Posted in Atttitude, Autism, Disney, Disney Parks, Special Needs, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World Resort

“Leave Me Alone!”

If I may preface this Post with a brief word about judgement.

Judgement is a natural instinct, I don’t care who you are, we’re all guilty of it, and we’ve all passed some during the course of our lives. The challenge here is to try to stop yourself before you act, and do any more potential harm. You can’t get your words back. You can never repair the damage, because at the end of the day it’s about how you made that person feel.

Recently I took my son on vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, his favourite place on Earth, and ours too, because that is the place where we have seen the greatest developmental gains, both spontaneous, and gradual. We’ve seen his independence thrive, his sensory limitations expanded, his adaptive skills increased, and everything in between, so yes, we try our best to get him there as often as possible because the joy that radiates from him when there, is magnanimous. Just take a closer look at the photo of him on his way to Walt Disney World Resort.

It was there that he learned proper dining etiquette, and how to wait in lines (we’re up to 30 minutes now), and it was there that we are always made to feel at home by the caring, helpful Cast Members (that’s what Disney employees are called). But, it wasn’t always so easy, or straightforward.

I clearly remember the days when we had a card for a special accommodation to attractions, and we were judged by others in line because my son’s disability is not clearly visible until you begin to really observe him. I was the mom who had little cards printed up explaining his disability because I was truly interested in educating others, and this helped me save my voice from repetition, but most importantly, it saved my son’s dignity. He may not be verbal, but his comprehension is close to his age level.

So, yes, I was and still am his greatest advocate, and my antennae are on high alert for any unfair stares, and/or comments, but I always try to handle uninformed people with care, because it’s not their fault that they do not know about autism. So I can’t judge them, and I won’t. Life is not always about us after all, and not everyone is affected by disabilities.

But, last week, I learned something new about my son. He does have a voice other than through his art, and his music.

He spoke up.

We were lined up at a kiosk at Epcot to pay for something, and while he stays close to me, while I am paying, he tends to swagger from leg to leg, and do odd things with his hands, and he may babble a few words.

Until I heard a voice behind me from a woman who quite harshly asked him, “what are you doing?”

His response, “leave me alone!”

So, while this may not have been the best response to the woman, it gave me great hope, because he actually advocated for himself.

At that point, I turned, smiled, and briefly explained about my son, to which her reply was mockery through sneers at us.

We just walked away.

It was the best thing to do.

My job now? I have to teach my son the proper language in dealing with comments that ruffle him, because “leave me alone” is harsh, and inappropriate.

So please, while it’s easy to judge, try to derail from it, by thinking that we all have feelings, and that we may all do things differently from each other.

If you can’t say something nicedon’t say nothing at all.” – Thumper

Posted in Attitude, Life, Thoughts

The Power of a “Like”

What is it we are all seeking by being on social media?

Validation? Friendship? Making money? Adoration? Popularity?

What?

Do we all really know what happens when “Like” is clicked?

It’s a lot deeper than we think. When people “Like” our posts, it gives us affirmation, and a feeling of validation, and it also has a lot to do with the feeling of popularity. Some people need that. It’s like a thirst, a craving, a need. And I believe that’s dangerous. As adults, most of us know how to deal with controlling this, and putting this feeling in its place, and carrying on with what’s really important in our daily lives.

But for some, it’s not that easy. It becomes a competition, a race. It also becomes about who liked what, and how much. Some people cannot control what happens to them when they see someone else with dozens of “Likes” and that’s when it gets complicated, and often time, confrontational. That’s when private messaging begins with accusations and harassment. They don’t want to see another person getting ahead, or gaining attention, because they think, for some reason, it will detract from them. Sadly, the anonymity of the computer equips some people with the gaul to intimidate, harass, and threaten other people.

Sad and alarming.

Here’s something else which is quite disturbing. “Likes” are important to the social media platform people use. Did you know that computer algorithms are compiled from “Likes” and Personality Tests?

From a recent study: “With just 10 likes, the algorithm would know you better than a work colleague. With 150 likes, it would know you better than members of your immediate family, and with just 300 likes, it would know you better than your spouse.” (Branwell Moffat)

The reasons listed above are two fairly serious reasons why we need to re-evaluate the power of the “Like” feature, and I personally, am pleased that Instagram is dealing with this.

For our relationships, our sanity, and for our mental health as adults. And more importantly for the young people who are on these platforms attempting to garner popularity, and who are not equipped with the tools to properly deal with rejection, with bullying, and lack of popularity.

I’m more concerned with young adults and teens. I’m concerned about what they’re seeing online. I’m concerned about who is messaging them, and what they’re being told. I’m concerned about how young adults compare themselves to those who have huge followings, and hundreds of “Likes” and how they’re dealing with all of this privately. For some reason, social media with young adults, and teens has become incredibly influencial, but sadly not always for the right reasons. If you perform a quick online search about teen suicides, you’ll be shocked to find many are the result of pressure from online exchanges.

I can’t wait to see how the emotional climate will shift when Instagram shakes things up a bit for everyone.

 

 

Posted in Attitude, Life, Thoughts

The Grass Seems Greener on the Other Side

My daughter posted this last week, and it stopped me in my tracks.

Facebook for some, is a place where they choose to express themselves. For others, it’s a place to find support and solace. Many people use this platform to post highlights of their life, which others may interpret, and often do, as bragging, or even unreal. Everyone has their own reason for sharing what they do.

I use Facebook to highlight my life, mostly my ups, a few funnies, a bit about Andrew, and rarely my downs. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have challenges, and that I didn’t struggle, and worked super hard to get to where I am. Many of my choices were bang on the money, and others not so much.

It’s all about what everyone wants to post, and we, as followers and/or friends, need to respect that, and not make assumptions that someone’s life is a bowl of cherries, just because they choose to share all their gatherings, vacations, and me times, and all that. Alternatively, don’t come down hard on people for voicing their politics, or sports teams, and all that. They are emphatic about their claims, and that’s alright! It’s just folks doing their thing, posting what matters to them, and that’s it!

But mostly, when someone experiences success with a personal goal, we must all remember the message in this photo, and that, that person probably went through thick and thin to get to where they are.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Better World

We live in a better world. We are, more than ever before, more conscious of, and more accepting of differences in physical ability, race, ethnicity, and gender identity.

We have made great strides, and there is great hope for the future to create a world where we can be free to live harmoniously, and respectful of the way people choose to live, and portray themselves – I am very hopeful about this.

And yet, there is still an ugly undercurrent of people who portray themselves one way in public, and another, where they feel the most comfortable, and/or anonymous, remaining insensitive to how their actions will be perceived by those most vulnerable in society.

The road to a society with a more dignified language began with the United Nations, in December 1948, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms the dignity of all human beings.

Article 1:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

Article 2:

”Without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property birth or other status.”

And yet, we still have preconceived notions, and quite often mock why someone who “appears typical” is in an electric conveyance vehicle, or why someone can physically get out of a car who is parked in an accessible parking spot, or why that person this, or that person that.

This United Nations declaration was prompted by the dehumanizing events of the Second World War, which prompted initiatives to avoid denigrating and hurtful actions and language.

So why are people still using the words, “idiot, retard, demented, lame, dumb, moron, stupid”?

If we have made such strides to be more inclusive, accepting, and accommodating to race, ethnicity, and gender identity, why are we still lagging in the use of certain terminology which is dehumanizing, and exclusionary to a vulnerable population with physical limitations.

We must all make a concerted effort to eradicate the practice of ableism which characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled.

I was blessed with having a neuro-typical capacity, and functioning limbs, but my son, and many of my friends were not, to put it bluntly, and I won’t stand by silently while others make assumptions and/or mockery.

Recently, on a social media platform, a few individuals used flagrant dehumanizing language and posted photos of people needing an accommodation, and it’s heartbreaking to see such duplicity, and discouraging to see that in order to make themselves seem “cool” they had to target a vulnerable population.

In essence, I feel great pathos for those who chastize, and condemn, because I feel, they are in great pain, and this is the only outlet for them to be recognized and accepted.

On the other hand, we must all make an effort to filter what we say, and what we act on because it will affect others one way or another.

Ableism, it needs careful consideration.

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