All posts by Sarah Pripas Kapit

First Openly Autistic Woman Elected to Public Office

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 ››

Lindt Breaks with Autism Speaks

Chocoholics have reason to celebrate this April. The chocolate company Lindt is no longer supporting Autism Speaks. On March 30, Lindt USA responded on Twitter to concerned activist @lechatsavant. When asked about supporting Autism Speaks, Lindt tweeted: “Hi there. This year, Lindt USA has decided to move in a different direction with our Easter program. Thank you.” The company has not otherwise commented on the shift. Its website currently makes no mention of autism or Autism Speaks. While Autism Speaks’ official website still lists Lindt as a partner, that possibly refers to the company’s past support of the organization. This represents a welcome change from years past. Since 2009, Lindt has partnered with Autism Speaks during the month of April through its Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction. The coincidence of Autism Awareness Month with Easter enabled the fundraiser. In previous years, between 60 and 90 celebrities signed Lindt’s signature GOLD … Continue Reading ››

Trump Department of Labor Pick Will Not Oppose Subminimum Wage

For disability rights activists concerned with the subminimum wage, a critical moment happened during the March 22 confirmation hearing for R. Alexander Acosta, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) questioned Acosta about the subminimum wage. According to Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers can pay employees with disabilities an hourly wage that is well below the national minimum wage. These work arrangements are commonly referred to as sheltered workshops. While Hassan’s question was encouraging, Acosta’s response was decidedly less so. Acosta stated that he supports the right of individual states (such as New Hampshire, where Hassan served as governor from 2013 to 2016) to implement measures that eliminate the subminimum wage. However, Acosta indicated that he will not steps to eliminate the subminimum wage on a national scale. Acosta defended the subminimum wage. He stated, “I think this is a very … Continue Reading ››