72 petitions

Update posted 6 days ago

Petition to NYC Department of Education

End Discrimination of Autistic Kids in District 30

The NYC DOE has denied parents an ASD Nest program for middle school in District 30, claiming that there is no demand for such a program in the district. ASD Nest is an inclusive classroom model where children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learn alongside typically developing peers.  An ASD Nest middle school classroom requires only 5 students with autism and offers 20 seats to general education students. The NYC DOE’s position that there is no demand for an ASD Nest middle school is an outright lie. There is a waitlist beyond the 30 ASD Nest seats in District 30's elementary program.  Kids are already being placed in ASD Nest elementary programs outside the district due to lack of available Nest seats in District 30. National statistics' claim that approximately 1.5% of all children have ASD. Out of 3,000 rising 6th graders in District 30, there are many rising 6th graders who would be potential candidates for ASD Nest beyond the waitlist. The NYC DOE knows that there is a demand for an ASD Nest middle school program in District 30 and is refusing to put one in District 30. Instead, while parents of general education students get to choose from all of the middle school options within District 30, parents of students with autism who live in District 30 have no options to continue the ASD Nest program in District 30. This directly contradicts section 200.13 of the Regulations from the NY State Commissioner of Education, stating “all school districts are required to furnish appropriate educational programs for students with autism from the date they become eligible for a free appropriate public education until they obtain a high school diploma.” Moreover, when District 30 parents found a middle school interested and willing to host the ASD Nest program, Superintendent Philip Composto rejected the request. Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced in her Equity and Excellence for All, a plan to bring greater diversity to the city’s schools, including recommending increased access to middle schools for students with disabilities. Superintendent Composto and the NYC DOE’s decision to ignore the demand in District 30 breaks that promise. Only 4 middle schools offer the ASD NEST program in Queens—3 are in District 25 (East Flushing/Kew Gardens Hills) and 1 is in District 27 (Far Rockaway). District 30 ASD Nest students are facing unreasonably long commute times, often on buses without air conditioning. Groups like IncludeNYC, Parents to Improve School Transportation NYC, and Public Advocate Letitia James have well documented problems with the specialized transportation provided by the NYC Office of Pupil Transportation. Plus, buses pick up and drop off at multiple schools with multiple start/end times, requiring students to wait for other students to be picked up and dropped off at different sites while they wait in their seats. This can mean that the most vulnerable kids often spend HOURS on a bus for even the shortest ride. The funding for such long commutes could be easily used to create more local options. In District 30, when children with ASD who are able to perform with their typically developing peers academically are bussed off to another district because no program exists to support them, that is discrimination. Worse, restricting access to students with autism in this way violates the American with Disabilities Act and the 504 Rehabilitation Act. Our children deserve better. We demand that the NYC DOE place an ASD Nest program in a District 30 middle school for the 2018-2019 school year.  

District 30 Parents for ASD NEST Program Expansion
637 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Jeff Jorgensen (Director of Students Support Services), Lisa O'Brien (Assistant Clerk), Leny Wallen-Friedman, Sarah Patzloff, Regina Neville, David Goldstein, Amir Gharbi, Randy Meyer, Cory Graham, Ric Dressen, Kari Dahlquist

Move Creek Valley Elementary start time to 8:30 or 9:25

The Edina School Board just voted to move Creek Valley Elementary's  start time from 9:15 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. beginning in September 2017. Creek Valley will be the only elementary school in the district to start this early. All other elementary schools will either start at 8:40 a.m. or 9:25 a.m. Originally, Creek Valley was slated to be in the 9:25 a.m. slot but was moved down to 7:50 a.m. because of traffic concerns and finances.  My main concerns as a parent are:  1) Safety: A 7:50 a.m. start time means kids will be catching the bus very early in the morning. Kids will now be catching the bus and walking to school in the dark. Our neighborhood does not have sidewalks or many streetlights. Walking around the neighborhood in the dark is dangerous. 2) Traffic: The school board did not commission a traffic study before making their decision. We are concerned that with Creek Valley and Valley View Middle School starting at the same time, there will be an increase in traffic on Valley View and Gleason. In addition, there will be a likely increase in the amount of parents who drop off their children. Where will find extra parking spaces in the lot? Parent drop-off and pick up is already crowded with a line of cars that spills down Gleason.  3) Extra Curricular Activities: If Creek Valley ends at 2:20 p.m. and the rest of the schools end near 4 p.m., after school sports practices and game times will not change. Our CV kids will have to wait for other elementary schools to dismiss. Also, if your child plays hockey or attends dance classes, most of these take place at 7 p.m. or later. How will they get enough sleep? 4) Equity: Having one elementary school start so early compared to others goes against the administration and board's commitment to equity. It's not fair for one school to start much earlier than the others. Several people who have already signed this petition said they open enroll and drive from Eden Prairie or Minneapolis and it will not be possible to get to school so early. 5) Daycare/Childcare costs: A 2:20 p.m. dismissal is very early for working parents. Childcare at Kids Club or after school nannies are now going to be an extra expense. The current end time of 3:50 p.m. allows some working families to stagger their work day and be able to pick up their children or be home by the time the bus drops them off at home. One Creek Valley family will now have to spend $6000 a year for Kids Club. That's like paying property taxes twice. 6) Que Tal: Our before-school Spanish program will either not be available for Creek Valley students or reduced to only half an hour: 7 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.  7) Special Needs: Children on the autism spectrum and with other special needs thrive on routine and schedule. This 1.5 hour change is too drastic. There are also staffing concerns. Six paraeducators/paraprofessionalsin the special education/autism program have said they will not return in September 2017. Their children are also in the district going to different schools that start at 9:25am. They can't come in to work at 7:50am. Their pay is low and they won't be able to afford childcare easily. Also, there are special needs services before school for children who need extra help with reading and math. When will these classes be held? 8) Buses: If you watch the end of the school board video, you'll see it comes down to a financial issue of two buses. Administration says it will cost about $200,000 for two new buses. But what about leasing them? Or hiring them from a charter service?  So I'm asking all Creek Valley Elementary parents, staff and community to come together and sign this petition to get the Edina School Board to vote again and to move Creek Valley Elementary to a better start time. Show them we care about our children, special needs and neurotypical. Let's get them to vote again.

Feroza Mehta
670 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Journalists , DAVID CHAVERN, NAMI , Reno Gazette Journal, Gannett, Dallas News, AJC , UBC , Sacramento Bee, Tennessean , The Fresno Bee, Fresnobee News, Sacbee Opinion, Fresnobee Journalist, Valley Public Radio, Denver Post, Star Tribune, McClatchy , Pioneer News Group, Disney , Sarasota Herald, Sentinel , Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NWHerald , ABC , ABC Entertainment, KFSN , ABC Nightline, 20/20 , Nightline , Denver Post News, Mother Jones, HarperCollins , Harper Collins, Hello HarperCollins, HarperCollins Person, HarperCollins Contact, , Harper Collins Email, More Harper Collins, Harper Collins Book, HuffPost , The Mighty, Today Show, NBC , Simons Foundation, Spectrum News, Kirkus Reviews, Ron Suskind, Book Browse, FYI , autism speaks, Target , Target - Gregg Steinhafel, Target Asst., Target Customer Support

Journalists Include Autistics In Your Interviews | We are a Misrepresented People

Autistics are being denied their voice in news publications, online media and all other journalistic mediums. Autistics are a people with our own identity, history, culture and community. We use identity-first language. Autistics are an ethnic group and a neurominority.  We ask that you include us in all matters that involve Autistics, and help bring public enlightenment by reporting on pressing Autistic Community issues: Suicide (#1 cause of death) Caregiver Abuse & Murder Poverty Homelessness Incarceration Autistic Conversion Therapy Zero services and supports for Autistic Adults -- including psychiatric crisis care. (Yes our #1 cause of death is suicide, and yet we are sent home to die by psych wards because they don't know how to treat us.) We ask that you report on the very real prejudices Autistics face daily, our civil rights movement, and community perspectives. We are proud of our birthright and Autistic heritage.  Also, please be sensitive to Autistic Erasure. Autistic women and Autistic mother identities have been co-opted by neurotypical moms of Autistics. The only Autism Mom is an Autistic Mom -- all others are Neurotypical/Non-Autistic Moms of Autistic kids. (FYI: It's a cruelty to be an Autistic woman/mom and be invisible and have even makeup marketed to Autism Moms, and not acknowledging actual Autistic women in marketing.) We ask that you reference #TheAutisticUnion Points & our Autistic Charter of Rights (included below) and keep it in consideration when reporting. If you find these points of humanity not being respected by Autism advocates/organizations -- they are not representatives of Autistic People. Rather, most likely, these are  parent-led organization without Autistic voice and leadership - they ought to be noted in stories as such.  There is an incredible and unfair spread of misinformation about Autistics, and a backlash every time we have positive focus in media. We ask that standard journalistic ethics apply to the Autistic People too. We have a right to life, and deserve to be treated with fairness, justice and integrity. Sincerely, Eve Reiland | Autistic Ambassador & Founder of Proud Autistic Union Member. We are worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  _______________________________________________________ #TheAutisticUnion THE 10 POINTS OF Âû (The Autistic Union) I am Autistic. [or] I support those who are Autistic. I embrace my Autism as a very significant part of my identity. I embrace those who would sacrifice to protect all Autistic life. I embrace the belief that Autism does not need any “curing”. I embrace the self-advocacy goal of “Everything about us, with us”. I embrace the definition of Autism as a neuro-social difference. I embrace measures directed at protecting Autistics from attack. I embrace a person-centred approach to all Autism issues. I embrace rigorous scientific approaches to co-occurring conditions. I embrace Autistics leading their own welfare organisations. _______________________________________________________ International Charter of Autists Rights 1. THE RIGHT TO LIFE We will prevent eugenic elimination of autistic people by opposing pre-natal testing for autism. With the right support services in place, all autistic people are capable of living meaningful and fulfilling lives.  However, negative media coverage and deliberate pity campaigning have created the public opinion that autism is a “tragedy”, and that people with autism have no hope of achieving anything.  As such, the availability of a pre-natal test would cause the majority of autistic people to be aborted. A recent study has shown that 91-93% of foetuses that test positive for Down Syndrome are aborted.  As autism is genetic, if these figures were similar for a pre-natal test for autism, the autistic population would be decimated, and autistic culture would be destroyed. Also, the majority of worldwide autism fundraising currently supports genetic research.  If this money were to be channelled into support services, autistic people would have a much greater chance of living productive lives. 2. THE RIGHT TO HUMANITY We will oppose physically or mentally harmful “treatments” targeting autistic people. Due to the public perception of autism, a large number of unethical treatments have become quite common.  These include physically harmful treatments (such as aversive behavioural therapies or restraints), mentally harmful treatments (such as 20-40 hr/week ABA, restriction of non-harmful stimming and other autistic coping mechanisms), dangerous non-medically approved therapies based on discredited theories or religious beliefs (such as chelation or exorcism), and therapies that would be called “torture” if they were used on nonautistic children (such as the electroshock “behavioural” devices). 3. THE RIGHT TO PARITY We will emphasise the “spectrum” view of autism, and de-emphasise the differences between the various autism spectrum labels. There are several different labels used for people throughout the autistic spectrum.  These include “High Functioning” autism, “Low Functioning” autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD-NOS.  The differences between these labels are often quite blurry, and are often based around childhood development, which has little bearing on the nature of an autistic adult. One of the largest barriers to accessing support service is the use of sub-groupings to assign support, rather than assessing the needs of the individual.  This means that, for example, someone with “high functioning” autism may be denied needed housing support due to the label, whereas someone with “low functioning” autism may be deemed unfit for activities of which they are entirely capable. The autistic spectrum covers a very wide range of people, and these people do not always fit neatly into the available groupings.  Often these groupings are barriers to understanding, rather than tools for understanding.  Essentially, the people in all the above groups are all a part of the autistic spectrum, and generalisation of the specific groups within the spectrum is counterproductive.  The personality and needs assessment of a person on the spectrum should be looked at on an individual basis, rather than on the basis of a label. 4. THE RIGHT TO IDENTITY We will oppose the idea of an autism “cure”. Part of the problem with the “autism as tragedy” point of view is that it carries with it the idea that a person is somehow separable from autism, and that there is a “normal” person trapped “behind” the autism. Being autistic is something that influences every single element of who a person is – from the interests we have, the ethical systems we use, the way we view the world, and the way we live our lives.  As such, autism is a part of who we are. To “cure” someone of autism would be to take away the person they are, and replace them with someone else. Also, funding for “cure” research is unlikely to ever produce a result.  In the meantime, support services for autistic people are under-funded.  This money would be far better used to help existing autistic people. The “cure” mentality also influences cultural treatment of autistic people.  Many parents focus on the idea of finding a cure for their child, and may neglect actual help and support in the process.  Also, teaching children that they are “broken” and need to be “fixed” has long-term consequences for their mental health. 5. THE RIGHT TO SAFETY We will seek evaluation of alleged treatments for ethical approaches. One of the problems with the current state of autism treatments is that there is little in the way of quality control, and often a suggested treatment is commenced without thought for the ethics involved.  Some examples of unethical practices include the use of aversives (e.g. “behavioural” physical harm, denial of food, deliberate triggering of sensory overloads), unreasonably long hours (e.g. many people advocate 40hrs/week of ABA), potentially dangerous treatments (e.g. Chelation), and focusing on “normalisation” rather than help (e.g. restricting non-damaging autistic behaviours, such as stims). 6. THE RIGHT TO SUPPORT We will seek increased funding for, and access to, autistic support services and ethical forms of treatment. Many forms of treatment are highly beneficial to many autistic people – for example, speech therapy, sensory integration therapy, and general counselling.  Also, ongoing support services can help people live more productive lives – for example, emergency housing, specialised medical services, and employment support services. 7. THE RIGHT TO REPUTATION We will oppose negative publicity campaigns against autistic people as a group. The majority of autism fundraising is currently generated using “pity” campaigning, suggesting that autism is tragedy, disease, or epidemic that needs to be stopped.  Unfortunately, this point of view has propagated itself through to talk shows, news stories, and other forms of media coverage. The usual technique is to show nothing but footage of (presumably) autistic children having tantrums, and then footage of parents complaining about their lives.  It is very rare to see footage of an autistic child engaged in ordinary activities and even rarer to see footage of an autistic adult. This “tragedy” view of autism is extremely damaging to autistic people, far beyond the scope that any funds generated could justify.  It causes employment discrimination, it worsens social isolation, and it leads some parents to give up on helping their children, in favour of holding onto a false hope of a cure. Some organisations take this even further, using phrases such as “soulless”, “worse than cancer”, or “incapable of love”.  One of the biggest anti-autistic organisations, Autism Speaks, even went so far as to create a propaganda film in which a woman talks about wanting to drive herself and her autistic child off a bridge.  This statement was made while her autistic child was in the same room. These campaigns are based on stereotypes, prejudice, and deliberate misrepresentation, and they need to be stopped. 8. THE RIGHT TO ACCURACY We will help promote an accurate yet positive image of autism. One of the aims of our organisation is to help create a more positive view of autistic people, by showing the things we actually do, and emphasising positive stories about autistic groups and people.  Autistics are a very diverse group, and our differences are a very valuable part of human diversity. The reason for including the word “accurate” is that, although autistic people have achieved great things in art, science, mathematics, writing, and other creative endeavours, it is often the case that this is exaggerated to say that all autistics are geniuses – which has the unfortunate side effect of suggesting that an autistic person needs to be a genius to be considered a worthwhile human being. Another extreme is the desire of some groups to ascribe mystical qualities to autistic people, which has the side effect of dehumanising autistic people. Autistic people are everywhere.  There is a good chance that you work with or know an autistic person without realising it.  Autism is not a tragedy, or a side effect of genius – it is a difference to be valued.  9. THE RIGHT TO EQUALITY To oppose all forms of prejudice and bigotry. Many problems associated with autism are caused, or worsened, by prejudice.  The root of this is prejudice itself – if we deal with only the forms of prejudice that currently relate to autism, another form of prejudice will rise up to replace them. Because of this, we choose to oppose all forms of prejudice and bigotry. This includes forms of bigotry related to autistic culture, such as: The idea that being neurotypical (i.e. not autistic, or another psychological neurotype) is “better” than being autistic. (Note: this does not relate to talking about specific abilities, just to the idea of general “betterness”). The idea that being autistic is “better” than being neurotypical. (Note: again, this does not relate to talking about specific abilities, just to the idea of general “betterness”). The idea that some labels on the autistic spectrum are acceptable, but others are tragedies.The idea that Asperger’s Syndrome or PDD-NOS should not be part of the autistic spectrum. The idea that people have no right to self-identify as autistic.   

Eve Reiland
260 supporters
Update posted 2 weeks ago

Petition to Governor Terry McAuliffe

Decriminalize Autism and Save Drew

Our son, Drew Harrison, has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and is currently serving three active years of a 50-year prison sentence. Drew’s Autism was not taken into consideration at trial or sentencing. We are petitioning Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. Drew reconnected with a woman he had dated in high school. The evening before inviting him to her apartment she shared her interest in BDSM, submissive sex. She told Drew that her boyfriend was too tired after work to please her sexually. Upon arrival she laid a blanket on the floor, she allowed him to massage her shoulders and feet, she showed him her semi-nude, erotic photos of herself and engaged in sexualized talk. In the bedroom he easily removed her shirt and pants. Drew gave the woman oral sex and put a finger in her vagina. When she told him to stop he stopped. The two of them texted and emailed back and forth hundreds of times post event. They even got together a few times. On one occasion they went to a bookstore where she pointed out an erotic BDSM book for Drew to buy. Six months after the evening in her apartment she reported to the police that the contact in her bedroom was nonconsensual. Those with ASD typically have a strike or two against them when entering a courtroom. The pace of questioning often exceeds their ability to process everything that is heard. Their high anxiety and repetitive statements can be mistaken as indicators of deception or guilt. Without an understanding of their unique way of processing information and their difficulty expressing anger appropriately a court can easily question credibility and reach a faulty conclusion.  Drew’s therapist testified that Drew has a strong desire to please, that he has learned to fake well in order to fit in. The judge interpreted this as our son’s ability to be deceitful and he used it as part of the reason for convicting Drew. He never asked the autism experts in the courtroom for clarification regarding Drew’s social and communication deficits.  In a letter presented to the judge Drew’s probation officer noted that Drew complied with all probation conditions for over two years. She stated that if this were a regular case without the appeal process she would request early release from probation. She added that Drew passed the state-issued polygraph without deception. Results were consistent with the not guilty plea Drew has maintained from the beginning.      The judge stated that he didn’t view Drew as a threat to the community or the woman. He emphasized that he was sending Drew to prison as a general deterrence to others because that is what the community would want him to do. Drew’s therapists are convinced that Drew is innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. They warned the court that incarceration would be torture for our son. In prison Drew suffered a break down after abrupt medication changes and being moved from isolation into general population. To deaden his senses from loud clanging doors, the bright buzzing lights and the chatter of inmates Drew often wears ear plugs and wraps a shirt around his head. He struggles to navigate the unwritten rules of inmates. Drew lives in fear and overwhelm. He begs us, “Please get me out of here”. Prison visits are bittersweet. We are grateful to spend time with our son, but heartbroken as we see him deteriorate. We are asking Governor McAuliffe to grant Drew a pardon. We ask for your support by signing this petition. My blog gives additional details and excerpts from transcripts. It shows the considerable reasonable doubt and injustice.  Thank you, Judy and John Harrison       

Judy Harrison
2,581 supporters