On Tuesday, Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Bérubé published an op-ed in USA Today, titled “Don’t Let My Son Plunge Off the ‘Disability Cliff’ When I’m Gone.”
In it, Bérubé, the father of a young man with an intellectual disability, describes the devastating loss of services youths with disabilities face when they leave their K-12 years. He describes his family’s efforts to find an adult life that works for his son Jamie. Bérubé also describes his family’s concerns about Jamie’s future once heand his wife are gone. The family has planned a life for Jamie that includes some days in a sheltered workshop at subminimum wage, plusmore integrated activities on others. Clearly, they have invested a great deal of effort into finding ways to give him a life he enjoys and intend to continue doing so. Someday, however, Jamie will leave home, and when he does, his … Continue Reading ››
The image of Charles Kinsey lying on the street, arms raised as he tried to calm his client, Arnaldo Rios, before police shot Kinsey in is a nightmare scenario for many autistic people and our families. After the shooting, the local police union for North Miami tried to excuse Kinsey’s shooting by saying that they were aiming at Rios when Kinsey was shot. Rios had been playing with a toy truck, which the police believed to be a gun.
After the shooting, Rios was interrogated by Officer Angel Requeljado, according to a lawsuit filed against the city of North Miami by Matthew Dietz, litigation director of the Disability Independence Group and Rios’ lawyer. Dietz says Rios has echolalia, which leads him to repeat the words of others. A video uploaded by Dietz’s firm shows that Rios frequently repeated words or simply responded by saying “yes” or “yeah.” Dietz … Continue Reading ››
Today, I am with a group of ADAPT protesters calling for the Trump Administration to release regulations prepared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and halt the use of contingent electric shock, a physically painful and mentally and physically harmful as a means of controlling disabled people.
The shock, currently used only at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Canton, Massachusetts, should be recognized as the state-sponsored torture it is. The practice should be opposed by human rights groups. It should be stopped immediately. Moreover, the facility should be closed and an investigation into it should be opened.
The United Nation Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the United States signed in 1994, defines “torture” as:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third … Continue Reading ››
Oscar season: evening gowns, betting pools and accolades for non-disabled actors.
When The Shape of Water won Best Picture, it sparked a conversation in the disability community about authentic representation. This year’s nominees, like so many previous slates, included a non-disabled actor playing a disabled character. Sally Hawkins received a nomination for her performance as Elisa, a mute woman. Although Hawkins herself did not win, her performance is part of a longstanding trend that deserves examination.
Over the past 30 years, 13 actors have won the Best Actor award by portraying a character with a disability, while another 14 have won Best Actress. All actors portrayed characters with disabilities that they do not personally have. The only example of a disabled actor winning an Oscar is Deaf actor Marlee Matlin, who won Best Actress in 1986 for her performance in Children of a Lesser God.
To break it down further, here’s a comprehensive … Continue Reading ››
Thomas ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1848, on a slave plantation owned by Wiley Jones. Though Tom was originally designated to be sold off or left for dead for his blindness and presumed uselessness on a slave plantation, Tom’s mother fought to keep him with the rest of his family by arranging to have herself, her husband, Tom, and her two other children sold as a group to a different master, General James Bethune.
Though the diagnosis did not exist in the nineteenth century, current historians believe that Wiggins was an autistic savant. Savant syndrome is a kind of neurodivergence in which people experience major differences between their abilities and disabilities. For example, someone can be a brilliant violinist and be unable to read, write or do mathematics. Tom showed these traits. While Wiggins’s ability to play and compose music was extraordinary, he was mostly non-speaking and … Continue Reading ››
Editor's note: This article is the first of a four part series highlighting Black and neurodivergent leaders and historical figures, in honor Black History Month. Each leader was selected by Finn Gardiner, a contemporary Black and Autistic leader and scholar.
Harriet Tubman is widely known as a brave Black woman who led herself and hundreds of other slaves to freedom through the loose network of safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. What is less known, however, is that Tubman was also disabled and neurodivergent.
Born Araminta Ross, Tubman was born on a relatively small plantation at the beginning of the 19th century. Tubman took her husband’s surname upon marriage and changed her first name to Harriet around the same time. From the age of five, Tubman was forced to perform strenuous tasks for other slaveholding households, including looking after other families’ children, trapping muskrats, and other work that would be stressful … Continue Reading ››
Humanity & Inclusion became the new name of Handicap International’s global network today. The organization, which shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to ban anti-personnel landmines, implements more than 300 emergency and development projects in about 60 countries per year.
New name. New logo.
‘Humanity & Inclusion’ expresses one of the organization’s central values, humanity. This is reflected in a benevolent and empathic approach to the organization’s actions, close proximity with its beneficiaries, and a deep respect for each person’s individuality.
“’Inclusion’ reflects one of the core ambitions that has driven our actions for 35 years: the inclusion of people with disabilities and vulnerable people who are so often overlooked,” said Jeff Meer, Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion in the U.S. “We value difference and fight exclusion. This name helps to show that.”
It means ensuring that everyone has a place in the community while respecting each … Continue Reading ››
Last week, the quarterly Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee meeting took place. IACC is a government advisory panel responsible for setting federal research priorities. A thread running throughout the six hour meeting was representation and diversity, or lack thereof, both in autism community leadership positions and within IACC itself. In many ways, the sessions were a string of events demonstrating not only the need for more autistic representation, but the need for racial diversity. There are currently only two autistic members of IACC. A third autistic member, Amy Goodman, stepped down in 2017. Similarly, IACC's membership is almost entirely white.
Dr. Marcella Ronyak, IACC member and Deputy Director of the Division of Behavioral Health for the Indian Health Service, gave the first presentation of the day. She began by asking how many people in the room had a good understanding of what Indian Health Services is and what it is that they … Continue Reading ››
In 2016, the Ford Foundation made a commitment to social justice. Unfortunately, their early efforts were plagued with missteps when it came todisability community issues. In 2017, the Ford Foundation made a commitment to centering disability rights. The result of this new effort is still in its early phases, but the work they have done on disability so far has been nothing short of extraordinary, and there is even more to come.
Speaking with NOS Magazine, Noorain Khan of the Ford Foundation was candid about the process of growing much-needed knowledge on disability. "2017 was us diving in, meeting with activists, self-advocates, folks in government, nonprofits, and other funders... [We] met with any disability organization that requested a meeting. This shaped [our] knowledge and the knowledge of the Ford Foundation itself."
"[The Ford Foundation] knew that we couldn’t do this by ourselves." They hired disabled consultants and brought disability … Continue Reading ››
#Oprah2020 was trending on social media last week. Speculation about Ms. Winfrey running for President became part of the morning news cycle after her inspiring Golden Globe acceptance speech.
Oprah Winfrey has a fondness or pseudoscience. This fondness has caused harm to the medical community, the practice of psychology, and to our autism community in particular.
If she runs I will neither support nor vote for her regardless of her wide global appeal, her great skills as a speaker, her famed generosity or her business acumen.
“Why you hating on Auntie Oprah?” A human right activist friend of color asked me.
“I don’t hate her.” I answered. “I am upset about the massive harm she’s done.“
Oprah gave us Phil McGraw, Dr. Oz, and most hurtful to my son and the autistic community, Jenny McCarthy. With help from Oprah, Jenny McCarthy introduced the anti-vaccine movement to mainstream America.
Does Oprah realize the harm she continues … Continue Reading ››
Last week, Autism Speaks released their new “Strategic Plan for Science 2018-2020.” The new strategic plan follows a wording change to their mission statement and a 2017 stakeholder survey. The survey was primarily about Autism Speaks’ research funding. The kinds of research they fund impacts autistic people, since according to an IACC document, they are the third largest funder of autism research.
According to many experts, it doesn’t appear that Autism Speaks significantly changed their strategic science planning. The survey results, published in October 2017, have some important highlights. One question asked about research areas to avoid; of the responses, “most indicated opposition to research aimed at curing or preventing autism.” A specific response included “Researching a cure or genetic markers of autism. Preventing or curing autism is a form of eugenics, which is an abhorrent idea.” A further trend of the survey included: “Opposition to cure/prevention/ABA; more … Continue Reading ››
Neurodivergent people are one of the few groups who can be deprived of our most basic forms of autonomy and privacy just because of who we are. This includes confinement in institutional settings such as group homes, nursing homes and residential schools, as well as guardianship and court orders for the misleadingly-named “assisted outpatient treatment.” Most recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Abilify MyCite, an antipsychotic medication that tracks whether a person has taken it or not. Abilify MyCite further threatens the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities by putting us at risk of surveillance and all the consequences likely to follow from that.
As is the case with most practices and technologies that restrict disabled people’s rights, nondisabled people are already defending the new medication as being both for neurodivergent people’s own good and for the convenience of their families and caregivers. But like in … Continue Reading ››
Note: This article contains discussion of disordered eating.
For many parents of a newly-diagnosed autistic child, a quick internet search into autism tells them that changing their child’s diet is a smart first step towards “improving” autistic behaviors or other co-occuring conditions. Despite the popularity of “autism diets”, research shows that there is insufficient proof that they do anything positive at all. Nevertheless, strictly regimenting the diet of autistic children continues to be common. I was one of those autistic children, and my parents thought they were doing what was best for me. Though parents may believe this is for the benefit of their child, my own experience on an autism diet led to permanent harm.
Growing up, I was not allowed to eat a laundry list of seemingly random foods: dairy, sesame seeds, mangoes, peanuts, whole wheat. In order to avoid explaining my autism diagnosis to me, my … Continue Reading ››
Denzel Washington sometimes feels like the personification of the old maxim about how African-Americans must be “twice as good to get half as much.” His last big role was his masterful, self-directed performance in 2016’s adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences,” but the best actor of his generation remains the best whether he’s playing drug kingpin Frank Lucas in “American Gangster” or recreating the Yul Brynner role in last year’s “Magnificent Seven” remake. In an industry where legends like De Niro and Pacino increasingly sleepwalk to paychecks, he simply does not slum it.
All this is to say that when I heard Washington would be playing a lawyer on the autism spectrum in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” I wasn’t as nervous as this kind of casting normally makes me. Playing a disabled character is notorious as a cynical fast-track to awards attention, but Washington is the last actor on earth who would … Continue Reading ››
Cranston, Rhode Island, has just established a voluntary registry to record information on autistic people between the ages of 6 and 21. The registry is managed by the Cranston Police Department and is intended to help autistic young people who interact with the police. Autism registries aren’t limited to Cranston. Several US states and Canadian provinces have databases that require or encourage professionals to enter information about autistic patients. Some registries, like Montana’s and New Jersey’s, are mandatory.
Autism registries present a real threat to autistic people’s civil rights, privacy and autonomy. In 2015, I conducted research with the Human Services Research Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Our goal was to gauge attitudes towards the creation of a statewide autism database in Massachusetts The state government was considering creating a database similar to databases in other states. We recruited a “citizen’s jury.”A citizen’s jury is a type of … Continue Reading ››
After the November 7, 2017 election, Sarah Selvaggi Hernandez became a member of the Enfield, Connecticut board of education. Selvaggi Hernandez is an occupational therapist, assistant professor, and now one of the first openly autistic people elected to political office.
Sarah Selvaggi Hernandez first considered the possibility of running for office last January. She became politically involved during Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign. After Sanders failed to secure the nomination, Selvaggi Hernandez wanted to remain involved at the local level. She felt profoundly disappointed with local politics and particularly the education system. Two of Selvaggi Hernandez’s three children currently attend school in Enfield.
Around the same time as Selvaggi Hernandez pondered running for office, the chairman of Enfield’s Board of Education started posting racist and inflammatory memes on social media. Selvaggi Hernandez said of the memes, “Two of them targeted Hispanic students (literally entitled ‘magnet school students’), which is obviously unacceptable.”
the Enfield Board … Continue Reading ››
This is it. Dr. Shaun Murphy's first interaction with an autistic patient. I knew it was coming -- It's an obvious and necessary direction for Shaun's story to take. Even in the bizarre, distorted world of a prime time medical drama, Shaun can't reasonably be the only autistic person on Earth.
There was exciting news: Liam, Shaun's autistic patient, would be played by an actually autistic actor: Coby Bird. Bird is 15, talented, and has previously appeared on the ABC comedy Speechless. I hope to see him in future episodes of The Good Doctor. It would be wonderful if Shaun could act as a mentor or role model of sorts, rather than Liam merely being a patient-of-the-week.
That said, I was terrified that this episode would advocate for what Julia Bascom has called, "the IQ test for human rights." Some toxic corners of our community believe autistic people perceived as … Continue Reading ››
After days of protest and pressure from disability rights activists in Chicago and Washington DC, Congressman Bobby Rush has withdrawn his sponsorship and support from the misleadingly titled, "ADA Education and Reform Act," also known as HR 620. Disability advocates, activists, and organizations have all come out against the bill.
Scott Nance, a co-organizers of the direct action that ADAPT held outside Congressman Rush's Chicago office, told NOS Magazine, "I am proud of the Congressman for being open to learning more about our concerns... Bobby Rush has preserved his identity as a leader in protecting the civil rights of every person."
Rochester ADAPT activist Anita Cameron was pleased with the outcome and highlighted Congressman Rush's own past activism. "I thank Congressman Rush for listening to his constituents and colleagues and coming off of HR 620... I hope that he hearkened back to his Black Panther roots." Cameron also had … Continue Reading ››
This week’s episode, "Not Fake," preserves Shaun Murphy's complexity and humanity for another week. While this episode was excellent from a neurodiversity standpoint (everyone struggles in stressful situations, not just neurodivergent people), it completely failed when it comes to physical disability. Rather than live with an amputation and a prosthetic, a man's wife fights to have a risky, experimental surgery that would preserve his leg. To be fair, it is entirely realistic that doctors have a poor understanding of disabled quality of life. This episode didn't highlight that lack of understanding, though. Instead, it plays into one of the most negative tropes about living with a disability: That it is worse than death.
‘I don't like coffee.’
The episode opens with Dr. Kalu sharing his own special blend of coffee. He roasts the beans himself. Dr. Murphy is as sassy as ever. "Smells like leather," he remarks. "And none for you, Murphy," … Continue Reading ››
Last week, the United States faced a defining moment when ICE agents arrested a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, Rosamaria Hernandez. Rosamaria is currently recovering from gallbladder surgery in an immigration detention center away from her family. On the way to her surgery, federal agents followed her ambulance, stood guard outside her room, and refused to allow medical staff to close the door while they treated her. Against medical advice, the agents then proceeded to pull Rosamaria from the hospital where she was receiving care. Government employees, reporting that they are just doing their job, intend to deport Rosamaria back to Mexico. She has lived in the United States since she was three months old.
Rosamaria Hernandez has become the face of the Disabled Latinx movement. Rosamaria’s family initially crossed the border from Mexico to get treatment for medical complications associated with her cerebral palsy. Rosamaria’s parents made the decision to … Continue Reading ››
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was accused of calling President Trump a “moron.” President Trump responded that if he and Tillerson had an IQ contest, “I can tell you who [would] win.” More recently, President Trump bragged, “I went to an Ivy League college… I’m a very intelligent person.” As a person with an intellectual disability, President Trump’s focus on IQ feels very awkward.
President Trump’s focus on IQ hurts people with intellectual disabilities. Many people see the word “moron” as just a generic insult. However, it used to be a diagnostic term during the era of eugenics. Back then I probably would have been diagnosed as a “moron.” Many autistic and intellectually disabled people were diagnosed “morons.” During that time, we were sterilized against our will and locked in institutions.
People with intellectual disabilities are still greatly oppressed. IQ is very much connected to Continue Reading ››
I’d like to respond to “Autistic Advocates Clash with Autism Parents at Government Committee Meeting” by saying this: No one, and I mean no one, should be talking about what’s best for me besides me. Yes, my parents know me best in the world, but that doesn’t mean they know better. It perplexes me that we are having this debate still, and people don’t see how ludicrous it is to have an autistic group represented by non-autistics. Imagine the NAACP represented by whites. Recall that image of a group of white men signing legislation limiting women’s birth control… Yet it is totally okay for many autistics to be affected by the will of neurotypicals.
I simply say this: If you want the views of nonverbal autistics to be heard, invite them to the table. Make sure they can access the meeting with the support they need. Seek out autistic people … Continue Reading ››
On Tuesday, a fiery exchange took place between autistic advocates and autism parents the quarterly Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee meeting about inclusion, civil rights, and the usefulness (or lack thereof) of functioning labels. IACC is a government advisory panel responsible for setting federal research priorities. Only three of the 31 IACC members are autistic themselves. None of the federal members are autistic, nor is the committee chair.
In a written comment, Jill Escher, a long-time foe of the validity of autistic advocacy and civil rights, submitted a blog post she wrote about neurodiversity on the official San Francisco Autism Society website. She complained that neurodiversity has ruined the validity of autism as a diagnosis because it includes "high functioning" people like the autistic representatives on IACC and "low functioning" people like her own children. This sparked a tense conversation among members of IACC that revealed … Continue Reading ››
On Friday morning, the Department of Education quietly rolled back 72 guidance documents from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. The documents were described by officials to be “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective." However, no further details were provided as to what that might actually mean. Guidance documents are important because they explain how existing disability rights laws or regulations should be applied in schools. As a result, anxious disability advocates spent much of the weekend scrambling through hundreds of pages of complex policy documents, trying to determine how the rescinded guidance might affect disabled students across the United States.
Special education attorney and autistic self advocate Michael Gilberg told NOS Magazine he was, "deeply troubled by the US Department of Education's decision to rescind 72 documents without any actual explanation of why... Parents, attorneys and advocates rely on this guidance to ensure that [disability accommodation … Continue Reading ››
This week's episode, Point Three Percent, is about honesty and when it is appropriate to lie. While previous episodes have touched on lying as a social skill, this week the topic is approached in a serious kind of way, not in a "scaring patients by saying they might have flesh eating bacteria" kind of way. The theme was mostly successful.
Dr. Shaun Murphy continues to be an asshole, and I love it. At this point it's established that if he thinks a rule isn't important, even if he's told explicitly about it, he'll disregard it. I can't actually tell if the writers actually realize that Shaun is being an asshole when he does this, rather than a precious cinnamon bun who has done nothing wrong. I hope they do, and I hope they continue to explore the consequences of Shaun's actions. People are assholes. I'm excited that Dr. Murphy gets to … Continue Reading ››
On Friday, the Chicago chapter of ADAPT protested outside the office of Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL). For over seven hours, a dozen ADAPTers used their own bodies and wheelchairs to block doors on all sides of the building, chanting "just like a nursing home you can't get out!" The protest was in response to Congressman Rush's continued co-sponsorship of the ADA Education & Reform Act of 2017, also known as HR620. Critics argue that the bill rolls back Americans with Disability Act protections that motivate businesses to comply with the law.
Friday's protest occurred after Congressman Rush was given 48 hours by Chicago ADAPT to remove his co-sponsorship from HR620, or at least to provide a public written statement indicating that he would do so. 48 hours passed, and his office did not issue a statement. Despite several attempts, NOS Magazine has been unable to get comments from Congressman Rush's … Continue Reading ››
Yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of regular oversight. For over five hours, he answered questions about sexual orientation, gender, race, drug policy, Russia, fetal tissue sales and many other topics. Remarkably, no one asked him about the Justice Department's progress on disability issues. Sessions did say, at one point, that the Justice Department is, "committed to protecting the civil rights of all Americans." Is this true for disability issues?
Earlier this week, disability advocates filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Georgia for segregating disabled students in a separate and unequal school system called the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support, or GNETS. Through the lawsuit the Arc, Center for Public Representation, and others are demanding the state to provide students access to the disability support services they need at their own neighborhood public schools.
GNETS often does not have … Continue Reading ››
I have a confession to make: Oftentimes media criticism with a dash of social justice feels like a race to see who can say the most cutting, critical things about poor representation first. Sometimes, like with Atypical, the ire is well deserved. Other times, I feel pressure to declare something irredeemably Problematic before really giving it a chance.
Another related confession: I actually really liked this episode of The Good Doctor. I feel like Dr. Shaun Murphy got to be an actual, flawed person. There are several instances where I sort of wanted to slap him, but not because I thought he was being written badly -- Only that he was making some of the same mistakes I or autistic friends have made in the past while trying to figure out how to be an independent adult. Note: I would not actually slap anyone unless they explicitly asked me to … Continue Reading ››
A show that ran as long as Law & Order is, naturally, going to have some off days. I’ll admit to occasionally tuning into the show’s seemingly never-ending basic cable blocks as a guilty pleasure, but one of the telltale signs you’re about to watch one of the shitty ones is when the culprit is apprehended about 20 minutes in. When it’s taken care of that early, you know the trial portion of the episode is going to revolve around the perpetrator’s lawyer arguing that their client killing people is a medical condition or something similarly absurd. So you can imagine how irritated I was, to say the least, when someone decided to pull the same trick in real life.
The Internet is vast and contains multitudes If, for some reason, you want to identify the absolute worst people on here, there are several ways you could go. There are the … Continue Reading ››
This week’s episode of The Good Doctor is titled “Oliver." "Oliver" is the name of the donor of a very important liver, a liver that will save a life. The episode's main plot dealt with the ethics of transplantation, which is pretty heavy stuff. Transplant lists literally decide who will live and who will die. Overall, the episode was decent -- Much better than last week's DSM dumpster fire. Sean once again has motivations beyond pathology. God willing he stays that way for the rest of the season and even perhaps grows as a person.
I think ABC really missed an opportunity with this episode to educate, however. While exploring the ethics of transplantation, it would have been wonderful if they had explored the ethics of transplantation as it relates to people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities -- People like Dr. Sean Murphy. If Sean … Continue Reading ››
Last week, the Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup session for a bill that would refund the Children's Health Insurance Program, better known as CHIP. During the session, there was contentious discussion on topics ranging from the current disaster in Puerto Rico to Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act. Many disability activists, however, were anxiously awaiting a different discussion. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) planned to introduce an amendment to the CHIP bill that would make it possible for institutions to take money intended to support disabled people in their homes and communities.
CHIP itself is an important disability issue. It was created to provide health care for children and pregnant women in low- to middle-income homes whose annual incomes were only a little bit higher than the Medicaid limit. CHIP covers 9 million children and 370,000 pregnant women. Funding needs to be periodically reauthorized by Congress. Last … Continue Reading ››
As reported by NOS Magazine last week, Congressman Tim Murphy has found himself embroiled in a sex scandal. New information has revealed that while acting as a member of Congress's pro-life caucus, Murphy urged the woman he was having an affair with to get an abortion. As a result, Congressman Murphy has resigned, effective immediately. Murphy's resignation is excellent news for people with psychiatric disabilities.
Kit Mead, creator of Psych Ward Reviews, was delighted at the news of Murphy's resignation:
"Murphy was devoted to taking away the agency and voice of people with mental health disabilities. He advocated forced medication and loss of privacy. I hope that in the future mental health reform initiatives are led by people with disabilities."
This week's episode of The Good Doctor is titled "Mount Rushmore." It delves into issues of autism, honesty, and bedside manner. And to be honest, this week Dr. Murphy's writing unfortunately tilted him more towards being a DSM checklist than a person. I hope next week's episode does better.
I am intentionally only referring to Dr. Murphy as Dr. Murphy in this article instead of "Sean." Because he is a doctor. He went to medical school. He got good grades. He passed his board examinations. He is just as qualified as the other two surgical residents, if somewhat less experienced.
Watching Dr. Murphy being repeatedly abused and bullied without him even understanding that he is being abused and bullied was painful for me. Like many autistic adults, I've been in similar situations, and when you find out what people actually thought of you, it is soul-crushingly awful. It made the episode hard … Continue Reading ››
The Medicaid battle has come and gone again. Senators Graham and Cassidy came up with another plan to attack the Affordable Care Act. Due to the arcane rules of the Senate, they had until the end of September to pass their amendment with only 51 votes (including a tie-breaker from the Vice President); otherwise, they’ll need 60 again. Again, while this was an attack on millions of Americans, disabled and non-, the disability community in particular needed to come together to resist, because if this bill had succeeded, some disabled people who depend on Medicaid would have lost their freedom and others would have lost their lives. The direct action group ADAPT, which arises from the independent living movement, the most visible strand of the disability rights movement, was among the most visible to respond and played a key role in the failure of the Graham-Cassidy amendment.
This is … Continue Reading ››
I have a confession to make: I began watching ABC's The Good Doctor with extremely low expectations. Atypical, another recent series featuring an autistic protagonist, was a tirefireofbadstereotypesandworserepresentation. Awkward autistic white guy is nothing new or groundbreaking.
The Good Doctor desperately wants to believe that it is groundbreaking. Apparently, none of the unnamed "autism consultants" involved in the show told David Shore or the writers that there are actually plenty of autistic doctors and med students. So far, The Good Doctor is basically House, if House was an adorable talking kitten instead of a pill-popping curmudgeon. I actually really enjoyed House in all of its formulaic glory, but I'm not sure adding a dash of inspiration porn and subtracting a pinch of nihilism will lead to an enjoyable show.
That said, The Good Doctor had a … Continue Reading ››
Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are hellbent on scoring a healthcare win through their incessant efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. These bills have done under different names, but they are collectively known as Trumpcare. Though this year’s bills have all failed, Republicans keep introducing new repeal bills. Like undead monsters that just won’t stay in of the grave, Trumpcare keeps coming back to haunt us.
Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are responsible for the latest attempt to resurrect Trumpcare. They’ve introduced a new healthcare bill as part of their attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as the ‘Graham/Cassidy bill’. Other Republican senators, like Dean Heller of Nevada, have also expressed support for this bill.
This incarnation of Trumpcare is even worse than the ‘skinny repeal’ rejected by Congress in July. The skinny repeal was bad enough, but Graham/Cassidy is probably the worst proposed version … Continue Reading ››
Last Wednesday, Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA) had an affair with Shannon Edwards, a married woman half his age. Murphy was forced to reveal the affair when the Pittsburgh Post Gazette succeeded in a court motion to unseal divorce documents. They also discovered that it is possible that Rep. Murphy abused the resources of his office over the course of his affair. This is significant to the disability community because Rep. Murphy may have been abusing the resources of his office during the time he was pushing for the Murphy bill to pass.
Rep. Murphy has long been one of Congress's most vocal champions of forced psychiatric medication. In 2016, Rep. Murphy championed the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act," better known as the Murphy bill, which would, in its original form, have increased funding for forced medication and institutionalization of people with psychiatric disabilities. His bill would … Continue Reading ››
The House judiciary committee has voted to move forward with a bill that could roll back some Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections. 15 members of the committee voted to advance the bill, nine voted against it. Now that it has gone through markup, the bill will go to the floor of the House of Representatives, where it will go to a vote. The time and date of the vote have not yet been scheduled.
The ADA Education and Reform Act (HR 620) was put forward by Representative Ted Poe (R-Tex.). It has been cosponsored by 40 House Republicans and 11 Democrats. This legislation would amend the ADA to add a 120 day waiting period between when a business is notified of an ADA violation and when the person reporting can take the case to court. During that 120 days, businesses would be expected to fix or “make substantial progress” towards … Continue Reading ››
On September 1, Kiehl’s, a popular cosmetic company, launched a campaign with to raise money for Autism Speaks. In a video some might describe as cringe-inducing, McConaughey implores viewers to share his video because, “children with autism need our support and they need it right now… They need access to services to give them a real chance at a better life.” For each share of the video, Kiehl’s has committed to contributing $1, up to $200,000. Additionally, Kiehl’s is selling “Ultra Facial Cream Limited Edition 2017,” which the Kiehl’s website describes as, “a daily face moisturizer to promote autism awareness.” The site does not elaborate how exactly a face moisturizer would promote awareness of anything.
Ironically, money donated to Autism Speaks is unlikely to give autistic people a “real chance at a better life,” nor would it give anyone autistic access to services. As of 2017, only 3% … Continue Reading ››
Have you ever heard the phrase "that person has the mind of a five year old In an adult body?" It is something many adults with intellectual disabilities, like me, have to deal with. For years, medical professionals have told parents of newly diagnosed Intellectually disabled people that they would mentally be children for their entire lives. Even through I am a 28-year-old, pregnant, married adult, as well as a faculty member at University of Washington, people still tell me that I think like a child. These words are not just offensive language. They can also take away our rights to normal adult lives. Historically, so-called “mental age theory” has stripped people with intellectual and developmental disabilities of our dignity, our reproductive freedom and our parental rights. Age theory has also been used to strip us of the rights to make adult choices, such as buying alcohol and tobacco or having sexual … Continue Reading ››
Cards Against Humanity is a game whose own creators describe it as, “a party game for horrible people.” The game has been extremely popular, with several official and unofficial expansion packs available. Recently, a group of behavior analysts decided to get in on the fun by making their own expansion pack. Unfortunately, the result is anything but fun. In fact, it makes light of several abusive practices that are not currently restricted by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, the governing body for board certified behavior analysts all over the world. “Pinch the nose to release the jaw” isn’t funny when you’re on the receiving end of “feeding therapy” or having ammonia sprayed in your mouth as a punishment for noncompliance. The cards also included multiple references to physical restraint, electric shocks, and feces.
NOS Magazine reached out to the original poster of the cards, Dr. Amanda Kelly, also … Continue Reading ››
This month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety of Motor Vehicles released new driver’s licenses and ID cards. The department describes the new cards as, “the most secure over-the-counter credential on the market today.” Specific security features include multiple details that glow under ultraviolet light. You can get markers on your driver’s license that indicate if you are deaf/hard of hearing, if you are an organ donor, if you have a hunting or fishing license, and if you’re a veteran. You cannot, however, get a marker on your driver’s license that indicates that you have a developmental disability. That marker is only available on non-driver ID cards.
In December, when the developmental disability designations first rolled out, the department claimed that the lack of availability for driver’s licenses was only temporary. "[It] will go into effect once the redesigned Florida driver license is implemented," department spokesperson Beth Frady told the … Continue Reading ››
In May, Politico released an unofficial White House visitor log. The numbers they compiled were striking: 6 months into the Trump presidency, approximately 80% White House visitors were white and a little less than two thirds were cis men. They also revealed that the President has met with significantly more Republicans than Democrats and almost the same number of foreign leaders as American celebrities. After intensive analysis, NOS Magazine has determined that as of August 24, only 15 of the 1646 visitors to the White House are publicly known to have a disability. That’s less than 1%. Almost all of them have been wounded veterans or what the White House calls “Obamacare victims.”
The lack of an official, public visitor log is a break from the Obama era, where most visits were released after a three month lag. The Obama White House did maintain some exceptions. They … Continue Reading ››
A number of nonprofits, including the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Susan G. Komen have canceled plans to hold fundraising events at the Mar-a-Lago Club and other Trump properties. These cancellations are in response to what many feel to be inadequate and offensive statements from President Trump about a recent white supremacist march in Charlottesville. President Trump’s initial response was that there were bad actors on “both sides” and that there were some “fine people” marching alongside the self-described Nazis and white supremacists attending Unite the Right.
What decisions have nonprofits relevant to the neurodiversity community made in response to the President's statements on Charlottesville? This article outlines which organizations have stood by President Trump and which have not, as President Trump makes unprecedented attacks on programs like SSDI and Medicaid that many in our community need to survive. Autistic people who are … Continue Reading ››
Episode 6 of Atypical is titled, "The D-Train to Bone Town." I feel slightly uncomfortable just typing that phrase. It was an uncomfortable episode to watch overall. Atypical is threaded with racist subtext, but it really comes to a head in this episode. Somehow, all of the mean girls are black women. April the mean mom? she's black. Sharice, Casey's so-called best friend who betrays her? Black. Her track mates are people of color, too. The only empathetic black character in this episode is Harmony, a sex worker, and she is thoroughly objectified by both Sam and the show's writers. I don't think it's intentional, but the image of autism as a white disease causes serious hurt and isolation for black autistic people and their families. The image of Sam's white family being afflicted by intolerant, neurotypical black people is not a good look for the writers.
In the fifth episode of Atypical, "That's My Sweatshirt," Paige overtakes Claire for the most unlikeable character in the show. She seemed quirky and sweet last episode, but as she systematically violates Sam's space and controls him to an abusive degree, she's completely lost me and has taken the crown for the Worst Person on this show. And that's saying something, since the episode caps off with Elsa cheating on her husband, again. Which is still, somehow, autism's fault and not hers.
A core part of the family dynamic on Atypical is that somehow, Sam's autism makes everyone around him's life worse. How, exactly, is unclear. It seems that the mere fact of Sam's autism negatively impacts everyone around him to a degree where any and all terrible behavior is excused and justified. It's a completely toxic dynamic. It's not funny. It's not even sympathetic. It's horrifying. I feel sorry for … Continue Reading ››
In Atypical's fourth episode, "A Nice, Neutral Smell," Sam's Odyssey to date continues. A girl, Paige (Jenna Boyd), shows interest in him! Why exactly is mysterious, since he treats her and other women terribly. She's a little quirky and probably has low self-esteem, so apparently that means they're perfect for each other? Of course, the writers continue to portray Sam's awfulness towards women and girls as some kind of natural extension of his autism. Last time I checked, misogyny isn't part of the diagnostic criteria for autism, although I suppose I should give them props for giving Sam a personality trait beyond an autism symptom checklist, however unintentionally.