Today I am Grateful 8

It is time for my 2011 weekly Project Gratitude post.  Information about Project Gratitude can be found at:

Riding the Roller Coaster: Project Gratitude.

I am grateful there are still parents who instill kindness in their children.  I hope and pray there will be even more who do this soon.  I am especially grateful for the bystanders who stand up to bullies and tell them that yes, he or she is my friend.  The more bystanders stand up to bullies, the less power bullies have.  I am glad some people are getting this message.  I am grateful to all of the people including parents, teachers, counselors, principals, and children who are working to make this the standard instead of the exception.  I am posting links to some of the ones I found today.       

Kind Campaign highlights problem of female bullying.

Goddard School asks Could We All Be Bullies?

The following post is an example of a total failure on the part of a school, the children who go there, and the parents of these children, but I am grateful that the girl is speaking out instead of taking her own life.

Payton Spinney: Friend of Phoebe Prince, Who Was Bullied to Suicide, Is Being Taunted for Asperger’s Syndrome – ABC News.

I wrote a blog about accountability back in October and finally some people are being held accountable for their actions just as I have said they should be.

Accountability for Protecting Our Children | dswalkerauthor.

One more good and bad together.  This one is about adult bullies, and I am grateful this story is being reported, and the man who posted threats was arrested.  

Opinion | The trolls and bullies must not stifle community engagement | Seattle Times Newspaper.

Let me know what you think about the recent developments.

Bravery in the Family 16

There are three people I love dearly who have all shown unbelievable bravery in their lives. The first one is my dad who fought in WWII and Korea, but that is not what made him brave to me. The other two are my own children.

The first time I personally witnessed bravery was when I was a little girl. I awoke to a loud banging noise that would not stop, and then I heard my parents’ voices. My mom was begging my dad not to go outside. I got out of bed to see what was going on. Mom was crying and Dad was saying, “Lock the door behind me and call the police,” as he stepped out the door closing it firmly behind him.

Mom locked the door and opened her arms wide as I ran to her. I hugged my mom as she dialed the phone and I heard Dad yell through the door to Mom, “Tell them someone has been badly beaten and is bleeding.” Next I heard my dad telling someone on the other side of the door, “I can’t let you into my house because I have young children, but my wife is calling the police to get help, and I will stay here with you until they come. Whoever did this seems to have left. I saw a car speed away when I opened the door.”

Later I asked my dad why he risked his own life by opening the door. He replied, “Sue, if I were injured wouldn’t you want someone to help me? A long time ago a friend helped me and the only repayment he would accept was a promise that I would help someone else.”

Over the years I observed my dad helping others including repairing their cars when they came off our exit on the freeway only to learn that the nearest station was another eight miles away. He never accepted payment for doing this even when he had to drive somewhere to get auto parts. He always told them the same thing, “Just help someone else one day.” My dad did this his whole life and what better way to teach your children kindness than by being kind yourself. How I wish everyone in this world were like this!

I do not know if I have set as good of an example for my children, but I am trying and I think for the most part I am doing a good job of raising them. I will tell you a little about them and you can decide.

My daughter gave me permission to write Delightfully Different to help others as long I made it a work of fiction. I think this is very brave because I know how hard it was for her.

My son who observed everything that happened to his sister refused to be mean to another boy at school when a group of boys he has known since kindergarten started being mean to this boy. The boy told them my son is his friend and when the “bullies” asked my son if this is true, he replied, “Yes.” Some of these boys have picked on him as a result, but my son has kept his integrity which I think is way more important than remaining friends with mean kids.

Let me know what you think. Do you teach kindness to your children despite what other parents do?

Addendum: Much has changed since I originally posted this. My daughter left the school of her dreams due to their failures, but not before she made the brave decision to tell the high school dean her decision herself. She had the dean in tears, but this did not change the outcome.

That dean has since left the school and the former headmaster has too. We tried to get an apology for my daughter that we want placed in her permanent record to explain that the failures were not hers. The new headmaster refused.

In fact, after agreeing to meet with me, he tried to throw me out of his office ten minutes into our conversation because I showed him a happy smiling self-portrait my daughter drew when she first entered kindergarten before the bullying almost destroyed her. I still managed to converse with him for fifty minutes, but I did not see any indication that he was empathetic.

He did not even offer me a tissue when my eyes were clearly tearing and I had to dig into my purse to find one. He did promise to read everything I left with him including a school newspaper where the bullies called my daughter a reject. (No they did not mention her name, but the whole grade knew who was interviewed and she was the only one who had been excluded from that group. The paper went to every child from kindergarten through twelfth grade and it was on-line until I pointed it out to school the year we finally left them.

My daughter blogged her heart out and became #15 on Babble.com’s top autism blogs. She has since stopped blogging and worked hard to overcome the long-term effects of bullying.

News Media Reports Parents Blame Asperger 4

In the news today, is the story of a twenty-one year old male from Armstrong County,  Pennsylvania who the media reports had a radical Islamist online persona and videos suggesting paramilitary training for terrorist activities. During his arrest last week he is alleged to have bitten two FBI agents and reached for a concealed weapon. The reason I am posting this is the media also reports that his parents are saying he has Asperger’s and offering this as a defense. It is unclear if this is just a defense for the biting or for everything.

Dec. 2010 086

We have a friend who is a weapons trainer for the military who let my son shoot this gun once, but my son normally only shoots air rifles. My son is not the one with the diagnosis, but I don’t know why anyone outside of the military would need the type of weapons involved in this case.

Below is the news article:

FBI finds another alleged home-grown jihadi in Pennsylvania « Hot Air.

Here we go again placing the blame on Asperger’s! I don’t know if anyone remembers, but when the Virginia Tech shooting happened the first response from his family came from an Aunt in Korea who said he had been diagnosed with autism as young boy. It upsets me that the news media jumps on this and runs with it, but they at least are somewhat reasonable in the article listed above. It is the comments that follow that are really the concern and especially the fact that everything gets so twisted the more the story is told.

I personally think whatever is going on with this young man, it is more than Asperger’s.  After the Virginia Tech shootings, we learned that he was a victim of horrific bullying in high school. Now I don’t know that even that caused him to become a shooter and I don’t know anything about the young man in today’s story other than what is in this article.

However, I do know that with understanding and support children can overcome bullying. I also know that Asperger’s does not make someone a terrorist or a shooter. What our children need is what every child needs an environment of tolerance, acceptance, understanding and support to manage challenges that sensory sensitivity and literal thinking can cause. They certainly do not need to be lumped into a group that implies they have no morals or ability to make their own rational decisions anymore than they need to be told that their Asperger’s is not relevant or it is just a made up diagnosis by over-reactive parents.

My child knows that Asperger’s is not a “get-out-of-jail-free” card and from reading other blogs, I know most parents of those on the spectrum agree with me. I want the media to stop blaming autism spectrum every time the diagnosis comes up in these cases. I want our society to change to a climate of helping those on the autism spectrum and anyone else who faces challenges. I want bullying to stop, even bullying by the news media.

Please try to find out exactly why this young man decided violence was the answer to his problems, but don’t blame his diagnosis of Asperger’s unless you have facts to support this. There are many people on the autism spectrum who have endured enough abuse in their lives without you feeding into it. Many have grown into amazing adults against all odds. Just look at Temple Grandin or better yet take the time to read some of the blogs listed under Special Peeps. There you will find some accomplished people who happen to also have a diagnosis that places them on the spectrum. You will also find parents who are working hard to raise responsible and caring children who have a diagnosis that places them on the spectrum.

And parents, if you have a troubled child with any diagnosis don’t blame the diagnosis. Get help for your child and be there to help them through whatever is causing them pain instead of blaming them. It is your job to turn them into the best adults they can be, so you don’t get a “get-out-of-jail-free” card either.

Aloha,

Sue

Value of Pets to Those on the Spectrum 6

Day 13 Gratitude Post:

It is time for my 2011 weekly Project Gratitude post.  Information about Project Gratitude can be found at:

Riding the Roller Coaster: Project Gratitude.

You all had such kind things to say after my posts with my pets pictures, and I truly am grateful for all the animals that have shared my life and for a dad who allowed me to have animals growing up.

First a disclaimer, today’s talk is strictly my opinion based on my experience with my pets and with random reading on the subject, but yes I do believe a pet can be a good thing for those on the spectrum or really for anyone.

The reason I believe a pet can be a good thing is because over my lifetime I have talked more to my animals than I talk to some people and believe me when I say I do talk.  Remember I grew up in a rural area, so while I did spend time at my friend’s house on weekends, if I got upset about something during the week I frequently  went for a walk in our pasture.  When I happened to see my horses on this walk I stopped to pet them and somehow even without words they seemed to understand that I was upset about something.  They were there for me with a nudge of their nose to tell me it was going to be okay.

Or, if I stayed in the house, my dogs would come up to me to make sure I was okay.  When I was in the yard, my cats were there.  Even our wandering Tom Cat seemed to understand.  My children have that relationship with our dogs as well.

That is why in a world where those on the autism spectrum can feel so misunderstood I think having a pet can be a wonderful thing.  I know there are many who believe in “horse therapy,” and if that is you I say great, but I know not everyone is comfortable with horses.  I guess what I am trying to say is, try to find a pet that your child is comfortable with if you do decide to get a pet.  Hopefully, you can also find one that fits your life style as obviously some pets need more attention than others.  I also know that pets aren’t for everyone, and if they aren’t for you and your family maybe you can find a substitute calming influence like music or whatever works for your child and your family.

Do you have pets or did you have them growing up?  What is your opinion on the value of pets for those on the spectrum?  I eagerly await your responses.

Aloha,

Sue