Friday, January 23, 2015

To Michael Moore and the others, with love....

In the grand scheme of things, I am a nobody. I am part of a military family that supports and loves a member of this country's military. I am but a person who wishes her loved one a safe and fast deployment. I am a person who says goodbye more times than I say hello. I am one out of many that sends care packages, manages on her own, worries about the outcome within a 6 month period. I am part of that group of people that you and many others, have so poignantly criticized and remarked on either our lifestyle and or the work our loved ones do for this country.

Now I know that  a lot you have recanted some of your comments in the past couple days, but the fact of the matter is, is that you said it. And once you say something, it sticks with people. Words can come back  to haunt you. Most of the remarks and comments come from people who have no idea what its like to serve in a military, let alone know what it's like to live in that lifestyle. So the comments made only concretes the idea that people still have misconceptions about the military and it's families.

In the past couple of days, the conversation that has prevailed in wake of "American Sniper" have been sometimes interesting, but also somewhat very sad. Thanks to Mr. Moore and a slew of other people, those misconceptions people had about the military were brought to light. Comments like " Well all military are just murderers and torturers"or " This whole "Following Orders" business goes against the morality of the situation" and even " Well military members are getting all these benefits, why can't I" There are so many more, that to be honest they hurt my brain just thinking about. But it is the "Coward" comment that irks me the most.I have heard it not just from Mr. Moore but from other people. It concerns me not only because I am a wife of a service member, but as someone who proudly supports the Veterans of this country.

SO let me clear the air by stating some facts to those who walk around taking about something they know nothing about. Yes our military is trained in combat. Its a military. They need to know how to point and shoot a gun or defend themselves when in a situation that requires them to do so. But thanks to previous wars there are rules of lawful combat. Thanks to the Geneva Convention. War is a horrible business. But it happens. Along with war comes people who are bad apples. The ones who do horrible bad things that are against the law. But that is not say that every single member of the military is like that. As for following orders, the orders given, are followed by the rules of lawful engagement. There are times where mistakes are made or that the situation is different than initially thought. Part of being in the military is following orders. There are going to be orders that you will not like, but military members took an oath when they joined up. An oath that they swore to, to protect and serve their country's freedoms and it's people. We have a volunteer military. It doesn't mean that it's mandatory to serve. So you do have the right choose whether or not you want to serve in it or not. SO when you reserve the right to not join, that doesn't give you the right to treat the ones who did,enlist with disrespect. As for the "benefits", well I think that protecting a country from the harsh realities a lot of other countries are facing is worth something?

Now again, in the arena that consists of the likes of Michael Moore and the others who have significant presence in this country, I am but one person. A speck. But I am a speck with a voice.And since it seems that thanks to a movie that highlights the need for more support for PTSD programs for our Veterans, we are getting the backlash from people who don't understand. If it were the only thing that could have been taken out of that movie, it is the need to bring mental health into the spotlight for our Veterans. War does horrible things to a person's mind. Whether or not you see Kyle as a murderer, because of the job he was ordered to do, that is your perspective. But most of us who have either read his book or have watched the movie, see a man broken. See a man who came back from hell, only to be criticized for how he dwelt with his PTSD. Thanks to political agendas, those men and women that get called up to do their duty, are often forgotten when they return. Or they get called cowards and other horrible names simply because they did what they thought was right.

Whether or not you agree with this country's decision to go to war or not, its not the Veterans or the military members you are angry with. Its with the people who make the decisions to go to war. The ones who make decisions for the country. Washington. Politicians. The military is just following the orders that have been passed down them through the chains of command. Let Washington know how disgruntled you are. Stop voting in people who make it their business to ship our troops off to war all for the sake of money.People tend to forget the good things our military does do when in a foreign country.  But don't take it out on the lower management. As that is what the military is, sadly.

I will say this..

There should never be a time that a returning Veteran should ever be called a Coward.Period. Especially by anyone that has never enlisted or served. There should never be a time where Veterans are treated with so much disrespect that they wonder if their own country has turned their backs on them. Never should the people who protect your freedoms be called anything less than honorable.

So with that, to Micheal Moore and the others, it is with love from us the military families, that we take your comments, retractions, criticism to heart. As it will make us even more louder to prove to you and so many others, that our military deserves so much more. It deserves to have it's country behind them, as they defend your right to your freedoms. Which includes calling them cowards.

Friday, January 16, 2015

ATTENTION KMART SHOPPERS!!! Autism.... Aisle 9!!!

I get it. I really do. My children are unique. In every sense of the word. Not because they are just children,who have every right to exist in this adult world, but children who at any given day will test the limits of not only my patience, but the patience of every canonized saint. They are unique to how they respond to the rest of the world, which includes you. I get that they will take you out of your comfort zone. I know that when you are out trying to do your errands, like grocery shop, stand in line at the post office or even go to the doctor, that the last thing you want to be around is children. Especially special needs children. As parent, I am trying my damnedest to make that my children are well behaved and cherubs when they grace the outside world with their presence. But just as you are all having a bad day, they do too. They don't want to be standing in line or waiting for a Doctor that is running late. The trick is, is that we as adults, we know how to act when faced with situations that are less than ideal. Children, even society's idea of "Normal" have a hard time. So when you throw in a child who has some difficulty navigating this earth as it is, it is no picnic.

Its not that we have an option of leaving our children home when we have to run to Target or Kmart to get 5 things. And when they are sick, things are just magnified. So here is the deal...

I honestly get sick and tired explaining my situation to people who see my family as a strife on their day. The looks, the murmurs, the unsolicited parenting advice or whatever you want to throw my way. And honestly, if I hear one more time that all my children need is a good spanking, I am going scream. Scream in a way, its going to make my children's meltdown over the bright lights look like you wished you kept your mouth shut. I don't need you to tell me that my child is being loud or that he/she is vibrating out of their seat. I don't need to you tell me that they are repeating the same words or and over again. Nor do I need you to whisper and stare. I don't need you to tell me that they should be talking by now or ask me why they are still in pull ups. Or do I need you to joke about my child's  vibrating chew toy or anything else that helps them with a sensory diet.

This is what I do need. I need you to mind your business. If my children don't look abused or mistreated, then move on. Ignore the flapping. Ignore the screeching. Ignore it all. If it looks like I have a handle on things, then don't put your two cents into the situation. And please if you know what is good for you, don't ever tell me how to parent my children. You don't live my life. You don't go through what I go through. Nor do you sit through IEP meetings or doctor appoints to even have an inkling of why I parent my children the way I do. And You don't have sleepless nights, as your children aren't bouncing off your walls at 4am because they are so over stimulated their little bodies can't relax. So all those assumptions and misconceptions you have, just by having to be near my family for maybe 10 minutes out of your day, can stay within the confines of your head. I need you to look deep within yourself and accept my situation, as well as my children as something that doesn't concern you.

It might seem that I am a little put off. Well I am. With information at people's finger tips, there is absolutely no reason why ignorance prevails. For those who have been taken out of their comfort zone by a child with special needs, guess what? There is an internet just full of information that could enlighten you on why there are certain things going on in the world. What you don't see, is that my children are funny, kind and they love. They just love, love in a way that is important to them.

So yeah, My children have this thing called Autism. It is part of them just as their ears, nose and mouth are part of them. It doesn't define them entirely, but it is a part of who they are as a person. So what. They stim, they are loud sometimes. They have a certain order to how they view the world. And is that anyone's business? No. As it isn't going to matter to you after you leave us standing there in wake of your ignorance.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Acceptance is more than just a word.

You could look the definition up in the dictionary to know what the formal sense of the word is, but in your mind and heart you already know what it means. Its one of those things the 99.9% of the world wants or craves. We all go through life, wanting other people to accept us for who we are. Sometimes we pretend to be a person we are not, just to feel part of the gang. Or that we strive so hard for society to love us. Acceptance has become part of how we live our lives. Now I know that there are people out there that claim that they don't care what the world thinks of them, but to the people they think matter, they are willing to change a part of themselves, just to be accepted by those certain people.

Humans from the dawn of time have had this need to be part of something. Whether it be trying to prove one's self to go hunting for the clan's next meal to trying to prove yourself among your peers at school. We have all tried to change ourselves in order to fit in. But acceptance is no more just a word, to a person that doesn't fit into society's "Normal"

If you don't fit into a certain group, that let's say is popular, or the majority, you are constantly trying to prove to them that you deserve to be part of that majority. The lack of acceptance spawns things like racism, discrimination and bullying. You will have people fighting for equality, the right to be liked and loved for the person they are born to be. We can change our attitudes about things, but we can't change the way we inherently look like. I can't take the freckles off my face no more than a African can change the colour of their skin. Nor can a person with special needs help the way they born. So why is it that we still strive to be perfect to the demands of society?

Its because no one wants to accept that we are imperfect. There is no such thing as a perfect person.We all have our faults and the things we don't like about ourselves. But most of us accept what we can change about ourselves in order for to be happy with the person we are inside.

As I sit down to write this, shy a couple of months before Autism Awareness Month, I have often thought it should be more Autism Acceptance. You see Awareness and Acceptance shouldn't stop just at the end of April. It should be how you look at life. It should be how you accept the differences other people have.  You will find that if you are willing to accept a person for who they are, really get to know them, you might learn something about yourself in the process.

I experience acceptance through my own family. We are a special needs family. They are a source of proving to the world that different isn't a bad thing. Yeah, they have some hurdles in life, but that is what makes them stronger.I have seen them stand up to people who have called them "Stupid, Strange, Retarded" or have treated them horribly. They are also kids that strive to be a part of something. Anything. Whether it be an activity like sports, a party or just being part of a social group, where they can be themselves, without the fear of rejection and bullying. It doesn't take much to make kids with special needs happy. As long as you accept and understand that they are just as human as you are, you will make them as well as yourself feel better.

Everyone wants to be loved and accepted. Everyone wants to feel included in something. Acceptance isn't just a word. Its a way of life. Its how you choose to see the outside world and it's many different things. But sadly there are people who refuse to accept that we are all just human beings who have been set on this great earth to just live. They will miss out on what is outside their own sphere.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

X marks the Spot

I haven't done much the past couple of weeks. I am ashamed to say. Much less sit down to write. For the past month and a half, I have had barely enough time to really catch my breath. Trying to get through the Holidays in one piece and juggling life as I know it with just me to deal with it all, has been exhausting. This past month brought a lot of things to my plate. Things that I wasn't ready to digest and some that I was. Life always finds a way to put a wrench in the best laid plans. Between watching helplessly as friendships crumbled and trying to get through difficult Doctor's appointments, I knew once I got the holidays done and over with, I could finally try to catch my breath, if for a little while.

Time to digest the full extent of the last couple of months. Time to figure out what the game plan was going to be. But even the veteran special needs parents knows that it doesn't matter how much you try to plan for things, life changes almost instantly to disrupt even the best of plans. Things you thought you knew,changed. Things you knew were going to work, all of a sudden don't. The plan that you once had, the one you were so sure would be a good one? Just doesn't exist anymore and its back to trying to make up a new one. Sometimes that can make you have this sense of dread. As you sit there thinking, "Well Fuck... What do I do now?" You do the only you know how to do at this point. You pick up your socks and move forward. You have to. Its the only way you can get both yourself and your family through rough times.

December was my "Well Fuck.. what do I do now?" period. Back in September, we had gotten a diagnosis of Fragile X for our youngest son. At the time, I knew very little about this disorder. So I did what any other parent would do, I turned to the internet. I researched the shit out every Fragile X website I could find. I read things I didn't understand. I read things I didn't want to acknowledge. And I read things that made me go.. "Yeah that sounds about right!" But in doing that, I wasn't fully grasping the full reality of it. It wasn't until, we started doing the tests and the assessments, that it fully hit me. Like hard, in the face on a very cold day. The first clinic appointment was one of the most difficult days I think I have ever had to sit through. I have been through many appointments, IEP meetings and assessments  between three children to be hardened to somethings that get said. But our first clinic appointment, took the wind right out of my sails.  I think normally its very hard for parents to hear that there is something wrong with their children. Whether it be something minor or major. Parents want what is best for their children in every aspect. I knew going into this that the Autism diagnosis we had gotten 2 years ago was on point. And that with the now Fragile X diagnosis, it was that we had found the "Why" piece to his puzzle. I was prepared for that. It was all the information that came after that point that made me take a step back. That morning we saw a total of 5 people in clinic. I was told that there was evidence of my son having petite mal seizures, which in the long run build up to a grand mal. The discussion of medications honestly made my head spin. The ordering of more tests and assessments would make even the seasoned parent do a double take. I knew this road wasn't going to be an easy one. I knew it was going to have it's challenges, but I just was not prepared for the amount of everything.

The full scope of this disorder didn't just effect my youngest son, but there was that very positive possibility that it would affect myself and my eldest son. Thank you genetics. As the geneticist went on talking about what my sons and I were going to face later on in life, I went numb. Part of me felt guilt. I have always tried to put my "Mom Guilt" into the recesses of my mind, Since Little Man's autism diagnosis, I have manage to keep it at bay. Until now. Being told that this was something a mother past down to her sons and a father down to their daughters, that guilt that I had kept so hard locked up, came back with such force, it was too much. At this point there was no way to reel it back in. I know in my mind that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent this. Nothing. I can't go back and change how my genes are or my sons'. Its going to be what it is. But my heart just hurt. And trying to tell the heart to feel the same way the brain does, never works. I know in time I will sync them both up, but things are still raw.

I know that there are much worse things that could happen and that this is not the end of the world. I remind myself that we are in the best possible place to be in. My son has a tremendous amount of support within the medical and academic community. And for that, he is blessed. For those who have supported Little Man, thank you. It has really meant a lot to know that there are people out there who care enough to want to understand and want to help.

Right now, its that little X that marks the spot. The spot where the worries and fears are. The spot where the uncertainties lie. Its the spot in my heart that makes me want to hug that little sweet boy forever if it just meant that I could make life that much easier for him.