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February 2011



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Archive for February 22nd, 2011


Dea Birkett

The Guardian Monday 21 February 2011

When Tate Modern opened, it shouted inclusivity. Now it makes my disabled daughter enter through the back door

There’s a major cultural institution my family can only enter through the back door. We pass buckets of cleaning materials, staff health and safety notices and piles of cardboard boxes. We’re checked in to the building at the same desk at which a stationary package arrives, and are handled as if we were one. This place is Tate Modern. And my family have been relegated to accessing this high-minded cultural institution through the tradesmen’s entrance because my daughter is disabled.

We used to be able to enter by the same door as every other visitor. But when work on the Tate’s £215m extension began last year, overnight all the disabled parking bays were removed. Instead, if there’s room, disabled visitors and their families can park at the rear and use the staff entrance. If, like my family and many other disabled people, you can’t use public transport, this is your only option.

When Tate Modern opened 10 years ago, the disabled community cheered. Here was a building of national and international significance whose entry was a whopping great ramp. No other building of such importance shouted inclusion quite as loudly.

It’s particularly disappointing when that same building lets us know families like mine don’t matter. In another place, when one section of society was condemned to a different, less attractive, unseen entrance it was called apartheid.

Tate Modern isn’t the only cultural powerhouse to treat its disabled visitors differently. The National Gallery boasted that it was lowering some of its collection, “enabling visitors in wheelchairs to examine the paintings at close distance”. Just three of the gallery’s 2,300 works were lowered – Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Constable’s The Hay Wain and Monet’s The Gare St-Lazare – and for one night only, just two and a half hours, which had to be booked in advance. By the next morning, these iconic paintings were at full height again – inaccessible, along with 2,297 others.

Read in Full: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/21/disability-galleries-theatres-access-tate

Tate Modern

February 19th, 2011 4:31 am CT

Valuable marketable and specialized training for talented adults on the autism spectrum is available.  Co-founders of the nonPareil Institute, Dan Selec and Gary Moore, discovered that current limited and under funded programs fell short in the effort to bring quality of life to the ASD adult. Both men have sons on the spectrum and not wanting their own children to settle for sub-standard existences on welfare or be forced into low paying, unfulfilling positions, they knew they wanted to make a difference. www.npitx.org

Recognizing that ASD people of all ages gravitate toward technology and seem to possess unique and superior technical abilities, and since both men had experience in the industry, they decided to put it to use. Using 3D tools to create, edit and customize content used in PC based games and on the iPhone and iPad, they realized they could empower ASD adults to a field of employment that is in high demand, spurring them on to meaningful lives.  Initially they tested a workable model in Dan Selec’s home.

As the institute grew, more space was needed and the founders accepted an invitation to move their model to SMU’s Plano campus.  The training, designed to provide technical and job skills, is designed specifically for the individual with ASD.  The monthly cost is $500 per student, a necessary concession for the institute to grow.  They are currently looking for a 10,000 square foot facility to expand the operation to include approximately 200 people.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqth4u-dJ5k&feature=player_embedded

Read in Full: http://www.examiner.com/special-education-in-garland/autism-and-asperger-s-hope-for-employment-part-2-2

First Published February 15, 2011

By April Scarlett, Special Writer

As a teacher’s assistant pointed to a pictured animal pattern on the bulletin board, a small group of special education preschoolers followed along, “pig, pig, monkey; pig, pig, monkey.”

The teacher then asked, “pig, pig, and what comes next?”

The children shouted out their answers. This kind of group interaction is something Taylor Parrish couldn’t have done a year ago. Teachers and family now know that it wasn’t because Taylor didn’t know the answer — it was just that he couldn’t communicate it verbally.

Taylor was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was 2 years old. Until recently, no one really knew what Taylor could do or the capacity of what he has been learning.

The pattern lesson switched to numbers. The assistant asked, “What number comes after the number six?” Some of the kids paused — and among the quiet — an electronic voice could be heard, insistently over and over again, “seven, seven, seven, seven, seven.” The answer was coming from the speaker of an iPad, held by Taylor, who was excited and a little impatient to be the first one to answer correctly.

Nicole Phelps is Taylor’s ECSC teacher at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Saline.

“We were so excited!” she said, describing the day she introduced the iPad to Taylor.

With a special voice-activated application installed on the iPad, it didn’t take long to figure out just what Taylor had been keeping inside.

“He knew his colors, shapes, letters and could count,” Phelps said. “We always knew he was bright, but had no idea how much he has been learning.”

Before the iPad, it had been very difficult to assess exactly what Taylor was retaining. He could point, or make minimal audible sounds, but otherwise really struggled to communicate. Suddenly, with the iPad — and an application supplied through the Saline Area Schools Instructional Technology Department — not only did Taylor have a voice, but he had an opinion.

For example, for a snack, the speaker could say, “I want yogurt” versus something else. Turns out yogurt is Taylor’s favorite food, and was one of the keys to figuring out his diagnosis.

Read in Full:


By Victoria Corbett
February 21, 2011

A couple have won an apology from social workers after suffering an “awful” investigation over allegations from a school they say had been mistreating their son.

A mother and father, who have asked to remain anonymous, complained about the care their son was receiving at The Coombes Primary School only to have social services contact them over counter-allegations.

Wokingham Borough Council has since apologised and told the family there was an “insufficient” investigation into their claims about what had happened at The Coombes, which last year received an inadequate judgement from Ofsted over pupil health and safety issues.

An investigation into the treatment of the family by the council has reached stage three, which will see a panel investigate the family’s complaints.

Two investigations conducted internally and by an independent investigator have upheld or partially upheld most of the father’s nine key complaints. The report on the second stage investigation urges the council to pay compensation for time wasted and distress caused.

Following the conclusion of the latest investigation, the council apologised to the family and has offered some compensation for time wasted by social workers failing to meet appointments.

The family’s troubles began in January last year when they complained about the treatment their child, who is autistic, had allegedly been receiving at The Coombes.

The family says the boy was carried around by staff by his hands and feet and that he was repeatedly left alone in a store room without any work.

The father said: “I understand teachers may need to restrain a child if they present a risk of hurting themselves or others, however these incidents were never reported back to me.”

The father says the school failed to respond satisfactorily to his complaints and calls for an investigation, which led him to contact social services at Wokingham.

Investigators have since upheld the family’s complaint about social services and its lack of investigation into the Coombes School complaints.

His frustrations led him to withdraw the child from the school and the boy has since started attending a different school in the borough.

Following this, the Arborfield school reported the family over allegations about the boy’s home life, however an investigation by police and social workers ruled there were no child protection issues.

The father said: “To get a phone call saying your family is being investigated, that was very disturbing and unnerving. I didn’t sleep for three days.”

A social worker investigated the claims and wrote a report without a visit to the family home.

The father said: “We said this was a blatant attempt to distract from what was really going on.”

The second stage investigation found there were “major weaknesses” in social services and communication with the family, as well as criticising the core assessment report from the social worker, labelling it “biased and misleading”.

Wokingham council’s safeguarding team received an ‘inadequate’ judgement from Ofsted two years ago, however the department has since made progress with an improvement action plan, as has The Coombes School.

Read in Full: