Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Today finds me going back to why I felt the need to write a blog in the first place, and where I want to take the blog from here. It is sometimes a good thing to hit the brakes on what I'm doing, look to see where I am going and decide if I really am in such a hurry to get there.

My original purpose in writing this blog was to have a body of work for my son and my immediate family. This body of work was to be a clear statement of how I felt about my son being autistic. It was to make it apparent how much I loved him.  It was meant as a vehicle for everyone to know my wish that he be as autonomous as he is capable of being.  This body of work should make it clear to any reader:
  • Our son is loved unconditionally. He is not loved despite his autism diagnosis.
  • I have faith in our son and presume he is competent even when others do not.
  • Whatever advocacy work I do is done to gain acceptance, inclusion, and accommodation for our son and those like him.
  • That my purpose is to stand by my son and not have anything I do, including advocacy, overshadow that critical purpose.

This blog was to be proof of how proud I am to be his mother, and what an amazing person I believe he is. Mustafa has great creativity, determination, and strength of purpose. These qualities are laudable in any human being, but in him they are opening the way for him to succeed in a world where he is seen as less than the least of God's children, because he is a minority even among his peers. So as he fights for mastery over his environment, it is my task as his mother to fight for a rightful place in society for him.

I decided to set the direction of The Autism Wars blogs back on that course. To that end, I am choosing topics I think are important to him, and people I think are role models for him and examples of what we all can be as advocates ourselves.

 Today I decided to talk about people who fit that criteria; those who quietly wage war against great odds for neurodiverse adults and children, and continue to speak out and fight for all people on the autism spectrum while seeking justice for their own children and loved ones. Since it is Mother's Day, let's start this new journey with two amazing Autism Moms who don't blog.

Andre McCollins and Mom Cheryl in happier times

Cheryl McCollins fought for 10 years to have the video of her son Andre’s torture at the Judge Rotenberg Center released to the press. She continues to fight to close the ‘school’. Cheryl sued the JRC for the funding Andre will need for his care the rest of his life. Andre has never recovered. Cheryl joined protesters outside the JRC and continues to use her voice to speak out against JRC and the torture of young Autistic people in the name of discipline. Cheryl even created a petition on asking for support in demanding the State of New York cease sending students to this center.

Emily Holcomb and Mom Jenny Parker Holcomb,
photo courtesy of the Holcomb Family
Jenny Parker Holcomb was completing an IEP meeting for her daughter Emily when the sheriff's department appeared with a police complaint against her daughter, accusing Emily of slapping a teacher. Jenny had to explain that Emily was on the profound ray of the autism spectrum, nonspeaking, with intellectual disability. Emily had been so mistreated at her school placement that at one point she was restrained for 55 minutes by staff. With the help of special education attorney, activist, and father of a child with autism James Gallini, Jenny began the fight for Emily's future. Lydia Brown, who read about Emily's situation on Landon Bryce's ThAutcast blog, offered to write a petition on and that petition began a social media crisis that no one was prepared for. Assault charges against Emily were dropped. Emily has since thrived in an appropriate educational placement and community activities that give her the life skills training she needs to transition to adulthood and autonomy. Jenny realized from Emily's own horrific experience that this should never happen to anyone else. She has since led parent support groups and online action groups, empowering other parents to stand with their children and take on whoever abuses them.

Happy Mother's Day

This is the first segment in a series on people who need to be recognized for the work they continue to do for the betterment of the autism community.

Note: James Gallini, Landon Bryce, Emily Titon, Shain Neumeir are names you should know. They play very important roles in these stories, as you'll see later.


  1. This is a wonderful post! Thank you!


  2. Thank you for reading it Leah. I wanted to post it last Mother's Day. I'm glad I'm doing this now. It feels good.