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Archive for September, 2007

New rules would let Virginia drop special ed services without parents’ OK

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

From the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot:

New rules approved by Virginia’s state board of education would allow schools to stop delivering a child’s special education services without parental approval.

Currently, parents help determine which special education services a child receives and parents have to agree to stop them. The change would shift the burden of proof to parents, who would have to prove that children still need the help.

It could take more than a year before any changes appear in the classroom, and the law could be revised again based on feedback the state gets in the coming months.

Millionaire takes special ed plea to high court

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

From the Associated Press, a story about the dispute between former Viacom CEO Tom Freston and the city of New York about whether taxpayers should have to foot the bill for addressing his son’s learning disabilities at an expensive private school. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Monday.

The issue before the Supreme Court has nothing to do with the family’s wealth, or the morality of a millionaire asking a cash-strapped school district for help with an ivy league-sized tuition bill.

Instead, New York City is arguing a technicality. It says that, under federal law, special education tuition aid is only available to children who actually enroll in public schools – not to lifelong private-schoolers who have never used the public system.

… “The danger of making parents try out the school district’s program first, even if it’s not an appropriate program, is that students who need early intervention waste critical time,” said Gary Mayerson, a lawyer who works with the group Autism Speaks.

The resolution of the case could have broad implications for school budgets and the movement toward full inclusion of children with disabilities in regular classrooms, says the Wall Street Journal. (Subscription required.)

Oh, and by the way: the New York Post points out that Freston got an $85 million severance deal last year.

Wish I’d thought of that

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

Description of kids with Down syndrome, from Douglas Pils in the San Antonio Express-News:

Some will have trouble living on their own, while some will go on to college. Pretty much like every other kid on your block.

What she wishes she had known about Down syndrome …

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

I highly recommend this moving and well-researched article by Campbell K. Brasington, from the website of the Journal of Genetic Counseling. It’s called, “What I Wish I Knew Then … Reflections from Personal Experiences in Counseling about Down Syndrome.”

Ms. Brasington recounts her own professional journey, and tells how regular interactions with people with Down syndrome and their families caused her to change her attitudes toward the condition. Like many health professionals, she says, she had been taught to think of Down syndrome as a “devastating and mostly tragic event.” But after many conversations with families, Brasington says she came to understand that “children with Down syndrome are more like other children than different, ” and that “families can and do thrive with a child with Down syndrome.”

She debunks old beliefs that adults with Down syndrome are not capable of working, living independently, having relationships or experiencing quality of life. “In my experience, I have found none of these old beliefs to be universally true,” she says.


Still more Gaffney coverage

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

This one’s got a slideshow.

Keep Texas institutions open, families say

Friday, September 28th, 2007

By Susan Payne, writing in the Austin American-Statesman:

Closing institutions does not protect the people who cannot survive in group homes. Closing institutions is a slap in the face to employees who have dedicated their careers and lives to the schools. Closing institutions disrupts the lives of the residents, families and the circle of wonderful people who volunteer, mentor and care for the state school residents. Most of all, closing institutions ignores the feelings and opinions of the many parents and relatives of school residents.

Who are we and how do we know? We are the parents and families of the 4,007 severely and profoundly mentally retarded living in the state schools. We know them better than anyone else … It’s unfortunate and frustrating that some people have trouble accepting that our loved ones will never be able to live in the community as productive citizens. We accept them as they are. We love them and are proud of their accomplishments, no matter how small.

Autism vaccine debate: A never-ending story

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Another major study (this one in the New England Journal) finds no connection between the mercury-containing vaccine preservative thimerosal and neurological or psychological problems in children. On the day the report is released, autism ubermom and onetime Playboy playmate Jenny McCarthy tells CNN’s Larry King she would never vaccinate another child of hers, and says she will take her fight to Congress.

Nearly 5,000 families have filed claims with the government claiming vaccines caused their children’s autism, and many have vowed to sue if their claims are dismissed.

Related story: 900 students barred from Baltimore schools for failing to get state-required immunizations

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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