Saturday, January 16, 2010

Restraint and Seclusion National Call-In Day Thursday January 21

Dear Friends, Advocates and Community Members,

In one week, Congress will come back in session. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), in conjunction with the Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS), is asking you to join us in a National Call-In Day on Thursday, January 21st to tell your members of Congress to support the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247/S.2860) introduced last month by Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT).

This legislation would provide students with and without disabilities vital protections against abuse in schools. We are providing details on how to contact your members of Congress -- please distribute this announcement widely.


Please call this coming Thursday and encourage your friends, family and coworkers to participate by dialing the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking for your Congressional representative to Co-Sponsor H.R. 4247, and your senators to Co-Sponsor S. 2860.

• To find out the names of your US Senators and Representative, click here (link to

• Ask for the offices of your US Senators and Representative

• Ask to speak to the person working on education issues

• Identify yourself as a constituent and the organization that you represent (if any)

Message: “ I am calling to urge (Senator y) to cosponsor S.2860, legislation preventing harmful use of restraint and seclusion in schools.”

Message: “I am calling to urge (Representative z) to cosponsor HR 4247, legislation preventing harmful use of restraint and seclusion in schools.”

Thanks for your advocacy. Increasing congressional support for these bills will help move them through the legislative process towards enactment.

Please call on January 21, 2010 and tell your friends and family to join you.

If you are interested in doing more, please e-mail us at for information about how you can arrange a meeting with your representatives to explain why this bill is essential or visit to learn more.


The Autistic Self Advocacy Network and the APRAIS Coalition

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Note on Comment Moderation

I have tried to set this blog to not accept comments, but some problem with the settings is keeping me from doing so. Usually I remember to disable comments for a particular post but when I forget, comments come in and I reject them. The reason for rejecting has nothing to do with your comment and everything to do with the fact that I can't keep up with comments and respond due to limits on my time and energy. I do read all the comments I receive, but I don't post them. Perhaps in the future I will but at this point it is something I can't do. - Paula Durbin-Westby

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ASAN-VA comments at General Assembly budget hearing

January 11, 2010

ASAN Comments at Virginia General Assembly Budget Hearing

I’m Paula Durbin-Westby. I am representing the Virginia chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, the leading autism advocacy organization whose leadership is made up of individuals who are on the autism spectrum.

First, a thank you to all the members of the General Assembly for your efforts to work with Governor Kaine’s budget constraints in this time of economic upheaval.

State policy for 40 years has called for Virginia to shift from institutions to community supports for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now, Virginia chooses to continue to segregate individuals with these disabilities in state institutions, and seems to be making a choice to reverse those gains which have been made over the past few decades.

In trying to explain institutions to my young son, he asked “Are they like big warehouses where people store stuff?” For many of us, both people with disabilities and our families, the answer is an unfortunate “Yes.”

People with disabilities and our families have repeatedly requested “A Life Like Yours,” and the statistics are there to show that there are cost-effective community-based solutions to institutionalization.

At a time when massive cuts to much-needed services are being proposed, building yet another bricks-and-mortar “solution” is unconscionable. Rather than investing in another “warehouse”, the State of Virginia should divert funding away from what is essentially a big construction project, and toward the human services, community services, medical and support services that people with disabilities, and our families and communities, need. 6000 people waiting for waivers? Respite care slashed from 720 hours per year to one third that amount? Or, less than an hour of respite in a 24-hour day. This sort of decisionmaking will force even more Virginia families into warehousing their loved ones, and into financial and personal disaster.

In addition, Virginia does have responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1999 Supreme Court decision Olmstead v. L.C.

As Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Tom Perez, said in his recent installation speech: "Segregating people with disabilities in institutions is every bit as bad and illegal as segregating children of color in inferior schools."

In the name of human dignity and civil rights for all people, including people with disabilities, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network calls on Virginia to honor its stated commitment to include Virginians with developmental and intellectual disabilities, in our own homes, our own communities, from which many of us are now excluded, and Virginia society as a whole.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this urgent matter.

Paula C. Durbin-Westby
Board of Directors
Virginia Coordinator
Autistic Self Advocacy Network