Alright – so, Sen. Abeler whose Minnesota Autism Task Force legislation he wrote the last session did not pass because it was in a big unrelated bill that Governor Dayton vetoed came up with a different plan – an autism council working group.
He announced it in his committee mid-October and appointed three Caucasian members to select the remaining members. No person of color was part of the selecting committee. Already a bad start.
The three selected are Jean Bender who has been in almost every committee in Minnesota from the previous autism task force to being a member of Arc and Autism Society of Minnesota. In fact, Jean bounces from one mainstream agency to another. She has a child with autism.
When she and I served in a previous autism task committee, Jean always voted against equality. In my humble little opinion, she is arrogant, charming, passive-aggressive and polite. I remember once she and the current chair of the Bloomington Public Schools – Dawn S took off the Somali autism agency which I was a part of from the task force – their reason – wait for it……pls wait…..it is so Minnesota Nice!
They said – well Idil, you don’t speak for every Somali autism parent. My response was simply – do you speak for every white autism parent in Minnesota. Then save your useless opinion. At any rate, the fact that Abeler would pick her is worrisome and concerning.
It is also worrisome Abeler who knew from the get-go what our fight was always about would write a legislation that would have any selective and discriminatory words such as anyone who served in the 2011 autism task force would not serve in the current one which would’ve eliminated Jean, Brad T and others. I am deeply disappointed in Sen. Abeler whom I consider a good friend and almost like a brother because he and I have been around the autism block.
The second person that Abeler picked is Wayne R who also has a son with autism. In my humble little opinion, he is not too bad unless of course, you are a parent who does not believe vaccines cause autism. Then folks like Wayne are mean-spirited towards other autism parents. In fact, he and his anti-vaccine group have used, manipulated and divided Somali autism parents.
The last and third person is Sheryl Grassie whom I don’t know well and don’t have an opinion on. Actually, update on this. I met Ms Grassie after she reached out to me back a few years ago when she was advocating for an autism residential housing which I was not able to help her with because I did not think it related to our community culturally. Oh boy, she has not changed. Still as cocky as she was back then is what I remember.
My hope was that Sen. Abeler’s first picks would reflect Minnesota’s autism population, but they are as white as vanilla. I am surprised at Abeler’s move as this is not usually like him.
Below is what Abeler’s language is for this so-called autism council. I for one have zero desire to be part of it but I will blog about it and update what they do or don’t do.
Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom