Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ACLU to Monitor Punishments in Miss.

Mississippi's disproportionate use of harsh punishments like seclusion and restraint on disabled and minority K-12 students will get extra scrutiny by the American Civil Liberties Union, which this month won a $350,000 grant to monitor the practice.
Jennifer Riley-Collins
The grant, awarded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will fund the two-year project spearheaded by ACLU of Mississippi. During this time, the ACLU will not only monitor use of restraint and seclusion in school districts but will engage key stakeholders in advocating for the phasing out of this practice in favor of positive behavior interventions.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Disney Autism Lawsuits Refiled

A court battle over disability access to Disney theme parks has been renewed, with 28 new separate lawsuits being filed in Orlando recently against the entertainment company.
The lawsuits were previously filed in a joint format. But a judge had ruled in November that the  lawsuits should be filed separately because circumstances surrounding each plaintiff were unique

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rule Makes It Tough to Meet Rising Demand for Long-Term Services

WASHINGTON — For more than 30 years, states have been finding new ways to care for aged and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries without confining them to nursing homes. The number of people living in skilled nursing facilities has declined significantly over the past decade, despite a marked increase in the number of elderly in the U.S.Starting this year, a new federal rule will require states to ensure that long-term care alternatives to nursing homes — such as assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement communities, group homes and adult day care — work with residents and their families to develop individual care plans specifying the services and setting each resident wants. The overarching goal is to create a “homelike” atmosphere, rather than an institutional one and to give residents choices about their care.

Pope Urges 'Network of Support and Services' for People with Autism

Catholics must help to break down the isolation and stigma that surrounds people with autism spectrum disorder, Pope Francis said.
The Pope made the comments in an address to hundreds of parents and children affected by autism in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican on Saturday.
He appealed for the creation of “a network of support and services” to assist people on the autism spectrum.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bullied Because of Disabilities

From Same Difference blog for people with disabilities in the UK, where it's Anti-Bullying Week. 

Research shows disabled children are much more likely to be bullied. Three young people who were once victimised tell their stories and share tips on tackling the problem.
This year’s Anti Bullying Week has been asking schools to give particular attention to children with disabilities or special educational needs. The organisation behind the campaign, the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), has published new research on attitudes to disablist language this week and cites other recent research which shows eight out of 10 children with learning disabilities have been bullied, and that disabled children at primary school are 50% more likely to be victimised.
Rebecca, Maxine and Ammaar were at the receiving end of bullying. They explain how they got through it in the hope that their stories will help those having trouble now.

A Remarkable Bond

I generally flip around the news stations when on the elliptical machine or treadmill at the gym. But this morning, I came across this amazing feature from ESPN's E-60 and thought you had to see it.

Owen is a nine-year-old boy facing things no child should go through. His best friend is Haatchi, a remarkable dog. Together the two are part of a story that provides inspiration for anyone facing adversity.
Both the boy and the dog have gone through hard times, which makes there bond stronger. Haatchi was less than a year old when he was deliberately tied to a railroad track in North London and hit by a train. His tail was severed and his rear leg severely damaged. The dog managed to walk away and hid for around five days before he was rescued. He ultimately lost his leg and tail, but the lack of them did not stop him from embarking on a remarkable journey with Owen who suffers from a rare genetic condition.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Company Hopes Test Will Revolutionize Autism Diagnosis and Treatment

MADISON, Wis. — Madison stem cell research company Stemina Biomarker Discovery plans to introduce a metabolism-based autism blood test to the public in 2017.

Changing the Look of Advertising

Something a little lighter but just a wonderful initiative. You may want to share the challenge with families.
PALOS PARK, Ill. — Fairies are everywhere, their little wings hanging askew as they pose in front of a 100-year-old barn in a Palos Park backyard. But these are no ordinary fairies —s ome are in wheelchairs, others have Down syndrome, they’re every ethnicity and age. And in the midst of the fairy fray stands the person who brings the magic to the photoshoot—photographer Katie Driscoll.

Driscoll, a Palos Park mom of six children, is the force behind the Changing the Face of Beauty campaign, a grassroots project that aims to include children of all abilities in the media and advertising.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Medicaid at 50: Challenges Remain

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of several posts stemming from presentations given at “The Law of Medicare and Medicaid at Fifty,” a conference held at Yale Law School on November 6 and 7
Medicare and Medicaid were passed to serve as safety nets for the country’s most vulnerable populations, a point that has been reemphasized by the expansion of the populations they serve, especially with regards to Medicaid. Yet, even after 50 years, the disabled population continues to be one whose health care needs are not being met. This community is all too frequently left to suffer health disparities due to cultural incompetency, stigma and misunderstanding, and an inability to create policy changes that cover the population as a whole and their acute and long-term needs.

Family Fighting Plan to Relocate Son

NEW YORK — Parents were racing against the clock Tuesday to keep their children with disabilities safe as the state plans to pull them from their current care facilities.
As CBS2 first reported, it’s a challenge facing New Jersey families, but now one family in New York is facing the same painful dilemma.
The state wants to move Cheryl Lloyd’s 22-year-old son from his current facility, but his mother said the new place is just plain dangerous.

Realizing Dream, Opening Own Business

LYNN HAVEN, Fla. — Ian Barbour always knew he wanted to run his own business, but it wasn't until he started working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) that his dreams became reality. Ian, who has autism and other developmental disabilities, was determined to make something of himself.
Ian and his VR Counselor, Pamela Cramer, worked together to find a career specifically tailored to his needs. Pam referred Ian to a company that helped him find the perfect business to launch and created a business plan to help him be successful. They decided Ian's best bet was to open his own vending machine company. That's when everything began to come together.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Opinion: Nowhere To Go

Maybe it's me, but attitudes like this are going to prevent our field from promoting real, meaningful inclusion of people with developmental disabilities, including those with dual diagnosis, in the community. With proper staffing, a transition plan, and careful coordination, the transition can be successful. And there needs to be adequate supports -- perhaps the center's staff -- to ensure a smooth transition.

Last summer, New York’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) announced plans for the gradual closure of the Broome Developmental Center (BDC), expected to be fully implemented by March 2016.
Paige Gittelman/ Editorial Artist
The BDC houses and treats patients who have been dually diagnosed as both mentally ill and developmentally disabled. Proponents of closure — a plan to consolidate New York’s 24 state psychiatric hospitals into 15 locations — argue that the integration of patients into community settings will significantly reduce costs for the state and end the unwarranted segregation of dually diagnosed individuals.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Feds Remind Schools of Obligation to Provide Communication Supports

The Obama administration is reminding schools of their wide-ranging responsibilities to students with disabilities who struggle with speech and other communication difficulties.

In guidance issued Wednesday, federal officials said the nation’s public schools have obligations under three separate laws to “ensure that communication with students with hearing, vision and speech disabilities is as effective as communication with all other students.”

25 Years Later, Some See Real Progress

Read on. This is not just about physical limitations - but all individuals.

When New York City announced 30 years ago that it was spending more than $50 million for buses with wheelchair lifts, Ronnie Raymond rolled her eyes. The founder of a reinsurance brokerage firm, she commuted by bus “and I never saw anyone in a wheelchair, anywhere,” she says. “So why spend all that money?” 
The city had already invested in 1,362 accessible buses, and only 10 to 20 people citywide a day boarded in a wheelchair. 
“The reason I didn’t see anyone in wheelchairs,” Ms. Raymond later realized when she herself developed multiple sclerosis and had to use a wheelchair, “was because they couldn’t get anywhere.” Most could not even get to the bus stop. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Raising Funds to Pursue Their Passion

If you missed the PBS NewHour last night, a wonderful story of empowerment and pursuing a passion.

Sam Suchmann and Mattie Zufelt are best friends. Three years ago, these teenagers with Down syndrome had the idea to make a zombie movie. Now, with help from their supporters, they have raised more than $50,000. The PBS NewsHour's Mike Melia reports on their project and how it reflects a shift toward empowering people with developmental disabilities to express themselves creatively.

Access to Autism Services Soars in Pennsylvania, Census Finds

The number of  Pennsylvanians accessing services for autism jumped from 20,000 in 2009 to 55,000  this year.The 2014 Autism Census statistics were released this week by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training Collaborative.

NYS Justice Center Secures Indictments

ALBANY — New York State’s Justice Center has secured indictments against two aides who allegedly abused a disabled man in a Niskayuna facility.
Yosmarvi Tovar and Dominique Mortimore allegedly pushed a man off the couch in an effort to have him take a shower and they were indicted by a Schenectady County grand jury.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Report: African-American Students Moved to Special Ed at High Rate

BOSTON — Young black males in Boston are being dumped in special education classes and separated from their classmates at an alarming rate, a stunning new report out today reveals, prompting minority leaders to call for immediate reforms.
 NAACP Boston President Michael Curry
“It’s an unintentional consequence of bad policies,” said Najma Nazy’at, director of the Boston-area Youth Organizing Project. “I believe that how it happens here is through pushing out the young people who they just assume are going to create the most problems.”

Bills Delivered to Cuomo

Interesting item from the Healthcare Association of New York State.

The New York State legislative activity has resumed as the Legislature this week delivered a package of nearly 90 bills to the Governor for consideration.  Following action on this package of legislation, there will be 138 additional bills that still require the Governor’s approval or veto before the end of the calendar year. 
The package of bills sent to the Governor this week includes several healthcare-related proposals, including four bills related to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), one related to Office of Mental Health (OMH), a drug disposal demonstration program, and two bills related to the use of accelerated death benefits:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Group with Special Needs Turned Away

After this disturbing story, the store has issued an apology. Opportunity for Bath and Body Works to educate its staff . 
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A field trip to the Chesterfield Mall for students with special needs was disrupted Thursday when teachers say an employee at the Bath and Body Works refused to allow their group to enter the store.

Seventeen students from Fort Zumwalt North High School went on the trip to practice life skills, and were in small groups with staff to find stores and products in a scavenger hunt activity.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Can Google Find Cure for Autism?

Over the past 10 years, no disease has become so familiar to Americans, yet remained so mysterious, as autism.

Now affecting 1 in every 68 children born in the United States—up from 1 in 166 a decade ago—the condition has so far resisted nearly all efforts to cure it, curb it or even precisely define it. As a result, speculation and controversy surrounding the disease has mounted, leaving parents unsure what to believe and doctors frustrated with a lack of options.

A Mother's Story of Raising Her Child with Down Syndrome

One mother's journey, bumpy for certain, but ends with acceptance and Seeing Beyond Disability.
As a 30-something living in New York City, Gina LeVeque had an exciting career in journalism, a passport with stamps from Italy, and a long-term boyfriend. To an outsider— and even to LeVeque at the time— her life looked picture-perfect.

When LeVeque learned she was pregnant in the fall of 2007, she and her boyfriend celebrated. They talked about getting married and building a family.
But during a doctor’s visit that October, LeVeque— like hundreds of other expectant moms in the United States today— received news that would shake her seemingly idealistic world: Her child, which she had been carrying for about 14 weeks, had Down syndrome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Gigi Jordan Found Guilty of Manslaughter In Death of Son with ASD

A woman who said she poisoned her disabled son to prevent him from being sexually abused was found guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday after a two-month trial.

On its fifth day of deliberations, a jury of seven men and five women accepted the claims of the woman, Gigi Jordan, that she had acted in the throes of an “extreme emotional disturbance.” The verdict allowed Ms. Jordan, 53, to escape a murder conviction.

Ms. Jordan showed no emotion as the verdict was read at 10:48 a.m. She faces anywhere from five to 25 years in prison when sentenced; had she been convicted of murder, she would have faced a sentence of 25 years to life.

Study: Cognitive Development and Sleep

There are few sights more peaceful than a quietly sleeping infant, and a good night's rest for baby may offer much more than just a respite for weary parents. 
University of Arizona researchers are exploring how infants' early sleep quality might affect their cognitive development later on.

After Vote, Ohio Braces for Service Cuts

MARION, Ohio  – Voters rejected a Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities levy 9,366 to 6,401, according to final unofficial results at the Marion County Board of Elections.
"Now what? That's the big question, right?" Cheryl Plaster said to a fellow supporter after viewing the unofficial final count on the elections board website.

The Marion County DD Board would not be able to continue providing current services to developmentally disabled residents if voters defeated the levy, Plaster said, prior to Election Day.

A Stunned, Yet Understanding Community

Autism advocates were horrified by the death of 6-year-old London McCabe, a nonverbal autistic boy who plunged to his death off an Oregon bridge. But many confessed another, troubling reaction to allegations that his mother was responsible: understanding.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tricare Delays Autism Service Reduction

Tricare announced earlier this month it would delay until 2015 a reduction in the reimbursement level for some autism services, pending the results of an independent study.According to the Department of Defense, the independent study, conducted by Rand Corp., will determine the prevailing rate for the services.Tricare is expected to postpone the 46-percent pay cut for board-certified behavior analysts or BCBAs until April 20, which means analysts — who previously were paid $125 per hour — will only be paid $68 per hour after the reduction, according to the DoD.

Researchers: Better Detection, Diagnosis Factors Behind Rise In Autism

The dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder is largely the result of changes in how the condition is reported, Danish researchers contend.
At least in Denmark, the researchers say, most of the increase -- 60 percent -- can be attributed to changes in diagnostic criteria and the inclusion of out-of-hospital diagnoses.These findings should provide some relief for parents who've worried that the increase in numbers was caused solely by more kids actually developing the disorder, the study authors suggested.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Ohio Families, School Districts at Odds

Teresa Kaminski was convinced her son was autistic. Her school district was not.
After more than six years of watching Jared struggle socially and academically and begging administrators to hold him back a grade, Kaminski took him to a local psychiatrist and then to a neuropsychologist at Akron Children’s Hospital. The doctor diagnosed him as being on the autism spectrum.
But even after she presented the findings to the special-education team at Perry
Local Schools, they instead classified her son as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Administrators attributed his delays to a lack of maturity — common in boys, they said — and told Kaminski he would catch up.