Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Now it makes sense... doesn't it? by Kim McClain

"Have you submitted your story to the Florida OR California attorneys for the class action cases?

I want to remind you that if you are concerned about the Disney Disability access situation, that you can read the update and latest to include how to participate in the class action case at the DAS site.

There are some interesting developments and I urge you to please take part in the discussions...even if you do not fully agree (so as long as there is no offensive, disruptive or counter-productive discussions).

 In case some of you have not clicked on the link to read the article. This really is a must read.

Use, not abuse, forced Disney to change its disabled access system

Written by Robert Niles
Published: September 30, 2013 at 11:02 AM

People continue to react to the Walt Disney Company's decision to change the way it accommodates visitors with disabilities in its theme parks. Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel quoted me in her most recent column, which suggested that increasing wait times at Disney World attractions prompted some visitors to find ways around the wait, with GAC use and abuse becoming one popular way to do that.
Much of the coverage over Disney's decision to replace the Guest Assistance Card [GAC] with a new Disabled Assistance System has focused on reported abuse of the system by people pretending to have a disability to get preferred access to attractions. But conversations with Disney cast members have convinced me that is not the reason Disney made this change.

This isn't going to be easy for some Disney visitors to hear. But let's consider this a little tough love. The reason why Disney is ending the GAC program isn't because it was abused too much by people without disabilities. Disney killed the GAC because it was used too much by people with disabilities.

As we've written before, Disney did not intend to create a system that gave visitors with disabilities no-wait, front-of-the-line access to its attractions. That's simply the way the system evolved, for maximum operational efficiency. It simply was easier for Disney attractions personnel to move parties with a disabled visitor immediately onto a ride via the exit, than to make them wait and block the exit area, or to come back later.

Getting to ride without waiting invited abuse, which is why Disney adopted the GAC program, to make visitors with disabilities get a card from Disney so that individual attraction cast members wouldn't have to bear the responsibility of deciding who deserved special access. That helped put a stop to groups of kids renting a wheelchair to skip lines, but the system eventually grew unsustainable.

As crowds grew at Disney theme parks, people who previously could have endured a five- to 20-minute wait for rides and shows found that they couldn't handle waits of 40-80 minutes or more. Without the GAC, many people with back problems, weight issues, heart conditions, autism, or any of many other issues that make waiting in line difficult or impossible simply might have decided not to visit a Disney theme park. But with the GAC, not only could they visit, but Disney became a preferred entertainment destination. As more and more people used GAC to access rides, standby lines grew even longer, prompting even more people to get a GAC.

These aren't "fakers." They are people with legitimate medical claims. The number of people with medical conditions that could impede their ability to visit a crowded theme park is, unfortunately, astronomical. We're talking about tens of millions of Americans. More than one third of Americans are obese, according to the federal government. A third of adults have high blood pressure. One in six American children have a development disability. Autism prevalence is now at one in 50 kids. (That's nearly 1.5 million children, doing the math on U.S. Census Bureau data.) And let's not forget that Disney attracts millions of visitors from outside the United States, too, adding to the pool of potential visitors with disabilities.

Neither Disney nor any other theme park company can sustain a system that gives all of these people front-of-the-line access. But, fortunately for Disney (though not for the families affected by this change), the law doesn't require that Disney does that. The Americans with Disabilities Act simply requires that institutions create facilities and procedures accessible to persons with disabilities. It does not provide for nor demand preferred access. So that's why we soon will have a new system for disable access at Disney parks, a ride reservation system that will allow people with disabilities to skip non-accessible queues in the parks, but not to skip the waits.

Of course, many people are upset that they're losing what was a wonderful accommodation. For many families dealing with a disability, having front of the line access at Disney provided a welcome relief in an otherwise trying and frustrating experience. Frankly, it stinks to lose that. But Disney can't give preferred access to everyone. At some point, if everyone is "preferred," no one is. And millions of Disney visitors effectively lose their access to the parks again.

Don't think for a moment, though, that the system Disney introduces in 10 days will be its final word on access. For some families, even the new reservation system won't be enough to provide access to the park and its attractions. Don't be surprised it Disney tweaks the system in the months and years ahead to better balance the needs of all its visitors, including those with autism and other conditions for which a reservation system is — and here's an understatement — less than optimal.

But let's also not believe that this change is coming because a small group of greedy people decided to cheat the system. The "disabled" aren't a small subset of Americans. They're more than a hundred million of us. Use, not abuse, made Disney's GAC system unsustainable.

Thank you.
Your DAS Advocacy Team!

"Life on the Autism Spectrum can be ENJOYable."

Document: Oppose Language from CMS That Will Restrict Access to Important Medications for People with Disabilities

To families of individuals with developmental disabilities:

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare want to change a policy that requires that Medicare Part D Prescription plans include all medications in six protected groups.  These medication groups are protected for a reason.  They are vital to individuals who need them.  This  will have a significant impact on individuals with developmental disabilities who receive both Medicare and Medicaid.  The policy change applies to several of the groups of medications, and could signal the beginning of removing protections for all six groups of medications in the future.  These groups of medications are for things like cancer, seizure medications, psychiatric drugs and HIV.  Your family member may not have Medicare yet, but at some point in their lives, they may become dually eligible.  Please consider protecting their future access to these medications and access for those now eligible by responding to The Arc's action alert below.

Karen Scallan

Parent Advocate

Special Needs and Parent Support Services of LA, LLC


Twitter:  @KarenScallan


The following comes from the Arc of the United States

Oppose Language from CMS That Will Restrict Access to Important Medications for People with Disabilities

2014-02-18 | The Arc, The Arc
Oppose Regulatory Language from CMS That Will Restrict Access to Important Medications for People with Developmental Disabilities Who Receive Medicaid and Medicare (the Dual Eligibles)
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing to revise the long standing policy that requires Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to include on their formularies (the list of drugs covered by the plan) “all or substantially all” drugs within six classes:
  • antidepressants (e.g., Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft) used for treating depression,
  • antipsychotics (e.g., Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel) used for treating psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • anticonvulsants (e.g., Depakote, Tegretol, Lamictal) used for preventing or reducing seizures,
  • immunosuppressants used to prevent the rejection of transplants,
  • antiretrovirals used in the treatment of HIV and AIDS, and
  • antineoplastics used to treat cancers.  
This policy, known as the “six protected classes” policy, is an important consumer protection that has been in effect since the roll out of Part D.  People who are Medicare beneficiaries or are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid receive their prescription drug coverage through Medicare Part D.
CMS is proposing that antidepressants and immunosuppresants lose protected status in 2015 and anti-psychotic medications in 2016.   This would likely mean that Medicare Part D prescription drug plans would not continue to cover all or substantially all of the drugs in these medication classes.  People who require medication not on the drug plan’s list would have to either: 
  1. pay out of pocket; 
  2. change to a potentially less effective medication or a medication that may have additional side effects; or
  3. utilize the exceptions or appeals process to try to gain access to the drug (with no assurance that this process would be successful).
Prescription medications  - particularly in the medication classes described in this Action Alert -  are not interchangeable, and doctors prescribe treatments to meet the unique needs of each person.  When the Medicare Part D program was initiated, these classes of drugs were protected because of concerns that Part D formularies would be restrictive and limit access to medications.   CMS is proposing these changes to save money.  However, it is highly likely that disrupting access to needed medications will be a threat to the person’s health and well-being and may lead to increased Medicare expenditures by resulting in more doctor visits, hospital emergency room visits, and hospitalizations.
What You Can Do:  
Advocates and families must write to CMS and urge them to drop the language making changes to the antidepressant, antipsychotic, and immunosuppressant medication classes.  Comments are due no later than March  7th.  To provide comments electronically:

Document: Oppose Language from CMS That Will Restrict Access to Important Medications for People with Disabilities

"Life on the Autism Spectrum can be ENJOYable."

Improving Reading Outcomes for Students with or at Risk for Reading Disabilities: A Synthesis of the Contributions from the Institute of Education Sciences Research Centers

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) NEWSFLASH

National Center for Special Education Research

IES Releases Synthesis of Research on Improving Reading Outcomes

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has released a research synthesis report focusing on improving reading outcomes for students with or at risk for reading disabilities. The purpose of the synthesis is to describe what has been learned from research grants focused on improving reading funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Special Education Research and National Center for Education Research and published in peer-reviewed outlets through December 2011. This synthesis looks across the projects that IES funded to determine what has been learned and to suggest to the field avenues for further research to support reading education in our country.

...connecting research, policy and practice

By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCES, NCER, NCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
To obtain hard copy of many IES products as well as hard copy and electronic versions of hundreds of other U.S. Department of Education products please visit or call 1-877-433-7827 (877-4-EDPUBS).

To download and print the full report, click here: 

Improving Reading Outcomes for Students with or at Risk for Reading Disabilities: A Synthesis of the Contributions from the Institute of Education Sciences Research Centers

U.S. Department of Education

"Life on the Autism Spectrum can be ENJOYable."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Transforming Long Term Supports and Services System - Public Forums, video and other info.

Over the past decade, the Department of Health and Hospitals has engaged stakeholders in a comprehensive effort to reform long-term support and services (LTSS) by striking the appropriate balance between providing care in institutional and community settings, improving quality of care, expanding service options, and addressing financial sustainability. In December 2012, DHH issued a Request for Information seeking creative, innovative and viable strategies to move forward with its next phase of delivering coordinated care through the creation of a new managed long-term supports and services (MLTSS) program. On Friday, August 30, 2013, DHH published its initial concept paper outlining the principles and foundation of the LTSS transformation and to provide a framework for ongoing stakeholder feedback and engagement.
Public comments and feedback are being accepted at
Making  Medicaid Better - Long-Term Care

There are three webinars scheduled to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to the Department on MLTSS. Prior to the webinars, the access information will be posted here. The webinars will begin with a brief presentation by Secretary Kliebert, followed by 90 minutes of questions from the public.
Video Presentation from DHH Secretary, Kathy Kliebert

Powerpoint Presentation
  • Monday, February 17, 2014, 5-7pm
  • Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 1-3pm
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 9:30-11:30am
Public Forum Meetings
There are three public forum meetings scheduled around the state to give the public an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback to the Department on MLTSS. The first will be in Alexandria, followed by Shreveport and New Orleans. The meetings will begin with a brief presentation by Secretary Kliebert, followed by 90 minutes of questions from the public.

Tuesday, February 25
10:30am: Alexandria Public Forum
Pinecrest Supports and Services Center, Gym
100 Pinecrest Dr., Pineville, LA 71361

5:00pm: Shreveport Public Forum
Holy Angels Residential Facility, Gym
10450 Ellerbe Road, Shreveport, LA 71106

Wednesday, February 26
12:30pm: New Orleans Public Forum
Allied Health/Nursing School Building*
Tiger Room #138
1900 Gravier Street
New Orleans, LA 70112

Comments, questions and feedback may also be submitted by email to
Department of Health & Hospitals | State of Louisiana
Long-Term Care: Making Medicaid Better

Additional Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals info. on Long-Term Care (LTSS and MLTSS) is available at and at

Related info.


Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council

The Advocate - Long Term Care (search results)

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

Oct 21, 2013 ... His doctor has stated that he needs Hospice care in order to return ... based services, such as long-term personal care services, while they are ...

Oct 6, 2013 ... Efforts are just getting underway to develop the state's approach to privatization of its long-term care for the elderly, developmentally disabled ...

Sep 16, 2013 ... Managed care is being used around the country, but it's new to the arena of long- term support and services, said Nancy McPherson, state ...

Aug 15, 2013 ... Louisiana nursing home care ranked second-worst in the nation, failing ... Care, a nonprofit group whose goal is to improve long-term care.

Sep 12, 2013 ... The facility is a state-of-that-art long-term care housing center for people with ALS , a deadly debilitating disease. Team Gleason House will ...

"Life on the Autism Spectrum can be ENJOYable."

IACC Report to Congress on ASD and DD Undsr CAA and CARA

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee(IACC-USDHH) Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 and Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011 (FY 2010 - FY 2012)

"Life on the Autism Spectrum can be ENJOYable."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Speech Room News: Road Map February: Lesson Plans

Speech Room News: Road Map February: Lesson Plans: Some of my favorite bloggers are teachers. A while ago I saw Reagan do her lesson plans visually. I was in L.O.V.E. And then life got busy...

"Life on the Autism Spectrum can be ENJOYable."