"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

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Very Unmerry Christmas

UPDATE: Perhaps Kentucky could take a look at what Wisconsin (and many other US states) are up to in this area. Not that Wisconsin is a light shining in the wilderness - it's previous "incidents" include a teenager with PTSD who died when his teacher sat on him and a 4 year old with CP and autism being strapped to a pretend (look alike) electric chair.

Sifting through my email this morning, I came across this story.

This story that almost defines words.
A 9-year-old autistic boy who misbehaved at school was stuffed into a duffel bag and the drawstring pulled tight, according to his mother, who said she found him wiggling inside as a teacher's aide stood by.

The mother of fourth-grader Christopher Baker said her son called out to her when she walked up to him in the bag Dec. 14. The case has spurred an online petition calling for the firing of school employees responsible.

"He was treated like trash and thrown in the hallway," Chris' mother, Sandra Baker, said Thursday. She did not know how exactly how long he had been in the bag, but probably not more than 20 minutes.
And just what did this young boy do to ... deserve ... such treatment, you may ask?
Baker said when school officials called the family to pick him up, they were told he was "jumping off the walls." Days later, at a meeting with school officials, Baker said she was told the boy had smirked at the teacher when he was told to put down a basketball, then threw it across the room.
But don't fret, gentle reader. All will be fine. After all, the matter is being ... investigated.
Mercer County schools Interim Superintendent Dennis Davis said confidentiality laws forbid him from commenting.
"The employees of the Mercer County Public Schools are qualified professionals who treat students with respect and dignity while providing a safe and nurturing learning environment," Davis said in a statement.  
And there is, of course, legitimate reason for using a duffel bag in such a manner.
At a meeting with school district officials, the bag was described as a "therapy bag," Baker said, though she wasn't clear exactly what that meant. She said her son would sometimes be asked to roll over a bag filled with balls as a form of therapy, but she didn't know her son was being placed in the bag. She said school officials told her it was not the first time they had put him in the bag.
After all, it's not like this sort of thing occurs on a regular basis.
A July letter from the state agency to special education directors said the state had investigated two informal complaints this year.
In one, "a student (was) nearly asphyxiated while being restrained," and in the other, a student vomited from panic attacks after spending most of an academic year "confined to a closet, with no ventilation or outside source of light," according to the letter.
So. What are we to make of this?

In Kentucky, there are no laws on using restraint or seclusion in public schools.

I'm not aware of any "time out" bags being used in Nova Scotia, but we're all very aware what can happen time out rooms aren't regulated. Or, sometimes, even when they supposedly are.

It boggles the mind to think that such a thing could happen in the US, of all places, with their plethora of safeguards against just such abuse.

The woman who started a petition in this matter, herself autistic, stated "That would not be wrong just for an autistic student. That would be wrong to do to anyone".

Might I suggest that the only statement that need be made (if any) is that such a thing should not be done to any student. Ever. Period.

This is not just a lawsuit waiting to be filed. It's a lawsuit begging to be filed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Worker Bees

What a great Christmas present!

I just unwrapped the Halifax Association for Community Living Family Support Program's Workshop Calendar for 2012. And there's some very, very interesting stuff inside.

Check it out!

February: "Circles" workshop "Circles" for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities who are interested in learning about relationships and intimacy.

April: "RDSP" workshop The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) helps Canadians with disabilities and their families save for the future. If you are a Canadian resident under age 60 and are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, you are eligible for an RDSP. Earnings accumulate tax-free, until you take money out of your RDSP.

June: "Housing Options, Problems and Solutions" workshop Alternative Family Support Program Independent Living Support Approved Community-Based Homes Licensed Homes for Special Care

August: "From Emotions to Advocacy" workshop "From Emotions to Advocacy" by Pam and Pete Wright of Wrightslaw, geared towards advocates of individuals with intellectual disabilities and based on the workbook.

September: "Guardianship and Henson Trust" workshop Not every individual with an intellectual disability will require a guardian. However, they may need a guardian for specific areas of decision-making or for most aspects of daily living. The needs of adults who need a guardian are as varied as are their abilities to make their own decisions.

Protecting Your Child's Future with the Henson Trust or "absolute discretionary trust". Come find out how to protect your savings for your child with a disability so they will still be able to access community services benefits upon your passing.

Times and locations TBA in the New Year...
See you in 2012!
I will, of course, post the dates on the sidebar ("Places To Be") when they become available.


'Autism Night Before Christmas'

From 5 Minutes for Special Needs (a spot I make it to far too rarely lately), something I think many of my readers can relate to, whether or not their child is diagnosed with autism.
Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse

We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract

The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When nightmares of terror
Ran through my OWN head

Did I get the right gift
The right color
And style
Would there be a tantrum
Or even, maybe, a smile?

Our relatives come
But they don’t understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from flapping his hands.

“He needs discipline,” they say
“Just a well-needed smack,
You must learn to parent…”
And on goes the attack

Now go read the rest of it. Please.

And  a Very Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Who Knew?

Apparently we have our own day.
Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population. Almost one-fifth of the estimated global total of persons living with disabilities, or between 110-190 million, encounter significant difficulties. Furthermore, a quarter of the global population is directly affected by disability, as care-givers or family members. Persons with disabilities encounter many disadvantages in their societies and are often subjected to stigma and discrimination. They remain largely marginalized, disproportionately poorer, frequently unemployed and have higher rates of mortality.

.  .  .  .

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is both a human rights treaty and a development tool, provides an opportunity to strengthen developmental policies related to the implementation of internationally agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), thereby contributing to the realization of a “society for all” in the twenty-first century.

.  .  .  .

Sub-themes for commemorating the International Day of persons with disabilities in 2011 This year, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs requested the input of its partners and the general public for suggestions on a theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011. Many responses were received from both, the UN system and civil society.

Now, for the first time, the Day will be commemorated under a general theme with supporting sub-themes to draw attention to keyout own day.
I'm glad to see not everyone missed it anyway.


I AM... I Love from L'Arche Canada-Communications on Vimeo.


Yes, it's not much, I know.
But I thought the least I could do was acknowledge it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Looking For Work

Or perhaps that should read "Will Work For Free".
Hello:

As you may or may not know, TETRA is a volunteer based group of technically skilled volunteers who offer their talents to design and construct “off the shelf” solutions for persons with disabilities.  Our Halifax Chapter is actively seeking out projects to keep our volunteers busy. 

If possible, can you send this email (below) out to your clients/consumers as an information service on our behalf?

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Respectfully,

Kevin Murphy
TETRA Halifax Chapter Coordinator
404-7033

The latest edition of Gizmo, newsletter of the Tetra Society of North America, has just been published.

Have a look at some of the inventions and ingenious engineering solutions of Tetra Society volunteers – each helping overcome a physical barrier faced by an individual with a disability.

It includes features on: a device that allows a double amputee to get around, and exit safely from, her apartment; Calgary chapter building its own workshop; a device for a tetraplegic sharpshooter; and the growing trend of university engineering professors using Tetra challenges to teach the engineers of the future.

All this, as they say, plus much, much more.

If you want to know more about Tetra, check out the website, take part in our forum or visit us on Facebook. (If you want to help out, there are various volunteer options, or consider making a donation.)
I've passed on info about these folks to some friends years ago and they were quite pleased with the modified bike they were able to get for their son.  So it might well be worth checking into. 

What do you need? What would you like?

Maybe, just maybe, Christmas will come early for some family...