You Can Count Me Out, In

by dpreyde

A few years ago I decided to volunteer for a local charitable organization. This organization- which I’m not going to name- focuses on youth mentoring programs. After an orientation session and an interview, I was accepted as a potential mentor. I have not yet been matched. Three months ago I was contacted by an employee at this organization asking if I was still interested in participating. I said yes, and she told me I would have to get a new police check. At the time, I did not respond. Here’s the e-mail I just sent her. Details about the organization and its programs have been omitted for diplomatic reasons.

Hi, [person’s name]

Thanks for getting in touch with me about the program and providing additional information about the necessary next steps.

The reason why I didn’t complete my police check in November was because I’ve been reconsidering my possible participation in the program. I feel torn, because I’m still very much interested in [name of organization], but I’ve had some doubts about volunteering since the first orientation session.

The leader of the session spoke about the organization’s inclusivity, which impressed me, because diversity is something I value a great deal. He told us that any child who was interested in [participating in the program] had the opportunity to do so, which is obviously fantastic.

He concluded by saying that your programs don’t accept autistic children because you don’t expect the volunteers to “deal with that kind of thing”.

This disturbed me, because I have Asperger’s Syndrome and would have greatly benefited from participating in [name of organization] as a kid.

I requested clarification at the time, and was told that the applications of children on the autistic spectrum are considered on a case by case basis to see whether they would benefit from the program.

This confused me further, because surely kids who experience greater than normal social isolation would stand to benefit from a non-judgmental friendship with a trusted adult.

Could you please provide clarification on your polices regarding this matter?

Thank you.

-David Preyde

Since I was a teenager, I’ve experienced conflicting urges when it comes to activism. Part of me wants to save the world, and part of me wants to burn it down. Of course I’m pissed off when I encounter bigotry, but if I get angry at people, what happens then? Nothing changes. They just stop listening to whatever you have to say. So I had to go through a couple of drafts of this e-mail, because I think these people can be reached, and I think they need to be reached. So I tried to create something they could hear. I’m curious to see how they respond.