Alright – so, if you follow national autism news then you heard of Neli Latson who attracted a lot of national media attention. Neli was caught up in a system that is not always fair or even understands mental health, autism, disability and mental illness. I think most in law enforcement lack the proper training, education and awareness in how to deal with autistic kids and adults. Then when you add the color of one’s skin to the mix and often subtle bias policies in law enforcement then you get the exact situation that happened to Neli Latson. You can read Neli’s story in my previous post or here or here or here or just google his name.
At last Governor of Virgina Terry McAuliffe who got injuries resulting from a vacation in Africa managed to work from his hospital bed granting pardon for Neli who will now be able to go to a treatment center. “McAuliffe was up and working from his hospital room. He was making and taking calls and even granted a conditional pardon to an autistic Stafford inmate, confirmed spokesman Brian Coy that will clear the way for Reginald Latson to seek treatment for his autism”. Here is that full story of how wonderful this governor is in listening to everyone of not just his voters, but parents and advocates from around the country including me.
I could not help but think the contrast between our governor here in Minnesota and Gov of VA. I don’t live in VA, yet when I would call a lot to ask when and if Gov Terry can pardon this autistic young man – no one in his office ever told me that I was an angry Black woman, I did not live there, they could not do anything or call my local legislator which is what Dayton’s office does even for the voters that live in Minnesota. It was refreshing to hear kind people working in a state government office with no attitude and no elite personality.
There were hundreds if not thousands of autism parents, advocates and reporters calling about Neli, yet Gov Terry’s office never got overwhelmed, irritated, arrogant or out of touch as Dayton’s office often seems to be. It was simply amazing to see this kind of governing. It is too bad we don’t have that here in land of disparity mixed with ignorance and arrogance.
At any rate, Neli is now able to get the therapy and treatments he needs. Equally important is the fact that this has raised some important questions in how we can avoid this in the future. Although – I really have zero desire to advocate at MN state legislature this year, but If I were or If I could advice others who might is to ask a legislator to write an autism license plate legislation in which funding from that could go to autism wondering, training and education for Minnesota law enforcement in autism and other disabilities. The best person for this in the senate might be Sen Dibble and in the house – maybe Rep Dean. I think if asked or persuaded in a way that is reasonable – it could pass.
Finally, I would advice Neli’s mother who was a force in this to take her story to IACC and to Congress to assure what happened to her son never happens again to him or another child and ask for policies to prevent such tragedy.
As usual, above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee
Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate