Stoner & Stoner (2014) interviewed parents about the impact of transitioning from being a full time career professional to primary caregiver for a child with autism (ASD).

Although the initial diagnosis period was stressful they found “in many ways, parents noted that finally obtaining the ASD diagnosis was a relief” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 4). However, shortly after diagnosis, parents “felt a ‘sense of urgency’ that time was passing, that they did not know what to do, and that every decision they made might be the one that either facilitated their child’s progress or hindered it” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 4).

The decision to have one parent disrupt their career was not taken lightly but ultimately came down to what they thought was best for their child with ASD — they felt “there were no practical alternatives” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 5).

Career loss had both financial and emotional impacts on parents. The caregiver that left their position often reported grieving for a lost of self, isolation, and loneliness; “As their career was unexpectedly and suddenly jolted from its expected path, parental feelings of loss were exacerbated” (Stoner & Stoner, 2014, p. 9).

Stoner and Stoner (2014) ultimately recommend:

Service providers, in all fields, need to be sensitive to what a diagnosis of ASD entails. First, quite tangibly, parents experience a loss of income at times when financial concerns (both present and future) are critical and demanding. Second, the primary caregiving parents most likely have lost meaningful social interactions at a time when relationships could be a source of emotional support. Third, primary caregiving parents experienced a deep sense of isolation, loneliness, and diminished significance at a time when they were quite vulnerable. (p. 9)

Professionals should keep this parental transition in mind as it often an extra source of stress.

 

References:

Stoner, J. & Stoner, C. (2014). Career Disruption: The Impact of Transitioning From a Full-Time Career Professional to the Primary Caregiver of a Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl, 1-11.

A new report from County Health Rankings revealed a large disparity in mental health care in the United States. On average there is only one mental health provider for every 1,620 people! Indicating the importance in reducing these disparities, the study also found that those counties that rated their mental health as most positive had 1.3 times more mental health professionals. Read more here.

 

Reference:

Heasley, S. (2014) Report Finds Access To Mental Health Care Uneven. Disability Scoop, retrieved from http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/04/02/report-access-mental-health/19249/

[B]eing disabled is not so challenging solely because of my physical circumstances, a stereotype that simulation often leads participants to believe; it’s hard because of environmental, social and attitudinal barriers.
 
So, you can be ‘aware’ of me all you want. You can attempt to roll a mile in my wheelchair. You can analyze and discuss and dissect the experience from a million different angles. But we must move away from equating empathy with acceptance. We must embrace differences as a fact of human existence without first needing to imitate them, for these kinds of activities are not effectively contributing to long-term advancements in the disability rights movement.

- Disability advocate Emily Ladau writes about the ineffectiveness of disability simulation and how it can lead to pity rather than acceptance. Read the rest of this wonderful piece here: I Won’t Pretend That Disability Simulation Works

 

Jarrod Musano and his company, Convo, have invented a new piece of technology developed to support the communication of Deaf people. Unlike older technology such as TTY, this video conference partitioned between the speakers and the interpreter allows for quicker and more natural conversation.

To read more see CNBC or visit the Convo website. You can also check out the following video in which Convo explains what’s important to them.

A new study by Siperstein, Parker, and Drascher (2013) details very high unemployment rates for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). After completing a random sample of over 1,000 parents and guardians of adults with ID, Siperstein et al. found a “troublingly low employment rate for adults with ID;” only about 1 in 3 people with ID were employed.

It is important to not only examine how many people with ID have access to the workforce but also if that access is at all meaningful. According to Diament (2014) only about half of those one-third are in competitive employment and about 9% self-employed. Meanwhile, 38% work in sheltered workshops (Diament, 2014). Although sheltered employment was a cutting-edge concept when it was created in 1870; unfortunately the practices have changed very little since then (National Disability Rights Network, 2011). Workshops are viewed from an educational or therapeutic perspective but rarely if ever prepare employees for supported employment; “instead they provide subcontract work usually oversimplified, boring and repetitious” (Schuster, 1990, p. 233) such as “assembling, packing, woodworking, manufacturing, [and] sewing” (Migliore et al., 2007, p. 6).

Not only are people with ID segregated in these settings and not typically learning new skills they also tend to be paid sub-minimum wage (which can be only $1-$2 a day!). All of which restricts future movement to meaningful integrated employment leading many advocates to call for repeal of sub-minimum wage and promotion of integrated employment opportunities.

 

 

References:

Diament, M. (2014). Survey finds just 1 In 3 with intellectual disabilities employed. Disability Scoop, retrieved from http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/02/18/survey-intellectual-employed/19114/

Migliore, A., Mank, D., Grossi, T., & Rogan, P. (2007). Integrated employment or sheltered workshops: Preferences of adults with intellectual disabilities, their families, and staff. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 26(5), 5-19.

National Disability Rights Network (2011). Segregated and exploited: The failure of the disability system to provide quality work (pp. 1-60). Washington, D.C.: National Disability Rights Network.

Schuster, J. W. (1990). Sheltered workshops: Financial and philosophical liabilities. Mental Retardation, 28(4), 233-239.

Siperstein, G., Parker, R., & Drascher, M. (2013) National snapshot of adults with intellectual disabilities in the labor force. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 39(3), 157-165.

Schroeder et al. (2014) recently completed an extensive literature review of research related to autism and bullying. Their research revealed more than 50% of children with disabilities are bullied (Schroeder et al., 2014). In fact, roughly one-tenth reported chronic victimization. According to Schroeder et al. (2014), “several characteristics of ASD may increase the likelihood of involvement in bullying perpetration and victimization”.

In terms of reducing bullying, they found that an important theme is school climate; “at the classroom level, an anti-bullying environment and teacher training appear to be critical” (Schroeder et al., 2014). To read more see their article Shedding Light on a Pervasive Problem: A Review of Research on Bullying Experiences Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

 

Reference:

Schroeder, J. Cappadocia, C., Bebko, J., Pepler, D. & Weiss, J. (2014, January) Shedding Light on a Pervasive Problem: A Review of Research on Bullying Experiences Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders,

 

DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV — the most common tool to label disabilities) prohibits dual diagnosis of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder; Rao and Landa, 2013). Some research now suggests that there is some comorbidity — they can occur together. Yet, little is known about how often this may occur. Recent examination by Rao and Landa found that about one-third of their sample of young school aged children with ASD showed significant signs of ADHD. This indicates that young children with ASD should also be examined for ADHD. This is especially true because the ADHD can contribute to impairments when unnoticed.

 

References:

Rao, P. A., and Landa, R. J. (2013). Association between severity of behavioral phenotype and comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism. doi: 10.1177/1362361312470494

New York City has started replacing the figures on disability signs. The old images are being replaced because people with disabilities appear “passive [and] even helpless” (Basken, 2013). Instead the new logo, which is featured below, “shows the stick figure with active arms, leaning forward, a participant rather than a dependent.”

Here are the goals of the aspects of the design according to The Accessible Icon Project (2013):

  • Head – “Forward to indicate the forward motion of the person through space. Here the person is the ‘driver’ or decision maker about her mobility”
  • Arm – “Backward to suggest the dynamic mobility of a chair user, regardless of whether or not she uses her arms. Depicting the body in motion represents the symbolically active status of navigating the world”
  • Wheel – “White angled knockouts the symbol presents the wheel as being in motion”

Although this may seem like just a logo, it has internationally become known as the image for people with disabilities. This change from a stagnant logo that implies “people seem like they don’t do much with their lives” is actually pretty revolutionary and will certainly have a large impact. Hopefully other cities will take note.

To read more about the logo, visit The Accessible Icon Project.

 

Sources:

Basken, P. (2013, May 20). A Team of Academics Redesigns an Icon. The Chronicle of Higher Education, retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/New-York-City-Embraces-a/139355/?key=TGxwJQUwYHNAMS1rY2tIZj4GanRsNhp0YXVMOCl7blpSEw%3D%3D

The Accessible Icon Project (2013). The Icon Graphic Elements. Retrieved from http://www.accessibleicon.org/icon.html