Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MAKE A DIFFERENCE! HELP THE SENATE PASS THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES!

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO VOTE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES!  We are in the home stretch and this is going to be the big week in Congress.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty today and now it's going to the Senate for a full vote.  2/3 of the Senate must approve it.  Please call (preferred) or email your Senators!  If you have already done it once, please do it again.  The Senate needs to hear from as many people as possible before July 29!!


If you cannot call, please send an email.  But calls are best if you can make them; Congress pays more attention because they consider calls harder to make and more individualized.  Senate Switchboard: 202-224-3121 (and ask for your Senator) or email:  http://1.usa.gov/Senat  .  You can also find your Senators at this link.  Be sure to identify yourself as someone who lives in the Senator's state and give your city and state.  Those who oppose the CRPD are pushing back hard, as they have before.  Now is the time for you to make a difference and protect all people with disabilities world-wide!


Contacting Your Senator:
If you are a person with a disability, a parent or family member, an advocate or colleague, explain this in your email.  Explain how important it is to you for people with disabilities to have equal rights worldwide and to be able to travel without barriers.  You might also add something like this:

Please vote to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).   Ratifying the CRPD is important to protect the rights of Americans who work and travel abroad.  It will also help America lead the rest of the world to adopt legislation and policies that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities, just as we have in the United States.  The CRPD will help other countries adopt laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and enpower people with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.  The convention has strong bipartisan support.  The convention will ensure that America leads the world on this important issue. Thank you.


More About the CRPD

The CRPD is vital to protect Americans with disabilities who work and travel abroad.  These Americans face constant barriers and discrimination abroad. By ratifying the CRPD, the U.S. will offer decades of honed technical expertise to reduce barriers globally and ensure that Americans who travel and study abroad have the same access they enjoy here.  The CRPD has bipartisan support, including Senator Tom Harkin, Former Senator Bob Dole, President George H.W. Bush, and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.

Ratifying the CRPD is important so that America can lead the rest of the world to adopt legislation and policies that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities, just as we have in the United States.  The CRPD is designed to bring protections and rights for people with disabilities worldwide.  Of 1 billion people with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries.  Many lack the basic protections we have in America under the ADA.  Ratifying the CRPD will allow the United States to take a leadership role in helping these nations craft similar laws.
 
Ratifying the CRPD means that America can advocate through the treaty process for the same basic principles worldwide that we all advocate for—the same rights in the ADA, 504, IDEA, etc.   Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for All.  Full Inclusion in Society.  End Discrimination against People with Disabilities. Universally-Designed Goods, Services, and Equipment.  Use of Assistive Technology, Augmentative Communications, Braille, Sign Language, and Other Necessary Devices and Supports.  Increase Accessibility.  End Abuse, Torture, and Mistreatment of People with Disabilities.  You can read the full treaty here.

Autism occurs throughout the world in people of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.  But some foreign countries do not recognize the existence of autism.  In those countries, people with autism may get no supports. They may be wrongly diagnosed with disorders they do not have.  They may be institutionalized, kept away from their families and communities.  Ratifying the CRPD will enable the United States ensure that citizens of these countries who have autism are integrated in society and receive rights like those the Americans with Disabilities Act created for our country.

 The CRPD will not cost the United States any extra money.  The United States will not need to change any of its laws.  We will continue to follow the laws we have about disabilities and other issues at the federal and state levels.   The treaty ratification documents contain "reservations" that protect these issues for state law.  Some people think that the CPRD will somehow affect America's homeschooling laws, but it won't.  Homeschooling will still be subject to state laws and those state laws won't be changed by the CPRD (and cannot be changed by the CPRD). 

For the CRPD to be ratified by the United States, it must be approved by the U.S. Senate. This means that 67 Senators (2/3 of the Senate) must vote in favor.  It is important that every Senator be contacted and asked to vote for ratification.


Thank You,
The Autism National Committee



Monday, June 9, 2014

ON JUNE 12: ASK CONGRESS TO SUPPORT BILL TO PREVENT DANGEROUS RESTRAINT & SECLUSION, 202-224-3121



ACTION ALERT:  ASK CONGRESS TO SUPPORT BILL TO PREVENT DANGEROUS RESTRAINT & SECLUSION
CALL OR EMAIL CONGRESS ON JUNE 12 

On June 12, 2014, please call your two Senators and Representative and ask them to COSPONSOR the KEEPING ALL STUDENTS SAFE ACT, S. 2036 and H.R. 1893.  Ask your friends and family to do the same.  Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators and Representative.  If you cannot call, then please email (Senate: http://1.usa.gov/Senat ;  House:  http://bit.ly/RepWrit ).  You can also do it another day if needed.  The most important thing is for Congress to hear from thousands of parents, people with disabilities, students, advocates, professionals, friends, families, and neighbors.  You can look up your Senators and Representatives at the links above.  Personalize this if you can.  Describe your connection to disability. If you have a story about restraint or seclusion or worry that it could affect your child or friends, please say this.  Explain how you, your family members, friends, and those with disabilities whom you advocate for have the right to be protected.


MESSAGE TO SHARE WITH YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVE
( SAMPLE TALKING POINTS/EMAIL)
Please cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act, S.2036 and H.R. 1893, and protect all American students nationwide from restraint and seclusion in our nation’s schools.  Over 110,000 students were subjected to restraint and seclusion in 2011-12.  These procedures have killed, injured, and traumatized students, according to Congressional reports.  They include a child suffocated in restraint after he tried to get lunch; a 7 year old who died in restraint after blowing bubbles in her milk, and a young teen who hung himself while his teacher sat outside the seclusion room.  These dangerous procedures are often used when no one is at risk of harm.  Parents often are not notified or find out much later; prompt notification is necessary to detect concussions and seek medical help.  The Keeping All Students Safe Act, S. 2036 and H.R. 1893, will forbid the use of restraint except in emergencies threatening physical safety.  Both will prevent non-emergency seclusion.  Both require schools to notify parents on the same day.  The bills will promote a necessary shift towards positive behavioral interventions that evidence shows will keep students safe.

MORE DETAILED INFORMATION AND BACKGROUND
Some people like more detailed information when they call a Senate office.

·         A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that 20 students had died in seclusion; countless others have been injured and traumatized, according to numerous reports.   One teen hung himself in a seclusion room while staff sat outside the locked door; a seven year old died face down in physical restraint after blowing bubbles in her milk; and a young teen was suffocated face down in restraint by his teacher twice his size when he tried to get lunch.  Recent stories include an 8 year old with Down Syndrome whose shoes were duct-taped so tightly that she could not walk; a 10 year old with autism who was pinned face down after a tantrum over a puzzle; and a child with Cerebral Palsy who severed her finger when confined in seclusion.  Parents often do not learn that restraint/seclusion occurred or learn long after the events.  Prompt notification is important to seek medical care and to work with schools to prevent future episodes. 

·         The most recent national data has shown that in 2011-12, over 110,000 students were subjected to restraint and seclusion.  These included at least 70,000 students were subjected to physical restraint; 37,000, to isolated seclusion; and nearly 4,000 to mechanical restraint.  The actual total is likely much higher.  Restraint and Seclusion are used disproportionately upon students with disabilities and minority students.  Some states break data down by disability; this data shows that restraint and seclusion are disproportionately used on students with autism.

·         Both Congressional bills, S. 2036 and H.R. 1893, will forbid the use of restraint except in emergencies threatening physical safety.  Both seek to prevent non-emergency seclusion:  the House bill, by limiting it to threats of physical harm; the Senate, by banning it.  Both bills require schools to notify parents on the same day.  Prompt notification enables parents to seek medical care for concussions or other injuries and to work with schools to prevent recurrences.  Both bills will ban restraints that impede breathing, and dangerous mechanical and chemical restraints.  They will ensure that teachers have the tools and resources they need to prevent challenging behaviors.  The bills will enhance public oversight by requiring data reporting and collection. 

·         The Keeping All Students Safe Act will shift schools towards preventing problematic behavior through evidence-based positive behavioral interventions and supports, and keep students and staff safe.  In many cases, the use of positive supports and interventions greatly diminishes and even eliminates the need to use restraint and seclusion.  For example, the Centennial School in Pennsylvania cut restraint and seclusion use from over 1,000 occurrences per year to less than ten through the use of positive intervention plans.  Montgomery County, Virginia uses “easily accessible, evidence-based practices” that have reduced crisis-level behaviors by 78% and targeted problem behaviors by 81%, according to Senate testimony.  Restraint and seclusion are rarely used.

·         Many states don’t adequately protect all students from restraint and seclusion.  Many allow their use when no one’s safety is in danger.  Only 14 states restrict restraint to dangers threatening safety emergencies for all children; only 18, for children with disabilities.  Only 1 state bans seclusion of all children; 4 ban seclusion of children with disabilities, and another 10 limit seclusion to physical safety emergencies.  Only 20 states require parents of all children be informed of restraint and seclusion use.  Roughly half of all states allow restraints that impede breathing.   

WHAT YOU CAN DO: CONTACT CONGRESS on JUNE 12 or soon after
Please call or write to your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor the Keeping All Students Safe Act, S.2036 and H.R. 1893.  Calls are more effective, but you can also use email.  Call 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator or Representative.  Then ask for their education aide or disability aide.  Leave a voicemail if you do not reach them.  Please make a call if you can.  Calls count much more.

Email your Senators through http://1.usa.gov/Senat and your Representative through http://www.house.gov/ (put your zip code in the box in the upper corner).    Please personalize your message, even with a single sentence.  Explain your connection to disability.  If you have a story about restraint or seclusion or worry that it could affect your child or friends, please say this.  Explain how you, your family members, friends, and those with disabilities for whom you advocate have the right to be protected.

The more we reach out to Congress directly, the more successful we will be!  Every call or email sent to Congress is very valuable and very important. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Senate Bill S. 2036 and Senate Committee Description about bill
House Bill H.R. 1893 and House Statement about bill
Find your Laws in AutCom’s report: My State’s Seclusion and Restraint Laws
GAO Report about Dangers of Restraint and Seclusion; Education Department’s recent Data Snapshot

Thank You,
Autism National Committee
www.autcom.org

Monday, February 10, 2014

SENATOR HARKIN RESTRAINT/SECLUSION BROADCAST LIVESTREAM & TWITTER, Wed Feb 12 at 10 am EST


On Wednesday, February 12 at 10:00AM EST, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, will announce the results of a special Senate investigation of obstacles parents face in trying to keep their children safe from these dangerous practices. The special investigation report focuses on families who have been unable to to address restraint and seclusion under current law when it happened to their children.  He will also discuss recommendations from the report and Senate legislation to prevent the use of restraint and seclusion in school and keep children and staff safe.  Watch and listen to the event at  http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?type=live&comm=help&filename=help021214 Follow the event and news from Senator Harkin about the legislation on twitter @SenatorHarkin

Each year, tens of thousands of students are restrained and forced into seclusion.  They have been killed, suffered broken bones and other injuries, and traumatized.  Students have been restrained and secluded for being unable to do class work, being unable to pay attention due to disability issues, pushing items off desks, having tantrums, convenience, punishment, and similar issues.  

Obstacles to addressing restraint and seclusion are faced by parents every day.  Over 2/3 of states lack laws protecting all students from restraint and seclusion.  Only 14 states by law require that an emergency threatening physical danger exist before restraint can be used for all children; only 11 protect all children from non-emergency seclusion.  Fewer than half of the states require schools to notify all parents when their child is restrained and secluded.  Children have died and been injured and their parents did not know what was happening to them.  http://www.autcom.org/pdf/HowSafeSchoolhouse.pdf 

Watch Senator Harkin on Wednesday, February 12 at 10AM EST, at http://www.help.senate.gov/,  and follow his work to combat restraint and seclusion on twitter @SenatorHarkin

Jessica Butler
Congressional Affairs Coordinator
Autism National Committee (AutCom)
23 years of advocating for children and adults with autism

                                    


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Call Key Senate Committee to Ratify Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities ( CRPD ); Protect People with Disabilities World-Wide

PLEASE CALL THESE KEY SENATORS ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES!  The treaty will come before the committee on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 for hearings, and so this is the critical week to call!  If it is impossible or very difficult for you to call, please send an email. 
Sen. Bob Corker:   202-224-3344  (Most Important; Senior Republican on the Committee).  If you only have time to make one call, call Senator Corker.
Sen. Jeff Flake: 202-224-4521
Sen. Ron Johnson: 202-224-5323
Sen. Jim Risch: 202-224-2752
Sen. Marco Rubio: 202-224-3041
Sen. Rand Paul: 202-224-4343

Sen. Robert Menendez: 202-224-4744  (Chair; Senior  Majority member)

THEN PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL YOUR OWN SENATORS AND ASK THEM TO VOTE TO RATIFY THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES ( CRPD ). 202-224-3121 or send an email at http://1.usa.gov/Senat  Those who oppose the CRPD are pushing back hard.  The treaty will come up for a hearing on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 and the Senate needs to hear from you now! Call your Senators and ask them to support for and vote for the Convention!  Protect all people with disabilities world-wide!

Short Sample Message to Your Senator:
You can cut and past this paragraph into an email, if you like or write your own:

Please vote to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).   Ratifying the CRPD is important so that America can lead the rest of the world to adopt legislation and policies that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities, just as we have in the United States.  The CRPD will help other countries adopt laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and enpower people with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society. Thank you.


More About the CRPD


Ratifying the CRPD is important so that America can lead the rest of the world to adopt legislation and policies that embrace the rights and dignity of all people with disabilities, just as we have in the United States.  The CRPD is designed to bring protections and rights for people with disabilities worldwide.  Of 1 billion people with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries.  Many lack the basic protections we have in America under the ADA, 504, IDEA, and other important laws.  Ratifying the CRPD will allow the United States to take a leadership role in helping these nations craft similar laws. The CRPD has bipartisan support, including Senator Tom Harkin, Former Senator Bob Dole, President George H.W. Bush, and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.


Ratifying the CRPD means that America can advocate through the treaty process for the same basic principles worldwide that we all advocate for—the same rights in the ADA, 504, IDEA, etc.   Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for All.  Full Inclusion in Society.  End Discrimination against People with Disabilities. Universally-Designed Goods, Services, and Equipment.  Use of Assistive Technology, Augmentative Communications, Braille, Sign Language, and Other Necessary Devices and Supports.  Increase Accessibility.  End the Exclusion of Students with Disabilities from General Education or Free Education.  Seek “An Inclusive, Quality and Free Primary Education and Secondary Education [for Children with Disabilities] on an Equal Basis with Others in The Communities in Which They Live.”  “Reasonable Accommodations” and Supports to Obtain Employment, an Effective Education and Inclusion in Society.  End Abuse, Torture, and Mistreatment of People with Disabilities.  You can read the full treaty here.

Autism occurs throughout the world in people of all racial, ethnic and social backgrounds.  But some foreign countries do not recognize the existence of autism.  In those countries, people with autism may get no supports. They may be wrongly diagnosed with disorders they do not have.  They may be assumed incapable of learning and working.  They may be institutionalized, kept away from their families and communities.  Ratifying the CRPD will enable the United States ensure that citizens of these countries who have autism are integrated in society and receive rights like those the Americans with Disabilities Act created for our country.

The CRPD will protect Americans with disabilities who work and travel abroad.  These Americans face constant barriers and discrimination abroad. By ratifying the CRPD, the U.S. will offer decades of honed technical expertise to reduce barriers globally and ensure that Americans who travel and study abroad have the same access they enjoy here.
  
The CRPD will not cost the United States any extra money.  The United States will not need to change its laws.  We will continue to follow the laws we have about disabilities and other issues at the federal and state levels.   Education, homeschooling, and parental rights will remain a matter of state law--the treaty will not change those rights at all.  The treaty ratification documents contain "reservations" that protect these issues for state law.  Some people think that the CPRD will somehow affect America's homeschooling laws, but it won't.  Homeschooling will still be subject to state laws and those state laws won't be changed by the CPRD (and cannot be changed by the CPRD).  You can continue to homeschool just like you always do. 

For the CRPD to be ratified by the United States, it must be approved by the U.S. Senate. This means that 67 Senators (2/3 of the Senate) must vote in favor.  It is important that every Senator be contacted and asked to vote for ratification.

The CRPD has been scheduled for hearings on November 5 and November 12.  After that, the entire Senate can consider it.  That's why its important for you to contact your Senators and ask them to support the CPRD.  Contact your Senators' office (preferably by phone call) and ask them to support the CRPD! Please tell your Senator's staff, “I am a constituent from your state and I support the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Please support the Convention when it comes up for a vote. The CRPD is in the United States’ interests. It protects our citizens and veterans abroad, and it is vital to achieving the same goals as our disability laws, the ADA and many others.” 

Calling Senators is best because they know it takes a more effort than copying and pasting an email. So, they count it more.  But we recognize that some people cannot call, due to a disability or for another reason.  In that case, please email. If you can ask a friend to call, that will help too.


Thank You,
The Autism National Committee



Sunday, August 4, 2013

My State's Restraint and Seclusion Law's (look up your state policies and laws on restraint and seclusion)

Announcing a new publication:  My State’s Seclusion & Restraint Laws: Brief Summaries Of State Seclusion And Restraint Laws And Policies (August 4, 2013).

Several people have asked for a report that simply gives a brief summary of each state's restraint and seclusion laws ( statutes and regulations ) and policies.  This will let people look up the law in their state.  This new publication, My State’s Seclusion & Restraint Laws, by Jessica Butler, does that.  It is a short PDF publication, and has been bookmarked for each state.  There is a brief national overview at the beginning.  You can still find more detailed information, including comparisons and analyses of state practices, and illustrative maps and comparison charts for all states, in How Safe is the Schoolhouse? An Analysis of State Restraint and Seclusion Laws, available at www.autcom.org.

The two reports differ as follows.  How Safe is the Schoolhouse: An Analysis of State Restraint and Seclusion Laws categorizes each state's seclusion and restraint laws and policies down by topic area, such as limits on using restraint, limits on using seclusion, prohibitions on particularly dangerous restraints, parental notification, and many others.  States are grouped together so you can easily see which states have the same or similar practices.  There is a detailed analysis and maps and charts for various factors.  Page 106 of How Safe contained a description of each state's laws on a state-by-state basis, but this was difficult to find.  My State's Seclusion and Restraint Laws is shorter.  It lets you look up a state and see a summary of the major elements of its restraint and seclusion policy.   It also has a brief overview of the entire nation at the beginning. You can find the link here: http://bit.ly/MyStateRSlaw   My State will soon be on the autcom webpage (www.autcom.org, but you can use this link for now).