Juana Summers at NPR:
JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: Dozens of people crowded into a coffee shop in Salem, N.H., to hear about Andrew Yang's plans for disabled people. He told the group what it was like when his son Christopher, who was 3 at the time, received his autism diagnosis.
YANG: So we were first-time parents, and Christopher had struggles. But as a first-time parent, you don't know if that's just the norm. You're like, maybe 2-year-olds act like this; maybe 3-year-olds act like this. And when we got the diagnosis, it was actually a relief for me and my wife because we were like, OK, this is something that we now understand and we can bring resources to bear.
SUMMERS: But Yang said he recognizes that not everyone has those resources. Autism can be a costly and complex diagnosis that can vary widely. In an interview, Yang explained why he's decided to make his son's story part of his campaign.
YANG: Well, I would have no idea how not to talk about it in the sense that it's part of our family and part of our lives. And the last thing that would ever occur to me would be to somehow obscure the reality of Christopher and his autism from our story.From Summers:
Ari Ne'eman, a senior research associate at Harvard Law School's Project on Disability and a co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, said he welcomed some parts of Yang's plan, including his commitment to ending seclusion as a punishment in schools. He also praised Yang's call for increased funding for the federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which gives every child the right to services and accommodations that will allow them to learn.
\But he also had some concerns, including the fact that Yang's proposals focuses only on children, rather than also including policy directed toward disabled adults.
"That's a sore spot in the disability community. Often you will see the public very quick to talk about cute, disabled children, but when those children grow up, being very reluctant to provide supports and services in order to be able to have a life with dignity and independence," he said.