young man triggered a stroke. Another pulled out all his teeth.
 Self-injury is one of the most difficult behaviors associated with autism and other developmental or intellectual disabilities, and a private facility outside Boston that takes on some of the hardest-to-treat cases is embroiled in a major debate: Should it use electrical skin shocks to try to keep patients from harming themselves or others?

Friday, September 12, 2014

CDC Finds Nearly 8 in 10 Kids Not Screened for Delays

The vast majority of American children may not be receiving recommended screenings for developmental delay, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.In a government survey, parents of 79 percent of young children reported that they had not been asked to participate in screening efforts in the previous year. This, despite recommendations that children are routinely checked at pediatrician visits for signs of developmental issues.

Every Parent Is an Advocate

Proud of one of our parents whose piece is featured on Huffington Post.
I am the mother of two adult children. My son, Daniel, had severe asthma as a child. My daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with a complex seizure disorder, intellectual disabilities and social anxiety issues.I became a strong advocate by necessity.My goal, like that of most parents, has always been to ensure that my children have access to the best and most appropriate opportunities in life. What I have learned over three decades of working toward this goal is that the supports that are available to the parents of a "special" child differ dramatically from those that exist for a family with a "typically developing" child.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Small StudyConfirms Importance of Early Autism Detection and Treatment

Here’s how you might be able to turn autism around in a baby: Carefully watch her cues, and push just a little harder with that game of peek-a-boo or “This little piggy.” But don’t push too hard — kids with autism are super-sensitive.That’s what Sally Rogers of the University of California, Davis has found in an intense experiment with the parents of infants who showed clear signs of autism. It’s one of the most hopeful signs yet that if you diagnose autism very early, you can help children rewire their brains and reverse the symptoms.It was a small study, and it’s very hard to find infants who are likely to have autism, which is usually diagnosed in the toddler years. But the findings, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, offer some hope to parents worried about their babies.“With only seven infants in the treatment group, no conclusions can be drawn,” they wrote.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Special Education Placements Vary By State, Study Suggests

Where a child lives may significantly impact whether they are placed in an inclusive or segregated classroom, a new national analysis suggests. Regional differences appear to play a role in education placements for students with autism, with those living in the West more likely to attend mainstream classes while students in the Eastern United States are more frequently assigned to segregated settings, according to findings published online in the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Opinion: Offensive Bucket Challenge Prompts Call for Autism Awareness

Teenage mice given unlimited access to alcohol drink more when they are with their peers than when they drink alone.
That’s one of the findings on the drinking habits of mice at the age equivalent of human teens. Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University, found that the rodents operating within the context of peer groups tend to behave less responsibly than they do as solo actors.
Sound familiar?
Steinberg has also performed studies on peer-influenced behaviors of teenage humans and concluded similarly: Group behavior tends to be more risky and extreme than individual behavior.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I'm So Sorry My Daughter's Disability Is Such an Inconvenience for You

From Huffington Post's Parents blogger Jamie Davis Smith.
I read the article "I'm So Sorry Our Disease is Such an Inconvenience for You" with a wry smile and an understanding of how individuals with severe allergies are treated, even though no one I know deals with the issues faced by the piece's author, Gluten Dude -- and others whose health and lives are put at stake with an innocent-looking piece of birthday cake or an itty-bitty peanut.
You see, my oldest daughter has multiple and severe disabilities that have left her with the need to use a wheelchair, an inability to speak and low muscle tone, amongst a host of other significant developmental and medical issues. Although the types of "inconveniences" she and her disability apparently pose to others are different from the "inconveniences" Gluten Dude's disease seemingly foists onto the world, the level to which people seem bothered, put out and downright annoyed at what my little girl and other individuals with disabilities need to do in order to be able to access the same places and activities they do is similar. With thanks to Gluten Dude, I wanted to share my perception of how disability inconveniences others and why I don't care.

Cuomo's Challenger Supports Paula's Law

Maybe I'm out of touch, but is anyone disturbed about privacy issues? Not in any way defending anyone for assaulting Paula Liblick. 

Zephyr Teachout, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's chief challenger in the Democratic primary, has thrown her support behind a bill that would require cameras to be installed on the entrances and exits of all facilities run by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
The bill (S.2000-a/A.1715) was named Paula's Law after Paula Liblick, a 61-year-old with developmental disabilities who was raped at a Hudson Valley OPWDD-run facility in 2009. Liblick was incapable of alerting anyone to the assault, and the crime was only discovered after bruises and blood were found several days later during an examination.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Auditors Say Maryland Corrects Financial Flaws

In a report last October, the Office of Legislative Audits found that the agency failed to collect $5.5 million in federal reimbursement for services provided to disabled adults, improperly spent $600,000 to purchase motor vehicles, and did not bill local governments $1.4 million for services.

Journal Retracts Autism Study

A new study suggesting that decade-old data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides evidence of a link between autism and vaccines has been retracted amid concerns about its validity.
The paper published last month in the journal Translational Neurodegeneration concluded that African-American boys have a higher risk of autism if they receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before age 2. The findings were based on a reanalysis of data from a 2004 CDC study.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Comic Book Hero Has Autism

Extraordinary superpowers, high-flying villains and fearless, world-saving heroes are the stuff of countless comic books. But the newest star to hit the comic circuit is different than most.
Michael is a comic book character with autism - a hero with a mathematical mind, artistic gift and an abundance of compassion. Face Value Comics says he is the first hero with the disorder among comic books.

Are Children with Autism Better at Math?

Children with autism face many challenges – difficulty with communication and social interactions, heightened sensory sensitivities, and many other common co-occurring issues that can throw a monkey wrench into many everyday activities. There are also several well-documented strengths that tend to co-occur with autism, including a strong, photographic memory, artistic talent, and an affinity for animals. Some individuals with autism are also extremely talented at mathematics.Are these children born with mathematical talent, or does it develop as they mature? A study of typically-developing children published in the August 17 edition of Nature Neuroscience found that changes in the hippocampus, a brain area associated with memory formation, paralleled changes in math strategies used by the children.