WHAT SAY YOU?

A kid with autism wins an essay contest until the organizers find out he has high maintenance needs which require his mother to attend

They yank the prize from him.

I was of two minds on this:

1. the organizers ought to make it happen
2. the kid supposedly can function well but won’t speak (where the fuck was all this autism bullshit 50 years ago, BTW?) and requires a board to communicate. Other issues supposedly are at play and the organizers said, (I’m paraphrasing here) “hey, listen, he goes crazy and does a bunch of stupid shit that hurts others and we don’t have insurance for that. Sorry.”

I side with the organizers but think they should offer the mother the plane tickets so she takes him by herself and make sure he stays in a room by himself.

What say you…given today’s litigious society?

An autistic teen who won an essay contest has been denied his prize, apparently because of his autism.

Niko Boskovic of Portland, Oregon, won the North Portland’s Peninsula Odd Fellows Lodge contest with his essay on the history of the Ukraine, according to Oregon Live.

Niko, who lost his ability to speak and was diagnosed with autism at age three, was set to join 300 other winners for the annual United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth, which brings teens to historic areas of the US and Canada and teaches them about the United Nations.

But things took an unwelcome turn when Niko’s mother, Loreta, emailed to tell Charles Cloud, the Odd Fellows jurisdictional chairman for Oregon, that she would be accompanying her son as he’s autistic and nonverbal, and needs a letter board to communicate.

She thought she should go with him to support his ability to communicate effectively with the letter board.

By using the Rapid Prompting Method and a letter board, Niko learned to communicate. His teachers at his public school evaluated him as ‘talented and gifted.’

Loreta was shocked when she said she eventually got an email back pulling the offer of the UN trip for Niko.

The UN Pilgrimage for Youth’s board said that chaperones weren’t allowed on the tour and that the group was unprepared to take on the responsibility of caring for Niko during his trip, according to the outlet.

‘We were told they don’t have the staff and knowledge to be accountable for someone with a disability,’ Cloud said he was told.

David Scheer, lodge secretary, said he fought for Niko to be included. And Loreta made it clear she would pay for her own part of the trip herself.

‘All of us banded together to challenge the decision,’ he told the outlet. ‘We got nowhere. They refunded our money, and they’ve refused to talk with us.’

He said the decision was ‘ridiculous’ and that he’s often taken kids with disabilities on field trips. ‘They were never a problem,’ he said.

‘He’s fully integrated in [his] school,’ his mother told the outlet. ‘His freshman year, he focused almost exclusively on academics.’

Niko runs a website dedicated to promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities.

‘Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say,’ it says on his website.

Niko’s parented contacted Gordon C. Magella, an attorney with Disability Rights Oregon.

‘I have never seen something so blatant with no explanation,’ he said of the program board’s decision not to include Niko. ‘I have worked on some cases where there’s a plausible excuse, or a practical reason. But not here.’

Niko and his supporters, which includes the lodge’s local chapter, hope to get Niko into the contest again next year.

‘Hopefully, we can get them straightened out next year. The reaction of the Oregon lodges has been in Niko’s favor. Our lodge voted to not take part in this program again until they put in a guarantee that there won’t be discrimination based on a disability,’ said Scheer.

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2 Responses to WHAT SAY YOU?

  1. bogsidebunny says:

    It’s a toss-up between being “feel good” fair on the part of the organizers and the reality of a huge law suit if the unaccompanied kid gets harmed or something.

    I’m retracting myself from judgment.

  2. Lburg says:

    If every freakin’ aspect of our lives MUST include the disabled (Really? Braille at the bank drive up ATM???!) then how/why does this group get to opt out? Their liability issue isn’t the kid’s problem.

    The kicker is that the UN – a trip to the other world – would deem this a human rights violation.

    SMH

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