The Blog

No Justice, No Peace

Protesters in Ferguson (including plenty of white folks who aren’t being shown as much on the news because white people shouting out for racial justice isn’t as titillating as ‘scary’ black people doing it) are protesting because they are angry. They are angry about racial inequality. They are angry because all too often black men/boys are shot down by law enforcement when unarmed. They are angry because white criminals are treated with more respect and courtesy by the press than black victims.  They are angry a video of Michael Brown stealing a cigarillo was released to the press even though it is completely irrelevant to the shooting.

Moreover, they are angry because of the disproportionate police response to black protestors. Compare the police response at Ferguson with the response to the Bundy Ranch Standoff.  A group of white “patriots” at the Bundy Ranch Standoff could aim sniper rifles at federal officers and local law enforcement without having teargas shot at them, so why are unarmed black and white protesters met with SWAT teams, tanks, teargas and rubber bullets?

The Ferguson protesters are angry because they have been given a curfew, as if their constitutional and civil rights end after sundown. The Ferguson protesters are angry because they are being teargassed without warning hours before the official “curfew” even begins. They are angry because the media are being threatened and assaulted by law enforcement in an attempt to keep what’s happening in Ferguson from being widely known.

They are angry because they are supposed to shut up and sit down and stop rocking the boat.

There is a reason why the rallying cry of Ferguson, MO and the support protests is “No Justice, No Peace”.

Culture and Narrative

One black man is shot by a police or security officer every 28 hours in America on average. Too often these men are young and unarmed and had only committed the crime of being “uppity” or something as minor as jaywalking. Black men are shot by authorities when in the same circumstances white guys aren’t.

Why?

Cynthia Lee of George Washington University Law School suggests:

“Borrowing from Charles Lawrence’s theory of unconscious racism, I suggest that racial stereotypes operate at a subconscious level to influence the police officer’s decision to use deadly force. The police officer may not consciously decide to use deadly force because of the suspect’s race, but the suspect’s race nonetheless influences the officer. Racial stereotypes thus may alter the officer’s perception of danger, threat, and resistance to authority. A simple question, Officer, why am I being stopped? may be perceived as behavior challenging the officer’s authority when asked by someone who is Black. Police officers may also see danger more readily when dealing with a person of color. Just as racial and ethnic stereotypes influence private citizens’ decisions to use force in self-defense, such stereotypes can also influence police officers’ decisions to use force.”

In short, the odds are good that the police are not consciously targeting young black men; it’s that they have been told by media messaging all their lives that black men are “dangerous”.

This representation of black men as “thugs” continues even after an unarmed teen has been shot. There is currently trending a hashtag on twitter #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. What picture would the media use to represent you? The one where you were goofing off with friends and look like a “thug”, or your graduation picture? Guess which one the media tends to use?

Here are some examples of the same person to explain how context makes the narrative radically different:

iftheygunnedmedown1

iftheygunnedmedown2

Recently an unarmed black teenager was gunned down by a police officer in Ferguson, MO.  His body was left uncovered, in the street, in view of his parents and grandmother for four hours. Here are two of the pictures that the media could chose from to represent the young man, Michael Brown, who was getting ready to start college in just a few days:

good micheal brown bad_Michael_Brown

Guess which one national media went with?

Meanwhile, protesters for Michael Brown have been called an “angry mob” and protests were labeled “riots”. When some people used the protests  to loot stores, police officers used tear gas and rubber bullets on the crowd of protesters who were not looting. Newspapers reported the protesters where shouting “Kill the Police” when they were actually shouting “No Justice, No Peace”.

Here are some lesser seen photos of the “riots”:

Ferguson riot 1

ferguson riots 2

ferguson riots 3

ferguson riots 4

Ferguson riots 5

In the modern world the media shapes the cultural narrative. If we ever want to see a cessation of the tragic slaughter of unarmed black men by security officers then we need to stop having black men and black people displayed as “scary”. Cops are human, and prey to human frailties like fear. Until the culture shows them that fear is not the necessary axiomatic response  to black men, they will overreact violently when in confrontation with black men.

Feminism is Groovy

There has been an outbreak, not unlike a rash, of women posting pictures of themselves holding signs proclaiming how THEY didn’t need any of that gross feminism. I think it would behoove them to 1) understand what feminism actually IS so that they will never again post ridiculous pictures proclaiming they don’t need feminism because they “want equal rights” and 2) remember a few salient facts from the times prior to feminist movement.

Recently CNN listed some things women couldn’t do in the 60’s, and it should have been an eye-opener for the women who don’t “need” feminism.

1) You couldn’t get a credit card unless your hubby let you have one. I wonder how many women in the anti-feminist league have credit cards in their own names?

2) You couldn’t serve on a jury. Your precious nerves were too delicate. Nowadays, women are trial lawyers. Are the anti-feminists saying we were better off when women were considered too “emotional” to function in the legal system?

3) Get birth control pills. “In 1960, the pill was approved for use as a contraceptive. Even so, the pill was illegal in some states and could be prescribed only to married women for purposes of family planning, and not all pharmacies stocked it. Some of those opposed said oral contraceptives were immoral, promoted prostitution and were tantamount to abortion.” The feminist movement is fighting tooth and nail to keep contraception legal. If you have ever used contraception, thank a feminist.

4) Go to an Ivy League school regardless of how good your grades. “Yale and Princeton didn’t accept female students until 1969. Harvard didn’t admit women until 1977 (when it merged with the all-female Radcliffe College) … Dartmouth and Columbia did not offer admission to women until 1971, 1972 and 1981, respectively.” If a woman has attended ANY of these schools, then she did indeed need feminism and is now an ungrateful twerp.

To expand on this, let me point out some further things ladies couldn’t have before the feminist movement took off.

5) Be assured equal access to ANY higher education, let alone the Ivy League. “On June 23, 1972, the President (Nixon) signed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., into law. Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs”. 

6) A reasonable chance to get into medical school. “At the beginning of the 20th century about 5 percent of the doctors in the United States were women. In 1970, it was still only 7 percent. By 1998, 23 percent of all doctors were women, and today, women make up more than 50 percent of the medical student population. In 1968 only 1.2% of practicing dentists were women. By 2003, 17% of dentists were women, and 35% of dentists in new active private practice were female.” Women didn’t start becoming doctors and dentists because we suddenly got smarter in the 80’s; it was feminists who made this happen.

7) Say “no” to your husband if he says he wants to have sex but you don’t. That’s right. It was legal for a husband to rape his wife. “In the United States, prior to the mid-1970s marital rape was exempted from ordinary rape laws. The exemption is also found in the 1962 Model Penal Code, which stated that “A male who has sexual intercourse with a female not his wife is guilty of rape if: (…)“.”

8) Feminists made sexual harassment illegal. Sure, it still exists, but prior to 1986 it was legal.  You want to have the ability to walk through an office without getting your butt pinched? Then you need to thank feminism.

9) You can now get pregnant and continued to be employed. Before the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 you could get fired for getting pregnant, even if you were married or otherwise morally sanctioned to procreate. If you like not being automatically fired for being pregnant, thank feminism.

10) Oh, and lets not forget that feminists are the ones who fought for women to have the basic human right to vote in a democracy. Without the feminist movement, you wouldn’t be able to go to the polls and make your political voice heard, let alone display your thoughts on a public forum like Tumblr.

As for myself, I still need feminism because I want my daughters to be treated equally regardless of their gender and we aren’t quite there yet.

GOP led House Committee has confirmed no wrong-doing in Benghazi

As you all know, bad and/or misleading reporting for sensationalism drives me batcrap crazy. Call me a bluff old traditionalist, but I think newspapers and news reports should be factually accurate. Moreover, I don’t think skewing data or lies by omission to mislead the reader/viewer in order to create more readers/viewers is good either.

Needless to say, the reports and articles about Benghazi have frequently engendered me with a desire to pull my hair out due to inaccuracies. It’s not the politics that gets to me; it’s the lack of facts.

Finally, there is a report than cannot be dismissed as propaganda for/by either Republicans or Democrats.

“The House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, has concluded that there was no deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama administration in the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans … the report “confirms that no one was deliberately misled, no military assets were withheld and no stand-down order (to U.S. forces) was given.”

The Democrats cannot have skewed or faked this data, because there was a majority of Republicans on the committee who would have screamed blue murder if the Democrats had pulled any such shenanigans. The Republicans would not have skewed or faked this data, because it does them absolutely no good politically to confirm no wrong-doing in Benghazi.

Now, with any luck, myths and distortions about Benghazi will stop popping up in the news. Perhaps my sanity will even return. It’s doubtful, because there will always be more data to ignore or misreport that will get my goat. Nevertheless, I will be happy if Benghazi at least is no longer among the rabble.

Why evidence doesn’t matter in the “obesity epidemic”

It has long been known, and has been recently proven yet again in yet another mega-study, that “that overweight individuals had a lower risk of premature death than so-called normal weight individuals and there was no relationship between being somewhat obese and the rate of early death. Only among people in the high range of obesity was there a correlation between their weight and a higher risk of premature death.”

If the “normal” weight range for American adults was reconfigured back to the range which correlated to HEALTH, then “79% of the people we currently shame for being overweight or obese would be recategorized as perfectly fine. Ideal, even. Pleased to be plump, let’s say, knowing that a body that is a happy balance of soft and strong is the kind of body that will carry them through a lifetime.” This means the “obesity epidemic” is baloney by any discernable measurement of health.

The health crisis in America is a metabolic health crisis that has nothing to do with the circumference of your hips or your lack of thigh-gap. Diabetes, hypertension, hardening of the arteries, kidney disease – all that jazz – is much more closely linked to the consumption of sugar and processed food and artificial sweetener than weight. Fat/overweight people don’t axiomatically eat more sugary & processed foods than thin people. You can get fat off of “good” foods too. I am living proof.

Health is also effected by a sedentary life-style. A fat/overweight person who exercises even moderately is “healthier” than a thin person who leads a mostly sedentary lifestyle. I have a standing desk and do yoga. I am “metabolically fit” according to all my recent medical bloodwork. I also have a great big butt. My large booty and vast upper arms have meant that some doctors have seemed surprised or even disappointed that I am physically healthy. I don’t go back to those doctors; I go to doctors who are pleased with my health and encourage me to maintain my healthy behaviors.

Sadly, many fat/overweight people have learned to avoid seeking medical care because no matter what their symptoms the standard answer is that they need to lose a little weight. Worse, we can tell when health care professionals are judging us and finding us ‘unworthy’ of help and health, thus leaving people feeling to ashamed to go get health care. It’s not in our heads, either. Studies have found that “over 50% of doctors find fat patients “awkward, ugly, weak-willed and unlikely to comply with treatment” and 28% of nurses said that they were “repulsed” by their obese patients.   Mary Huizinga of Johns Hopkins found that “The higher a patient’s body mass, the less respect doctors express for that patient.  And the less respect a doctor has for a patient the less time they spend with that patient and the less information he or she offers.” 

The bias against fat/overweight patients means fat/overweight people are misdiagnosed and undiagnosed in terrifyingly large percentages. Don’t think this medical bias would apply to you? Think again. A “recent Yale study suggested that weight bias can start when a woman is as little as 13 pounds over her highest healthy weight.” In effect, you can be in the healthiest cohort of Americans and yet your physician may still judge you as too weak-willed and noncompliant to bother with.

Why do doctors have these biases, when their assumptions are counter-factual and repeatedly proven to be so?

The answer is simple: most doctors and nurses and other health care professionals have grown up in the same cultural environment as other Americans and have been bombarded with overt and sublet messaging that fat is repulsive, that it is visual evidence of sloth and gluttony, and that it denotes an “inferior” specimen of humanity. Is it surprising that they should view fat/overweight patients as repulsive, ugly, and weak-willed? Medical professionals, contrary to their portrayals as being ‘above’ culture and susceptible only to hard facts, are human beings with the same enculturated subconscious assumptions as the rest of the USA.

Meanwhile, hysterical stories about the “obesity epidemicproliferate, completely ignoring factual data showing that fat itself isn’t deadly and the rise of heart disease and diabetes is more about American food stables and lifestyle than America’s pants size.  Sadly, this is coloring the perceptions of another generation of future medical students.

*sigh*

Tudor China?

I am a big fan of author Jeannie Lin. She writes fiction set in Imperial China and it is hella well done. My favorite of her books are The Lotus Palace and The Jade Temptress. I cannot heap enough praise on them.

Not only is she an excellent wordsmith, she is one of the rare historical authors whose romantic heroes aren’t English Lords. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good romance with Duke Hottie of Hottness or whatnot. However, it is nice to read about somewhere other than not-always-accurately-portrayed historical England.

A couple of months ago, Ms. Lin blogged about the dearth of non-European heroes and it stuck in my brain.  She wrote that most requests for historical heroes from Harlequin/ Mills & Boone read like, “Heroes wanted: British gentlemen and lords preferred and we’ll consider a few of you warrior savages from those other countries and time periods.” She pointed out, “It’s not that people won’t read a non-English hero. It’s that they simply do not exist.”

It occurred to me that with the exception of Miss Fisher’s lover Lin Chung in the Phryne Fisher Mysteries I haven’t read any romantic fiction wherein the hero was of Asian heritage. Considering that this is the actor playing Lin Chung in the TV series:

Lin Chung

… the lack of romance stories involving dudes that look like him is a crying shame.

Come to think of it, when there are Chinese men who look like this:

handsome chinese man

to serve as inspiration, why don’t more books featuring Asian heroes exist??

Reading Ms. Lin’s books also made me aware of how amazingly uninformed I am about Chinese history. Out of sheer curiosity, I went to take a peek at the information about the Emperor of China whose rule coincided with Henry VIII’s reign in England.

What I found made me say “wow”.

Emperor Jiajing, the 11th ruler of the Ming Dynasty who ruled from 1521-1567, makes Henry VIII look like a twee little pussycat of a tyrant in comparison. There are definitely similarities between Henry and Jiajing, but Jiajing did everything MORE so than Henry. Jiajing was ruthlessly intelligent, but didn’t give a fig for statecraft so he let corrupt ministers run roughshod over the country while he drank and frolicked among his concubines. Henry may have executed two wives, but Jiajing was such a monster that several of his concubines tried to murder him. When they failed, he had them and the conspirators tortured to death in a way that makes beheading seem merciful. He also ordered the deaths of their families as additional punishment. The Emperor had more luck begetting living sons than did Henry VIII, and upon Jiajing’s death his throne passed to his son Zhu Zaihou.  Jiajing’s tomb, unlike his reign, is both glorious and touched by originality.

Henry VIII and Emperor Jiajing both happened to live during the same time as the man who literally wrote the book on Chinese medicine, Li Shizhen. His discoveries and theories are still used today and have become steadily more influential in Western medicine. My husband is currently dealing with a herniated disk in his upper back and one of the things that has helped reduce his pain has been acupuncture, which is almost unchanged from the time of Li Shizhen.

The hero of The Jade Temptress, Wu Kaifeng, is a constable and he was able to use what we now think of as “forensic science” to help him solve a crime in the novel. He could do this because a judge, the honorable Song Ci, had already written the book on forensic pathology (Collected Cases of Injustice Rectified) hundreds of years before during the Song Dynasty. During this same time period Europe was still doing “trial by ordeal” to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused.

Fascinating!

The Nightmare in Gaza

After international condemnation of Israel for bombing a school that was being used as an United Nation’s shelter for Gaza’s children (which the US also condemned but then agreed to give Israel more ammunition), the Israeli government and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire today. It ended less than four hours later.

One of the sticking points to a truce was the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he was going to keep soldier on the ground destroying the tunnels in Gaza which can be used to allow militants into Israel, “with or without a ceasefire“. However, no sooner did the shame of the school bombing force Netanyahu to the table for talks, some idiots in Hamas killed two soldiers and kidnapped another one, effectively destroying what little hope the ceasefire had.

Meanwhile, about 1/4 of Gaza’s population (about 425,000 people) are now refugees. More than 1,400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombs, and most of the dead and wounded are civilians. At least 58 Israelis have been killed (56 were soldiers and two civilians) and more would have died if most of Hamas’ rockets into Israel are being destroyed by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system before they can touch the ground.

Do you know who is suffering the greatest number of casualties due to the joint stupidity and obstinacy of Netanyahu and Hamas? The non-combatant adults, children, and babies of Gaza, that’s who.

The grief of Palestinian families:

TOPSHOTS-PALESTINIAN-ISRAEL-CONFLICT-GAZA

Is no less than the grief of Israeli families:

isreali grief

The agony of a parent losing a child is no less whether that child is a baby or adult, Palestinian or Israeli.

What good is the invasion of Gaza doing Israel? What did Netanyahu think he would accomplish? As one editorial in The Guardian said:

“The Israelis did not go into Gaza to kill children. But, as Jon Snow implied in his passionate video this week, they went in knowing that they would kill children because it is impossible in that crowded, chaotic territory to pursue their foes without massive collateral damage. The only way not to kill children would be not to go in at all. And that raises the most critical issue, which is why they went in. The immediate justification was that Hamas rockets and raiding parties entering through tunnels were a threat to Israeli civilians. One may quarrel with that, because this threat has been, so far, relatively limited. It might get worse in the future, but is a country justified in the use of force because of something that may happen rather than something that has happened? That threat might never fully materialise because of Israeli technical superiority or because political developments rendered it irrelevant. The distinguished Israeli writer David Grossman, addressing himself to Israeli leaders, asks: “How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people … Why have you ignored, for 12 years, the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas?” If you want peace, prepare for war, says the Roman proverb. But here it is the opposite: if you want to avoid war, prepare for peace. The Netanyahu government is paying the price for having sedulously avoided real negotiations with the Palestinians through a long series of subterfuges and distractions culminating in the recent barren passage that, over many months, wore down even the ever- patient and optimistic John Kerry.”

Israel, you cannot “win” this war with bombs. The tunnels are less of a potential danger to you than the current damage you are causing to your own people, and your own interests, by continuing this conflict.

Hamas, you cannot win any war with Israel, period. Start to emulate Gandhi by the nonviolent protesting Israeli/Palestinian apartheid or watch more of your children die. You should be fighting in the social media, not in the streets.

As for the rest of the world, Australian Jewish freelance journalist and author Antony Loewenstein is utterly correct when he says, “What you need is more people in the public arena to not be scared, to say I’m critical of Israel, I’m not anti-Semitic, I support Jews’ right to live freely and openly as I do as a Jew but we will not tolerate our politicians failing, and therefore civil society must act …  Growing isolation and boycotts and divestment and sanctions [against Israel]; that is the only way … I can guarantee after this current Gaza massacre ends, BDS (boycott, divestment and sanction) will grow.”

Organic Food IS Better For You

In what was a complete lack of surprise, the biggest study done to date on the benefits of organic produce found that organic food is both more nutritious and much lower in toxic metals than non-organic ‘conventional’ crops.

“Analysing 343 studies into the compositional differences between organic and conventional crops, the team found that a switch to eating organic fruit, vegetable and cereals – and food made from them – would provide additional antioxidants equivalent to eating between 1-2 extra portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

The study, published today in the prestigious British Journal of Nutrition, also shows significantly lower levels of toxic heavy metals in organic crops. Cadmium, which is one of only three metal contaminants along with lead and mercury for which the European Commission has set maximum permitted contamination levels in food, was found to be almost 50% lower in organic crops than conventionally-grown ones.

Newcastle University’s Professor Carlo Leifert, who led the study, says: “This study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of nutritionally desirable antioxidants and reduced exposure to toxic heavy metals.”

The downside of this is that most people cannot afford the extra expense of organic food. Why does organic food cost so much?

First, it is that the conventional produce is faking it’s prices. The government spends BILLIONS every year in farm subsidies that go to only a handful of millionaire “agribusiness” farmers with huge factory farms growing GMO crops drenched in every pesticide known to mankind. That is why conventional produce remains “cheap”. This cheap produce – especially CORN – is needed so crap like snacks and white bread can stay cheap too. Even meat is less expensive than it REALLY is thanks to cheap corn and more subsidies of factory farms raising food animals.

These “lowered” costs have helped Americans not notice that the amount of food they bought for $30 in 2000 now takes $41.52 to buy.

Organic farms, in contrast, don’t get much in the way of subsidies and the subsidies they do get are iffy. Without Uncle Sam’s generous hand conventional produce would cost as much as organic, and if the government would subsidize ORGANIC crops instead then organic food would be less expensive and thus more readily available to people who need it.

If organic food is better for the citizens of the United States, why do US politicians continue to vote to subsidize agribusinesses rather than small organic farms? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that “Individuals and political action committees associated with the agribusiness sector contributed more than $90 million at the federal level during the 2012 election cycle — the biggest increase ever from one cycle to the next for this sector.”

Ironically, the money the politicians got via lobbyists from agribusinesses came from the US subsidies your taxes paid for.

Karma Cromwellian

Those of you who are old enough to have enjoyed the music of the 80s doubtlessly remember Culture Club’s hit Karma Chameleon. I couldn’t resist the pun, and now I cannot resist describing Cromwell’s career trajectory as red, gold, and green. Yes, there is something wrong with my mind.

Red: Although Anne Boleyn had been Cromwell’s benefactress and without her he would have not risen to his current position, he turned on her like a rabid weasel. He and Anne were fighting over the fate of the smaller monasteries. Cromwell, motivated by either the hatred of Catholicism or by the desire to plump up Henry’s treasury, seemed eager to destroy every last monastery and confiscate the riches. Anne, in contrast, wanted the smaller monasteries left intact so that they could produce scholars who could in turn spread the word of God throughout England.  Cromwell knew Anne was a formidable obstacle in the way of his plans, which probably included a chance to fill his own coffers with a share of the expropriated monastic goods. Working under the timeless assumption that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” Cromwell joined the Catholic faction in destroying Anne Boleyn.

Cromwell’s men were the ones tasked with finding “evidence” against Anne, and it was Cromwell who made sure no one on Anne’s side with clout got to meet with Henry. Cromwell knew he had little to no proof, so he used open ended accusations against Anne to facilitate her forgone guilty verdict at trial. Moreover, when Anne was beheaded on May 19th Cromwell made sure there was as small an audience as possible because Anne’s jailer had warned Cromwell that the queen was likely to “declare herself to be a good woman”. This same jailer told Cromwell he had witnessed Anne’s last sacrament and had heard her swear “as touching her innocency always to be clear”.

Cromwell knew he was murdering an innocent woman for his own gain.

Gold: With Anne out of the way, Cromwell was both golden with the King and raking in monastic gold from the dissolution. For the next four years Cromwell’s influence with the king made him the most powerful man in Henry’s government.

Green: Let’s say this phase of Cromwell’s life was green because this is when he reaped what he had sown. He had shown Henry the ease of legalized murder, and the king became fond of that solution. Unhappy with his marriage to Anna of Cleaves, the king had Cromwell arrested on June 10, 1540 and beheaded on July 28th of the same year. Unlike Anne, he didn’t even get the dignity of a kangaroo court. His head was embedded on a spike and displayed on London Bridge, which could also be described as going “green” if one was an uncouth individual (which I am).  

Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn’s cousin, Kathryn Howard, the same day he executed Cromwell. Unlike Cromwell, I feel sorry for Kathryn’s fate.

Blossom is Blossoming

As I have mentioned before, my eldest daughter, Blossom, has Asperger’s syndrome. In her book Does My Child Have Autism?, doctor Wendy L. Stone explains that:

There is no debate or doubt: early intervention is your child’s best hope for the future. Early attention to improving the core behavioral symptoms of autism will give your child – and the rest of the family – several important benefits that you will not gain if you take a wait-and-see approach until your child enters school at age four or five. A good early intervention program has at least four benefits: It will provide your child with instruction that will build on his or her strengths to teach new skills, improve behaviors, and remediate areas of weakness. It will provide you with information that will help you better understand your child’s behavior and needs. It will offer resources, support, and training that will enable you to work and play with your child more effectively. It will improve the outcome for your child. For these reasons, an intervention program for your child should be implemented as soon as possible after he or she receives a diagnosis. However … intervention programs that are generic – rather than autism specialized – are less likely to be effective for your child. That’s why as you begin your exploration of early intervention, you must keep in mind that not all interventions are equal.”

We got Blossom early intervention and I cannot begin to describe how much it has helped. She can easily pass for a nerdy Muggle. She has friends. She is able to make new friends because she is able to tell them, with no shame and no hesitation, what she doesn’t understand (any child worth being friends with cuts an Aspy kid some slack once they know there is a problem). I am so happy that Blossom is doing so well.

I’m an Aspy also, but they knew diddly-squat about when I was a kid. In fact, the whole understanding of Asperger’s/Autism has improved so much in the last decade that it is nearly mind-blowing. With understand, comes more diagnosis. More diagnosis is good, considering what a nightmare that a lack of an autism diagnosis can be for autistic kids and families.

Occasionally the news will break out into hysteria that there is a new “autism epidemic” because of the rise in autism diagnosis, but that is just more hyperbolic bad reporting. More kids are getting diagnosed because now professionals are significantly more aware of the myriad symptoms of autism and how to put the clues together to solve the puzzle. There wasn’t even a decent set of diagnostic criteria for the condition until 1987, and the realization that the problem was really an autism spectrum disorder with a huge range of severity didn’t really kick in until after 1995. It’s like dinosaurs. People were digging up fossils for millennia but it wasn’t until 1841 that Richard Owen put the clues together and came up with the concept of dinosaurs. The “rise” in dinosaur discoveries since then doesn’t mean that there is an epidemic of dinosaur fossils – we can just recognize them now and know what to look for.

The concept of “early intervention” was not part of the lexicon until recently, either. Thanks to a very, VERY astute per-school teacher we got Blossom tested (and thus diagnosed) when she was four years old. In a “perfect storm” of luck, we live in a town with a specialist in Asperger’s/autism presentation in girls and women, which is insanely underdiagnosed – much to the determent of hundreds of thousands of little girls. It was only because of this lucky access to a specialist that we were able to get Blossom in treatment so young. Other parents have had to struggle a lot harder to find the answers, and the older a kid is when he/she is diagnosed the more likely it is that he or she has suffered in school and with peers.

That is why, as a feminist and a mother, it drives me batcrap crazy that so many little girls are labeled “quirky” or “difficult” when what they are is “autistic”. Kids on the spectrum and their families have enough issues on their plate without having to deal with gender-bias as well.

I am grateful beyond expression that Blossom got diagnosis and help early and is now thriving. I want the same “luck” for every child. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen until more doctors and teachers are trained to spot autism across it’s varied spectrum, especially when it manifests in little girls.