December 2017
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The US House of Representatives recently voted to pass the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015 (H.R. 2646). Although disability advocates across the nation worked to make sure that many harmful provisions in the original draft of this bill were removed or modified, this bill still has many parts that would hurt our community by undermining privacy, promoting institutionalization over community-based services, and creating new committees with almost no self-advocate representation.
But there’s still time to stop this. The harmful parts of H.R. 2646 will only become law if the Senate decides to add them to its own mental health bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680), or to insert them into some other Senate bill.

Contact your Senators and tell them that you don’t want them to put these parts of H.R. 2646 into S. 2680 – or any other bill. We support S.2680 as currently passed and want the Senate to pass it the way it is, without adding language from H.R. 2646.

Here are some talking points that you can use. Ask your Senator to keep this language from H.R. 2646 out of the Senate bills:

    • *Sections 111, 110(b), and 501(b) would create new advisory councils and projects without meaningful self-advocate representation. We want any new committees or advisory councils to have at least ⅓ of membership be people with lived experience with psychiatric disability.
    • *Sec. 206 would help states pay for long-term institutionalization of children. In the past, states have had to pay for these services themselves until after the child was returned to the community. We don’t want to make it even easier for states to institutionalize children with psychiatric disabilities.
    • *Sec. 207 would add new barriers to people getting in-home services under Medicaid. This section would require personal attendant care services to use electronic visit verification (EVV) systems to document their visits to a patient. Electronic visit verification systems not always practical and may make it harder for people to get Medicaid to pay for their services, without meaningfully reducing fraud.
    • *Section 503 would increase and extend funding for coercive, court-ordered treatment programs (known as “assisted outpatient treatment”). We do not think that medication decisions should be made by courts. Court involvement stigmatizes people with psychiatric disabilities. It can also make it harder for people to change doctors or medications when they experience side effects or when medication is not working.
  • *Sec. 401. Sense of Congress on Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): This section uses language that encourages guardianship arrangements that take away decision-making rights from people with psychiatric disabilities. It also says that people with psychiatric disabilities aren’t able to be responsible for their own treatment, even with supports.




Contact your U.S. Senator’s office and ask your Senator to keep this harmful language out of the Senate mental health bills. We don’t want the Senate to support provisions that would limit the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities and add to stereotypes and misconceptions.Ask your Senator instead to support S. 2680 as it is.

Lindsey McGarry with her son Rex, who tried to kill himself when he was just eight


Lindsey McGarry caught little Rex, who has autism, climbing onto the ledge of his bedroom window telling her he wanted to ‘escape his worries’


They are the words that no parent expects to hear their child speak.


But when Lindsey Morgan caught her eight-year-old son climbing onto the ledge of his bedroom window she was to discover the devastating reality that he wanted to end his life.


“Being asleep is easier than being awake,” little Rex told her, explaining that he wanted to “escape his worries.”


Rex, who has high-functioning autism , struggles to deal with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and finds being in a classroom especially difficult.


Now aged nine, the youngster has almost entirely dropped out of school, as mum Lindsey, from Farnborough, Hampshire, claims the system is failing her son.


Speaking exclusively to Mirror Online, Lindsey said five years ago Rex was brimming with excitement about starting his education.


“As with most young boys, his behaviour occasionally gave teachers cause for concern, but my main worry was at home,” she said.


Read More …


Today, March 1st, is the 2016 Disability Day of Mourning – a day for disability communities, organizations, and groups around the country to gather and cherish the memories of those who we have lost to senselessness violence at the hands of those they should have been able to trust most. We gather to recommit ourselves to continue to strive to seek justice for these crimes so as to prevent them from ever occurring again.


In the past five years, over one hundred and eighty people with disabilities have been murdered by their family members.


These acts are horrific enough on their own. But they exist in the context of a larger pattern. A parent kills their disabled child. The media portrays these murders as justifiable and inevitable due to the “burden” of having a disabled person in the family. If the parent stands trial, they are given sympathy and  comparatively lighter sentences, if they are sentenced at all. The victim is disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of the person they should have been able to trust the most, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats.


Today, we gather, and speak the names of those taken from us. But in doing so, we do not just mourn. We kindle new hope, of the possibility of a better world, one in which disabled Americans are recognized as equal and disabled blood is not viewed as cheap and easy to spill. We remember our own – and in doing so, strengthen the bonds that make among us a common community, a common identity. These bonds strengthen and enstrengthen each of us, opening up the door to happier days and commemorations ahead. Today, our shared sorrow and mourning make us one.


ASAN asks you to join us today in this year’s vigils to bring awareness to the ongoing tragedy, and to demand equal rights, protection and justice for all citizens.


Ari Ne’eman 
Autistic Self Advocacy Network


Julia Bascom
Deputy Executive Director
Autistic Self Advocacy Network


Current vigil sites and contact information can be found on the ASAN website.

Current vigil sites:
Virtual vigil, for those unable to attend a local vigil
Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, sbreakstone@autisticadvocacy.org



Tucson, AZ
Tom Racey, cornelius41389us@gmail.com


Berkeley, CA
Brent White, brent@alacosta-acat.com

Port Hueneme, CA
Karen Reilly, karen@oceanviewinfo.com

Sacramento, CA
Stacy Shaw, shawstacys@yahoo.com


Washington, DC
Rachel Best, best_rachel@hotmail.com


Atlanta, GA
Bennett Gaddes, bennettgaddes@comcast.net


Chicago, IL
Steph Ban, sban@uchicago.edu


Cambridge, MA
Finn Gardiner, fgardiner@autisticadvocacy.org

Springfield, MA
Jennifer Lee, jlee@stavros.org


Twin Cities, MN
Gretchen Johnson, gretchensj2@earthlink.net


Kansas City, MO
Spencer Hunley, spencer.hunley@gmail.com


Hanover, NH
Sarah Dresser, dresser.sarah@gmail.com


Edison, NJ
Carole Tonks, ctonks@adacil.org

New Brunswick, NJ
Aaron Zisook, autisticadvocacynj@gmail.com


New York, NY
Elizabeth Rosenzweig, rosenzweig.ea@gmail.com

Purchase, NY
David Cusack Johnson, david.cusackjohnson@purchase.edu

Rochester, NY
Ericka Jones, ejones@cdrnys.org

Troy, NY
Melanie Hecker, mhecker@youthpowerny.org

Yonkers, NY
Emma Graydon, egraydon@gm.slc.edu


Nashville, NC
Joshua White, jwhite188@st.nashcc.edu


Philadelphia, PA
Tess Speranza, spert@sas.upenn.edu

Pittsburgh, PA
Cori Frazer, asanpgh@gmail.com

York, PA
Luke Anderson, nonlinearluke@gmail.com


Franklin, TN
Chad Beadles, justmechadlyb@gmail.com


Plano, TX
Julie Espinoza, jespinoza@reachcils.org


Blacksburg, VA
Disability Alliance, Disabilityalliancevt@gmail.com

Williamsburg, VA
Haley Outlaw, hnoutlaw@email.wm.edu


Beloit, WI
Reid Caplan, caplanr@beloit.edu


New Westminster, BC
Alanna Whitney, alannarosewhitney@gmail.com

Winnipeg, MB
Baden Gaeke Franz, violetsunflower16@gmail.com


The amygdala is an area of the brain vital to the processing of the emotions.


After nine weeks of online therapy, people experiencing social anxiety disorder show distinct changes in their brains, new research finds.


Online cognitive behavioural therapy can reduce anxiety and change brain volumes in critical areas.


The study recruited people with social anxiety disorder — one of the most common mental health problems.


Brain scans compared their brains before and after the online treatment.


Activity in the amygdala and anxiety reduced after the online cognitive behavioural therapy in comparison to a control group.


Mr Kristoffer NT Månsson, one of the study’s authors, said:

“The greater the improvement we saw in the patients, the smaller the size of their amygdalae.

The study also suggests that the reduction in volume drives the reduction in brain activity.”

Read in Full:


In a groundbreaking opinion issued yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor found that a sheltered workshop in Ohio had violated federal minimum wage laws by underpaying three of its workers with disabilities, including one autistic man. The opinion followed a petition that Autistic Self Advocacy Network filed along with Disability Rights Ohio, the National Federation of the Blind, and the Baltimore law firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP. Seneca Re-Ad, a sheltered workshop run by the Seneca County Board of Developmental Disabilities, had been paying the complainants, Joe Magers, Pam Steward, and Mark Felton, an average of $2.50 an hour for more than three years.


An outdated exception to federal minimum wage laws, known as Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, allows certain employers to pay less than minimum wage to people with disabilities if they can show that the disabilities prevent them from being as “productive” as the average nondisabled worker.


Although federal law allows workers with disabilities to file a petition for review of their wages by the U.S. Department of Labor, Felton, Magers, and Steward are among the first workers with disabilities ever to use the petition process to fight for fair wages. This low level of enforcement means that many workshops have paid people below-minimum wages based simply on the assumption that people with disabilities are not as productive as people without disabilities, using flawed productivity measurements as “documentation.”


An administrative law judge for the Department of Labor found that Felton, Magers, and Steward, and Felton were entitled to back pay to make up the difference between their past wages and minimum wage, and to minimum wage going forward.


“Many people are shocked when they find out that it is legal to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage,” said Samantha Crane, Legal Director and Director of Public Policy at ASAN. “But what’s even more surprising is how rare this type of enforcement action has been until now. We hope this decision puts other workshops on notice that they won’t get away with this sort of exploitation.”


“The opinion highlights that each of our clients brings valuable employment skills to the Seneca Re-Ad facility, and their value as workers should be respected,” says DRO Attorney Barbara Corner. “People with disabilities are full and equal members of society and should be paid fairly.”


Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “This decision cuts through the low expectations based on stereotypes and misconceptions that undergird the antiquated and discriminatory subminimum-wage employment model. The National Federation of the Blind is proud of our role in helping these workers to earn compensation that reflects the skilled work that they perform. We believe that this decision sends a strong signal that subminimum wages are an idea whose time has long since passed.”



About the Autistic Self Advocacy Network: The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a national, private, nonprofit organization, run by and for individuals on the autism spectrum. ASAN provides public education and promotes public policies that benefit autistic individuals and others with developmental or other disabilities. Its advocacy activities include combating stigma, discrimination, and violence against autistic people and others with disabilities; promoting access to employment, health care and long-term supports in integrated community settings; and educating the public about the access needs of autistic people. ASAN takes a strong interest in cases that affect the rights of autistic individuals to participate fully in community life and enjoy the same rights as others without disabilities.


About Disability Rights Ohio: Disability Rights Ohio is the federally and state designated Protection and Advocacy System and Client Assistance Program for the state of Ohio. The mission of Disability Rights Ohio is to advocate for the human, civil and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio. Disability Rights Ohio provides legal advocacy and rights protection to a wide range of people with disabilities.


About the National Federation of the Blind: The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.

In December of 2015, 71-year-old Antonio Tucci was beaten to death by his nephew. A month earlier, 5-year old Helious Griffith and 6-year old Dustin Hicks were both murdered by their mothers.


In the year since our last vigil, our community has lost at least seventy more victims.


In the past five years, over one hundred and eighty people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents.


Tuesday, March 1st, the disability community will gather across the nation to remember disabled victims of filicide–disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.
We see the same pattern repeating over and over again. A parent kills their disabled child. The media portrays these murders as justifiable and inevitable due to the “burden” of having a disabled person in the family. If the parent stands trial, they are given sympathy and  comparatively lighter sentences, if they are sentenced at all. The victims are disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of the person they should have been able to trust the most, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats.


But it doesn’t have to.


Here’s what you can do in your own community to help spread awareness of these tragedies – and help stop more from happening.


1. Read and share our Anti-Filicide Toolkit.


This toolkit is intended to provide advocates and allies with concrete tools and resources to use in their own communities, including in response to local incidents. The toolkit includes information about how to understand and respond to filicide, frequently asked questions about filicide, and a guidebook for Day of Mourning vigil site coordinators.


2. Sign up to be a Day of Mourning vigil site coordinator


For the last five years, ASAN, ADAPT, AAPD, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and other disability rights organizations have come together to mourn the lives lost to filicide, bring awareness to these tragedies, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities.


On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, ASAN and the wider disability community will be holding vigils to mourn the lives of those we’ve lost and bringing awareness to this horrific trend of violence against our community.


If you’re interested in leading a vigil in your area, please sign up to be a Day of Mourning vigil site coordinator here.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is very pleased to announce the recipients of our 2016 Autistic Scholars Fellowship! ASAN awards $5,000 tuition scholarships to 4 to 6 Autistic college students who demonstrate a strong commitment to disability rights advocacy, Autistic culture and community, and disability accessibility and inclusion on college campuses. We are extremely proud to include these exceptional self-advocates in our inaugurating class of Autistic Scholars. The six fellowship recipients are listed below. Click here to view our official announcement of the 2016 fellowship recipients.

Jessica Benham

University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Jessica is an Autistic doctoral student in Communication and a master’s student in Bioethics at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a master’s degree in communication studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her primary research interests lie in investigating the rhetorical and ethical constructions of disability in society. Her thesis, Proud to be Autistic: Metaphorical Construction and Salience of Cultural and Personal Identity in #StopCombatingMe, presents research on Autistic self-advocacy through a neurodiversity perspective. A firm believer in the value of Autistic culture, Jessica is also an advocate for Autistic rights, interested in creating sensory friendly spaces in educational settings, increasing access to IEPs for Autistic children in public schools, helping parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals better understand Autistic people, and reducing barriers to employment for Autistic adults.

Manuel Díaz

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)

Manuel is a multiply neurodivergent Autistic Mexican-American student. He is currently studying physics and mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founder and president of the student organization Texas Neurodiversity. He enjoys weightlifting, dancing, and stimming. His future plan is to get a doctoral degree in Theoretical Physics.

Leanne Libas

Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, California)

Leanne is a first-year student college student who is planning to become a special education teacher. A CAYLF (California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities) 2014 alumna, she continues to advocate in the disabled community. After gaining recognition from writing “Breaking Out-My Autism Story” on the Art of Autism’s website, she is currently one of the web site’s monthly bloggers. During her free time, she likes to read, sing, and watch YouTube videos.

Howie Jordan

University of South Carolina Upstate ( Spartanburg, South Carlina)

Howie Jordan is a senior mathematics major at the University of South Carolina Upstate. He enjoys reading, writing, and stage acting. He is excited for this opportunity to continue advocating and spreading Autistic culture.

David James “DJ” Savarese

Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)

DJ is a non-speaking autistic student at Oberlin College who types to communicate. DJ been advocating for autistics—specifically, nonspeaking autistics—since he was invited to present at his first conference at the age of 13. For the past 8 years, DJ been working on an ITVS-funded documentary film due out next year that seeks to raise understanding about the movement, sensory, and emotional aspects of nonspeaking autistics as well as their untapped potential. A poet, a memoirist, and a playwright, DJ has published his work in Disability Studies Quarterly, Stone Canoe, Autism Life Skills, and on several websites.

R. Larkin Taylor-Parker

University of Georgia Law School (Athens, Georgia)

Larkin is a second-year law student at the University of Georgia interested in disability rights. She is also an autism blogger, social media expert, and avid recreational tuba player.

Dear Readers,


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & a very happy, healthy 2016!


Warmest Wishes,

Julie & Co


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Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have access to the Veterans Health Administration and Defense Department, which acts as a center for research, data, and services for combat-related PTSD treatment.


But for the millions of non-veterans suffering from PTSD, treatment resources are far less comprehensive and accessible, according to a new study published in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.


“For the other people affected by PTSD — victims of sexual assault, child abuse, and natural disasters — there really isn’t an organized body of research that generates guidance for how they and their caregivers should deal with their PTSD,” said lead author Dr. Judith Bentkover, professor in the Brown University School of Public Health.


“The best PTSD treatment model we have can be found within the VA,” Bentkover said. “Kids have PTSD. Women have PTSD. It’s not just a disease of veterans, although they are a very important and poignant cohort of people who have it. Sexual assault victims, abused children, survivors of natural disasters do not necessarily have a VA to go to. What do they do?”


Read in Full:



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