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.

9 thoughts on “Recommended Reading for November 10

  1. I really liked “Fat, Health, Invisible Disability and the Intersection Thereof”. I’m a big fan of fat acceptance, and there are a lot of parallels between how fat people and how PWD are treated by society. Glad to see a post on that intersection! I really liked this quote from the author:

    “…it’s none of your business why a fat person’s fat. It’s none of your business if they’re healthy or not either–they may be, they may not be. If they aren’t, it may or may not be related to their fat in some way. Either way, it’s still none of your business because health is not a measure of morality, and because everyone deserves basic dignity and respect on the grounds of shared humanity.”


  2. Not gonna lie, I totally squee’d to see myself here.

    That said, I really like the ‘Good Dog, Smart Dog’ article. Made me think of my dad’s dog (a golden retriever) who’s always been able to sense when my dad was sick(er than usual) and stuck to him like glue at those times, and my cats, who’ll turn into purring, cuddling, attention-hungry love-us-NOW critters if they see me having a panic attack. Guess what I’m saying is, just from my own experiences with pets, it’s not surprising that dogs can be so intelligent, and trained to assist with so many condition, and I’m glad there’s being more study done.
    .-= calixti´s last blog ..Fat, health, invisible disability, and the intersection thereof. =-.

  3. Using service dogs like that makes a lot of sense to me.

    My cat has no special training whatsoever, and yet I feel like she has had a therapeutic effect on me.

    Practically, in forcing me to stick to a more regular schedule, forcing me to clean up regularly, making it impossible to ignore dishes etc (all things that I tend to struggle with when my depression gets really bad).

    And emotionally, because here mere presence can sometimes help me feel better- whether this is because I am not alone, because her bodywarmth and touch has a positive effect or because watching her can be incredibly entertaining, she is always good for me.

    I know that an accquaintance got a dog from the kennel after being diagnosed as borderline, and the dog has really helped him get out of his room, keep to a regular schedule and distract him from his self-destructive impulses sometimes.

    Now, specially trained service dogs would have an even more positive effect. Definitely a good idea.

  4. Yes, my roommate’s cats are incredibly helpful and I think that in some ways they are like service animals. Even at my most depressed, I dutifully fed the cats and changed their litter. And I swear that they just know when I’m feeling bad and are extra-affectionate. I wish they could be trained to remind me to take my meds…

    I would like to have a dog, because dogs need to be walked every day and would get me outside, but unfortunately it would be too hard in a small, yardless apartment.

    So it’s good to hear that psychiatric service dogs are going to become more common!
    .-= Tlönista´s last blog ..links for 2009-10-30 =-.

  5. growing up, we always used the family dog as an emotional barometer. when there was conflict or i was crying, at a certain level of emotion he would run away and hide in the bathtub. it was a great sign to take a break and cool down, and the sight of him in the tub was always good for a giggle.

    i have a cat now and firmly believe her presence and affection and just helping me exist outside of my own head is a wondrous help. a friend of mine recently had a down spell which may or may not have been depression and we encouraged him to get a kitten, which has had a noticeable helpful effect over the past few months. (not a controlled study, i know, but still.) i am a huge fan of using animals for psychiatric purposes.

  6. Pets rule!

    My brats are usually quite oblivious to problems, though they stick like glue when we’re miserable. (Apparently, our shepherd mix used to sleep under my crib when I was a baby, especially when I got baby sicknesses.)

    Even if they aren’t trained, they love you. Or whatever scientists say – they act like it!

    I am home, in pain, and feeling miserable for being at home. (“It’s not that bad,” I say. Then I get up and ohemgee, I’m down.) So being at home – even with Mom at work – means I’m not stuck in the dorm room, feeling irritated about my roommate because she did this or that. I’m not alone, I’ve got my babies.

    Even if Dixie ignores me unless she feels like drooling on me or hitting me.
    .-= Kaitlyn´s last blog ..Living at home does not make you a bum, Judge Judy. =-.

  7. One awesome thing about psychiatric service animals is that they don’t necessarily need to be dogs (although a lot are dogs, and that’s awesome). I think that opens up possibilities to more folks; some people can have/care for a cat, for example, but not a dog. Horses used in equine-assisted therapy are also a form of psychiatric service animal, depending on the program they work in, and I have to say that, as a horse person, they make total sense to me as service animals. You can establish such great connections with them and they are extremely sensitive to mood, shifts in mood, and anxiety in particular. I know that the horses I have worked with through the years have definitely had benefits for me.

    I’ve also read a number of studies (which I don’t have time to look up right now) which demonstrate that people with pets tend to live longer and experience lower stress levels, no matter what species. Which I think is pretty excellent.

  8. Technically, unless the animal is trained to preform tasks or do work for the benefit of it’s disabled handler, it is not a service animal, but rather a therapy animal or emotional support animal.

    The laws are confusing, but an animal whose only purpose is to provide comfort are not service animals, although you can keep them in no pets housing.

    Figaro, my dog is a psychiatric service dog in training and I’m glad to see a study like this coming out. There is still a lot of prejudge towards psych dog handlers in the service dog community. has good overviews of the laws and definitions.
    .-= thetroubleis´s last blog ..What It Is To Be A Monster =-.

  9. abby jean – my childhood family cat was used as an emotional barometer but in a different way. If I was sad or sick and she wasn’t nearby, I knew someone else in the house was feeling worse – because she ALWAYS would be nearby whoever in the family needed her comfort the most. And she wasn’t an uber-affectionate kinda cat. She was just fiercely loyal to us, so if we were sick or whatever, she’d show up and sit somewhere nearby and be more affectionate than usual.

    My current kitty does sometimes get overwhelmed with big emotions, though. She’ll try real hard to be there for me, but run and hide for awhile if it gets to be too much.

    I’ve noticed that cats tend to sense pain and tend to seek it out and comfort it. Even cats I barely knew in other people’s homes have gravitated towards me when I wasn’t feeling good. I think they are natural healers. 🙂
    .-= Rosemary´s last blog ..2009 Fall TV =-.

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