Monthly Archives: October 2017

Autistic, Minority, and Law Enforcement

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Alright – so, 1 in 68 U.S children have autism, 1 in 32 Somali American children in Minnesota have autism and boys are more likely to be autistic than girls. These boys become young men of color, mixing that with law enforcement is devastating to think about. Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand social cues and regulate their behavior.

As a minority autism mom whose child has autism – I constantly think about this. My son is now 15 and still has autism as there is no cure thus far for autism. He doesn’t always understand social cues and may not always follow directions. A police officer may think an autistic individual is being defiant and not listening. An autistic individual may get sensory overload and be overwhelmed by too many verbal directions or even the police car’s lights. There have been few occasions where my son had a behavior in the car and I had to call the police for help. The first time though it was my fault because I didn’t say what kind of help I need it, the state trooper that came pointed his gun at me. After I explained the situation, he was much more nicer and understanding and helped us get into a safe exit as we were on the highway. The consequent times, the police has been positive, helpful and understanding. Nevertheless, the fact that so many of them don’t really know autism or its symptoms is worrisome.

While, I have not heavily advocated for this, I have asked Commissioner of Minn Dept of Public Safety to add funds to their budget for autism training, and she has not. I also asked Mpls to train their police officers about autism and Mayor Hodges has not done this. Mpls City Council member Warsame and State Representative Omar who are both from Somalia and represent large autism families have also not done anything about this.

An African American man recently told me “when police are driving behind me, I don’t feel served or protected”. I thought that was sad yet true.

As I write this – I am saddened that my son had a behavior in the car tonight and I contemplated whether I should call the police or just sit in the highway which was dangerous while he calmed down. No one should have such a thought. If I were white, I would not have to think twice to call the police for help. But I am black and live in Minnesota which sadly does not have a good reputation for equality. If you are white and are reading this, you are thinking when anyone needs help they just call the police, but for a minority person it is not that easy. The history between law enforcement and communities of color is a complex and complicated one.

A few months ago, a reporter from Buzzfeed called me about my advocacy and autism. I remember telling her that I was done advocating but maybe I am not done yet. I really would like to figure out how to effectively advocate about autism and police. How can minority autism families feel comfortable about the police whose job is to protect and serve. I would like minority autism families to feel protected and served by the police. I think through training and perhaps compassion from the police and trust from minority autism families – it is doable.

New York Times op-ed about autism, law enforcement and St. Paul officer who has autistic children.

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

Idil – autism mom and advocate.

Category: Autism Policy

The Fake MAC School Expands while DHS Naps

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Alright – so, Minnesota Autism Center (MAC) which is arguably the biggest ABA therapy agency in Minnesota, and probably the worst in how autism families are treated based on my experience with them and opinion has expanded their fake ABA school program. They have added more kids in their Eagan location. Let’s put this into perspective, this is not a private school because no parent pays one dime for it. It is not a public school because the Minnesota Department of Education does not give them one dime. It is a fake ABA school that is funded by Medicaid through Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).

Medicaid does not and should not cover educational services, according to DHS but for some reason – this fake school keeps getting millions of dollars from medical assistance via DHS. Why is DHS doing this and what are they doing about it? In one word – nothing. The why is what puzzles me. Let’s remember DHS goes after minority owned agencies if they sneeze the wrong way, but when it comes to WASP owned agencies, they nap, sleep, ignore, pretend to not see or hear. I wonder why that is. Institutional racism? well – as the saying goes “if it looks like a duck, acts like a duck it is a DUCK”.

I have been trying consistently and persistently to get DHS to treat all autism therapy agencies fairly to no success thus far. Their reasoning for not auditing or looking into the fake MAC school is probably in my opinion and many others in the autism community fake in itself. “we don’t have proof”. But you have an abundant amount of suspicion, so audit this fake school. My favorite other reason from DHS is “it is a complex and complicated issue”. Are you bleeping kidding me. When God forbid, a Somali day care agency does anything wrong, you are on them like white on rice and faster than a New York minute, but for MAC – it is complicated. Come on DHS. We are not buying this fake reason.

According to DHS “Medicaid does not cover services that include or replace academic goals that are otherwise included in the person’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan (FSP), as required under the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004”. This includes math, reading, writing or any educational services that are and should be covered by the child’s education plan.

Nevertheless, these items are exactly what the fake MAC school is teaching. My advice to Commissioner Piper and Assistant Commissioner Wilson – audit this MAC fake school that is being funded by Medicaid when it should not be. Interview current and previous employees who are told to provide education but write medical in their progress notes. Interview families who think they take their children to a free private school that they pay nothing for and are told Medicaid covers education, you know it does not. Visit this fake school and see it for yourself. Treat MAC as you treat all of the Somali day care centers and protect these vulnerable autistic kids and their families.

DHS – this is your responsibility and obligation to protect individuals with disabilities which includes autism.

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

Idil – autism mom and advocate

Category: Autism Policy