February 2015



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Archive for February 13th, 2015


ESEA Reauthorization Bill Moving Fast



Senator Alexander and Senator Murray (D-W), the Ranking Member on the Committee, are negotiating changes to the bill. Many Members of Congress do not understand the impact these changes would have on students with disabilities and they need to hear directly from their constituents.

Three parts of the bill threaten quality education and the future of students with disabilities:

1)     Allowing an unlimited number of students with disabilities to be diverted from pursuing a high school diploma;
2)     Lowering standards for teaching children with disabilities, thereby making them not ready for any post-secondary education and entry level jobs;
3)     Making it easier for school districts to overrule parents and place their children with disabilities on track to receive a lower quality education.


To keep protections in place for children and youth with disabilities and to keep expectations high and keep open their opportunities in the future, tell your senator:

  • *that you have great expectations for children with disabilities and that you want schools to have those same high expectations.
  • *that students with disabilities should have the equal opportunity to earn a high school diploma and quality for a job
  • *that the decision to remove a child from the general education curriculum that will allow him or her to graduate with a high school diploma shouldn’t be happening without parental permission;
  • *that you oppose any revision to ESEA that allows for unlimited numbers of students to be assessed using an alternate assessment;
  • *that research tells us that less than 1% of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities need alternate assessments; and
  • *that no more than 1% students should be tested with an alternate assessment so that as many students as possible can earn a high school diploma, a chance to go on for further education, and the opportunity to work.

The reauthorization of ESEA is happening fast – purposely fast so that we don’t have time to oppose!  Senator Alexander’s version could be very harmful to the future of children with disabilities.  Your senators need to hear from you now about the issues above and that you OPPOSE the bill as it is currently written.


Call your Senators:

  • *Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for the office of your Senators


Message:  “I am calling to ask Senator _________ to oppose Sen. Alexander’s version of the reauthorization of ESEA and to make sure any reauthorization of ESEA includes all students with disabilities in the assessment and accountability systems using the same standards and assessments with accommodations.  Students with disabilities can achieve, they can work, they can contribute to society, and they can go on to college and other education programs after high school.  Don’t limit them by having low expectations and tracking their future as early as third grade.  Limit the ability of schools to lower expectations for children with disabilities by limiting the use of lower standards and alternate assessments.  Senator Alexander’s draft bill puts the future of children with disabilities at risk.  Please oppose Senator Alexander’s bill and keep the expectations for my child as high as possible.”


You can also send a message to your senator at: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm


~ 2 min read

Even though I’m a member of Generation Y, I will cling to non-smartphones until they become obsolete. But my cell phone is automatically encompassed in my daily routine.
Has a day gone by where I haven’t composed a text message? Not really. And the Internet is an integral part of my life, an undeniable dependency for work, recreation or contact.
“The Internet buzzes in the background of my life, comforting —  always there to entertain me, to feed me information, to connect me to my grid of friends and family and to writers I follow,” Lisa Shanahan wrote in her personal narrative about an ‘unplugged’ vacation with her husband. “It percolates my day like a high tech coffee pot, brewing a stimulant that smells good, that tastes good  –  a companion that I need, like a cup of coffee. I could live without coffee, but it would suck.”

I recently spent a weekend away, deciding to go ‘off the grid.’ Now, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as that sounds because I was based in New York City and not the wilderness, but I did abstain from phone and Internet usage. And you know what? I felt rejuvenated.
My senses were heightened, my mind was clear, and my attention was solely focused on the moment. I ogled at the shops on Bleecker Street — cheese, records, books. I absorbed the quirky scene in Washington Square. I focused on the modern art in a museum. I breathed in the beautiful colors of sunsets and the wintry scene in Central Park. I savored the company of who I was with, without checking my phone every so often.
An article on Psych Central discusses how excessive use of technology can affect cognitive development. When one becomes accustomed to habitual entertainment, attention deficit issues may surface.

Applications for Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) 2015 are due this Sunday, February 15, 2015. Get yours in today!


The ACI summer leadership training prepares Autistic students to create systems change on their college campuses. Accepted applicants will travel to Washington, DC and participate in advocacy training from May 30 to June 6, 2015. Participants will acquire valuable skills in community organizing, policy formation, and activism. Travel and lodging are fully covered by ASAN.


View our flyer


Watch the video of our 2013 alumni sharing their experiences


Applicants must identify as Autistic and current college students with at least one year remaining before graduation. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network will cover travel and lodging costs for all ACI students. We specifically encourage students of color, LGBT students, students with intellectual disabilities, AAC users, and students from other or multiply marginalized communities to apply.


To apply, please submit a completed application by February 15, 2015 to Natalia Rivera Morales at NRiveraMorales@autisticadvo cacy.org with the subject line “2015 ACI Application”.


View and download the application here


If you need assistance or accommodations at any stage, please contact Natalia Rivera Morales at NRiveraMorales@autisticadvo cacy.org.


                      HSC Foundation logo

ACI is made possible with the generous support of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and the HSC Foundation.