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Fire Safety and Autism

Mother of Accused BYU Fan with Disabilities Speaks Out

No act of kindnessMother of autistic fan temporarily banned by BYU speaks out about son being wrongly accused of shouting slurs. In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, she says her son became a scapegoat. Now she’s calling for kindness.

Autistic and Intellectually disabled people face discrimination and potentially life changing/threatening interactions because of their social differences. The case below was not borne out to be true. What if the spectator HAD shouted out the N word to a player? What if he watched movies and listened to music that use the term freely without an obviously disclaimer?  Using a slur would still be wrong, but could you say he or she was really at fault? It's tough to explain nuance to people who think in a concrete way. Is a word "good" or "bad?"  We KNOW our children can make gaffes. As kids, they will get a scolding. As adults, they may be harmed. Thank you to Judith Zimmerman for sharing this article on Twitter yesterday.

By Courtney Tanner

Mother of autistic fan temporarily banned by BYU speaks out about son being wrongly accused of shouting slurs. In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, she says her son became a scapegoat. Now she’s calling for kindness.

A mother says her autistic son became a “scapegoat in a hurried attempt to calm the firestorm” after he was accused — wrongly — of yelling a racial slur at a Duke volleyball player.

For the first time, she is sharing her family’s perspective on what unfolded during the Aug. 26 match at Brigham Young University through a written statement to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Ultimately, the mother believes, the incident reflects bias in multiple forms — in how Duke player Rachel Richardson has been treated and also her son, who she said has physical and developmental challenges. Both, she says, are marginalized in different ways.

She hopes people will stop blaming her son for something he didn’t do, she wrote, and move forward with kindness and forgiveness.

The Tribune is not publishing the name of her son, who has been found innocent by BYU. And to avoid identifying him, the mother is also not being named.

Although BYU declined to verify their names, The Tribune reviewed two written communications provided by the family’s attorney that included BYU officials mentioning the fan by his name and his initials. The Tribune also verified the son is an enrolled student at UVU, as has been previously reported.

Richardson has said she heard the N-word shouted at her “very distinctly” from the BYU student section while she was serving. Her coaches told BYU officials, who stationed a police officer in front of the stands, but BYU says no individual was pointed out at that time.

Richardson said a fan approached her after the game and made her feel uncomfortable. She said that same fan was the one who yelled the slurs. After Duke coaches identified that fan — the mother’s son — to BYU, the university banned him “indefinitely” from future games. Duke’s athletics staff have said they stand by Richardson’s account.

But after BYU’s investigation found no evidence of racial slurs being shouted, and none coming from the identified fan, in particular, it reinstated him and apologized. Read more at the Salt Lake Tribune HERE.

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Big deal! There are a lot of people falsely accused of saying a bigoted statement. There are more important issues for those with autism or any disability than being "banned" from some a soccer or volleyball or whatever sports game. What about people murdering or seriously abusing those with autism or those with another serious disabilities getting seriously hurt or killed through drowning or by getting hit by a car. What about poor quality special education and public health care this also impacts those with autism and serious disabilities a lot more than a darn volley ball game.


Her language makes her part of the problem in my opinion. You can't ask for empathy and kindness while denying that your kid is disabled. If you require special accommodations, you are in fact, disabled. That there are special accommodations means that you're accepted, which has always been the (stated) goal. But in the era of 'more', this is the result.

Unpopular opinion maybe, but this is the type of person in our community we typically rail against as they diminish our, and our children's, plight. If I'm wrong in my insights, so be it, but I've read stuff like this for a long time, and I'm pretty sure my hammer found the nailhead.

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