Thursday, February 9, 2017

GREAT ADAPTIVE BIKE GIVEAWAY CONTEST 2017

Yep, its that time again everyone. 

If you are in need of an adaptive bike for someone in your family check out the information below and join in the contest.






Friendship Circle Presents the Great Bike Giveaway
Every Child Deserves A Bike!

Friendship Circle is kicking off its 6t h annual Great Bike Giveaway on February 15, 2017. Great Bike Giveaway is an annual national campaign that strives to provide as many bikes as possible to children and teens with special needs. Participants will have one month to earn an adaptive bike through fundraising efforts using an online crowdfunding platform.

More than 74 million kids across the U.S. ride bikes. It’s a quintessential part of childhood. Sadly, a key group of children are excluded from the joy and independence of bike riding. Many children with special needs miss out on that essential childhood experience because their physical or cognitive limitations make riding a traditional bike impossible.

The high cost of adaptive bikes makes the dream of riding a bike unreachable for many children with special needs. Many families cannot afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a bike and unfortunately, insurance companies refuse to cover the costs.

Friendship Circle works with adaptive bike companies from around the United States to secure discounted pricing, making it cost-effective for families to earn appropriate bikes for their children. Adaptive bikes range in size, capability, and price making it easy for every family to find the bike that best meets their child’s needs. In just 5 years, Friendship Circle has provided over 900 children with adaptive bikes and the experience of riding their very own bike.

In order to participate in the Great Bike Giveaway families, or participants, will be required to complete a registration form and choose the bike they wish to fundraise for.

To view a full list of available bikes and rules, or to register, please visit bikes.friendshipcircle.org

HOW IT WORKS


LINK HERE FOR THE LIST OF BIKES





About Friendship Circle
Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization that provides programs and support to the families of individuals with special needs. In addition to assisting individuals with special needs, Friendship Circle brings together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for hours of fun and friendship. These shared experiences empower the children, our special friends, while enriching the lives of everyone involved. Learn more and see our available programs at www.friendshipcircle.org 





Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lessons in Anger Management, Behavioral Management, and Social Convention in the Present Political Climate

So you try to teach your child that it is not appropriate to have a meltdown in public. That as they age, there are societal requirements for behavior. That as they age when they are angry they need to learn how to process that anger effectively and channel it into something positive. That social convention stipulates that at a certain age, usually when they get to be adult tall, or reach adolescence, societal expectations are that they are to follow the rules, the law, and the norm.

Now enter present day politics.

What the hell?

We have grownass adults, rioting, setting fire to private property, smashing windows, attacking police officers and creating mayhem because they are not happy about a democratically held election. The ridiculousness of these acts, is that like after the Fergusion riots, there are people trying to compare these jackasses to the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party.

Well here is the truth:

The SoL did dump tea overboard. The tea was privately owned, but by a government monopoly. They were protesting the tax on tea among other imposed laws, where they had no voice in the matter, and the fact that the tea could only be bought from this monopoly. 

The SoL did not go through the streets of Boston, willy nilly and destroy people's private property. They did not go through the streets of Boston and attack innocent people. The SoL had a plan of action. They attacked, for lack of a better word, the epicenter, and symbol, of a government that did not allow them to vote, to have a say in their daily lives, and took from them their rights as natural born English subjects.

I do not think that the limo owned by a Moslem immigrant that was destroyed during the inaugural had anything to do with the political outcome of the election. The driver, who was injured, did not. The owner of the Starbucks that was trashed, most certainly was only trying to make a living. It's really not like Starbucks has a monopoly on coffee, and you can only buy coffee from there, never mind that the people that work there, who earn minimum wage, may be unemployed until the store is fixed from the damage done. Besides, no one stopped these tempertantrumming anarchists from voting. Like in the Portland riots, just after the election, it was proven that 90% of those arrested DID NOT VOTE.

So who is to blame for the outcome of a democratically held election if you do not exercise your Constitutional right to vote?

In other words, this was simply an excuse for those who have been taught that they are entitled to behave as miscreants to actually act out in inappropriate ways. Yes, there were over 125 arrests. I hope they throw them all in jail for a good long time. Then I hope that the Limo driver, the limo owner, and the Starbucks owner, find out the names of the groups that partook in these actions, and sue them for damages, along with civil rights violations, interference with  commerce, assault and battery, and then the wonderful all encompassing pain and suffering.

I hope the Justice Department goes after these anarchist groups for the civil rights violations of anyone who wanted to watch, walk or go near the Inauguration through the area that was trashed. I hope they charge them with civil rights violations for destroying the livelihood of the Moslem man, and the assault on the Irish driver. Considering the number of police officers hurt, I hope they go after these groups under charges of domestic terrorism.

It is time that society stood up and said enough.

If our autistic children, are required, under pain of expulsion, detention, or some other kind of punishment, to behave in a certain acceptable way, then  others need to be required to do the same. And not simply give the thugs a slap on the wrist.

Yes, I used the words thugs. I am tired of beating around the bush and not being able to say words that aptly describe someone because of political correctness. Thugs are violent, evil people. And simply because you think you have a political cause that enables you to behave inappropriately, doesn't mean you do. You are a thug. In fact, when you use violence in order to try to get your way politically, that is called terrorism. Maybe its time we started using appropriate labels to those that think they can run riot through towns even if they are members of the "Left."

Besides, how do we teach our children, who learn by example, that this rioting behavior is not ok if there are no major consequences to the rioters actions? How do we say, that there isn't two levels of treatment. One for the anarchists, because they claim a political redress, and one for our children, who actually are dealing with developmental delays? Which of the two groups actually should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to punishment and lack of comprehension? 

I know that even today, I try to continue to teach my youngmen the right way versus the wrong way to interact with people. I try to teach them the right way and the inappropriate way to channel your grievances and your disappointment. They don't always listen, but there are also consequences when they don't.

Here's another lesson: the Women's March. There was NOT one incident of violence, harm, or breaking the law. I may not have agreed with the march (I thought it was premature, and rather stupid with their pussycat hats and vagina costumes). But there were millions that walked, chanted, sang and interacted on a healthy, socially appropriate level. Now I don't think that swear words, insinuating that the President is incestuous, or that it is ok to call for the destruction of an ally (several of the speakers were known virulent antisemites), is the way to actually be intelligent, but legally they did not a thing wrong. It would have been nice though if they did find a way to clean up after themselves, instead of leaving garbage strewn all over the place, costing taxpayers thousands upon thousands to have to have someone clean up after them. Not illegal, just unthoughtful, and quite frankly not very eco-friendly either.

So you can point to the Women's March as an exhibit of legal, social, and even appropriate anger behavior management. Show your children that there are ways to get your ideas across that are acceptable in society. That group marches can, and do, come off without harm to another person. That large groups of people can come together and kvetch all they want about something that hasn't happened yet. This march was the exercise of the First Amendment in full exhibition.

Listen I know I am being specious. But I have no use for wasted time and effort. In life you have just so much political capital. Choose wisely how you use it. If you complain too much, even people of good conscience, will simply turn you off.

I also think that is a good behavioral management lesson for the boys as well. Pick your battles. Pick what you are going to fight for and work on at the time. You cannot work on every issue you have all at once, no matter what your child's IEP may say. 

Personally, for the special needs community, I think the really big issue right now is the fact that the Department of Education nominee, doesn't know what the IDEA is, and how it is applied to school districts. Now my boys are out of public school, and are not dependent on that piece of legislation. But that doesn't keep me from being concerned for others. 

If we need a march, that is the march we should have, along with letting the Congress know that there are certain aspects of Obamacare that in truth is keeping many of us alive. Moreover, under Obamacare so many of us finally are able to even get healthcare for ourselves or our children. Whether it is the preexisting issue clause, the autism related supports, allowing children up to 26 to stay on your insurance, and stopping lifetime caps of payments, getting rid of these provisions are the things that worry so many of us. I do know that many are also worried about going back to a block grant medicaid program. They believe this will cut funding, since the states will not supplement, and hurt supports for the disabled. Also though, it would be good if they did something about the cost. 

My premiums, which we pay out of pocket, have gone up by 1/3 and we now have to pay Mr.GS1's COBRA as well.  Moreover, because we chose the less expensive model for our son, the deductibles, for his policy are out of bounds. We took a shot that he wouldn't need major surgery, or have major health problems this year. We will see if we chose wisely. I will let you know in  December. (Honestly it was the difference between $500 a month or $1000 a month-I kid you not.) The boy also only makes minimum wage. What is he supposed to do with that first? And the Obamacare policies here in NY are abysmal.

So here are my final thoughts:

We have seen within less than a week, anger management, behavioral management and social convention in actual play. We have seen much of it fail, but at the same time we did see a successful application as well. The lessons are immense for our children.

Depending on their age show them and talk to them about what happened. 

Point out the pluses, the minuses and explain how everything does apply to them. Teach them a better way to behave when you are upset about a political outcome than rioting. Show them that sometimes there is power in large groups coming together.

Use the present political climate, which in truth, none of us can really avoid, to explain how the lessons they are learning today, are actually needed throughout their lives.

Then secretly crack open a bottle of Jack Daniels. I think we are going to need alot of that in the years to come.













Monday, January 23, 2017

Not only was Barron Trump bullied by adults, he was bullied about his "supposed disability".....think about that you defenders of political correctness

I simply can't believe that this has to be said:  because you dislike the parents' politics, you do not have the right to bully the child. 

It wasn't ok when Rush did it to Chelsea Clinton. (In very nice fashion Chelsea tweeted out telling everyone to leave Barron Trump alone.) The Obama girls were, and still are off limits. Even those who picked on the Bush twins, although at the time of their father's presidency were technically adults, were really thought of as déclassé. So what is wrong with some Leftists/Progressives that think it is fine to pick on Barron Trump, a child no less, that many even think might be on the autism spectrum?

What is wrong with these people? I wouldn't say adults, because adults with any kind of upbringing, do not bully, pick on, or try to hurt a child at any point in their lives. I get it, they don't like what his father stands for. So be the grownass adult you claim to be, and direct your anger at the father.

Or in the alternative, if you are that hard up for someone to bully, because you disagree with Trump's politics, then say something mean about Barron's mother. Of course, the Left did try that with the slut-shaming episodes against Melania from months ago. But you see, that didn't get them the attention they apparently crave, so forward went the brave Lefties to picking on a ten-year-old child.

A child, by the way, who sweetly played with his little nephew, while his father signed an executive order.

The best part of the attacks were that these so-called comedians, one who writes for SNL and other who writes for Comedy Central, is that they were making fun of Barron's possible disability. They hooked into his lack of engagement. His quiet demeanor. His standoffishness. They decided that he has mental health, and social issues, and this became fodder for laughs.

Interestingly, during the Obama era, when someone went on social media, and made racist, or inelegant jokes that caught fire, they had their lives ruined. When a communication director for a congressperson chastised the Obama girls for their clothes, she lost her job. We became cognizant of how we spoke, what we spoke, and the effect it had on other people.

It wasn't a bad thing. Words have meaning, and words do hurt.

From a libertarian perspective, of course, politically correct speech is terrible.  (Don't send me emails) But people also need to remember that your rights do end at the tip of my nose.

Yet, from a human perspective, is it really so bad to pay attention to the words you use, and to think how those words really would affect others around you? It is really so bad to have just a little compassion? Is it so bad to think beyond yourself?

But somehow these two sad excuses for jokers who picked on Barron Trump, are still employed. (See update below)(They are the primary example, not the only ones. There was the general nastiness you see on twitter or social media. It was a fire storm of piggishness.) Yes, they should be fired. Fired not simply because they thought it was ok to pick on a child, which is bad enough, but also fired for thinking it is ok to demean another human being because they have a disability, or a mental health issue.

Remember, you may have the right to say anything you please, but your employer also has the right to fire you when you hold them up to ridicule, derision, and opprobrium. Employers are not the government, they can, and do, expect that you do not put their reputation into question. Employees cannot cause an employer financial loss, or potential disgrace.

Funny that, though, no one seems to have chastised SNL, or Comedy Central for employing such losers.

In truth, Comedy Central is no longer funny.

And the only thing SNL has going for it right now is Alec Baldwin.

What I think it also says about this show or TV station, though, is that somehow they have decided that it is ok to demean certain other human beings they disagree with. No one and nothing is off limits. But if in the alternative, you ever demeaned them, or their child, they would raise holy hell.

Heck, you can't make fun of their icons or idols either. How many jokes were ever really made about Obama? Ironically, in an almost North Korean like exhibit,  SNL had a tribute to Obama on their last show. You would think that the world was burying the Messiah all over again.

The truth of the matter is that in our world today, there seem to be very few true grownups.

The Left complains about Trump's classlessness, and yet they themselves are just as classless.

But the most convoluted part of the entire situation, is that the Left, which prides itself on standing for human, and civil rights, thinks nothing of picking on a child, and picking on that child's supposed disability. Think about it. The self appointed watchdogs of humanity, think that the disabled are fair game for derision, censure, and hate, as long as they don't like your family.

Yes, hate. They used supposed disabilities as fodder for their hate.

Again, there was much talk about Trump and his mocking of a disabled reporter. Pages, and pages, and pages were written about his horribleness, his carelessness, his disrespect for the reporter's humanity.

But how many on the Left actually laughed at the jokes mocking a child's probable disability? That is the question that needs to be answered. That is also NOW the question you need to ask yourself, next time anyone on the Left chastises Trump for anything.

The Left really is no better than the things they despise about Trump.

Hypocrites, and losers. The lot of them.



UPDATE: From the Washington Free Beacon

SNL writer Katie Rich issued an apology on Twitter at 3 p.m. eastern Monday calling her joke “inexcusable.” She sent the Tweet about 30 minutes before the announcement that she had been suspended from the show indefinitely. A source at SNL told Deadline that the suspension occurred “immediately” after the offending tweet.

This was nice to see. All children are off limits. Finally. Good.



Friday, January 13, 2017

Speechless on ABC- a definite much watch

I waited awhile to talk about the new comedy on ABC, which details the lives of an iconoclast family that includes among others, a teenage son, JJ, who happens to have cerebral palsy. The title "Speechless," comes from this particular character's inability to speak. More importantly however, it's also about how even if you are nonverbal you can still be heard loudly, and clearly.

This show hits on many issues that those of us who live in special needs families deal with on a daily basis. The season began with the mom fighting to get JJ the appropriate access and accommodations so he could attend the local public high school. There was the discussion about how moving into the richer neighborhood will get JJ a better education, and the family's other two typical children as well. But it brings to mind the fact that across the US, education is haphazard. While there is a basis in federal law, the IDEA, we know that every state can, and does, interpret the requirements differently.

In fact, at present there is a case before the Supreme Court to finally decide what does it mean by a free and appropriate education (FAPE). Some courts have held that FAPE means that the school needs to address a modest education, while others say all the districts have to do is address the medical or special needs of the child. The court seems to understand that each child needs more than a "modest" or basic education, but are at a loss on how to handle it, or pay for it. HERE However, one of the plaintiff's lawyers rightly points out that the law doesn't become dormant because of the cost of educating a special needs, or disabled individual.

Now we all know the anxiety that actually talking to the school about your child's needs can cause. Days, or even weeks, before yearly IEP meetings, we all lay in bed going over and over any scenario that we might have to argue about why our child may need, and in fact, are entitled to a particular support system.

Here is another one of my favorite scenes where the mom, Maya, played by Minnie Driver, is actually arguing with the principal of the high school about JJ's supports. But the funny thing, because after all it is a comedy, is that she doesn't let the principal get a word in edgewise. In fact, the mom plays both parts in the argument, argues both sides, much like we do when we argue with ourselves right before our children's yearly reviews. Of course, at the end of Maya's "argument" with the principal, the school concludes that JJ will get what he needs without question. The principal is so dumbfounded that she smiles sweetly and relents.

Sadly, we all know that, that is not the usual situation. You can argue till you turn blue, and many times the school districts will not do what your child needs in order to succeed. That is in fact why today's case before SCOTUS is so important. Hopefully they will set out a standard of care that every district has to follow when it comes to our children. And hopefully that standard will treat our children with respect as the fully capable students that they are, and not only allow the schools to see their disability, but demand that school see them as human beings first and disabled second.

But I simply loved how what Maya did was what I did for decades right before my sons' IEP meetings. In fact, today I even deal with issues, or quandaries, when we have to talk to people about their support and their rights. I will be driving in my car, and I will will be playing over and over in my head conversations, and arguing with myself out loud to the point that many times I get asked what is wrong? I laugh of course, because I know that I am simply being anxious. But I am also glad to know that I am not the only one who does this, or this parental idiosyncrasy wouldn't be portrayed so prominently in this comedy.

Meanwhile, what you see in this comedy is how the family handles one issue after another. And they do not neglect to show how the typical siblings handle JJs issues, or in fact how much time the parents need to give JJ instead of them. There is the resentment by the siblings, and then the guilt. In one episode JJ goes off with his aide, that of course the mom found not the school, to Disney, while the family has a day without JJ. The other kids want to go play paintball. Afterall, they don't do anything together in which JJ can't partake.

Well they go t paintball. They have fun. They are so excited to be able to do things like a "normal" family. But then they realize that what is normal for their family is just fine. Dylan (sister) and Ray (brother) are racked with guilt that they could have so much fun without JJ, and that at the time didn't even miss him. How the kids resolve who they are, and who their family happens to be is delightful.

But again, it is a real issue and real problems that typical siblings of special needs families deal with day in and day out. These children bear a lot of burden, and without a doubt are much older emotionally than their years would ever suggest. For information about how to support typical siblings in a special needs family start HERE or HERE. There are also psychologists, and programs such as Sibshop, that deal with the issues particular to these family situations.
 
There is also an episode where Ray during a family vacation has an appendicitis attack and the mom, is well prepared at the hospital. She not only knows every medical issue about him, but she has it filed, collated, color coded, and delineated as to what the doctors will find important. This is where Ray realizes, that his mom does not simply love and dote on JJ, but that she is on top of everything for everyone in the family and that without a doubt she loves Ray, too. He realizes that to his parents, and especially his mom, he is as important as his brother, and this actuality makes his day.

Now last nights episode, I think was one of the best. It showed how the family has to deal with, cajole, bargain,  and fight with the health insurance company to simply get JJ what he needs in order to function as a human being. For any of us who have had to deal with insurance companies, and the hours on the phone, plus the pushback, and the sheer distress of the red-tape, we know what it is like to know your child should be given X, and instead they deliver Y. Even in today's day and age, with Obamacare, and the ADA, our kids so often get the short end of the stick when it comes to services. So many of us live with the reality that if you can't afford it, and if the insurance company doesn't pay for it,  your child goes without, even if it is proven that a particular therapy or support program would make a difference in their lives and for their future. You cannot afford everything in life, and sometimes the choices are real, hard and distressful.

Another aspect of last nights episode was something that I find disability advocates talk about a lot.  They called it "inspiration porn." It states that disabled persons are not seen as human beings, but as one-dimensional characters only put on this Earth so able bodied people can feel good about themselves when they do the "humanitarian" thing and treat the disabled with respect. The show highlighted how so many of the able bodied only look at the disabled as a means to make themselves into better persons, instead of viewing the disabled as individuals in their own right.

An interesting segway in the show was how Kenneth, JJ's aide, who is African-American, pointed out Hollywood's use of the "magical negro" trope during a discussion about the cliches associated with the disabled. Kenneth explains that this character is usually represented as a folksy, barely literate character, with special magical powers or incite, that is used to help the white protagonist figure out the correct and noble answer to the film's perplexing issues, much like Hollywood tends to use disabled persons. On a funny note, the show ends, with Kenneth fading off into fairy land, with only his disembodied voice being heard,  basically an example of the plot device epitomized by the "magical negro."

It is a comedy afterall.

But the lessons for society are there.

Truth is, it is great to see what we deal with on so many levels in a such a lovely show. Everything is not dark, or traumatizing. Everything we deal with isn't depression. Yes we have bad days, but mostly we have good days. So many shows that have had a disabled character, like Parenthood, end up annoying. I did not like how autism, the autistic boy Max, the parents, or how so many of the issues were handled, and portrayed the longer Parenthood was on.

On the other hand, Speechless makes us laugh at ourselves. It takes issues that we deal with on a daily basis and turns the light on, in a funny enlightening manner. Just maybe, society is then being taught a valuable and effective lesson. That lives of special needs families are not sad, horrible, or depressing. Our lives are not something to be used as some sort of religious outgrowth. We are not to be pitied, or treated as the"other."

We are not here to teach, even though as I always say about autism awareness month, that every day is autism awareness day where the boys are concerned. You can't help it. They exist. They live their lives. So anyone dealing with them is getting a lesson in autism awareness whether these neurotypicals are aware of that or not.

Speechless shows that special needs families are here to live our lives with the same gusto, rights and joys as everyone other family. We are human and entitled to be a part of the world in which we live. But above all, this show teaches that our children are first and foremost human beings, not autistic, disabled, or special needs human beings, and the world is obligated to treat them with respect because they are human, and for no other reason at all.