Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quality of Florida Health Care Studied

A majority of Floridians believe that the state is not providing good medical care to people with disabilities, according to the annual Sunshine State Survey results released Tuesday.
Susan MacManus, the survey director and University of South Florida political scientist,  said concerns over health care for the state’s most vulnerable received some of the most negative findings.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Out of Options, Parents Decide to Build Home for Son with Autism

OGDEN, N.Y. -- Anthony Battisti's parents have known for a long time that when their son turns 21 in December, he will join a growing population of young adults with very few options.Anthony has severe autism, and has spent years in a day program for young people who have intellectual developmental disabilities. But when his birthday rolls around this year, he'll age out of that program and have no place else to go, his family said.So Sherry and Michael Battisti of Ogden decided to take matters — and hammers and nails — into their own hands.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Researchers Find Weaker Brain Connections in Premature Babies

Researchers have found weaker brain connections along with increased chances of developing autism, ADHD and emotional disorders in premature babies. At the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago, researchers reported that there exists strong evidence in favor of the fact that preemies are born with weak brain connections are more likely to develop various disorders.

Cynthia Rogers, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and her team compared MRI scans of the brains of 58 full-term babies with those of 76 babies born at least 10 weeks early. “We were really interested that the tracts that we know connect areas that are involved in attention and emotional networks were heavily affected”. By using two different types of MRI, researchers studied the nerve fibers that carry signals from one part of the brain to another. They also measured the intensity that how well different areas of the brain are communicating.

Fighting for Disability Rights

Amazing story from Croatia by Human Rights Watch. “I want to leave but I can’t,” Ana told me. “I have a guardian. I told my sister and my doctor [that I want to leave this place], but my guardian has a say.”Ana is among 18,000 people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities placed under guardianship in Croatia, and stripped of their legal capacity – the right to make basic decisions - to marry and form a family,  to consent to medical treatment, or to sign an employment contract. A significant majority have been placed under full guardianship, under which guardians – often nominated by the state – make all decisions for them.But that’s about to change.

NY Lawmakers Question Closures

The state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities currently supports 38,000 New Yorkers in residences and 80,000 with day services. It has about 400 people in institutional settings, a total the agency plans to reduce to 150, Deputy Commissioner Helen DeSanto told lawmakers.

Friday, October 16, 2015

No Benefit Increase for SSI in 2016

For only the third time in decades, individuals with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits will see no increase next year in their monthly payments.
The Social Security Administration said Thursday that there will be no automatic cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for 2016. That’s because inflation is too low to warrant an automatic benefit hike, the agency said.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Top States for Special Ed Litigation

Special education disputes are far more likely to be litigated in some states than others, with a new report finding that just 10 states account for nearly two thirds of all court decisions.Between 1979 and 2013, there were over 5,000 court decisions nationwide related to legal questions under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to an analysis published recently in the Journal of Special Education Leadership.Nearly 600 of those decisions came out of New York, while Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. each accounted for about 500 decisions.

Editorial: Va. Prepares for Closures

In only five years, all but one of Virginia’s training centers, as the residential complexes for Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities are known, will be closed. Only one facility, with just 75 beds and located in Tidewater Virginia, will remain open; Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights will shut its doors in 2020.
It’s all part of how the commonwealth chose to implement a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over Virginia’s handling of the care, treatment and housing of people with profound developmental disabilities.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Legal Battle Over Texas Medicaid Cuts

Texas was within eight days of slashing the amount of money it pays therapists for poor and disabled children when a state district judge last month stepped in and blocked the move. It was the latest round in a high-profile legal and public relations battle that has ensued since lawmakers ordered a roughly 25 percent cut in Medicaid funding for pediatric therapy services. The conflict has mostly been cast as a battle between government budget ax wielders and helpless children, and the cuts are now in limbo at least until a January trial date.Meanwhile, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission must figure out a new plan to slash payments to therapists — which Texas officials say are more generous than payments in other states — without closing down the sometimes big businesses that have come to rely on that cash flow to provide care to vulnerable Texans.

Unique Job Opportunites Brewing

DENVER - A former special education teacher is helping the developmentally disabled find jobs by teaching them how to brew beer, and she even plans to hire some.Tiffany Fixter has a unique business idea: train and hire the disabled to help her brew beer in a new brewery."I was a director of a day program. It was there that I discovered there are not a lot of jobs for people with developmental disabilities," said Fixter.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Ted Kennedy Jr. Marks NDEAM; Criticizes Connecticut Budget Cuts

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. – State Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr. visited Cigna headquarters Thursday to celebrate the company's commitment to hiring people with disabilities.The Democrat from Branford also denounced the recent round of emergency cuts to the state budget ordered by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy — including services that help people with disabilities stay in the workforce."These are the very programs that people with disabilities rely on to get training so they can seek active employment," Kennedy said. "To me, this is a misguided type of way to balance the state budget.''

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Kansans with Disabilities Complaints Prompt Delay in Service Changes

The state said Tuesday that it will delay a major overhaul in the way it provides services for the disabled.
The announcement comes after people with disabilities, their family members, providers and care takers voiced major concerns with the state’s nine-month time line to switch a complex system of care for some of Kansas’ most vulnerable populations.“This is probably the single biggest change this system has seen” in nearly 20 years, said Dee Staudt, director of the Sedgwick County Developmental Disability Organization. In 1995 the state passed a law, guaranteeing certain rights for people with developmental disabilities.

Read more here:

Figuring Out NYS Early Intervention

PEARL RIVER, N.Y. — Assemblymembers Ellen Jaffee and Richard N. Gottfried hosted a roundtable discussion recently on the New York State Early Intervention Program and the new third party “fiscal agent” system.
What once was a model program helping very young children who need physical, cognitive or occupational therapy has crumbled under the weight of a bureaucratic change meant to make sure the state gets reimbursed for the costs, they said.

A First for Broadway

Sharing a wonderful video from CBS Evening News last night. Enjoy.

NEW YORK — "Spring Awakening" is a century-old play about teenagers coming of age. But this production has a real-life sub-plot about a 20-something making Broadway history.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Rankings of Most Livable Cities

When searching for a new city to call home, most people share a common list of priorities — affordabilityjobsschools and attractions among them. But people with disabilities often have a larger list of considerations. Factors such as the accessibility of various facilities, the quality of health care and even the cleanliness of the air can take precedence over others. The availability of such elements allows them to play an important role in the community and make significant contributions to the economy.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Advocates Attack Malloy Budget Cuts

HARTFORD — Groups advocating on behalf of Connecticut's developmentally disabled adults and children took to the Capitol to criticize Gov. Dannel Malloy's rescissions from more than ten days ago. One Democrat in the Connecticut House even took the governor's administration to task and backed GOP calls for a Special Session to address funding deficiencies.More than $7 million of the cuts were aimed at the Department of Developmental Services that handles adult home and day services for adults living with mental struggles.