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Epilepsy and Medical Cannabis

Guest Blog by Jamie Sagona – Self-Advocate and friend.

I came across a New York Times article, which led me to a Huffington Post article,

which led me to a Tedx Talk video that blew my mind. It inspired my to do a large

amount of research into medical cannabis and its use for the treatment of seizures

(among other things). It has been a long time since any treatment for epilepsy or any

medical conditions for that matter has gotten me so excited or given me such hope.

One of the more cutting edge treatments gaining notoriety for treating seizures,

even the most severe seizures in children, is not what you might expect. It’s

medical cannabis. A specially derived extract from a plant that has been bred to

have no psychoactive effects, but more analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities.

It has essential no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element found

in cannabis, and it has a high concentration of the non-psychoactive element

cannabidiol (CBD).

So far, there have been no reported negative side effects from taking medical

cannabis. Pharmaceutical treatments for seizures often cause one if not several of

the following: weight gain, fatigue, kidney damage, liver damage, depression, and

cognitive processing problems, among other problems.

A non-profit organization in Colorado called Realm of Caring developed this special

strain of medical cannabis and distributes it to children and adults with various

medical conditions, including epilepsy.

Children that were taking numerous pharmaceuticals and still having hundreds of

seizures a week are now seizure free or virtually seizure free after just one dose of

this cannabis extract. Not only are they seizure free, their cognitive and physical

development has rapidly improved as well. Research currently being conducted

indicates that this improvement my not only be a result of the lack of seizures, but

also due to a property of the medical cannabis.

The irony is that as far back as 1949, research conducted in the United States

showed that cannabis a good treatment for seizures. I am on a quest to learn more

about medical cannabis and its effect on seizures. What I have learned is just

the starting point for me. More research is being done every day internationally

to discover the medical properties and uses for medical cannabis. Luckily,

everyday more information comes out and more formal research studies are being


I think it is not only important for me to share research regarding cannabis as a

treatment for epilepsy, but also as it relates to treatment for medical conditions

such as Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Anxiety, Glaucoma, Depression, Multiple Sclerosis,

Cancer, Chronic Pain, PTSD, Parkinson’s, Migraines, Nausea, Tourette’s Syndrome,

HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and Crohn’s Disease. And these are just a few of the medical

conditions that we know of so far. Pass it on.



More Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

NOTE:  This is a guest blog by a good friend.  Judy Owen owner of Opportunity Works, Inc. a Florida based full-service staffing company that brings a motivated and diverse workforce to our customers. Our focus on employing people with disabilities brings value and diversity to the workforce of our customers like no one else. Contact us today to learn how we can help complete your team.

Judy is also a regular blogger on Forbes.  Here is a link to her Forbes blog.

We are delighted to have our friend Judy as a guest blogger.  Thank you Judy.


Nearly two years ago, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a proposed rule to strengthen the U.S. Rehabilitation Act with regards to employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Finally, last week the rule was finalized. This new rule sets an aggressive 7% hiring goal of people with disabilities for all federal contractors. Not only do they need hiring goals they need to take on appropriate outreach and recruitment activities to demonstrate efforts to meet the goal.

This should bring a flurry of activity in to organizations named as examples of partners for outreach and recruitment activities, such as the nationwide network of centers for independent living, the state divisions of vocational rehabilitation and much to my surprise, “private recruitment sources, such as professional organizations or employment placement services that specialize in the placement of individuals with disabilities.” That means they’ve included companies like mine, Opportunity Works in the mix. This is great news! Not just because it can help my sales efforts. It’s great because two years ago, companies like mine didn’t exist. There are now just four staffing companies in the U.S. with a specific focus on recruiting people with disabilities. So, to see signs of our existence is exciting and hopefully we are here to stay and really can have an impact on the employment of people with disabilities.

Federal contractors have 120 days from commencement of a contract to get an affirmative action policy and procedures in place to comply with this new rule. In Florida that means over 14,000 companies now need to take action to comply. Many companies, especially larger ones, have started working to prepare for this rule already. Many more contractors will need help getting everything done. I hope my company is poised to provide support, but I hope all of the service providers around the state are watching out too. This is a boon of opportunity to prove the value of including disability in the work place. We read all the time about all of the people with disabilities who want to work… now is our chance to ensure we match them up to jobs they will cherish and get them out there working!


The Ability to Overcome

Ocala Magazine did an article about empowering people with disabilities and Thomas Moon was one of their people they wrote about.

Normally Thomas goes after things and asks to be put in the paper, etc but this time, the Ocala Magazine approached him about doing an article with him in it. What a great honor! People just are frustrated with their own life being messed up, that they bring you down because they think it will make them feel better. The truth is it won’t!

Don’t let others stand in your way because when you squeak your wheels, you can’t help but move forward! You can check out the Ocala Magazine article.

article pic


A Driverless Car? Yes!

A Driverless Car, Say Whattt!:

I must be dreaming, pinch me. I had a dream one night about 15 years ago about getting in my own car and telling it where to take me.  Then the car takes me to my destination without me having another person in the car, not even having to touch the wheel or pedals.

Guess what? You may think I am crazy at first, but Google is currently working on a driverless car. Why would anyone need a driverless car and what would be some benefits?

  1. For people who can’t drive, it gives you more freedom to go where you want without counting on anyone else to drive you.
  2. People who are blind or with disabilities that limit them from driving, it gives them freedom and a way to live their own lives without having to count on others all the time.
  3. This will help stop the stupid driving and accidents on the road.
  4. It will stop you from losing your temper due to someone else’s stupidity getting upset changes you in many ways and makes your day horrible.

I don’t know about you, but because I can’t dive, right now, I spend most of my time at home. I get bored out of my mind and wish I can go somewhere. This driverless car will allow me and many others to go anywhere at any time. I can just get my keys, get in car, tell the car where I want to go and sit back while the car takes me to my destination.

The future I getting better and better for so many! Take a look at this video about the driverless car that I found on YouTube and has been on the news

Squeak those wheels because you don’t know but you actions might be something that takes us in a better direction!


Florida – Rate of physical restraints in schools is alarming

From a post on

Can cameras protect special-needs kids from abuse?

A Fox news story from Texas.

More school districts and states are looking at cameras as a way to protect children with disabilities in our schools.

It is sad that we have to resort to monitoring or spying on teachers to ensure they do not abuse the children they are supposed to be caring for and teaching.

Sarasota schools again try to fire teacher O’Neill

Some teachers can abuse children with disabilities with no consequences.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida – More than three years after they first tried to fire teacher Diana O’Neill, Sarasota school district leaders may again be frustrated in their latest attempt to dismiss the embattled teacher who was disciplined for abusing profoundly disabled students.

The latest attempt comes after the Second District Court of Appeals affirmed a state panel’s decision to suspend O’Neill’s teaching certificate for two months. Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White mailed O’Neill a termination letter on June 20 stating she will ask the School Board to fire her at its July 24 meeting.

But O’Neill could thwart that move, at least temporarily, by requesting yet another administrative hearing or protesting the decision through the district’s grievance process, a move that would keep her in her $77,000 a year job possibly for several more months.

Read full story.



Parents Sue Fort Bend Special Ed Teacher Accused of Abuse

Two Fort Bend County families are suing their children’s former special education teacher months after allegations surfaced that she put a child with autism in a filing cabinet, ripped another’s hair out of her head and behaved erratically in the classroom.

Julie Gosch, 47, who had taught at Juan Seguin Elementary since 2003, resigned this year. Two teacher’s aides who worked with her sent emails to the school administrators, alleging neglect and inappropriate and abusive behavior.

Attorneys for the families provided the Chronicle with what they said were the emails, which claimed Gosch called her students “retarded,” saying “you guys are losers” and taught the aides to “accidentally” hit the children.

After aides came forward in January, the Fort Bend Independent School District and its police department investigated the allegations. Officials said Gosch’s last day of work was Jan. 27, the day the aides came forward with the written statements.

Fort Bend ISD officials said the teacher has not been the subject of any previous allegations of abuse.

Read more.

Parents Blame School for Disabled Son’s Death

From Atlanta:

ATLANTA (CN) – Parents claim two special education teachers assaulted and battered their disabled son so badly he died from the abuse.
Ronald and Arthalia Hatcher sued the Fulton County School District, the Fulton County School Board, Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa, special education teachers Melanie Pickens and Katherine Dorn Durden, and 15 other Fulton County public school employees, in Fulton County State Court.
The Hatchers say their son Aaron, a special-needs student, suffered abuse at the hands of his public schoolteachers, Pickens and Durden.
“Aaron suffered from cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and other disabilities,” the complaint states. “As a result of his disabilities, Aaron could not walk or talk, and had other serious developmental issues and was unable to care for himself and required constant care and supervision.”
The Hatchers say they enrolled Aaron in public school to give him “as normal a life as possible.”
But they say instead of caring for him, Aaron’s middle school and high school teachers abused him physically and emotionally.
They claim Pickens confined Aaron in isolated places, physically restrained him and screamed at and berated him to punish him for “expressing himself,” and that Durden placed a homemade neck brace around his neck to restrain him.
“Unfortunately, the Hatchers’ trust was misplaced,” the complaint states. “Unbeknownst to plaintiffs, Aaron began suffering abuse within Fulton County schools as far back as 2004. From 2004 to 2007, Aaron was a student at Hopewell Middle school, where he was in defendant Melanie Pickens’ classroom.
“Ms. Pickens abused Aaron and other special needs students in her classroom physically, verbally and emotionally. Ms. Pickens’ conduct was investigated and her treatment of students was known to the school board. Nevertheless, plaintiffs were not made aware by the Fulton County School District of the abuse suffered by their son.
“Unfortunately, escaping Hopewell Middle School did not mean Aaron’s abuse would end. Aaron suffered still more abuse at the hands of his special education teacher at Roswell High School, defendant Katherine Dorn Durden. It was while Aaron was in Mrs. Durden’s class that the plaintiffs first became aware that Aaron had been mistreated at Hopewell Middle School.
“While in Mrs. Durden’s class, Aaron came home with bruises on his back and hands, making it clear that he was not being properly secured in his chair. Further, and without parental or medical consent, Mrs. Durden took it upon herself to twist and then constrain Aaron’s neck in a makeshift neck brace apparently because she did not like the way Aaron was forced to twist his neck in order to breathe. While a student in Mrs. Durden’s class, Aaron was repeatedly rushed to the hospital from school as a result of the abuse.
“Plaintiffs repeatedly sent messages to the school about Mrs. Durden. They requested that Aaron be moved into a different special education class and had meetings with the principal, all to no avail.
“Tragically, Aaron died on March 19, 2011 following the abuse he suffered at Roswell High School. Further compounding this tragedy, plaintiffs only found out about the earlier abuse by Ms. Pickens after Aaron’s death, despite the fact that the Fulton County School District had previously completed their own internal investigation which confirmed the acts of abuse against Aaron in middle school. Had they known, as school board personnel knew, that their extremely fragile son had suffered such abuse within a Fulton County school’s special education class, they would never have allowed him to enter Roswell High School, and Aaron might still be alive today. The teachers, paraprofessionals, medical personnel, administrators, and board members of the Fulton County School District repeatedly failed Aaron Hatcher and his parents, and the Hatchers have paid the ultimate price.”
The Hatchers claim: “Defendants knew or should have known that defendant Melanie Pickens had no training or other credentials equipping her to teach students with severe special needs and that she was routinely and systematically abusing the children in her classroom,” but failed to act.
They add: “It is nearly impossible to put into words the utter and complete terror Aaron must have felt as he was screamed at, isolated, and berated by defendant Melanie Pickens or how terrified he must have been when defendant Katherine Dorn Durden repeatedly cut off his airway with her homemade neck brace.”
The Hatchers seek compensatory and punitive damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent hiring and retention, constitutional violations, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and Georgia laws.
They are represented by Jarrod Oxendine, with Oxendine and Sauls.

Original story

Keep squeaking those wheels.

More on “Scream Rooms”

From the West Hartford News.  A reporter who is the mom of a special needs student.

“They are essentially jail cells — most of them can only be opened from the outside — and most are smaller than a walk-in closet, painted white and with bright lights, the kind that only exacerbate sensory issues in kids with autism and other special needs. I’ve seen kids as young as 4 wailing away in the room as class is in session just a few feet way. (I wonder if it’s disconcerting to the other special needs kids in class.) For those with poor reasoning and coping skills, hearing others in the room creates constant anxiety that is bound to make them act up and get put in the room.”

Read the entire article.

The abuse of our children with special needs and disabilities has to stop.  We need to keep making noise – keep squeaking those wheels.