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January 2016



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Archive for January, 2016

In December of 2015, 71-year-old Antonio Tucci was beaten to death by his nephew. A month earlier, 5-year old Helious Griffith and 6-year old Dustin Hicks were both murdered by their mothers.


In the year since our last vigil, our community has lost at least seventy more victims.


In the past five years, over one hundred and eighty people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents.


Tuesday, March 1st, the disability community will gather across the nation to remember disabled victims of filicide–disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.
We see the same pattern repeating over and over again. A parent kills their disabled child. The media portrays these murders as justifiable and inevitable due to the “burden” of having a disabled person in the family. If the parent stands trial, they are given sympathy and  comparatively lighter sentences, if they are sentenced at all. The victims are disregarded, blamed for their own murder at the hands of the person they should have been able to trust the most, and ultimately forgotten. And then the cycle repeats.


But it doesn’t have to.


Here’s what you can do in your own community to help spread awareness of these tragedies – and help stop more from happening.


1. Read and share our Anti-Filicide Toolkit.


This toolkit is intended to provide advocates and allies with concrete tools and resources to use in their own communities, including in response to local incidents. The toolkit includes information about how to understand and respond to filicide, frequently asked questions about filicide, and a guidebook for Day of Mourning vigil site coordinators.


2. Sign up to be a Day of Mourning vigil site coordinator


For the last five years, ASAN, ADAPT, AAPD, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, and other disability rights organizations have come together to mourn the lives lost to filicide, bring awareness to these tragedies, and demand justice and equal protection under the law for all people with disabilities.


On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, ASAN and the wider disability community will be holding vigils to mourn the lives of those we’ve lost and bringing awareness to this horrific trend of violence against our community.


If you’re interested in leading a vigil in your area, please sign up to be a Day of Mourning vigil site coordinator here.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is very pleased to announce the recipients of our 2016 Autistic Scholars Fellowship! ASAN awards $5,000 tuition scholarships to 4 to 6 Autistic college students who demonstrate a strong commitment to disability rights advocacy, Autistic culture and community, and disability accessibility and inclusion on college campuses. We are extremely proud to include these exceptional self-advocates in our inaugurating class of Autistic Scholars. The six fellowship recipients are listed below. Click here to view our official announcement of the 2016 fellowship recipients.

Jessica Benham

University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Jessica is an Autistic doctoral student in Communication and a master’s student in Bioethics at the University of Pittsburgh. She holds a master’s degree in communication studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her primary research interests lie in investigating the rhetorical and ethical constructions of disability in society. Her thesis, Proud to be Autistic: Metaphorical Construction and Salience of Cultural and Personal Identity in #StopCombatingMe, presents research on Autistic self-advocacy through a neurodiversity perspective. A firm believer in the value of Autistic culture, Jessica is also an advocate for Autistic rights, interested in creating sensory friendly spaces in educational settings, increasing access to IEPs for Autistic children in public schools, helping parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals better understand Autistic people, and reducing barriers to employment for Autistic adults.

Manuel Díaz

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)

Manuel is a multiply neurodivergent Autistic Mexican-American student. He is currently studying physics and mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also the founder and president of the student organization Texas Neurodiversity. He enjoys weightlifting, dancing, and stimming. His future plan is to get a doctoral degree in Theoretical Physics.

Leanne Libas

Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, California)

Leanne is a first-year student college student who is planning to become a special education teacher. A CAYLF (California Youth Leadership Forum for Students with Disabilities) 2014 alumna, she continues to advocate in the disabled community. After gaining recognition from writing “Breaking Out-My Autism Story” on the Art of Autism’s website, she is currently one of the web site’s monthly bloggers. During her free time, she likes to read, sing, and watch YouTube videos.

Howie Jordan

University of South Carolina Upstate ( Spartanburg, South Carlina)

Howie Jordan is a senior mathematics major at the University of South Carolina Upstate. He enjoys reading, writing, and stage acting. He is excited for this opportunity to continue advocating and spreading Autistic culture.

David James “DJ” Savarese

Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)

DJ is a non-speaking autistic student at Oberlin College who types to communicate. DJ been advocating for autistics—specifically, nonspeaking autistics—since he was invited to present at his first conference at the age of 13. For the past 8 years, DJ been working on an ITVS-funded documentary film due out next year that seeks to raise understanding about the movement, sensory, and emotional aspects of nonspeaking autistics as well as their untapped potential. A poet, a memoirist, and a playwright, DJ has published his work in Disability Studies Quarterly, Stone Canoe, Autism Life Skills, and on several websites.

R. Larkin Taylor-Parker

University of Georgia Law School (Athens, Georgia)

Larkin is a second-year law student at the University of Georgia interested in disability rights. She is also an autism blogger, social media expert, and avid recreational tuba player.