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ASPartOfMe
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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 64
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Location: Long Island, New York

28 Mar 2022, 8:25 am

Disabled parents say their differences are being used against them in Ohio family courts

Quote:
Kara Ayers was shopping for clothes with her children when a conversation with a store employee took a turn.

"The lady at the checkout asked me how I had my daughter," Ayers said. "I didn’t understand at first."

The clerk explained. She asked whether "I had her vaginally or a c-section. I was like, 'Who says vaginally at the Kohl’s checkout?'"

Ayers, who uses a wheelchair, was stunned but not surprised. Strangers routinely ask her all kinds of inappropriate questions about her marriage and her parenting.

Still, she considers herself lucky.

The Cincinnati doctor has heard much worse through her work as co-founder of the Disabled Parenting Project and associate director of the University of Cincinnati's Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

Ayers has worked on several cases where courts took children from their disabled parents or denied them equal custody. One case involved a mom with a visual impairment who was questioned about her ability to safely mix baby formula.

"There's ready made formula where you don’t have to mix it," Ayers said.

Mental and physical disabilities are the only characteristics in state child welfare policies that can be grounds for removal of children, according to a 2017 parental disability report from the University of Minnesota. Everything else, such as addiction, abuse and neglect, are behaviors.

This can "contribute to discriminatory practices in child welfare," according to the report, "as it can lead those involved in the system to believe that parental disabilities lead to abuse, rather than focusing on how to appropriately provide services."

Sen. Bob Hackett, R-London, agreed. He's co-sponsoring SB 202 with Sen. Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood.

The bill, and its companion in the Ohio House (HB 352), would require courts to demonstrate how a person's disability harms their children. And it would put the burden on the "party asserting the detrimental impact to show that impact by clear and convincing evidence."

It’s not my disability that has been detrimental to my kids," Ayers said. "It’s our society’s disbelief about my disability."


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Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman