Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category


Psychology Today shared an article called Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD. I keep revising this post because I really don’t want to come off sounding preachy or as if I’m offended when what I really am is exhausted and frustrated with the attitude that the article perpetuates. There is a very permeating attitude in the U.S. as well as France that ADHD and ADD not only are overdiagnosed, but don’t exist. I’d like to suggest that instead most people aren’t aware of what having ADHD/ADD actually entails.

There’s a very stereotypical view of ADHD of hyperactive boys running around screaming, throwing things and wrestling with classmates, or exhausting poor mom to the point of mom having to simply shove her child out the door to burn off energy “somehow.” And the comments that follow are usually along the lines of the child simply being a child that needs fresh air and any behavior problems can be solved with More Strict Discipline a.k.a. Spanking or A Good Whipping or better yet…. Just One Day At MY House.

Yes, these types of comments are common.

  • Don’t you know that ADHD is another way to say, “My disciplinary skills as a parent are a failure and now I want to medicate my child?” You need a second opinion. Oh wait… did you doctor shop?  Discipline is a small part of ADHD. You can be the most strict, loving, firm parent there is and your child can still present disciplinary challenges like none you’ve ever seen or expected. ADHD is not a reflection of a parent’s failure to discipline. It does take time to figure out what type of discipline works best in certain situations, but as with Autism, what may work one day may not work another day.
  • ADHD is a junk diagnosis and doesn’t exist; it’s a lazy label; why are you labeling your child with a diagnosis that isn’t even real?  Parents who have one or more children ADHD/ADD will tell you it’s not a junk diagnosis. It’s an answer for what’s happening in the child’s life that will hopefully help them be able to address what’s happening in a different way. It’s an ability to identify a group of behaviors and patterns of thought in order to help the child learn coping skills, and the parents learn different parenting skills for that child.
  • Ah, ADHD, a diagnosis for, “Normal childhood behaviors that we don’t want to deal with and would rather medicate”  ADHD is not automatically something that is medicated. Medicating a child is serious business, and the only one that should be prescribing a child medications like that is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatriatrian, a Pediatric Neurologist, or a Child Psychiatrist with the agreement of both parents. And for the record, teachers and principals have nothing to do with the decision making process and can’t make ultimatums regarding medicating a child whether the child is pre- or post- ADHD diagnosis.
  • When I was a child those doctors put me on Ritalin and it turned me into a zombie… meds are terrible and doctors just want to get your money because they’re all controlled by BigPharma!  First, who actually says Big Pharma? ;-) Conspiracy theorists who need an evaluation themselves, ha ha. I keed, I keed, but seriously.  Second, if a medication makes someone feel “like a zombie” that’s an indication that a medication is either an incorrect dosage or it’s the incorrect medication. Period, full stop.Additionally, pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies are in the business because guess what? They’re businesses. In order to stay in business they’re allowed to try to make money. It’s not unethical for them as businesses to expect payment for their product a.k.a. medication of any kind. They need to be paid for their services just like anyone else, even if some of the meds cost less than a penny per unit to produce. They’re marked up due to not only the ingredients used, the development for new medications, use of the equipment, paying for transportation of medications and paying their employees. People who work in pharmaceuticals deserve to be paid fairly, just like anyone else. Medicine is a business. Doctoring is a business. Services rendered deserve payment.
  • Really? You think it’s ADHD? Don’t you think a more natural approach would be best? People who jump to medication just don’t think things through!  There’s an automatic assumption by many that the purpose of an ADHD diagnosis is to get the child medicated. There’s also an automatic assumption by people that Medications Are Bad. Again, medicating a child is serious business, not to be taken lightly. Most parents don’t enter that decision lightly one way or the other.Additionally, most parents I know that parent children who cope with ADHD do indeed use every natural method possible first… and even once medication is started, we/they continue using those natural methods in order to minimize the dosage.
  • I’ll bet you’re one of those parents who’s completely opposed to medication? God, those people are so judgmental and don’t think things through!  Again, assumptions. There’s nothing wrong with being opposed to medications for ADD or ADHD. Parents are allowed to make that choice for themselves and their children. My only hope when it comes to medications is that whichever decision is made… to medicate or not AND whichever homeopathic or naturopathic or dietary methods… or even a combination of all of these methods is used is that they are ALL well researched.  There isn’t one single perfect formula. Every child is different.
  • Oh, you need to get the school off your back. You can’t allow teachers to do that to you. They pressure parents constantly to get the diagnosis because they just don’t want to deal with children, they can’t control classrooms anymore. You know they just want you to medicate her so they don’t have to control her natural exuberance!   This is my favorite. Teachers can offer their opinions, but no one at the school, not even the school psychologist EVEN IF a neuro-psych evaluation is performed by the school (and only with your permission, by the way, by way of a PPT) can diagnose ANYTHING including ADHD. A neuro-psych from the school can back up a private evaluation; it can stand alone as a way to help target your child’s strengths and challenges in order to figure out how best to teach your child and individualize their education plan (IEP). But they can’t diagnose. This is why if you ever suspect ANYTHING of your child medically or neurologically you MUST get an independent evaluation because your IE will trump the school’s IE if your child needs services and the school’s IE is a bit, mmm, lackluster.
  • Why are you so eager to label your child? Everyone has a label these days! There’s a diagnosis for everything! What makes you think ADHD is such a good label? It’s not! It’s going to follow him/her for life!  This one is worst when it’s the Autism diagnosis… it’s hurtful. I’m not a “label happy” parent. Unfortunately, I’ve seen so many parents who suspect their child is on the Autism Spectrum but refuse to get their child evaluated for services due to a fear of a “label.”  What some individuals don’t realize is that the “label” is a medical diagnosis which is intended to help the child who will grow into an adult. The diagnosis is intended to help target services in order to best teach that child; in order to best adapt the environment; and in order to ensure that the child has a level playing field to his/her peers. So yeah… “labels” are kind of a good thing if your child needs services and you need to identify the type of services. If it means your child will get the best education possible, get over your dislike of labels. Fast.
  • ADHD is such an over-diagnosed bunch of crap! This is another way of saying that ADHD (and Autism) is diagnosed far more often than it was back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s or whichever romanticized decade or century they’re thinking of when no one was ever sick, no one needed medications or doctors or hospitals. There’s a reason for that. Better diagnostic tools. Parents being more educated when they suspect something is going on with their children. The internet. And with the internet there are even teenagers and tween that are looking up their own symptoms when they realize they’re not quite like their peers in how their brains work, and they approach their parents with the request for an evaluation.
  • Back in my day as a child, no one was ever diagnosed with anything! It’s all the crap in our food and environment! It’s vaccines! The government is poisoning us! So very much conspiracy theory to address. There’s a reason people weren’t diagnosed back in the day. This one is often paired up with the previous comment, and the reasons why people weren’t diagnosed back in the day are the same. The children who had ADHD and ADD were the “space cadet” kids and the class clowns. They were the eccentric kids who couldn’t get their shit together no matter how hard they tried. If they were Autistic AND had ADHD, they were institutionalized. Kids with severe ADHD were threatened with military school. They were often high school drop outs. They had a lot of run ins with law enforcement.

    And if you want to know my stance on vaccines, go to my search bar and type it in. Go ahead.

  • But forcing children to sit all day in school is unnatural! They’re supposed to be in fresh air playing ALL DAY LONG EVERY DAY!  Really? Stop romanticizing the past. And also, office jobs. Any jobs indoors. Most jobs require people to sit, stand, or otherwise stay still for moderately long periods in order to be able to focus on job functions. Not to mention movies in a theater. Meetings. Appointments. Many different types of social interactions. This is a skill that not everyone is naturally capable of. Children need to be taught this skill to begin with, and for some, their neurological differences make learning this much-needed skill a challenge.
  • ADHD huh? You know what I did when the teachers and doctors told me my child has ADHD? I took my kid out of school to homeschool and you should too.  I like to ask how things are working out in situations like that, but I’m evil that way. Most often the “school day at home” lasts all of two hours with the two hours scattered all throughout the day because Junior can’t sit still or focus or isn’t interested. And the child isn’t learning a damn thing.  PLEASE NOTE: I’m not slamming homeschooling. I think when it’s done right, it’s a great tool.  If you’re doing it right, I’m not talking about you and I’m not talking about homeschooling in general. I think homeschooling can be fantastic.  I even think it can be fantastic for some Autistic kids and some kids that have ADHD. The point I’m trying to make here is that when there’s been a diagnosis by doctors regarding ADHD/ADD; when a school has performed an evaluation that indicates ADHD/ADD backing up a doctor’s diagnosis; and the school and doctor are trying to help with an education plan or 504… accept the help that’s offered. ADHD isn’t a life sentence. It’s an answer. Autism isn’t a life sentence either. It’s an answer to a collection of challenges and differences to help understand what an individual needs to cope in a world that’s not made for neurodiversity.
  • Let that kid spend a couple HOURS in MY house; they won’t have “ADHD” or any other “disorder” when they leave! Yeah… um… none of my children will be spending ANY time alone in your house without me present. And we just might not be spending much time with you at all. This judgmental statement says everything in those few words with the added tone that violence would come into play.
  • Spare the rod and spoil the child, I always say. The Bible says so. If you don’t use REAL discipline then they won’t mind you.  The insinuation here, of course, is that children with ADHD and/or Autism aren’t disciplined, and being disciplined isn’t an expectation from the parents.  The judgment is that discipline isn’t Discipline unless physical corporal punishment is involved. Except that corporal punishment is, in my experience, physical abuse. It instills fear, not respect.  And ADHD and Autism aren’t about obedience, blind or otherwise. They’re about Neuro-diversity.

    Additionally, I love it when people misunderstand this phrase. The phrase is actually saying to use spanking/hitting with a rod/switch sparingly because if you use it too often, the method of intended discipline will be spoiled ie. it won’t work. The Bible never once endorses abusing children. It’s amazing to me how some parents build an entire discipline of spanking philosophy around this single phrase without ever understanding what it really means.The fact is that you don’t need to physically harm a child or induce fear in a child to have them respect you. Loving them and respecting them and treating them well, treating them like people instead of miniature selves that simply need to obey instructions raises up respectful, kind, loving children. Discipline in it’s actual definition means “to teach.” Use discipline the way it’s intended… teaching. Trust your children to be able to learn without threats and physical harm no matter what the parental intent is behind it.

  • That kid just needs a good beating! No one needs a beating. Trust me. The way many adults “discipline” children would land them in jail if they treated other adults the same way because when you do it to adults it’s called assault and battery.  Plus, see above response to above common comment.
  • That kid just doesn’t have enough responsibilities; they’re allowed to get away with too much and has too much time on their hands.  Again, assumptions. In the majority of parents I know who have children with ADHD and/or Autism, responsibilities and independence and learning these skills are very important. We are, after all, raising adults.
  • Where are the parents? Doing what they can to help their child learn coping skills, independent living skills, how to be responsible, and how to become a productive member of society just like every other parent is doing with their non-ADHD and non-Autistic children…  while also recognizing that not every single moment of life has to be a teaching moment or disciplinary moment. Parents don’t cause ADHD. A child doesn’t cause their own ADHD. It’s neurological, and most often it’s genetically inherited. Oh boy, is it.

So. There are a lot of things wrong in each of those statements, paraphrased in all different ways all over the internet and in real life. I’ve heard nearly all of it. I can’t understand a lot of these comments because until I had a children that are neuro-diverse (one who is Autistic and one with ADHD and ODD) I was exactly the same way.

I was a perfect parent until I had children.

Parenting in general changed me. Parenting children that provide certain parenting challenges that aren’t exactly typical… that changed my entire way of thinking. It humbled me. It educated me. I thought that half the battle was discipline and parenting, and the other half was part diet and part biology. I thought that some parents just might not know how to handle energetic children.

I was only half right.

Discipline, parenting, diet, all play a very big part. That’s the nurture part. But biology… neurology…  the nature part is huge. When something is part of someone’s neurology and how their brain actually works then it’s time to sit up and pay attention. The fact is that the majority of people don’t have ADHD, just as the great majority of people don’t have Autism. ALL people who have ADHD and/or Autism have different neurologies than individuals who aren’t neuro-diverse. The fact is that even though diagnoses seemed to have increased, the amount of children who are Autistic and have ADHD has not increased. It’s just that Autistic individuals used to be institutionalized. If someone had ADHD they were a problem child. And very, very often individuals with ADHD have additional neurological differences like learning differences that need to be addressed and they weren’t.  Those children weren’t identified the way they are now. That’s big. That’s GOOD.

So, when I read comments like that whenever the topic of ADHD (and even Autism) comes up, I see how they rile up other similar-thinking individuals who make the sort of comments I shared above. The common thread is that children and teens with ADHD are simply high energy that need to have that energy burned off and the parents are just burned out or lazy; that the kids are viewed as hard to handle, misbehaving monsters; have parents that can’t control them and have given up; that these kids have parents who only want to put them in their place or don’t try hard enough to put them in their place.  And there are always people who have opinions on whether to medicate or not; when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

The ones that bother me the most are the ones who insist ADHD is really a label for lazy parenting and that ADHD is a junk diagnosis that parents want to medicate their out of control children over.  If you fall on the side of the fence where this is what what you believe, I think that it’s misguided and misinformed and you need some more education on what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder actually is. It would be very beneficial to you and possibly to your friends who may have been hurt by your judgmental comments; and it could be beneficial to your own family members.

Yes, I realize that this particular entry hasn’t addressed in depth what ADHD entails. I’m saving that for another post, and I hope to address it from the point of view of girls having ADHD.

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I ended up wearing rainbow colors that day that I wrote about doing anything, even wearing blue. I just… I realized that supporting her meant more than wearing the blue because it’s her favorite and she asked me and she thought I’d be celebrating her. It meant so, so much more and I tried to explain why I wore a rainbow-flower skirt with a purple shirt (my own favorite color) in a way she could understand. But how do you explain that wearing blue, lighting it up blue, is a trigger event and silences Autistic Voices? That anything explaining away why it’s okay is really not okay?

And that’s what I think I did in that entry, and I wholeheartedly apologize, no qualifications.

So how did I explain to my daughter why I broke the blue promise…

Rainbows and flowers are love, and everyone loves flowers. Autism is full of wonderful colors, not just blue, and even if the flowers in my skirt were fuzzy at the edges they were far prettier than puzzle pieces all over the school walls. She nodded in agreement.

I told her that I wanted her to be able to choose from all of the colors in the rainbow when she’s making friends, when she’s thinking, when she’s getting dressed, when she’s looking outside, all just like when she’s painting or making crafts. She nodded more with each example.

I told her that an agency named Autism $peaks created the Light It Up Blue idea, and that we don’t like all of their ideas because some of their ideas include wanting to cure Autism. I asked her if she remembered hearing about that several days before, and she nodded with a Very Serious Expression on her face.

Then I explained that there are other supportive agencies that want to help her and others like her grow and be happy, and learn to be a self-advocate as she grows up and becomes a teenager and an adult.

I explained that sometimes we were going to have to have different kinds of conversations now about how some people think Autism is not a good thing and how we can change those ideas by showing them the good things and teaching them about the ideas that they don’t quite have right. That sometimes people believe things about Autism that aren’t true, but that we can help educate them. She nodded. She seemed to like the idea of being an educator instead of the student.

I explained that there would be times we would be talking about the better ideas that Mommy has read about from the good agencies so that Mommy can better understand who is a helper and who is not… and that I think she’s getting old enough to learn those things too.

She nodded her head, with a furrowed brow, and said, “Mm hmm.”

“Do you have any questions?”

“Can I still wear my blue skirt?”

“Yes. Always. You can even keep blue as your own favorite color.”

“Mm hmm. Yes.”

“Do you want to ask me more?”

“I don’t know.”

She walked away. So that was that.

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Great way of showing what I’ve been trying to say, but more succinctly. Check out this post below from Jess at Diary of a Mom.

communication | a diary of a mom.

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April 1st: Rainbow of RosesMy Sweet Girl loves blue. Of course, she also likes green, pink, and purple, but she says she loves blue the best.

Last year she started to notice that her elementary school was taking part in encouraging the students ahead of time to wear blue and “light it up blue” for April 2nd in order to show solidarity and celebrate Autism. They teach the children about Autism and why it’s important to be accepting of differences, and how autistic children and teens and adults might think differently but are still just the same as everyone else. They show the children the positives, but also teach the children that there can be difficulties, challenges, obstacles, that might be hard for them to understand if they aren’t autistic themselves, and it’s very important to know that they don’t have to be afraid. They shouldn’t bully children that show autistic behaviors, but should be friends with them and protect them. They don’t have to accept being bullied themselves by anyone, and if they see a child that they think might have disabilities such as happens with Autism, they should speak up.

Now, this isn’t what my Sweet Girl told me. She came home and told me that the whole school dresses up on April 2nd in her favorite color, blue, especially and specifically to celebrate her.  As a 6th grader she plans to wear blue tomorrow to celebrate herself.

I learned that this is what the elementary students are being taught by a neighbor’s daughter this morning because she was so excited to tell me about having learned about Autism in school to prepare for tomorrow. She’s excited to learn more, and she’s even more excited that she can share positive experiences with classmates because she’s at our house nearly every day. I remember how sad she was when she heard that there are people who would want to cure Autism and prevent people from being born with it. She immediately said, “But then there wouldn’t be awesome people like G!”

This morning my neighbor girl also told me how much she enjoys Sweet Girl and there are lots of things she loves that Sweet Girl does. Her very favorite thing is when I hold up my hand to give a high five, and Sweet Girl goes to give me a fist bump instead… but when I hold up my hand to give her a fist bump she puts up her own hand to give me a high five. She loves Sweet Girl’s sense of humor; she loves seeing how Sweet Girl can start her morning routine with the worst of moods and then change it around by helping me bake muffins or smelling coffee and giggling that giggle that Sweet Girl does.

Those are the things she wants to share. We’ve turned our little 9 year old neighbor into an advocate and ally already. ;-)  She plans to wear blue head to toe in honor of Sweet Girl.

This does present a dilemma in my own mind because these girls really don’t connect lighting themselves up blue with the damage done by Autism $peaks. How do I tell these children that they shouldn’t because it’s offensive to those of us who know what it’s connected to? That if they come across an autistic individual who would be offended knowing the significance as a self-advocate, it could cause a trigger effect for that person that could last hours or days? How do I justify taking away their excitement to learn more positive things and their desire to educate and not just make people aware but ACCEPTING?

These kids get it, you know… that it’s about accepting now and not just awareness. After all I think that there are probably only 12 people left in the developed world that have never heard of Autism. As a nation, we’re definitely aware. The problem is that as a nation, we’re not educated and we’re definitely not accepting. We can’t even accept disabilities as a whole let alone Autism. We have a self-proclaimed Autism support agency, Autism $peaks, who takes donations and doesn’t put them towards services but towards research that would try to find cures and prevention. We have parents who try to murder their disabled children, and apologists for them who “understand what they’re going through” hoping courts will be lenient and demanding others not judge them. We have comedians making vicious fun of disabled people. We have musicians writing offensive song lyrics against autistic people. We have every day people using the word autistic as a slur and an insult just as they use stupid, moron, idiot, and dumb (all ableist language).

These kids are getting it. This is why I support mainstream education rather than separating the students that have disabilities from the non-disabled students. It’s not just about educating them and telling them in a Do As I Say, Not As I Do situation. It’s about seeing each other as equals because heads up, they are, and treating them as such because guess what, they are. It’s about learning that being different doesn’t mean less, and it doesn’t mean segregation. It shows all of the children, including the children with disabilities, that we ALL have challenges and obstacles and we all need different kinds of help.

It teaches more than tolerance, more than awareness… it teaches acceptance. A quiet, natural acceptance.

A major issue with what April as Autism Awareness Month means is that for the teen and adult self-advocates that are aware and educated about the intricacies of the history of how society treats disabled individuals; that have been through traumatic experiences as they’ve grown up for various reasons at the hands of their parents, peers, education, therapies; how society specifically currently views Autism as a whole; and last but not least the intense spotlight that this “awareness month” puts on Autistic individuals is this:

It’s not the right kind of attention for many Autistics.  It’s anxiety inducing.

Donations often go to agencies that are not supportive of Autism at all, nor of Autism Services (Autism $peaks I’m looking at you).

It’s a huge burden to bear to be the face of Autism for an entire month.

It’s a huge burden to bear to be expected to educate people for an entire month.

It’s a huge burden to bear to have to argue with parents who have not accepted their child’s neuro-diversity even if their child is in their  40’s or 50’s.

It’s a huge burden to bear to be expected to “overcome” their disabilities or show them off for others.

It’s an even worse burden to have to defend being Autistic in a world that still wants to cure you and insists that it needs to prevent Autism in others. Autistics around the world feel that if their parents wished they weren’t Autistic, that if they could stamp it out, then they’re also wishing they were stamped out. There is no distinction between their person-hood and their autism.

It’s not fair when parents use this month to spotlight how much they hate Autism, causing Autistics around the world to feel that they are hated. If you hate Autism, they feel you must hate them as well. That’s a reasonable feeling. There is no distinction between their person-hood and their autism.

I can’t say that I disagree.

That’s an awful lot to bear. That’s why at only 12 years old, I’m really not sure that I want to take the joy out of my daughter’s eyes when she sees her classmates wearing blue because her interpretation is that it’s all in her personal honor. It’s Sweet Girl Day tomorrow. I know she’ll ask me to wear blue for her, just as she did last year. I sigh as I write this because I know the social implications, but for my daughter? I’ll do anything. Maybe I’ll wear a multi-colored something.

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Happy April! What a gorgeous day today is. All of my girls are feeling well; it’s sunny and temperatures are supposed to reach 40*F; I’m finishing my first cup of coffee while wearing one of my favorite sweaters before getting ready for work.

I think it’s time to assess the things I’m grateful for, especially with Easter coming up this weekend.

Today, on April 1st 2015, I’m very grateful for:

  1. coffee
  2. very large coffee mugs
  3. like, coffee mugs that will fit three 12-oz servings of coffee to drink all at once and that’s like… oh sheesh, math… 36 oz in one mug!
  4. the fact that my family understands the importance of coffee in my life
  5. my husband
  6. my children
  7. seeing so much good in my daughters, with love reflected back to me and in everything they do
  8. my brothers
  9. all of my sisters-in-law
  10. all of my brothers-in-law
  11. my parents and my mother-in-law
  12. my very best friends, my chosen sisters
  13. the good health of my family and friends
  14. my job
  15. the fact that most days I can still function enough to go to work
  16. working toilets
  17. working heat
  18. blankets
  19. sweaters
  20. fluffy slippers
  21. my Kindle
  22. kitchen gadgets
  23. the fact that it hasn’t snowed in two whole days
  24. God answering my prayers in small ways that matter
  25. a working phone
  26. working clothes washer and dryer
  27. payday
  28. my invisible internet friends
  29. oh my gosh, my CATS of course
  30. and how did I not put chocolate on this list by now?
  31. and Girl Scout cookies?
  32. God, there’s something wrong with me today. I also forgot hot showers
  33. and paper towels
  34. and freshly washed warm bath towels
  35. being able to bake with my daughters
  36. family being appreciate (usually) of my cooking)
  37. a (kind of) working (kind of) reliable car
  38. getting X-Finity over frontier because frontier sucks donkey balls, let’s face it
  39. DVR
  40. oh my gosh, why isn’t my hairdresser further up this list? clearly great haircuts from my awesome stylist ought to be further up this list. Last but not least, saved the best for last, and all that, right?

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This came to my attention on Frday of last week, and I’ve been trying to write something that isn’t using profanities every other word. I’ve had about 60 drafts. [There is a new edit at the bottom of the post]

There’s a YouTube video called Autism Mom FURIOUS is over Steve Harvey’s comments – 3.26.15 – YouTube that brings attention to something despicable, something that she has every reason to be furious over. Something that I’m furious and sickened over.

Steve Harvey used his radio show as a comedy platform (as Sister Odell) to make fun of disabled adults attending Church.

I’m not being overly sensitive or too politically correct. If you were to tell me that, you’re defending his actions and diminishing the lives of disabled individuals everywhere.

I’m not infringing on anyone’s right to free speech to call out a comedian’s, or anyone else’s, behavior and speech. This may be cliche at this point, but if he has the freedom of speech to behave badly and speak in a degrading way about disabled people and laugh like a fool over his own (lack of) cleverness, then he’d better be damned sure to be ready for others to use THEIR right to free speech to call him out.

His words were like acid, caustic and issuing a damaging blow to the disability movement. It tells people in cultures where shaming and being embarrassed about their disabilities and their disabled family members that it’s appropriate and even “funny.”

It tells people that those who can’t always speak against this very same sickening attitude that the world is not even attempting to change to be more sensitive, let alone accommodating, to them.

It tells them that this hatred, being thinly veiled with so-called humor, not only exists in their own homes with family members, but likely at work with employers and co-workers, with neighbors… and out in the world in the media and with other people in the public eye that are looked up to for heaven knows why.

It tells disabled children in school that the bullies who claim they’re just joking, using humor as their mask, will be allowed to get away with it because they’re not really doing any harm. And no one will do anything until someone commits suicide; then everyone blames the child’s parents for not realizing how disturbed s/he was in his disability and why didn’t the parents get him/her the right help or realize how mentally ill they were before s/he committed suicide, when the real issue is that demeaning disabled people and making them Less Than Human is damaging.

Disabilities do not make disabled individuals Less Than Human. They… we.. are fully Human. We’re simply different. And in the words of Temple Grandin, disability (although originally from the point of view of Autism) merely means Different, Not Less.

It’s not unrealistic to expect that some things should be completely off limits as jokes. It’s more than “in poor taste.” We can take poor taste. What Steve Harvey did is cruel, bullying, and calling it comedy somehow gives it free license to say truly hurtful things and it shows exactly how he feels when he sees someone with Autism or similar disabilities that have nonverbal learning disorders and additional conditions.

Calling it comedy means that some people will repeat the so-called jokes because it’s “funny” and of course funny means that people won’t be able to conceive of the idea that it could be hurtful. They’ll repeat it because they’ll have reinforcement that attitudes such as Steve Harvey’s about disabilities and disabled individuals are acceptable and correct. You know, because we’re the ones who are humorless and touchy and overly sensitive.

Those attitudes are not acceptable. Not. Acceptable. But I suppose with Steve Harvey being who he is, I shouldn’t be surprised.

I’m disgusted and sickened. This is the sort of attitude that I feel I’m swimming upstream through chunky peanut butter to end. I’m allergic to peanuts.

No, Mr. Harvey, there’s no way you’re getting out of this with anything less than some very public reconciling to do as well as some reconciliation of the divine sort.

Share. Please. Share that link. Listen to what Steve Harvey thinks about disabled people from his talk show. Then boycott him. If you can’t do that, then write to his producers and tell them exactly what you think about his behavior. Let them know that if you were a fan, you’re not any longer. Let them know that if you hadn’t watched or listened before, there’s no chance in hell now.

More importantly: If you ever have behaved or spoken in a way that’s degrading to any individuals that have any disabilities at all, please stop. Think about the damage you’ve done and are doing if you don’t stop. You don’t know who has an invisible disability that hasn’t come out to you about it, so you don’t know who you’re harming. Be an ally instead of the villain.

#BeAnAllyNotAVillain #FlashBlogBoycottSteveHarvey #BoycottSteveHarvey

[EDIT: I really didn’t want to add what it was he said because I think if you watch that video above, she illustrates what’s wrong with what he said. But I should have included that he joke was made during his morning talk show on March 26th as his character “Sister Odell.” He has since apologized except that his apology wasn’t really an apology. It was a “y’all can’t take a joke” jab.

It started out on Facebook as,

“To everyone, please accept my sincere apologies. It was not my intent to hurt anyone.”

He should have stopped there. That would have been perfect.

He continued with:

“Sister Odell is a made up character, she is not real and my intent was not directed at any other real person. And most certainly was not directed at anyone you know. Again my apologies. The problem with comedy is ALL subjects can offend someone. Please forgive me if you were. DON’T TRIP HE AIN’T THRU WITH ME YET.”

Apology? Do you see what he did there? Exactly what I said he’d do. He excused his behavior. He blamed those offended in the disability community, for being offended that he said offensive things he should have never said. Under the claim that it wasn’t really him but the character he was playing.

When you apologize to anyone you’ve offended, you simply apologize and you don’t qualify the behavior. You don’t excuse the behavior. You don’t turn it around and blame the massive group of people you offended for being rightly offended.

This was a non-apology.

How does one exactly blame the fictitious character that one writes and plays? It’s not MY fault, it’s Sister Odell’s fault for making fun of someone that doesn’t actually exist.

No, it doesn’t work that way. It can’t.

Those “jokes” only barely thinly mask a very real opinion. He wasn’t being sarcastic in the jokes, using them to describe a behavior about disability bigots that he was disgusted with. He was the one making fun of disabled individuals. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t directed at a specific individual… that makes it even worse because now we also know what his stereotype of a disabled person looks like. They’re all intellectually disabled, unable to speak, unable to control themselves and their bodies, unable to control the sounds coming out of their mouths, looking foolish.

This is what such “comedy” perpetuates. That a thin mask of hate of disabled people and their disabilities, and hatred their audacity to be disabled in public, can be called comedy and therefore not be considered hate speech or discrimination. No, if it’s comedy, it couldn’t possibly be a mask of hate and discrimination.

What saddens me is that there are people commenting on his pages that they are or know someone close to them (like a son or daughter) who is disabled, and not only are they not bothered but they found it funny too. They want him to continue, and they support him and believed an apology was not necessary. That anyone offended had no reason to be offended and basically, we’re all party poopers without a sense of humor.

That’s what couching hatred of disabled people in humor perpetuates. Not acceptance, not a desire to learn more, not even tolerance.]

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I would love it if as a mom and ally, I didn’t have to defend Autism. Little babies and children don’t need to be protected from Autism at all costs.  I would love it if society didn’t treat Autism in that way.  I hope that my Sweet Girl never has to defend Autism. She should never have to defend her very existence. I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with her a couple of weeks ago that I drafted, and am finally sharing.

My Sweet Girl recently found out that there are people who think Autism is Very Bad and want to cure it, prevent it, stop it, and that they spread misinformation about it. When she heard a doctor and someone else who was supposed to be some expert talk about the MMR vaccine and Measles, the pros and cons, the arguing and veiled insults, she shot her head up as soon as the woman (not the doctor) brought Autism into it. She said something negative about preventing ASD, curing ASD, blaming the MMR and epidemic rates, and the usual propaganda prattle. The Doctor thankfully had his head on straight and refuted the claims this loon was making.

The look of confusion on Sweet Girl’s face would have been amusing under any other circumstance, but I knew by the quickening of her breath that she had some understanding of what that woman said, and it wasn’t something I was ready for because I worried that it wasn’t something she was ready for.

And so I was cursing the Today Show for ramming the measles/vaccine/autism discussion during school-preparation time.

“Why did they say that? What did they just say?”

“There are some people who think Autism is caused by traumas, errr, injuries to the brain. There are some people who think that vaccines cause an injury that makes Autism, and that vaccines can cause other injuries so they don’t trust vaccines. People are getting the Measles right now because a lot of people stopped giving their children shots. They think Measles is safer than the shots.”

“That is stupid, shots are medicine. You need medicine. Shots stop sick before you get sick.” ::dirty look:: “I don’t like needles.”

“I don’t like getting shots either.”

“I do not want to take away my Autism,” she said, pronounced like AWT-izm.

And then the hard part.

“Why do people want to stop my Autism? Then I would not be here,” and there was an edge of hurt in her voice mingled with disbelief.

“I don’t know the answer to that, honey, except that maybe those people just don’t understand Autism or how to look for the talents instead of the stuff in Autism that makes things hard for you and other people like you.”

“Yes, it is hard. I need my Autism. I love being… what is the word? I love being Autism?”

Tears started to well up.

“The word is ‘autistic’ sweetie. Do you love being Autistic?”

“Mmmm hmm.”

“Are you happy?”

“Mmmm HMMMM!”

“That makes me happy. I love you and your Autism.”

 

With a nod she walked away. As you can see, my daughter is kind of amazing. Just like her sisters. In her own words, at only 12 years old she let me know in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t want a cure. She thinks the idea of being injured is stupid (we’re working on reducing the ableist language like stupid and idiot, sorry it slipped in). She’s shocked at the idea that anyone would want to change who she is or prevent more people like her from being born.

She’s delighted when she finds out that other classmates or other peers are like her. There’s a sudden new understanding and behavior shift with them when she finds out, and they’re just happy to “be.” She has a compassion for difficult behaviors when she knows that they might have autism or something similar.

As I said, she’s kind of amazing.

We’ve been honest and open with her about Autism from the beginning when we realized it helped her to know. It helped her form questions when she had them. Since she’s known for so long, since she was 4 1/2 or so, she’s never “not known” that she’s Autistic. I trust her instincts.

She knows that there’s a reason she thinks differently, works things through differently, does things at a different pace, has different talents, approaches things differently, has certain obstacles and challenges that are really difficult and upsetting, but because we accept every single part of her she accepts every single part too. Behaviors that she actively dislikes, or knows that need to change because they could be dangerous because we’ve talked it out, she works hard on. She asks questions and she watches. She tries. She does a lot of watching and experimenting. She doesn’t fear herself, and I don’t fear her. If something seems impossible, we see if there’s an accommodation to make it easier. We adjust. We accept.

I don’t feel sad for her. I don’t want anyone to feel sad for her. I don’t want anyone to think that she’s miserable or suffering. She’s not “suffering with Autism.” She’s autistic, and she’s not suffering. She’s growing into a young woman. Would anyone say she’s with femaleness? And suffering with femaleness? Or she’s suffering with blondness? She’s not. The autism is as much a part of her as her talents to make crafts, draw, paint, write stories, sing, connect with babies and toddlers and animals.

I know she’s going to have opportunities and she’s going to find her own way. I’ll encourage her talents and continue to encourage self-advocacy and education about her own disabilities. I’ll protect her and teach her, guide her, answer her questions, and hope that I’m doing this the right way while I try to learn more about her every day. She loves to learn about herself. She looks at me with impatience, though, when I ask questions to try to learn more about what’s inside her thoughts processes.

“You ask too many questions.”

Yes, honey, and it will never stop.

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