On Observing National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month – Thank you!

Every month is Something Month. Every week is Something Week. Every day is Something Day. It is easy to get jaded or cynical.

Or we can use these opportunities to inspire and educate and bring real awareness in the best spirit these occasions are offered.

March is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. My local Board of Trustees for the San Mateo Foster City School District, took the opportunity to vote on a resolution to recognize the occasion at it meeting on 7 March 2009.

Thank you comments

Thank you for considering this resolution recognizing National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

There are some things about people with developmental disabilities you may not know.

People with disabilities don’t have rights that you and I take for granted:

  • Just last week, the American Dental Association changed their ethics guidelines to require dentists to serve people with disabilities.
  • Congress is currently having hearings on whether to make it illegal to use physical and mechanical restraints and seclusion on kids with disabilities in schools.
    • This occurs today in most states and affects hundreds of thousands of kids.
    • Seclusion can mean locking a kid in a dark, padded phone booth sized room for hours.
    • California just banned restraints and seclusion last year.
  • The FDA is finalizing a ban on electric shock devices for use on kids with disabilities, not because they are inhumane, but because they “aren’t effective”.
  • People with disabilities may not be eligible for getting organ donations because of their disabilities.
  • People with disabilities are restricted from getting married or getting jobs for fear of losing their disability benefits.
  • Boys  with developmental disabilities are 5 times more likely than other boys to be victims of sexual assault.
  • Girls – 8 times more likely to be victims of sexual assaults.
  • 49% of sexual assaults against youth with disabilities are by paid support staff.
  • Employment rate for all disabilities is <34%, developmental disabilities is < 14% (California)
  • The same law that gives you and me minimum wage protection explicitly excludes people with disabilities.
    • Average wages (in California in 2012, the last year for which there is published data)
    • 3.1% earned $9.50/hr
    • 3.7% earned $6/hr
    • 93% not working or in “sheltered” services

For Education

Fewer than 14% are performing at or above grade level in English, <11% in Math.

For students with significant disabilities 35.3% graduation rate, 22.8% “certificate of completion”, 41.8% drop out or age out of public education.

Thank you

Education is so critical for a lifetime of opportunity and independence for young people with developmental disabilities – with all disabilities…. your passage of this resolution matters. your future actions to improve our special education program will matter even more.

Thank you.

(The motion passed unanimously)

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