The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement condemning the imprecise language recently used by public figures to discuss the connection between mental health and mass shootings. President Trump and Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, used words including “sicko,” “nuts” and “crazy person” to describe the diagnoses of mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. The NAMI statement criticizes such comments as reinforcing “inaccurate and negative stereotypes” that “create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.” CNN.com interviewed several mental health experts who also suggested that mental illness is not a reliable condition for predicting violent behavior. Click here to read NAMI’s statement and click here to read CNN’s article.
For the first time in its 91-year history the Gerber Baby Photo Contest chose a baby with Down syndrome. The winner is Lucas Warren of Dalton, GA and his prize includes a $50,000 paycheck and Gerber advertising contract. Click here to see more photos of adorable Lucas and watch an interview on The Today Show with him and his parents.
Check out the National Down Syndrome Society’s “Preferred Language Guide” for a quick and helpful tutorial on communicating about DS.
Starting January 8th National Public Radio (NPR) began broadcasting a multi-part investigative series about an “epidemic of sexual assault” experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. Titled “Abused and Betrayed” (#AbusedandBetrayed), the investigation examines over 150 cases of assault and relies on previously unpublished data collected by the Justice Department. NPR’s team of reporters, led by Joe Shapiro, discovered the rate of assault is seven times higher than for people without disabilities. Each chapter in the 5-part series features a print story, photographs and a radio broadcast. Below is an excerpt from the first story in the excellent report.
“NPR reviewed hundreds of cases of sexual assault against people with intellectual disabilities. We looked at state and federal data, including those new numbers we obtained from the Justice Department. We read court records. We followed media accounts and put together a database of 150 assaults so serious that they garnered rare local and national media attention. We talked to victims, their guardians, family, staff and friends.
We found that there is an epidemic of sexual abuse against people with intellectual disabilities. These crimes go mostly unrecognized, unprosecuted and unpunished. A frequent result was that the abuser was free to abuse again. The survivor is often re-victimized multiple times.”
Danielle was almost 7 years old when detectives removed her from a filthy house in Plant City, Florida. She was so malnourished and neglected that doctors predicted she would be disabled for the rest of her life. The Tampa Bay Times’s Lane DeGregory won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for her profile of Dani and her adoptive family. Yesterday, Nov 29, DeGregoy published a fascinating update about Dani’s condition. Check out DeGregory’s latest report by clicking HERE, and to read the original award-winning story click HERE.
Immigration and disability rights advocates are criticizing U.S. Border Patrol surveillance of a 10-year-old undocumented immigrant in Texas after she was identified at a checkpoint en route to the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. According to an article in The New York Times, the girl, Rosa Maria Hernandez, has cerebral palsy and was brought to the U.S. by her parents as a newborn in hopes of getting better medical treatment. Hernandez is currently being held indefinitely at a federal facility for undocumented minors in San Antonio.
18-year old Tyneisha Wilder spoke to Pittsburgh’s Public Source about her desire to care for her child, who was taken from her by the county Children, Youth and Families office shortly after birth. Wilder has been diagnosed with an intellectual and developmental disability. To remain together, she must find a family to adopt both her and her son within 3-months. Read more.
The Supreme Court rules that the state of Texas cannot rely on a dated definition of intellectual disability in deciding who receives the death penalty. In the opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “Adjudications of intellectual disability should be ‘informed by the views of medical experts.” Read more
A restaurant in Massachusetts is offering a different kind of reservation: one to better accommodate diners with disabilities. Read more
NCDJ board member Amy Silverman talks about her daughter Sophie, who has Down Syndrome, going through puberty to podcast “The Longest Shortest Time.” Silverman is the author of My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome. Read more