Don’t Feed the Trolls

When my dad came to me to help him organize a political event I was thrilled and, quite frankly, honored.  The person that I admire most in the world wants to work with me on something he cares about. Let’s get started!  

Everything has been great thus far!  I guess I should say almost everything.  We’ve gotten the venue, food plan and got a schedule together of what we need to do.  We are both first time organizers so it’s been interesting working through the kinks together.  We’ve got over 40 attendees so we must be doing something right. The part that I wasn’t anticipating was exposing my dad to the ugly side of social media.

I should have known to prepare for this.  I’ve had my page for over a year now. I get hate all the time.  Maybe I’ve become desensitized to it because, honestly, I don’t even notice anymore.  What I didn’t anticipate was how angry I would feel when people do the same thing to my dad.  People go out of their way to be mean and sometimes quite aggressive. Some examples:

 

  • If your calling for a “revolution” then it shows just how treasonous you people really are.
  • Layton losers (This guy came back multiple times to post this.  He must have a lot of time on his hands.)
  • I shouldn’t have to pay more just because you made a choice to be a stay at home mom

 

Those are three from the roughly twenty negative comments that were received over the weekend.  I would include more, but most are deleted now. A direct threat of violence was also received. Seriously?  My knee jerk reaction was to respond to all of them! Tell them that calling us treasonous is the same as calling for our deaths, congratulating them on being enormous a**holes or calling them out on how uninformed their comment is.  This is my dad you’re talking about! How dare you?! But instead I decided to take a deep breath and remember my motto on my own page. Don’t feed the trolls.

Part of what makes pushing for change hard are the people that push back.  We’ve got to stay committed and keep our eye on the prize. Healthcare for all must become a reality in the United States.  Every person, including those that so wholeheartedly push against the concept, deserves healthcare. It should be a right in this country.  No amount of trolling will change my mind about that.

 

 

Does Your Vote Really Matter?

 

Utah voters passed 3 progressive policies last November.

  • Prop 2 – legalizing the use of medical marijuana
  • Prop 3 – Expanding Medicaid health insurance
  • Prop 4 – an anti-gerrymandering measure

Utah voters also elected Republicans that are openly against legal marijuana, Medicaid and are pro-gerrymandering. Now, Utah voters are outraged that the newly elected Congressman are dismantling the Props that the people approved coming to the conclusion that your vote doesn’t matter. Is that actually true?

Society Isn’t Designed For Autistic People

I was at dinner with some friends over the holiday. We were doing the normal chat, talking about our lives, our Christmas plans, our husbands and our kids. One friend asked me how Oliver is doing. I said he’s doing great. She followed up with a question that surprised me a little. She asked, “So, is the therapy curing him?” This may seem like a simple question for most people. For me, it feels mean.

I choose not to be offended or insulted though. She, like most people, view autism as a disorder that needs curing. I responded that best way I could think of, especially because this particular friend is currently exploring the possibility that her son may be autistic as well. I told her that the therapy isn’t a cure for autism. He will always be autistic. It’s not a disorder/disease. It’s the way his brain operates. So, yes, he’s doing great. But I suppose I’ve always thought he’s doing great. I left it at that.

This conversation caused me to think a lot about my kids and how the therapy is impacting their lives. This line of thinking is a regular occurrence for me. Anyone who knows me well is aware of the fact that I can dwell on little choices I make about my kids for extended periods of time. I project 20 years forward and try to picture how the decisions I make today will change the trajectory of their lives. Of course, it’s a fruitless exercise.

Anyway, I was deep in thought about ABA therapy when someone reached out to me about it. She sent many articles about the permanent impacts of ABA. She pointed out some real concerns that happen to be concerns that I share. I read through everything she sent and prepared for my upcoming meeting with Oliver’s team. As it turned out, the director of Utah from the company that is providing our services was coming to my house that very day. I would have a chance to talk through my thoughts before I head into this inevitable black abyss of worry that I’m being a bad parent. Funny how the timing worked out that way.


When she arrived, I dove right into my concerns that she is very much familiar with at this point. I told her I’m worried about:

  • teaching him to hide his emotions rather than process them
  • working him too hard
  • him learning that there is only one right way to do things which isn’t his way
  • Max feeling like his needs are not as important as Oliver’s
  • learning blind compliance to authority figures
  • him feeling like the only way to be successful is to conform to an image that we design
  • ABA feeling abusive to him

She listened to me, as she does every time, with understanding and compassion in her eyes. We walked through all of his programs, like we always do, as I sorted through my thoughts about it all. We evaluated his hours and talked through his school schedule. She told me again that if change is needed that I can call her anytime and they will be put in place right away. Of course, I already knew that seeing as how I’ve called for changes many times. I walked away feeling grateful for her, for the team we have and especially for this woman that took the time to send me her thoughts. I’ve never felt more confident in the choices I’m making for my family. I’m sure a fleeting feeling, but at least it exists today.

The truth of the matter is Oliver doesn’t need to change anything about who he is to have a successful, happy life. Unfortunately, there’s another truth that has to be acknowledged. Society isn’t designed for autistic people although it is getting better. Schools have sensory activities worked into the curriculum, there are teachers that specialize in helping kids that learn differently, even Vivint Smart Home Arena (still the Delta Center to me) has a sensory room! These things help, but they aren’t enough.

School is set up for kids to come in with a certain level of vocabulary, basic skills for following directions, the ability to learn in a group setting and to understand what’s being asked of you. These are the exact skills that are developing much more slowly than what any public school can accommodate. That is where the ABA therapy comes in.


Basically, the strategy that I have insisted upon is building confidence in himself paired with understanding the society that we live in. It’s OK to feel sad/angry. You can cry, scream, punch a pillow, go to your room, say how you feel, walk away, ask for a treat, get a hug and countless other things, but it’s not OK to hurt yourself or others. The focus of the therapy is not about making the one correct choice and baiting him into making it. It’s about teaching him to generate his own solutions while steering him away from the ones that are detrimental to him and others.

  • It’s OK to explore a new environment, but it’s not OK to wander to where mom can’t see you.
  • It’s OK to be fearless, but it’s not OK to run into the street or jump into a pool alone.
  • It’s OK to be different and learning to stand up for yourself goes along with that.
  • You don’t have to change your interests to make friends, but you do have to be kind and listen to others.
  • You also don’t need to be friends with everyone, your real friends will accept you.
  • You don’t need to give up on your fascinations, but you do need to recognize/cope with situations that don’t accommodate them.
  • It’s OK to need help, but you need to learn to do things on your own.

Autism Hurts


As I write this down it makes me realize that these lessons aren’t reserved for people who are not neurotypical. Every child has to learn about how to function in society. Every person experiences positive and negative things on their journey to adulthood. I can’t prevent pain from touching my kids. I figure the best thing I can do is equip them with a strong moral compass, teach them the importance of setting boundaries and model strategies for dealing with pain.

The therapists help me do this by:

  • reading books to the kids
  • watching videos followed by asking questions
  • playing games that require turn taking
  • creating problem solving boards to help support emotional processing
  • making visual schedules to help the kids know what to expect
  • bringing sensory toys to help alleviate anxiety
  • making flashcards to help improve vocabulary
  • spending time with me to talk through any concerns that I have

The consultant meets with the teachers at the school to come up with plans to support his specific learning style. They provide a weighted blanket for him when he has to sit and listen. They keep a dinosaur card on the board at school to let Oliver know when it’s dinosaur time. The teachers now make time during the day for all the kids to pretend to be dinosaurs. The school speech therapist, private speech therapist and occupational therapist all use dinosaurs and Godzilla to help him along.


At the end of the day, one of the reasons the therapy has been so good for him is because the adults have decided to put him in charge of his own life. We don’t get to create an image for what a good kid looks like. He’s already a good kid. The team helps him learn how to function in the society we have today, not for the society that we ought to have. The society we have today doesn’t make room for people that are different very easily. We need to push the public school system, the courts and challenge societal norms to achieve the changes needed to make room for everyone. It will take years of persistence, awareness and organizing. In the meantime, therapy and other support is the answer for us.

I believe that sharing my life will help create a community that feels urgent about having a more empathetic and inclusive society. Not everyone will understand or agree with my methods. All I can do is keep the conversation going and keep doing the best I can.

 

What is Democracy?

 

What is democracy? How does a modern democracy function? Learn about the United States democratic government with this short educational video. I explain the different theories of democracy using real life examples you can see everyday!

 


3 Types of Democracy

  • Direct democracy – Utah ballot initiatives
  • Pluralism – NRA, NAACP and many other groups
  • Elite theory – dark money and ultra wealthy using many lever to impact the United States government

 

Election 2018 is coming up soon so brush up on your basic knowledge with this political science crash course!

I started Blue Mom Red State, my political blog, in response to the election on Donald Trump. The values that I hold dear are deteriorating right before my eyes and I want to do something about it. It’s important that all citizens reeducate themselves about all things government. By staying informed and voting in every single election going forward we can work together to save democracy!

Becoming Blue Mom: My Backstory

Here in Utah, I am a Democrat in a Republican state. I am a nonreligious person in a predominantly LDS community. I am a mother of a special needs child. I am a stay-at-home mom in the age of the working woman. I have spent years feeling isolated. I started this channel to find other people that might feel the same as I do. This video is a little more about me.

After the election of Donald Trump, I found that my husband and I lived on different planets. The more we talked about social issues and politics the further apart we drifted. I decided that it was time to take a different approach with him. I listened, I asked questions and I highlighted examples from our own lives, many having to do with our autistic child, illustrating why I feel the way I do. After a year of constant discussion, we have found each other again.

I truly believe that if everyone can use a little more empathy, look up and see what others are going through everything would be a lot better. My goal is to encourage people to lean left to create a society that is more inclusive, more empathetic and safer for all.


It is time to come out of hiding. My goal is to empower you: the silent observer. To provide knowledge to every American man, woman, and child who has an opinion but has been falsely convinced that they don’t know enough about politics to be allowed to share it. Abandon that belief. You are an American. Your voice matters. Rise up and stand for what is right. For family. For justice. For equality and humanity. This blog is for you. And together, our strong collective voices can change this world for the better.

Follow live on Twitter: @blumom_redstate