Missouri Advocates For Families Affected by Autism

We are a citizens action group advocating and lobbying for families that have a child with special needs. We believe that EVERY child has a right to a FREE and APPROPRIATE EDUCATION and should NEVER BE LEFT BEHIND.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Delayed Auditory Processing | The Autism Site Blog

Delayed Auditory Processing | The Autism Site Blog

Feds Clarify Obligations To Kids With Autism - Disability Scoop

Feds Clarify Obligations To Kids With Autism - Disability Scoop



In what advocates are calling a major win, federal officials are for the first time telling states that Medicaid coverage must include treatments like applied behavior analysis for children with autism.
Medicaid programs nationwide must offer “medically necessary diagnostic and treatment services” to kids with autism, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told states in abulletin this month. That includes everything from speech and occupational therapy to personal care services and medical equipment, the agency said.
The services must be included in what’s known as the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program, or EPSDT, a package of offerings that every state is required to provide children under age 21 who qualify for Medicaid.
The move comes in response to an increasing number of inquiries in recent years from states facing legal action for denying services to Medicaid beneficiaries with autism, Melissa Harris, director of the Division of Benefits and Coverage at CMS, told members of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee recently.
Many of the court cases focused on coverage of ABA therapy, though Harris said that CMS was careful not to single out ABA or any other specific treatment in its directive to states.
“The expectation is children with autism are a population that need to have their service needs met under the state EPSDT obligation. ABA is one way to do it,” Harris said.
Medicaid coverage for kids with autism has traditionally varied from state to state. Establishing national requirements will have a huge impact, advocates said.
“This should be of enormous significance to beneficiaries across the country,” said Dan Unumb, executive director of Autism Speaks’ Autism Legal Resource Center. “It will dramatically increase access to critical, medically necessary care.”

Monday, June 30, 2014

Many Parents Of Kids With Autism Have Autistic Traits Too - Disability Scoop

Many Parents Of Kids With Autism Have Autistic Traits Too - Disability Scoop



Parents of children with autism are more likely to exhibit traits of the developmental disorder themselves, new research suggests.
In a study looking at data on moms and dads of 256 children with autism and nearly 1,400 without, researchers found that parents of those on the spectrum tended to score higher on a questionnaire known as the Social Responsiveness Scale.
“When there was a child with autism in the family, both parents more often scored in the top 20 percent of the adult population on a survey we use to measure the presence of autistic traits,” said John Constantino of Washington University who worked on the study published online this month in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Constantino was quick to emphasize that a higher score on the assessment is not necessarily a bad thing. More than likely, the traits parents display in small doses may be exaggerated in their children.
“It could be that a mother or a father is just a little bit repetitive or slightly overfocused on details,” he said. “The problem comes when those traits are so intense that they begin to impair a person’s ability to function.”
In cases where both parents had mildly elevated scores on the survey, researchers found that they were 85 percent more likely to have a child with autism. If just one parent scored high, there was a 53 percent increased chance of the developmental disorder occurring in their son or daughter.
Previous research has found that siblings of those with autism often have more autistic traits, but this study is believed to be the first to find as much in parents.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bus Assistant Accused Of Abusing Autistic Student - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Bus Assistant Accused Of Abusing Autistic Student - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV



PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) -A Pasco County School bus assistant is on paid leave following his arrest for child abuse.
James Robert Lambert, 57, is accused of striking a 10-year-old autistic boy several times on the bus last week.
The boy's mother, Lori Lamb, got a call from a friend the last day of school about her son.
That friend asked if he was okay, and told Lori to check him for bruises and scratches.
Sure enough, Lori said, there were several marks on his arms and the back of his neck.
"I asked Jeffrey what happened and he said 'Mr. Jim hit me,'" Lamb explained.
Pasco County School officials released surveillance video from one of three cameras on board the special needs bus.
"I'm disgusted. I'm sickened. I cannot believe someone that works with children would act that way. It's just inexcusable," Linda Cobb, Pasco school spokesperson, said.
"This is an isolated incident," she added.
Lamb viewed that video for the first time Sunday.
"It was the most disturbing video," she said. "It was frightening. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was disgusting. I mean this man had an open hand and was slapping him around like he was a rag doll."
The video shows what looks like a standard bus ride. There are several loud outbursts, the school district said, from the autistic child.
Cobb said the child was cussing repeatedly.
"If I have to come back there, you're going to get it," a man identified as James Lambert said.
Then the video shows a man walk back to the boy and strike him several times.
Lamb's daughter, Lori Phelan, said her brother tried defending himself.
"You can hear Jeffrey scream, 'Stop don't do that. Don't hit me," Phelan explained.
The boy's mom contacted district transportation about the incident. It pulled the tape and eventually turned it over to law enforcement.
Lambert was arrested Friday.
Lamb said she and other parents have complained to the school district about Lambert before.
"This is the point when we start asking questions," Cobb said.
The school district has no prior disciplinary issues during Lambert's 16-year career as a bus assistant. Lambert has years of experience working with special needs kids, according to Cobb, but she says "If it happened one time, we have to look to see if it's happened before."
There may be some challenges digging into the bus assistant's past.
Cobb explained the surveillance on some busses is recorded on low quality VHS tapes, and those tapes are often recorded over with other footage.
"It there were previous incidents with low quality video, there's a chance that we don't have it anymore," she said.
The boy's mother simply wants Lambert fired and never allowed near kids again.
"It was heart-wrenching because there was nothing I could do because he was by himself on the bus," she said.
Since the incident, Lamb said her son has had nightmares about the incident, and she's thinking about homeschooling him from now on.
The school district has offered to help the family in any way.
Lamb thinks the bus driver should have stopped the bus and should be held responsible as well.
Cobb touched on those remarks and said, "The driver has a responsibility to not only keep an eye on the road, but what's going on behind them in the bus."
Lambert was scheduled to work summer school but that’s since changed.
His employment will likely be discussed at the next school board meeting on June 17th.
Suspension and termination are possible.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Aspergers Child: The Silent Bullying of Asperger's Boys and Girls

My Aspergers Child: The Silent Bullying of Asperger's Boys and Girls



All of the highlighted things happened to my son in the Lee's Summit School District.  He eventually dropped out because it was affecting him emotionally, psychologically, and physically.  I know, from talking to other parents, that this is continuing today.





My Aspergers Child: The Silent Bullying of Asperger's Boys and Girls



The Silent Bullying of Asperger's Boys and Girls

“My Asperger’s son continues to be bullied at school, but nobody there seems to take it seriously. His teach said that ‘he seems to start the arguments by annoying some of the other students.’ O.K. Fine. Maybe this is true, but that doesn’t justify bullying. How can I get the school to take this seriously?”

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, disability harassment is against the law in all schools, school districts, and colleges and universities that receive public funds. “Special needs” kids who are bullied or harassed have legal rights to grievance procedures and due process on the local level. They can also file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights.

Nevertheless, in spite of all these laws and policies, the National Education Association estimates that every 7 minutes of every school day, a youngster is a victim of bullying, and 85% of the time there is no intervention by other children or grown-ups. Your youngster's school may have anti-bullying policies that do not help much on a practical level.

Kids in special education are the most frequent victims of bullies. Kids with Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are inevitably victims of bullying. One expert puts the percentage at 100%. The reason is that AS and HFA kids fit the profile of a typical victim (i.e., a "loner" who appears different from other kids). Like hungry wolves that attack a limping sheep that can't keep up with the herd, the boy or girl with clumsy body language and poor social skills appears vulnerable and ripe for bullying. What's worse is the youngster often suffers in silence and does not tell his mother or father about the torment.

Luke Jackson, a thirteen-year-old boy with AS explained it like this: “Aspergers kids don't realize which things they are supposed to go home and tell. ‘What have you done at school today?’ wouldn't automatically bring about the answer, ‘I have been bullied’ unless that subject was specifically brought up.

If your AS or HFA youngster appears under extreme stress, if he is missing school because of headaches and stomachaches, if he has physical injuries and torn clothing, he may be a victim of bullying. If your youngster is stealing money from you, he may be using it to pay off a bully.

Once you determine that your youngster is a victim of bullying, you have to be careful not to make the situation worse. Writing in his book “Freaks, Geeks and Aspergers,” Luke describes what happened after his mom spoke up to his tormentors: “The bullies left me alone for sometime after that. But no amount of threatening by my brother, by the educators, fear of expulsion, pleasant reasoning, absolutely nothing made any difference and they never left me alone. In the end they were physically pushing me around and punching me and it was about the worst time of my entire life.”

Luke endured not only physical beatings, but also name-calling, teasing, tripping so his lunch tray fell all over, having his books destroyed and chairs pulled out from underneath him. He ended up changing schools.

One major problem that Luke's mother and other moms and dads of AS and HFA kids face is that a school may have an anti-bullying policy, yet the staff looks the other way when it happens. Some school administrators are simply more tolerant of bullying than others. Some schools, including Columbine, tolerate a "pecking order" in which athletes and popular children have special privileges and develop a sense of entitlement that leads to a "bullying atmosphere." In such a school, if moms and dads report bullying, the principal may advise them to enroll their youngster in karate or otherwise teach him to stand up for himself. The underlying attitude is that it is the victim's fault. One principal told a mother of an Aspergers boy, "Your son is a little different and it bothers other kids, so he brings this on himself because of who he is." Also in such a school, educators and coaches may bully the “different” youngster too.

Another problem in approaching educators and school administrators is that an AS or HFA youngster does not have the social savvy to tell his side of the story effectively. Bullies typically lack empathy and real feeling, but many are good at crying on cue and playing the victim. Often the Aspergers student gets expelled, and the bully receives no punishment unless the Aspergers student has an effective witness.

In a survey by York University, only 23% of children agreed with this statement: “educators usually - or almost always - intervene when bullies attack.” However, 71% of the educators in the survey agreed. Part of the problem is that educators do not witness most bullying, because it usually happens off campus (which also means the school may not be legally liable for it). AS and HFA kids are most vulnerable when they walk alone to and from school. The other most likely times bullying occurs is during unstructured times (e.g., lunch hour, recess, passing between classes). Bullying peaks in junior high school.

There are things you can do to protect your youngster. It is a good idea to demand an anti-bullying clause in your youngster's Individual Education Plan (IEP). This is a proactive way of having solutions in place and holding the administration to its word in the event your youngster is bullied anytime throughout the year. If your school does not have an anti-bullying program, try to work through the PTO to get one in place. Some schools have a “bullying coordinator” (usually a volunteer) who monitors the lunchroom, restrooms, corridors and playgrounds, and makes sure there is consistent intervention.

If your youngster is a victim of bullying, don't approach the mom or dad of the bully – or the bully himself. According to the research, parents of bullies are often abusive people themselves. Talk to your youngster's teacher and principal in private. Ask for an adult aide to accompany your youngster at all times, if necessary. If the bullying does not stop, you can involve the police or file grievances through your local Office of Civil Rights. If your youngster is in danger, you can home-school him until the situation is under control or transfer him to a private school. If you have to file a lawsuit against the school and the mom and dad of the bully, find a lawyer whose expertise is in special education law.

P.S. Warning to parents: According to statistics, it is very likely that YOUR child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism HAS BEEN or IS BEING bullied. Why don’t you know about it? Because your child won’t tell you! Why won't he tell you? Because he thinks it's a normal, everyday activity that some peers engage in. So, you need to investigate this now – BEFORE your child has been tormented for weeks or months or years! If after your investigation, you discover there has been no bullying against your child, then thank God for it.