Sunday, September 6, 2015

The " in my day" Myth.

It happens without fail. Consider yourself lucky if you haven't had some know-it-all Judgey McJudgerton tell you how your child with autism, or a sensory disorder are simply "misbehaved". It's almost as if they'd pee themselves if they couldn't get their verbal vomited opinions out. It's as if they feel they're providing a public service by telling you that deep down... it's all your fault.

You see, " in their day", children like that would be considered brats. Perhaps if you disciplined them more, they'd behave better. If there were more spankings, there would be less problems with your heathen child. Autism, Smutism. Doesn't everyone have that now? You just want to label your child. There's nothing wrong with them that a good ass whooping/dietary change/rules and structure wouldn't solve.

Now, I could go into the fallacies of these statements. How crime is actually on the decline. How even though I'm not really an anti-spanking person, that research shows some very negative consequences to spanking- especially if done in excess of weekly.

What I'm going to do is go into WHY many people believe this myth. Especially if they're over the age of 40 or 50.

When a person who is middle aged or older tells you that they didn't see this behavior much when they were kids, they are in fact probably telling you the truth. They didn't. The reason why is not because children were better behaved, or because of the "autism epidemic" that people so enjoy flashing around. It's because most children that had these sorts of issues were institutionalized. In fact, people with neurological disorders like autism and sensory disorders are still institutionalized. It just isn't as prevalent as it was in the past.

The first person to use the term "autism" was Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, in 1911. It was in the 1940's that American researchers started using the word "autism". It was during this time that Leo Kanner, and Hans Asperger started to identify the true elements of autism, and aspergers, respectively. Primary therapies for the time were, electroshock therapy, LSD medication, and some behavioral therapies. Most mothers were blamed for it (refrigerator mothers), and institutionalizing was a common practice.

Temple Grandin's parents were told to institutionalize her. People incorrectly believe that Temple Grandin was diagnosed with Asperger's, which people commonly equate to "mild" symptoms (this isn't always the case). Temple Grandin actually has classic autism, and she was by no means mild in her diagnosis. Her parents refused to institutionalize her. Since then, she has been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2010 by Time Magazine.

It was also suggested that Daryl Hannah be institutionalized. She was also diagnosed with autism as a child. Since modern methods for autism treatment weren't in existence, medication and institutionalization was suggested for her. Her autism impacted her so much that she took a long hiatus from acting because of it. That being said, she is heavily involved in activism. She lives green, including having a truck that runs on vegetable oil.

What is my point in all of this? My point is that people from older generations, or less educated circles, were raised to believe that people with things such as autism were undesirable. Not only that, but they very seldom had to associate with someone who had classic autism. If they did, usually it would be someone with lesser symptoms who could "pass" in society. You know, those "weirdos"? The "creepy", or "nerdy" types that were picked on so mercilessly in school? Those were some of your undercover autistics. Otherwise, people with more severe symptoms were commonly not in the public eye.

So, when someone tells you, "Back in their day, kids like this were considered brats.", you should believe them. Then you should roll your eyes and move on. They are nothing more then relics of a generation that hid their children away instead of helping them. It isn't necessarily their fault that society indoctrinated the world with such a view, but it's their fault that they choose not to evolve and educate themselves on it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

How to spot an abuser or enabler.

Several years ago I was in an abusive relationship. The relationship started out nicely, with a strong dominant male who described himself as “just old fashion”. By the end of our relationship, it had escalated into actual domestic violence. My abuser was arrested for choking me so hard that I got whiplash, and for headbutting me in the face.

Right after he was arrested, as my sister-in-law and I were packing up my things, my sister-in-law found a kitchen knife stashed in my bedroom closet. As I looked at that knife, I realized that my abuser had preemptively placed that knife in our bedroom closet as I fled from our apartment. He had actually refused initially to let me leave the apartment, or use the phone in our apartment after he had beat me. Once I finally got out, I went to the apartment upstairs and called my mother. Based on my appearance, and what I said to my mother, it was our neighbor who actually called the police.

The last thing that my abuser ever said to me was, “ Who the hell would want you now?”

This is the anatomy of an abuser.

Would it surprise you if I told you that that was the first time he ever laid a hand on me in almost 5 years? It was. It doesn't matter. He was an abuser, and had I known what I know now, I would have realized that far earlier than I did.

So, what exactly is an abuser?

An abusive person will:

1. Use any tactic they can to maintain control and make themselves feel superior and dominant. These tactics don't always involve using your fists, either. Verbal abuse is an under-acknowledged tool that abusers use to gain control over another person. Holding people accountable for their behavior is one thing. That being said, if you're screaming in someone's face, you're being abusive. If you purposely try to publicly humiliate someone else, you're being abusive. If you're throwing things around or at people, you're being abusive. There are many ways to be abusive without touching someone directly.

2. Blaming others for your lack of self control, or behavior. Everyone who has ever lived has either lost their temper, or said something they shouldn't have to another person. What makes a person abusive is when they not only refuse to hold themselves accountable for their own behaviors, but blame others for their lack of self control. No one can make you act a certain way. You are the one who is responsible for your own actions.

An abusive person will manipulate the situation to make you feel like it's your fault. They might even say, “ Well if he/she didn't say/do this, then it wouldn't have happened.” That's not the way it actually works. My four-year-old daughter frustrates me with her behavior, too. Does that give me license to scream in her face, hit her, or try to humiliate her? If your answer is no, then that mindset should extend to the adults you interact with as well.

3. Relies on the enabling of others to justify their behavior. An enabler is an abuser's best friend. Abusers will likely enlist the help of people who don't necessarily agree with them, but will either stay silent, or actually actively side with the abuser as to not make waves. Sometimes an abuser will actually garner sympathy from other people in an attempt to discredit the victim's feelings. Family members will often attempt to make excuses for the abuser, and they'll try to justify their bad behavior. Sometimes this backfires on the enablers since this tactic is in essence teaching the abuser that their behavior is acceptable.

What can I do if I know an abuser or I am being abusive?

1. Be honest with yourself. Everyone has probably done some of these things at any given time. The difference is whether one holds themselves accountable for those actions or not. Do you use your anger instead of your words when someone does something that bothers you? Do you ever apologize for your own behavior? If you don't, it doesn't necessarily mean you're an abuser. What it does mean is that there is some room for self awareness in your life.

If blowing up at people is a common theme in your life, then ask yourself why. Is it because you feel that you need to be in control of the situation? These are honest questions to ask yourself if you see any of yourself in this situation. If you can't figure it out on your own, then speak to someone that can help you- like a licensed therapist. People who have these traits tend to feel insecure and are generally not in control of their life. Let someone help you get control back in your life- without the anger and anxiety.

2. Don't enable poor behavior. Does this sound like a person in your life? First, has this person ever treated you the same way? Do you remember how you felt when that happened to you? If they have, then why would you want someone else to experience the same hurt and pain you have? If it isn't acceptable for you to be treated that way, then the same rules should apply to others as well.

If you've never been a victim of abusive behavior, how would you feel if you were? If you were in the same situation, would you feel that it was justified? It doesn't even matter if you agree with the abuser's opinion, either. If it were you, would you feel that this behavior was an acceptable way to treat you? If the answer is no, then you have some food for thought.

As an aside, if you're physically fearful of saying something to someone because you're fearful of their anger, or of making the situation worse? Then no further explanation is needed. You are an emotional hostage to that person. At best, you have a dysfunctional relationship. At worse, you're in an abusive relationship. Get out, now.

When my sister-in-law found that kitchen knife in our bedroom closet, the closet that my abuser and I shared, we stood there in stunned silence. Before the cops had arrived, he had begged me to stay (before his parting shot of, “Who the hell would want you now?”). It meant that he had took that knife and put it in our bedroom closet while I went upstairs and called my mother. It meant that he had every intention of using it against me. It meant that I was very lucky to walk out of that apartment alive.

If you're living this life, please do something about it. Get out. Leave. Or if this sounds like you, get yourself help. Don't allow yourself to be a victim, and don't allow yourself to treat someone like one.

Your life or another person's life could very well depend on it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A few suggestions on getting help for children with disabilities

Have you ever been to the Facebook page, "Shut up about your Perfect Kid!" If your child has a disability, this page is the place to be. First, they post questions from real people, with real problems. Second, the group itself tends to be a generally supportive group, and a great place to get information. Every once in a while, you get a Cranky McCrankerson commenting, but it's generally a really great place to participate in. If you need support, I would highly recommend them.

That being said.............

The reason I posted this question was because I wanted to address some of the statements I read in the comments section of this facebook post. I'm no expert on the world of childhood disabilities, but I've had to wade very deep into the waters. What I've noticed is that there are services out there aren't exactly advertised. As such, I wanted to address some of the statements I saw in hopes of spreading some information on WHAT services are available to you, and to clear up some incorrect information I saw posted.

The first thing I wanted to address in the comments was the assertion that the public school system can't "diagnose". Now, in term of what this person was asking... yes, that's true. A public school teacher in the United States CAN NOT diagnose your child. Might they be right? Perhaps. I can tell you that I've seen children that I've thought probably had some flavor of autism. That being said, my opinion will get you a big fat nothing in the world of autism. It won't get you services, and it won't get you a true diagnosis. That's because I'm not licensed to diagnose people with disabilities, and neither is that teacher. HOWEVER.........

Your public school psychologist CAN both administer, and give your child an autism rating on the spectrum. They are indeed qualified to do this. In fact, if that school psychologist were to leave the school and go into private practice, they could 100% diagnosis your child with autism. What a school psychologist will give your child is what's called an "education diagnosis". What does this do for you? It gets you services. Usually that means speech, special education services, and possibly even occupational and physical therapy. If your child is more severe, they might be placed in either an autism classroom, or placed in an actual autism school outside of the public school system. It all involves whether your child is in the "least restrictive environment"- which is what the school is required to do by law.

So, here's where this gets a little dicey. Let's say that you have a child who rates mild to moderate on the autism scale. You've went to the school, they've given your child an IEP, and they want your child in a special education classroom. The "least restrictive environment" for your child might not be the autism classroom. They might not need to go to a specialized school outside the district. Perhaps the schools believe your child doesn't need any other services. While they would get something like ABA therapy in other settings (autism classroom, or an autism school), they might not get it as much in a special ed class. Perhaps they don't think he or she needs occupational therapy. This is where your medical diagnosis comes in. To add, I'm NOT insulting the school system. My daughter's SPED team has been nothing but a delight. All I'm stating is how this often works. It involves many things, including: laws, resources, and funding.

A "medical diagnosis" will get you more services. I'm going to list a few of them below:

1. Additional services in general. Does you child need ABA therapy, or occupational therapy? Here's where you might get it much more easily.

2. Medicaid, and Medicaid waivers. If your child needs ABA therapy, or some other therapy, medicaid can be your life line.
  • Often, your private insurance will not COVER ABA therapy, even if they say they will. Medicaid can help with that.. especially if you can get a waiver, which I'll get into a bit in a moment.
  • Did you know that Medicaid will cover pull-ups and diapers past a certain age? That's right, they will often cover incontinence supplies. Just think about all the money THAT will save you.
  • Did you know that Medicaid can cover traveling expenses for your child? They'll often even pay you back for gas to doctor's appointments.

    3. Medicaid Waivers. The bane of my existence. So very difficult to get, but so worth it if you can obtain one. I'm in Virginia, so I'm not sure if everything applies, but I can tell you this..if it does, fight for it. In Virginia, there are three main waivers:
  • ECDC waiver- Elderly or Disabled with Consumer Direction waiver. This is the one my daughter is in the process of getting. It means she will get straight Medicaid regardless of our income. There's also some financial assistance it give to the family each year for home improvements for your child. An example of what constitutes as home improvements? Sensory items- trampolines, swings, locks? I heard of two people that had a pool put in their yards for their child because of this help. Seriously. Check it out.
  • The ID and DD waiver- Intellectual disability, OR the Developmental Disability waivers. In Virginia, we have waiting lists for these two waivers. That's why if you can get that ECDC waiver.. do it.

    *Now I know that I'm referring to what the state of Virginia offers with Medicaid. It might not be the same in your state. What I do know is that most states have some kind of waiver, or services like this for disabled children. Call your local social services. Call your community service boards. Get in contact with your local chapter for autism support and awareness, or whatever local group is around for the particular disability your child has. Also, find a Medicaid state approved hospital, and take your kid there if you can. Ask if they have a social worker on the staff that can help you with this. I believe ALL states MUST offer at least EPSDT (The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit). Don't let the name fool you either, it's for any child under age 21. As per the site:

    "The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit provides comprehensive and preventive health care services for children under age 21 who are enrolled in Medicaid. EPSDT is key to ensuring that children and adolescents receive appropriate preventive, dental, mental health, and developmental, and specialty services."

    4. Social Security- Oh, yes. You NEED a medical diagnosis from a mental health professional, or medical doctor to get SSI (Social Security Income).
  • Another thing that's a really huge pain in your tail. Very invasive, and you have to jump thru hoops.
  • You might make too much money. Their threshold is pretty ridiculous. you can't make over 40k for three people in your home.
  • Even if YOU DO make too much money, if you can get them to look at you.. here's why this works out for you.
  • a. Even if they decline you because of lack of income necessity, they might very well approve or acknowledge the medical disability.
  • b. That means your child is on file for being disabled.
  • c. That means that when your child is older, they'll have their medical disability on file.
  • d. Once your baby hits 18, then they can apply for themselves. They'll have a disability on file, and your income isn't SUPPOSED to to come into play at that point. So even if rejected for income, which is annoying, there's still some positives if they admit that your child has a medical disability. I'm sure they'll make your kid jump thru hoops AGAIN.. but there's a history now. That can't hurt.

    *I actually discussed this ^^^ with a SSA rep in person. This is what HE told me.

    Most of the things I discussed aren't exactly advertised. Regardless if this all applies to you or not, I think there is at least some valuable information for any parent looking at how to get services for their child. If I could give you one single piece of advice, I'd tell you to get BOTH diagnoses. Call your local public school, and ask that your child be evaluated. In the meantime, call your primary doctor and get a referral to a developmental pediatrician at the same time. Wait times (at least in Virginia) are long- better that you do it sooner rather than later. So, get them BOTH.

    Also, please don't get discouraged. Expect a LOT of phone calls, a LOT of home visits, and a LOT of run around- at least from the government aspect of this. The public school was actually amazingly quick at getting my daughter evaluated. Just saying that as frustrating and time consuming as it is, it can really pay off in the end with getting you help and services for your child.

    In closing, DON'T feel guilty about using these services, and DON'T let others make YOU feel that way. THIS is what these sort of things are for. If anyone gives you grief for getting assistance, I would suggest you ask them if they want your child to get help NOW, or do they just prefer to pay for your child for the rest of their natural lives? Truth is that many of these children have a high probability of having some level of independence if help is offered early. That usually shuts them up very quickly. Also, even if the above statement doesn't apply to your child, you can always ask them how they feel about children suffering because they have a problem with protecting those that can't protect themselves.

    This isn't a game for political idealogues. This is real life, and these kids need help. I used to feel guilty about public assistance too, but I got over it real quick. If you feel bad about being on the government dole because of your special needs kid... DON'T. If you happen to be reading this blog, and this is how you feel^^^... go away. No one anticipates having a special needs child. Just be thankful it's not you, and have a little compassion for those who are less fortunate than you.

    *Steps off my soap box*

    I hope that some of this information helped some of you, or at least cleared up a few things. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment. Any good information about this topic is also much appreciated.
  • Thursday, May 28, 2015

    Last day of school!!! Yay???

    Well, it's about that time! Time for me to slip off those yoga pants, and to actually shave those legs PAST the knee.

    That's right! It's summer break!!!

    Today is C's last day of school until August. Of course, that doesn't mean we won't have a busy itinerary for her, only that she won't be going to early intervention services with the public school this summer. She'll hopefully have ABA therapy starting soon, and I have a Case Manager coming over next week to discuss services as a result of her getting the ECDC waiver. Mostly involves respite care, I believe.. which I'm less interested in. It would be nice if they could help me lock down my house like Fort Knox since I've got such a dedicated little runner.

    I've read many comments on various special needs pages about the struggles of dealing with the public school system. I have to honest, for the most part? Nothing but a delight working with the SPED department. They evaluated my daughter pretty quickly, and she was in early intervention within a few months. To add, she (C) JUST had her appointment with her Developmental Pediatrician In April, and I actually contacted both the school and the doctor at the same time. It was around a 6 month wait. That's why I think it's wise to contact both the schools and the doctor, if applicable.

    Still, I wanted to talk about why early intervention services are so stinking important. The truth is that in only about 6 months, I've seen a tremendous difference in my daughter. When she first started school, her speech really wasn't there at all. In fact, they had to administer the module for non-verbal children when testing her for autism. Now, I would liken her speech to that of a two year old. As a point of reference, she'll be 4 in June. She still can't have an actual back and forth conversation, but she can certainly speak significantly better than she did. Huge improvement.

    One of her IEP goals is actually having her sit and "share joint attention" for something like 90 seconds. I've also seen a great deal of improvement with this as well. As I wrote above, she's a runner. This activity has helped with that somewhat.. though, I'm not letting go of that hand anytime soon. Barnes and Nobles seems to be her sensory overload Achilles' heel. If I let go of her hand in there, she'll literally run away from me, waving her arms over head, while screaming. So, good progress... but a lot more to go.

    I know they've been working with her on potty training as well. It's something I'm going to try and work with her on during summer break, too. There seems to be a disconnect with her that I don't really understand. She actually understands every single step of " going potty", but she just doesn't actually do it. The IEP goal right now is for her to at least tell an adult whether her diaper is wet of dry. My understanding is that 5 years old is the autism potty training sweet spot...but we'll see how that goes.

    So, on C's last day of school, I'm just writing this post, drinking a lot of coffee, and bracing myself for all the new services that should be starting this summer.

    I'm hoping everyone has a productive and fun summer this year. Hopefully with some naps.. lots and lots of naps.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2015

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015


    Very important question, guys.

    Can one overdose from eating too many Flintstones gummy vitamins?

    I'm not asking for me.

    I'm asking for a friend.. *wink wink*

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    The Mighty!

    I'm very pleased, happy, and appreciative that The Mighty gave me an opportunity to tell the story of my daughter on their webpage. If you have a chance, take a moment to peruse thru some of their stories.

    It's a very inspirational and beautiful community.

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Parents of children with autism: Get it together. Now.

    On a random, unremarkable Monday, I decided to do something I generally tend to avoid. Against my better judgment, I decided to join an Autism Support group on a fairly well known mommy's forum.

    Useful tips and information? Check. Parents whose children have varying degrees of autism on the spectrum? Check. Some know-it-all mommy making fun of what I say, or telling me I'm parenting my child with autism wrong? Check, check, and check.

    I answered a few questions first. So far, so good. Then I saw a post posing a question. A mother asked if we had one question to ask our autistic child, and they could answer back, what would it be? I answered that I would ask my daughter what I could do to help her, or how I could make things better for her. Pretty good answer, right? Apparently, not.

    Not only was I told that this was too much of an open and general question, but I was then given suggestions about how I should talk to my child. I explained that I was asked a question that I had simply answered, and that I would absolutely ask my child how I can help her when she has a meltdown. I was then told that she was just trying to help me “communicate better with my kiddo”. This was followed by another mother who acted as if I had said the most ridiculous thing she's ever heard...complete with the obligatory “LOL” in the context, to let me know how stupid I really was.

    I'd like to say that this is the only time I've seen this behavior, but it isn't. In fact, my daughter has only been diagnosed for a month, and I see it over and over again on numerous social media venues. If it's not the line drawn between “high functioning” and “low functioning”, it's arguing about vaccines, or arguments about how you should treat your child with autism. Hint: you're probably doing it wrong.

    Also, if you don't accommodate a child with autism a hundred percent, then you're an intolerant jackass that should be punched directly in the face. I'm not kidding you, I've seen this numerous times. I've seen parents of “neuro-typical” children attacked for saying that an autistic child shouldn't listen to a movie loudly during a church service. I've seen parents of autistic children enraged because a parent of a toddler doesn't want a 21 year old in the ball pit with their 2 year old child. I've seen cussing, screaming, and much to do about “insensitivity”, and “intolerance” against children with special needs.

    I have a message for parents in the autism community who act like this:

    Get your shit together. Immediately.

    You're supposed to be a community. You're supposed to be uplifting each other, not arguing with each other. Regardless of what your story is, aren't we all in this together? Let's stop disparaging each other, and start supporting each other a little bit more. Okay?

    Don't we want our children to be treated equally? If your child didn't have autism, would you let them sit in the middle of a church service and listen to a movie? I would certainly hope not. Would you think it's appropriate for a normal 21 year old to be playing in a toddler section of pretty much anywhere? I seriously doubt it.

    If we want others to be aware of our children, then we need to be aware of others as well. That means no free pass. Expect others to be tolerant. Don't expect them to bend over backwards for you. If you do, you'll be nothing but disappointed.

    You may be wondering what I did about the forum where I got those “super supportive” replies? Well, I left. I took my toys and I went home. Which is sad, because unbeknownst to them, my toy box is quite large. In it is my mother, who not only is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, but actually did Autism Day Placement for the public school system in our area.

    I actually have a great support system in place. Sadly, others don't. Let's get it together, people.

    Help is a beautiful thing for someone who really needs it, wouldn't you agree?