Chalk Word Lines of Separation by Judy Endow

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“Sneaky words, said with a smile,
While holding a piece of chalk,
To draw the dividing line,
Made by words,
Sounding alright on the surface,
But laden with,
Otherness.
Less Than
Different
Not US
And sometimes Not Quite Human

We are the people you call

  • Special
  • Low Functioning
  • High Functioning

You say we are in need of a

  • Peer Buddy
  • Peer Pal
  • Good Friend from Mrs. Jones Program

We are the

  • Inclusion Student
  • The community service hours other kids need

We sit

  • At the Peer Buddies lunch table
  • The Special Ed table in the Inclusion Room
  • On the Special Ed bench waiting for our short bus

During the school day you will find us in the

  • Inclusion Room (when it is our turn because they can only take one of us at a time)
  • Cognitively Delayed Room
  • Behavior Room
  • Emotionally Disturbed Room
  • EBD Room (Emotionally Behaviorally Disturbed)
  • Special Ed Room
  • Special Needs Room

We are so doggone “special” that after school we attend

  • Special Olympics
  • Special Arts
  • Special Night at the YMCA
  • Special Needs Social Group

Where every participant is just as special
And those who are not special are our helpers

 When we grow up we live in

  • Special Housing
  • Some of us in Section 8 rentals
  • Some in group homes
  • Some in county care facilities
  • Some of us are so special that there isn’t even a special enough place for us so we stay living with our parents.
  • Some of us are not quite special enough to get on a housing list and yet cannot maintain on our own so we stay living with our parents.

As adults too many of us spend our days

  • In Special Programs (if our county has them)
  • At ARC (if our town has an ARC)
  • At Sheltered Workshops (if one is available)
  • In Supported Employment (if we qualify)
  • Looking for a job (on the days we are able to)
  • On the couch in our parent’s home (because other options are not available)

Because we are so deficient
In ever so many ways
Whenever we do something ordinary
like zip up our jacket, ride a horse, or answer Jeopardy questions you describe us as

  • Awesome
  • An Inspiration

I don’t understand this. If my friends and I are such awesome inspirations to the rest of you

  • Why is it that we are in two distinct groups – US and THEM?
  • Why is it that your group always holds the chalk?
  • Why do you keep using your chalk to draw lines that divide us?
  • Why do you want me on the other side of your line – away from you?
  • And why do you think this is good?”

By Judy Endow

This is just an abstract from her amazing poem, “Chalk word lines of separation”, I encourage you to read it in its entirety on her blog site at http://www.judyendow.com/advocacy/chalk-word-lines-of-separation/

Men face charges over prolonged sexual assault of disabled man

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Two Tasmanian men, Adam Maxwell Cox, 34 and Mark Paul Phillips, 25, have been charged with committing several counts of aggravated sexual assault on an intellectually disabled man.

The sexual assaults were described by the Tasmanian Police as being “particularly serious and particularly nasty” assaults that took place over the course of several days.

With the first round of sexual assaults lasting for a period of eight hours.

The second over a period of 17 hours.

According to court documents, the nature of these aggravated attacks included, but were not limited to;

” sexually assaulting  him by penetrating his rectum with a broom handle and a glass beer bottle.”

“Assault by setting fire to the man’s body using flammable liquid and tying him to a punching bag.” 

“Assaulting the man by tying him to a pole for several hours and hitting him with a baseball bat, machete and fists”.

“Loading a double-barrel shotgun to his leg while he was tied to a pole.”

As a result of these attacks, the victim suffered severe internal injuries, particularly to his bowel, which required immediate surgery and will no doubt cause him significant ongoing health problems for the rest of his life.

Despite the heinous nature of the charges against them, both Cox and Phillips refused to enter a plea and were released on bail pending a future court date.

Given the vileness of the crimes that both Cox and Phillips have been charged with perpetrating against this trusting and vulnerable, disabled man, and the undeniable nature of his injuries, one has to wonder why it is, that although they were both charged with aggravated sexual assault, which to my mind should also include, “occasioning grievous bodily harm”, they were both released on bail and allowed to walk freely back into society.

Why are men like these, who have been charged by the police with committing such unforgivable and life altering acts, effectively being allowed to buy themselves a temporary reprieve from jail?

And why are we as a society constantly being expected to put up with the knowledge that the likes of such men are walking around our cities and towns, doing God knows what, to God knows who, just because the justice system needs time to set all of its wheels in motion?

Clearly whatever the bail limit was set at, it wasn’t high enough to prevent either of these perverts from being able to pay their way out of jail.

In instances such as these, one has to question why they were even given the option of bail in the first place.

Clearly the police found enough evidence to arrest and charge them with the crime, so why let them go?

On a more profoundly disturbing level, it also makes me wonder whether or not the fact that the victim was a disabled man and not (heaven forbid) a child or a woman, had anything to do with the rational for offering up bail as an option at all.

Were these maggots somehow viewed as being less of a threat to the community specifically because they had targeted a disabled man and not a woman or a child?

If that was the rational behind furnishing them with the option for bail, then it should be viewed as being an extremely flawed and precarious, one indeed.

For who among us in society could possibly be more vulnerable than the profoundly intellectually disabled?

Cases like this really make me question just how effective our so-called justice system can be seen to operate in either its role of metering out justice or protecting any of us from those who are known to cause harm.

Let alone protecting those who are already the most vulnerable within our society.

Quotes from  www.examiner.com.au/story/2097846/assault-leads-to-

Asperger Syndrome and the need for Social Justice – Could Autism be benefiting our society?

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A feature of Asperger’s syndrome that can be advantageous to society is a concern with social justice and discrimination against minority groups.

This can sometimes be strikingly developed in Asperger’s cases, often because of their characteristic impatience with conventional hypocrisy and publicly accepted double standards (not to mention the fact that they sometimes feel the victims of discrimination themselves).

Modern societies have canonized such concerns in law and public attitudes, and a number of famous campaigners for equal rights and social justice have been posthumously proposed as Asperger’s cases.

Autistics tend to be loners, who are poor at participating in group activities of the kind that exploit social justice and anti-discrimination sentiment for self-serving political and social advantage.

Modern authorities on autism have described autistics as “truth-tellers” and, thanks to their bottom-up, devil-in-the-detail style of cognition, are often the first to see that the emperor has no clothes or that the great idol has feet of clay.

Furthermore, they are also likely to be the ones to blurt out the truth, and draw attention to the inconvenient fact, irrespective of what others may think.

I do believe that autistic antagonism to lies and deception of all kinds is not only the most redeeming feature of the so-called disorder, but one which autism shares increasingly with modern societies—and very much to their benefit.” Original Article by Christopher Badcock http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-imprinted-brain/201006/the-big-plus-the-outsider-society-truth-challenges-lies

I have often wondered whether or not the world would be a much better, fairer place, if it were being run by people who felt a burning need for social justice… aka…Aspies.

The above abstract is from a much larger article by Christopher Badcock which makes some strikingly good points regarding the ways in which the strengths of those with Asperger’s could be put to good use within our societies.

So what do you think?

Have your say on whether or not you think the world be a better, fairer place if it were being run by Aspies in the comment section below.

Stop Expecting Me To Apologize For Being Who I Am

Artwork by Jasmin Junger

Artwork by Jasmin Junger

“I am not “lazy” because I can’t function emotionally or mentally in the general work force.

I am not “weak” because I have a hard time processing emotions and am easily overwhelmed by the emotions of others.

“I am not a “recluse” because I prefer to stay at home where I feel most in control and safe.

I am not “anti-social” because I cannot handle large public gatherings and can only handle one or two friends at a time.”

I am not “stupid” because I cannot understand some math concepts and have a hard time with my handwriting and communicating verbally at times.

I am not what you want or need me to be

I am Autistic and I don’t have to apologize for that to anyone.”

These powerful words  by http://lennemi.wordpress.com represent  the way many with Autism feel about the overwhelming expectations placed on them by a society that refuses to accept them for who they are and instead replaces understanding with often cruel and ignorant  judgements.

lennemi’s words have been reproduced on this blog with the full permission of the author.

They are part of a brilliant post which I urge you to find here   http://lennemi.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/autistic-what-i-am-not/ 

Changes to Disability Support Payments in Australia

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Recently Tony Abbott announced changes to the Disability Support Pension that included differentiating between those who experience a permanent, lifelong condition and those who experience a temporary disabling condition. Personally, as much as I detest many of his policies, I’d have to say that I applaud this one.

I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve known who are still claiming the DSP for conditions that they no longer have. I grew up with an uncle who, from the age of 30, was on a DSP for a temporary back injury that cleared up over time. Yet even though the injury no longer affected him, (in fact, he used to cut and sell firewood on the side), he still collected his DSP every fortnight. And to the best of my knowledge, all these years later, is still doing so.

Even closer to home the woman down the road, in her 40′s has been on DSP for the last 7 or so years, similarly for a back injury, and yet she can push a lawn mower, work from dusk til dawn in her garden, lug groceries and great armfuls of firewood in winter. Now I’m not saying that she doesn’t suffer pain at times, because she may well do, but what I am saying is, that if she can do all of those things, then she, like my uncle, clearly suffers no permanent disability.

My son, on the other hand,who has several genuine and life long health conditions ( including Autism), which are considered to be permanent disabilities, has to jump through umpteen hoops just to try and qualify for that which I routinely see others receiving for no reason other than the fact that nobody has bothered to check to see if the initial condition, which qualified them for the DSP in the first place,  is still preventing them from working years later.

So I’m all for reviewing and changing the DSP if it means that those, who once may have genuinely required those payments, but no longer do, end up being reassessed for the legitimacy of their payments.

I’m all for supporting people in genuine need and for genuine reasons, but in reality, claiming a Disability Support Payment when you do not indeed have a disabling condition, is FRAUD and it should be acknowledged as being so.

 

Are all men Pedophiles?

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This is the question posed in a 60 minute piece of propaganda documentary by JW Productions that attempts to persuade it’s viewers that an adult male’s level of increased sexual attraction toward much younger females, is an evolutionary and therefore natural process that all adult males experience.

This documentary states, that from an evolutionary perspective, it has been preferable for older males to find much younger females (teens and tweens) sexually attractive because their appearances indicate to men, that on some primal level ,that young and developing girls are at their prime breeding age.

Hence forth the older male should be excused for having lustful thoughts and feelings towards teenage girls as they are only obeying their primal instincts by doing so.

The makers of this documentary then take this particular line of rational despicably one step further by making the claim that it’s also a natural evolutionary and biological process for younger females (teens and tweens) to deliberately seek out and desire the sexual attention of older males.

As evidence of this they cite the rising levels of young girls taking naked or sexually suggestive “selfies” and sending them to boys or posting them online to garner male attention.

They then state that across globe “there is no standard definition for pedophilia because the world cannot agree on the legal definition of the age of consent. The legal age at which a heterosexual person is considered legal for sexual acts varies from nine years to twenty years.”

Due to the lack of legal agreement as to the age of consent, the presumption is them made that the age at which one is considered to be an adult, in western countries, is an arbitrary one that is based more on the needs of our economic and educational systems, than it is based on a young person’s actual levels of physical and mental maturity.

Thus, because girls mature physically faster than males of their own age, they are also presumed to mature mentally and sexually faster as well.

So fast in fact that under age girls are (supposedly) routinely seeking out and willingly engaging in sexual encounters with much older men.

Given that the film makers have already argued that the age at which one becomes viewed as an adult is an ineffective and economically arbitrary one, the sick argument then follows that, if a girl is physically developed, regardless of her biological age, she should also be considered mentally mature enough to legally have sex.

In other words, if her breasts are developing and she’s begun menstruating, then a girl should effectively be considered an adult who is fair game able to engage in sex with older men.

In a further attempt to normalize pedophilia the documentary makers repeatedly make the assertion that the sexual actions that we consider to be acts of pedophilia are instead acts of Hebophilia which is defined as the state of adults being sexually attracted to adolescent children.

In this case an adolescent is described as a child between the ages of 12 to 16 years of age.

As opposed to pedophilia which is defined as an attraction to pre-pubescent children (12 years or younger)

Hebophilia, they argue, should be seen as something that is perfectly normal as it serves an evolutionary purpose and therefore should be accepted and if not legalized, then understood by society to be a lesser crime than that of pedophilia.

In order to further bolster this claim they then introduce the few cases of hebophilia around the world that have involved older women, usually teachers, engaging in consensual sexual acts with teenage males.

As if this fact somehow creates a level of predatory equality.

At no point within this documentary do they make the point that the vast majority of hebophilia is committed by males and that acts of pedophilia, sexual acts committed against children under the age of 12, are exclusively committed by males.

Only once do they mention the sea of damage and devastation caused to the many victims of pedophilia who are by no means willing participants in the process of their sexual abuse.

They do their best to make it sound as if all acts of hebophilia between younger women and older males are consensual acts, when in point of fact, statistically they are not.

Only once in this documentary is the word ‘rape’ mentioned and even then it’s only as a sound bite within a broader conversation.

They also fail to address the incredibly wide age range wherein acts of hebophilia, the kind of pedophilia that they say is okay and should be made forgivable, occur.

It’s one thing to claim that a 16-year-old gave her consent to engaging in a sexual encounter with an older male but another thing entirely to try and make that same claim regarding a 13-year-old child.

On the whole I’d have to say that this documentary sickened me to my very core and left me even more concerned for a world that could produce a documentary that seeks to promote and defend pedophilia / hebophilia in such way.

As much as I despised the messages contained within this documentary I think it’s worth making others aware of the kind of illogical bias and propaganda that those who are willing to defend pedophilia are spouting.

Free Community Library – Made by book lovers for book lovers

Books to read

Over the years, like many small towns,  the vacant spaces in our local shopping center have grown exponentially.

Leaving great gaping holes of emptiness that serve only to remind us that this once was a thriving mall. Filled with all the things that we as consumers could possibly need and many that we didn’t too.

To address the yawning gaps of desolation confronting shoppers,  a bright spark at the mall came up with the brilliant idea of turning one of the empty spaces into a community library.

The idea is that you leave a book of your own on the community shelf  for someone else to enjoy and in return you choose a book that someone else has left behind.

There are no sign up fees, no late fees and in fact there aren’t even any requirements for you to leave your name and details at all.

It is a system of book borrowing that is run purely on trust and it’s working brilliantly.

In the space of 8 weeks the community library has grown from having four shelves filled with books  to now having run out of places to house the many books donated.

It is quite literally over flowing with well-loved and good quality books and people too.

It’s become a space in which complete strangers can suddenly find themselves discussing their favorite authors and recommending books to each other.

Many people, like me, have donated entire boxes of their favorite books to the cause.

You know, the kind of books that you’ve loved so much that no matter how many times you’ve moved house, you’ve never had the heart to sell them in a garage sale or donate them to a charity where they’ll be stuck on a shelf and perhaps never loved again.

But then the community library comes along and suddenly you find that you are ready to pass your books on  because you know that you are passing them on to a place where other book lovers are sure to find and appreciate them.

Personally, as a book lover, I find this solution to the emptying out of the mall to be a truly beautiful one and one that shows that people can and will co-operate and share unselfishly with each other without the need for any form of  ‘organizational supervision’.

Lets face it, it’s a great idea.

So if you’re living in a town with a few too many empty shop spaces around you then why not give the idea of creating a community library a go.

 

 

 

 

Why Capitalism and Care – Like oil and water should never mix.

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The idea of turning ‘care’ into a commodity that can be bought and sold instead of acknowledged as a virtue of the human spirit that can be given willingly, is not a new one.

We’ve long paid doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, support workers and a whole host of others who belong to the so-called ‘Caring Professions’ for years.

But what’s changed in the last few decades are the amount of people now being employed in what has come to be known as the ‘Care Industry’.

And by this I mean workers who are not required to undergo years and years of study on how to ‘care’ for others, but instead workers who are simply doing a job with the label ‘Care’ stacked in front of it.

Such as those you’d find working in homes for the elderly or providing in home ‘care’ or assistance for those who are frail, ill or disabled within their own homes.

Once upon a time these workers may simply have been called ‘Domestic Help’, ‘Home Helpers’, ‘In Home Support Workers’ or Aides.

Today these same workers are called ‘Carers’.

Yet the thing is, despite the title they’ve been given, these workers are not carers because in reality, they do not truly care either for or about the people they are assisting once their allotted work period is over.

In other words, they are just like any other worker within a capitalist society in which every action that can possibly be bought and sold as labor is bought and sold, no matter the job description placed in front of it.

So once they are off the clock, just like any other worker, their job is done.

This means, in this case, that their allotted time for ‘caring’ is also done.

So employed ‘Carers’, in this sense, can be seen as merely workers who are performing a job and being paid for their time. Just like everyone else in the working world.

But people tend to forget this fact as soon as the term ‘carer’ is included within the job title.

Employed ‘Carers’ are often treated by others as if they are some kind of Florence Nightingale and the reason for this is quite simply to be found in the use of the term ‘carer’.

The word ‘Carer’ conjures up images of nurturing and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.

Its use implies therefore that these workers not only do the practical things that are required but that they also actually care about the people they are working for in a way that means they are putting themselves out and going above and beyond the call of duty to help others.

Yet the truth is, if they weren’t being paid, they wouldn’t attend their work.

In other words, if they weren’t being paid to ‘care’ (i.e. do their jobs), then they wouldn’t ‘care’ (do their jobs).

So, in this instance the word ‘care’ is being used as euphemism for paid work assisting others.

Now where is the genuine care in that?

In fact where is the ‘care’ to be found within any of the so-called ‘care industries’?

Where’s the honest and genuine dedication toward making another’s life better or easier gone too?

These days, if you can’t pay for ‘care’, then you don’t get any ‘care’.

Unless of course that ‘care’ is being provided free of charge by a loving family member who genuinely wants the best for the relative they are caring for.

To my mind families are the real ‘carers’.

They don’t get paid and they never clock off.

They are the ones who share smiles and shed tears with their loved ones.

They live each and every trial of their loved ones life right alongside them.

They are never off call.

And yet, family members who willingly and lovingly assume the role of carers are routinely treated as if the time and energy they spend in ‘caring’ for a loved one is, in capitalist terms, worthless, for it has no immediate monetary value attached to it.

Familial carers do not get paid, not in the way that ‘employed carers’ do. If they are lucky they may receive some small stipend from the government, which is more often than not viewed by others as an unearned welfare payment, and yet these familial carers are the only ones who are ‘carers’ in the true sense of the word.

These true Carers find themselves caught up within a capitalistic system that devalues any work performed without monetary payment, whilst at the same time sets about promoting and deriving profits from the pseudo ‘care industry’ they’ve created.

One that has nothing what so ever to do with actually, genuinely caring for the wellbeing of others, and everything to do with caring only about their profit margins bottom line.

This isn’t ‘care’, it’s a capitalist industry that’s been artfully created by misappropriating a once genuine concept and turning it into yet another commodity to be bought and sold.

Searching for Great Documentaries

Art work by Elena Vizeskya

Art work by Elena Vizeskya

Like many with Asperger’s I can experience  incredible bouts of  passion for  particular interests.

Right now I’m going through yet another of my ‘must watch documentaries phases’.

Although this time, given that I’ve gone through so many of these phases before, I’m finding it a great deal  harder to discover ones that I haven’t already watched before.

Which, given that I’ll watch a documentary on just about any topic, providing that it’s well done, I’m finding this dilemma to be a particularly  frustrating one.

So far I’ve re-watched ‘ Half the Sky’, ‘Killing Us Softly’, ‘Terms and Conditions May Apply’, “Utopia’, ‘Capitalism a Love Story’, ‘First Position’  and ‘Freakonomics’  just to name a few.

But of course to me, re-watching a documentary never provides me with the same joy as viewing one for the first time.

I’m not sure if this is the same for everyone but either way I’d love (ok need)  to find more amazing, thought-provoking, inspiring and challenging ones to watch.

So if there are any fellow doco lovers out there, then please feel free to make a few recommendations for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Could starting up and running a Facebook Page be for you? Some of the benefits and pitfalls that you may need to be aware of.

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A few weeks ago I started a Facebook page and I must say that the entire process of doing so was an incredibly easy one.

At every stage along the way there where prompts reminding me of what needed to be done and even suggestions as to how to do them more easily.

Yet, whilst the mechanics of if have been remarkably easy, by far and away, the hardest part of starting up a Facebook page has been finding the right ways to express what it is exactly,  you want  your  page to achieve.

In my case, I wanted to create a page that focused on the female experience of living with Asperger’s Syndrome / High Functioning Autism.

Which in itself sounds fairly straight forward but in actual fact  has proven to be far more difficult than I had at first thought.

So simply having an idea, whether it be specific or not,  as to what you’d like your page to be about, still leaves you only half way there and this is because,  even though you may have a clear concept of what it is you’d like to discuss, share or achieve on your page, others may have very different ideas as to how they perceive or wish to interact with your page.

For instance, even though my page is dedicated to primarily expressing and exploring the experiences of women with Asperger’s, it has been joined by several people who are  either the parents of daughters with Asperger’s Syndrome or the partners of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.

This is fine by me and for the most part I applaud parents for being open enough to listen too and learn from,  where relevant, the experiences of women who have been in their children’s shoes, but, there are times when either I myself, or someone else, will share a post or a comment, that whilst not designed to hurt the feelings of non-Asperger’s women or parents, never the less, becomes perceived as doing so.

In such cases, the negative comments made by those who feel slighted, often effectively shuts down  any and all further discussion surrounding whatever the topic of the post may have been.

This remains an issue that I am unsure how to confront, as even those people who run Facebook pages that have taken the time to make it very clear that they are designed first and foremost for a specific purpose, still find themselves  in the predicament of having to try and clear up other people’s misconceptions of their comments or posts.

It seems that no matter what you do you can never please everyone, yet I’m  still far from convinced that this fact alone means that one should settle for the potential of offending everyone either.

fblikeAnother issue that has  become somewhat of a quandary to me is the way in which “likes” for particular posts are being both attributed and distributed by Facebook.

For instance, running a much smaller page on Facebook I’ve found that often the bigger pages will pick up on one of my posts and “share” it on their own pages.

Now I don’t mind this happening at all, after all the aim is to spread awareness, and when it first began happening I thought it was a good thing as it was providing my page with exposure.

However this turns out to be less the case because in the process  of the bigger pages doing so, the “likes” for whatever post they’ve chosen to “share”  end up becoming  attributed to their page’s alone.

This means that although it’s may be my post, from my page, that people may be “liking”, the  fact that it is being distributed on a larger page means that those “likes” never make it back to or become attributed to, my page.

Normally this wouldn’t be so much of a problem, however, the way  in which Facebook chooses to promote  ‘not for profit pages’ makes it so, as the capacity of any such page to reach new members , depends entirely upon the amount of “likes” it receives.

The more “likes” a page receives, the bigger the page becomes and the size of the page decides how high up on the list of recommended pages, it will appear on Facebook.

The higher up the list a page appears, the more likely it is that it will continue to attract new members and therefore grow.

So, under this system, if  bigger pages continue to be the sole beneficiaries  of the  “likes” they receive  for “sharing” smaller pages posts, then effectively the  bigger pages will continue to boom and the smaller pages will continue to remain just that, small.

This to me sets up a kind of dog eat dog system of promotion, which is something to bear in mind and be prepared for, if you are thinking of starting up a Facebook Page.

So although Facebook makes it incredibly easy to start your own Facebook Page, these are  just  some of the issues associated with starting up and running a Facebook page that you need to be aware of.

In the end, whether or not you choose to start-up a Facebook page, may well all come down to a matter of deciding what it is you want to achieve and whether or not that goal can best be achieved via Facebook.