Attempted murder – Seeking justice both after and before the fact

lady justiceThere seems to be two reactions to the Stapleton story:

1. The search for justice and the need to place blame where blame is deserved.
2. The need to know how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

These are both good reactions. Both of these things need to happen. Kelli needs to be held accountable. Every murderer/attempted murderer does. But also, if she wasn’t ever the type of person to do that before, and now she is, we need to know how that happened.

The difference I’m seeing here, however, is that group 1 is outright attacking group 2 but not the other way around. I can only assume that this is because, instead of raising pitch forks and being outraged, those that seek out more answers are seen as some how supporting Kelli or at least, not blaming her. As if the need to seek out an explanation as to how this happened is seen as an attempt to find a reason to let her off the hook. It’s not.

I am in group 2. And here’s why:

I know Kelli is at fault. I know she’s wrong. I don’t blame anyone but her. I don’t now nor can I ever forgive her for making her decision no matter what brought her to that point. So in my mind, that’s taken care of. I don’t need to write about it. Besides, the authorities haven’t even had time to pick up a pen yet… so let’s see where they go with this. If somehow she is excused… then please, pass me a pitch fork.

Until then, is there another mother, or father, maybe I know them, or maybe I don’t, that I may be reading about in the news tomorrow when I thought they were fine yesterday? How can I know? What should I be aware of? How can I prevent it?

You can hate me because I didn’t write about how terrible she is, or how evil any parent is that would do this, and you can certainly think I’m just being diplomatic if you have to.

Whether you think I’m doing right or wrong, I still support you and back you and think it’s great if you are outraged and want to see Kelli hang for this (proverbially or literally). Please do. More.

While you’re doing that though, let me see if I can find a way to stop the next child from facing a similar fate.

The way I see it, hating Kelli for what she did (and yes, I really do) isn’t going to stop it from happening to someone else.

I missed this one. I let Issy down.

I need to know how to not miss the next one.

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When the strongest among us falls

Autism parents. As differing as autism children.

Some go so far as to separate them into labels such as ‘warrior’ or ‘victim’. Some call them ‘special people’ because God only gives ‘special children’ to those types. Others see them as bad parents that let their children ‘get away with stuff’ what they would never have let happen themselves.

We’re just people. Autism parents are people. Same strengths… same… weaknesses…

Earlier, my Facebook timeline began to repeat one name, over and over again. It was the name of a woman that I’ve met on Facebook. It was a woman that I’ve seen in the news. A woman that I’ve had the pleasure to talk to. She’s commented on this blog.

Before you read the news story that everyone was talking about, before you form any opinions on what you think may have happened or start to question what lead to this or anything else, I want you to consider this:

She was one of the strongest autism parents that I’ve met.

http://record-eagle.com/local/x312422563/Charges-loom-for-Benzie-woman-in-murder-suicide-attempt

Another autism parent on Facebook shared a similar link with the caption “I just don’t understand it.” but I do understand it.

Still, I can’t help but to think how fragile, not just life is, but our own self worth, our inner well being and more so than that, our strength to keep it all up.

When the strongest among us falls, how do the rest of us carry on?

The answer came to me, not once, but twice this week as I watched autism parents share their private phone numbers on a not very private Facebook wall so that anyone, it doesn’t matter who, can call them if ever they need someone to talk to.

Now, I don’t condone nor do I think I could ever forgive attempting to take Issy’s life as well (if everything did happen as the reports are saying they did). No matter how hard anything ever got, I could never do anything to hurt my boys.

But I do understand how dark it can get. The first time autism parents shared their phone numbers this week, it was for me.

So how do we carry on? Well, I think all of those incredible autism parents already have the answer: by being stronger than our strongest. And the only way that can happen is with numbers. 2 people are stronger than 1. With enough people, you can balance any weight.

A group at it’s weakest is still stronger than an individual at their strongest.
For an individual will tire eventually, no matter how strong they are.

Which brings me to the last words from the last post on her blog:

There is so much more to say.  I’m just too tired to write more.
All my love,
Kelli
http://thestatuswoe.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/when-a-power-player-takes-you-down/

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Autistic – Noun or Adjective? Which is offensive?

So I wrote my last post and titled it: “AutCraft – The not so little Minecraft project for autistics and their families” and went about my day. Until this happened:

autistic-nounorajdective1

autistic-nounorajdective2Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the “person first language” thing, where some people insist that you use “person with autism” rather than “autistic.” I’ve written about it before in articles such as The last word on “person first language” where I explain why I use the terminology that I use.

This however, is entirely new to me. Now, in this seemingly middle ground area, it’s ok to use as an adjective but not as a noun. The woman that tweeted above, uses “mom to autistic son” in her bio and yet uses “ouch” and “awful” in her tweets to me because I referred to people as “autistics” in my post title.

I am an understanding person though so I’m not going to dismiss hers or anyone else’s concerns. I do however feel that we should work this out so that we have a better mutual understanding of each other.

Now, in conversations, I’ve referred to myself as a Canadian, a baldy, a male, a genius, an idiot, an autistic, an introvert, a bore, a supporter, a nerd and a whole bunch of other things. These can all be used as adjectives.

What I need now is a list of terms that you use when referring to yourself.

Then I’ll pick and choose the ones that I think should offend me and we can then come to some sort of agreement where you can no longer refer to yourself that way and I can no longer refer to myself that way and we can finally go back to being happy people.

Because the last thing I’d ever want is to offend YOU by referring to ME.

 

 

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AutCraft – The not so little Minecraft project for autistics and their families

Fireworks show we put on for the 4th of July

Fireworks show we put on for the 4th of July

My blog hasn’t been updated in a while and that’s because I’ve been busy. Busy like always but even busier than that. A little over 2 weeks ago, I decided to open the doors on a pet project that I call AutCraft and I’ve done very little of anything else since.

Minecraft has proven very beneficial for people with autism as it provides the open world, no stress, creative and imaginative sandbox space that they can thrive in. Do as much or as little as you want. Explore, adventure, fight monsters, fight each other, do technical work, build magnificent buildings… it’s entirely up to you.

The one area that it’s struggled, however, is in it’s social game play. Minecraft servers are everywhere but they’re largely left free. That is to say, they let players do as they please. And rightly so really, considering Minecraft is a sandbox, a free to do as you please type of game. But that environment isn’t great for those that may struggle socially.

This is where I thought I could help. I created a server where bullies are not tolerated and monsters are kept at a distance so as to not scare the younger ones and player vs player damage is turned off. More so than that, each player gets their houses/bases/stores/etc protected so that no one can build, break or take anything within that zone except for the person that owns it.

The main thing? It’s a white list server which means that only those people that I approve can access it. It’s not open to just anyone.

I thought I’d start opening day slow by sharing with just my friends list rather than my fan pages or twitter followers. Here’s some numbers for that slow start:

In the first 2 days, I received over 700 emails. Within 2 weeks, I had 500 players on the list. I had upgraded the server from package #1 to package #8 in it’s first 8 days. I found 3 blog posts about it and the fan page had gained 700 likes with a ton of praise and approval from parents. On the first night, after I put my boys to bed, I sat down to 126 unread emails, replied to 82 of them and still had 94 unread emails left.

Good thing I started small right?

I knew this server was a good idea from the start, giving people a safe and fun environment but I had no idea just how much it would benefit the players and their families. Here are just a few of the responses I’ve received:

I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to us…. today I picked my son up from his AS camp and we started talking. He said he couldn’t wait to get home to play on the site….he was quiet for a bit then said ” Mom, I’ m glad I have Aspergers…otherwise I couldn’t have played on the new server”. THANK YOU… for years he has HATED he is different.. .and now he is happy with who he is. Bless you

I don’t mean to inundate you with our gratitude, but I had to share this: Today, we sat in the waiting room for speech therapy. When it ended, my son, my daughter, and a friend’s son (who recently joined Autcraft) had the most passionate extended conversation. All about Autcraft. They talked, listened, asked questions, and offered advice. No one who didn’t know them would have ever guessed that these kids had any social skill problems.
The SLPs looked on fondly. They smiled, no doubt thinking that all their hard work and therapy was paying off. What they don’t know about is all the hard work that YOU have put in that made this awesome conversation possible.
And there are plans for a Minecraft play date soon. Thank you for giving these kids something to talk about and bond over, somewhere to belong and be accepted, and a pastime that has provided hours of entertainment, and even some learning. I really appreciate it.

I wanted to say, my son is loving Autcraft. Another child gave him gifts today and he was shocked. A little while later he said to me, “I didn’t really want to, but I gave some gifts away to others. It makes me want to give things to people.” It is a new thing for him to want to share. He also has spent a lot of time on it exploring and building. Thank you so much for this experience.

My son just got invited and went on and immediately introduced himself with his real name. He happily explored before school and was thrilled that “a new friend” gave him diamonds to get started. I’m so grateful you made this safe place for them. Thank you so much!

I like that my son is not worried about being “Cool”. He gets very excited about the things he likes, and doesn’t feel self-conscious when trying to talk to other people about them. To me, THAT’S Cool.

Thank you for creating this wonderful, wonderful world!! My boys are so excited every time they play, and are constantly amazed at how kind the other players are :))))))

I hope you’re able to get sponsors to continue to grow. The Autism community needs this. I’m already seeing improvement with my kids social skills, reading and typing.

So where have I been if not updating my blog lately? Well, mostly work… sadly. I still have my 9-5 job but now I also try to be on the AutCraft server as much as I can to be with these great kids and families. They’re doing such great work and learning so much and building so fast.

I hate missing a single minute of it.

Right now, I’m looking for sponsors/supports that are willing to pick this up and back it financially. I’d be proud to put “AutCraft sponsored by” or “brought to you by” and then a charity’s or company’s name after if it means that I can be in game where I’m needed most. They do so great without me but even better when I’m there. We go on adventures, I take them out to find places to build… we just have so much fun.

So if you get a chance, check out http://www.autcraft.com and see what I’ve been up to!

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Find your own voice

Your voice mattersOn a blog dealing with autism, the title may put some on edge. Not all autistics can speak verbally and even many that can or find another way are often not heard or even ignored.

But that’s that not really what I’m trying to address right now. Instead, I’m talking to you… the one that comments or shares what I write and says “he says what we all think” or “this is so much like how it is for me”. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that, but still, I encourage you to find your own voice. Don’t just share what I write and say “ditto”, but to create your own or to still share mine but to add in yours on top.

This is also to those that say “that’s not how it really is because my child is different” or “you give people a false impression with your feel good BS”. To you I say, go find your own voice. Leave mine alone.

Here’s the thing, we have all heard the one classic autism quote, the one that defines everyone by defining no one: “If you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” And we all know it to be true. And yet we still strive for commonality and relatability and we still hate those that state something to be true when it’s so obviously not for us. Well, ok, maybe only a small few hate. But they’re loud.

We have parents that resent everyone comparing their child to Grandin, Fleischmann or *shudder* Rainman, we have parents hating other parents because they’re not positive or negative enough, we have autistics hating parents because they speak from a parents perspective and don’t consider the child’s and then they hate parents for speaking of the child’s perspective when they can’t possibly know what their child is thinking. We even have parents hating autistics because autistics are representing autism differently than those parents wish they would and we even have autistics hating other autistics for making people think that all autistics are like them.

There’s more but I think that is a good enough list to suffice. I would hope that you can see where I’m going with this.

Ultimately, this all comes down to a form of silencing. People that see autism as being a negative thing will want me to stop speaking about it in a positive way. People that see autism as a positive thing will want me to stop speaking out about the negatives.

This is so very wrong. Very very wrong. I mean, I get it. I understand that it’s not how it is for you. But that’s YOUR story to tell. I’m telling mine. You tell yours.

The fact is, we’re equals in this world. Which means, that if I have to stop being so positive, then you have to stop being so negative and thus, no one learns anything. Where as, if I continue being positive and you continue being negative, people will learn everything. The same thing happens with parents writing from a parent’s perspective and autistics writing from an autistic’s perspective. Or care givers and teachers writing from their own perspectives.

See how that works?

Now, to those of you that actually like what I have to say and feel it’s what you would say anyway, I am trying to be fair. If those that disagree should tell their own story, then so should those that do agree.

The reason? We’re all different. Our children are all different. Our stories are all different.

I’m not saying that you have to start a blog if you don’t already have one but rather, just tell people. Face to face, in social media. What ever. Even if it is by sharing what someone else writes, include your own story along with it. Explain how your story differs, not just how it’s the same.

Only by hearing every story can people understand just how incredibly true and important the grand scale of “If you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism” really is.

I don’t want to be your voice whether you like what I have to say or not. I want you to share your own story. With me and with everyone. Whether I agree with it or not. Whether anyone else agrees with it or not.

Stand up and shout it out! Type it, write it, sign it, morse code it… in what ever way you can express anything to anyone, I encourage you to do it as best you can and as often as you can.

I won’t be silenced and I won’t silence you.

This is my story. I’m eager to hear yours.

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