|Sharisa Kochmeister on her College Graduation Day|
Sharisa used to blog at My Surreal Life. This is how she describes herself there:
"I'm 31 now, have autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, dyspraxia and a genius IQ; and communicate almost entirely via keyboards. I am former President of Autcom, on the Panel of Advisors on the Spectrum for the Autism Society of America; publisher and managing editor in chief and writer for "The Voices and Choices of Autism" and so on, and etc. I am also a university graduate with a dual degree in Sociology & Psychology with honors and awards; a consultant, an advocate, and a FABULOUS FRIEND! ;-)"
The tragic story of how Sharisa disappeared and is now a prisoner of Jefferson County is succinctly stated in the Denver Post Op-Ed: Meyer: An outrageous human services case in Jefferson County
|Sharisa Joy Kochmeister credit Facebook|
The following violations of Sharisa's rights under Olmstead and ADA took place:
|Sharisa typing on her speech device|
2. She was removed to a nursing home for seniors with dementia, an inappropriate placement for her disability and a violation of the Olmstead Decision
3. Jefferson County Adult Services tested her intelligence without her speech support, therefore their finding of her IQ to be 47 is not valid as there is ample documented and video evidence to support she is an independent typer and a college graduate.
4. Jefferson County cannot simply seize control of a person competent to self advocate after blocking the disabled person's ability to communicate without that person's consent regardless of degree of disability.
4. Jefferson County is keeping Sharisa isolated not only from the supposed 'harmful' parents but also from everyone including advocates wishing to do wellness checks on her condition and her own doctor. This is not okay and is a red flag that Sharisa needs her own legal representation not a court appointed advocate that presumes she is incompetent and therefore erase her from the defense of her own right to self advocacy and self determination. Seclusion of disabled people is against the law and a violation of basic human rights.
When did we cease to live in a democracy? When did those agencies whose purpose is to protect become jailers and secret police, denying even a disabled adult's own medical professionals the right to insure their safety in this new setting? Who will be next? Because no matter how much wealth we have, no matter what power we think we wield, this can happen to any of our nonspeaking adult offspring at any stage of their lives and we their parents are powerless to stop it. One misunderstood gesture, one bitter or ableist staff person, any case worker who secretly refuses to believe that nonspeaking adults are competent, and they can take our loved ones away and we will never see them again.
This is a war for the personhood of disabled adults. This is happening all over our country. Recall the case of Abreham Zemedagegehu, a deaf U.S. Citizen jailed for 6 weeks for a crime he did not commit, mistreated and left voiceless because the police refused to provide him with the communication supports he needed. He was Black and homeless so he was therefore guilty?
While everyone with privilege is celebrating ADA's 25th anniversary, they also need to be fighting for our people. What benefit is privilege if it cannot save lives?
Beware the accusation of Munchausen by proxy: This accusation is at the center of another high profile case in which a young woman with mitochondrial disease was imprisoned in a Massachusetts hospital, denied treatment for 16 months, and the hospital and the CPS of Massachusetts is responsible for her health declining such that she is now confined to a wheelchair and may never recover her health completely. The story of Justina Pelletier is terrifying: http://www.foxnews.com/
The Munchausen by proxy parade of destroyed families and tragedies is endless. Jenny Lockley, the mother of an autistic young student, had her son's formal diagnosis rejected by a school that simply did not wish to provide him services and their insistence that she was "just trying to get attention" nearly destroyed her family and her life: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.html
Here is the story of Karen, and how she and her husband lost two children to the lie of Munchausen by proxy: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2004/feb/01/children.health
|Sharisa typing with her father seated on her left. Sharisa|
was featured in the groundbreaking Autism documentary
"Loving Lampposts" credit Loving Lampposts
If you take away a person's wheelchair you've deprived them of their mobility. If you snatch away a person's certified ASL interpreter, you have devoiced them. If you take away a nonspeaking disabled person's AAC support you have devoiced them and taken away their ability to advocate for themselves. Removing a critical support from a disabled person is against the ADA and might even be a legal assault on their person.
I am waiting for a statement of outrage from more disability rights organizations on this. From the onset, I've been waiting for a proper petition, a form email and a list addresses to write to those in charge of adult services in Colorado. Sharisa needs her voice back. She needs her right to decide where she lives and how she lives back. Sharisa is one of the women who led the fight for the presumption of competence of nonspeaking autistic people. She doesn't deserve this degradation and isolation, nor this abandonment from the community she fought for.
All of this hoopla about the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act means zip if any human services entity can get away with devoicing, snatching guardianship, and obliterating all the self advocacy and self determination of a nonspeaking disabled adult. Is this the world we want for our children? I for one don't. This nightmare straight out of a Lemony Snicket novel needs to end.
Where is Sharisa Kochmeister?
Colorado: Give Sharisa her life back.
Autism Community. Fight for Sharisa. Write the Governor of Colorado, Human Services, anybody. Email Colorado law makers.
Fight. She fought for us. Now it is our turn.
There is a new petition for Sharisa on change.org: http://tinyurl.com/pqzznul
Sharisa is in what is labeled in Colorado a "host home" facility now in an undisclosed location. To our knowledge she is still being denied any assistive technology communication supports. As soon as we have a postal address or email where we can sent letters or email to her I will post it here. She needs our words of support to tell her she's not alone. Sharisa life is very restricted and now and going from a free life to the this one must be traumatic for her. Others are also blogging about her crisis situation. I'll post those effortsin the reference list.
Sharisa's story: http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_28533686/meyer-an-outrageous-human-services-case-jefferson-county
The Loving Lampposts Documentary featuring her: http://lovinglamppostsmovie.com/
What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? https://adata.org/learn-about-ada
What is tIn Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581, 119 S.Ct. 2176 (1999) ("the Olmstead decision"),? http://www.ada.gov/olmstead/
On Denial of Communication Supports for the Disabled
New: Amy Sequeniza for the Autism Women's Network:
Deaf couple denied interpreter fo birth of baby:
Deaf Mom Sues for the Right to Have Sign Language Support in Delivery Room:
On seizing guardianship of children and adults using the Munchausen by proxy accusation:
Justina Pelletier's Story : http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/12/massachusetts-dcf-files-motion-agreeing-justina-pelletier-should-be-returned-to/
Jenny Lockley's Story : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2554867/The-schools-spy-Munchausen-Mums-Teachers-accuse-lying-childrens-autism-attention.html
On the Right of Neurodivergent individuals to self determination in deciding where they live:
Jenny Hatch's Story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/woman-with-down-syndrome-prevails-over-parents-in-guardianship-case/2013/08/02/4aec4692-fae3-11e2-9bde-7ddaa186b751_story.html
And here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-woman-with-down-syndrome-becomes-hero-to-the-disabled/2013/08/17/0da21766-062e-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html