All opinions and views stated on this site belong solely to Corina Lynn Becker, and do not represent or reflects the views and opinions of any organizations, unless otherwise specified.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Autism Women's Network

As Director of Networking (a fancy way of saying Forum Moderator), I present to you the Autism Women's Network, which has officially opened it’s website and Forum, as well as a twitter feed, Facebook group and BlogtalkRadio show (all available on the website).

Lately, we welcomed Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Liane Holliday Willey, and Ari Ne'eman to the Advisory board, and completed shows with Temple Grandin.

The mission of the Autism Women's Network is to provide effective supports to autistic females of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources.

And some words in the "About" section, from the Executive Director, Sharon daVanport:

Greetings and welcome to the Autism Women’s Network. AWN is dedicated to building a community of autistic females, their families, friends, and supporters who have a place where they can share their experiences amongst a diverse, inclusive, and supportive environment. Our website will always be viewable by non members; however, we ask that you take a moment to complete a simple registration in order to have full access to the site which includes: actively participating in the forum, and posting comments on articles. We invite you to take a look around and join us today.

Now, we're newly started, so not everything is completely sorted out. However, we welcome all people, autistic, non-autistic, male, female and the genderdiverse, to AWN, to support one another and provide a community dedicated to autistic women issues, as well as to just have fun.

I hope that the AWN will be a friendly place for everyone here.

(Disclosure: Corina Becker serves on the board of the Autism Women's Network)

Friday, January 22, 2010


I'm looking into some information for my friend Robin on a situation that's happening with her little sister.

Her little sister is 6 years old and in grade 1, in a regular classroom in Catholic school. She was diagnosed as ("severe") Autism Disorder when she was a toddler, and in the past year, she was able to attend school regularly with an IEP and an EA (Educational Assistant, aka, a one-on-one aid). She got along well with that EA.

Sometime last year, the school was asking for more documentation of her diagnosis, even though the documentation that was provided the previous year was enough for her IEP. The school was needing the further documentation for her IEP, her EA and a special assistitive technology laptop.

The family got documentation from their family doctor and held meetings with the school, which resolved that particular issue.

However, this year, her sister no longer has the EA that she got along with so well, and has a new EA who doesn't seem to be actually helping the sister. She and the EA do not get along, and it has gotten to the point that she does not want to go to school.
The school, now, wants her to go to a different school, because they do not want to provide her with further help to find a different EA.

As it is, Robin's sister was working up to attending school full-time, but now her education plan as been completely disrupted. From what I can see, if the school gets its way, either Robin's sister remains with her dysfunctional EA and descends into meltdown and behavioural problems, or else is forced to start again in a different school, which, as you know, can be traumatic.

Now, the question is, is the school allowed to do this, and what can the family do?

Does anyone with knowledge of Canadian education laws know anything that we can do about this?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please support Zakh

I want to stress this issue more. Zakh is an 11 year old autistic boy who is being charged with a felony for pushing and kicking two teachers who were attempting to restrain him as he was trying to calm down from a meltdown. The two teachers in question was, at the most, only bruised and did not need medical attention. Yet this boy is being threatened with being placed in a mental hospital that is not equipped to support autistic people, and even has caused Zakh to regress.

There is more information at http://zakhs.blogspot.com/

Please, spread the word about this to the media, and if you even have a few dollars to spare, please donate, as his grandmother is in need to funds for legal fees.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bit delayed in posting this, but things have been a bit rough in the recovering from holidays period. Anyways, I received this email on FaceBook, and I decided that it's important to bring this issue to light.

I'm not going to say much, except that if you don't know about the case with Zakhqurey Price and what we're talking about here, please do a quick search to get caught up on the details.

From Ari Ne'eman of ASAN


In the past, we've written to you about advocacy issues relating to the rights of adults and youth on the autism spectrum. Our voices have made a difference on all manner of policy concerns and have sent a clear message that those who seek to deprive Autistic people of any age of their rights will have our community to answer to. Now we'd like to ask you to help us take action to help protect an 11-year old Autistic boy in Arkansas named Zakhqurey Price, currently being charged with felony assault after fighting back when two staff members restrained him in response to behavioral challenges. The school has ignored repeated efforts from Zakh's grandmother over the course of the last five months to obtain needed IEP supports to improve his educational options and manage his behavioral difficulties.

According to the suspension notice, the restraint was in response to Zakh destroying school property - something beyond the scope of what would be allowed under recently introduced federal civil rights legislation around restraint and seclusion in schools. Disability advocates, including ASAN, are fighting to pass this crucial legislation that would broaden the protections available to students like Zakh as well as those with other disabilities and with no disability at all. We have asked for your help in passing this important legislation, and together we can succeed in bringing proposed civil rights protections into law - but not in time to help Zakh. That is why we need you to take action now. Find out how below:

School Principal:
Pam Siebenmorgan (One of the charging parties in Zakh's felony hearing - polite but firm calls and e-mails encouraging her to drop the charges would be helpful)
Phone: 479-646-0834
E-mail: psiebenm@fortsmithschools.org

School Superintendent:
Dr. Benny Gooden (The Superintendent runs the entire school district - polite but firm calls and e-mails communicating how this situation is damaging Fort Smith Public Schools' reputation would be helpful as well)
E-mail: bgooden@fortsmithschools.org
School Board Office: 1-479-785-2501 Ext. 1201

We recommend that you both e-mail and call if you can. If necessary, e-mail is the preferable option. If you would like your e-mails to be passed along to Zakh's grandmother, please bcc: info@autisticadvocacy.org. Please stress the importance of Fort Smith Public Schools taking the following steps:

-Drop the charges against Zakhqurey Price

-Work with his grandmother to put in place an IEP that will fulfill Zakh's right for a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment

-Improve training for school personnel to prevent future such incidents and to ensure that students on the autism spectrum as well as with other disabilities are included, supported and educated in Fort Smith Public Schools.

If Zakh is declared incompetent as part of the hearing scheduled for January 12th, state law requires that he be placed into a mental hospital for at least 30 days. Carole's grandmother fears that, due to the negative repercussions of being taken out of the community and being forced into an institutional setting, Zakh may lose skills in such an environment and not be returned to her indefinitely. That is why we need you to act now. Please distribute and repost this action alert. Thank you for your time and your advocacy, and as always, Nothing About Us, Without Us!

Ari Ne'eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
(202) 596-1056