There is a Special Place in Hell

Four employees of a Long Island group home have been fired and charged with endangerment for pitting two disabled individuals against each other, according to Newsday and News 12 Long Island.

Cellphone video of the fight shows the four workers laughing.

I think there is a special place in hell for those who are cruel to the helpless — to children, or animals, or, in this case, the developmentally disabled. No doubt that is where these “aides” are headed. They won’t get any sympathy from me.

Self -Determination Through the Eyes of a Client

I recently had the pleasure, on my radio show Special Needs Long Island, to meet Mandy Shenkman, an individual with developmental disabilities who works with The Center for Family Support, an organization that, in part, helps people with developmental disabilities work within self-determination.

According to the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SAANYS) (another recent radio show guest),“Self-Determination (SD) is an idea that came from people with developmental disabilities and their families who wanted more control over their supports and services. While SD can be achieved in many ways, one important way is through a new option offered by OMRDD called the Self-Determination Pilot Project.”

Mandy Shenkman, a self-determination client of The Center for Family Support, had this to say:

I’ve been with CFS for 11 years.  Linda and Mary are my wonderful support team; they believe in me.  11 years ago Linda was the only MSC who believed that self-determination was real.  She went through the struggle of getting me approved. Now, more and more people feel that self-determination is for them. Linda and I were the pioneers. Mary knows that self-determination provides me with choices on how to live and work in the community. Having choices gives me freedom and control.  When I was unhappy with one of my life coaches, Mary helped me fire her. I don’t think I could have done that without her support.

I am so proud to be a Grassroots Presenter in the New York State Self-Advocacy Association. I talk about my life at conferences, training programs, colleges and on the radio. Linda and Mary are my agents.

Mary works with me each month to complete the paperwork for Self-Determination. Linda makes sure I am living a full and active life.

I’ve been working 2 or 3 days a week since 1998. I wanted to add another day to my work week.  My supported work agency refused to help. Linda and Mary respected my request. Their efforts to find me another job were successful.  I love all my jobs.

Mary and Linda are my teammates, my partners, my Circle of Support and my friends. I am lucky to have them.

Alexander Does Have Angels

I had the pleasure of meeting 3 great founders and supporters of Alexander’s Angels, a 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to promote a better understanding of people with Down Syndrome.

Esther Gomez-Nieto, the President and Founder (and whose grandson Alexander was the impetus for the organization) refuses to take credit for the astounding amount of money that  Alexander’s Angels has raised and contributed to numerous Down Syndrome organizations. But as anyone knows who has run a fundraiser for a nonprofit event, it takes an enormous amount of time and energy. There are so many great causes, and just limited funds and time. Yet, Alexander’s Angels, through Esther and fellow members Janet Dolan and Michael O’Connell, have raised about $300,000 in just the last few years. Most of the money goes towards other advocacy, service and research organizations.

Coming in March, there are three exciting events being planned.  On March 4th, at 3PM, the New York Islanders are hosting Alexander’s Angels.  Purchasing tickets will go towards a great cause and be sure to be a fun filled Sunday afternoon.

On March 19th, all Long Island Friendly’s will donate a percentage of your check to Alexander’s Angels.  Please be sure to mention the organization before you order.  I’m planning on stopping by right after my radio show, Long Island Special Needs Radio, that Monday night.

To coincide with World Down Syndrome Day, and starting right after the United Nations celebration of the day, there will be an art show by artists with Down Syndrome downtown New York City (details on the Alexander’s Angels website).

 

 

Tweet Support #YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf

Twitter?  Isn’t that where everyone talks about what they had for breakfast?  That’s the reaction I often get whenever I mention Twitter as a great support system for parents of children with autism.

 

A twitter hashtag (#) is a way to find tweets that have a common subject, in this case, #autism.  Anyone who searches for #autism will find a whole community on Twitter interested in the same subject matter.  You’ll find humor, resources and sharing.

 

According to this article in the Washington Times, the YouMightBeAnAutismParentIf hashtag became popular several weeks ago, and is still going strong, with tweets both funny and heartfelt.

 

Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autism: Tips for the Holidays

Just a very quick post to direct my readers to this page at Autism Speaks.  There are more links on that page  to websites that have tips for helping families and their loved ones with autism have a happy holiday, found here at Autism Services Foundation, and for reducing holiday stress found here at Autism Spectrum Therapies.

 

Above all, have a happy and safe holiday!

Congrats to Nassau Knights, Special Needs Football Team

The Nassau Knights, Nassau County Police Activity League’s (PAL) flag football special needs team, played and won against a group of Kappa Sigma fraternity members from Adelphi University.

 

According to Newsday, the team of 14-28 year olds with varying disabilities, played its only game against another team this season.  One of the team’s coaches, Harvey Pollack,  stated they usually divide into two teams and play each other, as there are no other special needs teams to play against.

 

The Nassau County Police Activity League is the only PAL in the country to have a Special Needs Unit.

 

Way to go! Congrats to both the Nassau Knights, and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

 

 

Special Needs Long Island Radio Show

I’ve got a new gig!

 

I’m pleased to announce I am now co-hosting Special Needs Long Island, a weekly radio program dedicated to the special needs community on Long Island.  My co-host is Jeffrey Silverman, Director of Special Needs Planning for the Center for Wealth Preservation in Syosset, New York.

 

Every Monday night, from 6:30 to 7PM, we feature guests from special needs organizations, professionals practicing in the field and individuals with special needs.

 

Please tune in 1240 AM WGBB or on the web at www.am1240wgbb.com (click on Listen Live)

Broadway Roars: Autism Friendly Performance at Lion King

Broadway is becoming autism friendly!  The Theater Development Fund (TDF) has started a new program known as the Autism Theater Initiative  to make theater more accessible to children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families.

 

The Lion King has been chosen as the first ever Broadway autism-friendly play with a special performance and reduced prices for its October 2 matinee.  The show sold out quickly, but we can expect if the results are good, that it will be repeated.  You can sign up for information on future performances here.

 

According to the NY Times, some of the modifications made for this special performance include less strobe lighting and softening of the sound in some places.  Many autistic persons are sensitive to light and sound.

 

The entire theater has been bought out for this performance.  Although many Broadway productions have the ability to modify shows for hearing and sight impaired people, those modifications are made during regular performances.  According to Lisa Carling, T.D.F.’s director of accessibility programs:

 

“We wanted to create an environment that was welcoming to children and their parents so they could come in and not be afraid of judgment from other theatergoers who might not understand why a child is doing repetitive movements, or rocking back and forth, or why a child might need to wear headphones or get up in the middle of a song and take a time out in the lobby.”

 

What a wonderful idea.  Let’s hope that more shows follow, and that The Lion King has much success.