I’m working on my chapter on employment and housing right now, and I’ve learned that “likeability” is a real Human Resources thing. People interviewing for jobs actually get rated on “likeability.” And according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, this is exacerbated by video interactions. Apparently, during video conferencing, likeability has more impact than persuasive arguments. And of course during the pandemic it’s all video.
How can this be anything but discrimination against people with autism who, by definition, struggle with social interaction?
Most of my stories tend to be a bit grim. But today is different.
There is a family in my town—a single mom and her autistic son. Every week they go to the grocery store and buy bologna from the nice lady at the deli counter, who always talks—to both of them. A few weeks ago, she asked the young man what he wanted for Christmas and he replied “a guitar.”
These are poor people. Chances are, the mom couldn’t afford any presents at all this year, let alone a guitar. And the nice lady at the deli counter was maybe just a little bit better off. She wasn’t going on any shopping spree.
But when the family came into the store this week, there was a gift waiting for them. The deli lady gave the young man her own, well-loved guitar. There is a picture of him, holding it and beaming, in our local paper.
This isn’t inspiration porn. This isn’t a story about benevolence granted from on high to the sad autistic person. This is a story about the true spirit of giving, about poor people, in this year of death and misery, being kind to one another.
For those of you who celebrate this holiday—Merry Christmas!
Which is why I haven’t written in a while.
Younger daughter, who developed lupus two years ago at age 19, had to take steroids for about 18 months to keep her immune system in check. The trouble is, the steroids created other problems. She developed cataracts in her eyes last spring, but we were able get them removed and her sight is now ok. More recently, she developed hip pain, which it turns out is caused by the steroids having killed off the bone in her upper leg. Now waiting to see the specialist, who will tell us whether they can fix this.
Older daughter (my autistic girl) triumphantly graduated from college in August, got herself a job and was doing very well.
And then came Covid. Her boyfriend, who thought the virus was a hoax, brought it home. He was mildly ill for three days. She’s been seriously ill for seven weeks now. (Just a few days ago her fever was 104.5). On Friday she had four hours of testing, to see whether her heart, lungs, or kidneys were seriously damaged. We don’t know when (or if) she’ll be able to go back to work. We don’t know when we’ll be able to see her or give her a hug. It’s been very hard for us, and unbelievably hard for her. But she has always been indefatigable (you can’t keep her down). She’s bounced back from so much. God willing, she’ll bounce back from this too.
According to a recently filed law suit, “L.G.” was handcuffed by a police officer, slammed to the floor, and pinned there for more thanhalf an hour, as he cried and yelled that he was in pain. The officer in question asked him “You ever been charged with a crime before? Well, you’re fixing to be.”
The crime in question? Spitting. Nothing more. Just spitting. In the end there was no arrest, but L.G. was severely traumatized. This event took place in September, 2018, in Statesville, North Carolina.
Oh, and did I mention that L.G. was an autistic 7-year-old? And that he was targeted in his special needs classroom, as two teachers looked on without intervening to help their student?
Hi. As many of you know, a lot of the posts on this blog are part of a book on autism and human rights in the United States that I am close to finishing.
Now I’m starting to spread the word about it (before they even consider your book, publishers want you to have a group of people who are interested in buying or reviewing it already in place . . .)
If you are interested, please go to my author’s website at http:/meganmclaughlinwriting.com and sign up for email updates (I promise there won’t be too many, because that’s annoying, right?)
In Utah, an autistic 13-year-old with severe separation anxiety had a meltdown when his mom had to go back to work. She called the police to help get him to a hospital. She explained that he was autistic. She explained that he was unarmed.
And yet, they marched into the house, ordered him to “get on the ground” (great idea during a meltdown–*sarcasm*) and then shot him multiple times. He’s in the hospital with injuries to his intestines, bladder, should and ankle.
This is what comes of having “warrior” policing. It’s time the police start thinking of themselves as guardians of the people, not warriors. (see Seth Stoughton, “Law Enforcement’s ‘Warrior’ Problem” on the Harvard Law Review Forum). And it’s way past time for the police to learn what a meltdown really is and how to deal with it.
I volunteer as an advocate for parents who need help at IEP meetings. Just sat through a doozy.
First, the district had to exclude the special ed teacher and program director from the meeting because they had been actively harassing the mother.
Then, there was the fact that the mother had never been sent a copy of her son’s latest evaluation, on which this meeting was supposed to be based.
But the final straw was that the school district wanted to place her kid in a separate special ed class, based solely on the fact that he had an IEP. He wasn’t having or making trouble in the regular classroom, and he was learning stuff there. But he had an IEP so he had to go. For those who aren’t familiar with this stuff: that is NOT an adequate reason for moving him. The mom is now getting a lawyer.
Sometimes I just can’t believe the stuff that goes on in our schools.