Trump White House Lights It Up Blue For Autism, But Here’s Why It’s Bullsh*t
Autism Awareness Is Great…But It’s Too Little, Too Late
The Trump White House announced it will “light it up blue” for World Autism Awareness Day.
“Light it up blue” is a campaign started by Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to autism. It promotes awareness, acceptance, and education. And on April 2, Autism Speaks encourages people to wear blue, and for organizations to light up their buildings blue, as an outward sign of autism recognition and acceptance.
And that’s great. Increased awareness leads to acceptance, and acceptance means that the world is a little better for people like my son, who live with autism every day and not just on April 2.
But the White House lighting it up blue is an empty gesture from an administration that seems devoted to tearing down disabled people as much as possible. This is the president, after all, who did this, on national television…and somehow still managed to squeak his way into the White House.
Lighting the White House up blue for autism doesn’t do much to erase that moment.
Trump And The Americans With Disabilities Act
Beyond openly mocking the disabled, in such a manner that could easily be taken as a person with autism stimming, Trump spent his business career fighting against the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is simply too cost-prohibitive for business, Trump believed, and so he actively fought against it. And, even when courts ruled he needed to make changes to properties in order to be compliant with the ADA, Trump sometimes just…refused.
All in all, Donald Trump was sued at least eight times for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A blue light bulb doesn’t make that go away.
Trump Removed All Mentions Of Disability From The White House Website
Astonishingly soon after taking office, all mentions of disabilities were basically scrubbed from the White House website.
It was, for many in the disabled community, simply a reinforcement of what so many of us already feared. Donald Trump is ableist.
It was also a marked departure from the resources available on the White House website under former president Obama.
“The outgoing administration’s site featured information on expanding education and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and a video tour of the White House in sign language, among other materials.”
But by all means, let’s get excited about a blue light for one singular day.
Hello, Betsy DeVos…Good-Bye, FAPE
Disability advocates were even more appalled by the nomination and confirmation of Betsy DeVos.
She is a clear and present danger to children with autism, and other disabilities.
DeVos showed herself to be clearly ignorant of special needs students during her confirmation hearing. This is a woman who, during her confirmation, stated that enforcing the federal rights afforded to disabled students under the Individuals’ with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is “best left to the states.”
It was such a mind-blowing moment. And it was an epic mistake that led to DeVos trying to clarify her position. But despite her reassurances, she is an open advocate for school choice. And there is no doubt that school choice leaves kids with autism, and other disabilities, with very little choice at all…and even less funding to ensure that they do have access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
As the Washington Post reports:
“Vouchers are a particularly polarizing policy within special-education circles, in part because students with disabilities are often required to give up some of their IDEA rights when they enroll in private schools. That’s the case with the Ohio program that DeVos lauded, said Susan Henderson, executive director of the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.”
Lighting it up blue for autism isn’t going to get my son, or the many children like him, access to the free appropriate public education he was once promised…and still deserves.
And Let’s Not Forget AG Jeff Sessions!
And if you think people with autism and other disabilities will be protected legally under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, think again.
Jeff Sessions said, and I quote, and will embed video below, to boot:
“We have created a complex system of federal regulations and laws that have created lawsuit after lawsuit, special treatment for certain children, and that are a big factor in accelerating the decline in civility and discipline in classrooms all over America. I say that very sincerely.”
Yes. Disabled kids, including the 1 in 64 children with autism, have led to the “decline in civility” in our schools, according to Sessions. And that’s who Trump chose to protect our children and their rights.
Does that big blue light cover that one up?
(By the way, my “uncivilized” child with autism has better manners and a kinder heart than Trump and his attorney general. And I’d say that rampant racism and open discrimination and public mocking of the disabled has done far more to lead to the “decline of civility” than mainstreaming disabled children into the classroom. But please, let’s just focus on that blue light.)
Trump And His Dangerous Autism Beliefs
And we also need to address Trump’s belief that vaccinations lead to autism.
This is not up for debate. Vaccines do not cause autism. How do I know this? Because science tells me so.
Yet Trump has (wrongly) implied that vaccines are dangerous, and that they lead to autism. (Again, they don’t.)
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
And that’s not the only example.
“I’ve seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations, and a month later the child is no longer healthy,” Trump said on Fox in 2012. “It happened to somebody that worked for me recently. I mean, they had this beautiful child, not a problem in the world. And all of a sudden, they go in, they get this monster shot. You ever see the size of it? It’s like they’re pumping in — you know, it’s terrible, the amount. And they pump this into this little body. And then all of the sudden, the child is different a month later. And I strongly believe that’s it.”
But no. What vaccines actually lead to is the eradication of diseases that once ravaged our children. And elimination of those vaccines causes an upsurge in those same diseases we once eradicated.
To push any other belief is a danger to our public health.
Lighting it up blue for World Autism Day while pushing a conspiracy theory isn’t helpful.
And neither is disabling healthcare, which affords many protections to people with autism and other disabilities.
I can sum it up for you rather quickly, though: Repealing the Affordable Care Act will have disasterous effects on people with disabilities.
As The Mother Of A Child With Autism…Thanks, But I’m Not Impressed
Lighting the White House up blue is a gesture, and it’s an empty one. Sure, it brings awareness to autism, but who isn’t aware of autism? What people with autism need is more than awareness.
They need acceptance. They need support. They need access to education. They need access to healthcare and therapies. They need to know that those people in government whose very job should be to protect their rights do not believe they’ve “led to the decline” of civilization.
RELATED: Sesame Street Introduces Autistic Character and Conservatives Lose It over ‘Leftist Agenda’
I would be more impressed with policies that supported access to therapies that change lives, and support services that foster independence.
In other words, what I hope those blue lights surrounding the White House today actually highlight are the glaring gaps in policies that support autism and disabilities in the Trump administration – and all those that actively work against the disabled.
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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