Sunday, December 28, 2014

How Multiple Sclerosis affects my artwork

Recently a very cool friend of mine received the honor of an article in the Daily Light paper about how MS affected his music and ability to play. You can check it out HERE. I am so proud of my friend, Chris and all he's accomplished on explaining MS to people and raising awareness. It's an inspiration to me.

Now I'd like to share an online quote directed at me some time back.

"I don't think your condition is an excuse for bad artwork."

As many of you know, I'm the creator/writer/artist for my own universe of characters called, Galaxy Zento. To suggest my artwork is perfect would be a lie. I'm not perfect and I do my best with what I have left. The person who made that comment had no idea what they were talking about. So let me explain what it takes for an artist to put out awesome artwork.

Knowledge of form, good hand eye coordination and cognitive ability to transfer and translate from mind to paper. Seems simple right? Now lets look at that MS does to a person.

It destroys your freaking nerves. So hand coordination is shaky at best. If you look close enough at my work, you will notice that all my lines are wavy. All of them. Circle? Wavy circle. Oval? Wavy oval. Arms? Musculature? All with little waves everywhere. I can correct some on digital but even there I have to do what my messed up system allows if I ever want anyone to see it (this year).

Cognitive function is a mess. It's like trying to strain your thoughts through a colander or sifting mechanism and then make sense of the resulting mess. What I try to see in my mind and translate, is a fog. So I'm literally making up details as I go. Sometimes I can see it in my head really well. Other times, I can't see my character's faces. Try to figure THAT out. I get basic forms and basic shapes, then I have to muddle my through to make them work.

Now I tell myself that I simply have to own my own style and never give up. But it's not always that easy. There's so much of the story to tell and I don't know how much time I have to tell it. I'm racing against a clock of unknown time. It's headed for a point that I won't be able to draw a stick figure.

If you follow the link about and go through the albums, you can see differences in the pictures that show days that my poor head wasn't quite up to the job at hand. Sometimes I come up with good looking stuff, sometimes I don't and I have a lot of  trouble fixing it.

"Just find an artist." I do have someone on board, but please don't say this to me. I don't have up front funds and it dismisses the fact that this is a huge piece of myself that's fading decades before it should.

So, as you view the artwork of Galaxy Zento, know that every success is dedicated to others like myself (especially youth). Someday, I may have artists who put in because they believe in my reasons and can fall in love with the characters, but until then (and even after) I will continue this fight.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Church of Anti-Vaccine

Thanks to the pure abuse of scripture, thousands of idiots are exempting their children from vaccines. I wondered just how there could be anything in the bible that applies to vaccines, but then I underestimated the sheer power of crazy. Here they are:

I Corithians 6: 19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? …Therefore honor God with your body.”

II Corinthians 7:1, “…let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. 

So, essentially, they take their unproven ideas that vaccines are somehow malevolent poisons and apply them to these scriptures. Then they put it all into a tidy little letter to the schools or whoever and get themselves exempted. This is just one reason that 45% of Michigan residents are living in areas of high risk for outbreaks. Just check out THIS article on the matter. OH, and they're actually HAVING outbreaks and NO the sick people aren't vaccinated.

This got me thinking. Just how do you make anti-vaccine belief into a religion? What would the requirements be? Well, wonder no more. If you want to be part of the Church of Andrew Wakefield, here's all you have to do!

1: As the name suggests, you must worship Andrew Wakefield. Tell everyone else it's about God, but you really pray to Andrew because he's the guy!

2: Dismiss science as fakery unless it comes from Andrew Wakefield. Because only those who follow Andrew know real science. 

3: The official prayer is not putting your hands together; rather it's putting your fingers in your ears and shouting "LALALALALALALALA".

4: Believe that shaken baby syndrome is really because of vaccines. The broken bones occur because vaccines let the demons in and they fly the baby around the room.

5: If injured you must bathe in colloidal silver. Never go to the doctor unless they are vetted and accepted by Andrew Wakefield. So just stuff your guts back in your stomach. Natural healing is always better.

6: You must have two shrines to Andrew Wakefield in your home. One must be in the living room and one in the bedroom (wink wink).

7: Thou shalt embellish and exaggerate everything in support of condemning vaccines. If it sounds like facts it's good enough.

8: If someone comes close to proving you wrong you must go into a rage and accuse them of being government shills. They probably are anyway.

9: You must know the 28 studies that support Andrew Wakefield. You must frame them, put them on your wall, and recite them every day.

10: You must learn cherry picking. It's okay to accept information that seems like it supports your beliefs, even if that information comes from someone you condemn on all else. By the way, the annual cherry picking contest is every spring.

11: Forget the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, we like Andrew, Mother Nature, and the CDC Whistleblower.

12: No matter what, the possibilities of death and blindness are way better than ever having autism. Same goes for becoming a vegetable.

I think that's a pretty good start for the church and hey, freedom of religion right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You call yourself published?

"You shouldn't call yourself published if you are self published."

This is a comment that I hear from time to time and it couldn't be more flawed. Self publishing is practically the way things are done now. The obvious drawback to self publishing is that anyone can do it. That means there is a lot of garbage out there to sift through when it comes to finding good stories. That's not to say there aren't talented writers out there. There absolutely are! So let me put it this way:

It's not how you publish; it's what you publish. Then, if you aren't one of the 1% who become superstars, it's what you continue to do with it after that.

That's right; 1% of all authors (if that) who publish are the superstars who don't have to do their own marketing because they have the next multi-million dollar money maker. All they have to do is keep writing. They have a full paid team for everything else. The rest of us have to bite, scratch and claw our way up the literary mountain. And if you think an agent  is what spells it all out, you're wrong again.

Sure, an agent is a good thing (or can be), but the self publish industry has put a big dent in your ability to get an agent. I've had my work complimented more than once by agents, yet it wasn't the next major best seller so I couldn't even get my foot in the door. Now that there's self publishing and every Tom, Dick and Harry can do it (your dog can do it), they are even tighter about who they'll take. What's more, 95% of authors with agents still have to their own marketing to sell books. Many of them have to work just as hard as I do to sell their work. They have to tour bookshops, do signings, and you'd be surprised at how hard that can be. And it's exactly the same if you get published through a company without an agent.

You see, there's an ocean of authors out there, and no matter how you publish, you still have to work to make yourself stand out over them all. How you publish is not what matters. The achievement should not be belittled just because of what route you chose to publish your work. Here, take a look at these ten self published authors who are now bestsellers; LINK.

So, next time someone says that you shouldn't be called published if you do it yourself, refer them to this information and deliver a publishing education.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hackers on Social Media

They are bold and nothing is sacred. For the sake of spamming people with shoe ads, they'll steal your password, post on your page and send messages with virus links to everyone in your friend list. If you think that's all they'll do, guess again. They'll actually pretend to be you and talk to people on your list trying to convince them that the bogus links are safe to click on.

What you are seeing is a massive undertaking that isn't the work of just one person. No, they have entire companies of people doing this. Mostly they are in third world countries, but some actually wind up being in the US, Canada, or UK. They are constantly developing new ways to try and trick you into accepting their spy and malware. They are the worlds most awful rip off artists. And they aren't afraid to pretend to be anyone at all, including your own mother.

There are a few failing points to them that the size of the undertaking may cause them to miss. Here are a few ways you can protect yourself and exploit their own mistakes to do so.

1: Change your password regularly. And don't be simple about it. Use at least one capital letter, some numbers and symbols. Write them down and keep them next to your computer. After all, it's not a physical burglar in your home you need to worry about, it's the online monster. You should do this for all your passwords because that's the way of today. Mixed up passwords are harder for their algorithms to figure out. You should change your password every month to keep things hard to catch. So don't just use your dog's name. Use your dogs name like this 1960Fido@$^.  Facebook's password allows for this for a reason. Or mix even further 19Fido@$^60. However you can handle but make sure it's not simple or just one kind of symbols.

2: NEVER NEVER NEVER click on that! When you get sent a link from "tinyurl" or something that suggests there's a photo of you or something "cute" to see, don't click on it. They will get very clever in saying things that make it sound very personal and even endearing, but what they miss is that Facebook often shows previews of where a link will go if it's legit. Try it. Post a youtube link on your page. What does it do? It shows a pic right? The links they send don't show any previews ever because that would give them away. Fact is, no one should ever send a blind link to you without being very specific about why they think it fits your particular interests and without telling you straight what it's about. With that information missing or being very vague, it's a virus 99.9% of the time. You should immediately delete the message or report it as spam. After all, if there's an image someone wants you to see, what's preventing them from just sharing it with you directly?

3: When they try to talk to you: They will do their vague best to seem like your friend, but they are missing some valuable information:
  A: They have no idea what your actual "friend" relationship is to that person. They don't know if you ever met in person, ever talked on the phone, or anything.
  B: Apparently they don't have time to study the person they are copying. They don't know where that person lives, what they do, or anything about them that you might know. Even if you don't know, you can trip them up pretty easily. Here's what you do:

Ask them questions. If you do know something about them, ask something only that friend would remember. If not, fake them out.

"Hey, great to hear from you! Do you remember what we talked about on the phone last week?"

Now if you didn't talk on the phone, the proper answer would be "We've never spoken on the phone." Anything else is a red flag unless you actually did and they try to say yes (believe it or not this has happened). Now if they assigned a bot to the account, you will trip it up ten ways to Sunday because it's not programmed to answer those questions. It will just repeat it's programmed dialogue.

Sadly, when someone's account get's hacked, they may get blocked out of their own account, leaving you little recourse but to drop them from your friends list like a hot rock. That person will have to go through the report process to fix their account or get a new account altogether. Don't be afraid to get clever in figuring out if that person is an imposter. You may be protecting everyone in your friends list.

And always always always, be wary of non-friends sending vague "hi" messages to you. Block them. Anyone who sends you a message should be detailed and forward about why they are contacting you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

So you want my vote

In our recent midterm election we had a voter turnout of just 1 third of the country. That's the lowest turnout in 72 years. Now you can go ahead and say that 2/3 of our country have no right to complain, but I say they are complaining in the loudest voice possible. National morale is at an all time low. Why is that? Because they aren't seeing improvements, that's why. Just more problems. Problems like;

75,000 American veterans and their families HOMELESS. And just what are they doing about it? The media is sure busy hyping ISIS and Ebola, but what about our larger problems at home like this one. And it's not just our veterans. LINK.  Yeah, go look at that page and it's details about homelessness. It's not a pretty picture. A new program is needed and soon.

The battle for minimum wage increase: Don't forget our unemployment rate of 5.9% (that has actually dropped from almost 10% in the last 4 years, but for what kind of jobs?). When you look at the poverty ratio of 13.6% you have to wonder how everyone makes ends meet. Obviously it's not helping that much with homelessness at an all time high. People with families aren't covering the cost of living and there's more to that than just the pay rate. Yes, I know corporations will just increase charges when the rate is raised in 2016. That's why the next item is:

The ridiculous cost of living: Utilities raise their rates whenever they feel the slightest pinch to their bottom line. In most places they are the only people you can go to for your electricity so there's no competition. That's being abused as some companies raise their rates as often as 3 times a year. Yes, we should do our best to save energy, but the corporate response to raise costs to cover it. So you still pay out the nose for your electricity. Unfair charges are everywhere from gas and oil to the grocery store. Every year the companies boast about how they made millions of additional profits and they're so damn happy. We don't see those profits. No, instead, just to live, we have to pay, pay, pay and pay some more. The rampant raising of costs needs to be nipped in the bud. One way to get started on this:

Corporations in government: They don't belong there and it needs to end. The government should be the one regulating corporations, not the other way around. But just when it looks like the people will get some respite, some corporation is paying their way to riches and loopholes. Kick them out of government and make them behave. Just because you're a billionaire and own oil, grocery chains, or automobile manufacturing, doesn't mean you get to own politicians. They should get no better treatment than the "working class". It's because of them that the middle class is all but extinct. Kick them out and put a cap on the rate raising madness.

Public Ignorance: LINK.  Here's one for you. Our country ranks number 2 in pure ignorance of things like teen pregnancy and unemployment rates. That follows hand in hand with acceptance versus stigma of various groups and ethnicities. Rememeber this? United we stand, divided we fall. We are divided and very little is being done to correct that. That ignorance goes all the way to the top with our politicians. Just check out the quotes they get caught with. Google stupid political quotes or something like that and prepare to have your mind blown.

Education: Here's a fun one. With all the failing school systems someone had the bright idea to make it worse with common core. Don't get help for the teachers in their overcrowded class rooms or anything like that, noooooooo. Instead, let us complicate the material! Then, while they're overloaded and underpaid, let's give them all guns. Because they don't have enough on their minds already. Never mind the failure of IEPs and education law. With the consistent increase in IEP's and kids with issues, the system needs to change to compensate or leave a lot of kids behind. Another failing in government promises.

It's stress, stress, stress, and people aren't seeing any relief. What do they expect? Voting truly looks like a useless endeavor. None of the major problems of our country are getting suitable improvements. You want my vote? Show me that these issues are going to actually get action. Show me help for our homeless instead of jail for people who feed them. Bring back "protect and serve"  in our police force. Correct the cost of living and improve education resources. Show me that real work is actually being done. We're supposed to be the greatest country in the world, but that is being ruined. Put a stop to it! (yeah, I know I barely scratched the surface)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Autism is not a reason to murder children

I figured there were enough people talking about this already, but the media is making this look like a trend and it has to stop!

London McCabe's mother, pressured by taking care of her disable husband and a six year old non-verbal with autism, threw him off a damn bridge. Then she called the police and turned herself in claiming voices told her to do it. It's debatable that she's been at the snapping limit for some time from snippets of her blog still floating around. She even had people sending donations to help her. I'm sure they just weren't enough. All the same, I'm not buying that she had any good reason kill her child. Why not call the police and tell them she's at the bridge and ABOUT to kill him? Maybe then he wouldn't be dead. Yes, it would be traumatic, but even as an autistic myself, I say that's better than dead. I have no compassion for this woman for the death of her child who was seen as pretty well behaved by witnesses. Anyway....

Katie McCarron's case is a bit older by way of 2006. Her mother smothered her with a plastic bag. Katie had autism. The woman is currently incarcerated. I can only hope her child's memory haunts her every day as it should with anyone who kills their own child. Her mother Karen cited guilt over vaccinating her child, and blamed vaccines for her desire to commit murder. This is just one more reason why "anti-vaccine thinking" will never gain ground with me. They'd rather see children dead than with autism. Regardless, it doesn't end there.

Jude Mirra, murdered by his mother in 2014 by lethal dose of drugs because he has autism. 8 years old. She also tried to kill herself but failed. Depression is no laughing matter and I'm not one to mock it, but kids are dying needlessly and for little more reason than they have a medical condition. Before you come at me with her hardships let me just toss this out.... MOM WAS AN EFFING MILLIONAIRE! You'd think there were still other routes than DEATH. Especially when you're loaded to the gills with money. Yes, I read the details of the case. She claims to have killed him to save him.... bullshit.

Alex Spourdalakis, autistic, 14 and brutally murdered in 2013. Lack of benefits and financial hardships seen as the trigger. While I refuse to excuse people for killing their children, there is a matter in dire need of attention. It is TRUE that proper services are lacking by way of lofty costs that put them out of reach for suffering families. Depending on the state you live in, you can be in a hard hard place. It can feel more lonely and desolate that the darkest pit of hell. So those in political power better start paying attention.

Fact is, there is a lot more than just families with disabled kids snapping and killing. Lack of jobs, lack of services, lack of assistance in education or medical, lack of respite assistance, lack of a living wage if you do have a damn job.... people are losing it out there. The common citizen is facing stressors that our day and age shouldn't be. Add disabilities to it and it seems to be pushed even further with these people.  Like I said, I don't excuse them for it. I'm sickened by it.

When treatments and supports are where they are supposed to be, I've seen children brought back from the brink and given hope. Autism is not a reason to take a life. Not only does that message need to get pounded out clearly, but our system needs fixing at the same time.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Anti-Vaxxers may be hypocrites if...


My bent sense of humor can’t help itself. This nice big jab at the anti-vaccine movement has been on my mind and it needs to meet paper and pen. Well, internet publishing anyway. But, like any form of zealotry, hard core anti-vaxxers who say “never inject” are a bunch of hypocrites. They say not to give your child “poisons” like they have the slightest clue. Here’s my list on the subject, because IF you are one of those anti-vaxxers who wants all vaccines to disappear (because measles is more fun) and you do any of the following, you’re a damned hypocrite.

Dine at any restaurant: I don’t care if it’s fast food or high class. If you’re so worried about poisons getting into your system and you eat food from animals who have had vaccines (and you have no idea so don’t even try) then you are a hypocrite. Yet, we’ve been eating this crap for generations and we are still here. Funny how that works out. Speaking of eating, the next one ties nicely into this one!

Consume ANY form of packaged food: From your sugars and spices clear down to a fucking candy bar. Mmmm, what a yummy Snickers you’re enjoying there….. guess who made the preservatives in it. Go on, guess. There are preservatives in every bottled or packaged form of food on your grocery store shelves.. ALL OF THEM and unless you pay out the nose for super short lived organics that may be lying to you for a dollar, the preservatives were all made by our government with the help of what you call BIG PHARMA. Eat, drink, and enjoy because you’re a hypocrite. And yes, this includes the foods at your favorite restaurant.

If you go to the dentist: Oh noes, it’s BIG PHARMA again. But you don’t need Novocain or laughing gas do you? Nah, you’re rough and tough. Have fun with that root canal.

If you brush your teeth with anything but water: Go ahead, tell me you use baking soda. Baking soda is packaged in a damn factory the same as every fucking thing else. Be sure to look up what factory it’s packaged in so you can see what other products are packaged in the same place. Enjoy your new nightmares of BIG PHARMA. Toothpaste and mouthwash contain fluoride and that’s in so many places you’ll just shit yourself to know.

If you use deodorant: Go grab your speedstick or whatever the hell you use and look at the back of it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now READ IT. See where it says DRUG FACTS right at the top of the label. Huh. Why would it say that? BECAUSE IT’S A DAMN PHARMACUETICAL, DUMBASS. And every portion of what you are shoving into the pores of your skin is poisonous. Go ahead, look up the ingredients yourself. The same goes for things like soap and shampoo. And you’re worried about the peon money they don’t make on vaccines.

If you smoke or drink: You’re worried about chemical injections for your kids, but second hand smoke is A-okay? Drinking your liver into oblivion around your kids is alright? Wow, you are stand up parent, aren’t you? Nope, just a hypocrite.

Unless you live in a hole in the ground, home school your child (school lunches and preservatives you know), bathe in creek water with rocks, never brush your teeth or use hygiene and live off of tree bark and squirrels….you’re a hypocrite. It just goes to show that you really have no clue just how much of these things are all around us.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stupid Things on Anti-Vaccines

I realize this kind of language is not the norm for this blog, but this is a special situation. Just be warned.

For those who have been following my tiff on Facebook about the anti-vax propaganda, this should come as no surprise, especially with my recent experiences. I had no idea just how insane the anti-vaccine cult really is, but I got cold water introduction! So I'm going to be very candid and blunt here. Vaccines save lives and trying to abolish them WILL GET PEOPLE KILLED. Not that you can explain that to an anti-vaxxer. They have a one way mind that is immune to actual scientific fact. I can actually almost prove that.

Small recap: What started this for me was some yoyos telling me that I'm a traitor because I have autism and I'm not viciously anti-vaccine like they are. And frankly, I've had it with the ridiculous propaganda geared to misinform and fear monger people away from vaccines that keep deadly and disabling diseases at bay. And, of course, they can't leave well enough alone so this is what it comes to:

Sounds good to me

So I've done just that. I made memes and shouted from the rooftops and that sure got their attention (finally). I started out with a general message saying to just drop me, but that wasn't enough. Once I joined a pro-vaccine Facebook page though.... that brings me to stupid thing number 1:

GETTING VILLAINIZED: Check that out. Apparently I'm so dangerous I warrant a call to arms! I've been dropped or blocked by over 30 people. One even left a nasty message on my wall before blocking me in order to run away. If this is how they handle rejection, why would anyone want to be like them? Worse, are they really so paranoid that they think I'm going to start stalking them? HAH! Go ahead, you fruitcakes, block me. It means I don't have to see your garbage any more. This behavior just concretes my position. I'm glad they're scattered across the country and not local or I might get lynch mobbed and set on fire. I am being smeared and misquoted but I really don't care. Screw em.

FACT EVASION: I've actually tried debating with folks in the anti-vac crowd and WOW. These people dodge facts better than a deadbeat dad avoids child support. It immediately reminded me of a scene in the Matrix. It doesn't matter what source material you use, what historical figures you show, they'll either pretend they don't see it or claim it's a big pharma lie (with absolutely no evidence). Holy shit, I've never seen mental contortionists like this before! 

CDC WHISTLEBLOWER: Speaking of facts; some guy goes and digs up a dead horse study, picks and chooses what he thinks works for him and creates this whole whistleblower campaign. That would be this guy, Brian Hooker. He even chumped a CDC scientist and recorded him without given knowledge. Since this debacle, some of the most respected authorities outside of the CDC and around the fucking world, have gone over his supposed find with a fine toothed comb and DEBUNKED IT. But none of them care. They grasp any straw of desperation they can find to abolish all vaccines. It's pure insanity at it's best. 

OBSCURE EVIDENCE: That isn't evidence at all. It's all guilt by association coincidence. You show them a thousand pages of information that proves vaccines don't cause autism and they'll come up with an obscure sentence from the back of a cereal box that seems like it could support them if we lived in an alternate dimension. As soon as you point out the flaws in their supposed evidence they completely lose their shit (see Facebook image above). 

BUT THE GOVERNMENT LIES! Yeah, sure they do. Oh, but HISTORY DOESN'T! Instead of hand picking a collection of snippets from propaganda papers, try going to a library and picking up and actual BOOK. They call out for us to do our research, we do, then they go nuts. 

EBOLA: Let the insanity explode. I've had these people try to tell me that Ebola is airborne (BULLSHIT) or being used to cull the population (SUPER STEAMING BULLSHIT). But the big fave for me has to be this: according to the anti-vax crowd it may be caused by vaccines. Have you ever come across something so amazingly fucking stupid that you immediately raced across the room and put your head through the wall? It should be extremely painful to be that dumb. 

These people are truly scary. I understand those who have dealt with vaccine injury, I really do, but there's also NO way of knowing if that is what truly happened, even if the timing is right there with when your child got their shots. And vaccines do not cause autism! VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM. Vaccine  injury mimics autism very well, but if your child has Asperger's, they DON'T have vaccine injury. 

Something has to be done. People are being scared into following this quackery and it's going to bring back some disease that will truly fuck people up. You want me to wake up? You first, nutbar.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Teaching autistic children public safety

If your child is anything like mine, they announce everything on their minds to total strangers instantly upon seeing them. That includes guy walking by on the sidewalk, cashiers, construction workers, and anyone else.

No apprehension of strangers is a scary thing to deal with. If your child has wanderlust, it's even worse. So what do you do to help protect your child.

Learning is a long process. You have to accept that from the start. Teaching your child the risks of stranger danger has to be repeated over and over again for years. If your child is high functioning, they may eventually mature enough to understand. This is realizing that reality is not the same for all our kids.

That's why we are our children's best line of defense and we need to create an atmosphere that's conducive to teaching them what they need to know.

Can you let your child to go next door and play with a neighbor child? If so, speaking with the other child's parents about your concerns can go a long way. If there's a good rapport with your neighbor you could let them know that your child has no fear of strangers and is at risk. Offer an open door policy for you and your neighbor to talk openly.

Share your concerns with school, therapist, and counselors. Anyone trustworthy you can get on board to help you reinforce social safety is a plus.

Coach your child often! When I take my son to public places I remind him of our rules when it comes to strangers. This includes:

No announcements: Our lives are private and we don't need to tell everyone what we are doing.
Stay by me: No wandering off. This may need several reminders as things distract, but it's important.

If we get separated, my son knows to head for the cash registers and customer service counter. I know, quite a few of our kids won't be able to do that. They'll either panic outright or just get distracted by something. One way to alleviate this is to role play (if possible for your child) and practice what to do or where to go.

Our kids can learn safety rules and measures for social safety, it just takes longer than with typical children. We have to be watchful and point out issues that they miss. The more we coach and teach, the more likely they will develop some level of safety skill.

Granted this is just a nutshell overview, but it is blog post after all. Have questions? Ask away in comments! Comments are moderated so please be patient.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Autism and Street Smarts: Avoiding Trouble

No advice is perfect for everyone and this is no exception. This is aimed at the high functioning who may be able to take care of themselves. Still, this may be of use to anyone in variable ways.

My experience comes from being on my own in the streets from age 14. I survived a long list of things that people have told me I shouldn't have been able to. But I did. As a child in the streets of Barstow, California; I was offered a place in the darkest criminal elements, yet I avoided them. Knowing what I know today, it's hard for me to figure out how I avoided them, but saying no actually worked for me. I'm not giving a list of the things I was asked to do by creeps looking for street urchin kids because I would have to give a trigger warning. What's important is how I survived and how you can avoid getting into trouble by some basic rules.

I developed these rules as a means to survival where it mattered most. While I hope none of you are in such dark situations, perhaps this will keep you out of them.

Rule #1: "It's none of my business". This is what I would say to people who started talking to me about illegal things they wanted to do. When someone approached me about an idea that I knew would cause me problems or get me arrested or even killed; I would just say "that's none of my business" and excuse myself for some fake errand I had to do . Let other people go get themselves in trouble. Don't preach at them, don't try to interfere directly (anonymous calls to police are fine), just use the phrase and get out of there. The whole idea is to get to a safe place and away from the threat.

You might wonder why that worked on people who tried to recruit me for their dirty deeds. I may have been lucky, but it seemed to impress (weirdly enough). In several cases, I had someone say to me, "keep saying that and you'll live a long time". That was good enough for me.

Rule #2: Pay attention to whats going on around you. For those of us with sensory disorders that never shut up, this is actually easy. So long as you stay in well lit areas and practice looking like you know exactly what you are doing, you'll make yourself less of a target. Practice noticing what is going on around you so you can avoid spots that look like trouble. While you are paying attention and being alert there is a very important pointer here:  DO NOT STARE AT ANYONE. A passing glance or using your peripheral vision is good enough. Practice noticing things out of the corner of your eye at home. Noticing small details can save your life. Remember, the idea is noticing what to avoid. It's okay to change your entire route for this purpose. More on that in a minute.

Rule #3: Don't go where you don't belong.  Most of us autistics already dislike crowds so we have a great excuse. If you are about to walk down a street you don't know and it's got shifty looking people hanging out on cars, smoking and drinking and it even looks dangerous... don't go that way. Keep to well lit and public accessed streets. Don't be wandering around at odd hours of the night. Stay out of back alleys. You can usually research and find out where high crime areas of your city or town are so you can stay away. You can research online or ask a trusted source such as a police officer (believe it or not).

Rule #4: If you must walk through the dark, do it like you just don't care. This is an exception to rule 3. There may come a time where you just have no choice but to walk down that block past those dangerous looking guys. You have to act like it just doesn't matter to you where you have to go. Think of the coolest and calmest day you ever knew in your life and walk like that. If someone nods at you, nod back, but keep moving. Don't stop, don't get into a conversation if you can help it (remember rule 1). Don't stare at anyone and just keep moving until you are far away or safe at home.

Notation: Unfortunately some of us LIVE in these places. Hopefully home is safe for you.

Rule #5: Have alternative habits. As a general rule, autistic people (including me) are serious creatures of habit. Breaking habits and changing routines is not easy for us. I suggest we practice not thinking of it as breaking our routine, rather adding an alternative routine to protect ourselves. Sometimes, something bad will happen even on the safest street and you will have to alter your route. There could be a terrible accident, a fire, or even a police standoff. These are all  things that may make you change route. Having back up routines can keep you out of trouble. Your favorite grocery store is on fire? You will have to be ready to go to a different one. So have that plan already in place. When I was on the streets, I had to have several alternate routes I could walk to avoid people who were trouble. I got used to shifting quickly. You shouldn't have to do that with more than one or two back up plans. Just don't think of them as broken routines. They are shifted routines that are in case of emergency.

By following these rules to the best of your ability, you can avoid dangerous situations or even being involved with police while keeping yourself safe.

But what if you are trying to teach your child with autism how to be safe? I'll cover that in my next installment.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Autism and Police Encounters

You are out driving or walking around and a police officer stops you. What do you do? Thanks to a torrent of horror stories on the internet, this is a scary situation. Sadly, most officers don't want to take the time to understand you unless they already know you pretty well. Then there's the matter of their personal opinions of you or autism (or any medical condition). When you find yourself faced with an authority figure, there are several things to keep in mind so you can avoid being another youtube statistic.

So let us begin with a police incident. You are pulled over or stopped for questioning by police. Don't be like the man in the video. When an officer gives you an order, you may as well comply with it. In fact, DO JUST THAT. You will save yourself a great deal of pain and anguish. For that matter, if you follow a few basic steps, you can avoid even getting to the point where they want to arrest you. Give the police a hard time and you will be arrested. If they decide they are going to arrest you anyway, there is little you can do about it. So:

1: Be pleasant and answer their questions. If asked for ID, provide it or explain why you don't have it. Be honest and polite.

2: If they want to do a pat down, let them. You may see this as a violation of your rights, but we'll get to what to do about that in a moment. Be open about what you have in your pockets. You really shouldn't be carrying anything illegal anyway. Same goes for if they decide to cuff you. Don't resist them, they'll only get nastier and you'll wind up like the guy in the video. Not worth it.

3: Follow all instructions. You can file a complaint later.

4: Do not lose your cool. If you get a ticket, just take it. If you lose your cool, you will go to jail. Don't argue past stating your case for what's involved.

If you believe you have been mistreated or your rights have been violated, going Youtube on the cop is not the answer. You can have an investigation done by filing a report with the department's division of Internal Affairs. Anyone who witnesses something they feel is a violation can make such a report. But, for some reason, people would rather post Youtube videos. 

It's true that you don't have to answer their questions. You have that right, but depending on what they are investigating, you will only trigger them into an escalation. They have a job to do and the harder you make it for them to do it, the more likely you will go to jail.  In some cases you may be let go, but you waste your time being difficult like this next person:

It was obvious he wasn't drunk, but he was more interested in filming the officers and being difficult. If he simply said "no", he would have been on his way quickly. If you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Why make it more difficult for everyone involved?

Finally, the best thing you can ever do, is avoid being in situations where the police are going to get interested. This requires developing a level of street smarts and I will address those in my next article.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autism and Social Media: Survival Tips

There's no doubt that the internet is today's urban jungle, filled with beauty and danger. It's especially dangerous if you have trouble with social cues and understanding context. Words on a screen are often devoid of emotion and cause us to draw our own conclusions on the intentions of the writer. Misunderstandings come fast and hard, boiling into flame wars with a single word. These lessons are learned the hard way, but with some tips, hopefully you can recognize the lesson before it has to be repeated.

We may as well admit it, we who have autism have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously. We internalize and take offense way to easily. (Disclaimer: Yes, I know it's not this way for absolutely everyone and maybe not YOU). See what I just had to do there? I guarantee you I will be attacked for this paragraph, but I will not answer those attacks. Nor will I post hostile comments. That's part of surviving the internet. So, the tips:

Reader beware: Few posts carry trigger warnings, so when you read something, you need to form a thick skin or practice knowing when to stay away. It's hard to be personally aware of what really upsets you, but it can be done. If you find yourself getting upset with something someone else posts, practice walking away. You don't have to respond. You don't have to read what everyone else says. You don't have to agree with what everyone else says. And it's okay not to.

Don't feed the trolls: It gets said over and over again doesn't it? That's because it's true. Trolls are very good at triggering people on the internet and very little is beneath them to do so. They know full well what they are saying is wrong. So why correct them? Pass up their comments as "not worth your time" and find something more meaningful to comment on. If they are on a forum that allows them to be reported, do so, but don't say a word to them. NOT ONE WORD. Let moderators deal with it, you don't need to. If you just can't stand seeing their name and there stuff triggers you, use the block option. Block them and you'll find yourself a lot more stress free. Trying to fight trolls too much will result in dealing with a stalker or cyber bully instead. Not worth it!

Don't believe everything you read: Propaganda is always either half true or an outright lie. There is always more to the information than what you see. Ads are for taking your money, there is no guarantee you will get what you are promised. Especially don't trust propaganda "meme" posters. Some posts are meant to get you upset to incite you into doing what they want you to do. Always stop and think before exploding into action. That's a tough practice, but necessary.

Practice research: Never take action on anything on the internet without doing your research. Ask questions, do google searches, find out what the real information is.

Don't click on that: Get a weird message with a link in it on Facebook? Don't click on it. It's a virus that will spam everyone on your friends list. Same goes for your email messages. Unless a link has an explanation on it of what it is, you shouldn't click on it.

Would you do this in person? Ask yourself that before you post on the internet. There's always the old saying: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. If only more people would follow that.

Don't post your personal information: Even if it 's only viewed by people on your friends list. That includes your address and telephone number. Such things should only be sent in private message if at all. This is because;

Not everyone on your friend list IS a friend: You've never met them in real life and becoming true friends take time. It requires trust that you should not give out easily. No one should be requesting your information without a good reason, and marketing or sales are not good reasons. Most are good people and great to have contact with, but you don't want to just give yourself out to everyone who asks. Internet friends are awesome, but guard yourself.

Have tips of your own? Submit them to comments (moderated). Good luck out there!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reader Request: Dealing with autism for the non-autistic

So you don't have autism but you are going to be working with someone who does. Or maybe you have friends with and autistic child. Perhaps you are witnessing a meltdown in a grocery store. How do you handle such situations?

Getting to know a person with autism can be understandably confusing. Hopefully these tips will help you along in the process.

First and foremost, anyone with autism does not see or feel the world around them like you do. There will be reactions that make no sense. Simple or minuscule things may cause stress reactions. This is because of sensitivities way higher than yours. The most important thing you can do in any situation with autism is to stay calm and collected. If you stress out, the person you are dealing with will go even further over the edge. If you get stern and try to force an issue, it will make it worse. Calm and collected is the way.

Eccentricities are common. It's best to just accept them. No harm is meant by them (99% of the time) and they should simply be seen as personality quirks and nothing more. Even high functioning autistics have a hard time seeing how their quirks affect people around them. It gets harder when those quirks get rejected and we are trying to work out why. The advice here is to take the eccentric with a grain of salt and just shrug it off. Don't give it any extra attention unless some violation of space is occurring. Which brings me to;

Clear communication is key. Autism is a very literal issue. Metaphors and slang can be the enemy. If you are just joking, you should say so or come up with a known way for the person to understand that you are joking. Some of us don't comprehend facial expressions. So your laughing smile means the same as an angry grimace: basically nothing. It's not completely like that for everyone, but worthwhile to keep in  mind.

Things get internalized a lot. Misconceptions and misunderstandings happen all the time. They require patience and talking it out. A lot of people with autism will be harder on themselves than you or anyone else could ever be. So if you are thinking of ripping your autistic employee a "new one" because of some mistake, be careful. Explain the problem clearly and how to avoid it in the future. Aside form popular belief, autistic people do care what others think of them and want to get things "right". Autism is a self punishing beast.

Going to extremes. People with autism are either anti-social (by appearance at least) or overly social. There isn't usually any gray area. Seeing the gray area of things is very difficult. It's either black or white. Rules are rules. Things can get very technical fast.

Delayed maturity. This is especially important to understand with children. Maturity is generally behind, often by several years. Tolerance is helpful.

Now, to wrap this up, I offer a list of things NOT to do with anyone who is autistic. This is general information and may vary by individual.

Don't touch: Especially if there's a possible meltdown situation. Your touch will only add to the sensory stress that's going on. However, you may not have a choice if self harm comes into play. If a person starts hitting him or herself in the head, firmly take hold of their wrists and speak in a low quiet voice. Be calm. Children may have to be held with the "hug" method. If you are not suitably trained in restraint, seek assistance.

Don't shout: Again it's a sensory issue and only adds to stress. Speak in a calm tone and don't try to over-shout the person you are dealing with. Once a person is calmed down, they will be easier to talk to.

Don't startle: It may seem like fun and games to some people, but startling sets off sensory issues like wildfire. It triggers over-sensitive fight or flight response that can get out of hand in a hurry. Think of  it this way; would you startle your buddy who's a war veteran? Of course not. Don't startle autistics either.

Don't ask parents what their child's special skill is: Most of them don't consider their children a sideshow act. You may mean it innocently, but it gets tiring. It happens all the time.

Don't use the word  normal: Nothing feels "normal" to an autistic person. It invalidates and diminishes that person's struggles by telling them "Oh that's normal". The term is so hated, that it's one step away from a racial slur.

Don't interfere with parents: Unless they ask for your help (and they usually won't) they just want to deal with their child's current issue and be left alone. In public, it's stressful and embarrassing enough without someone coming to lend their advice or tell them off about their child. Some DO appreciate words of encouragement like "I think you're doing a good job". You can even ask if someone is okay, but mostly they want to be left alone. Sometimes, other autism parents are welcome so long as they identify that.

So, tolerance, clear communication, and understanding are key to dealing with autism. Stay calm and cool. Don't get physical unless a life is in danger. And take your time getting to know the person or child. Situations vary. Use common sense for the rest.

Suggested reading: Understanding Autism for Dummies

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reader Request: Coping with Autism as an Adult

Being an adult with autism is a challenging issue in today's society. This is because support systems have an annoying tendency to drop off once you are 21 or 22 years of age (varies by location). At least while developing as a teen, there were counselors and hopefully support systems. Making adult decisions isn't easy.

I was diagnosed at age 35-36 when my son was diagnosed around age 3. His diagnosis brought about memories from my childhood. So what I tell you today comes from my baptism by fire. Since no one knew I needed help, I floundered and lived at random. Now that I have a few years under my belt I believe I can offer some advice on how to live with autism as a grown up. Keep in mind, this is for high functioning persons who are striking out on their own.

1: Never forget you have autism. Not like it will ever let you forget it, but you'd be amazed at how you can forget this when misunderstandings happen. You live with a form of social blindness and will miss various adult social cues. This can cause you to butt heads with people. It's not your fault and not theirs, but remembering that your condition may have tricked you can lead you to a resolution faster than not.

2: Don't be so hard on yourself. You can't help the situation. You have to learn how to live with the fact that these things happen. They aren't the end of the world. The more you accept yourself, the more other people will accept you. So give yourself a break when a misunderstanding happens. They are really a part of life and everyone else has them too.

3: Take things slow. Don't let anyone rush you when you are trying to figure out what is going on. If a misunderstanding happens, that's the best time to take a deep breath and rethink the situation. If someone gets irate with you, tell them calmly that you are trying to understand the situation. Don't rush in earning friends either. Take everything slow. Yes, the autistic mind wants to live at 1000 miles an hour. You will have to practice at slowing down.

4: Know your limits. You've always had them. If you are still at risk of meltdowns, you need to have your living space set up with a safe place to retreat to. You must do everything you can not to have meltdowns in public. I know how hard that sounds. Sometimes, you just need to play an escape route if things get too intense for you. Meltdowns in public wind up involving police who are often less than understanding. So you must have plans of action for your own conditions. That being said;

5: Don't seal yourself away. Becoming a hermit is tempting, but you starve yourself socially. That's a good way to drop into depression and make yourself worse. You must practice dealing with the world to get better at it. Get out there and see the world. Find social places that you can deal with.

6: Don't expect acceptance from everyone. There are a lot of jerks out there and you must dismiss them from your life. This goes for jobs and dating too. If someone can't be decent to you, you don't need them. That's no matter how lonely you feel. If an employer doesn't want to hire you, let it go and go somewhere else. If some group of people can't accept you, go somewhere else.

7: Believe in yourself! You are a worthwhile person. Find those good qualities in yourself and decide that you don't absolutely need anyone but you. The rest will fall into place.

8: You are not autism. Finally, it comes to this. You have autism. It is an aspect of who you are, but not the sum of who you are. With practice, yes practice, you will triumph over life's challenges and you can live a decent life. Not because of autism, but because of all of who you are.

Take it one day at at time. Find a support group or even form one to share life's challenges. In truth, a list like this could go on forever. There is so much to learn and experience in life and so many things that can happen. You just have to take them one at a time. Remind yourself of that. One at a time.

I have many reader requests at this time, but feel free to post your own in comments. Also, do you have a tip for this list? Post it in comments and thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Considering Suicide? Reasons to LIVE!

Facing suicide is just about the most serious thing you can do. You don't have to do it alone and depression is a powerful demon to face alone. So you definitely should seek help. If you found this post, you were likely looking up issues on suicide online. Please consider finding this an act of fate to intervene on ending your life. Give yourself the chance to read these reasons to live and take them to heart long enough to live another day or get help.

You are not worthless: Depression gets deep into your inner ear and tells you lies about yourself. That's what they are, lies. You are not worthless. Everyone has value even if they don't know what that is yet. You are valuable to someone else too, even if it doesn't look that way today.

Depression lies to you: As if saying above wasn't enough, it bears repeating. Understand this clearly; your depression is trying to kill you. Don't let it.

You will make a positive impact in someone's life: Sooner or later and more than once. You will matter in someone else's life. It's a simple reality. You just need to hang on long enough and keep fighting for your life. Do you have a child? Children look up to us for guidance. By living you can still make good with your child. By dying, you seal off all possibilities forever. You also never know who that stranger will be around the corner who would have benefited somehow by meeting you.

Nobody's perfect: While your depression argues these points in your head, remember that no one is perfect. We all screw up and have to come back from it. Sometimes, we change our lives forever, sometimes, we bounce right back. That's life, my friend. It's still livable.

Someone will have to clean that up: Basic logic says that someone is going to find your body. Someone is going to have to clean up the mess you leave behind. Even if you just take pills, your bowels and bladder will let go and leave a mess. Don't make this happen any sooner than it needs too. People die enough already without helping the issue. And if you have young children, why would you want your lifeless body too mar their young memories and nightmares forever?

You're creating expenses bigger than what you are already dealing with: Look up the cost of a funeral. It's not a fun prospect and you'll be putting that on someone else's shoulders. If you think your family's finances are bad now, why would you want to add this to the problem? Insurance? Nope.

Insurance companies deny claims over suicide: Even if you have a suicide clause of some kind, it's going to screw up your life insurance seriously. At the minimum it will delay payment to your family for months (even  years) and cause even more expensive legal issues while fighting their decisions. Suicide is not a one and done deal. You may be gone, but the effects of what you do will linger forever.

You have potential you haven't found yet: No matter what, you have potential for something good somewhere or somehow. You just haven't found it yet. Denying this just proves the point even more. You won't know it until you see it. If you die, you'll never get to find out. Don't let depression rob you of life's possibilities.

The pain won't end: It continues with those you left behind. Think you have no family? What about that nice neighbor you talk to or that guy at that little store where you get your coffee every morning. You might be someone else's ray of sunshine in the morning and not even know it. You will affect someone. And if you are religious, suicide is a sin. So whether we are talking about those left behind or the philosophical, the pain won't end. Which makes another excellent point;

It's not a good way to prove your religious beliefs: Not only will you not be able to tell anyone about what you discover, you may discover possibilities you hadn't considered. You'll have a hard time finding a religion (taken seriously) that tells you it's okay to kill yourself. If you're an atheist, it's still a terrible way to prove there's no God. Who would you prove it to exactly?

You may have to live it all over again: If you've ever believed in reincarnation (to follow up on the religious argument) you have to consider this. What if you have to come back and do it all over again because you decided to flip the off switch yourself? If you aren't enjoying things this time around, what makes you think a do over will be better? Maybe this is your test in life? Overcome it instead. If you believe in the Bible at all, you will know that God says you are rewarded for your suffering, not for ending it all. I wouldn't want to roll the dice on this possibility.

It will get better: If there's one thing human beings are famous for, it's the power to adapt. And logic dictates that things can't stay bad forever. If you are being bullied, life will get better. It will! Hard times will pass and new times bring new possibilities. If it didn't kill you when it happened, it wasn't meant to.

The world will not be better off: Nor will anyone else. Your death will not make an impact on the global state of the world. It will be a sad footnote and a local tragedy. Death does not make anyone better off. Statistics for crime, war, and domestic violence prove it. Suicide is a dark shadow, a smear on the world. It's not worth it.

It won't "teach" anyone anything: Except for how depressed you were. It's also a terrible idea for revenge. You aren't going to get anyone back for anything. All you'll do is what's already been mentioned above. No one is going to hear about your death and say, "Boy, that guy sure taught me a lesson!" No. They're going to shake their heads and wonder at what was wrong with you. Death removes you from debate. If you want to teach someone something, find a better way to do it. Find new success in your life and live in spite of your haters.

If you are considering suicide for any reason, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.   This post dedicated to the influx of calls to suicide hotlines after the death of Robin Williams.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Researched: Autism and Puberty for Girls

Once in a while I get questions and I don't always have the answers. What that happens, I do research. When I do research, I bring you what I found.

In this case, I was asked about autism and puberty, specifically for girls. While I have three daughters, none of them live with me and I wasn't with them for this part of their lives. Hey, I live 14 hours away from the closest of them, okay? And I'm a DAD, not a Mom, so that really sets me aside on the matter. But I take it seriously when someone is looking for information, so this is what I found. From just these three links, I think you'll have the basics well in hand, plus some good tips.

How to help girls with autism through puberty is a blog post at by Jessica (last name unknown). Yes, that's a link up there^. It's a great starting point for no nonsense advice. It doesn't hit on the attitude dangers, but it's a pretty important starting point all the same READ IT.

THIS POST from is "What else autistic girls need to know about puberty". I found the section on hormones very informative. Heck, it's all informative. So read it next.

Finally, I bring you to with THIS. It's not as personable as the blog writers above but it's clinical advice seems applicable.

Still looking for info? If you are on Facebook and have lots of friends, there are several popular ladies with autism online and I'm sure any of them would be glad to lend advice on what they did or do to deal with puberty and it's pitfalls.

Hey, puberty at its base scale is enough to make you want a six month vacation on the moon. Just remember that this is no picnic for your kid either. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be for girls. Cramps, bleeding, using pads; all lead to so much more than what boys have to handle. Just hope that your child has the easy going kind (if there is such a thing) and go from there.

What I get from all that I saw is this: EDUCATE, EDUCATE, EDUCATE. Teach your child early and often. Remind and reapply over and over again. Do your best to be patient and non-accusatory.

Finally, remember love and caring. Let them know that it will get better and they will eventually get used to dealing with this annoying aspect of life.

Good luck, parents!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When all else fails between school and parents

They're just not listening to you. You've begged, pleaded, and tried to explain your child's situation and the cooperation just isn't there. With your child's IEP there is supposed to be a sheet sent home every day to tell you about behavior (for the doctors and therapists) and homework (so you can be an assisting parent with it and make sure it gets somewhat done). But, even if they say they will, it just doesn't happen.

The excuses are mountain high and they may say things that are pretty disturbing for a parents ears. They'll even blame each other.

"I gave it to Mrs. X and I don't know why she didn't do it."
"I can't get any of the teachers on board. I don't know why." (from a special ed teacher)

Or they'll blame the child (who has a IEP). "Joey is very manipulative and only acting out to avoid doing any school work."

Now, past the disappointing comments there are reasons that schools struggle with IEPs. Overcrowded classrooms come to mind. The implementation of Common Core doesn't make anything easier. Don't even get me started on what Common Core does for our special needs students. Just don't.

So what do you do when it gets to the point that they have made up their mind about your child and just WON'T cooperate with you? There are several steps you should take.

1: Seek out an advocate and get their input. Are you really being that unreasonable in what you seek for your child? It's possible to get help to talk to the local school system. There are advocates who may be willing to come and sit in on an IEP meeting to hash out the details of what's needed for your child. Be sure to have a working list of your concerns all written down before you go in. Have a solid game plan and be courteous.

If you have a knack for screaming at teachers, your problems will worsen. They will block you out mentally and disengage. It will hurt your child's chances of a fair education. It should always be from the ground point that you are trying to be helpful and active in your child's education.

How do you find an advocate? Well, when it comes to autism, you can contact your state Autism Society and ask about leads to people who can help you. Your Health and Human Services office may know someone too. I also suggest the website for Parents Helping Parents where they have a database of advocates and attorneys who may help you. You can also look up your local "community support team" for mental health and ask them. Sometimes, they will come to an IEP meeting after assessing your child. Seek out parent support groups in your area and ask them.

But, you've done that and STILL no dice. For that matter they won't listen to the professional who sits right next to you and tries to teach them about your child just like you tried to do. They believe what they believe and they are doing to do what they are going to do and that's that. Only now they are more dismissive than ever. It's time to file for Due Process. Hopefully, up to this point, you've been keeping copies of everything and anything that proves what you have to say. Unprofessional emails, blank behavior forms, report cards, and reports from Dr.s and therapists, because you will need evidence.

TIP: When collecting evidence on anything you may require for court, DO NOT TELL THE PERSONS YOU ARE COLLECTING AGAINST. You will send them into "cover ass mode" and things will get worse. You will lose evidence while things stay pretty much the same.

But also know this.... filing Due Process will make enemies for sure. It's not supposed to, but it does. Animosity will happen. So, just know that once this process is done, it may be harder to negotiate on the next year than before.

So, you contact your State Department of Education and let them know you wish to file for Due Process. This should not cost you anything, unless of course you've retained an attorney. Advocates are usually willing to assist with this process and walk you through it. This will trigger a series of events. The school will be requires to offer a meeting to work out the issues and settle them prior to a hearing. Go to the hearing and have someone with you (IE: advocate). This is where you and the advocate get into the dirt details of what you expect to correct the situation. Most cases are generally solved at this meeting, but not all. If you and the school cannot come to an agreement that will take you to the Due Process hearing and you may have to do some traveling for that. In my state, I would have to go to Baton Rouge.

TIP: Retaliation is illegal in any form and may be reported to the State Department before or even after the hearing. They're already mad at you, don't be afraid to report unfair or discriminatory behavior.

Alas, you get some things worked out, but they still act nasty towards you and it's still a migraine headache to get through the year. This is where harsh reality really comes into play. You still have options, and none of them are fun.

1: Tough it out. Just do the best you can and forego talking to the teachers. If you are on your last year with a given school, this may be the best play you have. Hopefully new faces and a new start will help you. Just be as nice as you can with those new people to abolish negative news they may already have about you.

2: Move to another school district. This is more common than you might like to believe. People have been known to move across state lines for autism assistance in any form because their state just didn't have it. Same goes for schools. Yes, you might have to give up a job or get a transfer if possible. You may give up close by family support. It will hurt. It definitely did for me when I left my hometown for better support for my son. But it's possible that you may have to uproot and move.

3: Start a movement to make changes in your school system. If there are enough parents who agree with you and are having the same trend of problems, this could be an answer. It will take tons of work and you are trying to teach people who may believe they have nothing to learn from you. You will have to be stronger than you ever thought possible. But it has been done! With parents, advocates, and an attorney or two, you could really make some waves in how things are done in your district.

4: File another Due Process. New violations of your child's IEP or new failings of it qualify for a new complaint! But boy will they HATE you. It's a simple reality. No one likes complaints made about them. You wouldn't either (even though you are within your rights, just be ready for the fact).

5: Go to a private school. It may even be possible to get it paid for by the school system (but that WILL require a filing and court orders to make that happen). It may also put your proposed school on the stand to be inspected and cross examined. They aren't going to pay for a school just because YOU approve of it. THEY have to. Your new school may not appreciate that. You will likely have to foot the bill and it won't be cheap. But if you can afford it, do it. Many do and they actually can't afford it.

Also know that you are not alone. School systems are hurting everywhere with the implementation of common core and you can google to get thousands of complaints. There are also plenty of schools that are just NOT equipped for what your child needs. So it's not that they WON'T do it, rather they CAN'T. On top of that, they don't have the money for your child's private school any more than you do.

And that's basically the jist of what you can do about a bad school situation on IEPs. With the school year about to kick in, what do you want to know about?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Things you should understand about the education system.

 Every state and more so every city has their own way of running education and handling IEPs. What you could do for your child in support and educational experience is literally a great spectrum of its own. It's important to know that, if you have a problem, you can't just bring federal law down on their heads. You have to go through proper channels and that means the State level. How that state handles or enforces federal law is entirely up to them and yes, that's mostly considered legal and accepted by the "higher authorities". So if you are in Florida and have an IEP complaint to make, you have to make it to the State of Florida Department of Education. You don't get to just jump to the White House. Some places may cave to the threat of a complaint, but that will be the exception rather than rule. Because of the process you will have to go through,, many of them will be pretty calm about the issue.

Florida is a state of nightmare tales of abuse against children in autism (or other disabilities) and you can find tons of news media all over the internet. States like, Wisconsin are generally more successful. If you want to have some fun take a trip to and see how schools in your burg measure up to others around the country. Check anywhere you want. You'll be amazed. For even more comparison, compare that to the 2009 NAMI grading of the states. You can pretty much see how things will be for your child in school on the comparisons. But influences go deeper than that. What kind of things go into affecting how your state and city run their system?

Politics: Where do you think common core came from? Politicians. It's all done with Ordinances, Acts, and other nonsensical business you may not even get to vote on.

City Size: Are you in a major city or small town? Small and isolated towns can be the most differential in school from the rest of the state. Even that may be small differences, but I'm sure I have readers with stories.

Local Beliefs/Traditions: What are of the country are you in? Are you in the Bible belt? Maybe you live in Tornado alley or way up north? Beliefs and traditions of the place you live in will have a direct impact on education and how it's run. It's not supposed to, but it does. In Utah, the Mormon Religion is majority of the population. That means most of the teachers are Mormon too. Their distinct beliefs carry over into the class room. I know this because I lived in Utah for my 9th grade year after being in Nebraska. Totally different worlds.

What they personally think of YOU as a parent: I've had one school commend me, one judge me as a parent (and they all do but I mean harshly) and one label be as a difficult parent, all for doing the exact same thing. It's common knowledge that you can't get along with everyone. But we are supposed to be professional too, right? Well. Definitions vary. One thing that is for sure, if the teacher really doesn't like you, it will affect his or her point of view toward your child. The common thought on parents of  special needs students is that we are a colossal pain in the ass. That stigma (and not all teachers are like this) can make it hard to establish a good parent/teacher rapport.

And all of that is just in Elementary school.

The reason I post this is because, as I look over stories on the internet; I see people lending advice about federal IEP Law as if it's exactly the same in ever state, county, and city. Yes, I know it's written the same, but getting it enforced is a totally different universe. And situations vary so that the law may not be broken by some technicality. It's always best advice to consult a local attorney. Consultations are usually free.

If you are a parent of a special needs student with an IEP, you owe it to yourself to find out exactly what your state's procedures are in handling complaints and education in general. How do they enforce their policies? Too often we wind up surprised and that's never a good thing to be.  But what do you do if you are in a bad situation? In my next installment, I'll tell you.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bringing the blog back to life

It's time to bring back Wildeman's Words! I'm going to be doing some very special works here. It will be a variation of the things I work with and causes I believe in. It's all going to be interesting without a doubt, so I hope you'll be watching.

About those causes. Just what are they? Well, if this is your first time on this blog and you don't really know me, I'm DJ Wilde (author, artist). I have Asperger's Syndrome (no I don't care if its not in thediagnosis manual anymore) Multiple Sclerosis, and a Traumatic Brain Injury. Life is a challenge on the best of days, but I press on and that's an important message I want to convey. Now, I am also the parent of a child with autism (he's 12 as I write this). I grew up without any of the supports you see today and without diagnosis. So those things are extremely important to me, especially for my son. I also want to see more of our autistic youth get the support they need. When someone with autism does something awesome, you may well find it here. Support news? Yep. And every once in a while a rant on some wrongdoing to someone.

As an independent author and artist kicking off his own universe, I'm bound to mention that here. But there's also Galaxy Zento, the blog to consider. I'll be doing articles on independent comic or fantasy artists. People who's work I admire and want to share. Being and independent isn't easy. It's hard to get word out. I'm willing to give some word. Independent authors? Them too! Especially if they have anything to do with the causes above.

So there will be a cool mix coming in the next few days. Tune in!