Posted in Attitude, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Positive Aspects of Self-Isolation

 

 

I’m not going to look at this mandated isolation as a negative thing, rather I am noticing a gradual shift on my weekly trip to the grocery store, in my neighbourhood, and in my home.

 

Before this outbreak, I felt as if the world was in fast-forward. People seemed anxious and ready to pounce, with their first reactions being anger when faced with small challenges in public, or if something didn’t go their way. Everyone seemed to be in a rush behind the wheel, cutting others off, honking, and racing ahead to avoid the red light. Aggression was rampant, and anger bubbling up.

 

The crime was at an all-time high, shootings announced every morning, and assaults on people continuously.

 

Social media was a platform of bashing, and immense negativity where the business of ‘unfriending’ was at an all-time high if one didn’t agree with another’s political views.

 

Our environment was dying from all the toxicity we were dumping into it. Rivers and streams clouded, and wildlife dying.

 

But now, I am noticing something different. I am seeing a new type of mutual respect, and a drastic slowing down of everything.

 

The world is standing still. It’s resting.

 

The atmosphere is becoming a bit cleaner, and skylines are emerging from the once hazy, thickness of pollution. Rivers and streams are flowing and you can actually see the beds.

 

Life has become simple, and we’re gradually returning back to the basics.

 

Life at home.

 

Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve saved a lot of money. We’re spending more time together, and we’re talking to each other without continual Texting at the same time, distracted from our tasks at hand.

 

FaceTime is more meaningful and purposeful. Facebook is slowly turning into a platform of good-will through encouragement and support. The tides are changing. The focus has shifted, because people are realizing that we are all in the same boat.

 

It’s not about me, myself, and I anymore, but rather, the focus on the good towards all people. People are realizing that they are not invincible, which I believe is slowing us all down in our tracks.

 

Now we’re sharing. Now we’re caring. Now we’re listening.

 

And, no, we can’t all have what we want. It was always this way, but we were all caught up trying to change that.

 

Posted in Attitude, Life, Thoughts

Rise Above

I have not been myself emotionally for about a month now (all is well here at home right now, thank God, we are Blessed). There are things that are happening in the world that have angered me, and there were days that I just wanted to speak my mind, and then get off of social media, and never come back. I also realized that it’s not enough anymore to just ignore, remove myself from groups, stay quiet, and scroll past. I’m not going to do that because the problems won’t go away.

It’s NOT okay to be rude. It’s NOT okay to ridicule anyone. It’s not okay to spew vitriol. If you don’t like someone move on. If you don’t care for your leader, exercise your right to vote, don’t perpetuate hatred, animosity, and negativity, because you’re falling right into their pit of ugliness. Find another way, a positive way to express yourself.

Rise above.

Luckily, I stumbled across this beautifully written piece by a person I admire, and I gained a healthier perspective on how to conduct myself, because anger, and hostility will never ever work.

So enlighten yourself by opening the link below, and we all, one person at a time, CAN and should make a difference.

A clip from Oprah’s piece:
https://www.oprahmag.com/…/a25401249/oprah-coming-together/…

“In moments of meditation and reflection, I try to take the cosmic view, imagining our world from the vantage point of the stars. All of us here on earth demeaning each other, thinking that skin color, ethnicity, or territory is a reason to devalue another human; killing the “other” for how they look, how they worship, how they speak, how they act. For simply being.

We’re losing what it means to be civilized. We’re losing respect for lives other than our own.” (Oprah)

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.

49

Posted in Disney, Disney Parks, Disney Parks Moms Panel, MagicBands, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney World Resort

There’s Something Unique About the Disney Parks & Resorts & Destinations

I remember our very first visit to Walt Disney World Resort back in 1998, with my then, four-year-old daughter. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list vacation where we would make and capture our special memories as the fairytales and Disney characters came alive. Little did we know, that these types of vacations would quickly embed themselves into our life.

What kept us coming back?

The unique and ever-evolving events, experiences, and attractions. The multitude of Disney Resort Hotels that offered unique theming at every price-point. The personalized experiences, and treatment. The inclusion, especially with our special needs son — no person is left behind from enjoying themselves fully.

In theme parks that could accommodate over 50,000 people on a given day, we were made to feel as if the theme park belonged to us, as if we were the only guests visiting that day.

Disney employees, lovingly referred to as Cast Members, are everywhere, you can easily spot them, and they’re always approachable, helpful, very friendly, and accommodating. It matters not what your needs are, they are always there to help, in a sincere manner. The services provided by the Walt Disney World Resort Guest Experience Team is like no other. They’ll assist with anything from personalizing a complimentary special occasion button, all the way to helping with a lost item. And believe me, when I say that they try, they do. My cousin accidentally left her sunglasses on an attraction, and before she knew it, the sunglasses were found amidst a sea of sunglasses, and magically shipped home.

Disney Cast Members strive to afford all guests an exceptional experience, which stems from Disney’s “Four Keys” – in priority being; Safety, Courtesy, Show, and Efficiency. Each ‘Key’ is important and plays a part with the rest to ensure incredible guest experiences.

The conveniences are like no other. Where else can you vacation and be fully entertained? Who else will provide complimentary return shuttle service from Orlando International Airport? Or, complimentary MagicBands, an all in one device that contains theme park ticket admission, attraction, and dining reservations, unlocks your Disney Resort Hotel Guest Room door, and even enables charges to your Disney Resort Hotel Guest Room account. Where else do you not see your luggage until your arrival in your Guest Room? Where else can you be transported around 47 square miles of theme and water parks, and shopping via bus, ferryboat, Monorail, and gondola? Where else can you push a button and magical fireworks will twinkle on your headboard anytime you wish?

There’s something about all of this. A pull, like no place else. It’s the way we are treated. It’s about how we forget about all our troubles and enter a world where it’s all about fun stuff, and yummy stuff, and stories coming alive, and making new friends, and seeing old ones — especially the many Cast Members, who are like family now.

It’s because Disney cares.

It’s about exceptional customer service.

That’s why.

Posted in Atttitude, Autism, Life, Special Needs

A Rough Day

In the wake of needing to fulfil a basic human need, my son was subjected to public degradation, not once, not twice, but three times in a span of 20-minutes.

My son is a young man, afflicted with autism. His cognition is that of a toddler. His skills are improving, his speech is improving, he is not reciprocal with his language, but he understands. He understands everything. He is sensitive to people’s feelings and to their expressions.

Last week, he was made to feel like a piece of trash.

“Get out, you don’t belong here, you’re a man.” This is what the public restroom attendant told us both, as I was waiting with my son for a Handicapped stall in the female restroom.

I described my son’s condition to the attendant in front of others and that he requires assistance with toileting, I explained that we tried to wait for the one and only Family Restroom for a reasonable amount of time, but when my son expressed behaviours of urgency I had no choice but to enter the female restroom. She was unyielding. She maintained that he “could have waited for the Family Restroom and that he had to leave.”

When I was assisting my son with hand-washing, the attendant was still there reprimanding me and telling us that he doesn’t belong in the female washroom because he is a man. When we left the female washroom, the attendant followed us out and continued her reprimands. At that point, I could feel my anxiety rising and I chose to leave because I didn’t want my son to become even more upset. Curiously enough, the Family Restroom was still occupied. Twenty or so minutes had elapsed from the time we tried to use that restroom. Did the restroom attendant seriously expect my son to wait that long? Is that reasonable? Is it up to her who uses the restrooms? Is that in her job description?

What if my son was neuro-typical and in the process of a gender change not yet entirely complete, and his physical appearance was still that of a male, but he identified himself as a female? What then?

How can this person act this way?

I have since contacted my local Human Rights Tribunal and I have opened a file against the property managing company that owns this mall. I contacted the property managing company and expressed our experience and I was promised that by the end of September 2019, more Family Restrooms and a Universal Restroom would be in place, to accommodate all people. I was also informed that sensitivity training had already commenced for this particular restroom attendant and all others contracted out by that third party.

Update:

The local mall is almost finished completing the installation of three “Universal Washrooms” and one more “Family Restroom” (in addition to the original Family Restroom).

Success! Andrew’s challenging experience paved the way for better experiences for many people.

 

Posted in Autism, Disney, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Parks, Uncategorized

Disney Cast Members

Recently, a poignant story came out about an autistic boy’s positive experience with a Disney Character at Walt Disney World Resort. I must admit, this is not a unique experience amongst guests with special needs at “The Place Where Dreams Come True”. It’s commonplace, as Disney continually strives to afford all guests as enjoyable, enriching, and as inclusive a vacation experience as possible — and to this very day, I can honestly say that every single Disney vacation holds a unique and special moment, and compassionate accommodations for our son that ensured he had a magical visit.

So, this is why…

  • to Winnie-the-Pooh who was easy-going about Andrew nuzzling against his snout…
  • to Buzz Lightyear who captured and maintained Andrew’s attention in mere seconds…
  • to Simo, our delightful server at ‘Ohana who knows exactly what to bring Andrew and when…
  • to Eeyore who lets Andrew pull off his tail and thanks him for noticing…
  • to the Guest Relations Cast Member who nods with understanding with no further explanation…
  • to Donald Duck for not losing his feathers when Andrew stepped on his big, yellow webbed feet…
  • to Cinderella for her feather-light embrace and the first girl that Andrew smiled at…
  • to Mickey Mouse for noticing Andrew’s shyness and for stepping out of the tent to tickle Andrew’s feet and make him giggle…
  • to the countless Cast Members for making us feel like a ‘normal’ family…
  • to the Cast Member who spotted us on the Monorail platform and who came over with Mickey Mouse stickers and a set of FastPasses…
  • to the place where Andrew told me he loved me and gave me a peck on the cheek for the first and only time in 2012…

Great customer service with The Walt Disney Company stems from their  “Four Keys”, which guarantee exceptional Guest experience – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Experience!

They’ve unlocked the magic when it comes to customer service.

50