Saturday, June 21, 2008

More on Victoria and the Psychic 6/21/08

credit: xkcd comics at

Actually, the psychic was really really wrong. Victoria is equipped with a G.P.S. system (because the school had "lost" her a couple of times before apparently) with a listening-in device.

And there is no male between the ages of 23 and 26 that Victoria is around. I tend to agree with some of the folks who commented on Daylight Atheism that if Victoria's mother had a boyfriend or relative or neighbor of that age (and Victoria hadn't been equipped with a listening device), that man would be sitting in a jail right now.

Those of you who are for the psychics will not like what Daylight Atheism readers have to say about it. The only thing I can tell you is that yes Virginia, psychics have been known to do some harm with their predictions.

radical sapphoq on Victoria and the psychic

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Politics of Autism; and a Story of a Psychic and an Autistic Child

What's not in the news: the organization Autism Speaks (tm) is having shit fits again over anyone who dares to use their name. Some folks may remember when the organization went after an autistic girl for launching a parody website. The website is currently living at I encourage anyone who cares to go there and see what upset the organization Autism Speaks (tm).

Now Autism Speaks (tm) has issued a takedown order to Zazzle //and Zack of Aspie Web demanding that his teeshirts be pulled from the Zazzle site. The uh offending trademark violating (smirk) teeshirt can be seen over here at Aspie Web: . Zazzle did write back to Zack stating that Autism Speaks (tm) did indeed contact Zazzle:
Zack made some other stuff now and it can be found at:

An excellent post by Amanda over at:
explains how Autism Speaks (tm) derives its' numbers and other stuff-- worth reading.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Benjamin Arnold has secured the domain where he plans to focus on self-advocacy issues of autistics everywhere and particularly in Europe where autistics have a nice record of speaking out.
For one example see:

radical sapphoq says: Zach is correct. Autism Speaks (tm) does not speak for us yet the organization feels free to include us who can talk and wipe our own asses in their numbers. Something stinks there. Over at google news, there is no mention of the legal crap that Autism Speaks (tm) is pulling on Zack who is not supportive of their particular message. You know the one. The one that says that autism can/should/will be cured. That mercury in vaccines causes autism (has been disproven so thoroughly by scientists that it appears that Autism Speaks (tm) backed down on that one). That autism is a tragedy. Oh, wait. Only the kinds that make for a kid to be non-verbal and needing all kinds of extra help for activities of daily living. The rest of us can go rot. And since we won't quietly go away, Autism Speaks (tm) can conceivably come after any one of us that it can. Pissed off? Doesn't begin to describe my emotional state at the moment.

The blogger sapphoq is not affiliated with the organization known as Autism Speaks (tm) in any way, the blogger sapphoq did not ask Autism Speaks (tm)
if she could use their trademarked name, the blogger sapphoq is not sponsored by Autism Speaks (tm) in any way. The blogger sapphoq has opinions.
It is difficult to blog about what an organization is doing without mentioning the name of the organization.

In the news: an autistic girl in Canada. Seems the educational aide went to a psychic who asked her, "Are you working with a girl whose name starts with a V?" (yes). "She is being sexually abused by a guy between the ages of 23 and 26." The school did the only logical thing-- Children's Aid Society was called. (Americans: think Child Abuse Hotline or D.S.S.).
Mom was then presented with a list of "behaviors" that could possibly constitute signs and symptoms of sexual abuse. Mom protested. Victoria is severely autistic. The Children's Aid Society fortunately was not willing to put stock in a psychic's tip. The report was taken and then quickly dismissed. Mom has sought legal advice regarding the possibility of lawsuit. Meanwhile, Victoria is not going to school. Mom is not going to work. The two are home together all day.

radical sapphoq says: What stupidity! The "for entertainment only" psychic prompted this whole thing. And as almost always, it is the kids who suffer. Victoria was in a self-contained classroom with five other kids. She is non-verbal, entering puberty, lacks inhibitions. The principal interpreted licking a table and gyrating against staff bodies as being indicative of sexual abuse. Some people don't have the sense they were born with.

The psychic should be prosecuted as being fraudulent, the teacher's aide should be fired, and Victoria should be going to school somewhere.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Alex Barton, Asperger's and General Public MisEducation

The family of Alex Barton, the little Aspergian misbehaving five year old kindergardener, has decided to sue the school district for his treatment by teacher Wendy Portillo. It is reported that although he enjoyed talking on television, Alex is still evidencing signs of trauma. An attorney from the Liberty Legal Institute's Dallas branch office states that the suit is not without merit. Public opinion as expressed at the end of another article-- published by the T.C. Palm on June 7, 2008 range from "Oh noes Alex will have to goto court and that sucks," to "Give 'em a buck and be done with it," to "Yup, there is a case there." The blog Thinking in Metaphors over at
comments/page/2/ is the place to go for a better understanding of the legal issues involved.

Autism, along with many other disabilities, continue to be misunderstood by the general public. Now I know that the general public does not have to understand every disability. But kids in a regular classroom should have the benefit of some accurate information. The real bother of the whole thing is that while "inclusive education" is the current buzzword, kids in general are not given any explanations about the conditions and disorders that may be effecting a few of their classmates. Thus a good friend of mine was left recently to explain Tourette's to his nine year old son. Nine year old was accused of not demonstrating an, uh, inclusive attitude because he had yelled "shut up" when a classmate kept cursing in the classroom one day. Apparently some regulation or concern about private medical information prevented the teacher from offering any useful information. The same reg or concern prompted the teacher to claim (erroneously in my estimation) that my friend did not have a right to explain Tourette's to his son either. Talk about insanity. If kids cannot talk about their differences, how are they ever going to come to an understanding of those differences? In my estimation, "Don't ask, don't tell" does not work when it comes to building community.

Now we have a teacher who decided to have a bunch of five year olds tell another five year old what they don't like about him or his behavior. Uncool for any child to have to go through. That teacher needs to find a different line of work. And in light of the lawsuit, the Florida school system would do well to inservice all of its' teachers on autistic spectrum disorder. Autism is indeed a broad spectrum of disorders. The three that illustrate a wide range of intellectual prowess and behavioral manifestations are classic (Kanner's) autism, Asperger's, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (P.D.D.-nos). [There are two other disorders included in the spectrum which probably should be moved to a different category.] Having been forced to sit through a few "sensitivity training sessions" myself, my own prejudice is that they don't do much. I still hold that the information should be offered to teachers as well as to the students and their parents. It is at least a beginning. Furthermore, any teacher who works in an inclusive classroom ought to be dually certified-- in special education as well as in elementary or secondary education (or whatever their primary field is).

The general assumption that "all people with autism" are screaming self-stimming innocents and perpetual children is one that I personally am a bit tired of dealing with. Just last night on secondlife dot com, my avatar tried to explain to someone who was annoyed with my adopted cousin's verbal behavior that yes indeed Aspergians can be verbally obnoxious just like anybody else. The avatar to whom this short explanation was directed had protested, "He doesn't have autism! Autistics don't provoke people." Interesting how any of us can suddenly know more than the neuropsych people who have spent years in testing and observation and diagnosing of a variety of disorders and conditions.

Autism in all of its' manifestations is not something that needs curing as the Autism Squeaks parents would have us believe. Nor is it something that should be celebrated in all of its' aspects. If the Aspergian bank teller wishes to keep his job, he needs to attend to matters of personal hygiene just like the rest of us. An autistic adult who is not able to communicate her basic needs or desires certainly has a tough life journey that not many of us would envy or want to emulate. Similar things could be said of any disabling condition or disorder. There was a time when I thought that traumatic brain injury was the worst thing that could happen to me. Then it did happen through the actions of a driver who really should not have gotten stoned before getting behind the wheel of his automobile. Traumatic brain injury is not the worst thing. And autism is not truly the thing that needs curing. The worst thing is ignorance and it is ignorance that needs healing.

radical sapphoq