Yes, Brooks Gibbs is connected to Izzy Kalman

For more background, see my previous posts.  Basically, Brooks and Izzy claim to have the real solution to bullying – fix the victims.  It’s hogwash.

But, now, it’s transitioned into lies.

A local Lincoln newspaper, when discussing the rules sent home to parents, connected the flyer to Brooks Gibbs.  There is a connection, but despite that, the paper published this “correction”:

Brook Gibbs, a youth motivational speaker, did not co-author a book with national bullying expert Izzy Kalman and said he does not teach any of the rules included in a flier inadvertently distributed to Zeman Elementary fifth-graders this week. An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Gibbs co-wrote a book with Kalman.

This correction needs a correction.

Here’s some facts:

Brooks Gibbs and Izzy Kalman are Closely Connected.

Brooks Gibbs is the President of the Kalman Institute for Bullying Prevention.  (Source)

Brooks Gibbs is a youth crisis counselor and bullying expert. He is the president of the Kalman Research Institute for Bullying Prevention and the national spokesman for the Office Depot Foundation’s “Be the Difference, Speak Up Against Bullying” program in partnership with the band One Direction. He will be speaking in Boca Raton on Monday, October 7 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Office Depot Headquarters.

President of the Kalman Research Institute for Bullying Prevention? I could suppose that might not have any relationship to Izzy Kalman but I suspect I’d be wrong.

Gibbs teaches Kalman’s rules.

Maybe he doesn’t call them rules.  But he teaches the same subject matter with the same problems.

From a video now scrubbed from Brooks Gibbs’ website where he used the Kalman Bullying Prevention Program, he teaches, for instance, Rule 9 from the Nebraska brochure sent home with kids:

Rule #9: Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put-downs. Make a joke out of it or agree with the put-downs. For example:

“If you think I’m ugly, you should see my sister!”

“You’re right, and it’s going to get worse!”

“I’ve know (sic) that for a long time.”

“Thanks for noticing!”

“If you think I look like a nerd, you should see my dad!”

The “examples” given are what the victim should say back to his bully.

Here’s a transcript of Brooks giving “Lesson 8: Jokes” from a video that used to appear on Brook’s website (but was scrubbed this week):

Hi, this is Brooks Gibbs and today I’m going to teach you how to respond to jokes.  Jokes are always making fun of something or someone. If you lose a game, don’t get up-tight and say, “No fair, YOU GUYS CHEATED!” If someone jokes on you say (sic) “No fair, that hurts my feelings.”

If you’re on the losing end of a game or of a joke or an insult, lose well. Because nobody likes a sore loser. Take a joke about yourself. Even make a joke about yourself.

Believe it or not, insults are very fun. Compliments on the other hand are never funny. You will never hear a funny compliment. “Hi, you are really a good friend.” (Brooks gives a fake laugh) That’s not funny. That’s not funny at all. What’s funny is insults. When someone insults you. The only way a compliment is funny is if it is said with sarcasm really meaning the opposite then which is made to be an insult.

Insults are healthy. An emotionally healthy student will be able to take a joke about themselves and even make a joke about themselves. It’s important to know that. Humor is always at someone’s expense. So here’s some friendly advice: If someone is making fun of you, calling you a je..calling you names, trying to joke with you. Or lets say you lose at a game, you are playing baseball or something like that, and you lose. And people are making fun of some sort of move you made or something. Here’s what is important to remember. Um, lose well. Because nobody likes a sore loser. Lose well. Be on the losing end of a joke.

(at this point he shows a skit from a Jimmy Kimmel TV show about home video of kids being told that their parent(s) ate all their Halloween candy)

Take a joke well. (there is more stuff here comparing losing a sports game to verbal insults, and being upset about being insulted to being “up tight”)

(Then you see a slide entitled “The Golden Rule Game with Izzy Kalman”, followed by the below)

(Izzy is talking now) I’m going to have a whole group insult me. The first time I’m going to treat them like enemies.

(it’s Izzy and a bunch of kids now. The kids yell insults at Izzy, with Izzy screaming and acting in the stereotypical way a special needs student might respond, complete with an “accent” that sounds something like “Rain Man”)

(Izzy speaking now):Isn’t this kind of fun (kids agree).  Good.  If I do this are you going to want to stop making fun of me?

Watch again. This time, I will treat the whole group as friends.

(kid): Fat
(Izzy): Uh, ya. I could lose a few pounds, right?
(kid): (unintelligible)
(Izzy): You’re talking about my glasses, right? You don’t need glasses?
(kid): (unintelligible)
(Izzy): I know, I know… (and similar affirmation of the insults, then it moves into Izzy asking the kids making fun of his clothing where he should buy his clothes, apparently to look cool)

So even if a whole group makes fun of you, don’t get upset. Treat them like friends and they’ll quickly get tired of making fun of you.

(it goes back to Brooks, who then laughs about how his asthma was a disability, saying he felt like a loser and didn’t lose well)

It goes on for a bunch of other stuff, but you get the point. It sure sounds like Rule #9. And this isn’t an isolated rule he happens to teach. He teaches all 9.

Gibbs Did Write a Book with Kalman

At the very least, they wrote The Golden Rule Solution to Bullying – Teacher’s Guideby Izzy Kalman, Brooks Gibbs, and Shelly Beach (who lists in her bio on the first page of the book (at least the E-book preview online), that she is “married to a retired school superintendent” – apparently that is the same as being qualified).

The book is ISBN 978-0-9914012-0-8.

It is Copyright 2014 by Golden Rule Multimedia.

So this is not ancient history. 2014 is pretty recent.

While Shelly gets credit for the book in the book, she doesn’t in the now-scrubbed Brooks Gibbs webpage (Google Cache).

From the author descriptions, Izzy trains the professionals while Brooks trains the students:

Izzy Kalman

Izzy Kalman is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist who has been working in schools and private practice since 1978. He has developed fun and effective methods that use role playing to teach basic psychological principles for solving bullying, aggression and relationship problems. He has trained more than 50,000 mental health professionals how to protect kids from bullies and reform America’s failing anti-bully movement.

Brooks Gibbs

Brooks Gibbs is a youth crisis counselor and bullying expert. He is the author of the best selling book “Love Is Greater Than Hate”. He presents more than 300 school assembly programs each year and is considered a master teacher of the Golden Rule.

 

More Lies

This is from Brooks Gibbs, in response to someone on Twitter asking about the flyer:

From: @BrooksGibbs – Apr 17
@PegAKeller I had nothing to do with the LPS flyer fiasco. I’m not the author. I’ve never worked with that school. Be well.

What exactly is the “fiasco?” Perhaps that people wrongly don’t like it? Or that you aren’t associated with it? I’m not going to answer that – I’m going to answer the other part of that, the “I’ve never worked with that school.”

I’ve Never Worked with that School

Maybe not that school.

But certainly other Lincoln Public Schools.  From a Lincoln Public Schools web article about a visit to Lefler Middle School (another school in the same district as Zeman Elementry School, the school involved in the “flier fiasco”):

The next day, internationally-known speaker Brooks Gibbs told Lefler students a similar message with a different twist: Treat the bullies with kindness, and understand not everyone is going to want to be your friend.

About his own youth experiences, Gibbs humorously said, “The more they would make fun of me, the more upset I would get and the wierder I would look and the more fun they would have.”

So Lefler students recited, “Don’t get upset” back to Gibbs over and over again.

There will always be bullying, he said. Schools, workplaces, homes and about anywhere else you go, someone will try to make you feel bad.

Here’s the schedule from the Office Depot Foundation website – Lefler wasn’t the only Lincoln school he spoke at:

9/04/2013 4 Kilgore ISD Kilgore TX 1455
9/04/2013 1 Carthage ISD Carthage TX 421
9/05/2013 3 Fruitvale ISD, Edgewood ISD,
Grand Saline ISD
Fruitvale/Edgewood,
Grand Saline
TX 582
9/05/2013 1 Van ISD Van TX 538
9/09/2013-
9/10/2013
4 Beeville ISD Beeville TX 1300
9/10/2013 2 Mathis ISD Mathis TX 382
9/11/2013 3 Zachary Middle School San Antonio TX 1000
9/11/2013 2 Rawlison Middle School San Antonio TX 763
9/13/2013 3 Smart Middle School Walled Lake MI 1020
9/13/2013 2 Millenium Middle School South Lyon MI 850
9/17/2013 3 North Andover Middle School North Andover MA 1088
9/17/2013 1 Wood Hill Middle School Andover MA 400
9/18/2013 3 Dedham Middle School Dedham MA 700
9/20/2013 1 Greenfield Middle School Greenfield MA 500
9/24/2013 2 Hauppauge Middle School Hauppauge NY 640
9/24/2013 1 North Shore Hebrew Academy Great Neck NY 180
9/25/2013 3 Garfield Middle School Garfield NY 951
9/25/2013 1 Our Lady Queen of Peace Staten Island NY 330
9/25/2013 1 St. Claires School Staten Island NY
9/26/2013 4 Crossroads Middle School North
(South)
South Brunswick NJ 2200
9/27/2013 3 Conewagon Valley School District New Oxford PA 1300
10/1/2013 1 Raymond Middle School Raymond NE 185
10/1/2013 1 Seward Middle School Seward NE 403
10/1/2013 1 Crete Middle School Crete NE 501
10/1/2013 1 Norris Middle School Norris NE 497
10/2/2013 1 Scott Middle School Lincoln NE 200
10/2/2013 1 Goodrich Middle School Lincoln NE 250
10/2/2013 1 Lux Middle School Lincoln NE 1000
10/2/2013 1 Lefler Middle School Lincoln NE 500
10/2/2013 1 Culler Middle School Lincoln NE 670
10/3/2013 1 Milford High School Milford MI 359
10/8/2013 3 Omni Middle School Boca Raton FL 1500
10/9/2013 3 Estridge Middle School Boca Raton FL 1500
10/17/2013 2 Timber Ridge Middle School Plainfield IL
10/18/2013 2 Channahon School District Channahon IL 500
10/18/2013 1 St. Phillip the Apostle Catholic School Addison IL 150
10/21/2013 5 Racine ISD Racine WI 2600
10/22/2013 2 Pilgrim Park Middle School Elm Grove WI 800
10/25/2013 2 Highlander Middle School Howell MI 900
10/25/2013 2 Parker Middle School Howell MI 850
10/28/2013 1 Walled Lake West High School Walled Lake MI
10/29/2013 2 Geisler Middle School Walled Lake MI 850
11/4/2013 3 Carmel Valley MS San Diego CA
11/5/2013 2 Hillsdale MS El Cajon CA
11/6/2013 3 Woodland Park MS Escondido CA
11/7/2013 3 Meadowbrook MS Poway CA
11/12/2013 1 Kennedy MS Stockton CA
11/12/2013 1 Hong Kingston MS Stockton CA
11/12/2013 1 Bush MS Stockton CA
11/12/2013 1 Rio MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 Washtington MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 McKinley MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 Stockton Skills MS Stockton CA
11/13/2013 1 Hoover MS Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 King MS Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 Marshall/Taylor MS Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 El Dorado/PYA Stockton CA
11/14/2013 1 El Dorado MS Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Van Buren Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Hamilton/Monroe Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Madison MS Stockton CA
11/15/2013 1 Pittman MS Stockton CA
11/20/2013 2 Linden Middle School Linden MI
11/21/2013 2 Mt. Morris Junior High School Mt. Morris MI
11/22/2013 2 Sarah Banks Middle School Wixom MI 850
11/22/2013 2 East Middle School Farmington Hills MI 950

There’s more.

Izzy is going full damage control, complete with a messiah complex (we don’t understand his message, apparently, and are thus unethically crucifying LPS and Izzy – interesting that the word “fiasco” is used, just as Brooks used, to describe the response to the flyer) and Brooks is frantically scrubbing his online videos, schedules, and website. But we’ve come to expect nothing less from people caught in lies.

It’s fine to hold an unpopular (and even wrong) view, but the cover-up and hiding is disingenuous at best. At worst, it’s a huge violation of the Golden Rule and the philosophy of personal responsibility espoused by Izzy and Brooks.

More on Brooks Gibbs & the Kalman Bullying Prevention Hogwash

I wrote a bunch yesterday.

I’m not going to go through that again, but I do notice that the Brooks Gibbs’ program page is now returning a page not found (as it appears the rest of the site is also doing).

So I’ll give a new link, so long as it remains up.

And I’m going to do something I pretty much never do: I’m going to warn you that these videos are decidedly unplesant and you probably don’t want to watch them if you’re not somewhere that you can yell at your computer. You also don’t want to watch them if you can’t, right now, deal with teaching and role playing that reflects what too many victims are told when they are told that they, not the bully, is the problem.

Here’s the link to the videos.  Remember, Brooks Gibbs is paid by schools worldwide to “teach”. Also remember his qualifications – Brooks Gibbs went to a right-wing Christian unaccredited (edit: nationally, but not regionally, accredited, which isn’t a great thing – regional is generally what you want) college that doesn’t have degrees in education, childhood development, or psychology.

In “Lesson 5″, you’ll even see a guest appearance of Izzy Kalman, the person who designed this “Buddies to Bullies” thing.  I confess I didn’t watch all of them.  Lesson 5 was awful enough.

An Anti-Bullying Curriculum that Makes my Blood Boil

Seriously.

I never thought anti-bullying curriculum in schools did much.  But I thought they were benign, powerless, useless.  And pretty much all equal.  I didn’t think they created bullies and victims.

Boy, I was wrong.

Look at what a Nebraska School sent home with 5th graders.  Seriously, don’t “tattle” on your abuser. That’s what it said. It was part of a handout that talks about turning “bullies2buddies.”  You can learn more at the bullies2buddies website, but I warn you that the advice there is among the worst possible advice.

Here’s his “rules” to not be bullied (you can see longer descriptions in the picture in the article):

  1. Refuse to get mad
  2. Treat the person being mean as if they are trying to help you
  3. Do not be afraid
  4. Do not verbally defend yourself
  5. Do not attack
  6. If someone physically hurts you, just show you are hurt
  7. Do not tell on bullies
  8. Don’t be a sore loser
  9. Learn to laugh at yourself and not get “hooked” by put-downs

These rules are remarkably similar to Izzy Kalman’s rules. In fact, I’d say they are identical.  You can learn how these rules apply to racism from Izzy himself at his website.  For instance, Rule 7, “Do not tell on bullies,” is included in his “Chapter 8” of The Golden Rule Solution to Racism.

He starts this chapter by talking about how, if you call child protective services when neighbors are “only yelling” at their children, not real abuse, you’ll make your neighbors hate you. Of course “only yelling” is a huge part of him – in rule 6, “If someone physically hurts you, just show you are hurt” (don’t tattle unless they send you to the hospital because you don’t really hurt – seriously, that’s what this guy is advocating) you see his differentiation between physical and all other types of pain. Frankly, that’s bullshit. Pain is pain, and all pain is real.

I know why I wanted to kill myself as a kid. It wasn’t physical pain. I had kids burn me, cut me, punch me, etc, but it was the humiliation that most hurt me. Constant, unending humiliation. I felt that I was at fault. That if I could defend myself, not do stupid stuff, not laugh wrong (seriously, this was a suggestion by a shrink to a suicidal kid – learn laugh “properly” rather than how I was doing it), then I could free myself from the humiliation. When I realized that nothing I could do would stop the abuse, hopelessness and despair – and extreme depression followed. It wasn’t the physical pain. It was the attempt at destroying my soul.

The chapter then launches into an anti-government diatribe (the phrase “Evil Empire” is included, a phrase that probably doesn’t resonate with all that many teachers or parents these days, who didn’t really live through the cold war), followed by some real gems. Keep in mind, this is about ending racism.

When people are doing or saying things against Jews – as long as there is no immediate threat to our bodies or property – about the worst thing to do is rush to report them to the authorities. Instead, we should talk to them directly, not with anger, but as to friends. Ask them sincerely why they are doing or saying it. If there is something wrong about their motivation or understanding, let them know what their mistake is. If they insist on continuing to do what you believe is wrong, talk to them again, but without anger. Pain, yes; anger, no.

First, he again distinguishes “real” racism (your body or property is in danger) from the rest of racism. Note that verbal abuse or illegal acts – such as a boss refusing to promote a Jew – don’t seem to be real to this man. I don’t think that was an oversight in his writing.

When there is antisemitism, particularly in a place with rules against it (like a school or business), it is not necessary for you to be a “friend” to convince them of the error of their ways. While lots of people disagree on how to address hate, it is not appropriate to expect the targets of the hate (Jewish people in his example) to befriend the person spewing hate. And, remember, this is in context to someone calling child protective services when there is not actual abuse. Basically, if you don’t befriend, and you seek protection at work, school, or from your government, you’re crying wolf.

He has all sorts of hogwash like this – I could spend days yelling at my computer about it. One thing is for sure: I would have a hard time being a friend of this man.

Lest  you think it is just one isolated person, I believe the Lincoln (Nebraska) School District got this crap as a result of their anti-bullying program. Their program included participation of Brooks Gibbs.

Meet Brooks Gibbs:

That’s his marketing video.

It’s sickening.  His basic philosophy is “If you’re nice to the bullies, they’ll be nice to you.” He teaches that God wants us to passively accept abuse. He teaches a form of victim blaming. That’s dangerous. It’s deadly.

How is this connected to Izzy, who made these awful rules about how to avoid being be a victim?  Well, they believe pretty much the same awful hogwash. He teaches the Kalman – as in Izzy Kalman – bullying prevention program.

Check out his Lesson 5 – Physical bullying, from the above link.

Let me transcribe some of the horrible advice:

If someone causes you physical pain, they push you, first don’t make a big deal out of it.

Because most people don’t want to hurt you unless you are hurting them.

See, most students don’t want to actually send you to the hospital.

When someone pushes you, they are just trying to get you upset.

Very rarely does someone just come up and punch you in the face as hard as they can for no reason. That’s called a sociopath who doesn’t have a feelings and they don’t care about your pain. In fact they get pleasure from it.

Most kids aren’t sociopaths, in fact sociopaths are less than 2% of the population and most of them are in prison or in hospital. You see the students you hang out with every day who might physically bully you are just really trying to get you upset.

He goes on, and claims that the physical bullying only occurs because of an exchange of verbal insults back and forth, which escalate into a confrontation. That may be how bar fights start, but it isn’t bullying.  I’m not going to comment on the sociopath statements about them being in hospitals or prison, but I will say he should learn before he teaches.

He goes on to talk about how you need to understand why a kid wants to physically bully you (which, if it was adults, would be called battery).

Can you imagine asking an abused wife to “understand your husband, so that you can break the cycle of bullying?” No, you hopefully help her find a safe place.

It’s all like this. And, again, it’s not just Mark Gibbs, hired with our tax dollars by some random Nebraska school district (actually the second largest district in the state). First, Mr. Gibbs’ client list is scary. It truly scares me that professional educators would hire people spewing this crap. But, second, this is part of a wider movement – the idea that “kids will be kids” and it’s really the victims that need to be taught “social skills” to deal with bullying.

I went through that, probably before Mr. Gibbs was born. And what he is preaching (yes, literally, although it’s stealth in his public school stuff) is no different than my experience. It doesn’t work, it can’t work. I literally have years of experience with this crap. You don’t “bully-proof” your kid anymore than you “abuse-proof” a woman to avoid being a battered wife. You deal with the problem. The problem is not the autistic kid who is different and doesn’t know when the adult does or doesn’t want to be bothered with his problems (these programs seem to be sold on the premise that it will reduce staff workload on bullying – look at the first expected outcome for schools of Izzy’s program). It’s not that the kid tells an adult when he’s punched. It’s the behavior of the bullies.

So, now I know something I didn’t know yesterday. You have to make sure anti-bullying programs see the bully as the problem rather than the victim as the problem. I would never have thought that was a concern until today.

My advice for schools and parents? Don’t just avoid, but RUN from any program that claims to show that the majority of experts are wrong. If it is an explicit claim, you better show them the door. In the best case, you’ll look unprofessional and incompetent – like Lincoln Public Schools. In the worst case, your student who has already contemplated suicide will be taught that the problem is himself. No student should be taught that.

Smearing of Feces – How Common Is It?

Read any of the many anti-vaccine, alternative-medicine, or Autism Speaks message boards about autism and you’ll find that autistics have one disgusting habit that exemplifies the need to do anything, no matter what the risk, to cure us: we smear feces.

Everywhere.

I decided to test this theory.  I put up a poll and announced it on Facebook, on this topic.

The question?  “Did you or do you smear shit on walls, people, your clothing, etc? This does not include toileting accidents.”  I also added a note that I was looking only for answers from people who consider themselves autistic.  The survey was anonymous.

The results?  54 people filled out this survey. There were five options people could select:

  1. Yes and I routinely do this today: NOBODY selected this.
  2. Yes, but this was an act of protest confined to a certain time and place: ONE person selected this option.  So, at least one person did this because it would cause a scene, maybe for a good reason, maybe not, but clearly as a protest. This form of protest is hardly unique to autistic people  – the most extreme example I know of is the Dirty Protest.
  3. I did so at some point years ago as a teen or an adult but no longer do so: NOBODY selected this.
  4. I may have done so as a young child, but have not done so since: 9 people, or 17% of the sample, selected this option.  I want to discuss this below.
  5. No, I have not done this: 40 responses, or 74% of the sample.
  6. Other (with prompting for an explanation) elicited 4 responses.  The responses were two people who indicated they smeared poo once as a very young child and never did so again. One person indicated they can’t recall their childhood well so can’t rule it out, but also that they have never been told they did this, while the final person selecting this option said they did so as a toddler but not ever after that.

So, 74% of adult autistics, in this admittedly biased survey, are fairly sure they never smeared feces anywhere.  You may believe that a Facebook survey may be a bit biased towards non-typical autistics, but I remind you that if you accept the 1 in 68 number for prevalence of autistics, most autistics will grow up into adults who can read, write, and participate in online discourse.  You can’t cite this statistic and then dismiss everyone who doesn’t fit your expectations, the

What about the rest, particularly the 17% who said that they may have smeared feces as a young child? I suspect the majority of this is just people that are being honest about not knowing their childhood history. They might have, they might not have. This was a badly worded question, unfortunately.

Regardless, it’s clear that autistic adults – at least the 54 that answered the survey – don’t generally go around smearing feces after growing past the toddler stage.

And, you know what? Smearing feces as a toddler is not an unusual thing.  SeriouslyIt’s not.  Plenty of non-autistics do this.  Not everything is about autism. Even in an autistic.

Equally, it’s possible that some kids when toileting get poop on their hands – autistic or non-autistic those hands may be. And of course anyone who has seen a young child eat knows that once something gets on a kid’s hand, it gets everywhere. But that’s not necessarily bad behavior or anything to do with autism – nor is it necessarily “fecal smearing.”

Now, I’m not saying it’s fun, healthy, or pleasant to clean up someone’s fecal matter.  It’s not. It is disgusting. It smells, it’s gross, and it’s full of potentially harmful bacteria.  It’s something that parents do need to work with their kids to stop when it happens – autistic or not. And certainly this behavior – as is seen from this survey of 54 presumably adult autistic people – is not normal in an adult or teenager, autistic or not.

But, too often, woe-is-me parent boards are full of people seemingly trying to shock and outdo the next parent. “You think raising your daughter is hard? Mine smears shit everywhere!” It’s a combination of competition and proving that you have a right to be frustrated – that your child really is that bad. Your child has real autism, you see.

Want a hint? All parents have cleaned up shit. Nobody likes it.

Another strange thing? This connection – without documentation – between fecal smearing and autism is so strong that parents who have typically developing kids who smear feces (it’s a rather normal, albeit disgusting, phase many people go through growing up) are now terrified that their kids have autism. That’s just one part of how screwed up this kind of thing makes people – not only is something that is relatively normal for a kid to do (albeit gross and unhealthy) now seen as unusual, but it’s autism and everyone knows that’s horrible (okay, that last part is sarcasm).

Go, autism awareness! We’ve made people aware of something that has no apparent actual measured connection to autism, as if it is a key symptom of autism. And that something is relatively normal for neurotypical toddlers to engage in. Autism awareness messages have both scared parents of normal kids that their kids are autistic (no, this is not a sign of autism) and showed how disgusting us autistic people are. Go awareness! Perhaps that’s one more reason I hate this month of autism awareness. If I tell people I’m autistic, are they going to be scared to touch me, as I may be covered in the feces I was supposedly smearing?

This awareness has actually quantified a key element in lots of discrimination: that people who are the targets of discrimination are disease carriers and dirty. You see that in Nazi propaganda. You see that in racism. You see that in LGBT bigotry. The people discriminated against are dirty and diseased. As you would be if you were covered in feces.

Now I know not all parents are full of the woe-is-me attitude so common on too many online forums – and for that I applaud you for seeing your children as something other than an unjust punishment. If you aren’t in the woe-is-me group, please be assured I am not talking about you and that I respect both the joys and trials you go through to raise a kid – any kid.

In the meantime, I’d love to see this studied more in depth, with real scientific rigor (unlike my survey which was created as much in tongue-and-cheek frustration as a desire to find out if there may be validity to the overemphasis on feces among too many autism parents). I’d love to find out one thing – do autistic kids actually do this more often than non-autistic kids?  I suspect the answer would surprise some, but probably not actual autistic people.

Of course if people know of actual quantitative studies of this, I’d love to know about them. I’m not interested in case studies – I’ve seen plenty of those.

 

1 in 34? Uh, no shit. Uh, actually more shit.

On the Autism Speaks blog, there’s a post about parents having a 1 in 34 chance of autistic kids. No, not true.

It scares me that an organization so focused on research as they claim to be can’t manage basic math. But they can’t. Sadly I wasn’t surprised.

They use this logic: A new estimate for autism is 1 in 68. I admit I haven’t dug into this estimate much because, frankly, it doesn’t matter. If you’re autistic, that matters. If you’re not, it doesn’t. Sure, schools and politicians need to consider this number, it’s source, and it’s reliability. But the problem I have is that this Autism Speaks blog entry talks about how, for parents, it’s 1 in 34. Because there are two parents of a child.  So a parent has a 1 in 34 chance of being affected by autism.  Two parents, twice the chance.  Apparently.

Maybe this was tongue in cheek, but it didn’t look that way to me.

That said, even it if is, let me explain.  Let’s say I give every family, whether single parent family or multiple parent family a 6 sided die. I ask them to roll it.  What’s the chance of it turning up a 6? Oh, one in six. One sixth of the families will get a 6. Does it matter how many people watched the die roll? Of course not. If we take the 1 in 68 estimate as true, then a child has a 1 in 68 chance.

Ah, you say, what about a 2 child family?  Wouldn’t that be 1 in 34? Perhaps, if autism is evenly distributed among the population. However, we know it isn’t. We know there is a genetic component. There’s also tons of speculation that there is an environmental component. Regardless of whether or not environment plays a role, some families are more likely to have the genetics and the possible environmental factor than others. So, autism will tend to cluster in some families and avoid others. So, no, it’s not 1 in 34 for a two-child family.

This estimation of family impact also ignores the adults in these families – who also may be autistic. Yes, autistic people can marry, have sex, and produce children. And they do. Someone might not be able to envision their 3 year old having sex or marrying, but to be frank I can’t envision most 3 year olds doing that. If you want to accept the high prevalence of autism as a fact, you can’t then cherry pick and decide that real autism only involves people who won’t get married or have sex or have kids. You’re taking all of us, at least if I have anything to say about it, if you’re going to use us to raise money for your salary (check out Autism Speaks expenditures on salary and fund raising expense).

I’ll leave it to others to comment on the tone of the article – yet another, “Look at how much this affects people who aren’t autistic” article about “awareness.” It continues to focus on what the writer sees as the “lowest functioning” autistics (a label I reject being applied to people because there are not only two types of autistics, and much of the limitations “low functioning” autistics experience has little to do with their abilities but more to do with expectations and support). It talks about shit smearing (these types of people, focusing on how horrible things are for them, really do have an unnatural fascination with shit). I never smeared shit. Nor have most of the autistics I know! And, no, I don’t ignore people other than “highly successful” autistics. I know what your prejudice brings: most of my autistic friends can’t work, not because they lack abilities, but because we’ve built a culture that assumes disability is inability. I could explain more, but lack the time right now – but it’s in part due to the shit articles like this spread. Who wants to hire someone who will smear shit everywhere? It’s a lot of bullshit.

I’m sick of April. I wish the month would disappear. Autism Speaks has made it a month of awareness. A month where I will hear how horrible people like me are. Thank you, Autism Speaks!