A Prayer For National Healing

By Mark Hagen

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

I’ve been thinking of this quote by President Abraham Lincoln often this past year. We are one week removed from one of our nation’s most acrimonious and divisive elections. Pundits and “experts” are taking credit, assigning blame, and assessing what went wrong or what went right – dependent, of course, on one’s political leanings.

I happened to be in Washington, D.C. on Election Day.

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Four ways to improve communication about disability

By JoLynne Lyon
Public Relations Specialist at the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

To my fellow information sharers in the disability field: Has this happened to you?

  • You run into a powerful piece of writing about a disability issue in a paper newsletter. You want to share what you just read—maybe tweet it or post it to your Facebook page. You search for an online version but don’t find it—or after a determined search you do find it, buried on page 55 of a sprawling pdf document. It isn’t indexed. Or…
  • A group you partner with is putting on an event or looking for job applicants. They pass their information on to you by email. They have a website, but the story they just asked you to promote isn’t on it. Or…
  • You write an article on a disability issue for your own blog or website. When you search your stock photo service for an illustration, you find only variations on this theme: Continue reading

Advocacy for Change

By Gretchen Block

Change…change…more change. Why is it that things always seem to be changing? Who decided that a change was needed again? Can’t we ever slow down? We just get used to something and then there we go, changing things again. So this time, it’s a new employment opportunity for people that choose Bethesda as a provider?  Hmmm…

Bethesda is in the process of filling six new positions in our organization – Advocacy Mentors. Continue reading

Educational Accountability: Why Did It Take So Long?

By Cathy Ficker Terrill

Each child in America has the right to a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE).  It is the educational right of children with disabilities in the United States to receive educational services at public expense.  The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to provide an appropriate education. What is appropriate for one child may not be deemed appropriate for another. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team is responsible for determining what is appropriate on a case by case basis. Continue reading

Family Support for People with Developmental Disabilities

By Cathy Ficker Terrill

There are more than 4.7 million citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the United States.  About 75% of these citizens do not have formal disability services.  They rely on their families for different levels of support.  Of the 25% citizens in the US receiving services, over 56% live with their families.  In some states as many as 80% live with their families. Continue reading

Is “Self-Advocate” Just Another Label?

By Mark Hagen

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are well aware of the hurt and anguish caused by society’s need to label and categorize. The stigma caused by the term “mental retardation” and its derivatives has spurred the outstanding “Spread The Word To End The Word” campaign started by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies programs.

However, have we in the IDD field unintentionally created our own stereotypes of individuals with disabilities by labeling them or diminished their accomplishments by adding a label unique to the field? Take, for instance, the term “self-advocate.” Continue reading

Dual Diagnosis

By Cathy Ficker Terrill


Many individuals who have multiple challenges such as a developmental disability, mental illness, physical challenges, behavioral challenges, substance abuse or other noted problems are not always supported effectively. Misdiagnosing individuals with multiple needs and/or a dual diagnosis of developmental disabilities and mental illness (hereafter “dual diagnosis”) is rampant.

Additionally, some individuals having a dual diagnosis are often noted as behaviorally challenged without recognition of an underlying mental health issue. Currently, effective treatment for these individuals is sorely lacking in some states.

People with disabilities are similar to the general population.

We are a complex mixture of strengths and challenges, and no one system can meet all our needs. The same holds true for people with disabilities – no one system can meet all of their needs, and we must be able to cut across governmental department boundaries to ensure competent and effective services. Continue reading