Tag Archives: special needs

Personal story illustrates multiple barriers to health care, need for navigators

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Image by FutUndBeidl via Flickr

Image by FutUndBeidl via Flickr

Elizabeth Piatt begins the narrative of her reluctant journey into the Medicaid dental care system this way:

“In the spring of 2010 a terribly infected tooth forced my sister, Veronika, to the emergency department (ED). This story began, however, several months before. It is flica story of Medicaid, access to the best care, information and misinformation, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots.”

Piatt’s piece, “Navigating Veronica: How Access, Knowledge and Attitudes Shaped My Sister’s Care” was featured in February’s Health Affairs. (AHCJ members have free access to Health Affairs.)

Piatt, an assistant professor and chair of the Sociology Department at Hiram College in Hiram Ohio, brings a social scientist’s eye and a story-teller’s flair to the tale. Continue reading

People with disabilities face barriers to get dental treatment

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo by Royal Navy Media Archive via Flickr

Photo by Royal Navy Media Archive via Flickr

We’ve read about the difficulties of getting dental care to patients in nursing homes and other institutions. People living with disabilities in the community may also face formidable challenges in getting the dental care they need.

Finding a dentist with the training and willingness to accept a patient with special needs can be tough. Medicare and Medicaid benefits may be inadequate. Patients who need to undergo general anesthesia in a hospital because they are frightened or physically unable to lie still in a dental chair often face particularly high barriers to getting dental treatments.

Elizabeth Simpson offered readers of The Virginian-Pilot a detailed look at this issue in a January story that centered on the experiences of one local woman and her family. Continue reading

Disabled student abuse goes unpunished in Nev.

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Darcy Spears, a reporter at KTNV-Las Vegas, has discovered a number of disturbing stories of teachers abusing special needs students in area schools; in some cases the districts worked to keep the details of the abuse from parents and punished offending teachers lightly, if at all. According to KTNV, there are dozens such violations reported every year.

In Part 1, Spears follows a then-5-year-old autistic boy who, when he wouldn’t eat his lunch, was violently force-fed until he vomited. Police were called, but the boy’s family still weren’t able to get an incident report until they involved legal counsel.

Despite specific Nevada laws prohibiting such actions and requiring disclosure, the incident only came to light because aides to the offending teacher reported it to school administration and local police.

Nevada law says physical restraint may not be used on a pupil with a disability unless there’s an immediate threat of physical injury to students or staff, or to protect against severe property damage.
All instances must be documented and reported to the school district and the parents.

In Part 2, Spears looks at the story of a 7-year-old autistic boy whose mother says he was abused and that the school has swept the case under the rug and a whistle-blowing special education assistant who details the abuse he’s seen take place in Nevada classrooms.

Related

GAO report: “Seclusions and Restraints: Selected Cases of Death and Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers”