News, Views, and Information about Disability

Disability News, Views, Information, and Literature

Monday, December 3, 2012

National Study Shows Disabled Parents Face Discrimination, Loss of Custody

Numerous media have run an Associated Press article about a report by the National Council on Disability which shows how common, devastating, and far-reaching discrimination is against disabled parents. The report is entitled, "Rocking the Cradle: Ensuring the Rights of Parents with Disabilities and Their Children." It estimates that 6.1 million U.S. children have disabled parents -- parents at much greater risk than nondisabled parents of losing custody of their children, including removal rates as high as 80 percent for parents with psychiatric or intellectual disabilities.

The Wall Street Journal describes the report thus:
Such cases are found nationwide, according to a new report by the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency. The 445-page document is viewed by the disability-rights community as by far the most comprehensive ever on the topic — simultaneously an encyclopedic accounting of the status quo and an emotional plea for change.
The AP story details the stories of several parents who have had to fight tooth and nail to keep their children, simply due to having a disability, which ranges from blindness, quadriplegia, or cerebral palsy. In some cases, infants were taken from parents at birth, in other cases ex-partners sued for custody, and in some cases, adoptive parents went through rigorous efforts to prove suitability. One adoptive mother, Carrie Ann Lucas, went to law school so she could help herself and other disabled parents successfully fight discrimination.

Read the AP article here.
Read the NCD press release here.
Read the complete publication ("Rocking the Cradle") here.

Disability in the News in Maine and Across the US: November 2012 Roundup

The Waterville, Maine Online Sentinel reported that the Maine Human Rights Commission is establishing a mediation program to try to solve discrimination problems more efficiently.
According to the commission's fiscal 2012 annual report, 639 charges were filed, 82 percent of those involving complaints of discrimination in employment; 11.5 percent involving housing complaints; and almost 6 percent were complaints about public accommodation. The report says disability discrimination was alleged in a third of the complaints and whistleblower discrimination was alleged in a fifth of them.
Click here to read the complete story.

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Nine new veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars enter Congress with the recent elections. The highest profile of these veterans is Tammy Duckworth, a disabled vet who will represent Illinois' 8th Congressional district as a Democrat. Duckworth was a major in the Army in Iraq. She is a double-amputee as the result of a grenade injury while piloting a Blackhawk helicopter. Read more about Duckworth and the issue of veterans in the Senate and House.

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Uncle Sam Wants You to Email Your Doctor

NPR reports that patients with online access to their doctors might be more engaged in making health care decisions. The article states, "A federal law passed in 2009 says that physicians have to start offering their patients online communication, or Medicare will start docking how much it pays them in the future." While initial studies showed that patients with online access made fewer doctor appointments, a larger, more recent study reveals that patients came in more often. However, "the government's intent in requiring doctors to offer online access ... isn't to drive the overall number of office visits up or down, but to improve the relationship between doctors and patients by improving communication." Read or listen to the complete story here.

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Teachers and administrators in Maine are fearful and confused by a new law opposing restraint of disabled students, according to a Portland Press Herald story with the headline, "Maine teachers say new restraint rule leads to assaults by students." The article goes into detail about the issues teachers are having with disruptive students and the fearfulness of the teachers in relation to the new rule. There is very little in the article about the reason the law was implemented -- to protect disabled students from excessive force, restraint, or other abuse.

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The American Psychiatric Association is voting on the revisions to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - Fifth Edition) this weekend. Some possible changes that have people concerned include eliminating Asperger's syndrome and instead categorizing people who previously fit that diagnosis as "mildly autistic." Other changes include adding a form of depression associated with grieving a death or other loss, and -- in an attempt to reduce the overmedicating of children who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder -- adding "disruptive mood dysregulation disorder" among children. Click here to read or listen to the story on All Things Considered.

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The United States Senate is set to vote on Tuesday whether to ratify the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. According to the Huffington Post, strong opposition to ratification comes from the extreme right wing, including Republican Senators Rick Santorum and Mike Lee, the latter of whom said he would "do everything I can to block" ratification. On December 2, the Washington Post Editorial Board came out with strong support of ratification, appealing to Republicans to remember that the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted under George H. W. Bush and that the George W. Bush administration signed off on the UN Convention in 2006. The Post's editorial closes thus:
Today’s Republican senators could do a lot worse than to heed Mr. Dole’s advice. His political career is eloquent testament that heartland conservatism is consistent with enlightened global engagement and a compassionate commitment to civil rights for all — including citizens with disabilities.

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Maine Rife with Baby Boomers!
A Bangor Daily News article opens: "In terms of demographics, Maine is the oldest state in the nation, populated by what the state Office of Aging and Disability Services calls one of the largest concentrations of baby boomers." In response, efforts to grow the 18-44 year old population and to spur economic development are in the works. Read details of these efforts here.