The North Dakota Legislature is entering what could be considered the final stretch of the Interim session, the two years between the conventional 80 day legislative sessions. The interim is a time for legislators to take up an issue facing North Dakota residents, study the causes, and find potential solutions. Though every committee is vitally important, Freedom Resource Center has closely followed the work of the Human Services Committee.

The Human Services Committee has been assigned three major studies including: Behavioral Health, Home and Community Based Services, and Traumatic Brain Injury. All three of these studies greatly impact people with disabilities living within the state.

Today we will update one of those studies and over the next couple of weeks update you on the others.

Behavioral Health

Services for behavioral health have taken the spotlight across the country as of late and have many people wondering why we treat this type of health care different from any other type of care. At Freedom, we’ve heard the outcry from people in desperate need of behavioral health care professionals. Unfortunately, they are placed on a wait list for services because of a lack of work force, payment demands, and few options. In some cases, people aren’t able to access services unless they are about to inflict harm on others or to themselves.

The Legislature hired an independent consultant to review the state’s status and provide suggestions for improvement.

Early suggestions are:

  1. Reevaluate board requirements for health care professionals. According to the consultant, ND has higher and, at times unnecessary, requirements than other states which has deterred professional development in behavioral health providers.
  2. Utilize telehealth technology to assist in rural settings. North Dakota is very rural yet through advanced technology we can have people in need of care visit face to face with a professional outside of their community.
  3. Review the state’s essential health benefits plan as required under the Affordable Care Act. The Legislature chose an essential health benefit plan with fewer required benefits than most other states. In what is perhaps an unintended consequence, this created another barrier for behavioral health care access in the state. The consultant stated, “While other states used the essential health benefit plan to increase access to behavioral health, North Dakota did not.” The legislature may need to take a look at adding benefits to the plan and require third party payers to cover behavioral health care access.

Next week: Home and Community Based Services.

The width of this door in a public facility is too narrow for people with mobility devices to pass through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the greatest gifts people can give is their time. Freedom would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who volunteer to serve on our Board, mentor others, help with mailings, and keep our offices running smoothly. We could not do it without them.

 

 

 

(Information from Dan Barry, The New York Times)

The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into the nation’s first statewide settlement agreement vindicating the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.

The agreement with the State of Rhode Island will resolve violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for approximately 3,250 Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  This first-of-its-kind statewide agreement addresses the rights of people with disabilities to receive state-funded employment and daytime services in integrated settings, such as supported employment and integrated day services, rather than in segregated sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs with only other people with disabilities.  The agreement also provides relief to transition-age youth at risk of segregation in facility-based programs.  Under the agreement, transition-age youth will have access to a wide array of transition, vocational rehabilitation, and supported employment services intended to lead to integrated employment outcomes after they leave secondary school.  The parties have jointly filed the settlement in federal district court and have requested that it be entered as a court-enforceable Consent Decree.

Under the agreement, Rhode Island — which federal officials praised for recognizing and embracing the need for reform — has 10 years to do the following to resolve violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act:

■ Help state residents with developmental disabilities obtain typical jobs in the community that pay at least the minimum wage and offer the maximum number of hours consistent with the employee’s abilities and preferences;

■ Provide support for nonwork activities in the mainstream, including community centers, libraries, and recreational and educational facilities;

■ Prepare high school-age students with developmental disabilities for competitive jobs in the community through internships and mentoring programs, among other efforts;

■ Redirect the “significant” public funds that are used to support segregated settings toward encouraging services in integrated settings.

In other words: inclusion, rather than exclusion, as upheld by the 1999 Supreme Court case known as Olmstead v. L.C., in which the court determined that the unjustified segregation of people with disabilities constituted discrimination.

For more general information about the Justice Department’s ADA Olmstead enforcement efforts, visit the Civil Rights Division’s Olmstead: Community Integration for Everyone website.   To find out more about the ADA, visit Division’s ADA.gov website or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD).

Note:  Federal and state officials said they had received a positive response from businesses to the reforms. They said that the U.S. Business Leadership Network, a network of Fortune 500 companies, and Walgreen’s would sponsor a business summit meeting in Rhode Island in June to explore ways to expand the training and employment of people with development disabilities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The restaurant chain Chili’s said that it canceled a fundraiser with the National Autism Association (NAA) because of customer feedback.  The Chili’s spokeswoman would not say whether the feedback had anything to do with the NAA’s website promoting the view of some parents that autism is sometimes caused by vaccinations.

“While we remain committed to supporting the children and families affected by autism, we canceled Monday’s Give Back Event based on the feedback we heard from our guests,” wrote a spokeswoman for Chili’s Grill & Bar Restaurant.  The Chili’s spokeswoman said that the NAA was originally selected for the fundraiser “based on the percentage of donations that would go directly to providing financial assistance to families and supporting programs that aid the development and safety of children with autism.”

Wendy Fournier, president of NAA, said, “It was obvious that the comments [Chili's was] getting were a fight about vaccines. Everybody was all heated up and wanting to boycott. It was bullying. It was orchestrated by a small number of people who wanted to deny assistance to families that we serve through our program.”

Chili’s April 4 statement (Chili’s Facebook page)

At Chili’s Grill & Bar, we’re about making every guest feel special and pride ourselves in giving back to our communities. When choosing a charitable partner for our Give Back Events, both locally and nationally, we are committed to supporting organizations dedicated to helping children and their families.

The intent of our 4/7 National Give Back Event is not to express a view on this matter, but rather to support the families affected by autism. Our choice to partner with the National Autism Association was based on the percentage of donations that would go directly to providing financial assistance to families and supporting programs that aid the development and safety of children with autism. We sincerely appreciate all of the feedback we’ve heard on this topic.

Chili’s April 6 statement (Chili’s Facebook page)

Chili’s is committed to giving back to the communities in which our guests live and work through local and national Give Back Events. While we remain committed to supporting the children and families affected by autism, we are canceling Monday’s Give Back Event based on the feedback we heard from our guests.

We believe autism awareness continues to be an important cause to our guests and team members, and we will find another way to support this worthy effort in the future with again our sole intention being to help families affected by autism. At Chili’s, we want to make every guest feel special and we thank all of our loyal guests for your thoughtful questions and comments.

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you reach for the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in broad terms means an unusually severe sensitivity or allergy-like reaction to many different kinds of pollutants including solvents, perfumes, petrol, diesel, smoke, “chemicals” in general and often encompasses problems with regard to pollen, house dust mites, and pet fur and dander.

Multiple chemical sensitivity unlike true allergies – where the underlying mechanisms of the problem are relatively well understood widely accepted, is generally regarded as “idiopathic” – meaning that it has no known mechanism of causation and its processes are not fully understood.  The problem is even more difficult because MCS varies from one person to the next and this often it difficult to address in homes, at the workplace, and receive effective medical treatment

Some individuals with MCS have relatively mild cases, however, for many people with MCS the condition is quite debilitating, even life-threatening.  It can make it very difficult for people to maintain their social life, to keep working, or even find a place to live.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is considered a disability under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disability Act.

http://www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org/

http://www.chemicalsensitivityfoundation.org/pdf/gibson-multiple-chemical-sensitivity-survival-guide-excerpt.pdf

Motivational Monday: The choices we make

We choose everything we do, including the misery we feel. Other people can neither make us miserable nor make us happy.  We are much more in control of our lives than we realize (Dr. William Glasser.  Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom)

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you evaluate the choices you are making.

Freedom Friday: Me, disabled?

It happens more often than you’d imagine:

  • Just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire.1
  • Over 37 million Americans are classified as disabled; about 12% of the total population. More than 50% of those disabled Americans are in their working years, from 18-64.2
  • 8.8 million disabled wage earners, over 5% of U.S. workers, were receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits at the end of 2012.3
  • In December of 2012, there were over 2.5 million disabled workers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s receiving SSDI benefits. 3

Chances of becoming disabled:

The following statistics come from CDA’s PDQ disability risk calculator:4

  • A typical female, age 35, 5’4″, 125 pounds, non-smoker, who works mostly an office job, with some outdoor physical responsibilities, and who leads a healthy lifestyle has the following risks:
    • A 24% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during her working career;
      • with a 38% chance that the disability would last 5 years or longer,
      • and with the average disability for someone like her lasting 82 months.
  • If this same person used tobacco and weighed 160 pounds, the risk would increase to a 41% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer.
  • A typical male, age 35, 5’10″, 170 pounds, non-smoker, who works an office job, with some outdoor physical responsibilities, and who leads a healthy lifestyle has the following risks:
    • A 21% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer during his working career;
      • with a 38% chance that the disability would last 5 years or longer,
      • and with the average disability for someone like him lasting 82 months.
      • If this same person used tobacco and weighed 210 pounds, the risk would increase to a 45% chance of becoming disabled for 3 months or longer.

A sample of factors that increase the risk of disability: Excess body weight, tobacco use, high risk activities or behaviors, chronic conditions such as; diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, anxiety or depression, frequent alcohol consumption or substance abuse.

A sample of factors that decrease the risk of disability: Maintaining a healthy body weight, no tobacco use, healthy diet and sleep habits, regular exercise, moderate to no alcohol consumption, avoidance of high risk behaviors including substance abuse, maintaining a healthy stress level, and effective treatment of chronic health conditions.

To calculate your own Personal Disability Quotient (PDQ), go to:

http://www.whatsmypdq.org

To learn more about risk factors and ways to help reduce your risk, go to:

http://www.disabilitycanhappen.org/reducing_chances

Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. (Theodore Roosevelt)

Influence is not about position.  It is not about all the articles, research, or books that you have read.  It’s about caring for other people and adding value to them.

Zig Ziglar summed it up nicely when he said, “You can have what you want if you will help enough other people get what they want”. A lot of people don’t understand that.

Wishing you peace and wellbeing as you evaluate what you need to change, in your current thinking and actions, that will add value to others.