Archive for December 30, 2011

Looking Forward to a Better 2012

2011 has not been the best year for people with disabilities. There have been many cuts to the APD Waiver and to other services that help people with disabilities grow and become contributing members of society.  We still have discrimination, and that is hurting people with disabilities and it is limiting our growth in society.  Additionally, persons with disabilities do not have a presence in society at many events, meetings, social activities, etc.

This all needs to change in 2012.  Society needs to stop limiting people with disabilities. A few ways this can be done is

  • no more cuts to the budget
  • everyone should start accepting people with disabilities and give them a chance
  • we need start including everyone in schools, at events, meetings and more
  • those with disabilities need to get out and be self-advocates

We can do this and make 2012 the best year ever!!!  Keep squeaking those wheels.

Barrier Free Park about to open in Boyton Beach

Barrier Free Park about to open in Boyton Beach.

The first few sentences of the news article say it all.

“Most people take for granted that when they come to a park, they can walk, run, climb, swing, and see and smell everything. Not everyone can.

Soon there will be a park for everyone.”

Wow a barrier free park that everyone can use no matter what their ability or disability.  Congratulations to Boyton Beach.  You really have heard those squeaky wheels.


APD cuts services – what a great Christmas present for the disabled.

From a friend in south Florida comes this holiday message.

Karen R Wagner PhD, BCBA-D, LMHC
Behavior Services of Brevard, Inc/

“Just in time for the holidays, APD is in a big push to discontinue services.  Those of you who have been around for a while may recognize this from several years ago, when notifications of reductions went out on Christmas eve, so those who were on vacation could not respond until it was too late.  Blaming the local folks is probably unwarranted, they will be fired if they talk to anyone, and the mandates are coming from a higher source.  However, services are being cut without notification.  One of our consumers finally received official notification three weeks after funding ran out, after his mother exchanged several emails with the area office.  We have several consumers whose services were cut in the past few weeks without notification to the WSC, consumer, or ourselves, as providers.  It seems to be picking up speed, as I would guess the plan is to slash services by the end of the year.

It seems there are several other things to prevent a fair defense of necessary services.  APD has told WSCs that all documentation must be sent digitally, however, the email portal is abnormally small, so the digital files cannot be sent.  After sending several times, many WSCs have to split files into several smaller files, multiplying the probability of the documentation being lost in the flurry of activity.  Most of the requested documentation is already in the consumer’s files at APD, so the reasons for requesting the documentation are fuzzy at best.

APD seems to have discontinued the Notice of Intent to reduce or deny services, in favor of an “Agency Action”, which just tells you the services are cut.  Parents don’t seem to be getting these until after the service has been discontinued. Parents still only have 10 days from the receipt of the letter to respond.  Please contact your parent advocacy resources, parent group members, and most importantly, YOUR LEGISLATORS!

One thing to be aware of: Despite the gloomy financial forecasting, state funding has never come from real estate taxes, or unemployment funds, or local municipalities.  Most agencies, including APD have always been funded by Florida sales taxes and other sources, the income from which have not changed much in the past few years.  It is impossible to find accurate income figures state-wide.  So why are services being slashed to consumers?  This appears to be a created crisis, giving legislators an opportunity to cut “social welfare” programs.

Medwaiver also has a sizable federal matching component, and based on recent figures, the “deficit” numbers seem to exclude the contributing federal match dollars, artificially inflating the shortfall. However, since the budget was set by the legislators, and has been shrinking every year, “shortfall” seems to be a misnomer.

Spread the word to consumers, families and advocates to check their mail, PO boxes, the consumer’s mail (if they live independently), or anywhere else the consumer may receive mail.  Requests for reconsiderations and hearings may need to be sent during the holidays.  Wish there was better news.”

Enjoy your Holy Days and keep squeaking those wheels.  We need to make enough noise – we need to be heard.

Keeping All Students Safe Act

Child In Florida School Being Restrained

Can you imagine we need Federal legislation to keep children with disabilities safe in our public schools.  That is almost unimaginable.

What is even more unimaginable is that the children need to be kept safe from their teachers and other school personnel.  Wow – sad but true.

Last year in Florida there were over 10,000 incidents of restraint in our public schools.  Nearly 5,000 were on students with disabilities in pre-K to 3rd grade.

If the states will not protect the most vulnerable children in our schools then I guess it is time for the Feds to step in and protect them.

The Keeping All Students Safe Act was introduced in the Senate by Chairman Tom Harkin this afternoon.  Chairman Harkin has shown an unwavering commitment to the safety and welfare of our nation’s children. This bill would promote the development of effective intervention and prevention practices that do not impose restraints and seclusion; protect all students from physical or mental abuse, aversive behavioral interventions that compromise health and safety, and any restraint imposed for purposes of coercion, discipline or convenience, or as a substitute for appropriate educational or positive behavioral interventions and supports.  Importantly the bill also works to ensure the safety of all students and school personnel and promote positive school culture and climate.

For more information on the Keeping All Students Safe Act.

Keep squeaking those wheels.  School is not supposed to hurt.


APD Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget

From our friend Aaron Nangel.

Statement on Governor’s Budget Proposal by  Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director Mike Hansen.

The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) is very pleased with Governor Scott’s budget proposal released recently.

The governor has once again shown that being fiscally responsible does not mean lessening our commitment to the state’s most vulnerable citizens, said APD Director Mike Hansen.

This budget proposal increases recurring General Revenue funding by $26 million to meet the needs of the 30,000 Floridians with developmental disabilities currently receiving services under the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid waiver.

Also included is $83 million in additional funding to cover the current projected shortfall in waiver funding, said Hansen. “The governor’s proposal also requires the agency to tighten its belt and find greater efficiencies by reducing positions and funding for administration,” said Hansen.

See the Governor’s budget proposal.

Note there is no mention of the Wait List.

We can never stop squeaking our wheels.


19,000 Or More Florida Disabled on Med Waiver Waiting List

Headline from an online news source.

19,000 reported on Florida Developmental Disabilities (DD) waiting list.

This is not news or anything new.  The disabled have been under served for many years.  Under served is a polite way to the say that the State of Florida is ignoring the needs of the disabled. By their actions it is evident that Florida and its legislators would prefer the disabled just disappear – go away – stop existing and stop being such a problem.

19,000 is a large number to ignore and leave with no services.

What the State of Florida – What Rick Scott – What the Legislature – do not realize is that they will not go away.  They will keep drawing attention to the needs of the most vulnerable citizens in Florida.

One day and I hope it is soon – the citizens of Florida will insist that the disabled no longer be ignored.

In the meantime we will keep squeaking our wheels.  They can not ignore us forever.


Reno speards the word and educates about autism.

From Renos World.  This kid rocks.

The Curious Kids learn about Asperger Syndrome with Reno. Produced by Roise Emery

Please help me spread autism awareness in your community! Thank you WGCU, Rosie Emery and the Curious Kids hosts for inviting me to be on the Curious Kids Show to help raise Autism Awareness. The entire Curious Kids show will be on December 17th. Please share with your friends and family!

Reno – keep making noise – the squeaky wheel always gets noticed.

Thanks for all that you do.


Mommy, I Wish I Could Tell You What They Did To Me In School Today

Mommy, I Wish I Could Tell You What They Did To Me In School Today

By Richard S. Stripp, Sr.

The children and adult characters in this book are based on students and individuals that the author has interacted with and/or worked with directly.
The majority of children who “speak” in this book are non-verbal. Their words which you will read are fictitious and were never spoken by them but are based on actual events that occurred in their lives. It is the author’s belief that if the non-verbal children in this book could speak, what you are about to read is what they might have said.
Any conversations between the author and anyone in the book are based on actual events and conversations.
An excerpt from the book:
“I can’t believe that Mom is making me go to school again today. Doesn’t she know what they do to me there? Doesn’t she love me anymore? “Adam, you hid your shoes again. This isn’t funny. It’s time for school.” Yeah, I know it’s time for school; I don’t want to go, that’s why I hid my shoes.
Man, I wish I could speak. I wish I could tell Mommy what they did to me at school yesterday. I wish I could tell Mommy how it makes me feel to be treated like that. If she only knew, there is no way she’d make me go there today. I bet Daddy would beat them up.
The day started like most days. They took me off of the school bus and strapped me into that stupid wooden chair. My pull-up was soaked with pee but they didn’t even check. I just had to sit in it until I wet through. Then, the yelling began. Like it’s my fault I had to go to the bathroom again. I was trying to tell them. Kept on touching my private area; what did they think I was saying? “That’s disgusting, Adam. Knock it off!” Knock what off? I’m soaked. I’d change myself if I could, but I can’t.
Three hours stuck in this chair without being able to move and now they want me to stand up. My legs are so sore and stiff. I know my cerebral palsy isn’t as bad as Jimmy’s but I wish I didn’t have it at all. There’s no way I can stand right now but they’re pulling me, yanking me by my arms out of the chair. Yelling, yelling, more yelling. Sorry teacher, I can’t do it. The yelling hurts my ears. The chair is kicked away by the teacher and I get thrown to the ground. All of the aides and assistants just watch, listen and do nothing to help me. How can they just stand there? Why won’t someone help me? I need help. I can’t stand, I’m sorry. I’m trying, but I can’t. Now, when all the other kids are watching television during free time, I’ll have to sit in the corner again, facing the wall. I hate that.”
Sad but true and this is not an isolated incident.

Groups Push for More Accessible Housing

Advocacy groups for the disabled have been pushing for accessible housing for years and our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.  The disabled just do not have a powerful or visible lobbying group.

Now we finally may see some action!

The retired population is realizing that significant numbers of seniors have a disability of one kind or another.  So they are finally joining us in the fight for accessible housing.

Seniors wield political power.  The various lobby groups that represent seniors are usually successful in accomplishing their goals. Let us hope any legislation or action that results will help all the disabled – NOT just seniors with disabilities.

Groups push for more accessible housing.

We need to all keep squeaking our wheels no matter how old or young we are.