Disability News Weekly Roundup – Monday, May 26 – Friday, May 30

Policy:
Deal in Congress would discourage sheltered workshops (Disability Scoop)
Many individuals in special education leave high school and are referred directly to sheltered workshops with less than minimum pay. Under Section 511 of the Workforce Investment Act, currently before Congress, individuals with disabilities ages 24 and younger could not be employed by those paying so-called subminimum wage before seeking out vocational rehabilitation services. In addition, the legislation mandates that state vocational rehabilitation agencies work with schools to provide “pre-employment transition services” to all students with disabilities. These agencies would be required to devote at least 15 percent of their Federal funding to help young people transition from school to work.

Schumer calls for tracking devices for kids with autism (The Hill)
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York has introduced a bill that would fund a voluntary tracking program for families who have children with autism or other disabilities where “bolting” from parents is common. The legislation was inspired by a Federal program that is already in place to track seniors with Alzheimer’s as well as the death of Avonte Oquendo, an autistic 14-year-old boy who bolted from his New York school. S. 2386, also known as Avonte’s Law, would provide communities with tracking devices, worn around the wrist or ankle or clipped to a shoe. These devices would allow law enforcement officers to find children who wander off in as little as 30 minutes.

House panel tweaks autism-fighting bill (The Hill)
The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health in the House of Representatives has approved an amendment that would require the Health and Human Services secretary to designate a deputy to oversee Federal autism research and services. The official would help coordinate anti-autism activities across Federal agencies and ensure the projects “are not unnecessarily duplicative,” according to the amendment. The language comes after the Government Accountability Office found that 84 percent of autism research projects under current law have the potential to cover each other’s ground.

Research:
Study finds reading possible despite low IQ (Disability Scoop)
In a Southern Methodist University study, researchers followed 141 children with IQ scores ranging from 40 to 80, 76 of whom received 40 to 50 minutes of intensive reading instruction daily in small groups. The remaining 65 students were provided standard reading lessons. After four years, students who received the specialized instruction performed significantly better on a variety of reading tests compared to those who participated in the traditional lessons. While students with higher IQ scores generally improved more quickly, there were cases where children with lower IQ scores outperformed their peers with higher scores.

To age well, walk (The New York Times)
Regular exercise, including walking, significantly reduces the chance that an older person with limited mobility will develop a physical disability, according to one of the largest studies of its kind to date. The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial included 1,635 men and women aged 70 to 89 who scored below a nine on a 12-point scale of physical functioning. Participants were randomly assigned to an exercise and an education group. By the end of the study, which lasted 2.6 years, participants in the exercise group were about 18 percent less likely to have experienced any episode of physical disability, and about 28 percent less likely to have become persistently disabled.

Researchers identify pattern of cognitive risks in some children with cochlear implants (Hearing Review)
According to an Indiana University study, children with profound deafness who received a cochlear implant had as much as 5 times the risk of having delays in areas of working memory, controlled attention, planning, and conceptual learning as children without hearing impairments. The study evaluated 73 children implanted before age 7 and 78 with normal hearing. All children in the study had average to above-average IQ scores. Preschoolers in the study who were implanted at an average age of 18 months had fewer executive-function delays than school-age children who were implanted 10 months later.

Technology:
The roast dinner you DON’T need to chew: Scientists develop 3D ‘smoothfood’ to provide nutritious meals for the elderly (Daily Mail – UK)
The German company Biozoon has developed super-smooth foods made to look like regular, everyday meals. Developed in the European Union-funded Performance project, the meals are designed for people who have problems swallowing solid foods, such as the elderly or individuals with dysphagia. The technique deconstructs common foods and rebuilds them in a 3D printer.

App in works to screen for autism (Disability Scoop)
With evidence that computer software may be able to detect signs of autism in young children just as well as trained experts, researchers at Duke University are looking to make the technology widely available via an app. The software tracks an infant’s response to stimuli such as a toy shaken or a ball rolling by analyzing eye gaze, walking patterns, and motor skills. Rather than counting seconds like a clinician, the software can track a child’s reaction time down to tenths of a second. The researchers are hoping that schools and parents could use the technology to screen children for autism and determine if a more extensive clinical evaluation is warranted.

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