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Canadian tax rules include many credits and benefits to help persons with a developmental disability and their family.

Most taxpayers have until April 30 to file their return. If you file late, there is a 5% penalty on unpaid tax, and 1% monthly interest for up to 12 months.

If you do not owe tax but haven’t filed your return, you could be missing out on your tax refund. As well, many monthly benefits are income-tested based on line 236 (your net income) – so you need to file to receive them.

I read an interesting article the other day thanks to Mr. Google and a post by Marie Hartwell-Walker, who happens to have a doctorate in education.  If you’re the parent of a teen with an intellectual or developmental disability, you’ll probably relate.  If you’re about to head into that stage with your child, here’s your advance warning.  And if you’ve slithered through that miserable time in one piece, please support those parents who are next in line.

For all of us who have gorged ourselves on the Rio Olympics and Paralympics, it’s a long way till the next Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.  But not if that’s home base.  I’ve really been into the Paralympics this time round and so when I realized that they were heading to Japan, I checked out their medal tally.  Three.  Ouch!

When I was a young teen learning how to cook, my mom would always warn me to check the shelf life of canned foods.  Frankly.  I thought she was nuts.  Unless the can was bulging, there shouldn’t be a problem.  But I did find out the hard way and I won’t tell you the disgusting story of how that happened because this blog post isn’t about that.

What this blog post is about is another kind of shelf life.  So…after 4 years of anxious waiting, we finally heard from Ontario’s Ombudsman.  The report on the crisis facing some families with sons and daughters with developmental disabilities:  NOWHERE TO TURN.  Yup, good title.  The report came out on August 24th.  So is there somewhere to turn now?

If you’ve been watching TV long enough, you know this isn’t the first time that it’s happened.  A theme catches hold and suddenly several shows on several channels see the charm – and the eyeballs – in the theme.

That certainly seems to have happened with the theme of disability.  First, we saw THE SPECIALS.  Some of you may have caught the series, first online and then on TV.  It follows the lives of five young people with intellectual disabilities who live together in one house.

I’ve become fascinated with some of the inclusive community practices in Australia.  One, in particular, seems so easy to make happen that you have to wonder why it’s not happening all over the place.  Many kids on the autism spectrum don’t handle spontaneity very well.  They want predictability.  But that’s not what you’re likely to find at the neighbourhood park.  Certainly not at mine.  There are birds flying and swooping, kids shrieking with glee at the top of the slide and a splash pad that whirls water randomly.  It’s noisy and haphazard and that means a massive sensory overload for kids on the autism spectrum.

You just never know when you’re going to be helping someone out. Sometimes it’s obvious – a colleague at work can’t figure out how to deal with a new software application and you’ve used it before. Bingo! You’re the office hero. Or you are struggling to unlock your trunk with an armful of groceries in the middle of a snowstorm and a smiling 16-year old guy takes them out of your hands so you can get the trunk open. You go home feeling good about teenagers and life in general.

But here’s one for the record books. A group of women Prince Edward Island lobster boat captains were part of a CBC news story and video. Not surprising. The story got picked up in the U.K. and a marine company owner named Stuart Mann saw it.

So Brexit it is.  All the media have been full of the results of the referendum and of the implications.  Pretty soon the UK will be out in the cold again, like it or not.  Or on its own again – depending on your point of view. And that got me thinking.  Does that mean that the UK has jumped the proverbial shark with all that entails?  No collaborations on anything?  Not true.

One of Europe’s active collaborations is Inclusion Europe.  The organization is the European voice and representation of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families.  Inclusion Europe is part of Inclusion International, which has been around for over 50 years and it represents over 200 member federations in 115 countries.

Here’s an interesting statistic.  And it comes straight from Ontario’s Ministry of Education.  At least 85% of students with intellectual disabilities spend part, or all, of their day in segregated classrooms and travelling on segregated buses.  That’s particularly interesting as another Ministry - Community and Social Services – announces the end of sheltered workshops in the next five years.  One ministry is starting to walk the talk about community and inclusion, the other not quite as much. So why is that?

Do you remember how thrilled we all were when Ontario’s ombudsman – it was Andre Marin at the time – decided to look into the mounting complaints from parents of individuals with developmental disabilities?  And when I say mounting, I mean mounting.  The complaints were in the thousands about waiting lists, lack of government-funded programs, concerns with the DSO assessment process.  It went on and on and on.

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