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December 9, 2011

Go to Countering.

Spent

September 20, 2011

The Measure…

September 17, 2011

In breaths.
In moments.
In the spaces where all movement ceases.
Where we exist in the throb that echoes loosely between heartbeats.
In the lull.
In the ebb.
In the rush of time.
We exist and our measure is taken.
Moment by moment.
Act by act.
And we are weighed.
Will you be lighter than a feather?
Or is it only a kindness to pretend that it could be so?
That the sum total of our breaths, our moments, will balance out.
And we will be judged worthy.
Faith.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

September 16, 2011

Honoring Those We’ve Lost

September 14, 2011

On August 26, my college met in a ceremony to unveil three stones for three important faculty and staff members we’ve lost in recent years. Two of them were incredibly important women in my family’s life: Donna and Jackie. Bennie was known by much of the student body, and he always had a smile for me. All three are missed by the college.

It’s been a little while since we lost Donna, but we just lost Jackie in July, and it still seems an oddly diminished world to realize these women are no longer in it. The college also opened the new health science wing that afternoon and unveiled the Donna Burleson Lab. It was an emotionally rich day, connecting with the past, looking to the future and knowing that these two women would have been proud.
 The provost speaking.
 My dad speaking about Donna.
 Duane speaking about Bennie.
 Waiting to unveil.
 Donna’s stone.
 Bennie’s stone.

To those who meant so much  to us,
you will be missed,
but you will never be forgotten.

If Dan Olmsted is Representative…

September 13, 2011

Dan Olmsted is pissed at Autism Speaks and wants them to shut up and go away, all because of Dr. Dawson’s coverage of the IOM report this past week.

Olmsted writes, proving there is no evidence he will consider that will allow him to reconsider his position: “vaccines do cause autism. Yes, the MMR causes autism. Yes, vaccine mercury causes autism. Yes, multiple vaccines too soon and too close together cause autism. They are the main driver of the autism epidemic.” And your evidence, sir, that counters yet another IOM report showing they do not? Anecdotes are not evidence.

His second reason is because of the canary study and “Andy Wakefield’s brave work, which of course Autism Speaks is too cowardly to get anywhere near, and all the subsequent research that confirms it.”

The third reason is even better: Olsted says Autism Speaks is “The Man’s favorite autism org.”

Given that Katie Wright is an Age of Autism contributor, on the NAA’s board, and Autism Speaks is a $10,000 bronze sponsor of their national conference this year (which Olmsted, Blaxill and Stagliano presented at last year but are not on the presenters’ list this year), and the daughter of the founders of Autism Speaks, Olmsted’s pissiness is interesting.  Another interestng tidbit: from what I can glean from the wayback machine, Wakefield’s spoken at the NAC since at least 2005, every single year, so Autism Speaks went into that sponsorship knowing he’d be there. If the NAC audience is as hostile as Olmsted, that sponsorship may not help bring more members of the community to AS.

It’s sour grapes, is what it is, on Olmsted’s point, and shows that for almost all of the Age of Autism writers (and perhaps supporters), it boils down to vaccines. Always to vaccines.

Olmsted writes about Autism Speaks, “If there was any value in its “awareness” campaign, it has been achieved; AS has no apparent further reason for being.” This ignores the reality that AS is the second largest private-sector provider of research dollars, that for every $1 spent on research, $10 is leveraged, that the AS website has thousands of pages providing information, that it provides printed copies of 100-Day toolkits and transition toolkits for free to families and has several other toolkits for parents, that they have 17 centers in their Autism Treatment Network, that they provide emergency family grants, resourses for autistic individuals in the workplaces, and  so much more.

Whether you like the organization or not, whether you think they’ve got a long way to go in making sure that adults on the spectrum are represented throughout their organization (and not just in volunteership), or you have some other criticism, the reality is that there is no organization with as broad a reach and with the capital to do as much as Autism Speaks does.

Going into hostile territory like the NAC seems to me to be foolhardy and unlikely to lead to more awareness in that population of what AS does and is working to do. But it’s well above my pay grade.  Then again, if I were paranoid, like, say someone who could write this, “AS is in survival mode and it will swat down or swallow anyone or anything that threatens it,” I might think it was up to something and intends to “swallow” the NAA.

Good thing you’re not an actual organization, Age of Autism. Shew. Or you might be next.

Stink Creek Stories: The Flaccid Twonks

September 12, 2011

And now for a brief fictional interlude:

The Flaccid Twonks of Stink Creek

Thelma here, after a long dry spell in Stink Creek, with lots to share. We had a bit of excitement this summer. We had four old-timers convinced that the lack of rain was to blame for their lack of mojo. Mamma H had the Raisin show them how to get that back to working order with a short visit up to the Sister’s, but it didn’t do no good at all. They kept sitting in a circle at town square muttering to each other for most of the day.

The town council bought went crazy from concerned citizens pestering them about the old-timers, who’d grown up and grown old belonging to an exclusive team called the Twonks. Louise and I, we grew up with the twonks, and we never could figure out quite what they meant by the term, but as we got older we decided it must have had something to do with being right assholes, because that’s all they ever were.

We were lucky enough, as a town, that the twonks kept to themselves, muttering over the years into their beers. But this last year, things have gone down hill, and they’ve gotten worse than Willa and her tendency to hide on people’s decks and hollerin boo at them when they came out to get their papers. They’ve decided it’s their job to police the town for compliance of town rules. They went to the library and found our original town charter and are going around and attempting to enforce it.

Well, what could the council do? What with the lining up right behind Willa with their clipboards and their muttering in the town square, no rain, lots of heat, and Louise’s seniors seriously bent out of shape because Louise skedaddled to Vegas for the summer to run a series of workshops there, Edna and I were drafted to tackle what Stink Creek citizens were now calling the flaccid twonks and see if we couldn’t help heal their mojo before the town ran them out.

Edna’s husband was just glad to get her out of the house, and I’ve been bored silly since Louise went to Vegas and the emperor decided to take a mess of students to Rome for a grand tour. Mamma H and the raisin are so busy making the best of their remaining days they aren’t fit for conversation and the damned raccoon went off to the woods again on me, due to an unfortunate incident involving Mamma H, her walker, and the raisin’s amorous pursuit.

So since the Sister’s hadn’t managed to rouse the flaccid twonks, (go figure), Edna and I decided we’d do a rain dance down at the town square and see how many of them town ordinances we could break at the same time. Ya’ll picture the lovely Lieutenant Uhura in that movie where Kirk asked “god” what he needed with a space ship, and you’ll know what we did.

We got us one of them old boom boxes that Louise still has from the 80s and her flash dance music, and we set up a little tent near the town statue, and we got all nekkid and greased up…We put in that flash dance sound track, got it blaring, having warned the townsmembers to stay home since we were going to be all exposed and such. While we were doing that, Willa set up some sprinklers high up on the statue that the flaccid twonks wouldn’t see. Edna and me sat there in that tent in our finest, so to speak, and waited for the twonks to show up.

Lord, we got sweaty, and then Edna pulled out her flask, and we got drunk while we waited. And then the flaccid twonks showed up, muttering about the music and wondering where everyone was. Willa was cackling behind the statue.

Edna lurched up, smacked me on the ass (which I thought was rather rude), and out she went, up to the first flaccid twonk, and she began shimmying, shaking and, well, let’s be fair, wobbling and bobbing. It was not, I fear, a pretty sight. I brought the flask out with me, handed it over to the second twonk, who dropped his clipboard.

I had forgotten to take off my combat boots. Well, perhaps I was not a pretty sight, either, but I nodded at twonk two and turned to three and four and started gyrating to “Lady, Lady, Lady” while I hoped like hell Willa would quit cackling and turn the sprinklers on.

Two more songs in, the twonks were all standing there watching us, grinning for the first time this year, and the rain still wasn’t falling.

Lordamighty, there was thunder, though, and lots of it as Edna and I got to going. The weight of the world that we’d been carrying all our years was making thunder and had the twonks looking to the sky for lightning. And then the rain fell. And it wasn’t Willa’s doing. She’d collapsed in a colossal giggle fit.

Lordy. The rain fell. And the lightning came. The thunder ceased to be our making, and the twonks, bless their shriveled hearts, were no longer flaccid.

And that, dear friends, is how Louise found me when she pulled back into town. She’s promised she’ll never leave me alone again.