Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday roundup

Via the Times of India (29 January) - The father of three intellectually disabled teenage sons in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, is appealing to the district administration for the mercy killing of the three boys because he has exhausted all of his resources in trying to meet their medical expenses.

Via Reuters (28 January) - A New York lawyer appointed to oversee the assets of incapacitated clients, including children with cerebral palsy, has been charged with stealing $4 million from his clients. Steven Rondos, 44, and his law firm, Raia and Rondos, are charged with money laundering, grand larceny and scheming to defraud. He is accused of defrauding 23 incapacitated clients plus the estate of one dead person.

Via WNDU-TV , South Bend, Ind. (28 January): A 14-year-old teenager, who has cerebral palsy, saved her mother's life after she suffered several seizures Jan. 23.

Via the Slough Observer in the UK (28 January) - A taxi driver has been fined more than £2,000 for refusing to take a booking for a blind woman and her guide dog.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer (27 January) - Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland has called for a statewide policy on the use of restraints following the death of 17-year-old Faith Finley - after she was restrained in a controversial position - at a center for troubled youth last month. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

Via (27 January) - a first-person article from Lesley Smith, who is a visually impaired British freelance journalist specializing in Japanese culture, anime and manga, technology and gaming. Her blog can be found at
(h/t to Beth Haller at Media dis&dat)

From (25 January) - An interview with Phyllis Musumeci, founder of Florida Families against Restraint and Seclusion, who says her son was restrained and placed in seclusion in school at least 89 times over a period of 14 months without her knowledge. (h/t to PatriciaEBauer)

Baltimore, MD - Missing woman

Via MSNBC (29 January)

BALTIMORE - Baltimore County police are asking for help in finding a developmentally disabled missing woman.

Betty Colbert, 48, was last seen at her group home in the 2300 block of Rogate Circle in Woodlawn. Staff members said she has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old.

Colbert weighs 90 pounds and is only 4 feet 6 inches tall. She was last seen wearing a pink sweater, black puffy coat and black pants.

Anyone who may have seen her is asked to call police.

Minna Mettinen-Kekalianen: good news

It's been widely reported, including here and here here, that Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen's home care will resume this coming Monday (February 2, 2009).

Here is an excerpt from this article in the Sudbury Star by Carol Mulligan:
Starting Monday, a Sudbury woman suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease will begin receiving the home nursing care she needs.

The North East Community Care Access Centre will resume providing nursing and personal support to Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen, 42.

Mettinen-Kekalainen has been involved in a public battle with the North East CCAC about her home care. The woman, who has an autism spectrum disorder called Asperger syndrome, has not received help at home from the agency for months after nurses caring for her complained about her behaviour.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas said Tuesday nurses have been lined up to care for Mettinen-Kekalainen starting Feb. 2.

Like others with Asperger's, Mettinen-Kekalainen experiences some difficulty with interpersonal communication, and her power of attorney, Jason Bushie, has said that can lead to misunderstandings with her caregivers and others.

Gelinas, the New Democrats' Health critic, got involved in Mettinen-Kekalainen's case last week. Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's constituency staff had been working on the case for weeks. Gelinas said it was a case of "all hands on deck" being able to resolve the dispute between the woman and the agency.

See also Stephen Drake's post here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen: an update

Good news - The Sudbury Star (January 28) reports that Canadian MPP France Gelinas, who has been advocating for Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen, is optimistic she will get the home care she needs.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

For the last three weeks, Mettinen-Kekalainen has taken her fight with the CCAC public in media interviews -- even going as far as staging a brief hunger strike to protest the fact she has not been receiving home care.

The CCAC has been unable to say much about the case because of privacy and confidentiality laws, but Mettinen- Kekalainen has been vocal about being asked to sign an agreement with the agency not to threaten or harass home-care workers who visit her.

Mettinen-Kekalainen has said the CCAC interpreted her threat to report nurses for not following her doctor's orders to the Ontario College of Nurses as harassing and abusive behaviour.

When the woman refused to sign the agreement, services were withdrawn, she said, although the CCAC has said it does not deny services to anyone who needs them.

Gelinas became involved in Mettinen-Kekalainen's case after Sudbury Star stories about how the woman was living alone, being fed through a gastric tube inserted in her stomach and not being bathed regularly or having her adult diapers changed.

Mettinen-Kekalainen has been termed a palliative patient by her family physician and she is confined to a wheelchair and hospital bed in her home -- often on life-supporting oxygen.

The article in full is here.

See also Stephen Drake's post here.
One in 1000 children may become subjected to growth attenuation

Via What sorts of people

One in 1,000 children may become subjected to growth attenuation
By Emi Koyama
Director Intersex Initiative

On January 23, I attended a symposium at University of Washington on the controversial “growth attenuation” treatment for children with “profound” developmental disabilities. The event was an update to the larger 2007 symposium which followed the controversy surrounding the case of Ashley, a six year old girl with severe physical and developmental disabilities, who went through a
combination of hormonal treatment to stop (or attenuate) further growth, hysterectomy (which the hospital performed without a legally required judicial review), and double mastectomy (which physicians called “breast bud removal”
because she was pre-pubertal).

Since the last symposium, the University and its Seattle Children’s Hospital gathered a Working Group made up of doctors, medical ethicists, legal scholars, disability theorists, and at least one parent of a child with developmental disability to explore whether or not growth attenuation should be offered in the future, and if so under what circumstances. While members of Working Group started out with divergent views on growth attenuation therapy, they were able to come to some moral compromises, according to University of Washington pediatrician and ethicist Benjamin Wilfond. Among other things, most Working Group members agreed that, regardless of how they may felt individually about growth attenuation, it was morally and ethically acceptable if parents of “profoundly” disabled children request it.
Emi's post in full is here ...

Emi Koyama (emigrl) is the director of Intersex Initiative, a Portland, Oregon national advocacy organization for people born with intersex conditions, or disorders of sex development. She is also a board member of Bridges to Independence, which provides community inclusion support and other services to adults with developmental disabilities.

A more detailed version of this report can be found on her personal blog, along with her report on the 2007 symposium.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reporting abuse in Iowa

DSobsey over at ICAD has written this post about a story in the DesMoine Register that reports, amongst other things, about the sacking of a health care worker two days after she reported on the abuse of an elderly resident at the Montrose Health Center in Southeast Iowa, where she worked. According to the DesMoines Register:

Laura Washburn thought she was doing the right thing when she told state inspectors about the abuse of an elderly resident at the Iowa nursing home where she worked.

But Washburn was fired a few days after making the report. Her boss at Montrose Health Center accused her of trying to intimidate a co-worker into giving state inspectors information about the alleged abuse. The co-worker, who has admitted under oath that she downplayed her report to the state to protect the nursing home, has since been promoted.

The story suggests, as DSobsey notes in his post, that the protection of health-care workers who report dependant-abuse continues to be a major problem across the United States, "despite mandatory reporting laws in 44 states".

His full post is here.

Recent reports about abuse and neglect

The following are summaries of some of the reports of abuse against people with with disabilities that have been in the news recently.

Norton Shores, Michigan (January 26) - A 51-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with abuse after allegedly punching her disabled son in the head in a doctor's office waiting room. More here ...

Raleigh, North Carolina (January 21) - An employee at a state home for the people with developmental disabilities was arrested and charged with abuse following the restraint of a teenage resident that resulted in “contusions and abrasions to the left and right sides of his face and behind his ear.” Full story here ...

Bronson, Florida (January 15) - Three people (two males, one female) employed to take care of a 51-year-old man with developmental disabilities were charged with neglecting him. The man, who was allegedly handcuffed or tied to a post inside the residence over the past year, was hospitalized with lacerations to both wrists from being handcuffed and severe sores on his buttocks that were infected, bruising and lacerations on his ribs, and a contusion on his left eye. More here ...

Santa Rosa, California (January 15) - A 44 year-old man was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for abusing a 67 year-old woman he was employed to care for. Reportedly, the man had left the woman, who is paralyzed down the left hand side of her body, without access to a motorized wheelchair, and she therefore was unable to move from the couch. Due to this neglect, she sustained extremely inflamed, open sores throughout her body and was treated at hospital. Full story here...

DeLand, Florida (January 14) - A 34-year-old man was arrested and charged with felony child abuse for choking his girlfriend's 4-year-old son, who has disabilities that prevent him from using his upper arms. Full story here ...

Coats, North Carolina (January 9): A 49-year-old woman was arrested and charged with neglect for allegedy abandoning her husband, who is disabled and cannot care for himself, leaving him alone for days without food or medicine. Full story here ...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen: recent developments

Yesterday (Monday), Steven Drake over at Not Dead Yet posted several new developments in the situation of Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen and noted that "things are looking up and Minna (and maybe others) can get the support she needs and is currently doing without". Here is the introduction to his post:

First, over the weekend, Minna's denial of in-home support went from a regional story to a national one in Canada. The Canadian Press picked up her story and it is now being disseminated all over Canada. This is a link to the story on

Encouragingly, this story focuses on the consequences of Minna's withdrawal of personal care, and on the determination of MPP France Gelinas, quoted in Friday's blog entry, to see this through and also to determine how many other people are being affected similarly.

His post in full is here ...
Special education teacher charged with intentional cruelty

Kristina Chew over at has a post by that title about an incident at a school in Fairfield, Conneticut, in which a 6-year-old girl with autism was asked by her special education teacher to remove her shirt in an effort to distract her from "fixating" on her striped shirt and stratching herself. As reported in the January 25th Connecticut Post, the girl then "sat in the classroom naked from the waist up" for about 15 minutes, after which a paraprofessional told the principal what was going on. Kristina's post in full is here. Here is an excerpt:

The Connecticut Post article focuses on the teacher's removing the "source of distraction"---the girl's shirt---and noted that this is an "an accepted method of handling a child with autism." Sara Reed, the executive director of the Autism Society of Connecticut, and Karen Cubbellotti, director of children's services at the Kennedy Center, are both interviewed; both note that removing an object that a child is fixating or distracted by is (in the words of Reed) a "'technique that is often used in dealing with fixations.'" Both women emphasized, though, that each autistic child is different and needs different teaching methods and approaches, and suggest that, while a certain technique might be effective with one child, it might not be with another.

That's certainly true and yet, it just seems a little puzzling that the child was in a public school classroom without a shirt on for 15 minutes and, indeed, "naked." Perhaps she could have been given another shirt to wear? It's noted that Valerlay has been a special education teacher for 30 years and has a master's degree in special education, but was there anyone else on hand---a behavioral therapist, perhaps----to consult with about what to do?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Neglected to death

Flint, Michigan - When the body of 73-year-old Katherine Mukdsi was found in a wheelchair on the front porch of her home last year, she weighed only 63 pounds; according to the medical examiner, the cause of her death was malnutrition and dehydration. Last Friday (January 23), her son, Christopher Mukdsi, aged 50, who lived with her, was charged with her murder for allowing her to die from malnutrition and dehydration. As reported by the Chicago Tribune,
Katherine Mukdsi was determined to be a homicide victim because she wasn't given proper care.

"She looked like she was 103," Prosecutor David Leyton said.

The Genesee County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Katherine Mukdsi died June 3 from "lack of care." Results of an autopsy noted malnutrition and dehydration, as well as bed sore ulcers on her body.

The 5-foot-4 woman weighed 63 pounds when she died, and her son carried her body outside after her death, washed it with a hose and put her body in a clean nightgown before calling 911, prosecutors said.

According to investigators, Christopher Mukdsi went to live with his mother after his father died in 2002, and supported himself from her Social Security checks, her pension and $300 monthly check she earned from investments. Christopher Mukdsi has been charged with murder and second-degree vulnerable adult abuse and is being held in jail. A pretrial hearing is set for this Friday.

See also this report by
Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen: an update

To read Stephen Drake's update on Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen, posted at Not Dead Yet on Friday, see here.

From Sunday's The Sudbury Star:

Social work students' protest pushes for home care for Canadian woman with ALS, Asperger's

Social work students from Laurentian University are demanding immediate action to resolve the case of a Sudbury woman suffering from ALS who says she is being denied home care.

About a dozen students staged a day-long protest downtown Jan. 23 to draw attention to the story of a woman they say has fallen through the cracks of a health-care system that is broken.

They admitted they don't have all the facts in the dispute between Minna Mettinen- Kekalainen (pictured) and the North East Community Care Access Centre, and protest leader Steve Murray said he recognized the agency couldn't speak about the case because of confidentiality laws."

We are not here to make anyone or any agency seem like a bad guy," said Murray, speaking through a megaphone in front of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's constituency office just before noon.

"But we are here to ensure that this issue does not get swept under the rug."

Murray said the purpose of their demonstration was twofold -- to get Mettinen- Kekalainen the services she needs and isn't receiving, and to call for collaboration to find out what happened in this case and to ensure it never happens again.

"Our message to both the government and the agencies involved here is that this situation is completely unacceptable," said Murray.

To read the story in full, see here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday round-up

According to UPI, a British man who went to Canada on 2001 and became a paraplegic the same year after a trucking accident was deported to England over the weekend after his work permit expired. According to Chris Mason, immigration officials said he should not be able to stay in the country without a work persmit because he was a burden on Canada and its resources. In this Winnepeg Sun report, Winnepeg MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis says the allows that allowed his deportation are discriminatory and intolerable and must change.

A study by the British Medical Journal has found that people caring for family members with dementia commonly abuse them with behavior such as swearing and shouting. A third of family caregivers said their abuse of the person they were looking after was significant, including frequent insulting or swearing, and half said they occasionally screamed or yelled at the person. Full story here ...

From Oregon - Wendy Booker, aged 54, will will strive to become the first person with multiple sclerosis to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's seven continents when she attempts Everest this spring.

From the BBC (UK): A confidential inquiry to investigate premature deaths of people with learning disabilities in England is to be set up by the Department of Health. It comes in response to an independent inquiry, published in July 2008, into the deaths of vulnerable National Health Service patients highlighted by Mencap. Cases include Martin Ryan, 43, who went 26 days without food before he died after staff did not fit a feeding tube.

The Obama Administration has posted its agenda on disability. The agenda is here.

The NY Times reported the death at age 91 of painter Andrew Wyeth, who was well-known for his painting of a disabled woman in "Christina's World."

The New York Times carried this review of Temple Grandin's new book Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals, which explores how animals make us human.

The Chicago Tribune reports the death on January 20 of disability activist and advocate Anne Marie Hopkins of complications from spinal muscular atrophy. Ms Hopkins, who was 24, was a graduate student in the disability studies masters program at University of Illinois at Chicago. Ms. Hopkins also formed a marketing company, 3E Love, to provide promotional items such as pins, buttons and T-shirts to special-education organizations. Printed on the items is a logo she designed of a wheelchair formed with a heart. "Embrace diversity. Educate your community. Empower each other." The Web site for 3E Love is

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen: an update

Andrea Shettle at ReunifyGally has put together some suggestions for helping in the effort to get Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen the home care services she needs. At her open invitation, I am repeating her post in full below:

We in the disability human rights community have an opportunity to save a life. A quick summary: a woman with disabilities in Sudsbury, Ontario, Canada (Minna Mettinen- Kekalainen) is SUPPOSED to be receiving home care services. The North East Community Care Access Center has been denying her these services. Minna says this is because she had complained about their nurses because they had failed to follow her doctor’s orders. Minna was on a prolonged hunger strike, starving herself to death in an attempt to pressure the CCAC to provide her the services she needs. She has started eating again, at least for now. But she is still being profoundly neglected. Please take a few minutes to support efforts among disability rights activists to save her life.

1. First, read more about the situation at the following two links. You will also want to read the comments that people have left, because people are using the comments area at this blog page to exchange more information and ideas on how people can help: and

2. Send an email to the following people to urge them to intervene on Minna’s behalf so she can receive the home care services that she is asking for:

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci Constituency Office email:
Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services email:
Minister of Health & Long-Term Care David Caplan:
Non-Canadians can use these email addresses, too. If enough individual people write to them, they may take notice.

3. Consider also communicating with the North East Community Care Access Center on Minna’s behalf. This is the center that is refusing care to Minna (unfortunately there seems to be no email contact for them): North East Community Care Access Centre (the centre that is refusing care to Minna)Head Office/Sudbury Branch1760 Regent StreetSudbury ON P3E 3Z8(705) 522-3461 or 1 (800) 461-2919 (Sudbury To access the Long-Term Care ACTION Line call: 1-866-876-7658 or TTY: 1-800-387-5559.
(More detail on their Complaints and Appeals Process at

4. Also consider communicating with the Maison Vale Inco Hospice–this is a different place (NOT related to the North East Community Care Access Center), and Minna would like to be admitted there. Maison Vale Inco Hospice (the place Minna
hopes to gain admittance to) (705) 674-92521028 South Bay Rd. Sudbury, ON P3E 6J7, Website:

Resident Care Coordinator Elaine Klym: Executive Director is Léo Therrie

5. If you will be in Ontario on January 23, consider joining a protest and march on Minna’s behalf.

6. Join the Facebook group, “Minna’s Hunger Strike–Call to Action for an ALS Patient Denied Care” to learn the latest news on what is happening with Minna’s case and what people are doing to help. If you are not already a member of Facebook, it only takes a few minutes to sign up for a free account.

7. Please circulate this text further via your network of contacts in the disability and human rights communities, Facebook page, blog site, etc.

Thank you for taking action.

Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen

Minna Mettinen-Kekalainen is a 42-year-old woman with Asperger's syndrome and ALS in Ontario, Canada who has been on hunger stike because she is allegedly being refused the home care services she needs. The Sudbury Star has an article about her here, and Amanda Baggs over at Ballastexistenze has a post here. Tomorrow (Friday), social work students at Laurentian University will stage a day-long protest Friday to raise awareness about her situation. They will demonstrate in front of Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office from 8 a. m. to noon, then march to the North East Community Care Access Centre in the Rainbow Centre for a demonstration until 4 p.m. There are additional details and an update on Minna's condition in this morning's Sudbury Star. Here is an excerpt:

A friend of Mettinen- Kekalainen, who is also her legal power of attorney, said she has begun accepting her food supplement again, ending her hunger strike.

Jason Bushie said Mettinen- Kekalainen has also experienced a positive mood swing in the last few days. She has been deemed a palliative patient by her family physician, but that is not stopping her from getting out, in her motorized wheelchair and via Handi-Transit, for outings such as one she took to a Sudbury bookstore Wednesday.

Bushie said Mettinen- Kekalainen still is not receiving personal support or nursing care from the access centre, although there have been attempts to try to set up appointments. Her voice has been so affected by ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, that she can no longer use the telephone and must rely on e-mail for communication. That is making it more difficult to set up appointments for treatment.

Bushie said last week the access centre told him it does not have nurses available to care for his friend, since the nursing agency that complained about Mettinen- Kekalainen refused to treat her.

Mettinen-Kekalainen suffers from asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder characterized by autistic-like behaviour and deficiencies in social and communication skills.

Murray said social work students hope their protest will get more people in the community talking about Mettinen-Kekalainen's situation. They also hope it will cause the access centre to reconsider its position on her care and prompt Bartolucci to get more active in her case.

Mona Winberg, 1932-2009

Toronto, ON, Canada - Many newspapers in Toronto are reporting the death on Monday from pneumonia of disability activist and Toronto Sun columnist Mona Winberg. Mona Winberg was born in Toronto in 1932 and had cerebral palsy. She was 76. The following memorial appeared yesterday in the Toronto Star:

The doctors told her parents she would never amount to anything. Put her in an institution, they said, and forget the whole thing ever happened.

Talk about a misdiagnosis.

Disabled rights activist Mona Winberg, born in Toronto with cerebral palsy in 1932, died Monday after a two-week battle with pneumonia. She was 76.

Despite problems walking, poor co-ordination, involuntary muscle movements, a severe hearing disability and a speech impediment – or perhaps because of all those things – Winberg was a tireless proponent of disabled rights throughout a career that spanned decades.

That career started when she turned 16 and joined an association for people with cerebral palsy. In the early '60s, she started writing for the newsletter of the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy. And in 1972, she was the first disabled person to become its president.

Winberg began speaking to audiences throughout the country, and lobbying for Wheel-Trans and improved accessibility in public buildings. By the early '80s, she was editing an international newspaper published by the OFCP and acting as the Canadian Cerebral Palsy Association's director-at-large.

"The problem with being handicapped is you always have to make the first overture, because people don't know how to react. They're nervous, fearful, apprehensive. They don't know if you're animal, mineral or vegetable," Winberg told the Star in a 1983 interview.

In 1986, Winberg was hired by the Toronto Sun after challenging the newspaper to explain why it didn't report on disabled issues, said nephew Sidney Troister. She wrote a weekly column until 1999.

Her work didn't go unnoticed. Winberg racked up a number of honours, including the Clancy and Fred Gardiner awards and induction to the Terry Fox Hall of Fame. In 2001, she was named to the Order of Canada.

Perhaps most significantly, "she lived independently until the very end," said niece Deena Baltman. "This was something that was incredibly important to her ... her view was that at most facilities out there, frankly, she would be put in a diaper and stuck in a corner."

In a statement, Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley hailed Winberg as a "constant source of inspiration."

To read other memorials for Mona, see here and here.

RIP, Mona Winberg.

Disability and music

Here is a link to a post by that title over at Racialicious. It includes links to two powerful videos that focus on hip-hop artists with disabilities in Zimbabwe and Lebanon. Readers might also find some of the discussion that follows in the comments section interesting. Here is an excerpt:

What would images that view disability as a social construction look like? How can those of us who are educators incorporate discussions of disability into our teaching? Where are resources for us? How can we use popular culture when we teach about disability?

In response to these questions, my small cohort of friends and scholars working within an intersectional framework started to share resources. I’ve spoken with Angel about the song “Blind Mary” by Gnarls Barkley and how there are positive aspects of the song and some problematic areas, yet it is one of the better teaching tools involving music we have to show how disability is a social construction.

The full post is here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Request to remove life support from 6-month old boy withdrawn

Dallas, Texas - A request to withdraw life support from a severely disabled 6-month-old boy, whose parents have been arrested on charges of abusing him, has been withdrawn. As reported in the Dallas News, 6-month-old David Coronado Jr., who has severe brain and spinal injuries, as well as numerous other skin and skeletal injuries as a result of his abuse, has been in intensive care since last month when he stopped breathing and was rushed to a hospital to be resuscitated. The baby’s court-appointed guardian, who requested last week that David's life support be removed, told a juvenile court judge yesterday (Tuesday) that doctors have determined there has been a change in his condition, though it's not known what that change is. Here is an excerpt from the Dallas News report:
A doctor reported in December that he expected David to suffer severe disabilities if he survived. It is unclear if doctors now expect the baby to remain in a vegetative or minimally conscious state.

Meanwhile, word of the possible hearing on withdrawing the child's life support had spread over the weekend among right-to-life and disabilities-rights groups, at least one of which readied attorneys to intervene Tuesday morning.

"Brains are very resilient, and in a 6-month-old baby, to conclude that he's neurologically devastated and is going to stay permanently that way I think is irresponsible," said Jerri Lynn Ward, an attorney representing Not Dead Yet, a disabilities-rights group.

Schreier's motion to allow support to be withdrawn did not explain her reasoning, other than to say that it was in the baby's best interest and that she had discussed the issue with doctors at Children's.

The motion does not make clear the hospital's stance. Texas' "futile-care" law outlines a procedure that allows a hospital's ethics committee to authorize withdrawal of support over a family's objections in some cases. The baby is in temporary CPS custody, but the agency has not taken a position.

The motion noted that the baby's parents have not consented to any withdrawal of life support. David Cesar Coronado Sr., 23, and Ruthy Marie Chabolla, 22, are accused of abusing their only child so cruelly that he has been in intensive care since last month, when he stopped breathing and was rushed to a hospital to be resuscitated.

In addition to severe brain and spinal cord injuries, a doctor reported the baby had 42 separate skeletal injuries and numerous skin injuries that included human bite marks. Many of the fractures had healed some, the doctor said, indicating they were several weeks old. Both parents have denied deliberately hurting their child, telling police that the injuries may have occurred while the baby slept with them.

Further details of this terribly sad story are here. Earlier reports are here and here.

Thoughts are with you, David.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alexis Glover: an update

Manassas, Virginia - According to reports by MSNBC and the Washington Post police and child protective services were called six weeks before Alexis Glover was found dead after she went to a neighbour with a gash on her head and told him that her mother had beaten her. As reported by the Washington Post:

Byers said his wife saw Lexie, wrapped in the kind of tarp used to cover a barbecue, wile warming up her truck to go to work about 5 a.m. that day last month. Realizing her condition, she invited Lexie inside and gave her some clothes.

Lexie told the couple that her mother had used a stick she kept in the garage to reprimand her for wearing a piece of clothing.

“She didn’t want to tell me her name or where she lived, because she said they kept sending her back and her mother had hit her numerous times,” Byers said.

Byers said he was reluctant to call police because he feared they would send her home again. After a couple of hours, Lexie mentioned the name of a counselor she had met with at a psychiatric hospital, whom Byers then tried to contact. He was referred to a child protection hotline, which he called, and then received a call from someone at social services.

“The woman said, ‘We’re going to protect your privacy, and we’ll show up with police when they get to your door,’ ” Byers said. “Not quite an hour after that, the police showed up with no social services.”

The police officer told Byers that Lexie had a history of running away. He called for an ambulance when Byers showed him the gash on her head. Before leaving for a nearby hospital, the phone rang, he said. It was Gregg-Glover, who somehow had gotten Byers’s number, and asked to speak to the officer, he said.

“I hand [the phone] to the officer, and he had this real perplexed look on his face and he mouthed to me, ‘It’s her mother,’ ” Byers said. “Even the officer was flustered about that. He said, ‘That’s wrong. [Social services] shouldn’t have” shared Byers’s phone number.

As reported in previous FRIDA posts, the body of Alexis Glover, who was developmentally disabled, was found submerged in a creek on Friday 9 January, 2009. Her mother, Alfreedia Gregg-Glover, has since been arrested and charged with felony child neglect and filing a false police report in connection with her daughter's death. It is not known whether Alexis was dead when she was placed in the creek or whether she died in the water but her death is being investigated as a murder. Alfreedia Gregg-Glover has not been charged with Alexis' death.

Full details are here and here ...
Reports in the media of sexual abuse

The following are summaries of some of the reports in the media of sexual assault against people with disabilities during this past week (13 January-20 January, 2009). In all cases, the sexual assailant is a male. Four of those attacked are female, three are male and all have developmental disabilities. One of the men also has a physical disability.

Oshkosh, Wisconsin (January 16, 2009) - A 53-year-old man has been convicted on three counts of sexual assault - according to this report from the North Western, the man coerced a 28-year-old woman with developmental disabilities into providing him with "sexual favours' by threatening not to suction her breathing tube.

Taunton, Massachusetts (January 16, 2009) - A 23-year-old man was sentenced to 7-10 years in prison after being convicted of raping a developmentally disabled man he had befriended several times between 2004 and 2006. According to this report in the Boston Herald, the man threatened to kill the man and his mother if he told anyone.

Quitman, Texas (January 14, 2009) - A 63-year-old man has been sentenced to two 20-year-prison terms for sexually assaulting two women with developmental disabilities at a privately owned living facility where he worked as a maintenance man. More here ...

Chetek, Wisconsin (14 January, 2009) - An 18-year-old male teenager was charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl with developmental disabilities. According to this report, the girl alleges that during four out of the five times she was assaulted, there was alcohol involved, and the teenager brought it over.

Monroe County, Tennessee (January 14, 2009) - A 38-year-old man has been charged with raping a developmentally disabled man under his care. According to, the man had been working as a "Host and Companion" for Adult Community Training; the two men were living together from 2005 to 2007 when the sexual assaults occurred.

Bixby, Oklahoma (January 13, 2009) - According to this Fox 23 News report, a 36-year-old man was was arrested and released on bond after being charged with sexually molesting a male nursing home resident who is described as blind and disabled.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Call for papers: Disorderly Conduct (July 24-26, 2009)

Interdisciplinary Conference
July 24-26, 2009
Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Keynote speaker: Dr. Steven Angelides, Department of Women’s Studies, Monash University

Other featured speakers will be confirmed for the release of the official conference announcement to follow.


The conference, “Disorderly Conduct” will bring together scholars from around the world and from such disciplines as sociology, philosophy, health studies, history, women’s studies, and medicine to explore and problematize the notion of a “disorder”. The conference seeks to bring front-line medical and mental health personnel who treat various “disorders” together with humanities, social science and health and disability studies scholars who work (in one way or another) on theoretical questions related both to specific “disorders” and to the notion of a disorder simpliciter. In workshops and symposia, conference participants will engage questions like the following: What, if any, are the downsides of being diagnosed with a disorder? Does the concept of a disorder provide treatment advantages or disadvantages? Are there other advantanges or disadvantages that it incurs, besides those related to the treatment itself, for those diagnosed with a disorder? Can we reasonably expect to avoid problems of stigmatization and marginalization by turning to a medicalized language of disorder to apprehend and explain embodied difference?

Conference organizers kindly invite submissions from scholars and health (physical and mental) professionals in all disciplines. Abstracts (500 words), papers (2500 words, 20 minute papers for delivery in 30 minute time slots), symposium proposals, workshop proposals, and roundtable discussion proposals will be considered. Proposals for symposia should include the names and affiliations of all participants and their papers or abstracts. Authors submitting abstracts should be prepared to submit final versions of their papers to the conference organizers by June 30.

All submissions will be anonymously reviewed; names should appear only on a cover page, and cover pages should be attached in a separate file. Authors’ names or other identifying information should be removed from the properties of files before submission. Authors should indicate on their title pages if they wish to have their submissions considered for inclusion in the published proceedings of the conference . All submissions should be emailed to both Morgan Holmes at mholmes at wlu dot ca and at Shannon Dea at sjdea at uwaterloo dot ca by midnight February 27, 2009. Authors should expect to know the decision of the program committee by around March 1, 2009.

Authors might consider submitting a proposal concerning one of the following (but should not feel confined by what is merely intended as a suggestive list):

*What relationship (if any) holds between the concepts, diagnosis and treatment of gender identity disorder and disorders of sexual development?

* What lessons should the editors of the inchoate DSM V take from the DSM IV?

* Is old age treated as a disorder? Should it be?

* What role does “big pharma” play in the identification of various disorders?

* Does our current notion of a disorder adequately reflect our understanding of the social determinants of health?

*How can we use the concept of “disorderly conduct” to subvert the use of labelling practices and normative medicine?

Conference organizers are currently seeking federal funding to support this conference. Contingent upon their success, they may be able to financially assist speakers with their travel and accommodations costs.

For more information on “Disorderly Conduct,” see the conference website at

(h/t What sorts of people)

Philosopher crip on Peter Singer’s Tribute to Harriet McBryde Johnson

In a earlier post, FRIDA noted that many people in the disability community were outraged with the New York Times for its selection of philosopher Peter Singer to write a tribute to lawyer, writer, disability activist Harriet McBryde Johnson. One person who expressed outrage against his selection was history professor Paul Longmore. His response appeared recently at the Not Dead blogspot and you can read it here (see also this post over at What sorts of people). My attention was also drawn to this response by the blogger Philosopher Crip which is interesting for being, amongst other things, less black and white and more nuanced than the rigorously critical response by Longmore. Its entitled "Peter Singer and Harriet McBryde Johnson: Humanizing our opponents?" - here is an excerpt:

So, if Harriet is right and we cannot reject Singer as “categorically evil,” does this ean that we should uncritically accept him as a spokesman for telling the final chapter of her story in the New York Times? One objection that I think needs to be raised is the notion that she should be defined only in contrast to him. That is, Harriet’s life and work were important in their own right and should be remembered as such. It seems wrong to characterize this leader within our community as only an opponent of Singer’s positions who happened to once allow herself to be tokenized and invited to Princeton (note: Harriet herself describes this experience as a tokenization). It seems to me, her work to resist the telethon, at the very least, deserves equal air time when publicly summarizing her life. The offense is not THAT Peter Singer wrote the article, but that it did not do her justice as a force unto herself.

So, my objection to Singer’s obituary is not offense at him being some kind of monster. This would be counter-productive to our cause in that he and others clearly responded better to Harriet’s measured argument than Not Dead Yet style civil disobedience. This is true for philosophers as a general rule, I’d say. If we are to silence dangerous opinions, we must do it with arguments of our own that show the opinion holders and the public at large why we are right. Sometimes, when we are silenced we must use our collective action to get the attention of powers that be with tactics like civil disobedience. But, once we are taken seriously by our opponents in the public sphere, it is time to move past the chanting and the arrests and address our opponents how we wish to be addressed, as fellow human beings.

The full text of Philosopher Crip's post is here ... I'm sure he would appreciate your thoughts.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday round-up

From Wave-Tv in Louisville, Kentucky - Two homeless and deaf men have been arrested and charged with two recent murders.

From the Associated Press - Disability rights advocates have filed a class-action law suit against the city of Los Angeles, contending that special-needs residents have been overlooked in its disaster response plan.

From The National in the United Arab Emerites - Katie Newitt, 43-year-old mother of three is preparing to become the first blind person to run the Dubai Marathon this month.

The Los Angeles Times reports that problems with accessibility are expected at the inauguration for people with disabilities, despite accommodations.

From the [UK] Guardian and the [UK] Telegraph: "Prenatal screening for autism is closer to reality today with the release of a study that links high levels of testosterone in the womb of pregnant women to autistic traits in their children. The new data is prompting experts to call for a public debate about prenatal testing and selective termination for autism ..."

Fayatteville, Northwest Arkansas - A woman has filed federal lawsuits against three area business alleging they are not accessible to people with disabilities. More here ...

Seattle, Washington - A 48-year old man has pleaded guilty to malicious harassment and attempted malicious harassment stemming from several verbal tirades against a 13-year-old boy with autism. More here ... (h/t to ICAD)

From the [UK] Telegraph - A report released in the UK by the disability advocacy group Mencap entitled "Death by Indifference" highlights the "unneccessary" deaths of six NHS patients with learning disabilities. See also this BBC report titled "Call for damning death verdicts".

Cleveland, Ohio - The family of a girl with Down syndrome has filed a suit against her school, alleging she was sexually violated by two male classmates. More here ...

From reports in the [Edinburgh] Scotsman, Fox News, [UK] Times, UPI - A 25-year old woman in the UK is pregant with conjoined twins and says she will carry them to term, even although her doctors advised her to have an abortion. A spokesman for the UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said he has observed a subtle change in attitude toward babies with disabilities, with more couples opting to carry them to term. The reason for the change, he said, is the better care and understanding demonstrated by society. (h/t to Patricia E Bauer)

From the Associated Press - The National Disability Rights Network has called for a ban on seclusion and prone restraint, saying that children across the country, many with disabilities, have been injured or killed when they were restrained or secluded at school.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alexis Glover: an update

As reported by FRIDA yesterday, Alexis's mother, Alfreedia Gregg-Glover, has been arrested and charged with felony child neglect and filing a false police report in connection with her daughter's death. According to the Washington Post this morning, Ms Gregg-Glover is alleged to have placed her daughter in the creek bed on January 7, shortly before reporting her missing.

Glover positioned her daughter's locator bracelet -- a device that enables deputies to find endangered missing people -- near a Manassas library to make it appear that Lexie had removed it and run away, they said. Gregg-Glover then appealed through the media for help in finding her daughter.

It is not known whether Alexis was dead when she was placed in the creek or whether she died in the water, but police said they are investigating her death as a murder. They are waiting for a medical examiner's report to explain how she died.

Alfreedia Gregg-Glover has not been charged with Alexis' death. Police are also looking into allegations that Alexis was abused.

As noted earlier, Alexis, a 13-year-old African-American girl who had developmental disabilities, was last seen last Wednesday with her mother at a local library. Sadly, her body was found in a creek eight miles away.

The story in full is here ...
Couer d'Ale, Idaho - Eight-year-old-girl taken from school by police in handcuffs

An exerpt follows from this story from which reports on the handcuffing and subsequent detention of eight-year-old Evelyn Towry, a third grade at Kootenai Elemenary who has Asperger's Syndrome after she was told she couldn't wear a cow costume to a Christmas party:

"She wanted to attend a Christmas party in her cow sweatshirt and they told her she couldn't that she would have to tuck the tail in and put ears down and she dug her heels in the way she does quite often and said she wouldn't take it off," Evelyn's mom Spring said.

Spring says that when Evelyn tried to leave anyway two teachers restrained her, which is when Evelyn began kicking, pinching and spitting on the teachers.

"Well, I kicked because I was upset they were holding me down and I got thumb bruises on me," Evelyn said.

School officials then called the police and Evelyn's mom. When Spring got to school to pick her daughter up police were already escorting Evelyn in handcuffs out of the building and into a police cruiser. Police then took her to a local juvenile detention center where she stayed for an hour, after which she was allowed to go home.
Why didn't teachers just let Evelyn wear a cow costume to the party? What were they thinking?

See also Kristina Chew's post about this at and the discussion that follows in the comments section.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Update on the killing of Alexis Glover

Manassas, Virginai - According to Fox News and WUSA9, Alexis Glover's mother, Alfreedia Leona Gregg-Glover, has been arrested and charged with felony child neglect and filing a false police report in connection with her daughter's death:

Earlier Tuesday, Prince William County Police searched the house of Alfreedia Leona Gregg-Glover looking for clues into her adopted daughter's death. At around 10:00pm Tuesday night, Alexis Glover's adoptive mother was arrested.
As noted in earlier FRIDA posts, 13-year-old Alexis, who had developmental disabilities, was last seen last Wednesday with her mother at a local library. Sadly, her body was found on Friday in a creek eight miles away.

As of now, noone has been charged with the killing of Alexis. Manassas police will be holding a press conference about the investigation today.
Caretaker charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy

Silver Spring, Maryland - A 61-year-old man hired to care for an 11-year-old boy with autism has been charged with sexually abusing him, the DC Examiner reports. According to the report, Abdul Mohamed Kudsy

was hired by the 11-year-old’s family through Children Achieving Maximum Potential, a Rockville business that provides help to autistic children, police said. Kudsy cared for the boy during various social situations, police said. On Dec. 29, police started investigating allegations that Kudsy had abused the 11-year-old. Detectives learned Kudsy had inappropriate contact with the boy, including one occasion when he took photographs of the 11-year-old while the boy was partially clothed, police said.
Kudsy has been charged with sexual abuse of a minor and third-degree sexual abuse, and is being held in jail on $500,000 bail.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Recent reports in the media of sexual abuse

The following are summaries of some of the recent reports in the media of sexual assault against people with disabilities not covered in previous posts by FRIDA. In all of these cases, the sexual assailant is a male; in four out of five of them, those attacked by him are female. Three of the women and the man have development disabilities; one woman has cerebral palsy. The ages of the women range between 14 and 52; the male is 56.

Charlotte, North Carolina - A man was charged and arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a 52-year-old woman with developmental disabilities. According to police, the man followed her home from the bus stop and attacked her in her house. He is also believed to have stolen money from her. More here ...

Normandy, Missouri - A former male employee at a Normandy area nursing home was arrested and charged for sexually assaulting a 36-year-old female resident of the home who has cerebral palsy. The man had worked at the nursing home for nearly a year and a half and passed a background check, according to the administrator of the home. More here ...

Stratford, Iowa - A 41-year-old man has been charged with sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman with developmental and physical disabilities numerous times over the past year. He was charged with three counts of third-degree sexual assault and one count of fourth-degree sexual assault, police said. More here ...

Everett, Washington - A 33-year-old former police officer has been charged with raping his 11-year-old female relative and her 14-year-old friend who has developmental disabilities while they were on a sleepover at his apartment. More here ...

Wenatchee, Washington - A male caretaker for a company that offers residential services to adults with developmental disabilities man was arrested on suspicion of of raping a 56-year-old man with developmental disabilities in his apartment. More here ...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Petition to protest humanitarian award for Jerry Lewis

A petition has been launched to protest Jerry Lewis being awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at next month's Oscar awards ceremony. Many people in the disability community are protesting this award because they feel that Jerry Lewis, who runs the annual Telethon to raise money for people with muscular dystrophy in the US, perpetuates and entrenches negative stereotypes and prejudices about people with disabilities. American disability activist and author Laura Hershey has written the petition which will be delivered to the Academy. Here is an excerpt:
To: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

This petition has been launched to object to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ announcement that it will give Jerry Lewis its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscar Awards ceremony on February 22, 2009.

During his decades of hosting the Labor Day Telethon, Jerry Lewis has helped to perpetuate negative, stereotypical attitudes toward people with muscular dystrophy and other disabilities. Jerry Lewis and the Telethon actively promote pity as a fundraising strategy. Disabled people want RESPECT and RIGHTS, not pity and charity.

In 1990, Lewis wrote that if he had muscular dystrophy and had to use a wheelchair, he would “just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person.” During the 1992 Telethon, he said that people with MD, whom he always insists on calling “my kids,” “cannot go into the workplace. There’s nothing they can do.” Comments like these have led disability activists and our allies to protest against Jerry Lewis. We’ve argued that he uses the Telethon to promote pity, a counterproductive emotion which undermines our social equality. Here’s how Lewis responded to the Telethon protesters during a 2001 television interview: “Pity? You don’t want to be pitied because you’re a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!”

To read the entire petition and sign it, go here:

(via SDS listserv)

Alexis Glover's death has been ruled a homicide

The death on Friday of thirteen-year-old Alexis Glover in Manassas, Virginia, has been ruled a homicide, according to MSNBC. As reported in earlier posts by FRIDA, Alexis, who was also known as "Lexie," was last seen last Wednesday at the Central Library in Manassas. Her body was found on Friday afternoon in a creek bed eight miles away.

Alexis' family has said in recent day that Alexis was autistic and suffered from sickle cell anemia as well. Her mother, Freedia Glover, who adopted Alexis when she was six-years-old, said that she had run away before and that she liked to hide from the people searching for her. Because Alexis had a history of running away, she was fitted with a GPS tracking bracelet. But apparently, she would slip it off; on Wednesday, sheriff's deputies found Lexie's bracelet on the ground not far from the library within 20 minutes of receiving word that she was missing. Her body was found on Friday about 12:30 p.m. by a man who was out for a walk. She was submerged in about 2 feet of water.

According to WJLA News this morning, police say there are no suspects in the disappearance and killing of Alexis and it's still not known how she died.

For further details in the press, see here and here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Update on Alexis Glover

Sadly, 13-year-old Alexis "Lexie" Glover was found dead yesterday afternoon in a creek bed about 8 miles from where she was last seen. It is believed she was murdered. As reported by the Washington Post,
Police said last night that they are treating Alexis "Lexie" Glover's death as a homicide but declined to provide details about the condition of the body for fear of jeopardizing the investigation. Police said that it is unclear how Lexie ended up in the creek or how long she had been in the water but that it is highly unlikely she found her own way there.

Our deepest sympathies to Alexis' family and to all who loved her for their tragic loss.

Rest in peace, Alexis.

Friday, January 09, 2009

13-year-old girl missing in Manassas, Virginia


Manassas, Virginia - Police in Prince William County are looking for a 13-year-old girl with developmental disabilities who was last seen at about noon on Wednesday.

Alexis Glover was last seen about noon at the Central Library at 8601 Mathis Avenue in Manassas, where she was with a guardian, police said. In addition to her disability, Glover has other medical issues, which police declined to specify.

Alexis stands 5-foot-3 and weighs 85 pounds. She is black with short, dark hair and dark eyes and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a green and beige sweater and white tennis shoes. Alexis likely would hide from officers, police said.
Anyone who sees her or has knowledge of her whereabouts should call police at 703-792-6500.
Friday roundup

From the Chicago Tribune: Irene C. Henry, who pioneered care for kids with developmental disabilities, has died. She was 91. (h/t to Patricia E Bauer)

Elyria, Ohio - The parents of a student with Down syndrome are suing Oberlin Schools because, it is alleged, they failed to protect their daughter from being sexually assaulted by two fellow students. Full story here ....

Clovis, New Mexico - A 43-year-old Clovis woman has been charged with forgery and embezzlement after being accused of draining more than $13,000 from the bank accounts of people with disabilities. Full story here ... (h/t Media d&dat)

The death of a Amalie Shean, who was struck and killed while operating her wheelchair on a major thoroughfare, exposes longstanding transportation problems in Fayetteville, North Carolina, accoring to this report from the Fayetteville [NC] Observer.

Fairhaven, Massachusetts — A bus driver allegedly left a 24-year-old man with cerebral palsy alone inside a vehicle for nearly two hours while she visited people. According to this report, she told police she had forgotten that the man inside the vehicle until she received a phone call from her manager.

80-year-old Bert Holbrook from Waseca, Minnesota, has been recognized as the oldest known person with Down Syndrome. More here ...

From the BBC: Scientists are coming closer to developing a reliable prenatal test for autism, which would open the door to selective abortion as well as the possibility of a prenatal drug treatment to prevent it.

State police are investigating an attempted food poisoning that occurred at a home for people with disabilities in Cheshire, Conneticut. More here ...

From the New York Times: Philip B. Corbett, the deputy news editor who oversees the New York Times style manual, writes that the Times could do better at using words like “disabled,” “blind” or “deaf” as modifiers rather than nouns. He cites recent examples of stories in which the newspaper used constructions like “the blind” and “the disabled.” (h/t Patricia E Bauer)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bus driver charged with sexually assaulting six female passengers

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - The Pittsburgh Tribune reports that a 74-year-old male driver for the bus firm First Student (formerly Laidlaw) has been charged with sexually assaulting six of his female passengers over a three-year-period. The ages of the women, all of whom have developmental disabilities, range between 27 and 52. According to police complaints,

all six victims were picked up by the bus or van at their residences and were delivered to therapy or training facilities in the morning and then returned home in the afternoon.

During either the morning trip to the victims' place of therapy or training facility, or the trip home to residences, Lizza would pull the bus off the road, into a parking area or other area, and sexually molest, fondle and assault one or more of the victims."

Paul A Lizza, who was employed as a part time substitute driver for the bus firm and has since been suspended, has been charged with six counts each of indecent assault on a person with a mental disability, indecent contact without consent and institutional sexual assault. He has been released on $5,000 bail and a preliminary hearing has been set for March 3 2009.

According to Nicole Jones, a spokesperson for First Student, the bus firm has "the most stringent employee check and re-check screening programs in the industry in the world," adding that according to their information, Paul Lizza had a clean record.

Yet according to one of the witnesses interviewed by police, these assaults "have been going on for years."

Something, then, or someone, has failed these women. Where is the problem?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


is the title of this mesmerizing dance piece by disabled dancer and performance artist and activist Kaz Langley.

For a suggestive review of some of Kaz Langley's earlier dance films by Wheelchair Dancer click here ...
Beth Haller's review of representations of people with disabilities on US TV in 2008

Disability Visibility in US Entertainment TV in 2008

by BA Haller,
Media dis&dat blog
The visibility of people with disabilities in entertainment media helps subtly educate diverse audiences about the disability experience in America. Many non-disabled Americans have little contact with people with disabilities in their daily lives unless they have friends or family with a disability. Therefore, they get much of their information about disability from the media and these images have the potential to change attitudes. (A 1991 Louis Harris poll showed that Americans surveyed were less likely to feel awkward around people with disabilities after viewing fictional TV or film presentations about people with disabilities.)

Read the the full review here ....

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Abuse against the elderly

The following are some of the cases of abuse against the elderly that have been in the news since December 1, 2008. In these cases, the abusers are both men and women, as are those who have been abused by them, though notably, the cases of abuse against women outnumber those against men by about 2:1 (according to a 2004 National Center of Elder Abuse Study, older women (67%) are far more likely than men (32%) to suffer from abuse and slightly more than half of the alleged perpetrators of elder abuse were female (53%). According to this fact sheet prepared by the National Centre on Elder Abuse (NCEA), between 1 and 2 million Americans aged 65 years or older have been injured, exploited or mistreated by someone they depend upon for care and protection. It is estimated that for every one case of abuse reported to authorities, about five more go unreported. One consistent finding, over a ten-year study period, is that reports have increased each year.

Have you seen the elderly people around you recently?

Port St. Lucie, Florida - A 65-year-old man faces charges of elder abuse after his emaciated 90-year-old mother was found wearing urine-soaked cloathing and sleeping on a waste-filled mattress. She had been wearing her shoes for so long, they had become attached to her feet. More here ...

Gainesville, Florida - A 49-year-old has been accused of stomping his 68-year-old mother while wearing work boots, breaking her foot and ankle, and then leaving her on the floor of home for two days without food or water. She was found by her two daughters and taken to a hospital. More here ...

Beaufort, North Carolina - The caregiver of an 80-year-old woman has been arrested and charged with leaving her lying on the floor of the bathroom in her own feces for more than an hour. She had fallen trying to get to the bathroom on her own because the caregiver had not come to assist her. More here ...

San Diego, California - A 34-year-old man is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars from a 92-year-old man he was hired to temporarily care for. More here ...

Visalia, California - A 62-year-old Visalia woman who took in a male relative on Christmas Day because she felt sorry for him spent the next week as his captive in her mobile home. He also beat her. More here ...

Richfield Springs, New York - The wife and two sons of an elderly man were charged with endangering his welfare after he was admitted to a local hospital with serious injuries. The three, aged 74, 47 and 41 respectively, were the man's caregivers. More here ...

Steger, Illinios - Authorities are investigating the death of an 86-year-old woman from severe deydration and multiple ulcers as a possible case of elder abuse. More here ...

Pittsburg, Kansas - Five Allegheny County employees were arrested and accused of assaulting and harrassing an 84-year-old woman with Alzheimer's at a county-run nursing home. One of the accused female caretakers has faced similar charges before. Full story here ...

Parkersburg - W.Virginia - A 74-year-old man with developmental disabilities died from malnourishment after the man hired to care for him moved him from his bedroom to the basement last year. The 48-year-old man has been charged with neglecting an incapacitated adult or elderly person. Full story here ...

Jackson, Mississippi - A 38-year-old female nursing home assistant has been charged with elder abuse in connection with the assault of elderly woman at a nursing home. More here ...

Talahassee, Florida - A 56-year-old male nursing assistant at a Veteran's Affairs Hospital has been charged with striking a 59-year-old male patient in the head two or three times and then tipping him out of his wheelchair. He later explained the incident by saying of the patient "He hit me and I just lost it." More here ...

Muskegon, Michigan - A 50-year-old male was charged with second-degree elder abuse after his 85-year-old mother was found on a couch covered in her feces and urine. More here ...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Paralympic swimmer Marin Morrison has died

There is a fabulous video about her here. RIP, Marin.

From KOMO-TV in Seattle (h/t to Media dis&dat):

Sammamish, Washington - Marin Morrison, a member of the 2008 USA Paralympic Swim Team who competed in Beijing, died Friday morning after a long fight against brain cancer. She was 18 years old.

Marin struggled to compete in three events in Beijing despite a near fatal stroke and a fourth brain surgery earlier in spring 2008. Marin's story was featured prominently on NBC's Paralympics special last fall, and KOMO News donated $5,000 from its Problem Solvers fund to help pay for her trip to China.

Marin was a nationally ranked age group swimmer and her high school's most valuable swimmer when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 14 in February 2005. After two surgeries, she recovered and continued to compete at a high level for her club team SwimAtlanta through the summer of 2005.

A third operation in August of 2005 left her with partial paralysis on her right side. After moving to the Seattle area for more treatment, Marin began swimming again as a disabled athlete, first for Eastlake High School in Sammamish, and then as a member of the U.S. National team. She holds two American records in the S-5 classification.

Marin earned a spot on the USA Paralympic team at the swimming trials in Minneapolis last Apri just as her health began to take a serious downturn. Surgeons performed a fourth brain surgery May 2 to stem intracranial bleeding.

Marin spent six weeks in Seattle Children's Hospital before returning home determined to accomplish her goal of swimming for Team USA in Beijing. Against steep odds, she was able to make the trip to China and completed all three of her events.

Church members, friends and neighbors staged a huge, emotional sendoff for her as she left for the international athletic competition, complete with a ride to the airport in a long, black limo."It is probably one of the greatest moments of our life, to be honest with you," her father, Matt, said at the time.

Her Olympic experience was topped off in October with a trip to the White House for a reception hosted by President and Mrs. Bush for the entire 2008 Summer Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Marin is survived by her parents Matt and Nancy Morrison; her sister Camlyn, 14; and brother Michael, 6, all of the family home in Sammamish. She also leaves behind her grandparents, and many aunts, uncles and cousins in California and across the country.

Marin inspired hundreds of thousands of followers all over the world through her story chronicled by her parents on her Caring Bridge web page at

Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday round-up

The New York Daily reported the death of a 7-year-old, disabled, girl Chelsea Maldonado after she fell from the fifth floor of her Bronx (NY) apartment.

A former employee of PARC, an organization that provides programs and advocacy for people with developmental disabilities, has been charged with harassing and threatening a disabled person for whom he was paid to provide care and assistance. He is accused of agitating the male victim, making threatening gestures with a stapler and verbally threatening him with physical harm.

Advocates are worried about the inaccessibility of the president's inauguration, the DC Examiner reports.

A woman with limited use of her legs and uses an electric motorized scooter to get around, said security at Natick Collection (MA) would not allow her to use her vehicle last week, but mall representatives said the problem was not the scooter but the commotion she caused.

Mothers refuse to give up Down’s children is the title of this article from Russia Today.

An LA state appeals court has rejected an appeal from a cab driver convicted of raping a deaf and developmentally disabled woman in the back of his taxi in 2005. Oscar Dela Cruz said he had an ineffective lawyer in his 2006 trial, but the appeals court rejected his claim, calling the evidence against him "overwhelming."

A man has died after being stabbed at a residency for people with developmental disabilities in Adelanto, California.

A bus matron has been arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after a special needs student was left overnight on a Brooklyn (NY) bus in sub-freezing temperatures on Wednesday.

A judge on Tuesday sentenced a Lufkin (Texas) man to 10 years in prison for beating a man in a wheelchair on Halloween 2007.

This commentary, entitled "Call to the disability community" was written for Patricia E Bauer's blog by Rud and Ann Turnbull, co-founders and co-directors of Beach Center on Disability at The University of Kansas.