Where is the Love from Public Servants?

police and autism A few weeks ago, I did my usual news search for articles related to Autism.  I found one article coming out of the Hampton Roads region of Virginia that disturbed me a great deal. It detailed police using a taser on a man with Asperger’s at the very mall I used to frequent with my son.  Closer to home was a bus driver and assistant threatening to harm a child with Autism, one of the very children they were paid to safely transport to and from school. A third article coming out of Minnesota, I believe, discussed a Catholic Priest who obtained a restraining order against the mother of a child with Autism, forbidding her from bringing her son to church. 

It seems the only clear cut issue here was the one concerning the student bus rider.  In the case of the man at the mall, reports indicate that he was “disruptive” and “argumentative” with the staff and posed a threat to the safety of the public.  In this instance, we must try to figure out many facts such as how adversely he was affected by his ASD and how the staff, security, and police force reacted to the rudeness of a customer.  How accountable was the man for his actions and how much of a threat was he really?  Of course the safety of the public is an issue and anyone capable of understanding the laws must obey them but was a law actually broken and was there a threat to anyone’s safety?  I don’t know.

In the third case, I wanted desperately to side with the family barred from church.  I know firsthand how difficult it can be finding a church that can and will accommodate families with special needs children.  In my opinion, churches are supposed to be houses of God and all reasonable accommodations should be made.  After all, don’t families dealing with the special needs of a relative need a little extra support from their religious community?  I know that I never questioned my faith until my son was diagnosed.  Through my child abuse and the disintegration of my family, through the death of my grandparents, through my stepfather’s death after 8 years of sobriety… my faith was strong.  But as my son’s Autism became more apparent and my understanding of society’s apathy and unwillingness to even “see” my son grew, so did my crisis in my faith.  It just seems to me that the people with the biggest challenges need that little extra attention and if they can’t find it in church, what hope is there that they will continue to look for it outside of a House of God?  At the same time, the article mentioned the church’s previous attempts to accommodate the family and the mother’s unwillingness to compromise.  I understand both sides of the issue and I am deeply torn.  But that isn’t what bothers me the most.

Each of these articles had a comments section and in each case there were people who said the most hateful things about the families involved.  Calls for eugenics, abortion, euthanasia, a return of insane asylums (never mind that if the public is unwilling to properly fund the few assisted living facilities in existence with decades long waiting lists they certainly aren’t going want to fund a return to the old institutions), and other horrible “solutions” to the “problem and burden” of disabled children.  I know many of the people were just trolls trying to incite others but to even say many of things, they must have believed them.  And there are people agreeing with the trolls.  Parents of special needs children were accused of “shoving their retard kids down the throats of us normal people” and being “tax burdens” and all of the other Nazi like statements they could think of.

And I can’t help but think these are the majority.  If most of the people commenting on these articles are decidedly against the developmentally disabled population does that mean that the majority of people in society could care less about my son?  Is this what awaits my son when I can’t care for him anymore?  I am actually terrified of growing old and dying because I don’t want to leave my son in this society.  I can’t make society see my son for the wonderful person he is.  If hundreds of years of civil rights movements can’t eradicate racism, how am I supposed to pave the way for my child in my own short lifetime?  I can love and accept my son until the end of time but this alone will not insure his safety and well being in the future.  I feel like there is nothing I can do yet I can’t accept that.

What do you think is our society’s “majority” view of children with special needs?  How do you feel about the actions taken by the police, bus driver, and priest in the articles mentioned above?

 

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0 thoughts on “Where is the Love from Public Servants?

  • May 16, 2011 at 1:33 am
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    “After all, don’t families dealing with the special needs of a relative need a little extra support from their religious community? “

    Does the little extra support they need include a teen girl’s ass pulled onto his lap by the relative who has special needs?  Because that’s one of the things the guy in the church case did in the church.

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  • June 4, 2009 at 12:36 am
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    The comment section on online news articles are always hateful.

    This is not the majority of people.

    These are the people who have no job, sit at home all day, and live in spite of a world that they feel screwed them over. So any chance they get they will tear down others.. If theres an article, they’ll show up to trash it (no matter what its about). These people are trash. Their opinions don’t matter.

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  • June 3, 2009 at 8:19 pm
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    I think people should be more willing to discuss Autism in their children with the people who care and interact with them. In the mall case, you have to side with the cops, I’m assuming they didn’t know he was autistic, or perhaps things would have been handled differently. As for the bus driver, did he know the child was autistic? Without that knowledge I’d assume that a disruptive kids was a disruptive kid, my first assumption wouldn’t be autism.

    People need to be willing to tell the adults in their children’s lives that they have autism without being embarassed or ashamed. I’m sure people who deal with children have some type of training or would react differently if they knew. You have to bring it up before something like this happens, not afterwards.

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  • June 1, 2009 at 11:15 am
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    I think that people with Autism should wear bracelets like people with diabetes so if they are harmed the doctors will know what they are dealing with and the police will know that they are Autistic and do not respond well in situations like being put in handcuffs. This could save a lot of trouble.

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  • May 30, 2009 at 9:42 am
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    I’ve noticed this is also true for the physically handicapped, as well.  And, sadly, cruelty and idiocy even went so far a few years ago that a college student wearing a Batman t-shirt in a town near here was severely beaten by a campus Christian group.  This insanity that is being human really gets me down sometimes, but the older I get, the less afraid I am to stand up for what I believe is right.  People put pressure on each other to conform to this or that, well, we need to draw our lines and put pressure back.  If you see a revolting article about bad behavior, by all means, write a letter to the editor about it.  It’s work to really address issues, and we always hope someone else will do it, but once I got into learning how to address companies about product problems or call 800 numbers with questions (yes, maddening, hang in there), or responding to public observations, it gets easier and easier.  You don’t have to be in an emotional tizzy to be motivated, simply have to believe that what you’re doing is right and will impact others, since you represent all the rest who don’t speak up.  I got a voting location moved to a better place because I called the courthouse after a very ridiculous mess of trying to get out and vote at a high school in the pouring rain and no parking because there was a game and we were solicited by kids for fundraisers right next to the voting booths, and I was stuck in my car near the front door behind a guy with a rifle in his pickup window, which I’m not against, but I believe is illegal within so many feet of the voting area.  All it took was one phone call, and I found out that the voter turnout was way down that night in my area, and they were wondering why….  So I hope this encourages you all to go ahead and make a little time to type out a paragraph or two to mail off, or make a phone call.  Just saying it on blog comments isn’t enough.  =)

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  • May 30, 2009 at 12:52 am
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    People with disabilities are usually looked down on. It’s a pathetic fact but it happens everyday. Be the best you can be and try to make a difference some way.  All of the abuse and other shit won’t mean so much if you just think about yourself. The people that don’t understand and act poorly are the ones that need help. They’re the ones that are small minded and have no real life so they bother other people.  Ignore the idiots and realize that you are above their ignorance.  It takes a lot more to be an honest decent person these days and it doesn’t take much to be a small, petty fool.

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  • May 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm
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    Unfortunately, a lot of people who are developmentally delayed or have other problems are left out to dry by people who I’m convinced are retarded in complacency.  They are always right in what they do and say and don’t have to worry about how anyone else feels or thinks, not even other normal people, let alone the disabled. They don’t have any need for the disabled individual, no joy, no desire. They don’t serve any purpose to them.  I’d say help your child develop a support group or something so that he can carry on with people who understand him and know how to fight the system and these types of individuals who don’t have respect for anyone.    

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  • May 29, 2009 at 1:06 pm
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    I think you should take any comments you find on the Internet with a grain of salt.  I’ve noticed a big difference between attitudes of the people I see on the Internet and the attitudes of people in real life.  Online trolls are cowards, and they just happen to be very vocal.  I think the majority in this case if most likely a silent one.  Of course there will be instances of discrimination… but instances of acceptance and small acts of kindness don’t make headlines, so we probably aren’t getting a very accurate picture of the overall situation.

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  • May 29, 2009 at 11:04 am
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    I don’t need t think about it I know. As someone who has a nephew with Asperger’s and who has Tourette’s syndrome I know how cruel and stupid people can be.

    Unfortunetly, the vast majority of people would rather brush off and ignore people who have handicaps, bith big and small, and treat them as some lower form of existance. They would just as soon believe very wrong steretypical representations of what many disabilities are.

    All you have to do is search youtube or search google and you will get a never ending river of stupid thrown into your face. People are cruel and are quite happy being that way. This makes people like you and me who advocate for equal rights, jobs much harder.

    Sure we can “preach”, hand out info, and generally advocate all we want, but if people are unwilling to listen then what happens then? I know first hand that people making assumptions about what you “suffer” from can lead to one very lonely existance. People would rather abandone you than stick by your side and that alone is what makes all of this such an uphill battle for us all.

    The actuons taken by the police, bus driver, and priest are completely unacceptable and the should be reprimanded as such. These people are paid to protect and serve everyone and as such they should do so.

    Reply

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