A man with autism asks future employers to ‘take a chance on me’ in a heartfelt, handwritten viral letter

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Ryan Lowry photographed while holding the telephone in one hand and signaling a thumbs up with the other

By Janine Mack, CNN

A soon-to-be high school graduate started his job search in a unique way — he wrote a candid open letter and posted it on LinkedIn.

Ryan Lowry has autism and wants future employers to understand that while he may learn in a different way, he is worth taking a chance on.

“I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don’t learn like typical people do,” Lowry wrote in the letter. “I would need a mentor to teach me, but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it. I promise that if you hire me and teach me, you’ll be glad that you did. I will show up every day, do what you tell me to do, and work really hard.”

Ryan Lowry, 20, in Leesburg, Virginia, wrote this cover letter to potential employers.
Lowry, who recently celebrated his 20th birthday, is about to complete a post-graduate high school program for special needs children.

The Leesburg, Virginia, the resident is looking forward to starting the career he always dreamed of being in: animation. Currently, he works at a coffee shop called SimplyBe, but his employment will end once he graduates. So he decided to pen a cover letter to potential employers.

Ryan Lowry is hoping for a career in animation.

“He was going to do it on his computer and his younger brother thought, ‘Why don’t you write it?” said Ryan’s father, Rob Lowry.

His father said they thought posting the letter on LinkedIn would be more effective than sending it in the mail.

The letter struck a chord with employers and job seekers alike on LinkedIn.

Ryan Lowry has received thousands of comments, connections, potential mentors, and even job offers, his father said.

He added that multiple companies have reached out, but the one that stood out is Exceptional Minds, a three-year program designed to teach people with autism about animation.

Ryan Lowry is now busy getting his resume and portfolio together. And he is confident he will find his next career opportunity, his mother, Tracy Lowry, said.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

Should Students Be Allowed to Miss School for Mental Health Reasons?

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New laws in several states allow children and adolescents to declare a mental health day. Is this a good trend? Do you wish your school gave you the option?

Several states, including Arizona, Oregon and Virginia, have recently passed bills that allow students to miss school to take care of their mental health, efforts that were often supported or led by students.

Do you think all students should have the option to take a day off from school to rest, recalibrate and take a break from their regular routine? Does your state or school allow students to take mental health days when necessary?

In “Teens Are Advocating for Mental Health Days Off School,” Christina Caron writes:

By the time Ben Ballman reached his junior year in high school he was busier — and more anxious — than he had ever been.

“I had moments where it felt like the whole world was coming down on me,” he said. “It was definitely a really difficult time.”

Before the pandemic shut everything down, his day started at 6:30 a.m., when he woke up to get ready for school. Next came several Advanced Placement courses; then either soccer practice or his job at a plant nursery; studying for the SAT; and various extracurricular activities. He often didn’t start his homework until 11 p.m., and finally went to bed three hours later. Every day it was the same grueling schedule.

“It’s not even that I was going above and beyond, it was, ‘This is the bare minimum,’” said Ben, now 18 and a recent graduate of Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County, Md. “It’s like a pressure cooker that’s locked down. There’s nowhere to escape. Eventually you just kind of burst at some point, or, hopefully, you can get through it.”

The article continues:

Faced with high stress levels among adolescents and a mental health crisis that includes worsening suicide rates, some states are now allowing students to declare a mental health day.

In the last two years alone, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Virginia have passed bills permitting children to be absent from school for mental or behavioral health reasons, efforts that were often aided or spearheaded by students.

And in March, Utah decided that a “valid excuse” for a student’s absence will now include “mental or behavioral health,” broadening an earlier definition that referred to mental illness. The legislator who sponsored the bill, Representative Mike Winder, a Republican, told the television station KUTV in February that it was his daughter, then a senior at Southern Utah University, who suggested the idea.

Late last year the advocacy group Mental Health America surveyed teenagers about the top three things that would be most helpful for their mental health. More than half of the respondents cited the ability to take a mental health break or absence from either school or work. And in a Harris Poll of more than 1,500 teenagers conducted in May of last year, 78 percent of those surveyed said schools should support mental health days to allow students to prioritize their health.

Ben, the recent graduate, said that as a high school student he had spoken with classmates who were struggling and needed support but didn’t know where to turn. So he organized a coalition of students to improve mental health services for students in his state. This year he spent months supporting a mental health day bill in Maryland, but it stalled in the State Senate.

The article also shares some reasons that mental health days may not become a reality at more schools, at least for now:

In the New York City school system, which has more than 1 million students, a day off for mental or behavioral health reasons “would be treated like any other sick day,” Nathaniel Styer, a New York City Department of Education spokesman, said.

The phrase “mental health day” might make some kids and parents uncomfortable. With that in mind, the school board in Montgomery County, Md., decided that it will excuse absences taken for “student illness and well-being,” starting in the new school year.

“We didn’t want to call it a mental health day, because we know there is still stigma around that,” Karla Silvestre, the school board vice president, told Education Week in June.

Schools are also experimenting with other methods beyond mental health days to help students cope with their daily stressors. The Jordan School District in South Jordan, Utah, is using “wellness rooms,” where students can decompress for 10 minutes if they are feeling overwhelmed. And some schools in Colorado have created “oasis rooms,” a student lounge staffed with peer counselors and other resources.

Click here to read the full article on NY Times.

Disability awareness company launches new logo to recognise people with non-visible disabilities

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Disability awareness Staff members at Dis-labelled, (L-R) Jo-Anna, Alex, Emma O'Connor, Emily, Jo, Leon and Kelly

By Abigail Beaney, Lancashire Telegraph

Access Ability Community Interest Company, based in Blackburn, has launched a second company, Dis-labelled, creating a logo which they say is more inclusive of all people with a disability.

A logo of the letter D with a tick going through it is being used by the company in place of the wheelchair sign which was designed in the 1960s to make the logo which recognises those who have less visible disabilities. Director Emma O’Connor said: “We have worked with people with disabilities and we listen to the challenges they face with non-visible disabilities. “We decided that lockdown was the perfect time to try and raise awareness around the barriers we have seen people face. “We got together and designed a new logo and T-shirts and badges to raise awareness and funds for activities and projects that people with disabilities and people in the community can access.” Access Ability has been running for 10 years and offers training courses and assistance to those with disabilities find jobs and works with workplaces to make them more inclusive.

Dis-labelled went online in March 2021 to sell clothing and items which raise awareness, promote inclusion and raise money. This is then put back into the company to help them in their work. The company has been established and is run by people who have disabilities that want to work with companies to bring about positive changes.

Click here to read the full article on Lancashire Telegraph.

NBCUniversal Adopts Guidelines To Audition Actors With Disabilities

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logo of NBC on the wall in copper

NBCUniversal has committed to audition actors with disabilities with each new studio production, joining the roster of organizations pledging to follow guidelines created by the Ruderman Family Foundation to make film and TV more inclusive.

“NBCUniversal remains committed to creating content that authentically reflects the world we live in and increasing opportunities for those with disabilities is an integral part of that,” said Janine Jones-Clark, Executive Vice President, Inclusion – Talent & Content, Film, Television & Streaming, NBCUniversal. “We are proud to join the Ruderman Family Foundation pledge as calls to action like theirs are important and hold the industry accountable of the work we still need to do in order to see systemic change.”

Other media organizations that have signed on to the Foundation’s pledge are CBS and the BBC.

NBC’s This is Us received the Ruderman Seal of Authentic Representation in November 2020,.

“The Ruderman Family Foundation is thrilled to see NBCUniversal commit to our guidelines and dedicate themselves further to casting people with disabilities in their productions,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “By having such an influential entity like NBCUniversal take this bold stand, we hope to continue to see others join us in striving to create more opportunities for people with disabilities in entertainment.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation’s guidelines include, among other items, recognizing that disability is central to diversity, that the disability community comprises one of the largest minority groups in the country, and that people with disabilities face exclusion in front of and behind the camera. The guidelines hold that increasing auditions for actors with disabilities is a critical step towards inclusion.

Continue to the original article at Deadline.

Disability Discrimination In Health Care Under Scrutiny

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Black female nurse listening to music with headphones outside

By Disability Scoop

Federal officials are weighing a rewrite of regulations designed to ensure that people with disabilities do not face discrimination from medical providers amid persistent concerns about unequal access.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights is issuing a request for information on disability discrimination in the health care and child welfare systems.

The move comes as the agency said that it “is aware that

(Image Credit – Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

significant discrimination on the basis of disability against persons with disabilities persists in the nation’s health care system and in its child welfare system.” In addition to reports of discrimination that have surfaced during the course of HHS OCR’s own activities, officials said that they’ve heard about issues from researchers, advocates and disability organizations.

As a result, HHS OCR is reviewing existing relevant regulations and mulling revisions.

Now, the agency is looking for feedback on what any updates should address. Specifically, officials said they would like information about disability discrimination in the context of organ transplants, life-saving or life-sustaining care, suicide prevention and treatment, crisis standards of care, health care value assessment methodologies, child welfare and the availability of auxiliary aids and accessible medical equipment.

HHS OCR said it wants input from people with disabilities, their families, providers, disability advocates, hospitals, child welfare agencies and other stakeholders. In addition to information on discrimination, the agency indicated that it would like to hear about the costs and administrative burdens related to various approaches to tackling the issue.

“We believe that persons with disabilities should not be discriminated against in vital health and human services including organ transplants, suicide prevention, the provision of life-saving care and child welfare,” said Roger Severino, director of HHS OCR. “We believe the American public agrees that persons with disabilities deserve full protection under law and we seek public input on achieving that goal with respect to the most consequential, life-altering contexts.”

Once the request for information is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments.

Read the full article at Disability Scoop.

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Upcoming Events

  1. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022

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  1. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022