TRIGGER WARNINGS: Abuse, neglect, murder of disabled people, discussions of such as systematic problemsPolice: Caretaker left autistic R.I. woman in hot car for three hours while gambling at Twin River.
And more recently, Autistic teen left on school bus 6 hours. Now we hit Texas, where a non-speaking Autistic 56 year old woman was left in a van for 5 hours (this is summer, she's in critical condition as I write this update, July 25, 2013.) It seems likely that she was locked in. Still Texas, still summer 2013, and we have a developmentally disabled man left in an SUV all day. He was found dead. No charges have been filed.
These are not jokes. I wish they were. A non-speaking autistic 15-year old was left on the school bus in the bus yard for six and a half hours, despite district policy that drivers need to check for students before leaving the bus. The district and union have not provided disciplinary information, so the driver may or may not have received consequences. A service provider for a non-speaking autistic woman left her in a hot car for three hours while he gambled at a casino. She was fired, at the least, but the fact that this happens is completely unacceptable. A service provider at a group home left an autistic woman in a hot van for five hours in Texas summer. Another left a disabled man in a hot SUV where he died. I wish I could call these isolated incidents, but I've seen worse incidents, including a woman pulling her adult autistic son out of his program, not finding a new one, and then killing him in a murder-suicide. She got pity for it. Usually abuses get ignored or excused because autistic people are just so hard to deal with. So when something actually comes up and gets seen as the horror that it is, it is often treated as an isolated incident because the others were ignored or excused. But it's NOT isolated. It's systematic. We have these. We have the eight year old girl who the police say is autistic (district says she has a different disability) who broke her ankle when the bus driver pushed off the bus with her foot. We have the temporary teacher who ground a shoe in the face of a five year old autistic boy. We have George Hodgins. We have the Judge Rotenburg Center, which while recently banned from shocking new students, can still use it's electric shocks as aversives on current students. (It's seen as OK because the students have disabilities. In many cases, they are autistic.) We have Daniel Corby. We have bleach enemas being marketed as a cure for autism. We have news casters suggesting that a mass murder was probably autistic with no evidence. We have an autistic 23 year old being denied a heart transplant largely because of his autism. (These three are links to change.org petitions on the issues, which also have some explanations of the issues. If you think these things are wrong, PLEASE sign.) We have the death of Al Bing. We have Jude, an eight year old whose mother says she killed him out of mercy. We have Matthew Graville, a 27 year old man who was missing for 4 months and was recently discovered to have been abused and killed by his stepbrother. Apparently his father also took money from his bank account after his death but before the official knowledge of the murder (he died after a beating and was reported missing several weeks after his death.) We have a school bus attendant choking an autistic student with a belt. We have the fact that a mother did kill her autistic child less than a week after "Autism Every Day" came out, a video in which a member of Autism Speaks admitted to daydreaming about driving off a bridge with her autistic child. We have lists of autistic people killed by caretakers and lists of disabled people murdered- the dedication of Loud Hands: Autistic People Speaking is such a list. It's horrible. It's all horrible. No service provider should leave the person they are supposed to be caring for alone in a hot car for hours while they gamble. No one should let a non-speaking child spend the day alone in a hot bus due to not checking. No person should be considered a saint for putting up with a disabled family member despite having abused them, having eventually not dealt with them, having eventually murdered them instead.
All of this said: A service provider left a non-speaking woman in a car for three hours while she gambled. She claimed that she just went in to use the bathroom, but the casino cameras show that it was three hours and that she gambled. She clearly expected to get away with this. She may have gotten away with this before. A bus driver who was supposed to check for students before getting off didn't, and a non-speaking autistic boy was left for hours. We don't know if the driver got away with it because the union won't tell us. A service provider left a woman alone in a possibly locked van for five hours and doesn't even have an excuse of what they were doing. These are horrible incidents. These are not isolated incidents, but a systematic problem, need to be handled as such. We need the world to understand that abusing or neglecting or murdering an autistic person is harming a person, not a somehow not quite a person because of being autistic person-ish thing. We need this sort of thing to stop, and we need it to not start again, and we need ways to make sure people are held accountable when it happens. Because more often than not, they aren't.