Among those of us who care deeply for and about people with developmental disabilities, I hope to hear emerge a new voice, ours, rising together for the benefit of all, harmonizing with reason, respect and hope, and transcending divisions, giving birth to a new era of creative cooperation.

Toward this potential, DD EXCHANGE is for conversation, civil sounding off, sharing of stories, experience, information, resources, and inspiration, giving and receiving support, and creative problem solving.

Finding Your Way Around

TO SEE OTHER'S INPUT: below each post on the right, click "links to this post;" or in the left side column, under "Labels," click the discussion link that interests you.

If there is no comment box below the post, click on
"# comments." It should open one.

TO CONTRIBUTE: add comments to posts in comment boxes &/or submit an article. Comments may also be sent for posting on your behalf. Email address as follows:

EMAIL: ddexchanges@gmail.com

MAILING LIST: add or remove name:
send request to email address, above.

WEB LINKS: to access other websites of interest, in the list to the right, just click on the underlined name.

FOLLOWERS: interested people, websites, organizations, businesses
who follow our discussions & choose to be public about their support.
Become a follower. Public support is a good thing!

Monday, January 24, 2011


Celebrate with Forrest and his family.
Celebrate his opening through art and his art opening! Photography, really.
Autism claimed his voice.
Voiceless, he acted out.
Reader board, camera, loving, patient, and persistent parents and Fircrest School have helped set his voice free!

Forrest's photography show has been so successful that he has already sold 16 photos!

Now through Feb 10, Forrest's photos can be seen in person at Childhoods End Gallery in Olympia Washington.

Watch the news broadcasts and see his photos. See if they make your heart happy! They do mine!
For the KOMO broadcast, click on the title of this post. For the King 5 broadcast, click here: http://www.king5.com/news/local/Photographer-with-autism-sees-world-through-the-lens-114399899.html

Sunday, January 16, 2011



In these lean times of budget crisis and harmful cuts I do not understand why anyone would even consider closing the RHCs. Ideological differences aside, just based on economics, this decision would be a BUDGET DISASTER!

•Yes, these high needs residents are more expensive to care for: no matter where they live they will be more expensive – moving them will only INCREASE their cost of care.

•Economy of scale – it is much more cost effective to care for these residents in the RHC - this is ECONOMY OF SCALE – think of a family who experiences a divorce. The living costs increase when they go from 1 household to 2 households.

•Reduction in services – Not only will the cost of care increase but there will be a drastic reduction in services with the moves that are being suggested.

•Cost shifting – maybe one budget would look better but the cost will still be there, actually increased due to not using the ECONOMY OF SCALE model.

•911 calls are 4-6 times higher in "community" group homes than at an RHC
•increased catastrophic care – increased medical expenses

The moves that are being suggested are immoral. I see a disaster waiting to happen and this process needs to be stopped and studies completed prior to these decisions being made and acted on. If RHCS are closed there is no going back – there is no other safety net and the providers will find that they are neither equipped nor capable of caring for these residents in a safe, healthy and humane manner.

Please do not consider the RHC closures as a cost-saving measure. It is exactly the opposite.

Cheryl Felak, RN
Disability Advocate

Monday, January 10, 2011


Here is a resource for Wa. State residents who are disabled. It is an excerpt from the Washington Access Fund Newsletter.

Access Fund News
January, 2011

Medicaid Program Cuts - How the Access Fund can Help

The WA State Medicaid program began notifying clients in December of a revised list of 2011 program cuts. Some immediate cuts (effective January 1st, 2011) include adult eyeglasses and contacts, adult hearing aids and adult dental services (except for emergency treatments) as well as school-based services such as occupational, speech and physical therapy for special education students. 

The announcement states that 2,400 clients will be affected by the loss in coverage for adult hearing (at a savings of $300,000) and 67,000 clients will be impacted by the loss of coverage for adult vision (at a savings of $500,000). Governor Gregoire proposes to restore the cuts in the next biennial budget starting in July contingent upon legislative approval. 

We've heard via the grapevine that some DSHS clients have already had their audiology appointments cancelled because they have no way to pay for the hearing aids or related services. In response, the Access Fund has modified its loan polices to allow "pre-approvals" for hearing aid loans. This means that customers can apply for a loan prior to making an appointment with their audiologist. If approved, the customer can let the audiologist know that they have funding to cover the cost of both the appointment and the hearing aids up to the approval amount. If arranged in advance, the appointment can be paid for prior to or at the time of service. If hearing aids are prescribed, the customer would submit the prescription and invoice to the Access Fund. Once all of the loan documents are signed, the Fund will pay the vendor. The approval amount will depend upon the customer's budget. 

Pre-approvals are available for any potential customer - not just Medicaid clients. We realize that hearing aids can be expensive and many DSHS clients may not be able to afford to repay a large loan. In that situation, customers may want to contact Leann in our office to learn more about the Access Fund's Matched Savings Accounts. Other hearing aid funding sources are listed on our website at: Funding Resources for Hearing. 

Access Fund loans cannot be used for eye glasses or regular dental care but we do cover dentures and, of course, many other types of assistive technology. The interest rate is 5% and loan terms of up to five years are available. 

To read the announcement and for more updated information, please visit the WA State DSHS website. (The Access Fund website can be accessed by clicking on the title of this post.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tom Anderson of Shoreline Wa. Is Missing.

Anyone who has information on Anderson's whereabouts is asked to call 206-371-1048, 206-387-0571 or 911.
seattletimes.nwsource.com Click to read the full Times article with description of Tom, .)
Tom Anderson, 62, was last seen at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 27 at his home near North 160th Street and Evanston Avenue North, said Brenda Burns, who works for Ambitions, which provides services to disabled adults in King County. ( Click title of this post to read the full Times article with description of Tom .)
Thank you to Cheryl Felak for having posted this on Facebook.

Friday, January 7, 2011


No doubt, you already are acquainted with the recently reported sexual assaults on defenseless people with developmental disabilities living in Los Angeles. (Click the title of this blog to read the CNN report.) Over 100 hours of video taped sexual assaults were made available, anonymously, to authorities. How does this happen? Who protects defenseless residents?

I would be interested in hearing from people whose loved ones are cared for in residential venues in the general community how they find the oversight of them. Is it adequate? In the RHCs of Washington State, abuse is not impossible, but it is unlikely and, if perpetrated, it is likely to be caught and stopped quickly, due both to reporting requirements and reporting practices that protect the identity of reporters.

Who is there to catch and report such abuses in private, semi-isolated residences? Especially in situations where there are only one or two caregivers for several residents per shift? What safeguards are there to assure that such abuses don't get hidden for fear of making the facility look bad? In Washington, abuses that are reported are investigated, but the quality control system for general community residences for people with dd that should be protective of residents, in fact, depends on reports. This means the abuse must already have occurred!

A recent law requiring background checks for caregivers is a step in the right direction, but "community" caregivers' wages can be very low, meaning that young people, barely out of high school, may be the only people able to take such work. When this is the case, the records of young offenders will have been wiped clean.

Issues of safety and quality assurance are major problems that would have to be solved before I would ever be able to consider moving Kathy, my sister, from an RHC.

What is your experience &/or perspective?


I have been silent on this blog for some months in large part because I have been struggling with an internal conflict: Lofty Ideal vs Reality. My desire and belief that we, as advocates for people with developmental disabilities should be able to come together and, taking into account our differences, work out mutually agreeable systems for providing the best supports for all concerned vs the reality that some organizations, biased bureaucrats and elected officials are dedicated to closure of state-run campus communities for people with dd so that they are not available even to those who need and want them. Often they cite horrific conditions of such facilities in days long bygone, but usually they claim that too much money is spent on people in residential habilitation centers (RHCs) . What I hear, listening to them is that they don't think the people who need the services in the RHCs are as needful or deserving as those higher level functioning persons who live in general community settings. The subject of income for community providers is usually not discussed nor is the economy of scale value of the RHCs.

Because those people use their organizations and positions to push to have RHCs closed, I find myself in the position of defending RHCs. Finally, I have decided that it is important to use this blog as a resource to put out the facts and perspectives that I and others find salient to the discussion. So, here I am back, again inviting you to join in discussion, hoping that you will write, not just in response to what you see written, but also to initiate topics that are important to you. You can do that by sending your writing to me for publication: ddexchanges (at) gmail.com.