Tag Archives: service animals

Recommended Reading for Monday, December 6, 2010

Today is December 6th, which in Canada is the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre [link opens with sound, CBC]. I wrote about it last year. It’s been a very long year. There are things I said then that I might not say now, but I do wonder, always, about a memorial for our dead.

A Bookish Beemer: Seizures in the News

This also implies that if you do something “bad” then you must be “mad.” It implies that no good, normal person could or would ever do bad or terrible things—so if one could prove one was normal, then they could not possibly be guilty of any crime or wrongdoing. The wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will, feeds and benefits off this idea.

This line of thinking is intellectually lazy, it is bigoted, and it has dire consequences for society.

K at Feminists with Sexual Dysfunction: Compare & Contrast

Today I’d like to present to you a different kind of feminist response to sexual dysfunction – a response from another woman who is intimately familiar with gender studies, feminism… and vaginismus.

As I noted in the New View book review post, I felt like some elements were missing from the essays – notably, it remains unclear to me whether any of the contributors to the original manifesto or the book actually know what it’s like to live with sexual dysfunction – to be torn between what you “Know” is the “right and proper” feminist response to sexual dysfunction vs. the daily grind of living with and responding to it, sometimes just managing

Little Lambs Eat Ivy: Abby…. normal?

We were talking about the average person’s emotional highs and lows. Think of a piece of string that’s not quite taut. There are a few dips and bumps, but it’s relatively straight. Now try mapping the emotions of a bipolar person, and you’ll see a broken rubber band. The lows are lower, the highs are higher, and it’s entirely possible that something might snap.

My hospitalization came as quite a surprise to many people in my life. “I had no idea things were that bad,” my therapist told me. I almost laughed. I had no idea either. I thought I was normal.

Geimurinn:Facades

The Zyfron system is working on a Facades project, a project about the facades multiple systems have to put up to be safe in this world. I think this is a really good project, and any multiple system who hasn’t heard of it should check it out and any singlet should read it to get an idea of what damage multiphobia does to us.

Dog’s Eye View: Blog Carnival Announcements!!!

I am honored to be your host for the Second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, which will be happening in January. And as your host, it is my privilege to choose and announce the theme for this Second Assistance Dog Blog Carnival: Decisions

Recommended Reading for 30 August 2010

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist, sexist, and other -ist language and ideas of varying intensity. Opinions expressed in the articles may not reflect the opinions held by the compiler of the post and links are provided as topics of interest and exploration only. I attempt to provide extra warnings for material like extreme violence/rape; however, your triggers/issues may vary, so please read with care.

Venus Speaks: Despair

Now, I don’t have a good history with the social security office. The two times I visited one, I was brushed off. I don’t know if they took one look at a mostly able-bodied young girl and said, hey, she must be trying to trick us, but it sure as hell felt like it – they told me that I needed to apply online, entirely online, and that they were so far booked into the future that there was just no point in scheduling. As in they refused to schedule me.

And lo, as I am filling out the disability report tonight, not only do I lose the internet and all my progress, but I just happen to notice before it goes down that you can’t apply for SSI online, you can only fill out the adult disability report, print off a few forms, and schedule an interview. You know, that interview that my local office couldn’t afford to give me.

Those Emergency Blues: The Title is About the Power

Titles, in short, are about establishing status and power. Why else worry about them? They are utterly irrelevant to actual patient care and one’s ability to do the job. Insisting on their use can create an atmosphere of professional intimidation that suppresses the free exchange of information. Health care professionals expressing power over patients is definitely not a good way to create therapeutic relationships. Implicitly saying (or believing) the title makes you a better person or supplies you with definitive or superior knowledge about patient care is dangerous as well as destructive to collaborative relationships with other health care professionals. In the end, it results in bad care of our patients, and of each other.

Pipecleaner Dreams: A Modicum of Sense

Well, at least the Academy of Arts and Sciences haven’t completely lost their minds. I was appalled when I first heard that the TV show, Family Guy, got an Emmy nod for their song, ‘Down Syndrome Girl.’

Haven’t heard it? Well, here is a sampling of the lyrics:

And though her pretty face may seem a special person’s wettest dream. […]

You must impress that ultra-boomin’, all consumin’, poorly-groomin’, Down Syndrome girl. […]

ABC News: Too Special for the Special Olympics (via Patricia E. Bauer, thanks to Nightengale for the link!)

The problem arose when Jenny’s school district entered an agreement with the Special Olympics, promising to abide by the organization’s rules. That meant no court time for Jenny, though the organization won’t say whether it’s because of the oxyen, or Simba, or both. [sic]

Ablegamers: Bungie Punishes You For Quitting Early

The fear is that disabled gamers who need to quit in the middle will be labeled as rage quitters. Certain people’s disabilities can hit at a moments notice, forcing them to quit out of a game. While according to the statement Bungie is only punishing those who habitually quit, it doesn’t discuss how they gauge that. Is that a certain percentage of total games? Frequency? What?

What has gone so wrong that it has come to this? Has Bungie exhausted all other options before walking down this path? Not really.

If you’re on Delicious, feel free to tag entries ‘disfem’ or ‘disfeminists,’ or ‘for:feminists’ to bring them to our attention! Link recommendations can also be emailed to recreading at disabledfeminists dot com. Please note if you would like to be credited, and under what name/site.

You Can’t Legislate Ableism Away

Of the most pervasive myths about anti-discrimination legislation is that the passage of the legislation somehow magically puts a stop to the discrimination, making everything hunky dory. This myth is most commonly believed by people who are not personally impacted by the discrimination that legislation was designed to address. It’s unfortunately a pretty easy myth to disprove.

Today, I decided to do some hunting around to illustrate a really pervasive form of discrimination that many people think isn’t a problem anymore: Denying access to people with service animals. There are a lot of misconceptions about service animals and what they do, and I’d recommend reading folks like Sharon at After Gadget, Melissa at Service Dogs: A Way of Life, or thetroubleis at The Trouble Is… if you’re interested in some service animal mythbusting.

In many regions of the world, there are laws in place that dictate access for service animals. Here in the United States, for example:

The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers. (Commonly Asked Questions About Service Animals In Places of Business)

That seems pretty clear. How does that play out in practice?

Claire Crowell, 69, said she tried to go to the Chinatown restaurant on Wednesday with her dog, Vixen, but was told by a front desk worker she could not bring the dog into the building. (‘Restaurant Sorry For Banning Seeing Eye Dog‘)

Christopher Nigl, 34, said he wants a teacher at Washington Elementary School to lose her job and the principal punished because they reported him to police when he was walking his medical dog in front of the school while on his way to pick up his girlfriend’s child after school. (‘Man threatens lawsuit over service dog incident‘)

Our fair neighbours to the north also seem to be having trouble with the concept of accessibility:

Renee Brady, who has relied on her six-year-old golden retriever to be her eyes for the last five years, said she was taken aback when the manager of the restaurant at Main Street and Mountain Avenue told her on Wednesday she had to eat her food outside because of the dog.

Brady, who was with a co-worker at the time, said at first she thought the male manager didn’t realize her dog, Able, was a guide animal. But she quickly realized that wasn’t the case.

“I said he was a guide dog and he said ‘I know it’s a guide dog, but you’ll have to leave,’ ” she said in an interview Friday. (‘Fast-food eatery shoos blind woman’s guide dog‘)

Across the pond:

She said: “It was late and we were cold and wanted to get home, but when approached the lead hackney carriage for a lift the driver just said: “Four people but no dog.”

“We were flabbergasted, especially as he had disabled stickers on display.

“But when we pointed out that he would be breaking the law if he refused to take my guide dog he just said: “Take me to court.” (‘Blind groups welcome taxi driver’s ‘no guide dog’ fine‘)

Britain isn’t the only nation with a recent incident involving a guide dog and a taxi:

A Sydney cabbie has been fined for refusing to allow a guide dog and its high-profile owner – Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes – into his vehicle.

Driver James Young has been fined $750 and ordered to pay $2,500 in costs after refusing to let Mr Innes and his labrador into his taxi in the Sydney CBD in April last year. (‘Paw form: cabbie fined for refusing guide dog‘)

In all of these cases, the dog was explicitly identified as a service animal. Most involved guide dogs, although Mr. Nigl’s dog was a psychiatric service animal. People persisted in discriminating in these incidents even after being informed that the dogs were service animals and that what they were doing was against the law.

I support anti-discrimination legislation, firmly. Without any legal framework at all for addressing discrimination, we would be facing an uphill battle. But what people who think that the problem ends with the legislation don’t seem to realise is that this is still a battle. We cannot wave a legislative gavel and whisk discrimination away; the legislation provides a means for fighting in court, which is important, but it does not end there. It sometimes empowers agencies to enforce it, but these agencies still have to do that, have to take reports on discrimination incidents, follow them up, and then use the enforcement tools at their command.

It does make inroads into social attitudes. High profile cases do attract attention and force people to start thinking about these issues when they might not otherwise, and the discussion about the necessity for such legislation highlights the fact that discrimination is an ongoing issue. However, more commonly, such laws are a reflection of a shift in social attitudes, with people gradually recognising that a.) Discrimination exists b.) It’s a problem and c.) Something should be done about it.

This is not a battle that can be fought and won in the legislature and the courts alone. It also needs to be fought in opinion editorials, on the streets, in popular culture, and in every other location that we have a chance to reach and access people. It’s not fair that we should have to advocate for the right to exist, for the right to go about our business like everyone else, but there it is. Policy supports this fight, but let no one make the mistake of thinking that policy wraps up the problem and allows them to move on to other things. Existing is still a political act, whether or not there’s a law that says it’s not ok to discriminate.

Guest Post: Puppies and Pills Part 2

About thetroubleis: Thetroubleis is a 19 year old with bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and dyspraxia. She’s a WOC who is also a transracial adoptee and pansexual/queer, depending on how she’s feeling that day. She enjoys knitting, video games and is a music geek.

Puppies and Pills Part 1.

I’m back, did you miss me? I’d like to talk a little bit about the service dog community and public perception of service dogs and I’m hoping this will be interesting to more people them just me. Your comments and questions are appreciated.

All of my experience with the service dog community is online, which makes things a bit different than they would be if I was interacting in person. Any statements I make are huge generalizations, so please, take them will a grain of salt. This isn’t make to pick on anyone person or any particular community.

The online service dog community can be a bit abrasive, in part because of the worry about fakers. There are cases of people coming in and learning the lingo and the lay to pass a pet dog or an emotional support animal off as a service dog. While I recognize this is a problem, I do think that we could cut people a little slack. I see a lot of the aggressive questioning being directed at people interested in a service dogs for psychiatric issues, because of confusion people have about the difference between a psychiatric service dog and an emotional support animal.

However, the online service dog community is also very helpful. They are willing to point people at programs or trainers that suit their needs and help people with financial difficulties come up with ideas for funding. The community is ready to help with writing campaigns at a sign of injustice and isn’t afraid to take mistaken or bigoted people to task, even if they write for well respected newspapers. If someone’s service dog gets sick they are always there with support and help finding ways to get treatment if money becomes an issue. The people in the service dog community care and they care passionately.

If you can’t meet teams in your area the online service dog community is invaluable and I’d say they are great even if you can. It’s great to have people who get it, even if we disagree on some issues. It’s great to have others who can understand what it’s like to have an access issue, or what it’s like to take a dog to the zoo.

This actually brings me to my next point, access for service dog handlers and the public. It’s a joyful topic, full of good times and understanding and caring business owners.

Okay, I lied. The general public’s understanding of service dogs or in some cases that there is anything beyond guides is very low. It makes sense that more people know of guide dogs, as they are did start the first service dog schools and hold their dogs to a very high standard. I must say that the constant questioning of whether I am blind is most annoying, not because I’m insulted, but because what my disability is or isn’t is not up for public consumption. When one adds in American society’s feelings towards mental illness, I rarely feel disclosure is in my best interest. Some in the service dog community itself are still against the idea of service dogs for people with mental illness, so I expect even less acceptance of the general population.

One thing that gets to me is how few business owners know the law. Right now I’m covered under Maine state law, but I do think that a business owner should at least know the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act} at this point. It has been nearly 20 years, after all. So, I take pamphlets with me, even when I don’t have Figaro, to tell businesses about their rights and responsibilities. I figure if I keep this up, it should cut down on access issues, not only for me, but for all teams.

One thing I wish people understood is that petting a service dog can put the handler in danger. Yes, our dogs are trained to ignore you, but even the best dog breaks training. I love Figaro, but I wish people would talk to me not him and accept that maybe I don’t feel like talking that day. Drive by petting is one of my peeves, because by the time I process it, people tend to be too far away for me to scold or educate. I understand that people love dogs, but just as you shouldn’t go around grabbing a person’s wheelchair, you shouldn’t touch my dog without my permission. He’s not a public petting zoo.

People have attacked service dogs, kicked them, spat on them, set their dogs on them. This is unacceptable. Beyond the fact that a service dog may be someone’s independence, it’s also a living creature worthy of respect. Our dogs are not abused slaves and honestly, I think most service dogs have a better life than most pet dogs. What pup wouldn’t want to travel with their person and help them out, all the while seeing new things and people?

I try to believe that people are mostly good, if misguided, and therefore I’m going to keep educating. I hope that someday access issues will be far and few between and more people who could benefit from a service dog could have the partnership I’m able to have.

This is my next to last post in this series and next time, I’d like to talk a bit about cost of a service dog and ways to get a service dog.

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a US legal term for a pet which provides therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship and affection. Emotional support animals are not specially trained to ameliorate disability as psychiatric service dogs are. They require only as much training as an ordinary pet requires in order to live peacefully among humans without being a nuisance or a danger to others.

Recommended Reading for November 24

But Accessibility is Too Expensive

Due to the weather and being forced to stand, the pain was so terrible I was literally weeping silently. I walked into the office and asked to speak to someone in charge. I explained the issue and suggested that they install a platform, which would allow scooter and wheelchair users to watch the game. Like any other parent, I paid for my child to have this experience and it is completely unfair, that I should be forced to suffer, so that I can participate.

The woman gave me a depreciating smile and informed of the cost involved. Of course they will look into it and maybe in the spring they can do something. Isn’t that lovely. You will note, that she made certain to point out that I was asking her to spend money. This is always the excuse given when the disabled demand that accommodations be made so that we can participate. Shame on me for not having a normal body, which can tolerate standing for an hour outside on a cold Ontario fall evening.

Victim Art

I’m not sure what I think. I don’t know whether I would go to see such a performance. I don’t know whether I would call it art. I do think that inviting someone to film you at your most vulnerable moments is a gutsy statement of human vulnerability. And it forces me to think about what I call art.

Usually, I think of art as being the result/product/performance of a skill that is not commonly shared among people. Marcalo asks us to watch a moment of absolute lack of control. Usually, art is in the execution of the extraordinary — a painting, an image, a photograph, the playing of a piece of music — we are asked to watch a moment of incredible consciousness and intention. Marcalo strips that down. The way her body will move in the grip of a seizure may well be extraordinary, but it will also not be intended or conscious. Marcalo’s very idea makes me think. And think and think.

A Teaching Moment (Service Dog Etiquette 2)

I know I’ve mentioned in my first piece on service dog etiquette that many people make all kinds of errors in dealing with a service dog team, but it surprised me how many of them I face in hospitals and doctor’s offices.

The doctor who always stoops to say hello to my dog before he talks to me. (If he wasn’t a hard to replace doctor, I’d have a talk with him about it, but he’s of a specialty where I can’t afford to alienate my doctor)

The nurses who tell me that the dog is just fine where he is, and then struggle to straddle him or reach equipment across him, making all three of us uncomfortable.

The doctors I’m seeing for completely unrelated specialties who ask me what purpose the dog serves.

Common Barriers to [Website] Accessibility

Many web pages on the UIUC campus have the same barriers to accessibility. These can be relatively easy to spot and correct, so check out your pages to see if you have [them]

In the news:
‘Mad’ and proud of it [Note: Comments are a mess.]

Ms. Costa is one of the founders of the Mad Student Society (MSS), a group that has been able to make great strides in getting people to come out of their shells, form friendships, become politically active and feel better about themselves.

The group, made up mostly of students who have experienced the psychiatric system, use a once-a-month two-hour group talk to discuss personal issues and day-to-day difficulties “without fear that you’re going to be charted or pathologized” says Ms. Costa.

For MSS member Joel Zablocki, peer support is about being able to discuss all kinds of subjects with others who are at your level and have gone through similar experiences. “You don’t have the strange power dynamic of a doctor-patient relationship.”

Always feel free to email me with links to posts you think are appropriate for Recommended Reading. If you put FWD/Forward in the subject line, I’ll see it sooner. anna@disabledfeminists.com

Guest Post: Puppies and Pills Part 1

About thetroubleis: Thetroubleis is a 19 year old with bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and dyspraxia. She’s a WOC who is also a transracial adoptee and pansexual/queer, depending on how she’s feeling that day. She enjoys knitting, video games and is a music geek.

How I came to path of getting a service dog* was a long, strange journey. My experiences are my own and by no means represent the entire service dog community. My country and state laws are most likely different from some readers as well, so I’m only writing from my own perspective.

I’ve been bipolar since I was child along with my other disabilities, so I don’t remember being normal. I’ve always just been me. I am my normal. Although my other illnesses were diagnosed latter, looking back i can see how they impacted my child and now, how they affect my adulthood.

In junior year of high school, I was reading up on dog training, because I thought that might be something I’d want to do as a job. I’ve always like dogs, they don’t judge me and my Samoyed Kesha loved me unconditionally. One day I came across the topic of service dogs and was so amazed by them. I put the thought of them away in my mind until I read across the concept of psychiatric servicee dogs.

At first, I was skeptical. How could I dog help someone like me? I thought that service dogs were only for people with “real” disabilities. My mental illness wasn’t disabling, was it? Just because I couldn’t go out in public alone or deal with crowds didn’t mean I was disabled. Loud noises and lighting hurting and causing melt down was just part of who I was. It took me some time to to come around to the idea.

When I realized all the way in which I dog could help me, I read and read. Anything with even a small mention of service dogs was worth reading to me. I came up with a list of tasks based on my symtoms and things a dog could do the help them. I was ready.

Sadly, service dogs, especially types that are very new are expense. Psychiatric service dog are pretty new on the scene and the one program I had found in my state that trained them had closed. I was crushed. I tried to brush it off, because I didn’t have the money for a dog anyway. That was about to change.

I headed off to my first year of college and did badly after being cut off from my medication for a time, along with personal problems. I was called back home several times, because my parents had decided to sue my former high school for discriminating against me. They choose to settle.

My money problems were solved! Now where was I going to get a dog? I know it was best to buy from a breeder with service dog lines because even though some shelter and rescue dogs work out as service dogs, the chances of them washing out is much higher. I knew I’d have a hard time with my dog washing out, so I wanted to lower that chance as much as possible.

I started hanging out on Dogster.com and met a psychiatric service dog handler named Veronica who shared a disability with me. She was using a pit bull Weimriner mix as a service dog, but the dog was getting older and had to retire. She had picked a Standard Poodle to train as her next service dog and although I wasn’t partial to the breed, I went and checked out the breeder.

He was so nice. His wife friend were both service dog users, so he knew so much. We talked about what I was looking for in a dog and what tasks I wanted done. He said he thought I’d be a great home for one of his puppies and I put down a deposit and waited.

Sadly, with my puppy being in California and me and Maine, it was hard to coordinate a proper short flight for the puppy. He was already going to keep Figaro for a few extra weeks to get him used to the crate, but I ended up not meeting my dear boy until he was 4 months old. We ended up driving all the way to Boston to get him, but it was the best, safest flight for him, so I didn’t mind.

I had to finish up at school before we could commence training, so he went home with my parents, three hours away. When I finally came home, he took right to me. He’s was lovely boy, very intent on pleasing me. Teaching him was pretty easy, even for a novice like me.

I found another service dog school, one that helped owners train their own dogs. We signed right up. They have been an invaluable resource and i couldn’t to all I have without them.

Figaro and I were a team, the very best of friends. I spent that summer just bonding with him and the best thing happened. He started to alert to my panic attacks before they went full blown. I had been hoping he would, but hadn’t expected it. When I realized what was going on, I was ecstatic. He had his other tasks to make him a service dog, but this, the alerting was so helpful. My bipolar disorder is extremely rapid cycling and he started to alert me to that, as well as hair plucking. I hadn’t fully realized what a smart dog he was.

This partnership was the best thing I have ever done for me. I still take my pills and still go to see my doctors, but having a service dog in training is a big help. Although Figaro meets the legal definition of service dog, I only call him such in legal situations because his public access behavior isn’t where I would like it right now. Thus, he isn’t with me in public unless it’s a training exercise. That’s okay though, because I stay home for the most part. It’s nice and I have to admit having something need me is pretty great too. It’s good to not fail at something, to have purpose.

Next time, I’ll be writing about the public and service dog community.

* I’m using the United States of America’s of service dog and the state of Maine’s definition of service dog in this post. The USA’s definition is as follows:

“Service animal means any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.”

The state of Maine’s definition is

“Service animal” means:
A. Any animal that has been determined necessary to mitigate the effects of a physical or mental disability by a physician, psychologist, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner or licensed social worker; or
B. Any animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a physical or mental disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to intruders or sounds, providing reasonable protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items.

Recommended Reading for November 23

There was no recommended reading on Friday because I forgot I hadn’t done one for the day after the Carnival. Oops!

Changing the Perception of Braille

I recently watched a Ted talk that focuses on the idea that how we feel about something is totally based on our perception. It seems to me that in ore for us to improve braille literacy, we are going to have to change people’s perceptions. Organizations like the NFB and ACB are already doing things to help change people’s attitudes towards braille, but I think we can go even further.

Many people are choosing to learn sign language because they think it’s cool. So the question is how do we make braille cool? I think we have to start with children and teens. When we’re younger, we tend to me more likely to accept change and set trends. With this in mind, I have a few ideas of how we can make braille cool in the eyes of our children, and if we can do that, then maybe that will translate to the adults in their life.

Blind Need More Access To the Written Word

I love to read, and I’ve been doing it ever since I was able. My wife is also an avid reader. But we are blind, and so are many of our friends. The organization I lead, the National Federation of the Blind of New York, is made up of blind people. Although many of us read everything we can get our hands on, we can’t get our hands on very much to read.

There are services for us, of course. Government entities and nonprofit organizations convert books into Braille, audio or digital form for our use. But only about 5 percent of all books published undergo such a conversion. The largest collection of books in Braille and audio form in the United States has, perhaps, 70,000 circulating titles in its collection. A few more selections are available as commercial audio books, but these are up to three times as expensive as print books.

Service Dog Etiquette Part 1:

I’m sure you’re thinking, how does my petting a service dog undermine his relationship with his person?

Well, it works in two ways. First off, my service dog works for me because he believes I am the most awesome person in the world and that all good things come from me. All petting, all praise, all toys, all games, his soft fluffy bed, all food, all treats – that all comes from me. Secondly, if someone other than me pets him, he starts thinking…oh, people will pet me. If people will pet me, it’s worth paying attention to people rather than my partner. If he pays attention to people rather than to me, I could have a nasty fall (among other things) – one that could injure both of us. Keep in mind when you read this that the average person who works with a service dog is more likely to be hurt, and hurt badly, by a fall. We tend to have service dogs because there is some kind of physical fragility or injury to us already, after all. When you’re dealing with guide dogs, I think the risk is even greater – a distracted guide dog might walk his person into traffic!

When People Say Stupid Shit

I. Cannot. Afford. A. Place. Alone.

My maths are simple. I have an income, which I get from the state until they figure out what sort of job I can handle with my disability. That income is all I have. Anything I might earn by teaching two hours a week (which I do) is subtracted from that income. That means that I cannot raise my income in any way. Unless, of course, I do so illegally, which would be pretty stupid considering the risk of discovery. My income is what it is and cannot be adjusted upwards. At all. Not until I get some help for my disability.

In the news:
Study Unravels Mystery of Dyslexia

New research may provide an answer as to why children with dyslexia often have difficulty hearing someone talk in a noisy room.

Dyslexia is a common, language-based learning disability that makes it difficult to read, spell, and write. It is unrelated to a person’s intelligence. Studies have also shown that patients with dyslexia can have a hard time hearing when there is a lot of background noise, but the reasons for this haven’t been exactly clear.

Now, scientists at Northwestern University say that in dyslexia, the part of the brain that helps perceive speech in a noisy environment is unable to fine-tune or sharpen the incoming signals.

Recommended Reading for November 10

Transcript from Melissa Barton Interview

This is a transcript of Sharon daVanport’s interview with Melissa Barton for the Asperger Women’s Association. Melissa’s son Alex was voted out of his kindergarten class Survivor-style by his teacher, Wendy Portillo, in May 2008; Alex has Asperger Syndrome. The Bartons have recently filed a federal lawsuit.

Let’s start with, this was her way of “fixing” Alex. And when I addressed the fact that, no, we were in the process of developing an IEP for services, we had a Student Assessment Team, and we all knew that he very likely had autism and more specifically Asperger Syndrome. This was real well-known and I addressed this with her, and she said to me that this was her form of psychology, and this was how she was going to magically heal my child.

Fat, Health, Invisible Disability and the Intersection Thereof

A major downside to being flatbound ’cause of crippling anxiety and dealing with epic depression was no energy to exercise, and not being able to go outside to do so anyway.

Now I’m on anxiety meds and antidepressants. I still don’t have the energy to exercise, and I’m still flatbound, because the anxiety meds make so SO. INCREDIBLY. TIRED. I just made a sandwich for lunch, because I’m starving (that’s a plus to the antidepressants–I’m able to notice when I’m hungry again) and I’m wiped out. Just from making a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich, I’m exhausted.

Michigan and Acupuncture

I found out from my acupuncturist that the state of Michigan is considering requiring it’s citizens to get a doctor’s referral to go to an acupuncturists. So, in other words, rather than hearing from a friend that she went to acupuncture and that person deciding to give it a try too–Michigan wants to make it so that you have to go to a doctor first, and then, if the doctor is willing to actually give you the referral, you can go to the acupuncturist.

Many people who know about the history of midwives in the U.S. know why this is such an extraordinarily bad idea. But for those who don’t know that history–what this particular requirement would do is first and foremost, place an incredibly unfair burden on those people who don’t have health insurance. Those who are unable to afford a doctor would simply have yet another health alternative option removed from their already limited health arsenal.

Just …. arrrrgh.

My school district needs to cut $1.5 million from the budget this year. $900,000 of that comes from “an accounting error”. Think about that.


Wouldn’t you think that *somebody* might have been suspicious of a miraculous decrease in special ed costs, given that special ed is both expensive and needed by more and more students?

In the news:

Good Dog, Smart Dog

Their apparent ability to tune in to the needs of psychiatric patients, turning on lights for trauma victims afraid of the dark, reminding their owners to take medication and interrupting behaviors like suicide attempts and self-mutilation, for example, has lately attracted the attention of researchers.

In September, the Army announced that it would spend $300,000 to study the impact of pairing psychiatric service dogs like Jet with soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. Both the House and Senate have recently passed bills that would finance the training and placement of these dogs with veterans.