Think DIFFERENTLY Initiative Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Help Students With Disabilities Access Resources to Succeed in School

From Molinaro Website: Complete Post through this link…

U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro (NY-19) today introduced the Think DIFFERENTLY About Education Act. This bipartisan bill helps parents of children with disabilities advocate for the resources their child needs to succeed in school. It builds on Rep. Molinaro’s successful ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ initiative. Rep. Molinaro introduced this bipartisan bill alongside U.S. Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA-29), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY-04), and Mike Lawler (R-NY-17).

In an annual IEP meeting, school staff and parents of a child with a disability meet to develop an educational plan for the student. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, parents have the right to bring a third-party advocate, such as a therapist, lawyer, or knowledgeable family member, to these meetings. However, most parents are not aware of this right.

The Think DIFFERENTLY About Education Act requires K-12 schools to inform parents of their right to bring an advocate to individualized education program (IEP) meetings.

Scientists Discover “Startling” Levels of Hidden Mental Health Symptoms Among Autoimmune Disease Patients

From University of Cambridge: Complete Post through this link…

Experts urge immediate mental health assistance for patients with autoimmune diseases.

Over 50% of patients with autoimmune disorders suffer from mental health issues like depression or anxiety. However, most of these patients are seldom, if ever, questioned about these symptoms in clinical settings, according to recent research from the University of Cambridge and King’s College London.

A recent study published in the journal Rheumatology indicates that a significant portion of these patients infrequently or never disclose their mental health concerns to medical professionals. Additionally, the spectrum of potential mental and neurological symptoms is broader than previously thought.

The 30 symptoms that the team asked about included fatigue, hallucinations, anxiety, and depression. Among the patients in the study, experience of most of these symptoms was very widespread.

55% of SARD patients were experiencing depression, 57% experiencing anxiety, 89% had experienced severe fatigue and 70% had experienced cognitive dysfunction, for example. The overall prevalence of symptoms was significantly higher than previously thought, and much higher than in a control group of healthy volunteers.

The mental health symptoms described by patients contrasted strongly with clinician estimates. For example, three times as many lupus patients reported experiencing suicidal thoughts compared to the estimate by clinicians (47% versus 15%). Clinicians were often surprised and concerned by the frequency and wide range of symptoms that patients reported to the researchers.

Some clinicians were much more focused on joint symptoms over mental health symptoms as they held the opinion that SARDs do not commonly affect the brain.

JCPenney Has Affordable, Adaptive Jeans

By Shannon Kelly: Complete Post through this link…

JCPenney has added new men’s and women’s jeans to its adaptive clothing line for wheelchair users. The mutual weave Men’s Easy-on + Easy-off is a straight-leg style jean, made from soft stretch denim, that features hook-and-loop fasteners, an adjustable waistband and pull-on loops. These jeans do feature back pockets, something to be aware of for those worried about skin issues.

The a.n.a Adaptive Womens High Rise Straight Leg Jean is similar, though without the back pockets, and with a high-rise fit that provides better coverage while sitting, making the pants easy to wear for longer periods without experiencing discomfort or sagging. The jeans replace the standard buttons and zippers with Velcro to make dressing and cathing easier.

Both styles are currently on sale at an affordable price: $29.99 per pair. Along with their adaptive features, the jeans include classic styling and detailing, making them look like any other pair of jeans, but with added accessibility elements.

JCPenney offers several items in its adaptive category, including tops, bottoms, intimates and sleepwear, and plus-size clothing.

Tech Tuesday: Making Sense of the Michigan Assistive Technology Programs

From MATP: Complete Post through this link…

The federal Assistive Technology Act states that each state and
territory has an AT program to provide increased access to and
information about AT options. Michigan has 3 organizations that help
individuals with disabilities, their family members, and organizations
do exactly this. The Michigan Assistive Technology Program (MATP,) the
Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund (MATLF,) and Disability Rights
Michigan (DRM.)

Join Kellie Blackwell, MATP Co-Director, Tracy Strating, MATLF
Director, and Sarah Healey, DRM Advocate for the next TechTuesday on
September 26, 2023. The presenters will provide an overview of each
program and explain the differences of how each program is available
to help someone with exploring what AT options are available to them.

‘The rule has sticks as well’: Biden’s getting tough with health insurers

By BEN LEONARD: Complete Post through this link…

The Biden administration is going after health insurers for flouting a federal law requiring them to provide mental health care on the same terms as other care.

The administration has proposed new rules it says will make the insurers comply and it’s threatening big fines if they don’t. Insurers are pleading innocent and, backed by some of America’s biggest companies, claiming the Biden administration plan could make an intractable problem worse.

The battle comes as Americans’ mental health care needs are at modern highs, following a pandemic-driven spike that refuses to abate.

“We always hope for collaboration, but the rule has sticks as well,” Neera Tanden, head of President Joe Biden’s domestic policy council, told POLITICO. “We hope insurers will change their behavior going forward without the sticks, but we will continue to fully enforce the parity law.”

Those sticks include fines of $100 per policyholder per day if insurers don’t close loopholes the administration says they’re using to limit what they pay for mental health care. The administration says those ploys include requirements that doctors seek insurers’ approval before delivering care, lower reimbursement rates for providers who treat mental illness and deliberate efforts to limit the number of in-network physicians available to patients.

Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing

by Jen Soriano: Complete Post through this link…

Activist Jen Soriano brings to light the lingering impacts of transgenerational trauma and uses science, history, and family stories to flow toward transformation in this powerful collection that brings together the lyric storytelling, cultural exploration, and thoughtful analysis of The Argonauts, The Woman Warrior, What My Bones Know, and Minor Feelings.

The power of quiet can haunt us over generations, crystallizing in pain that Jen Soriano views as a form of embodied history. In this searing memoir in essays, Soriano, the daughter of a neurosurgeon, journeys to understand the origins of her chronic pain and mental health struggles. By the end, she finds both the source and the delta of what bodies impacted by trauma might need to thrive. In fourteen essays connected by theme and experience, Soriano traverses centuries and continents, weaving together memory and history, sociology and personal stories, neuroscience and public health, into a vivid tapestry of what it takes to transform trauma not just body by body, but through the body politic and ecosystems at large.

13% of Americans have a disability—what this means during the job application process

By Isabel Engel: Complete Post through this link…

For more than 40 million Americans, job applications may pose a challenging question: Do you have a disability? 

Roughly 13% of the U.S. population identifies as having a disability, according to the Pew Research Center. But this percentage is likely an undercount, Mia Ives-Rublee, disability justice initiative director at the Center for American Progress, tells CNBC Make It. 

“While we continuously talk about how many disabled people are working, how many disabled people there are in the United States, in the world, it’s always an undercount because of the fact that there is such a stigma around identifying with the disability,” Ives-Rublee says. 

Many job applicants who identify as having a disability grapple with whether or not to self-identify and which option to select, Ives-Rublee says. The voluntary question on some job applications encourages prospective employees to select one of three options when asked about their disability status:

  1. Yes, I have a disability, or have had one in the past.
  2. No, I do not have a disability and have not had one in the past.
  3. I do not want to answer.

When applying for a job, “you want to p

Insomnia: The Multibillion-Dollar Problem Sapping World Productivity

From RAND: Complete Post through this link…

Hallie Levine learned a hard truth on those bleary mornings when she dragged herself to work after a night of insomnia: “Caffeine is temporary.”

Nearly a quarter of all adults in the United States have experienced the tossing-turning frustration of clinical insomnia symptoms. Levine, a freelance writer in Connecticut, describes her existence on the days that follow as “death on wheels.” Yet from the doctor’s office to the corner office, good sleep is often overlooked as a key part of well-being.

We pay for that. Researchers at RAND and RAND Europe estimate that chronic insomnia pulls down the U.S. economy by more than $200 billion every year. Other major economies also forgo tens of billions of dollars in lost productivity. The condition is so debilitating, researchers found, that sufferers would pay 14 percent of their income to get better sleep.

“We encourage this as a society,” said Levine, who documented her life with insomnia in a 2017 article for Prevention magazine. “Someone is always emailing, and then you respond and you get sucked down the rabbit hole, and then it’s 11 o’clock at night. We normalize it. There’s this idea that it’s good to be sleep-deprived, that you’re up and you’re busy.”

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the world. It blurs thinking, dulls concentration, and drives up the risk of workplace accidents. Some evidence suggests its prevalence has been on the rise since COVID scrambled routines and gave people something new to worry about at 2 a.m. One 2021 Canadian study found a fourfold increase in new case rates of insomnia during the early months of the pandemic.

Deaf Students and Educators Face Harrowing Conditions in Hearing Schools

By Eleanor J. Bader: Complete Post through this link…

Deaf educator Rachel Zemach calls language “the ultimate gift.” Whether we have the ability to communicate through speech, sign language, typing or writing, having a way to convey our opinions and thoughts — and ask questions — connects us to information, companionship, friendship and community.

But these tools are not always available to Deaf students. In fact, when Zemach became an elementary school teacher in a California public school in 2003 (a position she held until 2013), she discovered that her Deaf special education students had not been taught American Sign Language (ASL). They also lacked the ability to read and write.

She blames this on audism, which she defines in her recently released memoir, The Butterfly Cageas “a discriminatory attitude toward deafness, created by discriminatory attitudes toward disability, fear of the unfamiliar, and simple ignorance.”

The impact of audism, she explains, is devastating. Likewise, the systemic failure to educate Deaf kids. This, she writes, leads to extremely high dropout rates, social isolation and subsequent unemployment.

Especially maddening, she explains, is that it does not have to be this way.

Smart Ass Cripple: So Sue Me

BY MIKE ERVIN: Complete Post through this link…

Thirty-three years ago, on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. But even today, stories abound of disabled folks being forced to assert the power of the ADA to fight inaccessibility problems that should have been addressed a long time ago. Sometimes government entities are the most blatant violators. 

When it comes to living up to their responsibilities under the ADA, these agencies seem to have a “so sue me” attitude. Rather than at least try to comply with the ADA because it’s the right thing to do, they’ll wait around to be sued before paying much attention. Thus, decades have passed—and even more decades will pass—with a lot of the exclusionary barriers the ADA was supposed to obliterate still rearing their ugly heads.

There are so many examples of government entities adopting a “so sue me” ADA strategy that trying to keep up with them would make you dizzy.