Monthly Archives: January 2022

Comments Off on Autism Training For All MN Law Enforcement – It is a Reality Now!

Alright – so, I have written about this issue extensively and have advocated for it in both the state and federal. Minnesota has passed an awesome law that will address the need to train and educate law enforcement in a manner that is culturally responsive. First, I want to give credit to the many many people in the autism community who fought like hell to pass this law. Noah M, Autism Soc of Minn, and others. Thanks for your relentless advocacy.

I first joined this effort years ago when my son had a behavior in the car in the middle of the highway.  I called 911 and the state trooper that came pointed a gun at us. Let’s digest this, I am from Somalia, arguably the most dangerous country in the world and I have never had a gun pointed at me. I had to then stay calm and tell the officer my son has autism and he is having a behavior. And that I need him to help me get out of the highway and into a safe area. After I explained this to the state trooper, he was extremely supportive and helpful. Then I asked him if he has had any autism training. He replied not much maybe a few minutes with all of the other disability training which is not even that much.

So then as I have always done, I have put on my advocacy hat and tried to figure out what can I do so that the next autism family does not endure such a scary moment. First, I called the Department of Public Safety Commissioner Mona D’s office and tried to find out their policies for training state troopers about autism. Her office was very responsive and after I gathered data and facts, I made an appointment with their training person (s). They were also very receptive and helpful. After several meetings and email exchanges, they said around 15 min or so can be added to the hundreds of state troopers that get trained annually.

Then I contacted the city I live and Mpls mayors to see if they can also train their officers about autism and how to help if they are called for help. My wonderful case manager for my son and I met with the chief of policy in where I live. I have to say, I loved meeting this guy. He too said they can add autism training to their procedures. And, wait for it… the best part…. drum roll please…, he watched the young and the restless and the Kardashians. I mean a police chief who is down-to-earth and approachable. It does not get better than that. Hold your horses – all mayors and police chiefs are not created equal, I also met with Mpls mayor Jacob F. Keep in mind, I knew this guy way before he was a hotshot mayor and he was at least reasonable. No more, when we met with him, he promised nothing and offered even less. He was distant and simply took our votes for granted.

Then I met the chair of the public safety in MN House Rep. M in an education advocacy meeting and started asking if a statewide bill that ensures autism training can be done because I can’t keep asking one city at a time as that will take forever and some of them may say no like Mpls did. By this time, others such as Noah and others were heavily advocating at the state capitol for this, so I joined. Finally, the law passed and was sent to the Minn Peace Officers committee. I called them to see if they can make sure and add cultural perspectives since all behaviors are embedded in their culture. Again, I was met with such a supportive and kind manner by their chair who is the chief of police in Mendota Heights. Now, it is out and it has been sent to me. It simply looks fantastic. It is inclusive, thoughtful, comprehensive, and really good.

I think the next step is to start this with the selected groups/agencies who will do the training and support law enforcement agencies.

You see if we see the glass as half full and figure out how to change our experiences into something usually some kind of a policy that helps the autism family behind us – then we all succeed.

Here is the statute if you want to read it. The POST came up with more comprehensive ideas of what should be included in the training.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Advocate

Category: Autism Policy

Comments Off on Children with Autism Become Adults with Autism

I have sent the below letter to IACC. I am hopeful the committee will address many of these issues for all autism families.


Dear IACC Chair and Members, 

My name is Idil Abdull, I am a Somali Autism Mom and a previous member at IACC. First, I want to thank you all for what you have done and continue to do for children and adults with autism and their families. I especially want to thank Dr. Susan Daniels whom I respect and admire more than I can express. I am grateful that the current US. HHS Secretary has appointed arguably the most diverse public members to IACC. I hope the fruits of your labor are fruitful to all autistic individuals and families.

I write to you today to raise awareness when children with autism become adults with autism. As you know the support, resources, and services for adults with autism are almost non-existence. While it is essential to have early interventions with the hope that children who receive early intervention need fewer services and support; there must be equal support and services for adults with autism. As you are aware autism has increased per the latest ADDM numbers.

I would like to suggest the following friendly suggestions or at least raise awareness. 

  1. Expanding research for adults with autism and their needs such as housing, employment, and higher education.
  2. Recommending more research for medications that can help adults and maybe even children with autism with their challenges and symptoms.
  3. CMS to help states with ensuring home and environmental safety measures are good with concrete federal guidelines that must be followed to ensure the safety and well-being of adults with autism.
  4. Asking the U.S Dept of Education to pressure Congress to fully fund special education.
  5. Asking or at least adding IACC’s recommendations that IDEA’s suspension rules are amended; currently, children with disabilities are suspended similar to students without disabilities. Autism is a behavior disorder and we can not allow our children to be suspended for their behaviors as that is part of their disability. There must a provision in the IDEA law that ensures parents and the IEP team can state in the child’s education plan if he/she understands the code of conduct and suspension. In other words, if the student is profoundly autistic and does not comprehend cause/effect then kicking that student out of school is not helpful, and it must be notated in his/her IEP.
  6. Having diverse autism individuals participate in all autism research by adding it as a requirement in the grant/funding application process.
  7. More research recommendations and funding for non-verbal autism as these individuals have higher needs.
  8. Asking HRSA to ensure the LEND programs attract, keep, and nurture minority fellows into the autism field of speech, ABA, OT, social workers, researchers, etc.
  9. Addressing the pandemic and autism so that families, educators, and others have some guidance from the IACC and federal agencies in this committee. This includes vaccine equity and making the vaccines available to all autism communities, particularly communities of color.
  10. Autism group homes – as parents age, some of our children will need to live in a group home. What and how can IACC assist states with this.

I thank you much for your time and for addressing the above issues, and I look forward to your solutions.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom

Category: Autism Policy

Comments Off on MN DHS Fails Again – Environmental Accessibility Adaptation (EAA)

Alright – so, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is supposed to be in charge and have cohesive policies and guidelines for all things human services. EAA – what the heck is it and why does it matter to children with autism and their families? As we know, autism is a developmental disability; one of the main challenges is behavior. Most not all children with autism are unable to regulate their behaviors. Hence, the need for behavior therapy. Most, not all children also lack safety skills. When our children are young, we (parents and caregivers) can usually handle their behaviors and safety needs. However, as children become young adults, we need to safely modify their homes and environment. That is when we (at least me) learn about EAA.

Remember years ago when we started advocating about ABA therapy and how MN DHS had zero rules, statute, policy, or any guidance for ABA providers. Actually, DHS just denied they even paid ABA therapy. They did – but only for wealthier TEFRA families. Eventually, we won with simple and persistent advocacy.

At any rate, I thought that was the wild wild west. Well, I take that back. DHS and EAA agencies are the real wild wild west. This time – it is different. DHS does not deny paying for EAA. They just have no concrete nor cohesive fair policies that ensure the individual with autism and/or other disabilities’ safety needs are met. These EAA’s make the ABA agencies look like mother Teresa. I mean, they are as cold as Minnesota snow, clueless as Rose from the Golden Girls, and arrogant as heck. It can take months even years to finish any safety project which defeats the purpose of safety if a person with a disability has to wait years. As much as I loathe most of these EAA agencies, I do not blame them for their boorish behaviors. There are 87 counties in Minnesota and essentially 87 EAA rules. The problem is DHS and it is inability to take charge by creating thoughtful policies with statutory teeth that everyone follows with timeframes, cost-effective measures, and most of all are built on a person-centered and inclusivity foundation. Is that too much to ask? I say no.

So, how does this whole EAA process work? who is in charge? where does the funding come from? and what can we (parents and caregivers) do about it so that it does what it is meant to do which is to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals with autism and other disabilities are met and are a priority?

Stay tuned for yet another advocacy journey I am about to embark on.  Though this time it will be different and perhaps more difficult because DHS has so many new leadership teams; most of whom I am not fond of. Seriously, I would like to retire and not keep going to the state capitol. It would be nice if the human services department simply did its job for people with disabilities without causing stress for parents.

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

Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Advocate

Category: Autism Policy