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The Arc Calls Out LeBron James for Offensive Language

On Friday night, at a post-playoff game press conference, LeBron James used an offensive word to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. The video of his comment was posted widely online, and quickly caught the attention of the media and The Arc’s national office. The Arc’s CEO, Peter Berns, released this comment to the media:

“LeBron James should apologize immediately. No matter the context, this language is very offensive to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, and an athlete admired by kids everywhere should recognize the power of his actions and words.”

LeBron James began his next press conference with an apology.

We want to hear your take on this issue – when sports figures or celebrities use language that some find offensive, do they have a responsibility to apologize?

Let us know in the comments.

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April = Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Month is a time for learning about autism and introducing others to new ideas as well as a celebration of individuals on the autism spectrum. It’s also the perfect time to discover Autism NOW’s new website.

Autism NOW is a national initiative of The Arc funded by a grant from the Administration on Developmental Disabilities charged with becoming the nation’s source for resources and information on community-based solutions for individuals with autism, other developmental disabilities and their families. One of those topline resources is a series of webinars about autism spectrum disorders (ASD), early detection and intervention, and organizations and activities supporting acceptance and celebration.

Sign up for a free session held every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST) throughout Autism Awareness Month. Designed for self-advocates, families, professionals, and the general public, these webinars encompass a wide variety of topics and practices in the area of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and developmental disabilities. Space is limited and we’re sure you won’t want to miss these opportunities.

Upcoming topics will focus on:

  • An overview from National Disability Rights Network – what you need to know
  • Health Insurance Options for Children with IDD or on the Spectrum
  • An overview of legal advocacy at federal level based on state wide development disability Council expertise (NACDD)
  • Learn about Rest Assured, a new assistive technology that can change the face of care and promote independent living

Check out the full list of available Webinars and sign up now at www.autismnow.org. While you’re there, take some time to explore the new website then spread some awareness to the rest of the world. You can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our latest news and share our URL with everyone you know. Together we can raise awareness for autism for April and beyond!

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Glee Star Lauren Potter Signs on to Appear for The Arc

Lauren PotterLauren Potter of Glee and her mother Robin Sinkhorn will join The Arc on June 14 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as we reveal key findings from our FINDS study to the media. This landmark study surveyed the true circumstances and needs of more than 5,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families and caregivers and the findings will point us in the right direction to make substantial improvements in the lives of people with I/DD through advocacy for changes in public policy and direct supports and services.

Lauren has graciously agreed to be at the press conference on June 14, but will also appear in 60-second PSAs which will be distributed in many television markets in May. Lauren and her Glee co-star, Robin Trocki attended The Arc’s National Convention in Orlando, Florida in November 2010 to receive our inaugural Image and Inclusion Award for positive and accurate portrayals of people with I/DD in the performing arts. We’re thrilled that she wants to continue a relationship with The Arc.

You may have seen or heard of Lauren recently speaking out against the bullying of children with special needs on Capitol Hill last week and appearing with her mother in www.abilitypath.org‘s  public service announcement “Disable Bullying.” Lauren is an incredible self-advocate who embodies the spirit of The Arc’s new tagline “Achieve with us.” Those of us who had the pleasure to meet her at The Arc’s 2010 convention can assure you that she is everything she seems to be – being a glamorous Hollywood actress doesn’t stop her from being a sweet, caring, genuine young lady. She has achieved much in her young life and is an inspiration to others to do the same.

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The Arc Launches a New Brand Identity

The Arc is proud to unveil a new brand identity! Starting here, starting now, you’ll find a dynamic new look for our blog, Website and publications. And along with that comes a comprehensive new brand identity which will serve to unite our chapters across the country under the banner “Achieve With Us.” It’s at once an invitation and a command, as it represents our movement’s determination to achieve even more in terms of participation, inclusion, acceptance and respect for people with I/DD in the years to come. In the logo’s design, you’ll see the energy and determination The Arc brings to supporting and embracing people with I/DD and their families across their lifetimes and across many diagnoses. You’ll notice a bold color combination of orange and yellow chosen specifically because it is unique in the realm of nonprofit organizations, and can be exclusively associated with The Arc much like a specific shade of pink is associated with breast cancer awareness.

Together, the elements of the brand represent a strong, energetic organization working to provide opportunity for people with I/DD; opportunity for hope, opportunity for growth and opportunity for change. We know a thing or two about change as we have been on the front lines of a movement that has ushered in dramatic changes in the law, in schools, in health care, in communities and often on a very personal level in individual’s lives. Check out this short video about The Arc and stay tuned for some compelling stories of individuals and families touched by The Arc as we introduce you to The Hage’s tomorrow, Adrian Forsythe on Thursday and Sam Jenkins on Friday. We think you’ll want to hear what they have to say.

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Who Decides Essential Care?

The health care reform law provides categories of care that must be provided for customers of the health-insurance exchanges that are launching in 2014. An article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Defining Essential Care,” points out that “The next big issue for the federal health law as it moves toward implementation is how regulators will define so-called essential benefits—the basic medical services that health plans must cover under the law.” So the details are left up to regulators who are now starting to develop the rules on what is an “essential” health care service and what is not.

Habilitative services, used by such children with autism and other developmental disabilities, have become a particularly contentious point in the debate. The Arc’s Marty Ford provides an example of the difference between rehabilitative and habilitative services. (Read Marty’s prior testimony on the importance of defining habilitation as an essential service.)

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Home Is in the Community

Most people with I/DD share the dream of living in the community in a home of their own. For some, that dream may become a reality.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that the federal government will dedicate billions of dollars to help individuals with disabilities access care in the community as opposed to institutions.

“There is more evidence than ever that people who need long-term care prefer to live in their own homes and communities whenever possible,” said Donald Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “To restrict these individuals to institutions where even the simplest decisions of the day such as when to get up, what to eat and when to sleep are made by someone else must no longer be the norm.”

HHS is also proposing new rules to allow states to access additional federal Medicaid matching funds if they encourage individuals to live in a community setting, as opposed to a nursing home or other institutional setting.

Thirteen states are slated to receive about $45 million for demonstration grants this year, with $621 million budgeted through 2016.   Federal officials are awarding $621 million over the next five years to expand the Money Follows the Person to help people with disabilities who are living in institutions transition into the community with services and supports programs.

The new grants will have an impact on 13,000 people in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and West Virginia.

The Arc believes that adults with I/DD should have the opportunity to lead lives of their own choosing, reside in the community, and live independently with ready access to whatever services and supports they need to be included and participate as full members of the community.

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The Shock of Shaken-Baby Syndrome

A recent New York Times magazine article examined whether flawed diagnosis of baby’s with shaken-baby syndrome was causing innocent people to go to jail.

In 2008, a Wisconsin court wrote that there is “fierce disagreement” among medical professionals about the shaken-baby diagnosis. That same year the Ontario government reviewed 142 shaken-baby cases due to “the scientific uncertainty that has come to characterize that diagnosis.”

According to the Times article, “between 1,200 and 1,400 children in the United States sustain head injuries attributed to abuse each year. Most of them are less than a year old…there is no exact count of shaken-baby prosecutions, but law-enforcement authorities think that there are about 200 a year.”

At a trial for the caregiver sentenced to a 10 ½ year punishment for child abuse, in January 2010, parent Michael Whitmer took the stand in support of the decision. Four-month old Noah’s Whitmer’s caregiver was convicted for shaking the baby resulting in irreparable brain damage.

Whitmer told the jury: “This is a life sentence for my son, for my wife, for me and for our family.”

A parent’s perspective on caring for child with a developmental disability is profound, but it does not have to be a life sentence. The Arc provides supports and services to individuals and their families – to give them hope and opportunity over the course of their lifetime. Through embracing The Arc, families are provided with the resources they need to envision bright and fulfilling futures.

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What Can I Do to Raise Awareness About Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities?

There’s a lot you can you do to raise awareness about intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in your community. And, since March is I/DD Awareness Month, that’s the perfect time to do your thing – we encourage you to pick at least one idea from the list below and make that your personal effort to raise I/DD awareness during March.

  • Post this as your status on Facebook at least once during March: March is Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) Awareness Month. Help me celebrate the contributions of all people with I/DD by copying and posting this as your status during March. Get more information about I/DD at www.thearc.org.
  • Tweet this out on Twitter at least once during March: March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Be aware. Visit www.thearc.org.
  • Write a post for your blog about someone you know with an intellectual or developmental disability and how they have inspired you.
  • Since many people with disabilities rely on publicly funded services to fully participate in their communities, policy makers need to know you are concerned about continuing those services in the face of budget cuts during tough economic times. Contact your legislator today and let them know you expect them to enact public policy to assist people with I/DD.
  • Contact your local chapter of The Arc to volunteer or donate. Local chapters are on the front lines of advocacy efforts and provide the services and supports essential to people with I/DD and their families. Often they are lifelines for struggling families and they need your help to accomplish their goals.
  • Watch movies and TV shows that positively portray actors with disabilities and discuss them with your friends and family. Two actresses with Down syndrome are featured on the hit TV show Glee and were recently awarded The Arc’s Inclusion and Image Award for their positive portrayals.
  • Talk to your employer about their practices for recruiting and hiring people with I/DD. Many employers don’t realize just how much an employee with I/DD can contribute to the workplace. Tell them.
  • Support businesses that employ people with I/DD and make sure they know you noticed.
  • Comment on The Arc’s Facebook page and Twitter profile about what you are doing to raise awareness of I/DD.
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Temple Grandin to Keynote at Convention

Dr. Temple Grandin, the real-life inspiration the biopic that recently won Claire Danes an Emmy and a Golden Globe award, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at The Arc’s National Convention in Denver, Colorado this September.

Dr. Grandin is a woman with autism who became one of the top scientists developing groundbreaking methods for the humane treatment of livestock. Make your plans now to attend the Convention this fall.

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Apply to Be on One of The Arc’s National Committees

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Do you want to make a big difference?

Then why not apply to be on one of The Arc’s national committees!

The Arc is seeking enthusiastic candidates to fill several roles. Community leaders, corporate executives and others willing to volunteer their time and service are encouraged to apply. We’re seeking individuals who are passionate about advocating for the betterment of the lives of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Committee positions are for one-year terms and recruitment is open until February 10, 2011.

If you wish to be considered, please complete the online Committee Application.

You can learn more about what The Arc does here and read about our 60 years of advocacy for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities here.