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June 2013



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Last Friday, NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams aired a major expose on Section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act, a 1930s era loophole in federal labor law that lets hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities be paid less than minimum wage. As the story reported, Goodwill Industries International and their affiliates are one of the worst offenders, with thousands of employees being paid less than minimum wage. At the same time, Goodwill pays its executives handsomely. Goodwill’s CEO, John Gibbons, was paid $729,000 in salary and deferred compensation in 2011. Goodwill CEOs across the country frequently receive exorbitant compensation. The CEO of Goodwill’s affiliate in Portland, Oregon made over $500,000, while Goodwill of Southern California paid the jaw-dropping sum of $1.1 million to their CEO. Salaries for Goodwill CEOs at affiliates paying less than minimum wage totaled over $20 million.


If Goodwill can afford to pay its executives such exorbitant salaries, it can afford to do right by disabled workers. Help us hold them accountable. Using the link below, you can send a message to Goodwill’s senior leadership telling them that until they end the use of subminimum wage, they won’t have your donations or your support. Americans with disabilities deserve better. Shame on you, Goodwill Industries. 

Too many noises, too many voices... - Day 96/365


By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 16, 2013


Although the notion of listening to music to improve mood may not come as a surprise, researchers at the University of Missouri found that an individual can indeed successfully try to be happier, especially when cheery music aids the process.


Experts say the study highlights that people can actively improve their mood if the process is gone about in the correct manner.


“Our work provides support for what many people already do – listen to music to improve their moods,” said lead author Yuna Ferguson, Ph.D.


“Although pursuing personal happiness may be thought of as a self-centered venture, research suggests that happiness relates to a higher probability of socially beneficial behavior, better physical health, higher income and greater relationship satisfaction.”


In two studies by Ferguson, participants successfully improved their moods in the short term and boosted their overall happiness over a two-week period.


During the first study, participants improved their mood after being instructed to attempt to do so, but only if they listened to the upbeat classical music of Copland, as opposed to the more somber Stravinsky.


Read in Full:




Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 18, 2013


Long-acting antipsychotic Zyprexa Relprevv (olanzapine pamoate) is under scrutiny after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) turned up two deaths following the injection of the drug.


The two patients received the appropriate dose of Zyprexa Relprevv, then died 3-4 days later.


Zyprexa Relprevv (olanzapine pamoate) is manufactured by Eli Lilly and first approved for use in the United States in 1996. It is an extended release injectable suspension, meaning it is injected only once every 2 or 4 weeks in most patients.


After injection, patients are typically monitored for a 3-hour post-injection period — required under the Zyprexa Relprevv Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (also known as REMS). According to the FDA, “patients are required to receive the Zyprexa Relprevv injection at a REMS-certified health care facility, to be continuously monitored at the facility for at least 3 hours following an injection, and to be accompanied home from the facility.”


It’s not clear that the REMS protocol was followed in both patents who died.


According to the FDA, “Both patients were found to have very high olanzapine blood levels after death. High doses of olanzapine can cause delirium, cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiac arrhythmias, and reduced level of consciousness ranging from sedation to coma.”


Read in Full:




Article Date: 18 Jun 2013 – 1:00 PDT


A study from investigators at MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) found that African-American or Hispanic children diagnosed with autism were significantly less likely than white children to have received subspecialty care or procedures related to conditions that often accompany autism spectrum disorders. While previous studies have documented that minority children with autism tend to be diagnosed at a later age than white children, this report – which will appear in the July issue of Pediatrics and has been released online – is the first to describe disparities in the use of specialty services in gastroenterology, psychiatry or psychology.


“We think there are probably many reasons for these differences,” says Sarabeth Broder-Fingert, MD, of MGHfC and the Center for Child and Adolescent Health Research and Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), lead author of the report. “Many autism-related medical symptoms – including gastrointestinal issues like constipation and neuropsychiatric issues such as anxiety or sleep disorders – are not well understood, so doctors may not realize children are having those symptoms.”


The research team reviewed records for more than 3,600 patients ages 2 to 21 with a diagnosis of autism who received care at the MGH or its affiliated health centers from 2000 through 2010. Data on each clinical visit was analyzed, with particular attention to specialty care in gastroenterology, psychiatry and psychology and to procedures including endoscopy, ultrasound, EEG, brain imaging and sleep studies. Among the patients identified, 81 percent were white, 5 percent were African-American and 7 percent, Hispanic.


The analysis revealed that minority children were significantly less likely to have received either subspecialty care or procedures, with some of the most significant differences in gastroenterology services, which were accessed by almost 14 percent of white children but only 9 percent of African-American children and 10 percent of Hispanic children. Minority children were less likely to have received an endoscopy or colonoscopy, and Hispanic children were much less likely to have had sleep studies or other neurological or neuropsychiatric tests.


“We know that many children with autism have gastrointestinal or sleep issues, and if those problems are not being diagnosed or treated, they can lead to additional behavior difficulties that can inhibit development,” says Broder-Fingert, who is a clinical fellow in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. “Combining the challenges of accessing specialty services for any child with autism, regardless of race or ethnicity, with the recognized difficulties minority communities have accessing medical care in general can lead to these major disparities in the use of services.


Read in Full:


Justice is served


Last week, Alex Spourdalakis, a 14-year Autistic boy living in River Grove, Illinois, was murdered by his mother and godmother. After failing to kill him with sleeping pills, they stabbed him in the chest repeatedly before slitting his wrists. This murder was premeditated and motivated entirely by Alex’s disability.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network condemns unequivocally and without qualification the murder of Alex Spourdalakis and calls on the United States Department of Justice to prosecute his murder under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. The law allows the federal government to prosecute as a hate crime acts of violence when “the crime was committed because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.” Alex’s murder clearly fits within the intent and purpose of that law.

Many in the media have attempted to excuse Alex’s murder or sympathize with his killers, citing the challenges of his disability and the need to improve the quality and availability of service-provision. Such justifications are not unusual in the aftermath of such atrocities and they remain as inappropriate as ever. Alex Spourdalakis’ murder is the latest in a long strand of similar killings by family members and caregivers. His death is not about services, nor is it about the difficulties associated with his disability. Prior to murdering him, Alex’s mother was offered and refused services from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. In truth, Alex’s murder is about a reprehensible and repulsive ideology all too common within our society that preaches that it is better to be dead than disabled. As long as our society treats the lives of disabled people as worth less than those of the general population, more disabled children and adults will be subject to acts of violence and murder. As a result, we call for the prosecution of Alex’s killers to the fullest extent of the law.

Related Articles & Blogs

Tuesday, June 11, 2013  Alex Spourdalakis’ mother, godmother charged with first degree murder: Police:



In Loving Memory of Alex Spourdalakis:



The Bespectacled Nerd: Alex Spourdalakis:



Shaping Clay: His Name was Alex Spourdalakis”:



Freddie Mac, a leading mortgage lending company, is partnering with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network to place Autistic interns in full time, paid positions. Freddie Mac is dedicated to include Autistic people as part of a diverse workforce.


All positions will be held on the Freddie Mac campus in McLean, Va. Accepting the job requires relocation for people outside the Washington, D.C. metro and surrounding areas. Resumes will be accepted through June 14, 2013. Each internship will last for 16 weeks from the start date. Internships will start in early July 2013.



Resumes must be sent to resumes@autisticadvocacy.org.

Architecture & Data Services Intern

Assist team in improving documentation of the department processes. Support organization in creating department reports and metrics against data.

Single Family CFO Strategy, Planning and Development Analyst Intern

Data analysis internship involves assembling, automating assembly of, and cleaning up financial data elements for a financial estimation and scenario analysis tool.

Securities Internship

This internship involves strong analytical work related to Freddie Mac’s mortgage-backed securities. The internship starts with an intensive learning environment in which the intern learns about Freddie Mac’s securities and the work that Securitization does to monitor security performance. The intern will be expected to actively participate in our group’s training and learn a variety of analytical reports which will be used by management up to the executive level. The intern will help to setup Giant transactions with Wall Street Dealers.

Test Analyst to support the multiple testing services projects/initiatives in the Application Management area under IT Delivery Services.