Monthly Archives: July 2016

Comments Off on North Miami Police said They were aiming to shoot the Autistic Person – WTF?

Al-right – so, a Black behavior therapist was shot few days ago while he was helping an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What we know so far and how could this happen.

  1. The person with ASD wandered from a group home as sadly many do. Wandering and eloping are some of the core symptoms of ASD.
  2. His behavior therapist went after him to calm him down and bring him back. This is usually the case for all care-takers.
  3. Some observer thought a man was committing suicide because of where they were at (in the middle of the street). This is not uncommon as many individuals with ASD don’t have safety skills.
  4. The police is called and an untrained one shows up.
  5. The behavior therapist tells the officer who he is and about his disabled client.
  6. The officer who is Hispanic either didn’t hear, didn’t understand autism or didn’t care shoots the behavior therapist.
  7. Then the therapist is handcuffed as he bleeds on the street. Thanks God – his injury is not life threatening and is recovering now.
  8. The Miami police chief who is Black and was hired by a Black mayor and a mostly Black city council makes a somewhat scripted statement of we are shocked, we want answers, blah blah.
  9. Then the Miami police union head says the most disturbing words so far – not kidding. The police was aiming at the autistic person and not the therapist. WTF?

Here is my take, why can’t these police union nut-jobs keep their mouth shut. They always seem to say the most hurtful and ignorant thing about any situation. How is we wanted to shoot the disabled person any better?

So what happens now? Well – for starters, we can’t blame white racism on this one. Everyone with any power in North Miami is a minority from city council to the mayor to the police chief to the shooter who is Hispanic. But we can blame it on ignorance, lack of autism education and training and most of all arrogance about all of this. As an autism Black mother – this is obviously really heartbreaking and disturbing. I think we need a federal legislation mandating and requiring autism education and training for all law enforcement. Currently, we don’ t have that. Most states and cities do some kind of training but it is not comprehensive and they are not required to. North Miami was not required to do autism training and it is unclear if this officer had any so far.

I contacted Autism Society of America President Scott whom I know and he sent me the statement they released. Scott also said they are working with the Autism Soc of Florida to do ASD training for this police dept, though we don’t know to what has been reached now. Additionally, I contacted both Mpls and St. Paul mayors to ask about ASD and police training. Mpls is working on a response, but did say via email that they have allocated funding for devices that would help locate individuals with ASD that wander . St. Paul said they have an officer with a child with ASD – Officer Zink whom I spoke with and was just amazing in how he gets what needs to be done. He said there is a small funding in the big tax bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed for autism training and police officers. Officer Zink stated that Sen. Dziedzic was the one that was pushing this funding. Sen. D represents the district with the largest autism population in Minnesota which is Cedar in Mpls. Additionally, I contacted IACC and asked what they could do about from the federal government side. I heard from one of the members, Dr. Mandell whom I respect and admire so much who said IACC does have a responsibility to recommend and request more training and research into this issue. I agree and I am waiting for more info from IACC. At the federal level, IACC can do the most in terms of services, resources and research.

I also contacted DPS Commissioner Dohman’s office wanting to know what kind of ASD training their highway police go through. They said they have an ASD training for their 600 state troopers. I am waiting to get more details of that training and if we can add multicultural training given the high rate of ASD in minority children in Minn. There is a bill in Congress HR-2302 which requires police training and better oversight for minority communities and those with disabilities. It has not moved much though. Another bill about autism and wandering named after two ASD kids passed the senate recently – Kevin/Avonte legislation. ASAN and other ASD advocates are supporting this. Please call or email your house member to ask to co-sponsor this bill and pass through the house.

I will post as I find out more about this, but what is clear is the need requiring autism training in law enforcement. We can’t always react, we must be proactive here and create laws and policies that address this in Minnesota and nationwide. Autism by itself is extremely challenging, when you add minority especially black boys/men – it is a worry that unless you are a black autism family, you can’t even imagine it.

I thank all of the media attention given to this important issue in particular the reporters from the Miami Herald.

As always – above words do not represent any candidate, agency or committee.

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate.


Category: Autism Policy

Comments Off on Update to my last post – I stand Corrected about Rep Cornish

Alright – so, in my last blog post, I wrote without checking all of the facts and reasons behind Rep Cornish’s remarks about the climate of our state and the nation’s racial disparity, in particular the relationship or lack of relationship between the police and minority communities.

Now, in retrospect – this is not an area that I understand or follow all that well. Only what I see in the news here and there. Of course, as a Black woman, it bothers me as it does many others what I see on the news. At any rate, I heard back from many legislators in the state, many of whom were mad. Some said “what is my problem since they have helped me and our community with autism related legislations”. Some said “what solutions would  I suggest”. Some said ” I should stay focused on what I know and not get involved in every issue”. I agree with everyone that contacted me, more importantly I appreciate every legislator that has helped us write, push and vote in so many autism bills and legislations that have passed in Minnesota for the past few years. I also thank and appreciate every congressman/woman/staff and federal personnel that also helped pushed autism issues at the federal level.

Mostly, I want to thank Rep. Cornish for making me understand what he meant. I can understand where he is coming from. I understand that BCA is under DPS which is under Gov. Dayton and how one can assume their work could be less objective. I can also understand where Gov. Dayton was coming from. Our state sadly had some of the worst racial disparities in the country, and while I don’t read minds – Gov. Dayton and Commissioner of DPS, Dohman’s body language seemed as though they really care and what has happened bothers them.

Below is what Rep. Cornish said to me.

The Governor was totally wrong. He is the leader of the organization that is going to investigate this tragedy. The BCA is the Law Enforcement Agency that is going to try to find out the total story. Gov Dayton is in charge of this unit. By saying what he did, he prejudiced the case. He came to a conclusion already on this case in his statements that went out nation and even world wide. Please read this attached letter. I have never stated anywhere, that I don’t believe racism exists. In fact, on WCCO radio, I admitted that it did. I just said that we have no idea if it played any part whatsoever in this case.

I think I will take folks advice and stay out of any issues outside of autism.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Comments Off on Chair of Public Safety & Crime Prevention in Minn House Rep Tony Cornish – confused and clueless

Alright – so, when it rains it pours. Chair of Public Safety and Crime Prevention in  Minnesota House of Representatives seems to be confused about what happened in Minnesota to yet another Black man. You see Philando Castille was not a THUG nor a criminal. He was actually a productive member of society who worked years at the same job. Rather than ask and wait for facts – Rep Cornish puts his mouth in his ass. Now this guy is no average Jack. He is the one in charge of the public safety committee in the state. In other words, whatever bills or legislations he wants only get through and become law in Minnesota. He has a pretty powerful position in the state. Yet, he sounds like an immature toddler. Clearly he has no clue about Minnesota’s horrible racial bias statistics from the justice system to education to health.

In response, there has been many folks that have been vocal and wrote back. I think that is waste of time and quite frankly worthless. The best thing is to figure out how to either A. defeat him at the polls this year or B. demand that he is removed from his post as chair. Both are doable, but it must be carried out strategically. To defeat him means someone else has to run against him in the district he represents which does not have a lot of minority voters, but if his racist message and stupidity gets to the voters, it may work. The other way is to pressure Speaker Rep Kurt Daudt to take his chair position away which he may do if pressured intensely. Rep Daudt can be reasonable and needs every vote he can get to keep the house this year.

This would be my advice to Mpls and St. Paul NAACP and other minority leaders in Minnesota to demand and push. In other words, if all we do is to just complain with no plan behind then nothing will happen. Protesting and complaining without a plan of action is really waste of time and resources. I am hopeful that maybe Mpls NAACP President Nekima will do it. I am not so sure about the St. Paul one. He is usually not up to speed on social justice in a manner that is meaningful. In parallel, I would recommend asking a legislator to write a bill that would collect racial data for county and district attorneys in how they prosecute or not as well as individual cop statistics. Currently, we don’t have any law requiring that. For example, word on the street is Sen Amy K was notorious for putting away and prosecuting Black defendants but we have no proof because there is no data collection. A legislation could be written requiring all new police officers in the state to go through cultural competency training and how to de-escalate situations especially situations involving persons of color as most White police officers have no idea. Getting body cameras for everyone and in every police car would take the guessing of what happened out. Assuring grand-jury selection reflects the communities they serve would take out the implicit bias that exists currently. Another suggestion would be for minorities to run for county & district attorney positions. Currently, out of the 87 counties in Minnesota, only one is minority in Ramsey county and zero, zilch, zip are Black.

A legislator could also write a bill that requires police officers must live in the areas they patrol which would then create a true community policing. Imagine if the police officers in minority communities actually lived there. They would have more empathy and understanding. Final suggestion would be to pressure Commissioner of DPS Dohman to hire more minority state troopers as well as middle and upper management in Minn Dept of Public Safety. Currently, their racial stats suck (not a typo). Don’t get me wrong, I like Dohman and even admired her standing behind Gov Dayton when he made that speech stating racism is alive and well in Minnesota but action and doing always speaks louder.

By the way, the Senate chair for the public safety committee, Sen Dibble  who chairs the Senate public safety committee is no better than Rep Cornish, except he is more educated, more civil and probably more polite but his civil rights and equal justice record is just as bad. In Africa, they would say, Rep Cornish is a loud hyena and Sen Dibble is a quite hyena. The question is which do you prefer a loud one that barks when he is coming or a quite hyena that smiles at you while he still eats you.  As someone that was a hard core DFLer that is until I came to Minn and met the likes of Rep Norton (queen of autism discrimination) and others like her, I would advice voters of color to not vote blindfolded. For example, guess what the district attorney for Ferguson that refused to charge the killer of Michael Brown was – that is right a DFLer who even won again after his bias decision. Guess who else is a DFLer – the Hennepin County Attorney who also sided with the White defendant rather than with the Black victim. And, he is up for re-election again soon.  Hip Hop Republican wrote an eloquent op-ed on this that is very true to this sentiment. In other words, just because they say the right things, sound educated, are polite and even seem genuine DFL politician, don’t assume their actions are fair, equal, right or even accurate. In fact, most areas with the highest racial disparities in health, education and justice are led by White DFLers. Not kidding.

Finally, what does this have to do with autism as I have no desire to be the Jackie of all trades. Simple answer – if you think racism only exists in the justice system – think again. Let’s explain this in another way. When Gov Dayton said if this man was White – this incident would not have happened as it did. Well – if so many Black children with autism were White then racist providers like Lovaas and MEAP would’ve provided therapy and treat all children equally and fairly..

Folks use your votes wisely and negotiate with it.

More info on Minnesota’s racial profiling going back years. And, it is still happening – racism exists and is alive and well in this passive aggressive state of 10,000 racial disparities.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate

Comments Off on Disney – The Happiest Place on Earth Except for Children with Autism

Alright – so, if you have a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) then you probably heard when Disney changed their policy of following American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). Disney used to have a guest pass card for individuals with disabilities including ASD. Often many kiddos with ASD can’t tolerate waiting in line or get overwhelmed by the long lines at Disney. The Guest Pass card helped ease some of the anxiety for these kiddos.

Then some heartless vacationers that did not have any disability started abusing this and Disney took a knee-jerk action and eliminated the guest pass card. Shortly after several autism families sued Disney for violating the ADA.

Then back in April (autism month mind you) some judge whose children probably don’t have a disability took Disney’s side and stated they did not violate the ADA. Then last month the Civil Rights Commission finds Disney did discriminate against individuals with disabilities in particular autism.

What does this all mean. From someone who sued an ABA provider agency for discrimination – (Lovaas who I think are racist pigs), it all depends on who the judge is and how they interpret the law which is often based on their views and perspective.

How can one area see discrimination and another does not? It is in the eyes of the beholder. The law is never clear – it is how one interprets. Sadly, too often courts side with big agencies and big corporations.

What does this mean and how do we change it? Well – in my humble opinion, it all comes down to our votes. I know you are thinking, now what now. Think about it. Who the heck appoints those judges. The governor for state judges and the president for federal judges and who the heck votes for governors and presidents. We the people do. Sadly, but not surprisingly, minority communities never use their voting power as a negotiating tool like other communities and women do. Please vote wisely and hold politicians accountable who appoint these judges. Sometimes judges run for elections and no one in our communities ever  follows those elections. Being reactive accomplishes nothing, we must be proactive and use our votes to change our lives for the better.

Click here and here for the results of these cases against Disney by ASD families.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate