Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"The Princess and The Frog"


Sensory-friendly showing of "The Princess and The Frog" this Saturday at AMC Merchant Crossing in N. Ft. Myers at 10am. Tickets are $5. Support AMC's efforts to accomodate our families!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reno's World

Dear Friends:

Announcement: (Book) Reno's World ~ Presenting Autism and Related Disabilities To Youth is finally finsihed!

Reno is 12 years old and for the past year has been a public speaker trying to spread autism awareness to his community. Reno was born legally blind and carries many diagnosis including Asperger's but hopes this book and his story will not only teach you about autism but inspire you to always look at your abilities, NOT your disabilities.

After realizing that he did a few things different than some of his friends he started researching what having Asperger's really did mean. He did not understand the terminology that was used, so after months of research, he wrote a brochure and power point to educate those around him using terminology that everyone including his peers could understand.

His book is comprised of all of his writings, focusing on how to be a good friend to kids with autism.

This book is truly an educational tool to all who read it! Please feel free to pass along this email to anyone that you feel would benefit from this book.

Thank you all so much for the support you have all given to our family and especially the tremendous support and praise that you have given to Reno!

Please take time to notify your local library about Reno's World ~ Presenting Autism and Related Disabilities To Youth, to help continue autism awareness throughout all of our communities. Together we can make a difference!

Information about the book is available at:


Amazon.com: Reno's World, Presenting Autism and Related Disabilities To Youth (9781936051670): Reno Williams, Nikki Nacco: Books


If you have any questions please contact us at renosworldautism@yahoo.com.

Thank you for your continued support,

Tuesday Williams,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What Does It Feel Like To Tie Up A Child?

What Does It Feel Like To Tie Up A Child?

Rich La Belle, Executive Director
Family Network on Disabilities

So, I've been wondering. What does it feel like to tie up a child? What does it take for an adult to think it's a good idea or even just ok to tie up a child? It seems to be happening all the time, most recently in Hillsborough County, Florida: http://www2.tbo.com/content/2009/nov/19/disabled-hillsborough-student-tied-chair-documents/news-breaking/ . All the time, that is, as long as the child in question has a disability.

What goes through the mind of an adult that actually moves them to tie up (or down) a child placed in their care? In this latest case, it appears that a teacher tied a student in his class to a chair with a coaxial cable, like a tv cable.

The story in the Tampa Tribune says that the teacher had been teaching for four years and was certified to work with students in exceptional education. The teacher, however, says he had no formal experience with students with severe disabilities.

Ok, I can understand a lack of experience, but how does that translate in the mind of a trained educator into "it's ok to tie up a kid with a tv cable"? Before anyone asks, the student wasn't being unruly and he wasn't a danger to himself or others (not that that would automatically justify tying him up). He was simply identified as a "runner". For that, he got tied up - by his teacher.

What happened to the teacher? The district investigated, the sheriff's office investigated and - you've got to know the story by now - no charges were filed. Even though the sheriff's office found "signs of child abuse and neglect." The school district closed its investigation in August. It suspended the teacher for five days, which can be spread out by the teacher over the course of the school year. I can feel that slap on the wrist all the way across the bay.

That brings me to another question - why does the law seem to be suspended when it comes to these type of cases? Why are there few prosecutions? Why are the administrative punishments of those who do these things to our kids so weak? I don't have an answer for this. I just think it's outrageous - and it's beginning to give other educators a bad name. That's another real crime.

So, what's happening now? The family is suing the school district. I recently heard that a preliminary estimate of the cost of providing initial Positive Behavioral Supports training for a school is about $2,000.00. That's not even going to cover the cost of the District's lawyers to file an initial response to the family's lawsuit. Can't we spend our money better than this? If I lived in Hillsborough County, I'd be really ticked off that my tax dollars were going to pay lawyers to defend against something like this. This might be an issue to raise with the school board at their next meeting. What do you think?

Help end this - join and build the Cause (over 1,200 members as of this writing): http://apps.facebook.com/causes/341382/48640532?m=6fb2fd15

* Please note my new email address:

Richard La Belle
Executive Director
Family Network on Disabilities
2196 Main St. Suite K
Dunedin, FL 34698
(727) 523-1130/(800) 825-5736
Fax: (727) 523-8687

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mom keeps kid home to watch Obama speech - NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

Mom keeps kid home to watch Obama speech - NBC-2.com WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida

Shared via AddThis

Obama's Address to All Students

I've been quite vocal lately about Obama's speech for all students.......I was highly disappointed that my local school district decided against airing the speech live for all our students. Here are the emails shared between myself and our school board:

I am writing to you to express my disappointment that Lee County School District has decided to not allow my child to watch President Obama's message for all students on 9/8/09. The President would like to appeal to all students to encourage persistence and success in school, something that I hope each and every one of us would like from all students. I believe the district will miss an important opportunity to reach out to not just children of minorities, but all children. Just a few short months ago, my son was given homework assignments to watch the Republican and Democratic conventions, so I'm finding it hard to grasp that when the elected President wants to address all students, the district questions its appropriateness.

Politics aside, with this last election, I witnessed my children, who normally could care less about the election process become so involved in the process. We had an opportunity to meet VP Joe Biden when he was at FGCU last year, my 12 year old son was so excited to have met VP Biden and I was proud of him. When 12 year olds are typically more interested in sports figures, he couldn't stop talking about his handshake and conversation with the potential VP. On the night of the election, my son stayed awake and followed the election results until most of the results were in, he didn't watch Family Guy or The Simpsons, but the election results and he enjoyed it.

I'm asking that the district reconsider their decision and allow Lee County's children to be witness to this historical address.

Thank you for your consideration,

Jacqui Hawkins

"Schools belong to children... ALL children. Schools must continue to change classrooms to meet the needs of children, rather than trying to change students to meet the needs of classrooms!"

"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I may not forget you."
-- William Arthur Ward, author, educator, speaker (1921-1994)

Dear Ms. Hawkins,

Thank you for your concern that your child can not watch the Obama speech during school hours. This has gotten a lot of attention both locally and nationally but, in our particular case, it will NOT be played in the Lee County schools next Tuesday. Not due to any other reason but that we have a procedure and process for reviewing EVERY educational tool and this falls into that category. The program will be recorded by our media department (in the same manner as many other education related programs are recorded) and sent through our standard process of review.

If it meets the requirements and criteria that supports the Sunshine State Standards and is not detrimental to current school policies or detract from our mission or academic goals, it would be made available at the library of schools for teachers to check out like any other material that is currently available that has been vetted and meets the aforementioned guidelines.

If the message is deemed to be politically biased or have a negative connotation, it will not be accepted or made available within our District. The Superintendent has already responded to calls and will be instructing principals to continue to adhere to our current procedures and guidelines. If there are some parents that want their children to see this program, they can record it and review it with their own children at home.

Please note that the “in the library” will only be after the standard review given to every instructional supplement that is submitted to the District for use in our schools. While I have not seen it yet and can’t be prematurely definitive, it is my firm belief that it will not be made available in our schools.

Personally, I believe that any type of broadcast of this nature should have been done at 8pm on a nationally broadcast channel rather than during school hours when the parents are not with their children. That way, parents could either elect to watch it with their children or not. I intend to tape it and review it with my wife and determine if it is suitable for our children and I recommend each household do the same.

Again, I encourage parents that which to view it or have their children view can tape it and play it for their children in their own homes.

As the Board Vice Chairman, I am sending you a response from all the Board Member to eliminate you getting similar e-mails from every Board Member.


Steven K. Teuber

Vice Chairman

Lee County School Board

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Doodle 4 Google

Welcome to Doodle 4 Google, a competition where we invite K-12 students to play around with our homepage logo and see what new designs they come up with. This year we're inviting U.S. kids to join in the doodling fun, around the intriguing theme "What I Wish for the World."

These are exciting times and both our country and the world are on the brink of significant change. At Google we believe in thinking big, and dreaming big, and we can't think of anything more important than encouraging students to do the same.

Registration closes at 11:59:59 PM Pacific time on March 17, 2009 and entries are due by 11:59:59 PM Pacific time on March 31, 2009. Teachers, you'll find everything you need to get started on the Registration page. Only teachers or school employees should register. Parents or students who are interested should contact their teacher to register them.