Something Weird on CBN

Dear Readers,

I was watching a 700 Club Interactive show on ABC Family.  Sometime while I was sitting on my bed and out of the shower, while I had my dress held closer to me, and I heard the weirdest thing come up in the prayers about miracles.  First off, being blind, I think faith healing is a real joke because disabilities are what they are.  Real Christians have to accept disability as truth.  The facts that are simple are that I was born blind and then developed some mental issues.  What’s weird though about faith healing today was that some guy, was it Pat or Gordon, prayed something I didn’t expect: “Someone is sick and has been sick for so long it’s become part of their identity.”  I’m asking if that’s me.  I’ve had mental issues for about ten years, and that’s a while.  What is going on!  Somebody tell me if this is God or something else altogether!  Oh God, help me!

Beth

Vote Beth for President: My Political Wish List

Dear Readers,

Phew!  I’ve been posting a bunch of stuff here, but I do have a recent political wish list for those who want to look at the issues.  But first, here are my thoughts on political issues, and yes, this includes foreign policies.

1. I don’t know how to say anything about gay marriage now.  The thing is that the gay folks have their right to marry now, but we have a long way to go about having a disability rights discussion.  I’d like to have a panel of people and some advocacy groups talk about the real issue about marriage “equality” in this country.  It should be about the ones who are deemed “unfit to marry” due to disability.  This happens all around the world as well.

2. Of course Isis should die trying to stand on its feet.  After Isis even came on the scene, we as a nation have experienced a foreign relations meltdown.  Obama is being hailed and ridiculed for not doing enough with Isis, and people such as Kayla and Peter and others are being either thrown away or beheaded as hostages.  Isis is forcing women to marry and convert to a religion they do not desire.  In my opinion, we need to draw a line here about “religious freedom.”  Should we right another Bill of Rights?  I don’t know.

3. As I have stated previously, schools are a mess.  I would do away with standardized tests of course, but by state, those said tests have to go to the garbage cans all over the nation, and the test taking companies will go out of business if I had my way.  I have the opinion that Brian Crosby’s right: there is a huge disconnect between what kids want to do and what the system doles out.

Now, therefore, Americans and all around the world, let’s turn to the Political Wish List 2015 and beyond:

1. As your President, I would destroy Isis.  I wouldn’t outlaw all Islam, but I would do campaigning to tell Religious leaders, imams, clerics, etc. that Isis and their twisted and evil Qur’anic language has to be destroyed!  First things first, I would outlaw discrimination and Islamophobes would be banned from political office.  I would have to guard the political office of Congressional Representative so that diversity would be honored, and anyone who expresses hatred and wishes to throw someone out of Congress due to religious, ethnic, and social minority membership would be expelled.  Fired.  Whatever.

2. as your President, I will reform education for all children.  I will add funding to Special Education grants and funding would be funneled back to state public education so that not only are disabled and blind kids reading Braille or using communicative aids, but they are also functional in society.  I would put Arizona’s job agencies as a good example in a running for a grant that would total $18.5 billion dollars so that all disabled Arizonians and those within that area would get jobs and benefit from a one on one employment.  It’s not just the blind, but the CP and the mentally ill people.

3. I will as President promise to deliver on real healthcare reform.  Obama gave us a leg up, but we need to stop discriminating against disabled people in emergency rooms, doctor offices, etc.  Disabled expectant mothers can one day give birth peacefully and safely under my leadership.  I will educate doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, etc. about blind and wheelchair bound individuals and tell them what obvious accommodations need to be put in place.  I will campaign the American Medical Association to write down a list of good things disabled patients contribute.

4. As President, I will take down those who try to destroy this nation.  Kim Jong-Un, for instance, won’t just be on a Sony Pictures movie.  This will happen.  For real.  I won’t tolerate this “death to America” anthem the North Koreans keep singing.  I say let those people sing, but if they want to live a single day forward as I’m leading this country, they need to liberate all disabled people from the horrific conditions they live in.  I’ll post a link to Human Rights Watch, and I’d look at the top HRW issues pages in Asia Pacific.  North Korea was and still is notorious for throwing disabled people out of the capital, Pyongyang.  I will do my darndest as President to get all Americans in prison camps out of North Korea, and then, … yep, invasion.

5. I will make it against the law for schools to punish disabled and especially the Autistic kids with physical or sensory force.  As your President, I will end the use of corporal punishment in schools for disabled students and able students alike.  Why should we use such a horrible practice to keep kids quiet?  Positive behavioral enforcement has been shown and proven to make it better for kids and teachers.  Lying the child prone on the floor and overwhelming the senses, and of course, paddling the poor child does not make the situation better.  I have had to read literature explaining why kids are hospitalized for physical injury suffered in punishment times at school.  Punishment of the physical sort will never work for disabled kids.  But for all students, I will strengthen the enforcement of such laws so that no child thinks school is Hell for them.

6. I will abolish homework, end standardized anythings from social skills to tests and bring back the Golden Rule.  As a matter of fact, I’ll tap Brian Crosby himself to be my education secretary.  As I do this, I’ll also create a Department of Disability Affairs in which I tap the most vocal advocate for disability rights I know, Mark Riccobono, as secretary.  With such a dominant cabinet here, I will pass executive orders demanding that all disabled kids have opportunities that nondisabled students and kids have.  I can’t make everybody be friendly to disabled folks, but we need to pass a moratorium also on evaluating blind children for psychological flaws and things.  The Sight Saving schools will be inspected with such rigor that they may close, they may not.  Any school or academy for blind children will pass a strict set of rules for the children and adults to follow.  Among which, Braille will be legislated as the official reading and writing system for these children.  Foundations for the blind both children and adults will teach Braille as part of their rules.  I will aggressively try and reverse the illiteracy trend for the blind, and there’s more.

7. I will reform and pass executive orders protecting mentally ill inmates in prisons and hospitals alike.  We will work together as a country to reduce the prison population due to the disproportionately high rate of African Americans in our prison system.  First and foremost, the Confederate Flag, as with the Swastika, will be illegalized.  Period.  No signs that mean hatred will be allowed to stand upon the capitols of any state or government building.  Pictures may remain in textbooks that depict the Civil War studies and all, but no Confederate Flag is going to stand in a public arena ever again.

9. For the real reform and transformation of our mental health system, I’d provide big old grants to provide homes and shelter for homeless and mentally unstable and ill veterans of war.  On top of this, I’d like to, as President, provide more areas for abused patients in nursing homes, mentally ill people, and so on to go if abused by a staff person, nurse, or doctor.  Abuse of children is overrated, but it keeps going.  I will provide money and cut some defense spending in order to add to the budget that transforms the mental health care system.  We will reach out to our sad and depressed and angry people in our country.  We need to treat them as humans, and as President, and as a patient in such a system, I understand what works and doesn’t work.  I understand why people do get depressed.  We don’t have sanctity of human life anymore.  People treat each other like worthless dogs sometimes.  Blind and disabled female children are at the most risk for abuse, rape, and other forms of maltreatment.  I willl target these at risk groups and try and reform the system so that all people who experience mental instability have a place to call Heaven, Home, and a Safe Place.  Nobody should feel unsafe when saying they need professional help dealing with the traumas they face, and as someone who understands, I will advocate for change even when not President of the United States.

10. I will bar any sacred Native American lands from being developed by scrupulous rich antienvironmentalists in Arizona who want to build malls and places like that in the Grand Canyon.  What is it anyhow?  It’s a beautiful place, a wonder of this world, and must be respected.  Some Natives of that land see it as sacred.  Along with this, I will ban all development in national parks that scars the environment and makes it look less picturesque and pristine.  I will clean up all the federal beaches, state beaches, deserts, etc.  I will do what I must to keep our planet clean, and if it means knocking down a few buildings here and there, then so be it.  For Natives and First Nations tribes all around the nation and Canada as well, I will provide a transformed way of getting the help and services they need.  I will provide a $15 billion cut to some space spending in order to put that extra money into Native American aid and services.  The services will follow a specific set of rules, and only Natives and family of Natives can run such things so that everybody who uses the reservations’ services feels comfortable.  All Americans who are of First Nations ancestry should have the option to not pay taxes while living in what we would call “white settled” land.  All First Nations peoples will receive as Obama said the free healthcare they desire.  All tribes will be subject to observations at first and we will have to again reduce the population in prisons.  I have seen a million things happen on some places.  I want all the Reservations to also serve as a reminder of what the Natives had to face, including the Trail of Tears and other ways the Nineteenth Century dominants tried to subordinate and exterminate such people.  WE will as a nation accept these as our comrades in life and freedom as a country.  we want to thank God for these people and the culture and fascinating foods they bring to us.  Also, as President or Representative of this country, I will promise all First Nations peoples each a tax exemption as already has been the case, but not to force them to stay on a reservation.  I don’t approve of casinos for the Natives.  Instead, we will encourage their lands to become an educational landmark for all of us.  We want our people to be morally straight upright and all, so in this case, Natives should let go of gambling, drinking, and mental traumas that could render them unable to have relationships with others.  There are many natives in Prisons across the country.  Many more have mental illness and have so much in the way of substance abuse problems, and it doesn’t surprise me that a history of drug use and substance addiction is prevalent, but not completely the case, for Natives.  I learned all this is social work study classes.  It’s not that all the people have this problem, but statistics show that they have a high percentage rate of all the wrongs we wish to eradicate.  How can we make it better?  I like what we’re doing so far, but relegating such wonderful historians of history, such keepers of our country’s land and sacred water, to places where they can’t practice their ways or grow the food they want is abominable even today.

One more thing: we can’t force natives to cut their hair and lie about their heritage.  No Indian child should be taken away because of being that way, and no foster parent should be white if the child is clearly being abused.  Not unless, for instance, it was me or someone who had understanding of Native lands and tribes.  My grandmother knows I love this stuff, and she brought back Taos Pueblo earrings, dream catchers of all sorts, and all kinds of fact books on the Native chieftains like Crazy Horse.  She really loved telling me about Canyon De Chelly, pronounced Shay, a place where the Navajo peoples once roamed freely and took their sheep to pasture.  What has happened to these people?  Navajos were forced to march to Oklahoma, and for a really good read for the young and old alike, read Sing Down the Moon.  A Navajo girl and her sister tell the story of the Forced March, and their medicine man, Bitter Water, is depicted as having done at one point a womanhood ceremony on the young lady in the story.  We are losing the languages of said people, so I would encourage us to archive and preserve as much as possible before the world as we know it dies out.  Disclaimer: I do not intend to offend any person or particular reader of any ethnic origin by posting this.  I am a really passionate person and I wish we could do more to enact change here.

Beth

Attack of the Bubble Sheets: Why Standardized Testing is So Evil Even Hell ‘spits Out the Wrong Answer

Dear Readers,

Have you ever been told by your child’s teacher to “bring a no. 2 pencil?”  Have you dreaded the days where your child comes home and says, “Oh God, Mom and Dad, I have a test tomorrow.”?  Well, peoples, ladies and gents, I’m sorry, I feel the same way you would’ve felt.  Our education system is under attack, thus my title here is “Attack of the Bubble Sheets.”  Why would I pick such a title?

First off, we only go to school in some places for 180 days at the most.  If Brian Crosby, author of Smart Kids, Bad Schools would have seen what improvements we have made, one thing stands out as a step backward.  He writes a whole primer on NCLB, No Child Left Behind.  Standardized testing is stupid, evil, and indeed so evil that even Hell will spit out your answer sheets.

First off, the word ‘standard”, according to Crosby in another chapter, is so clinical, not educational.  So we’re training our kids to “meet standards” as Crosby points out in most of his book’s chapters on tests and scoring standardized tests and the Golden Rule.  We’re wasting our time teaching to the test.  Crosby says, in clear plain English, bar none, kids are being “reduced to ethnic categories and test scores.”  Ugh.

I could go on quoting the book for hours, and there are lots of wonderful books that pinpoint the evil Standardized Test papers and how bad they are.  Testing, testing, testing!  It’s so evil even Hell could be like this.

Anyway, there is a major problem with Standardized Testing.  For one, my personal experiences prove a point.  the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, better known as FCAT, was a requirement I had to meet in order to graduate Titusville High School.  For one, my TVI and others had to provide a Braille copy, and for the mathematics portion, tactile graphics that were understandable and comprehensible by the student, myself in this case, had to be provided.  Now, thank God I was able to pass the FCAT so I graduated, and there was a further motivation for us to pass that purring paper filled fire pit.  We got free admission to sports events such as basketball games and got this thing with “fcat” written on it.  You might as well have put a cat logo on my student ID!  Seriously!

Blake, a more recent high school graduate, had to take the Arizona version of the FCAT, known as AIMS.  Ugh.  When he talked about the AIMS test, he pretty much drooped a bit.  For one thing, he’s not the only one that the test “aimed” to weed out.  And it’s not just the AIMS that aims to please the test taking company in Arizona or wherever.  This evil piece of work could have spelled disaster for Blake due to what he and his advocates perceived as a “learning disability in math.”  This was caused by a memory issue with one of the medications he was taking, which had lots of side effects.  Memory loss somehow was one of the side effects.  Because of this, Blake and his mother asked the state, along with the TVI at the time, to provide the use of a talking calculator during the test due to the deficiency in the teaching of math at school.  Math seemed to be one of Blake’s weaknesses, but because standardized test requirements like that of Florida and Arizona put so much pressure on kids to pass in order to graduate, Blake had to pass at minimum a Math, English, and Writing test.  Science, according to Blake, was added after he left.

Most of these standardized tests are done while the child is both in elementary and secondary schools.  For me and the Florida students, FCAT was administered starting in the third grade, and that is scary stuff.  The big ones are administered in tenth grade, and science is required now for all THS and Florida seniors.  Blake, in a way, was lucky he missed the science test.  Tests like AIMS shape the curriculum the teachers can use to show students concepts.  Teaching to the test can be fine for some kids, but sometimes the teachers can cheat as happened in Atlanta, Georgia.

For all kids, though, it’s not a good feeling to have nothing but math, reading, and science offered in school.  Science experiments are discouraged due to the attack on gifted kids, and yes, the attack of the Bubble Sheets where your test answers are drawn.  AIMS and the FCAT and other standardized tests aim to pretty much shrink what kids can do.  Children will leave the school systems if this keeps up, and this should be encouraged.  Why go to schools where music, arts, and creativity are discouraged anyway?  See the previous post, The Day the Music Died.

In closing, Blake and I had two different experiences with testing.  I luckily passed the FCAT’s math, norm reference, reading, and that stupid science test.  The thing I hated about this was the biased standards, lack of wide ranging vocabulary, boring reading selections, and yes, the bad essay topics.  The Florida Writes Test was administered in the fourth grade, and I’m sorry, nobody rated me high enough.  Funny though I got a 5.5 on the so-called FCAT Writes.  I was able to be a bit creative, and I thank “your governor” at the time, Jeb Bush.  He sent me that neat little award letter for receiving a well earned 5.5 on that test.  Blake, however, suffered some barriers in completing and passing the Math portion.  Kathy, as heroic as mothers ought to always be when their children face this challenge, swung into action upon seeing and hearing this.  Supermoms are good for this reason.

What the State of Arizona failed to do was provide the calculator Blake requested, and it was clearly written in black and white on his plans.  Kathy decided to spring in and bring in the big guns, the family lawyer.  When the state realized their error, they wrote saying they were sorry.  Blake was allowed to walk the stage and graduate high school at Camp Verde High School class of 2008, and the math portion of AIMS did not stop him thanks to the efforts of both Mom and lawyer.  Nobody should have a disabled kid not graduate high school because of a perceived inability to do something, in Blake’s case, math.  Learning disabilities in math are common with a lot of kids, and some kids have English deficiencies.  You bet that states like California and Arizona have a high Mexican and Non English population of people, and they are being forced to take English written tests.  The ones who pass these stupid Hellish paper weights are the ones like the white and rich Asian kids.  All this is according to statistics.  The ones who are in the poorer sections of town usually do not pass, and the whites and nonwhites’ achievement gap just won’t stop!  But there’s an Ableist biased achievement gap as well, and as we have seen with Blake and today’s generation of high school graduates and future high school graduates across this country, the issue isn’t race, ethnicity, or really the ability to write stuff on an answer sheet.  The issue becomes disability.  What is the solution?

Simply put: we will have to end the standardization of our education system.  Tests should be taken, but not in a standard format set by politicians who have no brain, no pain, no idea what it’s like to both be students in a public school or parents of students in schools.  The teachers are the ones who spend hours upon hours with our children, so why are the white colared, black tie wearing idiotic politicians making these decisions?  Part of it we will discuss in a later post on teacher trust and status in the social context.  Most teachers, being female, are treated like dirt!  So politicians are not being given good credit for a reason.  Politicians never raised a disabled kid, except maybe Rick Santorum, but will his Trisomy-18 daughter ever really grace the pages of a standardized test answer sheet?  No.  What about if Kathy herself stepped into the political ring?  We need more loud proud parents of disabled kids and students past and present to say the following, ‘We’re mad as Hell, stop turning my disabled child into a piece of crap.  Stop standardizing my child’s education!”  And do not forget that history tests are a bad idea because some parts of history books can be biased.  Also a subject for a future post.

If anyone else has been hurt by the Standardized Testing Attack of the Bubble Sheets, please talk to me.  I will find a way to get you some medication so you can cure your Test Taker’s Fright.

Beth

Disclaimer: All of the anecdotes about the tests were true and I had Blake’s permission to write this account down.  Also, if the attack of the Bubble Sheets gets worse, who cares about Hillary Clinton?  I vote Kathy for president.  I vote someone who really cares about disabled kids, someone who taught a blind child, knows about mental issues, etc. for president.  Not a black tie wearing, extravagantly dressed, rich snowflake as president.  We need a real person who represents what we call the “little guy” for president, but yes, we need a real live female in the White House.  But Mrs. Clinton does not know anything about disability.  Chelsea and her son were both able, so forget them Clintons.  I vote Blake’s or somebody else’s mom for president, so yall get the campaign trail going.  Let’s do it!  We’re here to defend our world and education from the villain that nobody sees, the bubble Sheet and the word “standard” on all report cards.

The Day the Music Died: Why Schools Refuse to Teach Music and the Arts to Children, … And Why It’s Making Our Kids Sicker, Dumber, and Less Open and Able

“A long, long time ago,

I can still remember

How that music used to make me smile.

And I knew that if I had that chance,

I could make those people dance,

And maybe they’d be happy for a while.”

American Pie, originally recorded and sung by Don McClean

What I just quoted was something I might have to undoubtedly tell my great-grandkids.  IF we had no music, what would I see in my little descendants?  When I was six or so, my TVI, music teacher, and some regular ed teachers I’ve known, all encouraged me to become the musician I seek to be today.  I loved playing piano, and I credit Michelle Hulsema for teaching a wonderful song after a wonderful song, one classical composer after another.  Mrs. Hulsema had lots of wonderful things to say about music, but for one thing, she wasn’t a certified piano teacher.  My mother, however, wanted a pianist to teach me who wasn’t scared to teach a blind person, and most musical teachers won’t deal with blind kids because they want to teach theory.  Hulsema taught me and my brothers, but I was by far her star student in my family.  We don’t know if there are any more Hulsemas out there who can teach piano, and this is why.  The music in our schools is slowly dying, and I hate to say this, but we could, according to Don McLean, be singing durges in the dark.  But then, people will start sacrificing things to Satan, and there will be planes spelling the Devil’s name in the sky.  Then, McLean has a line in there saying, “I saw Satan laughing with delight the day the music died.”  Music is like praying twice according to Cindy Maun, a Parochial schoolteacher who has taught music to me and my brothers at St. Teresa’s Catholic.  She was a solace to me, and her musical teaching may die down and may never come back.  Maun would tell us a million ways that God created music.  The Bible clearly states that to praise God, we must be free to “make a joyful noise.”  In David’s psalms, there is some sort of musical reference all the time.  King David’s entire Psalter can be sung, and Catholics are known to sing the Psalms.  What if schools, both private and public, stopped the music though?  This is a trend happening in public schools because of math and reading and science demands.

While blind kids can learn STEM professions–science, tech, engineering, and math–and still be going strong cognitively, I don’t believe that they should only be black and white thinkers.  We need to think and see and feel colors.  The only way to do this is to bring back arts and require them in schools.

All the blind kids I knew in my life, and my blind boyfriend all have had some sort of musical exposure.  IF you saw Blake out Christmas caroling, he’d have the demand of the songs over and over.  I learned such songs practically from birth.  I learned to sing Christmas songs even while out, and that was because music was all over our curriculum in schools.  One thing that kept me and still does keep me from being totally out of the body is music.  Music and artistic things such as writing in a blog, writing poetry, and creating things, imagining stuff, so on and so forth, keeps me thinking, active, and somehow healthy enough to think clearly.  IF I did not have music in my school curriculum and so on, I would be done.  Dead.  Gone.  Where would anyone be without music?  Like I mentioned, the Psalms were musical things, and King David wanted a way to express his love of the Lord God.  So he wrote and sang things while herding sheep.  This was in the days when he was a shepherd.  There are in the Psalter some good psalms, dark ones, happy ones, ones where David complains.  He’s expressing himself because at least someone taught him the harp.  HE was the son of Jesse, son of Obed.  Obed was descended from Ruth and Naomi, and we know the story of Ruth.  The whole thing contains a story we all know as the story of Jesus.

Angels are depicted as having done something … well, musical.  What would angels do if music died?  While music is so important in both modern and Biblical times, we must not forget what music will do if we don’t keep doing it.  There’s a cute song I sang once about Snoopy the dog and his Christmas adventure.  Him and the Bloody Red Baron, right?  He and a German pilot were fighting in this song, but then, we can’t forget the magic of Christmas bells.

The big thing about music is this: schools will only play militant music.  With groups like Isis out there, Muslims demanding that the “call of the Devil”, or sometimes “the Adan of Satan” be removed from schools, the districts who are so incensed with … the evil and hellish standardized crap called state exit tests remove music and artistic things from Schools.  It pleases Satan and the Terrorist groups and the ones who hate God to remove Music from schools.  Budgets are never put out there to provide music instruments for poor children, so no, nobody gets music and art in school.

Now, let’s go a few lines away from the first verse of American Pie, which I quoted here.  Don McLean’s intent for this song was to talk about a musician that died and how the world would end.  I chose the title of this post because yes, the music will die sometime, and it kind of is already.  Schools are teaching not real education, but bubble sheet answers instead.  According to Brian Crosby, who by the way is one of my favorite teachers and authors, you can go on any School District’s website and you will see a section on something like “test scores and accountability” or “AYP ranking.”  I dare any mom of a student to do this, and see where you end up.  Anywhere from Alabama to Arizona to Florida to Maine.  Look carefully at your child’s school district’s website and see what the students’ testing requirements are.

But where is the choral and band programs for high schoolers?  Patricia Kingery was one of the most highly regarded elementary music teachers in the locale of Brevard County, but we don’t have enough of her to go around.  What will happen without Mrs. Kingery?  She has the highest levels of music going on in her classes from what others have told me.  I have witnessed Mrs. Chatman, one of my band director’s associates, working so well with middle school students.  There are many band directors I will admire forever but will my kids ever get to meet guys like Ian Schwindt, Robbyn Ryan, Jennifer Zahn, etc.?  These guys really knew what music was, taught music like it was meant to be taught.  IF Schwindt’s band program was cut completely from THS, I would say the words of Mclean’s song all the way through.  Then, when my children  are born and brought up, I will have to say the first lines of the song.  Not only that, THS will turn into a test taking factory, and so many other schools have done this.  Schwindt and Zahn and others could lose the chances to share the high culture with the young.  This is our only hope.  Music only makes us grow harder and better.

What are the benefits for disabled kids and able kids alike?  Well, start at birth.  Let’s use a composite sketch.  Milly is literally in pain in the hospital, gives birth six or three month premature to a baby girl, Katie.  Katie is so frail that the nurses think she’s going to be brain damaged.  But then, the scientific and musical therapists from a Tallahassee university that Schwindt and Zahn attended, and even I did, would roll out the Musical Pacifier and other musical toys for Katie to mess with.  Milly grows more hopeful that Katie will grow up and be a better person.

By the time little Katie turns four, Milly and her husband decide to teach her the piano, and she remembers how music saved her life.  If I had a baby in my care, if the baby cried, I’d sing and yes, maybe find myself a bit in tears.  Singing lullabies to babies in a certain rhythm calms them down and it’s so cool to do this.  African mothers are known to do this, and don’t realize the scientific benefits from doing so.  A Masai mother sings a lullaby to her little child while the child is in her arms.  There is a rhythmic refrain in the young woman’s voice as she sings.  She may not have a defined pitch, but the rhythm of music calms the crying and fussy little baby.

Let’s listen in on a study that some nurses did on babies that were never sung to, held, or loved.  When we see people who don’t know the highest forms of music, we will see disastrous results.  First of all, a real study was done and the babies, after having been left alone, not held, not sung to and all, died.  All of those infants died.  It was sad, and trust me, I will do the exact opposite of the nurses.  It was sad to hear that study, and it made me realize how infants are gifts from God.

IF anything, music is not just for the little ones.  When a child grows up and runs about the house, the next step is musical shows and toys.  I would bring out the ones that have songs, fake musical instruments, or I’d show them the real thing.  If, for instance, my dad threw in the trumpet, that would be fun.  I once had a percussion set with the drumsticks and that stuff.  It also had a tambourine, cymbals, and a xylophone.  I learned all the basics, then you know what else I did?  I played with tinker piano toys.  My grandmother swears I played a real song at only two years old.  It’s music that saved my place in the family, but ironically, the dream of making it in music was what drove me away from the family itself.

Today, the Chrstina Aguileras and Britney Spearses are being given too much grooming, and their music is nothing more than junk food for the ones who should be eating Mozart.  No, not literally eating, but feasting their souls on Mozart and the Psalter.  I loved the high culture music, the classical stuff, all the analysis I did in theory helped.  I never learned from Schwindt and Zahn, but I did learn later from some really great professors from the former Brevard Community College, today known as Eastern Florida State College.  Claire Baggerly was a clarinet professor and theory instructor I studied under.  She encouraged me to use my early techniques to compose closed-score music things, and I learned to use Lyme Aloud simply by playing around and figuring it out.  With technology being all important and music coinciding with it, I was able to write printed music.  Baggerly instructed me on micro and macro analyses, and I learned a lot.  So much so that I also learned about how annoying the canon in D Major really was, and how rock musicians got their inspirations.  A comedian that I love so much posted the Pochelbel Rant on YouTube, which Baggerly showed us in class, and I laughed along with the rest.  It’s so true.  Johan Pochelbel wrote what the guy called a really annoying song, and he used the cello part to explain how annoying it is.

What would happen without Claire Baggerly and the music department of EFSC?  BCC, now known as Eastern Florida State College, would die with the music not being present.  I felt at peace with that class, and hated to leave the classes.

When Baggerly left the college, so did I.  But when I left my music studies due to access barriers and the control of my family and my lack of independence skills, realizing I needed said skills, I also had to change majors and career choices, but now I have no career.  I wish I had the ability to dream about the life I would want as a musician.  I want to write music that inspires and awakens, but if schools want to cut music, they will do nothing but teach people how to bubble an answer sheet and put together robots.

Not that robots are bad.  I don’t think science is evil.  I don’t think math is evil though I personally loathe it.  I loathe mathematical equations so much that I wish I could burn my textbook … Jimmy Buffet, are you here?  Math sucks!

But music allowed Mr. Buffet to say this whole thing, “Mat sucks.”  He actually wrote the best stuff to say about math and life itself, but if he hadn’t at least learned a bit of music in school, he wouldn’t be Jimmy Buffet from Margaritaville.  Alan Jackson wouldn’t have had a duet partner and all that five o’clock somewhere stuff would not be so popular.  Dear school district boards and politicians, I want you all to do me a favor and force yourselves to reflect on how music affected your lives.  Music is in all ways important, and as a blind person, I found it better than 2d artwork.  I hate and still hate coloring, and I wish I could have stickered up a notebook with flowers.  So what?  I loved and still love music.  It is my life, my breathing moment, my peace of mind.

Now, will you meet a girl who sings the blues?  Let’s just say that she comes across you.  Don McLean again.

“I met a girl who sang the blues,

And I asked her for some happy news,

But she just smiled and turned away.

Well, I went down to the sacred store

Where I heard the music years before,

But the men there said the music wouldn’t play.

Now in the streets, the children screamed,

The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed,

But not a word was spoken,

The church bells all were broken.

Then the three men I admired the most,\

The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost,

They took the last train for the coast.

The day the music died.”

American Pie, last verse, originally sung by Don McLean

Dedicated to All Those and Families with Autism

Hi, readers.

For those of you I know with Autism, I want to show you a funny and so to the point video that parodies Autism ‘speaks.  Autism Speaks is nothing but trouble.  I hate that organization because they think they can “fix” or “cure” Autistics.  I’m sorry, but it can’t be cured.

Please watch this video and tell me which lines stick out to you.

Word of wisdom for parents of Autistic kids: divorce is not the answer to your problems.  Autism does not wreck marriages; people do.  It’s the person who chooses to run away from their problems.  Even i have this problem.

Without further adieu, here, for all families and folks with Autism, is the video link:

Leave comments on any sites I have or on this blog with feedback.

Beth

Raising and Educating Your Disabled Child Through the K-12 School Years: What’s It All About?

Dear Readers,

This is a post dedicated to those folks who are just starting, going through, or having gone through the K-12 school systems in the United States of America.

If you have a special child, someone with a special need, there are a few things to fight for.  As someone who had a mom who did all this, I can speak mostly for blindness related stuff, but there are social things that come with all disabilities that all students should be wary of.

For the parents, especially those of young boys and girls, this little bit is for you.  When you start going into preschool, Head Start, or whatever thing you choose, if your child has disabilities, there is a juggernaut of papers to fill out.  For blind children, you must have an evaluation of the child’s vision, and don’t be fooled by the “Sight Saving” schools.  Also, do not be fooled by the mental evaluations that go along with blindness as well.  Parents somehow have to navigate the juggernaut of papers and service offerings, but one of the things your blind child may or may not need is mental evaluations.  When your child turns two, for instance, all two-year-olds have tempers and stuff.  All of us have been there with kids, the terrible two’s and stuff like that.  Why should you give a two-year-old drugs to pump through his/her system?  Some little toddlers are ok, but there’s something that all parents should know.  Preschool depression has become a problem.  Part of the depression may stem from a parent’s inability to care or passed on from a parent’s epigenetic code.  This means that according to science, parents should take better care of themselves.  By the time your child is filled with paperwork in school, or should I say, bombarded with that huge pamphlet or packet, you will have found Autism or blindness or whatever.  Autism is not detectable until aged 2, when a child is able to speak.  Sadly, many autistics are thrown in homes as adults, or there isn’t enough care for them.  Autism is not always a good thing for families, and others use autism as an excuse to divorce or split up or just neglect the child’s needs.  Not all kids have this problem, but I’ve met many autistics who have parents who are cool and those who are cool themselves.

For blind kids, the paperwork begins with an Individualized Education Plan.  Let’s use John as an example of someone with an IEP.  This is a composite sketch, so everybody, just sit back and let’s do a roleplay for a few.

John is five years old, just exiting preschool or perhaps he’s beginning Grade Kindergarten.  His mom, Kate, says, “I want to find the best schools for him.”  Under the law, all disabled kids must have an appropriate, least restrictive education for them.  Special education has to have a certain amount of allocated resources.  Let’s do three scenarios.

First, Kate and Shawn, the couple in this first scenario, had John.  Shawn couldn’t handle John, and left.  Kate was devastated.  So she becomes John’s advocate.  Little John, at five, goes to a regular school.  The thing about John’s school that Kate likes is the special ed teacher, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired.  Kate meets with the TVI and the teacher decides to do an evaluation on John’s eyes.  She finds that John is so visually limited that he can’t read printed words and see models and shapes and stuff.  John’s IEP must read, if you’re following me, that he needs Braille instruction.  Kate has a choice of literacy or not functionally literate when she makes her decisions for John.

In this scenario, when the TVI, let’s call her Marina, meets with Kate and John, an IEP is written up.  In such a thing, it should read something like, “John needs to be taught Braille.  The goal will be met by the end of the semester.  It will be met when John reads adequate Braille, grade 1 or uncontracted Braille.”  Now, I know that some of you blind people are all hyped about UEB, and here’s the UEB thing.  I do not like UEB because some contractions take up space, and if you want to have less volumes of Braille books, you must try Contracted Braille.  However, I would teach both Contracted and Uncontracted Braille.

What is the outcome of the IEP for John?  When Kate and Marina decide to write up the IEP, and John learns Braille, let’s say he’s eighteen and graduating high school.  He will be able to hold a diploma in his hand, proudly stating, “I graduated.”  But before then, through his elementary years, he will be spelling words out loud, letter by letter.  John will be able to get an opportunity to participate in spelling games and word study.  John will be able to understand the mechanics of English and so on.  Depending on the foreign languages he chooses to learn through his secondary years, the IEP will state later that “John will learn Spanish and French Braille literacy.”  Since Braille is a French system, I think French would be fun to learn for any blind person.  Louis Braille added the letter w to make English possible to write.  The Contractions will make it easier and John will use his educational skills to talk to teachers, paraprofessionals, etc.

Scenario number two is when Kate decides the wrong.  She says that because her son has a bit of vision, he must use it.  This is a typical weakness for parents.  Unless the child is a totally blind child, the vision in the child’s eyes is according to parents as useful as anything.  In scenario 2, John is told through an IEP that he must learn Print, very large Print or regular print.  Blind people can’t read Print if not given the right amount of vision.  If they don’t have any sight, it’s obvious.  This child must learn Braille.  What is the outcome?  Dysfunctional illiteracy, no graduation, being held back for too many years.

Scenario 3: Let’s say that Kate says John will learn without Print or Braille.  She may be scared of the IEP paperwork and may say, “I don’t want pullout sessions for John.”  She may say clearly that John needs to learn computer skills.  But at five?  He can’t use Penguins or Webkins dolls, right?  Well, I would not recommend that for anyone because you buy a doll.  Club Penguins isn’t what I’d do and doesn’t teach too much.  So many kid friendly online games do not teach Braille.  It’s hard to find Braille literacy games on apps and stuff.  But there are ways to explore.  Scenario 3’s outcome is downright horrendous for John.  No literacy.  John doesn’t get Braille or Print, instead, he gets speech technology instead.  This is another misconception that blind people can’t read and must use speech.  We think Braille is antiquated.

Ok, so IEP paperwork may scare any parent.  But let’s be clear.  What do you want for your child?  What does your child want for him/herself?  The goal is independence from a parent or relative.  The real goals for children who are disabled should include the following:

1. Literacy for blind kids.  This includes Braille.  Ask any good mother of a blind child.  They will explain that Braille helps big time.  I use it every day.

2. Mobility aids such as a wheelchair, mobility or blind cane, or support cane if needed.  Wheelchairs have some difficulty with navigation in some places, so when you pick a school, pick a place with bars on bathrooms and no stair requirements so that your chair bound child can travel around.

3. Friendliness of the kids toward your child.  The goal here is to encourage social interactions.  When you took your little one on play dates, did you leave the kids alone in a safe environment to play in?  Did the kids play happily together?  This doesn’t always happen with blind and disabled kids.  Autistics have a harder time socializing the normal way than most people do.  If your child is diagnosed with preschool depression, other problems arise.

4. On your IEP, you want to put your goals down, but as your child ages, think about other stuff.  When you look at real social goals, look at where your child is.  But look at your methods of parenting and see if they possibly might not play nicely with your child’s development as a person.  Even at 28, I’m still growing and developing a personality because my own parents did not allow dating and sex ed in the comprehensive manner.

When your child reaches mature age, I’d go back and read the thing on sex ed and dating.  Please do me a favor, people, and write in the child’s IEP a goal for understanding maturation issues and dating.  Do not mention marriage if that’s what a child cannot understand.  Not unless you have a healthy view of it.  All children should have a healthy view of relationships and marriage, including that marriage is something you do when you love someone else.  When you marry someone of the opposite sex, you say you love that person when you take the vows.  Teenage maturation issues should be jotted down on paper, and you should have a private discussion with your son/daughter about these issues.  It all starts at home.  And you should help by role playing a date scenario.  For instance, if you’re shy, offer to ask a parent to role play with you a dating scenario.  If you’re a girl, ask your mom or dad to play the guy and learn the approach that is best for you.  As the parent, be the giver of wisdom, and try and give positive feedback if needed.  You can say something like, “You know, I liked this way you said it.  I liked the manner you approached the dating in and so on.  But don’t be afraid to be a bit more confident.”  IF you’re the parent and you think your child is doomed to being a sexless saint, no babies, no real life, then you should get to know disabled adults who either care for themselves and children or live on their own.  Either way, your child needs a mentor who is disabled in some way and can do normal things.  Then, in your brain, define normal.

When your child graduates, you will be a proud parent of a graduate.  Just ask my mom.  Ask anybody’s mom who had a son/daughter who graduated high school.  One thing, if you are a Muslim parent and you think your son/daughter has to be married after high school, omit that step.  Marriage is not a commercial thing, it’s about who God wants you to be with.  It’s about who God puts you with, and love is the backbone of such a relationship.  As the parent in this kind of culture, you know love made a difference in your child’s life.  But be wary of your tendency to force your daughter to be an unpaid maid or servant or charity wife.  It isn’t safe for any young girl with a disability to be arranged in a marriage with someone.  Mutual agreements can be made with a parent and child, but if the child does not like any of the spouse choices you pick, you must accept this and move on.

If the child does not want to be married, that’s it.  Move on as a parent and let the child make decisions when graduation is complete.

Coming up: I’m going to write something about one evil requirement of graduating high school, the Standardized Test!  Mwaaaaaaahahahahahahahahahaha!  So what if you think that’s a good thing?  According to a panel of my friends, who will be mentioned here, it’s not a good idea and we dominate our educations with it.

Later on, I’ll talk about why the Music Died in schools as well.  The budget cuts are really bad for all of us.  Thank you for reading.

Beth

Raising a Disabled Child part 1: Birth to School Aged, K-12

Dear Readers,

I fought with my brain to try and name these posts I’m about to write, and that I’m writing now.  Raising a disabled child is more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic.  So when I was reviewing Smart Kids, Bad Schools, and saying how much special ed did wonders for me and Jessie and others, I thought we’d go back and remember the times we as disabled people need to remember.  This is mostly a little reflection site for parents here who are considering having kids.  So, today, let’s begin with a before the kids are born thing, and I’ll jump into the meat and potatoes.

Suppose you are a young bride and groom.  You marry, have a wonderful honeymoon, the works.  Then, you say, “Hubby, I want to have my children now.”  Well, the husband and yourself should do the following steps in clear words: get tested for all the bad stuff, look for good stuff, and dream away.  Getting tested for the bad stuff depends on your ethnicity and race, of course.  If you are Eastern European and Jewish combined, there’s a panel for you to go on testing for.  Certain genetic issues pop up for Native Americans, or First Nations peoples in Northern America and Canada, such as Cree and other tribes.  If you have Cajun and other Southern ethnic groups, there’s even a panel of tests for you.  Depending on who you are and your genetic makeup, counseling may be great to do.  But what if you opt out?  You can, if that’s what you’re into.  You should not have to test your DNA like crazy.  Second and third steps are easy.  Think about the good stuff, and dream away.  Think not so much about your perfect child.  See the post on What Is the Perfect Child from last year.

Also, let’s begin the birthing process.  Yeah, scary isn’t it?

So imagine for you parent wannabes that you and husband are in the hospital, or you and your wife, whatever.  You guys have had yourselves a great conception, conceived within the woman’s womb, the whole works.  You give birth to a … what is it?  Oh no!

The doctor and nurse come in and say, “Something is wrong with your child.”  You’re scared, but then you hear the news: “Your child has (blank).”  Fill in the blank with your child’s disability.  Say your child is blind.  Or has Down’s Syndrome.  Or is blind with additional disabilities of intellect or other things.  You are floored, scared, etc.  As a parent, you know the goals of true parenting: you want your kid to live on his/her own.  But there are barriers in this stupid wide world: housing for wheelchair bound people is off the charts and expensive, employment discriminates, and who will be your child’s future bride/groom?  Every parent, except some or those who want nothing to do with said child, has choices to make.  Here are some choices that you can make as a mother or father of a disabled child:

1. If the prenatal tests reveal the child’s disability, you could be told to abort said child.  I will never even condone this practice because had this been done to half my friends, myself, or anyone else I know, I wouldn’t know who they were.  There wouldn’t be a Beth in this world had my mother not been Catholic enough not to do what she decided to do, keep me.

2. Adopt out your disabled kid.  This is a bad choice for some people because it shows the parent’s unwillingness to learn and grow as a person with that disabled kid.  I wonder how moms like Mrs. Hernandez and Kathy would have felt about the parents who would say, “My child throws fits.”  I’m not talking about these women’s kids, but if you were to go to support groups, you would hear many stories of parents, not these two women I mentioned, but other parents might say, “I want my child institutionalized.  I want my kid put away.  I can’t stand the kid’s fits, rage, inability to do what have you.”  But the women I mention, Mrs. Hernandez and the Great Kathy B. would say, “Oh what do you say!  These kids taught me so much!”  The initial stages of raising all kids is scary.  I’ve seen everything from the infant years to the terrible Two’s, and Terrific Two’s as well.  I’ve even seen a four-year-old, but when children have intellectual or physical disabilities, some parents simply don’t know much.

3. Keep the child if you are the woman raising said child.  My mother, Mrs. Hernandez, and Kathy all made the right choice.  They kept their offspring, and by doing so, learned, grew, etc.  In Florida, my mother did not learn half the things the Jessie’s and Blake’s moms might have learned in the early years.  My mother said once a few things to me about the Early Achievement stuff at Lions Camp.  Since my trips to Lake Wales, the camp has shut down.

FLC was a fun place to be, and even for young kids, it was still a fun place to be.  The early years can be scary for all parents of disabled kids, but there are things you can try:

1. Learn.  Go online.  Thank God for Google.  I wish Google had been available to the mothers in the 1980s and earlier because there would have been a wealth of info for these women to find stuff for the disabled children.  Maybe the fathers would have learned stuff.  My biological papa did not have anything to do with me.  All of us: Jessie, Blake, and myself have this in common in the initial stages.  All three of the guys who were supposed to be good dads were scared.  But unlike me, Jessie’s and Blake’s dads came back, bonded with the sons they bore with the women they married, and the fathers actually learned.  The key is learning what disabilities your kids have, what can be done, etc.  Jessie’s mom might have seen the following support groups helpful: the ACB, the NFB, and the Lighthouse for the Blind are all great tools and they have great sites on vision loss.  For any other disability, you can Google stuff like “Down’s Syndrome” or “Arnald Chiari Malformation” or you can try “Bipolar” or “attention deficiency disorder.”  All of these keywords will pop up many results.  This information can be really helpful to mothers and fathers in the new Millennium.  Why do we have Google in the first place!

There are many children with disabilities whose families ultimately decide to stay together.  While Blake, Jessie, and myself are all linked by not just the stuff we love to do, being friends, etc., we’re all powerfully bonded like we’re brother and sister and … well, we know the rest.  All of us are God’s family, so why exclude the disabled because they are disabled?  God made them this way.  That’s an attitude I would take had I had any disabled kids in my life, in my care, etc etc.

Here’s something else that parents should try.

2. Go to supports groups.  Allow your children to bond with others with disabilities similar to their own.  For instance, Down’s Syndrome Alliance, blindness related summer camps and stuff, Cranial Facial Retreats, what about Lung Disease supports groups?  Ok, how about rare genetic disorders?  Whatever the disability, let your child shine, not have to say, “I’m different.”  When I said I was blind, and to the sighted kids no less, I felt like a space alien from outer space.  Like, way out in the deep spaces that is.  I felt like I came from a different planet.  So when I walked into FLC, I was like, “Hey, you’re blind, so am I.”  I have made lifelong friends at this camp, including my dear friend Lici.  I love her so much, and she is so weird. … Yes, I said it.  She’s weird.

I’ve made lifelong friends in other ways too.  Going to independent living centers allowed me to meet people that understood and helped me get through the tough times, the good times, etc.  I’ve met even more people with whom I shared real friendships.  I have a few sighted friends who understand, but when I went to the independent living center in Colorado, I met the two best guy friends I have met so far: Deq and Blake.  I will never forget when we got ourselves lost on the bike path.  …  Oh, we talk about it all the time.  I think about the weirdest things we did together, and Deq seemed to be the biggest problem solver in town I guess.  But face this: getting lost on the bike path was something I wasn’t expecting.  Oh well, I tried to be cool headed and that’s all that counted. …

3. Encourage your young child to play with other kids, be independent, and don’t just throw them in front of the TV.  Mind you, this advice comes from my dear friend RJ from Maryland.  RJ is sweet and yes, weird as well.  The big problem with my weirdness is that nobody gets it.  Nobody gets the blindness in the wider world unless you’re someone who knows blindness.

While you have a young kid up to age 5, I would encourage you as the Millennial parent to make use of technology, both high tech and low tech, to get your child reading, writing, and adding.  However, blind children need to be in a social group of other kids, both blind and sighted, all the time or some times.  Look at your child’s gifts.  Praise your child for having such gifts, but don’t make your child into a freak show.  If your child is a musician, do encourage said child to be that person.  If the child is funny, I would love to see you try a standup comedian too.  Don’t be surprised if your six-year-old child is asking about school.  Encourage the child to read books, and read books to your child too.  I would read all the books I can to my disabled child, whether they knew what was being said or not.  The more the parent reads to the kid, the more cognitively aware and strong the kid becomes.  If you are blind and a parent of a blind kid, Twin Vision books are great as well as the Dots for Tots kits and other kinds of books you can try.  I’ll talk about school and why it’s bad to standardize test kids in a future post.  But the next few posts are going to be about educating and raising disabled kids.  The next two wilol be about kindergarten through the middle school, and then we’ll have a little bone to pick about standardized testing.  I have the honor of collaborating with a panel of awesome blind and special people regarding tests.  Tests are weird and awful, and as far as I’m concerned, tests are not the only thing kids should be learning.

Just one more note before I close: when you birth any disabled child, take the time to further learn about your child’s disability through all the stages.  When your child becomes a teenager, I’ll say this, do not use unequal treatment with your disabled teenager.  Allow your teenager to participate in all activities regardless of the discrimination barriers up there.  That’s a future post as well.  Take a few moments now, and listen up to the next subjects of my future posts:

1. Raising Disabled Children Part 2: ages 7-18

3. What Is Education?: Standardized Testing and How Evil It Can Be

3. Why The Music Died: So Many Schools Are Cutting What Disabled Kids Really Need to Grow On

Happy reading and commenting,

Beth