Monday, January 30, 2017

How Do We Help Our Kids When They're Scared About Politics?

I saw this post from The Autism Dad in my Twitter feed today, and it really hit home for me. My son, who has almost no expressive language, is able to understand a great deal of what people say. Since the election, my husband and I have been talking politics a lot, and we are often angry about the events unfolding in our country.

My son does NOT like it. He cries and gets very frustrated. We tell him that it's important, that we talk about these things to help protect him, but those words don't make him feel better.

I think next time, I will try some of these words from the post I mentioned above:

I want you to remember a few things.

Regardless of who’s in office, this is our country. Our families, friends and loved ones have fought and died defending it.

It’s more important than ever to stand up for what you believe. Stand up for what you know in your heart is right. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Stand up for the kind of future you want for your children.

Teach your kids to be tolerant and accepting of those who may seem different. Rather than judging, show them how our differences can make us stronger. Lead by example because kids need positive role models.

Most importantly, don’t let what’s going on around us, change who we are. This country is much more than just one person in an oval office. This country is an ideal. One person will never be enough to destroy that.

Treat each other with kindness and compassion. The first week of our new leadership has been difficult for many people across the country. Things may get harder before they get better but they will get better.


Monday, January 9, 2017

It's still mockery.

Last night, in her Golden Globe acceptance speech, Meryl Streep called out our ableist-elect, Donald Trump, for mocking reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis.

The ever-classy DT dismissed the critique when he responded (via Twitter, naturally). So the cycle continues: one group of people are trying to hold Trump accountable for his behavior and words while another group of people (including Trump) insist that his behavior does not deserve the reprimand.

Here's Trump's defense of his actions:

For the 100th time, I never 'mocked' a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him "groveling" when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

If I understand this defense correctly, DT is suggesting that he was criticizing Kovaleski's behavior and words through an impersonation of him. It doesn't count as mockery because he was not mocking the disability itself, just the person who has the disability.

That defense is bullshit.

DT can criticize reporters all he wants--which he does!--and having a disability does not exempt a reporter from criticism. But this behavior is not simply criticism. When DT "showed him," he imitated the physical limitations that characterize arthrogryposis, not just the words he claims Kovaleski said.

That's mockery. Here's a definition for "mock":

verb (used with object)
1. to attack or treat with ridicule, contempt, or derision.
2. to ridicule by mimicry of action or speech; mimic derisively.
3. to mimic, imitate, or counterfeit.

Trump and his supporters need to stop splitting hairs over this occurrence. I doubt that Trump will: if he owned up to what he did, he'd have to admit that he was wrong, and of course he can't do that. But for anyone else who is still defending this particular behavior, please step back and take a critical look. Put yourself in the position of a person who has this physical condition. Imagine watching the person who will soon become the president of the United States curling up his wrists and waving them in an imitation of you. Think about all the other adults and kids with arthrogryposis you've talked to in your life, all the other people with visible and invisible disabilities you know, and imagine them watching our next president behave like an insensitive school bully. Hell, put yourself in your own position and think about all the individuals with disabilities you know, and imagine how dumbstruck, how wounded, how angry they feel.

Can you stop splitting hairs now?