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Friday, December 20th, 2013
The family of a 3-year-old Florida boy who has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum has won the right to keep a small group of “therapy chickens” that the family says have helped their son improve his quality of life. More from Today.com:
The City Council of DeBary, Fla., unanimously approved a resolution on Wednesday evening that allows the parents of 3-year-old J.J. Hart to raise the three hens in their backyard as a reasonable accommodation under the Federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts. The resolution notes that “the chickens are primarily utilized for the purpose of enhancing the child’s life.”
“J.J. won… I’m glad,” DeBary Mayor Bob Garcia, who knows the Hart family well and has been a vocal supporter of their quest to keep the hens, told TODAY Moms.
“Maybe this will take the smudge off the city of DeBary that we don’t care about people with disabilities, and we can get back to the norm of how great the city really is.”
The small town near Orlando has been under intense pressure to take action since earlier this month, when the City Council voted to end a one-year “Urban Chicken Pilot Program” that allowed city residents – including J.J.’s family — to keep chickens in their backyard. Like many communities, DeBary limits the kinds of animals that can be kept in residential homes.
The decision devastated his parents, who say the feathered creatures did what physical, occupational and speech therapies couldn’t: Bring J.J. out of his shell. He likes to run after them and hold them, and he smiles when they are around.
Image: Chickens, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
People with disabilities have long been able to go to the front of lines at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resort, but the company has announced that starting next month, the policy will change. The reason cited was that the policy is abused too often and is rendered ineffective. More from CNN.com:
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Under the current policy, Disney visitors can get a guest assistance card that grants quicker access to rides, often entering through exit doors to bypass the main lines.
There were widespread reports of able-bodied people abusing the policy.
Some wealthy park visitors were hiring disabled people to pretend to be family members so they could skip lines, the New York Post reported in May. Social researcher Wednesday Martin learned about the practice while researching a book about New York’s Park Avenue elite, the Post reported. “It really is happening,” Martin told CNN’s “Starting Point” in May.
Starting October 9, guests with a new disability access card will be issued a ticket with a time to enter an attraction, based on the current wait time, so they don’t have stay in line. Disney fan site Miceage.com broke the news of the policy change last week.
No proof of disability is required under either the current or new policies. Asked why Disney couldn’t keep the current system and require disabled guests to provide proof of disability, Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown said, “Due to confidentiality laws, we’re limited in the information we can ask.”
“We have an unwavering commitment to making our parks accessible to all guests,” Brown said in a statement. “Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities. We engaged disability groups, such as Autism Speaks, to develop this new process, which is in line with the rest of our industry.”
Thursday, August 1st, 2013
Children who grow up alongside an ill or disabled sibling may be at higher risk of emotional complications like relationship issues, behavioral problems, and academic difficulty, according to a new survey of parents conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. More from Reuters.com:
The study could not explain why the siblings of disabled kids were more likely to have problems functioning socially or emotionally than kids without a special needs brother or sister. But Anthony Goudie, the report’s lead author, said he’s convinced it has to do with the family situation.
“That’s driven by the disproportionate or increased financial strain and stress within these households, the psychological stress…and the emotional stress on caregivers and parents, and the amount of time they have to spend devoting to the child with a disability,” said Goudie, who is an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
Goudie said the findings are important because the functional problems for which the non-disabled siblings appear to be at increased risk have been tied to higher odds of mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety disorders, that require treatment.
His study is perhaps the largest to date looking at the day-to-day difficulties for siblings of kids with a disability.
Image: Sad boy, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, September 6th, 2012
A California couple says their 16-year-old son wasn’t allowed to board a plane last weekend because airline employees described him as a “flight risk.” But Joan and Robert Vanderhorst believe they were actually removed from the American Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey to Los Angeles because employees did not want their son Bede, who has Down Syndrome, to sit in first class. The New York Daily News reports:
Bede and his parents had been in Jackson, N.J., visiting family and were eager to make the long return flight home. On a “lark” they had even upgraded their seats to first class, shelling out an extra $625 dollars.
“My wife said, ‘oh Bede’s never flown first class,’ he’ll be so excited.”
Vanderhorst said Bede, a freshman in high school, has flown “at least 30 times” through his life and has never caused any trouble.
Nothing was different before Sunday’s flight, he said. Bede was sticking close to his parents and was not acting unruly, nor was he upset.
But as the family waited to board, an American Airlines official pulled them aside and said the pilot had observed Bede and didn’t feel safe allowing him on the plane.
The airline told the Daily News that Bede was “agitated” in the waiting area. “Asking the family to take the next flight was a decision that was made with careful consideration and that was done based on the behavior of the teen,” the airline said. The family was escorted away from the gate by police, and rebooked on a United Airlines flight. Bede’s parents are considering a lawsuit accusing the airline of violating the teen’s civil rights and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
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Friday, April 20th, 2012
A high-school junior with Down syndrome, who has played on his school’s basketball and football teams, may have to sit on the sidelines for his senior year because he has turned 19 and now violates the maximum age allowed by the school district.
Eric Dompierre attends Ishpeming High School in Michigan, where he has experienced some thrilling moments in sports, including scoring a 3-point shot in basketball and kicking a field goal in football. His parents have always been thrilled and grateful for his acceptance and level of participation, and they are fighting to allow him to play during his senior year. From CNN.com:
According to the constitution of the Michigan High School Athletic League, students who turn 19 before September 1 are not allowed to compete in sports. The rule is intended to prevent the possibility of injury or competitive advantage from an older more developed athlete playing against younger students.
For the past two years Eric’s parents, with the support of the Ishpeming High School District have tried to get the rule changed so Eric can play during his senior year.
But a committee with the Michigan High School Athletic Association has refused two proposals which would allow kids like Eric to participate.
James Derocher is the president of that committee says “our members have to change the constitution and at this point in time they’ve told us ‘no.’ ”
Derocher says one of the concerns is that if they let Eric play, other 19-year-olds may come along in the future and claim a disability for a competitive advantage.
Image: Football, via Shutterstock.
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