Monday, December 22, 2008

Ideas for Change in America...

UPDATED on January 3, 2009

I can no longer support as an organization that claims that it represents 'change'. Here is why....

UPDATED at 9:10 am on December 22, 2008:
Well, well.. the "Autism Reform Act" petition is now the number one contender within the Education category. I am very glad to see that. If you haven't had a chance to check things out, please do.

But please ignore the increasingly asinine comments that are being posted. Once again, an autism inspired action is deteriorating into the 'cure/treatment' vs. 'great gift/natural state of being', and ''people with high functioning kids don't know what autism is like' mud slinging contest.

People - get a grip. This idea is around much needed changes in the educational system and healthcare system. This is a "non-partisan" issue - regardless of whether you want to throw a party once your child is diagnosed with autism (after all, it's a gift to be celebrated, right?) or whether you want to throw everything but the kitchen sink at your child to get them 'cured.'

The issues also have nothing to do with "high functioning" vs. "low functioning" - Mark Blaxill once said something along the following lines (I am paraphrasing), that HFA/Asperger's is the same as autism, but with more language. I completely agree. There are plenty of kiddos with HFA/Asperger's that on a variety of levels are just as impaired [oooh,, I had the nerve to use the word impaired..] and whose lives are just as difficult as a child with 'full blown' autism.

In fact, I want to take Mark Blaxill's comment one step further as it specifically pertains to my Salamander: "HFA/Asperger's is the same as autism, but with an ability to speak more words." As really, while Salamander always had an enormous vocabulary (despite being mute until he was 2), he wasn't using that vocabulary to form language. He was just spitting out an endless stream of words. Now that he IS using all those words in his incredible vocabulary in a true language sense, to communicate - OMG, what a difference.

As always, to each their own believes, practices, approaches, etc.

Here is where I stand:
Salamander the person is PERFECT in every way and does not need fixing or curing.

Salamander's medical issues deserve treatment (not 'neglect' by mainstream medicine because he has an autism diagnosis),

Salamander's sensory regulation dysfunction and learning disabilities deserve school accommodations/modifications and remedial therapy,

Salamander's incredible 'mental wattage' deserves the appropriate education to help him achieve his potential,

Salamander's mood regulation difficulties deserve therapy, and understanding and kindness from his environment.

Sounds like pretty basic human rights stuff, eh? And the fact that getting him these basic rights has to be such an uphill battle really really pisses me off. And that is where the "Autism Reform Act" petition comes in.

A dear friend has been trying to get me to visit the site for a while now, and I finally 'dipped in a toe' this morning (as really, between the various list serves, yahoo & gmail groups, FB, blog lists, Skype, IM and regular email, I am hitting a huge, big "things to keep track off and act on" overload.. LOL).

In fact, I went on the site today for very specific reason.. to check out one particular idea that is near and dear to my heart - free and appropriate education for children on the autism spectrum.

I am going to shamelessly steal and post the general intro from the site, and then I'll write a little more about specific idea:

"I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again"
President-Elect Barack Obama

About Ideas for Change in America

What is Ideas for Change in America?
Ideas for Change in America is a citizen-driven project that aims to identify and create momentum around the best ideas for how the Obama Administration and 111th Congress can turn the broad call for "change" across the country into specific policies. The project is nonpartisan, and invites all political points of view. It is not connected to the Obama campaign or the Obama Administration.

Who's behind it?
Ideas for Change in America is a project of, an online community and media network for social issues, in partnership with more than three dozen leading organizations, including MySpace, techPresident, the Sunlight Foundation, Netroots Nation, Declare Yourself, Student PIRGs, Voto Latino, HeadCount, and Change Congress.

How does it work?
Anyone can submit an idea and comment and vote on others. The top 10 rated ideas will be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009 as the "Top 10 Ideas for America." We will then launch a national campaign behind each idea and mobilize the collective energy of the millions of members of, MySpace, and partner organizations to ensure that each winning idea gets the full consideration of the Obama Administration and Members of Congress.

How are the top ideas determined?
The "Top 10 Ideas for America" will be determined through two rounds of voting. In the first round, ideas will compete against other ideas in the same issue category. The first round will end on December 31, 2008, and the top 3 rated ideas from each category will make it into the second round. The second round of voting will begin on Monday, January 5, and each qualifying idea will compete against the qualifying ideas from all other categories. Second round voting will end on Thursday, January 15.

What happens after voting?
Our work does not end with the voting process or the delivery of the top 10 ideas to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day. That is rather the end of the beginning. Instead of passively hoping the administration accepts each top idea, we will select a formal nonprofit sponsor for each idea to help create a nationwide movement to lobby the administration and Congress to turn the idea into real policy.

What should my idea be about?
The mission of Ideas for Change in America is to identify and advance concrete solutions to the major challenges confronting the country, and we welcome any ideas consistent with this vision. Ideas that conflict with the spirit of this mission, that look backward instead of forward, that express values without offering solutions, that offer solutions which won't receive serious consideration by either the Obama administration or the 111th Congress, that are intended to attack others, or are otherwise offensive are not eligible for the second round. We reserve the right to remove any ideas that violate these stated principles.

So now that that's out of the way, on to the actual idea. As we are all know, the amount of kids that's flowing into the pub ed system that have some type of "diagnosis" has been growing exponentially.. and the whole pub ed system at large is ill equipped to handle the kids. Sure, some districts/schools/TEAMs get it somewhat right, but so many do NOT.

The idea posted on speaks to the need for reform in the educational systems. Click here to read a bit more, and please do consider submitting your vote.
This idea deserves a chance to be presented to Obama and his staff (yes, there is a little voting button thingy in my side bar.. ). Please do keep in mind that the particular listing of items under the idea is just a start, to get the thought processes and discussions going (I can think of many more issues that need to be addressed).


[and for those of you on various list serves and message boards, please do not be turned off by the increasingly annoying messages posted by the idea originator; the last one I got really ticked me off as it was rather nasty about some of the other ideas presented, with the nastiness only very thinly veiled by that particular blend of "American Patriotism" that got this country in its current mess to begin with. I almost didn't check out the actual idea itself.
I am glad I got 'over' myself and DID take a peek...]


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