“That Kind”

Vivid illustrations of a horrifying problem: three stories from recent news. So what’s going on here? Not the obvious, surface situations, but what is going on in the social dynamics? And we can we do to change things?

(Click on headlines for links to full news stories.)

Autistic boy not welcome in music store

(New York City)
As an autistic savant, Ryan Morales has an extraordinary talent for music — he can play the piano by ear; he has an encyclopedic knowledge of Broadway trivia, and he loves to go to his local music store to look at the drums. But the owner of Lane Music Center blocked the 13-year-old boy and his caregiver from entering the New Dorp Lane shop this week because, the store owner said, Ryan’s behavior makes him feel uncomfortable.

“I’m sorry, I’m not going to let you in,” owner Alan Wilcov reportedly told Ryan’s caregiver, Oluwaseun Cole, whose job it is to take Ryan on walks through the community to familiarize him with the social rituals of everyday life. “I just can’t let him in,” Cole said Wilcov had told him on Wednesday afternoon. “I have a problem with his kind,” he allegedly told Ryan’s parents and caregiver later that night, when they went to the store to discuss what had happened; it was a heated conversation that left both parties fuming.

Woman Claims Abuse By Fellow Animal Control Officers

(Kansas City, Missouri)
Cindy Earnshaw said it was her dream job to work as an Overland Park, Kan., Animal Control officer. But after nine years of exemplary job evaluations, Earnshaw was deemed unfit for duty. Earnshaw said it is because of her disability. “I crawled my whole life to get there. When I got there, I was good and gave it 100 percent,” Earnshaw told KMBC’s Lara Moritz. Earnshaw said she felt most comfortable in her uniform, driving her Animal Control truck and taking care of animals in Overland Park.

“I so loved my job, and I was so passionate about it, and was able to serve my citizens and my animals, which kind of compensated,” Earnshaw said. Earnshaw said the job compensated her for what she claims was constant bullying by her fellow Animal Control officers. “I’m there to work, you know. All I got for that was torment and abuse and bullying. They articulated, ‘You are purposely trying to make us look bad,'” Earnshaw said.

Autistic Mum’s Baby Taken Into Care

The grandfather of a baby taken into care immediately after he was born is accusing social services of discriminating against his daughter because she has a form of autism. The baby’s 21-year-old mother has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition associated with problems concerning social and communication skills.

The grandfather, who lives in South Wales but cannot be identified for legal reasons, said, “Within hours of the baby being born two weeks ago, social workers arrived at the hospital and served papers on my daughter saying they would be applying for an interim care order. She was beside herself. “Two weeks before what should have been the happiest day of her life, we as a family attended a case conference where Monmouthshire County Council placed the unborn baby on an ‘at risk’ register. Their argument was that because she has Asperger’s Syndrome, she is at risk of getting post-natal depression, and that there would therefore be the likelihood of her neglecting the baby. “In my view, all this stress sent my daughter into labour four weeks early.

These are three different stories about three different situations, in three different parts of the world. All three people have been discriminated against (howsoever the local courts may or may not rule), because they are autistic. None of them, as described in these news stories, ran afoul of civic laws because of what they did. Rather, they were harassed by others because they were different, or because of what they might do because they are perceived as being different.

It would be easy to say that these people, and millions of others with their own unpublished stories, were victims of bullying.

But that would be wrong. Read the rest of this entry »