Monday, December 31, 2012

S.A. couple gives adopted kids greatest gift of all

Stephanie and David Barnett didn't plan to adopt. The San Antonians weren't even sure they'd have children.
“I loved little kids, my nieces and nephews,” said Stephanie Barnett, 37. “But at the end of the day, I was ready to give them back.”
God, as she often says, had other plans, which slowly emerged over their 15-year marriage. “For years at a time, we got pieces of the puzzle,” she said.
Five major parts of it are named Copeland, Silas, Teague, Trenton and Maclayne.
Four of them have Down syndrome and of those, three were adopted from an Eastern European orphanage last year.
The Barnetts — members of Shearer Hills Baptist Church; she a former teacher, he an accountant — believe God assembled their family.
They didn't jump headlong into adopting special-needs children. They reflected. They prayed. Stephanie Barnett got past lifelong dreams of becoming a missionary. She suffered a miscarriage. They prayed some more.
Copeland Shane Barnett was the first. At 10, he's a fifth-grader in the North East Independent School District. He's also their only non-Down syndrome child. Born in Texas in 2002, he arrived at age 6 weeks by way of a relative and attorney helping place the child.
After Copeland, the couple knew they'd adopt again, but it would take six years to decide on a Down child.
Stephanie Barnett, a former high school English teacher who also taught reading to special-education students, gained perspective on the challenges such children face and the resources that would be needed.
Her husband struggled with it.
“I wanted to make sure it wasn't an impulse,” said David Barnett, 44.
By mid-2008, he was ready and texted his wife “out of the blue,” she recalled. “I called the Down syndrome association and asked about adoption agencies.”
Silas Eli Barnett, 41/2, arrived that same year. The handsome fellow came to them via an adoption agency. He, too, was born in Texas.
Family resistance brought heartache. The relatives who helped with their first adoption wouldn't serve as references for the second.
Stephanie Barnett handled criticism by saying, “'You're either with us, or without us.'” That family situation is a work in progress.
Then she read an article in People magazine about Andrea Roberts, founder of Reece's Rainbow, a nonprofit that assists international adoptions of special-needs children.
Getting their next three kids adopted and to the United States was expensive. God provided, the couple said. Stephanie Barnett quit her job and pulled out her retirement pay. David Barnett received a small inheritance.
Their five adoptions cost about $100,000.
“God gave us this call, specifically the last four,” she said. “If we did not adopt, to us, it would be our sin.”
It took only nine months to adopt Teague Josiah Barnett, 6; Trenton James Barnett, 4; and Maclayne Faith Barnett, 41/2.
Maclayne is the only girl and the only Barnett child not in school yet because of her medical condition. Nicknamed “Mackie,” some of her brothers also call her “Mac Attack.”
She weighs 21 pounds, has hypertension and is recovering from surgery that repaired holes in her heart. Her journey may have been the toughest but that can't be detected in her deliberate, bear-like hugs. Delicate she is not.
Mackie doesn't speak. A year ago she didn't even make noises. She couldn't sit up and was kept on the floor caged in by slats resembling a make-shift crib.
Mackie had sores on her shaved head. “She was self-injurious. She would pick at herself,” Stephanie Barnett said. “She was abused in the orphanage.”
David Barnett is a little uneasy with that assessment but acknowledges Mackie was fed a “gray gruel.”
“They poured a bottle down her throat,” he said, and used one better suited for feeding young livestock.
Mackie is now fed through a nasal-gastric tube, because she resists eating. That's another work in progress.
Those who treated Mackie at Methodist Children's Hospital consider her a miracle child.
“When they adopted Mackie she was 31/2 years old but weighed only 12.1 pounds,” JoAnn King, a spokeswoman for Methodist Healthcare, said in an email.
Born to a prostitute and alcoholic, Mackie also has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
“When her mother gave birth to her, she put her in a closet to die,” King said. “But neighbors heard noises and thought maybe a cat was stuck in the closet.”
She was found three days later.
“It also appears surgery was done on Mackie,” King said, noting the scar on her chest. “No one would tell the Barnetts about the surgery or scar.”
Had they not been adopted, all three children from that country would have been placed in a mental institution by age 4.
“Socially, they are unaccepted,” said Terri Mauldin, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas, which serves 900 families with in the San Antonio area. “They're considered inhuman.”
The Barnetts are soundly anti-abortion.
“Here's where I have to get on my soapbox,” Stephanie Barnett said, then added, through tears, “In the United States, 90 percent of women have abortions when they find out (about a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis). ... I have four children not worth life?”
Mauldin said the 90 percent statistic was true several years ago. Today, through education and awareness, it's down to 70 percent.
David Barnett wants people considering adoption of special-needs kids to know that children with Down syndrome are “regular kids.”
“Sure, your life changes,” Stephanie Barnett said. “But it will change with any child. We've been living in a Downs' world for 41/2 years now. We have become better human beings in the last 41/2 years than in our entire lives.”
Mauldin, the mother of a Down child, added those children can grow to hold jobs, learn in school and be successful.
They also fill a role society desperately needs, she said.
“They're nonjudgmental. They don't hold a grudge. They're kind to everyone. They are exactly what we as humans should be.”

Read more:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

top Down Syndrome Daily posts of 2012

Top DSD posts of 2012 as determined by views:

1. iPad, iPod, iPhone apps for children with Down syndrome 
     Also check out the new Apps tab on the DSD homepage

2. Kelle Hampton on the Today Show 4/11/2012

4. 10 years after 9/11, a dad’s love triumphs over terror

5. validating statistics regarding aborted pregnancies with a Down syndrome diagnosis

6. Ad Campaign Casting Call for Infantino and Step 2

7. Down syndrome wrongful birth lawsuit and the $3 million award

8. Sarah Gordy plays Lady Pamela Holland on “Upstairs Downstairs”

9. Princess Diana's goddaughter who has Down syndrome ‘When will I be normal?’

10. 2012 World Down Syndrome Day Conference UN Headquarters NY

Babies with Down Syndrome Living Longer, But Disparities Still Seen with Black Infants

The occurrence of Down syndrome and the number of fatalities related to the condition have decreased among American children, according to a new study. However, Black children with Down syndrome remain twice as likely to die.

A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics tracked 16,506 infants, born between 1983 and 2003 in 10 different sections of the country. Researchers found that survival rates in the first month of life have remained relatively steady, but the rates of survival to ages 1, 5, and 20 have all increased.

However, a disparity remains between survival rates of White and Black children with Down syndrome.

“The survival of children born with [Down syndrome] has improved and racial disparities in infant survival have narrowed,” said the report, published in December. “However, compared with non-Hispanic White children, non-Hispanic Black children have lower survival beyond infancy.”

According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American infants with Down syndrome are twice as likely to succumb to complications related to the condition.

Children born at 3.3 pounds or less, which can occur naturally or as a result of smoking while pregnant, are 24 times more likely to die.

Heart health also plays a major part in survival rate, according to the Pediatrics report.

“Congenital heart defects are a significant risk factor for mortality through age twenty,” the study found, putting the increased risk at five times that seen with children born without the condition.

Humans typically have two sets of 23 chromosomes, or a total of 46 gene pockets that control development both inside and outside of the womb, according to the CDC. 

Children with Down syndrome, however, have a total of three copies of the chromosome 21, which can affect how a child develops mentally and physically. Roughly one infant out of every 700 born will have Down syndrome.

While there is no way to prevent the development of Down syndrome, having a baby after age 35 dramatically increases the risk of giving birth to an infant with the condition, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization strongly recommends that every pregnant woman make use of the tests available to determine risk of the syndrome and other chromosomal disorders, no matter what their age. The tests include ultrasounds should be taken within the first 20 weeks of every pregnancy.

According to the organization, blood tests and specific ultrasounds can show doctors early warning signs for Down syndrome by getting accurate readings on the “thickness of the neck and back area,” one indicator of the presence of the condition.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

People with down syndrome go straight to heaven, says PM's wife

from Hurriyet Daily News:

Istanbul - Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's wife Emine Erdoğan attended a meeting 12/4/12 organized for people with down syndrome by the Transportation, Marine and Communication Ministry in the capital of Ankara, the daily Radikal has reported.

Emine Erdoğan told reporters that she had a relative who had down syndrome.

"I had a close relative who had down syndrome. His name was Hayrettin. He was the mascot of the family. We loved him so much. The Prime Minister loved him very much too. He died a few years ago." she said.
"I wish all disabled people had down syndrome. Because, if I'm right, they are going to go directly to heaven after death according to Islam. I hope we will go to heaven too, for loving these people," she added. The meeting was aimed at presenting the Ministry's assistance project for people with down syndrome. Turkish Transport Minister Binali Yıldırım and Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin also attended the ceremony.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Camp PALS 2013!

from Camp PALS:

PALS was founded in 2004 by three then-high school-aged students, Jason Toff and Josh Stein, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Jenni Newbury, a sibling and advocate from Hillsborough, New Jersey. The Program was conceived as an extension of a social integration club that Jason and Josh had started at their high school. For its first summer, Camp PALS welcomed a group of 16 individuals with Down syndrome and 16 counselors to Cabrini College for a week of fun and friends.
Over the past nine summers, the organization has grown annually, hosting over 280 campers and counselors in 2012. Last summer, PALS welcomed a new Program: Camp PALS San Francisco. This sparked a new era of PALS Programs in cities across the country. This summer, look for Camp PALS programs in Chicago, Princeton & Georgetown!

The PALS Organization aims to offer young adults with Down syndrome the best experience of their year while providing a variety of new opportunities, exciting activities, and a chance to become more independent. We strive to create an impassioned community: campers, counselors, parents, and friends who encourage each other and grow together. We also attempt to make a meaningful impact in the Down syndrome community at large (see our values).

Dates & Location
  • Camp PALS 2013 will take place from June 16-22 at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania. Camper applications will go online right here on January 1, 2013. Check for more updates!
  • Camp PALS is open to young adults with Down syndrome between the ages of 12-18. Each camper is paired one-to-one with a similarly-aged counselor. Applicants should be ready to thrive in an active residential environment. They should need minimal help with hygiene and be able to work well in groups.
  • Applications for Camp PALS 2013 will be available on January 1, 2013. Please email with any questions.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Down Syndrome Resources

The National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Down Syndrome Resources at the University of Kentucky's Human Development Institute oversees three medically reviewed programs that complement each other in providing important resources and information for new and expectant parents learning about a diagnosis of Down syndrome: Brighter Tomorrows, Lettercase, and Down Syndrome Pregnancy. These programs also offer valuable resources for medical professionals delivering those diagnoses.
The National Center provides this clearinghouse of professionally recommended resources so that medical practitioners, expectant parents, and new parents have access to accurate, up-to-date, and balanced information about Down syndrome. The activities of the National Center include the dissemination of free resources to medical providers and their patients; the development of new materials; and national medical outreach through journal publications and presentations at medical conferences.
The National Center for Prenatal and Postnatal Down Syndrome Resources relies on donations to continue providing free support and resources to new and expectant parents and medical providers. You can make an online donation by check or credit card, and you will be directed to the University of Kentucky Office of Development. All donations are tax-deductible and receive an acknowledgement letter, which also serves for tax purposes. Please consider donating today.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

River Hill cheerleader gets birthday wish

by Brandon Hopp from the Baltimore Sun:
Under the bright lights of M&T Bank Stadium, River Hill cheerleader Corissa Anderson got to celebrate a magical birthday.
Anderson, who has Down syndrome, saw her wish of cheering on the field at Ravens Stadium come true. The Hawks earned the school’s fourth state football title on Nov. 29 with an 18-14 victory over Huntingtown, and Anderson was front and center to help push them to victory.
An honorary cheerleader for River Hill the past three years, Anderson was able to stand on the same field that members of her favorite professional football team plays on Sunday afternoons.
“She is very social and feeds off the excitement of the crowds,” said her father, Chris. “Being included in this way has also helped her feel more a part of her school and community, which is often the biggest challenge for individuals like Corissa who have special needs such as Down Syndrome.”
Corissa really enjoyed the bus ride from Clarksville to downtown Baltimore with the other cheerleaders, football players and band members. The team on her bus sang happy birthday and had cupcakes prior to the start of the game. 
Anderson has been cheering since elementary school for the Columbia Ravens youth team and currently cheers for the Unique All-Stars Unified team. She works out daily with her father, mother Janet and sister Jenelle. 
“Everyone has been very supportive and Corissa is very grateful to everyone at River Hill and in the community, since she loves to perform, cheer and motivate people,” Chris said. “Corissa hopes to one day work as a special education assistant helping and inspiring other kids with special needs.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from DSD!

We wish you, your family, and friends the happiest of holidays and a wonderful new year! Thank you for reading DSD. We greatly appreciate your support and hope to continue providing you updates for years to come!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Could Using An Advocate Help You Get What Your Child Needs In School?

from by Reed Martin, J.D.:
(Written for Autism/Asperger's Digest. Check out this great magazine from Future Horizons)

When a parent learns that their child has been diagnosed on the Autism spectrum they are introduced into what many have aptly called "the special education maze." We all know that parenting by itself is difficult enough but are you now expected to become a special education law expert? Federal studies have shown that most parents of children with special needs spend their energy and emotions on other problems related to their child and accept whatever they are offered by their public school system.

Our experience consulting with thousands of families in all 50 states over thirty-plus years shows that parents will eventually realize that important gains for their child are being delayed or even permanently lost by simply accepting what their public school chooses to offer and by not advocating for more.

What might be lost for the child? The Congress established four educational goals for our children in 1990 in the Americans with Disabilities Act, which were repeated in the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504): (1) to get as close as possible to being able to live independently by the time they exit high school, (2) to learn work skills that make them as employable as possible, (3) to learn how to acquire further education and training beyond high school if possible, and (4) to learn how to gain access to recreation and leisure in the community in which they live.

Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have recognized that the system works only if there is effective advocacy for the individual child. In several sections of the IDEA, discussed below, Congress recognized that parents need the assistance of advocates. The Supreme Court ruled in their first special education decision that "Congress sought to protect individual children by providing for parental involvement.. " and by emphasizing "the process of parent and child involvement... to assure that appropriate services are provided." Board of Education v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, at 208-09 (1982).

We regularly consult with parents in telephone conferences, over the internet, and through internet-based video conferences. We interact with very hard working parents, who care a great deal about their child, and have invested a lot of energy -- but who have hit a "dead end" and often do not know "the next step" to take to make their advocacy effective. Parents often report to us that they have been discouraged by being told "You are the only parent who is not satisfied with our program" or "The law will not allow us to do what you are asking."

For that very reason, whatever step in the process the parent is in, we urge that they consult someone who has been through it before. Join a disability group. Consult an advocate. Learn from others. Share strategies. Keep from burning out. Celebrate each others' victories. You will undoubtedly find someone who has wrestled with a school district on the same issue you are now pursuing. You can learn invaluable information from them and they might join you as an advocate for your child. You will learn that you are not the only parent who is not satisfied and that the law might require the school to do precisely what the school is refusing to do.

Who can be a parent Advocate? There are no real standards at this time. The IDEA statute refers to "individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child." You need someone you can trust. Someone who truly cares, but who can give you an objective view of your situation. Parents will tell us they want to go to court immediately because a teacher said their child was "a waste of their time and that they did not go to college to teach children like that." An objective advocate will probably suggest that the parent spend their time instead on nailing down a really good evaluation of the child so that they can get an IEP that will direct that teacher in writing to do exactly what they need to do for your child.

A first step is, with the advocate's help, to get the written statements of the parent's and child's rights under the procedures that govern the IDEA, Section 504 and the ADA. Once you get those statements, an advocate who has been through this before can help interpret them. If your school district and State education agency fail to get you the required statements, an advocate can help you write a letter of complaint which lets the school know that you will not accept violations of the law.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Family says son with Down Syndrome struck, pepper-sprayed by deputy

from Jennifer Jensen from ABC 10 News:

A North County family contacted 10News saying they are outraged after their developmentally disabled son was beaten and pepper sprayed by a Sheriff's deputy.
21-year-old Antonio Martinez was walking to his family's bakery in Vista, just before 8 p.m., when his night took a terrifying turn.
10News was there as the scratches on his face and bruises on his arms were still fresh.  They were the painful reminders of what happened to him Tuesday night in Vista.
“He got pepper-sprayed so he's covering his eyes the cop kept saying, ‘get on the floor,’” said witness Melissa Mejia. “He was already on the floor.”
Mejia was working in her family's shop nearby when she heard the commotion.
“He was lying down and the officer had the baton. He kicked him a couple times, like hard,” she added.
Mejia then ran to the bakery and got his older sisters and yelled at the deputy to stop.
“He has Down Syndrome. Stop you know, it’s wrong,” she said she yelled. “He wouldn’t stop, he kept going.”
Nearby, Martinez was visibly upset hearing this and reliving what was being told to 10News.
His father Francisco Martinez showed us the bruises where his son was hit.
10News was there as Sheriff's Department Captain Joe Rodi visited the family after the incident.
“We made a mistake here,” he told 10News.
Rodi said deputies were looking for a man in the area, possibly involved in a domestic violence dispute, when they came across Antonio Martinez.
“As the gentleman walked by, he covered his head with the hood of his sweatshirt,” said Rodi.  “Trying to conceal his identity.”
It was an act which raised the deputy’s suspicion.
When Antonio Martinez wouldn't stop walking away as the deputy called out to him, the deputy took matters into his own hands.
“He pepper sprayed him,”  Rodi said.  “When that wasn’t effective, he hit him with a baton, which put him on the ground, and then a couple more strikes to get his hands free. So they could hand cuff him.”
They got him in the patrol car and realized he had Down Syndrome.
The deputy then drove him to the hospital.
“Why the use of force?,” asked 10News reporter Jennifer Jensen.
“Once he tried to contact the guy again he didn’t know who he was, he didn’t know if he was involved in that domestic violence,” Rodi said.
The Martinez family said they have already contacted an attorney.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Russia's lower house approves bill to ban U.S. adoption

from CNN:
Lawmakers in Moscow moved to ban Americans from adopting Russian children Friday, as they passed a bill that imposes a series of sanctions on U.S. interests, state media reported.
Russia is one of the top sources of international adoptions to the United States.
The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, adopted the bill on its third reading, the state-run RAPSI news agency reported.
The measure will now move to the Federation Council and, if approved there, will go to President Vladimir Putin to be signed into law, the news agency said.
The legislation could affect hundreds of American families seeking to adopt Russian children.
It also bars any political activities by nongovernmental organizations receiving funding from the United States, if such activities may affect Russian interests, the news agency said, and imposes sanctions against U.S. officials thought to have violated human rights.
The move by Russian politicians is widely seen as retaliation to a law that U.S. President Barack Obama signed on December 14. That bill, called the Magnitsky Act, imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia. It was criticized by Russian leaders.
The U.S. act is named after a Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky who uncovered the largest tax fraud in the country's history in the form of rebates claimed by government officials who stole money from the state. After Magnitsky died in a Moscow detention center in 2009, his name became the basis of Washington's list of Russian officials who were involved in the tax fraud and in the deceased lawyer's detention.
The bill passed by the State Duma is named in turn after Dima Yakovlev, a 2-year-old boy who died while in the care of a U.S. adoptive family, RAPSI said.
Its implementation would nullify an agreement between the United States and Russia, in which the countries agreed to additional safeguards to protect children and parties involved in intercountry adoptions.
From 1999 to 2011, there were 45,112 adoptions to the United States from Russia, second to only China, according to the U.S. State Department statistics. However, the number of adoptions from Russia has waned in recent years after a peak in 2005.
Backers of the Russian bill said American adoptive parents have been abusive, citing 19 deaths of Russian children by their foster parents since the 1990s, according to local media.
In 2010, an American woman sent her adopted son back to Russia, saying that the then-7-year-old boy had violent episodes that made the family fear for its safety.
Amnesty International called Thursday on Russian lawmakers to reject a measure it said would "have a chilling effect on human rights defenders and civil society," as well as ending U.S. adoptions.
"There is a huge risk that the vaguely worded provisions in this bill will be used to clamp down on government critics and exposers of abuses. Indeed this would appear to be its real purpose," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia program director.
"This bill is frankly a childish response to the Magnitsky Act. The Duma should be focusing its efforts on how it can strengthen Russian civil society and not weaken it."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Garrett Holeve, an MMA Fighter With Down Syndrome, Is on His Way to Changing the Sport

By Chris Sweeney from the Broward Palm Beach Times:

"I'm dangerous," 23-year-old Garrett Holeve warns as he bounces around a bedroom in his parents' suburban, single-story house, throwing punches and kicks. A pungent combination of protein-powered farts, dirty laundry, and ball sweat permeates the air.
"I'll hurt a guy real bad," Garrett brags. "I'll be covered in too much blood, and I'll keep hurting him. Kick him in the mouth so hard the mouth guard flies out."
The words don't roll off his tongue. They bunch up in his throat and pour out in a slurred manner that's difficult to understand. This is just one of the ways Garrett's Down syndrome manifests itself.
"Oh, umm," he stammers frequently when looking for an answer. "Finding a fight takes time. My friend Chris is going to get me a fight."
He carries other telltale physical characteristics of the genetic condition: small ears that look like half-hearts, almond-shaped eyes, wide hands with short fingers, and a small, round mouth. Further affecting his health is rheumatoid arthritis that afflicts his right knee.
Garrett stands five feet tall and weighs 136 pounds. But he can drop to 125 pounds in a few days to make weight for his beloved sport, mixed martial arts. His black wifebeater reveals the tattoo of a black Punisher skull engulfed in black flames near his left shoulder. His neck and arms are solid muscle, large enough to make clear that his fists could permanently alter the alignment of an opponent's nose.
Here, in a modest home in one of Cooper City's gated communities, the floor is littered with kettlebells, a curl bar, a medicine ball, dumbbells, and two towel-covered milk crates that serve as makeshift pushup stands. Framed on the wall is the white tape in which MMA megastar Tito Ortiz wrapped his wrists for a recent Las Vegas fight. There's a poster of sharks, pictures of a half-dozen other professional fighters, and some torn-out pages of a Hooter's calendar featuring bikini-clad butts.
Playing on the flat-screen TV set is a DVD of Garrett's first exhibition bout earlier this year against a guy named Antonio Martin at Seminole Immokalee Casino. The crowd roars when Garrett throws a spinning backfist, but back in his room, the young man isn't paying attention. He's kneeing an imaginary opponent in the face before dropping to his knees to pound the thin, smelly air into submission. He then lifts his shirt and flexes his abs, a solid undefined wall of muscle padded by pasty white flesh. "This is the new me," he says enthusiastically.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

UKIP suspends Down syndrome abortion call candidate

from BBC News:
The party said Geoffrey Clark, who is standing for Kent County Council, would not be a UKIP councillor if elected.
Mr Clark said on his website he did not endorse the abortion idea but suggested it to cut the national debt.
Learning disability charity Mencap said it was disgusted and horrified at Mr Clark's personal manifesto.
UKIP said Thursday's ballot paper would still list him as its candidate but, pending an investigation, he would not be a UKIP councillor.
Chartered accountant Mr Clark, 66, who is also standing for Meopham North ward on Gravesham Borough Council in Thursday's by-election, says on his website his comments are personal and do not reflect UKIP policy.
He calls for a national debate and an urgent government review of the NHS, which he says "risks becoming unaffordable in the future".
The review should look at "compulsory abortion when the foetus is detected as having Down's, spina bifida or similar syndrome which, if it is born, could render the child a burden on the state as well as on the family".
He says the review should also look at medical treatment for those aged over 80, "which is disproportionately costly to the NHS" and might also include "legalising euthanasia and giving free euthanasia advice to all folk over 80".
He told the BBC: "I don't intend to offend.
"What I am trying to do is to provoke a debate in the nation because I am so disenchanted with our politicians."
'Forced eugenics'
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, said: "Much has been written about the Paralympics this summer changing attitudes towards disabled people for the better.
"Yet in the very same year, a council candidate has proposed forced eugenics against disabled people.
"It is abhorrent that Geoffrey Clark sees disabled people solely as a burden when people with a learning disability lead full lives and make valuable contributions to their communities and families.
"We question if he is fit for public office."
Mr Clark, who describes himself as a member of Meopham Parochial Church Council, Rotary International, the Royal British Legion and the Youth Hostels Association, says population, immigration and threats to the green belt are linked issues close to his heart.
If elected, he promises to promote the Christian ethic and British culture, roll back Islam, contain UK population growth and restrict immigration.
A UKIP spokesman said the party rejected Mr Clark's "abhorrent" views.
"The party was not aware of these views when it allowed him to stand under our name," he said.
"Mr Clark has been formally suspended as a UKIP candidate and will not be standing for the party again.
"We would like to apologise to anyone who has suffered distress as a result of this matter."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Call-In Day Wednesday, December 19th!

Call-In Day Wednesday, December 19th!

NDSC Day on the Hill 
from the NDSC:

The negotiations that are currently taking place between President Obama and Speaker of the House Boehner are critical to the future of individuals with Down syndrome and other disabilities. We rely on important programs, from education to supports to live in the community, that are directly affected by these negotiations. These programs are at risk.
The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a national consortium of over 100 disability organizations, is holding a call-in day on Wednesday, December 19th. NDSC is an active member of this Consortium. Please take a few minutes and call your Senators and Congressional Representatives with the message below.

"I want to make sure you know the importance of programs such as special education, early intervention and preschool services, employment supports, health insurance, community living supports, and housing for children and adults with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Many of these programs are funded by Medicaid and Medicare, and other sources that are at risk during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Please make sure that funding is protected and programs remain strong in the coming deficit reduction debate.

I urge you to preserve critical funding for the life-changing programs that support families with disabilities, and ask that you respond to my message when it's received."

It is easy to find your elected representatives by visiting this website:

Parents and self-advocates showed their strength at the NDSC's Day on the Hill in July, 2012. Let's keep that going!

Children’s Book "Stella and the Little Tree" Celebrates an Austin Holiday Tradition to Raise Money for the DSRTF

from PR Web:
Stella and the Little Tree celebrates Austin’s unique holiday tradition of decorating trees along Highway 360, with the goal of raising money for Down syndrome research. The book tells the story of a little tree that is left undecorated year after year, while the other trees receive abundant ornamentation, until a little girl named Stella picks him to decorate.
The book was written by local Marilyn Cole, a retired elementary school teacher, and illustrated by local Angela Karam, a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin. The lovable story is brilliantly illustrated with bright colors and endearing images. Ms. Karam worked to ensure that the characteristics of Austin, Texas were displayed through the illustrations. “My goal was to capture the unique beauty of the Texas Hill Country and its notable cedar trees in my illustrations. I wanted everyone to see how distinctive our Hill Country is and how festive it looks when people decorate the trees along the side of the road.”
The project was funded and initiated by Allie McCann, whose daughter Stella has Down syndrome. The character in the book is based on three year-old Stella, who finds a little, neglected tree by the side of the road to decorate. Mrs. McCann launched the project as a way to raise money for Down syndrome Research. At this point, all profits will go directly to the Down Syndrome Research Foundation, which grants money to researchers that are looking for treatments to help Down syndrome. “I chose the Down Syndrome Research Treatment Foundation because research for Down syndrome is disproportionately underfunded compared to other conditions and research could lead to a 15% increase in cognition, which could make a huge difference in the life of someone with Down syndrome,” explained Mrs. McCann.
The three ladies are pleased to launch the book officially on December 9th, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Austin Children’s Museum on 2nd and Colorado. The book is available for sale through and via

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Apple’s Accessibility Options Improve Lives

by Juli from Pad Gadget:
Apple is known for having some of the most robust and advanced accessibility options on its iDevices, allowing people with vision, motor, and hearing impairments to have full access to the iPad and the iPhone.
For example, with VoiceOver options people with vision impairments can have everything on the screen read aloud, which lets them access a range of different apps and features on iDevices.

One man, David Woodbridge, uses Apple’s accessibility options with great success. Woodbridge, who has been blind since he was a teenager, owns several different Apple devices, including iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks. Woodbridge was interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald, where he detailed his life with Apple’s products.
VoiceOver is the main feature that allows Woodbridge to use his iDevices to run a successful business and to interact with his wife and children. Here’s what Woodbridge has to say about the feature:
“With VoiceOver I can support not only myself but also my boys and my wife. I press the Home button on the iPhone three times to turn VoiceOver on or off when I need to help them. For example, if my wife gets an SMS when she is driving I can call up VoiceOver on her iPhone to read the message to her and we can reply using Siri, which is one of the great iOS developments, getting better all the time.
Or, say an app on one of the iPads is not working properly. I use VoiceOver to shut the app down from App Switcher, relaunch it and triple-click to hand the iPad back with the app running as good as new.’’
He goes on to describe how he operates his Apple TV with VoiceOver and Apple’s Remote app, and explains that one of his favorite apps is Light Detector, which tells him if all of the lights in the house are off.
There are actually hundreds of apps designed for people with disabilities in the App Store, which is yet another reason why Apple has a leg up on the competition when it comes to accessibility.
Woodbridge is certainly not alone. Just a look at a few of his favorite apps, including the aforementioned Light Detector, Fleksy, a typing assistant, and the Looktel Money Reader, used for identifying money, reveal quite a few positive reviews from other folks with visual impairments.
Even I had the chance to explore Apple’s accessibility options when I had eye surgery two months ago. I couldn’t read my phone or my iPad for several days, but both devices were able to read to me, which was a total lifesaver.
Kudos to Apple for its continued dedication to accessibility – the company rarely gets enough recognition for all that it does to help disabled users – and kudos to Woodbridge, a man who makes the most out of the technology at his fingertips.