Apparently I Actually Have To Say This

I just received a comment from someone calling himself Jerry, who defended Nicholas Richett’s father – the person who murdered Nicholas. He told me several intimate details of Nicholas’s life, many of which I have absolutely no business knowing about, and stated that “[t]here are no homes that will take an autistic child with Nickys degree of autism.” How do you know, sir? And if you’re so concerned, why didn’t you?

He also said that “If you have a strong opinion of what happened to Nicky don’t run your mouth adopt an extremely autistic child.”

[Image description: A stone cross planted in the ground, surrounded by light green plants and grass. Another grave marker is in the back left of the photo, almost totally overgrown by weeds, possibly kudzu.]

[Image description: A stone cross planted in the ground, surrounded by light green plants and grass. Another grave marker is in the back left of the photo, almost totally overgrown by weeds, possibly kudzu.]

(1) You bet your ass I have a “strong opinion” of “what happened to Nicky.” Namely that he had the right to live regardless of what his father thought. I have sympathy for people suffering from depression and anxiety; I truly feel for those who are tormented by so much fear and sadness. That does not give them the right to take someone else’s life. Nothing does. If you can’t understand that, I despair of you as a human being.

(2) Nicholas Richett was in his twenties when he was murdered. That’s not a child; that’s a man. Don’t infantilize us.

(3) Michigan as a state has an absolutely appalling record on the human rights of disabled people. It spawned the woman for whom expletives are too mild. It has bought into the push for medical marijuana to curb autistic “behaviors” (which is not inherently a bad thing, but the insistence on curing behaviors rather than finding out why behaviors happen is infuriating). It has almost no protocols regarding restraint and seclusion of students, which is barbaric. Multiple stories exist about autistic kids being all but pushed out of the school system due to ignorance and unwillingness to accommodate, even though it is mandated by law that they do so.

(4) I now have a “strong opinion” of you, Jerry; first, that you don’t do your research – I’m autistic too, sweetheart – and second, that you have a problem with someone speaking up for a murder victim.

Think about that for a second.

To my audience at large, I’m really hoping I don’t have to say this, but I will anyway: If you are going to comment defending a murderer or attempted murderer of an autistic person, do not waste your time. You will be deleted, and I will rip you a new one for your bigotry. 

We are not burdens. We are not tragedies. We are not collateral damage in someone’s depression. We have the right to live regardless of how scared you are that we’re going to be ~burdens.~ Respect our autonomy and agency. We are people, just like you. If you can’t do that, I don’t want to be in the same zip code as you. I’m astonished I got through this with as little profanity as I managed, because the sheer stubbornness these people display in seeing autistics as less than human is both infuriating and terrifying.

Something Rotten In The State of Colorado: Free Sharisa (Part 2)

NB. I apologize for the delay in this post’s publication. Real life interjected for me in the form of family illnesses. 

In my last post on this matter, I had one question remaining in the list of issues that had to be addressed in the imprisonment of Sharisa Joy Kochmeister (because, frankly, it is imprisonment): What causes of action might one bring against county and/or state officials, if any?

This question deserved its own post, because it is a long and complex question. The very short answer, I believe, is that there are indeed actions that lie against Jefferson County and/or her officials if brought by Jan Kochmeister, but not if brought by Sharisa Kochmeister. There may not be any actions that lie against the State of Colorado. All this will be explained, but fair warning, it’s long and complex in itself. I’m sorry to be so wordy, but there are so many factors that have to be taken into account when one gets into nitty-gritty law like this, that leaving anything out seemed slipshod.

A couple of clarifications I feel I have to make here:

  1. This post is not intended to be legal advice, nor is it intended to create any kind of attorney-client relationship with any reader. If you are in need of legal representation, please contact a competent attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
  2. Just because I’m explaining what the law seems to be here doesn’t mean I agree with it. I am trying to explain how it would likely look to a judge, not how it looks in my eyes. So please don’t waste your time and mine commenting on how mean I am. (Yes, I’ve received such comments. Reading comprehension fail much?)

Okay. To the relevant bits.

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A Very Short Manifesto

No time to do much today, but this needed to be said.

I’ve been getting told lately that I need an “attitude adjustment.” As if I were a second grader. That the problem I have is that I’m “hostile” and I “need to be nicer.”

You want to know why I’m “hostile”?

  • I’m “hostile” and “angry” because the team behind a blog called “A Year in the life of Autism” (who is Autism? Does zie pay rent?) tried to start a campaign called the “Silent Selfie” (google it, they’re not getting hits from me) where allistic paaaarents took pictures with their hands over their mouths to signify that autistic people have no voice. When in reality, the only time our community doesn’t have a voice is when people like these assholes censor it! And then, instead of apologizing and listening to autistic people on how to do better, they – as all good martyr mommas do – doubled down and said “well, we didn’t mean to offend” instead of actually listening to us. The Facebook thread is one for the ages, including multiple people telling us to “grow up” and “get over it” instead of opening a fucking ear. It’s endemic of how we are always treated, and I will not take it lying down any longer.
  • I’m “hostile and angry” because my best friend in the world, my almost-sister, has a chronic illness, that she has had since age 14, and nobody has done anything to fix it. It’s a “woman’s disease,” chronically under-researched, chronically under-treated, and misunderstood. It causes severe chronic pain, fatigue, and the works, but on days it gets so bad she has to go to the ER, she gets treated like a drug-seeker, shamed and ignored. Apparently it’s fine to make people suffer if they’re female and aren’t any use as, or have no interest in being, a baby incubator. I’m angry because chronic pain preys on your mental health, and sometimes the pain and rage and frustration can’t be contained, and because I’d rather cut off a limb than watch her suffer more. (NB: She has given me permission to talk about it in general terms, so I’m not violating her privacy by discussing it.)
  • I’m “hostile and angry” because our neighbor keeps bad-mouthing us to our landlady, giving vague and inchoate complaints about how our cat box smells but not giving details. We may get evicted because of this.
  • I’m “hostile and angry” because I worked my ass off in school, got sterling grades, went to a great university, went to law school, and no one will fucking hire me. I’m brilliant, not to toot my own horn, but I don’t interview well and I don’t have much patience for fake networking bullshit, but I need a roof over my head. It’s not fair.
  • I’m “hostile and angry” because Donald fucking Trump is the Republican front runner and frankly, I’m afraid.
  • I’m “hostile and angry” because my mother has cancer and even though it’s a somewhat treatable kind, I’m terrified because she’s my mama and she needs to be okay.

Unless you can fix any of those things, you don’t get to tell me to be nicer. You do not get to take my anger. I have a goddamn right to it. It’s all that keeps me going some days. Without it I’d probably have done something harmful to myself a long time ago.

Something Rotten In The State of Colorado: Free Sharisa (Part 1)

NB. This is the version of events I have been given as of this writing. If things later prove to have occurred in a materially different way, I will edit this post.

Sharisa Joy Kochmeister is a 36-year old nonverbal autistic activist who uses keyboards to communicate. She is also epileptic and has cerebral palsy (I am unaware of her language preferences; if she prefers different terminology, please let me know and I will fix it). She is a college graduate and has served on several boards, including that of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council. She led an active life (until recently), with many friends and a caring guardian in her father. She is a person, with needs and wants and opinions.

In March, she was hospitalized. At one point, she became ill, and her father helped to clear her airway. She, for whatever reason, kicked him, and he pushed her. I have never met Sharisa or her father, but I do know that in moments of extreme stress (such as being in hospital and either being sick or experiencing a loved one being sick) it is very easy to react emotionally, instead of with cold logic. I have never seen any allegations or proof that anything untoward was occurring in their relationship – but more importantly, no one I know who is closer to the family has, either.

Someone at the hospital called the police. Then Jefferson County Human Services.

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Postscript: An Open Letter To Jim Carrey

Oh my gosh. I had no idea this was going to get around the way it has. I thought I’d just say hello to you all, and thank you for appreciating my post. I wrote a comment on a Think Progress story and decided to make a blog post out of it because I was livid. It came out in maybe ten minutes, tops – it’s just so important to me that anti-vaxxers know what their opinions do to autistic people. We deserve more than to be collateral damage in some war on the government. We’re whole, entire people – yes, even the nonverbal among us. We deserve dignity, autonomy and respect, and when someone isn’t giving that to us, they generally have me to deal with.

I don’t post very often compared to some other autistic people, usually once a month or so. I write legal copy for a living and sometimes I just don’t have the energy to post about such serious and personal topics that usually crop up in the autistic rights movement. But when I do post, I work hard to make it good. I hope you stick around. 🙂

An Open Letter To Jim Carrey

Dear Jim,

Normally one uses surnames for people they haven’t met, but given the appalling way you’ve just behaved and the ignorance you’ve displayed, I don’t have enough respect for you to bother.

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

I am an autistic adult, and I am angry.

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A Wrench In The Works

You’ll see a lot of posts about the “symptoms” of autism that make people uncomfortable, such as visible stimming, alleged lack of empathy (which is, in reality, flatly untrue in most cases) and social awkwardness. However, there’s almost nothing out there about another access need of ours that can really throw a wrench into the proverbial works: a strong need for constant routine.

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