Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015



May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


 (FYI- I always choose bagpipes and the Scottish Highlands to showcase Auld Lang Syne, since it was written by the eminent Scottish poet Robert Burns. It also doesn't hurt that this year I have become obsessed with the Outlander TV series and these pictures of the Scottish Highlands are so perfect.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Freedom From Want....America Today

Yes this is a TYLENOL commercial, but watch it anyway, especially the longer versions for each family. 












Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas





Positively Autism News letter December 2014; Writing


December 2014 Topic: Teaching Writing (Creative Writing, Reports, Assignments, and More)

Announcements

Looking for Future Newsletter Topics
What topic would you like to see featured in our upcoming newsletters? Each month, we choose a topic and look for helpful articles and free resources to share about the topic. We'd like to know what you're interested in hearing about next year. If you've got an idea, please send an e-mail to nicole@positivelyautism.com. Thanks!


Articles/Resources

December 2014 Newsletter: Teaching Writing (Creative Writing, Reports, Assignments, and More)
Last month, our newsletter featured articles and resources to help students with autism practice their handwriting. In a "spinoff" of that issue, this month, we will share information and resources on teaching the writing process to students with autism. We'll share resources to help work on writing assignments, such as writing sentences, stories, reports, and more.

Classroom Writing Center for Students with Autism - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/classroom-writing-center-for-students-with-autism

Please Don’t Make Me Write! - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/please-dont-make-me-write

Use Texting To Increase Writing Skills - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/use-texting-to-increase-writing-skills

Visual Support Checklist for Drawing a Picture to Accompany a Story - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/visual-support-checklist-for-drawing-a-picture-to-accompany-a-story

Write about Winter: Visual Writing Activities and Prompts - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/write-about-winter-visual-writing-activities-and-prompts

Cute Writing Activities for Students with Autism on Pinterest - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/cute-writing-activities-for-students-with-autism-on-pinterest


Books

A Land We Can Share: Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/a-land-we-can-share-teaching-literacy-to-students-with-autism

I Hate to Write: Tips for Helping Students with Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders Increase Achievement, Meet Academic Standards, and Become Happy, Successful Writers - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/i-hate-to-write-tips-for-helping-students-with-autism-spectrum-and-related-disorders-increase-achievement-meet-academic-standards-and-become-happy-successful-writers


Christmas Freebies (Social Stories, Activities, and More)

"Visiting Family at Christmas" Social Story

"Going to Visit Santa" Social Story

"Getting Presents at Christmas" Social Story

"What to Expect at Christmas" Social Story

Christmas Song Visual Supports (Pictures and Lyrics)

All of these Christmas freebies can be found here: http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/freebies-community---christmas.html


Free Downloads

Since Facebook isn't showing our Daily Autism Freebie posts to many of our followers (because they want Facebook pages to pay for sponsored posts), I'm listing some of our most popular freebies from the month here. You can go directly to http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/ each day to get the freebies without Facebook!

Adapted Holiday Symbols Mini Book - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/12/adapted-holiday-symbols-mini-book.html

"Five Little Christmas Trees" Interactive Adapted Book - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/12/five-little-christmas-trees-interactive.html

Shopping for Holiday Decorations Money Skills Activity - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/12/shopping-for-holiday-decorations-money.html

Santa's Syllable Sort - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/12/santas-syllable-sort.html

"Say it to a Snowman" Language Activity - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/12/say-it-to-snowman-language-activity.html

Pre-Primer Sight Words Christmas Games - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/12/pre-primer-sight-words-christmas-games.html


News:

December 2014 Positive Autism Media Stories - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/december-2014-positive-autism-media-stories


You can find a list of the articles and resources in this newsletter issue here: http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/december-2014-newsletter-teaching-writing-creative-writing-reports-assignments-and-more

Remember to follow us on Facebook or Twitter for new free stuff posted each day!

I hope you have a peaceful Christmas and holiday season,

Nicole Caldwell, M.Ed.
Founder, Positively Autism




Disclaimers:
Please note that all information contained in this and any of our newsletters is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as professional advice on any subject matter. If you need handwriting help for your children or students, please contact appropriate professionals, such as an occupational therapist.

The World's Tallest Lego Menorah

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah for 2014. Chag Sameach. Happy Holiday.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yes Virginia, There are Jewish Students at Hogwarts

Just in time for Hanukkah, J.K. Rowling confirms that indeed there are Jewish students at Hogwarts.



 




and then this follow up tweet





Mr. GS will be happy to hear about this one. He admitted to me, when he was an adolescent, that while he had no desire to go away to university, if there was such a thing as a Hogwarts he would happily go there.




Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy Hanukkah

Tuesday night begins the holiday of Hanukkah. It is the story of Judah Maccabee and his brothers who led the first known war for religious freedom.

It's amazing how some things never change...what pissed off the Maccabees 2200 years ago is that some idiot in power decided to tell the Jews that their holy sites (here, here, here, here, here) and their capital Jerusalem didn't belong to them. Go figure....

By the way, for those that don't know, the miracle of Hanukkah is that when the Maccabees went to rededicate the Holy Temple there was only enough oil to burn in the Eternal Light (the symbol of God's continuity) for one day. However the Light burned for eight days until more oil could be brought to the Temple. So in commemoration of the miracle of the oil, Jewish people worldwide eat potato pancakes (latkes) or jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot); foods fried in oil. 





Hanukkah, Autism, and Self-determination

D is for Hanukkah, aka Dedication























Hanukkah Sameach...Happy Hanukkah...now for some sufganiyot....RECIPE here



We eat not only latkes but jelly donuts (sufganiyot) to celebrate the holiday. Anything fried in oil.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Video Games Can Actually Be Good for You

From TEDMED

My gamer son, CM2, will be very pleased that finally someone in the medical world sees the positive aspects of video game play. Of course, CM2 would also tell you that violent video games don't make you violent and healthy individuals understand the difference between the alternate reality of video games and living in the real world. Personally I agree with him. There will always be those with mental illnesses that are drawn into delusion. They existed before video gaming and will be here when the next level of technology is created as well. Ultimately we have to go back to the real issue of why we ignore mental health issues until it's too late. Scapegoating video games and gamers as the world's modern versions of the Trojan Horse helps noone, especially those in dire need of medical support. (Yes,  I chose this analogy on purpose.  See: Trojan Horse in  computing)

Below you will find links to interesting papers written on the subject of video gaming's effect on individuals. I look at these studies always with an inquisitive eye. With too many studies refuting each other, researchers always looking for new dybbuk, and at times coming to their field with their own prejudices, I read the results and then end up with many questions of my own.  Considering that psychology is not in and of itself a hard science, and as we have seen with the issues surrounding the methodology behind the DSM V redefinition of autism, we always need to look behind the veil of psychiatry for answers to many of our concerns.

We, as parents, need to remind ourselves that we are the best judges of what is appropriate for our children and how we will handle any issues that develop. Needlesstosay, I do not think its fine to buy rated M games for tweens or children. But then I wouldn't take my boys at that age to an R rated movie either. In the end, whether its about video game play or how to support our autistic children or what is even best for ourselves and our families we simply need to use our own common sense.



******

Brian Primack

At TEDMED 2014, Brian Primack, Clinician, Professor, and Researcher at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, sheds light on how principles learned from video game design can be used to create more effective health behavior change.
“I like media literacy because it favors empowerment over protectionism.” - Brian Primack

ABOUT BRIAN

Having trained in the wonderfully disparate fields of English literature, mathematics, education, psychology, and medicine, Brian Primack combines his various forms of expertise by researching both positive and negative effects of media and technology on health. He has also pioneered the use of media literacy education in improving adolescent health behaviors and conducted extensive research on waterpipe (“hookah”) tobacco smoking. Brian is currently Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Research on Health and Society, Director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health, and Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh.

INTRIGUED? HERE'S MORE...

Games and Health
Q&A with Brian on the TEDMED blog

Role of video games in improving health related outcomes: a systematic review.
Primack BA, et al. Am J Prev Med (2012), 6, 630–8.

Association between media use in adolescence and depression in young adulthood: a longitudinal study.
Primack BA, et al. Arch Gen Psych (2009), 2, 181–8.

Video games: Play or playlike activity?
Primack BA. Am J Prev Med (2009), 37(4), 379-80.

REFERENCES

A longitudinal study of risk-glorifying video games and behavioral deviance.
Hull JG, Brunelle TJ, Prescott AT, Sargent JD.J Pers Soc Psychol. 2014 Aug;107(2):300-25.

The effects of video games on laparoscopic simulator skills.
Jalink MB, Goris J, Heineman E, Pierie JP, ten Cate Hoedemaker HO. Am J Surg. 2014 Jul;208(1):151-6.

Using commercial video games for upper limb stroke rehabilitation: is this the way of the future?
Pietrzak E, Cotea C, Pullman S. Top Stroke Rehabil. 2014 Mar-Apr;21(2):152-62.

Brain training with non-action video games enhances aspects of cognition in older adults: a randomized controlled trial.
Ballesteros S, Prieto A, Mayas J, Toril P, Pita C, Ponce de Leon L, Reales JM, Waterworth J. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014;6:277.

The effect of online violent video games on levels of aggression.
Hollingdale J, Greitemeyer T. PLoS One. 2014;9(11):e111790.

Active video games and health indicators in children and youth: a systematic review.
LeBlanc AG, Chaput JP, McFarlane A, Colley RC, Thivel D, Biddle SJ, Maddison R, Leatherdale ST, Tremblay MS. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 14;8(6):e65351.

Video games for diabetes self-management: examples and design strategies.
Lieberman DA. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2012 Jul 1;6(4):802-6.




******

By the way, it's also Mr.GS who likes to play World of Warcraft. My Gamer considers it too commercialized and passe. Interestingly, it's also Mr. GS who is studying to be a video game designer, not his gamer brother. So there is that little out-of-the-box aside in the rather interesting world in which I inhabit.

Also read: Video Games: Purpose and Yes, Importance


Holidays, Permission Granted to Celebrate as You Please

My yearly repost reminder from 2011.


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.

Honestly I have a passel of relatives who I never see or hear from. Genetic "family" connection in my book is over rated. What you need to do is develop a "family" that will be there for you when you need them. Biology doesn't mean a darn thing at times. You are lucky when the two  "families" connect but in my experience they very rarely do. At least that is what happened in my world. Sadly you don't need to be a special needs family to be distant from those that are supposed to have your back. It's hard and it  hurts, when you come to realize just how alone you may truly be in this world. But you are better off creating your own support network "family" then accepting an inadequate one. Create the world you want to live in, I always say. You don't have to accept the one you are given if it is YOU always giving and not receiving. You don't have to accept the "family" you were born into if it makes you unhappy, unfulfilled, or feeling alone.

Looking back, which we tend to do when our children get older, I probably should not have made them go to SIL's. It was uncomfortable for them and for some reason we just thought that they would adjust. How wrong we were. They were not happy there among the throngs. We were nervous about how they would handle the get-togethers.We were  always on pins and needles waiting for a meltdown or and inappropriate interaction. I realize that no matter what anyone understood, and we come from an understanding extended family, they didn't get it. It truly wasn't their fault. I also know that if something did happen the extended family would be supportive. That was not the issue. It was the fact that quite frankly for us (parents and especially children), there was no joy, just alot of tension.
 
What I think we needed to do, quite frankly, is to give ourselves permission not to go to the SIL's.
Well that finally happened last year. Guess what? We had a nice day. I made a holiday meal. I set a holiday table. We enjoyed the quiet and the comfort of our own home with no crush of sensory stimuli. We watched what we wanted on television. The boys and hubby did their work and all went according to plan. It was nice. It was quiet. It was peaceful. I plan to do it again this year.

I modeled our Thanksgiving after how we celebrate the Jewish holidays. We tend to celebrate the Jewish holidays on our own. Family does not fly in for the celebrations. They do not make an effort to get together. So we have our own little rituals and our own little ways of doing things. This past Jewish New Year, CM1 actually asked if I had gotten certain celebratory foods. It's actually a fancy crudite platter that I buy from a local caterer every major holiday. It means something to him. It means holiday to him. It means a happy fun time, where he is not overwhelmed by noise, smell or sights. It means comfort and joy. It means calm. So I will buy that platter this year on Thanksgiving once again. I will make a small turkey breast, buy stuffing and a massive chocolate cake (we don't like pie).

I know catering sounds rather extravagant. (I admit it, it is) But my stuffing last year was a very sad affair. Heck, not even the dogs ate it. I have no idea what happened there and after three attempts I just gave up. You really don't even want to try my baking. It's truly noxious. I am the only one who ruins those pre-baked cookies from the supermarket. Honestly, it is not my forte. Listen one of the good side effects of getting older is that you can readily accept what you are good at and what you are not. I happily admit I can't bake, iron and I hate gardening or doing any outdoor work. Little House on the Prairie I am not. But cleaning a toilet doesn't bother me (Just give me cleaning gloves, Clorox clean-up and toilet bowl cleaner and I am ready and raring to go)...go figure.

So anyway...As I said one of the things you learn as you age is that you need to do what is best for you and those in your immediate family, i.e. your children. If people truly love and care about you they will understand. If they don't understand, well, then they are not really family, no matter what the genetics say.

Create your own holiday memories and traditions. Even if its only the fact that you buy a silly crudite platter. These are the things that YOUR child will learn to appreciate, understand and associate with love, family and happiness. It's OK. Really Its OK.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yes Means Yes, No Means No: How to raise a son in our confusing culture

That Rolling Stone article fiasco about the alleged gang rape at UVA reminded me of an issue I hadn't touched on for some time. Teaching our aspergean sons about dating, sex and appropriate relationships.

By the way I am not one who finds the feminists obsession with "rape culture" here in the US over dramatized. Yes, women have it better here at this time then ever before, but sexism in our culture does exist, even though we do not hang to death rape victims as adulterers as they do in Iran. (Read HERE) Truth is everything isn't as cut and dried as some would have you believe. The overwhelming majority of males are not rapists waiting to happen. And yes some females consent to sex and then have second thoughts and cry rape. On college campuses women are told that if they had imbibed alcohol (even one glass of wine) then they couldn't consent to sex (legally not true). Hence even if a youngwoman consented at the time, it was rape if she had drunk any alcohol. What in fact are youngmen supposed to do with that? (Mothers Must Speak Up For Their Sons on Campus) (College Rape Overcorrection)

How do we explain the rules to our aspergean sons? And yes, I think that one of the biggest fears that every parent of a son has today is that some girl will falsely accuse your son of rape. (The FBI says  2% of rape claims are false, the same for other felonies.) That one never really goes away. Now whether there are more rapes on college campuses than in society I am not certain. Though, I do tire of the professional grievance mongers, who refuse to deal with the real issues that the everyday woman faces, but promote inaccurate statistics. They do us all a disservice. HERE.

Meanwhile, teaching about sexual relationships is something that has kept me up at night. How do we teach our sons, who have trouble reading social signals, when it is appropriate and not appropriate to touch a female?  Honestly, many have made fun of the rules and regulations proposed by California about sexual relationships on campus. But in truth these rules may actually be helpful for our sons. Yes means Yes law. (The violation of due process in the law are problematic, but the idea of continual affirmative consent during sex really isn't a bad idea.)

Temple Grandin has said, that because she finds sexual issues confusing she has elected to remain celibate. That is not something I would like for the boys. A healthy sexual relationship is part of a healthy and full life. Of course you can have a great life without it. But I think it's something that shouldn't be feared as far as our children are concerned. Rather a way needs to be found to explain the elements of a sexual relationship in a rational manner. If that can actually be done. Yes the emotional avenues are difficult, but that like everything is something that too can be learned and processed. Nothing I think is really beyond our children's reach unless they want it that way themselves.

Listen we taught the boys the meaning of the word "no" at an early age. When they reached high school they were also taught what is and is not a sexual assault. (Honestly considering sex education starts in 5th grade schools should make that part of the curriculum.)  We taught them that in fact kissing someone without their consent is not OK. But what do you do when you are faced with a television commercial that celebrated "a bullied boy" going into the prom and kissing the prom queen without her permission while she was dancing with her date? Feminists cried "rapey" and critics said "man haters." Hubby and I said, "that the commercial was not cool, no way."

What do you do when music refers to women as whores, bitches and denigrates females only seeing them as their ladyparts? What ever happened to singing about "love" not "fucking?" What ever happened to culture being uplifting, not bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator? What ever happened to honoring others and respecting their humanity? It is not only the purview of feminists to think of women as equal human beings to be respected. It is not only the purview of feminists to think of women as equal human beings to be honored. (By the way, Beyonce spreading her legs while she sang at an awards show is not feminism, and neither is it feminism when wearing a niqab when singing about Ferguson.)

Treat women as you would like them to treat you. That is it in a nutshell.

Now, luckily the boys despise modern music. They really don't like the "save-me-teen-female-vampire- angst" either. They don't get beauty pageants and quite frankly don't understand what is going on with their peers.  I think it must be confusing on some level, when they are inundated with this anti-women rapey culture, but then told on the other hand that they should not think less of women or hold women down. I know it confuses the heck out of me.

For what it's worth, both boys consider themselves  feminists and do not understand society's obsession with such anti-women, anti-equality cultural realities.

So what does it mean for the future and how they will interact with girls. They know girls in school. They know girls when they worked. Does it make it harder for them to interact with girls on any kind of a romantic level, all these rules and regulations? Honestly, yes it does. (CM2, along with every undergraduate at his college, had to do an online program about sexual assault and sexual harassment this year.) Will it keep them safe? I don't know. Do the rules intimidate them? In some ways yes it does. But better to be intimidated by the rules then fall victim to them.

Note: no I do not talk about aspergean girls and the issues they face when dealing with dating and sex. But the rules of self-respect, self-esteem, equality, and honor all come into play, as well as the general idea of awareness and self-protection.


Some books to start with on the issue:

Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships, Dr. Temple Grandin and Sean Barron (generalized but a good place to start)
Preparing for Life, Dr. Jed Baker (small unit on dating and sexual relationships)
The Guide to Dating for Teenagers with Asperger Syndrome, Jeannie Uhlenkamp



Read: Turning Boys into Men, Fighting Society's Emasculation







Monday, December 1, 2014

What do you do when celebrities make fun of mental health issues?

Just so my readers don't think I only have words for liberals when they pick on people with mental health, or developmental disabilities. (Autism-Meme as Political Insult, Again) Here is an embedded tweet chat that I had with the conservative author Dana Loesch. Needlesstosay she was not amendable to my asking her not to make fun of mental health issues.

Background: last week a woman with an emotional support pig was removed from an airplane since the animal was not appropriately behaved and started to defecate on the plane. I have no issue with removing the pig. Safety and hygiene are what is paramount on a plane. What I object to is that to some people the idea of an emotional support pig is something to joke about.





We in the special needs community know that emotional support animals are essential to the well being of not only our autistic children, but to any number of persons dealing with mental health issues and especially veterans suffering from PTSD. Emotional support animals can be any animal that the doctor and the patient decide it to be. It's not always only a dog.

 


*****



















No, I never heard from her on this subject again (she has made sure I can't follow her anymore) and in fact Twitchy seems to think her tweet won the internet. I had already written a scathing comment to Twitchy's  first laugh about the emotional support pig. Compassionate conservatives by tuchas.



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Parent Coaching: What it is and is not

Oh no, there is another level of support that has been created for a family with special needs children. Don't worry. The reality is that parent coaches have been here all along. We just never gave ourselves a name and a stated mission before. We are the parents who have come before, who have studied, tried, fought and cried over what works and doesn't work; what is appropriate and helpful; what is overreaching and taxing; and what in the end is realistic and pragmatic. Whether we called ourselves, advocates or special education committee parent members, we bring to the table something different and unique when it comes to the world of special needs....hands on experience. We didn't just learn our craft from a book, clinical trials or detached coach to client interactions. We have lived the issues you are now facing. We have taken our college and graduate school degrees and turned them into a new level of support.We back up our education with real life know-how and how-tos. In my case it's all about the practical. How to take what you know and put it to good use in the world at large and how to help your child function in society.

What parent coaching is not

It is not therapy. It is not psychiatry. It is not social work. It is not life coaching. It is not legal advice. It is not special education. It is the practical reality of assimilating everything the other professionals in your child's village tells you and making it work for your child and your family.

Do NOT go to a parent coach if you are trying to figure out what is wrong. That is the purview of the psychiatric and neurological professions. You need to have a full set of psycho-educational testing done including all the subsets of tests. You must have a diagnosis before you go to a parent coach. You do not discuss medicines with the parent coach beyond what your child is taking. The parent coach does NOT help you decide if a medication is right for your child.  That is something you discuss with the doctor. Also what supplemental programs, what therapies, what nutrition is needed is something you discuss with a doctor. Also why there is autism and what causes autism and if your child should or should not get vaccinated we leave to the conspiracy theorists. Ask you doctor and then you decide. (Of course if you want a parent coach who shares your notions on vaccines, Generation Rescue and DAN, then ask upfront and find someone you agree with and who supports your ideals. In these cases that would not be me. )

A parent coach does not give you legal advice. They can teach you how to self-advocate. They can help you understand the law. They can point you in the right direction to learn about financial support for your special needs child. But they do not represent you in court or even go with you to meetings.

And FYI- as I have always said, if you think you need a lawyer, get a lawyer. If your child's civil rights have been violated you need someone with practical legal experience. If you want to use an advocate then make certain that that advocate is attached to a law firm. They must have an experienced lawyer overseeing their every move. Remember the school districts will always have a lawyer working at their behest. Make sure you enter any arguments on a level playing field.

What is parent coaching

A major issue that I noticed during the decades that I have been my sons' advocate is that there is never anyone who can tell you how to turn their special education notions into practical reality or generalize it in such a way that it works on every level. Now don't get me wrong. There are terrific life skills programs, social story books and organizational realities that work in school. There are terrific special educators who work well within the parameters of their classroom. But what I had to develop over the years is a way to make everything that was done in school work at home, out in the community, transition into the era when the yellow school bus stopped coming to my door, and then some

The interesting thing about parent coaching, that is different than other levels of support however, is that it is about the entire family, as well,  and not simply an individual person to the exclusion of others. It is about keeping the family whole, intact, happy and productive by way of providing practical useful and time honored support for your special needs child, their siblings and yourselves. It's about understanding the nuances associated with your child. It's about understanding how to help them through the most difficult times so that they can have the future that they are entitled to have. It is about you, being allowed to be human, accepting the fact that you are allowed to enjoy your life too. It is acknowledging that your typical children are needy and in need of more support at times than your challenged child. It is about your family as a unit.

Parent coaches help with practical plans and practical realities. But one thing you will never hear from me, as a coach is that it cannot be done. OK, within reason of course. If your child needs glasses and wants to be a F16 pilot, you will have to accept the fact that without 20/20 vision it is not going to happen, unless laser surgery can fix whatever is causing the eye issues. So there is a little bit of a caveat in the reality. But let us just say that parent coaches help your child reach their goals.

In other words, the question is what does your child want to accomplish and then the issue becomes how do we get them there? We see the person before us and not the disability. We figure out how to harness their disability and support it so that they might accomplish their goal. We see beyond the disability. In fact we find a way to take their disability and make it work for them. We turn it into a uniqueness, a gift. Something that can propel them into a different arena. Something not oft thought of, but something that might exist if only we think outside the box.

We set goals, discuss issues and the utimate direction that your child wants to take.
We delineate each step.
We set out parameters of accomplishment.
We work on plans A, B, C through Z.
We set a time table, and then revamp it to meet the reality of goal setting.

Parent coaching is about teaching the parents how to organize their life so that there is a life. They help the parent create and organize their child's village so that everything runs smoothly, or at least as smooth as possible. We help the parent teach their child to assimilate the practical side of their lives.We teach the parent to stand their ground and persevere. We teach the parent to teach their child to never give up. We teach the parent to expect the unexpected. We teach the parent that they can still sing, dance and laugh. No, you don't always have to cry.....sometimes you can even be mad as hell and at your special needs child too, especially when they act like a typical teen.

But most of all, parent coaches ensure that each child is seen as an individual. That each child is a person in their own right and with their own level of functioning. We understand that simply because there is exception in one area of life doesn't mean there is not a huge deficit in the most basic aspects of reality. We help the parents understand about independence, support and the necessity of individuality. We make you STOP comparing your child to everyone else and especially everyone else who shares your child's disability.

Now you may not think you need a parent coach. But, if you have been reading my blog for along time, then I have been your parent coach all along. Perhaps you just thought of me as an on-line friend, someone you could reach out to in time of need with questions, issues and an ever present shoulder. I am happy to be there for all of you. I am glad to support you and hope for the best for everyone. I just thought it was about time I gave a name to what I do.



For more information about Parenting Coaching, click HERE for Raising Exceptional People, LLC 




Happy Thanksgiving


May you find happiness and joy. May all your wishes come true.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Positively Autism Newsletter for November 2014

As I tell my readers I post the Positively Autism Newsletter when it comes out. I have not had a hand in writing anything that is below. I simply find the information extremely valuable. I suggest that you get on their newsletter list yourself.


Teaching Handwriting to Students with Autism

Announcements

Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday Sales in Positively Autism's Online Store
Check out some great discounts on our fun folder games, motivating token economy boards, visual supports and more! The sale is today (Monday 11/24), tomorrow (Tuesday, 11/25), and Monday, December 1st. Teachers Pay Teachers also often has a sitewide sale around Cyber Monday, so please check Positively Autism's Facebook page (link at the bottom of the newsletter) for a promo code for an additional discount if one is available! Visit our store here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Nicole-Caldwell/. When you go to our store page, please click "Follow Me" next to the small star at the top of the page so you'll be the first to know when something new is posted!


Articles, Tips, and Resources

November Topic: Teaching Handwriting to Students with Autism
Some students with autism may display difficulties with handwriting. Possible reasons for this may relate to sensory processing and motor planning. Dysgraphia (which is not necessarily experienced by a person with autism) refers to difficulties in fine motor control that can result in poor handwriting skills. These difficulties can occur despite strong learning skills in other areas. Some students may also be less intrinsically motivated to participate in writing activities, so making these activities more motivating may be helpful. This month, we'll share articles, activities, and resources to make writing more motivating and fun to your children or students with autism. Although not necessarily specifically related to autism, we will also share some information and resources about dysgraphia.

Research: Children With Autism Show Specific Handwriting Difficulties - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/research-children-with-autism-show-specific-handwriting-difficulties

Additional Research on Handwriting and Autism - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/additional-research-on-handwriting-and-autism

Handwriting Without Tears - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/handwriting-without-tears

Understanding Dysgraphia - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/understanding-dysgraphia

Strategies, Accommodations, and Modifications for Dysgraphia - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/strategies-accommodations-and-modifications-for-dysgraphia

How We Taught Our Child with Autism to Write - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/how-we-taught-our-child-with-autism-to-write


Downloads/Printables/Resources

Upper and Lowercase Letter Formation Writing Guide - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/upper-and-lowercase-letter-formation-writing-guide

Cutting and Tracing Freebies from Positively Autism - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/cutting-and-tracing-freebies-from-positively-autism

Handwriting Word Work and Sentence Work Samples - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/handwriting-word-work-and-sentence-work-samples

Reading and Copywork for Kids Who Love Trains - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/reading-and-copywork-for-kids-who-love-trains

Recommended (and Fun!) Handwriting Workbooks - http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/recommended-and-fun-handwriting-workbooks


Thanksgiving Freebies (Social Stories, Activities, and More)

Thanksgiving Social Story - PDF http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/Thanksgiving_SocialSkillStory.pdf or PowerPoint (You can edit/customize the Powerpoint version).

Thanksgiving Vocabulary Flashcards- http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/Thanksgiving_Vocabulary.pdf

Thanksgiving Verbs Vocabulary Flashcards - http://www.positivelyautism.com/downloads/Thanksgiving_Vocabulary_Verbs.pdf

More Thanksgiving freebies can be found here: http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/freebies-community---thanksgiving.html


Free Downloads

Since Facebook isn't showing our Daily Autism Freebie posts to many of our followers (because they want Facebook pages to pay for sponsored posts), I'm listing some of our most popular freebies from the month here. You can go directly to http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/ each day to get the freebies without Facebook!

"Yes" and "No" Questions Practice - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/11/yes-and-no-questions-practice.html

Communication Cards for Between School and Home about Special Classes - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/11/communication-cards-for-between-school.html

Restroom Picture Schedule - http://daily-autism-freebie.blogspot.com/2014/10/restroom-picture-schedule.html


You can find a list of the articles and resources in this newsletter issue here: http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/blog/november-2014-newsletter-teaching-handwriting-to-students-with-autism

Remember to follow us on Facebook or Twitter for new free stuff posted each day!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful to all of Positively Autism's subscribers.

Nicole Caldwell, M.Ed.
Founder, Positively Autism




Reference:
Developing Handwriting Skills for Individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder by Leicestershire Autism Outreach Service - http://www.leics.gov.uk/autism_handwriting_skills.pdf

Disclaimers:
Please note that all information contained in this and any of our newsletters is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as professional advice on any subject matter. If you need handwriting help for your children or students, please contact appropriate professionals, such as an occupational therapist.

The information provided in this newsletter is for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as professional advice on any subject matter. If you have specific questions about your child, please contact the appropriate professionals, such as a BCBA, medical doctor, SLP, OT, or LPC. Read full disclaimer: http://positivelyautism.weebly.com/disclaimers.html

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy 21 Years

CM2 won't let me sing him "Happy Birthday." So in honor of his 21st year I am posting this Beatles homage (below) to my  "birthday boy."

Well we started the festivities last night. We began with the birthday cake. Kelly-green icing. His favorite color since he was a very little boy. Years ago we started this tradition since hubby always worked close to 18 hour days (the life of a lawyer), never thought it was fair to have the boys wait until almost 9 pm on their birthday to have their cake. Wanted us to all be together for the celebration. So we did the birthday cake part of the day the night before (and presents too when they didn't order their own). Of course, being Jewish it's not hard to segway into that idea. Every Jewish holiday starts the night before.

Tonight is part deux of the celebration. We will have Chinese food for dinner. Since he is particular about his presents, I let him go onto Amazon and order what he wants (games of course). The best part is that he has Amazon wrap them in birthday paper for him. It's a birthday present afterall .....He also timed it so they arrive on his day. BTW- he is also the only 21 year old that I know of who doesn't want to have an alcoholic drink to celebrate his 21st birthday. He wants his usual....chocolate milk. Gotta love this "officially an adult, for every purpose" youngman.





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hallelujah...and hope

I like to enjoy the holidays at this time of year. So every year  I make a point to post music videos for both Hanukkah and Christmas. I happened across this video today and thought what a great way to begin this upcoming  season. Despite the terrible recent events, these children do give you hope.


A youth choir composed of Jewish, Christian and Muslim children from various local schools, aged 10-14, welcomed Pope Francis during His historical visit to Israel at a reception held by President Shimon Peres at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
The choir presented a moving interpretation of "Hallelujah" in different variations.







h/t jspacenews

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Death and Dieing: Upon Losing a Pet

Our wheaton terrier died last week. It was not unexpected. He was old and sick for a long time, but seemed to enjoy life until recently. Two weeks ago he had an episode. We think he had what would be the equivalent of a stroke. Hubby found him in the morning. We immediately helped him. Bathed him. Took him to the vet. But he was never the same. It was time.

CM2 had texted me a few weeks earlier that he started to cry on the bus gong to school because he knew that the wheaton was getting old and would die soon. I told him that it was gong to be alright. That at the time the dog was happy. He would still look out from the fence, survey his neighborhood and bark at detractors.

Hubby told CM2 the sad news of what happened on the fateful day of the wheaton's passing. He told him quietly when he came home from school. There was no meltdown. No anger. Nothing that passed for normal CM2 behavior when confronted with a reality he doesn't like. In truth, CM2 had seen this coming. Honestly I had also been hinting at the reality since we realized things were at an end. So CM2 was subconsciously prepped in a way. In fact during one of our offhanded discussions CM2 mentioned to me that since he had to take care of the wheaton over the summer, while my ankle was broken, he was the first one who identified that the time was coming. So we thought OK, maybe he will handle this a little better than we had surmised.

Yeah, not so much...

Yesterday when I picked him up from school, the para informed me that despite the positive texts from the day, CM2 had refused to do the work required for a class. It was a class he enjoyed and is doing well in. So I knew that there had to be an underlying reason. (And yes I had prepared the para to watch out for CM2 for this week and the weeks to come for a delayed reaction.)

CM2 said he just felt really anxious. That his anxiety had ratcheted itself up and that he felt overwhelmed. That the assignment for the class was too much for him. He was suppose to try to write in another person's voice, which in and of itself is hard to begin with. CM2 may not even have understood why he felt the way he did. He has had an amazing semester. He likes his classes and is excelling in them all. So the idea that he wouldn't even try this assignment, and do the best he can, was not how things were shaking out these past months.

There is no question that it is all related to the passing of the wheaton. Life gives anyone alot to handle. When there are the little everyday things to think about, and that you are used to, it is no problem to handle some minor out-of-the-ordinary-happening and go on with your daily routine. You march on. But when you are thrown that curveball (as MrGS likes to call it) it takes you out of your comfort zone and honestly manifests itself in many different ways. For CM2, it was feeling overwhelmed by an assignment that would merely have taken a little bit more energy, but his psychic energy was already working on processing the loss of his beloved pet. So there was nothing in reserve at that moment to give to anything that caused the slightest consternation.

Luckily the professor understood. There was no discussion of the dog or how CM2 was manifesting the loss. It was more a discussion of the anxiety the assignment caused. Not to worry...the professor told him, do what he can.  The professor mentioned that CM2 was doing well in the class so this one little hiccup would not hurt him.

I know I will have hubby try to get CM2 to complete the assignment, only because you need to learn to persevere in life. How that will work out, I am not certain, but we have to try to teach him that very important lesson.

Death is not easy to handle. Losing someone, or a beloved pet, that you adore leaves a hole in your heart. I have no magic answer how each family can help their child through loss. All I know is what I did for my own.

Meanwhile Mr GS was worried. He asked me if the vet made a mistake and could have buried the wheaton alive. I assured him that hubby and I were in the room when he died so we know when we left the vet he was no longer alive. The funny thing is that I was worried almost about the same thing. The following Monday I had to take the labradoodle for a checkup at the vet and asked a bunch of questions that I had been thinking about. I knew rationally that my pet had died in my arms, but my irrational mind was afraid that something else had happened to him. I supposed the boys aren't the only ones dealing with grief.

Who knew you could go through the stages of grief for a pet....

Meanwhile, I lit a mourner's candle and said kaddish for my first doggie baby the day he died. I know technically in Judaism you aren't supposed to do that for an animal, but my wheaton was a great love of mine, so God will just have accept it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

#WorldKindnessDay

Practice random acts of kindness and make the world a better place.



Repost from Monday, January 30, 2012

K is for Kindness (Empathy)

Kindness or shall we say empathy is a rather misunderstood emotion in those on the autism spectrum. There are recent studies that theorize that its not that autistics lack empathy or kindness, its just that they are so overwhelmed by their empathetic emotions that they need to turn it off or be consumed. So the issue then surrounding autistics is not that they don't empathize, but that in fact empathize too much. Autistics unlike their neurotypical peers have no filter on how to protect their own emotions and their own well-being when dealing with the vagaries and cruelties of life. I know I have seen it first hand with both of my boys.

It is never that the boys don't care. It is, without a doubt, that when they hear of a cruelty or an unkindness it takes over their souls. It is not an obsession. It is not a perseveration. It is a feeling of being lost and not understanding that they cannot solve the world's issues on their own. They don't seem to grasp at times that they can only do so much as an individual person. They feel that they in fact have failed.

So that is our mission with them. Not to teach them to be empathetic but to understand their limitations as human beings. To know that you can give charity, help at a food bank and feed people at a soup kitchen, but that in the end there will still be those who go to bed hungry at night, and that you as a human being did not fail. We can do so much as one person. They need to understand that our limitations makes our efforts no less important, not less heart-felt, not less perfect,  not less in the moment helpful and appreciated.

It is times like this that I try, despite CM1' s rejection of religion, to bring up what the Talmud says about kindness, empathy and charity:

To save a single life is to have saved an entire world. 

The Rabbis knew that human beings are just that, human beings. We can do just so much in our lives. It is the effort too that counts. A single kindness, even holding open a door for the person behind you, makes this a better world. A smile, a thank you and a helping hand, to the person right in front of you says more about your life than anything else.

Meanwhile here are some past posts about the boys, empathy, kindness and charity. The entire psychology professionals who think they understand who aspergeans or autistics happen to be, who decry that those on the spectrum have any thought of others, simply need to get out alot more and meet some of those in the autism community face to face. But that means they, the so-called "Autistic Experts," would need to have empathy, understand kindness and respect people's differences, so I am not holding my breath.

UPDATE: it is as simple as professionals learning to see the person first and not the disability. Find out who the human being is who stands before you and then figure out how to get them where they want to go. Don't discount their desires simply because of a disability or a mental health issue. Professionals need to think out side the box and help people become all that they would hope to become, while supporting any and all issues.
 

Empathy 

Thinking Like an Aspie or the Real Uses for a Piano

If I an Only for Myself What Am I; Tikkun Olam, Asperger's and Haiti

Catch 22: Society and Acceptance, but Your Child is More than Autism

18 Year Old Aspies: "Adults" in the Real World

Autism and Animals

This Time It's Your Aspie's Fault

Autism-Attachments-Teddy Bears

Empathy and My Son with Asperger's

Autistic Boy Banned from X-Box

Political Correctness, Autism and Bullshit in General







Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reprise: Kristallnacht, The Berlin Wall: Remembrance and Your Autistic Child

On November 9, 2014 the world celebrated the 25th anniversary of the end of the cold war, which was symbolized by the destruction of the Berlin Wall.  I wrote the following post 4 years ago.
The Google doodle in celebration of the anniversary.
Repost from November 9, 2010
Kristallnacht, The Berlin Wall: Remembrance and Your Autistic Child
On November 9, 1938, the Third Reich unleashed the beginning of the Final Solution to the Jewish question. It began with a nationwide riot in Germany directed against Jewish businesses, houses of worship and persons. It was the beginning of the largest genocide in history. The day has been named Kristallnacht, or night of broken glass. It was given this name because so many windows were broken that the moonlight reflecting off the broken glass lit up the night sky as if it were day. Now what does this have to do with autism? Let me tell you.
The Nazis philosophy was one of racial superiority. Persons they considered less than human were targeted for expulsion, ghettoization and ultimately for death. The reason that this resonates for me so personally is that while the Jewish people were nearly wiped out in Europe, the Nazis began their campaign of racial evil by eliminating the disabled. I suppose then for me this is a twice important day of remembrance. Being the parent of Jewish children lends itself to one kind of acknowledgement especially in the age of Holocaust denial, growth in virulent anti-semitism, and new or threatened genocides, but as the parent of two autistic children, today lends itself to another journey. The journey of remembering that throughout history the disabled have been viewed as less than human,  less than important, less than worthy of support, education, or even life.
While I have been on this journey with my children, we have come across all of these attitudes. I remember the woman who said my children were not entitled to a public education because they would not go to college.(Little did she know) I remember the people who referred to our children with a derogatory name when they brought them back in district to attend class as inclusion students.  I remember the parents who made excuses that they couldn’t have play dates with my children, or just kept making up excuses to change the dates until I gave up. I remember that my children were never invited to birthday parties. I remember that my children were picked on in school and no peer stood up for them. I remember the rabbis who refused to bar mitzvah my children. I remember the religious schools that would not educate them. I remember the special education teacher who told my son he could never be an actor because of his autism. I remember the college Dean who continued with that stupidity. I remember many things.  I remember ignorance and hatred and man’s great ability for harm.
But then I remember, the special education director who set collegeman on the right path. I remember the special education teachers who worked with both boys day in and day out to make sure they learn. I remember the therapists, and psychologists who worked year in and year out with them. I remember the sports coaches who helped them with their agility and gait. I remember the children who decided to help the boys and were kind to them. I remember the rabbis who changed the rules so my boys could enter Jewish adulthood. I remember the disability director at the college who made sure that collegeman received the support he needed to be successful. I remember the phone call about the high school bowling team so CM1 could find something positive in a very hard year in school. I remember those that take pride in the boy’s successes and wish them well. I remember that right now at this moment my children are growing, developing, changing and progressing. I remember that nothing can stand in their way.
 But I also remember that most people do not understand autism.  (It’s why the boys’ names are never used in this blog) I remember that most people are uneducated about any kind of disability. I remember that in hard economic times it is persons with disabilities who suffer more than most. I remember it is the disabled who have a higher rate of unemployment or underemployment. I remember that Princeton University is fighting a lawsuit brought by a student who wanted extended time on tests, saying that extended time dilutes the value of a Princeton degree. (Update: the suit was settled out of court with the University giving extra time to the student but still maintaining that accommodations diluted their degree. Someone must have made the University aware of the ADA.) I remember the defense’s position in a murder trial saying that the victim because he was disabled had less of a right to life. (UPDATE:How many autistic children have been killed by their parents since this was originally written? And how many people make excuses for these murders?) I remember that the laws in place for educating people with disabilities do not apply to post-secondary education. (Update: you can find any number of autism related programs across the country and many colleges go out of their way to accommodate students with disabilities.) I remember that insurance companies can deny your healthy child coverage because they have autism.  (Update: Obamacare has taken care of this issue. It is no longer allowed to deny someone coverage based upon a preexisting condition and many autism related therapies have to be covered by insurance companies.) I remember a little boy with autism in Florida voted out of a classroom and the school board that reinstated the instigating teacher. (Update: the family in this case moved districts and the boy is receiving the services and respect he is entitled to. However every year we hear about other autistic children that are harmed during restraint and seclusion actions, bullied out of school and denied their basic civil rights by school districts including being handcuffed and arrested for actions that they cannot control.) I remember that despite laws protecting persons with disabilities we still have a long way to go.
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. But it is also the anniversary of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. One anniversary is to remember the greatest evil. The other is to remember the march of freedom, democracy and the belief in human rights and the humanity of all persons. The great irony is that these events happened to have occurred in the same place just decades apart. I submit that if the German people could overcome the legacy of Kristallnacht and  to have ended up in the forefront of the fight for human rights during the Cold War, than we, the people of the world, have no excuse to not forge ahead. We, the people of the world, need to remember that the fight for the rights of the disabled is the fight for the rights of all humankind. We need to remember that history judges societies not by its wealth, but how it treats its weakest members.
So today we remember. We remember those that died because of who their ancestors were or because they were not born perfect. We remember those that died in the march towards freedom and the respect for human dignity. We remember and give the faceless a monument and a name (Yad Vashem). We remember so we can fight on. We remember to fight the fights that are worth fighting. We remember because our job is far from done. We remember because our children are counting on us.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One Righteously Crappy Day in the First World

And it has nothing to do with autism. It was just life.

Well, in truth, it wasn't too bad to begin with. In fact it had begun rather pleasantly.

I actually got almost 8 hours of sleep... uninterrupted. I know. I felt like having a parade. But I made myself something special to drink instead...no not a Bellini cocktail. It was Thursday morning afterall, not Sunday brunch (really you lushes)....I made myself hazelnut coffee. I felt rather naughty to tell the truth. Which only goes to show you how boring my life really is. Plenty of tension, and nothing all that exciting to speak of.

From there I downloaded some reading material for my new business...which I will discuss at a later date. I found alot of information on Google scholar.

Had a nice little chat with my college roommate about certain issues pertaining to my boys, again having nothing to do with autism (for a change) and then the workmen began to show up.

Home issues seem to come all at once and I decided that if I was going to wait at home for repairmen I might as well schedule everything for the same day. And they all were even supposed to show up within the same span of two hours. Of course, it didn't exactly work out that way, since they got delayed at other jobs, but I was home anyway waiting on a delivery so it didn't really matter.

Telephone issues from the power outage over the weekend.
Boiler issues from the generator from the power outage over the weekend.
Shut down the air conditioning system.
Consignor picked up items I was going to sell.
Delivery....

So what happened and what was my major issue? MrGS' main computer completely crashed. And I don't mean started to act out and be rather obnoxious. I mean downright decided to do a hula,




the macarena 



and STOMP 




on my very calm day.  I spent at least four hours on the phone with tech support. And in the end they decided to send me a new operating system disc, so we can erase the entire operating system and start from scratch. Since they like to remotely access your computer, they apparently made a mistake and deleted something they should not have after they logged onto my computer...ooopsiedaisie. In fact, the person who had made the oppsie delete at the time said he didn't do anything wrong and had no idea why the computer stopped accessing wifi and he would have to consult with his supervisor and call me back within the hour. So two hours later I called them back....( I can't stand people who don't own up to their own mistakes). Oh and I got to pay for this nonsense too.

Luckily MrGS took it all in stride. He does have access to a laptop so he didn't have to stop his work and now the biggest issue is moving his important files to that laptop so he can continue his projects. Oh yeah and saving all his files that are important.

And in between everything I am caring for a rather old wheaton terrier who I am certain has some form of doggie dementia. Meanwhile, he still runs to greet people at the door, eats his dinner and barks at noises. But at the same time is a danger to himself because he wanders. (We have to crate him at night  because during a wandering  episode, when everyone was asleep, he got himself tangled underneath CM2's desk. He couldn't extricate himself and tried to chew his way out...very bad scene in the morning when we woke up. He doesn't make  a loud noise when he barks, because of larynx surgery he had two years ago, so we didn't hear him upstairs on the second floor.) Yep now I have to worry about the dog wandering. And yes we have an electric fence, for when he goes outside, but I am afraid his electric collar is too heavy for his neck along with his regular collar so I took the shock collar off. Truly do I want him shocked anyway at 14 1/2 yrs old? It's not like he has the energy to run after cars and if he did wander, he doesn't move very fast, so he wouldn't get far. Oh, and yes, I never send him outside by himself. Someone always watches.

So I am not certain in reality why I am so frazzled. There were no meltdowns, no sensory issues, no school issues and no real problems. Just the everyday ordinary things that life holds for people. It's the typical stuff that finally gets you. And yes, I know that my problems are truly first world issues.

Once when my SIL had told me about an episode that ruined her trip to her hair salon she embarrassingly apologized for her first world issue. I told her that she shouldn't apologize. Our issues are real and when you look forward to something you are entitled to enjoy that few minutes you get to pamper yourself.

So no autism issues, no school problems, no trip to the ER,  no sick human being for whom I can't afford medical care, no hungry children that I can't feed, no war or bombs dropping overhead, no real trauma  of anykind. But in true spoiled first world form, I suppose I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon, writing for NaNoWriMo, working on my business brochure and reading literature to keep up to date with my new business.

I am reminded of that old saying..."Man plans and God laughs"...well God certainly laughed at me today...probably laughed himself silly....every once in a while hashem decides to teach me a lesson or two....today I think was such a day. Read: The Message in Your Way

Anyway,  after a glass of wine, and looking back at my spoiled grumpiness... I see simply what a good day I really did have.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autism-Meme as Political Insult-Again

Jeffrey Goldberg  of The Atlantic, has written an interesting article detailing the dysfunctional relationship between President Obama and the Prime Minister of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu. Within the article he tells us that he has kept a running list of names that high placed officials in the Obama White House have been calling Bibi. Here is the list:

recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)  But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” 

Now, this post is not about whether you like the PM of Israel or not. In full disclosure, I do. But it is about the use, once again in the political sphere, of denigrating someone by insulting them with an autism-meme. I have written about this insidious practice dehumanizing those with autism before.  (Autism-Meme as Political Insult at Liberty's Spirit) And yes it had to do with right wing pundits, so no, I am not picking on Obama because he is a democrat. As I wrote:
 
One of the biggest issues facing punditry is how to get your point across elegantly while excoriating the “other” point of view. Sadly many in this so-called adult world of political discussion, argumentation and  debate, have taken to childhood name-calling, bullying and insult. It is not enough to simply prove your opponent incorrect you need to dispel any notion that their ideas have any merit or perspective of worth. Unfortunately in order to accomplish this goal, many otherwise highly intelligent people use insulting memes to accomplish what they think is an intelligent spin on the opposition. What occurs however is the denigration of those who through no fault of their own have been born with neurological, developmental or mental disabilities. It is highly unseemly that in the greater world these insults to people living with immense challenges goes unchallenged. 

Being the parent of two youngmen with aspergers I do not go quietly into that good night when I see that ignorance about whom aspergeans happen to be abounds. The ancienne mode of thinking and understanding disabilities, as well as mental illness, is being challenged and destroyed on a daily basis by science, advocates and civil rights laws. It is time that those in the world of intellectual debate caught up to the notion of respect, understanding and appreciation of those who live life with a different “operating system” and try as hard as they may to fit in and become productive, happy, and accepted members of society.

Shame on those that perpetuate ignorance and hate. No matter who they happen to be they should be called out for their pomposity in thinking they can denigrate other human beings and yet still consider themselves religiously observant, ethical, moral and descent. (Read the rest HERE)

 
And yes I put the blame on the President for the words coming out of his administration. He is responsible for the tone and tenure of his administration. He is the head of the government. He is where the buck stops. If high ranking administration persons didn't think they had the President's nod, they would not be using these words with a well know reporter and definitely not on the record as these conversations obviously were.

What I find so interesting is the length and breadth to which the politically-allied members of the autism community have foresworn for Obama. They rallied for Obama since afterall he has autistic persons on some disability committee, and of course in Obamacare he made it de rigueur to give persons with autism health insurance. Now don't get me wrong here either, it was about time that person with autism wouldn't be denied healthcare, but what people conveniently forget is that state legislatures were going in that direction for years anyway. So ensuring that persons with autism receive health insurance was simply a matter of time nationally. In other words, it was no great leap on Obama's part, nor was it a great leap for those creating the Affordable Care Act (which afterall has turned out not to be so affordable). It was an idea politically whose time had come and the Administration didn't have to worry about political blowback because they supported this effort.

So is it then OK for high ranking Obama officials to use "autism" as insult? Are our children, or our lives, an insult to society? Are we to allow this disrespectful and repugnant representation of our children simply because for some inexplicable reason autism-pundits think that this administration is on our side. I think not. As I wrote on Facebook:

The White House just used "aspergers" as an insult aimed at the PM of Israel. Hope u autism advocates who voted for this WH are proud of yourself. Apparently your existence is an insult.

Another interesting observation concerning the autism community, which lauded ACA, overlooks the architect of Obamacare, Ezekiel Emanuel and his denigration of persons with disabilities. In his latest oped, found also in The Atlantic,  Emanuel talks about how it is immoral for persons to live past 75. He writes here why:

It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

It is rather pathetic in my view, that a person who is supposed to be a medical ethicist, finds it repellent that those without "perfect," "normal" faculties are allowed to live. That simply because society may look at you with disdain or condescension, then you should not live and experience what life has to offer. I wonder what Emanuel truly thinks of those born with disabilities. Should their parents have done the moral thing as the atheist provocateur Richard Dawkins said recently and have had an abortion? Should those with disabilities be put away, shunted aside and left to die as they were in the day of Sparta? Or used for killing fodder as the Nazis had done?

I find it interesting that a medical ethicist, instead of decrying how society views people with disabilities in order to change society's views, actually takes the view that since society is ignorant about those with disabilities or with the less than "normal" expectations on life, those with disabilities should not fight back against such ignorance, but cease to exist. I find it even more interesting that he is a vaunted member of this Presidential administration, the architect of our new healthcare system and quite frankly a self-proclaimed religious individual. Ultimately Emanuel discusses the financial burden on society and families of caring for those with declining abilities, aka disabilities. Is life simply a financial issue? What does burden to society truly mean to the political Left, and should someone who needs any kind of support and care simply cease to live?

We know it is more expensive to educate, take care of and raise a child on the autism spectrum. We know that most persons on the autism spectrum will need life long care. But is living truly only about the money? If you do not fit into some cost-benefit analysis then you do not get to live? Is this the purpose and end-result of Obamacare? What truly is the purpose of the ACA? What does it eventually mean for our children and ourselves? What is the mentality of the administration that lauded, vaunted and pushed for this new healthcare system?


I find it disturbing that combined with Emanuel's attitude towards those with disabilities is the denigrating use of  "Aspergery" to describe a political adversary by members of this same administration which lauded his view on healthcare. It is an attitude born of ideology that those with disabilities are many things, but they are not human. Is it the adherence to the idea that those with disabilities should be aborted? That they are an unnecessary drain on society? Remember 98% of all unborn children diagnosed with Down's Syndrome are aborted. The absolute belief that this is commendable is inherent in our country and in the medical world. How soon will it also mean that once the genetic composition for autism is found that abortion will be the way in which society insists we deal with our children's future?

Moreover, I once wrote that the movie 21 JumpStreet should be boycotted because they too used the term autistic as insult. Since the Hollywood political Left had decided, rightly I might add, that to bully someone by denigrating those with intellectual disabilities, meaning calling someone "retarded," was repugnant, apparently the powers that be had to find some other way to name-call and bully. So they hooked onto "autistic."

Heaven forbid that they just not use negative stereotyping, derogatory statements and obnoxious idiocy in movies. Heaven forbid that the movie studios actually have some respect for the people they market to and use these movies to not add to the atmosphere of bullying throughout the country.  Too bad that Hollywood is so self-enamored that they think they can do anything without consequence and call it freedom of speech and artistic license.

It seems that the Obama administration, its healthcare advisers as well as its political operatives, have become as childish and have proven as ignorant as those who write so-called comedy. I had hoped that those who run this country and decide international and national policy would not have the emotional disposition of middle school mean girls. I had hoped that those that run this country were, and are, actual grown ups who did not denigrate and dehumanize  others. Too bad that that obviously  is not the case.