life on the "j" train

Taking a "busy working mom with 2 special needs kids" life one moment at a time

On Confederate Flags/Monuments – *Please Read* – Even If You Don’t Think You Will Agree May 24, 2017

Thanks to Mayor Mitch Landrieu from New Orleans, 4 confederate era monuments (statues) have been removed from government buildings in the city.

This was not an easy thing for him to achieve.  It’s been controversial.  Some people were (and are still) angry and they fought with everything they had to leave the monuments where they stood – Prominently looking out over the city.  In front of buildings that are meant to serve ALL the citizens of the city.  These people, the ones who are mad about the statues being removed, hold on tight to their confederate identity.  They wear shirts and get tattoos and they proudly display flags in their front yards.  They will tell you that it’s not “Slavery Days Pride” but is instead “I’m From The South Pride.”

With regards to the monuments, people will say that it’s just history and you can’t change what happened and we should not forget and by removing them you are trying to rewrite history.  I say, that confederate soldier monuments are not there to teach the full history.   They are not there to commemorate the horrible things done by those men.  Just as there is no statue of Hitler in front of The Reichstag to “remember the gas chambers”.  The statues of the confederate soldiers were there to honor and celebrate what those men stood for.  What they fought for.  And what they fought for, was for life to stay the way it was at the time.  They did not support and were not fighting for the freedom or rights of everyone.  Mayor L put it this way, “…these men did not fight for the United States of America. They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.”

I live in an area where we see confederate flags on a regular basis.  There are a few houses on the block where Jay attends school displaying confederate paraphernalia.  I don’t have the ingrained history that black Americans have … And yet, even to me, it never feels good to see those flags.  I have told Shaunie that if our boys were ever invited to a friends house and we pulled up and saw a confederate flag flying outside we would turn around and go home.  I would have to explain to the family why we were unable to attend their get together.

 

Anyway, back to Mayor Landrieu … Earlier this month, he gave a speech on why he worked so hard to get the monuments removed and I don’t know if he could have done a better job of explaining why it was necessary.  I have linked to the entire speech below but I have also pulled out a few lines that struck a chord with me.  I hope you will take a moment to read.  And as the mayor said, as a white person hemust have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought. So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race.”  So too, if you had never thought before of what the flags and/or monuments mean to black people, that’s just a result of your journey – but if after reading (or listening to) his speech you can’t see how these monuments are hurtful and your mind is unchanged then I guess there’s nothing else I can say.

 

From here on out, all the words are those of Mayor Landrieu.  The highlights are mine.

 

 

New Orleans was America’s largest slave market, a port where HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of souls were bought, sold, and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor, of misery, of rape, of torture. America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined “separate but equal”; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp When people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well, what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

 

And it immediately begs the questions, why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans. So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REMEMBRANCE OF HISTORY AND REVERENCE OF IT. 

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

 

A friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past.

The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans—or anyone else—to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.

While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts; not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations.

Because we are one nation, NOT TWO; indivisible with liberty and justice FOR ALL, NOT SOME. We all are part of ONE nation, all pledging allegiance to ONE flag, the flag of the United States of America.

Instead of revering a four-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy, we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans, and set the tone for the next 300 years.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery.  This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered. 

 

Full Speech Here >

 

Thoughts On Parenting May 23, 2017

While we were in Jamaica, we had the opportunity to visit a home for teenage girls.  These young women all have sad stories.  Many have been abused.  Due to inconsistent schooling, it’s not uncommon for girls to go there who are 11, 13, 15 years old , but functioning academically on a 2nd grade level.  None of it is ok.  Fortunately, at the home they are being well taken care of and many have made amazing progress, both academically and socially.  My Aunt has been volunteering at this home for a long time and as such we wanted to bring some goodies for “her girls”.

One of the things she told us was that one girl who she has taken a particular interest in was having a hard time lately because she didn’t understand why her mother didn’t even come to visit her, as is allowed.  She was so disgusted with her mother that she didn’t want to use her last name anymore.  My heart broke for her.

As someone who was raised by her Grandparents I have a small understanding of what this young girl is feeling.  I had a great life.  I’ve said it at least 100 times that I could not have asked for a better childhood.  There was nothing more my Grandma and Grandad could have done.  Yet, there was still, that part of me that wished if I was being raised by my parents and not my Grands.

 

I used to make excuses for other people’s crap parenting, but once I had my own children, I was no longer able to do so.  I couldn’t look my baby in the face and rationalize a way out of his life.

I have no interest in anyone who puts a spouse above their child.  No acceptance or understanding for  parents who treat one child with TLC and another child with disdain.  Don’t even get me started on anyone who stays in an abusive relationship that their child then has to witness or  worse, get drawn into.  There’s no tolerance for anyone who sees their child hurting or in need of help and stands idly by.  I don’t get, on any level,  parents who do not want to play an active role in their childrens lives and by extension their grandchildrens lives.

I’ve heard all the “reasons” why someone might not be the kind of parent they should be.

They’re too busy.

They don’t know better because they themselves had a bad parent.

The child stopped reaching out or the child did something to anger the parent.

They are doing the best they c an and loving the best way they can.

One kid needs them more than another.

There may be some truth to some of those – But they still don’t carry much weight with me.

 

The minute you made that baby, you had one job.  One.  To love and be there for your child no matter what and in whatever way is necessary.

It doesn’t matter what your expectations were or what your financial situation is or how big your childs support system outside of you is.

In addition, the moment you chose to marry someone who had children you made the decision to swallow your pride and treat their child as your own and do whatever it takes to love and support that child.

 

Being a stand up parent isn’t glamorous.  It’s not about the days when you dress up and take professional family pictures.  It isn’t about the funny things you get to post on Facebook.  It isn’t showing up on graduation day when you haven’t shown up to one parent teacher meeting.  It isn’t buying Christmas presents or spending big for a fancy new drone.   It’s about the throw up you cleaned and the nights you didn’t sleep and the days when you were too tired to say yes but said yes anyway.  It’s about making sure that any new person you introduce into your childs life is going to love them and be a positive influence.  It’s about calling just to say hi and to see how their first day on the new job went.  It’s about making them feel like they always have a home where you are.  As they get older, it’s about including them in what’s happening in your life – good or bad.  It’s about being a shoulder and a cheerleader and a relentless truth teller when they are about to make a bad decision; even if you have made the same speech too many times before.

It’s about showing up in all ways.  I know Websters disagrees but “Parenting“, much like “love”, is a verb.  An action word.

 

My boys are not always happy with us.  Sometimes we’re the bad guys.  That’s ok.  We’re here and involved and active and we go on field trips and we plan trips to amusement parks and we make study guides and we  enforce rules and we get angry and we get silly and we make fart jokes and we do last minute school projects and we buy books at fairs and we practice bike riding and we suffer through movies we don’t like and we hang bad art on our office walls.  We give medicine and we talk puberty and we listen to endless stories about Nexo Knights and we make birthday hats for stuffed toys.  We get annoyed about lost items but we buy new ones.  Even though we already know the way and it takes them too long to find it, we allow them the space and time to read the electronic monitor at the airport so they can figure out which gate our airplane is leaving from.  We celebrate every milestone and achievement and good report card.

 

I’m sure the parents of the girls in the home have their own sad stories.  I am sorry about that.  I assume in many ways where the girls are now is the best place for them – just as my Grandparents were for me – But that doesn’t make it any less unfortunate for them.

As inconvenient and aggravating as parenting can be, there is no way to describe the rewards of seeing – up close – your child grow and learn and struggle and overcome and slip and succeed and cry and find their way.

The young girls at the home are understandably feeling pain over their situation, and they can’t see it now, but from where I sit today, it’s their parents who are losing out.

 

Vacation In Statuses May 22, 2017

I tried writing a post about our family vacation.  It sucked.

Not the vacation.  That didn’t suck.  That was awesome.  The post sucked because it didn’t really do a good job of showing the fun we had and how nice it was to spend time with our Jamaican family.

 

While we were away I never updated my Facebook status.  Partly because there were a lot of times that I was without wifi access and partly because I was enjoying my down time and I just wasn’t that interested in updating my profile.

 

Anyway, my new approach to writing about our trip is to take what could have easily been quick statuses and putting them here.

 

I love waking up in Jamaica.  I love the sounds and the smells.  I love sitting out on the verandah (porch) and having people say good morning as they walk by on the street.  I love looking out at the mountains in the distance and the mango trees in the yard as I sip my coffee.

 

Another morning and another pleasant start to my day.  Mr Foody came by with his cart full of produce.  I thought the kids would be taken with the man selling fruits and veggies gate to gate and with the man chopping open coconuts to pour out the water and then us scooping out the jelly to eat but no … they were taken with the lizards crawling around on the ground and in the cart.  I did love to see them outside barefooted though.

 

Had a great day in May Pen.  Spent a couple of hours at the pool.  (I love seeing my boys and Shaunie enjoy a place where I grew up and have spent hundreds of hours having fun).  Got to see Uncle C who was as funny and welcoming as ever.  I love listening to his stories.  Also got to see my girl Cissy and my 15 year old uncle who is now taller than I am.  Ate some road side food and even managed to get a punctured tire.  All part of the fun I guess.

*Yeah, I have an actual uncle who is barely older than my kids.  Our family is interesting*

 

Special Needs traveling tip – When on vacation, keep some things normal for your little one.  We still did pizza Friday and maintained their normal bed time schedule.  We gave as much advanced notice about the days plan as possible and scheduled down time.  An overstimulated kid does not make for a pleasant companion.

 

Convo and laughs and food and drinks with people you have known since you were 11 years old is always a good time.

 

BEACH DAY!!!

 

Went out on Saturday night – Got home at 5:30 am – Showered and got dressed for 6:30 am Church.  Yup.  Sure did.  I’d do anything for my Aunty and us all going to Church is #1 on her list of things she likes us to do when we’re together.

 

People know Kingston and Ocho Rios, but have you ever heard of a place named Swamp District?  Don’t let the name fool you.  It’s pretty cool.  Best part of being there as far as Jay was concerned?  Seeing a cow poop.  Smh!  He also, got to pet a chicken and I introduced the kids to “Touch Me Not”.  It’s a grass like thing that closes up when you touch it.  I love country life.  P.s.  Shaunies family is quite large and they were all super warm to us and we ended up staying longer than we had initially planned because we were enjoying their company.  We even got freshly squeezed sour sop juice.

 

Hello North Coast! (aka, Touristy part of the island).  Left the sun block back in Kingston so don’t be too rough on our American skin ok?

 

I have water babies.  There’s no denying it.  From wake up time to bed time, this is what they did.  Play in the pool and then go to the beach and then back to the pool.

 

According to Ace, he loves Jamaica because it’s all pool and beach and free food and people cleaning up after you.  He doesn’t understand that if he lived there he’d have to go to school and he’d have chores and he wouldn’t live in an all-inclusive resort.

 

OMG, the time goes by too fast.  There are people I didn’t get to see or didn’t get to spend enough time with.  There are places I didn’t make it to and food I didn’t get to eat.  Breadfruit and an icy bag juice come to mind.  I did get cane and jerk and peanut porridge and ackee and cherries and (Jamaican) apples picked right off the tree and Devon House Ice-Cream and fish on the beach and festival and bammy.  Even got oxtail tacos and curry goat egg rolls.

 

I tried really hard to stay away from American news while I was on vacation, but just about everyone I spoke to wanted to know what the heck is up with my President.  Wish I knew.

 

We all got tanned pretty well.  I’m sure the peeling will start soon.  That means I can’t wear any make up for a while.  For one, I don’t have any that matches the colour I now am.  For two, make up on peeling skin just looks gross.

 

Down to the wire – Ate my last mango in the airport – After we checked in – Before we went through security.

 

When I think about the trip, one of my favourite memories, hands down, will be that of seeing my nearly 90 year old Aunt help Ace with his math homework.  He took no time at all figuring out that she was the best person to direct his questions to.  She’s a former math teacher and high school principal.  I love her lots and I love that she was able to spend some quality time with my 2 young men.  I want them to have good memories of her.

 

Jay left his glasses.  We wouldn’t be us if someone hadn’t left something.

 

I don’t know when we’ll be back in Jamaica.  Every time I go I say I won’t let so much time go by before the next trip, but …. Life.

Before this visit, it had been 2 years since we were on the island but 4 since we got to spend quality time with my Aunty.

 

Wouldn’tcha know it, with all the pictures we took, and there were a lot, the best one we got of all 4 of us together can’t be shared with anyone.  It was taken on the beach.  The sun is shining.  The sky and the water are all shades of blue.  There are palm trees on a small island in the background.  The scenery is gorgeous.   We’re all smiling and happy.  Alas, Shaunie and I are in bathing suits and neither one of us are comfortable having bathing suit pictures posted online.

 

Until next time Jamaica – You will always be #1 in my heart.

 

When The Kids Are Away April 25, 2017

Miss me?  I’d love to say I’ve been quiet because the kids were away and when the kids are away we party.  Hard!  I want to say there was no time to blog because we were having too much fun.  The truth is that, things are kinda regular and quiet when they are away.  Nobody wants to hear about (and I don’t want to write about) us going to work, coming home and eating dinner and going to bed.

 

We tried to live it up a little bit.

On Monday, we went for donuts after dinner.  Yup.  We did.  We even took pictures to mark the grand event.  Donuts on a weekday – Even though it would be dark soon.  Boom!

On Tuesday we went to a local brewery and tasted several beers.  We are not beer drinkers.  And we learned we are definitely not stout drinkers.  We did learn about hoppiness and roastiness and that beer can smell like chocolate; so there’s that.

On Wednesday we really went all out.  We … wait for it … Went to work, came home, had dinner and went to bed.

On Thursday we planned to go to a movie but didn’t make it.  Instead we had Chick Fil A and walked around in Sears.  I got a winter jacket for only $5 and we bought 2 pairs of kids pants for $0.86.

 

We made and followed through with the biggest plan on Friday.  We met up with a couple of friends and did a sip and paint.  I always love an opportunity to spend time with friends and to laugh.  And if alcohol is involved that’s ok too 🙂

 

Our boys are back now and note-worthy things are already happening.

Jay ate lasagna – and liked it.

Ace had chicken soup – and liked it.

Both those things are major.

 

We made a vacation plan which I am really looking forward to.  Ace is busy readying his mind for middle school.  He’s concerned about being the “3rd smallest 6th grader” and is wondering when he’ll have a growth spurt.  He’s also thinking about which clubs he is interested in.  So far, the track team is still on the table but the step team is a heck no.  The Lego club is an oh heck yes!  Jay is lobbying for a pair of prescription sunglasses and learning how to confront social challenges head on.

Here’s a little more info on that … Apparently he thought he was unfairly treated by a staff member at his school so he was mad and decided he was not going to speak to that person ever again.  We had a conversation about that not being the best way to handle the situation.  I told him that maybe there was mis-communication and that if he spoke to the staff member and explained how he felt, the 2 of them would be able to talk it out and come to an understanding.  That was hard for him to accept.  With some prodding though, he (VERY reluctantly) told her how he felt and they were able to fix their issues.  So big!!!

 

So there you have it.  We’re doing alright.  It’s been raining for several days which is yuck and this will be a busy week with work stuff and school meetings and such.  I squeezed in a knitting class which meant I didn’t get home until 8:30 but it’s all good.  I feel pretty confident in my abilities to make a blanket now.

 

I’m keeping up with current events and a lot of it makes me mad and/or sad and/or angry.  I’m anticipating the release of Hulu’s The Handmaids Tale since I need a new series to watch.  We’re putting summer camp things in place which includes a 3 night sleep away camp which will be a first for both boys.  Don’t ask me how I feel about it.  *Hint* – I’m nervous.  I’m plotting on the dinner that’s currently cooking in our crock pot all while dreaming of a day when just thinking about eating right and exercising will produce the results I want.

 

 

Telling Our Stories April 18, 2017

 

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott

 

 

I remember the very first time I ever read the above quote.  Even though the book was written in 1994, I hadn’t heard of it till 2012.  I had just written a blog post in which I said some things that I wondered if I should have.  I had hit “publish” and then spent the next few days thinking about various people who may see it and wondering if it was my place to say some of the things I had said.  I deleted one line of that post.  Then I came across Anne Lamotts quote and I thought, “damn right” so I went back and re-wrote the line.  It was the truth.  The person had done what I said they had done and it had affected me.  Why should I protect them?

 

I recently had a conversation with someone, I’ll call him Keith, who was struggling to understand why he was receiving the treatment he was receiving from someone else.  I knew why – and I share that persons views.  Not the views towards Keith directly but, I share the views.  I’ll leave it at that.

If I were to enlighten Keith, as he wanted me to, it would mean shedding light on some unsavory things about someone he loves very much.

It is a tough position to be in.

 

I have said some unflattering things but I don’t think I have ever said anything defamatory about anyone on my blog.  I have been honest about the relationships in my life.  With my father there is none at all.  Has been none for 10 years.  Before there was none, it was strained.  With my mother, at this moment, it is luke warm. With my grandfather it was awesome except for the times it most definitely was not.  With one sister it is good, with another it has soured to the point of being non-existent and with yet 2 more sisters, we were doomed to be strangers from pretty early on.

In a lot of ways, my family life as you can see, is not the best.

 

I love to write about our lives.  It’s medicinal almost (to me) and I think it will be a gift to my boys when they are older.  I put a lot out onto the internet.  Even so, there is so much that I keep close to my chest.  Sometimes it hurts and I feel like if I were able to just say it, I’d feel better.  But would I really?  The only thing that would heal much of what hurts me is a change in the other persons behavior and one thing I have learned is that you cannot make people be who you want them to be.

Also, are any of us completely innocent of causing pain to someone else?  Have we always done what we were supposed to do for the people we say we love?  Would we want all the people whose hearts we have broken or who we’ve gossiped about or who we ignored in a time of need to come out of the woodworks and share with the world all the ways in which we could have been better?  I don’t.

 

On one hand I whole heartedly agree with Anne.  (And if someone else wants to write their story and include all the ways in which I failed them then I would deserve it.)  On the other hand, I don’t want to be a jerk.  I try really hard to balance telling my stories – because I do think I am entitled to them – with being as respectful as I can with other peoples stories – because those are not mine to tell.

 

Also, as I have come to realize, on more than one front, keeping some truths hidden isn’t about protecting the “wrongdoer”, it’s about protecting the innocent who love them – even if it is a difficult pill to swallow or the hidden facts make other people get credit they do not deserve.

 

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry April 17, 2017

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Family,Life on the Jay train,Marriage,Special Needs Kids — the jay train @ 9:33 am
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We had such a great day on Saturday.  Ace and I went for a beautiful bike ride on a path that runs along our local river while Jay continued to practice his 2 wheel bicycle riding skills.  The four of us hung out at the rivers edge and watched as people fished.  The fish were biting that day.  We sat outside and had lunch at a lovely Italian restaurant.  The weather was simply perfect.  Back at home, the kids hung out and played with electronics while the adults took a nap.  As I told a lady I met on the bike path, it’s a lot easier to ride uphill when you are 10 years old.  Following naps we got some dinner and then went for ice-cream and Italian ices.  It was just a very nice, well-rounded, happy day.

Piggy backing on Saturdays good vibes we were so full of optimism that we decided that on the following day, after Easter service at Church and egg hunt, we would take some family pictures before going home to open Easter baskets.  We made sure to let the kids in on the plan. They were both down for the cause.

 

On Sunday we all got dressed up nice and fancy.  Church was great!  The kids did an amazing job.  Immediately after the service there was an egg hunt and literally ONE minute into the hunt, Jay bumped his head on a sign and it was all downhill from there.

 

 

He was in a sour mood and nothing we said could fix it.  There would be no family pictures.

Ace, bless his heart, really tried to salvage the day and said “I’ll still take pictures with you guys if you want.”  We did.  We got really cute pictures of Ace by himself, in all his bow tie glory.  We got pictures of him and I as well as him and Shaunie.  Then a stranger got one of the 3 of us.

All this while Jay sat in the car sulking.

 

Once we were done taking pictures we went home where Ace opened his Easter basket and was thrilled with his goodies.  Mini transformer toys, a couple of comic books and of course candy.

Jay went to his bed and his basket is still sitting on our living room floor.

 

As was planned, CC and Emma came to pick the kids up in the afternoon since they are on spring break this week.  They will spend the entire week in New Jersey.  This is a good thing because it’s important that they spend time with their dad and his family.  They will get to see Nanas.  It’s also important that Shaunie and I get a little break.

I was really disappointed with the direction the day took – But these things happen.

The good news is that when I checked in with CC, he confirmed that Jays mood had improved and Ace was his typical happy self.

Shaunie and I watched a comedy and then went out to dinner at a place that doesn’t serve chicken nuggets and waffle fries.

Waitress:  Would you like a 5 oz or an 8 oz glass of sangria?

Me:  The big one.  Give me the big one.  Thanks!

 

Jays Easter basket will be here when he gets back, still stocked with all his favourite things and we can always try again for the pictures on another day.  Our little town has lots of picturesque places and now that the leaves are back on the trees, it’s even more beautiful.

 

At the end of the day I am glad we had Saturday and I am glad that everyone has cheered up and I did love all the greetings shared among family and friends from all over the world.  I got new pictures of my niece who is the cutest niece that there ever was.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter and that all your plans played out just the way you hoped.

 

High and Low – Ugh! April 12, 2017

The thing I didn’t say in my last post that I wanted to address but didn’t because it didn’t really fit in with the post even though it was inspired by the book plus the post was getting long anyway is this …

 

People love to put autistic people into categories.  Specifically, high or low functioning.  It’s a totally irresponsible thing to do.  It serves no purpose.  And most importantly, I think, is that it denies people their full human-ness.

In the book I reviewed yesterday, Christopher took advanced (*A level maths) at the age of 15 and Aced the test.  He was most surely headed for college to study math and science.  He had a remarkable memory and was able to understand the concept of money and chores and taking care of a pet.  He was verbal.  His parents were comfortable leaving him home alone and he wrote a novel.  He was able to develop relationships with people.  Sounds pretty high functioning to me.

Christopher also could not see past one lie his father had told him and recognize that that did not make his father a bad or dangerous person.  There was no reasoning with Christopher.  He wet himself sometimes for various reasons.  He had a crippling dislike for certain colours and he did not react appropriately to strangers who tried to speak to him or who touched him.  He went to a special needs school.  He did not have any friends and his sensory challenges restricted his life in a major way.  He was prone to wandering off.  Sounds kinda low functioning to me.

 

Jay is not a star student.  But he’s a really great artist.  He doesn’t have any sensory issues which is an astounding thing to say about an autistic person.  He’s flexible with his schedule and he enjoys going on vacation to new places.  He doesn’t understand money AT ALL – so far.  He does not respect other people’s time so there’s no use in trying to rush him.  He is not self-conscious but wants to be a part of whatever activity other kids are involved in.   He’s a sore loser.  He is in a general education class in a general education school with no aide and there are no concerns about him wandering off or engaging in self injurious behaviours.  He has friends.  He cannot ride a bike, swing himself or tie his shoe laces.  He is verbal and reads for fun and appears to understand stories but scores poorly on reading comprehension tests.  He can make his own grilled cheese sandwiches.

Is Jay high or low functioning?  The answer is … Yes.

 

The truth is that it’s not a fair question.  It’s too arbitrary and does a dis-service to everyone.

We would never use that kind of binary qualification to identity non-autistic people.  We wouldn’t say that a brain surgeon is high functioning but a plumber is low functioning.  Is an illiterate farmer high functioning but someone who writes computer codes low functioning, because, we all need to eat?  Stevie Wonder can’t drive, but he’s functioning at a higher musical level than anyone I know in real life.  Everyone has a different skill set or ability.  All are valid and necessary.

Someone who is non-verbal could very well have a brilliant academic mind.  Yet, they might spend their entire life with people calling them low functioning or assuming they are stupid.  How frustrating would that be?  How belittling and condescending.

Someone else who has no outward signs of a disability and who is able to function well in a controlled environment – who could “pass” as high functioning – may have no sense of danger and might frequently put themselves in situations they shouldn’t and therefore cannot be left unattended – ever.

 

I think we need to get rid of the terms high or low functioning.  I have friends who function at a much higher level than I do in a kitchen or in a garden or on a dance floor while I outshine them in a swimming pool or with an excel spreadsheet or with a sewing machine.

 

I know it’s an uphill battle trying to change peoples thinking.  I don’t know how to do it other than spreading the word.  Instead of taking one part of who someone is or what they can demonstrate and barricading them into a box, we need to look for peoples strengths (everyone has them) and nurture those and then we should also look for their challenges (everyone has them) and assist them with those.

 

 

 

I realize this is not a new concept; I just felt compelled to talk about it today.   Plus, I get to use some memes which said in less than 30 words combined, what I spent 1000 words saying.

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*A Levels are exams taken after graduating high school but before attending college in the United Kingdom and former British colonies.  It requires studying a subject over a 2 year period and sitting an exam at the end of each year.  Most students only study 3 or 4 subjects due to the intense nature of the work.  Most students are between the ages of 16 and 18 when they sit A levels.