#FreeRosa Case Shines a Light on Undocumented and Disabled

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 ››

Stop Using Intellectual Disability as an Insult

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 ››

No One Should be Talking About What’s Best for Me Besides Me

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 ››

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 ››