Thursday, May 11, 2017


It is important, that no matter what is happening in your world, to always take a moment to breathe.

Sweet new love song from Miley Cyrus. Listen I know she can be a little out there as far as behavior, but the girl can sing.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

@Speechless_ABC Revisits the "R" Word

Once again the ABC's Speechless showcases common advocacy issues championed by the disability community. The latest episode examined society's view of using the word "retarded" as a put down or self-deprecating insult. The interesting take on the issue though, did not involve J.J. directly, but Ray.

The show opens with Kenneth, J.J.'s aide, out to dinner with the DiMeo's and he overhears someone using the "r" word in conversation. He turns to the family and says," it's my turn." In other words, advocacy time, and a teachable moment for someone in society. Speechless being a comedy, Kenneth comes back slightly chastised, saying they were talking about "re tarring their driveway." Funny yes. And of course,  it sets up the rest of the episode. (Watch the episode HERE)

In this episode Ray finally was about to get to kiss the girl of his dreams. Someone he had had a crush on noticed him at the Prom, and wanted to go take him behind the bleachers. Well, all of us having grown up in the US, knows exactly what that means....kookookachoo.  But right before they began to kiss, the girl uses the 'r" word to describe her own mixup.

Ray is in a conundrum. He doesn't know what to do. Every male hormone in his body is telling him to kiss her anyway, but his brain and his heart is telling him that he needs to make this a teachable moment. So he turns to J.J. to ask permission to forget about advocating at the moment, and to simply be a teenage boy. J.J. being a good older brother, tells Ray to go for it. Kiss the girl! (See below *)

But there is a snag. Instead of her actually accepting the fact that she did something wrong, she argues with Ray how political correctness is tiresome and that since she didn't mean anything bad by using the word, he should not be upset. Now Ray's hormones wanting to forget that the entire incident occurred is momentarily taken along for the ride, until dignity gets the better of him.

Ray attempts to still teach her how hurtful using the "r" word is, yet she simply does not want to hear it. In the end, she decides to go kiss someone else. The upshot of the encounter is that the girl in question is not a flighty stereotypical teenage girl, but a bright, straight A student destined to go to an Ivy league and to enter the world of intellectual thought and accomplishments.

The audience's teachable moment is the reality that simply because someone is highly intelligent, and can make a cogent argument about Constitutional rights, it doesn't mean they are right, moral, or ethical. They also may not be someone you want to kiss either, no matter how "hot" they turn out to be. Sometimes the brain is better than the hormone when making a decision about with whom you want to associate.

It is important that within society, we also teach that simply because you have the right to do or say something, doesn't mean you should do or say these things. Words are powerful instruments of society. They need to be used carefully and with forethought.

Tolerance is important. Allowing others with different view points to speak is the hallmark of our republic. Now it doesn't mean we don't challenge these speakers. It doesn't mean what they say doesn't make us angry. But we are supposed to allow them to speak (unlike what is happening on college campuses in the US today if you are pro-Israel).  Honest, open debate is good for society. It is healthy. It helps us grow as a people.

But it is also important to understand when you use a word that someone finds deprives them of their humanity and their right to self-determination. When anyone in society uses the "r" word, it not only dehumanizes those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, it makes society less of a welcoming and an accepting place.

It is difficult enough for those with disabilities to find welcome in our world. That is why 85% of those with autism are either underemployed or unemployed. Understanding how language is a weapon in the war on disability rights is one of the first steps in gaining true civil rights for the disabled.

*Now another point in the story: When Ray asked J.J. for absolution if he went ahead and kissed the girl who used the "r" word. That was not cool. Not by a long shot. Taking responsibility for your own choices is what makes us grownups. Sartre said, "we are our choices." And he was right. The choices you make define who you are and what kind of person you will be. Seeking an "indulgence" to your own poor choices teaches a person absolutely nothing.

Moreover, sometimes society tends to think that every disabled person is the arbiter of what the disability community thinks, wants or needs. That is not so. Disabled people, as with everyone in the world, are individuals. They do not all agree on every cannon of thought or idea proposed by the grand poobahs of any movement. Can you believe that there actually is a variety of thought in the disability community about every topic, subject or controversy, except one: that those with disabilities are human beings and are deserving of being treated with respect.

Disabled people are people. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are kind. Some are miserable human beings. Some are people you would want to know and others you wouldn't want to be with under any circumstances. In other words, disabled people are human. But what they also do not need is someone looking to make themselves feel better by asking for a dispensation from doing the right thing.

The disabled person in your life is not the Pope. If you know it is wrong to do it, simply don't do it. Asking the disabled person in your life if it is ok to be an asshole when it comes to disability rights, is not ok. Even if you are a teenage boy with raging hormones. OK?

In the end, the part that I like best about Speecheless though, has very little to do with disability rights as opposed to showing the world that families with disabled members are simply that, families. Nothing special. Nothing more moral, ethical or inspirational. But simply people, trying to do their best on a day-to-day basis with the hand that they have been dealt.

Yes, it's nice if someone recognizes that there are extra needs at times for our families. But it would be nicer if instead of the pat on the head or telling us that "God only gives us what we can handle," is if someone asks us to lunch (or cup of coffee), to play a game of tennis (or squash, bridge, mahjong, or chess), or to join their book club and not read any books about disabled people at all (my personal favorites are spy novels especially the Gabriel Allon series).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Teaching Behavior in the Era of Trump

Much has been written over the last year about the tone of the Presidential race. And now much has been written about the tone of the President himself. Interestingly enough, a recent article actually castigated comedy news such as Comedy Central and Samantha Bee for creating the acceptability of the Trump tone. I kid you not. The acceptance of Trump's behavior, apparently, according to those who cannot accept blame for their own failures, is now the fault of comedians. Comedians whose job it is, is to be obnoxious, and caustic, and condescending. Apparently, according to these pundits, the American people are simply too stupid to differentiate between funny-ha-ha and not-so-funny-social-malingerers.

Samantha Bee and much of Comedy Central, (which I don't particularly enjoy), is a sarcastic look at the world in which we live. They do not run the world, but comment on it. They do not make policy, but comment on it.  Yes, Bee made a horrible mistake with the youngman at CPAC. But she later apologized. Perhaps she learned a lesson, which is that even in the world of comedy, fact checking is a useful tool.

So here is the problem: how do we as parents of autistics teach appropriate behavior to our children in the Era of Trump? For most neurotypical children it is easy for them to decipher social rules of engagement. Not so for every child on the spectrum. It is not easy for our children to distinguish between what is, and is not, always appropriate. And to make matters worse when those in the limelight act out in inordinate ways, and garner huge amount of accolades and attention, then what are our children supposed to think?

I have written about this BEHAVIOR conundrum before (of course). You can find a full list of my articles on the subject HERE  and HERE.

The only thing I can think of is that my sons' are decidedly antiTrump. They view everything he does through a lens of contempt. They have decided that not only is he a boor, but that his manners, his lack of decorum and his puffed up ego are not things they wish to emulate. So for them he is a walking BillBoard of "not."

In a world where becoming the most powerful person on the planet is viewed as a worthy goal, but the person who holds that office as of today is thought of as the Court Jester of the world, this truly is not a good thing. The idea that the President of the United States would be held up as the butt of jokes for his behavior, and lack thereof, is not good for the country and it is not good for our children. Yes, the comedians of the past also made fun of former republican Presidents, deriding Reagan, and both Bushes. But these President's held themselves to a socially appropriate standard of behavior. So all comedy aside, no one could attack them for their decorum, and we all knew it. (Whether you agreed with their policies or not is not the issue of this post.)

But what is a parent to do about the behavior issue, if your family, your child, supports Trump? How are you supposed to explain appropriateness to your child without destroying their right to express a political opinion? And no, everyone who supports Trump is not a racist, misogynist, antiMoslem, white supremacist nutjob. Many are simply that part of the Obama coalition, that were forgotten by society. They are the middle class that were promised a future, but found that in  their reality there was no future. So they thought to go another way. Something different. Something untried. Yes, desperate people make desperate leaps of faith. If society truly cared about others in our world we would have seen Trump coming. But we are so self-indulgent that we simply did not. Yes, Trump's election is everyone's fault. It also didn't help any that the Democratic candidate was horrible as well, and for so many other reasons.

My take on behavior management over the next few years is simple. You can teach proper behavior without destroying someone's hold on what they feel is important vis-a-vis society and their own future. Do not denigrate the political ideas (arguing whether they are correct in their views is another matter), but model appropriateness. Talk to your children about differentiating between the man and the position. Whether we liked the POTUS of the moment, or not, we always honored the position, but did not necessarily respect the decisions of the man holding the position.

Yes, it's a tightrope and a fine line to walk with your children. But we do it every day when it comes to music, clothes, movies, and TV, when we try to teach our children the proper way to view the world around them. We don't like everything that culture creates, or has decided is good and better for our world. Holding up the present POTUS to scrutiny truly is no different.

I suppose in many respects it is also a good thing. Cult-like adoration of any politician is anathema to a democracy. We do not elect a King, but a temporary holder of a position, and that goes for Congress, governorships, judges, and state legislatures as well. It is why impeachment of any public official is an essential part of our society. No one who is elected is omnipotent, beyond fallibility, or excused from decorum.

Unfortunately, though, when the present leader of the free world lacks any social norms, it does make our job just a little more harder than normal. Sigh......

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#FightTheStigma Complex Disabilities and Simple Truths

From TED Tel-Aviv 2017

An Israeli war hero who says that his biggest and most important battle was finding acceptance for his severely disabled son.

Major General Doron Almog, chairman of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, stood on the TEDxTelAviv stage and explained how his personal experiences as a grieving brother, devoted father and decorated soldier prepared him for his life’s most important role: an outspoken advocate for the inclusion and proper care of individuals with disabilities.

Memories of his son, Eran, who was born with severe autism and intellectual disabilities, and lost his battle with Castleman’s disease exactly ten years prior to the TEDxTelAviv presentation, fuels Almog’s commitment to securing the best possible care and ensuring true life fulfillment for the members of Israel's disability community. Learn more

Now in watching this video I am certain that there are many who will object to the General's use of nonpolitically correct language to describe his son's disabilities and society's perception. But look behind the language and recognize what this man has accomplished in helping his son. He is the advocate that we all hoped we would become. He not only created a place for his son to flourish, an entire city in fact, he has succeeded in starting  the whole of a society rethinking their own prejudices, limits, and biases when it comes to the disabled.


While we have many wonderful programs here in the US for those with severe disabilities, still many on the autism spectrum and those with a myriad of mental health issues, receive little or no services once they become adults. As I have written, if it were not for what we could afford to do for the boys, nothing would be done for them, and their future would not be one of their own choosing.

It is up to us to make sure, as Doron Almog did for his son, that we find a way to better society as we help our children have a bright and happy future. The fight in the US for acceptance and support for those we all types of disabilities is far from over. In fact, it is only just beginning.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tinge the Anger with Compassion

My latest at Times of Israel
Yes we are all angry. Angry that our babies were subject to such frightening events as bomb scares. It infuriated us as parents that some person out there in the world knew that the way to terrorize parents is to terrorize their children. It’s why terrorists target the innocent, the young, the civilian, the person least able to defend themselves.
So now that we know who at least is the culprit when it comes to the majority of the JCC bomb threats we vent. We vent our anger. We vent our care. We demand justice for our offspring. We want this person punished.
What’s more we are aghast that the perpetrator was himself a Jew. Now, it’s not that we haven’t experienced  modern Jewish antisemites before in our history. It’s not that we don’t deal with Jewish antisemites who celebrate terrorists, think JVP conference in Chicago; think those Jewish Leftists who hold the Palestinians to no level of human decency, excusing murderous rampages as expressions of culture or the nonsensical claim of “fighting colonial oppression”  (we can discuss the soft racism of low expectations in another post on another day); think the “As a Jew” Jew who has left the Jewish community except to chastise Israel for defending herself, or who blames the rise of antisemitism on the Jewish State.
Somehow we deal with these Jewish antisemites with logic, with thought out rebuttals, and with the contempt they deserve. But what we don’t hear is the level of vitriol that is being thrown at the youngman from Ashkelon. The question you need to ask yourself is why. Why does the community save their most virulent expression of disgusts for someone who is obviously suffering from some sort of mental illness, and not for those who seek to destroy the Jewish people and are most certainly in their sane mind?
Now, listen, I am not excusing what this 19 year old did. He knew it was wrong. Legal insanity is not medical insanity. You can be completely mentally ill but legally accountable. To be held legally insane is to not know that what you are doing is wrong. To be legally insane the person cannot “know the difference between a tree and a person.”  Hence, if they ever knew it was a human being, no matter how ill they are, they are legally sane.
So this youngman, knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew that he was creating terror. It gave him a sense of power, and importance (or so we think). But it does not mean he is not mentally ill. Whether he has a nonmalignant inoperable brain tumor that is the cause of his mental illness is not really the issue. There is no question, that he was unfit for service in the IDF because of his mental state. And for the IDF, which even has programs to induct persons with all kinds of mental health issues, this youngman’s problems seemed to be severe.
So why the extreme hate? What ever happened to compassion in the Jewish world? We talk incessantly about rehabilitation, and the need for prison reform in the US, why does none of this apply to the JCC hoax bomber?
This does not mean that the perpetrator doesn’t go to some sort of institution. It most definitely doesn’t mean he goes free, without any recourse. It doesn’t mean that he doesn’t pay for his crimes. But what that payment will look like is very important. The issue is whether the system can help him or not.
Is he a threat to the community as a whole? Is he threat to himself and others? What can be done to mitigate the possibility that he will ever do this again, or mitigate the possibility that he will spiral to an even more dangerous place? These are important questions that need to be answered, and these answers and how society deals with them will say more about us as a people, then it will ever say about this 19 year old.
Now let me say one thing as the parent of two young men with high functioning autism, and as a special needs advocate. I hold his parents completely responsible for what has happened in this situation. He lived in their house. They knew what he was doing, which was why the father was arrested and the mother has disappeared. They are responsible for his care, even though he is technically an adult. So yes, knowing he was perpetrating these hoaxes, if they did not want to call the police (and very few parents would turn in their own children), at least try to get him the medical help he needed. You do not cover up something so harmful. If you did not care about the psychological harm he was doing to young children, at least you are required to care about your own child. So yes, by letting him do what he was doing, they are accomplices in the worst kind of way. They basically abandoned their own child to the vagaries of his own mind.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Finding a Moral Compass in Challenging Times

This blog discusses parenting on many different levels. In that respect, here is a terrific discussion about our way of life and how society functions between New York Times columnist David Brooks and former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In Celebration of Spring-Let's Dance

Spring is about renewal, and that includes your soul. Nothing says  rebirth like dancing....have fun and let your feet move to the beat....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

How we treat animals says plenty about who we are

My latest blog for the Times of Israel
I confess, I yelled at a stranger today for the way she was treating her dog. No tags to know to whom and where the canine belonged. Tied up on a bench in the snow and rain, while the owner went into a store to get a cup of hot cocoa. The poor animal was shivering.
We are admonished in Torah to remember to care and feed our animals before we take care of ourselves. We are required to care for the most vulnerable among us. We are required to respect them, to cherish them, to honor their sacrifices. You cannot truly follow Jewish beliefs if you mistreat an animal in anyway. Perhaps because that teaching is so ingrained among the Jewish people is the reason why Israel has the highest number of vegetarians and vegans in the world. Perhaps that is why Tel Aviv is the most dog friendly city in the world as well. I don’t know.
But one thing I do know is that how we treat the most defenseless beings in our society says everything about who we are as a people. And there is nothing more dependent and vulnerable in our world than our children and our animals. People who are thoughtless towards those who are the weakest among us should always bring out society’s wrath and derision.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Understanding that Idiosyncrasies Don't Just Go Away in Adulthood

The boys had a very successful outing on Sunday. We had found a new social program for them that geared itself to adults on the spectrum. They did not want to participate in the same group so they went in independently. While Mr.GS2 had issues trying to get someone to play a particular board game he enjoyed he did say he wanted to give the group another try. Mr. GS1 apparently did interact quite well in his comic book discussion group, but he became overwhelmed by the newness of situation, and left early. He said he would go again next month too.

I think a major point that needs to be taken from here is that whatever issue your child may have had as a teen, or even younger will follow them into adulthood. They may have had untold number of social skills classes or supports, but when faced with a new situation, the entire event may cause extreme anxiety. So just try to remember that even as adults they may be confused by:
A new group of people that they don't know.
A new place with which they are unfamiliar.
An unstructured environment, which may be their nadir to begin with.
Noises and smells that they are not used to can also interfere with their new situation.

And yes we had taken them a few weeks before to meet the social workers who run the group. And we had taken them before to see where the meetings will take place. And no, they did not get to meet any of the other participants before the program began.

In truth group dynamics are hard for them. The fact that they were even willing to try is a great victory for them. The fact that they are willing to go back is an even bigger victory.

Meanwhile, Mr.GS1 is doing well at work. He is used to the social conventions at his office, and is quite animated when asked to discuss issues in meetings among his colleagues in the office. He needs support less and less. He wanted to cut back on the aide at lunchtime, with the caveat that he calls if he feels out of sorts at any time. So far, so good.

Mr. GS2 is doing well with his group work in his latest class. Yes the aide supports him, but at this point it's more like moral support. (Honestly, the aide even helps the group when they get stuck on issues or problems. It helps everyone having an aide with degrees in education.) Moreover, MrGS2 is so happy that he is proving himself more capable every day. He truly wants to be independent in life and he seems to be working on that all the time.

As I have mentioned before, even if they are not equal to their peers at the moment when it comes to social activities or even independence, it definitely seems that they are moving forward in these areas. A year ago, neither one would have even wanted to join a social program, never mind go back after being overwhelmed by the new experience.

Growth is a really good thing. Never give up, even if they seem stuck in a rut for a really long time.

Like the tortoise in the story. Slow and steady wins the race.

In situations like this I like to remember a great article I read by an autistic advocate that spelled out why she hated the words "high and low functioning autism". There are simply times that she is high functioning, and times that she is low functioning. It doesn't take away from accomplishments, and it doesn't mean that you and yours won't need some kind of social help and support even if they have masters degrees and wonderful jobs. Please always keep this in mind when thinking about what your child may, or may not need during every step of their development.

More Problems with Functioning Labels

Why This "High-Functioning" Autistic Really Wishes You'd Shut Up About Functioning Autistics

Decoding the High Functioning Label

Watch this video by an autistic advocate. She explains the issue really well.

Friday, February 24, 2017

So Your Adult Children are Living At Home and Raj Finally Has to Live on His Own Income

Here in NY State the statistics say that 65% of all adults between the ages of 20 and 29 live at home with their parents. I was discussing this revelation with a friend the other day and she actually said she thought that the numbers were fudged. She thinks its actually higher.

If the only job you can get while in school and right after you graduate is an internship, that  if you are lucky pays minimum wage, how will you afford rent, even if you have 4 living in a one-bedroom apartment? How will you buy food, pay utilities, student loans, and even afford to buy that bus or train ticket to get back and forth to work? The truth of the matter is that unless your parents are subsidizing you, you live at home.

It has become so expected of young adults that once they finish college that they go out into the world and never set foot back in their parents home until Thanksgiving or Christmas. You can then return to your parent's home with all you laundry for mom to wash (much like during college), and sleep in your old room without a care in the world. Apparently, if a child doesn't live up to this particular expectation, your child, and by association you as their parent, have failed to launch properly into the adult world.

Now the question that comes to mind is whether this is a  millennial issue, or is it an economic one. Is this part of the our new American reality?

Many people talk about millennials. They are a topic of constant conversation. In fact, just yesterday I had a chat with my pharmacist about them. He's also the parent of several of this generation and he can't figure it out either. These kids are brilliant. I mean off the charts brilliant. They know more information, and are more adept at figuring out major academic based questions than any group of people before them. But they can't figure out how to go from point A to point B in real life without your help.

Truthfully, some of this is our fault. Parents of our generation did do a lot for our kids. I'm not even talking about parents of special needs kids, like mine. What has become a hallmark of our generation is a type of helicopter parenting without teaching our children basic survival skills.

It is one thing to help them buy new clothes they need for work, or to help them pay for trips for interviews that they can't afford. It is quite another thing to pay for their apartments, their cleaning lady, and anything else that is not an essential. And no its not a big deal if they are struggling financially to let them stay on your wireless, or Netflix account. Moreover, if their jobs don't provide healthcare, and most do not, they will need help with that. But of course, healthcare is an essential, but you don't have to pay for vacations (unless they are going on a family trip which includes you and their siblings), going clubbing, or dating.

Heck, I remember the day I got rid of the maid. Yes, I admit it, I had a maid for awhile. Between two autistic boys, running them everywhere, volunteering at schools, organizing everyone's life, I needed help. So I had a maid come help with the major clean up every two weeks. Then I realized that the maids were doing a really lousy job, and fired them.

Mr. GS2 was very mad. He didn't want to start cleaning the house. My little man was very entitled.

"It's your mess," I told him.

I got a glaring eyeroll.

"Besides, you said you want to live on your own someday. What makes you think when you start out in life, you will be able to afford a maid. I'm certainly not going to pay for one for you, so learn how to clean up after yourself."

Funniest thing was it had never dawned on him that he wasn't going to be able to afford a maid on his own, or that one would not be provided for him. Needlesstosay,  he learned what he needed to learn to help keep the house clean. Also as the boys grew, we decided that they should earn video games, playing cards, or whatever other fun stuff they wanted. So monetary amounts were added to chores. Allowance for just living became a thing of the past. By high school, if they wanted something that was not an essential they had to save up chore money to buy it.

Interestingly, last week, we were watching The Big Bang Theory and Raj had just been cut off financially by his father. His father told him he was spoiled. We all agreed. But now Raj who has been living an extremely extravagant lifestyle needs to cut back. He asks Sheldon for help, and is not really liking the reality of being on the lower rung of the economic ladder.

The upshot was that Raj can't afford to go to their beloved Comic-Con. However, his friends are being supportive. The entire group just gave up going to Comi-Con, well all except Sheldon, he's still thinking about it.

Interestingly enough, Raj decided to finally cut his father loose, because he came to realize that girls really do only want a man who can stand on his own two feet. Women, not girls, want someone who is capable and competent to spend their lives with.

In that vein, Mr. GS2 told me his goal is to be independent and to live on his own one day. Which would make us happy. The boys being self sufficient is definitely one major goal. So maybe seeing a TV character with whom they identify, will put it in the back of their mind, simply what that means.

Honestly, we did have this incident with MrGS2 that he thought being independent meant he did what he wanted without our input, but that we simply paid for  everything for him because he is still in school. We had to disabuse him of that notion quickly. I don't mind him wanting to be independent one day. I don't mind him consistently reminding me that he is an adult now. But while I am happy to help him with his education and what goes with it, he needs to do what is expected of him, not simply what he wants to do, when he wants to do it. And he needs to know that being independent means, financially independent as well. (Yes if there are emergencies you help. That is what family does. That is what we have done in the past for others, and others have done for us. But the day to day, under normal circumstances, is all up to that independent self-sufficient adult.)

By the way, I think this new Raj arc is a great lesson for my guys. Listen, we have no problem paying for what they need. The oldest one only gets minimum wage at his internship, and the younger one didn't even get paid, it was for school credit. They help around the house in other ways, which they should. And honestly, as I told them once they get a real job, they should live at home and save money for a downpayment on an apartment.

Why pay rent, if you can buy and start building something for yourself? Yes, I think parents, as long as you can afford it yourself, should help give your kids a leg up. Why make it as hard for them as it was for you? What's the point if you do that? Now from what I read, millennials don't want to buy. They rent. So we shall see what happens with that issue when the time comes, too.

Truth of the matter is, I don't know if the boys will be independent one day. That is our goal. Our goal is for a full life for them. I know many aspies have it all, so why not my boys. We still work at it. To that extent we even found a local social program for aspies that they are going to try. Maybe make some friends, and realize that they can do more than work, school and home. It would be nice.

Meanwhile,  the issue though that we are facing, and that many families are facing, is how to create a harmonious environment in the house when everyone is an adult? Your children are no longer children, but it is still your house so its your rules.

Now the boys have had chores since middle school, and they continue to do them. They do laundry, clean, and help outside when weather permits. Their job is to do well in school, and at work. They go to bed when they want. They talk to whom they want. They interact on social media with whom they want.

But we do have a rule that dinnertime you must eat at the table. Except, if there is something special streaming. We give MrGS2 that, since he can't interact with others if he simply watches it in video rerun. And interacting of course is half the fun. That does lead to MrGS1/MrYM wanting to watch his show on TV during that time too. Hubby said to let him, even though they are not really the same thing, but you know you have to give a little too.

We don't have the issue of them coming and going at all hours of the night. I wish we did, and maybe one day we will. But the way to handle that is for everyone to remember that there are people who will worry about you. Staying out all night is not fair unless they tell you they are sleeping at a friends. They have to answer when you text them. They do need to let you know where they are going and withwhom. It's not a spying thing. It's a safety thing for young men, as well as young women.

I think the answer is simply curtesy. Be courteous of those you live with. Get them to understand that yes you see them as adults, but that you will still worry about them when they go out. They need to simply let you know where they are going. Get them to understand that by coming home at 3am, you will still be up worrying about them. That's not being a helicopter parent. It's simply that they are still part of a family.

See also:

Parenting and Practice

Practicality: Chores and Preparing for the Future

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Yep, its that time again everyone. 

If you are in need of an adaptive bike for someone in your family check out the information below and join in the contest.

Friendship Circle Presents the Great Bike Giveaway
Every Child Deserves A Bike!

Friendship Circle is kicking off its 6t h annual Great Bike Giveaway on February 15, 2017. Great Bike Giveaway is an annual national campaign that strives to provide as many bikes as possible to children and teens with special needs. Participants will have one month to earn an adaptive bike through fundraising efforts using an online crowdfunding platform.

More than 74 million kids across the U.S. ride bikes. It’s a quintessential part of childhood. Sadly, a key group of children are excluded from the joy and independence of bike riding. Many children with special needs miss out on that essential childhood experience because their physical or cognitive limitations make riding a traditional bike impossible.

The high cost of adaptive bikes makes the dream of riding a bike unreachable for many children with special needs. Many families cannot afford to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a bike and unfortunately, insurance companies refuse to cover the costs.

Friendship Circle works with adaptive bike companies from around the United States to secure discounted pricing, making it cost-effective for families to earn appropriate bikes for their children. Adaptive bikes range in size, capability, and price making it easy for every family to find the bike that best meets their child’s needs. In just 5 years, Friendship Circle has provided over 900 children with adaptive bikes and the experience of riding their very own bike.

In order to participate in the Great Bike Giveaway families, or participants, will be required to complete a registration form and choose the bike they wish to fundraise for.

To view a full list of available bikes and rules, or to register, please visit



About Friendship Circle
Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization that provides programs and support to the families of individuals with special needs. In addition to assisting individuals with special needs, Friendship Circle brings together teenage volunteers and children with special needs for hours of fun and friendship. These shared experiences empower the children, our special friends, while enriching the lives of everyone involved. Learn more and see our available programs at 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lessons in Anger Management, Behavioral Management, and Social Convention in the Present Political Climate

So you try to teach your child that it is not appropriate to have a meltdown in public. That as they age, there are societal requirements for behavior. That as they age when they are angry they need to learn how to process that anger effectively and channel it into something positive. That social convention stipulates that at a certain age, usually when they get to be adult tall, or reach adolescence, societal expectations are that they are to follow the rules, the law, and the norm.

Now enter present day politics.

What the hell?

We have grownass adults, rioting, setting fire to private property, smashing windows, attacking police officers and creating mayhem because they are not happy about a democratically held election. The ridiculousness of these acts, is that like after the Fergusion riots, there are people trying to compare these jackasses to the Sons of Liberty and the Boston Tea Party.

Well here is the truth:

The SoL did dump tea overboard. The tea was privately owned, but by a government monopoly. They were protesting the tax on tea among other imposed laws, where they had no voice in the matter, and the fact that the tea could only be bought from this monopoly. 

The SoL did not go through the streets of Boston, willy nilly and destroy people's private property. They did not go through the streets of Boston and attack innocent people. The SoL had a plan of action. They attacked, for lack of a better word, the epicenter, and symbol, of a government that did not allow them to vote, to have a say in their daily lives, and took from them their rights as natural born English subjects.

I do not think that the limo owned by a Moslem immigrant that was destroyed during the inaugural had anything to do with the political outcome of the election. The driver, who was injured, did not. The owner of the Starbucks that was trashed, most certainly was only trying to make a living. It's really not like Starbucks has a monopoly on coffee, and you can only buy coffee from there, never mind that the people that work there, who earn minimum wage, may be unemployed until the store is fixed from the damage done. Besides, no one stopped these tempertantrumming anarchists from voting. Like in the Portland riots, just after the election, it was proven that 90% of those arrested DID NOT VOTE.

So who is to blame for the outcome of a democratically held election if you do not exercise your Constitutional right to vote?

In other words, this was simply an excuse for those who have been taught that they are entitled to behave as miscreants to actually act out in inappropriate ways. Yes, there were over 125 arrests. I hope they throw them all in jail for a good long time. Then I hope that the Limo driver, the limo owner, and the Starbucks owner, find out the names of the groups that partook in these actions, and sue them for damages, along with civil rights violations, interference with  commerce, assault and battery, and then the wonderful all encompassing pain and suffering.

I hope the Justice Department goes after these anarchist groups for the civil rights violations of anyone who wanted to watch, walk or go near the Inauguration through the area that was trashed. I hope they charge them with civil rights violations for destroying the livelihood of the Moslem man, and the assault on the Irish driver. Considering the number of police officers hurt, I hope they go after these groups under charges of domestic terrorism.

It is time that society stood up and said enough.

If our autistic children, are required, under pain of expulsion, detention, or some other kind of punishment, to behave in a certain acceptable way, then  others need to be required to do the same. And not simply give the thugs a slap on the wrist.

Yes, I used the words thugs. I am tired of beating around the bush and not being able to say words that aptly describe someone because of political correctness. Thugs are violent, evil people. And simply because you think you have a political cause that enables you to behave inappropriately, doesn't mean you do. You are a thug. In fact, when you use violence in order to try to get your way politically, that is called terrorism. Maybe its time we started using appropriate labels to those that think they can run riot through towns even if they are members of the "Left."

Besides, how do we teach our children, who learn by example, that this rioting behavior is not ok if there are no major consequences to the rioters actions? How do we say, that there isn't two levels of treatment. One for the anarchists, because they claim a political redress, and one for our children, who actually are dealing with developmental delays? Which of the two groups actually should be given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to punishment and lack of comprehension? 

I know that even today, I try to continue to teach my youngmen the right way versus the wrong way to interact with people. I try to teach them the right way and the inappropriate way to channel your grievances and your disappointment. They don't always listen, but there are also consequences when they don't.

Here's another lesson: the Women's March. There was NOT one incident of violence, harm, or breaking the law. I may not have agreed with the march (I thought it was premature, and rather stupid with their pussycat hats and vagina costumes). But there were millions that walked, chanted, sang and interacted on a healthy, socially appropriate level. Now I don't think that swear words, insinuating that the President is incestuous, or that it is ok to call for the destruction of an ally (several of the speakers were known virulent antisemites), is the way to actually be intelligent, but legally they did not a thing wrong. It would have been nice though if they did find a way to clean up after themselves, instead of leaving garbage strewn all over the place, costing taxpayers thousands upon thousands to have to have someone clean up after them. Not illegal, just unthoughtful, and quite frankly not very eco-friendly either.

So you can point to the Women's March as an exhibit of legal, social, and even appropriate anger behavior management. Show your children that there are ways to get your ideas across that are acceptable in society. That group marches can, and do, come off without harm to another person. That large groups of people can come together and kvetch all they want about something that hasn't happened yet. This march was the exercise of the First Amendment in full exhibition.

Listen I know I am being specious. But I have no use for wasted time and effort. In life you have just so much political capital. Choose wisely how you use it. If you complain too much, even people of good conscience, will simply turn you off.

I also think that is a good behavioral management lesson for the boys as well. Pick your battles. Pick what you are going to fight for and work on at the time. You cannot work on every issue you have all at once, no matter what your child's IEP may say. 

Personally, for the special needs community, I think the really big issue right now is the fact that the Department of Education nominee, doesn't know what the IDEA is, and how it is applied to school districts. Now my boys are out of public school, and are not dependent on that piece of legislation. But that doesn't keep me from being concerned for others. 

If we need a march, that is the march we should have, along with letting the Congress know that there are certain aspects of Obamacare that in truth is keeping many of us alive. Moreover, under Obamacare so many of us finally are able to even get healthcare for ourselves or our children. Whether it is the preexisting issue clause, the autism related supports, allowing children up to 26 to stay on your insurance, and stopping lifetime caps of payments, getting rid of these provisions are the things that worry so many of us. I do know that many are also worried about going back to a block grant medicaid program. They believe this will cut funding, since the states will not supplement, and hurt supports for the disabled. Also though, it would be good if they did something about the cost. 

My premiums, which we pay out of pocket, have gone up by 1/3 and we now have to pay Mr.GS1's COBRA as well.  Moreover, because we chose the less expensive model for our son, the deductibles, for his policy are out of bounds. We took a shot that he wouldn't need major surgery, or have major health problems this year. We will see if we chose wisely. I will let you know in  December. (Honestly it was the difference between $500 a month or $1000 a month-I kid you not.) The boy also only makes minimum wage. What is he supposed to do with that first? And the Obamacare policies here in NY are abysmal.

So here are my final thoughts:

We have seen within less than a week, anger management, behavioral management and social convention in actual play. We have seen much of it fail, but at the same time we did see a successful application as well. The lessons are immense for our children.

Depending on their age show them and talk to them about what happened. 

Point out the pluses, the minuses and explain how everything does apply to them. Teach them a better way to behave when you are upset about a political outcome than rioting. Show them that sometimes there is power in large groups coming together.

Use the present political climate, which in truth, none of us can really avoid, to explain how the lessons they are learning today, are actually needed throughout their lives.

Then secretly crack open a bottle of Jack Daniels. I think we are going to need alot of that in the years to come.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Not only was Barron Trump bullied by adults, he was bullied about his "supposed disability".....think about that you defenders of political correctness

I simply can't believe that this has to be said:  because you dislike the parents' politics, you do not have the right to bully the child. 

It wasn't ok when Rush did it to Chelsea Clinton. (In very nice fashion Chelsea tweeted out telling everyone to leave Barron Trump alone.) The Obama girls were, and still are off limits. Even those who picked on the Bush twins, although at the time of their father's presidency were technically adults, were really thought of as déclassé. So what is wrong with some Leftists/Progressives that think it is fine to pick on Barron Trump, a child no less, that many even think might be on the autism spectrum?

What is wrong with these people? I wouldn't say adults, because adults with any kind of upbringing, do not bully, pick on, or try to hurt a child at any point in their lives. I get it, they don't like what his father stands for. So be the grownass adult you claim to be, and direct your anger at the father.

Or in the alternative, if you are that hard up for someone to bully, because you disagree with Trump's politics, then say something mean about Barron's mother. Of course, the Left did try that with the slut-shaming episodes against Melania from months ago. But you see, that didn't get them the attention they apparently crave, so forward went the brave Lefties to picking on a ten-year-old child.

A child, by the way, who sweetly played with his little nephew, while his father signed an executive order.

The best part of the attacks were that these so-called comedians, one who writes for SNL and other who writes for Comedy Central, is that they were making fun of Barron's possible disability. They hooked into his lack of engagement. His quiet demeanor. His standoffishness. They decided that he has mental health, and social issues, and this became fodder for laughs.

Interestingly, during the Obama era, when someone went on social media, and made racist, or inelegant jokes that caught fire, they had their lives ruined. When a communication director for a congressperson chastised the Obama girls for their clothes, she lost her job. We became cognizant of how we spoke, what we spoke, and the effect it had on other people.

It wasn't a bad thing. Words have meaning, and words do hurt.

From a libertarian perspective, of course, politically correct speech is terrible.  (Don't send me emails) But people also need to remember that your rights do end at the tip of my nose.

Yet, from a human perspective, is it really so bad to pay attention to the words you use, and to think how those words really would affect others around you? It is really so bad to have just a little compassion? Is it so bad to think beyond yourself?

But somehow these two sad excuses for jokers who picked on Barron Trump, are still employed. (See update below)(They are the primary example, not the only ones. There was the general nastiness you see on twitter or social media. It was a fire storm of piggishness.) Yes, they should be fired. Fired not simply because they thought it was ok to pick on a child, which is bad enough, but also fired for thinking it is ok to demean another human being because they have a disability, or a mental health issue.

Remember, you may have the right to say anything you please, but your employer also has the right to fire you when you hold them up to ridicule, derision, and opprobrium. Employers are not the government, they can, and do, expect that you do not put their reputation into question. Employees cannot cause an employer financial loss, or potential disgrace.

Funny that, though, no one seems to have chastised SNL, or Comedy Central for employing such losers.

In truth, Comedy Central is no longer funny.

And the only thing SNL has going for it right now is Alec Baldwin.

What I think it also says about this show or TV station, though, is that somehow they have decided that it is ok to demean certain other human beings they disagree with. No one and nothing is off limits. But if in the alternative, you ever demeaned them, or their child, they would raise holy hell.

Heck, you can't make fun of their icons or idols either. How many jokes were ever really made about Obama? Ironically, in an almost North Korean like exhibit,  SNL had a tribute to Obama on their last show. You would think that the world was burying the Messiah all over again.

The truth of the matter is that in our world today, there seem to be very few true grownups.

The Left complains about Trump's classlessness, and yet they themselves are just as classless.

But the most convoluted part of the entire situation, is that the Left, which prides itself on standing for human, and civil rights, thinks nothing of picking on a child, and picking on that child's supposed disability. Think about it. The self appointed watchdogs of humanity, think that the disabled are fair game for derision, censure, and hate, as long as they don't like your family.

Yes, hate. They used supposed disabilities as fodder for their hate.

Again, there was much talk about Trump and his mocking of a disabled reporter. Pages, and pages, and pages were written about his horribleness, his carelessness, his disrespect for the reporter's humanity.

But how many on the Left actually laughed at the jokes mocking a child's probable disability? That is the question that needs to be answered. That is also NOW the question you need to ask yourself, next time anyone on the Left chastises Trump for anything.

The Left really is no better than the things they despise about Trump.

Hypocrites, and losers. The lot of them.

UPDATE: From the Washington Free Beacon

SNL writer Katie Rich issued an apology on Twitter at 3 p.m. eastern Monday calling her joke “inexcusable.” She sent the Tweet about 30 minutes before the announcement that she had been suspended from the show indefinitely. A source at SNL told Deadline that the suspension occurred “immediately” after the offending tweet.

This was nice to see. All children are off limits. Finally. Good.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Speechless on ABC- a definite much watch

I waited awhile to talk about the new comedy on ABC, which details the lives of an iconoclast family that includes among others, a teenage son, JJ, who happens to have cerebral palsy. The title "Speechless," comes from this particular character's inability to speak. More importantly however, it's also about how even if you are nonverbal you can still be heard loudly, and clearly.

This show hits on many issues that those of us who live in special needs families deal with on a daily basis. The season began with the mom fighting to get JJ the appropriate access and accommodations so he could attend the local public high school. There was the discussion about how moving into the richer neighborhood will get JJ a better education, and the family's other two typical children as well. But it brings to mind the fact that across the US, education is haphazard. While there is a basis in federal law, the IDEA, we know that every state can, and does, interpret the requirements differently.

In fact, at present there is a case before the Supreme Court to finally decide what does it mean by a free and appropriate education (FAPE). Some courts have held that FAPE means that the school needs to address a modest education, while others say all the districts have to do is address the medical or special needs of the child. The court seems to understand that each child needs more than a "modest" or basic education, but are at a loss on how to handle it, or pay for it. HERE However, one of the plaintiff's lawyers rightly points out that the law doesn't become dormant because of the cost of educating a special needs, or disabled individual.

Now we all know the anxiety that actually talking to the school about your child's needs can cause. Days, or even weeks, before yearly IEP meetings, we all lay in bed going over and over any scenario that we might have to argue about why our child may need, and in fact, are entitled to a particular support system.

Here is another one of my favorite scenes where the mom, Maya, played by Minnie Driver, is actually arguing with the principal of the high school about JJ's supports. But the funny thing, because after all it is a comedy, is that she doesn't let the principal get a word in edgewise. In fact, the mom plays both parts in the argument, argues both sides, much like we do when we argue with ourselves right before our children's yearly reviews. Of course, at the end of Maya's "argument" with the principal, the school concludes that JJ will get what he needs without question. The principal is so dumbfounded that she smiles sweetly and relents.

Sadly, we all know that, that is not the usual situation. You can argue till you turn blue, and many times the school districts will not do what your child needs in order to succeed. That is in fact why today's case before SCOTUS is so important. Hopefully they will set out a standard of care that every district has to follow when it comes to our children. And hopefully that standard will treat our children with respect as the fully capable students that they are, and not only allow the schools to see their disability, but demand that school see them as human beings first and disabled second.

But I simply loved how what Maya did was what I did for decades right before my sons' IEP meetings. In fact, today I even deal with issues, or quandaries, when we have to talk to people about their support and their rights. I will be driving in my car, and I will will be playing over and over in my head conversations, and arguing with myself out loud to the point that many times I get asked what is wrong? I laugh of course, because I know that I am simply being anxious. But I am also glad to know that I am not the only one who does this, or this parental idiosyncrasy wouldn't be portrayed so prominently in this comedy.

Meanwhile, what you see in this comedy is how the family handles one issue after another. And they do not neglect to show how the typical siblings handle JJs issues, or in fact how much time the parents need to give JJ instead of them. There is the resentment by the siblings, and then the guilt. In one episode JJ goes off with his aide, that of course the mom found not the school, to Disney, while the family has a day without JJ. The other kids want to go play paintball. Afterall, they don't do anything together in which JJ can't partake.

Well they go t paintball. They have fun. They are so excited to be able to do things like a "normal" family. But then they realize that what is normal for their family is just fine. Dylan (sister) and Ray (brother) are racked with guilt that they could have so much fun without JJ, and that at the time didn't even miss him. How the kids resolve who they are, and who their family happens to be is delightful.

But again, it is a real issue and real problems that typical siblings of special needs families deal with day in and day out. These children bear a lot of burden, and without a doubt are much older emotionally than their years would ever suggest. For information about how to support typical siblings in a special needs family start HERE or HERE. There are also psychologists, and programs such as Sibshop, that deal with the issues particular to these family situations.
There is also an episode where Ray during a family vacation has an appendicitis attack and the mom, is well prepared at the hospital. She not only knows every medical issue about him, but she has it filed, collated, color coded, and delineated as to what the doctors will find important. This is where Ray realizes, that his mom does not simply love and dote on JJ, but that she is on top of everything for everyone in the family and that without a doubt she loves Ray, too. He realizes that to his parents, and especially his mom, he is as important as his brother, and this actuality makes his day.

Now last nights episode, I think was one of the best. It showed how the family has to deal with, cajole, bargain,  and fight with the health insurance company to simply get JJ what he needs in order to function as a human being. For any of us who have had to deal with insurance companies, and the hours on the phone, plus the pushback, and the sheer distress of the red-tape, we know what it is like to know your child should be given X, and instead they deliver Y. Even in today's day and age, with Obamacare, and the ADA, our kids so often get the short end of the stick when it comes to services. So many of us live with the reality that if you can't afford it, and if the insurance company doesn't pay for it,  your child goes without, even if it is proven that a particular therapy or support program would make a difference in their lives and for their future. You cannot afford everything in life, and sometimes the choices are real, hard and distressful.

Another aspect of last nights episode was something that I find disability advocates talk about a lot.  They called it "inspiration porn." It states that disabled persons are not seen as human beings, but as one-dimensional characters only put on this Earth so able bodied people can feel good about themselves when they do the "humanitarian" thing and treat the disabled with respect. The show highlighted how so many of the able bodied only look at the disabled as a means to make themselves into better persons, instead of viewing the disabled as individuals in their own right.

An interesting segway in the show was how Kenneth, JJ's aide, who is African-American, pointed out Hollywood's use of the "magical negro" trope during a discussion about the cliches associated with the disabled. Kenneth explains that this character is usually represented as a folksy, barely literate character, with special magical powers or incite, that is used to help the white protagonist figure out the correct and noble answer to the film's perplexing issues, much like Hollywood tends to use disabled persons. On a funny note, the show ends, with Kenneth fading off into fairy land, with only his disembodied voice being heard,  basically an example of the plot device epitomized by the "magical negro."

It is a comedy afterall.

But the lessons for society are there.

Truth is, it is great to see what we deal with on so many levels in a such a lovely show. Everything is not dark, or traumatizing. Everything we deal with isn't depression. Yes we have bad days, but mostly we have good days. So many shows that have had a disabled character, like Parenthood, end up annoying. I did not like how autism, the autistic boy Max, the parents, or how so many of the issues were handled, and portrayed the longer Parenthood was on.

On the other hand, Speechless makes us laugh at ourselves. It takes issues that we deal with on a daily basis and turns the light on, in a funny enlightening manner. Just maybe, society is then being taught a valuable and effective lesson. That lives of special needs families are not sad, horrible, or depressing. Our lives are not something to be used as some sort of religious outgrowth. We are not to be pitied, or treated as the"other."

We are not here to teach, even though as I always say about autism awareness month, that every day is autism awareness day where the boys are concerned. You can't help it. They exist. They live their lives. So anyone dealing with them is getting a lesson in autism awareness whether these neurotypicals are aware of that or not.

Speechless shows that special needs families are here to live our lives with the same gusto, rights and joys as everyone other family. We are human and entitled to be a part of the world in which we live. But above all, this show teaches that our children are first and foremost human beings, not autistic, disabled, or special needs human beings, and the world is obligated to treat them with respect because they are human, and for no other reason at all.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Perfidy, Janus-faced, and the Reality of Modern Politics

What a difference an election makes. Apparently, the past eight years, when the republicans and conservatives continually chastised, upbraided, questioned, fought with and conspiracized about Barack Obama, are gone in a flash, down the lost rabbit memory hole. Somehow you are not allowed, upon pain of being called a traitor, a lair, pathetic, an Islamists (I kid you not), to question our President-elect. It seems that the honor and right of questioning our political class has now become an act of treason, equal only to the treason of the Rosenbergs. And oh, that particular antisemitic itch gets scratched continually too.
We decried the two-faced, double standard, antisemitic dog-whistle of “Israel-firster” meme fame, that the Obama administration employed against those that disagreed with them about their Middle East policy, most notably used against Obama's middle east advisor Dennis Ross. Interestingly too, it seems that if you disagree with our incoming President, you are not only an Israel-firster, but part of that Elder Cabal just waiting to suck the blood out of some unsuspecting Christian neighbor.
The paranoia and conspiracy contretemps of those who feel that any digression from worship, or acknowledgement, of the magnificence projected by their leader, has Trump adherents melting down as if they are adult versions of that spoiled toddler who is not being allowed candy, or their burning cross, before bedtime.  Of course, considering their icon, and his behavior, it is not surprising that they follow his behavioral lead, including not following social convention, or the decency rules associated with human interaction. And no I don’t think Trump is an antisemite. I simply think he is a batcrap crazy narcissist, who doesn’t particularly care about anyone but himself. Much like a two-year-old, he wants,  what he wants, when he wants it.
But the biggest surprise I faced, was the utter sheer disregard for the truth of the matter that Trump bullied and made fun of  disabled reporter, Serge Kovaleski. Not only have Trumpkins gone off the deep end, defaming Meryl Street because of her comments at the Golden Globes, but they have decided that she has no right to say anything to support the idea that the President of the United States needs to be a gracious, magnanimous individual instead of a classless, overbearing, boor of a bourgeois dilettante, because of her past support of Roman Polanski.
Truth there is no defense of Polanski, and sadly Hollywood does earn the moniker Hollyweird for a reason. The idea that you support a pedophile simply because you consider them a great artist is revolting. In fact, when the Hollywood community did defend Polanski, notoriously Whoopi Goldberg on The View actually saying it was not a big deal because it wasn’t “rape, rape,” they were rightly upbraided, chastised, and held to open contempt.
But simply because Streep has the bad taste, or is so totally clueless as to the truth of the matter concerning Polanski, does not mean she was wrong about Trump and his bullying of Kovaleski. The insanity of this interaction is that Trump supporters tried to tell me that he didn’t bully him because he was disabled, that Trump mocks everyone who disagrees with him that way. So their basic defense is that he was not simply an asshole to Kovaleski, he is just generally an asshole to everyone. Perhaps, in their minds eye this is some kind of positive point on Trump’s behalf, but I fail to see as to how his bullying behavior can ever be seen as appropriate.

Read the rest HERE

Friday, January 6, 2017

Another Aspect of Social Skills

By now we have all heard the horror story out of Chicago, about the autistic teen who was kidnapped and then tortured for two days. It is without a doubt one of the nightmares we live with. It is believed, that the victim went with the group because he knew one of them from school. He probably felt secure, and unafraid, due to the familiarity with that person.

So the issue becomes what do we do in order to keep our children safe from predators like the sociopaths in Chicago? I will tell you the truth....I have no answer. The older my sons have gotten the more I have feared a scenario where someone they trusted took advantage of them. That some predator will see a vulnerable human being, and harm them.

Recently hubby had even turned to me and wondered how do we keep the boys safe, after hearing about a robbery near Mr.GS1's office. "People are just evil," he said. Yes, his was an overgeneralization, but then again,  it is not the average person you need to worry about having contact with your child. It is that pathological individual from whom we all have to be protected.

It is the truth of the matter, that our autistic children are more vulnerable than their peers in this social situation, because they lack the natural protection of being able to read signals, body language and in general they have a naive, very positive look at the world around them. It is one thing to always think well of people. It is another to not know how to protect yourself, and see before you when a situation, or persons, may be a danger.

How do we teach our very trusting children to pay attention to those social signals throughout their lives that they are apt to miss? It is of course one thing to worry about the lack of social awareness in typical situations. It is one thing to need to teach your child manners (etiquette), how to interact with respect, take turns, even modulate their tone. This is simply teaching them how to navigate the times when they don't understand normal social convention. But beyond the everyday niceties that we find so important,  how do we teach them the signals that the rest of us learn about self-preservation?

Now MrGS1 learned at a young age that those you consider your friends may not be your friends. He had peers, who were supposed to be part of his support system, join with his bully-tormentors and partake in the abuse. He had been so alienated throughout high school by students in our town, that it took years at college before he even decided to open up and talk to other students. But even with therapy he was loathe to try to make friends. He may be safer that way. No hurt, and no harm. But it is not a good way to live in the longrun, and we are still working on getting him more integrated into life. Heck, even at work, while people are kind to him and understanding, they are decades his senior and no one exists there to simply befriend, and hang with.

MrGS2 on the other hand, never had the alienation and bullying issues that his brother dealt with, and never was leery of his peers. He did try to be socially adept at college, and even at graduate school. The issue we have here, is that he is trusting and not concerned enough about the people he talks to on social media. While he understands that there are predators in this world, and especially on line, he thinks he can spot them, and that he is smart enough to work around them.

In truth this is not only an issue with those with autism. We hear about the teenager who has met someone on line, and has run away, or the person who has a date from an online service, (men and women) then ends up being a victim of a terrible crime.

One of the first incidents of this kind, was a youngman in France, who had met someone on line and went to innocently meet her for a date. He was kidnapped and tortured to death by a group of  the date's friends, she was happily part of the conspiracy, because he was Jewish. There was no special needs situation with this young French man. He was trusting, and thought he knew the person on line well enough to meet her.

We can teach our children not to talk to strangers.
We can teach our children not to get into  car with someone you don't know.
We can teach our children that when you befriend someone, make sure that a family member has a phone number, a name, and an address where that person lives.
We can teach our children what to do in an emergency.
We can teach our children selfdefense, and where to run for help.
But what do you do, when the predator is actually someone they know, whom they trust, that is part of their circle?
But how do you prepare them, without scaring them, that not everyone who pretends to be your friend, is actually your friend?

I have no answer, except to try to get them to understand how they need to not trust everyone,  that everyone they meet is not their friend, and that even when people say they have your best interest at heart, some really do not. It is not a nice way to live. But it is part of the world in which we live. In fact, we all live that way in our world. It is something they need to learn to traverse as well.

Just another aspect of their confusing social world.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Set a goal, but don't call it a resolution, then do it

I stopped making New Year's resolutions years ago. I realized that nope, not gonna keep them. So why make myself a liar?

But I think in retrospect, the good part of making resolutions is to take a detailed analysis of your life and figure out that one area that you can make better. Yes, we are all works in progress, and probably have more than one area that needs some readjustment. But really how much can we do at one time and do it well?

What I also learned is that the across the board idea of "loosing weight," or "going to work out more," doesn't really help you change your life for the better. What we need to do is actually be more detailed or more exacting about what it is we want to accomplish.

It's like what teachers do for our children in the IEP. There are overarching goals, but each goal is then broken down into more manageable parts. One goal can have ten steps to fruition. That way as you pass each subset of the goal, you can feel proud without having to wait for the final product.

Also make one goal. Just one. I know that our children may have many goals on their IEPs, and they have to work at every goal throughout the year. But for us, as adults, I personally think that we will be more successful if we hunker down and work on one thing at a time. Besides, when you work hard to accomplish one goal, there may be side benefits that will help us reevaluate what we need to work on in the future.

And one major point too...while New Year's goals are a social convention, it doesn't mean that you can't add a new goal in the middle of the year. If you happen to finish your goal, or even as you see that some of your subset reaches can be part and parcel of another objective, you can find a new achievement to work on.

So in the end. Pick one thing and break it down. Even pick an easy mark.

You want to eat healthier.
Start by saying "I will eat one piece of fruit a day." Then find a fruit you like and eat it.
After eating the fruit for a month, add in having a green salad everyday or every other day.
Then add in cutting back on bad fats.
Then add in good fats.
Figure that once a month you will change, for the better how you eat.
That way you will get used to the new tastes and be ready for the next one. Eventually you will find that you actually crave the better food and want to continue with your food goal. If you had changed everything all at once, that is when you slip back into bad habits.

And if you want to exercise add in that you will exercise for 15 minutes every day.
Or make it three times a week.
Increase it incrementally until you can do 1 hour of cardio 3 times a week.
Add in core work along the way. Do 5 minutes at the end of your cardio.
Over several months, as you up your cardio, increase your core work up to 15 minutes.
Then add in free weights or the body weight exercises to add muscle mass.
Go slow.
You will be more successful that way.
If you demand hours of exercise at the very beginning, you will not only become frustrated and quit, you will most definitely injure yourself.

See your goal as a year long exercise, where you are trying to simply change to a healthier lifestyle. So by the end of 2017, you will be successful.

Maybe you want your goal to be that you will begin blogging.
Pick a service you like.
Take your time to set up a site.
Also don't say you will post every day or even once a week. Look at it realistically and decide that you will post every other week or even once a month, and slowly increase your output. You will find the more you do it, the easier it will get.

Maybe you want to go back to school or find a new career.
Go to the online services like Coursera, or Lynda.
Try out different classes.
See where you can put your talents.
Take one class at a time, and see if you can slowly figure out a new path.
Don't rush into several courses at once.
If you fail, you will never know if it was because there was too much on your plate, or that you really simply didn't like the courses you took.


So what ever you plant to do, or whatever goal you decide to embrace, remember to go slowly, forgive yourself if you get distracted, and simply turn around and start again.