Welcoming Amy Goodman to The Arc

Amy GoodmanBy Amy Goodman, Co-Director, The Autism NOW Center

Hello, my name is Amy Goodman and I joined the Autism NOW team in November as the new co-director. I live in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, and I am on the Autism Spectrum. I learned about my disability at a later stage in life, actually at the age of 33. My brother’s friend suggested that I try to get diagnosed. My brother claims it all started with the Grateful Dead. If it weren’t for Dead Net Central, he wouldn’t have ever met this friend. I finally found what I was looking for, answers to my questions and a diagnosis.

I was relieved to finally have a diagnosis and a name for some of the issues I was having. With that diagnosis, I was finally able to put my life in perspective and focus on who I am. It was because of this new found information that I went to graduate school and got my degree in Special Education with a focus on Autism at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. I was accepted into a separate program at the Autism Training Center (ATC), at Marshall for students with Asperger’s syndrome/High Functioning Autism (HFA), which gave me academic support, individual support, and social skills I needed to live independently in my own apartment. I was the first graduate student, the first female, and the first individual to graduate from the ATC.

After graduate school, I worked as a Service Coordinator for Birth to Three. I had that job for about four years and I decided I needed to change my focus and get a job that applied my talents in a different way and helped to support me as an individual. I applied and looked for a job for more than a year and a half, and then I finally tried something I thought I would never do, networking. It paid off and I got a job at The Arc as co-director of Autism NOW. I have been at this job for about two and half months and I love it and everything about it.

The job at the Arc has given me my independence in many ways. I now am self-sufficient, I am an advocate for myself and I am empowered to be who I want to be. I have proven once again that individuals with ASD can and should be hired to work to the best of their ability.

Apostrophe Magazine Cancels “Can’t”

By: Jim Tracy, Editor of Apostrophe Magazine

Can’t and shouldn’t. Too often those words turn into “could have” and “should have” — regrets about lost opportunities. Apostrophe magazine helps turn “can’t” and “shouldn’t” into “can” and “should.”

The name comes from a song by the late rocker Frank Zappa about a man talking to his dog. We all can relate to that, but in Zappa’s song, the dog talks back.

“You can’t say that!” the man tells the dog in disbelief. “I do it all the time,” the dog replies. He talks, he says, even with all the apostrophes thrown his way: can’t, won’t, don’t and shouldn’t.

People with disabilities face the same apostrophes. Too often they’re told what they can’t do. Apostrophe magazine emphasizes what they can do. Every issue features stories about people living productive lives and achieving success at home, at work and at play.

Lissie Clark, a 34-year old businesswoman from Great Falls, Mont., is a good example. Lissie has overcome fetal alcohol syndrome and other obstacles to start a successful business. Today, she operates Lissie’s Luv Yums, baking and selling all-natural dog biscuits to customers across the United States. At the same time, Lissie uses her business to educate people about the dangers of alcohol consumption when you’re pregnant.

Apostrophe also gives readers practical information they can use every day. A staple of the magazine are how-to features. In past issues we’ve explained, using words, graphics and photos, how to make a hearty clam chowder, how to paint a room and clean up afterward, how to plant a vegetable garden, how to build a birdhouse, how to shop wisely for groceries, how to file a tax return, and how (and where) to vote.

In “It’s the Law,” Disability Rights lawyers have written about guardianship, end of life issues and the Olmstead Decision.  We tell our readers about websites worth visiting and books worth reading. A recent issue included a review of The Everyday Guide to Special Education Law and the companion workbook.

Every issue includes a column by a writer from People First. Contributors have explained to Apostrophe readers the marriage penalty, self-advocacy and the campaign to end the use of the “R” word. The Winter 2012 issue introduces “Jigsaw,” a cartoon strip created by Tess Langston, a young woman with autism.

Like The Arc, Apostrophe believes in promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community as long as they live. We share The Arc’s core values of people first, equity, community, self-determination and diversity.

We believe the power of the pen (and the camera) can help make that philosophy a reality. Our stories and photos show people achieving independence, contributing to their communities and enjoying life. We emphasize human dignity and take pains to use people first language.

A subscription to Apostrophe (4 issues for $19.99) will help us deliver our most important message: “Forget Can’t and Don’t — We Can and Do.”

NOTE: The Arc has established a relationship with Apostrophe Magazine to bring you a valuable new resource and a refreshing perspective on what a publication for people with disabilities can be. You’ll find guest columns from The Arc in the pages of Apostrophe and on their blog in the coming months and below is a guest post from the editor of the magazine.

The Arc Responds to the U.S. House of Representatives Vote to Repeal the CLASS Program

Washington, DC – The Arc of the United States, released the following statement in response to the U.S. House of Representatives vote to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program.

“Repealing the CLASS Program could force Americans to wait another generation for a solution to the need for long term services.  This bill doesn’t change the fact that many Americans require these services, and it certainly doesn’t relieve the pressure off of Medicaid so that Medicaid can better serve the needs of low income communities.  This vote won’t be the last say on this issue, and The Arc stands ready to work with Congress and the Administration to find a workable solution,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Program was created by the Affordable Care Act to help working adults prepare for their future in the event they need help maintaining independence in the community. If CLASS is not implemented, the Medicaid program will continue to take on the load of long term service needs for many individuals. Average home and community-based care now costs over $21,000 per year.  Few Americans have insurance to cover these costs.  Only 3% have private long term care insurance and the majority are forced to impoverish themselves to qualify for Medicaid.