By Lauren Lewis
December 31, 2913
On the last day of 2013, we looked back on everything that has happened this year in the special needs community. Here are seven of the most popular and controversial news topics.
1. Murder and Attempted Murder of Children with Disabilities
- Michigan Mom Murder-Suicide Attempt
- Alex Spourdalakis Killed: Autistic Teen’s Mother, Caregiver Charged In Boy’s Stabbing Death
- Mother Drowns 8-year Old Son Before Killing Herself
- Man Faces 12-Year Sentence After Beating an Autistic Boy
2. New Technology
- Mind Controlled Prosthetic Arm Trials
- Two Makers Create a Robotic Hand for a Boy in South Africa
- Tongue-controlled wheelchair could offer a faster way for quadriplegics to get around
- Future Disability Tech is Here
- This Professor X-Approved Futuristic Wheelchair Is Arriving Next Year
- WATCH: Professor Invents Incredible New Wheelchair So Kids With Disabilities Can Dance
- Retinal Prosthesis
This year we saw just about everything from tongue-controlled wheelchairs to mind-controlled limbs. Improvements to the simplest technologies are causing a buzz in the tech community and show that future really is now. With new research and dedicated people, there really are no limits to the tech world.
3. Debate Over Disney’s New Disability Access Card
- Disney’s New Disability Access Service Card Policy
- In Disney Crackdown, Disabled Kids Are Collateral Damage
- Disney news: Updated info on the new Disability Access Service Card, replacing the Guest Assistance Card
- Disney tightens up resort disability program
Disney has vowed to maintain an accepting environment for all those with special needs, while keeping the system fair for all. Disney’s new policy has been met with mixed reviews, but they vow to tweak their new program to each individual’s needs.
4. Budget Cuts and Their Effects on Those with Special Needs
- Special Education Budget Cuts, Sequestration, Hurt America’s Most Vulnerable Students
- Sequestration and its Effects on Individuals with Special Needs
- Sequester Hits Special Education Like a Ton of Bricks
- Michigan Superintendents Joining Chorus Opposing Changes to Federal Special Education Funding Requirements
This recent U.S. News Article provides a bit of hope referring to a new federal budget deal that may be in the works.
5. Autism + Wandering = Grave Danger
- Deaths of Wandering Autistic Kids Prompt Action
- Missing S.F. Autistic Girl Found Dead
- Missing Child, Owen Black, Found Dead
Posted all over milk cartons and the Internet this year were faces of children with special needs. Most of these children had innocently wandered away from their homes. Unfortunately, the end of most of these stories were tragic. A surprising amount resulted in the child drowning. Many advocacy groups have made it a point to bring awareness to this wandering epidemic.
Many products to help keep track of children have hit the market in order to prevent wandering and to aide in the finding of children who have wandered off.
- Middle Schoolers Execute Life Changing Play
- Autistic Student is Crowned Homecoming King
- Autistic Senior Proud of Being Homecoming King
- 8th Grader with Down Syndrome Hits a Memorable 3-Pointer
Ellen Seidman eloquently stated: “[D]oes this further reinforce the idea that kids with special needs are very different than other kids—ones who can’t be a usual part of the team? As parents of kids with special needs, we know they kick butt‚ but people who don’t otherwise have a person with special needs in their lives may get the wrong impression.” Karen Wang wrote discussed this issue in a blog post titled: “Inspiration is not Inclusion.”
7. Soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injuries
- PBS Traumatic Brain Injury
- War Wounds
- Coming Home to a Different Person
- TBI: Hidden Peril of US Soldiers in Combat
- Military Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury
- Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment, Diagnosis Continues To Elude Military Doctors
While these injuries are difficult to diagnose, many soldiers are unable to or refuse to seek help for this, citing one of the key reasons as a fear it will affect future employment, either with the Army or with the police or fire department. A TBI can lead to depression, anxiety, OCD, or early onset Alzheimer’s.