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Halloween for Children with Autism

October 25th, 2013

Candy and costumes make Halloween a favorite for kids, but some aspects of the holiday are difficult for children with autism. An uncomfortable costume or the need to approach strangers while trick-or-treating can cause anxiety. In addition, the very concept of make-believe can be confusing for children with autism.

Families of kids with autism need to find the right way for their kids to join in the fun. Instead of an elaborate costume, a funny hat or Halloween t-shirt may be appropriate. Instead of going out trick-or-treating, your kids may want to stay home and help give out the treats. That way a child with autism can observe the tradition from a comfortable place. If a child is able to handle going from house-to-house, you can make the experience less overwhelming by limiting the time and going while it is still light out.

If you live in Westchester County, then you are also invited to the Miracle League of Westchester’s fourth annual Halloween event, at the Field of Screams, which features an afternoon of trick-or-treating and fun for special needs children. The event takes place at Ridge Road Park in Hartsdale, New York, Sunday, October 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Please pre-register by sending the names and ages of children who will be participating to mlwny@mlwny.org. Children participating will wear a wristband to receive treats.

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When the Need for a Service Animal Conflicts with a Building's No-Pet Policy

October 17th, 2013

New York City has many apartment buildings with a no-pet policy, and it may seem obvious that guide dogs for the blind are excepted from such rules. However, people with other disabilities are often helped by service and emotional-support animals. If an individual has a legitimate medical need for a service animal, then the person should be allowed to keep it despite a building’s no-pet policy, but there may be resistance from the building owner.

The applicable laws are the federal Fair Housing Act, and the Human Rights Laws of New York State and New York City. The city law is the broadest, covering “physical, medical, mental or psychological” impairments. If a landlord or co-op or condominium board challenges the need for the service animal, a doctor’s note will be required at the very least, and depending on the situation, the individual may need to do more to show the connection between the disability and the service animal. In order to deter fraudulent requests for waivers of the no-pet policy, some building owners may require that the dog be registered as a service animal with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Building owners are permitted to ask questions about the evidence an individual submits. Many building owners want to do the right thing and are simply looking for proof of a connection between the disability and the need for the service animal. However, if a request is unfairly denied, or penalties such as extra insurance are required as a condition of accepting the animal, then a a tenant or owner of a co-op or condominium unit may file a discrimination complaint with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or with the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

For more information about our legal services, visit www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

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ADHD Awareness: What Hurts and What Helps

October 1st, 2013

by Dr. Virginia Hurley, Professional ADHD Coach, TimeSavor Coaching.

People with ADHD are people with special needs. They are people with a neuro behavioral disorder that improves or deteriorates based on circumstances. It is linked to many neurological factors that have only become evident in the last two decades with the advent of advances in technology and multidisciplinary, integrated studies. Yet, in the classroom, the workplace, home and social settings, there are still many incredulous and uninformed people who perpetuate the suffering of those with ADHD.

To inform the public, to support those with ADHD, and to provide a more hopeful picture for those in the ADHD community: those are some of the reasons to promote ADHD Awareness

When the ADHD Awareness Campaign first really got off the ground, there were three major ideas the coalition of ADHD communities wanted people to know:

· ADHD is Real

· There is Hope

· Where’s the Help?

The ADHD Awareness Campaign has changed and expanded its impact over the past eight years, although the message that ADHD is real, there is hope, and there are avenues of help, remains the same. The importance of awareness got some traction with the US Congress’ declaration of a single DAY, Sept. 17, 2005.

Five years later, the ADHD Awareness Campaign was sponsored by a coalition of groups serving the ADHD community. The Campaign was not just for one day. Rather, the first ADHD Awareness WEEK was celebrated in the US in 2010. And beginning in October of 2013, the Global ADHD Awareness MONTH Campaign will take place. This year, the ADHD Awareness Month theme is The Many Faces of ADHD.

What else should we know? ADHD can affect anyone of any age (not just children), in any family, of any gender (not just boys), race, ethnicity, occupation or status.

My ADHD coaching clients share their voices to help show you the many faces of ADHD, in honor of the Awareness Month theme:

1. ADHD is Real

  • “Neurotypicals” are the majority on this planet, and get to make nearly all the rules. It’s very tough getting ahead in a system that’s optimized for people not like you. Keep that in mind when you come up with your rules and procedures, when you decide who deserves promotion or a raise, when you decide who’s “the best man for the job.” – From J.G., software engineer
  • “I wish people would recognize ADHD symptoms for what they are, and see the genius and the hard work that those children put in their day to day activities. Instead people still judge children with ADHD as being wild, unmannered, lazy, stupid, disruptive and more.” –  From Y.E., nurse midwife
  • “We’re human beings with feelings and intelligence. Having ADHD doesn’t make us incompetent, irresponsible, or lazy. We work extra hard to keep pace to make deadlines that people with intact executive functioning have no problems meeting.” – From G. K., school psychologist

2. There is Hope

  • “Having a friend or a coach or a secretary (or two!) Who is non-judgmental but persistent is very helpful.” – From G.K., school psychologist
  • “I prefer to invest my efforts into instilling my child with confidence, and shower her with love, and give her all the support and help that she needs to succeed” – From Y.E., nurse midwife
  • “My own experience of ADHD is that it’s like juggling.  The best thing you can do for someone with ADHD is to let them know that it’s OK to drop the balls, even on purpose. It’s OK to leave some of the balls on the floor. It’s also OK to ask for help before you drop the balls. Even better, it’s OK to say “no thanks” when someone tries to toss another ball at them.” From S.H., “Fortune 500” corporate executive

3. Where’s the Help?

  • What helps? Oddly enough, structured assignments but with some flexibility (if assignments have beginning, middle and end components spelled out or expectations clearly provided, that helps). It also helps to have tasks broken down into parts, small goals, not just one big global goal. Allow for creative approaches … If that doesn’t make sense, please ask for clarification.

What else helps?

  • Day planners
  • Personal Organizers
  • Life Coaches!(dead serious) –  From P.M, licensed occupational therapist

More Help for ADHD Accommodations

Help also comes through the many faces of ADHD Awareness Month 2013 Coalition Members. These include:

You can find help through other affiliate groups, and the medical and healthcare partners of the Awareness Campaign. For more detailed information, please visit http://www.adhdawarenessmonth.org/.

Many students with ADHD may also qualify for accommodations or special education and related services – through a Section 504 plan or an Individualized Educational Program. Parents who are concerned about their child’s educational performance should contact their school’s district’s Director of Special Education and refer their child to the Section 504 Committee or the Committee on Special Education, for evaluations and consideration of services. If your child simply needs accommodations, a Section 504 plan may be appropriate. But if the ADHD is impacting educational performance, the child may qualify for services under an IEP as a child with an “Other Health Impairment.”


To learn more about Dr. Virginia Hurley, click here. For more information about our legal services, visit www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

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