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February 2015



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Archive for February, 2015

 Mosaic portrait of Alan Turing using the mathematical analysis used to decode the Enigma machines during the World War II. Credit: Charis Tsevis


Dear Readers,


Stephen Fry notified me a week ago of the following petition.  Please join us in signing, if you will:


Alan Turing was the greatest computer scientist ever born in Britain. In one stroke he defined the criteria by which the Nazis’ “impossible” Enigma code could be broken and laid the foundations of modern computing. He was a hero.


He was also gay. He was prosecuted for it, punished with chemical castration and took his own life, aged 41. In 2013 the British Government rightly pardoned Turing. But Turing was not the only man convicted for being gay under the laws of “gross indecency”. These were pernicious, cruel laws that fortunately don’t exist now but whose shadow still looms over too many.


More than 49,000 men were convicted under these and similar laws. Their lives were destroyed. They suffered humiliation, violence and total estrangement from their families which in some cases also led to suicide.


That is why I’m lending my support to calls for Her Majesty’s Government to pardon all the men, alive or deceased, who, like Alan Turing, were convicted under ‘anti-gay’ laws.


Please join me by signing this petition.


The Imitation Game film has brought Alan Turing’s story to cinemas around the globe. But what about all of the men whose stories will never be heard? They also deserve their names to be cleared.


The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable. It’s time we acknowledge this mark on our history and correct it. Take a moment to sign the petition here.


Thank you,
Stephen Fry

Sign the petition


UPDATE:  Nick Clegg MP has responded:



Alan Turing and the thousands of other men should never have been prosecuted. It is utterly wrong that so many people were convicted simply for being who they are.


The Liberal Democrats and I will work to make sure those with convictions for consensual homosexual activity between adults are pardoned. It should never have been a crime in the first place.




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. 


An invaluable new resource and Infographic have just been added to the PTSD Page.  This comes courtesy of Paul and his team at Reflect Digital(responsible for the design of this outstanding Infographic).


Further Information:



In the past five years, over seventy people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents. 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.

For the last four years, ASAN, ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and other disability rights organizations have come together at local vigils across the country to mourn those losses, bring awareness to these tragedies, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities.

On March 1st, we will come together again, and we ask you to join us.


There is just one week left to sign up to be a site coordinator and hold a vigil in your area.


Current Vigil Sites:


Anchorage, AK
Mary Ellen O’Brien, maryellenrob@gmail.com


Tempe, AZ
Xander McDonald, xmcdnd@gmail.com


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

The Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), co-sponsor


Sacramento, CA
Stacy Shaw, asansacramento@gmail.com


Washington, DC
Jean Winegardner, jwinegardner@autisticadvocacy.org


Kissimmee, FL
Teresa Geiger-Sturgis, tgsturgis@yahoo.com


Atlanta/Decatur, GA
Kit Mead, silverbrook.aka.silva@gmail.com


Captain Cook, HI
Des Hirsh, autisticdimensionshi@gmail.com


Chicago, IL
Steph Ban, sban@uchicago.edu

Gurnee, IL
Roman Segal, roman.i.segal@gmail.com

Cambridge, MA
Finn Gardiner, fgardiner@autisticadvocacy.org


Medford, MA
Rachel Sommer, gingicat@gmail.com

Salem, MA
Hala O’Keeffe, halalettieri@gmail.com


Ypsilanti, MI
Jonas Blauer, jmblauer@gmail.com


Albuquerque, NM
Star Ford, starluciaford@gmail.com


Edison, NJ
Carole Tonks, ctonks@adacil.org


Brooklyn, NY
Debra Baker, mamadeb1963@gmail.com


Flushing, NY
Marvin Finkelstein, mrv11292013@gmail.com


New City, NY
Jason Ross, jasonross18@gmail.com


Rochester, NY
Diane Coleman, dcoleman@notdeadyet.org

Portland, OR
Phoebe Loomis, P.Loomis.PDX@gmail.com


Springfield, OR
Alex Taylor, alextaylor1359@gmail.com


Pittsburgh, PA
Jess Hughes, jess.fridy@gmail.com


Dallas, TX
Carly Allison McCullar-Main, carlyallisonmccullar@gmail.com

Salt Lake City, UT
Adair Kovac, adairkovac@gmail.com


Sultan, WA
Anca Moreno, anca.moreno@yahoo.com

Beloit, WI
Reid Caplan, caplanr@beloit.edu




Kearneys Spring, Queensland
Nora Gainey, newnoz@gmail.com




Aytan Eynalova, Aytenhamza@hotmail.com




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




Ellen Balledux, ellenbx@quicknet.nl



Preston, Lancashire
John Meghen, JMPMeghen@uclan.ac.u

 Edvard Munch's Separation

Edvard Munch’s Separation


This month’s British Journal of Psychiatry has the latest in their ’100 words’ series on the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, famous for his iconic painting ‘The Scream’ and his own struggles with mental illness.


The Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch caused outrage when his paintings were first shown in Berlin but became one of the most prolific artists of his time. Often described as having had bipolar affective disorder, his low moods and sense of isolation are evident in works such as The Scream, Separation,and Evening on Karl Johan. Yet the evidence of his diaries and his many biographies suggest more plausible diagnoses of depressive disorder and comorbid alcohol dependence.


Read in Full:  http://mindhacks.com/2010/10/05/edvard-munch-in-100-words/

Edvard Munch: Evening on Karl Johan. 1889.

Edvard Munch: The Scream. 1893


Artsy’s Edvard Munch Page


This newly designed page includes his bio, over 20 of his works, exclusive articles about Munch, as well as his up-to-date exhibitions – it’s a unique Edvard Munch resource.  ~ Special Thanks to Nicholas over at Artsy for putting this wonderful resource together and for alerting us to it.




Also, check out “10 Screams for Edvard Munch’s 150th Birthday”: