In the News

 

Feds Release New Stats on Restraint and Seclusion in Schools 
New data on nearly every public school in the nation shows that students with disabilities continue to be disciplined and experience restraint and seclusion at far higher rates than others.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 4/24/18

Independent Grounds Cafe opens in Kennesaw
A new coffeeshop in Kennesaw opened its doors last month, serving up coffee, tea and fraps. What makes it unique is that it employs teens and adults with developmental disabilities, hoping to inspire the community to think differently about what people with special needs can do. Stop by Independent Grounds Cafe, show your support and enjoy a good cup of coffee!
Original article appeared on Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/28/18
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'Sesame Street' expands Autism focus
Since the debut of Julia two years ago online and one year ago on the show, Sesame Street is adding to their website a storybook about Julia, four videos starring Julia and her friends, and digital routine cards with step-by-step instructions showing Julia doing potentially challenging activities. There also is a new episode focused on Julia and her unique perspective. This is all part of their initiative in increasing efforts to include kids on the spectrum.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 4/5/18

Gregg Harper Hopes Disability Internship Program Expands After His Departure
As Rep. Gregg Harper prepares to leave Congress, he has high hopes the internship program he created for individuals with intellectual disabilities will grow and lead to more alumni getting hired. 
Original article appeared on Roll Call, 4/16/18

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Concerns raised as disability panels fail to meet under Trump
Lawmakers are urging the Trump administration to convene multiple committees tasked with advising the federal government on disability issues that appear to have been put on hiatus.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 3/15/18

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Hawking's death promotes debate on disability language
The death of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has prompted important conversations around how disabilities should be discussed, particularly in the media.
Orignal article appeared on Nation Center on Disability and Journalism, 3/19/18

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School District Ordered to Reimburse Family for Private Placement
A victory for all children with disabilities, a federal judge ruled that Douglas County school district must reimburse a student’s family for the accrued tuition costs of a private school for students with disabilities, since they did not provide him an adequate public education.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 2/13/18

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House Lawmakers Approve Changes to Americans with Disabilities Act
The controversial legislation, which would severely damage accessibility protections already in place, was approved on a vote of 225 to 192.
Original article appeard on Disabilty Scoop, 2/15/18

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FDA grants 'breakthrough therapy' status to potential Autism drug
A major pharmaceutical company says it has received a designation from the FDA to help expedite what could be the first drug to treat the core symptoms of Autism.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 1/30/18

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Trump signs Family Caregivers Act

A new law will require the federal government to develop a national strategy to address the needs of family caregivers, including those supporting people with developmental disabilities.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 1/25/18

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Bilingualism a possible plus for kids with Autism
Speaking more than one language may offer a significant advantage for children with autism that goes well beyond communication, a new study suggests. Kids on the spectrum who are bilingual appear to be able to switch gears more quickly than their peers who speak only a single language.
Original article appeared on Disability Scoop, 1/16/18

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Texas illegally excluded thousands from Special Education
For years, Texas education officials illegally led schools across the state to deny therapy, tutoring and counseling to tens of thousands of children with disabilities, according to federal officials.
Original article appeared on The New York Times, 1/11/18

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Ohio bill banning abortions of fetuses with Down Syndrome signed
Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill banning abortions in cases where a fetus has been diagnosed with or is suspected to have Down Syndrome.
Original article appeared on The Mighty, Dec. 22, 2017

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Tommy Hilfiger's new line made specifically for adults with disabilities

After launching a line of adaptive children's clothing, Hilfiger has expanded his reach to adults with disabilities as well.
Original article appeared on Huffington Post, Oct. 20, 2017

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Eminem and Beyoncé are called out for use of the 'R' word in new song
The Ruderman Family Foundation Calls Out singers for use of the word ‘retarded’ in new song, and to use their celebrity to stop bullying of people with disabilities.
Original article appeared on the Ruderman Family Foundation, Dec. 14, 2017.

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Hollywood is talking about inclusion more than ever, but not for disabled actors
Stories about people with disabilities are flooding the big screen this year, but nearly none feature actual disabled talent.
Original article appeared on USA Today, Oct. 22, 2017.

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The Google for People with Spinal Cord Injury
“Google it” has nowadays become the go-to response to questions we actually don’t know how to answer. But imagine you or someone you love, have just become paralyzed, due to an injury or a disease and you find yourself learning how to use a wheelchair, or wondering whether you could still be a parent. Google can give you a lot of hits for your questions, but sifting through them all to maybe find the answer you need can be a daunting task. This kind of problem is the birthplace of AbleThrive.com.
Original article appeared on the Ruderman Family Foundation on April 5, 2017.

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Teen creates apps to help people with special needs
Johnny Ciocca is a self-taught app maker, who, at only 17 years of age, has already launched 35 apps. While his portfolio features everything from retro-style arcade games to practical tools that keep people on schedule, the Bonita Springs teen's most important work has been helping people with special needs lead more social lives. His inspiration comes from older brother Christian, who has Down syndrome.
Original article appeared on USA Today on March 21, 2017.

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The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student
School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, "appropriately ambitious" progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.
The original article appeared on NPR.org.com on March 22, 2017.

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Julia, A Muppet With Autism, Joins The Cast Of 'Sesame Street'
For the first time in a decade, the classic children's television show Sesame Street will introduce a new Muppet on the air. Her name is Julia. She's a shy and winsome 4-year-old, with striking red hair and green eyes. Julia likes to paint and pick flowers. When Julia speaks, she often echoes what she's just heard her friends Abby and Elmo say. Julia has autism.
Original article appeared on NPR.org.com on March 20, 2017.

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How To Build A More Inclusive Jewish Community
Judaism values inclusion. Yet, according to a study conducted in 2013 by RespectAbilityUSA and JerusalemU, most American Jews with disabilities feel excluded from their own gathering places.
Original article appeared on Forward.com on February 6, 2017.

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Controversial ADHD 5-day prescription rule scrapped from Georgia bill
A provision of a Georgia Senate bill that would have required adults and children on ADHD medications to get new prescriptions every five days has been scrapped.
Original article appeared on Fox 6 Now News.

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Marathon to Develop Technological Solutions for People with Disabilities
I first wrote about Tikkun Olam Makers—better known as TOM—in May of last year, and titled it “How to Change the World.” Admittedly a lofty title, but not an inaccurate one. TOM is best known for organizing makeathons. As the name suggest, these are marathons of making where tinkerers and makers from all across the world come together for an intense 72 hour period in order to create ingenious solutions.
Original article appeared on the Ruderman Family Foundation.

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How a Speech Scientist is Helping a Child Speak, Using Others’ Words
Rupal Patel hopes to give eight-year-old Leo True-Frost — who has cerebral palsy and is unable to speak — his own voice, using any sounds he's still able to make combined with a matching donor voice.
Original article appeared on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

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Op-Ed: I’m not your mitzvah project
I have Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements and noises called “tics.” My Tourette’s is relatively mild at this point, but I went through a turbulent adolescence when Tourette’s was the most defining thing about me.
Original article appeared on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Disabilities vs. Special Needs - It's Time to Use the Words We Truly Mean
While I prefer the term disability as I think it is clear, understandable and not in any way derogatory, I have been approached by parents of students in my school who have asked me to use the language of special needs because they find it gentler.
Original article appeared on Removing the Stumbling Block.

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Southern Made: Bitty & Beau's Coffee Shop
You won't find any coffee shop more welcoming or warmhearted than Bitty & Beau's in Wilmington, North Carolina. Founded by owner Amy Wright and her husband, the shop is run by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in honor of the couple's two children – Bitty and Beau – who have Down Syndrome.
Original article appeared in Southern Living.

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Google Maps is now wheelchair-friendly
A group of Google employees spent their '20% time' making Google Maps wheelchair-friendly.
Original article appeared in Business Insider on December 15, 2016.

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The nation’s first deaf leader of a Hillel aims to make Judaism accessible to all
Jacob Salem speaks six languages. Yet if he walked into a typical synagogue service in either of the countries where he grew up — America or Israel — he might still get lost.
Original article appeared in the Washington Post on December 18, 2016.

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For Kids With Special Needs, A Trail Of Their Own
Great article about Doylestown Township’s new Sensory Trail (Doylestown, PA). A play space designed specifically for children with special needs.
Original article appeared in DisabilityScoop on November 18, 2016.

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The Highs & Lows of Parenting a Child with Fragile X Syndrome
I am a typical parent with an atypical son, which means that I have extraordinary parenting experiences that I deal with in an ordinary way.
The original article appeared in Kveller on September 21, 2016.

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How Synagogues Can Be a House of Prayer for All People
It’s our responsibility to organize ourselves to keep inclusion on the front-burner of congregational concerns. We need to continuously raise awareness and educate everyone in our synagogue community, and we need lay and professional leaders to shepherd how we do this.
The original article appeared in Union for Reform Judaism on September 2, 2016.

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Microsoft Wants Autistic Coders. Can It Find Them And Keep Them?
Job interviews can be especially hard if you're autistic. A Microsoft effort aimed at a wider spectrum of the workforce wants to solve that.
The original article appeared in Fast Company on September 6, 2016.

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Homemade wheelchair offers paralyzed toddler sense of freedom

A 13-month-old toddler paralyzed by a tumor on her spine has been outfitted with a homemade wheelchair so she can keep up with her friends during playtime.

The original article appeared in Fox News Health on August 17, 2016.How I Found My Place in the Jewish Community Despite My Disability----

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How I Found My Place in the Jewish Community Despite My Disability
My disability has been and always will be part of who I am. I try not to let it define me.
The original article appeared in Chabad.org on February 8, 2016.

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University of Georgia Professor Explains His ‘Asperger’s Advantage’ and Disabling Assumption of Disorder
A fascinating look at disorders and disabilities by a University of Georgia professor who says his own include Asperger’s, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive thinking.
The original article appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on May 27, 2016.

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The Temple and Temple Sinai Receive Honor, Recognition from URJ's Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center
The Temple and Temple Sinai received special recognition from the URJ as one of the 27 exemplar congregations for disability inclusion.
The original article appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on November 16, 2015. Click to view The Temple and Temple Sinai's special designation on the URJ's website.

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Dining Out In A Wheelchair
When you're in a wheelchair, dining out is so much more complicated. "I call ahead...and I ask specific questions," says David Friedman, who reviews restaurants for both their food and wheelchair accessibility on The Disabled Foodie. "If it comes down to it, I ask: 'Are the doorways 34 inches or wider?'" 
The original article appeared on Sporkful.com on March 14, 2016.

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Squirm with a Purpose
Teachers have long struggled to get children to sit still at their desks. But for children with ADHD, those orders might be counterproductive. That’s the research focus of Florida State University Assistant Professor of Psychology Michael Kofler, who is developing new, non-medication treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). New research by Kofler at FSU’s Children’s Learning Clinic shows that children often fidget or move when they are trying to solve a problem, and that movement may have a positive effect on children with ADHD.
The original article appeared in FSU News 24/7 on February 22, 2016.