NYT Opinion: Expand Pre-K, Not A.D.H.D.

BERKELEY, Calif. — The writing is on the chalkboard. Over the next few years, America can count on a major expansion of early childhood education. We embrace this trend, but as health policy researchers, we want to raise a major caveat: Unless we’re careful, today’s preschool bandwagon could lead straight to an epidemic of 4- and 5-year-olds wrongfully being told that they have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Introducing millions of 3- to 5-year-olds to classrooms and preacademic demands means that many more distracted kids will undoubtedly catch the attention of their teachers. Sure, many children this age are already in preschool, but making the movement universal and embedding transitional-K programs in public schools is bound to increase the pressure. We’re all for high standards, but danger lurks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics now endorses the idea that the diagnosis of A.D.H.D. can and should begin at age 4, before problems accumulate. In fact, Adderall and other stimulants are approved for treatment of attentional issues in children as young as 3. Continue reading NYT Opinion: Expand Pre-K, Not A.D.H.D.

Students United for Campus-Community Engagement for Post-Secondary Success

SUCCESS (Students United for Campus-Community Engagement for Post-Secondary Success), a partnership of UMBC and the Maryland Department of Disabilities, is the first 4-year college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities in Maryland.
The primary goals of SUCCESS are:
  • Employability
  • Independent Living
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving Skills Development

These goals exist within the context of an integrated environment, the UMBC campus. Continue reading Students United for Campus-Community Engagement for Post-Secondary Success

WashPost: Ethan Saylor’s legacy – Frederick deputies learn how to interact with those with IQs under 70

Ethan Saylor’s name was not on the curriculum.

But it was clear his death was the reason two dozen Frederick County deputies were sitting in a classroom Tuesday, learning how best to interact with people with intellectual disabilities.

A year after the 26-year-old man with Down syndrome died while three off-duty county deputies forced him from a movie theater — an event that remains the subject of a civil lawsuit — the sheriff’s office has adopted a training program that focuses specifically on individuals with IQs of less than 70. Until now, the training the deputies received was limited to their interactions with people with autism and mental illness.

“After the unfortunate incident with Ethan Saylor, we heard the public, and we heard that there was a demand for this type of training,” Frederick County Sheriff Charles A. Jenkins said. Continue reading WashPost: Ethan Saylor’s legacy – Frederick deputies learn how to interact with those with IQs under 70

AP – Disabled struggling to find work

WASHINGTON – Most Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities remain shut out of the workforce, despite changing attitudes and billions spent on government programs to help them. Even when they find work, it’s often part time, in a dead-end job or for pay well below the minimum wage.

Employment is seen as crucial for improving the quality of life for people with these disabilities and is considered a benchmark for measuring the success of special-education programs. Yet the jobs picture is as bleak now as it was more than a decade ago.

Only 44 percent of intellectually disabled adults are currently in the labor force, either employed or looking for work, while just 34 percent are actually working, according to a survey by Special Olympics and conducted by Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston. That compares with 83 percent of nondisabled, working-age adults who are in the workforce.

“The needle has not changed in more than four decades,” said Gary Siperstein, professor at the University of Massachusetts and one of the authors of the study. “We just can’t move the barometer. And we’ve invested a lot of resources with lots of good programs around the country.” Continue reading AP – Disabled struggling to find work

The 12th Annual Sprout Film Festival

By presenting films of artistry and intellect, the 12th Annual Sprout Film Festival hopes to reinforce accurate portrayals of people with developmental disabilities and expose the general public to important issues facing this population. The goal is an enjoyable and enlightening experience that will help breakdown stereotypes, promoting a greater acceptance of differences and awareness of similarities.

Saturday May 31 – Sunday June 1, 2014
School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theatre
333 West 23rd Street
New York City

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Parent Tips: Competing in the Autism Olympics

By Shelly McLaughlin, Director of Communications, Pathfinders for Autism

Marathon movie watching
Today’s technology has really enhanced this sport. Long gone are the days when you had to visit a video store and then return your movie – REWOUND – within a certain time period. Or harken back to the Stone Age, back when you had to wait for a movie to come to theaters, and once it was gone, it was GONE FOREVER. Now, you can download your favorite movie of the moment to your mobile device and carry it with you 24/7. My son is on his 83rd consecutive hour of “Weird Science.”

Directionless fast walking
This activity requires more cardio stamina than previously credited. This pacing-related movement also necessitates a great deal of mental endurance as I believe that it is during this time that solutions to the world’s problems and life-altering inventions are being formulated.

LEGO® building
Seriously, how is this NOT an Olympic event??? It calls for the precision of biathlon shooting, the creativity of slopestyle, the beauty of ice dancing, and the swiftness of speed skating. Lego building also includes the risk of serious injury like downhill skiing from stepping on a LEGO® brick.  Continue reading Parent Tips: Competing in the Autism Olympics

FDA allows marketing for post-natal test to help diagnose developmental disabilities in children

FDA NEWS RELEASE – Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized for marketing the Affymetrix CytoScan Dx Assay, which can detect chromosomal variations that may be responsible for a child’s developmental delay or intellectual disability. Based on a blood sample, the test can analyze the entire genome at one time and detect large and small chromosomal changes.

According to the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics, two to three percent of children in the United States have some form of intellectual disability. Many intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome and DiGeorge syndrome, are associated with chromosomal variations.

“This new tool may help in the identification of possible causes of a child’s developmental delay or intellectual disability, allowing health care providers and parents to intervene with appropriate care and support for the child,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics and Radiological Health in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “The FDA’s review of the test provides clinical laboratories with information about the expected performance of the device and the quality of the results.” Continue reading FDA allows marketing for post-natal test to help diagnose developmental disabilities in children

Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature

DD Day is “Developmental Disabilities Day at the Legislature.”

Join us in Annapolis for an opportunity to advance the grassroots movement for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Every day tens of thousands of Marylanders with I/DD are impacted by the public policy decisions made by the Legislature–the amount of funding available for DD services, civil rights issues like housing and transportation accessibility, education (including higher education) availability, for instance, are but some of the issues affecting those with I/DD.

This is an opportunity to help your Legislators understand the real life consequences of their decisions!

At DD Day, you will learn more about the 2014 hot topics in disability policy, then go together to the House and Senate Office buildings to meet with your elected officials and their staff to discuss critical disability issues and to share your real life experiences.


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“Deciding for Herself – a Family for Jenny”

Born with Down Syndrome, Jenny Hatch, 29, went to court to emancipate herself from a group home. Along the way, she found the place where she belongs.

Here is an article on Jenny in People Magazine, showing us what self-determination and supported decision-making look like: they look like LIFE!

Bursting through the front door of the Village Thrift store in Newport News, Va., Jenny Hatch greets her coworkers with shouted hellos and hugs. Though it’s her day off, Jenny, 29, who has Down syndrome, can’t stay away. “I love my thrift store,” she says of the shop co-owned by Jim Talbert and fiancée Kelly Morris. Walking to the back office, the petite honey-haired young woman with the sunshine grin settles down at the computer and pulls up a video on YouTube, watching news footage of a court decision she has viewed hundreds of times before. “I watch it every day,” she says. “It was a happy day.”

Continue reading “Deciding for Herself – a Family for Jenny”