Last month, new video was released of an off-duty Chicago police officer shooting an 18-year-old with autism on the city’s Far South Side in 2017. Ricky Hayes had eloped that night and began skipping through a local neighborhood when he could not find his way home.
Upon locating Hayes, the off-duty sergeant engaged in an “armed confrontation” with the teen, police said at the time, after thinking Hayes was pulling a gun on him. The new footage shows the teen was not aggressive as the sergeant initially claimed.
With individuals of color on the autism spectrum being at a higher risk for an incident with police, Milestones Autism Resources urges first responders everywhere to make autism training a priority. Proper education and understanding can keep traumatic encounters like this from occurring in the future.
To learn more about autism and available educational resources, please visit milestones.org or call us at 216.464.7600.
Milestones was recently honored to work with The ACLU of Ohio and All Voting is Local in creating visual materials to educate voters with disabilities about their rights.
In collaboration with these organizations, Milestones helped to create more visually based materials that provide information about how individuals with disabilities can register to vote as well as how they can access accommodations. Please take this valuable time before Nov. 6th to share them with friends and loved ones!
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Knowing the best time to prepare your child or young adult for the world beyond high school is tough. However, it is my hope that by implementing the three strategies outlined below, you and your child will gain the confidence you need to navigate the transition process.
Knowing your legal rights is the first strategy. At Disability Rights Ohio, our motto is “we have the legal right of way,” meaning individuals with disabilities have the legal right to be active in society and enjoy every opportunity that all Americans do. While your child is in secondary school, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which requires students with a disability receive Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) tailored to their individual needs, i.e. special education, protects them. When students leave special education, they step out of the legal protections of the IDEA and into the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
There are several key differences between the IDEA and ADA you need to know. The first is how one’s disability is identified. Under IDEA, the school district is responsible to identify the needs of students who may require special education. Under the ADA, responsibility lies with the person with a disability to “self-disclose” their disability to receive “reasonable accommodations” from employers and college/training programs. To help you learn more about self-disclosing, the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability/Youth (NCWD/Y) has valuable resources on Disability Disclosure.
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College can be a major part of adult life for some people on the autism spectrum, I know it was for me. At college, you have a lot more freedom to make choices that can directly impact your future. One of the things I enjoyed the most during my college years is that my special interests weren’t something that I had to keep to myself. I was able to explore my interests, write academic papers about them, and engage with others around our shared interest in the topic. It was a place where I felt free to be myself. However, that’s not to say that it wasn’t without its challenges. Here are some important things I learned during my time at college that I hope help other individuals who have either just started their journey or intend to begin school soon.
Join groups – Social relationships can be tricky for people with autism. However, college provides a great opportunity to make friends. In college, you can join special interest groups or even create your own. I have a special interest in Japanese history, holidays, and art forms. As a teenager, it was difficult to find people who wanted to talk about obscure topics like Takarazuka (a type of stage performance where women play all roles) and Tanabata (a star festival). However, in college I was able to connect with like-minded people. Through the relationships I forged, I was even able to travel internationally and participate in some of these activities.
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Making the move from high school to adulthood is a complicated and emotional experience for anyone, but it can be even more so for people with autism and other developmental disabilities. The focus, though, should always be on what each transitioning student’s talents are, what motivates him/her to want to wake up in the morning, and what skills he/she brings to the table. If we’re able to foreground the person and his/her interests and skills throughout the whole process of transitioning into adulthood, teachers, interventions specialists, families, case managers, counselors, and especially the graduate, will all be in a good place when it’s time to make that final move to a job.
The process of career discovery should start at as early an age as possible, since the decisions and choices the student and his/her support team make every year echo throughout the person’s in-school and out-of-school career. Starting with a document to authentically communicate the student’s talents and interests is a great beginning to every conversation and every meeting. Leading with that person-centered information, and then moving into what the person needs to get there, including interventions or supports, is a much more productive use of time.
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