Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thanks CBS

The CBS network has finally done for Autism what the parents of children with Autism have been trying to do. They have finally put a face on Autism and shown it's not a freak thing. It's not a disability. It is how a person is wired. Sheldon Cooper is my hero and the actor, Jim Parsons, deserves all awards for his portrayal of this character. The creators of this show emphatically deny any similarities of this character but many of us believe  - he has Autism. Lack of social skills, rule maker but not breaker, highly intelligent. The list goes on. He doesn't get sarcasm, focuses on himself, not sure how to show emotion. Many of those traits are common in our loved ones with Autism. That show reinforces my belief that my battle is true.
The past week's battle with my local school system proven to me yet again that I am needed to stand up for people. Lack up understanding and real education seem to be the problem. I have met so many educators that spout to me their credentials with Autism. Living with it 24/7 and learning everyday to help your child is the real education. What a professor tells me and what reality is are far apart in thought process. Each and every child with Special Needs is different. Their personality is what makes them tick and their "disability" is part of the steering mechanism. I don't even like the word "disability". If you are not under the name "normal" then you have a disability. Being different, wired different, looking at the world different means that you are just that - different.
However, after praising CBS for their great demonstration of Autism, I must also thank them for the rest of the guys. The other three guys are prime examples of what society refers to as geeks or nerds. These guys are a great example of another group of people who are misunderstood. These are the kids made fun of at school until they are needed to fix computers or come up with the answers for the class. They are not the athletes, the prom queens or anything else that kids put in the popular category. I am not showing any disrespect for these kids. Those are some of the basic titles used by our kids.
Hopefully with this program and possibly other programs like it, we can teach our kids and ourselves that the world is full of different people. It takes all of them to make the world work. In my household, geek and nerd are a compliment right along with beautiful and athletic. We need to teach our kids to be proud of who they are and not tear down those that are different. It takes a village to be a village.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Mess with Momma

My son was physically attacked at school the other day. Some girl, that he doesn't know, started flapping her mouth at him then they ended up in an "altercation". Basically, she came at him and he swatted her hands back. Therefore, it was a fight. The interesting thing is  - he was sitting in class minding his own business doing his Bell work for math. She didn't even belong in the classroom.
Now he sits in Alternative School which can only be described as Juvenile Detention run by the school system. Needless to say, with his autism, he is very frightened and really doesn't know why he is there. I can't even explain it to him. I don't know why.
I am argued with the vice principal, counselor and a few other administration members. Hopefully, I will be able to talk with the superintendent to get to the bottom of this. The girl made up a story about my son attacking her. I am not allowed to find our her version due to privacy laws. That is the goofiest thing I ever heard. My son got the story today at his new temporary school while the students all explained why they were there.
I firmly believe my son's story and I negate the girl's story. I am not normally a bleeding heart when it comes to my kids. If you do the crime, you do the time. However, one thing that moms of kids of autism know, they don't lie.
I have physically worn myself out trying to fight this problem. Our school has a no tolerance policy when it comes to fights. I cannot say that I agree with it once you look at the pitfalls. According to what I have been told by staff, if you are on the receiving end of a punch, you are in a fight. Therefore, you are going to Alternative School. They had a boy in this school that stood and let a girl beat him up. He ended up at this school because he was in a fight. I don't get it.
The fallout from all of this has yet to completely happen. My son's anxiety level is through the roof. He spent the first half of the day frightened of breaking a rule. Your break a rule, you get another day. He only had half a day because school was canceled early due to impending storms.
He doesn't understand and neither do I. I firmly believe that kids with Special Needs have no rights in my school system. You are guilty without any recourse. I am wondering who will be paying for the therapist that we will probably have to hire to fix the fallout. I will continue my arguments with the school. I will be at least heard if not understood. We have decided to find a private school for my son to receive better training. When does this end?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Battle of the Girl Scout Cookie

There are many people that buy Girl Scout cookies that don't have any idea how competitive leaders can be during cookie sales. This is not said as a negative but as all out competition. Looking for great neighborhoods to sell door to door in, picking that great cookie booth, just asking everyone they know about buying cookies. We become obsessed about that wonderful chunk of sugar.
The cookie program is a well orchestrated marketing program. Cookies are only available once a year and that seems to be the best sales point. I swear people mark their calendar every year to expect little girls in their patch vests selling their cookies. I had a professor at Purdue University tells us that the cookie program is the biggest marketing coo every invented. We all go crazy for that cookie. Very few people can't name a cookie that is sold.
The interesting part is sitting back and watching troops go out and do their thing. We all have guidelines that we must follow to keep the program consistent around the country. There is a set time to take orders, deliver and even have booths. Break a rule and somebody is breaking their neck to tell the council office. Some even will complain if you are in their "territory". That is competitive.
I won't say that this is common - but it sure is fun to watch. I must admit that I tend to push my girls too. The troop makes an average of $.55 per box. Doesn't sound like much but my troop has sold over 1000 boxes our first week.
The program is intended to teach girls about managing money, managing their cookies and presenting themselves to the public. I am very comfortable talking to complete strangers and I think it may come from my cookie sales as a kid. How many young kids do you know have the guts to ask a complete stranger if they would like to buy a box of cookies? They have learned to work with hard people or people who ignore them. My favorite ploy to watch at a booth are people who won't even look at the girls as they blow by the booth. I guess lack of eye contact means no verbal contact. Just smile and say no thanks.
The theme this is year is "What can a cookie do?" Other than driving adults to craziness while selling these cookies, it does quite a bit for the girls. Try standing at a cookie booth when it's 15 degrees and snowing and see how your endurance is. My girls changed it into a marketing ploy. If you buy all our cookies, our leader says we can go home. Not a bad plan and it worked. My troop set goals and they are about to hit them. Not bad for a bunch of tweens and teens. They offer support to each other to make sure they make their goals. How many times that happen in your office?
Finally, they learn how to spend their money. Sounds pretty easy. Except you have to please the majority and there are 10 girls in my troop. They are kicking around a few ideas but nothing is certain.
The selling season has just begun. My game room is full of several hundreds of boxes of cookies. My email is full of questions from my parents. I have driven boxes all around my small little town just to add a couple more cookies to my daugthers' counts. I may be in a new area but I am already scheming ways to help my troop. I will battle it out to help my girls and hopefully not raise too many eyebrows.
Instead of being a dufus and hurrying by those young ladies asking you a simple question - stop and answer. Give a donation, buy a box for the military, stock up your freezer or say no thank you. We may be battling it out to support our troop, you are showing an example of how an adult treats a youth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Next Century of Scouting

I have just started a new job with my Girl Scout council here in Alabama. There are many young girls here that have not been reached yet by Girl Scouts and it's my job to make that connection. It's actually a pretty cool job and I hope that our Boy Scout council will follow suit with their program.
There are several very rural schools in southern Alabama. These kids ride the bus back and forth to school. Getting them back to school for a troop meeting is pretty much not going to happen. Montgomery is not rural but some of their schools don't have troops due to lack of volunteers to run those troops. No matter the reason, the girls are not given the chance to join a troop. That is where I come in.
I am traveling to each of these schools once a month a holding a troop meeting with these girls during their gym period. We do bullying education, games, songs, crafts and even sell cookies. They don't earn badges or go on field trips. However, they can participate in the council activities. Some of these troops are built with grants and others the parents are sponsoring their girls. Depends on the situation.
I had my first day at school last week and must admit that I had a blast. These girls are hungry for a great program and I hope I can provide that. I also met with a rural school and they are very excited to be added to the program.
I know that they are not getting as much program as they would from a traditional troop. However, they can start a traditional troop and go on their own way. However, what they are receiving is quite a bit more than what they had which was nothing.
It really makes my day to see the excitement in these girls faces are they walk in for their troop meeting. They were disappointed that we were only meeting once a month but they still fidgeted with excitement.
Juliette Low may not had this in-school troop set up in mind when she started Girl Scouts in the US 100 years ago. I am sure that she would approve, though. Because, it's all about the girl.