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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Shortened School Hours

At The Oregonian, Samantha Swindler writes that Oregon schools have shortened hours for many kids with autism and other disabilities.
Joel Greenberg, attorney with the advocacy group Disability Right Oregon, estimated at least 15 percent of the calls he deals with are about students placed on reduced school hours.
"It often happens that a district will tell a parent, 'His behavior is really aggressive right now, let's reduce his school day for a short time, and then gradually return him to a full day,'" Greenberg said. "We'll then often find that that short time got longer and longer, at times up to two years."
The state doesn't track how frequently this happens, but over a four-month period last year, 68 families called an Oregon disability help hotline because of a child's shortened day due to behavior.
Of those callers, 27 percent had a child age 7 or younger.

"What's the prognosis for a child who needs a lot of support and probably more education and he's getting 1-2 hours (in class) a day at age 6?" Greenberg asked.
Senate Bill 263, signed into law this summer, specifies that a district cannot place a student on an abbreviated day without a parent's consent. Districts must consider at least one option that includes supports to allow the student to attend a full school day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More Groups Agains Graham-Cassidy

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as other government programs at the federal and state levels.

From Autism Speaks:
Please contact your US Senator TODAY and ask them to VOTE NO on any proposal to reduce Medicaid funding for people with autism. Medicaid is the single most important insurer for people with autism and pays for the majority of all long-term care adults with autism receive. Proposed changes in the Graham-Cassidy-Johnson proposal would result in less Medicaid funds for states and would negatively impact people with autism and their families. Please take action today!

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) today voiced its strong opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

“This legislation, the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, will lead to millions of Americans losing their health care coverage,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We are particularly concerned that this bill would make drastic cuts to the Medicaid program and rollback expansion, which has allowed 1.3 million Americans with serious mental illness and 2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders to gain coverage for the first time. This bill harms our must vulnerable patients.

"The APA is ready to work with members of both parties to craft a bipartisan solution that stabilizes the health insurance market and ensures Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.”

Against Graham-Cassidy

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as other government programs at the federal and state levels.

From The Arc:
“While this piece of legislation has a new title and makes new promises, it is more of the same threats to Medicaid and those who rely on it for a life in the community. The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson proposal cuts and caps the Medicaid program. The loss of federal funding is a serious threat to people with disabilities and their families who rely on Medicaid for community based supports.
“Many of the provisions in this legislation are the same or worse than what we encountered earlier this year, which shows that the architects of this bill are still ignoring the pleas of their constituents with disabilities. The talking points sugar coat it, but the reality is simple – under this proposal less money would be available despite the fact the needs of people who rely on Medicaid have not decreased. The Arc remains staunchly opposed to legislation that includes per capita caps or block granting of Medicaid. We need Members of Congress to find a solution that actually takes into consideration the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of the The Arc.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ill-Trained Cop Screws Up Encounter with Innocent Autistic Kid

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between police and autistic people.   Police officers need training to respond appropriately.  When they do not, things get out of hand.

Alexis Egeland reports at The Arizona Republic:
Police body-camera footage shows a Buckeye police officer detaining a 14-year-old boy with autism after he became suspicious of the boy, who was practicing one of his calming techniques at the time.
The Buckeye Police Department has said they think the officer reacted to a reasonable suspicion, but the family's attorney says there is insufficient training for officers to deal with people on the autism spectrum, something the boy's family would like addressed.
The footage, which the family attorney posted on YouTube on Sunday, shows an officer exiting his vehicle to approach the boy near Verrado Town Square and ask him what he's doing. The boy says he's "stimming" and holds up a piece of string.

Autism Society v. Graham-Cassidy

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as other government programs at the federal and state levels.

From the Autism Society:
Last week, Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham unveiled the latest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and decimate the Medicaid program. Similar to previous plans, the Cassidy-Graham proposal is another heartless attempt to strip away a critical lifeline from the nation’s most vulnerable communities. Although the official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score is forthcoming, we know the Cassidy-Graham plan proposes the same damaging cuts and caps to Medicaid as its two unsuccessful predecessors, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).
The Cassidy-Graham plan puts per capita caps on Medicaid, leading to devastating cuts in funding, penalizes states that have invested in their Medicaid systems, and phases out the Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies. The bill also includes block grants which will sunset after 2026, leaving uncertainty as to how funding gaps will be addressed down the line. A few senators have come out against the proposal, but we need to take action TODAY to ensure the Cassidy Graham plan fails to make it to the floor for a vote.
Contact your senators (202-224-3121) today and urge them to oppose the Cassidy-Graham plan or any other bill that cuts, caps or block grants Medicaid. We demonstrated the power of our collective voices with previous attempts to gut Medicaid, and together we can ensure the Cassidy-Graham proposal meets a similar fate.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Not Much Federal Money for Transition Research

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued its Report to Congress on Young Adults and Transitioning Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
According to IACC’s analysis of the ASD research portfolio (including both federal and private funders), funding allocated to projects on lifespan issues, including the transition to adulthood, represented the smallest segment of ASD research funding. In 2015, projects on lifespan issues received 2 percent ($6.1 million) of overall combined federal and private ASD funding, similar to the investments made in previous years; this percentage does not change when including only federal sources.  When considering only the topic of transition, the proportion is less than 2 percent of total funding. In terms of number of projects rather than percentage of funding, lifespan issues again were 2 percent of the entire ASD research portfolio, with 34 projects across both federal and private sources; of these, 21 were devoted to transition issues.
As can be seen in Table 2, programs currently supporting research related specifically to the transition to adulthood among youth and young adults with ASD were found in only four agencies: NIH, HRSA, ED, and DOD. In 2013-2016, only 18 federally-funded research projects focused on transitioning youth and young adults with ASD were newly awarded across these four agencies; seven of these were in response to NIH’s Services Research for Autism Spectrum Disorder across the Lifespan (ServASD) Initiative, and four were in response to autism-specific research programs within HRSA. Across all federal agencies surveyed, only six investigator-initiated research projects focusing on transitioning youth and young adults with ASD were funded through broadly targeted programs: four projects through investigator-initiated extramural research programs in NIMH and NICHD, one study in response to ED’s (NCSER) cross-disability call for research on transition, and one investigator-initiated research project funded through DOD.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Special Education Teacher Shortage in Oklahoma

Public schools in 48 states and the District of Columbia report teacher shortages in math for the 2017-18 school year, according to the US Department of Education. Forty-six states report shortages in special education, 43 in science and 41 in foreign languages.
Jennifer Palmer reports at Oklahoma Watch:
Oklahoma schools started the school year with more than 500 teaching vacancies, but special education is the most difficult to fill, according to a recent survey of 300 districts by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association. Some districts report special education teacher vacancies year after year.
The shortage of special education teachers is a nationwide problem. It is likely compounded in Oklahoma by the state’s comparatively low teacher salaries, although state law requires that special education teachers receive a salary of 5 percent more than general education teachers. Forty-six states, including Oklahoma, reported shortages in special education for the 2017-2018 school year; math and science are also hard-to-staff areas.
High turnover is driving the special-education teacher shortage. Special education teachers tend to leave the classroom at higher rates than general education teachers, and they burn out quicker, research has shown. Coupled with the normal teaching demands is a grueling amount of paperwork and meetings required by federal law.
But the shortage is a pipeline issue, too. Federal data show students graduating with teaching credentials in areas like early childhood and elementary education far outnumber those credentialed to teach students with disabilities. The University of Oklahoma, for instance, graduated six special education teachers in 2015-2016, compared to 69 in elementary education. Keeping those graduates in Oklahoma is an even bigger issue: More than half of OU’s spring teaching graduates accepted jobs out of state this year.