Friday, February 26, 2016

Temple Grandin Sees Job Opportunities

Temple Grandin is so on the mark. Proud she's a member of YAI's Autism Advisory Council and she is one of the best ambassadors we have in the field for promoting the potential and job opportunities for individuals with autism. She's always raising the bar on expectations. 

Autism advocate Temple Grandin, who is on the autism spectrum herself, believes people of all autistic levels can be matched to suitable jobs. “There’s a national shortage of mechanics, welders, electricians, plumbers—all highly skilled jobs that autistic people can be trained to do,” says Grandin. “Even lower-functioning people can do jobs like folding towels in a hotel or assembling lamps.”

Thursday, February 25, 2016

When Salary Doesn't Match Impact

A great article from The Journal News in Westchester, describing the work of our DSPs and why they deserve a living wage. However, a state-wide $15 minimum wage must be funded. If you're in the NYC metropolitan area, hope you'll join us for a rally on March 11 outside the Governor's Manhattan office, 633 Third Ave., from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Spread the word.

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Tracey Cargill-Moore, 39, has worked with the developmentally disabled for a decade. Officially, she's a direct support professional, or a "DSP," as they are called. At social service organizations across the state, they serve as caretakers, helpers, teachers, coaches, cheerleaders, nurses, therapists, mentors, counselors and friends to the disabled people they work with.

It's a job with a lot of responsibility. Although they must retain state certification and receive training in a variety of areas including first aid, CPR, medication administration, abuse identification, prevention and reporting, DSPs are paid less than the average fast food worker.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Drug Rationing Reveals Bias Against People with Disabilities

The United States is facing a shortage of prescription drugs, ranging from antibiotics to cancer treatments. These shortages are putting the medical profession in the frequent position of deciding who will get the drugs that are in short supply and, more importantly, who will not.
Physicians and hospitals always have had to make rationing decisions in times of shortage. But these decisions usually are made behind the scenes. A recent New York Times article about the drug shortages shines a light on the rationing that is occurring.
According to the article, the decision-making process varies considerably across institutions. For instance, in some hospitals formal ethics committees make these decisions. At others, these decisions are made by individual physicians, pharmacists or even drug company executives.

Friday, February 19, 2016

California GOP Seeks Funds for Services

SACRAMENTO — Assembly Republicans are bellying up to the bargaining table over Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax package for healthcare plans, signaling a new phase in the negotiations that have slogged on for more than a year.A document obtained by The Times lays out the political and policy wish list for the Assembly GOP caucus. Most significantly, they want to direct more than $800 million in spending made possible by the new tax. The Assembly GOP is calling for $290 million to fund services for the developmentally disabled and another $120 million to reimburse certain skilled nursing facilities, which suffered major cuts in 2011. The proposal would also put money toward paying off state debts: $240 million would go toward California's retiree healthcare liabilities for public employees and $175 million would repay transportation loans.

Fla. Pilot Program Breaks Down Barriers

What a great idea in so many ways. Raises autism awareness in the charter school, while promoting inclusion, and for the students a chance to develop social skills and begin focusing on a career.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - In a first of its kind program, two Palm Beach County charter schools are teaming up to help students on the autism spectrum become career-ready.

Starting this semester, students from Palm Beach School for Autism are taking courses at South Tech Academy.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Opinion: Tackling Minimum Wage

Opinion piece by New York State Assemblymember Clifford Crouch is certainly valid. If there is going to be a $15 minimum wage in the not-for-profit sector, it needs to be funded. You could also contend that higher wages spur spending, which grows the economy. 

One problem with trying to have a discussion on the minimum wage is that most people never get beyond their rightful belief that people deserve to earn more than $7.25 an hour for work (the federal rate). 
New York’s minimum wage is $9 an hour, and there are now pushes to get that number even higher, to $15 an hour. That assertion is supported in opinion poll after opinion poll that show the majority of New Yorkers, as high as 84 percent, believe that the minimum wage should be higher than it currently is (according to a 2014 Quinnipiac University poll). I can tell you, however, as a representative for the Southern Tier, any hike in the minimum wage would be devastating to our businesses and do significant damage to our already-slow-working economy. What’s good for labor and New York City interests isn’t always good for upstate New York, and I stand firmly behind the idea that growing our economy is the only way to advance the wage, more than anything.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dad Fights for Son & Never Gives Up

While Bill Davis' approach worked with his son, shouldn't we be raising expectations? Thoughts?
Since Bill Davis' son, Chris, was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, the Pennsylvania dad has learned to modify his expectations, often making changes where needed in order to help his son succeed.

Davis and his son are among the subjects of author Andrew Solomon's book "Far From the Tree." A promotional video for the book, filmed in 2012, went viral recently after being shared on Facebook by Upworthy. To date, the video has received more than 20 million views; with comments that commend Davis for the strong love he has for his child continuing to pour in.

Conn. Families Fight Proposed Cuts

Keep up the good fight Nutmeggers.
HARTFORD — The signs of influence were there: About 30 legislators showed up at a rallying point Wednesday as dozens of parents of children with intellectual disabilities prepared to fan out through the Capitol complex and press lawmakers to resist $47 million in proposed cuts to services.The consensus in the crowded meeting room Wednesday was that parents, schooled by advocates to become their own champions, have in recent years fully conveyed what they see as an unjust system that favors expensive, outmoded state institutions serving a fraction of the population.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

True Value of Mardi Gras Beads

Pensacola’s Arc Gateway is a beacon of financial freedom for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The nonprofit provides job opportunities that suit the abilities of their clients, but due to a lack of donations, their Mardi Gras Bead program is struggling to stay afloat.

The Mardi Gras Bead recycling program at Arc Gateway’s Pollack Training Center is a win-win for Pensacola. Parade-goers can gain a non-cash contribution tax form for donating their beads; individuals with disabilities earn a paycheck and learn valuable skills from reorganizing and packaging the beads, and Mardi Gras Krewes buy the recycled beads at a discounted price.

Connecticut Set to Address Wait List

HARTFORD – The governor's budget chief said officials over the next year will find ways to unfreeze a stalled list of more than 2,000 people with intellectual disabilities waiting for services, which advocates have identified as a crisis.
While Ben Barnes stopped short of saying the state will allocate money, he said the Department of Developmental Services will "develop strategies to address and fund" the waiting list – a queue that never moves unless a person's parents or care givers become incapacitated or die.
Barnes' assertion immediately struck a chord with advocates.

NYS Focuses on Mimimum Wage Hike

ALBANY, N.Y. — Low-wage workers from around New York state gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, a proposal that continues to dominate the year's legislative work.Sandra Luke makes $9 as a wheelchair attendant at New York City'sLaGuardia Airport. She said it's barely enough to make ends meet, and forces her to sort her bills into two categories: ones she can pay and ones she must put off.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Opinion: NYS Proposed Minimum Wage Hike Threatens People with IDD & Field

Bravo Laura Kennedy, president of NYSARC, Inc., and Steven Kroll, its executive director, for this op-ed in Albany Times Union.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $15 minimum wage contains a serious flaw that threatens the financial viability of an entire field of caregivers and the people and families those caregivers support.While the governor has appropriately decided that New York needs to champion the rights of hard-working, low-income wage earners by requiring a higher minimum wage, he has not provided any funding for the many not-for-profit agencies that depend almost completely on the state for their funding. Among the 2.3 million workers who stand to benefit from a minimum wage increase are more than 100,000 workers who provide support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and neurological impairments. No funding is provided for this increase.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thousands await Waiver in Virginia

Preston Philip Leech is a lucky man in many ways.
Gwen Leech and her son Preston
at their Beaverdam home.

Although he is among the 25 percent of autistic people who are nonverbal, and he cannot be left alone, Preston’s mother, Gwen Leech, quit her job as an executive in corporate banking to take care of him when he was young.
Preston has been able to live at home in a nurturing, comfortable environment rather than in an institution for people with disabilities.But Gwen knows that one day, she and Preston’s father will die.

Georgia and Feds Battle it Out

With lawmakers talking about protecting Confederate symbols and extolling the supposedly good points of the Ku Klux Klan, it can be easy to forget that the Civil War ended 151 years ago. After all, Georgia still keeps cannons on its Capitol steps – pointed North, as if our leaders expect renewed Union aggression.
The Powell Building at Central
 State Hospital in Milledgeville
As it happens, Georgia is engaged in two serious conflicts with the federal government. In both, state officials, led by Gov. Nathan Deal, are resisting intervention by the U.S. Department of Justice in how Georgia serves some of its most vulnerable citizens.The first concerns the care of people with developmental disabilities. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend, the Justice Department says Georgia is not living up to promises it made in 2010 to settle a federal investigation into the state’s psychiatric hospitals. Part of the settlement required the state to transfer people with physical disabilities from the state hospitals – where, in most cases, they never belonged – to group homes and other community-based facilities. (To see the original Journal-Constitution stories that precipitated the federal investigation, go here.)