Judge not, lest ye…oh, screw it, just don’t judge.

Lady JusticeFor anyone who follows my personal blog, you know that I spent this past weekend at a personal retreat. It was an awesome experience, but my cell phone service was spotty, and I tried to avoid being on the Internet too often. I talked to Patrick, and he kept me up to date on things. I knew Simon had a cough, he’d had it when I left, but it hadn’t seemed to get much worse.

On Monday morning, the day I was leaving, my phone missed a call, but I saw a message pop up. I listened. It was Simon’s school nurse, and she left a terse message, telling me to call back. No details. No nothing.

I was on my way to mantras and breakfast, but I called as I walked, worried. It turned out that Simon had been coughing so hard they thought he would throw up. But he had stopped coughing. He had no fever. His color was good. He seemed to feel fine. But he had coughed.

Had he been coughing that weekend, she asked.

Well, I told her, I knew he’d been coughing a bit last week, but I hadn’t been home all weekend, I’d been away, so I wasn’t sure.


That’s all she said.


And the way she said it. The full weight of judgment was upon me.

How could I not know if my child had been coughing? How could I go away? Why was I not right there, right then, to come pick him up?

I reiterated that he had a cough when I left, that he often coughs until he throws up because, like me, he has a horrible gag reflex, and that it doesn’t seem to bother him when he throws up (he has thrown up from coughing in the middle of the night and gone right back to sleep, so we don’t find out about it until the next morning…).

I told her that I was about five hours way, so if there was a problem, she should call Patrick because he could pick up Simon if it was necessary, but that I would obviously not be able to since I was, as I had said, five hours away.

I felt her grumpiness through the phone. I ignored it.

Later on, she called Patrick because Simon had been coughing even more. He went to pick up Simon. She showered praise on Patrick. Thanked him for coming. Oh how wonderful he was to take the time to get Simon from school when he was sick. How wonderful.

In direct opposition to his slacker, loser mother, I’m guessing.

Why did she feel the need to judge me? Why did she feel she had the right to judge me?

I know I’ve said this before, maybe even in a different Simon blog, but there was one important thing I learned when I worked a job at a hospital oh so many years ago. It was the platinum rule.

For those who don’t know, the platinum rule is better than the golden rule.

Everyone knows the golden rule: do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

But that doesn’t really work, does it? Because some people believe in stoning others for their sins. Some people believe that you need to have a quiversful of children. Some people believe in forgiveness. Some people believe in an eye for an eye.

The platinum rule fixes that issue.

The platinum rule states that you should treat others the way they want to be treated.

Amazing, right?

Treat people the way they want to be treated!

Me? I prefer not to be judged when I’ve done nothing wrong. I can sometimes go away, whether for business or pleasure. I can sometimes not be able to drop everything and rush to my son’s aid, especially when his father is five hours closer than I am.

And I can avoid judgment from people who don’t know me.

Now for something completely different:

I want to give a huge shout out to Behavior Plus. I went ahead and showed Simon a video of fireworks (the BBC fireworks from January 1st of this year) and let him know that we could only talk about fireworks once a day. He was welcome to watch the video – a full eleven minutes of fireworks, and talk about fireworks the whole time. But once it was over, that was it. He watched the video once, and since then, he has only brought up fireworks once a day. When he does, I let him focus on them for a few minutes, then remind him that he can’t talk about them until the next day.

I honestly did not think it would work. He is not very verbal, and he does have a lot of issues understanding days and weeks and months and, well, time in general. But he’s totally latched on to the idea that he can only talk about them once a day.



What’s the opposite of “elopement”? How about “criminally negligent caregiver”?

Van image by dantada by morgueFile.com (Not a van actually involved in either case...)
Van image by dantada by morgueFile.com (Not a van actually involved in either case…)

First, let’s get through the definitions.  Elopement, as it refers to autism and other disabilities, occurs when someone wanders away from a “safe environment.  Typically, they will leave to get something of interest, such as water, the park, or train tracks – or to get away from something, such as loud noises, commotion, or bright lights.”  As AWAARE.org points out, “dangers associated with wandering include drowning, getting struck by a vehicle, falling from a high place, dehydration, hyperthermia, abduction, victimization and assault.”  Other terms for elopement are wandering, running, bolting, and fleeing.  It’s dangerous, and it happens all the time.  In fact, just in this past week, several children engaged in elopement behaviors, and not all of them were found safe. 

But now let’s move on to criminal negligence.  If you believe dictionary.com, criminal negligence is “recklessly acting without reasonable caution and putting another person at risk of injury or death (or failing to do something with the same consequences).”  To be fair, the laws vary from state to state as to what actually constitutes criminal negligence as it often has to have a higher degree of culpability than just plain old simple negligence, and in some cases, state law will define it to make sure that it is “disregarding known or obvious risks to human life and safety.” 

So that’s clear now, right?  Time to move onto secondly…

There were two cases this past week, both in Texas, that are to me absolutely horrifying.

In the first, here in the Houston area, a 57-year-old woman who is autistic, cannot speak, and suffers from a heart condition, was left in the back of a van for five hours.  Her driver was supposed to take her to an adult day care.  Instead, he left her.  At this point, no charges have been filed, and in this version of the article, it makes it sound like an accident.  But in a version that has since been removed, family members had commented on the fact that she had bruises and injuries as well, making them fear that it was more than just leaving her in the van.  Is that part true?  I don’t know – news isn’t always accurate.  However, at this point, she is unconscious and in the hospital with no statement on whether or not they think she will survive.   

In the second, up in Dallas, a man (age currently unknown) with special needs and “the mental capacity of a small child” was found dead after he’d been abandoned in a Honda CRV.  The home he’d been living is was supposed to drop him off somewhere off-site for the day; apparently the neglected to do so and neglected to notice him all the way back to the home, and then they further neglected to notice he was still there when they parked and went inside.  It was at least five hours for him in that heat. 

I’m just absolutely horrified that this happened not once, but twice, and both times here in Texas.  What does this say about the “homes” these people are living in and the care they are receiving?      

Hubert Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

I think we can tell how moral Texas is.  We do not have enough laws in place to protect those who need protection, and when there is a breakdown and rules and laws are not followed, there is no follow-through on those protections.  Why has no one been charged?  How do you forget another human being?  These are adults; they are noticeable, and they have special needs that need to be taken into consideration.  Yet somehow in both cases, they were ignored, and being ignored led to one being hospitalized and one being killed. 

Obviously, this hits home for me.  I worry about what will happen to Simon one day in the future.  Will he get ignored and left in a van?  Will he be mistreated by caregivers?  Will anyone step up for him or stand up for his rights and needs? 

I can only imagine how the families feel, and I can only imagine what the individuals went through during their ordeals. 

What I don’t have to imagine is what should happen next. 

We need to know when these things happen, and we need to make noise about it.  We need to be vocal about what is happening around us and what needs to happen in response.  If these were more heavily reported and spoken about, maybe something could change.  Maybe those of us who rely on other caregivers will not have to be constantly living in fear that someone else’s mistake will become suffering for our family members. 


Not Smart, Mr. Principal Man

By HerAlc, cropped by Stomme (Image:Lab 012.jpg -) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By HerAlc, cropped by Stomme (Image:Lab 012.jpg -) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Huffington Post had an interesting article about a brilliant high school principal in Pennsylvania that was busted sending texts and emails about a special needs (bipolar) student.  In these messages, he called the student a “psychopath,” noted that he thought the student might turn into another “Hinckley, Booth, and Oswald,” said that student was “the biggest accident waiting to happen,” and said he thought the student was, “the inspiration for the CSI show on school killing sprees.” 

In response to these obviously offensive and completely inappropriate comments, he was suspended for investigation, but then the school board went ahead and reinstated him (a 6 to 3 vote), but noted that he is no longer allowed to work with the school’s special needs students.

Okay, so let’s think about this.

 The guy isn’t bright enough to know that everything he says about students is available through the open records act.  Yet he’s bright enough to run a school?  Somehow, me thinks he’s too stupid to be in charge of that school.  Especially with those types of comments.  (And the fact that the reason he was caught was that he sent the text during a meeting with the student and the student’s parent!)

Next up – he’s allowed to be the principal, but he can’t work with special needs students.  Hello?  That’s like saying, hey, I know you molested an 8 year old, so you don’t get to work with any more 8 year olds.  But go ahead and keep on working at an elementary school.  The guy has proven he is not appropriate to work with part of the student body, why keep him?  And the fact that this kid is now going to school knowing that his (or her – student not identified) principal thinks that he/she is crazy.  Wow.  That’ll make him/her feel great about school!  And the fact that the board doesn’t care about him/her is going to make him/her feel great, too. 

Why do we excuse behavior when it comes from adults who should know better?  Especially when it makes the kids suffer?  If I was in that town, I’d be looking forward to the elections to get rid of those six school board members…