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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Detroit Gives Autistic People Priority for COVID Vaccination

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

On February 11, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan expanded eligibility for COVID vaccination to include several additional groups, including adults with autism. Sarah Rahal of the Detroit News quoted him: "Individuals with autism have behavioral issues that are going to make it very difficult to socially distance and wear a mask... and so we believe that it makes sense to move forward with this group."

Erin Einhorn at NBC reports:
People with disabilities are being left out of Covid vaccine rollouts and being left out of data collection when somebody contracts Covid, and that leads to disparities,” said Dessa Cosma, the executive director of Detroit Disability Power, a social justice organization that led the letter-writing campaign.
When Cosma heard that Duggan planned to announce, on Feb. 11, that adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, along with their caregivers, would be added to the city’s vaccination list, she thought perhaps the mayor would narrow eligibility to people with conditions such as Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Those disorders have been more conclusively linked to higher Covid-19 rates or deaths.

Instead, she was thrilled — and proud — to see that [Detroit mayor Mike] Duggan went broad, including all intellectual and developmental disabilities and specifically naming six conditions, in addition to Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Among them were autism, Tourette syndrome, hearing and vision impairment, and ADHD, a neurological condition that affects nearly 5 percent of U.S. adults, causing impulsivity, hyperactivity and difficulty focusing.