Archive for the 'Families' Category

Is jail the right placement for Aaron?

In “The Nightmare Outcome of a Son’s Mental Illness,” Abby Sewell recounted the story of Aaron Hernandez’s history of temporary, involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations that culminated in him being incarcerated for brutally attacking his parents. For the first time in his 19 years, Aaron began taking medication regularly while in jail and, Ms. Sewell wrote, writing more coherent letters and feeling remorse. Aaron’s parents hope that he will get psychiatric help, not a prison sentence.

Ms. Sewell’s account documented the gaps in mental health treatment available to the Hernandez family in their part of California. The problems are not unique to that community, however. The wrenching case of Gus Deeds’s attack on his father, Creigh, and Gus’s subsequent suicide in 2013 in rural Virginia illustrate similar issues (e.g., concerns about a lack of adequate facilities, periods of care that are too brief).

Aaron’s school experiences are not featured in Ms. Sewell’s account. She does not report whether he was identified for and received special education services, only that “in middle school, he began using marijuana and, later, hallucinogens,” and his parents later attributed his drug use to an underlying mental health problem. We can only guess that it might have been helpful for Aaron to have received some services.

Read Ms. Sewell’s The Nightmare Outcome of a Son’s Mental Illness from the Los Angeles (CA, US) Times.

Autism encounters with law enforcement

Have you ever fretted about what would happen if someone who has not learned to comply with commands encounters someone who expects immediate compliance? Suppose further that the person who relies on immediate compliance might escalate his or her demands for compliance when the other person, say a child who has behavior problems, does not immediately comply.

In a family or a classroom we might call this a “power struggle.” In the language of Patterson and his colleagues (Patterson, 1982; Patterson & Reid, 1970; Patterson, Reid, & Dishon, 1992), it’s the reciprocal escalation that forms the coercion cycle. When it occurs between an officer of the law and a child with Autism, I’d call it a recipe for disaster, even a nightmare scenario. It’s one about which I’ve written previously, more than once.

Here’s an example of that nightmare come true, as reported by Susan Ferriss of the Center for Public Integrity:

Diagnosed as autistic, the sixth-grader was being scolded for misbehavior one day and kicked a trash can at Linkhorne Middle School in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A police officer assigned to the school witnessed the tantrum, and filed a disorderly conduct charge against the sixth grader in juvenile court.

Just weeks later, in November, Kayleb, who is African-American, disobeyed a new rule — this one just for him — that he wait while other kids left class. The principal sent the same school officer to get him.

“He grabbed me and tried to take me to the office,” said Kayleb, a small, bespectacled boy who enjoys science. “I started pushing him away. He slammed me down, and then he handcuffed me.”

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The rights of the unvaccinated child by Professor D. R. Reiss

Over on Shot of Prevention, Dorit Rubinstein Reiss—she’s a Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law—has a series of articles examining “The Rights of the Unvaccinated Child.” As of my posting here, the first two of the five-part series are available. These make highly recommended reading.

  1. The Rights of the Unvaccinated Child: The Legal Framework
  2. The Rights of the Unvaccinated Child: Tort Liability

Learn more about Professor Reiss from her faculty biography at Hastings.

Plait on Kouric’s mea culpa

In Katie Couric Apologizes for Anti-Vax Episode, but It’s Not Enough, Phil Plait (DBA “Bad Astronomer”) explains why Ms. Couric’s mea culpa for her giving excessive credibility to the incredible, post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc stories of parents claiming vaccinations caused problems for their children. Mr. Plait, who branches out beyond astronomy to cover scientific matters in general from time to time, comes to essentially the same conclusion as Michael Hiltzik: No matter how strong her disclaimer, and Ms. Couric’s falls a bit short of being an abject retraction, she can’t take back the effect of having provided the highly visible stage for the anti-vaccination advocates.

It’s coverage like this, the embrace of facilitated communication, and even the pervasive endorsement of learning styles that makes it hard for reason and evidence to make headway in providing services for individuals with disabilities. Those of us who champion evidence-based approaches sometimes feel like were swimming upstream in sewer.

Little Keswick to feature talk by Ross Greene

The Little Keswick Foundation for Special Education, a philanthropic group associated with the Little Keswick School in central Virginia, announced that Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School, will speak at its 16th Annual Education Symposium scheduled for 10 October 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at Piedmont Virginia Community College’s V. Earl Dickinson Center. The session, entitled “Collaborative & Proactive Solutions: Understanding and Helping Behaviorally Challenging Kids (and their Caregivers),” is open to the public and there is no admission fee.

A child psychologist, Ross Greene has taught courses for the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech. He is founder of Lives in the Balance, a non-profit devoted to explaining and supporting his theraputic approach, called “Collaborative Problem Solving.” In addition to his books, Professor Greene has published research articles in well-respected journals such as Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, American Journal of Psychiatry, and Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.
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VA ‘Making Kids Count’ award reception announced

Virginia’s Voices for Children announced an event 15 October 2013 to honor the recipients of its Carol S. Fox Making Kids Count awards. The event, which is to be held at the Jepson Alumni Center at the University of Richmond in Richmond (VA, US), begins at 6:00 PM with the program commencing at 6:30 PM. Bruce Lesley, a public policy expert with extensive experience related to improving services for children and families, is slated to make the featured speech. Learn more about the awards from the Voices for Virginia’s Children web site and register for the reception (or make a donation) on line; there’s a discount for early-bird—prior to 2 October—registration.

VaKids awards

Voices for Virginia’s Children (VAKids) will present its second-annual Carol S. Fox Making Kids Count Award at a reception to be held 15 October 2013 at the University of Richmond in Richmond (VA, US). Currently, VAKids is accepting nominations of individuals and organizations (two awards may be given) who have made exceptional efforts to improve the lives of children and youths in Virginia.

Are insurers dragging their feet?

Are some insurance companies slow in providing coverage for behavioral therapies that families deserve for their children with Autism? According to a report by Alan Zarembo in the Los Angeles (CA, US) Times, the problem is great enough in California that a government agency is considering emergency regulations to force insurers to comply with their obligation to provide coverage.

Insurers have been skirting their obligation under recently enacted state law to provide costly behavioral therapies for autism, according to the Department of Insurance, which is proposing emergency regulations aimed at enforcing the law.
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