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Thursday, November 10, 2022

Senator-elect Fetterman

In The Politics of Autism, I write about the everyday struggles facing autistic people and their families -- including casual prejudice against disabled people.

Pennsylvania Senate: John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke, defeated Trumpist Mehmet Oz, who hosted anti-vaxxers on his TV show. Before the election, Amanda Morris wrote at WP:
Fetterman’s health has become a focal point for both campaigns, and during the debate, he was asked repeatedly by moderators about his ability to serve. The debate included closed captions as an accommodation for Fetterman, but the captions, which were provided through stenographers who transcribed everything onto a large monitor behind the moderators, lagged several seconds behind and may have resulted in some delays as Fetterman presumably took time to read the captions before answering.

The debate format also involved rapid-fire questions and 15- and 30-second response times that, at times, seemed difficult for Fetterman to manage. On Twitter, a number of people commented that watching the debate made them more aware of how the debate process is skewed in favor of people who don’t have disabilities.

The article provides some context :

Yuh-Line Niou, an openly autistic New York state assembly member, ran this year to represent New York’s 10th District in a bid to become the first openly autistic politician in Congress.

Niou lost her primary. She said has faced a certain degree of harassment from the public over her disability, including people who called her “mentally ill” or used a slur for people with intellectual disabilities. Niou said it was clear people don’t understand that people with autism are intelligent, empathic beings.

“I got all these questions like, ‘Are you going to be able to do your job? Like, can she even think?’ ” Niou said. “ ‘Can she service people if she doesn’t know what they’re feeling?’ ”

And not all disabilities are treated equally by voters, according to Douglas L. Kruse and Lisa A. Schur, co-directors of Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research. In their research on politicians with disabilities, they found that someone who has a hearing disability or who has difficulty walking or climbing stairs is much more likely to be in office than someone with a vision, mental or cognitive disability.