Tracy Latimer was 12 when her father killed her in 1993 by trapping her in his pickup and filling it with carbon monoxide. He sat outside the truck and watched her die. This was after he’d considered giving her an overdose of Valium, or just shooting her in the head, putting her down like a cow that couldn’t get up. Tracy’s mother Laura found her body, and her father Robert initially tried to claim Tracy had “died in her sleep” before confessing.
Tracy had cerebral palsy.
Maybe you didn’t like that story. Have another.
Markea Blakely-Berry was born prematurely, and experienced lifelong cognitive disabilities as a result. Her life, however, was short: her mother starved her to death, and she passed away at age 16. She weighed 43 pounds at the time of her death.
Perhaps that story makes you uncomfortable. These might help.
These are the kinds of stories I read every morning, thanks to the Google Alert I masochistically maintain for stories of disabled people killed by their family members (I have another one for disabled people being murdered in general). Disabled people have enough to fear from society as it is, but it’s chilling to note that one of the biggest potential sources of abuse and violence is family members.
What’s more chilling is that these cases aren’t considered horrific violations of human rights and grounds for serious criminal cases. More often than not, parents get away with their crimes, or receive comparatively light punishments considering the fact that these murders are often premeditated and involve extreme violence.
This article is from last year, but I’m posting it now because today is the 2014 Day of Mourning for disabled people murdered by their parents and caretakers. And [massive trigger warning for violence and abuse] here is the list of the dead.
Hedgehogs, I need your help. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we need our help.
A few days ago, my husband brought to my attention that the popular skeptic blog Skepchick was planning a sister site for disabled people. This was apparently due to a kerfuffle (and from what I can tell, not the first one) over ableist language being used on the site. Excited at the prospect, I applied. Only the find out that the very first conversation in the comments went like this, verbatim:
Hi Sara – what about a parent of one (or more) disabled/autistic children. Can they apply?
Sarah: Hi Nancy! That’s a good question– I’d say apply & we’ll figure it out from there. :)
I’m sure I don’t have to explain to any one of you why this bothered me. But I spoke up, pointing out that autistics absolutely do not care to have parents speaking for us and even linking to the blog for Autistics Speaking Day.
That post sat in the moderation queue for three days. When it finally appeared, no one responded to it. Not even Sarah, who is supposed to be running this site. I wrote another post, pointing out further why this lack of response was so upsetting. Aside from being accused of things I have not done and still having my concerns completely ignored, still I have not been properly responded to by the person who is supposed to be running the damn blog. Nothing. Not a word. As if my feelings and the feelings of autistics just don’t matter. I have, as you might imagine, withdrawn my application, because who wants to work with someone who doesn’t care enough about your feelings to respond to you?
So this blog is two things. First, it’s a warning. If this blog ever goes live, I caution you all to stay away from it. They haven’t even begun yet and already they’re showing oodles of ignorance when it comes to people with developmental and cognitive abilities and an utter lack of caring for our concerns. It very likely will not be a remotely safe or welcoming place.
The other thing is a call for help. Despite doing things like linking to Autistics Speaking Day, I’m being accused of speaking for all autistics, as if there aren’t actuallyhuge amounts of us who have very real issues with parents speaking for us. So I’m asking you, if you have the spoons, to please go there and tell them exactly how you feel about the idea:
This warning and call for help is for every and any person with a cognitive or developmental disability, not just autistics. These people believe they have so much right to disagree with us that they can just ignore what we say.
Well, I’m tired of being ignored. I’m tired of being treated like I’m so little of a human being that my opinions don’t matter at all. Skepchick is a big enough site to do so much harm to our cause, and I refuse to sit here and let them do it.
I can’t tell you how much pain I’m in right now. I want to crawl in a hole and never stop crying. I want to sit on an island and watch the world burn. I can barely see for the tears. I’m scared, because I’m little and they’re big, and part of me knows I can’t win. But I can’t not fight, either. This blog has become too important to me. It’s helped me so much, and I know it’s helped other people. I can’t sit in silence while people who are not disabled like we are presume to make decisions for us.
Because that’s happening every day and it’s hurting so many people. Even when I’m silent, even when I can’t cope, I watch. I see the things all of you talk about, the way you’re treated, how you fight and fight and people won’t listen and this…this was a chance for the truth to be heard, from our own mouths and our own fingers, and they don’t care. So I have to speak. I have to speak for all of us who have been abused, who have been killed. I have to speak because if I don’t, there’s no way to stop this cycle.
Help me tell them to stop the cycle. Please, I’m begging you, help me tell them that solidarity is not just for neurotypical people. That we are done letting other people speak for us. Please.
i love having a king size bed bcs i get to use the half meant for ur partner to sleep on as a shelf for all my favourite things and let me tell u there is nothing more inspirational than rolling over to see a packet of biscuits, 9 bottles of ice tea and ur ds at 7am it really gives me life
girls are amazing i just watched my friend change 8 times before picking an outfit you girls are so dedicated to looking good i can’t believe there are men out there sitting in their cum stained sweatpants trying to tell you what you’re allowed to wear
I’m curious—as much as getting parents of autistic children to write in lieu of actually autistic people, they haven’t actually done anything wrong yet (they said to apply/think about it). I agree that disabled people need to get a voice in media, but wouldn’t it be good to ask people to apply to become a blogger, rather than just shut down the idea entirely? (sorry if I misunderstood your post)
The blog is meant to be for and written by people with disabilities, and right in the FAQ they say that people without disabilities shouldn’t apply. Then the very first thing they do is turn around and agree to consider people without disabilities, in spite of myself (someone with the disability in question) and several others pointing out that we’re not comfortable with that.
I explained in my own response why I didn’t think parents should be considered, and linked to the blog for Autistics Speaking Day to show that we can and do speak for ourselves just fine. That was never acknowledged. Not at all. By anyone.
And if you read the comments, other people point out that this is not the first issue the site has had with regards to cognitive and developmental disabilities. I’ve seen mention that people speaking out against ableist language were simply dismissed as trolls, in fact. That’s not exactly a good track record, and the fact that no one will acknowledge concerns about this just makes it worse.
As well, they have a parenting blog already. If parents of autistics/disabled children have something to say, there is already a place for that. This was supposed to be a blog for disabled people, a place for us. To say people who aren’t disabled weren’t allowed, then immediately turn around and start considered exceptions, is not cool. Especially since it speaks of the sort of ignorance that people tend to have about autistics, that we can’t speak for ourselves. There are enough of us who can and do, who might be willing to apply, that there’s just no need for parents to even be a consideration at all.
And then you’ll see that it’s really men who are the irrational and hyper-emotional ones (p.s., anger is an emotion and males with an entitlement complex excel at expressing it, especially towards women and girls who don’t or refuse to succumb to his bullshit).
i’m that friend that has to walk behind the group when the path isn’t big enough. i’m that friend that gets cut off in the conversation. i’m that friend that gets left behind when i asked for them to wait for me. i’m that friend that doesn’t get invited to hang out alot. i’m that friend that if i want to go to the mall or some place with a friend i have to be the one to invite people to make sure i get included. i’ll always be that friend.