All posts by Sara Luterman

Autistic Advocates Clash with Autism Parents at Government Committee Meeting

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 ››

Rescinded Guidance from Department of Education Mostly Harmless (This Time)

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 The documents were described by officials to be “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective."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spent much of the weekend scrambling through hundreds of pages of complex policy documents, trying to determine how the rescinded guidance might affect disabled students across the United States.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 ››

After ADAPT Protest at Chicago Office, Rush Remains Silent

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 ››

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against ‘Drop Out Factories for Abandoned Kids’

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 ››

The Good Doctor: Season One, Episode Four

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 ››