Monthly Archives: June 2014

Comments Off on African American Journalist – Roland Martin Tells DFLers The Truth About Their Racial Inequalities Everywhere – I Love it!

Alright, so how exactly does this relate to autism. Well, it does because those same elected officials who refuse to hire Black political consultants, share grants, share resources and so much more are the same heartless blood sucking DFL politicians who are in charge of autism related departments, agencies and providers in Minnesota and Nationwide. Did you know that U.S HHS has zero Black person in charge of any agency within HHS, not counting usually powerless and broke civil rights or office of minority health. Yet, Black Americans suffer with so much racial health disparity, isn’t that sad.

If we just concentrate in Minnesota – MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) has so many assistant commissioners – zero are Black. Their child and maternal health department where autism falls under – less than 10 are Black out of over 120. Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has so many legislative liaisons who keep an eye and an ear in state health policies – zero are Black. Governor Dayton’s commissioners of over two dozen, only one is Black and his agency MDHR (Minn dept of human rights) is under-funded, over-whelmed and doesn’t even have their own building. I think MDH gave them a floor (probably next to the dumpster) in one of the many MDH buildings. MN DEED – the agency in charge of economics and employment in Minnesota has zero Black assistant commissioners or even one Black person in charge of anything meaningful, yet MN has the largest employment gap between White and Black workers in the country. Imagine that level of out of touch in Dayton’s administration.

Out of the hundreds of millions of dollars MN and especially Minneapolis award in government contracts – less than 1% goes into minority owned businesses. Yet Blacks and other minorities keep voting for DLFers. Why the heck is that. Isn’t insanity doing the same thing and expecting different results. Reid would rather give endless speech about some football team’s name than hire Black policy advisers and management in his office. Franken would rather lecture us at Somali day (thanks to Ka Joog toddlers) than hire our extremely talented Somalis in his office as policy aides and management. Thissen would rather preach us at making $10.00 hour rather than fix our schools that fail Black kids at an embarrassing rate. Bakk would rather pretend he does not see minority racial gaps than actually write uplifting policy legislations.

Dayton and heartless hammer Smith would rather pretend we have amnesia and show up in Somali events than hire Somali policy folks, management, change disparity policies and actually govern fairly by leveling the opportunity field. Ellison & Klobuchar would rather keep our talented Somalis at a constituent outreach positions for years because they think that is all we are good for and we let them make a fool of us.

You see folks – this is our fault because we keep electing the same politicians who have failed our communities, our children and our families. Why do we do it? Ask yourself – would you rehire a bad employee? If you said no. Then why are you voting for a bad politicians who only remembers you during elections and flips you when he/she wins?

Remember when Kanye W said about the very liberal and ever welcoming fashion industry – he looked around one day and said to himself “no one looks like me and the two that do are as quiet as crap”. Minnesota state legislator has less than 10 minority legislators and only three are Black out of hundreds. Those three sadly are either quite and never stand up for our issues or just go along with the racial inequality policies that Caucasian MN DFLers are known for writing. I have always wondered why that was. Another example, why doesn’t President Obama does not hire more Blacks in a position of power. Remember during the start of his 2nd term – he initially hired all White male for his cabinet and in one picture it showed all of them and I think Valerie Jarrett’s leg or something. And, all of the White liberal media that is ever welcoming kept reporting – where are the minorities and women in this administration. Then he started hiring women including Janet Yellen Chair of Federal Reserve Bank but hardly any Blacks were nominated. Even CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) wrote a letter to him and Rep Rangel said it was embarrassing. Yet, The president still did not hire people from his most loyal voters. I have always wondered why that was. Let me put this in a gentle friendly manner to our President – imagine if there was a woman police chief in a big city, yet high number of women were being assaulted and harassed. And, when women asked her to fix this problem – her sole response was “well I am a woman and I am at the top that is good enough for all women”. You being our first Black president is simply no longer good enough. You have to listen to your loyal voters that most likely put you in office. For example, instead of concentrating on immigration issues this year, concentrate U.S. born Americans having racial health, education and economic disparities. Instead of just creating my brother’s keeper – push racial equality policies for young African American men whose future is very dismal.

No, I am not going to contact the White House and ask them these questions, God knows I have bothered them enough about autism. But, as a Black woman who supported Mr. Obama and even campaigned for him as far away as IN and PA – I must say, I am a little disappointed because if a woman ever became a president (hopefully not Hillary) – I know she would be grateful to women voters and appoint them to many high positions. I think loyalty should be very important to politicians and for some reason – it is not for MN DFLers and many nationwide DFLers even though Blacks vote for them overwhelmingly. I think we must change our voting pattern or racial disparity will never get eliminated.


If I may in Obama’s defense when he came to MN last week and met a woman who wrote him a letter, I once wrote to him during his first term and actually
got a letter in response. So, I know he reads letters sent to him. I also wrote to Speaker Boehner once and got a response letter from him as well. I am not sure how a rookie autism advocate does that, but it happened. Of course, they both highlighted what they have done for autism.

Here is Roland’s fantastic piece on how DFLers take Black/minority votes for granted.

Has President Obama done enough for his loyal voters.

Here is the letter by CBC.

Here is the piece by Rep Rangel.

Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.


Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on MN State Medicaid Agency (DHS) Releases 1915i Autism Benefit for Public Comment

Alright, so this is probably one of my proudest accomplishments. And, while I don’t want to brag or anything but if I were a Caucasian autism mom – this benefit would have been named after me.

Anyway, at this point – I am just glad it is real and is happening.  To give some background history – Autism benefit is simply autism therapy for children up to 18 years of age that have a diagnoses of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Minnesota’s autism Early Intensive Development and Behavioral Intervention (EIDBI) will be available to all eligible children receiving Medical Assistance coverage through fee-for-service and managed care. (fee for service – FFS is Medicaid/MA whereby the parent pays a fee based on their income. MCO is Managed care such as Ucare, Medica, Health Partners, etc and is usually offered to low income families)

Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Taylor; well I called myself the Elizabeth Taylor of ABA therapy. I have been divorced, bullied and belittled by so many of them. The one that really woke me up was in 2009 when an ABA provider told me when my son was 5 years old, he was too old for autism therapy. Then said he can’t be cured from autism. I remember I went into my car afterwards and cried like I have never cried in my entire life. Imagine hearing those words of there is no hope for your child. No parent should be told such cruel, in-humane and wrong words. 

I remember after I had no more tears saying to myself – I don’t know how I am going to do this, but I will drink lots of Somali tea to get energized and I will make sure no other child’s dreams are crushed and no other mother is devastated this way. Every child deserves equal opportunity to learn and progress. Every child has potential to reach their best outcome and their God given full potential.  

Well – that day is finally here. I have advocated high and low, wide and narrow for this new DHS autism therapy coverage which has so many good measures – I feel like finally relaxing. There is no other autism therapy coverage like it in the country thus far. Here are some simple benefits of this:

  1. No more – Will an ABA provider ever tell an autism parent – it is their way or the highway.
  2. No more – will an ABA provider tell an autism parent – they can’t cure their child’s autism. Instead each and every child will be treated to reach their full potential. And, there is no cure for autism anyway.
  3. No more – will an ABA provider discharge a Somali autism parent because they could not understand the training and had no interpreter. The child and family’s primary spoken language, culture and values must be considered throughout the diagnosis, CMDE, individual service plan (ISP) and individual treatment plan (ITP) development, progress monitoring, parent education and support services and coordination of care. A language interpreter must be provided when needed.  
  4. No more – will an ABA provider do one size fits all therapy. It will now be individually tailored and culturally appropriate. This means if you don’t want your child to learn xyz skill based in your culture, the provider can’t retaliate against you.
  5. No more – will an ABA provider do their own assessment and diagnoses. Eligibility for the State plan HCBS benefit must be determined through an independent evaluation of each individual. Independent evaluations/re-evaluations will be used to determine whether applicants are eligible for the State plan HCBS benefit. 
  6. No more – will an ABA provider tell an autism parent to take their child out of school, speech or other therapies or they will discharge you. Now collaboration is a must.
  7. No more – will an ABA provider confuse you. Now we can ask for a care coordinator to help parents with the complex autism services and therapies their child will need.
  8. No more – will an ABA provider say only ABA works. Now you can get much needed other therapies such as speech, occupational therapy, developmental therapies, etc.
  9. DHS will monitor and implement changes as needed through both a system improvement process and coverage with evidence development process established through learning collaborative described in the quality improvement plan. This means we will change and grow as more autism intervention research is done and improved.
  10. No more – will an ABA provider bully an autism parent – now there is a process for parents to make their concerns addressed.

In sum, I am ecstatic about this benefit. The 30 day public comment ends on July 2nd, 2014 if you want to submit your comments to DHS. Then DHS evaluates comments rec’d and they submit the application to Federal government agency – CMS (Center for Medicaid and Medicare) which has around 90 days to respond. Personally, I have a good gut feeling that CMS will approve MN autism benefit application fairly quickly. I must say initially I was worried that managed care insurance companies that cover low income ASD families might pay less or have more strict rules which will for sure make autism providers not take MCO kids. But, DHS has assured me FFS and MCO fees, rates and rules will be the same and will be monitored for any unequal access. Therefore, I have zero concern about this autism therapy coverage.


I also really want to thank on the record DHS Commissioner Jesson, Deputy Commissioner Anne B, Asst Commissioner Colman, Director of Disability dept Alex B and Anne Harrington who has been the wind beneath my wings for so many years. Thank you all very very much! Plus DHS’s legislative folks @ Continuing Care dept whom God knows I have asked (ok, harassed) so many questions more times than I can count. Finally, I like to thank Regina prev deputy asst mental health commissioner who worked very hard in MN considering 1915i which has no cap vs 1915c which has a cap and is what WI has. I initially thought we should get 1915c and do what WI is doing for their autism families, but Regina convinced everyone otherwise and I am glad because I would hate for any child to be on a wait list for early intervention therapy. 

Here is the full language of the new autism therapy benefit by MN DHS
. (it is around 50 pages long and has lots of autism policy language, but if you are an ASD parent – it will feel like reading an interesting novel)


Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.




Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Category: Autism Policy

Comments Off on MN Speaker Thissen Not Speaking For All Minnesotans – Let’s Vote Him Out in 2014

Alright, so Speaker of Minnesota House of Representatives – Rep Paul Thissen is a lot of things, but stupid is not one of them. Thissen who represents Minneapolis district 61-B has smartly figured out how to feed us empty words and promises while he never actually addresses our issues.

For example, back in 2010 at the heels of Minnesota department of health’s Somali autism study which stated Somali born preschool kids in Minneapolis school district having an administrative rate of autism up to seven times higher than the general population – Thissen still voted for HF 359 which wanted to leave therapy and support for low income & minority autism families. From what I can remember, Thissen was mad at me during the 2010 conference committee negotiations because we were able to convince then Sen Berglin to take HF 359 out of the health and human services omnibus bill since it was unfair and unequal. Thissen was in that conference committee, then he got more mad when we got media attention to their inequality because a bias MN DFLer always wants to keep their disparity policies under the table.

Thissen always comes to African American functions at the state capitol preaching how he is for diversity and reducing racial disparities, but if you look at his voting record that is simply empty words. Thissen is very good at making worthless promises and we unfortunately drink his words like it is holy water.

I remember him coming to Council of Black Minnesotans day at the state capitol and preaching the minimum wage speech. Of course, I had my little usual poster protesting in front of him for his failed autism policies which pissed him off and anytime I can piss off some arrogant politician is a good day for me. Now, in terms of raising the minimum wage – the words sound good because everyone should make a living wage but the problem is, it does not address Minnesota’s persistent economic and employment racial gap. In other words, a rising tide does not lift all boats. A minority person must first be inside the boat for the tide to lift them. And, based on research after research and stats after stats – Minnesota while non-minorities are doing well – its minority citizens not so much.

Therefore, Thissen needed to pass specific legislations to address this, but he just gives us useless speeches and calls it a day. For example, this year the state legislature passed a really good uplifting women’s bill HF-2536/SF-2050. If you look at what his legislation will do for Minnesota women is fantastic. It will level the economic playing field and encourage women to enter high paying employment fields, assure equal pay for equal work, etc. As a woman and as a mom – I supported this bill.

By the same token, there was nothing similar uplifting minority legislation especially African Americans in Minnesota who seem to have the worst statistic in every category from health to education to employment to home-ownership. Imagine if Thissen actually practiced his words and pushed similar legislation of Minority economic & employment act where minorities would have similar resources to learn, improve and prosper in their lives. Imagine that and because it did not happen and will never happen because we in the Black community never bargain with our votes. We vote for people like Thissen then wonder why our communities are not doing well. I think it is because people like Thissen take our votes for granted. They know that irrespective of their policies – they will always have the Black vote. On the other hand, women bargain with their votes by saying in the words of Janet Jackson’s song – what have you done for me lately?

To make matters worse, extremely bias reporters like Mpls Tribune’s Rachel S only tell us how good politicians like Thissen or Bakk for that matter are and we believe it with no policy to back it up. Remember When Stassen wrote this story and started with “Leaning his lanky frame over his office table, the tip of his tongue resting lightly on his upper lip”. I am sorry, but if I want to know where a man’s tongue is resting – I rather read fifty shades of grey. I mean seriously – was this suppose to be a romance novel or a political story. Who gives a rat’s you know what where Thissen’s tongue rests – really. Not the average Minnesotan.

Now, as you know media shapes messages and once you shaped policy messages then you have influenced policies and voter’s minds. Don’t lose hope though because Minneapolis Star Tribune has just been bought by Glen Taylor – a Republican. Yay! This means political stories will no longer be romance stories, rather they will be based on facts and political policies. On a somewhat related story, I remember when Abdi Warsame was a candidate and as you know by now I think Warsame’s story is compelling – to recently come to the U.S yet have so much inside clout in American politics. At any rate, I remember contacting the Tribune and MPR asking their editors to cover Warsame’s story in a depth manner. I remember the MPR President told me their usual script of we have good reporters and they do a good job, blah blah. I think I gave him an example of a reporter being born and raised in Alaska writing about the weather in Miami. Unless you walked on Miami beaches, sat on the sand and felt Miami’s Ocean breeze – you can’t really do justice in your story. Therefore, MPR and Mpls Star Tribune need to hire reporters of color so that our stories can be told from our lenses which then will shape policies affecting our communities.

< font style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 17.25px; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">If you are thinking didn’t the Tribune helped us with so many Somali autism stories. Yes, and I am very grateful to their health reporter whom I call a friend and an amazing journalist. And, in the interest of fairness MPR health reporter is amazing as well.

From what I hear – Mr. Taylor is fair minded and hopefully will hire minority political reporters. Here is a take on his views or as the Minnpost reporter put it “less liberal Tribune a head”. I say awesome to that! Related note – Minnpost in my humble little opinion will always be liberal since it gets heavy funding from Gov Dayton’s ex wife – Alida heir to Rockefeller and support from Sen Amy K’s dad. You see how a reporter’s story can be shaped by who owns or runs them. Hence, the need for more minority owned media and journalists or our story will never be told from our lenses and our views – period.

Above words do not reflect any agency, candidate or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on Ka Joog – Ka Jooga Dhaqan Xumada – Really

Alright, so – today was the celebration of the independence of Somalia (Soomaaliya). To give a brief history of Somalia – we were divided into five sections during the colonization of Africa, hence the blue flag with the five stars. South Somalia became independent from Italy on July 1st 1960, North Somalia from England on June 26th 1960, DJibouti got its independence from France in 1977, but decided to not merge with South & North Somalia.

As a result and as its custom & tradition, Somalis in Mpls celebrate Somali independence day usually between the two dates – but since Ramadan is coming – the Confederation Somali Community of Minnesota decided to hold it this year today, June 21, 2014. CSCM also decided to give the preparation of the event to a new youth Somali organization named Ka Joog. Now, Ka Joog does a fairly good job in addressing youth issues and ensuring our young kids stay on the right path to life.

Staying on the right path also involves learning our culture, our dhaqan, is ixtiraanka, in la xushmeeyo dadka kaa wayn iyo in howlaha Soomaaliyeed mar walba laga hormariyo arrimaha kale. Today Ka Joog failed this miserably. They decided that autism was not an important topic to be discussed on Somali day. Their reason – autism was not on the schedule even though Noor invited me to come and talk about autism. How can I put this diplomatically, let me see – I looked at my schedule and what do you know – my son having autism was not on my “schedule”. We all make lemonade in whatever life ball or curve we are thrown at. Autism was not any parent’s “schedule”, but we are dealing with it and the ignorance of this group to ignore such a devastating medical disorder in our community is both sad and unfortunate. My guess is at the rate this medical condition is hitting us, they too will have a child with autism who would not be on their “schedule”. My advice to Ka Joog is ka jooga kibirka, dhaqan xummada iyo isla waynaanta. Aduunka waa la’idinka soo horeeyay – ixtiraama your elders. You might learn something!

Noor – loses my vote of confidence:

Mohamud Noor who is challenging Rep Kahn for District 60B is also the director of Confederation Somali Community of Minnesota (CSCM). He hired Ka Joog (village idiots-not a typo) on behalf of Somali community of Minnesota to organize the Somali independence day of 2014. Yet, he could not be decisive today and tell these clueless young Somalis that 1 in every 32 Somali children in Minnesota has autism. Autism is hitting harder in our children and it is critically important to talk about Autism on Somali day.

You see Mr. Noor – Minnesota State Capitol will have bigger and sharper sharks and one must be decisive and always choose the needs of his/her constituents. You have failed this today. You should have told Ka Joog in ay ka joogaan dismissing autism which Somalis have the highest in Minnesota. In other words, if you can’t make the right decision in something so simple and so necessary with Ka Joog – how will you make real decisions at the MN State Capitol. I am sorry, but we need an elected official with a backbone and a spine who will make hard decisions even if they are not popular or nice. Now, you can say a lot of things about Rep Kahn – but she does not lack a backbone. In fact, before she was a state representative – she stood up for women’s rights at UMN. Don’t get me wrong – Rep Kahn has voted against everything autism and I can’t support her, but at least I know where she stands. With you – it is hard because you want to be BFF with everyone even with useless Ka Joog kids who clearly aan ka joogin dhaqan xumada, fahansanayna in Somali day ay ku saabsan tahay Somalis.

Furthermore, Sen Cohen is still a board member of CSCM while Cismaan Sheikh was kicked out. How can that possibly be. First, whatever Mr Cismaan does in his private time is his business and while I don’t agree with his decision to support Rep Kahn – that is his prerogative. By the same token, Sen Cohen is the chair of the full Finance committee in Minnesota Senate – yet CSCM is broke and on thin ice. Every legislation with a funding attached to it in the state goes through Sen Cohen’s committee. In other words, if he is not helping Somali community – why is he on the board. Why not kick him out if Cismaan Sheikh can be kicked out. Isn’t that double standard.

Therefore, as a Somali mom and advocate, I have lost any confidence I had in your ability to fight for our cause when it might not be popular or nice.

Here is the state supplemental bill – notice how there is nothing for CSCM. Yet, Sen Cohen who is in charge of the state finance committee is still on our board. Are you folks kidding me? Oh, and Sen Cohen voted against the amendment by Sen Benson to save the MN Autism task force, how nice. Here is my post on saving the MN Autism task force despite Sen Cohen voting against us on the Senate floor – we prevailed in conference committee.

Also, notice autism appropriations from line 156 which included MN state autism website, training autism providers in Somali culture as well as other minority cultures and autism respite grants for families that are tired and overwhelmed in which we were able to advocate without the usual support we would get from previous Somali community director Dr. Fahia whom you have replaced.

Mr. Noor – if you want to lead our community then you must lead from the front and make tough decisions without blinking or being afraid you might offend some village idiot.

Above words do not reflect any agency, committee or candidate.


Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on Franken & Dayton Lead in Minnesota New Poll – Dissatisfied Minnesota Minorities Can Change That and Vote Them OUT

A recent poll stated Dayton and Franken have a slight and hopefully a shrinking lead. This means they are completely counting on the minority vote while ignoring their issues and concerns. Think about it. 

Alright, so it is election year again and you know how – that is when MN DFLers pretend to care and learn few Somali words and show up in our restaurants, businesses and communities. And, we are suppose to have amnesia and forget about their policies of health disparity,  Commissioner of Minnesota department of health, Dr. Ehlinger stated structural racism is partly to blame for this persistent and chronic health disparity, yet MDH does meaningless annual needs assessment including for children with special health care needs, such as autism and nothing ever changes. Why is that? Quite frankly, if one more person from MDH tells me they are doing a useless needs assessment – I am going to scream. MDH does not change policy, leadership or outreach so how exactly is disparity going to decrease. Let me guess by magic or better yet one more MN DFLer coming to our community and preaching how they are going to change it this time. Negro please. Commissioner Ehlinger you said “State Health Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger says part of the blame can be laid at the feet of “structural racism,” which, he said, all Minnesotans must confront in order to bridge the gap, “Everybody is damaged by health disparities”. If you mean those words then start holding child and maternal leadership accountable for their failures and please fire them. Come on – you can’t preach equality while CMH practices inequality. For autism – they have done nothing significant. 

Education wide gap, embarrassing city/state minority contracts, highest employment gap between Whites and Blacks. By the way, take a read of how many minority leadership persons are with MN DEED – you know the agency in charge of employment. In sum, Minnesota has some of the worst gaps between Whites and Blacks, especially in Minneapolis. And, most of those areas doing bad are run by MN DFLers. Therefore, they take our votes for granted and it is time to kick them out of office and vote them out. 

In addition, during elections is when Take Action Minnesota pretends to be inclusive (George Wallace was more inclusive then them – really) and partners with MN DFLers telling us – MN GOP want to ask minority voters ID. Yet, when MN DFLers ask Somalis to cough up voter ID’s during Kahn/Noor Caucus – well that was needed to proof residence. Really, the audacity and the level of hypocrisy would be too funny, if it wasn’t all true.

Now, we can be stupid and vote for Dayton and Franken again by buying more empty words, useless promises that will never become fruits or we can make a different choice this year. Fool me one election cycle – shame on you. Fool us every election cycle – shame on us.  Dayton and Franken CAN NOT win without Minnesota minority votes – period. MN DFL chair who can sell water to a drowning minority person knows that very well.

During Dayton’s last four years of governing Minnesota – he has done very little to uplift minority disparities – in fact it has gotten worse under his administration. He eliminated any chance of improving the horrible education gap between white and black students.  In 2012, a bill to repeal the seniority-only provision was passed by the House and the Senate. It was known as the “LIFO” bill, which stood for “last in, first out” — also known as last hired, first fired. The bill, which had support from education-reform advocates statewide, was vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. See that post here:  By the same token, Jeff Johnson said this about MN education gap and he can fix it by putting students first not over-rated teachers who suspend black students and underachieve our kids. 

Dayton’s running mate, Tina Smith is the previous chief of staff for Mpls Mayor RT in which she left the city having some of the worst racial disparities in the country and now we want her to make all of Minnesota to have similar racial disparity. In city hall – Smith was called velvet hammer, in state capitol – I call her heartless hammer who rules with an iron fist. Why would we want that for number two person to Dayton. Ask yourself, especially if you are Black or Brown. 

By the same token – Jeff Johnson will not delegate your issues to any heartless hammer, he will tell you what he will and will not do himself. Jeff will level the playing field and assure opportunities are equal. He is compassionate, caring, considerate and conservative. What more could we ask, he believes we are in this together.

During Dayton’s state of the state speech, we were told to praise the MN DFLer’s legislative achievements. I am sorry, but MN DFLers did not even approve one single legislation from the Council of Black Minnesotans. See for yourself which of those so called achievements have benefited Black Minnesotans. In fact, out of the 12 legislations recommended by Council of Black Minnesotans
last session – guess how many actually passed committees, floors and signed by Gov Dayton? Zero, zilch, zippity and nothing. But we want to vote for him again. Come on folks – you can’t be serious.

In other words, not only was there almost zero for the broke African American museum or the struggling Somali American community center in Brian Coyle, but a recent study stated – city of Mpls minority and women owned businesses contracts have decreased. How lovely. Come on – we can’t vote for the same person and somehow expect different results or policies. It ain’t going to happen. When Dayton was a candidate, he promised Somali autism research that looks into a cause and that has NOT happened at all. Take a read below.

Mark’s Pledge to the Somali Community:

Mark will work with Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to speed up the family reunion process, helping families splintered by war and the refugee crisis to reunite.

Mark will work with the Congressional delegation to ensure that Green Card and Citizenship applications are processed quickly and fairly.

Mark knows that Somali Minnesotans are struggling to find good-paying jobs in this tough economy. He will stand up for economic justice and work to ensure that Somalis have access to state job-training initiatives.

Mark is alarmed by the Minnesota Department of Health’s findings that autism is seven times more prevalent in the Somali community than in other communities. As Governor, he will charge the Department to work with the Somali community, public health experts, and researchers to find the reasons for that disparity and how to overcome it.

Jeff Johnson is the better choice. His plans are real and he is real. What you see is what you get. No election gimmicks and no taking our votes for granted. He can change our horrible disparity that has become our last name here with tangible policies that will produce results. Jeff came to our Somali autism event this year and promised to do autism research. We believe him!

Regarding Sen. Franken – well where shall we start. I am not even sure how his polls can be high at all. Remember how close Sen. Coleman was to our community. He was the first person to write letters and contact NIH, CDC and Gov Pawlenty regarding Somali autism. Franken – oh lord have mercy – talking to Alana is like pulling your teeth without Novocain. It is excruciatingly painful. If you look at Thomas and put Franken’s name to see which legislations he authored  that became law or policies – you will see a toddler would have had more success in Congress. After six years of silence and leading from behind – Franken has accomplished one thing. He can take his SNL comedian hat off and sit in committees especially the HELP (health, education, labor and pension) committee quietly. Franken has refused to hire any Somali policy aide even though I alone sent quite few to his office. They always managed to say “you are not qualified even with master’s degrees – yet hire clueless non-minority folks”. He has zero person of color in a higher position advising him on any policy.

Franken has refused and stayed quite to help and support the neglected HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) by the current Dept of Education Secretary Duncan. By the same token, the Koch brothers have donated $25 million to HBCU’s. Imagine that, A mind is a terrible thing to waste – indeed. 

His rivals are many and I support Rep Abeler who will lead from the front, has abundant health care solutions, education issues ideas and is truly a man of the common person from main street – not Hollywood blvd. Abeler is the reason we will have an equal autism therapy benefit. He started that ball with MN DHS by telling them to come up with a plan that covered everyone rich/poor, black/white – all autistic kids under Medicaid when he was the chair of health and human services finance cmte. This is why HSAC was asked to come up with a plan and DHS is now applying this plan of 1915i autism therapy coverage with CMS (Center for Medicaid and Medicare). Abeler will stand for the little guy against any big company or agency. See that here:

In other words, while Franken might have the big bucks, Abeler has the big ideas and a bigger heart filled with solutions, ideas and a humble personality to back it up. So, ask yourself do you want a SNL (Saturday Night Live) comedian where no Somali is good enough to work for to represent us or do you want a proven legislator with a medical background to lead us? Ask yourself and VOTE FRANKEN OUT.

You see, Dayton and Franken have failed Minnesota minorities and if we vote for them again we are saying – we like being at the bottom of every pit. It is time for a better change that is driven by ideas not worthless campaign words. Vote wisely please!

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on CARA Changed to Autism CARES Act in Congress and Moves Along

Alright, so Combating Autism Reauthorization Act introduced initially in Congress 2006 and reauthorized in 2011 and introduced again by Congressman Smith (NJ-R) this year has been renamed to Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act on June 10th via an amendment by Congressman Upton (MI-R).  

As it is usual with all things autism, after CARA reauth HR 4631 was introduced – many autism advocates protested the name and some of the language. Many adults with autism who advocate for themselves stated the word combat was meant to combat them. And wrote many many many blogs and letters to Congress. On the other side of those that believe autism is caused by an environmental factors also protested and blogged high and low asking for more accountability and more environment research. Hence, the amendment and the language change of the current version of HR 4631. The new version also asks Sec of HHS to choose someone within HHS to oversee Federal autism issues which I think is a good idea, but doesn’t OARC already do that. 
The Senate also introduced a similar bill S-2449 by Sen Menendez (NJ-D) and Sen Enzi (WY-R).
In a nutshell, what this means is if you advocate hard enough – changes can happen and that is what makes this country the hope of humanity where democracy prevails. The cool and different thing in this is different advocacy agencies or folks can disagree fiercely and still manage to function normally if they happen to be in a committee. In other words, they can chew gum and walk at the same-time. By the same token, in hillbilly-land Minnesota that is not the case. It is very hard for autism advocacy people here to separate views and ideas on some areas while working together on other areas. I call that Minnesota nice – sorry, I meant Minnesota passive aggressive in a hillbilly kind of way. Just sayin my observations. 
In a related interesting op-ed was written by Congressman Posey from (FL-R) who from what I can tell in his view is a little confused about autism in general or HR-4631. As a huge supporter of Dr. Insel – Director of NIMH and Chair of IACC – I can’t remember when Dr. Insel has ever said he is stretched too thin to address autism. In fact, I have seen Dr. Insel listen and validate everyone in the autism community including those that disagree with him. Anyway, I thought that was interesting for a member of Congress to take such position. Usually, Congress members try to not take sides in the autism community as that is never a winning strategy. 
Now, let me state my view from an African American autism mom regarding the new amendment. I think it all looks good and if you advocate hard enough, your issues will get addressed. And, I applaud those that advocated for their concerns. What I am frustrated about is the lack of national minority advocates. Yes, I know I am a minority on IACC and have advocated on some national minority issues, but I am just a mom after all. Where the heck is Congressional Black Caucus or the Hispanic Caucus in this? They are missing in action. Imagine if this new amendment also included specific language in decreasing autism disparity in diagnoses and treatment for minority ASD children and adults. Imagine if this amendment or another one addressed the cost of autism disparity and how HRSA seems to be moving very slowly and unproductive. HRSA – Health Resources & Services Administration is the agency within HHS to assure all families are aware and understand services and available resources. It is easier to walk needles on fire than to advocate at HRSA. I kid you not. 
Imagine if GAO (Government Accountability Office) was asked by CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) to look into autism disparity and come up with ways of reducing disparity cost and more effective equal access to care and services. Imagine if Congressman Cummings, Davis, etc actually wrote policies to decrease autism disparity instead of putting on a good show in committees and saying blah blah. Oh please, I know Cummings is a civil rights icon from the 60’s but in this century – it is policies that make a difference not just protesting. I get it, we stand on the shoulders of people like him who fought for equal rights for Blacks and other minorities, but I have contacted his office more times than I can count and they only refer to his civil rights days. Instead they (his health policy advisers) need to write different and better health disparity reducing policies and assure it passes in Congress – period. And, all I can get from Rep Davis’s health policy staff is blah blah and more blah. 
I suppose if we look at the glass half full, IACC can add specific disparity reduction research into their objectives rather than just updating them, I think we should change the objectives to reflect today’s autism needs. For instance, an objective of looking into why autism diagnoses and treatment is years late for racial minority kids then coming up with recommendations would be very helpful. I hope Dr. Mandell is funded for this – I think he is fantastic or as I like to call him Dr. Mandastik!
Anyway, no I will not be advocating for these items as fun as they sound, my state and national advocacy levels are winding down as that was never my plan to stay in this forever. 
It is worth noting that two Congressmen Ellison and Peterson (who is a member of ACC (Autism Congressional Caucus) have co-sponsored HF-4631 and I had nothing to with it this time which is awesome. On the other hand, Sen. Franken and Sen Amy K are still sleeping at the wheel of autism including in the Somali community. Personally, I support the new language of this bill and I would encourage those advocating to contact Rep Cantor to put it on the house floor for votes and Sen Harkin to move the senate version faster, then Reed has to put on the schedule for Senate floor vote and President Obama has to sign it. It can seem a lot, but all of these offices are aware of this legislation and my feeling is – it will move through Congress quickly and signed by the President before the deadline of Sept 30th 2014. 
Now, there are a few autism bloggers and advocates who are still against this bill, they don’t also have a different version or language – in fact I think everyone except minority autism families got what they wanted or at least some of what they wanted. Anyway, such is autism life – never agree on most things. 
Update: It looks like S-2449 has more co-authors including Sen Franken (MN-D). My guess is they are feeling the heat of needing MN autism votes especially those from the Somali community. I say it is a little too late and too lame. If Franken really cared about autism in our community as he has been saying around Somali shops – then he should add autism research that looks in cause when different ethnic communities are impacted more. He could also add more inclusive and diversity outreach by offering an amendment in the Senate . So far – I don’t see that. 
Another update – June 24, 2014: 
There are additional two Minnesota Congressmen added to HR 4631 – Kline (MN R) Walz (MN D
). The Senate version S2449 is up for a hearing tomorrow June 25th, 2014 at HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pension) Committee in which Franken sits on. My gut feeling is that other than co-sponsoring, he won’t offer any amendments to help the Somali autism parents he claims to care about. For example, adding specific language for research in ethnic communities where autism is higher or more severe. Adding specific language of research looking into how to decrease autism racial disparity in access and intervention. And, adding specific language of HHS increasing racial autism providers and researchers. If he does – I might party like it was 1999. I won’t hold my breath. And, this is the guy Ka Joog toddlers thought was important to take speaking time in Somali day on June 20, 2014. Are you kidding me? The only time Franken comes to Somali community is election time. Where the heck has he been for the last six years? Sadly, no one in our gullible community asks him. 
Congressional Black Caucus website: (CBC needs to not just complain of disparity, but write different policies that reduce and eradicate racial disparity is my humble little opinion)
Above words do not reflect any committee, agency or candidate.
Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Category: Uncategorized

Comments Off on Minority Owned ABA Centers Needed Plus Encouraging Minorities to Become ASD Therapists

Imagine if we owned the centers and therapy clinics we take our kids to? Let’s explain first what ABA is and what Autism therapy centers do.

ABA is applied behavior analysis and is often used to teach many skills to autistic children. It is the gold standard to treat autism symptoms. It can teach a child imitation of gross motor skills, fine motor skills, vocal imitation, social skills, toileting, self care skills, receptive language, expressive language skills and much more. Often children with autism don’t learn from their environment and need intense one on one teaching that takes hours, days, weeks, months and years.

In Minnesota there are almost twenty ABA autism therapy centers, some of whom also provide in-home therapy and zero are owned by minorities and zero, zilch zippity zap are managed by a minority person. What does this mean for our children and our community? Well – we all know that autism is affecting Somali kids the highest in Minnesota. And, our kids need therapy for their symptoms. We also know there is a high rate of autism disparity among minority children. For our families and children, the wait-list is longer, the discharge is faster, the treatment is inferior and less, the retaliation is subtle and deep, the policies are bias, etc.

Don’t lose hope though because at least in the Somali community who are extremely entrepreneurial minded – I see light at the end of this dark tunnel of despair. Imagine if minorities owned and operated ABA centers and home therapy clinics in Minnesota? It can happen, it should happen and it will happen. Imagine if you could take your child to a therapy center where the management, staff and the children reflected you, looked like you, had your culture and understood your language. Imagine if you could take your child to an ABA therapy center where there was no drama, no bias subtle policies, no retaliation, no forever wait list, no inferior service, no worry and NO DISCRIMINATION. Imagine that!! I do daily.

I know that our community will step up to the autism plate as they did when there was a need for Somali owned grocery stores, child care centers, home care centers, interpreting centers, physical therapy centers etc and etc. I know that some of you reading this will get inspired and open ABA autism therapy centers so that our parents can just be parents and not worry of being dismissed, disregarded and disrespected. I know in my heart – our young Somali students will study to be the next ABA therapist, the next speech therapist, the next occupational therapist and the next social skills therapist. It ain’t hard if you put your mind, soul and energy into it.

The reward outweighs the work because Somali parents will forever be grateful. Somali children will learn to meet their best outcome and reach their God given full potential. I remember a while ago another Somali autism mom and I were waiting for our kids in the lobby of an ABA center scared out of our pants because the owner was just about to come in and we thought “oh God, is today the day they discharge your child, is today the day they tell you your child is too old, has too many autism symptoms, too black (in a subtle way), too this or too that?” I remember looking at non minority parents also chatting among themselves carefree and worry free because their kids were not going to be subjected to the same treatment and dismissal ours were. That level of anxiety a minority autism parent goes through in these heartless & blood sucking providers (not all of them) is heart-breaking. Yet, we go there because there is no alternative, there is no minority owned autism providers in Minnesota at all. We suffer because we don’t have another choice, but to suck it up and take the mental and emotional beating we often get from ABA autism therapy providers. This unnecessary pain so many Somalis and other minority autism moms and dads (mostly moms) go through is my reason for this post.

I ask our fellow Somali community members to think about opening ABA autism therapy centers. You can do it. The certification from DHS is not hard and because it is medically necessary the child’s insurance covers the therapy. The joy you will get from helping your community will be worth it. Not to mention saving our families from current chronic and persistent discrimination because our kids will learn and progress with no hesitation and no reservations. There isn’t a week, I don’t see a Somali parent or another minority autism parent that is complaining about an ABA autism therapy provider for the way they or their child is being treated or not treated. I kid you not.

If you are interested in opening an ABA autism therapy center, please contact MN DHS and ask to be transferred to the mental health department and find out what you need to do to get CTSS (children’s therapeutic services & support) DHS leadership has told me that it encourages minority owned autism therapy centers and providers, and will help with technical assistance. So, please take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

If you are interested in opening a charter autism school and there is only one in Minnesota which has less than few Somali autistic children, contact MDE (Minnesota department of education) special education and ask what the process is. It is very much similar to the regular charter school which there is plenty Somali charter schools in Minnesota.
I am sure MDE commissioner will support minorities wanting to open minority owned autism schools in Minnesota as there are NONE now.

If you are interested in becoming an ABA therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist, family therapist or psychologist – please look into Univ of MN site or contact office of di
versity and equity at UMN for more information. I have checked with UMN as well and they are eager to support our young students get into these areas.

If you are thinking this is too hard – imagine if there were no Somali child care centers or no Somali home care centers – who would suffer, Our community, right? Well, now our autism families are suffering. So, please help us. (na garab istaaga, noo hiiliya, noo naxariista – Soomaliyeey hadba kiinna taag daran taageera waligiin) (In waalidiinta Soomaliyeed ay ciishoodaan oo ay ooyaan maalin walba  – ma xaqbaa?)

Let me end with this, Steve Jobs was once asked – how he comes up with such innovative devices and he answered – “one day I looked around and said to myself everything around me was created by someone who was no smarter than me”.

ABA autism centers and autism providers are owned by people who are no smarter than us. We have been successful in raising autism awareness in our community. Now, it is time to take it to the next level and actually provide the treatment to our own children, in our own community and in our own way because if we don’t – who will? think about it.


ABA information:

Speech therapy information (SLP)

Occupational therapy information (OT)

Psychologist or Family Therapist information (we need these folks to diagnose and write the treatment goals. They can also help our community with a whole host of other mental health and family therapy) If you can believe it, I have never ever ever seen a Black autism psychologist, family therapist, SLP or OT therapist. I kid you not. We need to learn how to help ourselves or we will be at the mercy of these heartless and blood sucking (not all of them) autism providers. 

MDE and DHS sites for autism provider information


Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Category: Uncategorized