Monday, December 31, 2012

MY Top 5 Posts of 2012

Here are my top 5 posts for 2012:

And So It Begins, Blood Libeling Those with Autism

E is for Examination

DSM5-Don't Panic Think it Through

Boycott 21 Jump Street

#YouMightBeAnAutismParentif...The Interveiw


Elise

Happy New Year and the Absence of Resolutions

I have decided that this year I will make no New Year's resolutions. The usual desire to lose weight, read more, exercise more, be more fiscally responsible, not yell a much (even though I asked hubby this morning if my yelling has dissipated somewhat and he said yes), have more patience, write the great American novel or any number of self-improvement hopes wrapped up in the joviality of the New Year has general come to naught...well at least where I am concerned.

So I have decided, in my own iconoclastic way to make no resolutions. OK, I suppose that is a resolution in and of itself. I have determined to simply live each day to the best of my ability and to be the best person I can be at any given moment. Stand my ground for what I believe in: civil rights, human rights, freedom, liberty, equality of chance, the US Constitution and the right to deny a foothold in my world to those that hate, destroy, mutilate and desecrate another person's humanity. In other words, stand against those (as much as I am able to in my world) who wish to destroy everything I hold dear.

Will I be successful? I will let you know December 31, 2013.

Until then.......



Auld Lang Syne was written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. That's why the version I chose was played by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. You don't get more Scottish than bagpipes and the highlands. For more information about the history of this song go HERE.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,                                 
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

CHORUS:
For auld lang syne, my jo (or my dear),
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp !
and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae run about the braes,                                             
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.
CHORUS
We twa hae paidl’d i' the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.
CHORUS
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie's a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.
CHORUS



Until next time,

Happy New Year,

In Scottish Gaelic you say...."Bliadhna Mhath Ur" pronounced "bleenæ vah oohr."



Elise

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Essence of Education and the Lack of Magical Realism

Eduction is once again front and center of the recent bubble issues facing our economy. And yes, this issue is directly related to autism. Issues accessing higher education for the population in general will lead to: less teachers, less support, less therapists, less psychologists, less psychiatrists, less neurologists...well you get the picture. Its not as if there is already a glut of people who know how to work well with and educate those on the autism spectrum. We need to increase the numbers of educators and therapists in this nation, not curtail them.

The economic forecasters are painting a big doom and gloom picture about the level of student loan debt held by recent underemployed or unemployed college graduates in this country. They discuss the disastrous effects to the economy if these college grads just up  and decide not to pay their loans back. They talk about the disastrous effect and the pull on the economy because these former students use their income to pay off their student debt as opposed to buying homes, cars or other material goods. Honestly it seems that today's students simply cannot win in the eyes of some pundits and know-it-alls. Damned if they do and damned if they don't is truly not a beneficial way of looking at today's young people.  Oh and just for the record, this is not the first time in history we as a nation have had this discussion, albeit the amounts discussed were not so high.

As a recent law school  graduate (back in the 1980s), a dearth of jobs both in the law market and in the economy in general, led to a round of naysayers and economic gloommasters who predicted the end of higher education. There was also a different  generation who defaulted on their student loan debt as well. Already there had been talk how post secondary education cost too much. That a liberal arts degree was worthless. People should think twice about going to graduate school and should instead become plumbers or electricians. (As if  these are career choices for those without any intellectual ability...I find it rather laughable that the elites in this world are such snobs that they fail to see that a good electrician or plumber is most probably a lot smarter than those with a PhD.)

The arguments however have completely changed. The new approach to higher education is that you are not getting your money's worth for what it costs. Not simply that there is a poor job market. Now granted $50,000 a year for an elite private college education is ridiculous. I don't know anyone who can avoid huge debt without some scholarship help, even if there is scholarship help. Yes there is the state school system. Guess what, they give out scholarships too. Here's the secret...most state schools (including community colleges) are much better than these elite private colleges. It's again the snob appeal as to what they consider to be the best schools in the nation.

If you look at some of the most successful businesspeople in the nation, you will find that they attended state schools. Even began their educational life in community colleges. However, they in turn send their children to elite private schools. But this has nothing to do with education quality but everything to do with pushing into a social level where they were never welcome in the first place. Just like these self-made millionaires need to live in once exclusive-formerly-restricted  communities and belong to once just as rigidly restricted country clubs, the formerly middle class now snob elite, lost something of themselves along the way to their financial success and deride non-elite academies and individuals.

The same elites deride our college-age young people for drinking too much, partying too much, fraternities, sororities, sports enthusiasm and lack of academic prowess. As if they never had a drunken night out in college, went to football games or frat parties, nor blew an exam because of a hangover.  I also find it unusually hypocritical that those who already have their higher education, the pundits and doomsayers, seek to limit someone else's access to that same education.

In all honesty what really does society gain from a journalism degree as opposed to a history degree or any liberal arts degree that these know-it-alls have earned? Journalism, as learned decades ago, is for all intense and purposes dead thanks to the Internet. Economics, finance and business degrees are not what they were twenty years ago either due to technology and the ever increasingly smaller international markets. These ancienne degrees are useless in today's economic models. Perhaps those who have useless degrees from twenty years ago need to rethink their hubris and check their egos at the door. For it is they and not the young who waste our precious resources. They need to stop promoting the end to youth education/betterment/enlightenment. They seem frightened of the competition instead of looking forward to answering society's real future needs.

Yes, without a doubt, there are issues with education today. However, if our young people cannot write a research paper, then it is the education system's fault. Not the student. If our young people are not held to a proper academic standard, it is not their fault. If there is an over emphasis on extracurricular activities it is not the young people's fault. As with raising a child, if you do not set limits, boundaries and create expectations a child will neither learn, develop nor progress. If our children cannot access the good old-fashioned three-Rs appropriately, it is we who are to blame and no one else.

I wholeheartedly believe that the future lies in education. And not just in a high school education. College and beyond is essential in our technologically advanced society. For the USA to compete on any level with the up and coming nations of the world, we must revamp our education system so that the basics are once again taught. Children and not placating the unions need to be our emphasis. (I speak as one whose father was a teacher's union member and whose grandfather fought for the union movement in the 1920s/30s.)

Our children need to know how to read, write, analyze and think. Our children need to be able to think outside the box, be creative and invent the future. Without this ability our society will stagnate and lose its forward momentum.The issue we are confronting at the moment however, is how to accomplish this goal.

There is a genre in literature called magical realism. This is where the author inputs into a rather mundane day-to-day world, elements of magic. Spicing up the real world if you will. For us as a society to develop and grow we need to inject into our society out own version of magical realism. We need to think outside the box and find a way to promote education as the ultimate in accomplishments, not merely as a means to a paycheck.

Growing up, the idea of education was simply to garner education for education's sake alone. Education was the way to better yourself, your soul and your world outlook. Education was not only the door to a better paycheck but the door to a better world; one of imagination, the ability to question and to learn how to view the magic that the world had to offer. It was the door that opened up into the world where we were taught how to think....

I know Steve Jobs, did not graduate form college and neither did Bill Gates nor Zuckerberg. But they are anomalies in history. Just as was Mozart. And unless you are on that level of genius, you do need to educate yourself and you owe it to your children to educate them. Very few of us can see the magic that the future holds without understanding our present.

So yes, this is why the boys go to college. So that they can see and understand the world around them. To learn to think, read, write and analyze. They learn to ask questions and seek out the answers. They learn to stand up for their principles, even if they stand alone. They go to be educated because it furthers who they are as human beings. They go to be educated to see what magic lay within their own minds and within their grasp.

The question isn't whether everyone should go to college. The question is how to enable everyone to get to college and beyond. Or atleast attain the educational height associated with their academic ability. The question is how do we ensure that everyone can further who they are and allow them to see their own potential.

Society has a way of seeking the easy answers. Sometimes a cost-benefit capitalist approach is not always the best. Everything doesn't always come down to pennies. Sometimes it comes down to what is best for humanity. It comes down to organizing the world to better all of us, not just the professional politician, the elites or their enablers .

*****

Note: Just as an aside. I am still paying off my student loans from college and law school. I had to put them into deferment when CM1 was diagnosed with autism. We couldn't afford the medical bills and pay the student loan debt. One thing that we did not realize was that the interest accumulates and adds to the amount owed. You do not get a pass on the interest. My loans were in deferment for the full length, almost ten years. So on top of my original amount I also had to pay back the accumulated interest and there is interest that accumulates on top of that which I now owe. But at the time we truly had no choice.
     Also back in my college days the interest rate was 9% on student loans. The loan company (Sallie Mae in my case) has the right to refuse to allow you to lower your interest rate even if you find a loan company that would renegotiate your rate. The original intent of the law was that loan companies could not raise the loan rate on the borrower (student). This is what is called the right of first refusal if someone tried to change the rate. It was supposed to be a stop gap measure to help the student. Instead the student loan companies use this loophole to prevent people from lowering their interest rate even in an era of 2 and 3% points.
     No, I am not the only one that this has happened to. We contacted our representative in Congress and they said there is nothing they can do short of rewriting the law. Something tells me that Sallie Mae has more pull than I do and is not going to allow that to happen.
     Meanwhile, I am paying back my loans, with all the interest incurred. As my parents told me, no one can take your education from you. Who cares how long it takes to pay it back?
     Sometimes there are issues that arise and things you need to deal with in your life that are unforeseen, no matter how many college degrees you earn. But in truth my parents were right. My education enabled me to help my sons. It taught me to think outside the box, analyze the situation and figure out what was the best, most effective approach to helping my children. My education helped me to stay on top of what they were entitled to by law, analyze the most current trends in therapy and education and push them along the way to become the best that they can be.
     If it means that my student loans won't get paid off until  after the boys are granted their graduate degrees then so be it. There are worse things in this world then debt. Any special need parent, or any parent for that matter, can write a list of those fears. There is nothing magical about that ability. It's simply called parenthood.

*****

Elise

 







Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Smarter Ways to Discipline Kids- From the WSJ

Caveat: I usually don't post articles from other sources in full, I tend to just link to them. However, I thought the ideas found below are quite worthwhile and wanted my readers to get an idea what the article contained. Please click on the link at the end of the post to read the article in full.


This article, by Andrea Petersen, focuses on innovative and inventive ways to teach your child boundaries and limits. Interestingly, the article includes information about some of the discipline techniques that psychologists, who work with autistic children, tend to tell parents to employ...I know for a fact having used some of these techniques they can work quite well over time. 

It is very important to note that not all techniques work with all children, even if they live in the same house. (Yes of course, you already knew that, didn't you.) CM1 couldn't abide time-outs and would behave so as to avoid them. Meanwhile CM2 would tantrum and act-out during a time-out, but would never try to avoid the behavior that would trigger this discipline. In the end, you definitley need to decipher what works best for your household and your child.

But no matter what tools you chose to employ the trick is to be consistent (try). Don't loose patience (try). Don't yell (try as best you can)...and yes when necessary count to ten (always). 

Elise 

*********

From the Wall Street Journal December 26, 2012

Interactive by Mike Right


By Andrea Petersen

When it comes to disciplining her generally well-behaved kids, Heather Henderson has tried all the popular tricks. She's tried taking toys away. (Her boys, ages 4 and 6, never miss them.) She's tried calm explanations about why a particular behavior—like hitting your brother—is wrong. (It doesn't seem to sink in.) And she's tried timeouts. "The older one will scream and yell and bang on walls. He just loses it," says the 41-year-old stay-at-home mother in Syracuse, N.Y.

What can be more effective are techniques that psychologists often use with the most difficult kids, including children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Approaches, with names like "parent management training" and "parent-child interaction therapy," are backed up by hundreds of research studies and they work on typical kids, too. But while some of the approaches' components find their way into popular advice books, the tactics remain little known among the general public.

The general strategy is this: Instead of just focusing on what happens when a child acts out, parents should first decide what behaviors they want to see in their kids (cleaning their room, getting ready for school on time, playing nicely with a sibling). Then they praise those behaviors when they see them. "You start praising them and it increases the frequency of good behavior," says Timothy Verduin, clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.

This sounds simple, but in real life can be tough. People's brains have a "negativity bias," says Alan E. Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University and director of the Yale Parenting Center. We pay more attention to when kids misbehave than when they act like angels. Dr. Kazdin recommends at least three or four instances of praise for good behavior for every timeout a kid gets. For young children, praise needs to be effusive and include a hug or some other physical affection, he says.

According to parent management training, when a child does mess up, parents should use mild negative consequences (a short timeout or a verbal reprimand without shouting).
Giving a child consequences runs counter to some popular advice that parents should only praise their kids. But reprimands and negative nonverbal responses like stern looks, timeouts and taking away privileges led to greater compliance by kids according to a review article published this month in the journal Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.

"There's a lot of fear around punishment out there," says Daniela J. Owen, a clinical psychologist at the San Francisco Bay area Center for Cognitive Therapy in Oakland, Calif. and the lead author of the study. "Children benefit from boundaries and limits." The study found that praise and positive nonverbal responses like hugs and rewards like ice cream or stickers, however, didn't lead to greater compliance in the short term. "If your child is cleaning up and he puts a block in the box and you say 'great job,' it doesn't mean the child is likely to put another block in the box," says Dr. Owen.

But in the long run, regular praise does make a child more likely to comply, possibly because the consistent praise strengthens the parent-child relationship overall, Dr. Owen says. The article reviewed 41 studies looking at discipline strategies and child compliance.

Parents who look for discipline guidance often find conflicting advice from the avalanche of books and mommy blogs and the growing number of so-called parent coaches. (In 2011, 3,520 parenting books were published or distributed in the U.S., up from 2,774 in 2007, according to Bowker Books In Print database.)

"Many of the things that are recommended we know now to be wrong," says Dr. Kazdin, a leading expert on parent management training. "It is the equivalent of telling people to smoke a lot for their health."

Parents often torpedo their discipline efforts by giving vague, conditional commands and not giving kids enough time to comply with them, says Dr. Verduin, who practices parent-child interaction therapy. When crossing the street, "A bad command would be, 'be careful.' A good command would be 'hold my hand,' " he says. He also instructs parents to count to five to themselves after giving a child a directive, like, for example, "Put on your coat." "Most parents wait a second or two," he says, before making another command, which can easily devolve into yelling and threats.

The techniques are applicable to all ages, but psychologists note that starting early is better. Once kids hit about 10 or 11, discipline gets a lot harder. "Parents don't have as much leverage" with tweens and teens, says Dr. Verduin. "Kids don't care as much what the parents think about them."

Some parents try and reason with young children, which Dr. Kazdin says is bound to fail to change a kid's behavior. Reason doesn't change behavior, which is why stop-smoking messages don't usually work, Dr. Kazdin says. Overly harsh punishments also fail. "One of the side effects of punishment is noncompliance and aggression," he says.

Spanking, in particular, has been linked to aggressive behavior in kids and anger problems and increased marital conflict later on in adulthood. Still, 26% of parents "often" or "sometimes" spank their 19-to-35-month-old children, according to a 2004 study in the journal Pediatrics, which analyzed survey data collected by the federal government from 2,068 parents of young children.

Read the rest HERE.




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Breaking My Own Rule...Getting Mad on the Internet

One of the most basic rules I have for the Internet when it comes to the boys, is NOT to fight with anyone you don't know. Anonymity makes for strange interactions on the web and you never know if you are talking to someone who is unbalanced, but yet still balanced enough to hack into your life. No I am not being paranoid. I had a friend whose ex-boyfriend, a computer science geek, hacked into her life and she had to get the police to lay down the law to get him to stop stalking her. So no, the Internet is not a place you really want to argue with persons unknown. It is that lone crazy who can truly wreck your world about whom you need to be leery. Now, I do have to admit however, that I just broke my own rule.

No it wasn't about autism. I had done enough of that in the past few weeks. Tweeting against nasty anti-autism comments on television or on twitter too. Writing blog posts about autism related ignorance and supporting others who wrote such articles as well.

Actually my Internet meltdown this morning, if you want to call it a meltdown of sorts, was when someone called me an antisemite. No, I kid you not. Some jackass objected to my take on an issue being discussed in the Jewish-American community. Then he called me a racist and an antisemite. They also referred to me as "he" but that just goes to show you that they had no idea who I happen to be.

Now normally I would let comments go..OK I really don't. But when I argue with people its usually on my own blog when they say something mean or inappropriate. I have yet to encounter too much nasty blowback when it comes to things I post on other people's blogs. OK a few weeks ago I did manage to piss off both extremes of the autism community over the autism hearings (this happened on Autisable when they reposted my blog)...and then someone else picked up an old post I wrote and put it on tumblr.

So I annoyed the "curebies, autism as defect promoting, vaccine conspirators" and the extreme autism-self-advocates who think that society needs to completely change beyond accommodations to suit them and that nothing is ever their fault. These extremists see themselves as persecuted because of their autism and their failures are others responsibility. Nasty and vile on both ends of the extremes to say the least. Insulting diatribes. Needlesstosay, I let nothing go, simply because I despise ignorance, self-importance and that woe-is-me parenting and that "nothing is my fault" attitude by some autistics. Yes, I won....simply because I banned several haters from my blog and on Autisable no one came to these curebies defense.  Truthfully no one came to my defense either, but I think I was doing a good job on my own.

It also shows you the level of intelligence that I was dealing with, when in the middle of the argument on Autisable, these nasty-commenters said I needed "to pray that God has mercy on my soul" and then these same indolent people told me I used mean words. Just saying...some autism parents are not playing with a full deck at times and need extensive counseling themselves.

Back to this morning....it bugged me. Now I know it shouldn't. It was making me grumpy. So I went back to the on-line magazine and wrote a rather good takedown if I do say so myself.  I suppose the end result will be if those people answer me. I'm not going to bother to look. I don't really care anymore since I said my piece. I figure that they won't look me up on twitter. That would show them who I truly happen to be in the realm of politics. Also if they do reply to my rebuttal it will only be annoying and whiny and self-lauding. There is nothing any of them can say to condemn me at this point that isn't racist in and of itself. What can they say? Try to define just how Jews are supposed to think in lock step and agree to whatever they decide the "tribe" is supposed to agree upon. So, no, definitely no, I won't even check back.

I know you shouldn't argue with strangers on the Internet. I know that you can't fix stupid. I know that it doesn't matter what some strangers, who don't even know that I am a female instead of male, say about me, but dumb people just annoy me....Hateful people who can't defend their own point of view without calling names also are terribly annoying. If you need to name-call to win an argument you really don't have a platform worth defending. That is what I tell the boys all the time. Don't argue with strangers on the internet. Be able to stand your ground with logical reasoning. Don't call names it demeans your point of view (Looking back I did use the word "shmuck" this morning..OK not so classy but it fit the situation)....yeah I know, it's time I listened to myself.


Elise

Monday, December 24, 2012

Being ProActive with Medication

NOTE: The following post is garnered over years of dealing with the boys' medication and the psychiatric and medical fields. I am NOT a doctor. This is all my own opinion. In the longrun please seek medical advice from someone with a medical degree.  


One outcome of the Connecticut tragedy is those with an agenda against psychiatric medications have become rather vocal. Sadly, there is the usual chorus of know-it-alls that have decided to blame psychotropic drugs for this tragedy. Now I am not saying that there isn't some kind of drug issue involved with this trauma. But the reality happens to be that psychiatric drugs if used properly and under proper supervision are immensely helpful to those who live with any number of psychiatric based medical issues.

Now don't get me wrong here either. If you do NOT want to use psychiatric meds for your child that is your right as a parent. However, if you find that behavioral changes and interventions do not help your child function on a better and healthier level you just might want to try medication. And yes, I said after you try behavior modification changes.

I will fess up right now. Both boys have been on medication since they were 5 years old. When we finally decided to put CM2 on adderall he turned to us and asked what took us so long? He knew he needed help. Honestly we all did. But we were determined to try other interventions first.

Depending on the co-morbid issues that your child deals with, will determine how many medications your doctor will recommend. However, add one med at a time over a long period of time. The "cocktail" that the boys each take has been determined in conjunction with a neurologist, psychiatrist, with input by a psychotherapist and even the pediatrician and of course me too. Any doctor that is not willing to work with others is not someone you want to trust with your child. Yes it takes a village to raise these children...sometimes a rather large village (Here, Here).

Here are a few pointers:

1. Always start out with the smallest dose possible. If the drug works at that level so much the better. If needed add new amounts of the med at very small increments over time.

2. Add one new med at a time.

3. Monitor your child's reaction to the new meds and new dose. Write down what you see or what you don't see in a log. (If there is no change it is very important to note that too) Write down how the child was before the meds, right after and different time periods throughout the day.

4. Note if you see any hostile or negative reaction. Call the doctor immediately.

5. If you see anything that sets off any alarm bells...call the doctor immediately. When CM1 had a bad reaction to risperdol within two days of taking the meds, I threw the medication away. The doctor kept insisting we try again. I found a new doctor.

6. Your doctor may want to try an SSRI for your child's autism related anxiety. Also not every SSRI has the same reaction in every patient. What works for some children has a deleterious effect on another. Always keep a journal, especially in the beginning. Some SSRIs can make your child hostile/angry, some make them weepy, some make them ditzy, some make them sleepy, some make them more anxious. The SSRI should just add a calmness/ameliorate their worries so that they can concentrate enough to sit and learn. It should be a positive outcome.
     Remember its the same with all medications. For seizures, not all medications work for every person. Even antibiotics can be hit or miss for some people. Psychiatric medications are no different and in fact need to be watched even closer. Watch for the listed side effects too....those lists are there for a reason.
     Note: Some people are frightened about SSRIs because of a medical report about the possible negative impact they pose to adolescents. (Here, Here) Please speak to your doctor if you are concerned. We spoke to our doctor and determined that the boys were not  candidates for concern. They did not fit the pattern of the profile group from the study. Remember too that the news tends to sensationalize issues and you cannot trust your child's health to the latest news cycle. But whatever your concern talk to your doctor. If they poo-poo you or get insulted that you are questioning their perspective, find a new doctor STAT. (Here) (Mayo Clinic) (New York Times)

6. The psychiatrist you work with should see your child monthly to begin with. Once your child has stabilized on the med, you and your doctor will determine a visit regime.

7. Your child must see a therapist to help them deal with their issues. Medication is not a panacea. It is only part of what they need to be able to learn to handle and deal with the issues that they confront on a daily basis. Medication in conjunction with therapy provides the best results. Ideally your child should see their therapist weekly.This is in addition to social skills groups, OT or PT or speech therapy too.

8. All the therapists and people that work with your child, should have input into how they are functioning. Ask them about your child's progress and let them tell you if there is a change in ability, focus or understanding once a new med regime begins. And don't forget to ask the classroom teacher.    
     They will see your child for 6-8 hours a day. They will see your child in every area of their life; classroom, play, specials, lunch and recess. But if the teacher tells you that your child is good, quiet and not a problem, that could mean that your child is over-medicated or the med is the wrong one.
     Ritalin makes CM2 a zombie. I didn't realize just how much until we changed to adderall. The first-grade teacher kept telling me how good and quiet he was. Sure. It turned him into a nonperson. Placid child less work for her. Adderall meanwhile allowed him to focus and at the same time didn't mask his personality. We stuck with the adderall.

9. The therapist should allow for your input and respect your observations. Also any preferred therapy choices should be a joint agreement with you. The therapist must figure out what works best for your entire family and go from there.

These are just a few observations I have come up with over the last twenty years. If anyone has something to add please put it in the comments so others can see. It's the way we help each other in this community.


Elise

Celtic Women: A Christmas Concert




Merry Christmas

Friday, December 21, 2012

What Child is This...In Memorial

When you hear this song...think of some children besides the Christ child and some very brave adults this year...I don't think Jesus would mind...






Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tacos for Noah

I found this website in honor of Noah Pozner who was murdered last week in Newtown, CT.  Help make a virtual taco in honor of Noah. Tweet your concoction ..mine was a "Joy, Love, Compassion, Peace" taco....

 

Noah Pozner wanted to work at a taco factory when he grew up. Tacos were his favorite food, and no doubt he wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos. Help us create a virtual taco in his memory. Add your special ingredient below and tweet it. Voila! Tacos for Noah, all in memory of this very special Little Man!

   

 

In Memory of Noah Pozner and all 26 Sandy Hook Elementary Victims. 

Thank You Noah and Pozner family for a lifetime of inspiration.

We hope this 'comfort food' shows you, most importantly, that you are not alone.
Twitter: @TacosforNoah

 

TACOS FOR NOAH 

 

Also there has been an announcement to refrain from giving money to any organization or fund that claims to be in honor of any of the children unless you verify it with the Newtown CT Police. Many of these websites are fraudulent and do not benefit the families of those murdered. Yes. Despicable.....


Elise

How My Aspergean Views the World



Just when you think adolescents can be devoid of charm, they send you an email with the above picture attached.

Elise

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree






Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fireflies-Jubillee Project for autism awareness





Tweet: http://bit.ly/ZQAjTU | FB: http://on.fb.me/TZwlSp
"Fireflies" is a simple reminder that we each have beauty and can connect with others in unique ways. It is the passing glance of a stranger, the earnest offering of a flower, and the knowing smile of a shared secret. In our latest short film, "Fireflies," a young boy and his new autistic friend discover a shared language of their own.

Autism is an issue that is often misunderstood and stigmatized. We hope that "Fireflies" can raise awareness for Autism and encourage people to reach out to autistic individuals in their local communities. You can help us by participating in two ways!

1. The "Tweet Taylor Campaign"
Did you know that "Fireflies" was inspired by Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me" music video? Can you imagine what would happen if Taylor Swift watched and tweeted about "Fireflies" to her 21 million followers? We need your help to make this happen!

After watching "Fireflies" tweet a message at Taylor like this one:

Hey @taylorswift13 we need your help! Please watch & tweet @JubileeProject short film #Fireflies for #Autism awareness! bit.ly/JPFireflies

Click to Tweet it now: http://clicktotweet.com/89tcq
Make sure you include the link to the video, and hashtags #Fireflies and #autism. Donate one tweet a day from this Wednesday to Saturday (Dec 19th-22nd), to ask Taylor to help raise awareness for this important cause. With all of us working together, we are sure to catch her attention! Let's help 21 million people around the world learn about #autism!

2. "Autism Is..."
Do you know a friend, a relative, or stranger who is autistic? Have you been affected by autism? We would love to hear your story! If you answered no to either of the questions above but know someone who can answer yes, we encourage you to reach out and get to know that individual. Send us an email telling us your story and a picture of yourself with a sign that finishes the sentence, "Autism is..."

Please send us everything by January 10 to the email: dgic(at)jubileeproject.org. We look forward to reading your stories and collecting your photos of hope.

To learn more about autism and join the discussion, visit http://www.autisable.com/.

Holidays..Permission Granted to Celebrate as You Please

This is a repost from October, 2011. While the article deals mainly with Thanksgiving, the thoughts behind it are still very relevant for every major holiday.


Last year I wrote a post and called myself a Grinch. (Read the post. Its a goodie-promise) We are raised that we are supposed to revel in this time of year. We are taught that our entire society lives or dies based upon a few short hours on certain given days.  That somehow if we do not participate in these celebrations, as prescribed by some holiday-deity (I'm talking Hallmark or Norman Rockwell here, not God Almighty), then we have forfeited our right to be happy at this time of year. Well, as the US commanding general at the Battle of the Bulge, once said to the Nazis when asked to surrender, I say "nuts" to anyone who thinks that we cannot stand up and be happy.

Honestly,  I do love this time of year (Bit of a change for me from last year I know. Maybe my temperament is better- fewer menopause symptoms- or this post is up earlier than last year's Grinch post.) but I also hate this time of year (OK remembering what is to come). Oh I love the sights, the sounds and the smells. The boys love these things, not so much. When they were little it was the sensory overload that got to them. Too much of everything crammed into just a few short weeks that spills over into a hullabaloo of relatives, and an unknown and uncomfortable social reality. On Thanksgiving they used to hide in my sister-in-law's basement away from the crush of people and watch TV or play their video games. They sat quiet by themselves while everyone else "holidayed."  We, of course, would check on them periodically and on most occasions their younger cousins would sit with them and watch their dvds as well. But it was not enjoyable for them. Their holiday experience was sorely lacking.

I know the theory behind the "get togethers" for them, has to do with getting to know your relatives and understanding that there are people in the world who are attached to you in some way. But that is not what the boys learned. What they learned is that whenever they see a relative they are uncomfortable, feel overwhelmed and quite frankly would rather be somewhere else. There is no connection to these people they see once a year. There is no attachment. They don't even remember people's names.

Read the rest HERE.





O Holy Night






Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Buy a Brick: Help Fund a School- Barefoot Foundation

The international superstar Shakira through her Barefoot Foundation is having a drive to build a school for underprivileged children in Cartegena, Columbia. I know, I know. Children need things here in the USA too. Listen we donate to charities here all the time. But not everything has to be simply local. Helping all people, all over the world benefits all of humankind. Heck, its only $5 to help.





Some of my Shakira favorites










Elise


Little Drummer Boy





Monday, December 17, 2012

A Little Friendly Pro-Active Advice-Psychological Testing

Because of the media torrent of anti-Autism programming, due to the horror in Connecticut,  I am recommending to every parent to make sure that they extend their child's psychological testing to include signs of a mental health issue. I have done this myself, even though I knew the results would be negative.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech massacre, when the media went on another autism-witchhunt, CM1 was about to enter college. I didn't want there to be any issue with his stability or mental health. So when I had the psychologist test him for his accommodations request I had a few extra tests included. I did the same two years ago when I had both boys retested due to CM2's entering college and requesting access accommodations as well.

You can rail all you want about the unfairness and the scapegoating of our children, but remember its out there. Our children are idiosyncratic in many obvious ways and the society-at-large does not know the difference between autism, ocd, schizophrenia, psychosis, bi-polar or quite frankly adhd. You need to protect them from the ignorant and make certain that they do not suffer because of others stupidity.

I gave copies of all the testing to the disability office at the college and even made a point of telling them that I had the boys tested for all kinds of mental illnesses. Luckily the director knows the difference between autism and mental illness and so does the administration at their school. But I told her that my point was to make certain that everyone else knew that the boys, in their own way, were simply different and harmless.

Over the years, in dealing with many professors and staff at the boys' college this testing has come in handy. People who have never dealt with autism or aspergers do not know what it means and do not know what it entails. People who get to know the boys know that they are in fact simply big teddy bears, sometimes big teddy bears with attitudes, but teddy bears nonetheless.

Sadly until the day comes that people who live outside of society's box are accepted as equals, we need to make sure that our offspring are not marginalized, dehumanized or disenfranchised. Be pro-active. Don't wait for something to happen. Prepare yourself for day that someone else's ignorance gets in the way of your child's future. Be prepared to fight back on the spot.

You may think this is being overly afraid, but I always say prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Truth is, whenever I wasn't prepared, we got blindsided. Make certain you are never caught unawares. Make certain you have your legal and medical team/backup/papers always ready to go.


Elise

The Semester is Over (YEAH)
Review and Reset
When You Do All You Can- Then What?
A for Accountability
S for Simply Being Happy
Mother-May-I Part 2-Oh Crap


O Come Emmanuel





Sunday, December 16, 2012

Bone Marrow Donor Collection

Today the boys swabbed their cheeks to become bone marrow donors. It is such an easy way to save a life. It takes all of five minutes. Don't you have 5 minutes to spare?

Even those with oral sensory issues can do this with no discomfort. My boys, who have issues with toothbrushes and food textures, were able to do it. They are all the proof you truly need.

Here are the kits:
4 Longstemmed cotton swabs
4 Computerized tags
Foam collection holder

Your child swallows to reduce any saliva in their mouths. Then they take the end of the swab, swipe it on the inside of one of  their cheeks for about ten seconds. They take the swab out of their mouths and wave it in the air to dry. You then put the computerized tag on the end of the swab and place it in the slit provided in the foam holder. Never touch the cotton tip with your hands. It will contaminate the sample.





Finally, take the folder with the cotton swabs, place it inside a stiff envelope, which you then place inside the already pre-addressed envelope.





The reality is that if you or your child are ever called to donate you will not know the person whose life you save. It is something completely and totally selfless. It's a terrific lesson in understanding what it means to be part of the wider community of human beings.

Gift of Life
Be the Match

It doesn't matter which organization you donate through, they share their databases.


Elise

UPDATE: After tweeting this post I received this reply on my timeline:

 


WOW oh WOW...it works folks, it really works.



Twelve Days of Christmas


Saturday, December 15, 2012

And So it Begins, Blood Libeling Those with Autism

It never fails that the moment a terrible tragedy happens in our nation, the news media and the pundit class look for the easiest and most simplistic answers. In the horrific case of Newtown, CT they found one. Unfortunately it is also the same issue the world keeps coming back to time and time again...autism.

It began almost immediately in the aftermath of this tragedy. Piers Morgan the erstwhile ex-pat Brit who for some reason, people think possesses some kind of talent, started calling for confiscating all the guns in the USA. (As if that is the answer, because all the people who own the 100 million guns in the USA are violent psychotics. Or that the violent in our society would abide by more gun control legislation.) Then he had a doctor on his talk show, one who openly says he has no background in autism, but nevertheless discussed how the shooter could have done this because those with autism lack empathy. Watch HERE.

This morning I turned on Good Morning America and there was Dr. Janet Taylor discussing the risk factors for someone who would commit these crimes. She started off saying that there is no true way to know (good) but that you might want to look to see if these people were abused (good) or had an underlying psychological issue (good) like autism (seriously). Dr. Taylor is not an expert on autism. Dr. Taylor is not an expert on anything except feel good psychology. She has no credentials in the autism community. But there she was in front of millions of people telling everyone that those with autism are a possible danger to society.

Then the complete shmucks on Fox News Saturday started talking about aspergers and autism. They basically described my children's love of technology and being ubber smart as a reason that people on the autism spectrum may be dangerous. They said how the shooter was weird because he took a briefcase to school instead of a backpack. Then went on to say how someone who knew the shooter was not surprised and he should "rot in hell." I guess quoting some random individual who went to school with the shooter is a reliable source of information for Fox News.

This is what passes for reporting and information in our world today. A huge giant fail for the egocentric personality celebrity culture that has become our news media.

These so-called "reporters" fail to tell their audience that those with mental health issues are far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than commit a violent crime. They fail to tell you that autism is usually only one of a myriad of co-morbid issues that a person deals with and quite frankly it is the co-morbid issue that may be the cause of the violent behavior. These reporters and uneducated television doctors fail to explain that autism is not a violent mental health issue. These reporters and television doctors fail to tell anyone that they have no idea what they are talking about, that they have no background in autism, but still they just keep talking no matter whom they harm.

Society needs to find a reason that this evil tragedy occurred. This is understandable, but once again society is refusing to talk about the real issues:
The fact that the IDEA does not predict nor support those with mental health issues beyond the education setting.
The lack of support and intervention for those with mental health issues.
The lack of support and intervention for the families of those with mental health issues.
The lack of the ability of immediate family members to get help for adults with mental health issue without the effected individual's assent.
The fear that civil commitment for the potentially violent could lead to abuse of the system and is a civil rights violation.

Instead it is easy to blood libel an entire segment of the population who have a different way of  navigating the world in which we all live. This provides easy answers. But in truth it turns the nation into a society of ignorant-haters. Remember before the Nazis killed the Jews, they went after those with mental health issues and disabilities. Ask yourself, are these the people that America wants to emulate? Simply because you don't understand something or someone doesn't mean you have a right to scapegoat them. Sadly it's just so much easier to dehumanize an entire segment of the US population instead of looking for the real answers. In truth, the real answers are too hard to deal with since society itself may actually be to blame in the longrun.

Social Justice, Humanity and Autism

If you are truly interested in understanding autistics and how they deal with emotional issues go to:  Autism and Empathy a voice of the autism community.


Elise

UPDATE (1): Finally a real doctor (Dr. Baden) on Fox News told viewers that autism and aspergers is NOT associated with the kind of violence/aggression perpetrated in CT. Funny though, they cut him off really quickly.

UPDATE (2): Well Fox quickly returned to the autistic as psychopathic killer meme with some doctor from Columbia who claims he has studied mass killers. The hubby told me to stop watching Fox after I started yelling at the television. Yes I turned off the TV but what worries me is all the people that keep watching and then believe everything they hear. And no not just on Fox. The only television channel that hasn't attached itself to the autism meme seems to be CBS.

The hubby also said that I shouldn't turn this tragedy into something about the boys. It has nothing to do with them. I know that the reality is that in the immediate this horror doesn't have anything to do with us. I suppose my fear is that in society's need to rush and point blame for this situation that the boys will be scapegoated for just existing. That society will try to marginalize them and dehumanize them to an even greater extent than already exists.

UPDATE (3): Apparently Dr. Sanjay Gupta from CNN tweeted this earlier today:





Thank you Dr. Gupta for trying to put some reality into what has become a sensationalized tragedy.

I would like to continue to thank Dr. Gupta for his support of the autism community. Every time he has appeared on CNN he has made a huge issue out of the nonviolent nature of autism. I watched him during his appearance on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. He chides those who would pin this on anyone on the spectrum and takes the media to task.

UPDATE (4): Last night Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, defended persons with autism during his opening monologue. His basic point was that persons with autism are not violent and that in truth are simply different. That is all. He did mention the struggles that persons on the spectrum deal with and that they don't need this added stigma. He told everyone to leave our children alone and to stop trying to blame them for this horror in Connecticut. Thanks Mr. O'Reilly. Finally someone with some sense at Fox.

This morning there was a report on the Today Show (NBC) that also went on to explain that the kind of violence perpetrated in Newtown, CT is not indicative of autism. Thank you NBC.

UPDATE (5): People have begun to tweet me and email me links with positive articles about autism. I am going to add them here. If you find any let me know and I will add them to the list.

Don't Blame Autism for Newtown (New York Times)
Aspergers is a Red Herring to Explain Newtown (New York Magazine)
Asperger's, Autism and Mass Murder (Psychology Today) 
Misguided Focus on Mental Illness and Gun Control (New York Times)
Asperger's, Autism Not Linked to Violence  (US News and World Report)  
No Link Between Autism And Violence (Washington Post)
Asperger's, Misleading Connection with Violence (New York Times)
Autism is not Psychosis (The Atlantic)













Hanukkah Candlelight

Tonight we light the last Hanukkah candle of the year....number 8.

To celebrate, I am reposting my favorite Hanukkah song from two years ago. It not only is joyous but it tells the true story of the redemption of the Holy Temple, and the war for freedom fought over 2000 years ago by a little band of very stiff-necked and extremely stubborn people.

Happy Hanukkah.

May you enjoy this holiday season and find the light that gives joy to your heart.








Deck The Halls


Friday, December 14, 2012

Read: The Outpost by Jake Tapper

As I remind my readers from time to time, not everything is about autism. If you need to buy a special gift for that special person, here it is:

Today I am recommending a book called The Outpost: An Untold Sory of American Valor by the ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper. If there is someone in your life who revels in Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Nelson DeMille or Vince Flynn, this book is definitely for them. But unlike those fiction writing, high drama, war, techno and terror thriller novels, The Outpost, is as real as real gets.

The Outpost is the true story of Outpost Keating. Perched in a precarious region of Afghanistan, right on the Pakistan border. It is unforgiving territory, and a hostile landscape. Surrounded by a people with ancient customs coupled with a survivors view of the war that is raging around them, the American soldiers stationed in this rugged land, are forced to live by wit, training and true camaraderie in order to survive. And no, they all do not make it home and some that do, left a large part of themselves in the war zone.

Buy Here
Mr. Tapper is able to convey who our soldiers are beyond the uniform. He humanizes them and their families. He makes you feel what they feel and understand the sacrifice that their families make. You meet the West Point grad and the rehabbed drug addict trying to restart his life. You meet the kid who met his girlfriend on JDate, those looking for a way out of poverty, and the multiple sons of immigrants who would never think to do anything but join the US army. You realize that those who volunteer to serve our nation come from every economic strata, educational background, religion, ethnicity and race. You realize that these young people are the best of this nation. Then you walk with them into the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

This book is not an indictment of any one President or administration policy. It is NOT a political book. It is an American story. One that is too often forgotten in today's day and age. This book is a recounting of the true events that took place in this hell hole and the young dedicated patriots who did what their nation asked them to do. A nation, by the way, that all too often forgets to say thankyou.

As Mr. Tapper writes," I did not write this book to convey lessons to be learned. I wrote it so that you as a reader (and I as a reporter) might better understand what it is that our troops go through, why they go through it, and what their experience has been like in Afghanistan."

We, as a nation, owe it to these brave individuals to not forget what they have sacrificed for us. We, as a nation, owe it to these brave individuals to not forget that when asked they stood up and answered our call to put themselves in harms way in order to defend our freedoms and way of life.

One particular poignant scene stays with me. When during a "conference" with the local tribes-people, a young woman intelligence officer meets with some Afghani women. One of the younger women hands the American officer her child and says, "you take him." The officer thought the woman was being friendly, allowing her to hold her child. But the real story was that the young Afghani mother was begging the American officer to take her child back to the USA.

Too often, we in these United States forget just how lucky we happen to be and just how much the rest of the world truly wishes they were us. You see, we are not such a hated nation as some would actually have you believe.

Read this book. Then remind yourself come Veteran's Day and Memorial Day to say thank you. It's the least any American should do.


Elise


Again, I want to remind everyone I do not gain any monetary value for clicking on the ink above. I just happen to link to Amazon because that is where I buy most of my books since I am a Prime member. But Mr. Tapper's book is available at all book sellers and Barnes and Noble on line as well. Purchase it wherever it is best for you.


I Got a Feelin'-Hanukkah

Tonight light candle number 7


Do You Hear What I Hear?





Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Semester is Over (YEAH)

Well we are done for the semester. Finally. For some reason this has been a really tough couple of months.

Now as usual CM2 started out like gangbusters, getting all As and then by midterm he loses steam, practically fails his tests but seems to spring back into action for the final. I do wish he would learn how to run a marathon rather than do sprints. Its the sprints that don't work really well when you have to be on target for months on end. But he is done.

Also I just couldn't believe that a sophomore in college had no homework. Really, not a paper. Not an essay. No math homework even. I kept asking to see his syllabi and even the TA couldn't believe it. He told us that there was a lot of group work done in the classes and that they did assignments during class for computer and math. Now he did have to prepare some presentations for speech class and he did have to write some one-page summaries for his communication class, but this youngman skated by this semester with so little work you just wouldn't believe its college. Having seen CM1 at this school for the past 5 years and CM2 for one, I know that this is not typical of the education system at this school. CM2 just lucked out in some way.

Next semester is gong to be a totally different story. Not only does he have two science classes (his major and a hard science), calculus, psychology and creative thought, he has his class major to outline and get approved. He is going to go from barely any work to not being able to see straight. (I need the next six weeks to prepare for what is to come...)

Well today was CM2's last final. It was math. There, of course, was a glitch with a final he had taken Tuesday.  His computer final didn't get uploaded to the lab program. He received an email from the professor last night. (OH CRAP) She knew he did it because she was there watching him. So she told him he could go in today and redo the parts of the exam that were missing. Nice lady. I told him this time, save his work to his flashdrive and print a copy like he was told to do in the first place. Big shot had decided he doesn't have to listen to any advice any adult has to offer. So if it weren't for an understanding and unbelievably terrific professor, who let him come back and repeat his test, he would have been as they say "shit out of luck."

CM1 also seemed to be lost somewhat this semester. Granted he began the year by having to do schoolwork and study for the LSATs. The  LSATs that he decided at the last minute not to take. So that did set him back a month or so in getting started on his thesis.

Also in a class he was having issues with a professor. I wouldn't say so much a personality conflict as the professor was, well to put it mildly, one of the worst teachers we had ever come across. He not only did not know how to organize and lead a class, his lessons were haphazard, his syllabus made no sense and he refused to answer questions about the course. Taking great offense if anyone, meaning CM1, asked why something they did was relevant to the topic at hand.

I had had several discussions with the disability director about the professor and she basically told me that the real issue wasn't CM1 but that this individual had a number of problems with a number of students. I told her we were trying to teach CM1 how to deal with someone you do not get along with. We attempted to teach him that one day he may have a boss who is not understanding and quite frankly just doesn't like him. That he needs to learn to deal with people on every level so this was a good learning experience for him for later on in life.

CM1 on the other hand, wanted to go to the dean and the president of the university and demand they do something about the professor. We said no. He would sound like a whiny brat. Just keep quite. Stop "asking so many questions" of the professor. Do your work and get through the class. This too is a social survival skill.

The entire situation came to a head midway through the semester. CM1 having finished his take home midterm exam sent the professor the test. But the email the professor provided didn't seem to work so he sent it to the professor's school email account. The professor said not to worry. Next thing we know the professor refused to grade CM1's test because it had not been sent to the right email. The professor refused to use the school email or set it up so that his emails would be forwarded to a private account. Then when we asked the IT department to go and send CM1's test to the professor's private account, the professor refused to give his permission for the IT person to go into his school account and forward CM1's test.

This next move is not going to be believable: the professor sent a threatening email to CM1 saying if he showed anymore disrespect in class he would be thrown out of the room and not allowed back in until he learned proper collegiate behavior. That was let us say some of the more milder parts of the email. Luckily he also sent that email to the disability director. I called immediately.

She told me that we should not worry about CM1's grade for the course. We should keep copies of all his papers and in the end if we are unhappy with the grade we could challenge it. At this point I was also worried that the man would fail CM1 and ruin his chances for getting into graduate school. I did tell her however, that the email truly bothered me on any number of levels, the basic one being that the man is not only refusing to deal with CM1 (Don't forget we also did have a TA in that class with CM1 helping deal with any and all issues) but that he is now threatening him when there is no need for that. I did tell her that I may have to hire a lawyer because I am at my wits end. I do not want to sue the school considering how absolutely terrific they have been to both boys,  but I see no choice if this situation continues.

Listen its one thing when a professor doesn't like your child. It's one thing when your child should know better but has problems dealing with someone that is openly hostile to them. It is quite another when a professor threatens your child's education. The disability director said she was going to talk to the dean and seek some advice on what to do.

They replaced the professor before the next class. No I don't think it was all about CM1. As I mentioned my son wasn't the only one having issues with this particular professor. But I think the email to him probably was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. (See advocacy never really ends where your child is concerned.)We also learned a valuable lesson. If you are unfamiliar with a professor go to Rate My Professors and see what others say before you take the class. Apparently this professor's ratings were either a 0 or a 1.

Happily, midway through the semester CM1 got a new professor and the rest of the class went wonderfully. What kind of grade will he get? I am not certain but it will definitely be a fairer grade than he might have received otherwise.

So then CM1 started writing his senior thesis. He was half way through the semester and could not begin. He had writers block. Finally about three weeks ago it began to come together. The darn paper was due today before noon. Talk about last minute minutia. We woke him up early to fix footnotes, citations and finish some needed editing. All 70 pages of the paper was sent in on time.

I need a stiff drink...not wine...but maybe some vodka, bourbon or a really good margarita. We already had our celebratory chocolate cake. It just wasn't enough....

And yes I know there was a lot that we dealt with in these past three months on top of school: my father's death, my mother's major surgery, (meaning me flying back and forth several times during the semester to Florida), Hurricane Sandy and near-on two weeks without electric. Plus the typical normal ups and downs of life. I for one am glad that for the next 6 weeks the only things that we are going to have to do is: CM1 will study for the GREs, both boys will do volunteer work, exercise and workout, plus the family will go on a short vaca to visit my mother.

Relative peace and quiet.

AHHHHHhhhhhhh.......


Elise

Kung Fu Hanukkah

Yes this is from last year. But its sooooo cute I couldn't resist reposting it. Tonight light candle 6.






Jingle Bell Rock






Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Samurai Jew Saves Hanukkah?

For the anime aficionado in your house:




For the Jewishly uninclined here are some pointers:


The straps Samurai Jew uses to fight the "pig" enemies are from tefillin. These are leather boxes (but I am certain that vegan ones exist in today's world) with parchment containing portions of the Torah inside. Tefillin are worn by observant Jewish men every morning during morning prayers. Because it says in Deuteronomy..
And you shall bind them [God's words] as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes.
Deuteronomy 6:8

The purpose:  The tefillin are to serve as a reminder of God's intervention at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.[9] Maimonides details of the sanctity of tefillin and writes that "as long as the tefillin are on the head and on the arm of a man, he is modest and God-fearing and will not be attracted by hilarity or idle talk; he will have no evil thoughts, but will devote all his thoughts to truth and righteousness."[10] The Sefer ha-Chinuch (14th century) adds that the purpose of tefillin is to help subjugate a person's worldly desires and encourage spiritual development.[11] Joseph Caro (16th century) explains that tefillin are placed on the arm adjacent to the heart and on the head above the brain to demonstrate that these two major organs are willing to perform the service of God.[12]  

Wikipedia citation and links


White Christmas




O Hanukkah, OHannukah-Barenaked Ladies

Tonight we light candle number 5.







Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Modern Feminism and the Death of Female Empowerment

No, no no, this is not about the ersatz war of women. This post is generally more basic, but it was brought to mind by the latest brouhaha created by Camille Paglia. You know her, that agent provocateur extraordinaire of the feminist movement, that lesbian iconoclast pain in the ass. Well she did it again. She basically chastised Taylor Swift and Katy Perry for well, not being Beyonce. Read HERE. You have to read it yourself to believe how totally out of touch she really is and yes I agree with an editorial in the New York Post basically handing Paglia her own tuchas on the matter. Read HERE. How anyone can say, as Paglia says,  that Rihanna is the epitome of the feminist movement after returning to the man that beat her to a pulp is beyond me. Perhaps female empowerment means something different in Paglia's mind, I don't know. You be the judge.

But actually these editorials did remind me of an incident at the boys school and how it generally disturbed me. While sitting in the commuter lounge waiting for the boys to finish one day, CM2 said some off color jokes about blow jobs and sexuality. No, not anti-gay, but more leading to the misogynistic, which quite frankly I thought I'd never hear from my self-proclaimed male-feminist. Needlesstosay, I publicly chastised him for it. Since he was sitting across the room from me, none of the students in the lounge knew I was his parent.

I then overheard two girls talking about how rude it was for me to yell at him for what he said. Seriously. Now not being their parent I didn't interact with them. But I wondered where did female empowerment go? These young women were openly talking about voting for Obama because of his stand on abortion and birth control. How as "women" they would never vote republican. But it seems that males can disrespect you by speaking to you as if you are a whore and its just fine and dandy.

I am not certain when the definition of female empowerment changed in society. When I was growing up it meant that access to schools, corporations, law firms and medical practices were to be on an equal footing to a man's ability to access these successes. It meant being allowed to work your ass off just like any man did to garner the same financial and professional rewards. It meant fighting for the rights inherent in being seen as a human being not simply as a utero-American.

But what female empowerment also meant was standing up against sexual harassment. Not allowing men, or males of any age for that matter, to demean and belittle who you are by simply breaking you down into sexual body parts. So without a doubt I was totally floored by the attitude of the girls around me. They seem to think nothing of rude, sexist, and demeaning lyrics on songs. They think nothing of male peers talking to them in such a way as to take from them their own humanity.

Now I know there is the advent of "slut-feminism," which I have discussed before and how detrimental it is to the women's movement. I think its inane to embrace a word meant to demean you as a person and somehow repurpose it as if it magically imbues the wearer as an intellectual thinking humanbeing. No its doesn't. By embracing this male-derogation of women, third-wave "feminists" only give further credence to the castrating effect of misogyny upon women worldwide. When a prominent feminist such as Naomi Wolf can openly say that wearing a burqa is somehow sexy, there is something truly Orwellian about today's "feminists." (I am not actually talking about "slut walks" however, but I think they accomplished nothing and quite frankly belittled their purpose.)

There is a big difference between being in control of your body and throwing away your body as if you were a prostitute. Well at least the prostitute earns some form of currency in exchange for her body. No it is not empowering to "fuck around." Hooking up is not cool. It is ego destroying and diminishes your own personhood.  When did young women think that men were going to respect them or listen to anything they have to say in this world if they lack any respect for themselves? And that includes not allowing males to make demeaning and rude sexual innuendo jokes in your presence.

Also how are youngmen supposed to identify what is and is not sexual harassment, when young women support, even promote, overt sex-talk yet fail to identify for these "boys" that they need to have respect for their classmates? How is a youngman supposed to learn the difference between  what is correct in a relationship and what is misogyny? Truth is, parents can do so much. I can talk til I am "blue in the face" on this topic, but if girls let boys get away with treating them as inferiors, how is either side of the sexual divide supposed to learn interactions, dating and relationship realities never mind the absolute importance of respecting one another?

I suppose this is why it is so important when raising aspergeans to delineate to them what is right and what is wrong. Girls MUST have strict boundaries when it comes to dealing with hormonal youngmen. Boys must have strict guidelines on how to treat women. As CM1 always says, he has his morals and ethics and no one is ever going to change his mind. He gets angry with his brother if he makes rude jokes at the dinner table and doesn't like CM2's middle school immaturity. I think CM1 sees how different his thinking appears to be as compared to his peers. I know CM2 will learn too over time. It is something very stressed in our home. I will make him miserable if he doesn't learn it too.

But what concerns me is when did young women mistake promiscuity for empowerment and being spoken to as if you were a slut as equality? Have parents been so negligent in raising their daughters that they have allowed the Hollywood culture, that Paglia laments, to truly be the only moral basis for their daughters upbringing?

Elise


8 Nights of Hanukkah

 Tonight we light candle number 4.






Deck the Halls






Monday, December 10, 2012

Jingle Bell Rock









Lighting the Menorah

Tonight for Hanukkah we light candle number 3. Here's a video I found on another website HERE. It's a bunch of Yeshiva boys thinking they are rap music stars. Hey at last they try...Well you be the judge. I thought it was kinda cute.

talit
By the way, I know that everyone is aware that the "beenie" on their heads is actually called a yarmulke (kippah in Hebrew) and is there to remind the wearer that God is above and all around. However, the item that most people do not know about is the little strings you see hanging from their clothing. These strings are part of what is called a talit kitan or little prayer shawl. It is worn under the clothes and it, like the larger talit, which is worn during synagogue prayers, is to remind the person of the 613 mitzvahs or commandments that Jews are required to live by daily. And you thought ten commandments was a pain in the tuchas...heh.

Anyway next time, you see some modern-orthodox-Jews (not Hasidim) in their black hats, black pants and white shirts, you might realize that simply because they live by ancient customs does not necessarily mean they live isolated from the real world. "Oy," you say, there is a difference between the branches of Judaism? Heck yeah. In fact in each branch their are branches within branches too. And you wondered why there are over 40 registered political parties in Israel.....

A primer on the branches of Judaism HERE .












Sunday, December 9, 2012

iHanukkah-Apple Style

Tonight we light the second candle on the hanukkiah (that's the actual name for a Hanukkah menorah- or candelabra)...







Carol of the Bells

I decided to begin this year's Christmas Carol posts with my favorite..yes this Jewish lady has a favorite carol....


Here's a completely acoustic version of Carol of the Bells




Now a traditional version by the Boston Pops