Annette Hines host of Parenting Impossible – The Special Needs Survival Podcast opens the episode remembering the legacy of Helen Keller who was born on June 27, 1880. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and was a fierce advocate for people with disabilities.

Critical Bills for SSI and Supported Decision-Making

Hines also gives updates on a Senate bill for the federal program, SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and a state bill.  Massachusetts could be the next state of over a dozen now that have supported decision making agreement legislation. Representatives Paul Tucker and Senator Joan Lovely have introduced the Supported Decision-Making bill that allows certain adults, including those with disabilities and elders, to maintain their rights, dignity, and independence by choosing one or more trusted supporters to provide assistance making decisions about their lives. Learn more about the bill on the Arc of Massachusetts’ site: Plus, send an email to advocate for the bill online:

Another long-anticipated piece of legislation is underway in the Senate to raise the asset amount allowed under SSI rules.  The Savings Penalty Elimination Act would increase the asset caps for eligibility for SSI from $2,000 to $10,000 for individuals and from $3,000 to $20,000 for married couples. These asset limits have not been increased since 1984. Please contact your senator(s) to encourage support of this critical legislation to improve the livelihood of people with disabilities. Find your congress people here:  Click here to read more about the bill.

Detecting Teen Depression and Preventing Suicide

For the interview, Co-Founder and President Elliot Kallen of A Brighter Day joins Hines for an important discussion on teen suicide. A Brighter Day in San Ramon, CA was created in memory of Kallen’s son who committed suicide and provides resources for teens and their parents to reduce stress and depression and prevent teen suicide.

During the discussion, Kallen describes the agency’s research in their area of California that uncovered shocking facts such as higher suicide rates in more affluent communities and the frightening impact of social media on increasing teen depression.  Kallen emphasizes the point that suicide is preventable.  He shares ways that families can support their teens through things such as modeling how to enjoy life, slowing down, eating a daily cell-phone-free family meal, asking probing questions to learn about your teen and what’s happening in their life.  Concerning signs to look for include anxious body language, changes in sleeping and eating habits, hopelessness–having no idea for tomorrow, concerning websites your teen is visiting and friend activities.  Families can find help and resources for teens or parents by going to A Brighter Day’s website here:  Read more about Kallen’s story of his son’s death and additional ways to support teens facing difficulties in his blog article: Happy Father’s Day from a Survivor

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