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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Autism and the 2016 Race

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.  As I explain in the book, Hillary Clinton has a long history with the issue, and has issued an autism policy statement for the 2016 campaign.  I have also posted about Kasich,  Bush, Rubio, Christie, Paul, and Trump.

During the summer, my first event as a reporter was the Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C. After seeing Ohio Gov. John Kasich talk about how as governor he made sure that people on the Autism Spectrum would not be denied access to healthcare, I had an opportunity to talk him. I told him that as a person on the Autism Spectrum, I was grateful for him to mention people on the Autism Spectrum as people who need to be “brought out of the shadows.” He then bent over, hugged me, and told me “God is looking after you.” It was a true and genuine moment.

In New Hampshire and Iowa, I attended numerous town halls where I had the opportunity to ask many candidates questions on employment for people with disabilities, event and website accessibility, crime rate, and other important topics. From Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and from former Florida Gov.Jeb Bush to Kasich, I helped draw attention to important issues, all while educating both the candidate and the press who were covering the campaign.

It took three attempts to speak to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during my New Hampshire travels. The first two events were in small places that were not easily accessible. During the third, a town hall at the Pelham VFW Post, I was not called on to ask a question. However, I had my opportunity during the rope line, andChristie talked about his state’s Employment First policy.
Now, I’m in Iowa covering disability issues leading up to the Iowa caucuses. I’m now being recognized by candidates! Last week,Kasich publicly commended me for my work in being a self-advocate and bringing these issues to the table. I also am working with local disability leaders to press candidates to not only talk about our issues but also to walk the walk by making websites and events more accessible.