Warning: This Story About An Innocent Autistic Individual Will Shake You Up

The world goes berserk in April.

It’s Autism Awareness Month, remember?

 

 

We light up in blue- the color designated to Autism Awareness.

Our tallest, most magnificent buildings are lit up in blue too.

We pride ourselves on being a compassionate people who accept the differently abled.

 

 

But an incident happened in Kaula Lumpur, recently. And it shook me to the core.

 

 

I would like you to hear the blow by blow account, from my dear friend, Dr Renuka Nambiar.

 

 

  • I came across news that a 22 year old autistic young man from W. Malaysia, who was out with his family for his birthday dinner, was made to spend a night in police custody, after he touched a young woman on the chest.

 

 

 

  • This affected me terribly, since I have an adult son on the autism spectrum as well. What had happened to Ziqri, could have happened to any one of our adult children.

 

 

 

  • I got in touch with Ziqri’s mother, and suggested we start a petition. She was distraught, and of course she could not start the petition herself. But she gave me permission to go ahead with the petition.

 

 

  • Next I contacted Ziqri’s lawyer and informed him about wanting to start the online petition. He was in favour of it.

 

 

 

  • I then got it in touch with an NGO and suggested that they take up the case of forwarding the petition. It would carry more weight through an NGO, than an individual initiating it.

 

 

  • We are requesting for a tailor made SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in handling of individuals with autism, based on their unique nature and behaviour. We are asking for them not to be handcuffed. We are asking for them to have family with them at all times.

 

 

  • I suggested to the NGO, that the petition should be addressed to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, IGP, Bar Council of Malaysia and the National Autism Society of Malaysia. I gave the content of the petition and also edited it. We had the petition started at around 4 pm on 17th September. We spent hours sharing the petition to all our contacts on social media. Happy to say, friends from Malaysia, the US, UK, Australia and India have also shared this petition.

 

 

 

  • Within 48 hours, the number of people who had signed the petition had reached 20,000. Very encouraging indeed.

 

 

 

  • Latest development is that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development gave a statement that they will look into this case. We have also received support from National Autism Society of Malaysia.

 

 

Please sign this petition here:

 

https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-women-family-and-community-development-fairness-for-ziqri-justice-for-autism?recruiter=900240025&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

 

 

 

I would like to thank Dr Renuka for going out of her way to support this wonderful young man and his mother. What a blessing you are, Renuka.

 

 

In 2015, I had written an article, ‘5 Ways To Stop Imprisoning Individuals With Autism.’

 

 

I mentioned how autistic individuals are imprisoned by our skewed perceptions and our lack of compassion towards their behaviors and inability to voice their emotions.

 

 

Read the entire article here.

 

 

How much has changed since then? Apparently, not much.

 

 

Dear Friend, I would like to make a heart felt request today.

 

 

  1. Work on educating yourself about autism.

You’re dealing with somebody with a differently wired brain.

It’s not that s/he is deficient in any way.

 

 

This person may not have the ability to ‘talk’ like others or their behavior may come across as ‘weird’.

 

 

But this doesn’t mean they have any malicious intent.

 

 

I can assure you that this young man who touched the girl’s chest, did not have perverse thoughts.

 

 

I know because I’ve had the good fortune to work with these wonderful individuals for more than 2 decades.

 

 

Read about autism, volunteer at an organization close to you so you can interact with them.

 

 

  1. Accept differences

 

People with autism are different, but not less.

 

 

Dr. Renuka actually received hate mail, asking her to push the autism b/s aside. That what the young man did was ‘horrendous!’

 

 

Have we reached a stage where we can’t see beyond our limited selves?

 

 

Have we lost the power of judicious thinking?

 

 

How about expanding our hearts a little to encompass differences?

 

 

  1. Be compassionate

 

 

Why should an innocent young man be jailed for touching somebody?

 

 

Think about the serious, dozens of crimes being committed on a daily basis.

 

 

Wild shootings at schools, innocent people being murdered, racism and much more.

 

 

Yet, we want to go after somebody who could not defend himself.

 

 

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.

-Mahatma Gandhi

 

Unknown- 2

 

Ziqri was imprisoned in a cell all alone, for a night.

 

 

His innocent, hand cuffed image haunts me.

 

 

In this picture, I see my son and all my students.

I see their innocence and the light in their eyes.

 

 

I remember my promise to them. ‘I will speak up for you, till you can speak up for yourself.’

 

 

As I write this piece, I receive some good from Dr. Renuka.

 

 

The Malaysian Police will draft a new standard operating procedure to handle persons with autism, which include not using handcuffs and having a guardian present during detention.

 

 

It reinforces my hope in humanity.

 

 

Justice can be delayed, but not denied.

 

 

Mothers of autistic individuals- can we all stand up for our children, please?

2 COMMENTS

  • Sulabha Krishnan says:

    Thank you, Kamini for your pioneering work in putting together this petition and relentlessly pursuing this cause. I just signed it and posted on facebook. Yes, its truly tragic how we go after people who cannot defend themselves…Perhaps they are the easiest target to feel “outraged” at…Thank you for bringing clarity to these issues… Thank you for bringing energy and compassion to improve the lives of these beautiful, innocent souls.

  • Dimple says:

    Nobody can feel the pain of spl parents.

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