72 petitions

This petition won 1 week ago

Petition to NYC Department of Education

End Discrimination of Autistic Kids in District 30

The NYC DOE has denied parents an ASD Nest program for middle school in District 30, claiming that there is no demand for such a program in the district. ASD Nest is an inclusive classroom model where children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learn alongside typically developing peers.  An ASD Nest middle school classroom requires only 5 students with autism and offers 20 seats to general education students. The NYC DOE’s position that there is no demand for an ASD Nest middle school is an outright lie. There is a waitlist beyond the 30 ASD Nest seats in District 30's elementary program.  Kids are already being placed in ASD Nest elementary programs outside the district due to lack of available Nest seats in District 30. National statistics' claim that approximately 1.5% of all children have ASD. Out of 3,000 rising 6th graders in District 30, there are many rising 6th graders who would be potential candidates for ASD Nest beyond the waitlist. The NYC DOE knows that there is a demand for an ASD Nest middle school program in District 30 and is refusing to put one in District 30. Instead, while parents of general education students get to choose from all of the middle school options within District 30, parents of students with autism who live in District 30 have no options to continue the ASD Nest program in District 30. This directly contradicts section 200.13 of the Regulations from the NY State Commissioner of Education, stating “all school districts are required to furnish appropriate educational programs for students with autism from the date they become eligible for a free appropriate public education until they obtain a high school diploma.” Moreover, when District 30 parents found a middle school interested and willing to host the ASD Nest program, Superintendent Philip Composto rejected the request. Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced in her Equity and Excellence for All, a plan to bring greater diversity to the city’s schools, including recommending increased access to middle schools for students with disabilities. Superintendent Composto and the NYC DOE’s decision to ignore the demand in District 30 breaks that promise. Only 4 middle schools offer the ASD NEST program in Queens—3 are in District 25 (East Flushing/Kew Gardens Hills) and 1 is in District 27 (Far Rockaway). District 30 ASD Nest students are facing unreasonably long commute times, often on buses without air conditioning. Groups like IncludeNYC, Parents to Improve School Transportation NYC, and Public Advocate Letitia James have well documented problems with the specialized transportation provided by the NYC Office of Pupil Transportation. Plus, buses pick up and drop off at multiple schools with multiple start/end times, requiring students to wait for other students to be picked up and dropped off at different sites while they wait in their seats. This can mean that the most vulnerable kids often spend HOURS on a bus for even the shortest ride. The funding for such long commutes could be easily used to create more local options. In District 30, when children with ASD who are able to perform with their typically developing peers academically are bussed off to another district because no program exists to support them, that is discrimination. Worse, restricting access to students with autism in this way violates the American with Disabilities Act and the 504 Rehabilitation Act. Our children deserve better. We demand that the NYC DOE place an ASD Nest program in a District 30 middle school for the 2018-2019 school year.  

District 30 Parents for ASD NEST Program Expansion
640 supporters
Started 1 week ago

Petition to Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters, Paul Mitchell, Shane Hernandez, Edward Canfield, Phil Pavlov

Fair health benefits for children with Autism

Currently the treatment for Autism is Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy (ABA). 37 states have enacted laws for ABA coverage through insurance must be provided, however there is a loophole in that law that if your employer is self-funded, they do not have to provide Autism coverage- and at an out of pocket cost of approximately 2,000/week, it is unaffordable for many families. Autism is a severe, chronic developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication difficulties, and by restrictive and repetitive behaviors. The goal of treatment is to promote the child’s social and language development and minimize behaviors that interfere with the child’s function and learning. Applied Behavioral Analysis (or ABA) is a method of treating children with Autism. Many researchers and clinicians consider it to be the most effective evidence-based therapeutic approach for children with Autism. Several studies have shown that about 50% of children who were treated with ABA before the age of 4 had significant increases in verbal ability, social functioning and increases in IQ. Also most children who received ABA therapy were eventually able to attend classes with their peers. ABA has been known as “short term expensive, but long term financially savvy” as the children treated with ABA are better able to function as teens and adults without the need for special education services. The efficacy of ABA has been widely endorsed by the governmental authorities and the medical community.  The National Institute of Mental Health states: “Among the many methods available for treatment and education of people with Autism, applied behavior analysis (ABA) has been widely accepted as an effective treatment.” In 2007 the American Academy of Pediatrics reported, “The effectiveness of ABA-based intervention in the ASD has been well documented through five decades of research by using single-subject methodology and in controlled settings of comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings. Children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior, and their outcomes have been significantly better than those of children in control groups” Michigan's state law on Autism passed in 2012. Although this state law is not enforceable on self- funded health plans, many companies are choosing to voluntarily comply with the state based aut8ism insurance reform. Companies such as Microsoft, Home Depot, GM, Ford Motor Company, Time Warner, as well as higher education institutions such as Princeton and Michigan State University have opted to provide ABA coverage in their self-funded insurance plans. Implementing autism benefits makes good financial sense for society and employers. Employees whose autistic children can benefit from ABA will be more productive, employee retention is maximized as employees will not feel the need to leave employer in search of a job with state-regulated insurance. Autistic children who are helped by ABA to achieve higher levels of functioning have lower overall health costs and need less assistance from their families. Successful early intervention for children with autism significantly reduces the future burden on taxpayers, as well as the state. Several studies of private insurance coverage for ABA and Autism therapies have projected an actual cost savings that the particular state of over a million dollars per child. Please consider signing and sharing this petition to have fair and equal access to ABA therapy for all children with Autism, they are our future generation and deserve the best start possible!  

Faith Jurges
239 supporters
Update posted 1 week ago

Petition to Bob Steinburg, Bill Cook, Roy Cooper, Walter Jones

"Kendall's Cameras" for NC Special Needs Classrooms

Our family has been fortunate to have teachers and administrators who truly care about Kendall and to these people we will be eternally grateful.  Unfortunately, we have had others who have had a negative impact on our family and will not soon be forgotten by my daughter or our family.  Below is our story. How many of you have been awakened in the middle of the night by your son or daughter?  We all have but the reason my daughter wakes every night is probably different from yours.  Anxiety is the reason my daughter is unable to sleep through the night - anxiety from experiences no child should endure.  During a 3 year span our beautiful daughter was being mistreated by the people who were supposed to be caring for her.  These same people grabbed my daughter, pushed my daughter, pulled my daughter across her classroom and humiliated her in the presence of her peers.  These same people yelled and screamed at my daughter - face to face!  They screamed for her to leave class and sent her out into the hallway alone and confused.  They intentionally agitated her by doing things they knew would upset her and trigger undesirable, uncontrollable behavior.  They once even confiscated my daughter’s shoes because they feared she “might throw them”.  Although my daughter was clearly distraught, they refused to return her shoes and placed her in a dark corner at the end of a short hallway where she could not see or be seen by any other person.  She was berated and belittled because she was unable to control herself in a large, noisy gym with children running around screaming.  My daughter has been disciplined for behavior that children without a disability are not punished for.  My daughter has been called names by a teacher and been accused of being a manipulator. Kendall has actually been admittedly mocked by a teacher on 2 different occasions. My daughter apologized to an administrator who walked off without even acknowledging my daughter and then yelled back across a hallway that she accepted her apology.  She humiliated my daughter in front of other children but also in front of other adults who never said a word in defense of my child.  Kendall has been threatened with criminal prosecution and there have been many attempts to intimidate me to make me “fall in line”.   There were some positive changes at the end of her time at school and my daughter was able to return to a new school with new teachers.  She’s was very successful in the beginning but this was short lived as the damage had already been done.  Kendall finds it difficult to trust or form any type of bond with others and although this can be attributed to autism it has become almost impossible after the trauma she has endured.  As you can imagine we were devastated and infuriated when we discovered the things that happened to our once happy child but to also know that others knew and did nothing.  They didn’t speak up or step up and in fact, we have seen people promoted, recognized and rewarded and it is inexpiable why some are even still allowed to work with children at all.  Unfortunately, this is happening across our county, our state and our country.  We need cameras in special needs classrooms to protect our children from those who do not have the necessary mind set, training or desire to truly help our children and support our families.  Families should not have to worry about whether or not our children are safe at elementary, middle and high school.  We shouldn’t have to prepare for meetings as if we are taking the bar exam.  Our children should have full access to programs that are available at school but officials keep them quiet and we have to seek out programs as they aren’t usually readily available.  When you take your child to school do you worry about an adult pushing, pulling, grabbing and screaming in our child’s face?  This is a daily concern for us. If these things were perpetrated against a non-disabled child it would be considered assault but for some reason it is acceptable treatment for our children.  This is the nightmare, the same nightmare every night, which my daughter has been unable to escape. She has been out of school for over 2 years but she is still waking me at night with the same fears and anxiety.  Please read the stories below in our update section and you will clearly see this is an ongoing problem and a few states have already implemented cameras to protect their students along with the teachers and staff who truly care about our kids. Support our efforts by signing and forwarding our petition to your friends and family.  Thank you! In 1998, the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimated that 3 individuals with special needs die every week in US schools and Institutions due to abusive practices like restraint and seclusion. The Hartford Courant, which had requested the study, concluded that the actual toll could be three to ten times higher than estimated.  

Toni Kriss
2,891 supporters
Update posted 3 weeks ago

Petition to Governor Terry McAuliffe

Decriminalize Autism and Save Drew

Our son, Drew Harrison, has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is currently serving three active years of a 50-year prison sentence. Drew’s Autism was not taken into consideration at trial or sentencing. We are petitioning Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. Drew reconnected with a woman he had dated in high school. The evening before inviting him to her apartment she shared her interest in BDSM, submissive sex. She told Drew that her boyfriend was too tired after work to please her sexually. Upon arrival she laid a blanket on the floor, she allowed him to massage her shoulders and feet, she showed him her semi-nude, erotic photos of herself and engaged in sexualized talk. In the bedroom he easily removed her shirt and pants. Drew gave the woman oral sex and put a finger in her vagina. When she told him to stop he stopped. The two of them texted and emailed back and forth hundreds of times post event. They even got together a few times. On one occasion they went to a bookstore where she pointed out an erotic BDSM book for Drew to buy. Six months after the evening in her apartment she reported to the police that the contact in her bedroom was nonconsensual. Those with ASD typically have a strike or two against them when entering a courtroom. The pace of questioning often exceeds their ability to process everything that is heard. Their high anxiety and repetitive statements can be mistaken as indicators of deception or guilt. Without an understanding of their unique way of processing information and their difficulty expressing anger appropriately a court can easily question credibility and reach a faulty conclusion.  Drew’s therapist testified that Drew has a strong desire to please, that he has learned to fake well in order to fit in. The judge interpreted this as our son’s ability to be deceitful and he used it as part of the reason for convicting Drew. He never asked the autism experts in the courtroom for clarification regarding Drew’s social and communication deficits.  In a letter presented to the judge Drew’s probation officer noted that Drew complied with all probation conditions for over two years. She stated that if this were a regular case without the appeal process she would request early release from probation. She added that Drew passed the state-issued polygraph without deception. Results were consistent with the not guilty plea Drew has maintained from the beginning.      The judge stated that he didn’t view Drew as a threat to the community or the woman. He emphasized that he was sending Drew to prison as a general deterrence to others because that is what the community would want him to do. Drew’s therapists are convinced that Drew is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. They warned the court that incarceration would be torture for our son. In prison Drew suffered a break down after abrupt medication changes and being moved from isolation into general population. To deaden his senses from loud clanging doors, the bright buzzing lights and the chatter of inmates Drew often wears ear plugs and wraps a shirt around his head. He struggles to navigate the unwritten rules of inmates. Drew lives in fear and overwhelm. He begs us, “Please get me out of here”. Prison visits are bittersweet. We are grateful to spend time with our son, but heartbroken as we see him deteriorate. We are asking Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. We ask for your support by signing this petition. My blog gives additional details and excerpts from transcripts. It shows the considerable reasonable doubt and injustice.  Thank you, Judy and John Harrison       

Judy Harrison
3,165 supporters