Sunday, February 23, 2014

Autism Speaks "Expert" Says Parents Waste Time Fighting Abuse and Restraint

An article and video came to my attention from NBC 4, Southern California (via DoNotLink):
Lawsuit Against School District Alleges Mistreatment of Child With Autism

"The parents of an 11-year-old boy with autism have filed a lawsuit against the Orange Unified School District on allegations of physical and psychological abuse."  GOOD FOR THEM. Too bad that parents have to fight, one by one, abuses that do occur in schools, some of which have caused DEATHS. For more on that read the detailed GAO report from a 2009 study here: Selected Cases of Death and GAO United States Government Accountability Office Testimony Before the Committee on Education and Labor, House of Representatives SECLUSIONS AND RESTRAINTS Abuse at Public and Private Schools and Treatment Centers . Why was the child is this case RESTRAINED BY TWO ADULTS FOR OVER 12 MINUTES? HE WAS CRYING. It makes ME want to cry.

Interestingly, and, NBC 4 Southern California, please do some FACT CHECKING before you tell parents that their lawsuits won't matter, Block-Nerren, rather than being any autism expert at all, is a marketer and owner at a media services company. FMS raises funds for Autism Speaks, which hardly qualifies one as an "autism expert." I am not sure why NBC wants to tout a theme that suggests that parents are wasting their time fighting abuses in school systems.

This is what the autism "expert" does- raises funds for Autism Speaks. After all that money (remember the 62 million?) that Autism Speaks raises, you would think they would get an expert who could quote law, cases, etc. No. Instead,"An autism expert says there are times when a child can be restrained, such as if they are posing a threat to themselves or to others." and then goes on to "reassure" parents: "According to autism expert [name deleted, why promote it] the legal battle the Ashlines are fighting won't help parents of other autistic children. "There’s this saying that if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. And the reason why is because all of our kids are different," ["autism expert"] said." What a downer. Especially for parents who are in the midst of more lawsuits than I can count against school systems where abuses have occurred.

Besides being one of the most inane things I have ever read about "why a lawsuit won't help," (really? Maybe Brown v. Board of Education should have been canceled because no two African Americans are alike?), it shows that people who are close to Autism Speaks, whether staff, or major volunteer-fundraisers (but not actual experts) are, typically, very negative about anything related to autism (other than fundraising). Parents have confided how discouraged they are with Autism Speaks, but to my knowledge, this is the first time one of their representatives has come out so strongly anti-parent. In my sector of the Autistic Community, we are used to Autism Speaks saying things like I am autism. I’m visible in your children, but if I can help it, I am invisible to you until it’s too late. I always thought that meant that Autism Speaks was throwing its weight behind parents, as though "parent" and "Autistic" were somehow diametrically opposed. They're not, but that's a topic for a different blog entry. Now, I am pretty sure that what Autism Speaks really supports is.... Autism Speaks. Look at the client list for Felten Media, and you see a whole lot of ... Autism Speaks. I decided to erase the names of a lot of the other clients, but am wondering if any of the law firms represented are the ones working for the Orange Unified School District. Why doesn't someone other than me follow up on that, please. (They might not be but it is something to wonder about...)

She should clearly stay out of discussing whether or not parents should exercise their rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Here's a site to get any parents reading this started. Note: I am doing this whilst also completing a work deadline so am providing one link to get people started: Abuse, Restraints and Seclusion in School.

Dear Autism Speaks "expert," Inappropriate restraints in schools: It happens all. the. time. If class action suits were permitted, it would happen A LOT LESS. Maryland General Assembly: Place the Burden of Proof on School Districts in IDEA Due Process Cases & Support Maryland's Most Vulnerable Children ( Julie Reiley Petition by Julie Reiley Bethesda, MD
Learn more about this legislation here:

NOTE: I removed the name of the media services company. No point in giving them free advertising.

Another note: I removed the screen shot of the person because it was not necessary. At first I thought it would help explain something but it really does not.


BiolArtist said...

Thank you for investigating. I hope this incident generates the same kind of blowback for A$ that their statement at the Autism Policy Summit did.

Nate sportyboy said...

i don't think autism is all the same exact thing either, but that gives no one any right to restrain someone the way they did and it certainly doesn't mean i think autism is an illness.

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