"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Psychology For You Series

The IWK offers a series of free monthly presentations on various topics that may be of interest to you. Here are a few of the upcoming presentations.




All sessions take place in the Parker Reception Room on the main floor of the IWK Health Centre. However, many can also be accessed in your local area using the services of Telehealth.

For more information, contact
Pat Blaikie, Administrative Assistant, Public Relations, IWK Health Centre 5850/5980 University Ave. P.O. BOX 9700 Halifax, N.S. B3K 6R8
Ph. (902) 470-6740
Fax (470-6790)

In addition, some past presentations can be accessed online.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Free Film series on the Ethics of Mental Health

There's nothing like getting information a little too late.
But although it's too late for this evening's screening, there are two additional films the following two Mondays (February 4 and February 11).

You are invited to a free public screening tonight (Mon., Jan.28, 7:00PM) of the film Awakenings, starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. Complimentary refreshments will be available at the break, followed by a panel discussion led by patient representatives and experts in public and mental health, bioethics, psychiatry and psychology. The event will be held at the Halifax Infirmary, 1796 Summer Street, inside the Royal Bank Theatre. This is the second of a four-part film series on the ETHICS OF MENTAL HEALTH hosted by Novel Tech Ethics (Dept. of Bioethics, Dalhousie University) that also includes:





- What?s Eating Gilbert Grape ? Mon. Feb.4 (7:00PM)

- Thumbsucker ? Mon. Feb.11 (7:00PM)


Please help us advertise this event by posting this message as soon as possible to your friends, family, co-workers, and any relevant e-mailing lists, listservs, websites, news bulletins or blogs to which you may have access. If you know of any places where you might put up a printed version of the States of Mind 2008 poster, please feel free to download a copy.

All are welcome. Come early, seating is limited. (No reservations. Room capacity: 168)

Friday, January 25, 2008

1,000th Visitor

I really enjoy writing this blawg.

But without being able to keep track of visitors, it might often feel like screaming into the wind. Well, some days it might feel that way anyway, but really that's another story. So while not quite as good as numerous comments [hint, hint, we really do appeciate comments], at least I am able to get some sense of where people are coming from and what they're interested in.

And tonight it was very gratifying to see the blawg's 1,000th visitor. So thank you my fellow Nova Scotian, whomever you may be. I hope you found something both useful and interesting. And that you will return for more.

There are still lots of topics I want to write about. Make that, there are still a lot of topics I will be writing about. And I may also be asking more and more pointedly for your help, gentle readers.

Because first of all, as noted by Kimberly, we can't do this alone. We need the assistance and understanding of the non-disabled community to move things forward. And secondly, something tells me that unless this community pulls together and lobbies hard, all of the hard work done by PLAN and others in regard to the RDSP, as just one example, will be for naught when it comes to individuals with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

The time is now to make our voices heard.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The More Things Change ...

Remember this? And this?
Have you heard the latest?

From the latest edition of Institution Watch:
NOVA SCOTIA
More than a year ago (November 2006) the Nova Scotia government announced that it would be renovating an empty building to create an institution to house 24 people. The news release estimated the cost to be $3 million with annual operating costs also estimated to be $3 million. On December 19, 2007 the tender for construction was awarded at a cost of $4,180,000. The costs for design work are unknown.
There's also a complete look at how other provinces are doing. I can tell you that British Columbia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland are leading the way.

Nova Scotia? As you can see, we're not fairing too well. But check it out for yourself.

So what will it take to make a difference here? Who, if not us, is going to make our government move forward on this? That's forward in the right direction. As opposed to what they apparently think is the right direction.

What are your thoughts and ideas?

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Show of hands?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Inventory of Legislation, Policies and Guidelines for Long-term Care

You might recall that I was quite excited to find that the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services had posted various of the policies under the Services for Persons with Disabilities on their website.

And now I am just as pleased and surprised to find that the Department of Health has followed their lead.
Inventory of Legislation, Policies, Guidelines for Long-term Care
The following legislation, policies and guidelines are standards in the long-term care sector. The Department of Health, Continuing Care Division supports owners and operators of long-term care facilities by creating policies and monitoring standards in the sector to ensure that there is a consistent quality of care provided to long-term care residents. Owners, operators and staff of long-term care facilities must be in compliance with the following legislation, policies and standards.
For some of us whose children are older, we wonder what will happen when we're gone. For others, it might be our own parents who give us cause for concern. Whatever the situation, the government needs to move towards more openness and accountability with its programs and services. Or, should I say, our programs and services. After all, it's us, as taxpayers, who are funding them.

It's good to see them take a few baby steps in this direction.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More on Learning Disabilities and the Disability Tax Credit

You will recall a previous discussion about the ability to claim the Disability Tax Credit for a person with a learning disability. Well, I just came across June 2007 document authored by the Canadian Psychological Association entitled "Eligibility of Persons with Impairments in Mental Functions for the Disability Tax Credit: What Qualified Persons Need to Know about Attesting to Eligibility" that deals with the learning disability issue a little more.

In recommending that ‘thinking, perceiving and remembering’ be replaced by the ‘mental functions necessary for everyday life’, we defined the functions as memory (simple instructions, basic personal information, material of importance and interest), problem-solving, goal-setting and judgement, and adaptive functioning. Adaptive functioning includes those abilities related to selfcare, health and safety, social skills and common simple transactions. In this way, any disorder related to mental functions which is severe and prolonged and restricts the mental functions necessary for everyday life as defined above, would obviously be eligible (e.g. affective and anxiety disorders, learning disabilities) and not just those defined by disturbances in thinking, perceiving and remembering (e.g. head injury, major mental illnesses, dementia).

No impairment, be it physical or mental, is ineligible for the DTC on the basis of a diagnosis alone: It is very important for qualified persons to keep in mind that there is no disorder of mental function which renders a person categorically ineligible for the DTC. Although it may be the case that some disorders may be, by their nature, less likely to result in a marked restriction in mental functioning as defined by the DTC than are other disorders, the CRA does not rule out eligibility on the basis of the type of disorder alone. For example, many persons with learning disabilities will not have a sufficiently marked restriction in the mental functions necessary for everyday life, as defined by the DTC, to qualify for the credit. However, if someone had a learning disability, attested to by the qualified person, that created a marked restriction in mental function (e.g. the learning disability was so severe that the person could not manage money sufficiently well to make a simple purchase or could not navigate streets signs to travel to a new location) then the person should be considered eligible for the credit.

So remember this, don't let anyone (including a CRA employee) tell you categorically that learning disabilities do not qualify for the Disability Tax Credit. It is the severity of the learning disability that will be the deciding factor, not the fact that is is a learning as opposed to some other type of disability.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

'Disabled Canadians Jubilant to Have Transport Barrier Removed'

Does your adult son, daughter or friend need a support person with them when traveling by public transportation? Have they or you ever expressed frustration with the fact that it costs twice as much for a person with a disability to use the same public transportation available to other Canadians?

I know I have. And still do, as a matter of a fact. Right at this moment, I am haunted by one of the many items on my never-ending To Do List, this one to recontact our local bus company to continue the debate about whether I should have to pay a second fare for my teenage daughter's support person. It turns out that they do have a policy in conjunction with the CNIB, providing that a blind person can travel with a support person without paying or a second fare. But they don't have any policy around any other disabilities.

After telling them how great I thought it was that they have this policy in place for the blind, I calmly pointed out that to have such a policy for one type of disability and not for others might, by some, be considered discriminatory. Somehow, that seemed to get their attention.

They advised me that would be making a policy around the issue for all disabilities and provided me some with free bus passes in the interim. Which was fine, except that was quite a while ago, the bus passes have long since been used up and I need to call them back again and get them moving on this issue. Just one more time and place when I have to do someone else's job.

But fortunately, and the reason why I am now writing this post, I will now have some backup when I make that call and write that letter.
Today the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) released a landmark decision concerning the right of individuals with disabilities to travel by air without having to say for a second seat, for an attendant or other use, to accommodate their disability. In a historic decision in the “One Person, One Fare” case, the agency has recognized the right of these individuals to have access to a second seat when traveling by air in Canada without having to pay a second fare.
Sometimes, I like to convince myself that I haven't simply been procrastinating (or more accurately, been too overwhelmed to finish what I started in a timely manner) but that it's all fate, you see ... of course, I hadn't been aware of it but I had just been waiting for this decision to be released so I would have some good quality ammo on my side for the next time we spoke.

The media release from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities can be found here.

Read it, Preach it, Use it!

Dominique's Story

After posting about The Picture Cookbook, I went back to reread Joyce's biography, followed a few more links and viola!

Dominique's Story ~ The Long Road to Functional Independence

This is the story of Dominique, Joyce's autstic daughter, for whom the cookbook was first made. It's nice read about another of our kids and how she and her family have gotten from there to here.

Do check it out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Picture Cookbook: Independent Cooking for People with Special Needs

In one of those strange twists of fate, I just came across this picture cookbook, co-authored by a former colleague, Joyce Dassonville. You might recall me speaking of Joyce taking on the Department of Community Services, and just about anyone else you can think of, in her fight to get services for daughter with autism.

At any rate, it appears that Joyce, along with her son, has now authored a cookbook for the special needs community. I can't critique it because there's not much information given on the site and I haven't spoke to Joyce in a long time, not since she moved back to British Columbia. But I do know that, as the site states, her daughter has low-functioning autism and I assume the book was written as a tool for Dominique.

So should you ever be passing be passing through a bookstore and see the title, you might just want to check it out. And if you ever do, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Update: I see that Joyce is also working on a second book, The Other Side of Pandemonium (The Hidden Face of Autism). So you might want to check that out too. A brief biography on Joyce can be found here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What Good Is A RESP To Our Child?

I really need to dig into my black bag (don't ask; it's a perfectly legitimate and explainable reference but just don't ask) to get moving on some new topics but unfortunately work and personal commitments make that just not feasible at the moment.

But in the meantime, I offer you these little gems I dug up at Ken Pope's site today:

The Long-term Benefits of RESPs

and

Using Registered Education Savings Plans For a Child with Developmental Disabilities

That's right, RESPs for our children with disabilities.

These days, with more changes occurring both with RESPs themselves and in post-secondary education, RESPs are looking like much better investments for the disability community. In the above articles, Mr. Pope notes the government grants (that's free money added to the fund by the government) available and the guarantee that at least some, if not all, of your capital will be returned if your child does not go on to post-secondary education. In addition, most, if not all, such funds are also transferable to another eligible child. And you might just be pleasantly surprised (I know I was) to see the advances that are being made in making post-secondary education more accessible to our children, be they challenged physically or mentally.

For example, I have attended numerous disability workshops over the past couple of years where representatives of the Nova Scotia Community College and Acadia University have made presentations concerning their services for students with disabilities. In fact, I probably could and will, at some point, do a series of posts just on that subject.

But I was quite impressed to find that the NSSC, for example, offers both 'accommodations' (allowing a student to graduate with a regular diploma) and modified programs [similar to the idea of the Individualized Program Plans (IPPs) offered in the public school system] which would allow even some IPP students to attend Community College and 'graduate' with a 'list employment skills'.

We purchased a RESP for our oldest child before we knew she had any disabilities. And there's been times over the years that I've wondered in passing if we were just throwing our money away. But now, not only do I know that I can transfer those funds to my younger child, if need be, but I actually hope that the oldest might just be able to access some form of post-secondary education. Only time will tell if that hope is realistic. But either way, I'm glad now that we kept up with the RESP.

And if you're looking for more reading material on other disability-related topics, a list of other articles from Mr. Pope's site can be found here.