CCS Disability Action Criticised For Facebook Post

CCS Disability Action has come under fire from parents of children with Autism after posting an article written in the US that claims that the condition is being caused by too much time spent on screens. 

The article, written originally on Mad In America, claims that some children show increased signs of Autism due to spending too much time in front of computers, tablets, phones, and from playing video games.

However, CCS has been accused of irresponsible sharing. Advocates for the ASD community and parents both say that CCS were irresponsible to share the post on their official Facebook page, claiming the article presents false information that can be easily disproven by experts.

One woman accused CCS of being “just another agency looking to blame the parents”.

The original article can be viewed here.

CCS Disability Action: “In No Way Supporting The Content Of The Article”

On Monday, CCS responded to the criticism and said the intention was to just share the article, due to it garnering worldwide attention, and that the organisation didn’t support the claims made surrounding causes of Autism.

To their credit, that is the actual truth of the matter. The article was simply ‘making the rounds’, and the organisation was trying to inform.

Minister denies claims of reduction in funding for IDEA Services

The Ministry of Health and the Minister for Disability Issues have both denied a reduction in funding for IDEA Services led to cuts of support programmes for people with Autism.

Tony Atkinson, Disability Support Services Group Manager, rejected claims of funding reductions leading to IDEA Services pulling out of providing three programmes that support and educate people in the ASD community.

“There has been no reduction or cut in funding to IDEA Services”, Atkinson said.

The Ministry and IDEA Services want to limit disruption and the gaps between the end of one service and the beginning of other ones. Atkinson says that alternative arrangements for affected services are being worked through.

Just what those other services will be, and how accommodating they are to the thousands of people in the ASD community remains to be seen.

Aside from the thousands due to be affected by the cuts announced via a letter distributed from IDEA Services on Tuesday, many more are still on waiting lists as well. In the letter, IDEA pointed to an underfunding of $500,000 in the 2015/16 financial year as a big factor in their decision to cease continuation of three ASD programmes.

After negotiations with the Ministry of Health, a new contract was not signed. Atkinson says that the Ministry will be seeking alternate providers to continue services for ASD clients and also the others affected by home care and facility based respite cuts.

The Minister for Disability Issues palmed off suggestions of reductions and cuts also. When contacted by this blog, Nicky Wagner says she had no knowledge of the letter sent out by IDEA Services and questioned some of the quotes published on this blog.

“I haven’t seen this letter but nothing you quote is correct”, Wagner said.

Yesterday, the Minister announced the members selected onto a co-design group that will be tasked with transforming disability supports. Some concerns have been raised by members of the ASD community about their representation on the group.

Gabrielle Hogg is advocate for people on the Autism spectrum and says that a lack of representation goes against a call from the United Nations to have people with Autism in decision making roles on Government advisory committees.

Hogg says that she is very concerned that people on the spectrum are being ignored.

“Autistic individuals feel very much locked out from having direct feedback with being on the group”, Hogg said.

More to come.

Thousands on the Autism Spectrum have support cut

Members of the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) community have been left reeling after news that IDEA Services will no longer provide support to families due to funding cuts by the Ministry of Health.

Three popular and successful support programmes will get the chop, leaving many on the spectrum without their day bases and no education for families. It also means that the several thousand on waiting lists now have to miss out, at least until something else is sorted.

The news comes as a massive blow to the ASD community, and IHC New Zealand’s boss Ralph Jones says that the timing of the announcement comes as an “extra blow” that is “devastating” for the organisation and the people it supports. Just a few weeks ago, Jones also announced that several support services would be cut, including home support and facility based respite.

Other providers are now set to not only bare the increase in demand from the over 12,000 people affected by those cuts, but now also the large numbers involved with ASD programmes.

ASD programmes run by IDEA Services to be cut are:

Growing Up With Austism

ASD Plus

Communication & Behaviour

In total, IDEA Services was underfunded by a total $500,000 in the past financial year as the Ministry of Health continues its cut backs. This news comes despite the fact that Minister for Disability issues said that funding has increased by 4% each year throughout the sector.

IDEA Services has been providing large amounts of support to the ASD community since 2013 under a contact with the Ministry of Health.

The Government simply must inject more funding into disability support. If not, big cuts like this are only going to continue. Labour MP Grant Robertson took to social media to air his concerns, but very few others in Parliament have touched on the issue.

“We should restore the funding for this as part of a comprehensive and diverse set of support programmes for those with autism. It is what a caring and inclusive country would do”, Robertson said.

People suffering from autism and their families have taken to Facebook to air their concerns. One woman said that IDEA Services had done a lot of good work to develop autism awareness training but the Ministry of Health hadn’t provided enough investment for it to take place. Another woman, who works for a National Group Organisation (NGO), said that families are being left with less and less support while workloads for organisations only continue to lose workers who are fed up with being unpaid for extra hours.

This blog has contacted this Minister for Disability Issues and the Ministry of Health for comment.

Banning Seclusion Rooms came too late for some disabled students

Seclusion is unacceptable in any school, and recent incidents continue a sorry trend for the Ministry of Education.

In the aftermath of what happened at Mirimar Central School, there is no question that better measures need to be put in place on how to deal with challenging behavior in the classroom. Clearly, Mirimar Central School was ill-equipped to manage some behavioral issues that occur with disabilities like Autism. Continue reading Banning Seclusion Rooms came too late for some disabled students

13-Year Old Denied NZ Residency Because Of Autism

Immigration New Zealand’s decision to not allow a disabled 13-year old permanent residency is set to have the disability sector up in arms this week.

In simple terms, if you are not a New Zealand-born citizen and you have a disability, then you are not welcome to live here, at least in the eyes of the powers that be inside Immigration New Zealand.

Dimitri Leemans, a mathmatics professor at Auckland University, says he will leave New Zealand after his 13-year old stepson’s residency application was denied.

Young Peter Gourle, stepson of Leemans, suffers from Autism and because of his health needs, Immigration New Zealand declined the residency application for the 13-year old.

Immigration NZ says that according to specialists, Peter Gourle requires continues and structured residential care.

These services are already available in New Zealand, but according to Immigration, not for foreigners.

This comes after it was revealed that long time disability advocate Juliana Carvalho, a wheelchair user, is also battling to stay in New Zealand. Carvalho’s residency has been declined because of fears that she will “burden” the health system.

The Disability Sector Is Ready To Get Sexy

It is easy to think that it is all too much and all too scary to try and advocate for disabled people and their sexuality. It is also scary to talk about it, and in some cases, want to experience sex, whatever that may be for the individual.

Look at society, it is more sexually orientated than ever before, sex is mainstream and it is available at our very fingertips. Anyone tried Tinder?

The disability sector is seriously lacking in this area, but not for the lack of trying. However, the trying is not happening on a regular basis.

It isn’t about putting disability and sex in a bubble, but sooner or later, young people living with a disability will need to accept that, yes, you will require very frank and open discussions to achieve this.

Organisations have tried, to open up these discussions by running workshops and having information days. These attempts by the disability sector to have conversation are not a free ticket to getting laid however.

The reason why workshops and information days haven’t been well attended isn’t an easy question to try and answer. They have a danger of bringing on more frustration, but it is a start at least.

However, there is no doubting that disability organisations in New Zealand could be doing more, but those who have tried to broach the subject of sex have been met with disappointment.

This is not down to disabled people having no desire for sex.

Would it be fair to say that a lot of disabled people, especially those with very high-care needs, have adopted a thinking that doesn’t help the cause?

That thinking is that sexual experience is in the too hard basket, and this is where organisations and advocates need to sit down together and have very open conversations.

How do you remove the mindset of sex being in that too hard basket?

The bigger picture is key. It is more than just the act of sex, many physically disabled people cannot have penetrative sex and instead will rely on experimentation in the bedroom. The use of sex toys to reach pleasure is one thing, but out of all the discussions that have been had about the “ins and outs” of sex for disabled people, it hasn’t been stated enough that each disabled person is different and will have certain requirements and assistance in order to achieve something close to a normal sex life.

It isn’t a question of resources or interest by the people, it is a question of if those people really want to put themselves out there and try to broach the subject.

Sex shouldn’t be so taboo for the disability community, but at the same time, it is up to that same community to help those who are trying to make a difference.

This is done by speaking out.