Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Hospitalizations Increase for Citizens with Autism...Why?

Why are there drastically increasing hospitalizations for people with autism. The common refrain in disability world is "for their own good". And who could debate "doing good"? Fortunately critical theorists do just that. But let's start with the facts as reported in Disability Scoop ("Study Finds Inpatient Autism Treatment On The Rise", SHAUN HEASLEY, April 15, 2014).  Hensley writes that "In a study looking at data on over 2 million hospitalizations of California children ages 1 to 18, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that between 1999 and 2009, inpatient treatment related to autism nearly tripled". Something is deeply wrong. A common assumption might be that there is something quite wrong with these people necessitating a hospital stay. And with the medicalization of disability, there is also the use of drugs to get people under control (recent studies have shown that antipsychotic drugs prescribed for people with autism are not helpful). As professor Liat Ben Moshe has pointed out, an occupied hospital bed generates profit and increases GDP. The Stanford researchers speculated that the increase could be due to " a lack of outpatient and community resources as the number of people with autism has grown". That hypothesis rings true and mirrors similar critical observations about disability as commodity. As austerity policies  continue to eat away at community resources, people with autism may be more challenged and less supported. Overwhelmed and under supported,  last resorts become first resorts. Increased hospitalizations for people with autism and their families does not represent personal failure ("there is something wrong with you"), even  though that is often the message from disability world. It is a failure of society, government and we able bodied others who allow hospital systems and pharmaceutical companies to profit at the distress of people we have abandoned.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

OUR CARCERAL STATE: SHATTERED LIVES

Another beautiful California spring is upon us. And we who are doing ok, or better than ok, will enjoy the goodness and goods of our Golden State. It's easy to forget, if we ever knew at all, that California's incarceration practices  are to hell and gone from goodness. In a Think Progress article   (4/14/14) Flatlow notes that in " 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the state’s prison health care was so deficient that it constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment". Cruelty   that most profoundly destroys  those with psychosocial disability (mental illness) who constitute 28% of the prison population. Overcrowding and isolation in segregated housing units exacerbate these disabling conditions.

Judge Lawrence Karlton was quoted in the article: " (placement in ) segregated housing units can and does cause serious psychological harm, including decompensation, exacerbation of mental illness, inducement of psychosis, and increased risk of suicide.”

Professor Liat Ben Moshe speaks to the carceral philosophy of America where we jail more citizens than most anywhere else. Historically, the critical point is that our talent for jailing began in the asylums where people with psychosocial and intellectual disability have languished through much of American history. Our Golden State is not so golden from the carceral perspective. Today California's institutions, board and care homes, and elder facilities are notorious for repeated abuse and neglect. So let's remember those residents and their counterparts in prison.

We have locked them all up and thrown away the key.  At least that's the apparent intent of our Governor, with his eyes wide shut to their suffering, and looking for  Re-election! Brown misrepresented it  best last January, " the prison emergency is over". So wrong.

Emergency, shattered lives and a living death is the status quo for too many Californians.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

WHAT IS DAVID WORTH?

What's the fuss?  Isn't David just fine where he is?  But a better question might be, what is David worth?  As he occupies space in a custodial care home and day program, it turns out he is worth quite a lot. And, of course not just David, but countless others: "In post-industrial times, disablement has become big business. A single impaired body generates tens of thousands of dollars in annual revenues in an institution. From the point of view of the institution-industrial complex, disabled people are worth more to the gross domestic product when occupying institutional ‘beds’ than they are in their own homes (Russell and Stewart, 2001). Capitalism has found a solution to the ‘problem’ of unproductiveness, for those who are not per- ceived as laborers. Their bodies generate revenues when placed in institutional beds..." (Liat Ben-Moshe).

Sometimes called "handicapitalism", disability scholarship explains what most folks don't know...that bodies in institutions, nursing and care homes generate income as part of the GDP. People are reduced to commodities.

Follow the money.

Friday, March 21, 2014

DISTRICT RETALIATES AGAINST PARENT ADVOCATES

For people with disabilities, collaborative meetings (IEP/IPP) with themselves, their parents, teachers, and therapists ought to be the gateway to success. But in the age of advocacy tensions can arise. Then, those with the most power may go on the attack: "The San Carlos School District in San Carlos, Calif. retaliated against the parents of a child with special needs by making allegations that resulted in a sheriff’s deputy visiting their house" (Disability Scoop). These parents had asserted their child's rights under law and were no doubt an inconvenience to the District. Critical Theory explains that agents and agencies who hold power are inclined to use and abuse it to maintain the upper hand. Calling law enforcement “undoubtedly has a deterrent and chilling effect on parents and their willingness to actively participate in their own children’s education and advocate on their behalf...".  When David transferred from San Jose at age 16 he was in an integrated High School program, learning skills that were preparing him for adulthood. But in Sacramento his IEP team placed him in a segregated middle school, with a primary school curriculum (write your name, hang up your coat). With parent challenges, the District attacked the parent and eventually created a fraudulent IEP document.  Similarly the Regional sided with the school and against David's rights. They illegally  banned parent contact with David's own caseworker. When challenged, these bureaucrats resorted to a physical attack on parent (see on YouTube).

As budgets decline, bureaucrats
cut corners to the detriment of students. Objecting advocates are met with push back. In San Carlos and in Sacramento, they crossed the line

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

GUARDIAN BLINKS AT DRUGGING MARGARITA?

This blog has followed the story of elder Margarita Zelada who was removed from her house and forced into an assisted living facility against her will.  The Monterey Public Guardian (MPG) set a hearing date for today for the purpose of administering "psychotropic" drugs (the vast kitchen sink of psychiatric meds).  These medications include antipsychotics too often used to quiet elders and people with disabilities who are understandably upset about forced isolation.  Antipsychotics have a disturbingly  high mortality rate when given to elders like Margarita.

The Coalition for Elder and Dependent Adult Rights (CEDAR) sent out an action alert to the Monterey Supervisors who oversee the MPG.  All readers have been encouraged to contact the Supes.

Advocate Linda Kincaid reports that she showed up for today's hearing...but nobody else did.

Perhaps in the face of public scrutiny the MPG has blinked.  We will keep you informed.

HELP KOBI!


There are many David's: People with disabilities caught in a failed system.  This is another story:  

As many of you know, Kobi is a sweet little 12 year old boy with multiple disabilities.  In 2003, he almost died of a misdiagnosed heart ailment.  After several years of evasive heart procedures, we learned his life would be shortened and he would have several more medical problems.  In 2005, Kobi received a small settlement for the negligence and it was placed into a Special Needs Trust.  This trust was to be used to help with his care, expenses, enrichment of his life.  The purpose of the trust is to keep expnses down and investments high so he had it for his lifetime.  The probate courts appointed a fiduciary and her attorney that over the years have done nothing with his trust, except deplete his account.  The accountings, no cooperation with his care, no investments; instead they have been funnelling money out for their fees; up to $9000 in 3 years! We have been advocating for Kobi and his rights and will not allow the financial exploitation of him and his trust anymore.  We are asking everyone if they could help donate to his legal fund so we can get the trust back and stop the "open checkbook" corruption against our son.  It is not okay to exploit an inncocent boy.  It is a fight worth fighting for not just for Kobi, but for other victims.  If you haven't already looked at the youtube link "A Hijacked Life" please do so as it an investigation into the same trustee victimizing an elderly woman and her trust...thank you for any help you can give us and KOBI. - 

See more at: http://www.youcaring.com/other/kobi-s-legal-fees-kobi-s-special-needs-trust/143001#sthash.hVc7ErBo.dpuf

Monday, March 17, 2014

MONTEREY GUARDIAN TO DRUG ELDER?

Medication for the purpose of controlling behavior is nothing new. When the first antipsychotic medications were introduced decades ago, people with mental illness were drugged into compliance as they resided  in state asylums. Arguments  for the judicious and limited use of  these medications  point to improvement in quality of life.  But that does not apply to frail elders like Margarita Zelada. In fact, research and an FDA Black Box Warning state that besides a long list of heinous side effects, these drugs have disturbing mortality rates for elders.  Why is the Monterey Public Guardian (MPG)  seeking to drug Margarita? Perhaps because she was forcibly taken from her own home and placed in a care facility to "protect" her. And denied visitors until recently. No doubt Margarita is agitated (wouldn't you be?).  But at this week's hearing, the MPG, will try something like an old bait and switch scheme.  Specifically, the court order asks for medication appropriate for the treatment of dementia. That would be good. Cholinesterase Inhibitors are a small group of drugs for slowing memory loss and could help Margarita, as they have many others. But the court order, later, asks for "psychotropic" drugs, a Pandora's Box of many drugs that effect the brain, including antipsychotics. Perhaps the MPG just lacked the diligence to cross check terms,  and in so doing has endangered Margarita. Or perhaps swapping terms is a means of baiting a judge into granting permission to prescribe potentially lethal medications. In any case it is horribly wrong.

According to Linda Kincaid at examiner.com the hearing will convene "Wednesday, March 19, 2014, when they will again consider whether the Public Guardian will forcibly administer chemical restraint to a frail elderly woman".  Advocate Kincaid asks that citizens of conscience write to the Monterey Board of Supervisors who oversee the MPG.  See her article at examiner.com for their contact information.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Kincaid Presents on "Forced Isolation"

The American Society on Aging national conference convened in San Diego this week.  Along with disability rights, this blog has featured elder rights. At the conference, advocate Linda Kincaid (with Robert Fettgather), presented on "Forced Isolation of Elders in Assisted Living Facilities". Forced isolation is, of course illegal.  But it is too common with vulnerable populations with dementia, intellectual disability or mental illness.  Kincaid cited local case studies of elders taken from their  own homes into facilities by the Public Guardian(PG) for "protection"...yet these elder victims stated that they felt they were being punished over even put "in jail". The PG banned friends and family visits in this forced seclusion scheme. As professionals understand the nature of systemic failure and abuse,  we hope to engage their
support in social justice.