Letter to the Editor – “Why did Robert Saylor Die?”

Nothing that any of us can say or write can bring back Robert Ethan Saylor, or ease the pain of his family, or diminish the loss his friends are feeling. So many lessons can be learned from James Mulvaney’s March 10 Local Opinions article “Why did Robert Saylor Die?” One hopes, in particular, that Mr. Mulvaney’s phrase “to recognize that a disability is not a crime” will come across loud and clear in Frederick, Washington and beyond.

Washington Post
March 12, 2013

Letters to the Editor – Robert Ethan Saylor

Even though we all too often read of the senseless killings of people in the wrong place at the wrong time, Robert Ethan Saylor had not been in the wrong place. He simply did not have a ticket to watch a movie in a theater a second time. He also had Down syndrome which perhaps frightened the security guards who removed him so forcefully from the theater that he died.

This story in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times today, about the tragic death of Robert Ethan Saylor, should be a wake-up call for society.

Nothing any of us can say or write can bring back Robert Ethan Saylor, ease the pain of his family, or diminish the loss his friends are feeling. But a friend of mine with Down syndrome said something for us all to heed: that if we see people with disabilities like his and Mr. Saylor’s we should keep our eyes and ears open and then give them the respect they deserve.

It is incumbent upon us all to learn about people with intellectual or physical challenges, with different abilities, and perhaps with different facial structures, and that includes sensitivity training for those who work among the general population, such as police and private security guards.

It seems like such an easy task, but it might have saved Mr. Saylor’s life.

sent to the NY Times
March 19, 2013

Mary Ann Carmody
RN, BSN, AASECT-Certified Sexuality Educator

Disabled couple seeks life together in group home

[from the Washington Post (May 7, 2013)]

PORT JEFFERSON, N.Y. (AP) — With the beaming smiles of newlyweds, Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels hold hands, exchange adoring glances and complete each other’s sentences. Their first wedding dance, he recalls, was to the song “Unchained …” ”Melody,” she chimes in.

They spend their days together in the performing arts education center where they met. But every night, they must part ways. Forziano goes to his group home. His wife goes to hers.

The mentally disabled couple is not allowed to share a bedroom by the state-sanctioned nonprofits that run the group homes — a practice the newlyweds and their parents are now challenging in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

“We’re very sad when we leave each other,” Forziano says. “I want to live with my wife, because I love her.”

The couple had been considering marriage for three years before tying the knot last month, and they contend in their lawsuit that they were refused permission from their respective group homes to live together as husband and wife. The couple’s parents, also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said they have been seeking a solution since 2010.

“It’s not something we wanted to do, it’s something we had to do,” said Bonnie Samuels, the mother of the bride. Continue reading Disabled couple seeks life together in group home

Woman with Down syndrome prevails over parents in guardianship case

[from the Washington Post (August 3, 2013)]
NEWPORT NEWS, VA. — In a victory for the rights of adults with disabilities, a judge declared Friday that a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome can live the life she wants, rejecting a guardianship request from her parents that would have allowed them to keep her in a group home against her will.

The ruling thrilled Jenny Hatch and her supporters, who included some of the country’s most prominent disability advocates.

“Oh my God,” Hatch said over and over again, shedding tears. “I’m so happy to go home today. I deserve it. It’s over. My God, it’s over.” Continue reading Woman with Down syndrome prevails over parents in guardianship case

FBI: Disabled Army veteran can be readmitted to training academy

[from the Washington Post (August 15, 2013)] “U.S. attorneys said Wednesday that the FBI is now willing to train a disabled U.S. Army veteran who successfully sued the agency over his removal from the academy. They just can’t do it anytime soon.

At a hearing in federal district court in Alexandria, the attorneys and a high-ranking FBI human resources official said for the first time that Justin Slaby could be reinstated to the special agent training program — an important development, even though a jury had awarded the veteran with a prosthetic left hand $75,000 in damages and determined that he was qualified to return to the academy.

But the attorneys and the official said that they would prefer that Slaby, 30, enroll in the next regular academy class, which, because of federal sequestration, is not likely to kick off before April 2015.

“I would say no, we’re not unwilling,” said Special Agent James Turgal, responding to a question about whether the FBI would resume Slaby’s training. “I think the impediments that exist right now are monetary, are financial based on the sequester.”

Federal District Judge Anthony Trenga eventually asked both sides for more legal briefs on the matter, though he seemed inclined to order Slaby’s reinstatement sooner rather than later. Slaby’s attorneys argued that Trenga should force the FBI to reinstate Slaby immediately — even if it meant creating a special training program for him. Continue reading FBI: Disabled Army veteran can be readmitted to training academy

ArtStream: perform your art out

ArtStream is a regional organization based in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area whose mission is to create artistic opportunities for individuals in communities traditionally under-served by the arts. From their site:

“We are a consortium of compassionate, professional, experienced artists who wish to serve the needs of our clients. Our goal is to reach out to members in various groups such as persons with disabilities, seniors, people with short or long term illnesses and their families or caregivers, immigrants, veterans, people who are grieving, and students and teachers.

Our purpose is to inspire and help heal through various art forms such as theatre, puppetry, visual arts, multimedia, music, and dance. This is accomplished through interactive workshops and productions, on-going classes, seminars, performances, and training.”

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2013 Social Security Benefits Workshop

[from the Catholic Coalition for Special Education]: Since a major barrier in the transition process is the fear of losing a Social Security (SSA) cash or health benefit, understanding the rules surrounding SSA benefits prior to working will help reduce these fears. An interactive discussion on the differences between the SSDI and SSI programs, what happens at age 18, and a description of work incentives will be highlighted. Self-advocacy tips for interacting with SSA and a description of the State Medicaid threshold amounts will be highlighted.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Catholic Coalition for Special Education & the Blessed Sacrament disAbilities Ministry
proudly present:

Amy Wallish
Certified Benefits Counselor
Founder of Full Circle Employment Solutions

Saturday, September 21, 2013
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Continue reading 2013 Social Security Benefits Workshop

“What Causes Autism?”

Saturday, September 28, 2103, 10am – 12:00pm

Towson University presents An integrated approach towards understanding what causes autism.

Dr. Valerie Hu is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC as well as a mother of a son with ASD.

Dr. Hu will discuss the multiple factors contributing to autism which require the integration of the different types of large-scale genomics studies in order to develop a better understanding of the underlying pathobiology as well as the sex bias in autism. This comprehensive level of understanding is critical to the development of novel treatments that are based on correcting specific deficiencies in different individuals with ASD. She will also stress the need to focus studies on subgroups of individuals with similar symptomatic and behavioral profiles in order to tailor treatment strategies to specific individuals or subtypes of ASD.

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