Archive for the ‘school’ Tag

Is the changing definition of autism

Friday, November 11th, 2016

narrowing what we think of as ‘normal’?


I first learned about autism in 1997 in my high school psychology course. It was relegated to a small paragraph in a chapter on childhood disorders. The film Rainman had come out a decade earlier, publicizing the condition to a degree. But autism still wasn’t well-known – or well-understood, at the time.

That certainly isn’t the case today.

Since then I have been a special educator, an autism consultant, and, most recently, an autism advocate and researcher. I explore how both culture and ethics influence autism as a concept, diagnosis and lived experience. One thing that is clear is that the way we think about autism has changed.





Student Teacher Nightmare

Saturday, October 8th, 2016

I remember when I was in 6th grade, we had a student teacher who I will call Miss Pee. Miss Pee was very petite and very thin so she could still fit into size 16 girl clothes. I was a lot taller than her. She still dressed as a woman of course than as a child. But she was not good at her job teaching. She often lost our school work and would mark it as a missing assignment and say we didn’t turn it in or didn’t do the work. I knew I did it and would tell her but she wouldn’t believe me. I would refuse to do the school work again so my mom had to pull teeth with me to do it.

With me when I have done something and worked hard on it, I don’t want to do it all over again. It’s the same with posts online, if I make a post and then I lose it due to some Capcha thing or because the computer froze or the browser crashed, I don’t want to write the whole thing over again so I go “forget about it.” Luckily my post is still there now if I click the back button or if the server crashes or I accidentally click out of the browser, the post is still there when I open it again because it starts on the webpage where I left off when I closed it. Thank god for the Chrome updates.

So anyway I hated doing the school work again and even my mother noticed I was doing the same school work again because she always helped me with my homework. I was having meltdowns and would say things like “I’m gonna kill her” and “I wish I could throw her off a cliff.” I was so mad about it and mad at her because she was making me do the same school work again and again.

Other kids were having the same problem as me. They were also frustrated but they didn’t act the way I did about it. Instead they had no respect for her so they would goof off in their seats and talk and whisper and throw things and get out of their seats while she would be teaching and this was during Math. Miss Pee would be too busy looking on her overhead while talking and explaining how to do the problems and kids would be playing in their seats. They had no respect for her. I don’t blame them. But I knew if I join in the fun, I would get more flak about it from the teacher and the staff because I’m Beth and I had a different set of rules than the other kids. So it didn’t matter how I expressed myself. Doing it the “normal” way would still get me into trouble so doing it the other way was less trouble for me and instead all it did was the school counselor would pull me out of class and take me to a room where the staff do their meetings and where teachers ate their lunch and have me read a news article in the newspaper about a kid getting suspended for talking about bringing a gun to school or talking about wanting to hurt someone or kill someone.

I wasn’t allowed to be “normal.” My mother noticed too because she watched the six hour video of me and the staff saw it too and didn’t give a darn about the other kids. They only wanted to focus on me and my mom understood the bullshit I was going through and why I told her I had a different set of rules from other kids and I had Beth rules and other kids had different rules than me and that all the Beths got picked on in the world and I got picked on because my name was Beth.

Luckily we had a copier machine at home because my dad’s office was in our home and he used it for his work. So we started to make copies of my school assignments and we also would type my school work on my computer so that way if she loses it again, we could print it off again and hand it in and also go to the filing cabinet and pull out my school work and make another copy of it and hand it in again. That solved the problem and my meltdowns and the anxiety. But the other kids still had to suffer because we still lived in the days where not everyone had a computer and more people were just starting to get their first one and many people didn’t have a copier. They were so big then. My dad was an appraiser so we had a copier machine and computers. My mom wouldn’t even let my youngest brother put for his school assignment that we had five computers. She didn’t want his teacher to think we were all crazy. We had that many because my dad had upgraded and we still had the old ones from the early 90’s and our old DOS computer that was family use and they had just gotten a new computer then a year ago for family use.

I think what frustrated me the most about this was the fact she would lose our school work and not tell us but instead put the blame on us saying she didn’t get the homework and mark it as missing. It was the dishonesty that always got me upset instead of her going “I’m sorry Beth, I lose your math work again so I am going to need you to redo it again” and going “Class, I have missing assignments here and I lost some of your school work again so you are going to have to check for missing assignments to see if yours are on there.”

IMO a teacher should be more organized so they should make a special spot to keep their student’s work and if they can’t do that, they are not a very good teacher. Once in a while is fine if they lose the homework because everyone makes mistakes but making the same ones over and over and over isn’t okay and it just means they either need to get more organized or find a different career. I would complain to the school principal about this teacher if my kids had to go though this. Also I would make a contract and have the teacher sign it and give them a copy saying they got the school work and I keep a copy for my kid, an idea I got on Reddit. Or just have my kids do their school work and save it to google document and print it from my dad’s computer and keep it saved there. Or just email it to the teacher and it would be copy and paste so that way they have a copy of it. This is an example of a incompetent teacher.

My son might not need an IEP

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

If he keeps this up, he might not need one by next year.

My son has been enjoying school. He loves it. I have gotten no complaints from the teacher, he has been doing his school work and he’s told me he has been playing with other kids at recess. Today they played camping. Yesterday they played Zombie. I am so proud of him. I guess the doctor was right that he was just immature and he has made a big stride this past summer. That makes me think he doesn’t have ADHD. He has been doing better with taking care of his toys.

I shared with my mother today how good he has been doing in school due to no complaints so I think he might not need an IEP by next year. My mother of course disagreed and told me that my son told her the other day that he is too afraid to play out in the field because he might not be able to hear the bell. Instead of playing with the boys, he will stay and not play with them. I told her he could just follow the boys back to class and he would know when the bell has rung because he would see them leaving. My mom told me that is a good way of doing it but not for him because he is afraid he will be so into his game he won’t notice the bell. So I am seeing he is aware of his problem with over focusing and zoning the whole world out around him so he is too afraid of not coming inside when recess is over if the bell rings and he doesn’t hear it. My mom says he has some anxiety and she will address this with the teacher at the parent teacher thing tomorrow. I am working so I wouldn’t be able to go but my mom is going to take my husband there making it mandatory for him.

My mom also told me a funny story about this weekend. My son goes up to her and tells her “Mom won’t take me to school” and my mom goes “that is because there is no school today” and my son asks why and she tells him that the teacher isn’t there and my son asks “is she sick?” My mom goes “No, she is home and so are the other kids, none of them are in school today. It’s family day today, all the kids are having family day.” She also told him tomorrow will be family day too and all the kids will be home having family day. I told my mom I did tell him it was Saturday and you don’t go on Saturday. My mom told me he doesn’t understand  and doesn’t know his days of the weeks yet. My son was even ready for school that day and he came up to my mother telling her I won’t take him to school.

He really likes school.

Something new I learned about bullying

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

I was reading a book at Barnes & Noble and it was about anxiety. It talks about anxiety disorders and I was reading the first chapter and he talks about teens and technology. He talks about bullying and he said something very interesting. He said when you are bullied often, you start to think there is something wrong with you, there is something about you that makes kids target you, you don’t see anyone else being bullied like you do, so you start to think something is wrong with you. It brings down your self esteem. He said what makes you a target for bullying is your reaction. REACTION.

Yes the bullying did make me think there was something wrong with me. I took the criticism kids thought of me and I tried to better myself. I started to study what was rude behavior and what exactly is showing off, I started to walk looking at the ground so I would stop bumping into people. I always felt bad for bumping into people because of my clumsiness so I learned to look at the ground when I walk and I will have more time to move my body when I see a kid in the way. I even started to copy “normal” behavior to be normal. I wanted to be liked, I wanted to be respected, I didn’t want to be this mean and rude girl and a show off. Kids thought I was weird so I tried to stop being weird. I didn’t accept being different anymore. I tried harder to care about others so I wouldn’t be selfish anymore and spoiled. Also the author wrote to not listen to what kids tell you about yourself and it’s just their opinion. I sure took their opinions seriously so I started to obsess about being normal and trying to be this good person. I couldn’t handle the criticism. But the truth is bullies do not care, you can never impress them. But where do you draw the line for when to listen to someone’s opinion about you and when to not listen? If we never listen to anyone, we will never better ourselves and also when does a comment count as bullying? My mom doesn’t think I was really bullied, she just thinks I was just teased and I was too sensitive and I took kids comments too personally. She says they were just mean kids but she didn’t see any of it as bullying. She says the others were just innocent and I took it too personal, too literal. That seems common in ASD kids to take it all personal so they continue seeing those kids as the same people, I sure did. I didn’t want to be around the kids that made fun of me in the third grade for how I spoke. I didn’t want to be around any kid that thought of me as a show off or selfish or spoiled or rude or crazy or weird. I had true social anxiety around those kids because I felt so self conscious about myself so I had to watch my facial expressions, my behavior, how I sat, my body language. I don’t feel that way anymore because I don’t care what people think and I don’t care about normal. Besides what is normal anyway?

I was also rejected but I didn’t know why I was rejected. My own friends would avoid me and tell me to go away. I had poor social skills.

But I think kids are bullied for many reasons, not because of how you react. Transgender kids get bullied because they do not follow the gender role  Homosexual kids get bullied because they are not following the “norm” and kids are taught that being gay is “wrong” by their religious families or because their parents find it “sick.” Autistic children are bullied because of their poor social skills and because they don’t understand jokes and of course how they react to teasing so it makes them even more of a target. I think one of the things that made me a target for bullying was my reaction to teasing, the way I talked, I was socially naive, I was pretty sensitive. Kids also thought I was stupid or retarded and I did take teasing seriously and I remember getting upset by it too. So when I got upset by it, I think that is what made me more of a target for teasing. Most kids would just ignore it and handle it better and then the kids move onto the other kid. That didn’t happen with me because I made myself the target. Children with autism make themselves the target because of the way they react to teasing so the kids do it more. Kids do like to pick on those who are different. Different can be normal kids or kids with disabilities.

So the author is right that being bullied doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

I think bullying attributes to anxiety. It can lead to PTSD, social anxiety, depression, and of course low self esteem. I think the bullying may have lead to my anxiety and the rejections and causing me to be depressed. By 6th grade I wanted to kill myself and was already talking about it because I couldn’t handle it anymore and I was sick and tired of not being able to be normal. I was so obsessed with the word normal and I didn’t accept myself. I did try to to up my low self esteem by doing work by myself and being proud of it no matter what grade I got. Even my mom getting upset with me about my grade didn’t change it because I did it all by myself without help so I felt normal and smart. C is average so why feel bad about it?


Has society created more disabilities

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

I have been reading stuff by Enrico Gnaulati. He speaks uncomfortable truths about ADHD, Bipolar, and autism spectrum disorders being over diagnosed. It’s true that school systems have changed, education has changed, work places have changed and so has getting a job. Even back in the days it seemed like more people who were mentally handicapped were employed and now today they are on social security and living in group homes or at home unemployed and less of them have jobs but yet more of them are employed than people are with autism spectrum disorders.

Enrico writes how autism diagnoses have increased over the years. In 1991, it was 1 in 500 and by 2002 it was 1 in 150 and now today it’s 1 in 68 and he has written several times already how it’s 1 in 42 boys who have autism. But he has also written that toddlers who met the criteria at two no longer fit it at age four and so on. He also wrote about how kids who are in early intervention are more likely to be mislabeled by Kindergarten. Also he has written how slow to mature kids are more likely to be diagnosed. Also he has written how kids can mimic symptoms of Bipolar or autism or ADHD when in fact the kid is going through stress factors, the kid has learned they have to act up to get attention because their parents don’t pay them any attention so if acting up is the only way to get it, they will do it, and also to have ADHD, symptoms have to happen in school and at home, not in school only. If a kid is fine at home but is having symptoms at school, then it’s the classroom that is the problem. Kids are expected to sit still for longer periods of time, recess is less given to kids, recess is taken away, some kids are more active than others, some kids have a different learning style, some are just gifted, some are just introverted.

Enrico also wrote a book called Back to Normal and it’s about when ordinary kids get diagnosed with ADHD, Bipolar, and autism spectrum disorder. You can peek inside the book and read some of it and it goes into detail about how this happens. He is not denying that these conditions exist, some kids do truly have ADHD or autism.

He also wrote somewhere that autism is more diagnosed in the states than it is in the UK because eccentric is more accepted there while in the states, people are placed into square pegs and if you are not in that box, they pathologize your personality.

I had been thinking about what if people are disabled because of society. There are people out there who have true disabilities so no matter what changes, their disability will always be there but for people like me, we are only disabled because of the way the system is. Teachers teach subjects a certain way and you are forced to do them a certain way but if you have a different learning style and it’s not taught in your style, you have a learning disability. Back in my parents’ childhood days, people with poor social skills were just weird and eccentric. Now today they are considered disabled because you now need good social skills for employment. It is no longer acceptable to be different. It used to be so easy to just get a job then but people have gotten less trusting and now you need work experience, cover letters, recommendations and that creates roadblocks for people like me so that makes me disabled. Plus they now have personality tests to screen out people and I think that is a loophole to not hire people who have social disabilities so you would have to lie and you better be good at “faking it.”

Also Enrico wrote about kids who are slow to mature, what if their slow to mature caused them an impairment in school and with their peers? Also what if your differences caused you to be singled out and bullied in school? What if your slow to mature caused you to be misunderstood by your parents so you were in trouble more? Then you graduate and then all of a sudden all your social problems disappear because you are able to find people who accept you and are not intolerant  of differences and plus adults are too busy with their lives to even bother harassing someone who is a little different just because they do not conform to social norms like fashion, interests, socializing.

But I wonder something, can one be autistic in the states but not be autistic in the UK because of different standards? What about people who move to foreign countries but do not speak their language as their primary language? It will not come natural to them so they will always need to translate and I am sure they will find social situations exhausting when talking to people and listening and they might always need an interpreter but yet that wouldn’t be an impairment or a disability?  If they took away their accommodations, they would be disabled in that country until they go back to their fluent speaking country where their language is primary.

Imagine if we took away all the ramps and elevators, then people in wheelchairs and who have problems with going up and down the stairs and who use crutches would be even more disabled. That is how I feel about people who are a bit different. In one country they might have a disability but go to another culture, they don’t have one because of their standards and their social rules that fit with their condition.

I do believe they have stretched autism. It could be because times have changed so now people who were just quirky, eccentric are now struggling so they get labeled as being autistic.

I talked to my husband yesterday saying what if our son is just normal and it’s just the school that is the problem and it doesn’t fit with his personality and what if it’s just us parents with the problem and our standards are just too high. My husband reassured me he does have ADHD and he has been with lots of kids and they don’t act that way and he knows his nephew and he acted the same as our son does. He also told me his symptoms are still there when he is still around him but he is just controlling them better but they are still there so he is trying. I can imagine how much energy he must be using to sit still, not act up, not get into trouble more than an average child who doesn’t have it. But he just controls it less around me because I shut down because I get overwhelmed so I leave.

Only time our son is ever still is when he is playing video games or watching youtube. Of course because it’s a stimulant. That is what I read online about ADHD. They may be fidgety and always on the move but yet they are able to sit still when playing a computer game or when doing something they enjoy because it’s a stimulant for them. But make them sit still during a lecture or when you are talking or during a movie or a game, too hard for them to sit still. But even as a parent I have no idea what behavior is normal for a five year old and what behavior is ADHD. All I can do is compare him to other five year olds but I don’t know any others all the time I can see to know what is normal and what isn’t. But I do know for certain his behavior isn’t normal in school or else other kids there would be having the same trouble as him and I was already having troubles with him at home and in public so I was sure he would be having trouble in school and I was right but with support in place, he has been doing much better. Take it away, he will be back to having behavior issues again and acting worse because he would be having anxiety because he is always in trouble and he would hate school and resent it.

I was even worried what if my behavior was just pathologized when I was a kid and what if my impairments were just bigoted kids and lack of tolerance and there really was nothing wrong with me? What if I was just picked on by school staff? I also had problems at home too but what if I was just slow to develop and mature as Enrico said? What if the only thing I have “wrong” with me is I am just different than having a true impairment? Sure I had a language delay. What if my slow maturity is what gave me problems because of lack of understanding and I am sure all kids get from time to time “How old are you?” “Start acting your age” Quit being a baby” but I heard it a lot as a child so that was a normal thing for me to hear and I never knew how to act my age. I wouldn’t even know I was being immature but I did notice there were rules for how to act and react and each age group had their own rules and it seemed like kids automatically knew those rules and I didn’t. Just imagine being new to a university but no one bothers to hand you their handbook about their campus and that has their policies in it and none of the teachers don’t bother telling you the rules in their classroom like about late work assignments, redoing them, making up for them you missed, and if you are tardy or miss a class, etc. Wouldn’t you be anxious? Wouldn’t you always have to be learning things the hard way and you would probably be asking a bunch of questions because you want to understand and know the rules. When you are a child, you will react differently. You will test your limits and see what you can and can’t do, you will keep on making mistakes and learning that isn’t allowed. You will keep on getting into trouble and it will seem like to the adult you never learn and don’t follow the rules. You can’t expect a child to ask a bunch of questions to learn the rules.

My mother has told me she always knew I had something and she knew I had more going on than just a language delay but then she turns around and says to me a month ago that I am very normal and the only thing I had was a language delay. What? Whatever happened to she knew I had something and what about all these diagnoses I have had before Asperger’s? Was I a victim of labels as Enrico described? Am I just disabled by society because of the way life is set up, the education, work, school? Is this what my mother meant by I am normal, it’s just society that is the problem? Sure I can do anything but the thing is people have to let me do it if they will just hire me instead of requiring experience and cover letters and so on. But my husband has a true disability because he will always have a disability no matter what changes in life. He has severe dyslexia, brain damage so it keeps him from memorizing numbers and letters so it makes him mess up in math so he would be a terrible cashier, he also can’t write due to dyslexia and he would write too slow, he had bad birth defects in his ankles so that also limits him.

I can understand now why so called people who have autism say they are not disabled an they don’t see autism as a disability. I tend to think these ones are on the high end of the spectrum and just quirky and eccentric and I bet they wouldn’t have anything wrong with them if they lived in my parents childhood days, they would just be very smart and eccentric and absent minded. Now today it’s a disability. Their impairment would be society because of their standards they have at work and for education.

I can understand why my mother would say I am not broken, there is nothing wrong with me and big fucking deal if I have Asperger’s and anxiety. There are people with it who are truly disabled by it and more limited because autism is a disabling condition. It is not a quirk or a personality. It’s a shame that people have to get a label thrown at them just so they can get the help they need and so they can function but yet people who are slow learners are fucked because they slip through the cracks. That I don’t understand. It also impairs them too unless they also have a true disability or some other “impairment” that impairs them, then they are not fucked.

But what would Enrico suggest to parents of kids who have different learning styles, are not accepted by their peers due to difference and who are slower to develop but it’s causing them a significant impairment in occupational settings? Not all parents can home school or find a private school to suit their needs. There are people out there who do grow up different and then they become adults and they grow out of their social issues and problems because they learn how to manage them and they can also pick their environment that suits them. Kids don’t get this choice so they have behavior issues in school and get labeled and get special education. Then they become normal when they leave high school, go figure. But then there are people out there who never stop being different. I used to think I would grow out of my learning problems and being different but that never happened. But I did grow out of being treated different and that still happens occasionally. I also grew out of being bullied and harassed. Some people never leave that so is it society that is the problem? Are those people living in the wrong area where everyone is closed minded? Then professionals have to put a label on them and declare them disabled and they end up on Social Security. Then I see people online complain about “moochers” and people “abusing” the system. My argument is if they will start hiring people who are different and stop discriminating based on body language and what clothes they wear and how they live their lives, and get rid of the road blocks, less people would be on Social Security.

So my mom is right, I am not disabled, I am only disabled by society.


Ways my school was ableist

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

4 Ways Ableism in My Elementary School Left Me Completely Traumatized

I came across this article and some of it reminded me of what my school did. Here are the things they did:

In 4th-6th grade they refused to understand me and punished me for trying to be normal because I didn’t know how I was supposed to act because the rules were inconsistent and they only enforced them on me

They tried to put me in a behavior class in 6th grade and tried to say I had a behavior disorder

When I was eight, the school I attended for my special program tried to say I didn’t need special ed when they found out I was not slow as they thought and I could read ignoring the fact I was still language delayed. Like hello a kid can learn in class like normal with a language disorder and also the fact they were way behind in education because they didn’t give them any normal school work other kids their age were learning in mainstream because they thought they were slow.

My school principal thought I had to toughen up when kids were picking on me

I was having seizures in 6th grade and they went un noticed until I had a grand mal one and my teacher suspected I was having them and only told the nurse instead of calling my mother to tell her her concerns

I was always punished for fighting with my bullies and I would be the only one in trouble and one time they said I had to apologize to my bullies but I had refused

At the end of 6th grade they said I didn’t need an aide so I wouldn’t have had one for 7th grade

In 4th and 6th grade I was video taped in class and all the staff did was pathologized me and made a big deal out of things I did  ignoring the fact that all the other students in the video had done goofy things.

In middle school I was excluded from activities like the spelling bee because they wouldn’t tell me about it and they also didn’t tell me about the honor roll trip

In high school the teachers including my aide tried to limit my career and classroom choices. My aide thought I couldn’t do driver’s ed, my teachers thought I couldn’t do drama when I was 17, they tried to tell me working at a McDonalds would be too fast paced for me and to noisy, they tried to limit my jobs to peopleless. Whatever happened to letting students with disabilities try and explore their careers and see what they are good at and what they can do instead of looking at the label?

When I was 17 I got cut from the softball team by the new coach and the other girls who had made the team I played better than they did

When I was 16 my school counselor saw I was selling my Game Boy and asked me what if a middle school student wanted to buy it but he would give me the money tomorrow. I told him I would wait until he had the money before giving it to him. The school counselor kept asking me the same question and I kept my answer the same. It was as if he wanted me to say I would give it to the kid and the school counselor said anyway “If you gave it to him, you might never see that kid again.” Also he would give me excuses for my problems and blamed everything on Asperger’s and told me my whole family had traits but not enough to have the diagnoses when I argued with him about how my brothers do the same things all the time, watching TV and always on the computer and they always download music. Also he was telling me what careers choices I could have all based on my diagnoses instead of looking at my skills and saying I could marry Frankie when he turns eighteen but luckily I was not into marrying younger guys and still isn’t. I do not want to date anyone five and half years younger than me.

Oh the numbering system they did in 6th grade. The school counselor in my elementary school thought it would be a great idea to rate my behavior. I always got a four or a three or lower, never a five. I was a perfectionist and wanted a perfect grade but I could never do good for them to get that perfect score. I had to be perfect.

And my mother told me she always had to fight with my elementary school to follow my IEP and I was illegally suspended once and they waited three days to tell my mother and the school counselor had went to my mom’s work and told her right there in front of her student that I had been suspended and as the result of my mom taking her attention off her student, she got bit because it was his way to get her attention because he was non verbal. Then as a result for him he had to get a time out.

My elementary school saw me as a behavior problem and wanted to do things their way instead of working with me but instead I worked against their system because it was ineffective

And I am not sure if this should count as ableism but I would advise if you want to do this with a student, let them know about it before you set them up with a buddy and make sure they are okay with it or else it can backfire. In 8th grade these girls would come in the recourse room to do projects with me and we got along well and I always talked about my interests like favorite movie, favorite video game, telling blonde jokes. Then it turned out it was all a set up and those girls were volunteers to help me get along with kids and to build my social and relationship skills. They turned out to not be my real friends because it was all a set up. No wonder we got along. I was not happy. Then things were not the same after that and when I started high school, our “friendship” drifted. They moved on but the two girls remained close to each other as always.

But luckily I didn’t get any trauma from my schools.








Almost back to school

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

How many of us parents are happy about our kids going back to school? That is the only time we ever get a break from them for six hours a day and five days a week.

I remember as a kid it was always exciting when school would get out for the summer because I didn’t have to work then and I could play play play and relax and then school season is near and it is so disappointing and exciting at the same time. Exciting because I get to see my new teacher and who the new kids are and who is in my class and then it’s old fast because it’s not new and exciting anymore.

Now as a parent it’s “Oh no, summer, now I will have to deal with the noise and the chaos and keeping them busy and entertained and picking up more messes and have less me time”

School season is about to start and we are going “Hooray, school is about to start again, now I get to have my breaks now and I can relax and have my peace and go out alone and not have kids with me.”

But for kids it’s the opposite.

I wonder how many parents actually feel this way? I know my sister in law felt this way and I saw a teacher posting about it on her Facebook who I knew back when I was in high school (she worked as an aide in the resource room) and she had kids of her own and I see a whole thread about it at Reddit which is where I got the video.

No need to feel guilty for being happy about our kids going back to school.