So Tory Ridgeway was awarded a Navy ROTC scholarship to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University this spring. He was very excited, hoping to be the first military officer in his family.
But then the Embry-Riddle ROTC program discovered he was autistic. This was not something he had kept hidden—he wrote about it in his application to the school. Maybe they just never actually read his application?
In any case, they have just told him the offer was rescinded, because of his “developmental disorder”—in other words, not because he didn’t meet the qualifications, but simply because he was autistic.
Many autistics have served honorably in the military. Some have spent their whole lives in the service. But presumably they either didn’t know they were on the spectrum or were able to “mask” successfully.
It’s time for more autistic service members to “come out of the closet.” And it’s long past time for the Armed Forces to do the right thing for Tory and all the other young people out there who want to serve their country.
. . . for my two Asian-American daughters. Before I just worried about my black and Latino/a friends. Now I’m worried about my own kids as well. It’s a lesson for me, but one I would just as soon not have to learn.
Information gathered by the government… most especially the police or Justice Department… always ends up being used for punitive purposes…📰🚨🔥🗞️Opinion: Accept Autism. Don’t Register it. — #AutisticAF.me
Good words from JohnnyProfane. Check out his blog at https://autisticaf.me
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?