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Archive for the ‘ASAN’ Category

>Whew! I’m currently recovering from the end-of-school-year crunch. I had several papers due within days of each other, plus an online exam and a relapse in Panic attacks. PLUS I’ve been doing some work for the Canadian elections advance polls, because democracy is cool.

However, I just got this press release from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and since I’ve been paying some attention to what’s been going on, decided to share.



AUTISTIC COMMUNITY CONDEMNS PBS NEWSHOUR’S “AUTISM NOW” PROGRAM FOR IGNORANT REMARKS

Robert MacNeil claims needs and perspectives of Autistic adults today not an “urgent issue”

WASHINGTON, DC (April 27th, 2011) – An outpouring of widespread anger emerged from the Autistic adult community last night as journalist Robert MacNeil of PBS NewsHour claimed that issues facing Autistic adults were not “an urgent issue” and not important enough to merit coverage. Asked why his “Autism Now” series failed to include autistic adults amongst those invited to participate, MacNeil stated, “We tried to concentrate on what we thought were urgent issues, urgent problems. And a lot of adults with autism, particularly those who describe themselves as a kind of neurodiversity community, are high-functioning people with autism, who have busy and productive lives in the world, who serve a wonderful purpose of helping the community at large to understand and witness autism and be tolerant of it. But they speak for themselves. And we didn’t see them as an urgent issue, as urgent as the impending arrival into adulthood of hundreds of thousands of teenagers with autism.”
“Robert MacNeil’s comments last night displayed a level of ignorance that is shocking to hear for a professional journalist,” stated Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), “To ignore the widespread discrimination, lack of services, un- and under-employment, stigma and countless other issues facing hundreds of thousands of Autistic adults todayis unconscionable. Furthermore, to pretend that any comprehensive account of autism is meaningful without substantively engaging with Autistic people ourselves is disgraceful and offensive.”
The series had already attracted significant criticism from self-advocates and other community members, who were disappointed in comments MacNeil had made in promotional interviews claiming that Autistic adults were disproportionately violent and lacked empathy, popular and inaccurate stereotypes about adults on the autism spectrum. Numerous e-mails, blog posts, phone calls and other communications from self-advocates on the autism spectrum had expressed that inappropriateness of those remarks as well as failing to interview or involve Autistic people themselves in what was billed by PBS as “the comprehensive look at the disorder and its impact that’s aired on American television in at least five years.”
“I am an Autistic person who does struggle with daily living needs. I am really bothered by Robert MacNeil saying that people like me don’t have ‘urgent’ challenges,” said Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone, an Autistic woman and neurodiversity advocate in Utica, Pennsylvania. “By not talking to Autistic adults in his series, Mr. MacNeil is ignoring the unemployment, risk of homelessness and many other problems that people like me face.”
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) is the nation’s leading advocacy organization run entirely by and for Autistic adults and youth. ASAN’s supporters include Autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, family members, professionals, educators and friends. ASAN was created to provide support and services to individuals on the autism spectrum while working to change public perception and combat misinformation by educating communities about persons on the autism spectrum. The organization’s activities include public policy advocacy, community engagement to encourage inclusion and respect for neurodiversity, quality of life oriented research and the development of Autistic cultural activities and other opportunities for Autistic people to engage with others on the spectrum.

Note: The previous quote has not been edited by me. Other than font size, cause it was a little hard to read. Also, my general response to Robert MacNeil have not been nice, so I will refrain from posting them here.

If you haven’t already heard, a delay has happened in the confirmation of autistic self-advocate Ari Ne’eman’s nomination to the National Council on Disability, the youngest nominee in US history. As Ari has demonstrated, age is not a barrier to experience.

Ari is most known for founding the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a non-profit organization run by and for autistic people to provide support and services to autistic individuals while working to change public views of autism through community education. Embracing the principles of the cross-disability community, ASAN promotes inclusive education, community living, and the inclusion of autistic individuals in the national conversations and decision making that concerns autistic people. Currently, ASAN has chapters in several states in the US, as well as in Australia and Canada, and is engaged in initiatives on both state and federal levels.

While Ari certainly does not work alone as founding President of ASAN, he also has his own personal contributions and outstanding achievements. He has served on the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, was appointed by Governor Jon Corzine to serve as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, was the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability, is a board member of TASH and the Autism National Committee, and has served as the first Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership. During his time serving on the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, he wrote a minority report on aversives, restraint and seclusion.

He has been recognized for his work, having received the HSC Foundation “Advocates in Disability” Award and the United Cerebral Palsy’s “Expanding Horizons” Award.

Recently, Ari has been involved in the passing of the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4247) and on the investigation of the abusive practices of the Judge Rotenberg Center. He has expressed personal interest in the case of Zakh Price, and has been involved with the protests and cross-disability outcry of Autism Speaks derogatory portrayal of autistic people.

On top of it all, Ari is a senior student of Political Science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he is finishing up his studies for May 2010.

In comparison to the other nominees that were confirmed, Ari’s involvement in the autistic and cross-disability fields, plus his own experiences in a secluded special needs education program and post-secondary education makes him an excellent addition to the National Council on Disability. His own achievements and mission statements are very similar to the goals of the NCD, “to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, and that empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.”(NCD)

I am sure that I am not alone in the autistic and cross-disability community when I say that I am confident that the US Senate will not hesitate to maintain the purpose of the National Council on Disability, will not create barriers for all persons to have an active role in society and the government, and will participate in empowering autistic and disabled persons in being included in national discourse.

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Posted on: January 10, 2010

Bit delayed in posting this, but things have been a bit rough in the recovering from holidays period. Anyways, I received this email on FaceBook, and I decided that it’s important to bring this issue to light.

I’m not going to say much, except that if you don’t know about the case with Zakhqurey Price and what we’re talking about here, please do a quick search to get caught up on the details.

From Ari Ne’eman of ASAN

Hello,

In the past, we’ve written to you about advocacy issues relating to the rights of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. Our voices have made a difference on all manner of policy concerns and have sent a clear message that those who seek to deprive Autistic people of any age of their rights will have our community to answer to. Now we’d like to ask you to help us take action to help protect an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price, currently being charged with felony assault after fighting back when two staff members restrained him in response to behavioral challenges. The school has ignored repeated efforts from Zakh’s grandmother over the course of the last five months to obtain needed IEP supports to improve his educational options and manage his behavioral difficulties.

According to the suspension notice, the restraint was in response to Zakh destroying school property – something beyond the scope of what would be allowed under recently introduced federal civil rights legislation around restraint and seclusion in schools. Disability advocates, including ASAN, are fighting to pass this crucial legislation that would broaden the protections available to students like Zakh as well as those with other disabilities and with no disability at all. We have asked for your help in passing this important legislation, and together we can succeed in bringing proposed civil rights protections into law – but not in time to help Zakh. That is why we need you to take action now. Find out how below:

School Principal:
Pam Siebenmorgan (One of the charging parties in Zakh’s felony hearing – polite but firm calls and e-mails encouraging her to drop the charges would be helpful)
Phone: 479-646-0834
E-mail: psiebenm@fortsmithschools.org

School Superintendent:
Dr. Benny Gooden (The Superintendent runs the entire school district – polite but firm calls and e-mails communicating how this situation is damaging Fort Smith Public Schools’ reputation would be helpful as well)
E-mail: bgooden@fortsmithschools.org
School Board Office: 1-479-785-2501 Ext. 1201

We recommend that you both e-mail and call if you can. If necessary, e-mail is the preferable option. If you would like your e-mails to be passed along to Zakh’s grandmother, please bcc: info@autisticadvocacy.org. Please stress the importance of Fort Smith Public Schools taking the following steps:

-Drop the charges against Zakhqurey Price

-Work with his grandmother to put in place an IEP that will fulfill Zakh’s right for a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment

-Improve training for school personnel to prevent future such incidents and to ensure that students on the autism spectrum as well as with other disabilities are included, supported and educated in Fort Smith Public Schools.

If Zakh is declared incompetent as part of the hearing scheduled for January 12th, state law requires that he be placed into a mental hospital for at least 30 days. Carole’s grandmother fears that, due to the negative repercussions of being taken out of the community and being forced into an institutional setting, Zakh may lose skills in such an environment and not be returned to her indefinitely. That is why we need you to act now. Please distribute and repost this action alert. Thank you for your time and your advocacy, and as always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Regards,
Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
http://www.autisticadvocacy.org
info@autisticadvocacy.org
(202) 596-1056

Not too long ago I posted the Press Release from the White House announcing that Ari Ne’eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network has been nominated by President Obama to the National Council on Disability.

As a part of the NCD, Ari will be representing the neurodiversity perspective in advising the President, Congress and executive branch agencies

“to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability and to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.” (National Council on Disability website, main page)

If you haven’t gathered from all the ruckus that’s being made across the Internet, this is a big deal, for two reasons:

The first is that he is the first openly autistic appointee, breaking the unsaid barriers keeping autistic people from being a part of the decision process regarding, well, everything about our lives. This marks a major step in the inclusion of autistic people as a part of society, not just in terms of social inclusion, but also on the political and governmental level, and recognizes us as citizens of the countries we live in, with the rights, freedoms and responsibilities that being a citizen includes.

The second is that Ari is also the youngest appointee in the history of the United States, as being 22 years old, Ari is younger than the previous holder, Mike Lopez at the age of 24. However, while his critics are citing that his age makes him ineligible for his nomination, I would argue that age is not an indication of ability in this case.

Just looking at the UMBC, Newsweek Magazine and New York Magazine articles, Ari Ne’eman has been working in the cross-disability civil rights field for quite some time, and while he’s not actively involved and outspoken about every issue (or at least, the media hasn’t picked up on it), Ari still spearheads and pushes forward on many campaigns. In the very brief mini-bio that the White House produced:

“Ari Ne’eman is the Founding President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, where he initiates and directs efforts to increase the representation of autistic individuals in public policy discussions. He is a leading advocate in the neurodiversity movement, frequently briefing policymakers and speaking publicly on disability and autism policy issues. Mr. Ne’eman also serves as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represents autistic adults in reviewing the state’s autism services. He also previously served on the New Jersey’s Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion. Mr. Ne’eman previously served as the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability. He is a board member of TASH and the Autism National Committee. In 2008, he received the HSC Foundation “Advocates in Disability” Award. Mr. Ne’eman is currently an undergraduate at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County where he studies political science and expects to graduate in May 2010. In 2000, Mr. Ne’eman was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.”
(Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, 16 December 2009)

I’m going to forgive the White House for the slight slip with the “neurodiversity movement”, since we’re not an organized movement, per say, but we are a thought movement. We agree, more or less, with the same flow of thought that we seek to advocate in our daily actions and lives. However, I have to point it out that we are not an organization, because somewhere out there, some one is thinking that this is a part of some grand evil plot towards world domination, or something. Right, because we renounce autism as a tragedy to be avoided and cured, and want all autistic people to have equal civil rights and access to accommodations and supports, is part of a conspiracy…

Anyways, ending tangent there and moving right along.

The point is, we have a very experienced young man (younger than me, too) being nominated into a position that allows him (as well as other disability rights advocates) the ability to give advice and input directly to the President, Congress and other executive branches, a young man who is dedicated to promoting the human rights of all autistic people across the spectrum and works continually for this cause.

Yet, because he doesn’t see autism and disabilities as an automatically negative element, but instead as a person’s difference that can result in unique challenges and difficulties in a setting that is ill-suited to accommodate and support individuals, there are groups out there who would rather Ari not be a member of the NCD. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement; they are venomously against Ari and the neurodiversity movement of thought.

But of course, for returning readers of this blog, this really should not be a surprise. And of course, these people are exercising their right of free speech and protestation to encourage people to write to their Senators, stating that they are against Ari.

Now, this is up to each of you, but I would people who support Ari, even marginally, to contact their Senators and give them a balanced view on this, in that there are members of the autistic and cross-disability community who support Ari. Being that I’m Canadian, I don’t really have a Senator to contact, but Nicocoer has provided me with some excellent resources to get in touch with Congress here , the various U.S. Senators here, and even President Obama at the White House.

And since the form on the White House site allows for people outside of the US to submit messages, here is mine:

Dear Mr. President,

I would like to let you know how much I am very pleased and delighted in your nomination of Ari Ne’eman to the National Council on Disability.

As an autistic self-advocate myself, I have always admired Ari for his dedication to promote the causes of the Cross-disability community and the best interests of all autistic people in the United States.

It heartens me to see the United States take such a progressive step towards including and accepting autistic people as citizens involved with the nations, and I hope that the rest of the world takes notice and learns.

On behalf of myself and other like-minded autistic individuals, I would like to thank you for including our voice in issues that concern us.

Yours truly,
Corina

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 16, 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:

· Marie Collins Johns, Deputy Administrator, Small Business Administration

· Gwendolyn E. Boyd, Member, Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

· Jonathan M. Young, Chair, National Council on Disability

· Carol Jean Reynolds, Member, National Council on Disability

· Fernando Torres-Gil, Member, National Council on Disability

· Chester Alonzo Finn, Member, National Council on Disability

· Gary Blumenthal, Member, National Council on Disability

· Sara Gelser, Member, National Council on Disability

· Ari Ne’eman, Member, National Council on Disability

· Dongwoo Joseph “Joe” Pak, Member, National Council on Disability

President Obama said, “I am grateful that these fine individuals have chosen to serve in my administration. They will bring a depth of experience and valued perspective to their roles, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

President Obama announced today his intent to nominate the following individuals:

Ari Ne’eman, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Ari Ne’eman is the Founding President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, where he initiates and directs efforts to increase the representation of autistic individuals in public policy discussions. He is a leading advocate in the neurodiversity movement, frequently briefing policymakers and speaking publicly on disability and autism policy issues. Mr. Ne’eman also serves as Vice Chair of the New Jersey Adults with Autism Task Force, where he represents autistic adults in reviewing the state’s autism services. He also previously served on the New Jersey’s Special Education Review Commission, where he authored a minority report on the topic of aversives, restraint and seclusion. Mr. Ne’eman previously served as the Policy Workgroup Leader for the Youth Advisory Council to the National Council on Disability. He is a board member of TASH and the Autism National Committee. In 2008, he received the HSC Foundation “Advocates in Disability” Award. Mr. Ne’eman is currently an undergraduate at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County where he studies political science and expects to graduate in May 2010. In 2000, Mr. Ne’eman was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

Dongwoo Joseph “Joe” Pak, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Joe Pak is Vice President and Loan Officer of the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Long Beach, CA. Previously, Mr. Pak worked as the Director of External Affairs for SBC/Pacific Bell, representing the company to city officials and state legislators as well as to community and business leaders. He is currently a board member of Acacia Adult Day Health Care Services. Mr. Pak has served on the Special Needs Advisory Board for the Orange County Transit Authority and on the California State Rehabilitation Council, where he focused on increasing the low rate of employment among people with disabilities. He is also a former Board Member and Program Chair for the Korean Health Education, Information, and Research Center. Mr. Pak earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. At three years of age, Mr. Pak’s left arm was paralyzed by the disease polio.

Marie Collins Johns, Nominee for Deputy Administrator, Small Business Administration

Marie Collins Johns is Founder and Managing Member of L&L Consulting, LLC , a firm that offers management services to public, private and social sector clients. Mrs. Johns retired as President of Verizon Washington, DC after a career of over 20 years in the telecommunications industry. In that capacity, she led the $700 million operation, serving nearly 1 million customers. In addition to her corporate experience, Mrs. Johns has also worked in management positions in the public and social services sectors. She has a long resume of volunteer leadership positions that spans nearly 30 years. Mrs. Johns founded the Washington DC Technology Council to foster the growth and development of technology companies in Washington, DC and she is a former chair of the DC Chamber of Commerce. Among her many civic leadership roles, she currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts USA, a trustee of Howard University and Chair of the Board of the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. Mrs. Johns is a long time resident of the District of Columbia, and she holds BS and MPA degrees from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Gwendolyn E. Boyd, Nominee for Member, Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

Gwendolyn Elizabeth Boyd is an accomplished engineer currently serving as Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory and Chair of the Johns Hopkins Institutions Diversity Leadership Council. In her career as an engineer, and in her dedicated community service, Ms. Boyd has been a prominent advocate for women’s equality and for the recruitment of African Americans into science and engineering. For her contributions to the community, she has received numerous awards and honors including: the 1996 Black Engineer of the Year Public Service Award congressional citations and recognition by U.S. Black Engineer magazine as one of the Nation’s “Most Distinguished Black College and University Graduates”. Ms. Boyd is a graduate (summa cum laude) of Alabama State University with a B. S. degree in Mathematics and a double minor in Physics and Music. She has the distinction of being the first African American to earn a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Yale University. Ms. Boyd has also earned a Master of Divinity with Honors from Howard University and received Honorary Doctorates from Bennett College for Women and Lincoln University.

Jonathan M. Young, Nominee for Chair, National Council on Disability

Jonathan M. Young is Senior Counsel at FoxKiser LLP, and co-founder and Vice Chair of the Committee on Disability Power & Pride. Before law school he served in the Executive Office of the President (1998-2001), where he led several disability policy initiatives, provided counsel on disability policy, delivered numerous keynote addresses on behalf of the White House, and founded Disability Mentoring Day. At the NRH Center for Health and Disability Research (1996-1998), he authored Equality of Opportunity, a 1997 NCD publication that became the foundation for his 2002 dissertation on the disability rights movement. Awards include the 1987 NRH Victory Award® and the 2000 USJC Ten Outstanding Young Americans Award. He received a J.D. from Yale Law School, a Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a B.A. from Messiah College. Mr. Young is partially paralyzed from a spinal cord injury.

Carol Jean Reynolds, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Carol Jean Reynolds is the Executive Director of the Disability Center for Independent Living (DCIL) in Denver, Colorado. DCIL is a grassroots service and advocacy organization that assists over 700 consumers each year, providing four core services to individuals with both physical and mental disabilities: peer counseling, independent living skills training, advocacy, and referrals. Ms. Reynolds is a Member of the governing board of the National Council on Independent Living and serves as Co-Chairperson of its Mental Health Task Force. She was awarded Board Member and Consumer of the Year by the National Association of the Mentally Ill – Colorado. She is also a member of the Colorado State Rehabilitation Employment Council. Ms. Reynolds speaks publicly on mental health issues, including providing testimony to the Colorado State legislature in connection with legislation providing funding to uninsured individuals with mental health issues. Ms. Reynolds has struggled with and overcome several mental health and substance abuse issues and has been in recovery for 26 years.

Fernando Torres-Gil, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Fernando Torres-Gil is Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. Previously he served as a Professor of Gerontology and Public Administration at the University of Southern California, where he is still an Adjunct Professor of Gerontology. Before serving in academia, Mr. Torres-Gil was the first Assistant Secretary for Aging in the United States Department of Health and Human Services and as the Staff Director of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging. Mr. Torres-Gil also served as President of the American Society on Aging from 1989 to 1992. He is currently a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Polio Survivors, the National Academy of Social Insurance and of the board of directors of Elderhostel, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AARP Foundation, the Los Angeles Airport Commission, and The California Endowment. Professor Torres-Gil is a polio survivor.

Chester Alonzo Finn, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Chester Alonzo Finn is a Special Assistant with the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, providing services, supports, and advocacy to individuals with development disabilities and their families; in October of 2009 he was recently appointed to the OMRDD’s Leadership Team. He is also President of the national board of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, Board Advisor to the Self Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS) and a member of the Justice for All Action Networking Streaming Committee. Mr. Finn is also an active member of the Board of Directors for the ARC of the United States, the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mr. Finn is blind and is developmentally disabled and is committed to fighting for the civil rights of people with disabilities.

Gary Blumenthal, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Gary Blumenthal is the Executive Director for the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP), which aims to promote and ensure the health of the community-based organizations that provide supports and services for individuals with developmental disabilities. He also served as the Executive Director for the Alta California Regional Center, which oversees service delivery for children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Sacramento region. Previously, Mr. Blumenthal was the Wichita Regional Director for the Kansas State Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, CEO for the Florida State Protection and Advocacy Programs for People with Developmental Disabilities, and Director of the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation during the Clinton administration. Mr. Blumenthal was also a member of the Kansas State House of Representatives for 11 years. He was an American Government teacher in the Shawnee Mission Public Schools in Overland Park, Kansas for 12 years. Mr. Blumenthal a graduate of the University of Kansas, Lawrence and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Sara Gelser, Nominee for Member, National Council on Disability

Sara Gelser currently serves as State Representative for the citizens of Corvallis and Philomath in the Oregon State House of Representatives. The youngest woman in the Oregon State Legislature, she also serves as Assistant Majority Leader and chairs the House Education Committee. Previously Ms. Gelser served as the Children with Disabilities and Family Support Coordinator for the Oregon State Department of Human Services. Additionally, she served as a regional coordinator for the Oregon Parent Training and Information Center, where she provided training to parents, educators and administrators about the implementation of special education law. Ms. Gelser is the founder of the FG Syndrome Family Alliance, a non-profit organization serving families and medical professionals dealing with FG Syndrome, a rare developmental disability. Ms. Gelser’s teenaged son, Sam, has FG Syndrome.

This was sent to me, so I’m thinking that I’ve been given permission to post this.

For Immediate Release:

December 9, 2009

Disability Coalition Applauds Introduction of Legislation that Protects

Students with Disabilities from Abuse

Seclusion and restraint legislation one of 12 items on Coalition Agenda

(Washington D.C.) — The Justice for All Action Network (JFAAN), a coalition of disability-led organizations and allies, applauds proposed legislation that protects students with disabilities from the misuse of seclusions and restraints in schools. Introduced today in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the bill will equip students with disabilities with federal protection from abuse in the schools.

“There is a long history of students with disabilities being subjected to inappropriate and abusive seclusions and restraints,” said Ari Ne-eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a member of the JFAAN Steering Committee. “The legislation introduced today is the first of its kind, going far beyond previous efforts to protect students with disabilities. We look forward to working with House and Senate leaders to pass legislation that addresses each of our concerns and provides students with disabilities with urgently needed protections from abusive seclusions and restraints.”

While the JFAAN Coalition hopes to continue work with House and Senate leaders to ensure that the final legislation is the strongest possible, the bill introduced today is the most comprehensive legislation to date protecting students with disabilities from abuse in the schools.

“We commend Chairman Miller, Representative McMorris Rodgers and Senator Dodd for taking a stand against the barbaric treatment of disabled children and youth that has been allowed to take place in too many schools for too many years. Schools need to educate children without putting students in solitary confinement or using inappropriate and unsafe restraint. When schools become mini-prisons, families have no reason to send their children to school,” said Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, a member of the JFAAN Steering Committee.

Unlike previous attempts to protect students with disabilities, this legislation applies to all students

and bans the worst practices, including mechanical restraint, chemical restraint and physical restraint. “The fact that our children are still subject to abuse is a disgrace,” said Dana Commandatore, the parent of an Autistic child and a supporter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “The legislation introduced today is an important step toward ensuring that students with disabilities are protected from abusive restraints and seclusions.”

Legislation that protects people with disabilities from unwarranted seclusions and restraints is a key component of a campaign agenda developed by JFAAN. The 12-point JFAAN Joint Campaign Agenda addresses major policy issues of people with intellectual, physical, psychiatric, developmental and sensory disabilities.

Created in an effort to build a strong and unified cross-disability movement, the Justice for All Action Network is organized into a steering committee of 13 national consumer-led disability organizations and more than 20 organizational and individual members. The group was formed in the wake of the 2008 Presidential Election.

About the Justice for All Action Network

Mission: The Justice for All Action Network is a national cross-disability coalition, led by disability groups run by persons with disabilities with support from allies, committed to building a strong and unified cross-disability movement so that individuals with disabilities have the power to shape national policies, politics, media, and culture.

Working as a coalition, JFAAN is committed to accomplishing each item on the coalition’s agenda by July 2010, the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Steering Committee Members: ADAPT, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Hearing Loss Association of America, Little People of America, National Association of the Deaf, National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer Survivor Organizations, National Council on Independent Living, National Federation of the Blind, Not Dead Yet, Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, United Spinal Association.

For more information, contact Ari Ne-eman, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, (202) 596-1056;

ASAN is protesting Autism Speaks in New York right now at 6pm. They are meeting at Seventh Avenue and 57th Street, 154 West 57th Street in New York City at 6 PM to hold up signs and hand out flyers to Autism Speaks sponsors going in to their New York City concert with Bruce Springsteen and Jerry Seinfeld.

Given that it’s nearly 5pm my time, it’s a little late to advertise the protest. However, I realize that not everyone, even if they are available to go to the protest, are able to go, stand on a sidewalk and confront, even non-verbally, complete strangers.

So, what I’m thinking is this; letter campaigning, to celebrities and officials, emails to Autism Speaks itself (since it states that they would LOVE to hear from autistic individuals, email them at contactus@autismspeaks.org.), bookmark campaigns, and meme-ing.

The letter campaigning and it’s digital offshoot, emailing, are fairly traditional ways to protest, as well as signing petitions. (which reminds me, the ASAN petition is still available HERE http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/AutismSpeaks/)

But what are bookmark campaigns? Well, it’s kind of like handing out flyers, except indirectly. You create/download cards, as in business cards, that can contain a slogan, some information, and a website URL. You print out the cards and then go to either libraries and bookstores, and slip them into books. I recommend related-topic books, such as the autism books, as well as some of the current bestsellers, recommended, new arrivals and speed-reading books. These are books which are most likely to get picked up, and concern the most relevant readers.

EDIT: Here’s a card that I made up as an example. I fully give permission for people to use it for bookmark activism 😀

As for Meme-ing, well, that’s the continuous re-posting of information, whether it’ll be quizes, questionnaires, or the chunk of information I’m about to post below, the reasons why ASAN is protesting Autism Speaks.

These are just a FEW of the ways in which we can protest. These aren’t the ONLY ways to protest, and no one has to do them all, or any of them. People are certainly able to come with new ideas to protest that accommodates their abilities and what they feel comfortable doing.

If you have any of those ideas, feel free to comment with them. I’d LOVE to hear new ways of protesting.

Finishing up, here’s my meme-ing protest, the reasons why ASAN is protesting Autism Speaks (bold is mine).

WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?

1. Autism Speaks talks about us without us. Not a single Autistic person is on Autism Speaks’ Board of Directors or in their leadership. Autism Speaks is one of an increasingly few number of major disability advocacy organizations that refuse to include any individual with the disability they purport to serve on their board of directors or at any point in their leadership and decision-making processes. In large part due to Autism Speaks’ public relations strategy of presenting Autistic people as silent burdens on society rather than human beings with thoughts, feelings and opinions.

2. They use fear and stigma to try and raise money off the backs of our people. Autism Speaks uses damaging and offensive fundraising tactics which rely on fear, stereotypes and devaluing the lives of people on the autism spectrum. Autism Speaks’ advertising claims that Autistic people are stolen from our own bodies. Its television Public Service Announcements compare having a child on the autism spectrum to having a child caught in a fatal car accident or struck by lightning. In fact, the idea of autism as a fate worse than death is a frequent theme in their fundraising and awareness efforts, going back to their “Autism Every Day” film in 2005. Indeed, throughout Autism Speaks’ fundraising is a consistent and unfortunate theme of fear, pity and prejudice, presenting Autistic adults and children not as full human beings but as burdens on society that must be eliminated as soon as possible.

3. Very little money donated to Autism Speaks goes toward helping Autistic people and families: According to their 2008 annual report, only 4% of Autism Speaks’ budget goes towards the “Family Service” grants that are the organization’s means of funding services. Given the huge sums of money Autism Speaks raises from local communities as compared to the miniscule sums it gives back, it is not an exaggeration to say that Autism Speaks is a tremendous drain on the ability of communities to fund autism service-provision and education initiatives Furthermore, while the bulk of Autism Speaks’ budget (65%) goes toward genetic and biomedical research, only a small minority of Autism Speaks’ research budget goes towards research oriented around improving services, supports, treatments and educational methodologies, with most funding going towards basic research oriented around causation and genetic research, including the prospect of prenatal testing. Although Autism Speaks has not prioritized services with a practical impact for families and individuals in its budget, its rates of executive pay are the highest in the autism world, with annual salaries as high as $600,000 a year.

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  • Corina Becker: Hi Anonymous person who apparently doesn't feel like giving me a name to address, and thus hides behind anonymity!!! I never said the federal gov
  • Anonymous: I think that it is about time something is being done federally to help those with ASD to get much needed therapies for their disability and YES I do
  • Corina Becker: Hi Janine! Melody reads here? Awesome. I honestly had no idea she was aware of this blog.And thank you so much, I'm glad both of you like the bl

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