Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How EMT Flashmobs Save Lives- Jerusalem, Israel

From TEDMED



When he was 6-years-old, Eli Beer was walking home from school when he witnessed a bus bombing in Jerusalem. This traumatic experience inspired Beer to seek out a career that saves lives. At age 15, he took an EMT course and began volunteering on an ambulance. But he found that, when someone truly needed fast medical attention, the ambulance just wasn’t able to get there in time because of traffic and the distance needed to travel.

At age 17, Beer gathered a like-minded group of EMTs with a passion for saving lives to listen to police scanners and rush to the scene when medical help was needed in their neighborhood. The initiative became United Hatzalah, which is Hebrew for “rescue.” Twenty-five years later, the organization has more than 2,000 volunteers and helped 207,000 people as they waited for an ambulance last year. Beer serves as United Hatzalah’s president.

Beer has responded to some of the worst civil, wartime and terror-related incidents. In 2010, he was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Israel by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and, two years later, became a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Married with five children, when Beer is not saving lives or guiding United Hatzalah, he manages the family real estate company, Beer Realty.


Yasha Koach, Eli (more power to you)



Elise

From NCLD: What is Asperger's Syndrome?

From The National Center for Learning Disabilities





This Ask the Expert video provides an overview of Asperger's Syndrome and offers insights into the characteristics of individuals and how they differ from, or overlap with, other disorders that impact learning, attention and behavior. For more information on Asperger's syndrome, please visit: http://www.LD.org/Aspergers-syndrome, and visit the http://www.LD.org site for more videos and helpful information about LD.





Elise

Monday, July 29, 2013

Support the ABLE Act: Promote Inclusion and Independence

From the Huffington Post by William Daroff. He is the Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America.


The ABLE Act Promoting Inclusion and Independence


The financial strain on individuals with disabilities and their families today is not just a matter of dollars and cents; it's a matter of planning for tomorrow and the long-term future to ensure their independence and inclusion in their community.

Parents of children with disabilities want their kids to be able to access higher education, build a meaningful career, and save for the future so that they can live independently in their community of choice. Unfortunately, with essential government benefits at risk when an individual with a disability accumulates significant assets, long-term financial planning for services and supports that enable independent and community-based living is often not feasible.

To help remedy this situation so many families face, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647/S. 313) was introduced with bipartisan support in both the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this year. This bill would provide a tax-advantaged savings account of up to $100,000 for disability-related expenses to supplement the benefits received from sources such as private insurance, Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income program.

Qualified expenses that an ABLE account would fund include education, housing, transportation, employment support, health prevention and wellness, assistive technology and personal support. In short, it would allow families to plan for their child with disabilities to have access to funds to pay rent, hire a tutor or get job-related training in the future.

Read the rest HERE.



Elise

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Language and its Ability to Infantilize

One of the major decisions we had to make when the boys were little was to decide just how much credence and involvement we were going to allow social workers and government authority. The following are two interesting incidences that basically helped us make up our minds:

We had, on the recommendation of our school disability director, contacted the county disability office to find after school activities for Mr.GS (he was 5 years-old at the time). After having chosen a sports class for children with ADHD,  I called the local county department to have him registered. They put me through to the county social worker who ran the course. Interestingly the first question out of her mouth was whether Mr. GS had pdd-nos. I told her yes he did. Her response was, "You parents think that by putting your children in a class with normal kids, your kid will be fine. Well they won't." Then she hung up on me. She didn't ask his functioning level. She didn't ask his IQ. She made an ignorant decision based upon some knowledge that she thought she had about autism.

I did call the disability director  back and told him what happened. He recommended a different class that was geared towards children with autism. I signed Mr. GS up. It was a lovely program with arts and crafts and swimming, at the local community college. He did have a nice time. One Saturday when we went to pick him up the support staff was all-a-twitter. Apparently there had been a little boy who was very upset and was crying. Mr. GS had spent several minutes trying to comfort the other boy by patting his back and telling him "OK" "OK." I reminded them that I had told them that my son was a very empathetic child and that he felt other people's emotions. Obviously they didn't believe me, and just chalked up my knowledge of my son as "wishful thinking parent."

It was after these two incidents, early on in Mr. GS' development,  that we came to the decision that we were absolutely never ever going to put our children into the hands of the government. We would find a way to get our boys the help they needed without government interference. The government in general was never going to have a say in our children's future ever. We didn't trust them with our children's health records and information. (A little ironic now in the age of Obamacare.)

On the other hand, we did, upon recommendation of the disability office in our district, look into state government supports for adults with autism when MR.GS went to college. (Apparently there had been a support program that was being developed for college-bound aspergeans.) But the state wanted all his health information (of course) and the entire process was extraordinarily antediluvian. Hence, we kept to our original decision to stay as far away from government as possible. Plus it's more about confidentiality and whether the state, or a "well-connected" employer, could use this private information against the boys at some time in the future. No we do not trust that our government has our best interests at heart. Perhaps those in government should think about the fact that the people they are hired to serve, do not trust them. (One only has to look at the IRS scandal to know that there can be dishonest and immoral people in powerful positions and that they can use that power to hurt the average person.)

Yes, we used government sponsored Early Intervention for CM2 (unfortunately by the time anyone had diagnosed Mr. GS he was 5 and too old for early intervention).  Luckily our county contracts out to service providers and we always asked the local school district about anyone that was sent before we allowed them to work with our son. In fact when CM2 transitioned from Early Intervention into School District control we did keep the same service providers that the government had sent until he went to kindergarten. They were exceptional at what they did and had a really nice relationship with him. In fact these service providers called for years to check up on CM2 and see how he was doing.

Of course we used the local school district for their education. We were very lucky though that those in our school district viewed disabilities and their job as teachers in the same way as we did. That their job is to help the child learn to deal with their disability while at the same time allowing the child to be the best that they can be. No preconceived notions of functioning. No preconceived notions of what and who the child will be based upon their disability. They created an educational plan based upon who the boys  were as human beings.

In the end, however, we never allowed a state or county government social worker or psychiatrist or anyone else associated with the government near our children after that first year when Mr. GS was diagnosed. In fact we have actually fired all manner of private service providers too, who decided to view our children as their disability first before they were seen as people with the right to chose their own future. Yes, this attitude is an across the board problem, but at least when you deal privately with someone you have control over who works or doesn't with your child. You need to remember that your rights as a parent are greatly restricted when the government has the final say-so about your child's care, not to mention your absolute lack of authority vis-a-vis the government once your child becomes an adult. So think very carefully just how much help you really need in raising your child and whether you can support your child on your own. For many parents there is no choice. Their children need more than they can give them and these parents need help and support. But for those of us who are lucky enough to have children with high functioning forms of autism, think clearly and carefully who you want to let into your home.

Now, one of the most insidious avenues that government or those in the psychiatric/social worker community do to our children is to use language that dehumanizes them and infantilizes them. Read a  father,  Mark Neary's, take on the jargon used by the NHS in England to describe his autistic son. HERE 

He writes: One manager explained to me once that everything learning disabled people do must have a value - not too bad until you realize that someone else is setting the value and its parameters are very narrow. Who on high decreed that everything we do must have some value?

Even though we live in the USA, I recognize so much of the jargon in this article. I can say that there were many times that I have used some of these terms to describe things the boys have done, and that these terms were in their IEP as well. Yes, we need to find a way to measure our children's accomplishments. It is the only way we know if they are progressing and learning and developing. But the question then becomes: what words do we use to measure the development of a typically developing child and why can't we use the same language for those with disabilities?

As example: I am wondering if there is not a better way to talk about simple things like transitioning without taking from our children their humanity? I know that when I use such a term it is to describe ways to help the boys accomplish their goal of "transitioning" without meltdowns and anxiety. But does the word itself bring along a connotation of deficit? I know educators discuss transitioning in general for all children. Yet do educators talk about transitioning in the same way for our children as they do for non-special-needs children? What are the underlying themes when our children are discussed? Perhaps its not even the words that are used but the attitude that the Neary's receive(d), or we receive(d), from those who have decided that they know better what our children need then we do.

Reading this article I couldn't help but feel for this father and his son. Those who have power over his child's day-today life seemingly have no respect for this youngman's humanity. It is beyond frustrating. The father's anger is real and so is his despair. When the government has total control over your offspring and their future what as a parent can you do? I think that is something we in the USA had better start thinking about, and thinking about quickly, as our healthcare comes under more and more government control.


Other posts on this similar subject:
Infantilization and School Supports
Destructiveness of Entitlements
A Rose By Any Other Name: The Right to Define Oneself
Apologizing for Accepting Your Child?
The Hero's Journey: Autism and Your Child


Elise





Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Royal Baby-Why Do We Care? UPDATE: It's a Boy

cross-posted at Liberty's Spirit

I know why the British care. It’s the continuation of their monarchy. Something most Brits will tell you they actually like. But the question is why do we in the US of A care? We fought a war over 230 years ago just so we would not have to care about the British monarchy. Yet somehow England remains part and parcel of our daily lives. Afterall we do speak some form of English don’t we? And until Obama, according to the American government, England was a respected, major American ally (much like Israel). So what is it about the UK that we just can’t get enough of?

I think it’s the modern-day fairytale. Here a handsome prince meets his future princess, a commoner, and falls in love. Defying royal convention he marries her. And unlike his Nazi-loving  great Uncle, actually gets to remain in line for the throne. It doesn’t hurt either that his philanthropic-mother was much-loved around the world, with the common-person coming to her defense because she was treated so shabbily by the same royal family who embraces today’s commoner-princess. (The monarchy should really thank Tony Blair for pulling them out of their medieval mentality and saving them from the proverbial guillotine.) But is this story just too much like a Disney production and too “little girls in pink poofy dresses” ? Too un-feminist? Too much a facilitation of codependency?

Truly, people love fairy tales, not just little girls. We all want to meet our special someone, to live with them in love and happiness til death do us part. It in fact is really all that we ask isn’t it? (OK some ask to control the world, but I am talking about the sane people among us.)

All human beings merely want is to love and be loved. The vast majority of us will not make a mark on this world beyond our own little circle. Yet to have someone care that we exist in this world and to remember us for a while after we are gone is truly all that we really desire. Sadly though, so many in our modern society have such a hard time finding and then keeping love, that we sometimes forget that a special love can and does exist. We forget that there actually can be something unique between just two people. That two people can really shut the world out and become one.

Witnessing a love that is so open and so grand brings the entire human race just that much closer to survival really. When we see love, real love, so openly displayed in a world that is absolutely hell-bent on tearing itself apart at any given moment, we celebrate that love. It is a commitment to the future of humanity. And there is no better commitment to the future than a newborn babe.

When a baby comes into this world it is with hope. Who knows what any child will be and what joy they will give? Who knows what discoveries any child will make or whose tears they will calm? Who knows which baby will be the one to change the course of human history for the better? Moreover a baby, any baby, shows us that tomorrow there will be another sunrise and a continued hope for a future filled with happiness and joy.

So yes the fairytale continues. The son of the much mistreated much-loved princess and his commoner sweetheart will become parents soon. In truth, however, our desire to watch this pregnancy isn’t really about this couple whom not a one of us will ever meet. It is mostly about each and every one of us. This young couple is merely the public embodiment of everything we each wish for secretly. A future of peace and prosperity for ourselves and our children.


 My parent’s wedding song. They were married 53 years.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Scheduling Those Last Open-Ended Weeks of Summer

It's tough during the summer to make sure that everything in your child's life goes smoothly, or at least what passes for smooth in a house full of persons who live on the autism spectrum. Schedules are off. The days are longer. The heat is oppressive. Time can actually come to a standstill it seems. So what can you do to keep up your game?

Organize

For most families the lazy days of summer are an enjoyment. But for families that deal with autism issues, these unscheduled disorganized days are hard, very hard. It's OK to admit it. It really is. We simply need to do something about it that is all.

By the middle of July you have simply had enough. Enough with the meltdowns and enough with the lack of structure. Yes your child might be in ESY, but in reality its not anything near as productive as regular school. Plus ESY ends weeks before the academic school year begins. Those empty days are the hardest to deal with for our children. The trick? Give them things to do in a scheduled and organized manner.

Make sure that you have a schedule. DO NOT let the day take you where it may. Plan every day and if need be every moment of every day. Use the weekend to make a daily schedule for the coming week. Yes, the schedules can be redundant. Heck that is the best kind of schedule for our children. It's always best when they know what to expect. Write it out. Create a daily chart that your child can see. If they cannot read, make pictures.If they are old enough, let them help you make the schedule. Make certain that the times for each activity are listed and your child can check off each accomplished task.

Also do NOT forget to give warnings when it is about time to change activities. Children, and especially our children, cannot just move to the next activity without any kind of warning.The younger the child the longer the warnings and the more frequent.(Start even at the five minute warning and come back every minute til its time to change.)  Use a kitchen timer to set the time for each period. Let them help. Use a digital clock for children that can't tell time but can read number. In fact if you are trying to teach "time" this can be part of the exercise.

P.S. If your child is really enjoying an activity and it is fun, engaging and they are happy, you can extend it and show them how to adjust the daily schedule to suit that change too. It is the beginning of flexibility and flexibility is an important trait for them to learn.

P.S.S. For those who go on vacation make sure you continue to schedule the days. Vacations can set our children off since it is so out of the realm of their normal day-to-day. Organize them so they and you can have fun. This includes if you are going to have a "staycation." (Here, Here) In fact get your children to have some input into what they would like to do and not do during this time.

Here are some basic scheduling rules:

- Wake your child up at a consistent time. Granted that is not an issue with many of our children as sleep is the real issue. But make certain that you wake them, no matter what, at the same time each day. I have found that there is unseen stimuli that helps your child adjust through the day. If they miss that familiarity they can be set off. Even the place of the sun in the sky has an effect on our children.

- Make sure meal times are consistent. If you plan an outing figure in these normalized meal times. It is NEVER good to wait until your child is hungry. Many autistics cannot even read their own body signals and even as adults need alarms to remind them to eat and drink. Throw into the mix medications that cut the appetite and you will have a cranky, unhappy child who will not understand why they are so grumpy.

- Give your child some responsibility. Have them do chores. Assign a different one everyday.
(a) If they don't know how to clean their room or are too young to do it themselves, teach them.
(b) Help them make their beds.
(c) Put away their toys.
(d) Set the table for each meal.
(e) Clean up and even depending on their age, let them wash the dishes. (Here you might have to redo the dishes when they are out of sight, but its good for them to start to learn how to clean-up after themselves.)
(f) Have them do some part of the laundry. Even bringing the hamper to the laundry area or helping bring the cleaned clothes into the bedrooms and putting them away are major chores.
(g) Let them help care for the lawn. If they are too young to mow the lawn, let them help put down fertilizer, grass seed, pick up weeds or help collect the dog poop in the lawn. Since many of our children have SPD and have issues with dirt, buy latex gloves or work gloves so they feel more comfortable outside. The latex gloves can be worn to do any number of chores in the house too from washing dishes to cleaning the bathrooms.
(h) Let them help clean the cars inside and out.
(i) Let them help make the grocery list and have them come to the supermarket. (Yes, I know, most of us do not have babysitters and cannot leave the kids at home anyway. Just give them chores to do in the store-all within eyesight of course. Engage them in what is being bought and why.) Let them help pack up the groceries to bring home. It might be a mess and it might take longer, but its good that they also understand the entire process of shopping.
(j) If they are old enough let them help make their meals. Most younger children can make a pb&j. They can read directions on the side of a package too. Teach your child to read a recipe. One day they will need to be independent and cook for themselves. )This will take a longtime to master so the earlier they start the better.)

- Make sure there is fun time everyday too. If you do not have access to a pool, how about sprinklers in the backyard? Video game play? Arts and crafts (really messy but they can help with the cleanup)? Watch their favorite TV shows. This is not failed parenting. But a good break for you and for them.

- Review their academics. Make sure they are reading or being read to. Practice their ABCs. Practice math facts or learn their numbers. Practice their colors. There are all kinds of fun ways to do this. From computer programs, to workbooks to your own ingenuity. (You do not have to buy homeschooling materials to do this successfully.)

- Work in their therapists, and doctor appointments of course. Summer is a great time to get everything reviewed, revamped and rearranged for the upcoming fall. But make sure your child has a big heads-up if the appointment is an anomaly. Put it in their schedule and make sure you even mention it and show the child the day before.

- Make sure bedtime is consistent and organized. Keep the bedtime routine the absolute same everyday during the summer. It is hard for anyone to want to go to bed when the sun is out, but fro those that run on sensory input and not clock input it is very very very hard to go to sleep. Remember that once they hit that bath, it should be a prelude to calming down, chilling out and getting prepared for slumber.

I actually have to admit that the last few weeks of summer right before school begins has always been the hardest when the boys were little. Of course, now that they are youngmen, they basically have figured out their own way of being. But in all honesty if we didn't give them chores and assignments they would do absolutely nothing, which is also not a productive way to be. We create a list of chores and they are assigned tasks. When they do them is up to them as long as the chores get done.

We have also added the simple incentive of "pay." If they want video games they need to earn them. Each chore has an assigned value and they work off the cost of the game. No its not the same as a regular job, but they at least know that not everything gets handed to them without some effort. It is enough for the boys to organize and deal with the stress of school. Adding in the stress of a part-time job is not good for my offspring. However, for others that may be the right thing to do. A friend figured out that her son actually does better at school if he has to organize around a part-time job. You simply need to know your own child and what is best for them.

- Last thing on the schedule (YOUR schedule. This does not have to be written down for your child.) Sit down on the couch or outside on the porch. Have a little glass of wine or cup of tea (sweetened ice tea if you are in the south). Put on your favorite television show or open a good book. Talk to the spouse (or significant other) about their day and engage in some adult conversation. Use facetime or skype to have some adult conversation if the nearest adult BFF is far away. Take a moment for yourself. This will help you regroup and reconnect with your inner qi (chi) so you can get up in the morning and make certain your children have some very good end of the summer days.

For more posts on this subject visit the my webpage : Social Stories; Scheduling; Pragmatic Speech



Elise


Here's something for everyone living through that east coast heat wave:




Now what would the summer be without some Beach Boys...










Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Autism Used this Time as an Excuse for Criminality

What are real world safety issues (in-real-life and on-line) and how do we teach this self-defense mechanism to our children with autism? The problem we parents face, is that for our children to understand "reality" they need to be a part of it or witness it. Furthermore, this problem manifests itself exponentially when dealing with adolescents. Adolescents never think through the consequences of their actions. So much is spur of the moment without thought to the future. Adolescents don't see the longterm consequences to actions or inactions. Add in an autism spectrum disorder and you can get quite the hormonal rollercoaster.

Culture doesn't help. There are fewer and fewer consequences to inappropriate behavior. Society tells the the up-coming-generation, that nothing is their fault. Everyone is supposed to win. Everything is an excuse. Its always someone else's fault, so you do not have to be responsible for your actions and your choices. So many parents embrace this attitude in the era of "not my child's fault." Makes parenting alot easier when you don't have to take any responsibility for raising your children. Makes it easier when instead of taking responsibility for teaching your child right from wrong you can blame a crime on the fact that your offspring has an autism spectrum disorder as well. (My boys were consistently attacked by a youngman on the severer side of the autism spectrum since elementary school. His parents refused to do anything saying he didn't understand that what he was doing was wrong. But at the same time this youngman understood well enough to have a drivers license, drive on his own and hold down a job. We ended up having to threaten the school system with police intervention to get something done about this.)

In actuality adolescence is when major parenting comes in. If your adolescent screws up, it is your fault. Yes of course there are times that you can do everything imaginable and nothing will help. (There are some mental health issues that no matter what you do it is never enough and it is not a parent's fault.) But I am not talking about these issues.

I am talking about basic adolescent behavior mixed with aspergers syndrome. And no its not easy. Adolescence isn't easy to begin with and adolescence with autism is quite challenging. But our children can be parented and parented well. To simply throw up your hands and say..."oopsie... I can't,  or that's someone else's problem or to try to blame all the mistakes (and there will be some big ones, I warn you) on the child or their disability," is not only irresponsible, but in some cases even criminal.

Recent case in point: Apparently an 18-year-old on Long Island, charged with terrorism, is trying to blame his actions on the fact that he has aspergers. Not on how he was brought up. Not on the influences in his life. It's not his parents fault...heaven forbid. It is not about a homelife replete with  divorced parents where there seemed to be a huge amount of neglect and lack of support. No. According to the lawyers, apparently somehow someone with autism is too stupid and too much of a sheeple to understand its just not cool to blow up other people with a bomb. (Yes, I figure the attorney is grasping at straws trying to keep this youngman out of prison for the rest of his life. That doesn't mean you have to accept this excuse.) Quite frankly, I find it grossly insulting to the autism community.

Listen, the issue isn't about the accused's autism. The issue is about his upbringing. The issue is where were his parents? The issue was where was the community in which he lived? They knew he was depressed. They knew he had problems. Apparently they even knew he had a "bad" homelife.  (That also remains to be seen in the longrun too.) But no one did anything? How does an 18-year-old brought up in a community like Long Island turn to Jihad if there isn't something else going on in his world having nothing to do with autism?

That defendant is more "susceptible" to the influences around him because of his autism. OK I will accept that part of the argument. But do not ever tell me someone with autism cannot learn the difference between right and wrong. Where is the demand by the autism community of the acknowledgement that the basic moral underpinnings of life is something autistics are "susceptible" to as well. This legal tactic infantalizes persons with autism. It infuriates me. I find it disgusting. (I have fought against the denigration of those with autism since the day Mr. GS was diagnosed. Not going to stop now.)

Pundits and prognosticators have tried to tie aspergers and autism into the mass murders that have happened recently in our nation. The autism community rightly cried foul when these insidious charges arose. But you can't have it both ways. You can't blame the desire to kill on autism nor can you use autism as the get-out-of-jail-free-card excuse for criminal behavior. One turns the autistic person into a feared sociopathic predator devoid of a right to live in society and the other turns the autistic into a feared individual with such mental deficiencies, unable to tell the difference between right and wrong, that they lose the right to live in society. Either way those in the autism community are screwed.

How about instead of excuses we learn to parent our children the way they need to be parented? How about parents take responsibility for raising their children properly? How about society cut out the crap and remind people about consequences, limits and boundaries? We could start with acknowledging that there are rights and wrongs in this world. How about stopping with the politically correct bullcrap too, that all cultures deserve respect. Guess what, not every culture or way of viewing the world is to be respected. Just ask Malala Yousafzai.




Wonder what would happen if the "legal powers" that be said those that shot this terrific younglady claimed to have autism. Would the world then give the Taliban-terrorists who shot her a pass too? I hope not.




Elise



Monday, July 15, 2013

Rethink, Revamp, Restructure: The Destructiveness of I Can't

Repost August 2011. Tonight begins the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av. It is said that on this day both Holy Temples were destroyed by invaders and the Jewish people dispersed throughout the globe. This is the day that we remember the evil that befell us and lament the destruction of the Holy Temples. Many have added additional meaning to this holiday in recent years. This is my take.....

 
 
 
There are times throughout our year that we need to sit and reflect upon our past and what our future holds. Especially when you have children, you need to reexamine how they are progressing, review their supports and decide what needs to be changed, restructured and revamped. In fact I have found that most of my time is spent trying to figure out if everything we are doing for the boys is right, not enough or too much. Honestly I have yet to figure out the answer to any of these questions.

There is no doubt that a lot of what we do is driven by guilt. A lot of parental guilt. I readily admit it. I am so afraid that if we do not try some new idea or approach to an issue and the boys’ fail or do not proceed on schedule that we did them a disservice. I know Wise Old Sage lays awake at night worried and frightened for the boys, for their future and their ability to lead a successful life. You might say that fear drives us even at times more than guilt does. I admit it. I acknowledge it. It is a failing to be driven by fear. I know that as well.

Now WoS and I do admit that there are many versions of a successful life and what that entails too. For me it is the ability to take care of yourself; enjoy your profession; find that you have enough money for the things you need and seek out a mate with whom to share your life; if not a mate then friends and compatriots who share your interests and values. Ultimately of course, a successful life lived is one that has been a happy life.

                                                                           To Have Succeeded


To laugh often and love much:
To win respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the approbation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To give one's self;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or redeemed social condition;
To have played and laughed with enthusiasm
And sung with exultation;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived...
This is to have succeeded.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


In all honesty I have found that this time of year is even more introspective for me. The boys have finished their summer courses and this year especially, there is a huge transition coming up for the family in a few weeks. CM2 starts college full time. (Update: CM2 is now a college junior and it is MR. GS who is starting his new masters program) That in and of itself would elicit thought provoking review, but in this season, we also celebrate the Jewish holiday of Tisha b’Av.

Loosely translated it means the 9th day of the month of Av. It is a mourning holiday. It is solemn and serene all in the name of the remembrance of past tragedies. It was the day that the first Holy Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. It was the day the second Holy Temple was destroyed by the Romans. It is the day the Romans ended the Bar Kochba revolt and tried to turn Jerusalem into a pagan city. It is the beginning of the eons of persecution, slaughter and diaspora worldwide. It is on this day that all the major tragedies that happened to the Jewish people are remembered. For the religious they fast and pray and study Torah. For me it is a day to rethink the world around me and to figure out how to make myself a better parent, spouse or friend.

But the underlying message of Tisha B’Av is simple really. It is also not for the Jewish people alone. It is a guide to figuring out who you are and where you want to go with your life. It is a guide to figuring out your strengths, your weaknesses and your true path. Listen to the video below, the message is very simple, yet it carries with it the utmost challenge.






                                               

    

We are faced with many hurdles as parents of special needs children, for our children are faced with many obstacles. We don't have time for "I can't." We don't have time for "false tears." For our children's future depends on our ability to say "I can," and to take the time to rethink, revamp and restructure what needs to be done.

So in conclusion and in remembrance of this holiday I wish the following for you all: May there be no tears next year. May we no longer be afraid. May we banish fear, in order that we may realize all that we can truly be and all that we can truly accomplish. May we believe in ourselves enough to know that we can secure a joyous future for our children and even a joyous future for ourselves. May we banish fear enough to know that we can also secure a joyous present for us and our posterity.

For those of my Jewish friends who do fast, may it be an easy fast and may your study of Torah bring you great joy. 
 
 
 
Elise

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New TV Shows, New Characters with Autism

Quick review of two new shows King and Maxwell and The Bridge.

King and Maxwell. A new light fair detective series on TNT. It is the story of two disgraced secret service agents and their quest for employment . Of course their past contretemps takes them into dark, dangerous and payment-lacking places where they are always followed by a very dour FBI agent who is ready and willing to arrest them for any malfeasance. It is based on the best selling books by author David Baldacci. It stars Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney.

In the first episode they are asked by the sister of a man arrested for murder to exonerate him. The man's name is Edgar. Edgar happens to be a high functioning autistic who used to work for the IRS in their forensics accounting department. Of course, the minute that I heard "murder and accused autistic" used together my hackles were peeked, especially after the ignorance exhibited by so many pundits and news prognosticators after the horrible events in Connecticut.

As it turns out Edgar was actually part of a secret national defense system in the making, which was causing all sorts of contretemps in the shadowy world of defense spending and the political sphere of military appropriations. In the end King and Maxwell were able to prove that Edgar was framed by a defense contractor in league with an evil Senator. So absolutely much more realistic than trying to pin evil deeds upon autistic persons. Edgar is now the detective agency's accountant.

However, unlike other aspergean characters, Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory and Temperance Brennan of Bones, Edgar while brilliant is shown as extraordinarily naive and rather clueless as to how people perceive him. Unlike Sheldon and Bones he doesn't know that he causes social kerfuffles and doesn't care. He also isn't part of a nerdy group who accept him for who he is and he is not apparently outwardly smart enough at the gitgo for the average person to overlook his idiosyncrasies. Yet, he is brilliant to a fault, with a mind that can detect number sequences and analyze mountains of data in minutes.

They play Edgar as dressed down, very dressed down. Devoid of any interest or knowledge about fashion. The character is generally unshaven and looks a little unkempt. Personally I keep wishing the character would get a haircut or at least stop walking around as if he had never washed his hair. (But that's just the mother in me rearing her helicopter head.) His sister looks after him continually and as explained in the first episode, has done so since they were small children.

Edgar is portrayed as a sweet, caring wholly socially inept individual. He doesn't get the simple social niceties and the unread signals. He gets in trouble in later episodes with the police because as a big, overbearing man he is rather unsubtle in attempting to collect from clients. This prompts a very lovely scene where the character Maxwell attempts to try to help Edgar understand what exactly happened and why he got into trouble.

Edgar is precise in the organization of his work area. He takes an untold amount of time setting up a desk along with the obsessive amount of properly sharpened pencils and keeps his beloved pencil sharpener on hand to refresh those #2 ends. In one episode he gives a traumatized child his adored pencil sharpener to try to help the boy in a time of emotional need. I hope those out in the world, without knowledge or access to persons with autism, can even fathom what a gesture like that truly means in the sphere of caring about someone else and wishing to help them. It's called empathy, something the psychiatric profession likes to tell us autistics do not possess.

Edgar cares about those who care about him. He is on a mission to clear the character King of any wrong doing with the Secret Service. He sees things in a video tape and the mock up of a room that those without an autistic brain would miss. The subtle tell tale signs of a set-up.

Part of the sweetness of the show is King and Maxwell's relationship with Edgar. They are gentle with Edgar. They are not harsh. They are understanding. They try to protect Edgar from the vagaries of the neurotypical world. They try to teach him. They try to help him. Above all they are his friends.

The Bridge. This show caught my minds eye because of how they play up the main characters aspergers syndrome. In fact Alex Plank who created the very popular website for aspergeans WrongPlanet, was a consultant on the show. HERE he is interviewing the star of the show, Diane Kruger, about her character Sonya Cross.

The character Sonya, is a detective in the El Paso police department. She specializes in homicides. She is pedantic, rigid and above all hell bent on finding those who committed crimes. Again she misses the subtle tell tale social signs and consistently needs reminding by her boss of how to act, what to say and what is and is not appropriate in public. He reminds her to make eye contact when talking to a murder victims spouse and has to giver her a lesson in why its OK at times to skirt procedure so as not to offend those she works with. In one scene she sniffs her underarm because she smells and then changes her top in the middle of the squad room. Her boss has to remind her to change her clothes in the ladies-room. She also is very unkempt, cares nothing for fashion and is driven by other factors that she considers important in her day to day existence. She is single minded and obsessive.

Her boss understands her. He is kind to her. He supports her. He teaches her and protects her. He is her friend. The same cannot be said for the other detectives. They call her weird, creepy and odd. They warn a gruff, hardworking and honest Mexican detective off of partnering with her and have a bit of a laugh behind his back when she is assigned to help him investigate a murder that involves both sides of the US/Mexican border.

Sonya's vulnerability shows through however, when her boss mentions to her that he is going to retire soon. She becomes overwhelmed and frightened of a life without him. He reassures her, but tells her that she does have to learn to rely on herself.

I think Sonya is a mix of brilliant and vulnerable that we all see in our children. As we all know too, the only way possible that aspergeans are successful is if they are surrounded by mentors and a support system. It is this human element that helps them navigate the neurotypical world in which we all live. I can see Sonya's distress in loosing that future support, as I worry about the boys' future when there will be no more paras and someone is not watching their backs on a continual basis.

As far as the storyline itself in The Bridge, it is based upon some real life events in Juarez, Mexico. Hundreds upon hundreds of young women have gone missing just across the border and no one is looking into it. There is something scary happening in that town and the show plays up the criminal, cartel and general lawlessness of the state of affairs in Mexico today. We are witness to the huge contrast between how societies work and what people live with just a few miles apart from each other.

For the most part, the characters are all well written and the mystery is quite fascinating albeit extraordinarily creepy. There is much to come in future episodes. Apart from the aspergean tilt, if murder mysteries, serial killers, human trafficking and the vagaries of life are your thing, this is definitely a show for you.

*****

At present you can stream King and Maxwell on your computer through its website or buy it sans commercial at Amazon.

The Bridge is now available for streaming. You will have to enter your birthdate in order to verify you can watch the show. It is rated M for mature and apparently FX takes that very seriously and apparently figures that adolescents don't know how to add or subtract.


Elise







Sunday, July 7, 2013

PTSD and the Autism-Warrior-Parent or Simply Life's Lessons Reviewed

We have all read the studies that indicate that autism-warrior-parents have the same cortisol level as soldiers who are faced with continual combat. Actually I doubt too many of us found that result strange at all. We are constantly on. We have no real vacations. We have no time off. We prep, consult, organize and prepare for battles on numerous fronts, including having to fight with our own offspring at times. Life for most autism-warrior-parents is a continuum of "what ifs, why nots, maybes, how comes and perhaps this will work." Never mind the constant preparation of battlefield maneuvers in dealing with those that are supposed to help, support and care for your children in the school system, the psychiatric and neurological professions.

But I have a question...I wonder has anyone ever done a study that looks into whether autism-warrior-parents also suffer from a form of PTSD? I actually ask this as a personal question. I have been having nighttime flashbacks of sorts. OK I admit it, yeah some are during the day too. Interestingly though my flashbacks have very little to do with the boys. And don't worry, no I never lose consciousnesses of where I truly happen to be. It's just that suddenly I get reminded of situations and episodes. Memories get triggered due to sights, sounds or smells. Events that make me feel unpleased with myself, even nominal events in my life, get triggered that I had long ago forgotten about.

It has been over twenty years now that we have been dealing with the vagaries of autism issues in our house. Before we understood what was happening with Mr. GS it was years of worry, concern, fighting against  simply evil and ignorant persons around us. I always say that the best day was when we finally understood what was going on with him. That diagnosis gave us direction and a goal. We knew what had to be done and we made a plan to do it.

Sure there have been glitches along the way. Many times I think that is simply called life. We in the autism parenting community always like to see everything as as outgrowth of our child's autism, but sometimes the people you deal with would be just as big an asshole if your child didn't have issues. Everyone I think has something. Some more than others, no doubt. But everyone in life has something.

There is an old wives tale about a little shtetle (town) where everyone was complaining about everything. Nothing was good and no one wanted to deal with their problems. So the chief rabbi had everyone in his congregation but their problems in a bundle and then everyone put their bundle into a huge sack. Each person took turns going through the bundle to retrieve concerns. Not one villager took anyone else's bundle. They all took back their own. Needlesstosay, the kvetching stopped.

But lately, and I don't know if this may also have to do with menopause as well, I have been having these nighttime flashbacks. I had had an accident when I was 7 years old. I had been playing on a car with the neighborhood kids and I fell off, leaving a huge-deep gash in my leg. Of course, I quickly ran home and it was taken care of. It was so deep though, that I do carry the scar to this day.

Oddly I find myself waking in the middle of the night with my legs aching thinking about that incident. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I am reliving that incident over and over again. Why it has taken over 40 years to think about it, I have no real idea. Heck, there is even this icecream commercial on TV that I can't watch because the actress runs atop cars. It causes my legs to ache.

Then there are incidents that I review from decades ago where I let people take advantage of me in some way. Little things that had no real longterm bearing on any part of my life, but I feel myself reliving these times and trying to figure out what I did wrong. Even silly things like taxi cab rides and how I handled rude and nasty drivers. I feel myself getting angry at myself for being so weak-willed. I review and examine and I figure out what I would have done different and how it would have turned out different. I come up with future game plans and plans of attack (so to speak)if ever I am confronted with negative, mean  people ever again.

Funny, I even think about the frenemies from college who were fine and dandy with me when they had boyfriends but the minute I met hubby they turned on me, called me names and one even tried to take him away from me. I keep wishing I had told her what a horrible c***t she was instead of simply just walking away from the "friendship." The funny things is that years later I ran into one of the other frenemies from that group who actually apologized for being so horrible to me and I accepted her apology.

But I ran into the potential fiance steeling frenemy one day actually years before Mr. GS was even born and didn't stand my ground then.  Made like she had done nothing wrong to me. Maybe that's why I "kick" myself. I think I wanted to really tell her what I thought of her. But then again would it have even been worth it in the longrun? Whores like that don't think they do anything wrong and in fact would probably feel justified with what she had done if I attacked her for her behavior. Sociopaths are like that....Who knows. Meanwhile I have found out through the alumni newsletter that to this day, she has not married, has no children and has a deadend job as a civil servant. So in the end I did win afterall without having to fire a shot and retained my ladylike self-respect.

Now I do walk around town, lurking at times,  to make sure that those who were once mean to Mr.GS don't rear their low-life-heads near him. Yet we rarely see anyone from the boys' school days around. (Is it a rational fear that they would still be mean to him afterall these years?) I don't even see their parents who are still living in our quaint little village. I think though, when it comes to these horrible children I wish I had pushed the school to do more and demand that their parents be apprised of the situation whether the school liked it or not. I know for a fact under that circumstance I should have been stronger and more demanding. I suppose that comes from the normal parental need for your child's tormentors to be punished and not to win football scholarships to ivy league colleges.

But I do remember yelling at the PTA mother who called when Mr. GS was a senior telling me I had not paid my share of the "senior classes' party bill." Told her where to go and how long it should take her to get there. She apologized. I slammed the phone down. Then I cried. Years of frustration and anger came pouring out. Sadly I had said something to other parents when I was part of the executive committee at the PTA. They didn't give a damn. Not a one of them. You would think, being so highly educated as most of them happen to be, they would actually care about bullying and the like. But they don't. Oh they give  lip-service to the cause of the day, of course as long as they don't have to put themselves out at all. The biggest irony here is that one of the town's actual do-goodie-moms was the parent of one of the bullies and not one person I told would believe that the kid was such a shit. But heck, these "not my child" parents did vote for the USA's first African-American President so that makes them "good people," at least in their own mindseye.

Listen, I am not certain what it all means, all these dreams or flashbacks. Am I having those late-in-life regrets that come with middle age? Am I allowing things that have been shunted aside for decades overcome me because the boys do need me less and less? Since I know how strong a personality I actually have, am I trying to figure out why I didn't access my inner-bitch earlier in life not only for my own protection but for the boys' as well?

Honestly  I know I have to move on and forget about these incidents. I know I need to forgive myself for not being everything I thought I should have been and for not being as brave as I should have been earlier in life. I need to move on and remember all the good and the positive in my life. Which I do constantly. I really don't dwell on the negatives of the past. It's just interesting how all of a sudden things are popping up out of nowhere.

Is it some form of warrior-parent  PTSD or simply the things we regret in life replaying in our heads? Do all these flashbacks, thoughts and regrets, have something to do with my father's passing and that it will soon be the first-year-anniversary of his death? I don't have an answer. Maybe someone else has an idea or a thought. I'd really like to know.



Elise


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wake Me Up



As for me...I'm still looking to find myself. As I always say, I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up...the love part, however, that I was lucky enough to find very early on in my life----in more ways than one.

In what ways have you found love?


Elise

In Congress, July 4, 1776










                                              IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
                      The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

10 Reasons This Special Needs Mom Loves the USA

This article I am reposting from The Friendship Circle. I usually don't use other people's work on my blog, but there is no way I could have said these things better myself.

*****

A few years ago, my family had the opportunity to move abroad for a two-year work assignment.  It was exactly what my husband and I had always dreamed of.  But we knew right away that we couldn’t accept the offer, because our son would have had a significantly lower quality of life in that country.
As we considered our son’s civil rights in the USA more carefully, we found many reasons to be thankful for living in the United States of America:

1. Right to attend school

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits disability-related discrimination in federally-funded programs, makes it possible for my son to attend public school.  In many other countries, children with disabilities are not permitted to attend school.  For example, according to data released by the French government, fewer than 20 percent of French children with autism attend school in their own country.

2. Inclusion

One of the things I love most about my fellow Americans is the general sense that everyone belongs here, regardless of race, religion or ability.  Even though we still struggle with the logistics of inclusion, it is a goal that most American institutions strive toward, and we rejoice with every success.

3. IDEA

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) took the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 even further by defining eligibility for services, a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and the requirements for an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  This law allows my son to receive an education that meets his unique needs.

4. Accessibility

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) literally lays down the law for the civil rights of people with disabilities.  The law prohibits discrimination in employment, public transportation and public accommodations.  This means that parks, athletic facilities, schools, shopping malls and other public spaces are now accessible to people with disabilities.

5. Police enforce parking

Laws like the ADA are useless if they are not supported by the whole community.  I was visiting a friend in Europe who explained that even though she has an accessible parking space near her apartment reserved for her use, she often cannot use it because individuals without disabilities take her spot.  Her city’s police will not ticket cars illegally parked in her space.
I have never seen this happen in the USA – in fact, I have seen American police officers place several tickets on illegally parked cars and even have those cars towed.  As a result, those parking spaces are almost always available to the people who need them and have permits for them.





Elise

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Infographic About When to Use and Not to Use the "R" Word

In case you can't decipher the picture. The correct answer is NEVER.

I can't take credit for this. I found it on my Facebook timeline.








Elise

How to Annoy Your Child Using Social Media And Sleep Well at Night

Step One: First join twitter.

Step Two: Figure out a way to work around the fact that your child has blocked you on twitter. I did it by using an alternative account that he doesn't know about. I don't follow him on this account, but just use it to check up on his timeline now and again.

Step Three: Mention to your child that there are some questionable tweets in his timeline and that being on-line doesn't give him leeway to be a jackass. Correct his on-line behavior (but don't do it on-line of course).

Step Four: Eventually you will then see a tweet similar to this one:


7/2/13, 8:49 PM
Mom, stop looking at my Twitter account. I'm 19 years old. Not to mention I blocked you. Learn to take a hint, sheesh!



Step Five: Continue to check-up on their social media activity even though they think they don't need supervision. Teenagers, even the smartest ones (especially aspergeans, considering most have social interactive issues to begin with), can post some really damaging things that could come back to haunt them in later years.

It also doesn't hurt to make sure they aren't interacting inappropriately with some pervert too. Teens and adolescents think they would be able to identify a sexual predator, but they can't. Sadly predators are very good at what they do.

Step Six: Sleep well at night.


Elise

On-line Trolls; IRL Trolls; Cyberbullying and the Ability to Block

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Doggie Deep Pressure?

In all honesty, my little bichon has had a myriad of mental health issues since we bought her in a pet store. I know this all stems from being born in a puppy mill. Our other two dogs, which were breeder born and bred, suffer from no or very little anxiety. OK, the labradoodle is more poodle than labra and that has something to do with his being high string, but his mental state is also anything but lacking in self esteem or fear. For him its more about trying to be the king of the mansion and not being allowed to be alpha dog..."alpha dog" belongs to me, or as Mr. GS refers to me "Supervisor."

Anyway I bought the bichon a thundershirt, which is supposed to make the dog feel secure and safe during a thunderstorm. The poor little doggie would shake like a leaf during storms. Actually she shakes like a leaf whenever anything new or different happens or if she thinks hubby is going to take her outside to go "potty." Don't ask, I don't know why.

Anyway yesterday during some really bad storms I put on her new thundershirt. Not only was she fine, her entire personality has changed. Suddenly she is overwhelmingly happy. She doesn't shake and quite frankly seems very content. Instead of burying her head in her blanket or into the side of a pillow, she keeps her head up and looks out alert to the world around her. Heavens to Betsy....I am leaving on the thundershirt for the rest of her life. Only taking it off to was it when it starts to smell.

Yes its pink because she is a girl. Yes we follow modern color gender identification. My bad.


Now deep pressure has been proven to help calm persons with autism. When the boys were little they used to sit with huge animal like beanbags across their laps. Today parents can buy weighted vests for their children. How amazing that the deep pressure that helps our children helps out animals as well.

Who woulda thunk it. But why the hell not?


Elise

Monday, July 1, 2013

Could You Do This?

I have written about the The Malki Foundation (in Hebrew Keren Malki) from Israel before. Last week, Malki's parents, the Roths  received a humanitarian award from the government of Israel for the work of their foundation. The article from The Jewish Press by Lori Lowenthal Marcus is below:

Note before reading this post: Malki Roth was murdered by a homicide bombing in Jerusalem that took the lives of 15 people most of them children. Her murderer was released in a grand bargain between the Israeli government and Hamas for the release of an Israeli soldier. When Malki's murderer was told that she had killed so many children she smiled and told the interviewer that she was glad.

Meanwhile The New York Times, recently ran an article lionizing this murderer and her family as heroes. The New York Times did not bother to run the Roth's rebuttal. What the editors of the NYT was afraid of, no one can ever know. But something tells me what they truly fear is the truth. Read  HERE the Roth's letter that the Times refused to run.

******

Could you do it?

Could you take what is, without a doubt, the worst tragedy imaginable – the intentional, violent murder of your sweet little girl – and turn your grief into the impetus to help others?

That is what Frimet and Arnold Roth did after their then-15 year old daughter, Malki, was murdered in the grotesque homicide bombing of the Sbarro Pizzaria in downtown Jerusalem. Malki Roth and 14 other innocent civilians died violent deaths on the 9th of August, 2001. Eight of the murdered were children.  A woman pregnant with her first child also died in the bombing, and 130 were wounded.

The Roths created Keren Malki (Malki Foundation) within months of the bombing. What would so understandably have made most parents turn inwards with grief, instead, for the Roths, became a mission to create something positive that would reflect the goodness of the daughter whose future was stolen. Malki’s little sister is severely disabled and Keren Malki, formed 12 years ago, provides a myriad of services for the benefit of children with special needs and their families.

This week the Roths were honored for the work that Keren Malki (keren is the Hebrew word for ‘foundation’) has done over the past twelve years for the benefit of children with special needs and their families. Israel’s Minister of Welfare and Social Affairs, Meir Cohen, presented the Roths with the Minister’s Shield for Volunteerism – Lifetime Achievement Award.

Arnold Roth, who made aliyah from Australia many years ago, said about the honor he and his wife received:

“Our daughter Malki’s love for her own disabled little sister, and her devotion, led her to do incredible things in the short and beautiful life she had. There was nothing we could do for Malki after the terrorists stole her future from her and from us. Nothing, that is, except to remember and honor it by doing positive, helpful things in her name. Thanks to the support we get from generous people from all over, that is what Keren Malki is doing.”
Keren Malki provides services that allow the severely disabled to remain at home and be cared for by family members.  Among the services it provides are long-term lending of assistive equipment; funding of vital paramedical therapies; and at-home therapist visits in periphery communities.

Incredibly – unless you have the fortune to know these extraordinary people – the foundation the Roths created provides services to any who are in need; it has enabled many thousands of Jewish, Druze, Muslim and Christian families to continue caring for their loved ones at home.

The Israeli government honored Arnold and Frimet Roth this week, but the Roths – tzadikim – honor all of humanity by showing us how to give, despite what was taken from them.
...

There's some additional coverage in Israel National News, the Australian Jewish News and Haaretz. And in case you missed the links above, the website of the Malki Foundation, also known as Keren Malki, is worth a few minutes of your time. 

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So could you do this? Could you help those that might have celebrated your daughter's death and even call for the murder of the rest of your children and the obliteration of your nation? For the Roths there is no political test. The only thing they need to see is a family with a child in need.



Elise


My Four-Year Blogiversary

Missed my blogiversary by a month. I have been blogging since May 2009, Memorial Day 2009 to be exact. You can read my oldest posts up  HERE before I moved over to this address (4/25/10). My original WELCOME post.


Welcome to my blog. Let me tell you something about myself. I am the mother of two children with asperger’s syndrome. The oldest infact was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at the age of five. He just finished his first year of college with 4As and 2 Bs in his second semester. It has been a long road and not so easy all the time. Therapists and friends have told me to write a book about my experiences with this disorder in order to help others, well I can’t do that. I have chosen to do for others what had been done for me. Pay it forward….When my oldest was first diagnosed I called a cousin who had a child on the spectrum and he gave me the best advice I had ever been given about autism.."Never project as to what will be. Take each day, each moment at a time and eventually the child will learn. Then one day in the far future you will look back and realize just how far everyone had come."


I will be writing updates on situations and what and how they had been handled. I may even tell a funny or two. But if you have a question, send me an email. I will respond in due time. If I can’t help you then maybe I can point you in the right direction. I am not a professional. Just a mom, and will be writing just from my heart.



On another note, today is Memorial Day. God Bless those who have given "their full measure of devotion" for "We the People,". and God Bless their families.
(Reads familiar as I incorporated it into my sidebar) 

The question I am asking myself today is what exactly have I learned in the past four years? Well to begin with I can't believe its been four years. So much has happened during these years, both good and bad, that the time seems to gel into one big moment. I know I can look back at individual events and try to figure out what was going on  at the time, but in truth, I think the fact that everything seems simply like one big happening is exactly how it is supposed to be. 

Yes in our family we have had graduations, breakthroughs, meltdowns and personal loss. As a nation we have had economic surprises and we became a nation in despair. Yet on the otherhand some really good things happened in our nation as well (Decide for yourselves what you think they are. This one is personal to the person and no one else's business. I have a long list of my own  HERE).

Nothing lasts forever (good or bad) and part of life is being able to handle the ups and downs, the twists and turns. In reality I think all these moments are simply called life.


So what have I learned in the past four years? Live your life. Simply live it. Enjoy it. Revel in your children's successes. Figure out how to help them through their failures. Support those that you love. Find ways to grab at every minute of everyday. Don't put off the important things. Stand up for what you believe in. Do what is right and honest. Don't be afraid to alienate anyone who isn't a positive influence in your life. Be brave. Have patience, self-respect and above all be kind.




Elise