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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Positively Autism Newsletter October 2014

I have begun reposting the Positively Autism Newsletter. I highly recommend you sign up to receive this information directly.


Positively Autism
October 2014 Topic: Preparing for Employment


New Halloween Freebies on our Store!
Our new free activities are "Fall Dice: A Fall or Halloween Theme Graphing Game" and "Halloween Pumpkin Train (Freebie for Counting and Shapes)." You'll find them at our store here: 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

October Topic: Preparing for Employment
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month in the US. We've published newsletters on autism and employment before, so we are taking a different spin on the topic this year. We'll focus on tips and strategies that parents, teachers, and other service providers can use to help their children/students be prepared for employment. We'll give you ideas for working on employment skills while the child is still in school. You can find our other newsletters on employment here and here.

Which Pre-Employment Skills Should We Teach? -

"Soft Skills" for Workplace Success -

How Can Adolescent Learners with Autism be Prepared for Employment? -

Preparing Your Teen or Young Adult for Work in the Real World -

Supporting Problem-Solving Skills -

Turn Your Idea of “Service” on its Head! How Kids Can Learn By Serving -

The Importance of Practical Problem-Solving Skills -

Make a Coping Skills Toolbox -

Portfolios Can Open Job and College Opportunities -

Halloween Freebies (Social Stories, Activities, and More)

Halloween Vocabulary Flashcards -

Halloween Activity Bundle (patterns, sorting, counting, coloring, and more) -

What to Expect on Halloween Social Story (a story on passing out candy at home) -

"Travis the Train Goes Trick-or-Treating" Story -

Trick or Treat Communication Cards (a child with limited expressive communication can show these cards in place of speaking the words, "Trick or Treat!") -

Halloween Token Economy (cost is 99 cents) -

"Things That Are Black" Activity -

"Things That Are Orange" Activity -

List of all Halloween Freebies:

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 each day to get the freebies without Facebook!

Task Bin Number Strips -

7 Strategies for Preparing Children for New Experiences -

Fire Drill Visuals and Schedules -

You can find a list of the articles and resources in this newsletter issue here:

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


Nicole Caldwell, M.Ed.
Founder, Positively Autism

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:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What happens when Gentiles try Jewish food for the first time

You know I had to post this....

BTW we live on these food-stuffs during holidays. I don't know if its an acquired taste but we really enjoy it all. And yes, Mr.GS looks forward to his glass of Manishewitz with joyful abandon.

As an aside, when the hubby and I were newly married, and had no money whatsoever, we would take Manishewitz mix it with seltzer for a nice spritzer. That was our evening cocktail. We also would go up the street to the local Chinese food/deli restaurant for a night out. I kid you not.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kicking Butt, Taking Names...and Sending a Nice Thank You Note

This Internet meme..Kicking butt, taking names and sending a nice thank you note...made me think of autism-warrior-parents. We make certain that our children are taken care of properly and get rather riled up when their needs are not met. But in the end, after all is said and done, we then do the proper-genteel thing and send thank you notes along with a nice little teacher present at the end of the year. Well at least I always did....I never wanted to be thought of as ill-mannered or uncouth no matter how much of a pain in the ass I had been.

Well except that one time in CM2's 5th grade year. (That was the year I was at the middle school so much the Vice Principal mentioned that they would eventually have to find a cot for me.) That 5th grade special ed teacher didn't get a present and definitely NOT a thank you. She was lucky I didn't have her life ruined. In fact, I only didn't sue the district for the sake of all the others who worked with, and supported, my son that year. Bad karma falls on everyone in the nearest vicinity and it takes no prisoners. Of course, the district also eventually did what they were supposed to and provided him with competent teachers at least until the next incompetent and lazy one came along (10th grade special ed to be exact, but then he was assigned this kickass special ed teacher for 11th and 12th grade so the district made up once again). They did go out of their way to try to right the oh so very wrong at the moment.  For certain, that did help with our "sue or no sue" decision-making.

However, he got passed that period in his education and so did we. Living through the tough times you think they are never going to end, but I have found that they do. Sticktoitiveness does work. Oh I do remember everything that happened every year and especially when things were the most difficult. I think that is human nature to replay the bad things. I'm not certain why that is. Perhaps it helps us persevere. Perhaps it helps us prepare for every eventuality. As I always say...prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Hint: it does work. Believe me. Of course, there are just some things you can't foresee simply because you can't control every other human being on the planet. But for the most part my little life lesson has worked.

Happily, in the end, we move onward, upward and forward. We live each day, each moment as it comes. We especially celebrate every milestone, every accomplishment and with total abandon we celebrate every victory.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Decision Making Style and Your Child's Future

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about how people make decisions and whether this actually leads to happiness.  Read it HERE. I am not certain if it is behind the paywall, so I have taken the graphic and embedded it below. Find out whether you are a satisfier or a maximizer. Logically the satisfier is always a happier person, but the maximizer tends to get the better and higher paying job.

So the question becomes, which one are you? In thinking about it on a typical basis. When hubby and I went to lease a new car, I basically did the research before hand. We knew we liked Hondas. We knew how much we wanted to spend on the lease.  We knew we wanted to trade in our Honda Pilot early if possible. Of course we decided to stay with Honda. I tool around in a little CRV right now. It's a bit of a tighter squeeze for the boys, but everyone adjusted just fine. Honestly I like it alot. I get a kick out of it. I really do.

Now I did check out other car lines before we did settle on Honda once again. But the difference in amenities was negligible, while the cost was a little bit higher. We also felt respected by the Honda dealership near us and that went along way in making the decision. Truth be told, all but the Jeep dealer near us respects its customers (meaning the female kind). You would think that in today's day and age with women buying more cars than men, that the outmoded misogyny associated with car dealerships would have completely disappeared, but apparently not. (I had had a very bad experience with that dealership when we had first moved to our town and refused to buy a car from them after we sold our Jeep. Knowing many persons who have gone to them in the recent past, apparently their modus operandi has not changed at all, so despite the fact that I really like a Jeep, I would not return to them if other choices presented themselves.)

In all honesty, I am not certain whether this really makes me a satisfier in one respect or a maximizer in another. I figure it simply makes me a consumer with my likes and dislikes.

Now I do know that when it comes to special needs though, I am a maximizer. Not content with only one answer, I research, I explore and I delve into the world in order to try to find answers that best suits my boys. No matter how old your child gets, there is always a learning curve when it comes to confronting the issues that present themselves. In fact, I think in so many ways we are in uncharted territory for them and yes, we really do make it up as we go along at times. We figure out what has worked before and if it doesn't work anymore, we tweak it, rearrange it and modify it so that we can see if they are being benefited or harmed.

The article goes on to say that the satisfiers are the ones who are truly happy in life. In fact, the researchers say that as people age, they are more likely to be satisfiers than maximizers. Apparently life teaches you lessons about what is truly important. I am not certain that that actually works for families with loved ones with special needs. Our world is not typical. In fact, as we age we find more and more things to be worried about. I think we will find happiness when we know that our children's futures are secure, which unfortunately is something out of your hands no matter how much you plan,  simply because one day you will pass on and your child(ren) will be either on their own or at the mercy of society. Lucky are those with family to watch out for their special needs children when they are no longer here to protect them. Honestly, (and I may be wrong) I don't see it as much of a "control issue, or helicopter parenting issue" over the boys, but more as a "protecting their vulnerabilities from people that would take advantage of their nature," issue.

Example: Mr.GS woke us up at 2:30 one morning telling us he needed over $200 dollars so that his computer doesn't crash. Apparently he had been watching videos and a pop up warned that there were evil viruses lurking in his hard drive. Hubby got on the phone with the salesperson and politely took the name and number to call back. When we woke up I looked at what was going on and showed Mr.GS the virus software, did a defrag of his computer and organized it a little better. But there was nothing wrong with the harddrive, it was merely a scam for the unsuspecting. The ironic thing here is that MrGS, the computer science maven, doesn't actually pay attention to how the computer itself works. Its not important to him. It's what he can do with the computer that counts. "Creating things out of thin air (coding) makes him feel like a wizard." That is what makes him happy. Brilliant-computer-sis told me that this is not unusual for coders. For some it is not even about the end product, but about the beauty of the code that counts. A form of poetry if you wanted to get romantic about the subject. Seems Mr.GS fits that bill.

Meanwhile, hubby was very upset. He now worries about Mr.GS' gullibility when it comes to issues like this and is terrified that one day, after we are gone, someone will steal the boys' money and leave them homeless. So we discussed this issue with the behaviorist and it is one of the new issues she is working on with both boys this year. How to teach the boys to protect themselves from those who would do them harm. It is not an easy task. They have no guile and they have no evil intent in themselves, so it is hard for them to really see the nasty side of the individual person. (Yes they see the general evil that is shown on the news, but luckily it does not translate into their daily lives in any way shape or form.) The hardest part is how to teach them this skill and not scare them off of other people entirely. For the boys it's all or nothing. No gray areas. Everything is black and white.

So yes, we are satisfiers in some respect in our daily lives. Having gone through periods of need and unnecessary desire, we realized how much we can do without when it comes to our personal lives and in many ways that makes us more content and happier.  We sold off what we didn't really need, gave away the superfluous and settled down in our post 40s to a more simpler way of life. We would like to travel again one day though. A nice vacation to look forward to and a fancy hotel. But in the meantime, that is not "in the cards," as they say, and will not be for a very long time. Quiet and contentment is the real longterm goal.

On the other had, I think we are maximizers when it comes to our boys. We consistently plan and try to figure out what is best for them and how to make their world a better place. In some ways though we need to come to the conclusion that we cannot control everything and that we need to have a little faith in others. Honestly, I am not ready to do that, and neither is hubby. We have a long way to go until we reach that point where we will be satisfied with the world that we leave the boys. Another day, another challenge. And to that end, I have set up a meeting with a new, highly recommended estate attorney who specializes in helping families dealing with all manner of special needs issues.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yom Kippur 5775-Gmar Hatimah Tova

On Rosh Hashana the Book of Life is opened, on Yom Kippur it is sealed.

May those fasting have an easy day.

May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.