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Disability Programs

Anti-Filicide Day of Mourning

Thursday March 1, 2018: 6-8PM CST in SDRP 2050

As part of National Disability Day of Mourning, Social Justice and Leadership Education intern Kathleen Downes, the Women’s Resources Center, and a team of people fighting for disability justice at the University of Illinois will hold a vigil on March 1 from 6-8pm to honor people with disabilities murdered by family members and caregivers. It will be held in 2050 SDRP at 301 East Gregory Dr., Champaign IL. The event is wheelchair accessible and all are welcome. We will be reading the names of the victims, voicing our grief, and fighting for the day that there no more names on the list of the dead. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has compiled a list of more than 950 such murders that have occurred over the last 38 years, though the number is likely higher than that which is reported. 

Irresponsible media coverage has often framed these crimes as “understandable” or as “acts of desperation.” The justice system frequently gives a lighter sentence to those who harm or kill disabled people, sending the dangerous message that the lives of people with disabilities are not worthy of equal justice. The first vigil was held in 2012 to in response to the murder of George Hodgins, a 22-year-old autistic man killed by his mother. ASAN has continued to organize this event in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, ADAPT, and the American Association of People with Disabilities.

In hosting this event at the University of Illinois, we seek to send the message that disabled lives are worth living and that disability is not a justification for violence. Please join us in celebrating the lives of the victims and telling our community and the world that these crimes must end. Violence against people with disabilities and damaging cultural attitudes that justify it are not acceptable. Please contact Kathleen Downes at for further information or accommodation requests. 

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network seeks to advance the principles of the disability rights movement with regard to autism. ASAN believes that the goal of autism advocacy should be a world in which autistic people enjoy the same access, rights, and opportunities as all other citizens. We work to empower autistic people across the world to take control of our own lives and the future of our common community, and seek to organize the autistic community to ensure our voices are heard in the national conversation about us. Nothing About Us, Without Us! 

For more information about other Anti-Filicide Day of Mourning events happening nationally, please visit the ASAN website


Women's Cross Disability Panel

Tuesday March 13, 2018: 2:30-3:30PM CST in SDRP 2009

Social Justice and Leadership Education intern and DRES student Kathleen Downes is collaborating with a team of students and staff at the Women’s Resources Center to plan a panel discussion of women with all types of disabilities in celebration of Women’s History Month. The panel will be on Tuesday, March 13th from 2:30-3:30pm in the SDRP (Ike) Room 2009. Event is wheelchair accessible. If interested, please email Kathleen at

Moderated by

Kathleen Downes



Joey Ramp is a senior in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences pursuing an Independent Plan of Study in Biocognitive Neuroscience. She is accompanied everywhere by her service dog Sampson, together they are working to change policies and laws promoting equal access for service dog teams in educational institutions and the workplace. 

Lauren Bryant is a sophomore majoring in Communications. She is a disabled wheelchair user who was born with a condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. She hopes to work in disability advocacy, hopefully working for a disability rights organization.

Stephanie Santo 

Liza Sylvestre is currently an MFA candidate at UIUC. She is the co-founder of Creating Language Through Arts, an educational arts residency that focuses on using art as a means of communication when there are language barriers present due to hearing loss.

Hope Holland: Hope D. Holland is a 3rd-year graduate student in the Clinical and Community Psychology department at UIUC, where her research broadly focuses on gender-based violence. Hope is a first-generation college graduate with learning and mental health disabilities, and is adamant about academia’s responsibility to make space for underrepresented people, including non-traditional and neurodivergent students, in higher ed.

To Learn More


Autistic Self Advocacy Network (2018). 2018 anti-filicide toolkit. Retrieved from

Lohr, D. (2017). How murder victims with disabilities get blamed for their own deaths. Retrieved from The Huffington Post

Perry D. M. (2017). The Ruderman white paper: On media coverage of the murder of people with disabilities by their caregivers. Retrieved from

Perry, D. M. (2017). Coverage: Ruderman report on media and filicide. Retrieved from

Wade, C. (2017). We are not burdens and we don't deserve to die: A disability day of mourning roundtable. Retrieved from Autostraddle

Organizations & Resources

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Autism Women's Network

The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism