1. Write an article entitled "In Va. assault case, anxious parents recognize 'dark side' of autism."
2. In said article, conveniently minimize the fact that said assault only occurred because a police officer was trying to arrest a Black autistic teen for no damned good reason. After going on a racist tirade. But never mind that--instead, let's frame the article around the "dangers" of autistic people, who are portrayed as irrationally violent and a danger to "the community."
3. Don't bother quoting any actual autistic people. Instead, let's rely on Autism Speaks, family members only, and some random dude who is a Big Brother to an autistic boy.
4. Present with sympathy the idea that a parent was right to call the police on their adult autistic son after he talked a lot about Harry Potter and ran down the street.
5. Let the racist and ableist comments to the story come in.
My heart goes out to Neli Latson, who is clearly the victim of a broken system. There is absolutely no reason why he should be facing ten and a half years in prison, and I dearly hope that there is some way for Neli to get his freedom back. Please visit A Voice for Neli and sign a petition to bring Neli's plight to national media attention and, if you can, donate. Stay alert for updates from Neli's mother Lisa Alexander. Pass the links to A Voice for Neli on.
And in the meantime, think critically about media reports of this event that you see. While it is very important that Neli's situation is widely publicized, articles like the one in the Washington Post are not helpful to Neli and are, in fact, harmful to all autistic people. Let's not mis-diagnose the problems here, folks, which are:
-Cops don't deal well with people with mental/neurological disabilities.
-Many police officers abuse their power quite grossly.
-Black men are still treated as criminals by default by the entire law enforcement system as well as by many Americans. Let's not forget that this catastrophe began when someone decided to call the cops because Neli was sitting on grass outside of a library.
The existence of autistic people is not the problem, despite all of the scare tactics. We exist, and we deserve just treatment under the law and understanding and accommodations for our differences. Not a police state which limits our autonomy, and not a form of "autism awareness" which paints us as dangerous without ever considering our perspectives.