Mallory Legg, Esq.Mallory Legg, Esq., staff attorney for Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), accepted the position of secretary of the First Maryland Disability Trust Board of Directors in September 2020. Natasha Ludwig, PhD, of Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Neuropsychology Department, joined the board of directors in April.

Mirian Ofonedu, PhD, LCSW-CThe Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice, Division 37 of the American Psychological Association, published an article, “Social inclusion of children and youth with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities is a social justice,” by Mirian Ofonedu, PhD, LCSW-C, in its April Task Force and Diversity Issues Column. Dr. Ofonedu is the director of training for the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD). 

The MCDD participated in the Harford County Virtual Expo for Transitioning Youth on April 24.

Ken Capone headshot.On April 29, Ken Capone, public policy director of People On the Go Maryland (POG), participated in a panel presentation for the Maryland Judicial Conference, to educate Maryland judges about accessibility in the court room. Capone talked about some of the physical barriers in the court room, such as not enough room in the jury box for a wheelchair, the steps going up to the witness stand, and the importance of an accessible bathroom. Capone also demonstrated the use of communication devices in court and explained that he would need accommodations, such as more time to answer questions, should he serve on a jury or be called to testify. Stacey A. Saunders, assistant state court administrator of the Judicial College of Maryland, sent Capone a thank-you letter, noting that his presentation was “essential to achieving equal justice.”

On May 1, POG presented “Problem Solving and Rights and Responsibilities” as part of the Project STIR (Steps Toward Independence and Responsibility) training sessions. Project STIR events are for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, and providers, program staff members and direct service providers are encouraged to participate.

On May 11, Maureen van Stone, Esq., MS, MCDD’s director, participated in a live television interview on Fox 45 morning news on the importance of individuals with disabilities being vaccinated. She also provided information on the Kennedy Krieger vaccination clinics offered this past May and June.

On May 12, Capone participated in a panel discussion, “A New Alternative to Guardianship: Supported Decision-Making,” with the Honorable Karen A. Murphy Jensen, formerly of the Maryland Judiciary, and Megan Rusciano, Esq., a co-managing attorney who practices in Disability Rights Maryland’s developmental disabilities unit. The discussion was moderated by Nisa Subasinghe, domestic and guardianship program manager for the Department of Juvenile and Family Services in Maryland’s Administrative Office of the Courts, as part of the 2021 Partners for Justice Virtual Conference.

On May 14, Legg participated in a panel discussion, “Closing the Justice Gap through Medical-Legal Partnerships,” as part of the 2021 Partners for Justice Virtual Conference. Other panel members included Sara Gold, JD, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and Gabriela Sevilla, JD, a staff attorney for the Homeless Persons Representation Project. Catrina Aquilino, JD, Esq., supervising attorney for Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc., was discussion moderator.

Two women wearing face masks, one wearing a black shirt and another wearing orange, stand behind a Kennedy Krieger Institute branded table. On May 14, POG presented “Knowing Yourself and Communicating Assertively” as part of the Project STIR training sessions.

On May 15, Eve Lukowski, MCDD’s administrative coordinator, staffed the MCDD table at the ROAR CARnival, held at the Greenspring Campus. The event kicked off a week of in-person and virtual fundraising events to benefit the programs and departments of Kennedy Krieger.

Capone presented “Supported Decision Making” at The Arc Maryland’s annual state convention. The virtual event was held on May 17.

POG presented a Project STIR training session, “Problem Solving and Rights and Responsibilities,” on May 21.

On June 1, Legg and Rusciano co-presented a live, interactive webinar, “Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities and Supported Decision-making as an Alternative to Guardianship,” as part of the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series.

On June 2, Dr. Ofonedu presented “What is Sexual Health? Talking to Your Young and Grown Children about Sexuality” to Kennedy Krieger’s Therapeutic Foster Care program’s foster parents. The group discussed barriers to talking about sexuality with young and grown children, and participants gained knowledge about sexuality and developmental disabilities. They also practiced skills in communicating about sexuality with young and grown children.

Cheryl Cohen, MS headshot.Kiley Law, MD, MPH headshot.On June 3, Kiley Law, MD, MPH, MCDD’s research director, and Cheryl Cohen, MS, MCDD’s director of online and community programs, both of the MCDD’s Autism Research and Engagement Core, co-presented a live, interactive webinar, “Engaging Communities in Research Implementation and Dissemination: Challenges and Opportunities,” as part of the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series.

On June 3, the International Society for Autism Research published an article, “Risperidone versus aripiprazole fracture risk in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders,” by Law and colleagues Richard Houghton, PhD; Joop van den Bergh, MD, PhD; Yutong Liu, PhD; and Frank de Vries, PhD, PharmD. The study examines the risk of bone fracture in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) taking risperidone versus aripiprazole. Both medications are commonly prescribed to children with ASD and have been linked to increased fracture risk in adults. 

The MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored “Social Media, Online Learning and Networking for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Risks and Safety Strategies” with Mary Jo Krile, PhD. Dr. Krile is a professor of special education at Eastern Kentucky University with many years of experience in teaching students with disabilities, including teaching digital literacy to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The live, interactive webinar was held on June 3.

Tracy Waller, Esq., MPH headshot.On June 4, the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities (CDHPD) published a blog post—“Does it matter that the COVID-19 Vaccine is for Emergency Use Authorization Only and Not Full-FDA Approval?”—by Tracy Waller, Esq., MPH, an attorney working with the MCDD to develop the CDHPD.

On June 4, Dr. Ofonedu facilitated a live event with break-out rooms, “A Conversation Hour on Returning to In-Person School and Work,” on behalf of the Diverse Racial Ethnic and Multicultural (DREAM) Special Interest Group of the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice, Division 37 of the American Psychological Association. Attendees received multiple resources on the topic, and discussed strategies for supporting students, parents and guardians, and clinicians in the return to in-person school and activities.

On June 5, POG held its quarterly virtual meeting. Capone was a guest speaker, providing a legislative policy wrap-up. Other POG members and staff members discussed strategies for sitting on boards of directors and committees of self-advocacy agencies.

On June 5, van Stone participated in a plenary panel, “The Time is Now: Vaccine Advocacy,” for the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) 2021 virtual conference. She and three colleagues discussed the efforts of AADMD during the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine prioritization for people with disabilities. Van Stone specifically focused on the MCDD’s work and the efforts of the Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities. Plenary colleagues included Liz Weintraub, senior advocacy specialist for the Association of University Centers on Disabilities; Joseph M. Macbeth, president and chief executive officer for the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals; and Emily Johnson, MD, of Peak Vista Community Health Centers. David Ervin, chief executive officer of Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, moderated the panel.

The MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored “A ‘Good Life’ for the Whole Family: Supporting People in the Context of their Family,” presented by Jenny Turner, MSW, LCSW, senior research associate at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Institute for Human Development, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service. The live, interactive webinar was held on June 9.

On June 10, Waller and van Stone gave a presentation, “Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People With Disabilities,” to the Disability Advisory Committee of the Maryland Department of DisabilitiesDisability Health Inclusion Program.

On June 11, Dr. Ofonedu and Christi Culpepper, PhD, co-presented a live, interactive webinar, “Healing Through Natural Mentoring Relationships: Strategies for Promoting Mental Health and Social Well-being of Marginalized and At-Risk Youth,” as part of the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series. Dr. Culpepper is a clinical psychologist and director of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program’s Child and Family Therapy Clinic at Kennedy Krieger. All attendees received “Helpful Mentoring Resources,” an extensive list of resources compiled by MCDD trainee Andrea Garrido.

Van Stone and Harolyn Belcher, MD, MHS, Kennedy Krieger’s chief diversity officer, were honored by the Baltimore Business Journal as winners of the 2021 Leaders in Diversity Awards for their work advocating and providing information about access to COVID-19 resources for underrepresented individuals and communities. The awards and special publication celebrate nominated executives, entrepreneurs, administrators and other local leaders who have championed diversity, equity and inclusion in their workplace or around the region. Awardees were profiled in the June 11 edition of the Baltimore Business Journal.

Dr. Ofonedu presented “Sexual Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 101: A Workshop for Providers” as part of the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series. The live, interactive webinar was held on June 17.

Marina Sarris headshot.In mid-June, an article by Marina Sarris, “The Importance of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Autism Research,” received a bronze award from the 2021 Digital Health Awards. Sarris, web content administrator of heathcare communications for the MCDD’s Autism Research and Engagement Core, writes many of the features that appear on the SPARK website.

On June 22, the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored a live, interactive webinar, “Best Practices and Adaptations for Providing Telehealth Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,” presented by Stephanie Miodus, MA, MEd. Miodus earned her MA in forensic psychology from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and her MEd in school psychology from Temple University. She works with students with ASD and intellectual and developmental disabilities, and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in school psychology at Temple University.

On June 24, Legg presented “Special Education Law Overview” to faculty and staff members of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Mental Health Center.

On June 24, the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored a live, interactive webinar, “Disability and Aging: Understanding the Health Landscape and Opportunities for People with Disability,” presented by Bonnielin Swenor, PhD, MPH, director of the Johns Hopkins Disability Health Research Center and a core faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health. She is an associate professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute and also an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

On June 29, Dr. Ofonedu presented a live, interactive webinar, “Suicidal Behaviors in People with Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities: Strategies for Success Care,” as part of the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series.

The MCDD sponsored a free, virtual workshop on June 30, “Supporting Parents at the Time of Their Child’s Disability Diagnosis and Beyond: Practical Strategies for Healthcare Providers.” Special guest speakers were Rene Averitt-Sanzone, MS, executive director of The Parents’ Place of Maryland, and Melanie Pinkett-Davis, MSW, LCSW-C, assistant vice president for clinical services at the Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). The event was coordinated by Dr. Ofonedu and Vineet Sidhu, an MCDD trainee and public health student.

POG presented an advocacy skill-building workshop, “Problem Solving & Rights and Responsibilities,” as part of Project STIR. The virtual workshop was held on July 1.

On July 7, the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored a live, interactive webinar, “What is Sexual Health? Understanding Healthy Relationships, Sexual Self-Advocacy and Making Informed Choices: A Workshop for People with Disabilities, Ages 18 Years and Up.” Presenters were Dr. Ofonedu and Mat Rice, director of policy at The Arc Maryland. Rice was previously the public policy advocate for POG.

On July 8, the MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored a live, interactive webinar, “Assistive Technology (AT) and Disability: Join Us to Learn About the Maryland Technology Assistance Program and How to Best Use AT to Support People with Disabilities.” Co-presenters included Lori Markland, MFA, executive director of the Maryland Department of Disabilities’ Assistive Technology Program; Denise Barton Schuler, MS, assistive technology specialist with the Maryland Assistive Technology Program; and Lauren Tooley, MS, CCC-SLP, manager of the Assistive Technology Clinic at Kennedy Krieger.

The MCDD’s Summer Learning Series sponsored “School and Community-Based Interventions for Transitioning Youth with Disabilities: Strategies for Positive Outcome Attainment.” Co-presenters were Charles Durgin, MS, MSEd, Adult and Community Services coordinator at Kennedy Krieger High School, and Stacey Herman, MSEd, director, neurodiversity and community workforce development at Kennedy Krieger. The live, interactive webinar was held on July 15.

Special Announcements

Will Frisinger and Griffin Clabaugh-Bareford, two Project SEARCH at Kennedy Krieger Institute interns who worked with the MCDD for one semester each, graduated from the program on June 3. A total of nine interns graduated from Project SEARCH in the ceremony. Everyone at the MCDD wishes Will and Griff all the best going forward!

A man in a blue shirt with tan pants holding a certificate stands center with four women.A man in a red shirt with a red tie and tan pants stands center with four women.

 

A newborn baby girl sleeps under a white blanket.Alyssa Thorn, Project HEAL staff attorney, and her husband, Joel, welcomed their first child, daughter Olivia Frances Thorn, on Saturday, May 15, at 11:35 p.m. Baby Thorn weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long. Congratulations, Alyssa and Joel!