Archive for the ‘disability rights’ Category

April 2012 is Autism Awareness Month

April 2, 2012

It is now April 2012 and the CDC released the increased rate of 1 in 88 children has Autism. However, the upcoming new DSM V will be making it harder for children to meet the criteria to get the diagnosis of Autism. In my opinion, this makes no sense.

Thus supposedly no more Asperger’s, no more PDD either – so then where are these children going to belong and how are they going to get help?

Autism Spectrum disorder was meant to be an umbrella. The classifications were helpful distinctions to differentiate the functioning level of the child. An Asperger’s child versus a child with Autism are two different children. Even if you compared any two Autistic children there would be differences.

Us professionals in this field and the kids’ parents are perplexed by this move in the DSM V to change the Autism diagnosis. It is a wrong move that will not benefit these kids.

We have an epidemic of Autism. The kids are here, so lets give them the help and supports they need instead of looking to lowering numbers based on a more strict criteria.

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

October 6, 2011
Nice story about Jon. Worth watching   = )

Yes, I totally agree. People with disabilities also teach us lessons.

Children with Disabilities and Their Dads

November 10, 2010

I recently came across a wonderful story of a Dad who shares his story and insight about the struggles and joy of  raising  his child with disabilities.

I wanted to feature this story since fathers speaking out about their children with disabilities is quite a minority, but very important.

Chris Gabbard and his son August

As explained by his Dad, “August has cerebral palsy, is a spastic quadriplegic, has cortical visual impairment (meaning he is legally blind), is completely nonverbal and cognitively disabled, has a microcephalic head, and must wear a diaper. Moreover, he is immobile—he can’t crawl or scoot around or hold himself up or even sit in a chair without being strapped in it. …

At home, in the eyes of my wife, Ilene; our 7-year-old daughter, Clio; and me, he seems merely a little eccentric, possessor of a few odd quirks, as I said. We don’t think of him as being different; he is August, just another member of an already quirky family.”

The important part – via August’s Dad –  

“That is not to deny that August, along with my daughter and my wife, is the most amazing and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, for he has allowed me an additional opportunity to profoundly love another human being. A person such as Peter Singer well may conclude, reasonably, that I have become overpowered by parental sentiment. So be it. I can live with that. There are limits to reason.”

A very worthwhile story to read. Chris allows the reader to travel through his fatherhood journey. Please read it, I highly recommend it !

Hey Kids, Time to Go Back to School

August 25, 2010

I just love this commercial! The Advertisement company who did this for STAPLES was smart! 

So here it is for parents!  I am sure that you can relate.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Time to Go Back to School

I have been working with many families lately and the current recurring theme has been … The parents can’t wait for school to start. I even mentioned this commercial to some and sang a few bars of it. The parents smiled, remembered this commercial and agreed strongly.

So I just had to share this commercial as one of my favorites that was right on target and has been timeless.

Toys with a Mission featuring Differently Abled.

May 31, 2010

Too many always focus on the disabilities / deficits. Though as a Behavior Analyst, I always look for the ABILITIES  and strengths too.

I came acrossed this story and I love it. Just have to share it with those that come by here.

What a very worthwhile idea for people with disabilities !

Polson resident creates figurines for “differently-abled” children
A Toy With a Mission

Cyndi Elliott of Polson takes out her hand made dolls in her studio. – Craig Moore/For the Beacon

By , 05-28-10
POLSON – Cyndi Elliott is on a mission. 

It’s a mission fueled by the love of her brother, David, who, the youngest of 10 children, was born with Down syndrome.

A pediatric occupational therapist, Elliott has worked for the past 16 years with parents and children facing a variety of challenges, from birth defects to injury-related disabilities.

But she’s long been troubled by the traditional approach that seems to focus more on the disability and less on the person’s unique abilities.

An artist and painter and musician, Elliott’s initial idea was to write a children’s book – in honor of her brother, who now is 40 – to illustrate what the “differently-abled” community can do, not what they can’t.

But when she couldn’t sketch to her satisfaction, she set out to make a series of figurines.

“Kids with different abilities will have something to relate to, because they’re strong and because they have hobbies,” said Elliott, sitting in her Polson studio. “And they will have something to talk about, rather than the one condition that is on people’s minds.”

“It’s as simple as saying you have blues eyes,” she added. “(Say) ‘I have cerebral palsy,’ and then move on. It’s a piece of them, but it’s not cerebral palsy boy.”

All the figurines have names, diagnoses, are dressed in attire she designed and painted, are engaged in an activity and have a story to tell.

The eight-inch figurines took three months to complete and another three months to sew attire for, clothe and paint.

“Lily,” she said, was born with a partial limb, wears a prosthetic and is a dancer.

“She has a very strong personality,” Elliott said as she laid her work out on the table and told each doll’s story.

Elliott expects each doll to evoke different emotions. But the figurines are also an expression of Elliott’s own views, life experiences and clients with whom she has worked.

“I try to be a unique person,” she said. “To me, I think it was self expression.”

There’s “David,” in honor of her brother, as a musician; “Mary,” a barrel racer who suffered an infant stroke; Robin, an artist with cerebral palsy; “Steven,” a bike rider with epilepsy.

It’s David, who she laughs has “Up,” not “Down,” syndrome, that Cyndi has the hardest time talking about.

As the closest sibling, Elliott took care of David, but said in her adult years she realized the opposite was occurring.

“He was really a significant person in my life because he taught me,” she said.

“He even impacted me in the way I dress, the way I play (music), the way I build my house, the way I live … There’s no worry. There’s no stress. There’s no resentment. He never held anger. He is the most loving person in my life. I could have fun in a paper bag and I know I learned that from David.”

David also influenced Elliott’s career.

“The big joke is that I’m supposed to be helping people because I am a therapist,” Elliott said. “I really would emphatically like this message to go out: That when people have a limit in one area of their lives, other areas take off and bloom.”

Her brother David was born with a hole in his heart, common in Down syndrome, thus the name of her company “wHOLEhearted.”

From the situation with her brother David, she would also like parents to realize the values a differently-abled child passes along to siblings.

“This is the best compassion college you can ever put your child through, the best human college or school you could ever give a person.” Elliott said. “David taught me how to already know the richness is right there in the room with another person.”

Elliott is pursuing a toy manufacturer and, additionally, wants to use the metal, polymer clay coated devices to open doors to further her message.

“If I could leave this earth and know that a few people heard this and it shifted their lives and that a few kids would be saved (from the attempt of being fixed),” she said. “If I can empower parents to have a diverse way of looking at this, maybe that’s a way a parent can feel powerful in a way where they feel powerless.”

You can reach Cyndi Elliott, OTR/L, wHOLEhearted, LLC, at

This Behavior Analyst says to Cyndi Elliott  – mission accomplished !!

Update on 6/22/10 :  Cyndi contacted me directly and she is a very nice lady. She informed me that she now has her own website. Please visit!


New Jersey, State Budget and Teachers

May 9, 2010

So much has been going on in NJ lately. I interact with lots of people, both here in NJ and in various other states. People have asked me, ‘so what do you think about Governor Chris Christie and the latest budget battles, especially with the teachers union ?’

Strategically, I really do not understand why Gov. Christie did not target the Education Administrators Union. There is too much high paid fluff at the top. It really bothers me to know how the Art and Music programs are being cut but administators are untouched. Creative Art and Music programs are much more valuable to our students than a high paid administrator.

It really bothers me to see numerous Special Education teachers and para professionals getting their pink slips as the high up administrators keep getting their secured high pay. The children with disabilities need their specialized teachers and their paras more so than they need a high paid adminstrator.

Since there are many school budget cuts, it concerns me that many talented teachers are being let go that do not have tenure. It bothers me more that bad teachers who have tenure do not deserve it.

Are there any easy answers to all of this NJ budget mess ? NO

NJ is in an $11 billion dollar deficit. Perhaps if I put it this way – if you were personally in debt for a $100,000 and could not pay out then you would be in financial ruins. Unfortunately that is what is happening to NJ, we are quickly headed to financial ruins. Our state does not have the funds to pay out.

The economy is not good despite what the federal hopey changey propanda is. Revenues are way down, many are leaving NJ. This fiscal mess was accumulated over many many years by previous state legislatures, Democrat and Republican governors – Gov. Chris Christie just inherited the mess in 2010 and gets to be the one who makes the hard difficult decisions.

Do I think that our state government could spend our state and federal tax dollars more responsibly and effectively ? – ABSOLUTELY. Can we look at alternative ways to somehow boost NJ revenues ? I think so. I just wish there was more of a progressive stance regarding the forementioned from Gov. Christie’s office. Perhaps that would help alleviate some of the focus on what is being cut.

Behavior change is not easy. Many do not want to change. Though NJ has to change. I think that our state government needs to make better fiscal decisions and also the teachers union could improve upon things too.

$11 billion dollars is the NJ state deficit ….

Well our federal deficit of $13 TRILLION and counting is much MORE SCARY. = (

 Alarm Clock
the above link is tracking our national debt accrued by the millisecond!

My thoughts regarding this will be made known later ……

ABA and National Healthcare Reform

March 29, 2010

H.R. 3590, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” was part of the Health Reform bill put into law on March 23, 2010.

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez being a Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, was very instrumental in developing the amendment for the provision requiring insurance plans to provide behavioral health treatments. Therefore in the future, health insurance plans created by the bill will be required to cover behavioral health treatments as a standard benefit. Since applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a behavioral health treatment for individuals with autism and other disabilities, it will be covered under the Health Reform Bill.

Overall, this is a very big step and deserved recognition for our field of Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA can help so many.

It is not surprising that NJ Senator Menendez pushed this through since February 2010 in our own state of NJ, all state level regulated Health insurance plans are mandated to cover behavior analysis related services up to the age of 21.

However, I have major concerns about this Health Reform bill.

– the Medicaid system is already over burdened
– this bill focused on quantity with no real quality assurances
– the funding for National Healthcare could be quite economically taxing, especially to the middle class
– allowables and benefit amounts have not been determined

This health reform bill that is 2700 pages long has many issues and unanswered questions.

Thus I am appreciative that Behavior Analysis is gaining more valuable recognition though it is my hope that ABA will be funded appropriately to provide quality care to those in need.

Good News: NJ Passes Law for Health Insurance to Pay for ABA

June 27, 2009

New Jersey Becomes the 14th State to Pass Autism Insurance Reform

NEW YORK, NY (June 25, 2009) — Autism Speaks today joined New Jersey families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the state’s legislature for passing the autism insurance reform bill, S. 1651/A. 2238, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies ( and other developmental disabilities) . The bill now heads to Governor Jon Corzine’s desk for signature into law.

The New Jersey bill requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 annually for a child with autism that is 21 years of age or younger. Coverage includes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, which is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.

In many states, insurers explicitly exclude coverage of these therapies from policies, which places a significant financial burden on families seeking to provide their children with necessary services. Thirteen other states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – have passed similar autism insurance reform bills. Nearly thirty states had bills introduced in their legislatures this year.

“With the passage of this legislation, New Jersey joins the ranks of states that have recognized the unfair and unreasonable burden being imposed on families of children with autism,” said Elizabeth Emken, Autism Speaks vice president of government relations. “Autism insurance reform has gained significant national momentum.”


A2238 – Requires health benefits coverage for certain therapies for the treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities. *
Passed both Houses

My thoughts on this ?
I think it is GREAT news for children and their families with disabilities.

It shall be an interesting process to see how all of this shall be implemented and monitored.

I did my part and contacted my NJ legislative representatives as a BCBA to pass this bill. Though I am concerned about those who are adults with disabilities, they also need behavior analysis supports too.

It is exciting that the families will have many therapeutic avenues that can accessed. Especially since many parents with children who have disabilities need training and coaching. Yes, parents can implement ABA programs and behavior interventions at home  and in the community as long as they have an experienced  Board Certified Behavior Analyst ( BCBA) that is a very good one working with them.

Do You Want to Become a Behavior Analyst?

May 5, 2009

Since I have started this blog, I’ve gotten numerous email and phone inquiries regarding career advisement in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis.

Though I must point out, as I always say, each person is unique, so is also a personal career choice.

People have many career questions about ABA such as;

– how much work is involved in becoming a Behavior Analyst?
– should I become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst?
– what ABA graduate programs should I apply to?
– what job options would I have?
– what can I do with my current work background?
– could I set up my own business or should I work for an organization/agency?

– do I have to only work with the Autism population to become a BCBA?
– how can I get work experience with the required BCBA supervision?
etc etc…

I will provide some basics here:

With a BCBA certification you could do a lot of good work and help people. Our field is in need of very good, competent Behavior Analysts. Though there is an ongoing debate now with the Behavior Analyst Certification Board as to go the licensure route or continue the certification model.  In my professional opinion, I still think the BCBA is the right thing to do if you utilize Applied Behavior Analysis in your working career.

By becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, it will make you more credible, you will belong to an expanding intellectual group, it will make you more marketable and if you wish you can try to make your own positive impact upon our field.
As for the ABA graduate courses, they are a lot of work, so be prepared and structure lots of time to complete them. And yes, you have to study in order to pass the Board’s exam. 
So come on over to the BCBA side.
I will occassionally keep addressing various issues of ABA, including some basic questions about our field here at my blog, so check back for future blog entries. However, for the more specific questions for individuals needing career counseling in Applied Behavior Analysis, I will have to charge for my time.

Those interested in gaining more specific knowledge about ABA and becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst may email an inquiry at with the subject line ‘career’ to set up an appointment for a 15 minute or 30 minute career advisement session via phone. An informational email will then be sent regarding how to set up an appointment and fees.

Appointments can be set up quickly with credit card payment options through Paypal.

For free information about becoming a Behavior Analyst  please visit and review this site –

Thank you.

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep ?

May 3, 2009

I’m late in posting this, though I think it makes a very valid point.

Unfortunately, this world places too much importance on physical attractiveness. But what about other special attributes , skills and pesonality traits that a person has- shouldn’t that count too??

I’m sure you have heard the old adage of ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover.’ Well, Susan Boyle simply just proved this.

What a beautiful voice! Thus beauty can be displayed in various and deeper ways, not only just by physical appearance.