4.10.2014

Teh Busy: Quick Update, Long List

I swear to you that I am still here. It's just, teh busy, these last two months. So much so that I didn't even put up perfunctory posts in reaction to luminous BlogHer co-founder Lisa Stone mentioning me and this blog on CBS This Morning a few weeks ago. BAD BLOGGER. Maybe I'll talk about that when I give my BlogHer 10x10 talk in July!

Below is all the stuff I've been doing -- writing, interviews, talks, etc. What's not recorded in there is that Iz, now a sophomore in high school, is playing lacrosse and soccer, perseverating just a bit on makeup and bands, and is a better student than I ever was. Leo, seventh grader, is in the middle of a trial period for a dedicated AAC device, we're optimistic, plus he just had his annual IEP which was resoundingly positive -- last year was hard (seizure and other medical issues), this year is good. I don't know if it's puberty or just maturity that's got him in the current One Chill Dude phase, and I'm not taking it for granted, but I'm enjoying that he's so happy overall right now. Mali is still a fort-builder and a mythology lover, as befits a fourth grader. She is still the most fun ever, as anyone who hangs out with her can attest (still a button-pusher as well, though, watch out). We've started watching Adventure Time, which is surreal but quite awesome, and Leo likes it too.

I'll try to write a real entry soon! HONEST.  But here's the list, I'll slap up some photos below it.

April 2014

March 2014
I visited York Minster as well when I was in the UK.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell had just finished filming onsite!
I interviewed Roy Richard Grinker at the NAS Conference
Transcription is a perennial bugger hurdle, but will publish soon.
Such a thoughtful, articulate, and charming individual.
(Need to transcribe an interview with Ron & Cornelia Suskind too.
And write that Legoland post. Aaaaigh.)
We're headed back to San Diego in two days.
We were just there in February.
We love San Diego.
(And visiting my mom of course.)
My fellow TPGA editrixes really are the best people in the world.
This is from our UCSF talk last month,
and next month we'll be descending on IMFAR!
Love my happy geek crew. xoxox

4.08.2014

My Public Comments for Today's IACC Meeting

I missed watching the live videocast of today's Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) meeting because Leo's (really good, details later) annual IEP was held at the same time. But as the IACC meetings are for advising on policy, and as they welcome public input both in person and submitted in writing, I submitted comments to be included in the official public meeting record.

I did this to counter the anti-vaccine autism zealots who would rather put other people's kids at risk from vaccine preventable disease than face the fact that autistic people have always been here. These angry denialist parents tend to mob the proceedings, so as to give their fringe perspectives disproportionate and on-the-record exposure. They need countering.

If you would like to provide reasonable perspectives to balance the belligerent torch-wavers for the IACC's next meeting in July, please send in comments or (even better) ask to give them in person. The meetings take place in Washington D.C. I suspect the IACC members get rather tired of listening to conspiracy theorists, and would like some legitimately helpful input from autistic advocates, parent advocates, and autism professionals.

Here's what I wrote:
Thank you for reading my comments today. My name is Shannon Rosa, and I am the parent of a thirteen-year-old, thoroughly wonderful, autistic young man who does best with 1:1 support. I believe it is the responsibility of all those involved in autism policy to work towards guaranteeing autistic people like my son the support they need to succeed in life, no matter their abilities.

For that reason, I would like to thank the IACC for the positive work it does in advising on autism policy. However, I'd like to speak out about what the IACC can do to help people like my son, and families like ours:

1) Focus on getting supports and resources to autistic people and their families. The CDC's new 1 in 68 numbers for autism prevalence are an excellent opportunity to reinforce the message that autistic people of all abilities have always been part of our society, and that we will all benefit if the proper autism resources are allotted -- whether for housing, employment, respite, education, health care, or therapies.

2) Focus on research that helps the autistic people who are already here. We need to know more about autism and sensory issues, autism and anxiety, autism and co-morbid medical issues, and so on. This should be a higher priority than research into causation.

3) Recognize the agency of autistic people, and include more of them on the IACC itself. I have spent many years working with and learning from autistic adults regarding what my son needs and how he experiences the world. While I support the involvement of parent advocates and autism professionals on the IACC, autistic people themselves should be the majority representation when it comes to advising about autism policy.

4) Finally, stop accommodating pseudoscience. I still keep seeing mentions of vaccine or mercury autism causation theory in the IACC proceedings. Such theories have been debunked repeatedly by legitimate research. Setting aside any time to discuss them is a waste of the IACC's resources, and does not help autistic people.

Thank you for your time,

Shannon Des Roches Rosa
Senior Editor, Thinking Person's Guide to Autism
For more on what the IACC does, and why it's so important, see my TPGA interview with IACC member Dr. Matthew Carey.

3.18.2014

Walking the Capitol Hill Walk for Life-Saving Vaccines

"There is no evidence to support a vaccine-autism link, and irrefutable evidence supports vaccination as one of the best ways to protect the health and lives of children all over the world."  

"In the context of global vaccine efforts, vaccine hesitancy makes no sense and rarely comes up." 

These two statements underscore why I speak out about the critical importance of vaccines. I've lived in a country and gone to school with people affected by polio. Trust me, no one who has the real-world experience of living in fear of vaccine-preventable diseases questions the necessity of vaccines.

So I wince, almost daily, at the harm done by vaccine denialists, in opening the gate for resurgences of preventable diseases like measles. And I wince again when I see anti-vaccine misinformation  spread by tiny but zealous factions within the autism communities, then blithely repeated by media outlets that value page views more than they do public health [shakes fist].

Anti-vaccine misinformation is a double whammy of dangerous ignorance: It makes people fear autistic people like my beloved son Leo, and it endangers the health and lives of children all over the world. So I counter that misinformation with my own double whammy: I speak out against anti-vaccine information and fight for good vaccine information whenever I can, as hard as I can.

Champions on Capitol Hill. Photo: Shot@Life
Which means I was thrilled to be invited to Washington DC by the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life Campaign: as a UNF Global Issues Fellow to further the vaccine awareness work other bloggers and I did during Blogust, and as a Shot@Life Champion, trained on global vaccine awareness and issues and then unleashed on Capitol Hill with ninety-nine other Shot@Life champions to meet with our Senators and Congressional Representatives, in order to urge them to continue their support of life-saving global initiatives.

It was an life-changing experience, walking the halls of the Capitol Hill office buildings in the company of people who gave such incredible damns. Realizing, that, as a constituent, I have the same right any other constituent to have my say, directly to my members of Congress (or their staff). Which we did! Here are some of the fantastic people we talked with:

With James Hamos, Legislative Fellow, and
Megan Thompson, Legislative Assistant
Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein

Shot@Life Champions with Walker Zorensky,
Legislative Research Assistant, Office of Senator Barbara Boxer
And here is what we told the Senators' and Representatives' Congressional teams: Thank you for supporting global vaccine initiatives (because, thankfully, California and Silicon Valley were already on board). Let us know how we can support you -- and if you get blowback from your other constituents about diverting money internationally when we have so many domestic needs, we're here to provide you with information to address most any concern (and I also offered my services as a pro-vaccine autism parent). We need to keep funding international immunization programs for these reasons:
  • Humanitarian: A child dies every 20 seconds because they don't have access to life-saving vaccines, and 1 in 5 children lacks access to vaccines. Plus, immunizations save the lives of 2.5 million children, each year.
  • Public Safety: Measles infects 95% of the unvaccinated people who encounter a carrier; polio is only a plane ride away from returning to the United States. And babies can't be vaccinated in against measles in their first year of life. To keep ourselves safe, we must help eradicate vaccine-preventable disease in the rest of the world.
  • Cost-savings: The costs of eradicating smallpox are more than recouped by an annual savings of the one billion dollars that would have been needed for treatment, etc. And we're so close to eliminating polio! The current goal for a polio-free world is 2018, and it's reachable.


With Stacy Mintzer Herlihy, co-author of Your Baby's Best Shot
and Melody Butler of Nurses Who Vax
If the thought of meeting with a Congressional Representative scares you, don't let it. It's not that hard, as long as you're prepared. And were we ever prepared! Because when Shot@Life brought together 100 Champions from around the U.S. -- doctors, public health officials, nurses, parents, students -- they gave us a two-day crash course on global vaccines issues  (Storified for you to absorb in smaller bites), led by agencies supporting global vaccines initiatives. We had the privilege of hearing directly from representatives of the UN Foundation, Shot@Life, the World Health Organization (WHO), and GAVI Alliance reps, as well as polio survivor Dennis Ogbe. My favorite quote from the training was by pediatrician Dr. Margaret Fisher, who reminded everyone:

"When you choose not to immunize your child, you're playing Russian Roulette with your child."

And before the Champion Summit, Shot@Life invited a group of bloggers to participate in the UN Foundation Global Issues Fellowship, which was like our own mini TED conference on Conversations About Global Agencies, Public Health, Vaccines, and Communication: Challenges, Goals, Myths, and Next Steps. I felt so grateful and lucky to participate, and to spend time with the group pictured below. So grateful, in fact, that I've put together Storified versions of most of the talks below (just click on the "they talked about" links), so you, too, can share what we learned.
Some pretty damn amazing people. Recognize anyone?
Photo: Migdalia Rivera
Here are some of the write ups from the other Shot@Life/Global Issues Fellows (I'll add more as they come in):
Here are the wonderful people we ever-so-fortunate Global Issues Fellows got to hear from:

Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, former US Ambassador to Uganda and Burkina Faso, current Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs, US Dept of Health and Human Services, along with Peter Yeo, Vice President for Public Policy at the United Nations Foundation, spoke about health challenges around the globe -- include violence, and violence against women.
"Simple solutions to global violence against woman include having
a female police officer at the hospitals, as Namibia does."
Marie Claudet, a news producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and Noam Levey, a National Health Reporter for the LA Times, spoke about the challenges and ethics of, and strategies for, reporting on global health issues like vaccines.
 
"Life expectancies in parts of US, like the Mississsippi Delta,
are dismal by global standards, due to lack of health care."

Dr. Asad Majeed Khan, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Pakistan graciously talked about the Pakistani government's unwavering commitment to eradicating polio within its borders, and the challenges it faces in doing so.
"When public confidence in vaccines is eroded,
trust restoration takes time."

Photo: Migdalia Rivera
Teddy Ruge is co-founder of Project Diaspora and Hive Colab, and the Lead Social Media Strategist for the World Bank. He talked about our obligation to "Create the Right Buzz" while supporting, not displacing, local development efforts.
"The merits of your campaign should be: real, local, current issues,
not making non-locals feel good."

Photo: Flickr/Mashable (cropped)
Sarah Craven is Washington DC representation office Director of the United Nations Population Fund, the "Agency that Makes Sex Boring." She talked about current crises in global women's and reproductive health -- and if her facts and stories don't outrage you, read them again.
"Half the girls in Ethiopia are married before their 15th birthday,
often by well-intentioned parents."

Photo: Chloe Jeffreys
Will Davis is the Director of the United Nations Development Programme, Washington Representation Office. He spoke about the United Nations' role in today's world, including why "Global goals should not be about rich countries preaching to poor countries."
"Peacekeeping is an attempt to get a country back on its feet after a crisis,
including jobs, and access to justice."

Photo: Chloe Jeffreys
Devi Ramachandran Thomas, Director of the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life program, spoke about prioritizing global children's health, including reducing child mortality through vaccinations and also by combating malnutrition, diarrhea, and malaria.
"In Mozambique, many parents will not name their child until after they've been vaccinated."
Me, Devi (center), Lucrecer Braxton
The incredibly engaging Aaron Sherinian is the United Nations Foundation's Vice President of Communications and Public Relations. He spoke about translating online efforts into real world global engagement that can actually make a difference.
"At the end of the day, social media trends remind us that humans have a lot in common."
Photo: UN Foundation
Now, hopefully, you're wondering "How can I help? Tell me tell me!" And of course, the answers are "get involved!" (Shot@Life's site has an excellent advocacy toolkit) and "donate!" Donate your time, donate funds, donate your voice in spreading the messages above, especially about global vaccine issues. You can always donate to Shot@Life directly, but you can also manage your advocacy and outreach with the Shot@Life app, or even donate photos -- each worth $1 towards global vaccines -- through the Donate a Photo app.

If there is a single message you should be taking away from the onslaught of information above, it is this: You have so many options for helping to get life-saving vaccines to the children who need them. Pick an option, and get going!

----

Again, my sincere thanks to the UN Foundation and Shot@Life, and everyone who made this incredible experience possible -- including my companions in the Shot@Life Champions Summit and Global Issues Fellowship. Disclosure: The UN Foundation provided my travel & lodgings for the two events.

3.02.2014

Edinburgh Is My New Favorite City

I'd not been to Edinburgh since 1990, when I was 20 years old and pregnant, and my thoughtful studying abroad brother imported me for the UK for Spring Break to get my mind off being a 20 year old pregnant college student who was having a very difficult time deciding what to do about being a 20 year old pregnant college student.

I enjoyed that visit quite a lot, but I don't remember Edinburgh being quite so ... lively. And Sunny! And full of everything a easily pleased yet slightly snobbish and gustatorially-oriented person could ever want. It is my new favorite city. Look at the goods from my host friend's corner bakery! An endless selection, including Leo's favorite butter croissants. All freshly and perfectly baked, as top-notch as anything you might find in San Francisco (and the scones were better, natch).

The Edinburgh Farmers' Market, which is directly in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, also beats anything like it in San Francisco or environs. The specialty meats alone (venisons, bison, Happiest Pigs in the World, and of course haggis; sorry, vegetarians) would make even the most casual carnivore sweat with anticipation. But then there were crepes. And oh the baked goods. And even the coffee. (Don't forget to follow the market on Twitter...)

The Farmer's Market's live music was also world-class. My damn iPhone was too full for video. Iz would have been pleased, I think -- she does love her music. Especially music that she finds first. And I doubt any friends back home would know these buskers. Too bad I'm on the front end of a business trip and so did not bring my family (my husband actually suggested I build out the front end of my UK business trip into a holiday, so I don't feel as bad as I might about not bringing the rest of the crew this time).
 
My hosts and I considered letting this turret in St. Cuthbert's, also in the shadow of The Castle. Who wouldn't. Right?
The weather was very very very very good, even atop the Castle where it was slightly windy. Everyone warned me UK weather at the end of February/start of March would be crap. But we experienced gloriously sunny, if chilly, days the entire weekend I stayed. Not to mention glorious views. Of ancientness. Everywhere. Ancient exists in California, but it is rarely so tangible and certainly not as omnipresent as it is in Edinburgh.

This is my obligatory Mon's Meg (a famous cannon) shot from the Castle. It is one of many, many, many military exhibits in the castle. My brother, who is a military historian as well as a Warner Brothers cartoons expert, gave me a comprehensive tour of those exhibits during our last visit, and as it wouldn't be the same without him, I did not visit those museums. However as there are very few words that rhyme with my name I rarely resist a shot (heh) like this one.

St. Margaret's Chapel, also part of the Castle, was built in the 12th century by King David I in honor of his mother. You have to love a boy who loves his mummy.

Most of the castle is not terribly accessible, though significant effort has been made to convert those parts that can be converted. I did like that they included touchable models with braille descriptions of some of important objects in the exhibits, such as the Sword of State (one of the Honours of Scotland, and part of the Crown Jewels exhibit). I also appreciated the affability of the very well informed docents. Did you know that Scottish kings often shared the throne if there were multiple eligible brothers, so that they did not kill each other over the crown? Robert the Bruce ended that era of reasonableness, though.

And, ho, geeks! On The Royal Mile below the Castle lies The World's End pub, so named because when it was founded, it was the last pub before the Edinburgh city wall, and anything outside the wall didn't matter to the snobs insde -- so the pub was literally considered The World's End.

Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties
Though I actually preferred the food and drink at the Tollbooth Tavern just lower on the Royal Mile. I did not get bonked on the head by the resident ghost, but I did find the perfect bitter but not too hoppy ale in The Flying Scotsman, and I am officially a haggis convert -- this plate of Haggis, Neeps (turnips), and Tatties (potatoes) is my new standard for comforting comfort food meals. Though I'm not sure where I'll find a good sheep's stomach to nibble on once I'm back home.
Back to the greatness that is Edinburgh -- my gracious, affable, brilliant, witty host and I did not have to walk more than a few short blocks from her street to find everything a person like me (and my husband) might want. Pehaps we will move here instead of San Francisco when our children leave home, because I would not mind living a stone's throw from a French deli that provides fresh goose rillette, a South African cafe that serves perfect coffee, and an Oxfam used book store (where we stocked up on several of the Horrible Histories titles that are not available in the US but which my host's children recommended as being just perfect for Mali and her similarly irreverent friends).

Crocuses!
I also wouldn't mind being greeted with carpets of purple crocuses, white snowdrops (which I'd only ever heard of from British children's literature), and miniature yellow daffodils everywhere we looked.
The last place we visited during my shorter-than-48-hour visit was Rosslyn Chapel. This picture does not do justice to the its 16th century elaborately carved sandstone gorgeousness. Which, apparently, has been restored to its former beauty in large part due to throngs of tourists who came to see it and brought their entry fees with them, after it was featured in The Da Vinci Code movie. Which I had not realized. If you are ever in the Edinburgh area, however, I recommend it. (the Chapel actually reminded me of the similar intricate sandstone carvings at the Cambodian temple of Banteay Srei.)

Edinburgh was such a delight that I occasionally wondered if my host had pulled a Potemkin Village on me. Then I started thinking that perhaps Iz should go to Edinburgh University so we really would have a reason to come visit again. So if you get the opportunity to visit Edinburgh? Do it.

2.27.2014

There's an App for When Mommy Is Away on Business

I am leaving this afternoon for two weeks of whirlwind international and bi-coastal conferencing. If you're going to be at the March 5th National Autistic Society conference in Harrogate, UK, where I'll be talking iPads & apps; or at the March 7th UCSF Developmental Disabilities Conference in San Francisco, where all four TPGA editrixes, myself included, will be discussing Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, social media, community, and outreach; or at the UN Foundation's Shot@Life Champions Summit to discuss vaccine policy and outreach in Washington DC March 9 - 12, please do say hello. (If I was to wear a communication badge, it would be Green, as perfectly outlined by ASAN -- I am not great at initiating conversations, but am happy to chat if approached.)

My husband and mother and a whole squadron of friends and helpers are covering for me -- the documentation for How To Run This Household When I'm Not Here is seven pages of 10 point text. So I'm not worried about being gone, and am profoundly grateful to everyone involved. I am worried about missing my family, though, and having them miss me.

So of course I made Leo a Kid in Story interactive book about going on a trip, where I'll be, why I'm going, how long I'll be gone, who will be with him while I'm gone, and that I will definitely be coming back. He liked the story, especially the part about me going on a train in England (that Thomas the Tank Engine conditioning perisists, it does). Since I will be 8 hours ahead of Leo for the first week, FaceTime will not always be an option. But with the Kid in Story app, he can independently see my picture, hear my voice, and reassure himself that I'll becoming back soon -- as many times as he wants to reassure himself. I also made him a bunch of KiS versions of his favorite books, so I can "read" them to him even when I'm not there.

I talk about the Kid in Story app all the time -- even in Bay Area Parent just this week -- with good reason. It's an affordable, easy-to-use story creation app. And its free companion Reader app lets you share any story you've made with any person who has access to an iDevice. It took me 30 minutes, tops, to create a nine-page story with custom photos, text, and voiceover, and then share it with Leo's grandmother, dad, and teacher. Leo will be able to reassure himself I'll be coming back, wherever he goes. And knowing he'll be reassured makes it less difficult for me to leave his side for such a long stretch.

2.04.2014

The Problems With "To The Woman And Child Who Sat At Table Nine"

Leo loves going to his favorite restaurants
A few thoughtful souls have forwarded me the Anti-Jared story about the restaurant manager who treated an autism family with kindness after another table complained about their noise. Here's the heart of the story, from the manager's perspective:
"I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to your table and you looked at me. You wanted the first word. You said…

"'Do you know what it is like to have a child with Autism?'

"You were not rude when you asked the question. In fact, you were quite sincere. Your daughter could not have been more than five years old. She was beautiful and looked scared that I was at the table. She looked like she thought she was in trouble."
I did not "like" this story on Facebook, or share it, and I wish you wouldn't share without a comment, either. Why?

I appreciate stories about kind people doing nice things, but I would have handled the situation differently than the autism parent in the story:
  • I certainly wouldn't say or imply anything negative about autism or being Leo's mom in front of Leo.
  • Nor do I want people to feel sorry for me because Leo is autistic; he is awesome and I want people to know that. 
  • It's so important for people like Leo and families like ours to be out in public, without proactively or automatically feeling shame, or the need for social approval. 
  • However -- If Leo needs accommodation, or if we are disturbing people and we did not notice, I would hope both Leo and I would respond appropriately, in the moment. 
I hope the mother in the story finds some positive, acceptance- and understanding-focused community. She seems like she could use it. I'd suggest you visit and share the following Positive Autism Parenting Sites:
And, for the takeaway: Stories like this, in my opinion, are reinforcing pity by smothering it under feel-good. They reinforce the social segregation of autistic people and autism families. And that's not the world Leo or his autistic friends or our autistic families deserve to live in.

1.25.2014

The Intelligent Way Leo Hauls Trash Cans

Hauling trash cans at our place is a bit of a pain. The cans are large and heavy, and they need to roll down a long, steep driveway. Most smaller people haul them they way the girls are doing in this picture -- backwards.

Adults, however, turn around, push their can down to the position of Mali's can, and hold and pull it behind them as they walk forward down the driveway. All of this is fascinating to you, I'm sure. But it's important background information.

Because yesterday Leo helped me haul the cans down the driveway. And instead of wrestling with his can, trying to push it down the driveway, or defaulting to the girls' backward-pulling walk, he stopped for a moment, carefully observed the way I had positioned my own can, and then imitated my pulling technique exactly. I did not give him any instructions or prompts -- he did this all on his own.

You could almost see the intelligence crackling and sparking around his head. He was thinking, and thinking hard, and problem solving, and doing it independently. It was a small moment, but it struck me deeply. It's the kind of demonstration of ability that tends to get overlooked, precisely because it was not communication-based. And it makes me wonder exactly how much of an iceberg Leo is -- what we can see of his ability, as opposed to what we can't see. And how frustrating that must be to him.

It's one of the reasons he's in the middle of a full AAC evaluation -- to ensure that he has the opportunity to demonstrate what he knows, and what he can do, and tell us about it to the best of his abilities. So he can tell us what he wants, how he feels -- so he can communicate with us, and everyone else, on his terms. To the fullest extent of his terms.

I'm not banking on an Ido-like communication breakthrough -- though that would be wonderful (for Leo most of all) -- because Leo is Leo, and should not be held to anyone else's standards. But we owe it to him to find out exactly what those standards are. I hope we don't let him down.

1.10.2014

Feliz 2014

This video is how I want to remember 2013. All of our family, together with extended family, delighting in life and each other's company. Our family had so many amazing times in 2013, and had so much to be grateful for -- not the least of which was the people in our lives, whether connected by blood or choice. Tardily wishing you a happy 2014.

1.08.2014

Please Apple Please Apple Please Please Please

Waiting for lunch at Duarte's
Obviously, we are iPad fans. And I enjoy talking about how helpful iPads have been for Leo, and how they can help Autistic people of different ages & abilities.

However. Just as many standard iPad features (e.g., large touch screens) are surprisingly useful for kids with disabilities -- and that's not even getting into Apple's extensive built in accessibility options -- others features could still use a bit of tweaking.

So here's one option I'd like to see: turning off deleting videos in iTunes. The compulsiveness that accompanies Leo’s autism means he cannot stop himself from systematically deleting every last one of his favorite iTunes videos. He does this because deleting items on the iPad is fun! But then, crap, all the videos are gone. This is ... bad.

We can restore all purchased videos, of course, but it takes time, and sometimes it would make a world of difference to him if his favorite videos were always there when he needs comfort and familiarity and control (iTunes allow him to skip straight to and loop his favorite scenes) to get through a difficult patch. I do not think he would be upset about not being able to delete videos, he adjusted quite quickly to not being able to delete apps once that function was enabled. But if the option to delete is there, oh yes, he's going to take it.

So I do wish Apple would create an option to turn off deleting iTunes items, just as we can turn off deleting apps, because I doubt Leo is the only helplessly self-thwarting video-loving autistic iPad user in town.

Which iPad features do you wish were tweaked or changed for an even better user experience?

12.09.2013

Mali Asked Me What "Retard" Means

...because one of her friends at school uses "retard" as a casual pejorative. I suspect she already knew; she is nine after all. But this is an age where one's big kid ability to take in and process information is often at odds with one's little kid assumptions that the world is entirely a good, safe, and happy place. So here is what I told her:
'Retard' is a word used to make fun of people like your brother, people with intellectual disabilities. It is an awful word, and people who know better should not use it.
She asked me what to say to her friend, and I told her she could try the following:
1) 'Retard' makes fun of people like my brother.
2) So it hurts my feelings when you use that word.
3) So please do not use that word.
She'll be home in a few hours. We'll see how it went. And I think I'll have her watch the Not Acceptable PSA, even though it will further puncture her safe happy assumptions bubble.

What would you have said?

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