Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Autism, Life Lessons, and Societal Interpretation

Now there's a heckuva title, right? Well, as it turns out, this lesson just hit home for us. My dear 13 year old son is dealing with a life lesson on being caught stealing (or at least looking like he was stealing).

First let me explain something. My son has two therapists who work with him and other kids at his school. It's very helpful and he is getting more and more independent every month. One of the incentives the kids get for doing well and being respectful is a small piece of candy. Hershey's kisses or other single wrapped items are usually what is given. Please spare me any nastiness over giving food as rewards as it is only one of many incentives and the system has been very successful for him.

Now for what happened:

Over the last week, candy has been disappearing from the reward box it is kept in. On Monday, my son was caught in the room with the box in his hands. He hadn't taken anything yet, but that really doesn't matter in a situation like this. He's not being held accountable for past missing candies because no one saw him take those. But he has lost the ability to gain that incentive for the next two weeks. The primary points he needed to understand were that he was in a room he didn't belong in and had the box in his hands.

His explanation, no surprise, would make a defense attorney blush. My son is mastering semantics when it comes to trying to squeak out of trouble or get out of doing something. So I realized that this was a prime opportunity to teach him about how his actions can be interpreted and how that can shape everything.

It wasn't his "intent" to steal anything. He thought he had earned the rewards and went and got the box down to "wait for" the person he would get the reward from. Never mind that he's not supposed to do that. He's supposed to go to his next class and if there's a reward for him, it will be dealt with. It always is. So I explained it to him like this:

If it looks like you are stealing something, then it will be assumed that you are stealing something.

Intent doesn't matter when it comes to what people see. Especially when you are somewhere you don't belong. But even if you do belong, how the viewing public interprets your actions can make or break your day. How many of our kids have crossed paths with the law merely because no one understood what was happening with their subject behavior? Arguably, the number is pretty high. There are media stories of autistic kids getting handcuffed or tazed because of their reactions or badly interpreted behavior.

I picked up a poker chip from my desk area (no I don't gamble) and showed it to my son.

"Imagine that this is a piece of candy." I said and then I put it in my pocket. "What does it look like I just did, if I do this before going to to the register?"

"Stealing." He didn't miss a beat. He understood right away and I saw the light come on. I explained how that understanding is very much the same as finding him in a room he wasn't supposed to be in, holding the box of candy in his hands.

Now, he doesn't like the consequences and some people may not think they are fair. I say they are much more appealing than learning this lesson with a trip to jail or marks on a permanent record. It's better to learn how the public reacts to various behaviors now than when they are in the middle of a crowd somewhere.

Before I go, I'll leave you with one tool that can help your child understand how important public behavior can be for certain things. That tool is Youtube. I show my son videos, ask him what he thinks of what people are doing, and we discuss it. Don't be afraid to discuss it with your kids. You may save them more than just embarrassment.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Why the Oregon Standoff is Ridiculous

Today's Wildeman rant is brought to you by a militia group in the middle of nowhere, Oregon, USA. This crap has my head spinning. And of course, there's plenty of uneducated BS being thrown around on the issue to make it even worse.

So this family under the name of Bundy have formed a militia and taken over a government building. Specifically, they took over the Malheur National Wildlife refuge headquarters. Thankfully this is a remote building several miles from anywhere. Apparently, these are the sons of Clive Bundy who pulled an armed standoff stunt last year because he didn't want to follow some very basic laws regarding his cattle grazing OFF of his 160 acres of property. Because, you know, 160 acres is just too impoverished and unfair and small.

Last year's armed standoff did not end in Bundy's favor, to quote the legal decision of the courts:

"Bundy is permanently enjoined from trespass. Bundy shall remove livestock within 45 days. The United States is entitled to seize and impound cattle." (As they did to the tune of 300 head)

So, clearly the Bundy family is learning impaired in some way as the sons try daddy's stunt up in Oregon.

How stupid this is proves itself in just a couple of minor points.

1: They claim they intend no violence. Well that's bullshit. I don't care who you are, if you gather up and stage any protest armed to the teeth with guns, guns, and more guns; you are looking for a fight. It's as simple as that. You have the right to gather and protest, but there are rules. You don't do it by waving guns around. But that seems to be the Bundy solution to just about everything, considering Daddy Bundy's long history of violent threats to anything that gets in his way. Per their quote to the media, they only intend violence if the government wants their building back.


The government might actually want the building back? Holy shit! And here I thought their first response would be to donate it to Goodwill!

2: Their reasoning for doing this is an even bigger pile of bull.
-They're being oppressed. Uh, how is that even possible? With a family net worth in the far millions, ownership of hundreds of acres of land and hundreds of heads of cattle, you're oppressed how exactly? Oh, apparently government ownership of land equals oppression now.
-They're doing it for another family that's being terrorized. This one is juicy. Never mind that the Hammond family attorney denies that the Bundys represent them at all. No. The ballsy point here is that the Hammond family apparently likes to light shit on FIRE. I don't know about you, but the freedom to cause fucking forest fires is entirely new to me. Not letting them light uncontrolled fires is now terrorism. Where is this new dictionary I keep hearing about? And since when did fire become an endangered species that should be allowed to go where it damn well pleases?

These are the two main points of their big standoff. Come on, Bundys, admit it; the real reason is "we're a bunch of greedy assholes with guns".

3: Then there's the whole RACE angle. I swear, if I hear one more person say "of course they won't shoot them, they're white", my head is going to implode. Stop it. Just stop. You aren't helping a damn thing. If you really think that white people get off better only because they are white, I have a one word history lesson for you:


And then I have another word for you:


I don't know if you noticed, but when people claiming to be with "Black lives matter" destroyed millions of dollars of property by LIGHTING IT ON FIRE and more, authorities didn't come in with live ammo and kill them all. No. They used rubber bullets and made 80 or more live arrests. The only people who actually caused serious injury were the rioters themselves! As another example, when people claiming to be with BLM blocked off a freeway (creating all sorts of safety hazards) they weren't shot down either. So NO it's not a race issue. Knock it off!

And just like the rioters making BLM look bad, the Bundy's crew is making responsible gun owners look bad. You all know full well that this will be the next banner unfurled for the anti-gun people. It's people like the Bundy's who screw it up for everyone else.

Now, you want to know what's really scary? Just like thousands of people thinking that Donald Trump's racist crap is the answer to America's problems; apparently hundreds of people think it's okay to take up gun waving and property destruction in the same of someone else's problems. Violence by mass measure is becoming an "answer" far too often. People are snapping. If anything is a warning sign, this is it! And it comes down to the haves and have nots. Not black or white or Muslim or anything else. When families can't afford a box of mac and cheese and they still make too much to get food stamp assistance, something is horribly wrong. Blaming those struggling families is even worse. This is why hysteria is gripping the people of our country. This is why crap like this is happening. This is why the common person is so easily roped into doing stupid things like supporting a family of greedy assholes with guns. Mark these words, if something isn't done to make things right, it will only get worse.