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Oct. 6th, 2011

TX: Special ed staff used abusive aversives on autistic students, district says

Three staff members at Exley Elementary School in Katy, TX, are under investigation for allegedly using abusive aversives on their autistic students.

Teacher Pam Manning and two aides, who haven't been publicly identified, are accused of forcing vinegar-soaked cotton balls into the mouths of autistic students and making them run on treadmills for extended periods of time during last school year.

Many of Manning's students are nonverbal.

The Katy Independent School District has condemned the alleged practices. The school principal reported Manning and the aides to law enforcement, which is currently deciding whether to file charges.

The aides have both been fired. Manning has been removed from teaching and is "undergoing contract arbitration".

Info sources:

Sep. 27th, 2011

WA: Autistic man shot, killed by his mother in murder-suicide

An Asperger's-type autistic man was killed by his mother in a murder-suicide in Kennewick on September 16.

Jason Mertz, 28, was shot and killed in his sleep. His mother left a note confessing to his murder before she shot and killed herself.

Mertz's friends say his mother had talked to them about "bad things going on in her life for many, many years" in the past.

Mertz was an avid bowler and photographer, who loved the beach. He was training to be a truck driver at the time of his death.

Info source: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/09/23/1836171/friends-shar-memories-of-kennewick.html

Autistic Ethiopians face discrimination, lack of resources

Autistic people in Ethiopia face serious problems with societal discrimination and lack of resources, support, and knowledge of autism, says the founder of one of the first centers for autistic students there.

Zemi Yunus could find no resources in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, when her son Jojo was diagnosed autistic. Many local professionals knew nothing about autism. Jojo was kicked out of five different schools, where he got no accomodations and was once dismissed as being spoiled. One school tried to charge Jojo's family three times the usual tuition, because of his special needs.

Zemi began looking for other area families like hers. She discovered that it was common for autistic people to be kept secluded at home, often physically restrained. She found families who kept their autistic children in dark rooms, or tied up.

In parts of Ethiopia, it's believed that autistic people are demon-possessed, or being punished for their parents' wrongdoing.

Many autistic Ethiopians are initially misdiagnosed with mental illness, due to lack of knowledge among medical personnel, and stigma.

n response to these problems, Zemi founded the Joy Centre in Addis Ababa. It currently serves 75 students. The Joy Centre's existence led Ethiopia's government to start a program for special needs students.

Info source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14991267

NJ: Federal judge says school district broke law over autistic student's education

A federal judge has ruled that a school district refuse to properly accomodate or serve a special education student.

The Duman family sued the Moorestown School District, saying it refused to provide federally mandated services and education for their son, who's autistic and has ADHD.

U.S. federal law says school districts must provide services to disabled students living in the district's territory, regardless of whether they attend district public schools.

The Dumans say their son was no longer progressing at his district public school. They transferred him to a school specializing in sudents with communication difficulties. The district refused to pay his tuition there, although law says school districts must pay for school changes if a disabled student's needs aren't properly met in a public school.

The district also refused to do an individualized education plan (IEP) for the Dumans' son. Federal law requires districts to provide IEPs when asked for all disabled students in the territory, no matter where they attend school.

Info source: http://moorestownpatch.com/articles/dtrict-skirted-law-in-trying-to-deny-education-to-autistic-boy-federal-judge-rules

Sep. 18th, 2011

UK: Autistic man wins employment discrimination lawsuit

An autistic man has won a 25,000-pound settlement in an employment discrimination case.

Dale Morgan, who is Asperger's-type autistic, applied for an information analyst job with the Northamptonshire Primary Care Trust in January of 2009. He had been working as a temp for the Trust for ten months, and wanted to try for a permanent position.

The Trust initially offered Morgan the jb, but then withdrew the offer, one day before Morgan was to have his first appointment with an occupational health specialist at the Trust. Morgan was given no explanation at first.

The Trust eventually said Morgan's references were "unsatisfactory". They have since admitted they did not follow their own diversity/equality policy in Morgan's case, and will enforce it better in the future.

Info source: http://www.awares.org/pkgs/news/news.asp?showItemID=1107

Sep. 9th, 2011

FL: Fatal police shooting of autistic man under investigation

Investigation continues into the fatal police shooting of an autistic man in North Miami Beach.

Ernest Vassell, 56, was shot and killed by police who found him on August 31. They were responding to a 911 call reporting a man walking through the neighborhood with a gun, which he reportedly aimed at a dog at one point.

Police say there was a "confrontation" between officers and Vassell.

Police also say Vassell's "gun" turned out to be a toy gun. Vassell's family doesn't believe them. They say Vassell was afraid of guns and wouldn't have handled even a toy gun. Relatives who lived with Vassell say there were no real or fake guns on their property.

Vassell's family has been going door-to-door in their neighborhood, looking for witnesses. They say they have more than 20 witnesses who saw Vassell walking - without anything that looked like a gun - that day.

One of the officers involved in the shooting is on administrative leave.

Info sources:

CA: Teenage boy goes to jail for sexually assaulting autistic girl

A 17-year-old boy has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for sexually assaulting an intellectually disabled autistic girl last year.

Manuel Bond was convicted of assaulting the teenage girl on the track at a high school in Orange County. He admitted to putting his hand down the girl's pants, but says she consented.

The girl cannot communicate in speech or writing, making it very unlikely she could give consent. She was unable to testify in the trial.

In the past, Bond spent time in a treatment program for juvenile sex offenders after he sexually assaulted a 3-year-old girl.

Info source:

Sep. 7th, 2011

Ireland: Autistic & LD students turned away from school because their teachers' jobs were cut

A school in County Cork has had to turn away nine autistic and LD students because last-minute government funding cuts eliminated their teachers' jobs.

St. Gabriel's National School, in Bishopton, specializes in teaching autistic and LD students. The school had promised the nine students placements for the school year.

St. Gabriel's says they can't provide teachers for the students due to unexpected funding cuts from the National Council of Special Education (NCSE). The NCSE told the school they wouldn't provide funds for two teaching jobs there on August 25, just before school started.

Two of the students involved had to be turned away from St. Gabriel's at the start of last year as well.

St. Gabriel's is currently providing the nine students with part-time teaching: five hours of instruction over every two weeks.

The NCSE argues that St. Gabriel's is "sufficiently staffed".

Another Irish school, St. Raphael's Special School in Celbridge, County Kildare, has had to reduce the in-school time of three special needs students to one hour a day. St. Raphael's has also suffered NCSE funding cuts and doesn't have enough assistants to work with the students all day.

Info source:

NY: Co-op says blind autistic girl can't use pool

Ivanna Raices started swimming at the Lindsay Park, Brooklyn, co-op pool when she was 1. Now, at age 12, swimming there is one of her favorite pastimes. Because she is autistic and blind, a family member always goes with her.

Ivanna's mother, Natividad, says her daughter has never been a safety problem and "swims better than most adults".

In June, the Lindsay Park co-op board said they wouldn't let Ivanna have a pool pass, because they think she may be a safety hazard. The building manager referred to an incident last year, when Ivanna "got excited and splashed in the pool" because she needed the bathroom.

Natividad Raices says others may sometimes misinterpret Ivanna's autistic behaviors, because they don't understand the situation.

The co-op board wouldn't let Ivanna return to the pool unless her family got an aide to supervise her and take written responsibility for her.

The Raices family hired an aide so Ivanna could swim. However, the aide couldn't start working till August - meaning Ivanna missed out on swimming for most of the summer.

Info sources:


Aug. 18th, 2011

US: "Lupron Doc" has more medical licenses suspended

Investigation continues into the work of Dr. Mark Geier, who gave autistic children unproven and potentially dangerous "treatments" with the drug Lupron.

In May, the state of Maryland revoked Geier's license to practice there. He and his son David are still being investigated in Maryland.

Since then, the states of Washington, Virginia, Indiana, and California have all suspended Mark Geier's licenses there. A medical board in the state of Illinois has set a preliminary hearing about Geier's license for August 22.

Geier still has valid medical licenses in Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Missouri.

Info source: http://lizditz.typepad.com/i-speak-of-dreams/2011/08/mark-geiers-medical-license-suspension-state-by-state-scorecard.html

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