About a week ago, someone sent me a video of celebrity autism parent and anti-vax nut Polly Tommey, but I didn't watch it, I couldn't watch it, because the subject is just so gutting. She was talking about the horrible media-excused murders of autistic kids, and casually mentioned that she would "never judge" parents who murdered their own autistic child. And I mean she used the actual word "murder":
It's sad that the most horrible, harmful voices against autistic kids are themselves parents of autistic kids, but what's worse is the way the devaluing of their lives has spread, and that's why I finally decided to watch that clip.
You may have already heard about Charles Kinsey, the black man who was shot by cops in North Miami on Monday even though he was laying on the ground with his hands up, explaining that he was a behavioral therapist, and that the young autistic man sitting in the road with him was only holding a toy truck, and posed no threat. The whole thing was caught on video:
Kinsey explained what happened to him from his hospital bed:
Thank God for Mr. Kinsey, and thank God he wasn't killed. There should be more of him and fewer scumbags like Joe Scarborough and Polly Tommey.
This situation is the nightmare scenario for autism parents. Some citizen has called the cops and told them that the kid has a gun and is threatening suicide (there was no gun, only the toy truck), and cops who don't know the kid have responded to a young man sitting in the road by drawing their weapons. Kinsey's actions were so heroic, so perfect, they brought a tear to my eye. Without him, that young man would not have been able to explain, and those cops surely wouldn't have acted to de-escalate the situation.
The problems between jittery or incompetent or just plain bad cops and autistic people aren't remotely comparable to those of black citizens, either in degree or kind, but this episode illustrated the particular brand of dehumanization that autistic people face. Rather than admit he just panicked and shit the bed, this is the story the cop came up with, as relayed by a union rep:
See, he wasn't trying to shoot the unarmed black guy who was laying in the street with his hands up, he was trying to shoot the autistic kid who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck.
This is, of course, horseshit, but it's telling that the officer thinks this explanation makes it all okay, that if he had only succeeded in plugging the defenseless disabled kid, he wouldn't be in this jackpot.
The problem that black citizens and autistic citizens and every other citizen face with cops are vastly different from each other, but the solution is the same: accountability.
The solution to problem that autistic people face with our society, along with other neuro-atypical people, begins with people like Charles Kinsey, to whom their lives matter as much as his own.
Note: Just so no anti-vaxxers can whine, here's the full context of Polly Tommey's remarks: