Saturday, May 5, 2012

Autism and Ethic of Inclusion

Ari Ne'eman
BLOOMFIELD, N.J. -- When autism advocate Ari Ne'eman, Barack Obama's appointee to the National Council on DisAbility, recently spoke locally, the discussion was not about autism, per se, but about civil rights.
Specifically, Ne'eman discussed how the role of the disabled person relates to history and human rights, and what it means to be “different” in an America built on the tenents of equality and "justice for all.”
“Nobody should have to pretend to be something that they’re not, as a means of being included in their own society,” he said in an one-hour speech at Bloomfield High School on April 26.  “We are taught at a very young age that to be ‘different’ is to be ‘wrong.’  [For those who are different] that’s a horrendous way of living.”
Ne’eman, who is himself autistic, addressed a range of issues facing disabled Americans, specifically those with autism. The definition of ‘normalcy,’ he said, largely determines a school district’s attitude toward classroom inclusion, as well as host of other issues from social acceptance to employability.

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