Senate Needs to Confirm Ne'eman
It is perhaps not surprising that in this contentious political landscape, the appointment of Ari Ne'eman, founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, to the National Council on Disability (NCD) has been delayed by means of an anonymous hold. It is, however, disappointing to many people in the self-advocate community and the broader disability rights community, who appreciate his tireless work for inclusion and equality of all people with disabilities in society. His record of accomplishment includes advocating for community services and supports to keep people with significant support needs in their homes and out of institutions; for federal legislation to protect students from abuse in their schools; for stronger laws against employment discrimination to better protect autistics and other workers who may experience discrimination because of a disability; and many other public policy issues that fall within the mandate of NCD to guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities and to promote full integration into society.
Under the circumstances, Ne'eman was not able to be interviewed for an article in yesterday's New York Times about the hold on his appointment. The article begins by stating that many families with autistic members have positive feelings about his nomination as the first autistic person to serve on the council. Lee Grossman, director of the Autism Society of America, suggests in the article that any disagreement over autism advocacy priorities "may simply reflect the unmet needs of a growing population, for both research into potential treatments and for programs to support jobs and independent living." Grossman goes on to say, "We need to reframe the discussion. From our perspective, it’s great to have a person on the spectrum being nominated to this committee."
It is to be hoped that the situation will be resolved without much delay and that Ari Ne'eman will be able to take his position soon.