Politics plays no part in autism, yet autism must exist in a political world. Still, it is a non-partisan issue. Most important, it is an issue that requires constant vigilance and attention.
Parents, caregivers, and the individual autistic citizens are the first line of the political fight for acceptance, equality, fairness and protections. The calls made to legislators, the letters, and petitions do have an impact. The voices of those on the spectrum must and shall be heard. It is not an easy task, but it is doable.
When a 19 year-old was tragically abused by two “friends” and nearly drowned, Autism Citizen sprang to action and worked with local legislators, advising the leading state senator about the best legislative response to the criminal act perpetrated on the young man. It was not the only time we have worked with legislators to affect laws on behalf of the community we serve.
In April, 2019, we proposed sweeping changes in the way courts in Ohio manage mental health courts. We have written legislative language for multiple causes and jurisdictions. It is not always successful, but those winning occasions have been stunning.
It is a sad fact that there are many individuals who would intentionally harm to teens, children, and adults on the spectrum. It is equally disturbing that there are those in government who either don’t care or actively limit protections available in law for those on the spectrum.
An example of this is the teen who was duped into taking the ALS Challenge, expecting a bucket of icy water to be dumped on him. Instead, a bucket of urine and feces were poured on him. The law was a little unclear, and so local police did not rise to the occasion until national news coverage forced their hand.
Hundreds of cases of teens and adults on the spectrum being abused exist without the support of either law enforcement or lawmakers. It is the duty of every citizen to complain about these incidents. Report them to police, to legislators and to Autism Citizen. We must stand up and be counted in order for laws to be passed to protect us.
There are more federal laws on the books about protecting animal rights than the rights of autistic citizens. Most states have a similar ratio. If you’re a horse, you’re protected. An autistic citizen, most likely not. It is easy for government and the population to forget that human rights includes the rights of autistic individuals not to be abused, bullied, raped, or killed.
Anti-bullying laws should, theoretically, protect autistic individuals, but this is not always the case. In the case of the 19-year old, his alleged friends taunted him to jump into the freezing Atlantic Ocean in winter. Because he jumped, police were powerless to prosecute. That prompted the need for a new law in New Jersey making it a felony crime to lure a disabled individual to a harmful situation and a felony if the person dies.
Unfortunately, when the autism community, including caregivers and family members remain silent, nothing gets done. Well, actually, someone else is likely to be harmed, often by the same miscreants. Bullying and abuse have caused many on the spectrum to die needlessly, often of suicide.
The abuse is not always as easily seen as a bully’s punches. Sometimes, it is government itself failing to do the right things by those they’re supposed to serve. One such case is a young man who was mistreated by state and federal officials in order to deny him benefits he was legally entitled to. The state sent detectives after him claiming he was filing false claims. No one would listen to, or believe audio evidence. Ultimately, the state and federal government became the ultimate bullies.
We stand up. We fight with you and for you. We speak truth to power and work within the system to affect change. Our aim is to protect you and the rights of every individual on the autism spectrum.
WARNING: The content below is disturbing.