New Mission

New Mission

My mission is to explore how other countries around the world are dealing with education and special education issues.

I would like to visit and observe different types of schools that have proven records of success, wherever those schools may be. I would like to meet with school directors and administrators, government officials, leaders in the business world, and others who are responsible for implementing education systems or otherwise connected to education to learn more about how education is being addressed in their communities.

If you know of any remarkable schools in other parts of the world (especially special needs schools), please let me know about them. If you know of any education experts who are engaged in remarkable work in this field, please introduce me to them.

Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts or ideas regarding the above. Read more about my mission here.

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Could ABLE Accounts Replace The Need For Special Needs Trusts?

Consider this article which discusses a proposed savings program for individuals with disabilities which would allow such individuals to maintain a savings account in a manner that would not jeopardize government benefits.  A special needs trust would typically serve this function.  An ABLE account, however, might be a cost-effective alternative if the proposed legislation is passed.

Obama Administration To Allocate $150 Million To Improvements In Housing For Individuals With Disabilities

Housing initiatives in New York for individuals with disabilities are underfunded and options are limited.  Those options that are available do not always offer the accommodations that individuals with disabilities may require.  The viability of Section 8 housing and whether it even still exists has been a big question mark.  Under a new initiative, however, the Obama administration is allocating $150 million for improvements to housing initiatives across the country for individuals with disabilities.  Exactly how that money will be divided among the states and when actual changes will take effect remains unclear. 

AMC Theaters Offers Sensory-Friendly and Autism-Friendly Movie Screenings On November 30 In New York: Check Local Listings

Threats Of School Bus Strike Leave Parents In A Lurch

It was anounced on Friday that NYC bus drivers may be striking because of a dispute relating to renewal of a bus contract.  There is currently no definite timeline for when the strike would begin.  The Wall Street Journal story below indicates that, according to city officials, the chances of a strike are uncertain, but, according to the bus drivers union, a strike is likely.  As a precaution, parents receiving bussing from the city should start planning for alternate means of transportation in the event that a strike does happen. 

WSJ article avaialble at:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A New Study Addresses The Role Of Epigenetic Factors In Causing Autism

A new study focuses on potential epigenetic causes of autism - i.e., not necessarily defects in the genes themselves, but possible problems with certain proteins that aid in the body's internal communication system. 

For a more detailed article from Autism Speaks, which co-funded the study, see:

For an abstract about the study, see:

ICare4Autism Breakfast With Mayor Of Jerusalem Nir Barkat

This morning I attended a beautiful breakfast presented by ICare4Autism to welcome the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the opening of the Global Autism Center on Mt. Scopus in Israel.  The event was co-chaired by Mr. Howard Jonas and Mr. John Catsimatidis.  The meeting was led by Dr. Joshua Weinstein, the founder and CEO of ICare4Autism and the driving force behind the ambitious project in Jerusalem.  Also in attendance was Dr. Eric Hollander, Director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Autism Center, and chair of the ICare4Autism Advisory Council. 

Mayor Barkat discussed the future of this project, his reasons for supporting it, and his efforts to ensure its success.  Dr. Hollander addressed the question of why there has been such an increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with autism and discussed some of the potential causes of the disorder.  The event was well-attended and consisted of people from diverse backgrounds.  

Photos courtesy of ICare4Autism:

ICare4Autism Breakfast with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Nov.8, 2011
Partial view of the overwhelming show of participants at the ICare4Autism Breakfast with the participation of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to discuss the ICare4Autism Global Autism Center
Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Ph.D., M.B.A., Founder & CEO of ICare4Autism speaks at the Breakfast with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat
At the ICare4Autism breakfast honoring Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder & CEO of ICare4Autism describes the Global Autism Center project. Seated to the right is Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Host J. Morton Davis, DH Blair Founder and Chairman, and Event Co-Chair John Catsimatidis, owner and CEO of Red Apple Group and Gristedes Foods

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Man With Autism Faces Child Pornography Charges From Stint In The Marines

The following story may kindle memories of an Arrested Development episode where one character who appears intellectually impaired enlists in the army.  This case is different, however, in that it could involve real-life consequences for a man with autism who enlisted in the Marines and is facing charges of child pornography. 

For more of the story, Disability Scoop directs you to:

To view the Disability Scoop website, visit:

Alaska Decision Regarding Parental Cooperation As A Prerequisite For Relief

In a decision filed yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit considered the role of parental participation as it relates to a school district's responsibility to fulfill its obligations to a child with a disability under the IDEA and federal regulations.  Previously, the district court had ruled in favor of the school district, saying that the district did not deny the child a FAPE because the parents failed to cooperate in the preparation of a new IEP.  On appeal, the ninth circuit disagreed with that conclusion and stated:
Neither the IDEA nor its implementing regulations qualified any duty imposed on a state or local educational agency as contingent upon parental cooperation.  Further, the [Anchorage School District] does not cite any binding case law, and we are not aware of any, that supports such a proposition.
As a result, the ninth circuit vacated the district's order and granted the parents reimbursement for tutoring expenses in math and reading.  The court also suggested that the parents would recover attorney fees as well. 

The decision is significant because, in reimbursement cases, parent cooperation is sometimes thought of as one of three prongs in the analysis as to whether parents are entitled to reimbursement.  This decision seems to say that a school district should not be able to use that as an excuse.  It should also be noted that the ninth circuit chose not to remand this to the district court to reconsider the issue of FAPE, instead relying on the initial hearing officer's "thorough and careful analysis" which was sufficient to determine, as a matter of law, that FAPE had not been provided.  The ninth circuit said, "whether [the student] received a FAPE is ultimately a legal question becasue the [school district] challenges the hearing officer's legal conclusions."  I think some would argue that whether FAPE was provided is a factual question, taking into account what the child requires and what the district provided.  But there you have it in slightly different terms from the ninth circuit. 

All in all a good decision for parents.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Governor Cuomo Enacts Autism Legislation Reform

I just received the following message from the advocacy arm of Autism Speaks:

November 1, 2011
Dear NY:
Thank you for all of your calls and e-mails over the years, particularly this past summer to gain legislative passage and win the support of Governor Cuomo for A.8512, the autism insurance reform bill. Your advocacy truly played a great part in the process.

We are excited to announce that your bill has now become law! Moments ago, Governor Cuomo signed the bill making New York the 29th state to take important steps to end autism insurance discrimination.

Now it is time to thank him and we hope that you will do that by sending him an email as well as writing him a brief note of thanks on his Facebook page.
Here’s How You Can Help!
1. Send a quick email to Governor Cuomo expressing your gratitude for enacting autism insurance reform. We get you started with the email here, but make sure you take the time to make your note personal.
2. Ask your friends on Facebook to spread the word and leave Governor Cuomo a note of thanks on his Facebook page here.
To learn more about the legislation - when it will become effective and what it means for you, please visit York.
Thank you again for all of your hard work. There is no doubt that your calls, your emails and your visits to the Capitol throughout this long process were key in making this day a reality for all who live in New York.