ABLE Accounts For MWS Individuals


Forty-one states in the United States are now offering ABLE accounts which are tax-advantaged savings programs for individuals with disabilities. These accounts are designed to preserve eligibility for SSI and Medicaid. This is particularly important for individuals with disabilities who have legally become adults and must assure that their income does not exceed eligibility requirements for public benefits. ABLE accounts allow families to deposit up to $15,000 annually into such accounts that can be used for expenses such as housing, transportation, health care and vocational training. Although some states may allow income tax deductibility for contributions to such accounts, at this time the chief tax benefit in many states is that interest on funds in the account will not be taxed. In Connecticut, for example, it may be possible to transfer $15,000 per year from a Connecticut Higher Education Trust program to an ABLE account without incurring a tax as a means of obtaining a tax deduction.

*** Please speak to your attorney and financial planner regarding this matter to see if a similar result can be achieved in other states.

How did all this come about?

It began with the passage by Congress of the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, which became known as ABLE. Following enactment of this statute, individual states passed similar legislation, although specific program details vary. As previously mentioned, 41 states now have ABLE programs. You should check with your state to determine whether it has created its own ABLE program.

Why is this so important?

Up until now, the primary way of saving money for many disability-related expenses was the establishment of a Special Needs Trust. This remains a viable tool for saving money for qualified expenses while avoiding the loss of SSI or Medicaid benefits. However, the setting up of a Special Needs Trust is a lawyer-intensive activity that may cost several thousand dollars. In contrast, setting up an ABLE account is rather easy and may not require the retention of a lawyer. I cannot stress enough, that before taking any action to establish an ABLE account, you should clear it with your attorney and financial planner. Do your research and ask the appropriate professionals before acting.

Who is eligible for opening these accounts?

The account owner is typically the disabled individual where the onset of the disability occurred before the age of 26. A parent or otherwise legally authorized individual may also open the account for the disabled party. The authorizing document (such as Guardianship papers) would generally need to be produced by the authorized individual. Of note, although some states have not yet established an ABLE program, you are not out of luck if you live in one of these states. Fortunately, you can enroll in any other state’s program so long as that state is accepting out-of-state residents. Look at the individual state website to determine if they are accepting forenrollees from other states. Please keep in mind that there may be benefits of using your own state’s program. This is one more thing to discuss with your attorney and financial planner.

In summary, ABLE accounts can be very helpful to you in establishing a savings program to help a disabled person pay for important, qualified expenses without endangering SSI or Medicaid benefits. Although ABLE accounts do not take the place of a Special Needs Trust, they are a valuable tool to save up to $15,000/year with low costs for start-up and maintenance of the account. Further, legal fees should not be a barrier to using this device.

New T-shirts at the MWS Store

New MWS Tees Just Dropped

Raise Awareness and Look Cool


The new t-shirts have just arrived in our online store. They are available in youth and adult sizes at $15 each.

Let’s raise awareness about Mowat-Wilson Syndrome and look cool!

Shop Now

Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation Announces New Customized Patient Records Platform

New Patient Portal for MWS Community

Customized Health Records Platform


The Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation announced today that it has entered into a partnership with Across Healthcare to use its Matrix rare disease platform to create a customized health records portal for Mowat-Wilson Syndrome (MWS) patients. Matrix was designed by Across Healthcare to help patients and caregivers easily capture, track, and share information related to medications, symptoms, activities, and electronic health records. The MWS Matrix Portal will simplify the process of tracking and maintaining easy access to these important health records for MWS patients. The platform has a mobile application and is very user friendly.

“We are excited to partner with the Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation and offer the benefits that our Matrix platform provides,” said Jason Colquitt, CEO of Across Healthcare. “Reliance on paper-based records creates numerous challenges for caregivers, especially when treating patients with rare diseases like MWS, and Matrix will help address those challenges.” Colquitt is a rare disease patient and advocate who engages in substantial philanthropic work for rare disease communities.

“The MWS Foundation is grateful to Jason and Across Healthcare for making the Matrix platform available to MWS patients,” said Deborah Curry, President of the Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation. “Having ready access to important health information at the moment it is needed will not only improve quality of life for patients, the ability to easily share this information will also prove invaluable across the MWS community.”

The MWS Matrix Portal includes functions within the following categories:


Allows for keeping a log of all medications, dosages, and refill dates. Text and email alerts can be set up for medication administration and refill dates.

Symptoms and Activities

Allows patients and caregivers to customize any symptoms or activities they want to track such as seizure activity, doctor appointments, medication changes, or sleep patterns. A graph is then created of multiple activities and symptoms to look for possible correlations.


Allows creation of journals to easily keep a written narrative of things such as changes in eating, GI issues, physical therapy feedback, and doctor visits.


Allows uploading of documents so they are easily accessible and in one place.

Message Center

Allows for two-way communication with the MWS Foundation.

Resource Center

Allows the MWS Foundation to make important documents and forms easily accessible. An example might be a document explaining MWS for a new health care provider, therapist, or teacher.

The MWS Matrix Portal will be available to the MWS community On Feb. 1, 2021. It will only be available in English at the time of launch. Future plans include making the MWS Matrix Portal available in Spanish, Italian, French, and Japanese.

2020 Giving Tuesday – December 1st

Set Up a Giving Tuesday Fundraiser

Fundraise From Home

It has been a hectic year for all of us but despite the challenges we are thankful for many things we accomplished, including the first virtual MWS Conference. We would like to thank you for attending it live or watching the videos on YouTube. We hope you found them informative.

As Laura mentioned on session 3 of the Conference, Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. We see this as a great opportunity for all MWS families to fundraise, and together we can raise funds to support families, research and awareness.

We invite you to join us fundraising for MWS!

How To Setup a Facebook Fundraiser

This is the easier way to fundraise, using the power of social media. Anyone using Facebook can do it in a few clicks. Encourage your friends and family members to create their own Facebook Fundraiser as well.

Click on the link below and choose “Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation” as the non-profit to be benefited. All donations are sent directly to the Foundation.

Just Want To Make an Online Donation?

We thank you in advance for considering a donation for the Foundation. The money received will help us fulfill our mission to enhance the lives of people affected by Mowat-Wilson Syndrome by providing family support, raising awareness, and supporting research and education. Thank You!

Prefer to Mail a Check?

Some people still prefer to send in a check. We love that too! Here’s our address:

Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation
4009 Tyler William Ln.
Las Vegas, NV 89130-2628

All donations to the Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation are tax-deductible.



2020 Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Virtual Conference

Virtual Conference Open to the Entire World

OCT 10 | OCT 24 | NOV 7 | NOV 21

Our Houston conference may have been cancelled but we are happy to announce that we are presenting the speakers on a virtual platform where we can still see all families and interact while we listen to the latest studies and research related to Mowat-Wilson Syndrome.

To accomodate the busy life of our families we carefully planned four two-hour sessions on Saturdays.

Simultaneous interpretation/translation to Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and German during the live event. The conference will be recorded in English and released on YouTube later.

Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Growth Charts

Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Growth Charts

Male & Female | Height | Weight | BMI | Head Circumference

Mowat–Wilson syndrome (MWS; OMIM #235730) is a genetic condition caused by heterozygous mutations or deletions of the ZEB2 gene. It is characterized by moderate-severe intellectual disability, epilepsy, Hirschsprung disease and multiple organ malformations of which congenital heart defects and urogenital anomalies are the most frequent ones. To date, a clear description of the physical development of MWS patients does not exist. The aim of this study is to provide up-to-date growth charts specific for infants and children with MWS. Charts for males and females aged from 0 to 16 years were generated using a total of 2865 measurements from 99 MWS patients of different ancestries. All data were collected through extensive collaborations with the Italian MWS association (AIMW) and the MWS Foundation. The GAMLSS package for the R statistical computing software was used to model the growth charts. Height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and head circumference were compared to those from standard international growth charts for healthy children.

Run & Fundraise For MWS – Sep 7th – Nov 1st

Run & Fundraise for the MWSF!

Virtual Race | #RunforMWS | #OWM2020 | #StrongerTogether

The Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation has partnered with One World Strong to inspire runners of all ages and abilities to run anywhere, any distance on a date between September 7th and November 1st 2020. It’s a virtual race open to everyone! Are you a runner? Need a challenge? This is a great opportunity. Pick a date, create a fundraiser for the MWSF and ask for your community support. Get your family together and run! Inspire local runners to run! Let us know and we will create a runner flyer to help you promote your event.

#MoveYourBodyforMWS – Fun Fitness Challenge

Welcome to the inaugural Mowat-Wilson Syndrome Foundation Fitness Challenge!

Shift your mindset from negative to positive in this unique time we’re living through together. Join us on a a 5-week challenge to move your body every day with 15 minutes of a fun physical activity of your choice. Please keep in mind the needs & capabilities of your loved one. Any movement is positive movement. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns.

How to Participate

Download the MWS Fitness Challenge Tracker and start moving!

Here are some activity ideas:  Dance party, marching in place, bouncing a ball, relay race, playing tag, dance freeze, toe touches, jumping jacks, playing catch, twirling, and many more!


Share & connect with our Mowat-Wilson community by using #MoveYourBodyforMWS on Facebook or Instagram.


Once you complete the challenge send a photo of your tracker and the participant’s names to Celebrate with each other & be rewarded with a virtual certificate of accomplishment upon completion.

Impact of COVID-19 in MWS

Guidelines and Recommendations for Families Affected by MWS

The Mowat-Wilson Foundation has received a number of questions about how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may affect individuals with MWS. We hope that you and your family are staying safe and healthy. During this time, the best source to turn to for information about your family member with MWS is your family member’s primary care physician, who will know your family member’s medical history, as well as local/state guidelines for protection against getting COVID-19.

The Mowat-Wilson Medical Advisory Board also realizes that many families are concerned about the risks of contracting COVID-19 and how this virus may affect their relatives with MWS differently. Individuals with underlying health conditions (including cardiovascular, pulmonary, and immune problems, to name a few) are thought to be at increased risk of having a more difficult time fighting off the virus, although age is also thought to be a factor, with individuals under age 20 years accounting for many fewer serious infections or deaths compared to those older than age 40 years. However, these are generalizations, and each individual is unique, as is the risk in each community based on local/geographic factors.

Many are wondering when it will be “safe” to return to some types of typical activities (i.e. going out in public, etc.). We encourage all families to be aware of their local/state/county/country guidelines regarding social distancing, the need to wear masks in public, and the slow reopening of businesses/schools. If an individual is unable to abide by the social distancing and/or mask requirements or recommendations, it may not be in their best interest to be about in larger public areas, even if those areas have been reopened. Additionally, individuals who explore their environment using their mouth (putting objects into their mouth) may have an increased risk of becoming infected with the virus if they are placed back into a daycare or school setting, particularly if that setting includes other individuals with special needs who also explore the environment using their mouth.

The medical factors that lead to a worse outcome are not completely known, although some underlying health conditions seems to predispose individuals to being sicker. While we do not know all factors that may lead to more severe illness or death, some factors that could increase this risk and are more specific to individuals with MWS are the following:

1. Those with a history of previous blood clots or clotting issues. This is rare in individuals with MWS.
2. Those with absent spleen or who have been told that their splenic function is not normal. Fortunately, most individuals with MWS do not have a known problem with their immune system.
3. Those with congenital heart defects; discussion of the actual heart defect and specific risks would need to take place in conjunction with the affected person’s primary care physician and cardiologist.
4. Any person with obesity (also, extremely uncommon in individuals with MWS).
5. Any person with baseline breathing issues (also rare in those with MWS who do not have a congenital heart defect).

Individuals with MWS may also be at increased risk for various types of “accidents” (including having a seizure, falling, etc.) that could put them in contact with first responders or other individuals in the general community who are trying to help. Before returning to more normal activities (school, daycare, day programs, etc.), it would be ideal for families to have a contingency plan in place on how to handle each risk-related event based on the individual’s risk factors and history and on how to address these issues with contact with others in the school setting and elsewhere. Then if “accidents” occur, there is a plan in place to address the individual’s needs without excessive exposure to others and the environment.

Many individuals with MWS have a history of seizures or currently have a seizure disorder that is treated with medication. Even if your affected family member does not have a history of seizures, we encourage you to read the statement below, as it applies to many individuals with chronic health conditions who may be taking prescription medication. The following is an excerpt from a statement put out by the American Epilepsy Society:

“The American Epilepsy Society (AES) urges its members and their patients to be aware and cautious while keeping the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation in perspective. In addition to monitoring US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statements and directives, healthcare providers (HCPs) should closely monitor statements and actions of state and local health departments.

Patients should be instructed to work with their HCP’s office and pharmacy to initiate prescription refills at least one week before they anticipate running out of medications for 30-day prescriptions and at least two weeks in advance for 90-day prescriptions. While not always possible under payer practices, where feasible and warranted by individual patient situations, HCPs may wish to consider writing 90-day rather than 30-day supplies of medications to ensure that patients have a sufficient quantity of medications on hand.

In a reminder of usual best practice, providers should encourage patients to work with their pharmacists to synchronize prescription refills of all medications, not just antiseizure medications. In addition, patients should be advised to discuss home delivery options with their pharmacy. These measures can minimize public exposure, in the event that public health authorities limit travel or public activities. Epilepsy centers and HCPs should also consider readiness for utilizing remote care options, if possible; i.e., telephone, telehealth, and electronic health record (EHR) messaging.

Viral illnesses may be a trigger for seizures for some, and patients should have an up-to-date plan for managing breakthrough seizures. If medications are involved in this plan, patients should ensure that they have a supply of these medications on hand, with expiration dates at least six months away.
Health professionals may wish to monitor drug shortages via the FDA Drug Shortages web page or the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) drug shortage tracking system which can now be integrated into EHR systems.

Additional advice for patients with epilepsy and their families is provided on the Epilepsy Foundation web page, Concerns about Coronavirus. AES will continue to monitor the impact on its members and their patients of the COVID-19 situation and will update information and guidance as needed.”

We know this is a stressful time for everyone and we hope that you and your family stay healthy.


Meet the MWSF Community Advisory Board

MWS Community Advisory Board Established. Members Selected.

The MWS Foundation recently established our first Community Advisory Board (CAB). The idea behind the CAB is to put in place a more efficient process to gain input from the MWS community. We have selected 14 members (10 U.S. and 4 International) from the MWS community to begin serving a 2-year term. These CAB members will be asked to provide input/ideas/suggestions to the MWS Foundation thru participation in conference calls, email communications/surveys and individual one-on-one phone calls with Foundation Board Members. In order to do this, they will interact with their own networks within the MWS community to share information and gain feedback/input that can be shared with the MWS Foundation.

  • Laura J Windsor – Clinton/Suitland, Maryland, USA
  • Mallorie Brown – Westford, Massachusetts, USA
  • Amanda Rice – Ammon, Idaho USA
  • Jodie Hughes – San Pedro, CA, USA
  • Erin Hawthorne – Long Beach, MS, USA
  • Carrie Avila-Mooney – Renton, Washington, USA
  • Dann Hauser – Medford, Oregon, USA
  • Barb Andrews – Norwalk, Ohio, USA
  • Jennifer Farrell – Chicopee, Massachusetts, USA.
  • Kim Jachim-Mellenthin – Palos Park, Illinois, USA
  • Carolina Foresti – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Shelley Clarke – New Zealand
  • Sherran Mitchell – Myrtleford, Victoria, Australia.
  • Rui Negrão – Lisbon, Portugal

Please join us in congratulating them and thanking them for supporting the MWS Foundation and helping us to better meet the needs of our MWS family.