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The Spectrum – Autism

20201105 The Spectrum – Autism – The Daily Summation
20201105 The Spectrum – Autism – The Daily Summation Podcast

It’s literally a reflex, as you walk into a dark room, you reach for the switch on the wall, with more or less zero thought about what you’re doing.

If things go as expected, the space in front of you is suddenly—almost magically—bathed in radiance from a bulb somewhere.

When what’s expected doesn’t occur, you work to try to rectify the situation. Most of the time, that involves the simple changing of a faulty light producer.

For most people this, and the moments in high school or college science class, in which light is discussed briefly, are quite close to the sum total, of their exposure, to any kind of real understanding of that seemingly magical thing, that makes it possible for them to see the world around them.

For some of us, there’s been a need to better understand light.

It’s true that my family has always been more highly invested in the sciences than many. The result is, I came to understand the visible “spectrum” of illumination, a good deal better than I suspect many do.

As a part of my time in the world of work, I spent about a year, in a digital and confocal microscopy lab, at one of my the local universities. This made it pretty important, to have an even fuller understanding, of the subject in question.

I know, you were expecting a discussion of the Autism spectrum, and you’re going to get just that.

Before we get there though, I wanted to explain something many Autistic and non-Autistic folks don’t seem to understand.

Most people look at the colors of the spectrum of visible light, and assume they’re different—that each is unique, and that they bear no relationship, one to the other.

This is, of course, untrue in a number of ways. One of the most important, is that those who spend a lot of time looking at light, talk about it in terms of wavelength and frequency.

You see, as you go from one end to the other, of the visible spectrum, if you start at the red side of things, frequency increases, and wavelength decreases.

The point here, is that the colors you know, were not randomly dropped into the places they occupy. They’re in those positions, because of their wavelength, and corresponding frequency.

In short, the closer you get to violet, the higher the frequency, and the shorter the descriptive waveform.

Like almost any other measurement system, the spectral one come to light, is graduated—a standard, as it were.

It’s with this in mind, that I take on the consideration of the Autism spectrum.

There are folks out there, who like to say that the spectrum of visible light is arbitrary; this is obviously an incorrect assertion. In my view, the same is true, for the Autism spectrum.

That measurement device is not (or at least should not be), a smattering of symptoms on a line.

Having such a setup, is basically useful to next to nobody.

Rather, the spectral nature where related to Autism, is or should be, a measure of severity of symptoms.

Whether you’re a fan of the concept of the numbered levels, or the named ones, is largely beside the point.

A person dealing with Mild (level 1) Autism, will almost certainly not match in symptomology, another at the same level. Both such people though, will likely become able to navigate the world, with relatively good success.

When speaking about differences in symptoms, the same applies as you move toward and into Severe (level 3) Autism. That is to say, those hallmarks that apply to one individual, will relatively certainly not be the same, as those experienced by another at that level.

To make this even more interesting, a Mildly Autistic person, may end up with many of the same traits, as a person at Level 2 (Moderate) on the spectrum. The difference, is that the person with what’s counted Mild Autism, will be more readily able to adapt, to the world around them.

In saying this, you need to be fully aware, I’m not indicating a person with level 1 autism, won’t have to work quite hard, to fit into his or her circumstances.

That said, a person who’s considered level 2, will almost certainly, have much more to deal with. It’s not some sort of contest. Rather, it’s a pragmatic understanding of what will be necessary, to bring a person to a place where they’re able to interact with society at large.

I’ve said before, it’s entirely possible I’m Mildly Autistic. That having been put out there, allow me to toss the concept out the window. For the sake of argument, assume I’m “normal.”

Yet and still, those considered to be in the level 1 range of the Autism spectrum, generally sit in normal classrooms in normal schools, not too long after their diagnosis is confirmed.

I’m not saying that’s always the case. Though that’s true, I would generally argue, this is where the spectral nature of Autism is made plain. A person may be considered Mildly Autistic, but could well be closer on the spectrum, to Moderate Autism, than another also counted so.

In explaining my child’s Autism, I’ve been prone to say he’s, “Moderately Autistic, but closer to Severe, than to Mild Autism.”

This is what’s meant, by the spectral nature of Autism, in my view.

Nobody’s arguing that every Autistic person is alike in the differences they possess, when compared to the population at large.

That point, doesn’t change where on the spectrum they reside.

If I’m confused in my understanding, that’s fine and good.

It must still be recognized that, some people will have a greatly more difficult time, interacting with the world, than do others.

This revelation is in no way, intended to belittle the struggles of anyone on the spectrum.

The intent, rather, is to point out, that certain people may never reach what’s counted normalcy, while some almost certainly won’t ever come close to that mark.

So you’re Mildly (level 1) Autistic? The possibility is, you have a good deal of work ahead of you. Remember though, those counted Moderately (level 2) or Severely (level 3) so, likely have even more; and many of them, may never achieve anything like, what most other human beings are expected to attain.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Piling On – Autism

20201026 Pilling On – Autism – The Daily Summation
Piling On – Autism – The Daily Summation Podcast

Click Bait! You know, those little areas on a web page that have some sort of salacious, or supposedly interesting pictures and text, intended to whisk you away to some site, that’ll give you the skinny on a given subject.

What’s happened to the former cast of The Brady Bunch?” or, “Can you name these actors from the seventies?” We’ve all seen them, and I imagine most folks, have found one or two, that’ve enticed them into visiting the site (knowing full well, they were a target for advertisers).

For me, one of the more recent ones I’ve wasted my time on, asked something like, “Did you know these celebrities were Autistic?

Being an outlier in the Autistic community, by virtue of the fact, that I act as the primary caregiver, to a Moderately Autistic son, I bit!

Had I spent more than a second or two thinking about what I was intending to do, I might not have frittered away those minutes.

Looking back, I’m kind of glad I entered the vacuum for a moment. After all, though the idea has been brewing for a while, doing so made me finally write a piece, I’ve been intending to pen, for some time.

If you’ve seen the same “article” in your travels, and even if you’ve followed through to the “content,” you may not have noticed something that was horribly obvious to someone who deals with Autism on a daily basis.

To begin with, probably more than half of the people listed, were never diagnosed. That wouldn’t be such a big thing, were it not for the fact that you can be sure, if they’d ever been checked out, they would’ve almost certainly been found to have very mild Autism at best.

The fact is, I was well aware, before my child was ever diagnosed, that he had some issue. He didn’t speak like other children, his learning of various things most parents and children take for granted, was well below what would’ve been expected, at pretty much every step along the way.

In short, it was never really a question he had some condition, that made him lag well behind his fellows, in various types of mental and social development.

Before you think in your head—and I may already be too late—“Autistic children are so smart,” allow me to make it plain that intelligence, doesn’t equal achievement.

The fact is, those Autistic folks with greater than mild Autism I’ve met are “wired differently,” than those around them. The result being, it often takes them much longer, to get where peers among whom they find themselves, manage to reach, if they ever entirely do that.

Among the remainder of the folks spoken of in the aforementioned click-fest, nobody was cited as having Autism more serious than mild Asperger’s—a term I should tell you, most people don’t even use at present, but we won’t worry about that.

I’ve made a point of saying, that I take my son to one of the local parks, on a pretty regular basis. We might not be able to do that as much, now that the weather’s getting colder, but I’ll still work to get him out with others, for social interaction.

As intensely as I dislike divulging my son’s condition to others (because I want him to be treated as much like those around him as possible), periodically, I find the need to do so, regardless my desires.

He’ll act in some way, that’ll make other parents and children, nervous, uneasy, disgusted, or angry. My best recourse at such a time, is to do my what I’m able, to help others to understand my son, “isn’t normal.”

The problem? In most people’s minds, the concept of Autism has been done to death. They’ve heard about it, they may even have a nephew or one of their own children, who’s Mildly Autistic.

What that tends to mean is, they think they know what the parent or caregiver for a child who’s not Mildly Autistic is dealing with, or going through, to say nothing of the Autistic person him or her self.

Occasionally, you meet someone who’s a little better able see the hallmarks. Once in a great while, you meet a person who really gets it.

For most folks though, they’re just sure, you’re negligent as a parent. They can’t conceive their children, ever acting like yours does. Keep in mind that, often what sets my child off, is bad behavior on the part of their child. You can imagine, that makes their profession of stand-out parenting, just a little harder to deal with.

Don’t get me wrong, a part of the reason I take my child out and about, is to learn to deal with such people. Put another way, he doesn’t do that well. I’m certainly not trying to argue he’s some sort of saint, or angel.

What I’ve come to realize is, there are a very small number of people in the American population, whose Autism is at a Moderate or Severe level. The result being, that most folks have an image of what it means to be Autistic, based on the lowest levels of the condition.

Because this is true, there tends to be from both other children, and parents, a sort of a piling on process that occurs where I’m concerned. I’m not saying it doesn’t bother me at all, but I can deal with it as a rule.

The thing that affects me a great deal more, is when they pile on where my boy is concerned.

He needs to learn to deal with that, that’s true. Further, he must figure out how to fit in, in a world that is assuredly not, his own—as I say, that’s a large part of the reason I take him out into the public.

Every day, he becomes just a little more able, to deal with what he encounters.

More and more, I come to recognize that most folks, rarely ever see, someone like him.

And the better I do as a parent, and he does, in learning how he’s expected to behave, the less likely people are, to understand his condition.

In the end, I would ask just one thing of those who react harshly, to people like my child. I know this is probably a waste of breath, because very few will see it. If you do though, please recognize, what you’re daily shown about Autism, doesn’t apply, to people like my child, much less to those who are more severe.

Thanks for reading and may your time be good.

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Thick Skin – Religion and Politics

I want to start this article, by making it clear that I seriously considered writing it as an Autism related piece.

The fact is, the inspiration for it was definitely my Moderately Autistic eight year old.

My son is truly the apple of his daddy’s eye. I have a hard time imagining any person or thing that means more to me, than does he.

He’s far from perfect, and yes, he definitely can be a bad person at times.

A lot of who he is—who I’m battling to change—is directly related to his being Autistic.

One of his worst weaknesses, is something I shared with him at probably a very similar age.

The funny thing is, that’s indicative of the fact that he’s amazingly precocious for a boy who deals daily with a world that more doesn’t understand him, even than he it.

The failing in question? It’s generally referred to as being thin skinned.

We were in the park yesterday, where there were two young boys with what I term, “no parents.”

It’s certainly true there was an older lady watching after them. It’s equally the case, that she had no idea what they were doing at pretty much any point in her time, supposedly acting in the stead of their parents.

One assumes, though one may never be assured, that she was a grandparent. It’s also quite likely that she would never have allowed or expected them to act as they did, if she were aware of how that looked.

Needless to say, I was more than a little aggrieved by their actions, which included a serious amount of disrespect for me.

That said, I was more concerned for their sake, than for my own. Continuing down the path upon which they currently find themselves, will likely result in having children every bit as impolite and arrogant as they now are.

The fact is, as one gains age and wisdom, one hopes that one’s children and those of others, will be taught to treat them with a modicum of veneration. You may think that’s too much to ask, but the reality is, if that’s so, the lives of those persons are likely to be the much harder, as a result of that failure.

Without that level of respect, they’ll likely not absorb lessons such people could teach them, surrounding how to better get along in society.

I had a lady try to apologize for the actions of the children, not toward me, but toward my son, and I responded in anger. It was a horrible thing for me to do, so much so, that I made sure to seek her out, and beg her forgiveness.

She allowed as how she was truly sorry to see the children in question behave how they did, and informed me, she understood how I responded.

That was indeed a sad moment, because in my way of thinking, I had no right to behave as I did.

If ever she reads this, I want her to be aware how sorry I am for my misbehavior.

This all is but precursor the thing about which I really want to speak.

I explained to that lady, that the reason I brought my son to that park, was in part, to deal with attitudes and actions much like the ones to which he was exposed on that day.

Of course, my primary reason, is to allow him to let off steam after spending the majority of his day in classrooms, where people expect things of him that presently, make no sense at all from his vantage point. I want him to have fun. I want him to run. I want him to play.

But a part of that process, is learning to deal with those around him, not on his terms, but on theirs.

I’m not trying to say he should never expect anyone to act as he desires them to—though based on his idea of fun and exciting behavior, that’s very unlikely to occur.

Even when he deals with children who don’t spend their time directly taunting him, he must generally confront those who have zero interest in doing what he thinks worthy of time and effort.

I not only don’t expect that to change, but again, that’s actually why I take him to such places. If he can learn to satisfy his cravings on his own, or with people who’re willing to oblige him, that’s great. The thing is though, he shouldn’t expect most folks to be willing to do that.

It’s at this point I hope the title of this work makes sense.

My boy getting upset because people have no yearning to do as he would like them to, is something that causes him to see red. You can imagine his rage when other children tease him.

Since most people have no ability to understand his condition, I must keep a pretty sharp eye on him. There are also times, when daddy must rein his son in.

Personally, there are lots of times I would rather he got into mild conflict with the people that upset or discombobulate him. That’s not to be as a rule, since most parents (particularly mothers), will not allow it.

That’s not to say many dads tend to do much better, just that they’re less prevalent in such settings. When they’re around they tend to teach, particularly their boys, to lash out in anger, for the most part.

One my son’s failings resulting from Autism, is the tendency toward never-ending escalation. As such, children lashing out at him will likely either cause him or them, to be hurt; the older he gets, the more likely the latter will be the case.

The point of all I’ve expressed to this juncture, is that there’s a lot to be said for being thick skinned, and not much to be said, when that layer is a thin one. That’s why I consider it so important to teach him the “skill” of dealing with annoying, or even obnoxious individuals around and about him. This is the lesson I seek to instill in him. It can be a hard one, because he’s a “man of action.” Sometimes that’s good, sometimes bad. In this case, it’s not so great. I hope to get him to understand how things are in the course of time. In my mind, I pray I’m not alone in realizing how imperative this lesson is to learn.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Self Defense – Religion and Politics

As a Christian, to this day, I still question the validity of the idea of self defense.

It’s a problem for me for reasons that may not be so obvious.

Besides that I have a general commandment (if you choose to call it that) to be non-violent, I have to look at anyone seeking to do me harm and ask one simple question, “Is this person saved?”

You may think the query irrelevant, let me try to explain why to me, it’s not.

If someone is not saved, my dispatching that individual, may well result in his or her failing to have the chance to become so. I consider this a major failing on the part of any Christian.

If the person is saved, I’ve just caused the death of a brother or sister in Christ when I cause them to cease to be on this planet.

Funnily, the defense of others, is another matter. I think those who claim belief in Jesus, have a right—even a responsibility—to defend and protect others, particularly if they’re vulnerable.

In all of this though, I recognize the right of emergency personnel to defend themselves and definitely others, from potential mayhem, up to and including the use of lethal force.

So when I hear that a police officer, for example, runs from someone in order to not get stabbed to death, you can be sure I count it reasonable for that same officer to pull his service weapon, and send the perpetrator to the great beyond.

That’s never something one is happy to see happen, but considering the individual is wielding a weapon with intent to use it, who’s to say after the police officer, some other poor unfortunate (like his wife, child, or other household member) might not be next?

The case mentioned is a more extreme one. The fact is though, I can make the same argument for someone who’s reaching for a knife in the floorboard of his or her car after having been told by officers doing so will result in action of some kind.

That’s even more true when the person in question has shrugged off law enforcement and non-lethal restraining devices like pepper spray or tasers.

As you can imagine, I can make a case for others who claim Christ having a right to defend themselves.

The easiest way to do this, would be to give an example.

Imagine there was a man who had a Moderately Autistic son. Assume that he was acting as sole parent for the child (even more so if the other parent had passed on). Somebody comes at him with intent to do harm. He pulls a gun, and shoots that individual.

It’s true he was protecting himself from harm, but you see, he is the only one looking after that little boy.

I get that others can take up that task if he perishes. If that child were with him when he was attacked though, what’s to say the person accosting him won’t turn on the child next?

Put simply, if a someone chooses violence as a way of life, it’s not unreasonable to assume he or she will attack and possibly kill others after attacking the person previously mentioned.

When it comes right down to it, there’s literally no way to know what the evildoer will next want to turn his or her hand to.

So funnily, where it’s hard to justify protecting myself from harm, it becomes a little easier when ill may be inflicted on another if I’m not present to stop the person doing wrong.

That’s even true if they appear to intend to do harm to me alone.

In all this, there’s a realization. Life is precious. I never have the desire to do another harm, much less to take that most irreplaceable jewel from their crown.

The counterbalance, is that other people’s lives are just as precious as the one with bad intent.

It’s this fact that may make the case for some sort of defense more reasonable.

I don’t want to die. Even so, I can imagine no longer being here. That could happen literally in the next second. The effect on my son if nobody else, is virtually impossible to gauge. I can’t imagine it being good.

My passing under circumstances of old age or infirmity will likely do enough to upset his little apple cart. My leaving as a result of the violence of others, likely the more so.

Getting back to police officers though, if you think it’s unreasonable for such people to protect their own lives, perhaps you should consider that they put their very existence on the line, almost every time they don the uniform.

And if I can make the argument that I have the right to protect my son, and can only do so if I continue to survive, how much more can a police officer make such a claim when there are unknown others present?

This is all relevant to the present moment because I heard of a recent case in which there was a cop and an armed civilian looking to do him harm.

After he shot the civilian, people began to protest what he did (some rioting, I’m sure).

I wasn’t there. I cannot say what did or didn’t happen.

Should a full investigation of the officer be performed? In my mind, the answer is, “When a cop discharges his weapon and harms or kills another, it needs to be determined that it was reasonable.” So the short answer is, “Yes.”

In the end though, reacting in a knee-jerk fashion to such a situation makes those doing so less credible (and all considered, their credibility was already waning from what I can tell).

So asking the question, “Is self defense a reasonable course of action for a law enforcement agent?” where the answer is dependent on circumstances, results in a definite, “Yes!” where I’m concerned. You may think that’s unreasonable, for my part I cannot agree with you if you do.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Civil Disobedience – Religion and Politics

It might well surprise a lot of folks to learn that someone having lived more than half a century, still supports the idea of refusing to willingly (or even at all) do the things society mandates at times.

To be clear, as with everything else, I choose my battles carefully. On my list of things not to do today, are a smallish number that have been there for less or more time, depending on a variety of factors.

It’s important to realize, the list is not exceptionally long.

I’m not one, for example, who typically disobeys speed limitations on roadways, as so many seem wont to do.

I’ve done the math, and come to realize that the flouting of such laws gains one very little to begin with. I could explain that further, and assuming I don’t already have a post that does so, may use it as a piece of a future writing.

Truth is, it’s not just about following a given rule, law, statute or other stricture. For most everything to which I refuse to bow, there’s some moral or ethical reason beyond what you see in all likelihood.

I truly believe it’s a central expectation of Christianity, that we ought to attempt to live in peace where it’s possible so to do. As such, the idea of working at cross purposes with law and order, seems to be inconsistent with that tenet.

What that means is, when I refuse to do what’s expected of me, my reason should be exceptionally good. It’s also true that how others see Christianity is something that will in part be a result of my statements, actions and behaviors as one who claims to be a practitioner.

This in mind, I try to ensure any choice I make is beholden to the question, “Is this something that tarnishes the name or reputation of my Savior?” If the answer is, “Yes.” perhaps it’s something I ought not do, regardless other reasons I’m doing it.

That said, there are modes of behavior, that I know will be seen as disobedience to various societal requirements—and generally rightly so—that in good conscience, I nonetheless follow.

Lest you think this is a recent thing for either myself or for American society as a whole, let me assure you that’s not the case.

While on the subject of refusing to act as expected for cause of one sort or other, I need to make something clear. When you choose to disobey the mandates of society, where you may not always find it so, very often there will be consequences of one sort or another.

They may be something as small and simple as disapproving looks or comments, but it’s possible they’ll be more severe—things like fines or even jail time.

It’s my hope that you don’t often feel the need to do things that’re likely to result in even temporary confinement. Frankly, I’d be happy if you don’t generally see a need to do things that’ll cost you money, paid often, to an almost entirely uncaring government, either.

At times though, like it or not, that’s exactly what’s called for.

Sometimes the thing expected is really more something that those around you hold as normative activity—something that most of the time, you’ll suffer more minor disapproval for doing.

I often find myself in that place because of my son.

You may not understand why my son being Moderately Autistic, causes me to refuse to act as society says I ought.

Let me begin by saying he’s often not equipped to be who society expects him to. The result is, he bears the brunt of disapproving stares and harsh comments most of the time, before I ever do.

Then folks turn, rightly in my view, to me as his parent. Having had the realization that he’s a child dawn on them, they come to question how I could be failing him so badly as a parent.

Unfortunately for most folks, since they’ve rarely, or more likely never dealt with anything more that Mild Autism, the have no understanding what can and will be helpful to bring a child with more severe forms of the condition, to a place where he or she can better understand how to interact with the world around him or her self.

Being fair, it’s not something I spent much time thinking all that deeply about until I found myself dealing with my son.

These days, I count it normal for many people to be totally unable to comprehend what I’m doing in my dealings with my boy.

And again, this factors into this discussion, because I truly believe it’s better to have people act or speak disapprovingly toward either him or me (or both), than to bend to the whims and edicts of a society he neither understands, nor is understood by.

Put simply, I’m willing to take my lumps—and where possible—his too, if it will help him to become able to work with things around him more readily than if I consistently attempted to require him to maintain a level of decorum currently well beyond his capabilities.

The other option would be to lock him away. That would almost certainly result in his never achieving anything like competence when navigating the world around him.

Time will tell whether my approach, brings him to a place where he can deal with a world to which he largely doesn’t belong. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the result of people not working to do that, in folks who spent a great deal of time in various “care facilities.”

But the point here, is that my son is a good reason that at times, I literally break the expected norms of society to a degree that he or I might be found guilty of some sort of infraction for which we’re forced to pay with more than disapproving stares or clicking of the tongue.

For my part, when it happens, I’m willing to take that risk, and not just where accommodating my son is concerned, either.

I’m not arguing that civil disobedience should be a way of life. Most of the time, one ought just to accept what’s expected, act accordingly, and move on. At times though, not choosing the course that may cause you to be seen as flouting societal mandates may be more than reasonable, it may be more or less essential.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Due Process – Religion and Politics

Envision the most heinous crime you can imagine having been committed. An individual does something so shocking and outside what society counts normative that the act is perceived as alien by his or her fellows.

The temptation is to take immediate action to punish that one for the wrong done.

There’s an obvious assumption being made here, that would be that you personally witnessed the evil. Even someone else having done so ought not, after all, be sufficient to cause you to seek swift retribution.

In fact, the further down the rabbit hole you must go, the less you should assume it possible that actions can be taken without more fact-finding occurring first.

Now let’s suppose that the one doing the wrong has no recollection of what happened. He or she can be shown pictures, or have the scene described to them in detail, and they respond with revulsion, and seem to have zero connection with what happened at all.

You saw what happened. You’re absolutely certain your eyes didn’t fail you; yet the person in question swears up and down he or she has no idea about what you’re talking.

Worse yet, imagine they know what happened, but insist things were going on you didn’t or couldn’t see. Maybe those things were real, maybe the person imagined or hallucinated them. Nonetheless, they count them to have occurred.

Then of course, there’re times when witnesses are sure of what they’ve seen (again, correct or incorrect); and those where nobody can tell you what happened but the accused.

For the moment, our final scenario, is when a person did the thing, acknowledges they did it, and expresses zero remorse.

There’re a hundred possibilities between “guilty and admits it,” and “claims innocence with no witnesses.”

The important realization is, due process applies to each and every case.

There are a number of reasons this is the true. Allow me to expound upon four of them.

When a person acts in ways he or she ought not, if justice is meted out on the spot, a couple of things happen. The first is, the person may be too lightly or too harshly punished. As well, even assuming you can know all the factors involved in what transpired, somebody acting as marshal, judge, jury and executioner, may not respond to misbehavior in the same way another person, either acting as a vigilante, or working in the system does.

In fact, even the same person may respond differently on different days, or for perceived variances that don’t exist, or based on bias for or against one or both persons, or a million other factors.

The result is unequal punishment or retribution. Since the U. S. Constitution expresses a requirement that we should have equal protection under the law, there must be measures in place to make sure that’s how things work out. Even with such things, there’s still a chance of people being treated differently.; though that’s true, the possibility should be substantially reduced.

It’s also a potential fact that, where it may seem to an irate witness, that a given form of punitive action is acceptable. That’s not necessarily the case, when one considers the Constitutional right to not suffer cruel and unusual punishment.

It may be entirely understandable that one witnessing a horrible event, thinks it reasonable to act in ways that would be considered so; that said, the point of delimiting the right, is pretty much exactly that—to keep people from acting out of anger, fear, or while under the control of some other force that would make them ultimately, potentially as bad as or worse than, the person being punished.

Another issue is that, in the heat of the moment, one may not be aware that how things appeared is not how they actually were. Put another way, there may’ve been extenuating circumstances, or the one witnessing the event may be just plain wrong come to what they thought they saw or heard. For this reason among others, wild west justice is not the way to move forward.

Many will question my final point. They may say something like, “That aside, the person did what they did and should be punished.” Even if that’s true, the reasons given before this one should be sufficient to make it clear due process is not just desirable, it’s pretty much essential to polite society.

The last thing I wanted to bring up though, is the mental state and capacity of the perpetrator. If an individual is unable to recognize the gravity of his or her actions—whether because they’re not in their right mind, or because they operate with diminished capacity in some regard—where it may be necessary to ensure that such a one is watched, so they’re unable to act as they ought not, it’s not always be possible to stop errant behavior.

As hard as caregivers and others work to make sure that such folks don’t do something untoward, impropriety will still slip through the cracks. Part of the reason being that the mentally impaired or diminished one, may shift between stability and instability quite rapidly.

I have a son who certainly doesn’t understand death, and is only now begining to comprehend injury. He’s almost eight years of age. I must watch him constantly to be certain he doesn’t do something that’s harmful or deadly to others.

I’m trying to bring him to a place of clarity, so he knows the things he does can result in fatality or injury, and for the most part that’s working just fine, but because he’s Moderately Autistic, he may never fully grasp what I and others, count expected and all but mandatory knowledge.

I work to keep him safe, and of course, to keep him from misbehaving. Even so, at times, he’ll do and say things he shouldn’t. Such is the life of a boy who’s brain works differently from the rest of the world, and those who care for and about him.

My son is obviously, but a single example, there are many more.

I hope at this point you’re coming to understand just how important due process is.

Maybe a person acts in a way that society at large considers worthy of that worst of all penalties, execution. Perhaps there are people who would wish to see him rapidly enter his final resting place. The simplest, most telling question is, “What if you’re wrong?” What if he’s innocent? This applies to less serious punishments as well. You cannot give wrongfully incarcerated people that time back. For this reason, due process exists and is hopefully practiced to the fullest extent possible.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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School Interaction – Religion and Politics

The new school year has begun, and among other things, because my only child still attending at an elementary level is Moderately Autistic, the morning ritual is well on its way to being established.

In case you’re not aware, Autistic folks are very prone to establish patterns. So true is this, that one must be careful to not allow “bad” habits to form, knowing he or she will potentially deal with them for a long time to come.

Last year, the school morning typically started the same way as a result of that tendency towards almost obsessive-compulsive ordering. Daddy comes into my bedroom. He tells me he’s there. He gives me a five minute “snooze button” time. Then my blanket comes off, I get turned around and I sleep through him putting on my clothes and combing my hair.

After that is the obligatory five minute second snooze on the dad-alarm, followed by his pushing me (in a sort of game) off the bed and getting my feet on the floor.

From there, I get my morning chocolate, and we walk out the door.

Once at school, the family transportation is parked at the side entrance and he waits for the show I’m watching on my cheap computer to end. At this point, we get out of the vehicle, walk to the door, and I knock (even if people have already seen us and are on the way to open it).

We walk inside, and make our way down the hallway to my classroom. Depending on how I’m feeling that day, I may be silently resigned to my time at school, happy to be there, or pitching a fit and largely refusing to move forward for a time.

Ultimately, we end up in the classroom, and I accept my fate. From there, it’s give the staff my folder if I have it (that can be confusing), then off to the bathroom, watching the video playing on the big screen as I go.

Such is the life of a Moderately Autistic six and seven year old. No, they’re not all the same, each has their own ritual. I’ve just given you the one my son followed in the last year.

This year is shaping up to be a good deal different. Besides that my son is actually getting up without me counting time so much, because of COVID-19, he’s also going into the school by himself. I knew that day was coming, and to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it.

His teacher assured me we would “break him” of the need to have dad come down that hallway with him. Where I never told her so, that was one of my favorite morning activities. We would walk, talk and pass the sometimes-jeering “normal” kids as I played little games with my boy on the way to the room where he spent a large part of his day. I already miss that.

My son spends, as I say, most of his school time in a suite for want of a better word, very near the front of the building. Instead of taking him in through the side entrance, he now goes in through the front one instead. That makes his walk, and the work of the ones watching after him the much shorter.

For the first couple of days of school, there’ve been teachers standing outside to welcome the special needs students. They would gather up the children as they made their way to the door, and usher them inside.

To begin with, it became obvious our morning confabs in the hallway were a thing of the past in this model. As I say, where I knew it was bound to happen, I’m still a bit discombobulated it occurred so quickly.

The other thing though, is that unlike with the old way of doing things, a teacher really ought to be there, to make sure he and others make their way inside.

Where he mostly doesn’t do it these days, my son has been prone to get “spooked” and run away from the thing he’s expected to head toward.

Yesterday (Friday), when we got to the school, he grabbed his backpack, opened the car door, and headed to the front entrance. I got distracted, and in that split second, I couldn’t see him anymore.

I’m not the type to be alarmist, though I suspect dealing with my boy has made me even more hypervigilant. As such, when I was unable to see him, I didn’t panic, I just made my way to the front ingress point.

Up until recently, they would have buzzed me into the building, I could have checked that he’d made his way to the class in which he was supposed to be, I might have bade him a good day and told him I loved him, then I would’ve been on my way.

I ambled up to the entryway and pulled the handle. The door was locked. “No big deal,” I thought. I knocked, and one of the staff in my son’s class group came to the door to advise me I couldn’t enter. “No, no!” I said, “I just wanted to make sure Garrett got in.” “You can’t come in!” she said. “I wasn’t trying to come in,” I responded, and repeated my earlier statement. At that point she understood what I was saying, and assured me he’d gone to the classroom.

This may not be a concern to you, but if it’s a foreboding of things to come, it’s quite likely I’ll be relatively unaware of what’s going on in the learning environment. That I’ve been able to keep up on that to some degree, has been a strong factor in the success that’s been consistently there between his educational team and myself. That ceasing to be possible will assuredly hamper future progress.

I get concern over the current health situation—though my thoughts and feelings on things don’t tend to match most folks’. Even so, I feel as though I need to have open communications with my child’s teachers to ensure he continues to move forward apace. I’m hoping things settle down as time goes on. That said, I’m a little worried that may not be the case. If it isn’t, I have fears for my son’s well-being, at least in the short term. This is my current concern. I hope and pray things work out for the best, not just for my child, but in general.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Blaming the Victim – Religion and Politics

If my seven-year-old Moderately Autistic son were better at expressing himself, assuming he could think like I did, I’m pretty sure he would be one of the first to tell you being Autistic is not for the faint of heart.

When you’re Autistic, you care about, and pay attention to, things those around you who aren’t in the club seem to all but totally ignore. You see others playing together, and they seem largely (not totally of course) to be on the same page. “Let’s play tag!” or “Let’s play a game of hide-and-seek!” They say, and because there’s nobody around like you, and frankly, you crave playtime with people close to your age, you try very hard to live in the other kids’ worlds.

You secretly hope they’ll take the time to try to understand and live in yours, but you’re not holding out hope, because but for a brief few moments now and then, that never happens.

I could go on talking about this, but since what I’m trying to do is set the stage for another discussion, let me do the tie-in.

The young man I just described to you, spends far too much time angry and frustrated. He wants to play with his “peers.” He desperately desires to be happy and carefree. He seeks to find others who’re like him, rather than having to come to live in the heads of the ones with whom he ends up dealing.

What makes that the much harder is, even among his actual peers, he only has a home to the degree they’re “different” because they too, march to the beat of their own drum. Autistic people are different from “normal” people, but as a rule, they’re also not remotely the same as each other.

This makes for a child who, if left to his own devices with other young ones, is prone to lash out. He gets angry and upset that others don’t understand him. He gets teased in the same way one child teases other children and doesn’t understand it, and as a result, he becomes upset, angry, defensive and potentially violent.

It’s for this reason that daddy must take special pains with his son.

Firstly, he must watch him carefully and correct his “bad responses.” He tries to intermingle times of comparatively little supervision, with the more intense observation. Mostly that means, when nobody’s around, he doesn’t watch as carefully.

He must act as a “supporting character,” so that his charge doesn’t feel totally alone when dealing with folks who mostly just don’t get him.

He has to talk about unacceptable behaviors. It’s his job to remove excuses for bad actions and attitudes on the child’s part.

About now, you may be questioning whether this should really be an article on Autism, and I’m not going to tell you there’s not a small amount of truth to that perspective to this point. That said, here’s where we diverge.

What I just did, was laid out before you, a strong excuse for someone to act in improper ways. I told you that my son being Moderately Autistic, means that he tends to become angry and frustrated, and the seeming implication you might take away is, it’s okay for him to act badly as a result.

Were it not for the remedial action I cited earlier, you might also wrongly assume I’m trying to make the case that he was incited to act violently or otherwise unreasonably by those individuals who treat him in ways they would normally treat others. After all, they aren’t working to understand my son, they’re just assuming he’s sufficiently similar to everyone else that they can behave towards him as they would typically act towards anyone.

If you thought that’s what I was trying to say though, you’d be mistaken. My boy may technically be a “victim” in this little essay, but the truth is, it’s just not reasonable to assume the rest of the world should have to tailor their approach to life, to the differences he presents.

By the way, if I did take this approach to life, when he hurt others, I might say something like, “It was his or her fault for not trying to understand my son.”

This sounds logical, but it’s just not. The fact that the other involved party likely did nothing out of the ordinary only to find him or her self set upon by my child, doesn’t mean I can blame the victim, and contend they should’ve worked to understand my offspring.

As a parent of this wonderful, special child, it’s my job to bring him to a place where he can deal with the world largely on their terms; all the while keeping what’s unique, amazing and awesome, alive and well in him. It’s not the job of the rest of the universe to adjust or adapt to him. I’m not saying here, that people can’t or shouldn’t try to come to understand and work with my kid; just that this is not something I can or do expect.

If it’s true I won’t accept my quirky not-so-small Moderately Autistic son acting badly when dealing with others, then blaming the others for not working with him on his terms, you can be certain I won’t conclude similar things apply to folks who don’t have his built-in excuse.

When even a scantily clad or naked young woman is raped, I’m not going to agree she was at fault; even when her actions may not have been the most prudent. No, it was the rapist who bears the blame.

When someone makes another angry, and the other pulls out a gun and shoots them, where the fact that the first caused the second to be irate may be relevant, it doesn’t make it so the shooter stands blameless for his or her actions.

The long and short of this is, we need to stop blaming the victims of various forms of malevolent activity, rather than the one doing the harm. I get that things the wronged one may have done and said might’ve contributed to or more correctly, detracted from the situation, but that’s not a reason to blame them for the evil visited upon them.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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Inhumanity – Religion and Politics

Perhaps one of the most glaring clues a given society is in trouble, can be summed up in a single word; inhumanity. At some point, you start seeing instances where one or another person is seemingly unable to sympathize or empathize with their fellows. I can’t speak for others, but for me this is a crimson red flag.

As an example of what I’m not saying, I think the concepts of mask wear, social distancing and sheltering in place are flat out dumb. I’ve done my research; I can cite and have citedstatistics, from the some of very entities currently recommending these practices, that pretty conclusively indicate what my position is reasonable.

I’m not saying such measures should not have been employed early in the “pandemic.” At that point, we knew very little about what was occurring. It made some small amount of sense, to take certain precautions, the aforementioned potentially among them.

As time passed though, a couple of things became obvious.

To begin with, based on the numbers and the relatively steady downward slope, COVID-19 just wasn’t all that serious an issue. There were, it became fairly clear, certain populations—the elderly, and those with certain comorbidities—who needed to protect themselves or be protected from the ravages of the disease. Even for many of them, the death rates were and remain, relatively low.

For the vast majority though, this was not the case. Take for example people under the age of fifty-five. For the entire period (now more than six months) in a country with over 328,000,000 (three hundred twenty eight million) lives, less than 13,000 (thirteen thousand) have died of the virus. As a percentage of the whole population of the country, that’s substantially less than 0.01%. In terms of likelihood of death in the nation as a whole, that’s markedlybelow one in ten thousand.

Put simply, the chance that you would know somebody below the age of 55 who’s died of conditions related to COVID-19 is nearly non-existent. That’s putting aside the idea that in most cases, other conditions heavily contributed to their chances of death (serious breathing issues, pulmonary problems of one sort or another, pneumonia etc).

In case those facts don’t put things in perspective for you, consider that the reason for a large number of the deaths in folks over fifty-five, was mismanagement, pure and simple. I could fault Democrats as a whole for this, but there are really just a couple of folks who decided to implement policies that were signs of horrible malfeasance. I’ll leave it to you to discover whether what I say is true or not, and if so, about whom I’m speaking when I say what I do.

See what I just did there? I made assertions, I backed them up with—granted, boiled down—data, and explained why I came to the conclusions I did. The only people I could be said to have “attacked” are those who believe in mask wear, social distancing, and sheltering in place. Other than that, I “attacked” government officials who appear to have made some terribly unfortunate policy decisions.

At no time, did I give you any name. At no point in the process did I do anything more, than pointing to publicly available, commonly accepted information.

Even for those with whom I disagree, I’m not making the statement they’re evil, or even wrong on any other matter—whether they are or not.

And if one of them gets sick from COVID-19, or is ill or dies as a result of really anything (including sheer stupidity), I’m not going to go around yukking it up because that happened. It’s sad. It’s unfortunate. Things like death and illness happen. That doesn’t mean I desire them to be visited on others.

You should know I say that from a position of one who, after more than a half century of life, has never been seriously ill. That means I could make some silly argument like, “You’re just weak, pitiful human beings.” The “problem” with such a statement is, I’ve learned over time that a couple of things are true.

Strength takes many forms, is the first of these. Just because people aren’t physically strong, doesn’t mean they don’t possess power beyond easy comprehension. How people overcome adversity is every bit as important as how many days they live, and how many of those are in fantastic health.

Nobody chooses their genes, that’s the second thing. You get what you get, and you must deal with it. A friend of mine spent the majority of his adult life in a wheelchair, largely unable to move in the ways most enjoy on an ongoing basis. I promise, that wasn’t a matter of choice for him. It was what it was. He dealt with it every day until his recent, untimely passing.

Was that man a saint because of his condition? No. Was he a saint at all? That depends how you define the term; to me, the answer is, “As a Believer, yes.” That by no means implies he never made mistakes or did wrong. On the other hand, my disagreements with him were relatively few, and mostly minor.

The point of what I’m saying though is this. When, for example, you hear of a family, having paid their money, who’re simply trying to get from Point A to Point B, being removed from a flight because their two year old refused to wear a mask, where I can even understand your trying to justify that (though to me, considering the data, it’s not something I’d want to be on the “pro” side of in a debate), saying things like, “Good riddance.” or “Buh-bye.” may just be a sign that you lack the aforementioned sympathy, to say nothing of empathy.

I well remember dealing with two year old children—even though the most recent chance I’ve had to do so with my own, is almost six years back. If you think doing that is a challenge, imagine dealing with an eight year old Moderately Autistic child, who’s been known to melt down over far less than donning a face covering.

Do you disagree with someone or someones? That’s totally fine. Does that make it reasonable to attack their person, to treat them in manners you wouldn’t appreciate, were you in their shoes? I submit that it doesn’t. Kindness is largely without cost. If you’re not working to be kind and nice as a rule, perhaps you should consider it.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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The Meltdown – Autism

Even when dealing with Moderately Autistic children, there’s a tendency for things to normalize.

Patterns are established, habits are formed, and the child begins to grow and mature.

Equally important, one learns the quirks—the eccentricities if you will—of the child, and figures out the best, or at least some way to deal with them.

Except for the fact that my son hasn’t recently been allowed to attend school, firstly as a result of his school and school district’s responses to COVID-19, then as a result of summer vacation, those patterns are pretty firmly in place.

Like many children, my boy has a habit of doing things he knows well are inappropriate. Yesterday evening, he did one of those things.

In this case, it was a wrong in which he was a “repeat offender,” and something I had told him was entirely unacceptable. I’ll not get into the details where that activity is concerned. Suffice to say, it affected others, though in mild ways, to an unacceptable degree.

My response to his infraction? There’re places my child loves to find himself, and we were outside of one such place. I had exited the car and was getting ready to help him get his shoes and socks on (we’d not too long before, left a local park where he was wading in a stream). It was then, that he did what he did. I put his shoes and socks back into the passenger seat of the vehicle, walked around to the driver’s door, opened it, got in, and started the drive home.

I didn’t want to leave; there were things I wanted to buy from that store. Given his actions though, I decided they would have to wait.

It was at that point that something we haven’t had happen in some time occurred. He fell into a full-on-no-kidding meltdown.

I’m not a person who believes in pride. I’m an adherent to the idea of realizing something needs done, figuring out how to go about accomplishing it, and making it happen to the best of my ability. Once, you’ve reasoned out how to proceed and implemented your approach, then it’s about observation and adjustment.

At some point, you find yourself relatively happy with the outcomes. When you reach that point, it’s usually lather, rinse, repeat. That’s a good general rule of thumb pretty much regardless with what you’re dealing. Even if it weren’t though, it’s definitely something you should typically do when dealing with Autistic folks.

Even more than with others, Autistic individuals thrive on order, on routine.

I can tell you that both my son and I have learned to deal with the tendency towards his melting down in some pretty successful ways. I’ve put him in positions over and over again, that would in past, have resulted in full on hair-raising outbursts over long periods of time, and he’s learned how generally to handle them well.

Sometimes he still has minor events, and once in a while, we end up in some level of lesser disagreement to the point of conflict in the arena of words. Most of the time though, those events are both rare and relatively tame.

He’s done an excellent job—for the most part—of adapting to a world he doesn’t entirely understand. Still now, he’ll say and do things that are vastly inappropriate to the circumstance (yesterday he threatened a little girl with retribution over a disagreement on the use of the words “little” and “big”).

Needless to say, where his response to not getting to visit that store wasn’t unexpected, it was still more than a little unsettling for both of us.

The kicker? I had a family member on the phone for most of the event. As a result, he got to hear—albeit secondhand—what it sounded like to undergo such a thing. Up to that point, I was literally the only one to have heard that type of event in probably a couple of years. Even I hadn’t had it happen for more than a few months (maybe a whole year).

The person on the phone made no assumptions, nor expressed any complaint over the event. In fact, he was generally understanding, as I expected he would be.

Keep in mind though, I was driving, with an earbud in my ear, trying to discuss something relatively complex with him over the phone, and at the same time, trying to deal with screaming, crying, pleading, yelling, ranting, and so much more.

These days I just don’t write a lot about Autism, as I say, my child and I have worked out most of the kinks, so I don’t see much to say.

This was a reminder why it’s beneficial to talk about what we go through, not for me, but for the benefit of those reading. I look at things as they now are, and though there’re still challenges (my son leaving areas in which he’s supposed to be without informing me that he’s leaving, much less where he’s going comes to mind), we’re mostly in a stable place.

We have our issues, but they’re largely not all that different than the things any parent of an almost-eight-year-old encounters.

Yes, it’s true my child still can’t even consistently recognize letters, much less read or write. He can’t consistently count (though funnily, he often recognizes the number of things), and definitely cannot do even simple math. For the most part though, he’s pretty darned smart. Daddy will start a sentence and Garrett will finish it without prompting—particularly when dad lets himself get distracted, or loses his train of thought.

A part of the reason for me writing this, is to get it out of my mind and onto the page—to think about it and at the same time, let it go. Another cause for doing so though, is to make it clear to parents of Autistic children that the fight is not one that suddenly magically goes away.

If your child is Mildly Autistic, you may forget that’s the case as he or she matures. If they’re not a mild case, that’s less likely to be so. Even for more severe cases (and I’m speaking mostly of what’s categorized as moderate, not those dealing with Severe Autism, where the realization is almost certain), things may largely settle down as time goes on. That doesn’t mean your child is any less who they are. Remember patience, watchfulness, consistence, and persistence are what’s called for.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.