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How Many Rutabagas for that House? About Currency – Religion and Politics

Rutabagas! Life blood of planet Earth! Okay, you’re permitted to disagree. Nonetheless, rutabagas are a “marketable commodity.” They can be bought, they can be sold, they can be traded.

Imagine for just a second, that you’re a rutabaga farmer. You’re moderately successful in your “work.” Put another way, you get rutabagas to grow, to flourish and to produce.

You have friends, one of them is a carrot farmer, she too, is “good at what she does.” She, in fact, produces far more carrots than anybody might ever want. The result is, she barters a good number of her carrots. Carrots are a more popular commodity than rutabagas, but typically, one carrot is a good deal smaller than one rutabaga. Details aside though, you have worked out between you, a system by which you can avail yourself of her carrots, so long as she wants your rutabagas.

This is the very first problem with bartering! People have to want what you intend to trade.

As stated, because rutabagas are not nearly as popular as something like carrots, the chances are, you will find fewer people who will want your rutabagas, than your friend will find that want carrots.

So what are the “options?” You can be assured I will not get to all possible options, but I should be able to discuss the most common and popularly used ones.

To begin with, you can find something your carrot-growing friend wants, for which the owner will take your rutabagas in trade. For as long as your somewhat more complicated relationship lasts, this will get you your carrots. The problem is, such relationships are by nature transient; that is, they tend not to stand the test of time. For now at least though, you have assured your supply of carrots.

But let’s say you realize you have more time than work in your growing, caring for and reaping rutabagas. Your source for carrots, though, has a huge expanse on which she grows her produce, and could use help. How fortuitous. Now your carrot supply is virtually assured—and let’s face it, you love carrots, so that’s a good thing.

You begin to wonder though, whether you’re getting a “fair deal.” You do a lot of work for your carrot supplier, and really don’t get so many carrots in exchange for that work. You talk it over with your “boss,” and  decide one of a few things should probably happen.

  1. You should reduce your time worked to a more reasonable number of hours.
  2. Your carrot-producing friend should use some of the “profit” from her carrot bartering business to help you to obtain certain other things you desire to have.
  3. You agree between yourselves, that you friend will give you what amount to I.O.U.s that you can use to barter with other folks, so they can use them to get carrots.

This brings up an important additional point. You have a supplier for carrots, but I seriously doubt you intend to live a life in which your sole sustenance is rutabagas and carrots. On top of this, unless you also grow the materials, do the processing of them, then do the sewing, you have clothes to consider.

The point is, what has been presented to this points is extremely simplistic. You either build your own house, or someone else does that. The same applies if you want personal (and personally owned) transportation. In fact, it’s entirely amazing just how many things one gets from sources outside oneself as a rule in the modern day.

The preceding point leads quite nicely into the next. It’s obvious to just about everybody that a rutabaga is not a carrot. It’s even more obvious that a rutabaga is not a house. What it can be argued is “forgotten along the way” by some folks, is that a rutabaga hasn’t anything like the value of many things folks require or desire to live—the obvious example being a house.

Simply put, if a person wants to buy a house, he can attempt to trade rutabagas for it, but doing so will require the growth and trading of a huge number of rutabagas—for even a simple or small dwelling.

Further, it will require keeping track—potentially for a very long time—of how many rutabagas have been supplied, and how many are yet owed.

Yet again though, we are in the “land of oversimplification” where this example is concerned, for we assume that the builder or “seller” of the house is willing to take rutabagas in trade—particularly in amounts that would be considered sufficient to “pay for” the house.

At the very least, such a situation implies the strong desirability to pay for things with less concrete—though in some senses, equally tangible assets.

I suppose it’s likely that any number of schemes could be employed to make it more easily possible to “pay” others. In point of fact, I believe the model to be shifting drastically (as it has been doing for some time, in my view) at this very time in history. It is more than a little questionable the old expression, “Cash is king” can be agreed to across the board in the modern day—at least, in the physical form of paper and coin.

Even so though, the concept of “currency” or “money”, which can be defined as, “A somewhat arbitrary tool, or set thereof, used to indicate value, that can be traded for desired goods and services.” Seems to be a good and well-liked one. Granted, this is far from an all-encompassing, unchallengeable definition, but unless and until I find one I like better to describe and define the purpose of money or currency, I’ll stick with this one.

There is little doubt—particularly for a student who has even remotely looked at history—that this method has been employed by societies for a very long time. They have been used by rich and poor alike. They have been used in transactions between only the less well off as much as with any group. And frankly, those who would rather they were not in use, tend to be the wealthy, or badly informed.

I’m not arguing against exploring other methods to “transact business;” rather, I’m saying this method works and has been preferred by a great number of people for a very long time.

Final thoughts? If you have a better suggestion for how to “do business,” by all means, present it. Just remember, unless you’re willing to force folks to do something in which they have little or no interest, don’t count on its adoption. Further, don’t assume that you’re either the first, or the loudest proponent of your “new method.”

Okay, out of time and space. As such, allow me to wish you the best of times and as usual, thank you for reading.

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On Racism, the Reality and the Fallacy – Religion and Politics

It is customary for me to add a “disclaimer” to any and all articles I do on the subject of “racism.” It looks something like this:

“I don’t believe in racism, because I don’t believe in race. Race is generally an arbitrary, non-scientific construct of convenience. Humans are all of the same species, regardless their heritage. That being said, I do believe horrendous acts have been committed in the name of the thing which in my mind, does not exist. They are just as wrong—maybe more so, considering the lack of race among men in my view. The real question is, ‘What drives those who commit these terrible acts?’.”

Having gotten the disclaimer out of the way, I want to discuss the idea “at the root of” what is termed (incorrectly, in my view) “racism.” I think it fair to define racism—at least in part—in this way, “Racism is a broken mindset, which causes inappropriate actions, based on the ethnicity of the person or people against whom the improper actions are committed.”

I’m certainly willing to entertain other, more precise definitions, but for the meantime, I feel the need to make certain observations, and issue some clarifications based on this definition.

To begin with, since a person can no more “help” his or her ethnicity, whence his or her family originates, than he or she can stop breathing, the practice of racism can pretty much never be seen as a good thing. Put simply, anybody who practices racism per the definition I have provided is inherently doing something that is bad.

This is, in my humble opinion, true whether the person is attempting something they perceive as positive, or something they intend to be negative. To “favor” or to fail to favor on the basis of familial ethnicity is wrong.

And to be clear, where I don’t believe the word racism is an “accurate descriptor” of the basis for the many terrible acts to it attributed, that does not mean those acts were not just as real. They happened, and I’m not trying to disavow their existence.

To be plain, I’m not trying to say either, that things that would be considered racist are not still happening, both abroad, and in the United States. It is my sad duty to acknowledge that they both are happening and will continue to do so.

Unfortunately, I cannot even report the good news that governmental or institutional racism has ceased to be, nor do I expect it to ever do so. We can certainly work to lessen its effect on an ongoing and continual basis, but I much doubt we will ever entirely destroy it.

The important thing is to continue down the path to its demise, or at least its minimization to the degree that its effect on those afflicted with it is as close to non-existent as possible.

This is, to me, the reality of racism (for want of a better word).

Now please allow me to address the fallacy. I cannot really even speak for the United States, except to express my feeling about things. I could dig up all kinds of statistics, but those who disagree with me can do likewise. I fear this is a “never ending game.” As such, I won’t dignify it with its use in this article.

My feeling is that most people I have ever met do not support the acts or attitudes that result in racism. That’s not to say I’ve not met some who did, just that most do not.

But this is only the beginning. Probably the more important point, is to “drive a wedge” between what people are and what they choose to believe and accept. To be clear, I’m not doing this in order to say people should generally be mistreated on the basis of their beliefs, but to make it clear that, as a rule, people cannot help what they are, but can change what they believe or support.

I should hope the reason for this distinction should be obvious. If a person is from The Sudan, from China, from India, native to Australia or the United States, or wherever, he or she cannot change this fact. If a person’s skin is darker than another’s, or lighter that’s not some horrible or bad thing. It is simply their reality. Counting them less or more of a person on this basis is, at best foolish, and at worst horribly dangerous.

On the other hand, if we talking about a person being a believing Christian, Jew, Muslim, Taoist, believing him or her self transgender or “gay,” or expressing or espousing any other belief, this is inherently not the same as a person having been born with some “outward manifestation,” or inward one expressed on the basis of knowledge.

Again, that’s not to say that a person should be punished on the basis of their beliefs. The only time that should happen in my view is if their beliefs are in direct conflict with reasonable and acceptable law, regulation, or similar. Granted, defining what is reasonable and acceptable is a challenge, but laws, regulations and similar must exist in each and every society.

What’s important though, is to realize that a person born in a different part of the World, biologically female or male, with only one leg, or with none, blind or deaf, or a person who loses some faculty in the course of their life, cannot be considered in the same way as someone who chooses to believe some thing or things.

Such a person cannot help what he or she was born, nor where his or her family were born or are from. This makes it so the person in question, if “punished for” such an attribute must be seen as discriminated against for a cause he or she cannot “change.”

When one talks about racism or sexism, or ageism or things of this sort, this should be the “standard for determination.”

If a person chooses to believe something—like that indiscriminately killing others is acceptable—he or she should expect to have his or her beliefs “challenged.” Further, he or she should probably expect some sort of punishment or other retribution if those beliefs are against formerly mentioned, laws, regulations, and even norms..

Okay, I hope I’ve made my point here.

Here’s hoping your time is good, and thanks for reading.

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I Just Learned My Child Is Autistic, What Now? Part III – Autism

It can be a somewhat amazing thing to find out that you have enough to say on a given subject to write three or more thousand word blog entries on the subject. Apparently—and I should tell you that I’m a bit surprised to find this is the case—this is true for my “advice to people dealing with Autistic children” article!

Amazingly enough (to me at least), even knowing myself to be a “windbag,” I want to add a few things to the list that so far comprises my prior two articles on this subject.

Keep in mind that what I write here (I.e., in all three articles to this point), are things I deem to be relatively critical to understand and internalize. At least, that has been the case for me to this point.

Okay, let’s not waste a great deal more time in introduction, but “get on with it” instead. Here are my third set of considerations when it comes to dealing with Autistic children.

Keep It Simple

This is another one of those things that applies to all children to some degree, but in my humble opinion, applies the more to Autistic children, than to children who are not so.

You need to be very careful to not make things overly complicated when dealing with Autistic kids. You can always “build on” requirements and expectations as time goes on, but the need to “reset” with an Autistic child is typically at least mildly bad, if not horribly so.

The simple reality is, you don’t need to set hugely complex rules and expectations. What you need to do instead is, start with the basics and “work up over time.”

Set Boundaries

There’s a marked difference between setting expectations and setting boundaries. Autistic children will, as previously indicated, take huge amounts of time at activities that others find entirely uninteresting (read here, “Things like, opening and closing the same door over and over again.”). As much as I would like to always be able to allow my son to do such things until he is ready to be done with them, many times I cannot do so. Other matters—both trivial and important—must be attended to.

So what do you do? For me, the answer that has worked best is to use a consistent mechanism for setting boundaries—times and places that things are acceptable.

A method that generally works will with my son, is to start “counting down” time.

It took a bit to figure out exactly how to “balance” this, but generally, I can set a point fifteen minutes from when something must end (sometimes, less, at one particular regular store visit, I only give five minutes). So when I take my son to The Museum of Discovery in my local area, I generally count on spending hours there and “closing the place down.”

If he doesn’t decide to leave prior to closing, I try to ensure I give him sufficient time to “wrap things up.” Typically, that’s, “Garrett, in fifteen minutes the Museum is closing.”

From here, I do “periodic warnings.” So, “Garrett, the museum is closing in ten minutes, ten minutes.”

The longer the first forewarning is from the “ending time,” the longer between the periodic warnings. As we get closer to the end point, the more frequent, but until the last five minutes, they never get closer than five minutes apart.

Stand your ground — Within Reason

So, you’ve told your Autistic child we will be leaving at thus and such a time. Now stick to it! Well, mostly anyway. At times you’ll find that you can spare some more time, and you should do it—if for no other reason than to show your child you can “be reasonable” about such things.

In general though, you want to make it a habit to stand your ground. Things like, “No Garrett, this is what I said we would do, this is what we’ll do.”

Be prepared for pleading, screaming and anger. That’s not to say every “limit set” will result in these behaviors, but one fact about Autistic children that gets bandied about a great deal is generally spot on. They don’t like change.

The result is, a kid who has told you they don’t even want to do a particular thing, will be hard put to pull him or her self away from that thing in the course of time. Consistently setting boundaries will generally help the “transition.”

Challenge and Work Towards Response

One thing you will see in many Autistic children, is an unwillingness or inability to work in a “challenge/response” world. “How was your day, Garrett?” Has generally resulted in zero response from my son. He’s not trying to be “rude,” he just genuinely doesn’t understand the concept of challenge/response.

The way to get that understanding to occur, is to continue to work with the child—to get him or her to respond to things going on around him or her.

In a former article, I talked about learning your child’s motivations. That can be a very helpful thing in dealing with the “shortcoming.”

My son dearly loves chocolate, particularly dark chocolate. We have a cache of “miniature” chocolate bars which he gets at various points. I make it a habit to tell him that a chocolate I have grabbed for him is “daddy’s.” I do this also with his afternoon snack as well.

I don’t do it to “mean,” and though it’s partly to encourage various types of “play,” the most important reason is to “get a rise out of him.” In so doing, I “invoke challenge/response.” There are other things I do—like telling him I’m going to “pinch” him (which is more a tickle motion than a true pinch), to get responses often even before I act.

More and more, one should work toward the place of “normalization of challenge/response.” This is a definite need in many Autistic children.

Praise Is Important

If my son were not Autistic, I would consider (though probably not tell him), that he did many things well below “expected standards” for his current time in life. That being said, the fact that he’s trying to do many of them at all is a matter for praise.

On top of this, I make it a regular habit to tell him he is handsome, smart, strong, tall and so many other things. I want him to know that his differences don’t negate these truths.

Remember, praise is important for any child, but it’s easy to forget it’s important for Autistic children, and “normal interactions” between you and an Autistic child often do not make it seem so.

Remember, praise is a good thing.

Okay, as I’ve said, yet again, I’m surprised how quickly I have come to my time and word limit. Even so, here I am! So as usual, allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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I Just Learned My Child Is Autistic, What Now? Part II – Autism

The very last article I wrote was on this same subject. I found that I had a great deal more to say than I initially thought. The reality is that there are a lot of things that more or less apply to “normal” children, on which a certain amount of “spin” most be employed when dealing with Autistic children.

I wanted to continue to expand on my advice, base on things I figured out have really mattered along the way so far.

As such, allow me to continue the former article, by adding some things I think may be helpful.

Never Assume What Your Child Can or Cannot Do

Your child may ultimately become able to do everything any “normal” child can do, plus. That having been said, he or she may not ever learn to do many things that “normal” children easily master.

The trick, if trick there be (and there is), is to continue to try to build on those things of which your child is capable. You must be ready to watch your child fail even more than the average youngster. What makes that more difficult, is the realization that all that failure may not yield success.

Even though this is the case, you must never accept that your child cannot do something without a great deal of effort on your and their part to be sure it is the case.

Equally important, is that you refuse to accept the idea that others presumably working in your child’s behalf have “put in enough effort” to answer, “Can he or she do this or that?” in a definitive fashion, without being sure just how much time has been spent.

For this point, the “cardinal rule” is, “It will almost never hurt to spend more time and effort working on a given skill or ability.” And that applies to you and others.

Obviously, the more significant or important the skill, the more time and effort should probably be expended.

Know Your Child’s “Triggers”

Autistic children truly do have a tendency to “melt down” in circumstances that would have zero effect or impact on normal children. Put another way, when you deal with Autistic children, you need to learn what causes him or her to “melt down.”

There are two very important reasons for this:

  1. You can make things much easier on yourself and your child by minimizing meltdowns. Meltdowns take time, they take work to remediate (to get your child back to a “reasonable state”), and they take their toll on both parent(s) and child(ren). The also affect how others view you as a parent and your child
  2. Figuring out how to “push the boundaries” can make it so you can “thicken your child’s skin” so that he or she is less likely to have meltdowns. 

You may—in fact probably willnever mitigate all meltdown scenarios, but you can greatly reduce them—and I promise, it will be well worth it.

Be Careful When Choosing Battles

This is one of those points that’s relevant to “normal” children. The truth is though, it’s proven far more important for my Autistic child. Why? Well, because each battle can be orders of magnitude more difficult than with the average child.

For Autistic children, because of the former point, you may experience a great deal more “pain” in dealing with things that are considered “standard expectations” for children of a similar age as your child.

The “final point” surrounding this, is to realize that a lot of “normal behaviors” are not so much beyond your child’s abilities, as not so important as to cause you to concern yourself over them to the same degree as does the average parent of a non Autistic child.

Talk To Your Child

This sounds so basic, but the reality is it’s an entirely different experience dealing with Autistic versus non-Autistic children.

We can unintentionally act towards our children, in ways that undermine our interaction with them.

When you have a barely verbal or entirely non-verbal child, there’s an (errant) tendency, to fail to talk to them as you would with normal children.

I have long maintained that you ought to talk to very young children. That in fact, you need to talk to them at levels far beyond those they display. I’m not saying that’s something you do at all times, but that much of the time, they can be spoken to at much higher levels than you realize.

This applies to Autistic children as well, whether or not they are far behind on communication (or even non-verbal).

Maybe, just maybe, your child will not benefit at all from this. On the other hand, what does it hurt to try?

Talk to your child. Ask him or her questions you know he or she cannot or will not answer. Tell him or her things as if he or she were entirely able to understand them.

Chances are good you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Allow Your Child To Experiment

I was sitting in my vehicle at my son’s school, when I got to see something that I wasn’t at all expecting. A child who is normally “handed off” from teacher to parent (literally from the hands of one, to the hands of the other), was “let go” by the teacher before the mother had a hand on him.

The child—looking very Autistic in his mannerisms—moved excitedly away from the mother.

It was initially more than a little disconcerting until I saw that he was headed for a very specific destination. You see, he had seen something on the front of one of the local school busses, that he wanted desperately to inspect more closely (and probably understand).

Unfortunately, his mother caught him just as he was looking at and handling it. As expected, she took hold of him, and ushered him to her vehicle, so as to get him “tucked safely inside.”

She probably had zero understanding what she had done.  You see, she took him away from something that would have probably meant growth (probably without realizing, and likely feeling a “time crunch” too), as well as increasing her “capital” with the boy.

Whenever I can do so, I let my child experiment in scenarios where no harm will occur as a result of him so doing. I advise parent of Autistic folks to do likewise.

So, here we are again, out of time and words. I may pen yet another article on this subject, but for the time being, I wish you the best of times, and thank you for reading.

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I Just Learned My Child Is Autistic, What Now? – Autism

I try very hard to not let folks I meet when with my son know that he is Autistic. Even so, I have told more than a few people this was the case to make them aware for one reason or another.

Most of the time, the result is all but a sympathetic “There, there! It will all be okay.” Kind of response, but every once in a while, something different comes of things.

The last such event occurred the other night, when I had taken Garrett out to play at one of his favorite places for evening play (the local McDonald’s Play Place). What happened was actually not the result of anything that transpired during that time, but apparently, of what had happened prior.

It seems I had informed a young lady for reasons I couldn’t recall by the time of the most recent event, that Garrett was Autistic. The only reason I know that is, she came up to me and started to talk about her situation, indicating that I had done so.

You see, her son had been diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome, apparently since the last time we had spoken. I vaguely remembered her, but hadn’t really noted any serious signs to indicate the impending diagnosis of her son was likely to be forthcoming.

To be fair, he was—even at the later meeting (probably at least two months later)—still pretty young, and it can be more than a little difficult to note the signs of Autism in one so young; the less severe the Autism, the harder it is to recognize.

Having been informed by her that her son had been diagnosed, I took the time to watch him for a while, at which point, the signs became pretty clear.

I would never have considered myself a “seasoned veteran” when it comes to dealing with Autism, even though I have spent the last six years dealing with a moderately Autistic boy. This is particularly true, considering the many people who have spent decades working with special needs kids, and particularly Autistic children. Even so, most people I have talked to—both those not having to deal with Autism on an ongoing basis, and those dealing with it regularly—find Garrett to be an exceptional young man in a variety of regards, and I like to think I had more than a little to do with that.

I started to ask the young lady spoken of earlier some questions, and make some statements that I think probably made her wonder if I had been watching her son like a peeping tom. If you’ve taken sufficient interest in an Autistic child “in your charge” though, it’s not at all surprising to know many of the things I talked about—asking or telling—are likely.

The more important thing though, is that parents of Autistic children are in a unique position to pass along various things they’ve discovered about their children, and how to “simplify” dealings with them. So true is this, that I thought I might pass along a few things here. Without further ado, allow me to list some “helpful tips”

Autistic Children Need Love

People used to make a regular habit of saying love was “wasted on” Autistic people—that they didn’t respond, and didn’t seem to understand it. Let me assure you that I have never seen an Autistic person for whom this was true. In fact, my son thrives when he is assured he is loved and treated accordingly.

When You’re Able, Support Their Idiosyncrasies

I have told folks that my son would spend hours at a given door, opening that door, going through it, closing it, opening it again, going through it again, closing it again. More than a few folks I have known would not allow their child to do such things, instead pulling them away from them—kicking and screaming or not. I’m here to tell you, the more I let my son behave like this, the less I have dealt with this kind of behavior as time has gone on. Don’t by any means misunderstand, we still deal with it, but it’s far “less of a thing” now, than it was when he was younger.

Be Someone Your Child Can Trust

You may think this is something every parent should do for his or her child, but it’s so much more important for Autistic kids. Most Autistic children don’t “trust easy,” and when that trust is broken it takes a lot of time and effort to regain it. So, make it your business to be trustworthy, and when you fail (and we all do) own up to it. This brings me to the next point.

Never Assume Your Child Can’t Understand You

One of the hallmarks of Autistic folks—most especially children—is that they have trouble communicating. The problem is, there is a tendency to believe this means they don’t understand, because they are unable to communicate their understanding. By and large, that tendency is dead wrong. Just because an Autistic child doesn’t seem to respond to things, and doesn’t seem to understand, doesn’t mean they “aren’t tracking.” And worse yet, since many Autistic children have tremendous memories, they’re likely to remember things you said forever ago, and maybe even forgot you said.

The Correct Motivation Goes A Long Way

This is true for all kids, but it’s especially important to find out what is motivational and de-motivational for Autistic children. Further, it’s important to keep track of that changing (as it does with all kids). I watched the young lady, get her child to say “Yes” in response to a question, because the thing she was asking was a strong motivator (being bounced on a toy), even though normally he wouldn’t have used the word.

I see now, that this may end up needing to be a couple of articles, because there’s probably a good deal of advice I’m forgetting, yet I’m already “pushing the limit” with what I’ve said to this point.

That being the case, I suppose I should stop here, and pick this conversation up in another post.

As is customary, allow me to wish you the best of times and thank you for reading.

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More on the Spectrum – Autism

Sometime in the not-too-distant past, I had a discussion with a relative on Facebook in which we talked about the various “designations” applied to Autistic folks.

The individual in question is considered to be mildly Autistic (to the degree that she was able to go through her entire childhood without a diagnosis), my son, Garrett, is considered moderately Autistic.

She tried to make the case that being “mildly” Autistic didn’t “deal with” her experience. I argued that, nonetheless, the “scale in place” was valid, if for no other reason than that it clarifies what will be “needed” to help an Autistic person integrate with society.

While this is the case, I want to make it plain that I had zero intent to “ague away” her point—which was and is, entirely valid.

This article is one result of that discussion.

Different people talk about levels of Autism in different ways. Some use numbers (1 being mild, 2 being Moderate and 3 being severe). There are, I am certain, a number of “systems of measurement” applied—many of which are probably outside my sphere of knowledge.

All such systems though, have one thing in common. They seek to find some level of “commonality” they can use to express the likelihood that a given Autistic person will be able to “fit into society at large.”

They have another thing in common as well. They all try to use some “simple system of demarcation” to make it possible for folks to not be “overwhelmed” by the potential possible categorizations that can be applied.

It turns out this is a far more important understanding that it seems on first consideration. Why is that? Let’s explore this question.

Anybody who has ever done a job that required measurement is fully aware small differences can result in huge problems.

If you’re measuring a countertop, and make the smallest error in how you do so, the countertop may well not fit in the space for which it is being created, or may be too small.

The result is that good tape measures have increments smaller than inches (typically tenths or similar).

When you consider that Autism is accounted “spectral” (I.e., its diagnosis is, as it were, a point on a spectrum), you’re likely not aware that three points on the Autism spectrum are not sufficient to really understand folks dealing with Autism.

Imagine a tape measure that’s twelve feet long, yet only has markings every four feet. One can use such a tape measure, but you can be assured a great deal of estimation will typically ensue.

This is not terribly unlike the Autism Spectrum Disorder “ruler.” People are generally told about three “points on” that measuring device. Does this mean there are not actually a great deal more? Not at all. In point of fact, though they’re not discussed as such, it’s entirely fair to say there are.

As if this is not complicated enough all on its own, now imagine that a person is not “placed on” a particular point spectrally as a result of a “single issue.” You see, there are varied and sundry things that will cause a person to end up “on the spectrum.” Fairly speaking, it takes a number of things “conspiring together” to “equal” Autism. Even so, those things alone are not the only possible things to be considered.

My son, by way of example, has issues with communication (though they’re getting better over the course of time). He was slow to speak, spoke to a very limited number of people initially, and to this day, is “fighting speech related battles” that much younger children have often already dealt with—if they were issues for them at all.

He also far from excels in social situations (and his speech issues are only a small part of the reason for that).

As well, his thought patterns are greatly different than are those of a “normal” child of the same age. Rest assured, this is far from a complete list.

But the point is, you may find that some folks who are moderately Autistic share more or less none of these traits. If they do share some of them, it may be one or two. That’s not to say such folks will not have their own set of somewhat unique challenges, and as a result be “just as” moderately Autistic as Garrett.

The point though is, not all moderately or mildly, or severely Autistic folks are anything like “the same.”

An—maybe the—important consideration about their “diagnosis,” is that the way it affects them is to “modify” their lives in such a way as to make the probability of “successful integration into the world at large” less—to whatever extent—than it might be for “normal” folks.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this can apply to any human being, Autistic or not.

If you have a child who has difficulty learning to read, their ability to meet with expectations of their school and likely consequentially the world at large will be affected. It makes precious little difference whether or not they’re Autistic except in what actions and strategies are necessary to remediate the “issue” in question.

In saying this however, I digress. The point of this article is to talk about the idea that the Autism Spectrum cannot be “defined down to” three points on that spectrum.

The benefit of having made the former statements is, any parent having worked to bring his or her child “up to speed” knows that his or her child may have a variety of things that keep them from success.

And any parent having dealt with more than one child, is completely aware that each child is different in what challenges he or she faces. This is assuredly equally true for children “on the Spectrum” as well. Not only are the challenges not the same from one child to the next, but the “true level” is not the same from one to the next either—even if they are counted the same by the “three mark system.”

One mildly Autistic child may have it harder or easier—or the same, but as a result of different challenges—than, or as another. What makes this worse is that the things that ultimately make it harder or easier for one than another are not necessarily intuitive. A child who has issues reading, for example, may have a hard time only when very young, but another child with the “same issue” may have issues for his or her entire life as a result.

By this point, I hope you can see that dealing with learning disabilities and issues with things like social interaction is hard enough, but often becomes even more complicated for those dealing with Autistic folks and folks with other “special needs.”

Okay, out of time and “space,” as such, allow me to wish you the best of times and thank you profusely for reading my rambling.

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Be Not Disheartened – Autism

I have said before, that it is entirely possible I am mildly Autistic. I have never been diagnosed, but since having to deal with a moderately Autistic boy (my six year old), I’ve come to notice some striking similarities in his “condition” and my past.

Whether or not I am Autistic, the one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that I am not like most folks I have ever met. Being who I am, for example, I tend to worry very little what others think of me. The result is, when dealing with my son, I tend to take much the same approach; preferring to concern myself with what I think will be to his general benefit, rather than worrying about whether or not others will “look at me or him funny” for his or my choices.

To say this is a liberating thing would be a serious understatement.

To be clear, I’m not saying I don’t care at all what my son does or says in public. Rather, I hold myself and my son to standards that I don’t allow others to set, but that I count as reasonable benchmarks for behavior. And when he breaks those “rules,” I make it very plain he has done so, and that it is intolerable.

I have watched a few people in our outings though, who seem to be concerned that “the world” is looking on them with disparaging eyes, and perhaps the majority of those around them are. I am not among them.

I watched as a very likely Autistic young man behaved in ways that would have given many parents (his own and others) pause. It not only had no such effect on me, but it was a great joy to watch him splashing about in the water at a local destination for “enrichment of children.” He was obviously enjoying himself! Though his parents did not stop him, or treat him badly for his seemingly “unfortunate” play  habits, it seemed to me they were concerned how others looking on might perceive the child or themselves.

This is one of several such events I have been privy to and of which I have been much more aware since becoming the happy caregiver to a moderately Autistic child.

All of the events had similar characteristics. In some cases, I was able to help to put the parents at ease. In others, not so (mostly because I didn’t see an opportune moment so to do).

At one point, I had a “brave soul” allow as how I was doing a great job with my son—he speaking from the position of caregiver to a teenager with mild or moderate Autism himself. I thanked him, though his attempt to put me at ease and applaud my actions was largely unnecessary. I would never have told him that, since I think any time somebody does such a thing, there’s a strong chance they’re doing something very needed for those they choose to applaud.

The thing is, though, I realized that I had the “right” to take the time to make it clear just how little I believe those dealing with “special needs” children should even be worrying about how they or their charges are perceived.

In each case where I have seen a parent taking a special needs child out into the “great wide open,” it’s been entirely obvious to me what a wonderful thing they were doing, not just for the child, but for society as a whole.

You see, when such a one does not take their child or children out and “introduce them to society” and vice-versa, all of that society is being done a disservice—as is the child in question.

Like it or not, the most probable way such a child will ever ever remotely assimilate, is to “be exposed to” the society with which they are expected to assimilate. Simply put, if I never introduce my special needs child to others, he or she will not typically even begin to understand what that society “looks like” much less how he or she will be expected to interact with it. Equally important to his or her assimilation, is a healthy look at how other parts of society interact, along with the result of said interactions.

The long and short of things is that I would like to make it crystal clear to parents of special needs children that they should not feel trepidation over taking those children “out into the world.”

I know well how hard that can be to accept; that doesn’t change whether or not they ought to do so.

Yes, you’ll get “looked at funny,” as will your child(ren). Yes, folks will make it seem like you and your child(ren) “don’t belong.” Yes, you likely will be judged as being somehow “less than adequate parents.” No, you should not allow these things to taint your actions and motivations (nor those of your child or children). In all likelihood, you will have the “last laugh.”

Taking the time to bring your child or children, out into the world now will at least offer the possibility that the child or children will derive sufficient benefit to make it possible for them to integrate into society well enough to live healthy, happy, lives.

I don’t say this by any means to imply that life will be easier as you do your job as a parent in bringing your children into society. No, it’s likely to be just plumb hard at times, uncomfortable at others, and mildly difficult at still others. That being said, I believe the benefit(s) will make it worth the difficulty.

And remember, there will be those among us that are at least quietly shouting “hurrahs” at your effort.

I have yet to see such a parent or child in this “boat” for which I felt anything but the utmost respect.

So, to you parents of special needs kids (for me Autistic, for others, other needs) out there, rest assured that there are people out there rooting for your success and more importantly, for the success of your child or children. We’re out there, I promise!

Okay, out of time and space. As such, allow me to wish you the best of times and thank you for reading.

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What is Socialism? – Religion and Politics

I believe that one of the things that makes it so very hard to “nail down” a definition for Socialism, is that folks—myself included—have a tendency to view various terms through their “personal lens.”

Put simply, people allow their experiences and the words of others, to “color” their view of particular words or expressions. This is certainly the case for the term “Socialism.”

It has been my intent to try to bring the definition of Socialism down to its “lowest common denominator.” I have not (until recently), been very well able to do that.

It came to me today, what the definition I would support might look like. I’m going to try to sum it up here.

The definition of Socialism I think to be most apt can be expressed thusly, “The successful attempt by a person or other entity, to gain control—consensual or not—of some aspect or aspects of another person’s existence.”

The first thing to note about this definition, is that it doesn’t limit the controlling entity to a person or to government. It can readily be argued in my humble opinion, that business is, in nature Socialist to the degree it—with the consent of those “controlled” or not—wields power over those who work for that entity, those who partake in the goods and services produced by that entity, and frankly, those otherwise affected by the actions of both the body in question, and others it affects.

In this age of mega-corporations, this is more true than ever. If, for example, one agrees to the “terms of service” for an entity like Google, or Facebook, one assents to the idea that such an entity has the “right” to filter the content one sees and “publishes” through that entity. This, like it or not, is “weak” Socialism.

The stronger a given entity becomes, the “more Socialist” that entity will be. The more difficult it is to ignore or reject the tenets and philosophies of a given entity, the more likely it will be that the vessel in question will hold sway over day to day reality for those by it affected.

It turns out as a result of the above, that government proves to be one of the most effective vehicles of Socialism.

There are probably many  more reasons this is the case. Certainly one such reason is that governments can implement policies that affect both those who support them and those (even outside the confines of the physical or logical region they supposedly govern, and assuredly within those confines) who are otherwise affected by them.

Sometimes, such policies are the implementation of promises made by the government or other entity or some members of it; at others, they are neither expected nor desirable even to the majority of the folks “governed.”

Obviously, the preceding can be applied to private industry as well as government; the primary difference being that it tends to be easier to “walk away” from a company than a government.

I hope I have done an acceptably good job of “boiling down” the basic concept of Socialism.

Having done this, let us now proceed to consider the relative merits and “evils” of Socialism.

One inherent property of any Socialist activity, is that it must take away freedom. Put another way, Socialism is by nature the “surrendering of personal liberty to a collective” with the intent of making things better for all (or some part of) the collective’s members.

You can certainly imagine that there are instances where this is not just desirable, but necessary to make societies or providers of goods and services be at least palatable to those “buying into” the particular group.

For example, murder (here defined as, “The intentional killing of another human being without justifiable cause.”) is not a desirable activity in most societies. The result is that it tends to be “banned” or outlawed. This, accept or no, is an example of Socialism.

I think most would argue, that disallowing through whatever means, the act of murder, is “acceptable” Socialism.

There can be argued to be a “group of” things that at least the majority can count similarly acceptable and reasonable.

Another example would be disallowing physical harm to another member of the group without, again, justifiable cause.

The larger the number of restrictions, the smaller the number of peopleß likely to support them. Obviously, it will often be true that some percentage will support some things, some percentage others, and there will be “overlap,” as well as things that are unique to a, or some particular group or groups within the larger body.

It’s also obvious, that over the course of time, different people will find their respective ways into authority. One problematic result of this, is the tendency by those in power to “swing wildly” to one direction or another on a given issue.

This is why the United States of America, as an example, is a republic, not—as many appear to be confused into believing—a democracy. The U.S. is a “republic with democratically elected representatives.” In fact, a glimpse at the various writings of those who established and assented to, the U.S. form of government, shows that they had no love whatever for the idea of “pure democracy” by and large.

The concept of a republic is that by laying down “foundational legal concepts,” it is possible to set what are considered reasonable limits to the power, authority, and direction of those ”in charge.”

That doesn’t make all Republics “equal.” Funnily though, to some extent, all republics are socialist. The main difference can be summed up in the question, “To what extent are they so?”

One of the considerations of the founders that can be found to be addressed in the U.S. Constitution is exactly that. Put in simplest terms the question answered succinctly but thoroughly in the Constitution is, “Who has what power?”

The unfortunate reality is—as with most such entities—the intent of those who created the entity can be said to be “in the way of” folks who—for whatever reason—want to see government have more power. Since I am “out of space and time,” I will not address who those people are except to say some have good intentions and some, not so good.

Intent aside, actions that expand the role and power of various levels of government past the limits placed on them by the U.S. Constitution are almost always disastrous.

Okay, as I have said, I’m over my time and space constraints. Allow me to wish you the best of times, and thank you, yet again, for reading.