Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Florida Advocates, Make Yourselves Heard

After the autism blogging community made the world aware of the mistreatment of a young autistic boy, Alex Barton, in a Florida school in May, more parents in the state came forward and spoke about their own concerns regarding their children's education. The office of the Florida Attorney General has now taken notice. As reported by the Port Saint Lucie News, the Attorney General's office has launched a statewide investigation into the treatment of autistic students in Florida schools and has established a citizen services hotline to take comments at (866) 966-7226. (Thanks to jypsy for the link.)

Dennis Debbaudt, a resident of Port Saint Lucie who is an expert presenter of training seminars about autism to police and first response professionals, has issued the following statement urging advocates in the autistic community to respond to the Attorney General's call for comments:

As autism advocates, it's not every day that opportunity comes knocking. Especially when it comes in the wake of, to put it mildly, an unfortunate situation such as Alex Barton's.

But what an opportunity.

Our stories need to be heard and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum wants to—needs to—hear them.

Bill McCollum's office has set up a toll free number to do just that: (866) 966-7226. His office is also organizing a day to hear from us in person.

While it may be difficult to travel to attend a hearing, writing a letter or putting your story on videotape may be an option for some of us. Others yet may need the assistance of an interpreter. Please take the time and effort necessary to get your story to the attention of the Attorney General.

Write the letter. Ask for help to translate your story. Ask your friend with a video camera to record your comments. Best of all, plan on attending the live event to share your story.

However the medium we choose, now is the time to be heard by the chief law enforcement officer in the state.

Many thanks to Dennis Debbaudt for getting the word out! Although the Attorney General's call for comments refers specifically to parents, if you are an autistic self-advocate who attended or is currently attending Florida schools, I encourage you to contact the Attorney General's office with your story. Public officials need to know that we can—and do—speak for ourselves.

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  • I hope more autistic self advocates will speak up wether we are really invited to or not.

    A lot of real invitations would be really good.

    By Blogger Ed, at 9:33 AM  

  • Thank you for arriving and debating and speaking up on our blogsite...on the Gordon Brown issue.

    Very much appreciated.

    I've just made a link to your site from ours.


    By Blogger Robin Hood (Robin of Sherwood), at 10:31 AM  

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