Archive for October 31, 2011

Carly Fleishmann – Girl With Autism

Anyone who deals with the disabled knows that there is more to them than meets the eye.  They amaze us everyday and continue to amaze us with their insights and actions.

This is a great video that reminds us to never give up and to keep advocating for those who have special needs or are different.

Carly – Keep Squeaking Those Wheels. Way to go!

Left Behind Children and Adults with Disabilities Who Have No Services

Mike Coonan is the President of Left Behind in the USA.  He fights a very tough battle to help children and adults with disabilities receive the services necessary for them to live a full and rewarding life.

Unfortunately he fights a battle that may never end and that he may never win.  However, despite this, he continues to fight on.

Currently nearly 400,000 disabled Americans live marginalized lives because they do not receive services that would help them live on their own, work or get out into the community.

His organizations opening statement is:

Left Behind in the USA is a non-profit organizations representing families whose child/loved one with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation/intellectual disability and related Developmental Disability is on Medicaid Waiver waiting lists. We are dedicated to educating and empowering families on the Medicaid Waiver waiting list.

Keep fighting the fight and keep providing a voice for those who have no voice.  You are not alone.

Keep squeaking your wheels – they will have to pay attention.

Mckay Scholarship Under Attack

The headline reads – “New Times exposé forces McKay scholarship reform”.  This has prompted legislators here in Florida to take a look at the McKay scholarship.  There has been fraud and misuse; there is no doubt about that.

The real question now is how will they respond?  Will they increase oversight on the how the scholarship money is being used?  Will they put so many restrictions on it, that it becomes worthless or so hard to qualify for that no one will use it?

The McKay scholarship is primarily for students in public schools who have a disability.  The scholarship allows the parent to remove the student from public school and place the child in a more appropriate private school environment.

Florida public schools have failed miserably when it comes to educating children with disabilities.  The abuse and misuse of seclusion and restraint results in these children being physically and emotionally harmed.  There were over 10,000 incidents of restraint in Florida in class rooms during the last school year.

Public schools in Florida have failed to provide proper and appropriate education for students with special needs.  They routinely place them on a track to receive a “Special Diploma”.  Translate into a “Worthless Diploma.”

The purpose of education is to educate.  Florida schools typically warehouse students with disabilities until they can legally pass them out into society.  These children, now adults, are unprepared and have no job or life skills.

The McKay scholarship was the one hope for many families.  It was the one chance that their child could get an appropriate education.

Now that hope is in jeopardy.  Scandal and budget shortages do not make a good match.  The fixes that the legislature enacts to prevent fraud should not prevent parents from being able to readily and easily access the scholarship.

Any restrictions on the scholarship should not affect the intent.  That being to allow children with disabilities to take their matrix money with them and attend a private school that will provide them with the education they need to be productive and successful adults.

Parents speak up and keep squeaking those wheels.

Florida – APD Announces A Schedule of Cuts

From Aaron Nangle of

October 19, 2011

Director Mike Hansen presented an update on the agency’s cost-containment efforts today to the House of Representatives Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee.

The Legislature approved $810 million for APD’s Medicaid waiver for the 2011-12 state fiscal year that began on July 1. APD customers received $930 million worth of services last year.

The agency has been working to bring its waiver expenditures within the Legislative appropriation this fiscal year. The agency is also looking for opportunities to increase waiver flexibility and equity for customers, while continuing to protect their health and safety.

Earlier this month, APD shared five cost containment
initiatives with various legislative committees that would reduce APD’s waiver obligations. The director was asked to bring back a proposed timeline for implementing the changes.

The timeframes may be contingent on developing new rules or federal approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

At today’s meeting, Hansen announced plans to standardize payment rates for intensive behavior residential habilitation beginning January 1, 2012. Also on that same date, the agency will begin collecting fees from APD customers who have income to offset some of their costs of living in a group home.

APD plans to reduce the rates it pays for therapy assessments and all nursing services to the standard rate paid by the Medicaid State Plan beginning April 1, 2012.  Currently, the APD Medicaid waiver pays higher rates for most of these services.

Also on the same date, APD will reduce the difference it pays between solo providers and agencies for waiver services to no more than 20 percent. Currently, those rates may differ up to 43 percent.

There was no timeline announced today for implementing cost sharing for parents who have children on the Medicaid waiver. APD is working with the Agency for Health Care Administration on this issue.

The change to the waiver requires federal approval.

After pursuing these cost-containment initiatives to APD’s Medicaid waiver, the agency expects to realize more than $14 million in reduced expenditures on an annual basis. 


Keep raising your voices and squeaking your wheels.  We can not let those who are them most vulnerable suffer from these cuts.

Bedford Family Alleges Abuse of Autistic Child in $20 Million Lawsuit

If it keeps costing our schools (and taxpayers) millions, maybe the abuse of seclusion and restraint will end in our public schools.

This from Bedford VA, provided by Georgia:Families Against Restraint And Seclusion

Bedford County’s school board and several current and former school employees are facing a $20 million lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, a 14-year-old autistic boy was attacked on his school bus by people who were supposed to protect him.

The alleged incidents happened more than two years ago. Attorneys for the boy’s family have produced video tape that they say shows some of the attacks.

Video captured from a school bus surveillance camera appears to show an adult woman kicking and hitting a young boy. Attorneys say the women is Mary Alice Evans, a former Bedford County teacher’s aide.

The child is an autistic boy.


We need to keep squeaking our wheels.  Wake up our children are being abused in school.  School is not supposed to hurt.

SportsAbility in Ocala 2011

Me Water Skiing

Before I talk about my experience and all, you are probably wondering what SportsAbility is. It is the premier event of the Florida Disabled Outdoors Association (FDOA). This event is about enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by promoting active living.

SportsAbility provides first hand access to resources and demonstrations of activities

Horseback Riding

designed to encourage participation regardless of age or ability level. People who attend SportsAbility learn about the value of recreation and active leisure for everyone – especially people with disabilities.

People discover the latest in equipment, trends, and resources. This event provides an opportunity for people to network with people with disabilities, resource providers, and community organizations. There is NO CHARGE to participants.

Here we go; I arrived on the first day at the Ed Crowsky Center and signed in as a participant and a volunteer. I got a few pictures taken and then went inside to look at all the wonderful vendors. I went to the Marion County Disability Alliance table to work it until 11 am. I decided to go outside at 11 and see what all was going on. I head down to the horses and on the way I passed tennis, golf, bocce, disc golf and much more. I arrived at the horses and signed the release form so I could ride a horse. While waiting to ride, I met my friend Melissa who also rode the horse. We chatted until it was time.

The volunteers rolled me up the ramp so they could help me on the horse. I haven’t ridden a horse in a couple years so I had to hold on for dear life! I had a blast and it shows that anyone can ride a horse.

I went back inside to get ready to demo scuba diving at 1 pm. The person helping me put on my scuba suit had to do it twice, because the silly man put it on backwards the first time. I headed out to the pool where I demoed the scuba diving. I had a blast and while waiting for them to do the other people. I floated around and swam in my scuba suit. Everyone can go scuba diving. If anyone tells you know you can’t do scuba diving or anything else, they are so wrong.

That was the end of the first day so I went home and rested. I got up on the second day, ready for more fun and living.

The second day of SportsAbility was at Carney Island County Park. I took a hay ride that transported people to the other side of the park. Over there I went water skiing and then watched people shoot bow and arrows, go canoeing, kayaking, and more.

Afterwards, I went back have lunch and talk to some friends, new ones and old ones. This was a great event and I want you to remember that if someone says you can’t do something, they are dead wrong. You can show them this video of people with disabilities doing and having fun.  Video

SPORTSABILITY is much more than fun. It is a wonderful occasion to help educate the public about the importance of physical activity and about recreational opportunities while also providing valuable information of other important community resources available to people, including those with disabilities.

Remember to live your life to the fullest and squeak out all of the negatives that say you can not do!

Friendship is Huge

I don’t know if you ever thought about how friendship is a major part of life!

Living with a disability and making friends can be very difficult. People assume you are nothing so they don’t even take the chance to come up to you and start a conversation. This needs to change because people with disabilities are like anyone else and can make wonderful friends.

Let’s take my life for example.  I am in a wheelchair and people rarely approach me until I approach them. This is frustrating, but over the years I have made some awesome friends.

One friend I knew from college reconnected and we started chatting about 10 months ago. We went to a couple charity and business events, and had a great time! We became such great friends that we started hanging out a lot.  I even made her dinner. She is such a great friend and friends like her are what make your life better. I just want to say thank you for being my friend!

I also met my good friend Judy who was on the Florida Developmental Disability Council. I met her through my dad and we are hopefully going to be working together on some disability awareness projects.

I also want to mention a few more friends that I have done things with.  We go to the movies, to the comedy club, to events and more. Shout out to two ladies I met through my friend Joel Weisner from What’s Up Ocala.

I been feeling lately that I have to do some soul searching and find a relationship.  However, I have decided that finding friends is more important right now.

I want you to know that great friends are important and will go far with you. Sometimes when you are with your friends both you and they forget about your disability and you are just another one of the guys.

Go out and make you some friends and remember to keep squeaking you wheels!

Disability Rights of Florida Sues State Ove Med Waiver Wait List

This is the text of a letter from Philip Pearson, Vice Chairperson, FCC12

Families waiting for the Medicaid Waiver, You may or may not know this, but Disability Rights of Florida (previously known as the advocacy center) has filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida on behalf of families on the waiting list for Medicaid Waiver services. Although there are named plaintiffs, we are all included, as this is a class action lawsuit. You do not need to sign up to be a part of the class.

While at a recent Family Care Council Florida meeting, the Disability Rights Senior Attorney, Amanda Heystek, talked about the need to have families contact Disability Rights Florida to provide contact information. We, FCC representatives suggested that we could send a letter to wait list families to ask them to do this. Here are Amanda’s words:

Disability Rights Florida is engaged in a lawsuit regarding the waitlist for home and community based services through the Developmental Disabilities Waiver. Disability Rights Florida would like to hear directly from those on the waitlist. Please fill out the survey on the link provided.
You can fax, mail or email your survey to Disability Rights Florida. By filling out the survey you are only agreeing to be contacted by our staff for further inquiry as to your needs and purpose for registering on the waitlist.
If you have computer and web access, please go fill out the questionnaire.

Download the short survey, fill it out and send it in to
Amanda Heystek
Disability Rights Florida
2728 Centerview Drive, Suite 102
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
If you don’t have access, please contact disability rights directly to provide them your information. If you would like more information about the lawsuit, please contact:
Sylvia W. Smith, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs
850-488-9071 ext 9725


We need to end the wait list and get our citizens with disabilities services.

Keep squeaking those wheels.

From Atlanta Georgia – 4-year-old Says Teacher Spanked Her With Shoe

This is from a posting on Members in Georgia:Families Against Restraint And  Seclusion.

A 4-year-old girl in the Atlanta Public School system says her teacher spanked her bare bottom with a shoe during class. Now the teacher is out of the classroom.

CBS Atlanta spoke to that girl’s grandmother, Virginia Leslie, who admits that her granddaughter Shamiya is hyper, but said that a teacher spanking the little girl with a shoe was not the answer.

“I thought spankings (weren’t) done at school,” said Leslie. “This is 2011.”

Leslie said she is irate over what Shamiya said happened while she attended Pre-K at East Lake Elementary.

“My teacher pulled my panties down and my skirt down and whooped me with a big shoe,” said Shamiya.

Shamiya told her grandma the spanking happened a week-and-a-half ago. The teacher apparently pulled her out of music class.

“What gives a teacher who is not related whatsoever the right to whoop a child?” said Leslie. ” Not just to whoop them, but to pull their underpants down?”

Leslie said she notified the school the next day, but she said she isn’t happy with the way the system has handled the case.

Shamiya hasn’t been back to school in a week. Monday, Leslie filed a police report.

“I just don’t want to put her back up there,” said Leslie. “The same teacher is there and the same thing could happen and then I feel like I would be at fault for allowing it to happen again.”

Leslie said the school district told her Shamiya could transfer to another school, but said she didn’t like that option either.

“Why? What did she do wrong?” said Leslie. “The wrong was done to her. She didn’t do anything wrong. She’s a kid. She’s a child.”

A spokesperson with the Atlanta Public Schools told CBS Atlanta that they are investigating the report.

After questioning from CBS Atlanta, the system temporarily reassigned the teacher outside of the school and away from children, pending the outcome of the investigation.

School should be a safe place for all children! Keep squeaking those wheels maybe one day our children with disabilities will be safe from abuse in our public schools.

Ticketing Illegal Disabled Parking

So in the scheme of things getting a good parking spot is not really important.  There is just so much going on around us that who parks where is just not on the top of our list.

However, in South Florida law enforcement has been cracking down on drivers who misuse disabled parking tags or parking places.

Authorities ticketed 865 drivers in Palm Beach and Broward counties in 2010 for illegally parking in handicapped spaces.  That is a lot of tickets and it is not cheap when you are caught.

These tickets were not just for parking in a disabled spot with no disabled permit.  There were tickets for individuals who used a friends or relatives parking permit.  Most people do not know that the disabled permit is tied to a driver’s license or Florida ID.

Police and other law enforcement will routinely ask to see proof that the disabled person is present.  Just having a parking permit is not enough – the disabled person has to be present.

Now that makes sense to most people, but not to all.

My experience has been that law enforcement in Ocala and Marion County are diligent in watching for those who misuse a disabled parking permit.  On one occasion I observed an officer writing a ticket in a big box store parking lot.  After the ticket recipient left, I engage him in conversation.  My son was with me and we were parked in the adjacent spot.

He informed me that they pick parking lots at random and will occasionally monitor and verify disabled permits.  Glad to hear it.

I have also had a personal experience with a permit.  My son and I attended a charity breakfast and he had left his permit at home.  I have his expired permit in my glove box and decided to use it.

Low and behold after breakfast we had a ticket.  A trip to the local police station with the proper updated and current parking permit and the ticket was cancelled.

However, I was glad that our officers are out there watching for those who misuse disabled permits.  Our disabled citizens and disabled drivers need those parking places.

Even though who parks where is not really life threatening in the great scheme of things.  However,  it is important to those who have mobility issues.

Keep squeaking those wheels.