Breaking Out of Autism Through Technology

In this amazing video, Carly, lost in an autistic world, unable to speak or express herself,comes out of her shell at age 11 when she gained access to a computer.

 

After 11 years of constant therapy, after a diagnosis of moderate retardation, no one believed that she could write, or think at such a high level at the age of ten.

Through tough love, it took months to get Carly to communicate regularly through the written word, but once she did, she fluently expressed what it was like to engage in ritual behavior such as head-banging and rocking, and how she felt about being trapped inside her autistic brain.

I urge you, if you do nothing else today, to watch this video.

Will New Autism Definition Affect Your Child’s Services?

Although the American Psychiatric Association has been working on its revision of the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) for several years, a new study by world-renowned expert on childhood mental disorders, Dr. Fred Volkmar, has brought the concerns expressed by the autism community back to the forefront of discussion.

At issue are proposed changes to the definition of autism.  According to the New York Times, many experts expect that the criteria for a diagnosis of autism will be narrower, but it is an open question as to how sharply.

Dr. Volkmar, the director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, believes the definition is going to narrow the diagnosis  so much that it will adversely impact many high-functioning autistic persons.  This in turn, may very well affect the ability of many highly functioning autistic people to get the services needed in schools and other settings.

Differing Viewpoints

According to many news source, including Long Island’s own Newsday, the panel of experts charged with revising the guidelines strongly disagree with Dr. Volkmar’s analysis. Additionally, two other field trials, one at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., and one at Stanford University in California, also found that the new definition won’t greatly change the volume of autism diagnoses.

The Washington Post interviewed Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization.  While you can read the full interview here, she recommends waiting until the full DSM changes are released, and even then, she advises that we will be unable to see how these changes will affect those seeking diagnosis until it has been in effect for a while.

I believe this is the best approach.  As Dawson states, the DSM needs amending.  There are far too many distinctions among different autism types, with very little difference in treatments.  All will now fall under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders.

 

Long Island Advocacy Center featured on Special Needs Long Island Radio

Please join “Special Needs Long Island,” the radio show focused on the special needs community, as we feature Laura Adler Greene, Esq.  Ms. Greene is an attorney with the Long Island Advocacy Center, a not for profit organization  dedicated to protecting the legal rights of students with disabilities.  She represents students in PINS diversion programs as well as school meetings, administrative hearings, suspension and impartial hearings, and in administrative and appellate proceedings. She also lectures to school administrators and bar groups on special education law and the rights of students with disabilities.

Laura Adler Greene will be interviewed on January 9th, 2012 between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. on Long Island’s WGBB 1240 AM.  For those out of the local broadcast range, or wanting the best clarity, the program is also simulcast on the internet at www.am1240wgbb.com .

Long Island Bus Meets Keystone Cops

In the latest Long Island Bus takeover news, Newsday reports that the parent company of the private bus company that is scheduled to take over for the MTA on January 1st, has declared that it intends to put the transportation arm of its company up for sale, and get out of the transportation business.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is scrambling to figure out what to do before the January 1st takeover.  The MTA has said it would be willing to continue (for a fee) and previous bidders for the privatization are again offering bids.

 

And for your viewing pleasure:

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.

 

 

A Very Special Place on Long Island Special Needs Radio

Tonight, November 29, 2011, Special Needs Radio is hosting Diane Buglioli, Deputy Executive Director of A Very Special Place. A Very Special Place, Inc. was established in 1974 as a not-for-profit corporation to provide services to people with developmental disabilities. A Very Special Place, Inc. provides a comprehensive network of programs and services for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

 

Consumers of the services of A Very Special Place, Inc., who must be residents ofNew York, reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious diversity found throughout the region.  Consumers range in physical and cognitive abilities from individuals who live and work independently with minimal guidance to those who may require continual care.  Today, more than 1600 people with developmental disabilities utilize the array of programs and services offered at A Very Special Place.

 

Diane Buglioli will be interviewed on November 28th, 2011 between 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. on Long Island’s WGBB 1240 AM.  For those out of the local broadcast range, or wanting the best clarity, the program is also simulcast on the internet at www.am1240wgbb.com .

 

Special Needs Long Island is a weekly radio program dedicated to the special needs community on Long Island. 

Long Island Bus Riders Face Increasing Uncertainty and Possible Cuts

Despite a perky new name– the NICE bus, an acronym for Nassau Inter-County Express and a spiffy new paint job (according to Newsday), the bus service for the more than 100,000 Long Island Bus riders, overwhelmingly disabled and elderly who can’t drive, is not about to get any nicer.
 

 Public Hearing December 12 

 

A public hearing, scheduled to take place on November 19, 2011, had to be rescheduled because the public had not been given required notice of the hearing.  The new hearing will take place December 12, less than three weeks before the new service is about to take effect, with the county legislature due to vote on the new contract December 19, only 12 days before the new private bus company is due to take over the MTA.

 

Potential Cuts in Service for Long Island Bus Riders

 

Newsday’s analysis of the new contract  sets forth the circumstances under which the new bus company can make deep cuts in services.  Should there be duplication in service, the bus company can eliminate 6 routes the first six months of 2012, provided there is another bus route within a mile.  A mile can be a very long way for a disabled or elderly rider.

There can be further cuts in service or increases in fares.

 

Attend the Public Hearing December 12, 2011

 

The hearing will convene at the Nassau County Legislature and we should all let our legislature know how important it is to their constituency to keep service and fares the same.

Special Needs Radio features Dr. Lynda Geller, Spectrum Services

 

Tune in this evening at 6:30 to 1240 AM WGBB or on the web at www.am1240wgbb.com to hear our interview with Dr. Lynda Geller, Found of Spectrum Services.   Dr. Geller founded Spectrum Services, a cooperative of independent practices and organizations specializing in Asperger Syndrome and related conditions.

 

Special Needs Long Island is a weekly radio program dedicated to the special needs community on Long Island.  The program is co-hosted by Jeff Silverman, Director of Special Needs Planning for the Center of Wealth Preservation in Syosset, NY, and by Ellen Victor, Victor Law Firm, P.C.  Jeff can  be reached by email at SpecialNeedsLI@gmail.com or at (516) 682-3363.  I  can be reached at ellen@victorlawfirm.com or (516) 223-4800.