"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

Thursday, January 27, 2011

But What Does It Mean?

Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are neglected, abused and otherwise maltreated at a rate 25 percent greater than others, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York directly correlate childhood maltreatment and higher rates of negative cognition, depression and post-traumatic stress in adulthood.

The researchers found 77 percent of deaf and hard-of-hearing respondents indicated experiencing some form of child maltreatment, vs. 49 percent among hearing respondents. In addition, respondents with more severe hearing loss indicated an increased rate and severity of maltreatment.
I found the above report interesting.  Even though I wasn't sure exactly what it meant.

I mean, yes, it's sad. And pathetic.  And wrong.

But what exactly does it mean?

What does focusing on the abuse of children who are deaf and hard of hearing, as opposed to those who have other forms of disability, really tell us?

Sadly, I'm not surprised to find these children are maltreated at a rate greater than 25% than others.  But when we compare them to their "hearing" peers, are we also comparing them to their hearing peers who are mentally challenged? Physically challenged?  Those with ADHD or autism? 

Are they abused amy more or less than children labelled with other disabilities?

Does it really matter?

Has anybody done the studies, published the statistics showing how much more children with any form of disability are likely to be mistreated?

I'm certainly not promoting any us v. them division in the disability community.  I guess I am just wondering why a study was done which focused on this particular disability as opposed to some different disability. Or all types of disability.

That and just what people propose to do about it.  If abuse of any child is a crime (as well it should be), can these perpetrators be sentenced for a "hate crime" when their abuse is perpetrated against a child (or an adult) with a disability?  Should they be?

Just some rambling thoughts of a mother/lawyer on yet another snow day in Nova Scotia.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ten Reasons to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Posted, perhaps, under the category of easier said than done...
1. Negotiation is part of the advocacy process. There is no question that once both sides agree on the educational, health, safety, physical, social, and emotional needs of the exceptional pupil, they MUST be met. But both sides may have different opinions as to how the needs should be met. So we don’t negotiate about which needs should be met (although priorities can be set), but rather HOW to meet them.

2. Choosing a negotiation strategy instead of an adversarial approach preserves relationships and builds trust. It is better to negotiate solutions than to leave matters in the hands of panels of arbitrators who don’t have first-hand knowledge of the student.

3. Negotiation ensures that both sides find common ground. As part of the process, you will be surprised to find out how many things you already agree on.

4. Negotiating solutions saves money because there is no need to hire expensive lawyers.
Now, on that last note, get along and read the rest of it.

* Courtesy of Karen Robinson, AFASE at School

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Guardianship ... In a Nutshell??

I have been getting a fair number of private emails on the guardianship issue recently, which is fine but which has also got me thinking (always a dangerous proposition) ... so I've decided that I might share a bit of what is fast starting to become my "standard answer".
I'm not sure how familiar you are with all the ins and outs of the guardianship issue but just ... it might well be a fair bit more challenging to get guardianship of the [higher functioning daughter] then it would be for your other daughter. I'm not suggesting that your one child doesn't require guardianship or that you shouldn't apply for it, just that obtaining guardianship (with or without the services of a lawyer) could be a fair bit trickier when it comes to our higher functioning kids.

Fist, I might suggest you read my posts regarding guardianship on my blawg (if you haven't already) ...

My other suggestion would be that you consider attending one of my presentations on the issues of guardianship, powers of attorney, personal directives and Henson Trusts (and if you are not familiar with Henson Trusts that is something you really need to know about when it comes to leaving any money for your daughters, in your Will or in any other form). I have been giving these for various disability organizations recently and you might find attending one of these free sessions helpful in clarifying your and your children's situation, including whether guardianship is the best option for both children or whether there might be some other legal tool available to accomplish what you need.

The next presentation I am giving is for the HACL (Halifax Ass. of Community Living) on January 29th at 1:00 in Halifax at the Keshen Goodman Library. They tend to run around 2 hours with me talking for about 1 1/2 hours and about 1/2 hour for questions. If you can't make that presentation, but are interested, I could let you know when I get a date for another one.

All that being said, if you are really comfortable that guardianship is what you want and need, I can offer you the Nova Scotia Legal Guardianship Kit, which I created to help parents, such as yourself, to obtain guardianship of their challenged children without having to incur the costs of retaining a lawyer. The cost of retaining a lawyer to bring a guardianship application can be very prohibitive for most families (I am hearing a range of $3,000 - $6,000) which is why I created the Kit. In many cases (especially those where the child is very low functioning), I believe it is something that parents could do on their own (if they are so inclined) if they had the necessary background knowledge.

The Kit provides all the precedent documents you would need to file with the Court, along with an explanation of what each document is and how to fill it out (giving as many different examples as possible) as well as explaining the how (process) and why of obtaining guardianship and what a person's obligations are once they have been granted guardianship. I am currently offering a hard copy of the Kit for $315 (which includes $15 shipping anywhere in the Province) and hope to eventually get set up so parents can download an electronic version, which will sell for $250.

I should mention that one other option that might be open to you (as opposed to either hiring a private lawyer or going it alone with the help of the Legal Guardianship Kit) is retaining a Legal Aid lawyer. You, personally, may or may not qualify financially for Legal Aid, but one possible way around that could be to have your child made the client. In your case, and I am thinking of your daughter with Aspergers - if she was agreeable to you obtaining guardianship and was considered competent enough to instruct a lawyer (and it's not a real high standard of competency to instruct a lawyer), that might be an option to consider. Then again, as long as you would be going to court to apply for guardianship of one child, you might feel that you might as well just do both. I go into a little more detail about the Legal Aid option in my presentations which is another reason that I would really recommend that you consider attending one.

....

PS As an aside, I feel you are very smart to try to move on whatever you decide to do as soon as quickly as possible now that your children are 19. I know some parents feel that there is no urgency as it is unlikely that anything bad would really happen or could go wrong, but I have seen two situations recently - one in which the parents were very happy that had applied for guardianship as soon as their daughter turned 19 when later that year they were dealing with Community Services on the issue of placement and one where the parents did not move quickly for guardianship and a total nightmare situation developed in which a family of very shady characters essentially took their son away from them and obtaining guardianship and protecting their son turned into a full-blown court battle - that have really driven home for me how important the issue really is.

And with regard to the question of the necessity of guardianship in order to open a RDSP …