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Don’t get me wrong here, okay?

I like training. After all, as a former professional trainer, it was my bread and butter for more than a decade.

I like them. I like that they can be fun, I like the learning, I like that they are usually bite-sized and digestible so not terribly unpopular with the people that have to go to them, you know, for work. Most all jobs, after all,  mandate one type of training or another at some point – anything from sexual harassment, to learning another language; from “communication in the workplace”, to dealing with stress or grief… or yeah,  disability.

As far as disability trainings are concerned, they come in lots of packages, from things related to disability etiquette, people first language, how to get along with your colleague who has a disability… and so on. You name it. From the absurd to the incredibly practical, it’s out there. Your pick.

So. Who picks? And who delivers? What’s it all about?

I’m going to be really upfront here.

The picking and choosing of who delivers a training is usually based on reputation and contacts. Every single one of my choicest training jobs back when I was a trainer was because of who I knew. And honestly, that’s completely normal.
People like to hire who they know and like.

There is usually good money involved. Training  jobs are usually desirable. Most places, especially state/government agencies, have a certain number of dollars set up in their yearly budgets that must go to training. Since they usually have a set amount of money that must go to training, they can end up scrambling to come up with a training that looks like they have done well and good. They often pay more than they should and don’t quibble over seat prices – after all, it’s in the budget and the budget needs to be spent else Accounting might think they have too much and take it away.

Okay, are you still with me?

Good. Let’s take a little look at the Ethan Saylor case.

What’s happening now is the NDSS/NDSC is pushing training all over the freaking map. They whimper “independent investigation” as they pummel “TRAINING!”

Training is the easy, feel-good approach to this.

Training will also bring money to NDSS/NDSC –

Why? Because who else is in place to deliver those trainings once it’s mandated that the police need them? (and on that, please read this post   then this post ). The NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY! THE NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME CONGRESS!

There is money involved here, people. Those Nationals get MONEY when they get the training ticket passed through. They will get lots and lots of money pouring into their coffers from the state and government, money that will say “TRAINING” on it, and those trainings can be handled pretty much any way they want.

This is honestly so repulsive and disgusting to me that when all of this connected in my head, bile rose.


Training makes money. Those Nationals are pushing for what is going to make them money.

Training is also easy – everyone wants it because they think that it’s going to make a real difference a person’s outlook on life in a session or two.

But I’ll tell you this: it makes precious none, no difference at all. You can be the best trainer in the world (and I was a pretty good one, if I say so myself) but when people walk into that room, there is no way on earth your 45 minutes or 1-day session with them is going to trump 30+ years of life.

It’s just not.

The real training is always going to start from the home and from yourself. Want your kids to be fair and treat others with courtesy, compassion and respect? They you have to treat people that way because your kids are watching you and that’s the real training that is going on in the world.

That’s the long-term view on it and it’s also the logical truth, but you can’t say, “okay, let’s all treat each other the way we know we should” and let that be the end and all when Ethan Saylor was killed. You can’t say that when Ethan Saylor was held down and suffocated to death.


This is what I want to know: if those 3 officers that killed him were met with justice, wouldn’t that provide the best type of “training” possible? It would set an example that would ring loud and shine brightly across this country.

But we can’t even say what type of justice that would be because the independent investigation hasn’t even happened.

And why is that?

Oh right. Because the organizations with the real power and ability to call for that – the NDSS and NDSC – are only pushing for TRAINING.

The one piece in any of this that stands the chance to earn them a buck or three.

On the back of Ethan Saylor.


What you can do:

Please join advocates from across the country in a town hall meeting on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 pm ET for an update from NDSC and NDSS on their progress in the Ethan Saylor case.

According to NDSC and NDSS, “Participants will hear more and have the opportunity to voice questions.”

Join the meeting at noon on Tuesday by dialing 877-410-5657 and enter the passcode 69126.


Tweet: #justiceforethan (tweetsheet is here; twitter handles are here), we are tweeting throughout the week but with a concentration on Thursdays until there is #justiceforethan: an independent investigation

Call the Department of Justice – (202) 307-5138

Tell them that you would like an independent investigation on the Robert “Ethan” Saylor case petition calling for an independent investigation:


please read more posts as well as add your own if you have one/know of one:

The T21 Writer’s Alliance

More To Read:

A Step Backwards for Down syndrome Advocacy, by Down Wit Dat

What Happened, by Melissa Stoltz

An Open Letter to NDSS & NDSC, by Melissa Stoltz

Ethan Saylor Homicide, by Bobby’s Mama (full of excellent questions)

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  1. Love that you are keeping this front and centre!

    Something went terribly wrong in this case, and it’s disturbing that we aren’t getting to the bottom of that.

  2. Something really IS wrong. I don’t think it’s completely about the money. There is more. But I don’t know what it is. But money… I think it IS a factor.

  3. I like your point that the most effective training would be disciplining the officers involved. Indeed, that would make headlines that would then seep into the subconscious across police departments, much more so than what would no doubt be training of inconsistent quality that many either would not attend or sleep through.

  4. Okay, so we DON’T want training? We don’t want things like this to be prevented by good officer training? How do we prevent them then? Okay, so maybe they do training, but NOT by the two biggest Down syndrome advocacy groups? I’m sorry. I just do not follow this line of thinking. Why wouldn’t you want them to be the ones that do the training and why wouldn’t you want the money to go to them? Haven’t MOST of us done Buddy Walks? That money goes to them? Don’t we go to the conference? That costs money. We pay them.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t get this. I think an independent investigation needs to be done so that we can better tell how to TRAIN officers in situations like these. I think training works. If not, why do any training at all ever?

    1. Because in this specific instance, Down syndrome has nothing to do with Ethan’s death. What do you propose the training would look like – training that they didn’t already have, or common sense wouldn’t hae told them?

      Is it reasonable that lack of movie ticket resulted in a physical confrontation, cuffs, and being put face first into the ground? Does there really need to be training about that?

      They already knew how to de escalate situations and should have known proper restraint techniques. Leaving someone in the prone position with hands tied behind the back is absolutely not a best practice. What, specifically, about Down syndrome affects that?

      What does it say about people with Ds that officers need “special” training to work with them? What does it say about Ethan’s death? He is dead because of poor decision making. Period. All the training in the world about Down syndrome wouldn’t have changed the fact that they chose an incredibly dangerous form of restraint instead of simply waiting for Ethan to calm down and waiting for his care worker to come back.

  5. Lexi – what Melissa said… and I don’t think you read the articles I linked to (“read more”) because they answer all of your questions…

    I really think you should read them.

  6. So, he wouldn’t have died if he didn’t have Down syndrome? i read most of the links. I don’t get it.

    1. no, he wouldn’t have died if he hadn’t been hogtied and thrown down and suffocated to death. It’s police brutality that is the culprit here – did you read this one – – it’s a good description of what happened. But the witness statements have not been released, etc. We need the investigation to get to the core of it all.
      But you see, the thing about the call for training is rather than treat this as a human rights issue (which it is) and see what those off duty moonlighting cops were actually doing, we are using “disability” as a herring and moving it to “sensitivity” awareness. Those guys knew better than to move to that level, and NO mall cop is supposed be using that level of violence. But what they did when the shit hit the fan he died is they whipped out their cop privilege. But they were MALL GUARDS when they killed him.

      The post from Down syndrome Dis and Dat is a good one for the guard piece (its linked in my post)

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