Friday, August 29, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When you need a little Serenity

The Serenity Prayer 
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.



OK, it could also mean this Serenity



But only when you need to pull out the autism-warrior-parent persona....



Sunday, August 24, 2014

On a personal note

As everyone has noticed I have not really been posting about autism for months now. I just ran out of new things to say. And yes, world events have also taken over my timeline. I suppose as you move on to different levels of life you reevaluate what is important to you. While when the boys were young we were overwhelmed with issues and fears, we have been able to adapt and understand what we have to do. And yes we still have those fears and quite a bit of trepidation for the future, that never goes away. It's also not that the autism is gone by any means, really anyone who tells you that autism can be cured or you recover from autism is either a charlatan or a wishful thinker. It's that in the end I think you learn to live with the issues, the problems and the entire reality of the situation. The reality too, is that if all you live is to wallow in the negative, you cannot build the future or create a better place for your family.

Also, I have learned to recognize how selfish a person becomes when they are only looking inwards. Everything in the world really does not revolve around your family's or personal issues. They are part of your world, but you are also part of the entire human race. Not everything can be about you and you alone at every moment of the day.

I suppose what has brought me to this point is the abject selfishness of  some peoples and groups. A malignant narcissism as it were, that only your problems matter and only your problems are worth discussing. In short I am tired of the kvetching, complaining and the finger pointing. If you are unhappy do something about it.

Change your world and if you can't, seek out the help to change your world. Ask for help no matter where you can find it. But also don't think the internet is the only way to find it. Real people matter. Flesh and blood reality is what matters. Talk to a teacher, a pastor, a social worker, a therapist.  Find a relative who you can trust or a friend that wants to listen and help. Don't be a bystander in your own life. Fix what needs fixing, accept what, or who, you cannot change and then move on. Live your life to the best of your ability.Turn off those that are negative. Lead, explore and challenge yourself.

I am tired of being told what is acceptable discourse, language and topics. I am tired of those who are self-appointed know-it-alls that purport to speak for everyone in any given community, be it politics, science, religion or special needs I am tired of labels, name calling and bullying of those who step out of the prescribed mode of thinking. This is merely fascism dressed up on a politically correct mode of being and I am done with it all. I am also tired of those who lament and wring their hands that the powers that be won't listen to their brilliant minds or their magnificent deductions of reality. People do not have to listen to you or your pronouncements. We, no matter what community we belong to, are entitled to our own individuality and our own positive belief system. We do not need someone else's permission to think, feel or believe the way we do.

I am tired of those who decide life is only gray areas and that good and evil are only personal perspectives. NO, one man's terrorists is not another man's freedom fighter. There is right and wrong, good and bad, positive and negative. NO all cultures are not equal. And there comes a time that you need to stand up and be counted. Turn against the hate and the evil. When you defend a philosophy that dehumanizes others you are the problem not the solution. That there are those who think that this topic is debatable merely bespeaks a sickness in the world that is reminiscent of acquiescence to the worst of humanity. If you embrace those that support the world's oldest hatred you bring darkness, horror and  death to humanity. It should not have taken the horrific murder of a western reporter for the "civilized" world to have taken notice  that this evil is at your door. Too many decided that since the destruction of the Jewish State was the primary target of this hate, the world did not care and in fact allowed this hate to flourish. But the enablers, the Jew-haters never seem to remember that genocidal hate always begins directing itself at the Jewish people, but never ends there. So now the world runs, unsure of how to proceed, to rid itself of the festering boil of evil that it helped create by omission of condemnation and worse, by commission of support. Recognize that there are turning points in history and they don't wait for anyone person to get over their own problems.

Now is the time. Be your own person every day of the week. Be strong. Be forthright. Seek knowledge. Be honest about the world. Be brave.





Monday, August 11, 2014

A Righteous Man My Father-Redux

NOTE: this post is political. I don't care. If you want help with autism related issues you are welcome here. Just know that I am Jewish. Not some left leaning trembling descendent of Hebrews. But a proud, strong Jewess, who will not be cowed by haters and the evils of the world. Now if you believe that Jews above all people in the world have no right to self-determination, have no right of self-defense and hold Jews to a double standard that you hold no other people, especially those bent on genocide against the Jewish people, then seek advice and succor elsewhere. This is also not something negotiable. Jews like other peoples in the world do not have to negotiate their right to exist and be free. I have no care to help those who support a philosophy that celebrates persons who would slit my children's throat, kidnap and murder children or fire rockets into civilian areas hoping to kill as many innocents as possible. We Jews are smart enough to know that those who attack Israelis would gladly attack Jews world wide. I have no care to help those that excuse and revel in such hate on any level.

The interesting thing about all this is that I had written something very similar to the above 4 years ago during an international uptick in antisemitism also due to events in Gaza. Here is how it started:

A note to my readers-The following is a political post. If you believe that it is permitted to walk into a pizza parlor in Tel Aviv and blow yourself up, or that is OK to blow up a school bus full of children in Jerusalem or attack a Jewish center in Argentina, Seattle or the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C.; if you think its OK to deface a Jewish cemetery or synagogue, or attack people because they wear the Star of David; if you think that the Holocaust did not happen and call it a war crime to teach the Holocaust to children, or send over 10,000 rockets into civilian areas, while calling for genocide against another 6 million Jews, if you think there is a vast Jewish conspiracy to control the world and that the Jews and/or the United States caused 9/11, if you think that the only nation on the planet that can't defend itself is Israel, if you repeat anti-Semitic blood-libels and and if you think it is OK to behead people in the name of God you are NOT welcome here.(Read about the 3 Ds to identify antisemitism and how they apply to special needs children here.)

Read the rest of the 2010 post HERE.

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This music reminds me of my father, who passed away 2 years ago this week. He afterall was a youngperson of the 1950s. This was his music.

I have been thinking of him alot this summer. His life was dedicated to many ideals. One of them was the survival of the Jewish people and  Israel. The news has been horrible this summer. Hate and evil are on the march and noone seems to really care beyond simple platitudes. March after march supports the evil that is the Islamo-fascists of Hamas. I do not understand people. They never march against the crimes and human rights abuses found throughout the third world, when Moslem kills Moslem (more Moslems have been killed in sectarian violence than have been killed in all Arab-Israeli wars), when Assad was starving the Palestinians in Yarmuck refugee camp there was not a peep of worldwide protest (the number is thought to be over 150,000 slaughtered so far in the Syrian civil war). Not one protest against the human rights violations of Hamas or the Palestinian Authority has ever been held in cities and towns that now call for Jewish blood. Not one march on behalf of the Christians who are being ethnically cleansed out of the Middle East, no mass rallies for the Kurds or the unfortunate Yazidis (recent reports have IS burying alive over 500 Yazidis including women and children, never mind those that are dieing on Mount Sanjar). I suppose we should be used to the worlds double standard, their desire to dehumanize Jews and to delegitimize the state of Israel and her supporters. The calls for another Holocaust are met with limpwristed denouncement by the world's remaining spineless democracies. Jews have always said that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. We were poo-poohed and ridiculed. Not so much anymore.

With antisemitism spiraling out of control worldwide part of me is glad that my father isn't alive to see the resurgence of Nazism dressed up in leftist-anti-imperialist-crap. But my mother sees it differently. She says if my father were alive he would be out there screaming organizing and fighting. I suppose in truth I was just looking for a reason that he is no longer with us.....

Someone online accused me of being angry...you bet I am. And if millions worldwide were saying your children have no right to freedom, life and a future, you would be angry too. But then again, when it comes to autism and specialneeds, we do face that every day, don't we? As I have always said, my sons are twice threatened by hate and ignorance.....



*****
It's two years this week....

My father died last week at the age of 78. Here is a quick version of his story:

Richard K. 1934-2012


Born to Jewish immigrant parents my father grew up in the Bronx, New York. He attended Taft High school. He ran away at age 17 and joined the navy during the Korean War. He went to New York University on the GI Bill and became a teacher. He helped start the 600 school system in NYC (which no longer exists). Today we would call him a special education teacher. He left teaching as a Vice Principal.

From teaching he went into Jewish philanthropic work. But not content to give up his teacher calling he also taught at Memphis State University and helped create the program today known as Head Start.

My father was never one to sit on the sidelines of life. My first vivid memory of the life he would live (and which I am only learning alot about now that he is gone) was finding out that on a trip to the Soviet Union, he smuggled out a list bearing the names of Jewish refuseniks. One of the cause celebres of the time was freedom for Soviet Jews, but noone in the west knew anything about their organization and the people involved in the underground until that list was made available. If my father would have been caught, he had been warned, he could have been prosecuted for espionage. This list ended up in the hands of then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on his first meeting with Leonid Brezhnev.

My father wrote the original proposal for the US Holocaust Museum and the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at the Justice Department. While the Jewish world gives this honor to another named individual (My father had the nerve to be a republican I suppose. We can discuss the psychiatric health issues of some US Jews at another time). You can see the original proposal with his name on it in the Carter Presidential Library (we have a "presidential sealed" copy). He was named an advisor to the OSI. In his time, he was considered one of the leading authorities on the Holocaust and Nazi war criminals.

My father was named a Presidential appointee under the Reagan Administration. He was the Associate Coordinator for Refugee Affairs. During his tenure he planned and organized the airlift of Ethiopian Jews out of the Sudan. Other than a few mentions in passing in most books and the Jerusalem Post his is a name most people would never know. So much of what my father did during those years is unknown and hidden. This is only one of the operations out of his office. Most programs would never get the publicity Operation Moses received.


My father standing next to my mother, being sworn into his State Department post by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor


As the associate coordinator for refugee affairs my father would visit refugee camps that were funded in part by US taxpayers. After one such visit to the refugee camps in Gaza, my father also attempted to help the Palestinian refugees by trying to get funding for better conditions in the camps. His attempt was not only shut down by our government, but by the UN and the Arab governments he approached. My father could not solve the middle east crisis, but he saw no reason that people who were caught in the middle of this political morass had to live in squalor. What my father saw were children, mothers and fathers. To him, everyone was first and foremost a human being.

There are events that he participated in to this day my father has never spoken about and are still highly classified. Remember this was at the end of the Cold War and so much of his time and effort was spent trying to free enslaved nations. At first he was asked to never request his government file for his own safety. The government felt several years ago that enough time had passed to send out his file if he wanted it. But when he finally received the file, the government had so redacted it, that the only words left on the pages were mainly prepositions.

From there my father was the head of the US Holocaust Commission. Yes, he ran the organization he had developed that noone ever gives him credit for creating.

After he left government my father developed a program for testing immigrants taking their citizenship exam. It was a successful program. It saved the federal government huge amounts of money. It helped people take their tests earlier than if they had to wait for the government to administer the tests. The person in the government who oversaw their program, one day told them that their program was going to be shut down because "they were republicans." Those were the exact words.  The Clintons had come into office. (Yes they are not my favorite people.) My parents lost their business six months later.

Even after he left government, my father continued in his own way to work towards a better world. He never stopped hunting down war criminals living in the US. He helped deport some very very very nasty evil men. HERE Yes, some parts of your past life do come back at times. Even last year he had been asked to help track down a war criminal in another country. (Here, here, here, here)

My fathers testimony before the Congress on the rehabilitation of torture victims. Here.

From there my father went back to his first love..teaching. He started as a special education teacher and ended up teaching regular 8th grade social studies. He taught, critical thinking and law. He loved helping children learn to learn and to appreciate and prepare for the future. He taught them a love of country and a love of the US Constitution. Most of the students he had recently taught were children of immigrants, like himself, whose parents came here, to this nation seeking a better life.

In happier times, my mother and father used to reminisce about the adventures that they lived through. My mother would then turn to him and tell him, "not bad for two little kids from the Bronx." No not bad at all I would say.

******

You don't have to believe anything I have written here. You can believe that it is the imaginings of a grieving daughter. But everything here is true. Of course he was not solely responsible for every act but he was a participant in an important and scary time in world history. So I know that because my father lived, hundreds of thousands of people are alive and have children and grandchildren. Because my father lived, millions are living in freedom. Because my father had lived the world is a better place.

My father lived his life to help others. To make this a better world. The Torah says that God does not destroy the Earth because he can always find a sufficient number of the righteous among us. I have never thought that to be righteous meant that you pray all the time or study Torah all the time. I have never thought that to be righteous means you are perfect all the time. How can we be?  Afterall we are all human....So no, I do not think my father was perfect by any means...But to be righteous is to do what you can to save the world.....My father was one such righteous man......Hopefully God will be able to find someone to replace him and soon...I know I never will.



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Meanwhile  For more information about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict please go to the Council on Foreign Relations (here). It's not perfect but a descent pace to start.



Tu B'Av the Jewish Day of Love

Repost from 2011

Tu B'Av a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar is one of those celebrations finding new meaning in our modern era. It especially has made quite the comeback in Israel. Tu B'Av was begun in the second Temple period to commemorate the beginning of the grape harvest. It is also associated with a full moon which symbolizes love, fertility and romance.Young unmarried women would dress in white and dance during the festival to attract a husband. In many ways things have not changed in over 3,000 years. And you thought Valentine's Day was unique. Hah...


Monday, August 4, 2014

A Reminder: Tisha B'Av, We Have A Right to Survive

Tonight begins the Jewish fast of Tisha B'Av. It is a holiday dedicated to the memory of the destruction of the two holy Temples in Jerusalem, Israel. Jews world wide use this time to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of their freedom for eons, their nonstop persecution (both in Christian and Moslem countries-Read Mr.GS' senior thesis on the topic), and the need to contemplate what it actually means to be a free people. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe that everything happens for a reason; the timing of an event has meaning.

Today the Jewish people are faced with an onslaught of worldwide antisemitism not seen since the Holocaust. It rages throughout Europe; tens of thousands shout "Jews to the Gas,  or Heil Hitler," synagogues and Jewish owned businesses are firebombed; Jewish individuals assaulted; couple this with the virulent millennia old antisemitic imagery worthy of Der Stermer found continent wide in all European news outlets. Newsweek even discusses how the last remaining Jews are finally leaving Europe. Jew-hatred has also shown itself in the Americas, especially in the liberal academic and media sphere. Unsurprisingly (or surprisingly depending upon how unseeing you chose to be), the protests against Israel in major American cities carry the same antisemitic messages of ignorance and malevolent hate found in Europe. (See, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, academicians who are fighting Jew-hatred on campus; as well as Stand with Us, a student organization dedicated to countering antisemitic propaganda on campus.)

Some say it is the 1930s all over again. I say it is not. For the difference is great. The Jews were targets in the last century because they were weak and without means to fight those who needed a scapegoat in order to assuage their own inadequacies. Today the Jews are targeted because they are strong. Today's Jews embody within their community the ability to show the world's haters that despite the most virulent form of evil ever  imposed upon one human being to another, we have survived. And survived well. Sadly, the haters will never, ever forgive us for not dieing....The Jews will Never be Forgiven for the Holocaust

If for no other reason, than to remember that the Jewish people are entitled to self-defense (despite what the Jew-haters promote) and to protect themselves from those that call for genocide against them, the timing of Tisha B'av is fortuitous.

In Defense of Zionism




As I pointed out on Facebook:

“Hamas never targets civilians. It only targets Jews.”

—Hamas spokesman, Abu Odeh


If you support Hamas this is what you support. Don't expect those who think with this hatred to respect your specialneeds child....just remember they first come for the Jews. But Jew-hatred is the beginning, never the end, of the demise of the civilized world.



Facts about Hamas and what they stand for HERE.

Hamas' Too-Little-Known Fascist Charter

Why I Don't Criticize Israel


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Coincidentally I just read this post:

ISRAEL, HAMAS, and SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN



******
Meanwhile:  Facebook said this cartoon (below) violates community standards, but pages calling for another Holocaust are AOK. The ppl that run Facebook are shilling for Islamo-fascists and antisemites. Question: do those who run Facebook not get that when these haters talk about killing Jews they mean all Jews and all persons who aren't afraid to stand up and fight for the western ideals of free speech, thought, religion, secular identity and worldwide suffrage.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Teacher's Unions versus Students: No I am not anti-Union I am pro-Child


Prager Univeristy

There is a dilemma in American education. On the one hand, teachers are essential to student achievement. On the other, teachers unions promote self-interests of their members which are antithetical to the interests of students. So, how do we fix this problem? In five minutes, Terry Moe, Professor of Political Science at Stanford University, delineates this quandary and offers solutions.




And no, I am not anti-Union. My father was a member of the teacher’s union in his district and they helped him immeasurably when he was unfairly targeted by the administration in his school. What I am against is the fact that public education is no longer about “the best interests of the child.” And that is why there needs to be a societal revamping of the education system in our country where the children and not the teacher comes first.

In New York State it is so difficult to get rid of a tenured teacher, even one found to have been guilty of sexual misconduct, that millions upon millions are spent on these individuals rather than putting the money into the classrooms. In fact the new contract signed by Mayor DeBlasio of New York gives even more rights to teachers and more power to the Union over the rights of the students. Moreover, I have had personal experience with teachers and their unions in New York City. When MrGS was in kindergarten in the New York public school system and needed some more attention, I was roundly upbraided by the classroom teacher, as well as the principal, that the teacher was entitled to her union coffee break. The principal not wanting to have to deal with the issues my son presented lied that they didn't have to keep him in the school, as well as telling me I had to pay for the para myself.  Read about how horrible these people were to a very disabled child HERE. (Note: the post also talks about how we were helped once we moved to a district that actually understood what it was to be interested in educating students.)

Meanwhile, the following is a post I wrote years ago when CM2 's 5th grade special education teacher was horribly incompetent. He had entered middle school with so much promise, having met all goals for years, that the school administration had actually felt that with the proper support he would actually become an independent learner by the end of 5th grade. Instead the special education teacher, as well as the classroom teacher, sent him spiraling out of control. But because of the Union contract they kept both teachers on in his classroom. In fact, it took months and months to get the special education teacher out of the classroom. (At least that was one of them) More than half of the year had been gone by then. Subsequently, it then took years of support, therapy and competent educators to actually get my son back to where he had been at the beginning of 5th grade.

When you want to throttle the teacher

High school was of course another issue. The added academic responsibilities, the social contretemps of adolescence, as well as the sideeffects of being a pubescent male, all took its toll in different ways and required different levels of support. SEARCH highschool issues; bullying; friendship; teachers; executive functioning; speech; homework for all the blog posts on these issues.



Meanwhile, check out this movement Partnership for Educational Justice. This organization has filed a lawsuit against tenure in the state of New York. The lawsuit is based upon the successful California suit brought by a group of parents from underprivileged neighborhoods.