Autism Sensory Treatment
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Please support Autism Sensory Advocacy by Autism Candles!
Please sign this petition to alert the State of California Government, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the Redwood Coast Regional Center about autism sensory treatment. This petition asks the Redwood Coast Regional Center (RCRC) and the Regional Centers of California to develop policy which follows current state laws about treatments for developmental disabilities, but in context to autism sensory needs. Asking individuals with autism to go to their doctors to have their toe nails removed, which is an invasive treatment, in order to not provide sensible and law abiding behavioral and or occupational therapy to children and adults with autism for sensory integration needs is barbaric. Thank you to all the supporters!
In the 40’s and 50’s, the commonly accepted treatment for people with developmental disabilities was a lobotomy, an invasive procedure on the brain that, in all actuality, cured no one. To this day, the very word lobotomy sends shivers down the spine, but are such needless procedures happening again, this time with the treatment of sensory overload?
Sensory overload issues are a pretty standard problem in the autism community. One such area in which these problems tend to occur is in the feet, primarily the toes. In fact, Lynne Page, a California Disability Rights Lawyer, states, “I was in the audience for an on-line training yesterday by Dr. Sally Rogers, one of the psychiatrists involved in the production of the DSM-V. She mentioned there is now evidence that sensory sensitivity may be the first sign that a baby is autistic. ...and is a primary identifier for those with autism.” Left untreated, sensory overload can lead to more serious medical issues, such as infection and/or extreme discomfort, but behavioral and/or occupational therapies have been shown to be an effective treatment for this symptom; reducing sensory overload issues in people with autism. However, the Redwood Coast Regional Center (RCRC) has taken a different approach to this issue.
As divulged to Nathan Young, a self-Advocate with autism, in an Individual Program Plan (IPP) meeting, RCRC’s current answer to this issue calls for the actual removal of portions of the toes, presumably to lower the cost of care in response to mandated budget cuts. Granted, this treatment does not seem as terrifying as having a lobotomy, but it is, similarly, a needlessly invasive procedure. Such radical procedures can actually increase sensory difficulties. The toenails provide a natural protection to the toe, and tend to prevent exposure to sensory overload in that general area. Thus, the removal of this natural barrier will increase overall reactivity to sensory issues.
When asked if there was an existing plan for sensory integration needs for feet, a contact within RCRC stated, “No. The board needs to develop a policy,” and goes on to say that she is definitely open to developing a policy for sensory difficulties in autism, including those in the foot and toe region, however, Young believes her hands are currently tied. She suggested that one would need to go through the Board of Directors, Regional Center Management, and possibly other legislative components to develop a new policy. A lot of legislation specifies a right to treatment, a right to care, a right to freedom from harm, and a right to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures, but policy does not specify regions like the feet and toes. Guidelines for implementing policy may be more specific than the law; allowing procedures, like those mentioned above, to slip through loopholes and be put into action -- even though they are both invasive and unnecessary. Clay Jones, the Executive director of RCRC, could introduce a new policy to the board that could become a major part of the solution to this problem.
Congressman Jared Huffman’s office and the Area One Board of California are further looking into the matter. According to the Department of Justice, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead prescribe, “A state’s obligations under the ADA are independent from the requirements of the Medicaid program,” providing services beyond what policy currently provides with the Medicaid funding given to RCRC. Under the Lanterman Act, RCRC is most of Northern California’s mandated entity charged with helping individuals with developmental disabilities deal with their sensory difficulties, and is, thus, responsible for providing care solutions. But should their current treatment really be a viable option?
Do we, as a people, want to get behind something so invasive and potentially harmful? Will we, as a people, allow this procedure to become the next lobotomy? Or will we, as a people, rise up and make the necessary changes to give people with autism and other developmental disabilities the right to treatment, the right to care, the right to freedom from harm, and the right to avoid unnecessary invasive procedures.
For more information about Autism Candles Lighting the Path Advocacy, contact Compassionate Integrations.
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