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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Proposal for a Voluntary Registry in Ohio

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss interactions between police and autistic people

Jackie Borchardt reports at
A pair of Ohio lawmakers are proposing a voluntary registry for individuals with autism, speech impairments or other disabilities hampering communication, as a way to better inform law enforcement officials.
The information would be available only to officers recalling information from a driver's license or license plate, and officers wouldn't know details about the disability besides that fact it could influence communication.
"We're trying to close the communication gap between people who voluntarily go through this initiative with a communication disability and law enforcement officers," said Rep. Scott Wiggam, a Wooster Republican co-sponsoring the bill.
House Bill 115 was prompted by recent Ohio incidents where drivers with autism were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The drivers failed field sobriety tests but blood and urine tests came back negative.
Olivia Fecteau reported at WCMH-TV:

Medicaid and the Trumpcare Near-Miss

The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance and  Medicaid services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Kate Zernike, Abby Goodnough, and Pam Belluck report at The New York Times that Medicaid survived the Trumpcare fiasco.
Medicaid now provides medical care to four out of 10 American children. It covers the costs of nearly half of all births in the United States. It pays for the care for two-thirds of people in nursing homes. And it provides for 10 million children and adults with physical or mental disabilities. For states, it accounts for 60 percent of federal funding — meaning that cuts hurt not only poor and middle-class families caring for their children with autism or dying parents, but also bond ratings.
Representative [Chris] Smith of New Jersey said he was voting no because of concerns about the impact on people with disabilities, who make up just 15 percent of all Medicaid recipients but account for 42 percent of spending, making them particularly vulnerable to cuts.
For millions of disabled people, Medicaid covers services provided at home or through local programs — aides who help them walk, eat and bathe, for example, and physical and speech therapy — that allow them to stay out of institutions, where care is often more expensive. But those services are optional for states, while the cost of institutional care is not. The law would have given states an incentive to place them in institutions.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Limits of the Endrew F. Decision

In The Politics of Autism, I write about IEPs and FAPE.

At AEI, Nat Malkus cautions that the Endrew F. decision does not resolve all special education issues.
Even after this decision — arguably the biggest Supreme Court special education ruling in decades — the definition of an “appropriate” IEP is only a little clearer for districts and parents. In stipulating that equality of opportunity was too high a bar and that trivial benefits were too low, the court left open a vast middle ground to negotiate IEPs based on the “unique circumstances of the child.”
In fact, the Endrew F. case will soon contend with this middle ground. The Supreme Court’s decision sends the case back to lower courts to determine whether the district’s IEP meets the “meaningful benefit” standard. While the court handed parents a victory, it also reiterated that lower courts should defer to districts’ expertise in determining what is appropriate, leaving the burden of proof squarely on parents. The floor for appropriate in FAPE has been raised, but it is difficult to know whether that will make a difference in this case and others like it.
What is more certain is that the decision will raise fiscal pressures on public school districts. Special education costs have risen substantially in recent decades, but those increases have primarily been due to increasing numbers of students, not increasing per-pupil costs. The Endrew F. ruling will raise those costs, both by increasing districts’ willingness to provide services to clear a higher standard and, potentially, by increasing the number of families districts must reimburse for private school tuition.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Insurance Push in Alabama

The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance legislation in the states.

Now that Iowa has passed an autism insurance mandate, Alabama is one of only four states without one. Trisha Powell Crain reports at 
Autism advocates are trying a new way to raising awareness about the need for insurance reform. Five billboards calling for "Insurance for Autism Now" are now up: three in Birmingham, one in Albertville and one in Montgomery.
The Autism Society of Alabama paid for the billboards to show their support for HB284, a bill calling for mandated health insurance coverage for behavioral therapy for eligible children with autism.
Opponents say insurance mandates are bad for business owners because it drives up the cost of insurance for their employees.
This is the first time the Autism Society of Alabama has used billboards this way, according to executive director Melanie Jones. "It's a grassroots advocacy effort," she said, that started with parents and advocates who wanted to let others in the community understand what not having insurance means for their families. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Iowa Passes Insurance Mandate

The Politics of Autism includes an extensive discussion of insurance legislation in the states.

William Petroski reports at The Des Moines Register:
The Iowa Senate voted 48-0 Thursday to require many employer-provided health insurance policies to provide coverage for treatment of autism spectrum disorder for young people 
House File 215 was sent to Gov. Terry Branstad for his consideration. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers praised the bill's final passage, saying it represents years of work by advocates for people with autism. 
Sen. Bill Anderson, R-Pierson, the bill's floor manager, said the legislation will apply to employers of more than 50 full-time workers. It will require coverage of applied behavioral analysis for persons under age 19 diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The bill provides maximum annual benefits, depending upon a person's age. Coverage can also be subject to deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance provisions.

Friday, March 24, 2017

How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education

A release at Education Views:
How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education: The Unbundling of IDEA by Mark K. Claypool and John M. McLaughlin will be released on March 28, 2017. Published by Rowman and Littlefield, How Autism is Reshaping Special Education will be released in trade paper (ISBN: 978-1-4758-3497-0 • $25.00 ) hardcover (ISBN: 978-1-4758-3496-3 • $50.00) and eBook editions (ISBN: 978-1-4758-3498-7 • $24.99).
In their latest book, How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education, recognized thought-leaders Mark K. Claypool and John M. McLaughlin deliver a timely, thoughtful, and thought-provoking look at one of the fundamental components of public schooling—special education and its foundational law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

An innovative and meticulously researched guide, How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education sheds light on a modern day conundrum: while special education in the United States is based on the concept of access—public schools are open to all children—access is no longer a sufficient foundation. Approaches that lead to academic success are increasingly demanded for those with learning disabilities, while functional, independent-living, and employable skills are requisite, but rare, for those with serious handicapping conditions.
In their groundbreaking new book, the authors explain how four major events have transpired since the last reauthorization of IDEA : the increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism, the rise of applied behavior analysis, the birth of social media, and the reality of unbundling. In addition to examining how these four events will dramatically impact the next iteration of federal law, How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education explores the effect of these events on a special education process burdened by regulation, where advances in the behavioral sciences and neurosciences blur the lines between education and medicine, and where social media fosters aggressive advocacy for specific disabilities.
In crafting the book, Claypool and McLaughlin, authors of the award-winning We’re In This Together: Public-Private Partnerships in Special and At-Risk Education, sought the expertise and input of dozens of educators, parents, leaders, experts, administrators, special education professionals, and others as a means of presenting a sensitive and accurate portrait of autism and special education today. These perspectives, featured prominently throughout the book, underscore the need for change to benefit children with autism spectrum disorders and their families. Moreover, How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education addresses such topics as: current development of the profession of applied behavior analysis; relative position of autism compared to other disabilities inside of special education; how advocacy for special needs communities has become more aggressive; how Autism Speaks became a business disruptor among advocacy groups; the impact of social media on advocacy; how IDEA will be affected by the political phenomenon of unbundling; and more.
A clear, comprehensive and compelling guide, How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education will be available where fine books are sold in March.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gorsuch: Sorry

In The Politics of Autism, I write about IEPs and FAPE.

At The Hill, Nikita Vladimirov reports on a telling exchange that took place on the day of Endrew F.:
President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, said Wednesday that he was "sorry" for ruling against an autistic student because he was "bound by circuit precedent." 
Gorsuch remarked on his ruling in favor of a Colorado school district over an autistic student after Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked him about the decision during Wednesday's confirmation hearing.

"If anyone is suggesting that I like a result where an autistic child happens to lose, that’s a heartbreaking accusation to me. Heartbreaking," Gorsuch said.

"But the fact of the matter is I was bound by circuit precedent, and so was the panel of my court," he added, while noting that there are other examples where his 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for children with disabilities. 
"If I was wrong, senator, I was wrong because I was bound by circuit precedent, and I’m sorry," he said.