Friday, October 29, 2010

It's bigotry that needs to "die"

Today I want to talk about our school officials and the trust we put in them. Especially the trust we put into those we vote for and elect into place. We trust these people with the task of taking care of our school districts. We trust them with the well being of the education system of our children. Violating that trust is a heinous act.

Clint McCance is a board member somewhere in Arkansas who's earning his fifteen minutes of fame for violating that trust and being a true blue bigot. Recently, there was a day where people were asked to wear purple for five teens who committed suicide after being bullied for being gay. Point to consider: TEENS! That means, for all intent and purpose, these were children. Okay? So, recap on important points: School Board Member, Children.

If you click on the picture, you can see the direct quote from Mr. McCance where he suggests that suicide is appropriate for these CHILDREN.

I feel sorry for any teens in his district. Because Mr. McCance is telling them, if they are gay (or maybe any number of things that he doesn't like) they should kill themselves.

As far as I'm concerned, Mr. McCance is a failure and travesty to his position. I have half a mind to write to him and his board to tell them that. He should be made to step down. Just because he's elected, doesn't mean he should get to keep that position. After all, how long before he doesn't like "retards" and thinks our special needs kids should kill themselves? Please note the quotation marks as I don't agree with that word myself but it's what bigots like to use.

I feel this way for any person in our education system who does things like this, hurts our kids or their education, or shows their true colors to violate that trust at all. I don't care what state they are in. Our children are in school for an education on academics, not to learn how to end their lives because they don't measure up to some jerks expectations. Not to learn how to be bigots either. It's lack of acceptance in our over populated world that is just one more thing destroying us.

There are greater problems in our world than racial, ethnic, religious belief, or sexual preference. Seriously, maybe we should finally start working on things that need the attention. Our school system sure needs it and Mr. McCance is a shining example. How about housing and employment? How about war and our economy? How about a screwed up political system? How about crime? You know, rape, gangs, drugs, and weapons? Wow, wasn't hard for me to come up with a list was it?

Advocating suicide is wrong, I don't care why. And these were kids, that makes is all the more heinous. Take a stand.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dr. Nick Dubin arrested

In recent news I have learned of something that has shocked and dismayed me. I am very disappointed in this news as this is a person who's work I have supported. Dr. Nick Dubin, an advocate in support of learning about autism, who lives with Asperger's Syndrome himself, was arrested. Federal agents stormed his home and seized his computer. In his arrest he reportedly admitted to downloading child pornography for as much as the last two years. He also stated that he knew such downloading was illegal.

I have seen speculation that perhaps he was doing this in study of some form of bullying. Unfortunately, illegal is illegal, no matter your intentions. There are legal task forces assigned to such things and they are the only ones allowed to "download" content and specifically for purpose of catching the criminals who make the sickening stuff. No matter what Dr. Dubin's intention was, he's caught with illegal downloading.

Dr. Dubin has written several books on living with the difficulties of Asperger's syndrome and high functioning autism. He's taken on bullying in at least two books that I know of. He's been a public speaker across the country. I've spoken with him over the internet, though never met him in person. Even so, in seeing all the work he has done, this greatly disappoints me. I await the legal proceedings, but the very idea is just too gut wrenching.

Even so, I want to make a suggestion. I suggest that we try to take something from this that is still good information and that is the work that he has done. Even though, he faces charges for a vile offense, his work on autism, writings and educational material do not change in how correct they are. All of the information he compiled is still correct and good information. It should still be utilized. He has made good suggestions for bullying programs and compiled information on autism that can help you better understand people on the spectrum.

And please, his act is not to be contributed to being autistic. People with autism are not any more guaranteed to be deviant, perverted, or psychotic than anyone else. That is not autism, rather a different illness all it's own. And calling it an illness is not to excuse it. No, Dr. Dubin must face the law just like anyone else.

For those who know me closely, they know that I carry heavy disdain for anything pedophilia related in any way. Disdain? Try blood red hatred, that fits better. So maybe that helps to show just how disappointed I really am in Nick as a person right now. I'm not sure what spurred these choices, but it's really hard from my point of view to excuse them. And, while I wouldn't want to know this for most people; why, Nick? Why did you have to do something like this? Why did this have to be you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Learning from mistakes versus shame

My son made a couple of choice recently that he deeply regretted. I won't go into the details of them here and now. I would rather present the lesson they have brought us to.

In both of these situations his decision did get him scolded and corrected. They were serious decisions and did affect others around him. Recently he's taken to being hard on himself at various times of self frustration. He refers to himself in a harmful manner and degrades himself angrily. This has brought about an intervention of lesson that is very important for him. It told me he needs my support and if your child on the spectrum does this, they need your support too.

The lesson here and correction for this, is that it's more important to learn from our decisions and mistakes than to feel shame for them or beat ourselves up over them. No one wants us to hurt ourselves in any fashion. They prefer we learn something, make changes and move on. This is not such an easy thing for an autistic person to do in the first place. But if we apply early support to our children in this lesson, could it become easier for them? I sure hope so.

So I've told my son that I don't want him to call himself names or be ashamed (yes he used the word 'ashamed'). I want him to learn from his mistakes. His teachers want him to learn from them too. I've told him that I would never want him to feel shame or dislike himself over anything. We all make mistakes, sometimes they are embarrassing or silly, but mistakes all the same. We have to learn something from them so we don't make those mistakes again.

Next I asked him what he learned from this decision and talked with him about ways to avoid making that mistake in the future. In both cases it was about making a different decision, one that would keep him out of trouble. So long as he does that, there is no reason for him to worry any more.

But the rest of the lesson and intervention continues. It seems that this is a phase that must be dealt with. It requires correction and teaching so that he doesn't develop a habit of hurting himself as a mode of self punishment. No one deserves that and it's easy to fall into.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Anatomy of a schoolyard bully

Anatomy of a bully, what kinds are there? Does it make it any difference in how you deal with a bully to know where they're coming from? Maybe so. Nothing can change the fact that bullying is wrong and cruel. Nothing can change the fact that schools need to have a proactive stance on bullying. I think it's worth a look however, to try and see why the bully is partaking in his or her behavior. What's causing them to act out? To me, it seems that there are five types of schoolyard bully and these are totally my own definitions. Feel free to add your own views in comments.

The Angry Victim: This child is angry and hurt from some other issues that the school may not know about. He or she is taking their anger and pain out on others. They may be victims of bullying from larger kids, siblings or abusive parents. What ever the case, they need intervention and help.

Cruel: This is a child who has learned or been inspired somehow to be mean because they consider it "fun". This is the worst type of bully and should be looked at closely for possibilities of serious mental disorders.

Authoritarian: This child thinks they are somehow an authority or need to be the Sheriff of the school yard. They may be somewhat athletic and study in martial arts. They excuse their bullying by claiming they are "teaching someone a lesson". The sources from this could stem from any of the other bully types, but it makes them more dangerous because they truly think they're bullying is "justified" and they have the authority to do what they are doing. Could be a classic narcissistic trait. Leaders in college hazing fall in this category because they think that pledges must suffer to join the fraternity.

Discriminator: This is a bully more likely to commit hate crimes over race, religion, sexual preferences, or just being different. They commit their bullying because they think their target is somehow a lesser being and doesn't belong. This can go strongly in hand with Authoritarian and may often be combined.

Follower: This person is a bully by default and association more than anything. They may not even want to be a bully, but they are too afraid of the lead bully to do anything about it. They go along with bullying to avoid being the next victim.

We already know what happens to victims of bullying. They suffer loss of self esteem, post traumatic stress, and rise to risk of social outcast, drug abuse, and suicide. But what about the bully who is allowed to carry on without intervention?

Bullies who grow up learning that they can get away with the behavior risk falling into criminal lifestyles. They learn that violence or abusive behavior is acceptable and that only grows the longer it continues. Of all the bullies, the one who grows up to be the most dangerous is the Angry Victim. Since they are a combination of bully and victim they grow to be jaded and resentful. They carry all the risks of the victim with the possibility of being the one to explode and take others with them. Even their own families.

Next to this is the Cruel bully who does it for fun or entertainment. They will be abusive to their loved ones and use people for personal gain. It's been considered that several serial killers may fall into a category like this or the Angry Victim. Both could fall into criminal lifestyles easily with gangs or worse.

So, when it comes to preventing or taking any action against bullying, it's helpful to remember that both sides will hurt in the long run if nothing is done. Bullying hurts everyone and leads to broken lives on both sides. Knowing the source of a bully's behavior may help to intervene and correct. Again, there is no excuse for bullying, but the more ways we can find to combat it, the better.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stress and sensory overload

What triggers sensory overloads and rage reactions in autistics? Why is stress so hard to handle?

Many people with autism may find excess stress or negative stress in general difficult or triggering to them simply because of the natural effect stress has on our bodies.

Stress triggers a release of adrenaline naturally as a defense mechanism. Adrenaline amplifies sensory input or intake. Consider that people with autism already have senses that may be "turned up" or "amplified". They already have a natural level of difficulty with sensory issues. Add adrenaline and magnify that. The result is sensory overload which can trigger several forms of behavior response.

Not everyone is triggered the same way or as easily as one another. But something found to be unpleasant, such as a sound or texture, will only become more unpleasant as it continues because of the natural stress reaction.

It all depends on what our sensitivities are and how they affect us. It also depends on how much we've had to practice with that sensitivity to live with it. Some sensitivities can be lessened by dealing with them enough to raise resistance. Not all can be handled what way either depending on the level of sensitivity. My sensitivity to squeaking balloons is a good example. I can't tolerate it, it's painful. I've actually had a squeal happen near me at a high enough pitch that it made me cry out. Others, stared at me strangely. Fortunately, the sound was short lived. I still had to retreat and give myself some sensory deprivation while the adrenaline effect wore off.

Just having a single sensitivity to something doesn't make you autistic either. It's an extreme of sensory issues across the board. Some are too high, others are too low, and those not affected could be drowned out by those that are over loading.

Our brains naturally process everything we take in around us. They do so with a series of what I like to call "breakers" that allow us to sort the sensory input. These breakers allow you to ignore input that isn't important, like the ticking of a clock when you're trying to talk to someone. In sensory overload and sometimes without, that ticking can be too loud for us to ignore and we will struggle with it and every other sound in the room in order to concentrate on your voice.

The stress reaction is also physically exhausting. It's like your very senses have had a seizure and they leave you drained from your body fighting to compensate.

It's best to have an escape route or allow an escape route for calming measures. Patience is also a serious virtue. Autistics should not be pressured or rushed. Berating and yelling will only make things worse. Even still, those of us with autism should do our best (if we are high functioning enough) to know our own conditions and how they affect us. Knowledge is truly power.