Enforce and Follow the Federal Law that Protects the Autistic
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I am attaching a photograph of an AUTISTIC WOMAN, named Temple Grandin. Temple Grandin is Autistic, but she is a brilliant intellectual and also an outspoken advocate for the Autistic in America, and a University Professor who changed the cattle industry. (See Temple Grandin's official site here).
She does not fit the stereotype society erroneously believes defines Autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder, ranging from low-functioning and non-verbal to high-functioning Autistic (like Temple Grandin) who perhaps are even well-spoken. But all have something in common, that is their varying degree of difficulty with socialization skills. Perhaps the stonewalling from the NC Attorney General, the Department of Education, from Autism societies themselves, Civil Rights agencies, to enforce the federal law that protects the Autistic comes from the simple fact that many are still very ignorant and presume that to be Autistic one must inherently be wheelchair-bound, low IQ, non-verbal and "mentally retarded".
Speaking of Temple Grandin, who works at Colorado State University (a legitimate, accredited educational institution and not a diploma mill like some for-profit institutions which exist solely, for profit)...
COLORADO: Attorney General announces $4.5 million settlement with Westwood College to address deceptive business practices (coloradoattorneygeneral.gov) Seems Ms. Grandin's state has good sense about what constitutes "legitimate education."
Dear Department of Education,
For years I have pleaded for the law to be obeyed but I have met with years of stonewalling and evasion. I have been harassed, any chances of obtaining a legitimate education ruined, financially ruined, cheated and lied to.
"There are two major exceptions to the presumption of an adult's legal capacity, one of which is being intoxicated when the agreement was made because intoxication can affect judgment. The second exception to legal capacity is mental illness or mental defect . Historically, this exception intended to protect individuals who were developmentally disabled or insane. Today, the category has been expanded to include those suffering from degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's, that may affect their cognitive abilities."
* Autism is defined as, "Developmentally Disabled" *
In 1995 I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My life was shattered following marriage with a murderer. I assisted the police in the investigation, he went to prison. I felt no ability to trust anyone afterward. He went to prison and my life was spent in seclusion and devastation for a decade. I began to try to piece my life together again, and in 2004 I wanted to pursue education to improve my life circumstances. The mental health system failed to see Autism through the symptoms of Post Trauma (the seclusion, the bullying when I was in school -- complete social isolation and ineptness and only diagnosed in 2010 with a son who was diagnosed the previous couple years) still, in 2004, I was attempting to make progress with my life when the worst imaginable nightmare should come my way. Foolishly mislead into believing Westwood College, a for-profit institution was properly credited and signed up... they told me not to worry, there were grants, scholarships, private loans (my only experience was JTPA/Pell Grant through Community College) and for the one year I was enrolled all along they were charging the tuition equivalent of Harvard and by all accounts, the certificate is worthless because it does not transfer to legitimate colleges and universities.
Beguiled, I remained with Westwood for one year, until one day receiving invoice and realizing "They have charged me over $20,000?!?!" I was in a state of shock, stunned... I had been scammed.
ILLINOIS STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES WESTWOOD:
COLORADO STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL SUING WESTWOOD:
More at this link. Westwood of course, admits no wrong-doing.
I was formally diagnosed with Autism as the root cause of my social awkwardness, my inability to connect with others on a level that I can protect myself from bullies, predatory behavior and scams. I don't see through people like other people can. It makes me vulnerable and that string of bad luck and misfortunes lead to all the circumstances which cause for me to develop severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Westwood College was just another brick in the wall.
As a vulnerable adult with Autism, it makes it nearly impossible to verbalize what I need to say. To advocate for myself. To get justice. I have appealed to all the "Autism Advocacy Agencies" and none seem to even care about the law. I contacted every civil rights organization, but none cared. I contacted lawyers hoping somebody would help me pro bono, none cared. I have written and tried for years, only for enforcement of the law that protects the Autism from predatory loans, to be snorted at. This is what happens to the poor, the vulnerable. I contacted "Legal Aide" of my state. They passed the buck on the Attorney General. The attorney general contacted the financial strong arm that was harassing me for non-payment of this diploma mill scam, "Sallie Mae" (whom itself was exposed by CBS 60 Minutes for discrimination and predatory tactics), the Attorney General contacted Texas Guaranteed, who escaped in a cloud of ink. They even contacted Nelnet, who sent me a form to get signed stating I have a disability, the "Total and Permanent Disability Discharge" but I refuse to sign it. But for whatever reason, I have NEVER heard back from the state attorney general about Westwood College's response. No lawsuit. Nothing. Silence. Nelnet? They provide the TPDD form for me to sign? I refuse to. For the simple reason now, if I sign, I know it would be the same as an admission I made a "consentual agreement" with the fraud dealt out to me by Westwood College. I never agreed to being financially ruined for a worthless certificate. Also, Autism is in fact a disabling condition, "Developmental Disability" which impairs social and cognitive judgment -- being taken advantage of in on par for the Autistic. However, in the event that I ever get the Westwood monkey off my back, I hope to obtain a LEGITIMATE education through a LEGITIMATE institution of higher learning, and for that, I refuse to think of myself as "totally disabled" nor "permanently" disabled.
The point is, the federal law says that if an Autistic person is signed into a contract, without fully informed consent and is victimized by predatory fraud -- that contract, Westwood College, can not actually be enforced. It is null and void.
No, Department of Education, I never consented to what Westwood College scammed me into signing. I want Westwood College to return every dime of the money borrowed in my name and I seek compensation from them for all the pain, suffering and years of terror inflicted on me by Sallie Mae's overly aggressive collection attempts which for years I contemplated committing suicide over until I finally chose to go off the radar and disappear without address, phone number or otherwise. I can not live a normal life because of Westwood College.
They destroyed all my hopes and dreams and ambitions for a valid education and a better life.
I want the federal law that protects the Autistic from predatory contracts, enforced.
I am not along, but I don't have even the benefit of being "normal" to have avoided the scam.
Westwood College Declines Interview with CBS. Is it any wonder?
"...Justin Schulthies, another Westwood student, borrowed $84,000 and also says he was never told the true cost. He describes his degree in videogame design as almost worthless." (Source)
Because of Westwood I have been driven to near suicide, not had my employability improved at all. They cost me everything. I lived in terror from 1995 from a murderer who caused me PTSD, and my PTSD exaserbated by the terror which Westwood College and Sallie Mae unleashed on my already fragile life.
Because I am not in a wheelchair, non-verbal and mentally retarded, the federal authorities and those who should help me, presume "You're fine. Lump it."
Stereotypes about what Autism is, and the discrimination that stems from those stereotypes are preventing me, from receiving the justice I should have over ten years ago.. somebody who would have protected me from predatory student loan contracts.
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
FAX: 202-453-6012; TDD: 800-877-8339
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