Showing posts with label Disabled. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Disabled. Show all posts

September 18, 2017

Analysis: WE Must Better Address The Needs of LGBT People with Disabilities


LGBT people with physical disabilities face unique challenges as compared to their able-bodied peers. Throughout their lives, these individuals are subjected to increased rates of childhood bullying, a lack of proper sexual education as teenagers and difficulties in receiving proper medical care as adults.

Childhood Bullying

“Homophobic, biphobic or transphobic (HBT) bullying is any form of bullying directed toward a person because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or because of their association with people who are LGBT,” according to the UK-based Anti-Bullying Alliance.

In a guide for school personnel regarding HBT bullying targeted toward disabled children and kids with special needs, the Anti-Bullying Alliance notes that this population is at an increased risk of HBT bullying compared to their able-bodied peers: two-thirds of children with disabilities and special needs have experienced homophobic bullying, for example, compared to 55 percent of the general population. The organization also points to additional research corroborating that a real or perceived physical disability is a frequent reason for HBT bullying.

Sexual Education

The Anti-Bullying Alliance also points to the lack of sexual education in a school directed toward LGBT individuals, and it gets even worse in the case of LGBT individuals with a physical disability.

Dr. Susan Gray, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said it’s important that parents of adolescents with physical disabilities make sure their child is receiving the proper sexual education.

“Too often adolescents with physical disabilities are told they don’t need to be in sex ed, that it doesn’t apply to them, but everyone needs that information, and parents need to make sure their kids get that education,” Dr. Gray said in a video posted to the Cerebral Palsy Foundation’s website.

Not having this conversation in school is a lost opportunity to normalize LGBT behavior, which could prevent or minimize HBT bullying. According to the Anti-Bullying Alliance, “bullying is often directed at the real or perceived differences,” therefore we should do everything we can to minimize what is perceived as different. Sexual Education should be for all, with no discrimination of gender, sexual preference or physical ability.

A Focus on Cerebral Palsy

Though much of this analysis is relevant to LGBT people with a range of physical disabilities, some of it pertains specifically to LGBT people with cerebral palsy (CP). CP is primarily associated with childhood — and is the most common motor disability found in children — however, there are increasing numbers of individuals with CP surviving longer into adulthood. There is an estimation of at least 500,000 adults with CP in the U.S. alone.

“Cerebral Palsy is a non-progressive disorder resulting from a malformation or injury to a child's brain typically before age four. This results in an imbalance of muscle forces leading to joint contractures, deformities, and abnormal movements,” Joseph Dutkowsky, M.D., former president of the American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, explained.

Developing Social and Romantic Relationships

A Dutch study among adolescents with CP ranging from 16 to 20 years old revealed that they had significantly less experience in dating and intimate relationships than their age mates. This finding is corroborated by other studies and suggests that individuals with CP may be “late bloomers” when it comes to relationships, but they are surely interested in having relationships just as much as anyone else.

Interestingly, this study also reported that adolescents with CP are less likely to identify as heterosexual than their age mates without CP (90 percent vs. 97 percent in age mates), and were also more likely to explicitly say that they were not sure of their sexual preference (4 percent vs. 1 percent in age mates).

Another Dutch study showed that establishing a healthy network of friends is an important pathway for individuals with disabilities to develop romantic relationships. According to Dr. Dutkowsky, one way to develop this network is by helping people with Cerebral Palsy to participate in arts, also as a way to “give them the opportunity to fully express themselves and grow into their own life”.

Another challenge that individuals with CP face are finding specialized medical care, particularly as adults, as many health professionals specialized in CP focus on treating only children. The Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center is one of the few clinical facilities to provide specialized health care throughout the entire lifespan for individuals with CP. Tracy Pickar is a social worker at the Weinberg Center and echoes some of the concerns elicited by these studies.

“I’ve heard from some our patients that due to the social isolation they may have delayed sexual experiences," Pickar said. She also noted that general medical providers “are so focused on medical issues that no one talks to the patients about their sexual health needs.”


Given the increasing number of individuals with physical disabilities living into adulthood, issues associated with growing up, such as establishing healthy relationships, are becoming more prominent. As practitioners, it is important for us to work with young adults with physical disabilities to help them develop healthy pathways for relationships.

While arts-related activities have always been a safe haven for the LGBT community, it might be even more important for individuals who also have a physical disability, in order to help them establish healthy relationships and to be able to fully express themselves. Encouraging their participation in arts might be one of the best long-term interventions for their mental health that families and friends could ever do.

It is also imperative that LGBT individuals with physical disabilities receive the proper sexual education while in school just as anyone else. Sex is a reality for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or physical ability, therefore everyone deserves to be well educated about this topic.

Daniel Linhares, M.D., is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and is specialized in providing holistic psychiatric care to medically complex patients. Dr. Linhares’ expertise is in psychiatric care of the medically ill, LGBT psychiatry and psychodynamic psychotherapy

January 5, 2017

Disabled Youngster Targeted by 4 for Live Assault on FaceBook

Four people have been charged with hate crimes for allegedly carrying out an assault, live-streamed online, in which a man was tied up, hit and cut with a knife by several assailants.
In Effort To Curb Violence In Chicago, A Professor Mines Social Media
Authorities say the victim, who had been reported missing before the attack, has "mental health challenges." He was encountered by police on Tuesday evening and is recovering in the hospital.

The Facebook Live stream showing the attack has been deleted. But multiple outlets have posted videos they identify as archives of the stream, recorded by a woman who frequently turns the camera on herself. The clips show multiple people taunting, threatening and hitting a man who is tied up in a corner. At least once, a man uses a knife to cut the victim's hair, cutting into his scalp.

On the video, the assailants, who are black, say "F*** Donald Trump" and "F*** white people." They force the victim, who is white, to say "F*** Donald Trump," as well.

The four people accused of the crime have each been charged with a hate crime, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's office. Other charges include burglary, robbery and possession of a stolen motor vehicle.

The Associated Press reports that police say they don't believe the victim was targeted because he was white:
Live-Streaming Of Alleged Rape Shows Challenges Of Flagging Video In Real Time
"Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday morning that charges are expected soon against four black suspects. Guglielmi says the suspects made 'terrible racist statements' during the attack, but that investigators believe the victim was targeted because he has special needs, not because of his race.
"Guglielmi says it's possible the suspects were trying to extort something from the victim's family."
As for the remarks about Donald Trump, Cmdr. Kevin Duffin said at a news conference late Wednesday that investigators are working to determine whether the statements are "sincere or just stupid ranting and raving."

Chicago police found the victim in distress on the street before they were aware of the existence of the Facebook live stream, authorities said at the news conference. The four suspects were arrested after police were called to a residence near where they'd found the man and then connected the incident and the location.

The victim, a resident of a Chicago suburb, apparently spent at least 24 hours in the company of his alleged assailants — one of whom he knew from school, police say. He had been reported missing on Monday. Police say he traveled into the city with his acquaintance in a stolen van.

A GoFundMe account for the victim has been set up; a public relations representative for GoFundMe says the website will be working with the campaign organizer to ensure all money raised reaches the victim.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson highlighted the "brazenness" of the assailants, for not just carrying out the attack but broadcasting it "for all to see."

"It's sickening," he said. "It makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that. I’ve been a cop for 28 years — I've seen things that you shouldn't see in a lifetime — but it still amazes me how you still see things that you just shouldn't [see]."

February 4, 2016

Mugger of Armless Teen in Staten Island-Gets Caught

Vincent Popalardo, 20

A Staten Island grand jury has indicted the creep accused of robbing an armless teen of his cellphone.

Vincent Popalardo, 20, was charged with robbery as a hate crime and assault as a hate crime in the Nov. 30 robbery of 18-year-old Carlos Simon outside a Stop & Shop on Forest Ave.

 Carlos Polardo,18

“This defendant targeted the victim because of his disability, which shows that these actions were in fact hate crimes under the state’s statute,” said Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.

“All crimes are unacceptable, but those committed against an individual because of his or her disability are particularly despicable.”

Popalardo was arrested Jan. 6 in Erie, Pa. He was arraigned Wednesday in Richmond County State Supreme Court. His bail was increased from $50,000 bond to $100,000.

Two juveniles were also charged in the robbery. That case is being handled in family court.

Simon told the Daily News in December he was meeting a friend outside a nearby Dunkin' Donuts and had just placed his phone — which he holds with his shoulders and dials with his nose — on a hip-level window ledge when he was held up.

"Three kids came up to me asking me for money," he said. "I told them no, and they got offended, and one of them threatened to go into my pockets."

That's when a fourth suspect ran up, snatched the phone off the ledge, and fled. Simon chased the creep, realizing too late that he had run onto an isolated side street.

"There was no cameras or nothing there, so I was like, 'Oh, I know what's going to happen right now.' "

The three teens who originally confronted him surrounded him, pushed him around, and tried to get into his pockets, and he yelled and struggled until a passerby took notice. He then ran back to the shopping center.

"I guess they just saw me as an easy target," he said.

As for his disability, he said, "I don't like to look at myself as a disabled person. I just like to look at myself like a normal guy, as normal as I possibly can be.”

NYDaily News

May 23, 2015

No One is Bothered by Police Brutality on the Disabled

Over the last year, America has been roiled by several high-profile incidents of African American deaths during encounters with police, forcing a welcome re-examination of the lingering presence of racism. 
Why didn’t the deaths of Ethan Saylor and James Boyd prompt the same strong, nationwide response? 
Ethan was the 26-year old with Down syndrome who went to see "Zero Dark Thirty" with an 18-year old aide at Regal Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland, in 2013. 
When the movie ended, Ethan tried to sneak into another showing. The manager and Ethan's aide tried to persuade him to leave, but he refused. The manager then called the police, who asked Ethan several times to leave the theater, but he yelled and cursed at them. The aide asked everyone to be patient, that Ethan had an I.Q. of 40 and didn't like to be touched. 
Still, according to reports, the officers dragged Ethan from his seat and tried to handcuff him. When police forced him to the ground, Ethan died of asphyxiation, due to an unusual fracture of his throat cartilage – possibly a result of a blow he received during the struggle. 
James Boyd was reportedly shot fatally in the back by police in Albuquerque in March 2014 after a long standoff, prompting murder charges against the officers involved. Many have asked whether this outcome could have been prevented had police had been better trained to deal with Boyd’s mental illness.
To be sure, stories about Ethan and James, as well as others involving people with disabilities, sometimes result in a spate of media coverage for a time, some localized protest and investigations by federal authorities. But they hardly trigger the national outrage they deserve. 
Of course, not every conflict between police and a person with disability results in death, but people with disabilities are still vulnerable to police mistreatment. There are no reliable figures on just how many people with disabilities were involved in altercations with police, but anecdotes abound. 

For example, in a recent complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice about police abuse of students in a Louisiana school system, the Southern Poverty Law Center cited several examples of what appear to be excessive force against students with disabilities – including a ten-year-old girl with autism, whom police handcuffed and held face down on the ground by kneeling on her back “with her face pressed so closely to the ground that she was having difficulty breathing.” 
Freddie Gray, whose death in Baltimore set off a fire storm, also reportedly suffered from an intellectual disability that resulted from lead poisoning at an early age. 
All these cases are complicated, and we are certainly not in an appropriate position to judge ultimately who is culpable. But cases like these suggest that police need to go further to understand how best to approach persons with disabilities. Force is often the worst option. 
Like those African American young men who died in clashes with police over the last year, Ethan and James were part of another highly marginalized minority group that suffers daily indignities – large and small – that accumulate and hold them back over a lifetime. More than any other group in the world, people with disabilities are the poorest people. They have the highest unemployment rates, the least access to health care, and they are in the poorest health. 
What’s sad is the gap of understanding about people with disabilities is completely avoidable. There is an unwarranted and arbitrary separation of people with disabilities from the mainstream of life, which preserves the mystery and myth about them. It reinforces our view of them as “other,” odd, potentially dangerous and a little unsettling to be around. 
Anyone who has managed or participated in a classroom or workplace that embraces people with disabilities will tell you that unsettled feeling evaporates as familiarity grows. It’s a simple fact of human existence. The more we know about people as individuals – about their lives, their families, their desires and worries, their qualities and, yes, their human faults – the less we see them as an abstraction. The less we see past them and fear them. 
To be fair, a number of law enforcement agencies are aware of the need to know more about how to deal people with disabilities, and some provide appropriate training for these encounters. “When police fail to understand that they are dealing with a person with a special condition,” the Police Executive Research Forum wrote in a 2012 report, “the result is sometimes a use of force that may be legally and morally justifiable, especially if the person appeared to be threatening the safety of others, but which produces a very unfortunate outcome — a situation that some observers call ‘lawful, but awful.’” 
But advocates argue that big cutbacks in local and state human services have increasingly forced police to step into the roles that social workers otherwise have taken and that many police may be unprepared to fulfill. 
The national conversation about race we’re having right now, even at its most rancorous, is essential and long overdue. But we also need a similarly serious one about the rights of many others among us who also face severe disadvantage and marginalization. We must talk about how we can include them in the mainstream of society. We shouldn't wait for the next casualty. 
Ruderman is the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for inclusion of people with disabilities in the broader society. Simons is the president and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Massachusetts, which provides people with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disabilities opportunities to discover the benefits of a supportive and vibrant community.
Jay Ruderman and Jo Ann Simons
The Hill                                                                              

February 10, 2013

When Disability Transforms and Enables

As skyscrapers keep going up, highways are being built, and life starts taking over these dry lands, we will continue being equally responsible to our human family, Pineda says
by Adam Makary

The UN's World Health Organisation estimates that at least 10 per cent of the world's population has some form of disability. To the advantage of the disabled, Victor Pineda is one of them.
After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000, 29-year-old Pineda embarked on a personal journey aimed at promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities.
A degenerative muscular disorder does not faze Pineda, however, how the world looks down upon people with disabilities, does.
Though he uses a wheelchair, the journey to change mindsets has taken Pineda to distant places.
He visited Qatar recently for the third International Forum on Children with Special Needs, hosted by the Shafallah Centre for Children with Special Needs in the capital, Doha.
Job to educate
In a world where "disability is shrouded in mystery and shame; in what little exposure there is to find a solution, it's our job to educate the masses on how to make sure that disabilities are approached the right way", Victor said on the sidelines of the conference.
"And in a place like Qatar, you are seeing that every day."
Pineda believes there is more potential nowadays to accommodate  every disability
The Shafallah Centre is one of the humanitarian initiatives of Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of Qatar's ruler and president of the board of directors of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
The gathering focused on building on the strengths of the disabled.
Though lean and thin, Pineda's voice was one of the strongest.
"Society has a moral duty and an economic imperative to utilise the talents and potential of disabled people," he said.
Victor now hopes the Doha initiative will hasten the advent of a new dawn for the disabled.
"It is centres like the Shafallah that I am thankful for, and that could utilise the latest research and my life could contribute to that," he said.
The conference cemented a new partnership between Shafallah Centre and Autism Speaks, a US-based advocacy group that seeks to improve awareness about autism.
"The centre currently accommodates 450 children of all ages and we spend $14,000 per student each year," Sameera al-Qassim, a member of the Shafallah's board of directors, said.
Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, said: "We are very excited about our first partnership with the Shafallah Centre."
Pineda shares her optimism.
Major milestone
In previous efforts, Pineda has collaborated with the World Bank, ministers, policymakers and heads of state in helping to draft the 2007 UN Convention on the Rights and Dignity of People with Disabilities.
The 2007 UN Convention marks a major milestone in the effort to highlight the human rights of persons with disabilities.
'Disabiliies are not inherent in the victim but are realised in disabled communities'
Luis Gallegos, the Ecuadorean ambassador to the US and chairman of UN ad hoc committee on an international Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, says: "Victor inspired my role in supporting the convention."

The convention's rapid coming into force was due to the strong commitment of advocacy organisations such as the Victor Pineda Foundation.

A non-profit establishment, the foundation produces media items informing and inspiring a global audience on key topics concerning disability.

One of the fruits of that labour was A World Enabled, a collection of short documentaries that profile disabled people from around the world.

Pineda also collaborated with Unicef to write a child's version of the rights of people with disabilities for children with and without disabilities, "so that they know what their rights are", according to Victor.

The convention is presently being translated into Arabic.

In 2009, Pineda will head to Dubai to become the first Fulbright-Hayes Fellow to do doctoral research on disability studies. Completing a PhD from UCLA, his research will focus on socioeconomic development on a regional level.

'Power of my mind'

"Just because I was born with a disability, doesn't mean it's the end of the world. I have the power which is much greater than any physical disability. I have the power of my mind, my thoughts, and my own ideas which is far more important for changing the world," Pineda said.

And Pineda is certain that change is on its way, much faster than the pace of a slow-moving wheelchair that proves his disability is not a handicap, but a source of conviction.

For someone as inspired as Pineda, his physical disability is just as unlikely to be a deterrent.

Immersed in a life of success and giving back, Pineda says: "We are all God's children. We all have a role in this world, and like the Quran says, 'God will not give us a burden too heavy to carry’.”

January 27, 2013

Waiter Refuses Service to AHole That Made Fun of Disabled kid

Milo Castillo
 Waiter Michael Garcia made his regular customer Kim Castillo feel like family last week at the Houston restaurant Laurenzo's Prime Rib. 

Castillo was eating there with her husband and their 5-year-old son Milo when several waiters came by their table to chat. Milo, who has Down syndrome, has slightly delayed speech. He showed off some new words, while talking about his recent birthday. 

The chatter apparently displeased a nearby customer, who, according to NBC affiliateKPRC-TV, said, "Special needs children need to be special somewhere else." 

Once Garcia heard the man's comment, "My personal feelings took over, and I told him, 'I'm not going to be able to serve you, Sir,' " he told the news channel. "[I said], 'How could you say that? How could you say that about a beautiful 5-year-old angel?' " 

Castillo, "impressed" with Garcia's actions, says the waiter "put [his] job on the line … to stand up for somebody else." 

Calling the man who insulted her son, "ignorant," Castillo adds, "I know Michael [stood up for Milo] from his heart, and from reacting to the situation. I don't think he stopped and thought about what he was doing." 

Following the incident, Castillo wrote a blog post defending her son. 

"Was he loud? Maybe a little in the moment, but honestly, the adults at our table were three times louder than he was," she said. "If he had been obnoxious, which like any other 5-year-old he can be, I wouldn't have thought twice about the family asking to move." 

Meanwhile the restaurant's Facebook page has lit up with praise for Garcia and the supportive staff there. 

"I am a Father of a special needs child and I applaud you and your employee, Michael Garcia, for standing up to intolerance and helping to educate people who fear the most precious of all children, those with special needs and disabilities," read one post. 

He added, "Although I am a resident of California, I work for a [company] headquartered in Texas and am there on occasion for business. I will be sure to drop by and say hello and thank you when in town!"

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