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Saturday, June 24, 2017

IDEA Full Funding

Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), David McKinley (R-WV), Tim Walz (D-MN), Dave Reichert (R-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and John Katko (R-NY) introduced the bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act, H.R. 2902, to level the playing field for children with disabilities and provide them with a high quality education.
In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), with the goal of guaranteeing that every child with disabilities would have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. At that time, the federal government committed to pay 40 percent of the average per pupil expenditure for special education. Unfortunately, that pledge has never been met: current federal funding makes up just 15.7 percent. The bipartisan IDEA Full Funding Act would require regular increases in IDEA spending to finally meet the federal commitment to America’s children and schools, relieve the burden on states and local school districts, and ensure educational opportunities for all students with disabilities.
“The law guarantees every student the right to a free and appropriate public education, but Congress needs to provide the resources to make that guarantee meaningful.” said Rep. Huffman. “That’s why I’m joining with my colleagues from across the aisle to introduce the IDEA Full Funding Act, because we know that providing our children with a first-class education should not be a partisan issue. The bottom line is this: no child should ever be denied a quality education, or be kept from reaching their full potential, because they have a disability. The IDEA Full Funding Act, which is supported by teachers, parents, school leaders, and disability advocates, would ensure our schools have the resources they need to support students with disabilities, and that Congress finally meets its commitments to all students.”
“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act created a commitment to children with special needs and their families,” said Rep. McKinley. “This is a promise the federal government has failed to keep until now. The IDEA Full Funding Act puts us on a path towards fulfilling the promise we made to our children and grandchildren”
“As a teacher, I believe every child deserves a shot at the American Dream and the chance to reach their full potential,” said Rep. Walz. “The federal government needs to hold up their end of the bargain to ensure this promise can be reality. This legislation helps us uphold one of our nation’s core values: every child deserves the opportunity to succeed.”

“In four decades, we’ve failed to keep up with our own promise, as Congress mandated by law, to fund education programs for students with disabilities,” said Rep. Schrader. “This is unacceptable for every one of our students. It’s the schools that have to pick up the tab where we’ve fallen short. That not only costs our school districts money, but it takes away from other programs, diminishing the overall quality of education our communities can provide. Our bill will finally fulfill that promise and relieve our schools, giving them the ability to better fund programs like Advanced Placement, CTE, and STEM.”
"After over 40 years of the Federal Government failing to fulfil its promise to students of all abilities throughout our country, I am proud to work with my colleagues to introduce this crucial piece of legislation,” said Rep. Katko. “This bill will require the Federal Government to finally meet its commitment to support special education and the teachers who work tirelessly to ensure all of our children have an opportunity to succeed."
Rep. Huffman also introduced the IDEA Full Funding Act in the 114th Congress.
Senator Van Hollen (D-MD) plans to introduce companion legislation in the United States Senate.
The IDEA Full Funding Act  is supported by teachers, school administrators, parents, and disability advocates, including: AASA, The School Superintendents Association, American Council for School Social Work, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers, American Music Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Physical Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association, Association of School, Business Officials International, Association of Educational Service Agencies, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Council of Great City Schools, Council for Exceptional Children, Council for Exceptional Children (Teacher Education Division), Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of Elementary School Principals , National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of State Directors of Special Education, National Center for Learning Disabilities, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Disability Rights Network, National Down Syndrome Congress, National Education Association, National PTA, National Rural Education Advocacy Consortium, National Rural Education Association, National School Boards Association, School Social Work Association of America, Software & Information Industry Association, TASH, and The ARC of the United States.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Tim Kaine on Autism, Medicaid, and School

Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia has commented on Medicaid cuts.  In Hampton Roads, Jane Hammond reports at The Daily Press:
"My sense is in the discussion about health care, three things have gotten huge attention: jeopardizing the status of people with pre-existing conditions; the number of Americans that would lose health care, the millions; and premium effects, especially on seniors," Kaine said Thursday. "But I think the Medicaid cuts and the effect on children have not gotten the attention that they deserve. 
"If you're a child is in a school system and you have an IEP (Individualized Education Program, a document developed for students with special needs), because you have a specified disability, the school systems are getting reimbursed by Medicaid for most of what they do for youngsters," he said. "If you are the mom of a kid with autism, and the child is getting some special services at an autism provider, that's likely paid for with Medicaid."
A Wednesday release from Kaine's office:
Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released a district-by-district report on the importance of Medicaid to Virginia’s public schools and how the $1.3 trillion combined cuts to Medicaid in the Trump budget and the Republican health care plan – known as TrumpCare – would harm schools and the children who attend them. In Virginia alone, for the most recent reporting school years, school districts received nearly $33 million in federal Medicaid funding for school-based services for students. Schools use Medicaid dollars to cover health-related services for eligible children and for services provided in a child’s special education plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Trump Administration’s proposed cut to Medicaid would put these funds for Virginia schools in jeopardy. In Virginia, more than one million individuals, including 600,000 kids, rely on Medicaid for health care coverage. In schools, Medicaid dollars are used for both primary and preventive care such as vision and hearing screenings, diabetes and asthma diagnosis and management, occupational and physical therapy, nursing care, mental health evaluation and services, special education aides and instructors in classrooms, and other services and personnel provided to students with disabilities.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Protesting Senate Trumpcare

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss health care issues and state Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

For many Americans, Medicaid means welfare, which means handouts to lazy bums.  Opponents of Medicaid cuts have to show who actually benefits.

From The New York Times:

Disabled people protested outside Mitch McConnell's office:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trumpcare and Perceptions of Medicaid

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss health care issues and state Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

If critics of Trumpcare want to move public opinion, they need to change the image of Medicaid as a handout to lazy, able-bodied adults. In particular, they need to show that many beneficiaries are people with autism and other disabilities.

Some background:

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports on a survey:
When asked whether Medicaid is more similar to other health insurance programs or to welfare programs, more people see Medicaid as health insurance (60%) than welfare (37%). There is a significant partisan divide in these perceptions, with most Democrats and independents viewing Medicaid as health insurance and a narrow majority of Republicans viewing it as welfare.

Portland Student Can Go to the UN After All

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the civil rights of people with autism and other disabilities

Grant Butler reports at The Oregonian:
After months of whirlwind emotions, a Portland teen who won a trip to the United Nations, but then had the trip denied because he has autism, has learned that he will be able to go on the trip after all.
Niko Boskovic, 15, finished first in an essay contest sponsored by North Portland's Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge. As the winner, he was given the opportunity to join 300 other winners from around the world for next month's 10-day United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth in New York City and Washington, DC.
But shortly after winning, Niko's invitation to attend the event was withdrawn by the national board overseeing the trip. After his family worked
with Disability Rights Oregon to advocate for his inclusion, the trip is back on.
"We finally got all the details ironed out this week, and the issues have been resolved between the parties," said Loreta Boskovic, Niko's mom, noting that details of the agreement are confidential.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Texas Law on Licensing Behavior Analysts

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Sebastian Herrera reports at The Houston Chronicle:
Specialists who treat children with autism in Texas will soon be required to obtain licenses after Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed an amended version of Senate Bill 589 into law.
The bill, by Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, will require licenses for applied behavior analysts, therapists most known for their treatment of autism. After easily passing in the Texas Senate on May 1, the bill also swiftly passed in the House on May 23 before heading to Abbott's desk.

"Because of the tireless work behind SB 589, our most vulnerable Texans who benefit from applied behavioral intervention - such as children with autism, along with those with developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities, and with brain injuries - will now be protected by SB 589, which will reduce the probability and the possibility of them being harmed by unqualified practitioners," Lucio Jr. said in a statement.

The bill's supporters have said a law is needed to regulate the profession. Texas has now joined more than 25 other states requiring licenses for behavior analysts.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Police Involvement

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.

At Pacific Standard, David M. Perry explains why schools escalate behavior problems into law enforcement issues.
But schools do punish people when they are panicking, and Sam Crane, an attorney and the director of public policy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, is afraid she knows why. Behavior intervention plans, she explains, are part of disability-rights education legislation. Once you have a plan, you have all kinds of added rights as a member of a protected class of American citizen. If you charge someone with a crime, though, schools can skip right past disability law. "Under the IDEA," Crane writes me, "[a] student would be entitled to a manifestation determination, to decide whether his behavior was a manifestation of a disability. There's no such requirement when referring a kid to law enforcement." Crane believes that, around the country, schools are pushing teachers and other staff to press charges.
Ami Tint and colleagues have an article titled "Correlates of Police Involvement Among Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder" at the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.  The study involved Ontario, Canada. The abstract:
This study aimed to describe police interactions, satisfaction with police engagement, as well as examine correlates of police involvement among 284 adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) followed over a 12- to 18-month period. Approximately 16% of individuals were reported to have some form of police involvement during the study period. Aggressive behaviors were the primary concern necessitating police involvement. Individuals with police involvement were more likely to be older, have a history of aggression, live outside the family home, and have parents with higher rates of caregiver strain and financial difficulty at baseline. Most parents reported being satisfied to very satisfied with their children’s police encounters. Areas for future research are discussed in relation to prevention planning.
From the article
A history of aggression differentiated individuals who did and who did not interact with police in the observation period. Aggressive behaviors commonly occur in ASD (Kanne and Mazurek 2011; Matson and Rivet 2008; Mazurek et al. 2013), with rates reported to occur in up to 68% of affected individuals at some point in their lives (Lecavalier 2006). These behaviors can result in negative physical, emotional, and financial consequences for family members (Hartley et al. 2012; Hodgetts et al. 2013). Despite a high need and the recognized existence of effective empirically based interventions, there is often a lack of professional knowledge and community-based resources to assist individuals with ASD and their families deal with aggressive behaviors (Hodgetts et al. 2013; White et al. 2012). In the current study, an individual’s history of aggressive behavior, caregiver strain and police contact were associated with each other, further highlighting the need for appropriate community-based family supports