When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine? 5 questions parents are asking


This article looks at the vaccines for children and it appears that work has already been started or is soon to start, but there is still, at least, one other area and this is for adults with learning disabilities (Intellectual Disabilities) and Autism who are needle averse, for in this area needle injections are not possible.

The adults are very vulnerable, but as I see it there is no work taking place in that direction.

With regards to Flu these adults can be given the nasal spray, which is generally given to children under 12 years, but it is not as effective as the injection, but something is better than nothing.

 

Source: When can children get the COVID-19 vaccine? 5 questions parents are asking

Coronavirus: Helping Those With Autism During Lockdown


Routine is important for all of us, but for persons with autism it is even more so as routine is part of their coping process.

So, the closure of restaurants will have a major impact on someone with autism.

For staff to be able to handle these situations just shows what skills these staff have and these skills will go un-noticed on many occasions. These are the same staff who are classed as unskilled, which they clearly are not. But their remunerations do not take these skills into account and many may be on the National Living Wage, the minimum people over 25 have to be paid. They should be on a starting salary of the Real Living Wage, as put forward by the Living Wage Foundation, https://www.livingwage.org.uk/what-real-living-wage

However, when this was raised with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock by SNP Shadow Health Secretary Dr Philippa Whitford MP when she urged Matt Hancock to roll-out the Real Living Wage to all care workers – like has been the case in Scotland for many years – and reverse the 20% cut to public health funding imposed by the Tories in 2015.

In his response, Matt Hancock said that health care workers already receive the living wage – lower than the Real Living Wage – and completely failed to address Dr Whitford’s point on reversing cuts.

This proves where the Government really is and it is not with Care Workers in the Care Profession. For Matt Hancock was stating that Care Workers were on the National Living wage and not the Real Living Wage, but was playing on the words ‘Living Wage’ just to confuse the issue, in reality a difference of some 58p per hour and that is assuming the care workers are 25 or over, if they are 21 and over their guaranteed rate is only £8.20 and if the are under 21 the rate will be even lower. Also only the Real Living Wage has a weighting for London, who are recommended to receive £10.75 as opposed to £9.30 for the rest of the UK.

So, do not trust what you hear from the Government, especially Government Ministers.

I do not trust this Government, but then I do not trust any Governments and have not done so, for at least the last 40 or so years.

It was because of this lack of trust that I created the petition, Solve the crisis in Social Care’, which is addressed to both Matt Hancock and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

So, please see the information I have prepared on https://www.dropbox.com/s/74ckd926thbrlo8/Solve%20the%20crisis%20in%20Social%20Care%205.docx?dl=0
or go straight to the petition on https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/solve-the-crisis-in-social-care

Social Care really is in crisis and was long before COVID 19 so, Social Care really needs YOU and so does this petition

Same Difference

Like so many people with autism, lockdown rules have only added to the challenges Matthew Russell faces.

A trip to McDonald’s or the local pub had not only become a treat, but a key part of a settled weekly routine.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has taken away those routines, causing distress and anxiety for many.

So staff at an autism centre in south Wales have come up with ideas to help maintain structure, including a replica drive-through burger restaurant.

Support workers at Glamorgan House in Neath were eager to help those with autism get through the restrictions.

With the help of a local McDonald’s restaurant that was closed during the lockdown, staff sourced packaging and cups for an authentic experience as well as making their own uniforms by hand.

“As soon as we began serving up meals there were smiling faces all around and orders were flying in,” said senior…

View original post 266 more words

Special Olympics GB National Games Sheffield 2017


Many of you will have heard of the Olympic Games, last games Rio 2016, then followed by the Paralympics, which were also in Rio, Brazil 2016.

However, you may not have heard of Special Olympics GB National Games, which this year are to be held in Sheffield, the Special Olympics GB National Games Sheffield 2017. Yes, in Sheffield, UK, my own city.

Special Olympics Great Britain is a sporting organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities that operates in EnglandScotland and Wales. It is part of the global Special Olympics movement,  the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

 

A  selection of YouTube videos

Special Olympics GB’s ‘Play Unified’ film

Special Olympics GB National Games, 2017 Preview

SOGB National Summer Games 2017 Venues

Tickets to the Opening Ceremony – 

It is now not long for these games to commence and all great events need kicking-off in the right way, and SUFC are your hosts for an evening of celebration and entertainment.

The opening ceremony will be on Tuesday 8th August 2017 at the Bramhall Lane Stadium, the home of one of Sheffield’s football clubs, Sheffield United

from 5.00pm – 9.00pm (doors open 3.30pm).

Tickets are now on, (click on the link), sale.

Appearing will be James Toseland  and Tony Hadley, at the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics GB Sheffield Games 2017

Special Olympics Great Britain 2017 Sheffield Games

Athletes will be arriving on Monday 7 th August 2017.  The Games will commence on Tuesday 8th August 2017 until Friday 11 August 2017 with most of the sports taking place at venues in and around Sheffield, however, the exceptions are the Bowls Indoor, which is at the Indoor Bowls Centre, Urban Road, Doncaster, DN4 0EP directions and Sailing at Pugney’s Watersports Centre & Country Park, Asdale Road, of Denby Dale Road, Wakefield, WF2 7BN directions.

See below the games, venues, dates and times. Directions to Sheffield venues in  City centre and other venues.

Tickets are not required to attend the various games, except the opening ceremony, but some of the smaller venues may not be able to accommodate large numbers of spectators over and above the families of the athletes taking part, further guidance on this is being obtained and this will be updated when this is received.

Checked out which sports to go and watch?

During the games Sheffield is enabling other attractions, however, these are not to detract from the games themselves. These athletes have been in training for many years and we would not wish to do anything to hinder their participation and their enjoyment.

There is also an Activity festival

Special Olympics GB National Summer Games Activity Festival

Special Olympics GB National Summer Games Activity Festival

The Special Olympics Summer Games are coming to Sheffield from 7 – 11 August. Lots of people with a learning disability from the city are going to be involved – as athletes taking part,as volunteers helping out or as spectators cheering .Now there’s another way for local people with a learning disability to be part of this fantastic event.

The Activity Festival on Wednesday 9 August offers the chance to try out new sports. It takes place at the English Institute for Sport (Sheffield) from 12.00pm – 5.00pm.

Look at the Activity Festival Poster for more information on the event.

 

Signed-up for the Activity festival?

Wed 9 Aug, 12.00 – 5.00

  • It’s not too late – register on the attached form and contact joanne.meecham@sogb.org.uk
  • If you would like to attend the Activity Festival please complete the Registration Form
  • Lots of people have signed-up already but are leaving early – can you be flexible with your times so people are able to stay to the end?

Experience the Special Olympics Fringe

Alongside the Games themselves, there’ll be some great stuff going on in and around the city centre all week, highlighting the talents of Sheffielders with learning disabilities and the creativity of some great local organisations. It’s taking place at the same time as Sheffield-by-the-Seaside, so there’ll be a carnival atmosphere in town if you can support your clients to get down.

Here’s a taster of what to expect:

  • Enjoy performances in Tudor Square from Under the Stars and Practically Theatre
  • Visit the art exhibition (‘Seeing is Believing’) in the Millennium Galleries and photo exhibition in the Winter Garden showcasing works by people with learning disabilities and other artists
  • Create a visual record of people during the Games through photography and digital journalism in Tudor Square, and by contributing to a mass work of art that will be displayed in the Winter Garden

Programme (so far) of fringe activities for the Games.

These have been developed by some much-valued local groups – ArtWorks, Burton Street Foundation, Disability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living and Under the Stars. We’re also very pleased to welcome Practically Theatre to Sheffield as well, who will also perform.

 

Monday

7 August

10.00-4.00

Millennium Galleries

 

 

 

Winter Garden

 

Opening of ‘Seeing is Believing’ – an exhibition curated byArtWorks and showcasing works by local people with learning disabilities and other artists, which ‘hopes to challenge people’s perceptions of intellectual disabilities through celebrating the creativity and ambition of the artists involved.’

 

Opening of ‘Get Yourself Active’, a photo exhibition run byDisability Sheffield Centre for Independent Living with portraits of local disabled people and the stars of the Games – the athletes.

Tuesday

8 August

Tudor Square Opening of Tudor Square information marquee, including I am ….. we are’ – a piece of interactive art offered by Burton Street, where photos and statements of visitors to the marquee build a collage of Sheffield during the Games.
Wednesday 9 August 2.00pm

Tudor Square

Performance by Practically Theatre, an organisation working with people with learning disabilities and those without access to theatre – the piece is called ‘A New Journey’ and follows an athlete’s journey to the Special Olympics.
Thursday 10 August 11.15am and 1.00pm

Tudor Square

 

2.30pm

Showroom Cinema

Contemporary theatre performance called ‘Memory Stones’ byUnder the Stars, a music and drama social enterprise by and for people with learning disabilities, whose performers create original shows based on their own ideas.

 

An afternoon of films from Sheffield at the Showroom Cinema, depicting empowering and thought-provoking portrayals of disability.

As well as these activities, there’ll be a display at Moor Market. And throughout the week, a mass work of art will be developed, depicting the Special Olympics image. People from all walks of life will contribute to this – visitors to the Games, athletes, performances as well of course local people.

This is a unique event for Sheffield and we wish well to all, the participants (Athletes), their families and friends, Special Olympics Great Britain, volunteers for the Special Olympics Great Britain 2017 Sheffield Games, providers partaking in the fringe events, the people of Sheffield and any others not mentioned.

All of you have a great time

Watching the sports – where to go and when

 As promised, here’s some further info about the venues to help you decide where you, your family and the people you may support could go to watch.

Special Olympics GB want to welcome spectators to any of the Games’ events.  With 8,000 friends and families of the athletes expected in Sheffield for the Games, all wanting to watch, this does mean that some venues are going to fill up fast. But here are some top tips about the venues likely to have more space where you could go to watch. We’ve included comments from Special Olympics GB.

Venues likely to have most space

 

Ice Sheffield

Coleridge Road Sheffield S9 5DA

Gymnastics (Artistic)   Wed Thurs Fri
       
 

·         SOGB comment – All facilities fully accessible.

 

 

 

Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park

Bawtry Road Sheffield S9 1UA

Football Tue Wed Thurs Fri
       
         
·         SOGB comment – Viewing of pitch 1, pitch 2 and finals pitches would be best from the balcony on the clubhouse or the tarmac path to the side of the pitches. Viewing of pitches 3 and 4 will be best from the balcony of the clubhouse as access to pitch side is on grass. Volunteers are on hand to assist as required. 
         
English Institute for Sport (Sheffield)

Coleridge Road Sheffield S9 5DA

Badminton Tue Wed Thurs Fri
Activity Festival   Wed    
Gymnastics (Rhythmic)   Wed Thurs Fri
Table Tennis Tues Wed Thurs Fri
Young Athletes   Wed    
Motor Activity

Training Programme

Tue Wed    
       
           
·         SOGB comment – All areas are accessible. Table tennis and badminton have accessible viewing adjacent to the pull out grandstands. There will be over 30 athletes with accessible vehicle requirements competing at EISS – please talk to the stewards who will assist you with your own specific parking needs.
Forge Valley Community School

Forge Valley Sports Centre

Wood Lane Sheffield S6 5HG

Powerlifting     Thurs  
Cycling Tues Wed Thurs Fri
         
         
·         SOGB comment – Accessible access to the powerlifting is via the main school entrance rather than the side entrance for general spectators. Volunteers at the welcome desk will be on hand to escort. Access to the cycle track is via the lift inside the sports centre adjacent to the stair case. Access is then via a trackway walkway to the side of the field of play. This trackway may be difficult for some motorised accessible vehicles so please ask a volunteer for assistance if necessary.
         
Sheffield Hallam University

City Athletics Centre

Stadium Way Sheffield S9 3HL

Athletics Tues Wed Thurs Fri
 
 
 
·         SOGB comment – The entry from Stadium Way is a steep slope – volunteers are on hand to assist. The viewing from the grandstand has accessible spaces at the back and the front. Other viewing is on chairs and rugs on the grass slopes. Access to the toilets is either in front of the clubhouse to the temporary facilities or up the slope and to the back of the clubhouse for the existing accessible toilet. Please give yourself time to get around and ask for help as required.
 
Pugney’s Watersports Centre & Country Park

Asdale Road (off Denby Dale Road)

Wakefield WF2 7BN

Sailing   Wed Thurs Fri
         

 

After Firing Employee With Special Needs, Wal-Mart To Pay Up – Disability Scoop


A former Wal-Mart employee with intellectual disabilities will receive $90,000 from the company to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit, the EEOC said.

Source: After Firing Employee With Special Needs, Wal-Mart To Pay Up – Disability Scoop

Intellectual disabilities share disease mechanisms, study suggests


Original post from Medical News Today

‘……………..

Research suggests that different types of intellectual disabilities may benefit from common therapeutic approaches.

Brain disorders that cause intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders may share common defects despite having different genetic causes, a study has found.

A study of two models of intellectual disability in mice has found that they share similar disease mechanisms.

Researchers found that treatment with a statin drug called Lovastatin – commonly used to treat high cholesterol – can correct high levels of protein production in the brain linked to the conditions.

The findings suggest that different types of intellectual disabilities may benefit from common therapeutic approaches, the researchers say.

Studies of people with learning disabilities have identified a wide range of genetic causes. Around a third of people affected also have symptoms of autism spectrum disorders, suggesting that the mechanisms underlying these conditions may be shared.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh studied mice with a genetic mutation that means they produce lower levels of a protein called SynGAP. The mice show learning and behavioural difficulties and act as a model system to understand why people with mutations in the human version of the gene suffer from intellectual disability.

The team from the University’s Patrick Wild Centre and Centre for Integrative Physiology found that treatment with Lovastatin normalised levels of protein production in the brains of the mice. Their results suggest that Lovastatin acts by reducing levels of the active form of a protein called ERK1/2.

They compared their findings with mice that lack a protein called FMRP, which also causes cellular and behavioural changes that can be rescued with Lovastatin. Loss of FMRP in people leads to Fragile X Syndrome, the most common inherited form of intellectual disability and autism.

Further research is needed to determine whether the treatment can restore learning and development in people.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience. It was funded by the Medical Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Patrick Wild Centre.

Professor David Wyllie, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Integrative Physiology, said: “This study shows that the core deficits associated with two very different causes of intellectual disability are shared. This is important because it means that people with diverse types of intellectual disability or autism may benefit from the same treatment.”

Professor Peter Kind, Director of the University of Edinburgh’s Patrick Wild Centre for Research into Autism, Fragile X Syndrome and Intellectual Disabilities, said: “Statins, such as lovastatin, are already used widely for treating people, including children, for high cholesterol with minimal side effects. Further studies are needed to determine whether these existing medications could also help people with intellectual disabilities.”

Adapted by MNT from original media release

Read more breaking health news on our homepage
University of Edinburgh    …………….’

Increasing prevalence of autism is due, in part, to changing diagnoses


Original post from Science Daily

‘…………..

Date:   July 22, 2015

Source:   Penn State

Summary:   The greater than three-fold increase in autism diagnoses among students in special education programs in the United States between 2000 and 2010 may be due, in large part, to the reclassification of individuals who previously would have been diagnosed with other intellectual-disability disorders.

The greater than three-fold increase in autism diagnoses among students in special education programs in the United States between 2000 and 2010 may be due in large part to the reclassification of individuals who previously would have been diagnosed with other intellectual disability disorders, according to new research. In a paper to be published online in the American Journal of Medical Genetics on July 22, 2015, scientists at Penn State University report their analysis of 11 years of special-education enrollment data on an average of 6.2 million children per year. The researchers found no overall increase in the number of students enrolled in special education. They also found that the increase in students diagnosed with autism was offset by a nearly equal decrease in students diagnosed with other intellectual disabilities that often co-occur with autism. The researchers conclude that the large increase in the prevalence of autism is likely the result of shifting patterns of diagnosis that are complicated by the variability of autism and its overlap with other related disorders. Credit: Penn State University
The greater than three-fold increase in autism diagnoses among students in special education programs in the United States between 2000 and 2010 may be due in large part to the reclassification of individuals who previously would have been diagnosed with other intellectual disability disorders, according to new research. In a paper to be published online in the American Journal of Medical Genetics on July 22, 2015, scientists at Penn State University report their analysis of 11 years of special-education enrollment data on an average of 6.2 million children per year. The researchers found no overall increase in the number of students enrolled in special education. They also found that the increase in students diagnosed with autism was offset by a nearly equal decrease in students diagnosed with other intellectual disabilities that often co-occur with autism. The researchers conclude that the large increase in the prevalence of autism is likely the result of shifting patterns of diagnosis that are complicated by the variability of autism and its overlap with other related disorders.
Credit: Penn State University

The greater than three-fold increase in autism diagnoses among students in special education programs in the United States between 2000 and 2010 may be due in large part to the reclassification of individuals who previously would have been diagnosed with other intellectual disability disorders, according to new research. In a paper to be published online in the American Journal of Medical Genetics on July 22, 2015, scientists at Penn State University report their analysis of 11 years of special-education enrollment data on an average of 6.2 million children per year.

The researchers found no overall increase in the number of students enrolled in special education. They also found that the increase in students diagnosed with autism was offset by a nearly equal decrease in students diagnosed with other intellectual disabilities that often co-occur with autism. The researchers conclude that the large increase in the prevalence of autism is likely the result of shifting patterns of diagnosis that are complicated by the variability of autism and its overlap with other related disorders.

“For quite some time, researchers have been struggling to sort disorders into categories based on observable clinical features, but it gets complicated with autism because every individual can show a different combination of features” said Santhosh Girirajan, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and of anthropology at Penn State and the leader of the research team. “The tricky part is how to deal with individuals who have multiple diagnoses because, the set of features that define autism is commonly found in individuals with other cognitive or neurological deficits.”

Recent reports from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that there has been an increase in the prevalence of autism from 1 in 5000 in 1975 to 1 in 150 in 2002, then to 1 in 68 in 2012. Much of this increase has been attributed to increased awareness and a broadening of the diagnostic criteria for autism. But this new research provides the first direct evidence that much of the increase may be attributable merely to a reclassification of individuals with related neurological disorders rather than to an actual increase in the rate of new cases of autism.

The researchers used data from the United States Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for students enrolled in special-education programs. Under IDEA, individuals are classified into one of thirteen disability categories including autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, other health impairment, and specific learning disabilities. Although many of the categories can co-occur in individuals with autism and show some of the same diagnostic features, children can be classified only under one category.

The research team noted more than three times the number of cases of autism in 2010 as compared to 2000; however, nearly 65 percent of this increase could be accounted for by a reduction in the number of individuals classified in the intellectual disability category in the IDEA data. The diagnostic reclassification of individuals from the category of intellectual disability to the category of autism accounts for a large proportion of the change, which varied depending on the age of the children. The researchers estimate that, for 8 year-olds, approximately 59 percent of the observed increase in autism is accounted for by reclassification, but by age 15 reclassification accounts for as much as 97 percent of the increase in autism.

“The high rate of co-occurrence of other intellectual disabilities with autism, which leads to diagnostic reclassification, is likely due to shared genetic factors in many neurodevelopmental disorders,” said Girirajan. “When individuals carrying classically defined genetic syndromes were evaluated for features of autism, a high frequency of autism was observed, even among disorders not previously associated with autism, suggesting that the tools for diagnosing autism lose specificity when applied to individuals severely affected by other genetic syndromes.”

The researchers also noted that the relationship between autism cases and other intellectual disabilities varied state-by-state. When assessed individually, states such as California, New Mexico, and Texas showed no relationship between the prevalence of autism and that of intellectual disability, suggesting that state-specific health policy may be a significant factor in estimates of autism prevalence.

“Because features of neurodevelopmental disorders co-occur at such a high rate and there is so much individual variation in autism, diagnosis is greatly complicated, which affects the perceived prevalence of autism and related disorders,” said Girirajan. “Every patient is different and must be treated as such. Standardized diagnostic measures incorporating detailed genetic analysis and periodic follow up should be taken into account in future studies of autism prevalence.”

 Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Penn State. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

MLA

Penn State. “Increasing prevalence of autism is due, in part, to changing diagnoses.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150722130412.htm>.   ……..’

Autism: The value of an integrated approach to diagnosis


Original post from Medical News Today

‘…………..

Researchers at Inserm (Inserm Unit 930 “Imaging and Brain”) attached to François-Rabelais University and Tours Regional University Hospital have combined three clinical, neurophysiological and genetic approaches in order to better understand the brain mechanisms that cause autism. When tested on two families, this strategy enabled the researchers to identify specific gene combinations in autistic patients that distinguished them from patients with intellectual disabilities.

This study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, offers new prospects for the diagnosis and understanding of the physiological mechanisms of autism.

Autism is a condition characterised by great heterogeneity, both in terms of clinical manifestations and genetics. It is currently estimated that nearly 400 genes may be involved in this disorder. Diagnosis of this condition is all the more complex because it is often associated with other developmental disorders involving the same genes.

To improve diagnosis, the Inserm researchers used an original multimodal approach combining:

  • Clinical assessment
  • High-throughput genomic analysis to sequence all the genes
  • Analyses of the electrical activity of the brain in response to the perception of a change (electroencephalography – EEG)

Two families with members affected by autism and/or intellectual disability were given the benefit of this integrated approach. In these two families, all individuals affected by the condition carried a mutation in the NLGN4X gene, which manifested in the brain as problems in transmitting information by the neurons.

Using EEG, the researchers primarily observed an abnormal brain wave pattern, characteristic of patients with autism. The other family members, including those with intellectual disabilities, did not show this feature.

Thanks to this new approach, a second rare mutation was characterised and linked to atypical brain activity measured by EEG in autistic patients.

For Frédéric Laumonnier and Frédérique Bonnet-Brilhault, the main authors of this work, “This study helps us realise that there is no ‘gene for autism,’ but combinations of genes involved in neurodevelopment that affect the development of the neuronal networks targeted by this condition.”

Identifying these combinations is a key step in understanding the physiopathology, and ultimately in the development of targeted therapeutic drugs.

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that appears early in childhood and continues into adulthood. It presents as an altered ability to establish social interactions and communicate, and as behavioural problems. People with autism often seem imprisoned in a kind of inner world.

References

This work was supported by Fondation de France and the European Union (EU FP7 project Gencodys)

 

This work was supported by Fondation de France and the European Union (EU FP7 project Gencodys)

SOURCES

GABA/Glutamate synaptic pathways targeted by integrative genomic and electrophysiological explorations distinguish autism from intellectual disability

F Bonnet-Brilhault1,2,3,9, S Alirol1,2,9, R Blanc3,4, S Bazaud1,2, S Marouillat1,2, R-A Thépault1,2, CR Andres1,2,5, É Lemonnier6,7, C Barthélémy1,2,3, M Raynaud1,2,8, A Toutain1,2,8, M Gomot1,2 and F Laumonnier1,2,8

1INSERM, U930, Tours, France
2Université François-Rabelais, UMR « Imaging and Brain », Tours, France
3Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire, Centre Universitaire de pédopsychiatrie, Tours, France
4Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Institut de Psychologie, Laboratoire de Psychopathologie et Processus de Santé (EA 4057), Paris, France
5Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire, Service de Biochimie et de Biologie moléculaire, Tours, France
6Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Centre Expert Autisme, Limoges, France
7Universite de Bretagne occidentale, Laboratoire de neuroscience, Brest, France
8Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire, Service de Génétique, Tours, France

Molecular Psychiatry, 9 june 2015

People with disabilities deserve to be paid a legal wage


Original post from Toronto Star

‘………..Sheltered workshops, where people with disabilities do meaningful work for a pittance, are an unjust anachronism. Ottawa should shut them down.

Mark Wafer (right) employs 46 people with disabilities at his six Tim Hortons in Toronto, including Clint Sparling (left) who has worked for Wafer for nearly 20 years.

RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR

Mark Wafer (right) employs 46 people with disabilities at his six Tim Hortons in Toronto, including Clint Sparling (left) who has worked for Wafer for nearly 20 years.

By: Mark Wafer

Last week it was revealed that the federal government has long been complicit inoperating a sheltered workshop for people with intellectual disabilities. Despite doing a meaningful job, these workers are being paid an illegal wage only because they have a disability.

The story came to light because the federal government ended a long-standing contract for document shredding. When it was reported that the people with intellectual abilities who had been doing the work would be out of a job, the public backlash was so intense that the government reversed its decision to cancel the contracts — a move that makes matters much worse.

There are historic reasons for this and other sheltered workshops, where people with disabilities are employed for a pittance. They began because well-meaning individuals thought it was important to bring these people together to learn work skills. The goal was to ready them for real jobs in the private sector. As we now know, this didn’t happen. Some of these individuals worked at the government-enabled sheltered workshop for as long as 35 years, earning little more than a dollar per hour.

In Canada today the disability community makes up 15.4 per cent of our population. People with disabilities are by far our largest minority group and the community is growing. And yet this demographic is also among the furthest behind in the struggle for equal rights.

The case of the document-shredding sheltered workshop is not an isolated incident. Dozens if not hundreds of similar workshops exist across the country, employing people with disabilities, while paying them little if anything and pretending that what they’re offering is a work experience program. Many of these sheltered workshops bring in a lot of money; workshop managers are able to outbid private-sector businesses that are mandated to pay their employees a legal wage.

Not only are people with intellectual disabilities languishing in these shops; they are also being placed by social-service agencies into unpaid private-sector positions. How is this allowed to happen? Most often business owners believe they are doing something good for the community, the agencies don’t know how to negotiate a fair wage for these workers and the parents or caregivers of the workers are just happy they aren’t sitting at home.

From all these good motives comes an unjust and unacceptable result. People with disabilities must be given the opportunity to live their lives to their full potential. For the many who are capable of working, that begins with a meaningful job that is competitively paid.

I have hired 112 people with disabilities in the past 20 years in my six Tim Hortons locations in Toronto. Today 46 of my 225 employees have a disability, eight of whom have intellectual disabilities. All are paid the same wage and the same benefits of an employee without a disability. The expectations I have of all of my employees are the same — work to the best of your ability. The result? The workers I hired with disabilities have more often than not become my best employees.

This is what the government, and the logic underlying these sheltered workshops, fails to take into account. Inclusion of people with disabilities in meaningful and competitively paid jobs is not only the moral thing to do, it’s also good for business. It improves my profitability. It improves my employee turnover, absenteeism, safety record, innovation and productivity. The unemployment rate for the disability community is approaching 50 per cent. It’s no wonder these employees tend to be so good. The stakes are so very and unfairly high.

So why did the government not respond to this controversy by publicly announcing that all Canadians deserve to be protected by our country’s labour laws? No other demographic in Canada is expected to work for less than a legal wage. No other demographic in Canada can be systematically discriminated against without a massive uproar from society.

It’s time for the government to ensure that all workers in this country, regardless of ability, are paid a legal wage. Ottawa must begin by shutting down this disgraceful sheltered workshop and all others of its kind. The workers now employed there should be placed in the competitively paid positions they are perfectly capable of filling. Surely the federal government doesn’t need to save a few bucks on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.

Mark Wafer owns six Tim Hortons in Toronto. He is an advocate for employment for people with disabilities.  …..’

Special Olympics Great Britain


BREAKING NEWS: Special Olympics Great Britain, the charity which helps children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities take part in year-round sports coaching and competition activities, has today received a huge funding boost from the government.

Special Olympics GB currently has 150 local clubs that serve 8,000 intellectually disabled athletes with the help of its dedicated army of 4,000 volunteers across England, Scotland and Wales.

This new and historic £2 million backing will go towards supporting and improving the following important areas of Special Olympics GB’s work:

• Sending 115 Special Olympics GB athletes to Los Angeles to represent the country at the World Summer Games this summer which will commence with an opening ceremony held on 25th July 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. The opening ceremony is expected to attract 80,000 spectators with the Honorary Chair of the Games being President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The event, which will run from July 25th until 2nd August 2015, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. It will also be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.

• To support Special Olympics GB’s National Summer Games in Sheffield in 2017. The Deputy Prime Minister will announced the investment in Sheffield today (Friday 27 March 2015). Special Olympics GB expects the Sheffield games to be the largest ever – with over 2,000 athletes expected to take part in front of 10,000 family, friends and supporters. The event is free to all members of the public.

• In addition, the funding will enable the charity to significantly strengthen its current infrastructure and help create new inclusive clubs, develop competition pathways and launch an innovative new Unified Schools project which will target 25,000 new young participants over the next 3 years and provide a clear pathway for young people with ID to pursue sporting opportunities after they leave school, ensuring they remain physically active in the future.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: “I’m immensely proud to be supporting Special Olympics GB to actively recruit, inspire and empower people with intellectual disabilities to reach for the finishing line in their favourite sport. Over a million people in the UK have an intellectual disability, and sport is a key component in helping to tackle stigma, improve health and broaden their horizons with new opportunities. I saw first-hand the benefits of the games when I met Nicholas, a Special Olympics athlete from Sheffield who went on to compete for the GB Team as an athlete in the 2014 Special Olympics European Games last year. This funding is yet another example of this government’s work to build a fairer society and provide opportunity for everyone. After successfully staging the Tour De France, Sheffield will build on that legacy by hosting the Special Olympics National Summer Games, and will cement our city’s proud reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, boosting tourism and bringing thousands of visitors to the area.”

Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “Britain has a great tradition of supporting disability sport, delivering the most successful Paralympics ever at London 2012. I’m committed to ensuring that more people than ever enjoy the benefits of sport. This funding will ensure the Special Olympics continues to go from strength to strength both in Los Angeles and Sheffield.”

CEO of Special Olympics GB, Karen Wallin said: “I want to sincerely thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Secretary for their recognition of and investment in, our life changing sports programme. Special Olympics GB has a vision to ensure that it becomes the recognised leader in the provision of sport to all people with intellectual disabilities and allowing them to achieve their full potential in life through meaningful inclusion. We are committed to driving positive actions for young disabled people in sport within both education and community settings and we have set ourselves an ambitious goal to ensure that our infrastructure and programmes have the ability to reach every child and young person with intellectual disabilities in Great Britain by 2018. The investment received today from government will ensure that we achieve this goal and more.”