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Reposted from coquiero by coquiero

Happy World Autism Awareness Day.  My very first diary in 2009 was for Wold Autism Awareness Day, though I'm pretty sure I missed the actual day.  I've written a diary on April 2nd every year since.  I haven't been very active here lately, but I realized that today is World Autism Awareness Day, and I see no diary on the recent diary list.

I don't want to let this day pass unrecognized on Daily Kos.

So--my burning passion of late has been job training for autistic youth.  Tim Cook of Apple, the company whose existence supports countless youth on the spectrum, is looking to leave his fortune to others, rather than passing it onto family, so I thought I'd take my shot at funding, long though it may be.  Here's a letter to Tim Cook, in honor of World Autism Awareness Day, offered in honor of autistic youth everywhere.

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Reposted from coquiero by coquiero

People have autism.

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Crossposted on Mama's Blog, a blog about parenting a teen on the Autism Spectrum.
Spectrum teens are just like all teens; some of them love to read, some of them like to read, some of them hate to read.  One of my favorite sayings about autism is, "One thing about kids with autism; if you've met one kid on the spectrum--you've met one kid on the spectrum."

Ellie doesn't love to read, and my quest to find reading materials that spark her interest is unending.  The following is my latest adventure on that front.

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Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 05:11 PM PST

Thanksgiving and Autism

by coquiero

Reposted from coquiero by coquiero

The following is a rant.  Not everyone will agree with me.  That is all.


Should an autistic kid sit at the dinner table and engage with the family on Thanksgiving?

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Reposted from XanderMcDonald by coquiero Editor's Note: Parent writing about struggling with safety. -- coquiero

Disclaimer:  I'm not a good writer.  I became disabled due to a stroke-like event 12 years ago.  Despite my best efforts and use of spell-checkers, I skip words, mess up verb tenses and sometimes combine words in weird ways.  

Don't call me "special" or "courageous" or any other BS.  What I am is qualified to talk about is the social injustices that disabled people face.   I am disabled, plus I am a parent to a disabled daughter who is now 22.  I have a younger brother with severe cognitive challenges.   I want to talk about some recent news stories involving disabled girls and women that are truly, truly horrible.  Judging from the lack of diaries I've seen in this subject area, I don't think anyone else is going to write about this.  These women's stories deserve some attention, so I'm going to post the links to their stories  and then I'm going to share a little personal history about why those stories resonate so deeply with me.

The first story is the rape of a 14 year old special needs student at Sparkman Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama where she was coerced into being used as rapebait by school officials.  

The next story is about an 8 year old girl who was tazed by 4 police officers while holding a paring knife.

Another story is about a 18 year old young woman who was gunned down by police while holding a butter knife.  

The final story is about a woman shot and killed by police while holding a hammer.  


Do you think there should be more diaries on KOS about disabled people's struggle for civil rights?

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Reposted from thelittlefyre by FloridaSNMOM

I have a friend, her daughter is a senior at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. I won't give any more identifying info than than for a number of reasons. The situation relates to a teacher currently teaching a "Child development" course there at the school.

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Reposted from Lollardfish by coquiero Editor's Note: Police brutality and disabilities -- coquiero

I have a new piece up on CNN about police killings of people with disabilities. These are situations in which police perceive a threat, there is a weapon involved, and they demand the disabled make a choice.

Don't be disabled, or -
Get shot.

I talk about the four killings, although just as I was filing the piece, it turns out there was another, in Kansas (I write about it here).

On CNN, I write:

In the past two weeks, police have killed at least four people with psychiatric disabilities, each of whom had a weapon. Most recently, police in St. Louis shot Kajieme Powell, killing him just a few miles from Ferguson, Missouri.
Despite the well-reported issues with the video, many people have largely accepted the police account because the words "mental illness" provide a kind of universal justification. It's time to break that justification apart and to start saving some of these lives. I write:
In cases like these, we need to stop talking about mental illness and start thinking through the implications of psychiatric disabilities. We also need police whose first instinct is to de-escalate tense situations whenever and however possible, and, when necessary, solve confrontations with the absolute minimum amount of force.
"Psychiatric disability" refers to mental illness that "significantly interferes with the performance of major life activities," a category that clearly applies to people whose "erratic behavior" got them killed by police.
The distinction matters. In America, being disabled comes with certain civil rights protections. While we generally try to eradicate illness, we are required to accommodate disability. So how does a police officer accommodate someone behaving erratically and holding a knife?
Mostly, they don't. Mostly, they create a situation in which there is no out other than death.

In the piece I talk about Kajieme Powell in Missouri, Michelle Cusseaux in Arizona, Diana Showman in San Jose, and Jeffrey Towe in Sacramento.

Police are trained to seize control of situations and to punish non-compliance with force (I wrote a piece for Al Jazeera on the "cult of compliance," my term for coordinating discrete episodes of police violence). We need to work for new trainings, new approaches, and an emphasis on de-escalation.

I like the accommodation model. It has a strong legal foundation. It has a strong cultural foundation. And ...

There will always be terrible situations in which police must shoot to kill someone struggling with their disability. There could be a lot fewer. Moreover, accommodations for disability tend to have positive ripple effects for the whole population.

Every time an able-bodied person uses an automatic door or wheelchair ramp while pulling a suitcase or stroller, they should thank the Americans with Disabilities Act and the power of accommodations. Similarly, if police will accommodate psychiatric disability by not forcing confrontation whenever possible, we will all be a lot safer.

Thanks for reading. Another death on Saturday. Surely more to come.

UPDATE: Thank you so much for the recs and the shares. It's always an honor to be on the rec-list. I'd love to see you on my facebook page or twitter follows. I'm working hard to build a community of people focused on these issues.


I am a freelance columnist, blogger, long-time member of this site, and history professor. You can read my blog at How Did We Get Into This Mess?

To read more, you could 'like' my public Facebook page.

Or you could follow me on Twitter:

Reposted from JDWolverton by coquiero Editor's Note: More info on UC Davis study on pesticides and autism, plus other relevant studies. -- coquiero

There is a diary published earlier today about autism and a newly published study that links certain pesticides with autism. The diarist also asked if Monsanto still wanted to fund anti-vaxxers in the title of the diary. I'm going to say right now that this diary has nothing to do with vaccines. What got me was the possibility that environmental factors could impact autism incidence and prevalence rates. I have friends, family and students affected by autism. I decided to chase this rabbit down the hole.

It didn't take long for me to find the original study from the UC Davis web site. It's published in a peer reviewed journal called Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP). I skimmed through it and found it to be interesting. It's a step beyond an earlier study done in 2007 that looked at pesticides and neurodevelpmental delays. Then, I thought about the chemicals I have lying around the house and all the studies I'm aware of that link pesticides with negative health outcomes and genotoxicity.

The idea that pesticides are toxic to adults, children and pets; plus cause a lot of unintended consequences (pdf) is as old as DDT. The comment thread on the diary was full of, lets call it, skepticism. It was skeptical of the idea that pesticides could be associated with increased autism incidence rates. The bibliography of the UC Davis study shows this study is only building on the idea that pesticides are associated with multiple neurological and behavioral issues. This study was only another brick in the wall. Being skeptical is one thing, but it became clear to me that no one was looking at the number of peer reviewed studies already published with findings that build a strong case to suspect pesticides as an environmental factor influencing autism.

With Autism incidence rates rising, it's no wonder our government is trying to get a bead on the problem. What I was surprised to find out is how long and how diverse autism research is and that there is much more we need to learn about autism.  

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Reposted from The Fourth Estate by coquiero Editor's Note: UC Davis study about pesticides and autism. -- coquiero

A study performed by the University of California at Davis has found a correlation between exposure to pesticides and autism.

The author of the report suggests that families near agricultural fields being sprayed get their children out of town. The study also found that pregnant women after the first trimester had an increased risk of their infant becoming autistic with the exposure closer to the due date being the most harmful to the fetus.

Organophosphates were the culprit identified. Developed by the Nazis in the 1940's these pesticides have a host of deadly and debilitating consequences when humans(and other critters) are exposed.

Organophosphates kill because they interfere with the nervous system of both insects and humans. They inhibit an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. Under normal conditions, acetylcholinesterase sends chemical signals to halt nerve impulses at appropriate times. When the acetylcholinesterase enzyme is disturbed, neurological overstimulation occurs, leading to nervous system dysfunction, causing seizures and death.

Acute exposure can be observed through symptoms of nausea, twitching, headaches and trembling. Most people die because of an inability to breathe. The diaphragm goes into paralysis, convulsions overtake and death ensues.

Long term exposure to these insecticides produces developmental effects including behavioral problems and receding cognitive function, most notably attention deficit.

Not only do organophosphates disrupt the neurons in the body, but they also wreak havoc on the endocrine system. In time, exposure to these chemicals reduces testosterone levels, eliciting femininity in males. Male fertility may be destroyed altogether.

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Reposted from coquiero by coquiero

Crossposted at Ellie's Blog

Ellie’s sense of perspective, artistically speaking, has always been very good.  From a young age, she could draw two airplanes and you could tell that one was farther from you than the other.  I can’t draw worth a damn, so this ability has always been kind of wondrous to me.

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Reposted from VickiStein by coquiero Editor's Note: A plea from a non-profit benefiting people with disabilites -- coquiero

JOY THROUGH ART.  Remember that name.  JOY. THROUGH. ART.  Essentially, that's all you need to know about this post, until you get to the end.  JOY THROUGH ART.

Art, music, dance and theatre.  Common denominators that enrich our lives, right?  The arts are the essence of who we are and how we view the world. If you have art in your life, you feel love.  The arts, if experienced with passion, vigor and humility, weave a pattern that is flecked with joy and wisdom in the tapestry of our lives.

Love is all you need, and in the purest sense of that phrase, it's true.  Except when you have a cognitive, emotional or physical disability, and some people look at you "funny," and wonder about your impairment.  And ask questions of you, and say awkward things because they don't know what else to say.  Like it or not, that still happens to many people with disabilities.

There's a tiny non-profit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that is trying to change that paradigm.  The name of that non-profit is Arts in Motion, and it's in contention for a $ 25,000 grant through the Joy Through Art proposal from the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program.  There's a contest whereby people vote up to 10x a day on Facebook until May 17 for their favorite non-profit, and the Top 40 organizations will each receive a $ 25,000 grant.  That's a hell of a lot of money for a small non-profit that supports diversity and inclusion for all.  

Vote for Joy Through Art.   You can vote up to 10x each day until Friday.

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Reposted from doug snodgrass by coquiero Editor's Note: dsnodgrass' saga continues with a surprising twist. -- coquiero

As reported by the Press Enterprise and the Associated Press, this story has taken another strange and unexpected twist. Our son, Jesse, filed a lawsuit against Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) about six months ago. Now, TVUSD has filed a cross complaint against Riverside County, and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The rationale is striking and best summarized in paragraph 7 of the Cross Complaint (which can be viewed here).

If it should be found that cross-complainants are liable under the allegations contained in the complaint (which allegations cross-complainants have denied and continue to deny), then cross-complainants are informed and believe, and upon such information and belief allege that the negligent, unlawful and tortious conduct of cross-defendants, and each of them, including any alleged unconstitutional entrapment, search, and seizure, was active, primary and affirmative, and that the conduct of cross-complainants, if any, was passive, secondary and derivative only.

(Emphasis added)

So TVUSD is claiming that if they are found liable, the county and the police should be responsible for paying all of the damages, (as well as TVUSD's attorney fees), because of the sheriff's department's "negligent, unlawful and tortious conduct" and their "unconstitutional entrapment, search, and seizure" of Jesse.

At the same time, their response to Jesse's lawsuit continues to be that he is a drug dealer.

It appears that a few of Riverside's law enforcement community have aired their opinions in the Press Enterprise comment section (which is a common occurrence when the PE reports on this story). Here's the link, feel free to make your voice heard if you wish.

For background, read the Rolling Stone magazine article, The Entrapment of Jesse Snodgrass.
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