Independence comes in many forms, but the most basic of which is to live in the community, not be relegated to “institutions” or “facilities”, cut off from the rest of humanity only to venture out when our “keepers” say we may, this is not independence in any stretch of the word. As adults we deserve independence on our terms. Slowly organizations with our “best” interest at heart are starting to understand that segregating us to keep us “safe” or to “shelter” us, etc. does us more harm than good.
We never truly become members of society at large when we are relegated to life on the fringe of it. Allowing us to be part of the decision-making process is key, when if comes down to it, whatever is decided effects us more than it will effect you. Living within communities is the start toward independence, finding work that pays a living wage is the next step.
We Autistic adults, whether we be verbal or nonverbal, should never be barred, excluded, etc. from weighing in on decisions that effect us, we each have something to offer. Autistics and other disabled people in the United States can legally be paid less than “normal” people, but what is normal?, all due to the unfair portion (Section 14(C)) of a law that is still in existence, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, at the time it was believed to help the disabled, but it certainly does not now, the standard of living does not allow for people to survive on a pittance. In the Developed World our most vulnerable should not be taken advantage of. How can we truly achieve Independence if we are being paid a legal subminimum wage?
The time has come for this Act to be brought into the 21st Century. I urge you to contact your legislators and push for them to delete Section 14(C) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which allows companies who employ disabled workers to pay those workers subminimum
Published July 11, 2013 on Google+