Disability Connection


  • May, Tue, 2013

The Starkloff Disability Institute Graduates Now Equipped to Secure Employment

The Starkloff Disability Institute graduated its second class of individuals with disabilities from their 14-week course. The course instructs individuals with disabilities on the ins and outs of securing employment with major employers.

Susan Menhard, Director of the Next Big Step and instructor for the Starkloff course, as well as Dr. William Danforth, spoke at the commencement ceremony. To view video’s of their addresses, visit: http://starkloff.org/s/http:/starkloff.org/s/blog/1668/?utm_source=Next+Big+Step+-+Class+of+2013&utm_campaign=Prop+P&utm_medium=email.


  • May, Tue, 2013

Germany-based Software Company SAP is Recruiting Employees with Autism

A worldwide software company, originally based out of Germany, says it will recruit individuals with Autism “for jobs as software testers, programmers, and data quality assurance specialists”.

SAP conducted a pilot program in India where six individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder were employed as software testers, and the company says that the program resulted in increased productivity for that department. SAP is partnering with Specialisterne, a Danish company that assists individuals with autism in finding placement in the technology arena, and will expand the pilot program to Ireland, United States, Canada, and Germany this year.

Information courtesy of Michelle Diament of Disability Scoop (May 23, 2013).

For more information and to view the original article, visit: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/05/23/tech-giant-recruit-autism/18012/

  • May, Tue, 2013

A Housing Crisis on the Horizon for Individuals with Disabilities?

A new report from the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities shows that, on average, individuals with disabilities would need to use more than 100% of their Supplemental Security Income to rent a one-bedroom apartment today. Though costs vary across the country, the study found that even the smallest apartment took up at least 60% of an individual’s monthly SSI check, and even the costs of some studio apartments accounted for more than 90% of a person’s monthly SSI check.

Over the past few years, housing has become increasingly more expensive for everyone. But housing has become especially unaffordable for those individuals on fixed incomes. According the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is considered affordable when it takes up 30% or less of a person’s income. Because of the unavailability of affordable housing, more than two million individuals with disabilities are living with their parents, at homeless shelters, or in group homes and other institutions.

“Having a safe place to call home is a basic human right and we have a responsibility to ensure [that] individuals with disabilities are given the chance to find a home in the community they choose,” – Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. Berns and other advocates urge Congress and other groups to rise to action and to expand housing assistance for individuals with disabilities.

Information courtesy of Michelle Diament, of Disability Scoop (May 24, 2013). View the original article here: http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/05/24/study-housing-crisis/18019/

  • May, Thu, 2013

DSM – 5 Changes for Autism

Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) have been removed from the 5th and latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual. These once distinct diagnoses have been encompassed in the main diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Also included in the new version are stricter guidelines for diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The new criteria will require “more consistent social and communicative difficulties, as well as more of what are called “repetitive and restrictive behaviors”, as well as a diagnosis using three severity levels.” (Beth Greenfield, Shine).

David Kupfer, chair of the DSM-5 task force, states that “[t]his spectrum will allow clinicians to account for the variations in symptoms and behaviors from person to person.” However, many parents are worried about how many children will lose their “labels”. James McPartland, professor at the Yale Child Study Center, says that “[I]t’s not known what will happen to people who no longer meet criteria for autism in terms of services and care.” They may no longer qualify for assistance or benefits under an autism spectrum diagnosis.

The DSM-5 also comes with a new diagnosis – Social Communication Disorder. But, while social communication deficits are one aspect of autism spectrum disorder, “it’s unclear  what the impact would be” because there is no protocol for how to deal with this diagnosis. How will insurance companies respond? “The DSM is the qualifier for services through the state,  Medicaid, SSI – that diagnosis is the first thing they look for,” says Holly Bortfield of the nonprofit Talk About Curing Autism. “[T]here’s no curriculum… therapy wouldn’t be covered by insurance.” (Bortfield is the parent of a 17 year-old son with autism and a 19 year-old daughter diagnosed with Asperger’s).

Kupfer states that “[a]nyone accurately diagnosed with autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified using DSM-IV should still meet the criteria for ASD or another DSM-5 diagnosis.” But, according to a 2012 study performed by the Yale Child Study Center, 25% of individuals diagnosed with autism and 75% of individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s or PDD-NOS would not meet the new guidelines under the DSM-5.

While many are worried about what the new DSM-5 guidelines mean, others are confident that individuals with these kinds of diagnoses will still be covered. James Ball, author of “Early Intervention and Autism: Real-Life Questions, Real-Life Answers,” believes that the new DMS-5 will actually be “more inclusive of people, because it’s not going to make all these separations.”

What do you think the new DSM-5 means for individuals with a previous autism, CDD, or PDD-NOS diagnosis?

Information courtesy of Yahoo! Shine article “How Will the New Definition of Autism in DSM-5 Affect Children? Parents, Advocates Anxious Over Changes.” By Beth Greenfield. View the original article here: http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/how-will-the-new-definition-of-autism-in-dsm-5-affect-children–parents–advocates-anxious-over-changes–152353760.html#!eBGlH

  • May, Mon, 2013

Mississippi Angels Pageant

A pageant for anyone with special needs.

Saturday, November 9th Starting at 2pm
Magnolia Civic Center 127 East Bankhead Street New Albany, MS 38652
Anyone with special needs is invited to participate. Any age from 0-105 are welcome.

Hair and makeup will be provided. Pageant wear or Sunday best is requested, but not required.

Contact Information :
Julie Bogue
Email: jlbogue@yahoo.com
Phone or text: 662-507-9950
  • May, Mon, 2013

A TRUE Love Story…

A love story you won’t soon forget… told through pictures.

Professional Photography Via Tim Dodd


Thank you for your sacrifice.

Thank you for your love.


  • May, Fri, 2013

Heather and Melinda Ownby

Learning to Live

Check out this video of Heather and Melinda Ownby – two of our community heroes! This second video documents life changes for Heather, who is diagnosed with a learning disability, an IQ level of 31, ODD, and ADD.

  • May, Fri, 2013

Reeve Foundation: Who’s 2013’s Best Mom on Wheels?

Do you know an extraordinary mom who’s living with paralysis?

Nominate her now for the 3rd Annual Reeve Foundation Best Mom on Wheels Contest!

In honor of Mother’s Day, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation wants to celebrate every mom in our community.

Simply tell them in 200 words or less how the mom that is special to you has changed your life, your family’s life, or your community. Include a photo of your nominee.

All moms are eligible, whether biological, adoptive, or a foster mom. She does not have to use a wheelchair, but she must be living with paralysis.

“People think just because you have a spinal cord injury means you are not capable of being a mother,” says last year’s winner, Edna Escher-Gaston of Swarthmore, PA. Edna has a daughter, two step-daughters, and six grandchildren. “My daughter used to tell me when she was very young, ‘You’re still my mom.'”

This year’s winner will receive a $500 gift card from Tilt-A-Rack®, producer of Mobility hitch mounted aluminum carriers to make the transportation of wheelchairs, and electric mobility scooters eliminating the need for trailers — as well as the honor of being the 2013 Best Mom on Wheels!

You must submit your entry by midnight, May 14th. You can read all the official contest rules.
Reeve Foundation judges will review all the entries submitted and chose 10 semi-finalists who will be posted on their website.

Then the community will determine our winner with an online vote.
Honor a special woman in your lifeby nominating her to become this year’s Best Mom on Wheels!

  • Apr, Tue, 2013

Official Ribbon Cutting Party for the Disability Connection Community Playground



Ribbon Cutting Party for the Disability Connection Community Playground

Friday, May 10th, 11am to 1pm at the Bruce Ladner Memorial Park off Highway 53,

 just west of Highway 49, Gulfport in Harrison County.

Join Disability Connection for light refreshments, art, music, dancing, and more as we celebrate the official grand opening of the Disability Connection Community Playground, Harrison County’s first fully-accessible playground.
The event is open to the public, but Disability Connection appreciates an RSVP for planning purposes. Come celebrate accessible play and bring your own bagged lunch!

A variety of specialized equipment designed for everyone to play, a lighted walking track, benches, accessible bathrooms, shade, and ample parking.

“…We enthusiastically recommend…the Disability Connection Community Playground. I…understand the value that Disability Connection is to the communities of South Mississippi…” Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi.

The Community Playground is brought to you by:

Harrison County Board of Supervisors, IP Casino Resort Spa, Brown, Mitchell & Alexander, INC., Kaboom!, Playscapes of Mississippi, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, and Best Buy.