It Doesn’t Make You Better: Bullying and Generic Lip Service

bullying abuseBullying has become a hot topic. You can barely turn on the TV or radio without coming across some celebrity lecturing about it. But the attractive lip service doesn’t matter. It’s just noise. A lot of people who were bullied in school are still silent. They’re often ashamed or uncomfortable talking about it. Some people who try to speak out are bullied even more. I am tired of hearing people say the same things over and over. There must be a list of default responses in our cultural repertoire. Maybe it sounds good to say “What you went through makes you stronger.” Maybe it seems helpful to tell someone “You’re a better person because of it.” Those words are empty and generic to me.

Many people have dealt with bullying but there isn’t a platform for open, meaningful discussion. We need to be allowed to share our experiences with brutal honesty. We should encourage it. Going through bullying doesn’t always make you strong. It doesn’t really make you a better person. Some people don’t even survive. Bullying is abuse. We shouldn’t allow such abuse to be seen as acceptable. No one should be telling people that bullying is a necessary–much less positive– part of growing up. It’s great that celebrities are interested but everyone’s going about it in the wrong way. Continue reading

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Internet Searches and Autism

Google and Autism Speaks Search InitiativesAs preparations for the next episode of the ICAA Radio show wrapped up, volunteers performed a few internet searches. Using autism as the search term, they were disappointed by what they found. When searching images, there will be categories listed at the top of the page. What came up in the volunteers’ search wasn’t very helpful.

Image searches come up with things related to the words you type in. For instance, when you use Google to perform an image search for Mexican, the categories are: People, Flag, Food, Person, and Pride. When searching images for the word female, categories include Symbol, Human, Circumcision, and Face. When performing a search for autism, the categories are: Children, Puzzle Piece, Brain, Ribbon, Autism Speaks, and Quotes. Continue reading

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Parents Who Want Autism Gone

autismI think most parents love their children and want them to be happy. But we all see moms and dads wallowing in sadness over children who aren’t doing what their parents want. That sadness extends beyond the realm of autism. Parents everywhere can be found complaining about their children. But parents of autistic children seem to bury themselves in it. Most parents might say “I’m so frustrated with Johnny. I wish he would talk to me.” A lot of autism parents will say “I want autism gone. My life is a nightmare because of Johnny’s autism.”

I dread interacting with other parents. If I am about to meet a parent for the first time, I feel the need to brace myself. No matter who they are, they have probably gotten their information through Autism Speaks type messages. Sometimes the parents I meet want to talk about how they’ve heard reports about vaccines. What do I think? Is there a link? They might ask me if a non–dairy diet comprised exclusively of bubble gum will make kids with autism get better. Bubblegum hasn’t been one of the suggested treatments yet but it’s just as ridiculous and it would probably be less harmful than what many parents are sold in the name of so called autism treatment. I come across all kinds of parents in my personal and professional life. Too many of them believe my family wants or needs pity. Continue reading

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