Sunday, May 31, 2009


So I was watching TV this week when this ad came on. After it became apparent that it was for a charitable organization, I expected to see some variation of the usual "pity party" that is all too common amongst many charitable groups. You know, "Aren't we great that we are helping these poor, helpless people thing. Instead I saw this. This is not my congregation, but I invite you to watch an alternative way to depict serving others in society.

Wouldn't it be great if groups like Autism Speaks took such an approach?

Trinity Lutheran Church
Volunteers serving the homeless
First course: dignity

Read the story behind the ad.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

photo credit-kevindooley
creative commons license

Q: What makes a third grade boy want to sit at the front of the class?

A: He needs glasses.

After getting some hints that Buddy Boy needed some assistance (mis-reading the board, asking to sit closer), we took him to the eye doctor. He actually was both quite fascinated by, as well as cooperative with, the whole process.

photo credit-chris runoff
creative commons license

After being shown several pages in a book similar to the above and correctly identifying the numbers he announced "At least we know I'm not color blind." His vision isn't that all bad (it's between 20/30 and 20/40) but since he's having some difficulty with schoolwork we decided to go ahead and get him the glasses. He'll have the whole summer to get used to them, so they'll feel natural by the start of next school year.

So far things seem to be going all right with them.

Meanwhile, now that he's seeing a bit clearer, he's also seeing autism everywhere. Or at least some places it probably isn't.

Buddy Boy's teacher's husband is also a teacher at his school. He teaches music, but not Buddy Boy's class. But Buddy Boy knows him because at the end of the day he comes to Buddy Boy's class to wait for his wife. While he waits, he usually uses the computer, and trys not to get in the way.

Evidently Buddy Boy has decided that Mr. L is autistic. He told his teacher, Mrs. L, this last week. "Why do you say that, Buddy Boy?" she asked. "Well, he spends a lot of time on the computer, doesn't answer my questions when I talk to him, and sometimes is a little grumpy." Mrs. L just replied "Those are interesting observations." Now Mr. L is a quiet guy, but I hardly think he's on the spectrum. But since Mrs. L didn't out and out deny that her husband was autistic, Buddy Boy took this as affirmation.

So this week Mrs. L is appropriately laying down the rules for Buddy Boy when he wasn't doing something he should, and he comes out with "Mrs. L, since you are married to someone who is autistic, I would think that you would be a litte more understanding of me!"

Two more weeks until school is out for the kids! We're counting the days.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just Claim They Were Autistic

photo credit-hrtmnstrfr
creative commons license

In a story on the wire yesterday, a man in Salem, Oregon was arrested and jailed after shocking his four children with a shock collar meant to train dogs. According to the story

"Todd Marcum, 41, said he did it "because he thought it was funny," Salem Police Lt. Dave Okada said. ...

Marcum was taken into custody on four charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment. He is in the Marion County jail."

Now if Marcum had had a lick of sense, he would have just told the police that he thought his children were autistic, and needed some training. Because he had been on the internet, and he knew that the Judge Rotenberg Center uses shocks to control autistic kids. And it's perfectly legal. Other states even send their autistic kids to Massachusetts to the JRC so they can be shocked, too.

Marcum could have stated that his children were swearing, nagging, or flapping their hands, and thus qualified to receive shocks.

Now the only problem is that the dog collar that Marcum used was probably a lot less powerful than the one that is routinely used at the JRC. The dog collar is a small, self contained unit, while the JRC devices need a backpack to haul around. The dog collar will stimulate for up to a half second, while the "GED" devices used by the JRC will shock you for up to 2 seconds.

I found out while poking around that dog collars are subject to legal regulations, which state (amongst other things) that they can be applied for no more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period, and they can't put out more than 15 milliamps root mean square. The JRC uses devices that put out an average (not maximum) of 15 milliamps RMS, and a maximum of 45 milliamps RMS (fully three times as powerful as the maximum allowed for a dog collar).

So Marcum, if you or your lawyer are reading this, just claim you were using a tried and tested method of disciplining your kids, who you suspect are autistic (don't forget the autistic part-people might not approve of your behavior otherwise).

Perhaps the Massachusetts and New York legislatures would be interested in the torture by electric shocks that is occurring if there were dogs that were being shocked. Because they haven't been interested when it was only autistic individuals involved.