By Michael Rock:
On July 15th, the United States will recognize Developmental Disability Professionals Day, honoring direct care workers and case managers who provide much needed support to this demographic.
Despite this much-deserved day, there are still new challenges that Americans with disabilities continue to face. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, services for New Yorkers with disabilities have been sharply cut from the state budget, further overworking social workers in the system and reducing quality of and access to key services.
Meanwhile, a study at Brigham Young University suggested that women with autism are under-diagnosed due to being better able to pass as neurotypical than men with the condition.
In Warren, New Jersey, Watchung Hills Regional High School recently came under fire for omitting a photo of Glenda DeFabio, a 20-year old graduating student with Down Syndrome, from the yearbook. After a viral Facebook post drew attention to DeFabio’s mistreatment, the school relented and announced that she would have such a picture alongside those of her classmates.
The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Memphis, Tennessee death row inmate David Keen, who was convicted of a 1990 rape and murder case. Keen’s attorneys alleged he had an intellectual disability, with 2008 and 2010 I.Q. tests suggesting this, though another from 1997 suggested he had a higher I.Q.
Despite the progress we have made in the area of disability rights, these stories demonstrate that the work necessary to fully achieve them is far from done.
Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.