Toxins Have No Place in Mac and Cheese

Toxic chemicals called “phthalates” can harm babies’ brain development and were found in macaroni and cheese powder! LDA is part of a coalition that just launched a campaign asking Kraft to get toxic chemicals called “phthalates” (the “ph” is silent) out of its products. Laboratory testing found phthalates in eight out of nine Kraft products tested, and found higher levels of phthalates in all brands of mac n cheese. Sign the petition here:

Learn more about the Campaign at

More about Healthy Children Project in MI




Scholarship Opportunities for High School Seniors

NCLD’s Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship Applications Now Open for High School Seniors with LD and ADHD

 The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is now accepting applications for the Anne Ford Scholarship and the Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship. High school students who are part of the class of 2018 and have an identified learning disability and/or ADHD are welcome to apply. The application will be open until November 6, 2017.

  • The Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarship is a $2,500 one-time scholarship awarded to a graduating high school senior with a documented learning disability and/or ADHD who will be enrolled in a two-year community college, a vocational or technical training program, or a specialized program for students with learning and attention issues in the fall of 2018.
  • The Anne Ford Scholarship is a $10,000 scholarship ($2,500/year over four years) granted to a graduating high school senior with a documented learning disability and/or ADHD who will be enrolled in a full-time bachelor’s degree program in the fall of 2018.

Last year, NCLD broadened the eligibility requirements—students who have ADHD are now eligible to apply. NCLD made this change to reflect its mission to support all students with learning and attention issues.

A student applying for either scholarship must provide current documentation of either an identified learning disability or a diagnosis of ADHD. Information about eligibility requirements and how to apply can be found at

Qualifying for SSI

Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a Federal income supplement program. These funds come from tax revenues rather than social security revenue. SSI provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. To get SSI, you must:

  • be age 65 or older; or
  • be totally or partially blind; or
  • have a medical condition that keeps you from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

The Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help has shared the following article to help you learn more about SSI benefits.

How to Qualify for SSI with an Intellectual Disability

Disability benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program requires an employment history. This unfortunately means many children and adults with intellectual disabilities are unable to qualify for SSDI. They may however meet eligibility rules for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSI is need-based, with no work history requirements, only medical and financial eligibility rules.

Applying on Behalf of a Minor Child

If you’re applying for benefits on behalf of a minor child with an intellectual disability, then the Social Security Administration (SSA) must look at the financial circumstances of the entire household. Family size, income, and other factors influence eligibility decisions. This in turn means many kids with intellectual disabilities are able to receive the support they need through the SSI program.

Your son or daughter’s application will be reviewed by the SSA under the listing in Blue Book section 112.05 to determine medical eligibility. If your child’s medical records meet this listing, he or she is medically eligible for SSI. This listing requires a low IQ or cognitive functioning along with deficits in physical or functional abilities, like toileting, dressing, eating, communicating, or interacting socially.  

Applying for Yourself as an Adult

If you’re applying for benefits as an adult with an intellectual disability, then only your own finances will be reviewed by the SSA. The only exception to this is if you have a husband or wife. In that case, the SSA may need to look at your spouse’s money and financial resources, too.

Medically qualifying as an adult with an intellectual disability means you must meet the SSA’s disability listing in section 12.05. This listing requires you have decreased cognitive and other functioning, including a low IQ score and a hard time taking care of yourself, interacting with others, or adapting to new situations or circumstances.  

Applying on Behalf of an Adult Child

If you have an adult child with an intellectual disability, he or she may be able to receive SSI benefits. Adult children with disabilities can sometimes qualify under their parents’ work history records, allowing them to receive SSDI instead of or in addition to SSI. The SSA can help you figure out what benefits your son or daughter may be eligible to receive.

Keep in mind that the SSA will use the adult disability listing to review your adult child’s claim, even if he or she is entirely dependent on you. That listing is the one that appears in Section 12.05.

Other Disability Listings the SSA May Consider

Most children and adults with severe intellectual deficits will meet the SSA’s listings in 112.05 or 12.05. There are however several other listings that the SSA could consult when reviewing an application for benefits. For example, if your child has Down syndrome, the SSA may use the listing in 110.00 or 10.00 instead.  Your doctor can help you understand which disability listing may apply to your claim, so don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.

Filing an Application

Whether you’re applying for SSI for yourself or on behalf of your son or daughter, a personal interview with an SSA representative is a standard part of the process. Application interviews usually take place at the local SSA office and no appointment is necessary.


This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at  or by contacting them at

You Can Take action for Healthy Children

Healthy Children Project: Calling on dollar stores to sell safe products
We believe all families have a right to affordable and safe products. That is why the LDA is proud to be a member of the Campaign for Healthier Solutions asking dollar stores to remove harmful chemicals in their products.
Discount retail stores (commonly known as “dollar stores”) operate over 24,000 stores nationally, more than Walmart. In many communities, dollar stores may be the only source of products and food.
Sadly, testing of over 150 dollar store products found dangerous chemicals in 81% of the products tested. Many toxic chemicals – including the lead found in costume jewelry and phthalates found in silly straws – are linked to lower IQ, learning disabilities, and ADHD. But sadly to date, the companies are not taking meaningful action to get these toxic chemicals out of their products.
State LDAs across the U.S. are taking action. Recently, LDA volunteers participated in the Campaign for Healthier Solutions’ day of action, speaking to store managers at 39 locations in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The ask: tell corporate that costumers need and deserve safe products. We applaud LDA affiliate offices across the county for their advocacy for children’s health and protection from toxic chemicals harmful to brain development and learning.
Please join us and tell these stores you want them to sell safer products now by taking action:

Weigh in on Michigan’s Plan for ESSA

A press release from the Michigan Department of Education is below. Michigan’s new education plan is not yet final. It is a draft. Right now is a time for public comment on the plan. They do want feedback from parents, teachers and all those invested in seeing school children succeed in Michigan.

The draft ESSA plan is available for review and comment at Individuals and organizations are invited to review the plan and submit comments through the following channels:

  • Email comments to
  • Mail comments to ESSA State Plan Comments, Michigan Department of Education, Office of the State Superintendent, P.O. Box 30008, Lansing, MI  48909

Be part of the change!

Together we make a difference

February 14, 2017

 LANSING – Following months of public input, the Michigan Department of Education today released the full draft plan for meeting the requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The draft plan was detailed at today’s State Board of Education meeting.

 Michigan’s Draft Plan is open for a 30-day public comment period, concluding March 16, 2017. Input will continue to be incorporated until the submission of Michigan’s final plan to the U.S. Department of Education in April.

 ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act and is scheduled for full implementation during the 2017-18 school year.

 “This ESSA plan is a key component of making Michigan a Top 10 education state in 10 years,” said State Superintendent Brian Whiston.

 “Educators, parents, legislators and community members across the state devoted significant time and effort over the past several months to help us shape this plan. I appreciate their time, vision, feedback and continued collaboration as we finalize and implement our plan,” Whiston said.

 Whiston said the proposed plan has a “whole child” focus; will have less student testing; focuses on student academic growth; institutes a Partnership Model for improving low-performing schools; has a school accountability system tied to the Top 10 in 10 strategies; gives schools more flexibility on how they choose to improve; and gives schools greater ownership in how they follow their own plans.

The Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into federal law on Dec. 10, 2015, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act. This law represents a shift from broad federal oversight of primary and secondary education to greater flexibility and decision-making at the state and local levels. ESSA requires states to develop plans that address standards, assessments, school and district accountability, and special help for struggling schools.

There still is time for the public to weigh in. The draft ESSA plan is available for review and comment at You are invited to review and provide comment on the draft state plan through March 16.

LDA of MI Goes to Washington

No, it’s not a new movie but it is likely to be an adventure! Next week is the LDA National Conference in Baltimore, MD. Since we’ll be so close,  LDA of America’s Policy Director, Myrna Mandlawitz and her team have coordinated a day trip to Washington D.C. for a group of state affiliate leaders to check in with members of Congress.  Member Amy Barto will be representing LDA of Michigan as she meets with representatives and senators from Michigan.

We have put together a short survey to gather feedback for her to share so she can speak for as much of Michigan as possible. If you have not taken the survey yet, please do. The more feedback we can get before Monday, February 13 the better we can advocate for Michigan on February 14th!

To Complete the Survey: CLICK HERE

We currently have active members in 12 of Michigan’s 15 Congressional Districts. We’d love to see that be 15 out of 15 as we continue to work to advance the general well-being for individuals with learning disabilities in Michigan and throughout the United States. Become a member today!  

What are the Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities?

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities

December 28, 2016

Contact:   Press Office, (202) 401-1576,

The U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance today to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. These guidance documents clarify the rights of students with disabilities and the responsibilities of educational institutions in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn.

The guidance released today includes a parent and educator resource guide; a Dear Colleague letter (DCL) and question and answer document on the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools; and a DCL and question and answer documents on the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools.

“These guidance documents share information with our full school communities – educators, parents, and students – about important educational rights, including school obligations to identify, evaluate, and serve students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, the Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights. “Vigilant attention to the rights of students with disabilities will help ensure fair treatment for every student and that every student has equal access to educational programs and has an opportunity to experience success.”

The Parent and Educator Resource Guide to Section 504 in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, issued by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), provides a broad overview of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). The guidance describes school districts’ nondiscrimination responsibilities, including obligations to provide educational services to students with disabilities, and outlines the steps parents can take to ensure that their children secure all of the services they are entitled to receive.

Among other things, the Section 504 Parent and Educator Resource Guide:

  • Defines and provides examples to illustrate the meaning of key terms used in Section 504.
  • Highlights requirements of Section 504 in the area of public elementary and secondary education, including provisions related to the identification, evaluation, and placement of students with disabilities, and procedures for handling disputes and disagreements between parents and school districts.

The second guidance package released by OCR addresses the circumstances under which use of restraint or seclusion can result in discrimination against students with disabilities, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Department’s May 15, 2012, Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document suggested best practices to prevent the use of restraint or seclusion, recommending that school districts never use physical restraint or seclusion for disciplinary purposes and never use mechanical restraint, and that trained school officials use physical restraint or seclusion only if a child’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others. The DCL and question and answer document released today offer additional information about the legal limitations on use of restraint or seclusion to assist school districts in meeting their obligations to students with disabilities.

The third guidance package released today was developed by OCR and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). The jointly-issued Dear Colleague Letter and question and answer documents will help update educators, parents, students, and other stakeholders to better understand the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools under Section 504 and IDEA. These documents provide information about how to provide equal opportunity in compliance with Section 504 in key areas such as charter school recruitment, application, admission, enrollment and disenrollment, accessibility of facilities and programs, and nonacademic and extracurricular activities. The documents are responsive to the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s 2012 report, Charter Schools: Additional Federal Attention Needed to Help Protect Access for Students with Disabilities, which included the recommendation that the Department issue updated guidance on the obligations of charter schools.

“It is critical to ensure that children with disabilities have access to a free appropriate public education in charter schools,” said Sue Swenson, delegated the authority to perform the functions and duties of the Department’s assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services. “These guidance documents are designed to support states, local education agencies, and charter school personnel to understand their responsibilities under IDEA and Section 504.”

The Section 504 Charter guidance:

  • Explains that charter school students with disabilities (and those seeking to attend) have the same rights under Section 504 and Title II of the ADA as other public school students with disabilities.
  • Details the Section 504 right to nondiscrimination in recruitment, application, and admission to charter schools.
  • Clarifies that during the admission process a charter school generally may not ask a prospective student if he or she has a disability.
  • Reminds charter schools, other entities, and parents that charter school students with disabilities have the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under Section 504.

The IDEA Charter guidance:

  • Emphasizes that children with disabilities who attend charter schools and their parents retain all rights and protections under Part B of IDEA (such as FAPE) just as they would at other public schools.
  • Provides that under IDEA a charter school may not unilaterally limit the services that must be provided a particular student with a disability.
  • Reminds schools that the least restrictive environment provisions require that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities attending public schools, including public charter schools, be educated with students who are nondisabled.
  • Clarifies that students with disabilities attending charter schools retain all IDEA rights and protections included in the IDEA discipline procedures.

In addition to these documents, the Department also released a Know Your Rights document designed for parents to provide a brief overview of the rights of public charter school students with disabilities and the legal obligations of charter schools under Section 504 and the IDEA.

The mission of OCR is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. Among the federal civil rights laws OCR is responsible for enforcing are Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and Title II of the ADA. The mission of OSERS is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all people with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. OSERS is responsible for administering the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA).

For more information about OCR and the anti-discrimination laws that it enforces, please visit its website and follow OCR on twitter @EDcivilrights. For more information about OSERS and IDEA, please visit its website and follow OSERS on twitter @ed_sped_rehab.

Learn more about being an advocate and about Section 504 on the LDA America website. Become a member today for access to even more resources!

Have questions about this or other topics related to learning disabilities in Michigan? Share them on twitter to @LDAmichigan or on our Facebook page!

Slate of Officers for LDA of MI 2017 Board of Directors

checkboxWe are excited to announce the Slate of Officers up for election to the LDA of Michigan Board of Directors!

Co-Presidents: Crystal Young, Ph.D & Lisa Woodcock-Burroughs, Ph.D

Secretary: Julie Bowers-Stohl

Treasurer: Debra Houde

To 3-Year Position: Erin Rooney


Because this has been a year of rebuilding and refocusing our efforts and resource, we will not be having a physical Annual Meeting with all of our membership. We are presenting this slate electronically for feedback from membership. Current members have received the ballot and update in an email message. It will have been a Survey Monkey based message.

If you are a current member and would rather vote online right now, click this link:

Voting will be open until Tuesday, December 13.

Not a current member? Join today at LDA America!



Have a Non-Toxic Halloween


toxic-makeup-halloween-photoThis week, a Grand Rapids news station aired a story sharing a warning about Halloween makeup.

A recent study done by the Breast Cancer Fund analyzed a variety of Halloween makeup kits from across the country — makeup marketed to kids.

Of the nearly 48 makeup palettes it tested, the group found at least one toxic heavy metal in nearly half of them. (view the story here)

The scariest thing about Halloween shouldn’t be toxic metals in your child’s facepaint. You might think, “This is 2016. We know better than to put toxic materials in kids’ paint!”, right? Wrong.

What to do? Not to worry! LDA America’s Healthy Children Project has been working on this for a while. We have resources for you so your children can have a fun but non-toxic Halloween!



Recipe: 10 tsp cornstarch, 2 tsp white flour, 5 tsp vegetable shortening and 1/4 tsp vegetable glycerin. Mash together with a fork until the mixture balls up. Once this is mixed together, you can add a bit more glycerin as needed. This will make a white base. Separate into different white blobs and add the necessary color. I’ve made a tan (for a lion or cat) using some water collected from coffee crystals. This mixture is relatively “pasty” and will not give you clean lines, but it works.

Another option is to add basically equally parts lotion and cornstarch. ex: 1 tblsp baby lotion and 1 tblsp cornstarch. The white made with lotion will still be a little translucent, but if you make colors, it will give you cleaner lines, particularly if you use a cosmetic brush to paint.

Another recipe is 3 tblsp cornstarch, 1 tblsp flour, 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup corn syrup (light). The corn syrup makes this sweet, so it may be too attractive for little ones. To make this, add the cornstarch and flour in a bowl. Stir in the corn syrup and water until smooth. Once it is mixed together, divide as needed and add colors. NOTE: Homemade doesn’t have consistency of store bought but with homemade, you know what is in and you know there is no heavy metals or other toxic chemicals.


Use aloe vera gel (you can get at almost any natural food store), and mix in some fine glitter. This should be kept away from the eyes. Alternatively, use mineral makeup.


Use light corn syrup, a dash of castile liquid soap (to make clean easier), and red coloring. Easiest to use is red food color. If you want darker blood or more realistic blood, add a dash of blue or some chocolate syrup.


(Wounds, Warts, and More): You can use edible goop to make scars, warts, wounds, etc.

To 1 oz. gelatin (not Jello, but plain, unflavored old-fashioned gelatin, usu. located right next to the Jello), add 2 tablespoons boiling water and stir, let sit for 3 minutes. As you stir, the gelatin will dissolve. Tip: The gelatin doesn’t smell all that great, so you can add 2 to 4 drops of an essential oil if your child doesn’t like the smell. If you do add an essential oil, make sure it is suitable for skin contact.

Then pour mixture onto natural waxed paper or other surface. You need to shape the gelatin to make what you want – a wart, a scar, whatever. You need to work fairly quickly, particularly if you are going to mix in some color.The picture on the right is what the gelatin looks like when poured on natural waxed paper.

Add in what you need to create the effect that you want. If you want a wound, add some red coloring. If you want the wound to look old, consider adding some chocolate syrup. If you want a witch’s wart, add some green coloring and perhaps some hair (some bristles from a brush perhaps). For a ghoulish effect, add cornstarch or flour. For a swamp thing, perhaps dill weed or tarragon. For dead skin, add oatmeal. Get creative! For the leech looking effect below, I added some instant coffee crystals and some brown coloring from water added to coffee crystals.

Let your creation cool and gently peel off the waxed paper. Once dry, adhere using corn syrup – you just need to let the corn syrup dry. These look best made the same day that you are going to wear them – they dry out and shrink a bit.

For cleanup of your bowl, just peel the gelatin out – it will all stick together. If some gets stuck, just use hot water to dissolve it a bit to get the dish clean.

Facepaint tips thanks to The Smart Mama:


Some creative ways to deal with all that Halloween candy:

A BOOklists for Halloween like this one:


Download a full list of Halloween Tips from LDA of America halloween-tips


NCLD College Scholarships








(visit NCLD’s site directly to listen to this news)

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) announced today that they will be offering scholarships for graduating high school seniors once again this year, with two big changes.

First, the eligibility requirements for the Anne Ford and the Allegra Ford Thomas scholarships have been broadened: students who have ADHD and not a learning disability (LD) are now eligible to apply. Beginning this year, students with ADHD will be able to apply regardless of their LD status.

“We made this change to reflect our mission to support all students with learning and attention issues. NCLD is pleased to expand the eligibility criteria beyond those who struggle with just LD,” said Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, NCLD’s senior director of learning resources and research. “Individuals with LD and ADHD often face very similar challenges. We’re confident that opening the award to greater numbers of applicants will help us showcase the potential and achievements of young adults as they transition to college and other postsecondary settings.”

In addition, the application process is now easier than ever. Students can apply for this year’s scholarships online, with no mail-in component.

The online application will allow students to monitor the status of their submission, request letters of recommendation by email, and get support from the accessibility features that the application portal provides.

Students can submit applications beginning August 1, 2016. All applications and supporting materials must be received by November 13, 2016.

To learning more about the scholarships visit