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Autism Memorial

Posted Jul 21 2013 10:05pm

In the wake of the "Innocent" verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, I have been thinking about just how easy it is to get off scot-free when you kill someone who is part of a minority group. Whether the minority group in this case is "people who are black" or "people who look like punks to a paranoid Neighborhood Watch captain" doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that when some people are valued less than others, their deaths are more likely to be forgotten and their murderers more likely to go unpunished.

Among the singularly unfortunate class of minority murder victims, Trayvon Martin is unusually lucky. He will be remembered. It will be recorded who he was, what he liked to do, what he thought of the world around him. His picture will be recognized for years to come. His story will be told. His needless death will be mourned. We can think of him as a person rather than as a statistic.

Being autistic sharply raises the risk of becoming a murder victim. Like most murder victims, autistic murder victims are most likely to be killed by people they know. In addition to murder, autistics are also at risk of neglect, both physical neglect and medical neglect. Lack of services can lead to death. Police and psychiatric professionals have killed autistic people during "restraint", usually by suffocation. Sometimes there are drug overdoses, or deaths caused by negligence.

These deaths seem to be forgotten almost as fast as they are reported. Some are never reported. And I think that is unfair. Everyone deserves to be remembered.

So I've created a sort of database, a memorial to all those autistic people who died due to abuse, neglect, medical malpractice, or outright murder--people who were killed simply because they were autistic, or who were vulnerable because they were autistic.

I am nowhere near finished. I was going to collect a reasonable amount of information before I made the site public. Right now there are only a few people listed there--I have a flood of names waiting to be researched and added.

I've come to the realization that it's going to take me a long time to gather all those names, all those photos, and all those little details. In the meantime, I'm making an official announcement of the site. I'm also asking for input from anyone who happens to know of a name that should be there and isn't.

If you want to help, details about the person's life are especially welcome. What were they like? What did they like to do? What were their lives like? In so many of these cases, all I can find are a name, an age, and the details of their deaths. There is often very little information about their lives.

It should go without saying (but for safety's sake I will say it anyway) that the Autism Memorial site may be distressing for some people to visit. If that is the case for you, please stay safe.
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