Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Update on Missouri Special Education Hearings

Jeff Grisamore Not: Update on Missouri Special Education Hearings

The following is taken from several articles and websites.  It is all verifiable.  

Prior to returning to the State of Missouri, Chapel worked in Kansas City as a trial lawyer at the Sly James Firm, at Humphrey Farrington and McClain, and with the Missouri Attorney General.

Charnissa Holliday Scott
After serving as a school district administrator for several years, Charnissa Holliday Scott wanted to make a change in her life.

I've always been interested in law,” Charnissa said. “A friend of mine who was an attorney talked me into taking the LSAT, and I took it. And now I’m here and I'm looking at graduation in May 2011.” (I believe that this friend is Michelle Wimes)

Received a bachelor’s degree from Quincy University in Quincy, Ill. and a master’s degree in Education and an Education Specialist degree in Superintendent Administration from Avila University.

Broke KC charter school leaves teachers without final paycheck


The Kansas City Star

Teachers at the recently shuttered Derrick Thomas Academy charter school haven’t been paid, and no one seems to know when — or if — they ever will be.

“There are limited, if any, options that Derrick Thomas Academy has to help the teachers,” said James Tippin, a lawyer representing the school. “Believe me, no one on the Derrick Thomas board of directors is happy about this.”
Chapel and one of the attorneys at James Tippin Law, Dana Cutler, worked at the Sly James law firm.

Dana Cutler works at the Tippen Law Firm and is listed as contractor contact person for the contract with DESE.

Featured speaker will be Charnissa Holliday-Scott, a law student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law who previously worked as a core data specialist, interim director of exceptional education and compliance officer in urban and suburban school districts.

SHB Sponsors Jackson County Bar Association’s Foundation Scholarship Banquet By Willie Epps, Partner, SHB Kansas City On September 11, 2010, the Jackson County Bar Association and JCBA Foundation hosted the 13th Annual Kit Carson Roque, Jr. Scholarship Banquet at the Kansas City Marriott Country Club Plaza. This annual banquet celebrates the life and legacy of the late Judge Roque and promotes diversity in the profession by providing scholarships to deserving minority law students.

This year, the JCBA Foundation solicited scholarship applications from the four law schools around Kansas City: UMKC, MU, KU, and Washburn. The scholarship selection panel included SHB Partner Jon R. Gray (retired judge), SHB alumna Judge Lisa White Hardwick, and Judge Brian C. Wimes. Scholarships were awarded to Sophia Washington of UMKC Law School, Camille Roe of MU Law School, and Charnissa Holliday-Scott of UMKC Law School. SHB Partner Mischa Buford Epps serves as president of the JCBA Foundation, which has awarded 30 scholarships since 1998.

 The Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was re-authorized this year effective July 1, 2005. Under the guidance of legal assistance provided by Attorneys Kathy Walter-Mack and Michelle Wimes, the information found in this manual contains legal references that are current and aligned with the changes that the new IDEA mandates. This Process Manual is also in alignment with the State Plan for Missouri as it becomes finalized according to the federal guidelines.  (FROM KCMO school district handbook)

Michelle Wimes worked as an attorney for KCMO school district. Charnissa Holiday-Scott was an employee at KCMO school district. Judge Wimes was on the panel for the scholarship that Holiday-Scott won. Holiday-Scott works for the law firm that has the contract with DESE.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SB17 - Establishes the Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children and the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council

SB17 - Establishes the Advisory Council on the Education of Gifted and Talented Children and the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council

BRYCE'S LAW: This act creates "Bryce's Law." The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must develop a master list of resources available to the parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder. The Department must also actively seek financial resources in the form of grants and donations that may be devoted to scholarship funds or clinical trials for behavioral interventions that may be undertaken. This act allows organizations to be classified as scholarship granting organizations, as described in the act, that may distribute scholarships to eligible children or students to attend a qualified school. Eligible children include children ages zero to five with an individualized family services program under First Steps. Eligible students include elementary or secondary students who have attended public school, as described in the act, who have an individualized education program based on a special needs condition or a medical diagnosis of a special needs condition.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education must establish procedures to identify and classify scholarship granting organizations and must also make an annual determination of the number of Missouri students with an individualized education program, including students with certain conditions, as described in the act. The Department must use a formula to determine the number of scholarships that may be distributed. The Department must actively seek financial resources in the form of grants and donations that may be donated to scholarship funds. Scholarship granting organizations may seek donations to distribute as scholarships. Scholarships will be distributed in the form of checks to the student's or child's parent.
The Department must conduct a study of the program with funds other than state funds. The department must provide the general assembly with a copy of the study's final report by December 31, 2016. The program will sunset in six years. (Section 135.1220)

Most bills set to become law August 28 - My North West Missouri News: Opinion

Most bills set to become law August 28 - My North West Missouri News: Opinion

Bryce’s Law (SB 17)
Another bill that will become law will help provide new resources to assist families with children with special needs such as autism. The legislation, also known as Bryce’s Law, requires the state education department to seek financial resources in the form of grants and donations that may be devoted to scholarship funds or clinical trials for these children. The bill also tasks the department with developing a master list of resources available to the parents of children with autism spectrum disorders.
The goal with the bill is to help families and children enjoy a higher quality of life and to obtain the educational experience they need and deserve. By making new and existing resources easier for families to access, we believe we can better meet the educational needs of the thousands of children in Missouri with autism spectrum disorders.

Bullying of disabled students can violate federal school law, U.S. Department of Education says |

Bullying of disabled students can violate federal school law, U.S. Department of Education says |

LANSING -- Federal education officials issued a letter Tuesday clarifying the responsibility of schools to prevent bullying of students with disabilities, saying that attacks could violate the federal guarantee of a free appropriate public education if they interfere with educational benefits.
The issue of children with disabilities being bullied has come to the forefront in Michigan recently after the parents of a Livonia Public Schools student filed a federal lawsuitalleging the students and staff of his elementary school are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by allowing the child to be bullied over his peanut allergy.
"[B]ullying of a student with a disability that results in the student not receiving meaningful educational benefit constitutes a denial of a free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that must be remedied," the letter states.
The letter includes suggestions of best practices for school districts to address bullying, including parent notification, training for school staff and tracking bullying incidents throughout the school year.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has a public awareness campaign to reduce bullying in schools, and has scheduled a Twitter chat on back-to-school bullying prevention for Aug. 29.
Michigan state law requires school districts to have an anti-bullying policy in place, and the Michigan Department of Education provides a model policy that school districts can adopt.
Brian Smith is the statewide education and courts reporter for MLive. Email him or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Another Bullying Lawsuit Targets a Texas School District

Another Bullying Lawsuit Targets a Texas School District

The mother of a former Leander Independent School District student has sued the school district claiming that the district failed to protect her son from bullying, according to a report by The Austin American-Statesman.  According to the lawsuit, the boy was targeted at least in part due to Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder that impacted how he socialized and interacted with others.
There is no dispute that students with disabilities can be especially vulnerable to bullying.  Further, courts may not look favorably on a school district that has failed to protect a student with special needs from abuse by other students.  The Leander ISD suit is at an early stage and the facts have not been fully developed, so it is yet to be seen whether the district will face any liability in that case.
What is the potential for liability in a bullying suit?  A number of federal anti-discrimination statutes address bullying and harassment and impose responsibilities on school administrators to protect the civil rights of students.  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits gender discrimination.  In addition, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit discrimination based on a disability.  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.  Each of these statutes offer protections to those who have been harassed or severely bullied based on their protected category.  Further, all states receiving federal education funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must comply with federal requirements designed to provide a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”) for all disabled children.
Several courts have held that a school’s deliberate indifference in failing to prevent bullying of a special education student resulted in the denial of FAPE.  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Texas, has not directly addressed this issue, however.  One 2011 case, T.K. v. New York City Department of Education, __ F.Supp.2d __, 2011 WL 1549243 (E.D.N.Y. 2011), examined the question of whether bullying can be grounds for finding a denial of FAPE.  T.K. received special education services under the classification of learning disabled.  The parents claimed the T.K. was subjected to repeated bullying at school as a result of her disability, that the school was aware of the conduct, and that the school failed to properly address the issue.  The parents requested a due process hearing complaining that the school denied T.K. FAPE and a hearing officer ruled in favor of the school.  The case proceeded to federal court.  The court developed the following standard in IDEA bullying disputes:

When responding to bullying incidents, which may affect the opportunities of a special education student, a school must take prompt and appropriate action.  It must investigate if the harassment is reported to have occurred.  If harassment is found to have occurred, the school must take appropriate steps to prevent it in the future.  These duties exist even if the misconduct is covered by its anti-bullying policy, and regardless of whether the student has complained, asked the school to take action, or identified the harassment as a form of discrimination.
It is not necessary to show that the bullying prevented all opportunity for an appropriate education, but only that it is likely to affect the opportunity of the student for an appropriate education.  Further, the bullying need not be a reaction to or related to a particular disability.
The record in the T.K. case included evidence of bullying by other students.  The parents showed that they tried to communicate the problems to the school principal.  The school, however, did not produce documentation that it either investigated the claims of bullying or took steps to remedy the conduct.  Finally, evidence supported the finding that the bullying caused the girl to resist attending school, hurt her academically, and damaged her emotional well-being.  According to the court, the parents produced sufficient evidence to create a fact issue as to whether the school’s failure to properly respond to the bullying denied the student FAPE.
Because school districts in violation of these federal anti-discrimination laws may face the withdrawal of federal funding, injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees, these cases can be very costly and time-consuming for school districts.  That is why it is paramount for school districts to learn to address allegations of peer harassment swiftly and thoroughly, with supporting documentation along the way.  Districts faced with these allegations will need to show that they took action to address the complaints and a genuine effort to stop the harassment.  Separating students, investigating complaints, interviewing students, taking written statements, meeting with parents, and reporting the incident through appropriate channels, are just some examples of steps that district personnel should take when faced with a student complaint of peer harassment.  Further, documenting each of these steps will go a long way in fighting allegations of deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment.  For more practical strategies on how to handle peer harassment and bullying complaints on your campus, see the Texas Legal Handbook on Student Bullying.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yes, That Too: Ableism is to blame

Yes, That Too: Ableism is to blame

Farmers House in Weston helps kids with disabilities enter the workforce -

Farmers House in Weston helps kids with disabilities enter the workforce -

Peaches Cunningham is co-founder with her husband, David, and Suzanne Alan Zimmerman of the Farmers House, which can be found at and on Facebook. The working farm, produce stand and event space in the former Vaughn’s Orchard in Weston employs kids with autism and other disabilities. The Farmers House is hosting a corn festival Aug. 24. This conversation took place on a walking tour of the property.
Our farmers — we call the kids farmers — plant seeds in our greenhouse and transplant them into the raised beds and water them and weed them and harvest them, and some of them ring it up on the cash register. So they get the satisfaction of seeing something through from beginning to end, and they get the full experience of having a job. There is also a time clock where they clock in and clock out. Those kinds of skills are important to being able to get a job.
This is some fine-looking produce in the refrigerator case. What do you have today?
These are some peppers and radishes we grew, and some corn and cucumbers and Missouri peaches that we get from nearby growers.
The produce case is inside this nice country store. What do you call it?
This is the Market, and the Market keeps all three of our programs going financially: the market, the garden and our baking.
How would you describe the Market?
This is just a fun store with a lot of Missouri-based food products — every kind of jam and syrup and candy you can imagine. There are lots of gifty items as well. The splatterware is popular.
And because this is apple country and Vaughn’s was an apple orchard, come fall we will have every kind of apple and pumpkin things.
And all year long we have frozen apple dumplings that people love that you can take home and bake.
On the weekend we serve barbeque — pulled pork and ribs and cole slaw with roasted apples. The second Saturday of the month we do fried chicken.
And we have apple fritters because everyone loved them so much at Vaughn’s and told us we had to bring them back, and so we did.
What kinds of jobs do the kids do in the Market?
They meet the trucks coming in and check items off the order list. They price all the items. They learn how to use a pricing gun in the back storage area. Then they come out to the retail space and stock. So those are useful skills they can take to another job and have meaningful work.
Here in the upstairs loft we made this event space that book clubs use and families use for parties, and the kids help set up the room and serve the food and do the clean-up.
You have an autistic son.
I do. His name is John David. He comes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He comes and works with Natalie, one of the job coaches, and yesterday for one solid hour he tied ribbons around pies and stocked them in the freezer. Anyone who has a child like John David knows an hour is a very long time.
The other thing he loves to do is bag up our little berry baskets filled with gummy candies.
How did your experience with John David cause you to start a program like this?
When you have a child like ours, your biggest worry from the very beginning is: What are they going to do? Where are they going to live? Who is going to take care of them when we are gone? Even when they are 3 years old, it weighs on you constantly.
So John David loves the outdoors and loves to be on the move, so whenever David and I thought about what we wanted to do with John David, we always came up here to Weston. We always went out to the Red Barn, and we started thinking about a place where he could live.
Do people live here?
Not now. But that is something we are looking at in the long range.
What misconceptions do people have about autism?
People are afraid to hire people like John David, but they are the best employees you can have. They are conscientious and reliable and grateful to have the job.
What do people who don’t have kids with autism not understand about it?
It has gotten so much better. The kids are now integrated into classrooms, and the younger generation doesn’t think anything about it.
John David has friends who are not autistic, and they don’t think anything of it. It’s a huge change.
I think this generation is going to be the one that really hires these kids and allows them to live a normal life.

Read more here:

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sensory Processing Disorder is Real Even if not Included in DSM-V

Sensory Processing Disorder is Real Even if not Included in DSM-V

en years ago, I received this letter: “My granddaughter, 12, can’t stand any little repetitious thing like crunching on Cheerios or tapping fingers. It must drive her crazy inside. She is fussing at her siblings all the time to stop. This has gone on for years.”
Bratty sister? No. More likely, a child like so many today who start the morning feeling like they are under assault — by the sound of crunchy cereal or the feel of a skirt seam.
These kids do not set out to be overly sensitive to sounds, flickering lights or a bump in a school line. Rather, their brains work against them because of a problem called Sensory Processing Disorder: difficulty taking in and processing some stimuli. A birthday party is too loud. A pool party is too wet. A bumpy bus ride is torture.
“For some people, the most benign sounds have the same effect as nails on a chalkboard,” said Carol Stock Kranowitz. She published her groundbreaking book “The Out-of-Sync Child” (Perigee) in 2002.
Your child may be bright as a silver dollar, but if she cannot deal with the new eyeglasses on her face, goes ballistic when a friend at lunch slurps through a straw, or cannot sit next to someone on the bus because their sleeves are touching, she is going to have a miserable school day. Forget about homework.
This year, more than one child in every classroom will have sensory-related issues, and new research suggests a brain-based link to the behavior.
In a groundbreaking new study from the University of California-San Francisco, researchers including Pratik Mukherjee, M.D., have found that children affected with SPD have quantifiable differences in brain structure. For the first time, this shows a biological basis for the condition that sets it apart from other neurodevelopmental disorders.
“Until now, SPD hasn’t had a known biological underpinning,” said Mukherjee, the study’s senior author. “Our findings point the way to establishing a biological basis for the disease that can be easily measured and used as a diagnostic tool.”
But despite the new research, is SPD even a valid diagnosis? It’s up for debate. The American Psychiatric Association says no.
Researchers at the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation have been studying SPD for more than 30 years with a multi-disciplinary team of experts. Despite their wide awareness campaign — waged partly to enable SPD treatments to be covered by insurance — the disorder was not added as a new diagnosis in the latest edition of the APA’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
Whether or not the diagnosis is official, for families dealing with sensory disorders, the daily struggles are all too real. But there are ways to help these kids through the school day.
[Via Pocono Record]

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Standing By And Watching Bullying

Lee's Summit R-7 School District: Standing By And Watching Bullying

How many of you have seen the psa with the boy on the bus or the girl in hall being bullied?  The ad is to help children understand how to not be a bystander.  It is a wonderful concept.

What are we teaching these same children when teachers, administrators, bus drivers, aides, etc. or the bullies?  How are they going to address that?

It happens every day.  Thousands of children are bullied by the adults that we entrust our children to.  We are powerless to protect them because of the cover-ups, the lying, the retaliation, and the total failure of the system from the district level all of the way to Washington DC.

When are we going to demand that our legislators, administrators, teachers, and public officials do their job and protect the most innocent of our society?  I'm ready to demand it now.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

SSI and Disability

bility. I would be glad to host this event, but I need to know 
I have a disability attorney and a retired Social Security Judge that would be willing to speak to a group about SSI and disability. I would be glad to host this event, but I need to know that someone is going to show up. Please let me know if you would be interested in this.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Report: Autistic Child Abused at Stone Mountain School - Schools - Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA Patch

Report: Autistic Child Abused at Stone Mountain School - Schools - Stone Mountain-Lithonia, GA Patch

A father from Stone Mountain is furious at educators who allegedly abused his 14-year-old autistic son and then tried to cover it up. 
John Malone said his son Wesley, who cannot speak, was terrorized by a teachers in May at Stone Mountain Middle School while an observer monitored the class. The abuse allegation was passed on to the school district which then failed to respond appropriately, according to CBS.  
The district failed to report the alleged abuse to police for a whole month, Malone said. "I'm irate about it because not only is my son not receiving a fair shake, all the other kids with special needs won't get a fair shake either," he said.
A paraprofessional from the school has been forced to resign and a teacher may be fired for allegedly slamming a broomstick against a wall repeatedly in order to get Wesley's attention.
An investigating officer later issued "a vague and inaccurate incident report," Malone said. "I think there's been a complete cover-up to protect the DeKalb County School system. Arrests should have already been made." 
Jeff Dickerson, spokesman for the DeKalb County School District, said both educators have been disciplined and the Department of Family and Children Services has been notified.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Former Antioch teacher charged with physically abusing young autistic students - Inside Bay Area

Former Antioch teacher charged with physically abusing young autistic students - Inside Bay Area

PITTSBURG -- A former Antioch special education teacher accused of physically abusing her young autistic students at Mno Grant Elementary School was arraigned Tuesday on six felony counts of child abuse.
Theresa Allen-Caulboy turned herself in Tuesday at the Pittsburg courthouse, complying with a $600,000 warrant for her arrest that was issued last week when the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office filed charges alleging six victims -- boys and girls ages 5, 6 and 7 -- were abused between October 2012 and Jan. 30, 2013.
Allen-Caulboy, 55, of Brentwood, resigned from the Antioch Unified School District in February, a month after parents reported her to police and she was placed on administrative leave.
At a bail hearing Tuesday, prosecutor Melissa Smith said Allen-Caulboy "preyed" on vulnerable children, some of whom are nonverbal, and that there is "nothing to indicate that something prompted her to act out this way."
Less than six months after she started teaching at the school, other district employees began witnessing Allen-Caulboy commit abusive acts, including kneeing a child in the chest, pinching a child's nipples, backhanded slaps, pinning children to the ground and forcing students to "eat boogers," according to Smith. Allen-Caulboy allegedly threatened a school aide that anyone who reported her conduct was "going to get sued," Smith said.
Prosecutors would not say whether there are charges pending against any school district employees who allegedly witnessed or received complaints from parents but did not go to police as mandated by law, before parents sparked the police investigation in January.
"All aspects of this case are still being investigated," said senior Deputy District Attorney Nancy Georgiou.
Defense attorney Elizabeth Grossman described Allen-Caulboy as a "thoughtful, compassionate, hardworking, caring and sensitive human being" who received no prior complaints in her 11 years of teaching.
The defendant was accompanied to court with her family and a former colleague at John Muir Elementary School in Antioch, where Allen-Caulboy taught autistic students in 2011.
"This is a person who very much wants to address these charges," Grossman told the judge, later adding, "I have a lot to say about whether (the DA) will prevail on these counts."
Judge Nancy Davis Stark ordered Allen-Caulboy to electronic house arrest until she can post a $200,000 property bond. The judge further ordered Allen-Caulboy not to teach or care for any minors and issued a restraining order barring any contact with the alleged victims and witnesses in the case.
Allen-Caulboy is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 12 to post bond and enter her plea to the charges.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jake's SSI

We had a hearing before a judge and he denied Jake’s SSI.  Below is part of his report.

The claimant has the following severe impairments: autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Per report, the claimant was, at various points in his childhood, diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome, and autistic disorder.

In early 2009, Tracy Orchester conducted an EXTENSIVE psychological evaluation and diagnosed him with autistic disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  She spent many hours with and came to know him.

The claimant was referred to Susan Barngrover, Ph.D., who conducted a FIFTEEN MINUTE examination of his mental status and ability to manage funds.  Based on the claimant’s performance of relatively high functioning, Dr. Barngrover’s diagnostic impression was that the claimant had “long-standing Asperger rather than full blown autism”.  This despite the fact that Dr. Orchester’s report stated that it might appear that Jake has Asperger syndrome, but in fact he has autism.  His PCP stated in his report that the claimant has full syndrome of autism.  Children’s Mercy also conducted an evaluation and found that he did not have Asperger’s Syndrome, but in fact was autistic.  The only person that concluded that he had Asperger’s Syndrome was the person that only spent FIFTEEN MINUTES with him. 

Throughout the hearing, the claimant gave thoughtful, well-considered responses and testimony.  The claimant did not display any discernible lack of social graces.  On the contrary, the claimant tended to demonstrate better than average social poise and communicative skills.  The claimant’s testimony also appeared to be exceptionally straightforward, candid, and unexaggerated. 

Dr. Orchester emphasized that she could “not make any kind of evaluation off his current abilities or limitations.”  Based on notes that she took in 2009, Dr. Orchester opined that the claimant, when he was 15 years old had marked limitations with interacting with other people and with performing at a reasonable pace and moderate limitations in handling simple instructions and making simple work-related decisions. 

The Vineland II scores were quite low.  However, the Vineland scale does not involve the testing of the claimant, but is based upon the subjective responses of claimant’s parents.  Dr. Barngrover’s diagnostic impression and the claimant’s responsive testimony demonstrated a much higher level of social functioning. 

The vocational expert testified that given all of these factors the individual would be able to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as:  stubber of which about 1,800 jobs exist in Missouri and library age of which about 1,000 jobs exist in Missouri. 

Sherri R. Tucker
Cofounder and President Lee's Summit Autism Support Group
Cofounder MOAFAA (Missouri Advocates for Families Affected by Autism)
In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.”
-Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)
“It is often easier to become outraged by injustice half a world away than by oppression and discrimination half a block from home.”― Carl T. Rowan

Autism as a death sentence - LA Daily News

Autism as a death sentence - LA Daily News

By Jonathan Dobrer
Should Paul Corby be allowed to die because he has autism? This is the simple question before the doctors at University of Pennsylvania Hospital. Their answer was: Yes. He does not warrant being saved by a heart transplant.

Let me disclose at the outset that I am not an objective reporter here. I worked with autistic children in the early 60s, I have a grandson with Asperger's Syndrome and my stepbrother lived a good and full life for nearly a decade and a half following a heart transplant. I take this case and the larger issues very personally.

While it is true that over 300 people die each year waiting for a heart transplant, Paul's autism is keeping him from even being wait-listed. Now to be fair (which I plan on being for a little while longer) heart transplants are not easy and patients do need to participate in their rehabilitation and ongoing care. Routinely people with major psychiatric or medical issues are turned down -- as are substance abusers. Since Corby has no other medical conditions and the substances he is on consist of 19 medicines prescribed to keep him alive, why he is being declined is
not clear, other than for his autism.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said, "The physicians involved believe that any discussion of the specifics of his case would be most unkind to him and therefore will not comment."

This is a phrase of such cruel and ironic bureaucrat-ese that it defies parody. Disclosing the reasons for allowing him to die would be "unkind" but allowing him to die is, well, what: Kindness itself?

Yes, Paul is quirky and geeky. He plays video games, has written one self-published novel and is working on another. He seems to have a mental and intellectual quality of life worthy of continuing. As a person with autism, he has developmental issues and is not always socially appropriate, according to our normal rules. None of his behaviors seems to warrant the death penalty, which is exactly what the University of Pennsylvania Hospital is imposing by its refusal to treat.

There is, of course, a larger social issue here. Who is worthy of living and dying? Do we "waste" medical services when they are given to people who are different by dint of some handicap or developmental issue? Do we want to rule out autism spectrum people and lose a potential Mozart, Einstein, probably Thomas Jefferson and certainly Temple Grandin? Do we want to have real "death panels" and come up with intellectual and emotional criteria for who shall live and who shall die? Do we want to take the chance of passive death panels that say your life is not worth saving becoming active death panels as happened when the Eugenics Movement of the 1920s devolved under the Nazis into the extermination of those not considered normal?

There are no guarantees with heart transplants. Some will survive surgery and go on to good lives, as my stepbrother did. Some will return to self-destructive life-styles. Some will be bad people and others wonderful and creative contributors to society. We have neither the tools nor the right to try to guess at the outcome of any individual life.

I hope the hospital finds that it, in the end, has a heart. And I mean this in both senses.