Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for November, 2009

U.S. study finds prevalence of Down syndrome births up sharply

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Rates of Down syndrome, from Salt Lake TribuneFrom Pediatrics, Reuters/ABC:

The prevalence of Down syndrome at birth rose by more than thirty percent in 10 U.S. regions from 1979 to 2003, according to new work by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that nearly 12 babies per 10,000 born in 2003 had Down syndrome, as compared with about 9 babies in every 10,000 born in 1979. It found that Down syndrome was more common among Hispanics and whites than among African Americans, and was more often found in boys than in girls.

Dr. Adolfo Correa of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects, one of the study’s authors, told Reuters that the increase in prevalence is probably caused by the increasing trend toward later child-bearing. Women over 35 are five times more likely than younger women to have children with Down syndrome, he said.

Correa said the research couldn’t determine what effect widespread prenatal screening and selective abortion have had on the incidence of Down syndrome.

Because the incidence of Down syndrome at birth is increasing and medical advances are lengthening the life expectancies of people with the disorder, the researchers said, the number of people with Down syndrome is likely to increase over time.

The scientists concluded that more research is necessary to determine whether health services are meeting the needs of people with Down syndrome across the lifespan, and suggested the development of registries to track the development and health needs of people with Down syndrome throughout their lives.

The ten regions studied were Georgia (5 metropolitan Atlanta counties), California (11 counties), Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Arkansas, New York (excluding New York City), Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. Arkansas reported the smallest prevalence of Down syndrome at birth, at 9.7 per 10,000, while Utah reported the highest, at 13.7.

See also:

In Utah, Down syndrome is more prevalent — Salt Lake Tribune A Utah expert on birth defects says the state’s higher incidence of Down syndrome births is likely caused by the ages and attitudes of mothers. Utah women are having children into their late 30s and 40s, he said, and are less likely to have abortions if the condition is diagnosed in utero.

The higher prevalence is “not because there is something wrong with Utah,” he said in an e-mail, “but is basically a function of family choices.”

(Graphic from the Salt Lake Tribune)

UPDATE:

See also: Down syndrome births rise unexpectedly — By Joseph Shapiro on NPR

‘Job Crunch Even Harder On People With Disabilities’

Monday, November 30th, 2009

On National Public Radio, Joseph Shapiro reports that people with disabilities are hard hit by unemployment during the recession.

The official unemployment rate for people with disabilities is estimated at 17.5 percent, as compared with a general jobless rate of 10.2 percent. But experts say the situation for people with disabilities is much worse than the statistics suggest, because most have given up looking for work altogether and are thus not counted.

Among the difficulties: People with disabilities risk losing their government benefits if they bring home a paycheck, and employers fear that workplace accommodations will cost too much.

Op-ed: ‘Sarah Palin and Me’

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Lon Jacobs, general counsel for News Corporation and a pro-choice Democrat, writes in the Wall Street Journal that he empathized with Sarah Palin when she spoke in an interview last week about the “cruel attacks on her son Trig.”

Jacobs, whose 13-year-old daughter has an intellectual disability, says he perceives a widely held presumption that society would be better off if children like his daughter were eliminated before they could be born. “In too many quarters we have moved from a society that protects the right to abortion to one that promotes it,” he says. “This is especially true with regard to those with disabilities.” An excerpt:

I don’t presume to tell others what to do when they are faced with these difficult decisions. But I worry that women who find themselves pregnant with a child who has a physical or mental disability get only one message, which is all about the burden about to be dumped in their laps.

…  I have no magic answers. I do have a beautiful daughter who lights up my world when I look into her trusting little face, who enriches our family with her life, and whose big-heartedness brings out the best in those who know her. I sometimes wonder how many Americans deprive themselves of that same joy because of an aggressive message that abortion is the only sensible choice.

In my mind, President Bill Clinton had it about right when he called for abortion to be safe, legal and rare. If that is to be more than just a convenient political spin, we who support a woman’s right to choose should do our part to celebrate the life side of choice.


SI writer: Eunice Shriver deserves recognition

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, AP/SI photoSports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts nominates Eunice Kennedy Shriver for the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year award. An excerpt:

Without her relentless lobbying, it is very possible that those with mental challenges would still be hidden from view, institutionalized instead of embraced. Without her access to the halls of political power, those children who lived life being called “retards” by the misinformed and unfeeling wouldn’t have had a voice.

… There was no pretense to Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the fifth of nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy. She had a vision unclouded by what others believed, by how society stereotyped the mentally disabled, by the conventional norm of sports. She was all effort in altering the view, a sporting woman sustained by the joy of winning against misperception — just like the athletes she championed.

(AP/SI photo)

Woman fights to use adaptive technology during bar exam

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

From the San Jose Mercury News:

UCLA law graduate Stephanie Enyart is suing the National Conference of Bar Examiners for the right to use adaptive technology when taking the bar exam. She has a form of macular degeneration that has taken away her central vision but leaves her some peripheral vision.

The California Bar Associaiton approved Enyart’s request to use both a text-to-audio reader and a screen magnifier, but the NCBE has said it won’t allow her to use the screen magnifier during the multi-state portion of the test. The NCBE declined to comment; Enyart said it cited cost and security concerns in denying her request.

Book: Howie Mandel on OCD, ADHD

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Howie Mandel, USA Today photoFrom USA Today:

Comedian Howie Mandel answers questions about his new book, “Here’s the Deal: Don’t Touch Me” , arriving in stores today. The book details his lifelong struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

An excerpt:

Q: In your book, you say any public restroom freaks you out because of the germ factor. You write about not being able to take your daughter into one when she was a toddler. What are some of your other issues?

A: The difference between you and me is that even when I wash my hands, I can’t get it out of my mind that they’re not clean. I have to go back to the sink, I can’t even continue with my day. I have to leave the party, leave work. Those thoughts are so intrusive and on a continual loop that I can’t inhibit it. Everybody has irregular thoughts, but not like this.

Earlier post here.

(USA Today photo)

Mother says marijuana saved the life of her son with autism

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

She’s seeking more research; Experts skeptical

From ABC Good Morning America (with video):

Mieko Hester-Perez of Fountain Valley, Calif., tells ABC Good Morning America that she used marijuana brownies to save the life of her ten-year-old son, who has autism. She says the controversial “treatment” improved his appetite and demeanor, and allowed him to reduce the number of medications he takes.

“I saved my son’s life, and marijuana saved my son’s life… When a mother hears that her son is knocking on death’s door, you will do anything to save his life,” said Hester-Perez.

Experts raise concerns about using marijuana in a way that has not been proven to provide benefits.

“He is intoxicated. He’s stoned,” said Dr. Sharon Hirsch, a child psychiatrist at the University of Chicago. “It means that he’s under the influence of a drug and may have an addiction. It can cause psychosis, may lead to schizophrenia. [There's] no evidence at all at this time and no reason to prescribe any kind of marijuana for a child with autism.”

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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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