"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

~ Niccolo Machiavelli, historian and writer

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Tax Man Cometh ...

How do I know for sure?

By the number of Google hits for topics like the RDSP, RESPs for children with special needs and the Child Disability Tax Credit ... can it be backdated and are individuals with Aspergers and learning disabilities eligible to receive it, of course.

So while I contemplate my own income tax situation, I thought I would leave you with a few easy links:

Happy browsing, paper shuffling, hair-pulling and tax filing.

And may I suggest you try one of the computer-assisted* forms of making it through agony of tax season.



*No, I don't get paid to advertise their product. I just happen to like it.

Update: Article - Year 2007 Tax Benefits for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities

Monday, February 18, 2008

Blogging Bleg

We've discussed a wide variety of topics on this blawg, from special education to RDSPs to guardianship to access to various programs offered by the Department of Community Services. Now I would like to know, once again, what YOU want to hear about. What's happening in your life? What's important to you?

How often do you get the opportunity to pick the legal topic?

What subject would you like to know more about? Here's your chance, for a limited time only. Drop a comment in the comment box (if you experience trouble posting a comment, there are some helpful hints in the sidebar) or use the profile button to drop me an email.


I'm all ears. Waiting for you.



Update: Unexpected company this week has resulted in a dearth of posting, but I am still here. And when the dust settles , we will be back with a new post. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Blogging Within The Law

I received a question recently from a parent questioning what the limits are when someone blogs about their children and their experiences at school.

It was relayed to me that in at least one case, a parent was told that their blogs which contained school content had "breached the laws of confidentiality" and that they must remove the 'offending' content. And, of course, the dreaded implied threat came along with - the school was seeking legal advice. In this particular case, it appears that the parent was also suspended from helping out at their child's school.

So what's the scoop? Can a parent really get into legal hot water for blogging about their child's experiences and/or their discontent with their child's school?

It's a bit of a hard question to answer in the abstract because, as common sense might tell you, the answer will depend both on the actual content posted by the parent and the relevant laws where the parent resides. However, subject to the law concerning libel which I will touch on below, although a school may well be bound by duties of confidentiality, a parent is much less constricted.

Therefore writing that little Johnny is a student in Ms. Campbell's primary class at Rockland Heights School (as a totally fictitious example) should cause no concern. Nor should there be any problem with referencing the names of certain classmates (but common sense would tell you to stick with first names only when you are mentioning someone else's child). And if a parent was unhappy with the quality of the education little Johnny is receiving, sticking to factual details that you know (and can prove) to be true should also be kosher.

Where a problem could occur is were a parent to publish (publishing in a blog being much like publishing in a newspaper, for example) something about the school's actions or inactions which were false. At that point, chances are that you will have engaged the law concerning libel.

READ MORE

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) Basic Training

The Two-Day Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) BasicTraining is coming to Halifax, Nova Scotia!

This intense two-day training, designed by Andy Bondy, Ph.D. and LoriFrost, M.S. CCC/SLP, is designed to teach participants to effectively implement the Picture Exchange Communication System. Participants will learn how to implement the six Phases of PECS, including attributes, through presenter demonstrations, video examples and role-play opportunities. Participants will
leave the workshop with a thorough understanding of how to implement PECS properly with individuals with autism, related developmental disabilities, and/or limited communication skills. This training is designed to be appropriate for those individuals just beginning to teach PECS and those individuals with prior experience teaching PECS who have not yet attended an official PECS training.

With its focus on practical strategies and hands-on practice, it will strengthen participants’ ability to problem-solve challenges that may arise during PECS’ implementation and enhance participants’ ability to teach PECS most effectively.

When: June 9 & 10, 2008

Early Registration (before April 28, 2008): Professional $400, Parent/Student $350

After Early Registration: Professional $450, Parent/Student $400

(Registration includes The Second Edition PECS Training Manual - a $69 value, the PECS Data Sheets CD – a $20 value, detailed handouts with space for notetaking, certificate of attendance, continental breakfast on both days).

Group Discounts: Pyramid offers discounts to groups of five individuals or more and has several attractive group packages, please contact us directly at 416-546-7327 to learn more.

For more information about this training, or other available training dates and locations, please visit our website at www.pecs-canada.com or call us at 416-546-PECS.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Belated Good News for Special Education

You might recall our review of the Special Education Report (more accurately the Review Commmittee Report and Recommendations arising from the Minister's Review of Services for Students with Special Needs) which was released in August, 2007. One of its many recommendations was that the Minister announce the end of the Tuition Support Program effective June 30, 2010.

And although it's never a good feeling to realize that you missed an important news item for your community, thanks to EEANS, at least now I know. As will you.
On November 7th, Nova Scotia's Minister of Education announced that she would NOT get rid of the Tuition Support Program. This was a long awaited and substantial win for EEANS, parents and their children who desparately need this program. We have been working hard to educate politians and the public on the TSP as well as putting pressure on government to reject the recommendation of the Review Commitee to cancel the program ever since it's release in September. We applaud Ms. Casey for doing the right thing by keeping the program.
In the words of Ms. Casey:

In the short term, we are not prepared to take away the opportunity for those who can benefit from the program. My commitment will be to continue the program until we are able to provide, in our public schools, one that is equal to it or better."
Well, that could take a while, couldn't it?

Unfortunately, the Minister refused to extend the three year time limit. And although I don't quite agree with Brian's analysis as to how helpful Ms. Casey's comment, above, might be to a parent wishing to litigate the matter of the time limit, it is good to see that the program will continue.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

PLAN Announces New Online Courses

FEATURE WORKSHOP - TAX TIPS
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
PLAN Office, Vancouver, BC

Chartered Accountant Eric Fielden will share his expertise with families. He will explain the Disability Tax Credit, the Medical Expense Tax Credit, the Caregiver Tax Credit, and discuss Tax Planning including RRSPs, RESPs and the new Registered Disability Savings Plan.


I. TAX TIPS WORKSHOP
Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Time: 7pm - 9pm (PST)
Location: PLAN office: Suite 260-3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC
Cost: $60.00/Individual $90.00/Couple (CDN)

Click here to register online.

Register early! Registration is limited to 12 participants so that all questions can be answered.

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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II. PLANNING TO SECURE A GOOD LIFE

Planning for the future changes the present. Join Pat Tesan, parent and family leader, for a one-hour telelearning conversation that will explore the elements of a good life: loving relationships, financial security, creating a home, supported decision-making, and the importance of contribution. During this interactive session, you will start to develop a plan to secure a good life for your relative.

Available anywhere by telephone

Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm (PST)
Cost: $30.00 (CDN) includes a copy of Safe and Secure ($15 value)

Click here to register online. Registration is limited to 12 participants.

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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III. WILLS, TRUSTS and ESTATES SEMINAR

PLAN has a new online course to enable you to learn from the convenience of your own home. Through a combination of videos, interactive activities and forms, you'll learn everything you need to know about how to set up your will, including the different types of trusts you may want to include to leave an inheritance for your child with a disability. You'll also learn about the Registered Disability Savings Plan and how it will impact your estate planning.

This course will be offered every other month starting in March 2008 and takes between 3-5 hours to complete.

An up-to-date will ensures that your wishes for your relative with a disability are honoured after you are gone. Co-presented by an experienced lawyer and parent, these seminars answer your questions about discretionary trusts, planning your will, and choosing executors, guardians, and trustees. By the end, you’ll be better prepared to have a lawyer draft your will, saving you both time and money.

FEBRUARY WORKSHOP
Date: Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Time: 7pm - 9pm (PST)
Location: PLAN office: Suite 260-3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC
Cost: $60.00/Individual $90.00/Couple (CDN)

Click here to register online for the February workshop.

MARCH WORKSHOP
Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Time: 10:30am - 12:30pm (PST)
Location: PLAN office: Suite 260-3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC
Cost: $60.00/Individual $90.00/Couple (CDN)

Click here to register online for the March workshop.

Register early! Registration is limited to 12 participants so that all questions can be answered.

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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IV. TRUSTS

This new telelearning seminar will teach you about trusts and non-discretionary trusts, and will also discuss the impacts on disability benefits – all from the convenience of your own telephone! This seminar is most applicable to BC residents, and we invite registered participants to email their questions to us prior to the seminar.

Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Time: 12pm - 1pm (PST)
Cost: $30.00 (CDN)

Available anywhere by telephone

Register early! Registration is limited to 12 participants

To register online, click here

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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V. THE JOY OF STRESS

Presented by Ted Kuntz, M.Ed, Past President of PLAN

The Joy of Stress workshop will explore:

the difference between stress and distress
strategies to increase your peace, joy and happiness
thinking that feeds your negativity

For everyone going through the stresses of today’s fast paced world, this presentation is a must.

Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Time: 7pm - 9:30pm (PST)
Location: Peter Kaye Room
Vancouver Public Library
350 West Georgia, Vancouver, BC

SPECIAL WORKSHOP FEE ONLY $15.00* (CDN)
*Because of the special discounted fee this workshop is not available for any further discounts.
We recommend that you register early!

To register online, click here

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

Ted Kuntz
Ted and his family became one of PLAN’s first younger Lifetime Members and he has grown to become an active part of PLAN’s corps of volunteers. He served on the Board of PLAN for many years as President. Ted is a psychotherapist in private practice in Vancouver.

He is also the published author of Peace Begins With Me and his successful workshop “The Joy of Stress” has been presented across Canada to corporations large and small.

Ted embodies the spirit of community, which is in fact the name of the award he has established to honour community contribution in the Tri-Cities area. His community activism has won him many awards.

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VI. HOME OPTIONS

Owning a house and creating a home are two different things. This one-hour telelearning session will help you learn about different housing options so your relative with a disability can have choice, control, and security in their home. You will hear about solutions other families have used, look at the issues involved with the coordination of home and support, and explore options for ownership.

Date: Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Time: 12pm - 1pm (PST) or
4pm - 5pm (PST)
Cost: $30.00 (CDN)

Available anywhere by telephone

Register early! Registration is limited to 12 participants

TWO TIMES TO CHOOSE FROM:
Click here to register online for the 12pm session.
Click here to register online for the 5pm session.

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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VII. REGISTERED DISABILITY SAVINGS PLAN

In planning for the future, you need the most current and relevant information. The Disability Savings Plan will become available in 2008. It will provide another tool for you to plan with. Join us in this FREE telelearning seminar to learn about the details, its implementation and how it will work for your family.

Date: Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00pm (PST)
Cost: FREE

Available anywhere by telephone

Click here to register online. Registration is limited to 12 participants.

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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VIII. SUPPORTED DECISION MAKING

Families often walk a balancing act between respecting choices and ensuring the safety and well-being of our family members. Although stressful, families and individuals alike gain freedom as they explore decision-making. We will discuss how you can support your relative to make good decisions. We’ll discuss decision-making tools, including Representation Agreements. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Date: Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Time: 12pm - 1pm (PST)
Cost: $30.00 (CDN)

Available anywhere by telephone

Register early! Registration is limited to 12 participants

Click here to register online

For more information or to register by phone, call: 604.439.9566
or email: inquiries@plan.ca

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IX . HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

This interactive engaging online course explores the different home options available for your relative with a disability. Videos and stories showcase inspiring living situations, checklists and interactive forms help you think about everything you need to consider when thinking about creating a home for your relative with a disability. This course comes with a downloadable practical guide and lots of inspiring ideas to help you start dreaming. The first course will be offered in May, 2008

For more information about this new online course, please call the PLAN office at 604.439.9566 or send an email to: inquiries@plan.ca

For Our American Friends

Seeing as we do get a fair number of American visitors (thanks to Google), I thought I would pass this on for their benefit.
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a national nonprofit cross-disability member organization that works in coalition with other disability organizations for the full implementation and enforcement of disability nondiscrimination laws, particularly the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Recently, AAPD, ADAPT, National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), and Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) worked collaboratively to create a list of questions for the presidential candidates that reflect the issues most important to their members. They sent a letter signed by all four organizations to the presidential
candidates, requesting their responses as soon as possible but no later than May 31, 2007.

As of today, only some of the candidates have responded - you can visit their 2008 Presidential Election Action Center at:

http://www.aapd.com/News/election/peac2008.php

Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Wisdom is Knowing When You Can't Be Wise"

This isn't our usual type of post but it it something that disturbs me (in various, conflicting ways) and it certainly does deal with legal rights and our children.

Some of you may be familiar with this story from the UK, having seen or heard news coverage of it last year.
The mother of a severely disabled teenager has asked doctors to give her daughter a hysterectomy to stop her from starting menstruation. Alison Thorpe, 45, from Essex, says 15-year-old Katie, who has cerebral palsy, would be confused by periods and they would cause her indignity.
Doctors are now seeking legal approval before carrying out the surgery.
The disabled charity Scope said the operation would set a "disturbing" precedent for other disabled girls.
If approved, it will be the first time in the UK a hysterectomy is carried out without it being medically needed.
As it turns out, after Britian's National Health Service took legal advice, the procedure was not approved.

But as unusual as this story may sound, it's not unique. Ashely's mom, at Pipecleaner Dreams (a blog I would recommend, by the way, for any parent of a challenged child seeking like-minded company) tells the tale of a second Ashley, in Seattle.

READ MORE

Cross-posted on Free Falling