Monthly Archives: December 2014

Comments Off on Reginald Latson – Why His Story Should Wake Every Autism Parent – Especially Minority Autism Parents

Reginald Latson is an African American autistic young man. I heard about his story through Breaking Brown news site that posted an article by Ruth Marcus of Washington Post. After I read what he had to go through and how simple this all started – it woke me up. Given the recent tension between law enforcement and the Black community nationwide, I think it is important that we are vigilant in assuring our autistic children are protected and save when they become autistic Black boys and autistic Black men.

Neli as he is called lives in Virginia and on a regular day went to the library which happened to be closed at the time. As with almost all autistic people, coming back is often not an option. In other words, a nuero-typical person would’ve said since it is closed now, I will just come back later. For autistic individuals, they have to have or get what they asked or want and don’t always comprehend the come back part. So, as Neli waits in front of the library, some ignorant person calls the police and says there is Black man waiting around wearing a hoodie (that must be a dress code for a thug). When the officer shows up – like any officer, he asks his name. And, Neli being autistic does not readily give his name. Let me put this in a context that those not dealing with autism can understand. When your child is first diagnosed with autism and if you are lucky enough to take him/her to an early intervention therapy, such as ABA – the first and only thing they often teach for months is “compliance”. You ask and the child complies. Simple things like “come sit”. or “what is your name”. In other words, non compliance is a characteristic of the autism disability.

The difference is when a child is in a therapy environment and they are non compliant, they don’t get their reinforcement such as candy, swing or tickles. When that child grows up becomes an adult or teenager and is non-compliant especially towards an officer, the consequences can be unimaginable which is exactly what happened. Nelli and the officer fought whereby the officer ended up with severe injuries.

As a result, the autistic teenager got arrested, charged and convicted which I am still trying to figure out how a prosecutor in his right mind would ever charge a person with autism for doing fight or flee which is a characteristic of their disability. But, that is what VA prosecutor Eric Olsen did. I am also confused how a jury would then convict Neli and did not instead recommend that he is sent to a mental health treatment facility. This is why Neli’s story got a lot of national media attention, the pure bias in the justice system towards Black and Brown Americans even when they have a disability.  As we all know which I hope politicians and justice advocacy groups lobby and change this stupid law is that a prosecutor has the “discretion” to charge or not charge. To me that seems a privilege power that is unchecked and often unreasonable. If you research prosecutorial discretion and racial bias, you will find how it has benefited non-minorities while it has harshly been applied to minorities. Statistic after statistic in Minnesota and nationwide clearly state how a prosecutor’s discretion has led to unjust justice for minorities while it benefited nonminority communities. Here is that statute for Minnesota and my hope is that data is collected and this law is repealed or amended to assure equal justice for all actually means equal justice for all Americans irrespective of their race, ethnicity, nationality or disability. I also hope minority community leaders use their votes as a negotiating tool during elections of prosecutors/county attorneys.

For instance, in Minnesota there are 87 counties that have elected 87 county attorneys/prosecutors and guess how many are minorities? really guess – you will be shocked. Zero are Black, one is Asian, Ramsey County attorney and most of these counties have almost no Black or Brown county staff attorneys. So, next time a Nelli happens and it is up to the discretion of the county attorney – guess how he will use that discretion. Insanity is having the same policy and expecting different outcome. If we want equality then we must change and vote differently – period. The county attorneys/prosecutors must reflect the diversity of this nation.

So what happens now for Neli?

One option is for Governor of VA – Terry McAuLiffe (previous DNC chair – Democratic National Committee, the party that tells us they are compassionate and kind towards disabled people and minorities) who won majority of the Black vote to pardon Neli. Another is for this prosecutor to act like a human being and send Nelli to a treatment center that has been recommended by every therapist and professional that testified. I am also hopeful this clearly out of touch prosecutor who lacks compassion is defeated in next election because voting for the same people and expecting different outcome is insane and stupid.

If you want to help – you can send a letter to Gov of VA by simply asking to pardon Reginald Latson. (address is 1111 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23219 or call 804-786-2211) Many autism advocacy organizations have sent letters and have advocated for Nelli including Arc in Virgina which has been amazing. I spoke with Arc and all I can say is wow!. Autism Speaks co-founders also sent a support letter and Neli’s story has attracted lots of national media attention highlighting the need to educate law enforcement about autism. I think preventing another Neli is through education and awareness. I ask Autism Soc of Minn, Arc Twin Cities and Pacer to reach-out to all 87 county attorneys, department of public safety, and police chiefs around the state and educate them that not giving their name is non compliant which is a part of their disability, running means flight or flee which is a part of their disability, not looking at you in the eye is part of their disability, not responding to their name is part of their disability, etc. Law enforcement cannot punish people with disabilities because of their disability. We must have compassion for those that are disabled and find ways to help them to live to their God given full potential. There is a great agency in Minnesota called Twin Cities Diversity in Practice that helps law enforcement with diversity staffing and training.

I also encourage parents to put some kind of bracelet or clothing that lets the uneducated eye know this person has autism. It is a tough world for Black boys and men and autism just adds to that already bias lenses. I would also recommend having an aide or PCA with your child if you think they can’t effectively communicate or maybe a communication device and teach them how to use it if approached by law enforcement.

Finally, I hope the Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) holds a meeting about autism and law enforcement and invites department of justice along with advocate groups that do training and education for law enforcement.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate


Comments Off on My Two Cents on Congressional Bills Relating to Autism for 2014

2014 is near end and a lot has happened this year regarding national autism legislations and news. There are some items that I was interested in following that relate to autism.

First, the ABLE Act Passed the U.S House of Reps on Dec 3rd by a vote of 404 for yeas and 17 nays. It is worth noting all eight Minnesota house members (5 DLFers and 3 GOPs) voted for this. HR 647 had an impressive bipartisan in a partisan town and this was a great example of when we all work together – we all are abled and achieve. To explain this act to those that might not follow autism and Congress news. About eight years ago, disability parents contacted their congress members asking to pass a tax free savings account (Achieving a Better Life Experience) for their disabled children. As is with life, members of Congress especially those with children that have disability felt empathy and the need to pass this. However, initially the office of congressional budget office estimated the cost around 20 billion which then made many sort of not push to pass it. The ABLE Act will amend the current tax code and allow people with disabilities including autism to save for college, medical needs, housing, etc. This explains better what it does and it does not do as well as when states will comply with this new law.

Then began the negotiations of how to pass this and make it cost a little less. CBO estimated the cost down to 2 billion. And it overwhelmingly passed the House in first week of Dec 2014. It had 380 co-sponsors. One person I noticed that did NOT vote for this bill that will help all people with disability including autism was current DNC (Democratic National Committee) chair Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz. When I called her office to find out why, they directed me to this statement. Yes, we should not be cutting benefits to seniors and Medicare, but really the head of the DNC – the party that tell us they are for the low income, disabled and the underdog, I think this was a poor excuse and a sorry excuse for not supporting people with disabilities.

On the Senate side the bill was S313 and it had an equally impressive bipartisan cosponsors of 78 and was authored by Sen Casey a DFLer from PA. It passed with 76 YEAs and 16 NEYs. Again, it is worth noting both our MN senators voted for it. A one NO was from Sen Warren of MA – you know the rising DFL star who was against the Cromnibus because it removed some Dodd/Frank regulations for Wall Street. Rep Frank is from MA – connecting the dots here. Being from Boston and all, I contacted Sen mighty high horse Warren’s office asking why she didn’t vote for this extremely bipartisan bill and they said they will check with her and no response thus far.

I really thank The Nationwide ARC for staying with this legislation throughout the years until its final signature by President Obama on Dec 19, 2014.

What is a Cromnibus and who the heck cares? Well, we all should even if it has a weird name.

This bill is thousands of pages long and really who reads all of it. The areas that interested me and relate to autism were for the funding under HHS which is where NIH and CDC are under along with CMS. Things stayed pretty much the same, except NIH got some funding for brain research which hopefully will include autism. Here is that portion of this huge spending bill. It also had a slight increase for special education, but not nearly as much as needed. Special education has been grossly under-funded by Congress for years despite the fact that autism and other developmental disorders have risen. If you want information on special education funding, contact Rep Kline from Minnesota who chairs that committee.

Also, remember all of the hoopla about police body cameras that President Obama talked about and was supposedly added to the budget. Guess what, it has been removed and I checked with Congressional Black Caucus – you know the folks that should be fighting for us. They had no comment, just disappointed. Now what now. If so, then why was Rep Maxine Waters making all of those comments about the Dodd/Frank provision removal. I am sorry, but Black Americans would do much better if those that reflect us in Congress actually spoke for us. In other words, Let Warren and Pelosi who is one of the wealthiest members in congress scream about some Wall Street legislation. By the way, Pelosi lecturing about wall street is sort of like Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner lecturing about good marriage. If you are a member of CBC – scream about racial injustice, racial health disparity and racial education gap – period. Sadly, they don’t. From NAACP, NUL, CBC all take their cues from the media and then take on that as a cause for African Americans. Personally, it bothers me to my core.

There was some change in how long truck drivers can drive which indirectly affects Somali autism parents given many of them are truck drivers. Of course, no one in our community follows state or federal legislations that affect our community. In sum, the way a crumnibus works is very similar to the way a state omnibus works. Some bills get a full hearing and the public get to hear it and debate and some sort of sneak in because they have high powered lobbying groups or members of Congress pushing it.

Another interesting thing that almost no one reported was the sudden discontinuance of children’s study by NIH. American Academy of Peds said it was disappointed. I guess I am sad it was stopped before it even got off the ground and we will now not have that study which would’ve had a huge impact on autism.

Finally, my two cents on Black Lives Matter nationwide and Minnesota is – fight strategically with change in policy and politics not in privately owned malls or business. That gets us nowhere. I think it is better if we protest in front of elected official’s offices, state capitols and in congress along with advocating and pushing change in policies and more diversity in law enforcement, county attorneys, county prosecutors, judges and politicians. For example, Minnesota has dozens of county attorneys – guess how many are Blacks and minorities or even women. Not many – that is where we need to change through our voices and our votes. For example, Minnesota Senate Committee will hear on Dec 22, 2014 about the proposed body cameras for Mpls. Imagine if MN Black Lives Matter testified and showed up in this committee with similar numbers they did at Mall of America which is not even owned by Americans, rather brothers from Iran. Come on, we must advocate with a focus.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Comments Off on What do MN ABA Autism Therapy Providers and Wall Street Blood Suckers Have in Common

Alright – so, I am always advocating against these blood sucking MN ABA therapy providers. And, I started thinking why does ABA cost over $100,000 per kid per year in Minnesota? Is that why our state attracts these blood sucking greedy bastards – not a typo. So, I looked how other states cover and pay for ABA therapy. First, let me say clearly before I get contacted by mad ASD parents asking what I have against ABA. Nothing. I really think, let me re-phrase that – I know Applied Behavior Analysis works and helps when done right, early and intensely for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Many have heard refer to myself in state committees or even in Federal autism committee as the Elizabeth Tylor of ABA. I have been divorced and belittled by so many of them which is why I became an advocate for the children and families and usually against these blood sucking and racist MN ABA providers. Most Minnesota ABA providers don’t take minority children when they are young which is when ABA works best. Or they discharge them to make room for non minority ASD kids. I kid you not, this happened to me and it happens to so many other Somali parents who often don’t know who to call or where to get help. I have seen an ABA provider tell me my child would not be cured from autism at age 5 and that teaching him at a cost of $100,000 was too expensive. Therefore, it was not worth the cost. By the same token, this same ABA provider was doing ABA therapy for non minority autistic kids who were older than my son, some twice as old for the same $100,000 per year. If you are thinking how this made me feel. I was hundred degrees above livid and energized. It is the reason, I became a fearless advocate for minority children and ABA. It is the reason, Minn passed the first and only its kind of ABA therapy for low income MA kids in the country. It is the reason CMS changed its rules under EPSDT for autism and ABA.

To say it drove me is an understatement. No parent should feel what this provider made me feel. And, no child’s learning dreams should be crushed by racist ABA providers. As a result of our advocacy,  few of the MN ABA started taking our kids usually when they are older and can’t really benefit from intensive 40 hours of ABA therapy, but sadly they demand it and if parents refuse or even ask to do 3/4 of the hours, they are often discharged. I have seen this at least weekly.

Now what this has done is attract minority blood sucking greedy ABA wanna be providers. For instance, there is a Somali person who now wants to open an ABA center. Not bad right? Well – it would not be if he actually understood ABA autism therapy from lawyers ABA. If he actually cared about autism children and families. If the daycare he owns now did not have so many child safety violations. In other words, because MN ABA costs over $100,000 per kid which is outrageous and wrong is now attracting everyone and their mamas to open an ABA center.

Our children are vulnerable and can’t tell us what happened. I ask DHS to have a better oversight and not let any greedy jerk open an ABA center even if there is a need for diverse ABA centers. Let me put it this way, Justice Thomas looks like me, but I would not trust him with my voting rights. Just because they look like us does not automatically mean they care about our children. Nor does it mean they understand autism and ABA therapy.

So, I ask Commissioner Jesson who I think is simply amazing and God knows I have been barking in her corner since her first week of becoming the DHS Commissioner.

True side story, the first time I met Commissioner Jesson was when she came to testify or introduce herself to the senate health committee back in 2011 when Sen Berglin was the Chair. I saw Berglin going to the committee in that long hallway that connects the state office bldg to the Capitol where the senate hearings are located. And, I thought to myself how lucky I was because that is a long hallway and Sen Berglin was a hard person to see. But now she has no choice but to talk to me. So, I bombarded her with what to ask Jesson and gave her kazilian notes and information. I am sure she was thinking – calgon please take me away.

At any rate, Sen Berglin asked Jesson what she intended to do about autism especially in our community. And, I remember Jesson said to her “I have only been in this job for 4 days”. So, I gave a note to one of the pages to give to Berglin that said “that is four days too long – get cracking already.” Anyway, to make a long story short from that day on – I have been consistently and persistently asking DHS to assure there is no racism in MN ABA providers. And, there won’t be hopefully because we have passed this new MN ASD benefit.

Now and almost end of my advocacy with them, I ask  Commissioner Jesson and DHS Autism team;

1. Why does ABA therapy cost $100,000 in Minnesota? this only attracts greedy bastards who could care less about our kids?

2. If ABA full intensive costs $50,000 in WI and even less in many other states – why is it so much here?

3. Is there a way for DHS and managed care to assure ABA does not cost this high and that it is reasonable so that only those that care about our kids stay in the business and greedy ones leave?

4. When a parent is discriminated against by an ABA provider, where and who should they call and What rights do they have?

5. When a child is older and does not need 40 hours of intensive ABA therapy as research states, yet ABA provider forces them to, where do parents call to get help and what are their rights?

6. Can you please make sure just because someone has CTSS certification does not mean they can operate an autism center? CTSS is under such big umbrella and those that have CTSS does not necessarily know or understand ABA or autism.

7. Can DHS have clear rules and policies that allows parents to see and visit their children in ABA centers without being bullied by the owners?

8. Can parents have access to their children’s ABA records without hesitations from ABA owners?

9. Can DHS assure the child is actually learning what is in his/her ITP and if not where do parents go for help or questions?

10. Can DHS make sure greedy providers are not prescribing a blanket 40 hours for 20 year old autistic or even a 15 year old?  There is no research for intensive 40 hours of ABA at this age.

11. I have seen ABA providers tell me and other parents that we could not comment or suggest what our children should learn on the ITP (individual treatment plan), yet the Minn Statute that governs CTSS clearly states treatment should be child centered, family driven and culturally responsive. What happens when these blood sucking ABA providers refuse to follow that and discharge families that dare question their kids treatment programs? Think of it this way, IEP is funded the same means and method as ITP which are both Federal and State, yet parents have so much rights and responsibilities in IEP because the rules and polices are clear and MDE does a good job in assuring that. But for some reason, DHS is loose in ITP policies and family rights and responsibilities. Please change this so that as parents we are in the driver seat of what and how our kids learn because we know them best and their success or failure affects us the most. Our kids should be looked as children not as dollar signs by these blood sucking MN ABA providers. This must change. ABA therapy must be necessary, cost effective, family friendly and always child focused – period. Oh, and not 40 hours for zero to 21 years old or forever. There is no research for that – I assure you, I checked high and low for it.

Again, I am so grateful to Commissioner Jesson, Asst Comm Barry, Loren and Anne H for their support for the thousands of Minn autism families. And, I am personally thankful to DHS for always taking on the side of equality and fairness above all. In sum, Wall Street should have nothing in common with autism. And, ABA providers should not be making six figures to treat our kids when the cost is half or even 1/3 in other states. The fact that Minnesota Medicaid agency pays ABA therapy more than CA, WA or HI is based on greed not cost of living or medical necessity. In addition, it is not medically necessary to have multiple therapists at the same-time for the same child. No other state does this, so why does DHS allow these blood sucking ABA providers bully them. Finally, KEPRO needs training on what medical necessity is and what ABA research says before approving a blanket 40 hours for every child, that is insane and stupid.

DHS – you pay these providers, you inspect them, you certify them and you approve the payments. I ask you to please use common sense and compassion in this.

ABA cost in Minnesota article by Mpls Tribune.

Double standard in Minn ABA by Mpls Tribune.

How much ABA costs in other states.

IACC and services research for the past five years. (note, as a member of this Federal IACC services and treatment subcommittee and I’ve read every research that came out for the  past five years, so I am not talking out of my you know what).

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate





Category: Autism Policy

Comments Off on Sony White Liberal Hollywood emails are Racist – What a shock

I know this is not about autism per se. This is why this post is under my one and half cents. If we however think about the bigger issue here of are all White liberals welcoming, move us forward, progressive and inclusive then why are most districts, states, cities and counties they control from South Mpls to South Chicago to South Central LA suffering with health disparity, education gap, wealth gap and employment gap including very liberal Hollywood.

Last year when Liberals controlled all Minnesota government chambers during the final conference committee in particular the huge finance bill HF3172 – if you can believe it, I was the only Black person in this committee. And, they (not all of them) hated my guts and did not want me there. Keep in mind, I was only following autism bills, but I remember looking at the Senate Finance chair Sen Cohen and Ways and Means chair Sen Carlson looking at me like a cockroach. Don’t worry – their looks only energize me. But you would think Cohen who is a board member at Confederation Somali Community of Minnesota would at least welcome me and our autism issues. Yet, he did not and kept yelling at me in hallways complaining about my blog posts and emails to the committee members.

I also find it interesting in a comical way, how when I complained, blogged or sent emails to elected officials in Minnesota – that was somehow seen as rude and not nice. Yet, when Caucasian autism parents did the same-thing – they were simply advocating for their children. Uhhnn – I call that double standard and oh please if I piss off some arrogant Elected official then I have done my job in advocating to change the bias systems and policies they have written or pushed.

In other words, Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin making racist jokes about the leader of the free world and the president of the United States with a Harvard Degree is no different when White liberal politicians like Sen Cohen or Rep Carlson write and enhance bias and unequal autism policies. By the way, disparity comes from racism and racism comes from power plus prejudice. It is also no different when Sen Franken from SNL has no Black policy person in his office. You see the problem is not them, it is us. We need to learn how to vote differently and how to negotiate with our voting block power.

Now, Hollywood does not need Black votes, but they need to be BFF with the Black community and this is when minority actors, directors and producers form a coalition that has lobbyists that fight better roles and jobs for them. If not, they take it to TMZ or other media outlets. I think Chris Rock recently said that Hollywood was a white town and that should not be a surprise, but it can become a energy source for change.

Many moons ago before autism invaded my life, I wanted to be a Hollywood journalist and publicist that solely supported minorities in the industry. (oh please – don’t let the hijab fool you, Muslim women dream too). We are all products of our environment and as a young person growing up in Boston especially in the era of Willie Bennett – I know how powerful the media is in shaping people’s minds which then shapes not just Hollywood, but all kinds of policies. My advice to Black Hollywood is you need a Black and Brown Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin. Don’t settle for anymore slave or maid roles, demand better and except nothing less. Become directors and creators of your own shows and films like Tyler Perry and Spike Lee have done.

Finally, I think Malcolm X said it best when he described decades ago America’s white liberals and white conservatives. They say in Somalia a loud hyena is better than a quiet hyena. At least, you can run or defend yourself with the loud one. How do you fight quiet injustice rolled up with a hint of sugar that becomes salt in our communities. Malcolm X Said (white conservatives are not friends to black people but at least don’t try to hide it. Malcolm X had even harsher words for white liberals. He judged them to be “more hypocritical than the conservative.” He accused white liberals of “perfecting the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor” while using black people as a “pawn or tool” in their political fight with white conservatives. By the way, this is exactly what Sen Landrieu of LA did by pretending to be with Blacks when talking to them and against them when talking to Whites. I am glad she lost.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate




Comments Off on Jim Backstrom – Dakota County Attorney, Where are the Black Folks in Your Office?

Alright – so, unless you live under a rock, we have all heard the systemic problems from racism policies that are often subtle or not subtle towards minority communities. For those of us in the autism world, we also know how hard autism by itself is, then when you add bias and prejudice law enforcement then all hell can break loose. So, what does this mean and what can we as minority autism advocates do so that our children and our community get equal justice.

For starters, we have to understand how the system works. We always assume the police officers or state troopers are the problem. In my humble little opinion, they are the fish in a big ocean dominated by sharks. For example, the police chief who oversees the police is hired by the city mayor. Mayors also hire attorney’s to represent them and to bring justice for that city’s citizens. Then there is the state patrol folks on the highway who I am sure commit lots of racial profiling and they are under the state public safety agency who usually is hired by the governor. Finally, there is the county prosecutor and/or county attorney who are elected officials themselves.

This all means if minorities really understand this and connect it to their votes in a united and cohesive manner, then we can bargain with our votes. For instance, Dakota County which has lots and lots minorities including thousands of Somalis has a county attorney Mr. Backstrom who rarely has any competition and keeps winning elections, despite his horrible minority outreach efforts and hiring diverse attorneys to represent the diversity of Dakota county.

My take is Mr. Backstrom does this because he knows we are asleep, don’t understand the system and don’t make the connection to our votes. One group of folks, I really admire their advocacy is Jewish Americans. They don’t care if a person is democrat, republican, woman or man – they make their needs very clear and any politician that does not support them or deviates from it pays for it deeply politically.

Why can’t minorities do the same, especially Black voters. If we used our voting block power to push our issues – such as asking each and every county prosecutor or county attorney to hire diverse staff to reflect where they serve, then we would not have this high and shameful disparity in Minnesota and nationwide. We all heard of the saying a county attorney or prosecutor can indict or charge a ham sandwich, if they want to. I am certain that is true because if no one looks like us there, then justice will never be fair and equal. We also all heard that when Sen Amy K was an attorney, how her discretion led to high racial disparity. This can be corrected if states or there was a federal law that said we need to track how county attorneys and prosecutors charge or not charge and the race/ethnicity of those cases. I bet there would be a lot less bias if they know they are being tallied.

Dakota County attorney’s office is notorious for discriminating against minority communities because they know our voices and votes will never affect them. WE CAN CHANGE THAT. We can get a coalition with either Mpls NAACP and/or Council on Black Minnesotans as well as national agencies to fight the likes of Jim Backstrom, Eric Olson, Bob McCulloch, etc.

United we can bargain with our votes and voices. Divided justice will never be served and we will remain a community that is showered with injustice, despair, disparity, discrimination and bias policies.

As usual, above words do not reflect any agency, candidate or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Comments Off on Snob is Voted out of Minnesota House of Representatives – Nov 2014 Election

Alright – so the election is finally over for 2014 and we are now reflecting how we voted and what they will do. As a minority autism mom that usually advocates to change policies regarding autism – I’ve had a love/hate relationship with many legislators. Sadly, most legislators preach all kinds of good campaign words, but rarely remember them once elected.

Minnesota House of Reps for the last two years has been hell for me to advocate – not kidding. I had to drink so much coffee or Somali tea to even go to this building. If I drank other stuff – I might’ve become alcoholic. Starting with Speaker Thissen to Asst majority leader – Rep Murphy to their staff to committee administrators to legislative aids have been mostly snobs and rude. I could not get one thing done for minority autism families and communities for the last two sessions. Luckily, the senate is the sane voice of reason and they are the upper chamber that mostly supported our autism policy positions, with the exception of few Senators, i.e Eaton.

If you remember when MN GOP were in charge of the house back couple of years ago that is when I was able to advocate for much of what we have now including the new DHS autism benefit coming soon which all started with then chair of HHS finance – Rep Abeler. (this guy rocks!) Abeler and Hann also funded the UMN/MDH minority autism services study and this is when the MN Autism Task force passed. (you know the task force the current Speaker Thissen and company wanted to eliminate because Norton asked).

As I said before which I am sure will make many happy, I will not be going back to advocate in Minn legislature this coming session. But the fact that Thissen and Murphy are not in power anymore is icing on the cake. These two preach so much sugar coded words while they practice and write salty policies. Remember when Mpls Tribune political reporter told us where Thissen’s tongue rested. Rest assured we won’t hear where the new Speaker’s tongue rests or how his lean body is leaning on his desk. My guess is the media will tell us how wonderful MN DFLer’s were for the minority communities and how we miss them. I would believe this, but meeting them and seeing differently diminished my believe of that.

The new Speaker Kurt Daudt is mildly mannered and more laid back from what I can tell. The house committees will be less in numbers and for health, they nominated Rep Mack and Rep Dean to head the policy and finance health committees. Rep Mack – I know her well and she is actually the reason there was a minority language in the MN autism task force which she authored and she fought to save it last session during conference committee. I think she is soft spoken, but fair and reasonable. Rep Dean – I think I only met him twice and he voted to save the task force. He also voted with us during the ABA and autism bill last time and before. To me he seems quiet and measured. I am hoping he will vote the same because I am fairly certain those blood sucking ABA therapy providers and their K street type lobbyist are trying to figure out how to dismantle all the good autism policies we helped pass last few sessions.

The best icing on this win is that Liebling (Norton’s BFF) is not chairing any committee and Huntley retired. These two drove me nuts. One would never imagined their unfair and bias health bills that consistently passed out of their committees because they hid them under really sweet words to minority communities.

Have you ever wondered why Jonathan Gruber would say such hurtful things about the average American voter? The answer is because that is what he and others like him such as Dan Pollock who worked for assistant majority leader Rep Murphy think of us. I think Mr. Pollock is Minnesota’s Jonathan Gruber. This guy always looked at us like we were inferior and beneath him or knew less than him. In my humble little opinion he is the perfect example of White privilege. My take – goodbye and good riddance to him.

Finally, while MN GOP house members have voted on the side of minority autism families – it is important that they hire and give equal opportunity to minority staff in their caucus and committees. MN DFL had one minority committee administrator and if MN GOP does not have even one then that can only look bad on their record.  So far, I have not seen the committee CA’s, but the house leadership lacks diversity which is not good either. I hope neither party ignores or takes the minority votes for granted because without them – no political party can survive. The new committee list also does not have housing committee and re-named one of the current ones to greater Minn economic and workforce development which to me sounds that they are leaving out urban and inner city economic and workforce development especially when Minn has one of the highest gap in those areas. Not that MN DFLers did anything significant to improve that, but the new MN GOP house leadership ignores that completely.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate