Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Moment in Self Advocacy by Ondrea Marisa Robinson

This is an update to Ondrea's guest post on The Autism Wars about her fight for accessible transportation and the eventual positive outcome. Amplify Autistic Voices allows the publication of unfiltered, unedited, autistics speaking.  To read her first post on this topic click here.


Image description: RIPTA RIde vehicle #0141 in downtown Providence

I really didn't want to sign another RIde application to get on the paratransit service, because I felt like it wasn't worth fighting for, and at first, I felt like I was being forced against my own will by Monica, the Business Relations Supervisor, and Joe, my case manager, at the Office of Rehabilitation Services. But I did sign my name where I needed to sign.

 A day later after signing the application at the meeting, Monica called me and asked me who would be my emergency contact, and I told her that it was my mother Martha. That was fine. However, the next question she proposed to me was not appropriate, and that was if I was overweight. I asked if the question was on the application, and she said it wasn't, but she wanted to know if I was able to get on the bus. I answered that I wasn't overweight, but it was a personal question, didn't she think? (I took it personally, because I'm a curvy girl, and I'm very sensitive when it comes to people questioning my weight.)

 I addressed the overweight issue with her supervisor Ron, who did speak with her. He told me that her intentions were good, but they were inappropriate. And then on top of that, I wrote a letter to Ron to address the situation in full, along with sending Monica an e-mail about what she did. Did I receive a reply from the letter and/or the e-mail? No, I didn't. I am not going to force an apology from either one of them. And I hope that someone else doesn't get asked if he or she is overweight, because he or she might be devastated (or maybe not). A couple of weeks later, I opened my mailbox to see that I received a letter from RIPTA, regarding the RIde Program. I was thinking it was another rejection letter, saying that I was not approved. But when I opened it up, I felt a sigh of relief. I was shocked. I was glad to be approved for paratransit services. I did understand why Monica asked what she asked, but it could have been put in a different context. And I thanked her for doing her best to get me on the program, but she said there was no need to thank her.

 I tell you, God is good all the time, and He's worthy to be praised, because sometimes you have to speak up in order to be heard. And even if some people may not like it, oh well. You're doing your best.