Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year 2017

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

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

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

Autistic Girl Sings Hallelujah, Breaking Down Stereotypes, Creating Mentorships

I had to share this video which has been making the rounds on social media. It shows an autistic girl singing a version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. (The words had been rewritten as a Christmas song) I truly hope that this child does something amazing with her gift. h/t Kveller.Com *

I absolutely love videos like this one. Not simply because it shows an immensely talented young person. But it shows the world that simply because a person has an autism spectrum disorder, doesn't preclude them from doing anything they want.

Many are surprised that a person with ASD could get up in front of an audience and perform. This is simply a stereotype of autism, and what the world thinks autistic people can NOT do.

But these videos break stereotypes. 

Autistic people can do anything they want, for the most part, just like anyone else. (If an autistic person doesn't have 20/20 vision they will not be an airplane pilot, just like any typical person without 20/20 vision) The issue is how to create a situation, or program, that supports them the way they need to be helped in order to be successful. JUST.LIKE.ANYONE.ELSE.

Nobody thinks about the typical mentor-mentee relationship at a work place. It is taken for granted that for a business to be successful, hence for a person to be successful, they need a robust mentorship. Well so do autistic people. Only their mentorships would probably look a little different than the typical one. Each geared toward that special need or special idiosyncrasy of the autistic person.

Yes, it is more involved than the across the board corporate mentorship program. In general, typical people do not need tailor made support systems. Yes autistic people generally do, because as we always say "When you have met one autistic person, you have met only one autistic person." Each person with autism is unique requiring their own set of circumstances and nuanced support.

So creating mentorships, appropriate support systems and  ridding the world of its biases is definitely the goal for the future, and something to work on in the New Year. Lets' ask ourselves:

How do we get rid of autistic stereotypes?
How do we build better work support systems for autistics, so that they can show the world exactly what they are capable of doing, performing and accomplishing.

Yes, there are some corporate programs out there. The most famous of course is the one pioneered at Microsoft. But most autistics, as with most people, will not work for Microsoft, or a Microsoft-like corporation. They will work at a local store, business, or even become an entrepreneur. Advocating in your local area is a great way to begin, and creating at-home support mechanisms is another way to go as well.

Meanwhile, Mr.GS1 is lucky. He found a situation where not only were they glad to allow us to create a support program for him, but they reveled in their ability to do so. I continually hear how happy they are with his work, his work ethic and his abilities. And once we explained the purpose of the job coach, they were thrilled to have him on board, and even gave him his own workstation for when he showed up for support purposes.

So you see it can be done. All it takes is a company with an open mind, can see beyond the stereotypes and wants to embrace the future for every member of society

* The article in Kveller talks about Leonard Cohen and what he might feel being Jewish and that his song was turned into a Christmas song. Not knowing Mr. Cohen at all, but having read a lot about him since he passed away this year, I think he would be thrilled to know that this little girl could sing his music with such aplomb. In fact, I think, as the humanitarian he appeared to be, that he would be overjoyed to know that he had had a hand in helping this autistic girl in some way.

Hanukkah Song

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"Candlelight" and "Angels We Have Heard on High"

I began the tradition of posting Christmas and Hanukkah songs during holiday season several years ago. This year both holidays fall on the same day. The first night of Hanukkah is Christmas Eve.

I think that this is very prophetic in a way. Here you have the holiday of the birth of the Prince of Peace and the remembrance of the first fight for religious freedom.

The Jews, the indigenous population of the Land of Israel/Holy Land/Judea, had been occupied by their oppressors the Assyrians for generations. The Assyrian-Greek king, Antiochus,  decided to eradicate the Jewish religion from the face of the Earth and force the Jewish people to worship him as a divinity.

The Jewish People, led by the Maccabees, fought back.

The Assyrians lost that war.

Thus began the Hasmonean Dynasty, which unfortunately ended with the occupation of Judea by Rome.

As a religious Jew, many historians, and those who understand first century politics, believe that Jesus was greatly influenced by the history of the Maccabees. Remember the Hasmonean Dynasty was still in control of Israel when the Romans began their occupation of the Land of Israel/Judea less than 100 years before Jesus' birth. In fact, the hated Roman puppet Herod, responsible for so many of the great ancient Roman structures still standing today in Israel, was married to a Hasmonean princess. It was after his rule that the Romans installed the vile Pontius Pilot.

During this holiday time, when we are reminded of Good will on Earth and we revive a hope for peace, freedom and compassion, we need to remember that we live in turbulent times. In truth its not as if we could really forget. Simply turn on the news, or read a paper, or go on social media, and it's right there in front of you.

Evil and intolerance will always rear its ugly head. Sadly there is nothing ahistorical about the rise of hate. But it is when good people demand and fight for justice and righteousness that evil can and will always be vanquished. It is not an easy fight. But we need to fight the fights that are worth fighting, not the fights that are easy.

May God bless you and your families during this time of the year.

May God bless us all with strength, wisdom and fortitude.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Book Review: The Devlin Quick Mysteries-Into the Lion's Den by Linda Fairstein

You may know of Linda Fairstein from her popular and intriguing Alexander Cooper mystery series. Always interesting, and full of surprises, Fairstein keeps us on our toes when it comes to the genre of who-done-its and legal thrillers. Bringing into play her career in the Manhattan DAs office, what Fairstein does for the adult mystery enthusiasts, she now does for readers ages 8-12. Welcome to her new series starring young heroine Devlin Quick in  Into the Lion's Den.

A rambunctious, precocious, adorable teenager Devlin, or Dev for short, uses her wits to find the man her friend Liza, saw steal a page out of a very rare map book at the New York Public Library. It all begins with an exciting chase through the streets of midtown Manhattan as our heroine tries to keep an eye on this dangerous miscreant. It doesn't take our intrepid detectives long to find out that this is not the first time our thief has struck.

So begins the readers travels through the boroughs and libraries of New York City, as well as travailing the ins and outs of the vaulted 1PP, or One Police Plaza. The home of New York City's Police Commissioner. Who just happens to be Dev's mom.

As is Fairstein's style the reader is not only gifted with an interesting and sometimes illusionary mystery, but are exposed to some interesting facts along the way. Since this is a story surrounding libraries, and the New York City police department, young readers partake of information about beloved authors, forensic analysis, and stories of police departments past. In fact the book's mystery itself, is taken from a real life crime story that became a major cause celebre.

If you have an avid reader, or want to spark that reader within your pre-teen child, this book is a fun place to start. For both young girls and boys it provides a well written intelligent, forthright, honest and descent role model replete with a fact infused intriguing mystery. For parents this is a book that will excite your young reader, and teach them the lessons of sticktoitiveness, honesty, and friendship. This is an enjoyable yarn for all.