Posts Tagged ‘autism

18
Jul
14

Is my art fake?

Is my art fake?

No, it is not fake. I actually put acrylic paint on to a canvas. I have stated from day one that I cannot draw well. Some of my pieces are drawn by me, I use a grid method to copy the picture I want to paint onto a canvas. Some are not. Some I have printed in grey scale directly onto canvas. And then paint from there..using glazes and washes and color, in layers to bring out a full color rendition of an image. Sometimes I do images originally done by the Masters.. by people like Van Gogh, by people like Linda Coulter, by people I see on my friends’ list on Facebook! I do images of pretty places. I did not want to be stuck or hindered by my inability to draw. My paintings come out better if there is an image to paint on first (sketch or otherwise), of course.

It began in the 20th century that artists started focusing on direct (alla prima) painting, also known as au premier coup (at first stroke). It is a wet-on-wet style of painting. With that favor though, one art form has become almost lost, it seemed to me and that is the grisaille method.

You can read more about it at these links:

Grisaille info link

How to Paint Grisaille

What is Grisaille and Why do We Care?:

From the last link, I will quote, “In and of itself, grisaille can be used as a stepping stone toward a finished oil painting after adding glazes, so I know that any work I produce in this way can have a life “in living color” if and when I decide I’m ready to go there. So in a way, grisaille painting is a gateway painting method. It has been around for centuries, was an essential exercise for the Old Masters, and still has much to teach us today.”

I use acrylics rather than oil as I like to finish really quickly. Within a day if I can. And since acrylics are fast drying paints, that works well for me. Acrylics are also more forgiving when making a mistake. Once dried, you can color over a mistake and it not be noticed.

I am a self taught artist who is still learning to paint. Someone recently complained to a friend of mine that I was “fake” and trying to sell my art for a lot of money. So, let me get that straight here and now.

A direct quote from that person was: “Another advocate friend told me she has definitely changed. That her artwork is not even her own, that she is tracing copies off well known artists like Van Gogh. Not just saying this to be mean, but truth…..but on the other hand, do any of you fel she is trsutworthy now?” (copied and pasted, any errors are that person’s).

Tracing? I do not own tracing paper. Come to my house and you will not find any. I was going to buy some once as I thought it would be easier than doing it grid-style but I never did. Because then I’d have to get images the same size as my canvas in order to trace over. Here is a photo that I have shared to my art page on Facebook (Art by Heather E. Johnson).

As you can see, there is the original image next to my painting that I used for inspiration, etc. Yes, it is “copying”. However, you will find that many students of the arts “copy” as they master techniques, long before they start doing originals. Or, at least, they used to.

Here’s an article that discusses that controversy.

Here is an article that supports my position.

By the time I am done, I consider my rendition to be mine and mine alone. For example, I posted a pic of the rendition of Van Gogh’s Cafe at Night.

This is the original by Van Gogh himself, in 1888, done in oil.

This is the original by Van Gogh himself, in 1888, done in oil.

“Café Terrace at Night, also known as The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, is a coloured oil painting executed by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh on an industrially primed canvas of size 25 in Arles, France, mid-September 1888.”

Here is my version:

This is the painting I created when I did the grisaille method using a black and white image printed onto a canvas.

This is the painting I created when I did the grisaille method using a black and white image printed onto a canvas.

Here is a screen cap of a photo album on facebook where I show my progress as I go. I have said it many times and in many places!

The progress I made while painting

The progress I made while painting

Here is the about section from my art page:

I mention, with a brief description, what art style I am using. Anyone who knows art will likely be familiar with the style. If not, they can always google it.

I mention, with a brief description, what art style I am using. Anyone who knows art will likely be familiar with the style. If not, they can always Google it.

As you can see, I even have an extra person in mine! I also have more stars, etc. There are lots of differences. So, of a sorts, it does become an original. There are some pieces labeled, “not for sale” on my art page. That’s because I am no longer in possession of them. I often give them away, for free. Some insist on paying for them and so I might get a token payment of about $30/each. That covers the cost of the canvas, paints and postage. Nothing for my time. To date, I have not received a single penny from them.

So the claim that I am “ripping people off with copies” is false. I am not. I am full and upfront about my style of painting and anyone can Google the title of that Van Gogh picture and see many others who have posted their renditions, some are even for sale. There’s even museums just for showing copies.

[Update: Recently, I came up with a multi-step process for getting the image onto canvas prior to painting it with color. It takes me a minimum of 24-28 hours to do it but I don’t have to pay someone to print an image on to canvas. ]

That is all. Thank you.

And these are my words….

18
Jul
14

Ableist versus Assumption of Competence

Ableist versus Assumption of Competence.

I am going to share, what I think, are two competing ideas that have me so confuzzled. I am hoping my friends in the autism community can help explain things to me, please.

First, the definition of Competence:

This is from one blog post about it: “If you assume competence, you are giving a person the opportunity to succeed.  Does it mean that he or she will always achieve the desired success?  Not necessarily.  But isn’t it more damaging to not provide him or her with the opportunity at all? “

This is another definition: “The principle of “presuming competence,” is simply to act as Anne Sullivan did.  Assume that a child has intellectual ability, provide opportunities to be exposed to learning, assume the child wants to learn and assert him or herself in the world. To not presume competence is to assume that some individuals cannot learn, develop, or participate in the world.  Presuming competence is nothing less than a Hippocratic oath for educators. It is a framework that says, approach each child as wanting to be fully included, wanting acceptance and appreciation, wanting to learn, wanting to be heard, wanting to contribute.  By presuming competence, educators place the burden on themselves to come up with ever more creative, innovative ways for individuals to learn.  The question is no longer who can be included or who can learn, but how can we achieve inclusive education.  We begin by presuming competence.” from this about Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan.

And now.. ableism.

From dictionary.com: “discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.”

And another: “Ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities that is characterized by the belief that these individuals need to be fixed or cannot function as full members of society (Castañeda & Peters, 2000). As a result of these assumptions, individuals with disabilities are commonly viewed as being abnormal rather than as members of a distinct minority community (Olkin & Pledger, 2003; Reid & Knight, 2006). Because disability status has been viewed as a defect rather than a dimension of difference, disability has not been widely recognized as a multicultural concern by the general public as well as by counselor educators and practitioners.” quoted from here: Laura Smith, Pamela F. Foley, and Michael P. Chaney, “Addressing Classism, Ableism, and Heterosexism in Counselor Education”, Journal of Counseling & Development, Summer 2008, Volume 86, pp 303-309.

Okay, so ‘splain to me how my sharing an article (link to article) to someone who wanted to know WHY people were refusing to be her friend, WHY people would “throw her away”, etc. is ableist? I wrote a comment on the article posted on my timeline that stated:

(Names removed): take this with the intent I mean and not wrong. EVERYONE has traits that can annoy others or drive others away. Reading this, I recognized myself and you two on some of these things (none of us lack empathy, tho). So I thought y’all could benefit from the reading as well.”

Benefit from reading = understanding the WHY.

How am I being ableist by sharing this article with friends who have specifically mentioned this being a problem and wanting to change it?

You see.. here’s my dilemma. If you presume someone CAN control their behavior (or learn how to), you are using the presumption of competence. However, if you do presume competence, you’re an ableist. Why? I don’t get it. Please, someone help me.

03
Apr
14

Advocates Behaving Badly Part One

I sit here a bit dazed and confused, as the saying goes. It’s hard to know where to go next or what to do next after the events that transpired in the wee morning hours of April 1st, 2014. The irony of what occurred when it occurred only struck me just now. You see, there is a person in the community who has caused certain events for an autistic person that were traumatic for that autistic person, on the first day of “Autism Awareness” month. As I am writing this, I am attempting to gather my thoughts. I want to make sure this is all expressed clearly and as succinctly as possible. But I warn you now.. it will be a long post. But well worth the read, I hope.

In September of 2012, a FB friend of mine by the name of Melissa Fields was contacted by a mutual friend. This mutual friend suggested that a friend of hers could help Melissa. This friend was a “Autism Advocate” of 20 years and wanted to help  Melissa Fields. So, Melissa Fields began correspondence with this “Advocate” Debra Brink via Facebook messaging, and the like. Melissa Fields has had a troubled time of life. It wasn’t until September of 203 that Melissa added Debra Brink into our private support chat on Facebook.

You can visit her blog to read about it as she does share her story.

Melissa Fields wants her story told for many reasons. One of the reasons Melissa posts so much is because she uses them to process events. Things happen and Melissa doesn’t know how to make sense of them. So, she writes about them and as she does, she starts to see things more clearly. Sometimes she might think things are one way but after writing it out, she sees it differently. She also writes because once she processes the events, she can then process her
emotions about those events. If she doesn’t process the events, she gets “emotionally stuck” and focused on that one event. She cannot “just move on” as so many people have tried to tell her to do. If she could? She would! It’s far easier to just say “never mind” and move on for some of us. For her? She literally cannot do it. She doesn’t like to be depressed or sad over these events and so she wants to move past them. That requires her to blog about it all and get feedback from her fans and friends. By describing what occurs, people can tell her if she has it right or if she has it wrong. She does not lie about the events. She tells them exactly as she EXPERIENCES them. This is how she is perceiving her world around her, through the prism of autism. No one should be able to tell her how to feel about her life or that she should not express how she feels. However, someone is trying.

Another reason Mel shares her story is because she wants it to “go viral”. She wants as many people to see it as she can. The reason for that is two-fold. First, she wants to share her experiences so that others can learn from them. Others can learn what it is like, for her, to be autistic. This may shed light for others on how their loved one who experiences the world. The second is because she hopes it might bring her help. Either monetarily because some publisher sees her story and wants to make it into a book or by some good person coming and taking her away to a safe place. Where she lives now? She does not feel safe. And after what happened last night? I don’t think she’ll ever feel safe again there. Not fully. What Debra Brink did and why she did it are questions no one but Debra Brink can answer. We all have our own opinions about it. Mel tried to express hers but was shut down and told to remove them. So, she did, out of fear, remove several blog posts and FB posts. Well, I’m not afraid because I know it is *not* illegal to post true feelings based on true facts. Facts are indisputable things. They either happened or they did not happen. Everything that I say in this blog happened. And I have proof of it. I will share some of that proof with you, so that you can make up your own mind about what happened. But this is what happens to adult autistics sometimes and it needs to be shared. This needs to change so no one else will suffer what Melissa had to last night and before.

As I was saying, in September of 2013, Debra Brink was added to our conversation and  over the course of the six months, Debra Brink claimed she would do these things as Melissa’s “Advocate”. She said she would do them for free. She said she would do them because she cared. She said that her heart broke hearing Mel’s story and reading her blog posts and she wanted to help Mel get out of the town she lives in. She was promising Melissa Fields a lot of stuff. How do I know? Well, Melissa Fields invited me into a group chat with her, Debra Brink and three other ladies. So, we have Melissa Fields, Debra Brink, Heather E. Johnson, Emily Titon, Member A and Member B. I am choosing not to divulge the names of those two women. I have permission from all others involved to share their names and what transpired as far as what they did, except for Debra Brink. I have not been given permission from her to speak of these matters or to use her name. I want to make that clear.  However, I do not need permission to speak about these things as they occurred in a “public” place. Yes, they are called “private messages” on Facebook. But if you have one or more persons in the message, the assumption of privacy is no longer there. That has been ruled on. As Debra Brink herself has said, if you don’t want it on the internet, do not put it out there. So, she should already know that. And these events transpired as a part of *my* life. I can write about what happens to me.

When Debra first joined our group chat (it’s a private message on Facebook among those persons listed above), we welcomed her and all accepted friend requests that Melissa had sent to suggest we be friends with Debra. Debra made many claims. First, she claimed that she was an “AUTISM ADVOCATE FOR TWO DECADES” (she used caps lock a lot as she stated her eye sight was poor and it helped to see the screen; having poor eyesight myself I can attest that it does help if one has poor eyesight to type in all caps. She never requested that we do so so that she could see what we had to say better/easier.) She claimed “I WORK WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT ON ALL TYPES OF CASES. CASES THAT WE REFER TO AS “MESSY” !! AND I DO NOT MEAN THAT MELISSA IS MESSY ! I AM TALKING ABOUT PEDOPHILES AND SUCH !!” At the time, we took her at her word. She claimed ” I CAN HELP MELISSA SET UP A WEBSITE THAT WILL GO VIRAL !! I KNOW SEO THAT WILL MAKE HER PAGE THE TOP RETURN SITE ON ALL SEARCH ENGINES !! I AM ONLY ONE OF A FEW IN THE WHOLE WORLD WHO HAS THIS KNOWLEDGE !!” I did not believe that part. As I know quite a few who are trained in SEO language to help pages appear in the first page of results or the “top 10”. In fact, I have had such training as part of the program when I obtained my AS in Business Administration with Legal Specialization from Boston Gibbs College back in 2004. However, Mel very much wanted her website to go “viral”. Over the six months, we heard many claims from Debra, including these, over and over again. At least once a day, we’d hear how awesome she is at advocacy. At the time, I did not say anything directly to Debra Brink because I had not heard of her at all but that does not many anything. There are 7 billion people on this planet and just because I have not heard of her, does not mean she is not active in the community just in the manner she described. I let it pass in the group chat. However, when she would go on and on and on and on and apparently not reading what anyone else was typing into the chat, I would private mesasge Emily Titon about it. It bugged me. It’s a personality quirk of some that I really cannot stand. I had asked Emily, “Who is she trying to convince? us or herself?” Because that is what I thoguht at the time. I did not understand her need to “prove” herself with her words in the manner that she was. Most times folks did that, it usually has turned out in my expeirence, that they are lying about their experience. In my experience, those who name drop, brag about the cases they work on, and go into infinitesimal details are usually lying about it.  That has just been my experience. I did not think Melissa needed to deal with this personality clash and so made no mention of it to her at all, at that time. You see, Melissa Fields is not able to have reciprocal friendships. She can give support and truly cares about others and their problems but because of the situation she has been in and continues to be in, she does not have the wherewithall to deal with others’ problems and her own and so quickly becomes overwhelmed by them. So, I often refrain, as do others in our group chat, from mentioning our own problems, except to say things so that Melissa would understand why we weren’t online at any given time. We needed to reassure her that she had not made us mad, we were not abandoning her but just living life, etc. Because she has been “thrown away like trash” (her words) so much, she is afraid all will do that to her. Melissa Fields relayed a conversation she had with Debra, over the phone, to me, over the phone. Melissa has actually told me about it about four times now. It’s because it sort of traumatized her in a way. It has left its imprint on her brain and in not such a good way. Melissa said to Debra, “How do I know you won’t turn on me when I get up to Michigan to live with you?” as that was a very real fear of Melissa’s. She has experienced so much abandonment and verbal, emotional and physical abuse from her earliest childhood. That has been confirmed to me by her mother, over the phone previously.

Instead of understanding that history, combined with Mel’s autism, and her just needing reassurance, Debra broke down in sobs. Crying, hysterically, according to Melissa. Debra made her feel guilty for asking. Debra reportedly stated, “I can’t believe you would even ask! After all I’ve done for you and am willing to do for you?” It disturbed Melissa greatly. She asked me if I felt she was wrong for asking the question. And I told her no. If she needed reassurance, she should ask for it. I said, after the first time Melissa told me about this conversation, that maybe she should let Debra know that it is just for reassurance and that Melissa is not accusing her of anything but after the life she has had, Melissa just needs that reassurance. It was later talked about in the group. Member A had mentioned Melissa’s need for reassurance and said she understood it, too as her son, who has autism, is much like Melissa. Member A felt Melissa and her son had a lot in common in the way that autism manifested in each of them. Their rigidity of thought, planning, being on schedule. If you tell Melissa you will be there at 3:00 p.m., she will expect you at 3:00 p.m. exactly. If you are not there by 3:05 p.m., Melissa will panic and assume you are not coming. Is that unrealistic of her? Possibly. Maybe one day Melissa will have the skill set required that will allow her to think of other possibilities, such as “She got tied up in traffic.” Or, “Maybe she got stuck behind a long line at a store for her other client.” and so on. However, Melissa is not able to calm herself down once she reaches panic mode. She just does not “have the spoons” to do so. And, I’m sorry, I would have thought someone with “2 DECADES OF EXPERIENCE” would know that about an autistic person and be understanding.

There were many days where Debra Brink would post about her own problems into the group chat. And while Melissa did care about them, that group chat was specifically FOR Melissa. If one wanted to share a particularly tough time they were having, that was fine.. if they needed to vent a little, it was okay. But to go on and on for HOURS where Melissa could not even feel heard? Not okay. She felt “shut out” of her own group chat. Whenever Melissa would complain to me during those times, I would tell her to bear with it. It was obvious to us that Debra had an issue. Wasn’t sure WHAT it was or what had caused it. But Debra would get “stuck” on a one-way track of conversation. She only seemed to be reading her own words or worried about what she wanted to say. She’d miss others’ words, even Melissa’s. This was problematic though when Melissa was in crisis mode. Yes, Melissa was often in crisis mode these days. Melissa had had problems before with the bullies on her street being mean to her, sure. She sure had lots of problems with caretakers, too. Not showing up, leaving early, charging extra money out of Melissa’s pocket when they were already paid by the state to do the tasks Melissa asked them to do (errands). She would have struggles because if she reported them, her case worker would somehow make it Melissa’s fault. And would talk curtly to Melissa to the point that Melissa felt she couldn’t talk at all anymore to her case worker about her problems. But for some reason, since September, Melissa was in crisis mode much more often. On a daily basis SOMETHING would set Melissa off into a panic, would trigger her.. and while she was in panic mode, she really needed her “advocate” to be there for her, to help calm her down. Does an advocate normally perform that role? I don’t know. I guess it would depend on the purpose of the advocate. Melissa was under the impression from the many times Debra said “I AM HERE FOR MELISSA !! 365 DAYS A YEAR, 24/7 AND I NEVER TAKE A DAY OFF !!” that it meant for whatever Melissa needed, including reassurances, talking about her move to Michigan, planning for new service workers, or what have you. Melissa took Debra at her word.

About a month into their friendship, Melissa reported that Debra would say that to her in the private chat that they had, but then follow up with how much Debra was missing out on. So, Melissa started to feel guilty any time she called Debra. She has also reported to me that there were times when she’d be on the phone with Debra during crisis mode with Debra, wanting Debra to call the cops for her as her mean street bullies were at it again and Debra would not shut up long enough for Melissa to find out IF Debra was going to be calling the cops for her or not. Melissa reported that Debra would verbally assault her in the sense that she would just talk and talk and talk in what Melissa referred to as “a wall of babble I couldn’t break through!”. What was Debra saying? Was it important to the moment? Melissa reported to me that it was usually threats of some kind towards others. Such as, “I HAVE FRIENDS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EVEN FRIENDS WHO ARE NOT LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SO THEY CAN GO A STEP FURTHER !! THEY CAN REALLY GET IN THERE AND TAKE CARE OF THEM !! THEY DON’T WANT TO MESS WITH ME !!” and so forth. Debra would tell Melissa “We need to send this one on a lollipop ride !!” That would scare Melissa when she thought about it later but would giggle at the time because Debra would be laughing. Melissa didn’t know what she meant but she thought she’d laugh since Debra was obviously trying to be funny and cheer Melissa up. Well, for those who do not know what “Lollipop rides” are, I will tell you one meaning that I know of and one I found when researching it to see if there were ANY OTHER meanings for it. Now, I am not saying that either of these two are what Debra Brink meant, she may have had her own meaning that won’t be found anywhere online. But, there is the sexual connotation one found in Urban Dictionary  and  you may click that link if you’d like to read it. There is also the one I have heard before. It is where one uses fentanyl lollipops to “help” a person overdose and commit suicide and/or homicide. Fentanyl is a very strong pain reliever that some patients use for when they have terminal illnesses. Other than these two, I have not heard any other type of lollipop rides. Either one though would be an innappropriate thing to say to Melissa as an “advocate” of any kind.

One of the problems I mentioned before that Melissa has had is those with caregivers taking advantage of her. In September of 2013, when Debra began to first act as Melissa’s advocate, she told Melissa she was going to report all of this to the ombudsman in her county for her as this is not right. The caregiver that Melissa had had at the time was doing okay. It was in November that Melissa’s then caretaker “KT” began to slip up. She left Melissa without baths that she needed to keep her tumor from breaking out and getting infected. She started to not keep up on Melissa’s laundry and so Melissa would not have clean leggings for her lymphedema. To be fair to KT, at that same time, her mother had fallen ill. It was a serious medical condition and it is my opinion that her mother’s illness is what kept KT from being the full-on caring caretaker she used to be. For some reason, Debra asked me the ONE time she and I spoke on the phone about Melissa’s needs, if I felt KT was doing alright. This was before problems with KT became known to us as a group. I gave my opinion of it at the time with the knowledge that I’d had. I said, “Yes, she is. She may be slipping right now in some areas but Melissa has always been able to talk to KT to get things back on track. Melissa has to learn how to communicate effectively with her caretakers so that she can let them know her needs and what needs to be done and how she wants them done. Of course, Melissa is afraid if she stands up to them, they will quit and she will be totally on her own. That’s reasonable but she should be able to give voice to her concerns if she has any concerns.” Debra agreed with me and we went on to other topics, including how spiffy special her home is, and how much money her husband makes and how that she does NOT need her income or anything and that is why she VOLUNTEERS her time so much. Because remember, she does all that she does, for individuals and the “LE” (law enforcement) for free. Out of the kindness of her heart. Because she cares so much about these “messy cases”.

For some reason, about a week after I talked to Debra on the phone, I was talking to Mel on the phone. She was quite upset with her caretaker, KT. She listed all the problems she’s been having lately. I attempted to help Melissa get through that time as best as I could by helping her figure out her options. Because, while yes.. it is sad that KT’s mom is ill, Melissa still has needs to be met. It is not selfish to think of these needs. There are many employers out there who run businesses and just because your family member is ill would not tolerate you missing hours, leaving work, not showing up and when you do show up, you do not work or do the tasks assigned to you. You would be fired. However, if Melissa fired KT, she would be without care. That was not possible.

Melissa is completely home-bound and unable to transport herself anywhere she needs to go. There is a reason Mel has a caregiver in the first place and she would not be able to care for herself if KT did not help her or someone else help her. As time progressed, on Christmas Day, KT was “ignoring” Mel, not even wishing her a Merry Christmas via FB message. Melissa had had enough. She called in her prior caretaker, JuJu. To me, Melissa went from the frying pan into the fire. And she did so knowing how much JuJu took financial advantage of her last time and I feared JuJu would do it again. You see, I have been friends with Melissa for a long time and I know what happened with each caretaker, etc. in the past. But Debra seemed to be on the side of getting rid of KT as fast as possible and setting up with JuJu. Debra wrote KT’s termination letter for Melissa. It did take her some time to get it written as she said she wanted to make sure it had the right tone. She wanted to make sure it sounded “professional”. She said she knew just how to write such letters and she bragged about her letter-writing skills for most of the day. But she did write the letter and email it to both Melissa and KT, as far as I know at the time I write this.

If there are any errors, I’m sure Melissa can comment on this blog post and let y’all know what I got wrong. I will say that Debra DID take the time and ask several times if this is what Melissa wanted “BECAUSE MELISSA IS *BOSS* !!” something she’d write into group chat often. She’d also write into group chat thank yous to us there and “WE ARE TEAM MELISSA !! WE ARE A TEAM !!” so much so that I wanted to puke. Don’t get me wrong, I knew we all were team Melissa. Most of us had been team Melissa since 2009/2010 when she first joined Facebook. Why did Debra keep needing to mention that to us? I don’t get it! I think now though that it is because SHE was wanting to hear US say thank you to her. No offense but I am not going to thank her for helping Melissa (although I have thanked her because I thought that was what she was looking for and she would stop with the whole team Melissa chant whenever I did). She took on a JOB, even though unpaid, to do the very things she was doing. If anyone needed or should say thank you to her, it was Melissa. She wasn’t doing ME any favors. And Melissa *would* thank you a lot. She would also apologize to Debra, a lot. To me, if you volunteer to be someone’s sounding board, go-to person during crises, well, you shouldn’t want them to apologize for doing so. She would say it was okay and in fact she would say many times, “ITS OKAY !! I DO THIS BECAUSE I CARE !! MY HUBBY IS SO PATIENT WITH ME DOING THIS 24/7, 365 AND AFTER TWENTY YEARS IS USED TO IT !!”.

Debra would share her medical issues. She stated she had the worst gastrointestinal disease known to man. She had some sort of infection that needed “anthrax killing antibiotics” (turns out, she meant Levaquin, which is what I take whenever I need an antibiotic and while yes, it is used to kill anthrax in patients in combination with other medication, it’s really no big deal to be prescribed this medicine). She was or alluded to needing to be on a feeding tube as she could NOT keep down anything, not even water or saltines.She said this many times, including the night before the “incident”.  In the weeks prior to the “incident” between Debra, Mel and myself, Debra had been *very* ill. She claimed she was suffering from a multitude of chronic illnesses and kept saying she’d be in “Hotel Hospital” if it were not for her wonderful, incredibly gifted self. Her doctor fully trusted her to care for herself at home and so there was no need to go to the hospital when she can do all at home that they would be doing for her at the hospital. She claims she is on many medicines that keep her functioning. She also claimed that medication did not work as she had a high tolerance towards medication. Of course, I know a body can develop a high tolerance towards medicine if a body takes the medication a lot, over time and even unnecessarily. If one takes an antibiotic, for example, when it is not necessary, it dampens a person’s immune system and they will begin to need a stronger and stronger medication to work. I did notice but did not mention to Melissa that Debra had posted on her timeline that she was eating (and ENJOYING) a steak burger from Steak and Shake, a chain restaurant in her town. This particular chain is known in my foodie community as a “greasy spoon” type of fare. If one has gastrointestinal issues to the point where they cannot keep even water down, how is a steak burger going to work? I wondered if maybe she was lying about her eating at the restaurant as maybe she didn’t want folks on her friends’ list to know how sick she was. Some people, like me, often do that. Melissa later pointed that out to me on the day of the incident and thought maybe Debra was lying about being ill. I did not know which is the case. Debra also claimed to have a constant, persistent migraine 24/7, 365, “literally”. I know that when I have a migraine, especially if it lasts for more than an hour or so, I am unable to stare at a screen of any kind. I am unable to focus on a conversation and often will go lie down and rest, even if not sleep. So, we  understood that if she was having health problems, it may take some time for her to do things. But after KT was fired, Melissa needed a new caregiver. Her only choice was JuJu at this point. The only person she knew and she knew JuJu would take her for her money. And JuJu DID take Melissa again for her money and to the tune of hundreds of dollars in a short period of time. Melissa could not afford JuJu. And after some other events, JuJu ended up fired on March 1st, 2014. Melissa fired her herself.

However, because Debra appeared to be online only to send invites to baby shower, etc. to deal with her real life, that didn’t get done. Instead, Melissa found her OWN caregivers. She interviewed them and hired them. Prior to JuJu getting fired, we were looking for a new one as we knew JuJu was not the best answer. Melissa had posted into the group chat that her mother and/or sister had sent her a link to a Craig’s list ad. Debra went on and on about how BAD that was. That “.. people that post on Craig’s list OBVIOUSLY would not work !!” She put them down, put down those without a high school diploma, and insulted any and all people who work as caregivers in California (Mel’s home state) as not being good people and not being good care providers and bragged about how much better it is in Michigan because there they are required to have not just a high school diploma but also a degree and license and training. Well, we have that here, too, in Oklahoma. However, one of the best caretakers *I* have ever had never graduated from high school. She never took a training course and did not have a CNA license, either. It’s not required in the state of Oklahoma, it is just preferred by the agencies who staff these position.  This PCA lied about having a diploma and the agency never checked it out. She was my caretaker for two years before she became pregnant and I changed caretakers. I really was bothered by Debra’s snobbery. And so, instead of refraining as I usually do, I spoke up. I had spent weeks reading the snobbery from Debra and just couldn’t take it anymore; especially because she got snippy with Emily at one point earlier that week.

We were all trying to explain to Member A why Melissa Fields was having an issue with her hours from IHSS and why she had to pay for hours out of pocket. JuJu in the month of January had worked several 7-hour days, leaving Melissa short on hours the rest of the month. We told Melissa to stop the 7-hour days, inform JuJu that she could no longer afford long days, and that if she spread the remaining hours out the rest of the month, she should still have SOME time each day, the remainder of the month. Some days would have ended up being only an hour long and it takes longer than that to do a bath with Melissa because of her physical issues. Well, Member A didn’t understand. See, we had to wait until Melissa got her new hours in February. She would be all set come Feb. 1st, but until then Melissa was out of luck on that. Member A wanted to know why, if we told JuJu no more long hour days and we had it sorted for the rest of the month, why didn’t Melissa have enough hours. No one was telling Member A that the new hours didn’t start until February 1st, so she didn’t understand it. She has never had a caretaker in this way and so didn’t know how it worked, plus she lived in Australia where those things worked differently anyway. Finally, Emily tried her best to explain to Member A how it is that Mel ended up with no time left for January. That just because we decided that JuJu can’t work 7 hour days, doesn’t mean that they weren’t ALREADY worked and lost to Melissa. Just because we say “no more” doesn’t mean she doesn’t get paid for the time and therefore they are already “used” and gone. When Emily posted a few lines to start the process of getting Member A to understand this, Debra butted in and sent a bunch of text into the group messaging, sending what Emily had said off the screen. So, when Member A had asked a question, Emily replied to her. But Debra couldn’t see that Member A had asked a question because she drowned it, and Emily’s previous conversation, out with all her bragging about how good services were in Michigan. Of course, how good services are in Michigan is beside the point and doesn’t help Melissa’s caregiver issue. Anyway, Emily answered Member A’s question. Debra *thought* it was directed at her and snapped “I know how the hours work, Emily” and sent several other snippy remarks and so Emily stopped talking altogether in the conversation. Debra *did* later apologize in March, when it was pointed out to her. And Emily, the total diplomat that she is, pretended to not know that she was once snipped at. She wanted that conversation to continue so she avoided the issue and left it at that. However, Debra did not help Melissa locate a new caretaker as promised. She did not ultimately, call an ombudsman either. She did not arrange the appointment with a local pastor that she promised Melissa either. She promised it because she bragged about her church family and Melissa wanted to become a member of that church, possibly.

She wanted to meet with the pastor first to determine if it was a good fit. For over a month, we waited for Debra to ascertain that there was a local church, they were willing to meet with Melissa and to set up the appointment. Mel waited for so long, that she went ahead and contacted the pastor herself and set up their appointment. The first one was rescheduled by the pastor for some reason and then they finally met the first Sunday of February. It did not go well. They told Melissa she was “too needy” and “high maintenance” for them. They would be unable to assist her in any way. After reading Debra’s brags about all the help church members get, including meals on wheels, this was a total disappoint to Mel as well as triggering for her because of the terms they used. There is a reason I keep pointing out the promises that were not kept or the promises that were kept but took so long for to do. I am especially pointing out the ones that took her SO long to do. There were many but I am not going to cover each one in as much detail because this post is already long enough and will be longer still. It helps to illustrate my point with just these few.

I am going to present *my* side, and to some degree Melissa’s side. I will even attempt to show Debra’s side as far as I know what it is. I will be as fair as possible. It was earlier in the week when I had pointed out that she once snipped at Emily but at the time we all shrugged it off. But this week, something else came up and I pointed it out how she was “always” this way with us. I cannot recall what it was but I do recall the feelings associated with it. It was Debra being a snob again and I was mad that she always put people down, belittled others, and even got snippy. Debra first denied this and then apologized to Emily in a “if I did then I’m sorry” kind of way. I let it go at that. My point was made, I offered an example of my point, it was accepted and apologized for.

It was in early February when Member A had been left out of another group chat amongst us as Melissa had un-friended and blocked Member A. Why? It was because during a crisis Melissa was overwhelmed and trying to get through to one of us so she could call us and tell us what was going on and what she needed. Member A kept asking questions and Melissa couldn’t deal with answering them AND getting out what she needed to get out. Debra did allow Melissa to call her and it was during that phone call that Melissa claims Debra told her to just “block her then” when Melissa told Debra how the questions were overwhelming her at that point and so she did. Member A never really knew why until later when I told Melissa it was okay to re-friend Member A as it was understandable she was just having a moment and what *I* would have done at that time was to tell Member A myself, “You are currently overwhelming Melissa. If you have questions, it’s okay, just wait for a bit while she’s on the phone. Once she’s calmed down, she’ll be able to answer your questions.” and that would have been it. Member A has an autistic son herself and knows this about her son. So, I felt she would have understood where Mel was coming from. So, our conversations continued in the original private chat with Member A.

Then on a Monday, on or about, March 17th, 2014.  Melissa was having a crisis. All afternoon Melissa had been upset and wanting to talk to Debra. Debra said it would be okay, but first she needed to go to the bathroom, take some meds, and get sorted out. I had thought she had done that and then she called Melissa. Later on, in the early evening, Mel was in the group chat, frantic. There was noise coming from a car club down the street from her house. The noise of the cars, the music, and more was pounding and make her walls tremble. For those who do not know, some people with autism have sensory issues. some of those issues come with a hyper-sensory hearing. A whisper can sound like a shout. Imagine then, how this must hurt Mel’s brain to have noise THIS loud. And no, headphones do not help as they cause a sensory issue of their own and really, Mel feels and I agree, she should not have to wear headphones inside her house. There is a noise ordinance in effect 24/7 in her town and this group was breaking it at 10 p.m. or so. Mel needed to call someone and since Debra still had not gone to the bathroom nor taken her meds at this point, I said Melissa could call me.

She had already called me several times a week at this point and mentioned to me how much easier it is to talk to me because I listen to her and she feels calmer while talking to me. It had already been noted at this point between Emily and I, privately, that it seemed to us that Debra riled Melissa up rather than calmed her down. If Mel was having a good day, and she talked to Debra, all the sudden, she was no longer having a good day. There had already been the incident where Debra had Melissa repost in our private group screen shots of emails that had caused such pain to Melissa between Melissa and another and there was no point in posting those pictures. And anyone, who had been working with people with autism for twenty years, can tell you that people with autism do not let things go easily. They will replay events in their mind especially if there are triggers around that remind them of that event. So what was Debra thinking? I asked on that post WTH?? Why is this here? What does this have to do with Mel leaving for Michigan or moving anywhere for that matter? As that was the point of the group. To post things about that specific purpose. Links to services, resources, etc. to help Mel survive and/or what she can look forward to once she got to Michigan. Why then, tell Melissa to post this into the group chat when it only served the purpose of reminding Melissa that she had lost a real life friend and one that she had treasured because Melissa got scared and pushed the kind woman away, again. Debra said it wasn’t her that brought it up and that Mel wanted to post it it the group and Debra had told her to go ahead then. Melissa stated on the post “I’m posting this here because Debra wants me to.” and posted it. So, really? I think Debra guided Melissa in remembering that time and posting those pictures for some unknown, but clearly wrong, reason. It was incidents like these that got under my skin and during some moments, I would not and could not not say anything. I was making Debra mad whenever I did so. And that night would be no different. So, Melissa was on the phone with me, I was hearing the noise over her house phone and into mine. She was frantic and scared on top of that. She wanted someone to call the police for her. She is incredibly afraid of the police and would ask others to call for her. Debra had called for her already this week. She was getting increasing bully incidents as well because she had fired JuJu and JuJu was friends with the business employees. It is Melissa’s belief that she was being retaliated against for the firing of JuJu. A reasonable belief!

The police had responded earlier and was able to get and pull over the cars that were causing the trouble earlier in the week, according to what they told me when I had called later in the week. The police chief told me they were well aware who Melissa Fields was and her problems on that street. They had been able to verify and document that she was being harassed by these cars but that they were doing it in such a way as to be hard to prove in a court of law so their hands were really tied. Unless and until they actually got onto Melissa’s property, there was nothing they could do except to keep responding to calls. The police chief apologized to me again that Melissa was too afraid to contact them herself but understood as he had read files from the incidents before he became chief. The police were NOT friendly to Melissa before and felt that she was delusional. Is it any wonder Melissa feared the cops? Debra knew this and that is why she would call on behalf of Melissa when it warranted it. This night, I and Melissa were on the phone and I was attempting to calm her down. To remind her that people are going to make noise sometimes and that not all the time is it going to be directed at her personally. However, she was so scared that I felt maybe it was prudent to call the police. She was in such dire straights though that I did not want to hang up with her to call them. She typed into the room at Debra (who was there and going on and on in one of her babble modes telling us all about her plans for the impending birth of a grandchild and all the furniture they had got for that and what wonderful people they are to spend so much money on the impending grandchild). Melissa tried to interrupt her to ask her to call the police again for her. Debra did not appear to see Melissa’s words at first but then did so. And said she called and then she babbled into the chat all that was said between her and the dispatch officer. This time, there were several cars from the car club that were harassing Mel and driving up and down the road, drag racing. So, Melissa was trying to give the information to Debra in the chat room, the relative information but was unable. So, she had called me and asked me to type for her. I did so, and Debra was able to ascertain the make/model, etc of the cars that were doing the racing. She said that dispatch sent the cars, etc. and that she talked with Detectives, etc. I mean, really it was a LONG description of what all was said and she repeated it four times. Suffice it say, the cops were called, dispatched, and had even already patrolled the area and the offending vehicles had been pulled over. Debra was still now babbling into the chat room about all that and the phone call and telling us she needed certain information to call the police back with JuJu’s information. The detective had requested certain information that Debra did not have on hand and she felt it would be easier to just ask for it again from Mel. Mel typed it into the room and Debra didn’t see her actually tell her NUMEROUS times this information. She was “stuck” on telling us about the conversation and why she needed the info.

Mel was getting upset because she wanted Debra to hurry up and call back the cops with the information now that she had it. But Debra kept chatting into the room about what was said, which she had already told us a number of times, five or six at least by this point. She then began talking about getting a protective order (she called it a PPO) and we were discussing the options of getting a PPO and how Mel would go about it. I typed into the chat room earlier to Mel how we can go about it, what steps she needed to take and all that. Mel would not be able to do it right away because her new caretaker (the one she found on her own) did not have a vehicle yet that Mel could ride in. That would not happen until the caretaker got paid. Debra kept asking questions of her like “Don’t you have office max there? we can have them do this” and so on and Melissa was taking it like Debra was calling her stupid. Mel KNEW what she was going to do. She and I had already discussed it, already knew what steps needed to be taken and when to get a protective order against JuJu. So why was Debra now ranting about it? oh, because she didn’t think I knew what I was talking about! Wrong. But that’s okay, if she wants to double check, I told Mel that’s fine. It’s okay and I didn’t care that Debra didn’t think I knew what I was talking about or that I made the phone calls to ascertain this information, etc. Who cares what Debra thinks of me? I didn’t! That was not why I was there. I was there to help Mel not play games. So, Mel was on the phone with me again and asking me to type into the room for her as she had “lost spoons” again. Melissa asked me to type for her since she was so overwhelmed from the days/nights that week and she was too weak to break through Debra’s babble mode. So, I did. I typed whatever Melissa told me to tell her. Debra didn’t seem to pick up on that even though I said, “I’m on the phone with Mel now. She’s overwhelmed again and wants to make sure you *are* going to call back with that information to the police department”… Debra went on and on for quite some time. By the end of it, she was mad at me and I didn’t give a damn. She never, not once, said she was on the phone with the police again. Not once, never, did she say at THAT point that she STILL needed to go to the bathroom and take her meds before calling them back. Not once, NEVER, did she at that point reassure Melissa that she even WOULD call them back TONIGHT. But Debra kept harping about getting the PPO and finally I typed into the chat, “Well, Melissa can’t just HOP and do anything quickly” because Debra kept saying it would “only take a minute or two to hop right over and pick that up.” See, if people have chronic illness, they would know, one does not “hop right over” and do anything.

We were discussing earlier that evening how we would print the “evidence’ we had of JuJu’s harassing phone calls, etc. Melissa does not have a working printer. Debra said that was okay, she could print it and fax it to Melissa if not the court directly and Debra was trying to find out if Melissa had an office supply store to which she could fax it to, if need be. She was STUCK on that issue. We were not worried about the PPO at this point. No place was open anyway so it’s not like she was going to be doing anything about it at that point. At that point, we were all wondering if she was going to call the police back. It had been almost 20 minutes since Melissa gave her JuJu’s information so that Debra could call them back and give them the information they were looking for. Twenty minutes of going on and on about this dang PPO and Melissa is terrified that the people in the vehicles (and one motorcycle) was going to come back and harass her and the cops weren’t going to do anything next time if Debra didn’t give them that information (they would have but Mel couldn’t process that. Only that the cops wanted the info and a call back with that info). So Melissa and I both were frustrated by this point. Because, as I’ve said, Debra NEVER acknowledged our questions about whether or not she was calling back. So, I mentioned into the chat how long it had been since she got the info  and when did she plan on calling back? She got pissed. She felt unappreciated! How dare I question her? She’s so sick and was only wanting to go the bathroom and take her meds and here she is, again, dealing with a Melissa crisis (no matter that she ASKED to be the one to do it) and I didn’t have to deal with calls from Melissa. Really? I was on the phone with her right then! And had several that week. And need I point out that I have had countless calls with Melissa in the four years I’ve known her? Do we talk all night/all day? No. Because we don’t have to. She calls in panic, I calm her down and she goes about her life all happy again. It doesn’t take  all day/all night to calm her down after a noise or a bully incident. It takes about 20-30 minutes and then we’d talk longer just to be talking. I enjoyed talking to Mel, maybe not the crises, but the after chat. I didn’t get what Debra was resenting so much for. She complained about how much time away her family meant with this.

Well, then, say so! Say you don’t want to be her go-to person for calls. No one is FORCING you to answer the phone calls. She claims NOW that Melissa would “blow up” her and her hubby’s cell phone if she didn’t answer. Just yesterday, Melissa called me while I was out. I was not online and then when I got back, I went to bed, never calling her back. I had fallen asleep waiting for my tablet to charge up or for my turn on the one computer in our home. I told her why I didn’t answer her call back this morning when I got up and on the computer. However, she didn’t blow up my phone. She only called  once. How is that blowing up a phone? Melissa has often called me during a crisis and when she doesn’t get an answer the first time, she’ll move on to someone else. She does not “blow up” someone’s phone. Maybe it is because Debra promised to be available 24/7 365 days a year for that purpose that made Mel do that, I don’t know. Mel claims she did not do it. But if you claim to be “on call” for someone for this very purpose as part of your ‘services” how do you then have the right to complain about them taking you at your word and up on the offer? Which is what Debra now does. Well, suffice it to say but after that phone call, and chat, Debra then said she was on hold with them the whole time and she didn’t appreciate being made to “jump” when I said jump. She failed to again, realize, that it was not I requesting the “jump” in the first place and in the second, I did not point out long it had been in an effort to make her “jump” but that it was because she had a history of saying she’s going to make a call but then puts it off so long that it becomes a moot point. So, how was I to know that this wouldn’t happen this time with the phone call back to the police? I mean, we’re in a crisis right now. Telling me how awesome you are, and all and telling me how much experience you’ve had, and telling me how much money your hubby earns, and telling me how many “messy” cases you deal with, isn’t going to get that phone call made any sooner. And if you needed to go to the bathroom and take medication at that point, then shut up and do that! That is basically what I told her although not in so many words. I told her I recognized her behavior as a symptom and I”m sorry if she’s mad at me but I was acting on the behalf of Melissa who needed me to break through and get her going on DOING it rather than TALKING about it. She could relay the details of the first phone call later, all we needed to know NOW was that she had made the first call, the police were on patrol and now she is going to call them back with this new info as soon as she takes a bathroom break and grabs her meds since she hasn’t been able to eat all week, and blah blahs. Well, I got snippy then for sure. I said, “Really? If you have the worst known case of gastrointestinal disease there is, and you won’t even name it, and can’t keep down crackers what are you doing eating at Steak and Shake for?”

She got really mad then and started blasting me for daring to ask her such a question. I was basically calling her a liar. I know all about IBS/IBD. She claims there is something WORSE than IBS. I agreed, it’s called IBD, Chron’s Disease is a form of IBD and it’s the one most painful disorder out there. I know because I have it. I often call it IBS as people recognize  that term more and I don’t have to explain the difference. For my purposes, it fits the bill. I’m not complaining about my symptoms, etc. just making a mention of it long enough to point out that my relating to them and their current suffering is sincere. As I often commiserate with others over their various times of need, etc. In an effort to show compassion and understanding and make them feel at least a little understood. Debra wanted to go on a urinary competition with me over who had worse earlier that week. I really can’t stand that behavior. It gets on my last nerve. But I wouldn’t back down.

And so Debra continued to mention all that she had to give up to be there for Melissa. Well, that’s a guilt trip and I don’t like that either. Why… why point it out to someone? What is the point? Except to guilt trip them? To let them know what it cost you? Mel appreciates her friends and those that try to help her. She *already* feels bad at being so dependent on others and unable to give back to the same degree. If you do this, if this is your thing, and you do it for free, and you’re so spiffy special and awesome, wouldn’t you do it and not constantly remind the person you’re helping what it costs you? I mean, really. It’s not very classy, in my opinion. It’s a manipulation tool. “Hey, I do this for you. This is what it costs for me. Do what I say now to make it up to me” is usually how that goes. And Melissa told me it seemed that whenever Debra went for her pity parties, it usually was followed up with a request (such as that she block this person, or unfriend that person, or fire this person or fire that person or agree to these terms, etc). Maybe not right then but soon after. After Melissa had apologized and ending up in tears over her guilt. And willing to do ANYTHING to pay Debra back for her ‘kindness’ and to keep Debra around for helping her. After Debra turned on me and got so downright mean to me in the chat room, Melissa decided she was going to block and unfriend Debra. She removed her stuff from the website area that Debra had created for her (it was a place holder, she hadn’t actually yet designed the website, etc. with all her fancy knowledge) and removed her stuff from the private group since Melissa couldn’t kick her out out of that group since Debra created the group. Melissa made herself a new group and the remaining members were invited back into that one. I told Melissa that is probably for the best anyway, that way Melissa has total control over the content, members, etc. that belong to the group and whatnot and wouldn’t have to rely on Debra or anyone else, for that. Melissa had become *very* dependent on Debra. Why that was? Well, I could speculate but that’s all it would be. I speculate that it is because Debra is the type of person who goes online and offers their services. And then works to isolate a person from their other friends, slowly and over time. So that they are the sole person that a vulnerable person would rely on. Melissa is such a person that would fall victim to this type of person very easily. I think Debra recognized that desperation in Melissa and used it to her vantage. She wanted someone she could claim as a boost to her ego. “Look at me !! Look at me !!” type of thing (yes, I typed that as if Debra said it but she didn’t). She liked the adoration and accolades she got for being “so kind” to do this for Melissa. She got her ego fed. But when push came to shove, she couldn’t deliver. Maybe it is because she had chronic illnesses. Maybe it is because she shouldn’t be offering to be on call all the time. If she was available in the beginning but was no longer available for such things, then she should have told Mel that. She should have told Mel she was beginning to resent all the time away from her family and the planning of the new baby’s arrival. Not take it out on her, me or anyone else. There were several times in the last two months where we didn’t see Debra in the chat for several days in a row.

When asked about it by Member A, Mel told her “Oh, it’s okay. I talked to her the other day and she is just busy with baby stuff. She’ll be on when she can.” Does that sound like someone who is blowing up another’s phone because they’re unavailable? Does that sound like someone who doesn’t understand that life gets busy for all of us? I mean, after  all, Debra was called in because I told Mel I couldn’t do it anymore as I was sick again. I thought my cancer had come back but alas, it was mold in my house making me sick. And Debra presumed to lecture ME on what it was like? LOL! She kept saying it wasn’t me on the phone with Mel all the time, etc. Um, sorry but I talk to Mel still, and I did what she did before she came along. She may not want to hear it because she wants to play a victim but it’s the truth. Mel isn’t abusive at all. So, then… that was that. That ended the friendship between her and I on Facebook and that ended Melissa and Debra’s friendship.

The next two weeks went by without any word from Debra. During this time, Mel was having a peaceful time. There was only one night of noise and it turned out to be a dance club was hosting an event  for the youth of the neighborhood and not one of the businesses across the street. Mel was able to handle that since she knew it wasn’t directed at her and she was quite calm. She was happy again. She begun to tell us about her and Debra’s phone calls. That Debra would call HER a lot of the time, too. She would call her in the wee hours of the night to talk when it was Mel’s Youtube time. You see, people with autism have and enjoy having a set routine. You disrupt them from their routine and it can cause anxiety and panic attacks. Apparently, this is what was going on all this time. And it explains why all the sudden Melissa was upset far more frequently by the goings-on in the neighborhood. However, Mel was puzzled as to why Debra flipped out on me. I tried to explain that from Debra’s perspective, she was trying to help you and I got in the way. She didn’t like that. She felt like she’d been doing all the work and then I come along and mess it up. She never realized that I was there before her, all along, and will be there after her. Mel believed she was better off without Debra as her friend since Debra obviously had problems of her own, she obviously had health problems and family to focus on. This was for the best. However, she just couldn’t let it go. She emailed Debra three times. Once was that night, on March 17th,  to tell her not to contact her again. The next was about half way through the time elapse since this last incident, on March 31st,  with Debra Brink and that was to ask her why she turned on us.

What was it that made her so mad? Well, Debra didn’t respond. We told Mel to leave it alone for awhile. When Debra got over her ego, she’d write back likely. We told her that she was probably at her daughter’s house since that trip was a planned thing and we knew she was going away the weekend after that incident… but Mel could NOT let it go. She posted her feelings about it and she vented in the new group chat about it. She talked about how down she was because, yet again, she felt thrown away. Like garbage. Debra had posted two pictures/graphics on her wall during the incident on March 17th.

debra3_17 debra3_17_2

 

She shared those with us and told us how much it hurt her that Debra would post that. She told us that she couldn’t understand Debra’s perspective at all. Of course, it is going to be hard as a person with autism to see another’s perspective but sometimes we cannot see it because it does not make sense. Personally, I think it all got to be a bit much and Debra was not prepared for Mel to have such supportive friends or even knowledgeable friends. She was not prepared for us to know what to do and it ticked her off whenever Melissa would listen to one of us instead of Debra. I am knowledgeable. I have shared with Mel various options. For various reasons, they have not worked out. Either the counterpart in CA who Mel would need to deal with refuses to deal with Mel and there is no other person to go to for that particular thing or Mel did not have the ability to go and do the things necessary for some other reason. Yes, it was always something that prevented things from getting done, but it was not Mel’s fault and it was not even because of Mel at all. It was out of her control or ability to make happen. We needed the cooperation of others to get this stuff done. It was THEIR job to do this stuff and yet, they refused. What else could we do? Well, we’d appeal, we’d plead, etc. We kept trucking on. I think Debra was really angry in the end because she felt used and abused, certainly.

She said that Mel would yell at her over the phone. Mel said she had to yell because Debra would not let her get a word in edgewise if she did not yell. She tried just talking over her but Debra didn’t hear her so she would yell. And yes, Mel yells when in panic mode and screams. It is emotionally hard to listen to someone in that much pain. But it does NOT break eardrums. I have sensitive hearing. I am unable to process some people’s voices and sounds if they are at a low volume. But I can hear just fine. I was able to have the phone to my ear because Mel would put her phone down/away from her to scream and clap her hands over her ears. So, if she yelled to the point Debra felt her eardrum “broke”, then I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how that is even physically possible since you cannot blow someone’s eardrum out via the phone with only one’s voice. It’s impossible for one to “break” their eardrum since there is no bone in it to break, by the way. But let’s go with her meaning that Melissa “blew out’ her eardrum. Even still, not possible. As soon as you hear that scream? Or any noise, you remove the source of the noise from your ear. It is a human reflex. And it would take a long exposure time in order for a human voice to “blow out” someone’s ear drum, even without a phone in the way of the process. Just impossible. Debra claims she did not have “enough time’ to move it away. I find that improbable.

Member A posted into the group chat (without Debra in it) the following, when Melissa feared her computer was having issues because of something Debra did. After all, Debra touted her computer skills so much, it was a reasonable fear to have. Member A posted this in response:

“Night Melissa, i dont know Much about computers, but i dont think you need to worry, I still have her on my fb friends for now, till i speak with her about what happend, and i have heard nothing, so I am assuming,she is doing what she said, and preparing for there trip to [name ommited]…I want to be carefull with what and how i say anything to her, when I do, as the last thing i want is to stir up any anger in her, that might reflect on you,after everything i have learnt about her today, through all of you, so i am still thinking on what to say.. I even thought i might just de friend and block her, without saying anything, i dont think any of her fb friends are on my list, but i am not sure about that.. still thinking the best way to go about it, I just want to make sure you dont have to deal with any more grief.. night night Love you xo”

This was after Member A had taken a few days to reflect on what had happened during the previous incident. When she said she wanted to take time away to do that, we all continued the conversation anyway. We told her that was okay, take all the time she needed. She was not present during the conversation at all as she had left the computer to let her son or husband on to have a turn. She came back during the end of it, when Debra had been so insulting to me and Melissa that I finally snapped. So, she saw right away my reactions and Debra crying for a pity party over it. She did not (immediately) see what had transpired in the hours before. So, she said she was going back to do that (reread) and would come back when she had a better handle on it. So, we continued the conversation and we all told our feelings about it. It turns out that Member B, Emily and I had concerns about Debra. Turns out, so did Mel. Mel asked me in that chat why did I not speak up when Mel directly asked me if Debra was okay. I said because I didn’t want a personality clash stand in the way of her dreams. I had no idea *why* I disliked Debra so much at that time. She’s certainly not the first braggart I had dealt with but she really irked me at times. And I didn’t want that to interfere because after all, this wasn’t’ about ME, it was about Mel. Member B didn’t voice concern because the one time she brought something up, she was pretty much shut down. Emily didn’t bring any of it up because, like me, she didn’t think it was fair to Mel. We were all trying to get along with Debra. It was that conversation that Member A refers to “learnt about her today, through all of you,”. Member A had developed a friendship with Debra outside of the group chat, you see. This is important to remember. That was the last we heard that Member B had spoken to Debra about Mel or anything at all. Up to that night, we had no clue that Member A was not only still talking to Debra but copying/pasting what we said to Debra. We do not know at this time whether she was asked to do that or if she did it on her own. I have a feeling that Member A was the only one of us that Debra formed an outside relationship with because Member A is also somewhat vulnerable to manipulation and it shows. She’s… very naive. And she seemed to have a problem following along, especially when the chat was going back and forth. Anyone would.

Well, Mel made a request that day. She asked (not demanded) that we all unfriend/block Debra as she is scared of her. She’s afraid of what Debra will do when she gets back from her trip and doesn’t want anyone to be a tool for Debra to use. She also didn’t want anyone else hurt by her. She also posted into the private chat all the names of Debra’s family so that we could unfriend them as well, in case we had friend-ed them. That was the only reason she had shared that information with us. Here is a screen shot of that conversation:

db4

This was *just* after Member B had received her first (of many) messages from Debra Brink. It would appear from the evidence that Member A had sent Debra screen shots or copy and pasted what was said to Debra Brink. Note the time stamp on the above message, as it is important to what happened next. Earlier, Member A had been in the chat room but not before this was posted. She had apparently sent all before to Debra Brink and Debra Brink was now starting her threats.

The message that Member B passed along was Debra wanted Mel to remove any mention of her from any public place. Here is PART of the Rant that she sent Member B:

“Conversation started today
Melissa Fields
12:06am
Melissa Fields

Heather, Debra is going crazy now, and REALLY threatenig me now!!!!!!
Member B
12:07am
Member B

As soon as our Grandson is born and Baptized within a few weeks of birth? Hubby and I will be in California to handle this all, and we will make sure we have our time in Oklahoma as well.
Member B
12:08am
Member B

Well, I don’t even know yet and have more specialist appointments to find out if my hearing is permanently damaged from the FINAL phone call with blowing my ear drum… on top of a nightmare that most could never wrap their brain around that I survived…. which is a MIRACLE I did.”

My message was logged by FB for me. You see the time stamps on when Member B posted this into the private chat with just me, Mel, Member A and Member B.  At the very beginning of that rant, you will see that she threatened both Mel and Me. And it was enough to scare Mel and she removed ALL mentions of Deb at that time. You can see between the two (the image above and this transcript). There are HOURS in between. Then, just during this, Member A comes back online from her son’s dentist appointment. She lives in Australia and the time difference is vast, of course. After some 40+ screenshots taken (as copying and pasting into the chat room was difficult for Member B to keep up, as they were coming in so fast, that she couldn’t keep up, so she started screen shooting on her cell phone instead.  There were 43 screen captures. Now, they don’t capture a whole lot at once, but she said she didn’t get it all either. Because it began to really scare Mel at this point and Mel wanted to stop seeing it. Mel was on the phone with me by this point, of course. Unfortunately for Mel, I was already having one of my bad days and ideas starting shooting through my head so fast that I was talking reallyreallyreallyreally fast and she couldn’t understand me much but we got through it. When I’m anxious, that’s what happens. Yes, it made me nervous to have an obvious mentally unstable woman threaten to “deal with” me. Especially after months of hearing about the unsavory characters she associates with!

I did warn you this would be long!

So, that was about 12:14 a.m. CST, USA. That was when Melissa decided to remove any and all mentions of Debra Brink from her FB even though she never used the woman’s name. She referred to her only as “my friend who lives in Michigan”… which is what really makes me think Debra Brink is LYING when she says people NOT on Melissa’s FB messaged her about it. No one from the outside would know who that is. It’s just a GENERAL location. And most of the posts were not PUBLIC. They were set to FRIENDS ONLY. So, I do not believe that anyone other than Member A came to Debra with information about the posts. Because most of the information Debra Brink talked about that night came from our private chat without Debra Brink in it.

Now we’re confused because how could Debra know all this? SOMEONE was sharing it with Debra. Was it Member A?

She had posted this before this evening:

 

 

Kath1JPG

Notice please, that Mel only states her hopes. She does NOT demand that anyone remove her from her friends list as Debra later claimed. She simply asked.

Now that was posted on 3/19, a full week and a half before Debra seemed to have come back to Facebook.

We received this on March 31, in with the rest of the images from Debra Brink’s message to Member B:

10168923_780130335330361_955185023_nSo, here is another threat.  These messages continued through the night. Well, because of this by 12  a.m. CST, USA that morning, all mentions of this so-called “Advocate” was removed.

Finally, Member A logged back in and apparently started sharing more with Debra Brink from the chat. The last message into that chat Member A hadn’t “seen” yet until that time when she came back from taking her son to the dentist where Melissa had listed the family member’s names. The one with the full names of her and her family for us to remove if we had added them and wanted to remove them.

threatone

 

And even AFTER removing the “offending” posts, Debra kept sending these types of threats. Now, Melissa is beside herself. Begging me and asking me am I sure the cops won’t come? Will the cops arrest me? I said, “NO!” Because she has not done anything wrong! Posting your opinion and perception of events is not a crime! Not civilly and not criminally.

I then posted on MY timeline:

Debra Brink. Debra Brink. Debra Brink. Debra Brink.  There, now sue me.” or something to that effect.

10156973_780131018663626_355540678_n10153368_780131015330293_1709624303_n

 

 

Melissa saw this screenshot and really began to get scared. She was very scared and terrified at the prospect of spending time in prison. I doubt she will unless she actually commits a crime at some future date from the time of this writing.  And I’d like to add that Melissa *has* been honest with me. She has told me EXACTLY and honestly how she feels about things. I realize that Melissa perceives things differently than others. I’m not stupid, either. I have called those in Melissa’s life before. I am *very* involved in Melissa’s life and have been from day one. Debra only had *one* phone call with Melissa’s mother. I have had five or six. I have talked to some of her siblings, I have talked to the police department numerous times (and not just on emergency calls either), I have talked to her case manager, I have talked to people at Tri-Regional Counties Center, etc. I learned from the last time I tried to help someone “get their story out” or to help them at all. It is best to do due diligence! And to confirm that the person is in need. I should have done some on Debra Brink herself. She claims to have references but has never given them to Melissa or anyone else in the group, that I’m aware of.

10149382_780131028663625_1114135467_n

Here is where Debra blamed me for it all and accused me of being “jealous” of her. Puhleeze. And will not do? Really? Ask Melissa Fields *all* that I have done for her in the past four years. And yes, I do understand “such things” More than she ever will know.

So, yes, I do know a lot and have actually lived a life! I have had experiences. I have had jobs. I worked on the books from age 14 until 2006, when I was medically retired for my health reasons. I know the law fairly well. I am not an attorney but I do know my rights. I have broken NO law. I have not HARASSED anyone.

db5Please note the time frame here. Member A had just returned and so she screen capped Mel’s earlier message about the family names. Member B typed “Hey” about an hour later after she had received this and the night had really gone to heck in a handbasket It was after I had messaged Member A directly, privately and asked if she had done this. I did not receive a reply. She then left the conversation. :

rhondahadproofofkathIt took us a few minutes to figure it out. I believe Member B may be an hour ahead of me based on the time stamps of her phone and the time stamps on my Facebook messages. The phone screen shots would be HER time and the Facebook snips would be MY time.

 

db2

This is when we received the threat that she would call and report Melissa for self-harm and suicide. Knowing how much it would scare Melissa (she said as much in earlier screen caps/messages). And Melissa *really* got scared she was going to be taken away to the psych ward. I told her I didn’t think Debra would really do that. It would be filing a FALSE report at she was not CURRENTLY self-harming. Debra had *no way* of knowing whether or not she was.

Well, little did I know!

Shortly after this occurred, the police knocked on Mel’s door.  She invited them in. She said, “Hi! Come on in.” and the police officer declined. He stated he could talk to me on her phone from her stoop (she thought it was raining and wanted him to come in so her phone wouldn’t get wet but it was not raining). The male officer got on the phone with me and said, “We received a report that Ms. Fields was presently self-harming.” Now, I could hear Mel talking in the background to another officer, who sounded female. I replied, “She’s fine. This is all over an online falling out she had with her friend in Michigan. She just told us five minutes ago she was calling because she didn’t like what Mel posted online in what was supposed to be a PRIVATE group chat. Someone told her about it and she got mad. So, she called you guys for sour grapes.” The officer thanked me and both left. Melissa was relieved that the officers did not take her away.

Now, look… yes, Melissa in the past HAS “self-harmed”. Yes, Melissa has, in the past, THOUGHT of suicide. She never has taken ANY action to commit suicide. She wouldn’t as she follows the Bible and the Bible says it is wrong. However, there was one incident where she “self-harmed” and then it was that she shaved off her hair. That doesn’t actually hurt Melissa, in any physical way that would cause death or make her have to go to psych ward. She screams, she yells, she may even throw things but one thing she does NOT do is hurt herself. You would think that if Debra has dealt with Melissa’s meltdowns all these months, she’d know that. And the “self-harm” happened over a year ago! This was a blatant misuse of police resources.

I have advised Melissa to consult an attorney and to obtain a copy of that police report. She will be looking into what legal remedies she has to put a stop to this harassment. We ended up ending our telephone call at about 5 a.m. CST, USA. We had been on since about midnight my time, when Debra first started this harassment.

I am not easily bullied like Melissa is. I have no problem with posting *exactly* what happened, and my opinions of what happened and the people involved.

I would love to tell Member A just what I think of her for doing that to Mel. She betrayed Mel. She pretended to be her friend in order to send screen caps to Debra Brink, knowing how vindictive she could be (we’d seen her act this way before towards another autistic person on her friend’s list on Facebook). I would love to ask if she feels good now having done that and caused Melissa so much trauma, again? Does she feel good knowing that she added the horrors that Melissa faces? What if it were her adult son with autism? What if Debra did this to him? Would she help Debra load the “gun” of revenge then? Would she feel justified in doing so? That was what was most shocking to me. That she would do that. After all, she had said in the private group chat: “I just want to make sure you dont have to deal with any more grief.. night night Love you xo”” If you want to make sure she doesn’t deal with any more grief, why would you tattle-tell?

I think Member A did write Debra that weekend as she had said she was thinking of doing. I think she told her all about our conversation. That she was angry at first, and then when she read that we all had doubts about Debra, and why we had had doubts, and what we felt had really happened, that Member A had decided to not be friends with Debra any longer. I think then Debra replied and manipulated Member A into thinking we were lying and twisting things around. And I think Debra conned her into spying for her. I’m not sure; I don’t have proof. But that is what I THINK happened.

There is a part two coming. It will help explain why I was *not* shocked in the end over anything Debra did. She acted just like someone else I knew once. My next post will focus on the behaviors and patterns of speech that will help you identify these types of people, too. They are dangerous to our vulnerable persons in the community. We are known for not being able to “read” people and situations for danger. Well, it took me two times to learn this lesson and I pray to God that it won’t take a third!

 

Part Two is here!


29
Mar
14

Autism: Puzzles and Rainbows

I originally wrote this piece in 2010 and a revised excerpt appeared on The Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism’s website in June of that same year. However, with current discussions in the autism community, the time may have come for me to publish this, again. Here it is, in its entirety:

 

There are two metaphors used within the autism community to express polar opposite views of living with autism. These metaphors shape thoughts and beliefs about autism and influence the actions of individuals. The two metaphors are: “autism is a puzzle” and “autism is a rainbow.” The majority of those in the autism community fall within the middle of these two extreme views of autism.

These metaphors form a cyclical relationship in which the metaphors influence the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of those who ascribe to the metaphorical concept and the thoughts, beliefs and actions then influence the use of the metaphors. There are six areas where the influence of these metaphors can be seen: research, day-to-day life, future planning, treatment/accommodation, conversation topics, organizations and groups that individuals create and join.

Before one can appreciate the metaphor’s influence on the community, a definition of autism is necessary. Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by   “poor social interaction (this can include lack of eye contact, and social exchange, both verbal and non-verbal); language delay (expressive language is equally important as receptive language; repetitive phrases and inability to initiate dialog or support it); obsessive behavior (this can include inflexibility, repetitive physical movement and fixation on objects).” (Hausman Morris, para. 3).

Autism is a puzzle:

The metaphor “autism is a puzzle” represents the views of those within the autism community who desire a cure, sometimes referred to as “curbies.” The belief that autism is a puzzle shows that these individuals believe that autism is something that needs to be solved, placing the various pieces together to make a complete picture. These individuals often focus on children with autism and either ignore the fact that there are adults with autism or honestly believe that adults with autism do not exist.

The types of research conducted or supported by Curbies are those designed to find the “missing pieces” needed to solve the “autism puzzle.” For instance, research into causes of autism is very important to this community camp because if one knows what causes autism (which creates holes in the puzzle), one can find what is needed to fill in the holes. If one can find out whom or what “stole” the “pieces,” he or she can begin working on putting those pieces back into the puzzle making day-to-day life better.

Blogs, articles and other written pieces that focus on the day-to-day life of those living with autism in this camp tend to focus on the negative aspects of autism. The blogs focus on what a hardship autism is, usually for the parent or other caretakers, including all the things that are missing in life. For example, the mother who cannot just hop into a car and do shopping errands because her son is having sensory issues and may become overwhelmed and have a meltdown. The post is usually focused on the parent’s frustration and other negative emotions, with very little thought given to how the autistic individual felt about the experience. The parent also expresses doubt about continuing to live life in this manner.

There does not appear to be much from this side of the autism community for future planning. That could be explained with the metaphor’s influence. Once the puzzle is solved, there is no need for specialized planning for a child who has autism. Or perhaps the future does not exist and is considered another “missing piece.”

The treatment aspect of this side focuses on the eradication of symptoms. This group is more likely to consider such treatments as Chelation (a medical therapy used to treat high levels of metal toxicity with the risk of death (Sedlock, para. 35), oxygen hyperbaric chambers and other risky measures. The reason is the belief that those treatments will “cure” autism and solve the puzzle altogether.

The conversations that take place on social media websites (and in living rooms) focus on the frustrating life with autism. The conversations discuss what the missing pieces might be. It documents the avenues pursued and money spent to find the missing pieces that will complete their life and make them “whole” again.

An organization that fully embraces this metaphorical concept is Autism Speaks. it even uses a puzzle piece as its logo. The research it funds primarily focuses on cause and treatments that will erase autism and its symptoms. The members of Autism Speaks and the parents, who support the organization, subscribe to this metaphorical belief that autism is a puzzle to be solved. Although, there are parents out there who use the puzzle piece logo as only a means of identifying other families whose lives are affected by autism.

Autism is a rainbow:

The other side of this discussion expresses the view “autism is a rainbow.” The rainbow is an object of beauty, a thing to be seen and appreciated. There is nothing wrong with a rainbow. This metaphor is often expressed in the thoughts, beliefs and actions of those in this autism community group. The spectrum of colors in a rainbow also represents the many levels of functioning that those with autism have.

The types of research supported by this group usually focuses on treatments into technology that will assist those individuals with autism to function in such a way that enhances their life, not “fix” it. For example, the research by this camp would, metaphorically speaking, develop a new window cleaner, so a person can look more clearly at the rainbow through the window.  Literally speaking, the research into technology might create a new device for communication purposes for those who are non-verbal because of the autism.

The focus of day-to-day life is often on the little and big achievements by those who have autism. The focus is on the “good” side of autism. A rainbow is comprised of a spectrum of bright colors and people in this group often view the day-to-day activities as bright experiences. They do acknowledge hard times, some of the time, but the main message is about the progress made by adults and children on the autism spectrum and less about the dark side. Some of the extreme members of this group refuse to speak about or listen to anyone or anything that sheds a negative light in any way on autism. The persons are often militant in this and will disassociate themselves from “friends” in online community forums if a person should ever type a negative word about autism.

Parents and caretakers often discuss future-planning in this group. The options discussed include trust funds (in case person is unable to work), services needed to support, therapy and so forth so that the individual can function just as they are. Some in this group also include education and vocational skills training, as well. Because a rainbow is complete, there is nothing to add to it, but other things come together to highlight it or appreciate its innate beauty.

Since rainbows are to be admired as is, treatment philosophies focus on technology and devices that assist a person, minimize or eradicate only the negative aspects of autism. To represent this metaphorically, a treatment could be considered wind. If wind were to blow, the rain clouds move on, and a rainbow appears. This is not reflective that this group necessarily believes there are negative sides to the individual with autism or even autism itself. It is how others view autism that would be considered a “rain cloud.”  So the treatments would include awareness and self-advocacy so that individuals with autism can “educate” the world about how terrific having autism is.

Conversations on social media websites reflect this metaphor as well. Rather than focusing on what’s missing, the topics are about what’s there. The conversations are about how those with autism feel and experience life. The conversations are about acceptance, by both those with autism and from the parent’s experiences coming to a place of acceptance. This is expressed in the metaphor by the “brightness” or positivity, which the rainbow represents. Since a rainbow is a thing to be admired, the conversations by this group focus around the admirable aspects of life with autism.

Organizations exist for this group as well. ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) is the most well-known among them. However well the rainbow represents this side of the community, a rainbow is not often used as a logo or symbol of pride because another community uses the spectrum colors in a rainbow to represent their pride. That group is the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community and could cause confusion. Despite that, the metaphor persists and continues to influence and manifest within the groups’ thoughts, beliefs and actions.There are some groups that use the spectrum’s colors within their logos, but not in the shape of a rainbow and the colors might be slightly different, such as darker or more pastel than those that are usually used in a rainbow representation.

The two metaphors for autism, “autism is a puzzle” and “autism is a rainbow,” influence the thoughts, beliefs, and actions within the autism community in vastly different groups. The differences that are represented in the six areas discussed show the considerable difference between the two metaphors and the impact each has for the different groups. It is a cyclical relationship because the metaphor reinforces the beliefs and thoughts which spur action which in turn develops a support for the metaphor to express those thoughts and beliefs.

 

 

Works Cited

Hausman Morris, Robin. “What is Autism, part one.” Examiner.com. Web. April 18, 2010.

Sedlock, Heather E. “How Do I Treat My Child’s Autism?” Examiner.com. December 14, 2009. Web. April 18, 2010.

29
Mar
14

I am autistic

okay, that may be a “duH” thing to write as a headline but it seems many of my Facebook friends fail to remember that. I don’t know how. I exhibit many of the symptoms. It seems to be that it is because I type well.

Well, I don’t recall that being listed as a thing when the changes were being made.

Here is the DSM-V diagnostic criteria on severity and levels. I know I should be shot for using an Autism Speaks source but they were the top search engine return that fit my need!

Okay, so based on this new criteria, here is how I was recently re-labeled. (recently as in days ago). I use excerpts from the cited website above and from my doctor’s notes on his findings. (I always get a page by page copy of my medical records to keep on hand. They have come in handy, in particular for cases such as this evaluation.

“Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history:

Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.”

From my doctor’s notes: ” Ms. Johnson shows deficits in social-emotional reciprocity. She fails in social approach (based on documented medical records from birth to present day) and failure of back and forth conversation. She often stares in a state that makes her look like she’s daydreaming while someone is talking with her, including this physician during our interviews. She reports that she “zones out” when trying to converse with others after her interest in what that person has to say wanes. Ms. Johnson does seem to have improved in recent years in her desire to initiate and respond to social interactions but has not been able to follow through except in online contexts.”

”  Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures; to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.”

From my doctor’s notes: “Ms. Johnson has deficits noted in her medical records which were provided to this physician and covered from birth to present day. She does not consistently and successfully use nonverbal communicative behaviors in social interaction. As observed by this physician, she presents with a total lack of facial expressions at times and does not seem to understand nonverbal communications used in many contexts. She probably succeeds more in her online social interactions because nonverbal communication is not used in that form. She makes minimal eye contact with others, as observed by this physician, and often uses  a coping skill of looking at a person’s nose rather than their eyes.”

“Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.”

From my doctor’s notes: “Ms. Johnson is an adult at present and some of the observations come from her previous medical records and some from this physician’s personal observation. Ms. Johnson states she can only recall two incidents where she initiated “making friends” with another person. A first grade teacher provided a report to a military physician in 1984 that Ms. Johnson, as a seven year old, “does not seem to play well with others and prefers to play alone or alongside her classmates. This is not developmentally where she should be.” Ms. Johnson stated that she lost contact with her sister for 10 years and only realized she missed this sister when she came into contact with her again online last year. Ms. Johnson further stated that she has always felt “if my friends were out of sight, they were out of mind” and she does not actively seek to stay engage in her relationships. She waits for her friends to call her or message her on Facebook, a social media website. The only exception seems to be her biological father.”

“Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history

Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech” and

“Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns or verbal nonverbal behavior ”

From my doctor’s notes: “Ms. Johnson does present with repetitive motor movements also known as “stimming”. She moves her hands in a manner that could be described as “flapping” or “trying to clap with one hand only” while waving the arms around. Ms. Johnson does carry a co-occuring diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and therefore also shows repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities as a part of that condition. It is unclear which diagnosis is the cause of that behavior at present. Nor is it clear at present which disorder causes the inflexible adherence to routines and ritualized patterns. For instance, she does things so that they are done an even number of times, often repeating phrases so that a phrase is said an even number of times. She once refused to sit in an office when it had three chairs instead of an even number of chairs. ”

” Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus”

From my doctor’s notes: “Ms. Johnson has a varied amount of interests and states that she “collects” interests to obsess about. However, this physician has noted that her interests are abnormal in intensity and focus both from observation and in documented history. Ms. Johnson reports that she “cycles” through her interests. She will spend days or weeks focused on one interest and then move to the next and so on until she is back into the original interest. This method of cycling is part of a ritualized behavior as she starts with the same interest and moves to the next interest in the same pattern each time.”

“Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment”

From my doctor’s notes: “Ms. Johnson has both observed and documented in  history of hyper and hyporeactivity to various sensory input. She has exhibited a high pain tolerance in documented history. There is documentation that she has failed to wear weather-appropriate clothing when allowed to dress herself as a child. She reports that presently she often leaves the house without a coat even during winter months. Again, with her OCD diagnosis, it is difficult to distinguish the behaviors between autism and the OCD. She reports that she routinely spends time sniffing the air while taking a tour of her home, to check for smells of something burning. She often touches the walls as well to make sure they are not hot. Ms. Johnson does exhibit an unusual fascination with visual stimulation. She has documented history of poor visualization skills and this may account for her fascination.”

Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior

“Level 3
“Requiring very substantial support

Severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills cause severe impairments in functioning, very limited initiation of social interactions, and minimal response to social overtures from others

Inflexibility of behavior, extreme difficulty coping with change, or other restricted/repetitive behaviors markedly interfere with functioning in all spheres. Great distress/difficulty changing focus or action.”

From my doctor’s notes: “While Ms. Johnson is able to verbalize her communication, it does appear to come at a cost to her.  As the first hour-long interview came to a close, Ms. Johnson appeared more tired and less aware of surroundings than when first started. She was confused and was unable to navigate her way back to the exit on her own and required assistance in finding her way. Ms. Johnson reported on the second interview that she found it hard to “function at all” after the first interview was conducted and she returned home. When functioning does become difficult, she prefers to go to her bed and retreat from the world around her. Ms. Johnson receives daily care from up to three caretakers in a given day. It is this physician’s belief that if Ms. Johnson did not receive such substantial support as she does from caretakers, friends and family members, she would  ultimately be institutionalized or at the minimal, in an assisted living facility or group home. She is unable to act on a prescribed budget and make sure her expenses are paid in a timely fashion, she is unable to remember to eat on her own, or to take in liquids. She is unable to leave the house on her own much of the time, requiring an escort. Ms. Johnson has many physical, biological, and neurological conditions that contribute to her depressed functional abilities; however, it is this physician’s opinion, based on observation, interviews with patient and others, documented history, documented testing and results, that Ms. Johnson should carry the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically, Level 3.”

 

So, what does this mean? Well, it means, dear concerned parent of a child with autism, I am not “high functioning autistic”. Not that I find it to be an insult, mind you. There’s nothing wrong with being labeled as such, despite what some of these parents seem to think. It means I am more like your ‘severely autistic’ child than you think. In fact, I bet your child and I carry the same diagnosis.

 

I want to take this moment to also point out how unfair you are to your child. I am now 37 years old. How old is your child? Five? Three? And you want to compare his current functioning level to mine?? I have had YEARS of maturing and growing and learning.. decades! Our arc of maturity may be longer than a neurotypical person’s but that by no means should suggest we ever STOP.

I work with my sons’ therapist all the time. When he notices we are attempting to teach one of my son’s a skill that I have yet to acquire, I teach myself first and then my child. Much like a parent who doesn’t “get math” will first try to understand his or her child’s homework assignment and then assist that child with a problem. So, I am always improving. Always adapting. So will your child. Please, though, stop comparing your children to the autistic adults you come across.

Please, stop accusing us of being “high functioning’ as a way to mean that we’re not “as autistic” as your children are. Please, stop believing that even if we are not as severely autistic as your child is, that we do not know some of the things your child experiences or that you cannot learn from us.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are some autistic adults that are as “bad” as these parents I’m currently talking to. It’s okay to say that parenting a child on the spectrum is HARD. Why? Because parenting a child, period, is hard. I don’t know any different though as both my sons have a form of autism. However, I recently adopted a 17 year old male who does not have autism. And in the 3 weeks he has lived in our home, he has become a member of this family, and I treat him like I do any of my sons. Just because he’s neurotypical doesn’t mean he’s any harder to deal with than my other children. I love them equally. 😀

Seriously tho, folks. Stop it. Just stop it. Stop assuming you know my severity level because I can type 108 wpm, on average, sustained over a five minute timed test.

As my father pointed out yesterday… I may have much knowledge gained from memorizing books but it doesn’t mean I can apply it effectively. Just because I can type doesn’t mean I can talk. Just because I can type, doesn’t mean I don’t also wear adults diapers (because I do). Just because I can type, doesn’t mean I’m able to, on my own, pay my bills on the day they due (not because of lack of money but because of lack of thought). Just because I can type, doesn’t mean I can get organized and clean my house on my own. Just because I can type, doesn’t mean I don’t have executive function issues. Just because I can type, doesn’t mean that my autism is any less pervasive than your child’s autism. Just because I can type, doesn’t mean I don’t have challenges that come with autism. I have overcome many of them and some I overcome daily in order to interact with you. Why? Because I do care about your children. I care about my own children. I want their world to be a more accepting and less judgmental place when they grow up and enter it.

 

 

28
Mar
14

The CDC has new numbers for autism

Every time the CDC publishes a report with a new ratio for how many children are diagnosed with autism, I see a massive posting about it in my newsfeed on Facebook. This is because many of my friends on Facebook either have autism themselves or have children with autism. My friends span the political spectrum (Yes, governmental political spectrum as well, but I’m talking about autism politics). So, every time numbers come out, new panic arises among a certain sect of the autism community–namely those who are against vaccines as they believe that autism is caused by vaccines. However, just because they believe it to be true, doesn’t make it so. And every time numbers come out, I feel like I have to defend my right to exist as well as my children’s right to exist. Those who insist on instilling FEAR of autism make me feel like they wish *I* and my children didn’t exist.

This is what I posted on my timeline after reading the news about it online.

forblogpost1JPG

 

I have omitted the names of those who have commented on my wall, etc. as I do not wish to embarrass them or cause them any drama! Not my point here. Note how the parent of a child immediately went to the “but you’re excluding those with severe autism!”

What I responded with is true and factual. What she wrote was true and factual. However, there was a lot left unsaid.  And even after this blog post, I suspect I will not have addressed all aspects. If there’s any you wished that I bring up but didn’t, feel free to post in the comments on the blog.

In fact, one article quoted the CDC report thusly: “The largest increase was seen in children who have average or above-average intellectual ability, according to the CDC. The study found nearly half of children with an autism spectrum disorder have average or above-average intellectual ability — an IQ above 85 — compared with one-third of children a decade ago.”

Now, I know that “severe autism” does not necessarily mean “low IQ”. However, it can appear that way. If a person is so severely and pervasively affected by their autism, it is not likely they will score well on an IQ test. So, it seems the CDC is actually stating the rise is in “higher functioning” autism. Of course, in this parent’s own post on her timeline, that was overlooked entirely.

This is what she posted on her timeline. I’m not sure if she wrote it (she didn’t quote any source, either herself or another) but it does look like “talking points” type of post that many people will copy and paste to help spread fear of autism.

forblogpost2JPG

Let’s take it one line at a time, shall we?

“If 1:68 people suddenly lost the ability to use their cell phones, panic would ensue.”

Yeah, because the loss of the ability to use a gadget equates to a neurological condition, how? Panic would ensue, don’t get me wrong. I know a lot of autistic folk use gadgetry to survive in this world and not just for its entertainment value, either. But I don’t see this as a good analogy for what they’re trying to convey at all.

“If 1:68 homes suddenly lost power, there would be “experts” seeking answers & researching solutions.”

One would infer from this that there are no current “experts” seeking answers and researching solutions. That would be false. There is millions of dollars being spent all the time on research. Even research that would develop a test to determine if a fetus has autism so that the mother has a “choice” on whether or not she *wants* a child with autism, because.. ya know.. we’re so difficult and cramp a woman’s style. We destroy marriages! We drain all your retirement savings! Because ya know, we’re not worth the cost.

“If 1:68 Homes were destroyed by a natural disaster at this exact minute, we would see a nationwide state of emergency.”

So, we’re a natural disaster now? Wow. Okay. But yeah, a state of emergency would be declared because homes were destroyed by a natural disaster. Is your home destroyed by an autistic child/adult? It’s possible as some do have behaviors that would put holes in walls, etc. But there is a way to correct that! And not every child (not every 1:68 child with autism) has those behaviors.

“If 1:68 people died from a “mysterious illness”, it would be breaking news.”

Well, you betcha! But when was the last time someone died from autism? Never. No one has ever directly died from having autism. Some people have been murdered because they have autism. Yep, but that’s not the same as dying from autism. Again, just another fear tactic.

“With the CDC reporting that autism is prevalent in 1:68, where’s the panic? The researchers and solutions? “

Um, I know many researchers are out there. There is some great researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, for example. And they’re not alone. Remember, Autism Speaks spends MILLIONS of donated dollars to research, according to their supporters. So, who do you think they are paying that money to? Families who have children on the spectrum? Nope! People with autism? Nope! Researchers.  And the panic is there, too.

“Where’s the nationwide state of emergency? Where’s the breaking news?”

Again, this does not warrant a nationwide state of emergency. Besides, FEMA only pays for things like housing, food and other shelter. Autism does not cause one to lose their house, food and other shelter. This makes NO sense. As for where is the breaking news? On CNN, MSNBC, FOXNEWS, ABC, NBC, CBS, HLN,  and talk radio shows. It’s been covered since the report came out the day these snapshots were captured. You’re talking about because you heard the report being reported on, during a news segment, or most likely read an article about it online. That’s where your breaking news is.

“And to think, it’s even worse than the 1:68 that the CDC is admitting to with their latest reports. You see, they changed the diagnosis criteria trying to skew the numbers.”

Well, yes, let us think. Did the criteria change? Yes, the DSM-V did change the diagnostic terminology and criteria. It was NOT to “skew the numbers” at all but to clarify them. Because there are many parents doing diagnosis shopping. They *want* an autism diagnosis for their child. Or an adult *wants* an autism diagnosis for themselves. They don’t want to be left out of this newest trend! And that causes some challenges.

The criteria was changed in 1994 to include “Asperger’s Syndrome” among other changes. And it was not to skew the numbers then either.  To quote: It was the culmination of a six-year effort that involved more than 1000 individuals and numerous professional organizations. Much of the effort involved conducting a comprehensive review of the literature to establish a firm empirical basis for making modifications. Numerous changes were made to the classification (e.g., disorders were added, deleted, and reorganized), to the diagnostic criteria sets, and to the descriptive text based on a careful consideration of the available research about the various mental disorders. Developers of DSM-IV and the 10th Edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) worked closely to coordinate their efforts, resulting in increased congruence between the two systems and fewer meaningless differences in wording. [emphasis added]

I know a lot of people who believe vaccines directly cause autism do not seem to believe that empirical basis is needed in studies, but it is if the study is to be believed as scientific. Because of the changes in 1994, many people were added to the spectrum who may not need to have been there. With the changes mentioned in this post, to the DSM-V, things WERE changed. But again, it was not to skew numbers. It was to clarify them.  To quote:

“How were decisions made about what would be included, removed, or changed?

APA’s goal in developing DSM-5 is an evidence-based manual that is useful to clinicians in helping them accurately diagnose mental disorders. Decisions to include a diagnosis in DSM-5 were based on a careful consideration of the scientific advances in research underlying the disorder, as well as the collective clinical knowledge of experts in the field. Advances in the science of mental disorders have been dramatic in the past decades, and this new science was reviewed by task force and work group members to determine whether diagnoses needed to be removed or changed.”
[emphasis original to source]

Please note that the clinical knowledge of experts was used.  So, the outcry for researchers and experts is being addressed.

oh! And to note, the definition of autism used in 2012, when the ratio was 1:88? They used the same definition this time, so no, they didn’t actually change any criteria to skew the numbers in the CDC’s report. So, whether this referred to the criteria in the diagnostic manual or the CDC’s report, it’s not true.

“They only estimate based on 14 states out of 50..and last, but not least- the data they released this information is based on data from 2006! That’s right, no child born or diagnosed after 2006 was even included in this report. “

Not True. It was 11 states out of 50. To be exact: Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado, Missouri, Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, North Carolina, Utah and New Jersey. You will notice that population varies by state and so we get an average population rate, and averages are used in *every* CDC report. They take a sampling from each state that they sample every time they make this evaluation. They randomize which states they sample, too. This is called randomization and it makes a review more reliable, actually.  And they used averages in their final ratio, too. “The incidence of autism ranged from a low of 1 in 175 children in Alabama to a high of 1 in 45 in New Jersey, according to the CDC.” The average of their sampling came out to 1:68. This randomization and averaging helps weed out some variable factors. And repeat the claim before moving on to next point:

“They only estimate based on 14 states out of 50..and last, but not least- the data they released this information is based on data from 2006! That’s right, no child born or diagnosed after 2006 was even included in this report.”

Actually, no the data was not from 2006. It was data obtained in 2010 from children who were born in 2002, making them all 8 year olds. A lot of factors were included and assessed in the CDC report. ““We look at all of the characteristics of autism,” says Coleen Boyle, the director of the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

“So we look at the age in which they’re identified. We look at their earliest diagnosis. We look at co-occuring conditions that these children might have, other developmental disabilities, whether or not they have intellectual disability, so essentially their IQ.””

And no, they are not going to look at children born after 2006. They are looking at 8 year olds, every two years. And to make sure they have complete records, they look at data once these children are 10 years old. So that means, those children who are eight years old in 2006, will be reviewed next time. And children who are born after 2006, will be assessed later.

Why? Because children are still only getting their first diagnosis, on average, at age four.  So that plays a factor at what ages they need to study. They want to make sure that children have had the time to get their diagnosis in. The CDC pushes for early detection as it is believed that the sooner a child is diagnosed, the better off that child will be once he or she becomes an adult. They track the progress of their push by evaluation of older children. Also, most importantly, they started with 8 year olds. So, if you’re going to compare eight year olds from 2010 to one year olds in 2014, kind of hard to get a direct comparison there to get accurate data. Accuracy actually matter in the sciences. I realize it might not matter in fear tactics. In 2012, the last time they evaluated 8 year olds from 2008, the rate was 1:88. So there was a 30% increase in two years of diagnoses. That is an accurate accounting of diagnoses, NOT necessarily an increase in occurrence of autism. That’s an important distinction to remember. “The report is not designed to say why more children are being diagnosed with autism, Boyle says. But she believes increased awareness in identifying and diagnosing children contributes to the higher numbers.” Obviously, it is not the only contributing factor, that diagnosis shopping I mentioned earlier is also a factor, etc. Schools giving diagnoses to children is also a factor.

I will also point out the person states that the data was collected in 2006. That means, the evaluation was done in 2008 (which report would have come out in 2009) and this post has probably been circulating since then, with folks just changing the ratio to fit the current CDC numbers. The evaluation done that year sampled 14 states. Maybe that’s where that confusion comes from?

 “My personal calculations estimate autism to be prevalent in 1:25!”

I do not know who “my” refers to. I don’t know if this person is a scientist. I do not know if this person has any knowledge of statistics and research. The claims made thus far suggest not. The fact that the source data used in this person’s calculation isn’t shared or disclosed is a huge red flag. The fact we do not know the sample size, who conducted the sampling, any affiliations this person has, their calculations cannot be trusted.

“No matter which data you use, you simply cannot deny that Autism rates are exploding. More and more families have a child (or more) with Autism. It simply cannot just be genetics!”

I’m glad this person allows us to use data that is peer-reviewed, scientifically based, controlled, double blind, etc.! Whew. Yes, rates do seem to be “exploding” at a 30% increase at present. Again, the factors contributing to that rise has already been discussed. It does not mean it’s an actual increase in occurrence of autism, just the diagnoses. So, no it’s not “just” genetics.  No one has ever claimed it was “just” genetics, either, that cause autism.

From John Hopkin’s: “However, part of the reason why no other risk factors have been identified may be that genetic and non-genetic factors need to be studied together in order to get a clear picture.  In other words, only when studying ASD cases with a certain genetic background may we be able to see that a particular non-genetic trigger was important.  Studies like this are only just now getting underway.” (March 28, 2014, online)

Maybe if they weren’t so bogged down trying to replicate the study done (and manipulated) by Andrew Wakefield, we’d be further along.

Speaking of the link between vaccines and autism, the same source as above had this to say:

There has been much recent discussion over a potential link between vaccines and ASD.  Concern has been expressed over the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine and vaccines that contain a preservative, thimerosal (which contains a form of mercury.)   A number of epidemiologic studies of MMR vaccination and ASD have now been completed with none finding evidence of a link between MMR vaccination and ASD.

Epidemiologic data has recently become available on the potential association between thimerosal and autism.  These data do not support an association.  While it appears that there is no link between thimerosal exposure and autism risk at the population level, there may still be small groups of individuals susceptible to neurodevelopmental effects of low-dose mercury.  Research is underway exploring the possible mechanisms.

In sum, the available epidemiologic data suggest no link between childhood vaccination and autism – these data offer no reason why immunization should be avoided or postponed.

This actually confirms what I’ve said before, without any knowledge. That there ARE children who are injured by vaccines, but that there is no direct link between vaccines and autism. Vaccine injury is not autism.

 “And autism isn’t the only issue! More and more children continue to be diagnosed with cancer, learning disorders, autoimmune system disorders, neurological disorders.

When is the public going to band together against this?! Are you going to wait until it happens to you, or someone you love? If so, it won’t be long! Sad but true!”

I agree. Autism is not the only issue facing children/adults today. Adults are diagnosed with autism, cancer, learning disorders, autoimmune system disorders and neurological disorders, too.

Sad, but true. I am sure there are researchers researching all of those issues as well as autism. But this whole post uses fear. It’s a tactic one learns in marketing 101 at any college these days. If you want donations, you have to instill fear. You have to instill urgency. Why? Because why else would anyone donate to your cause?

Already this post is so long, but please bear with me!

forblogpost4JPGThis was a response to the above that she posted on her timeline. Another person (who had “No Vax” in her name) had made a comment claiming certain things and that was my reply to her. Parent of child, who posted the original one above, replied to me. “Look, I get it, you’ve come to accept your autism. Reality is not everyone has or ever will.”

I never once claimed that she did not wish well things for her child. I never once claimed that she did not want the best possible life as she can provide to him. And my having accepted by autism? So? What does that mean?

Between that and her comment on my post (the first screen shot in this blog), I believe she thinks I “suffer” from a higher form of autism than her son does. I don’t know where on the spectrum her son lies but I tell you one thing. I’m sick and freakin’ tired of people assuming they know where *I* lie on the spectrum just because I can type!

But that is for another post 😀

 

and these are my words….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13
Mar
11

Autism, Roommates, and Judging Characters.

“People with Autism are not always great at judging people’s characters.”

This was said to me last Monday by a therapist (not mine) when I asked for hints on how to deal with a situation I saw building with a roommate of ours. He gave me some tips, told me something I already knew but needed reminding of. Really helpful, actually, as best as he could be.

Well, I never thought of myself as being a bad judge of character but after what happened today, I may have to rethink that position. Maybe I *am* one of those autistic people who do not judge character well. I should’ve listened to those around me who were trying to warn me, especially my husband. Next time, I will. If there is a next time!

We use an agency that provides in-home care. We have our personal care attendant (PCA). Our insurance companies cover the costs of this help (also receive weekly nursing care, etc) because we are physically disabled to the point of being unable to do certain chores, including cooking and cleaning. PCAs also assist with bathing and running errands.

Last year, my husband and I were talking about our spare rooms we have. There are two of them. One of them was my office. The other was… ummm.. what was it? Oh yeah, a laundry sorting room. Actually it was a bedroom, but that’s what we used it for after my mom and step-dad got their own place. So,  we were discussing how to use the space in our house most effectively for us.

We thought about being foster parents. After all, we have the room and there are kids out there needing a good home, ya know? I have talent with special needs kids, wouldn’t that be great? Well, reality is, we physically couldn’t take more kids on. They’d be short-shrifted.

Well, we need help around here. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we have roommates? We could offer a deal: 10-15 hours a week worth of work in exchange for the room. Help with yard work, little household fix-up chores, etc. That sounded like a plan but we never went through with putting an ad out or nothing because the lady who was working for us as a PCA ended up needing a place to stay.

Her name was Misti and I thought she was really nice. She started working for us and on her first day we loaned her gas money to run our errands. This is a big no-no by the agency. One of their requirements is that you keep enough gas in your vehicle to ensure the ability to run our errands. Well, we did it not knowing that, and feeling bad for her as they do not reimburse them for mileage.

The next day, she showed up to work and her husband and three kids were out in the car. This was during the summertime last year when it was at least 100 degrees outside. Are you kidding me? I’m not gonna make some kids stay in a HOT car while you work five-six hours!! I told her to bring them in. She said that’s against agency policy and she’s not even supposed to have them in her car but she didn’t have no place for them to go for the day. They’re bored at home. As if they’d be more excited about sitting in a car?? Really?? Whatever. I told her I wouldn’t tell; go ahead and bring them in. I’m worried about them kids in the heat.

That started a pattern. She not only brought her kids nearly every day, but she started bringing her brother’s kids; her younger (age 12 and 14) brother and sister to babysit while she was working too. I didn’t say nothing cause I absolutely love kids and adored these ones. Yes, they got bratty and whiny at times, but ya know? They’re kids!!

Her husband began taking my oldest son with him to go fishing here and there. She would make us pots of coffee and brings us our cups. I thought the coffee wasn’t in her job description but I was told that’s part of their “meal prep” is to get our drinks for us, too. Whatever. Thought it was super sweet of her. At the end of her day, there’d be time left over and she’d play cards with me on the days she didn’t bring her kids. Rare days, but they happened.

Of course, she never brought food or drinks for her kids (or her brother’s kids or her brother and sister) and I’d offer my food and drinks for them. It wasn’t much… we’re talking soup and crystal light at the most. But still… nice back and forth in my opinion.

Whenever she first got here we had a lot of animals. I mean a LOT. Something like 12 animals. So the house stunk like them and they had accidents in the house. We were trying to get rid of the majority of them but every time we turn around, another one is getting dumped on our property. You face animal cruelty charges if you don’t take care of any animal on your property—whether you want them or not. So, we’d take care of them best we could and find them forever homes. Well, it got out of hand quickly.

I told her, please, if you see a pile of something, from the animals, just tell one of us and we’ll pick it up. Don’t try to vacuum it up (as one PCA did), just let us know. Well, one day I caught her picking some up and I said “I told you just to tell us and we’d get it.” And she said “oh it’s no big deal. I’ve had animals all my life. I’m a country girl. A little poop ain’t gonna bother me none.” And so I let it go.

She worked hard at keeping up with us. She helped me out in areas of the house that weren’t part of her job. For instance, she’d vacuum my sons’ rooms and clean their bathroom once a week and such. It didn’t really take her all that much longer and she always had extra time left over and she said she liked to stay busy.

In exchange for all this extra work, we were extra nice to her. For instance, there were some days she didn’t come to work, for one reason or another. I’d call her in on the phone system anyway. All you had to do was enter codes. She wrote them down for me and I’d do that for her so she’d still get paid even though she wasn’t there working. I felt it was fair of her to ask me to do that.

One day, she told me over the phone her and her hubby, kids, et al were going to a water park. I asked her if the kids and I could come with. She said sure. Then blew me off. She told me later that day that her father and brother ended up going with them, that they didn’t go to that water park cause she ended up not getting paid like she was supposed to and that her brother just wanted a family day. I said “Okay.” That was on a Saturday or Sunday. Later on, her ex-mom-in-law left a comment on my Facebook about her calling her Ex-MIL that day from the water park.  Then, later that week, she talked about loaning money (the same day she allegedly didn’t get paid) to her sister-in-law. That’s when I couldn’t stand it and told her that her MIL told me on Facebook she went to the water park. She teared up and I said it was okay, just don’t EVER lie to me. If she was worried about hurting my feelings, don’t worry about that as I’d rather be hurt by the truth than comforted by a lie any day.

Well, things were going great right along like that until one day she called and asked to stay with us. Whosever parents house they were at, they were getting kicked out of. She told me a sob story of how her mom took her whole paycheck and all of their food stamps and then kicked them out. She had three kids! And a dog. I haven’t seen any shelters for people around here to speak of so I don’t know where they would’ve gone, ya know? So, since Jerry and I had thought of this doing something like this before, we struck a deal.

Above and beyond her PCA duties, she’d cook supper, clean up after, and help around the house an extra 10 hours a week. Her hubby would help with house chores like fixing our swimming pool, or cleaning it, or picking up yard waste, and so on. They agreed. What was my office became their girls’ room. I even sold them a bed that was my youngest son’s bed for a quarter—a quarter she found on our floor. LOL. I went to the furniture place and purchased a bunk bed. I was going to give them the top bunk whenever they moved out so that their son had a bed too.  Her son shared a room with my youngest. They took over the spare bedroom.

Well, from that day forward she really stopped working for the most part. The mess accumulated with five kids, four adults and more animals. She kept up with the kitchen for the most part, but she didn’t do the suppers. She didn’t know how to cook what I bought (I bought meat that didn’t come in a box). She stopped even doing her PCA work—but still clocked in on the phone system to get paid. Jerry, my husband, finally said something to her after about a week of this. She said “yes, I plan on getting back to work. I’m just trying to get settled in and into a routine.” So Jerry dropped it. No biggie, right? Right.

Well, they took my oldest camping one weekend and T had a horrible time and never really wanted to go again but he did go with them during the day to go fishing. Every weekend they were gone to this free campsite to fish and camp out. They’d spend their food stamp money on “camping food” which is basically junk food—Lil’ Debbie snacks and stuff. That next paycheck, they spent it on bathing suits and stuff for her and the kids. I didn’t say anything about it but she had originally told me that they’d not have any more paychecks for the rest of the month. I let it go. She had begun working again around the house so I figured no big deal. I’d cook with her to show her how.  I love teaching people how to cook. It’s fun.

One day, one of her daughters had a birthday and they were throwing her a party at a local park. I went with them and bought a grill, hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, etc. as my part of the birthday gift to the girl. Her brother showed up to stop off and see his kids, including a toddler (who couldn’t walk). I swear that boy had autism or some developmental delay. He was still in diapers, of course. But she forgot a diaper bag. So did the kids’ mom who was also there hanging out. So after the party, we all stopped by the Dollar General, and I bought the kid an outfit and some diapers (they had him in the river and the sun went down and that baby was COLD). They didn’t have a car seat for him so I put him in my van since it has a built-in one that normally I wouldn’t trust but it was better than nothing. But it was a good time.

She eventually moved out into her own place with her husband and kids. We kept the bed we intended for her son because they didn’t have room anyway in their new place. Things were going great for them. Her husband applied for and been approved for disability income because he couldn’t hold down a job due to some health problems I won’t share here. Suffice it to say, he deserved getting disability.

Mind you, during this time I caught her in a few lies. She also had a problem with those energy pills… she’d abuse them. She took EIGHT one day when the dose is ONE. I should’ve seen this coming.

She had her ex-mother-in-law come for a visit one day and she was very nice. She even brought me some books to read.  That entire day was spent with her mom-in-law and I playing cards with Misti while she did laundry. Laundry is in the job description. The kids were with her again, as usual. But as I said I didn’t mind that. But they didn’t clean the front room before they left so my kids had to do it later as part of their chores. We had a good visit and after a few hours, they left (early) and I promised to clock her out.

Sometime after that, I think it was like a week or so, on a Friday, Misti tells me she’s quitting the agency and I’ll be getting a new PCA. I was disappointed because even after all that we were still friends. Good friends, I thought. Well, by the end of the visit (which was just her on the phone making personal phone calls cause I got free long distance, and playing cards and drinking my coffee) she told me she had changed her mind. She wanted to stay being a PCA because while they didn’t NEED the money from her job anymore, she needed the job for her sanity—to get out of the house. I asked her to make sure her boss at the company knew she had changed her mind. She said she would.

The following Monday, I got a call from her sister-in-law saying she had been in the ER the previous night from dehydration. I asked if she was coming that day or not (as I didn’t believe this to be true but rather that she was quitting after all). The SIL said “Well, if she does, she’ll be there. If not, she won’t be.” What the heck does that mean? How long am I supposed to wait? So, in the afternoon I called the agency.

I told the boss lady that I knew Misti had said she wanted to quit but that she had changed her mind but called in sick today after all. Before I could finish, she cut me off and said nastily, “What do you expect after you treat a PCA that way?” and preceded to tell me my PCAs are not there to clean up after MY kids, MY pets, and so on. She’s not a waitress to be bringing me coffee and taking my kids on errands with her, etc. I cried. I couldn’t even talk. I hung up the phone.

I called my husband into the room and told him what went on. I talked to my case manager and told her the truth-the WHOLE truth. It came down to that I don’t keep healthy boundaries. I needed to remember that my PCAs are there to work, not to be my friends. Okay, lesson learned.

Now whenever someone is telling me their life story and I see the same thing happening again and again, I tend to think “Yeah right. Always someone else’s fault and never your own. Why don’t you wake up and smell the coffee?? You can’t ALWAYS be the victim.”

Well, even as hard as it is to believe, and I’d have trouble believing this if someone else were writing it. But it happened again.

We met a new PCA. She seemed really good and nice. Knew her about a week and I started asking if her and her husband were interested in being roommates to help us out. Hubby said “Aren’t you kinna pushing it? Moving too fast?” I told him I was just feeling them out. We’d get references and such first. But it might behoove us to see if they’re interested since they didn’t seem to like living where they were living—with his mom and her boyfriend. Said his mom was always questioning their business, where their money goes, how much they got, etc. Didn’t think nothing of it really but felt kind of bad for them.

Well maybe a day or two later, after they had stayed for dinner with us and played cards with us after work, she called us and asked if we had room for them cause the husband and step-father got into it big time. I said, okay. It was snowing out. That was when we actually got a real snow storm. Didn’t mention dogs but they brought two dogs and a cat with them. I felt they were a good fit because they were kid-less. Should’ve made sure they were animal-less too. But, we let them stay the night otherwise they’d be in their truck in that weather. And he’s a big guy. I mean, big. No way. Couldn’t be that heartless anyway.

So, we had a talk the next day. Struck a similar deal. They donated food to the house ( we let them keep some for just them to buy their own snacks and stuff that we don’t like, etc). In exchange for living rent free he had to keep job searching as he was currently unemployed, and after work hours, she had to do extra work around the house WITH HIM.  They agreed. They took over the spare room. It was… cramped in there with stuff we were storing, so they cleaned it out. We went through it and the remainder we didn’t get to going through sits in our office to this day. Wow, we’re pack rats for sure!

We eventually loaned them a lap top that was old to use to play videos games on, job search, whatever. Also loaned them a TV and hooked up the extra box for their private use in their room, as well. To be  nice. Otherwise, they’d have to wait to use our computers and/or watch whatever it is was we were watching. After the way they acted while we were trying to watch O’bama’s State of the Union Address (talking the whole way through, rolling their eyes, etc), we decided it’d benefit us too.  That was not the original deal, mind you. But we wanted them to have all the comforts they could have and feel welcomed here.

We live in the county and do not get trash pickup. It had backed up on us and filled up our back porch area. Our burn barrel had well… burned. LOL It was beyond usable. So we asked if they knew what his parents did for trash (since they live down the street). They said they didn’t know but they’d ask. Well, not too long later, after running errands in our van for us, they came back and said “oh, by the way, we stopped in at Tractor Supply and those burn barrels cost $85 plus tax.” Okay, that was pricey! No big deal right?

Later that week, her and her husband went into Ft. Smith, A.R. just over the border, about 22-25 miles from here. Turns out, their tags are expired, he doesn’t have a license and he was driving (it was suspended for not paying tickets), and they had no car insurance (or truck insurance, whatever). So he got arrested for all that plus he had a warrant for his arrest… “Criminal mischief—Destruction of property.”

Well, my Pops loaned us the money to get a burn barrel so we could hurry up and get our porch back. We went to the Tractor Supply store and the manager there tells us they don’t carry them, not now and not ever and not likely to in the future. We went to the oil change place and got two. They were $4 each. FOUR DOLLARS. I think they were trying to scam us. What do you think?

Well, when we got back, we told her about the difference and that Tractor Supply manager (who’d been working there since it opened) told us. She said “Huh.” And that was it. We let it drop. Ain’t that some shit? That’s where that catch-phrase came from. I was shocked. Here it is… lie straight to my face, have your husband back you up in it, and when you get told the truth, all you can say is, “huh?” Ain’t that some shit! Funny thing is, by the end of their stay with us, even she was using that phrase.

Well, for the entire 18 days her husband was in jail, her day/night went like this: 1-6 a.m. she was on my computer playing Facebook games. She’d sleep until the middle of the day. She’d get up, sit in my comfy recliner and watch TV until about 10 p.m. or so. Then she’d get online and do something on her game. Then I’d get it back and she’d watch T.V. until about 1 a.m. and then get on and stay on all night until 6 a.m. again. Rinse and repeat.

There was ONE exception to this routine. One of her dogs is a pit bull. They get such a bad rap but it really is the owners who teach them to behave poorly. Ordinarily, they’re pretty good dogs. Jerry was loathe to let her (the dog) stay but he did.  The roomie lady spoiled that dog, even over her other dog. This dog could do no wrong. She’d yell at my oldest for correcting her dog. She claimed he didn’t do it right and she might turn on him if he doesn’t do it right. Well, Jerry’s thought was, if she has that potential, maybe she shouldn’t be in the house.  My thought was “So teach him or correct your dog yourself.” Well, one day, Thomas was in our office, on the floor, looking as his Wild ‘N’ Weird Creatures cards. The dog kept getting in his face, wanting to play. He kept saying the dog’s name and pushing her away from chewing on his cards. Finally, he’d had enough and yelled her name and pushed the dog away really hard. Unfortunately, right into the glass of our fireplace. It didn’t break, but still.

Both myself and roomie-lady saw what happened. She yelled at Thomas. Jerry yelled at her. His back was turned and didn’t see what T had done… but he yelled at her “Well, correct your dog then. Don’t keep yelling at my son!” Well, that pissed her off. She didn’t get it. The point was this: you won’t let him correct her when she misbehaves, then correct her yourself. It doesn’t matter what that dog does—she never corrected her when it involved my kids. If the dog chewed up something, or wouldn’t come to her, she’d spank the dog. I had bought a large animal crate and told her about crate training. After all was said and done that is. We agreed to teach T how to do it while I taught her. I don’t believe in spanking kids or animals!

But that whole day she was pissed off. Mumbling under her breath about being “nothing but a live-in maid” and how she would just stay in her room by herself with her dogs except when it was time to do her chores. She had put her two dogs in their bedroom (they need room to run-duh) and they would whine. She’d yell “Shut up dogs. You’re stuck in there. You’re not allowed to come out and BOTHER anyone.” Trying to make someone feel guilty. Don’t know who cause Jerry went to lay down and neither one of us told her she had to make her dogs stay in a bedroom. She did.

Her reaction, or over-reaction, should’ve told me something then, huh?

Little things like that would happen. Her husband wasn’t much better than her sometimes but in different ways. For instance… before she quit being my PCA (because it’s against policy for her to be our PCA, she quit her job, and took over nanny-care for my boys in the afternoon/evening…more on that later), she had worked at another client’s house one morning. Then she came here and worked five hours for us. Then she cooked dinner (if I recall correctly). After dinner was done, she was taking a rest on my computer, playing a game called The Sims. She had JUST sat down. I do mean JUST sat down and got the game to load. Her husband turned to mine and asked, “Would you like coffee?” He said “Oh I would love some” as it was already made. Her husband turns to her and says, “Get him a cup of coffee.” C’mon!! Even sillier is, she got up and did it.

Towards the end here, as I mentioned, I did ask her to stop being our PCA. She could’ve still been a PCA for the agency, but she couldn’t be OUR PCA. But I could tell she wasn’t really digging the job anyway very much. The agency she works for—well, let’s just say has issues. So anyway, she quit and her husband was to keep job-searching. He did put in a lot of job applications. We worked out a schedule where the kids would come home at 3:30 p.m. after school. She’d get them their after-school snacks (for us all really since that was part of our diet). She’d then have them do some of their chores. Bboy took out the trash if it needed it, and T did the kitty-boxes.  She’d then sit with T and make sure he did his homework. I was usually napping during this time because of my medication. Afternoons are the worst for me. 

I’d get up soon after and talk with my kids. Ask them how their day way, etc. She’d cook supper. I told her we HAD to be eating by six p.m. every night because my son’s bedtime is 7. Six p.m. was the latest because he also needed “evening snack” as part of the diet. He needed some time in between meal and snack, plus time to bathe, brush teeth, read before bed, etc. His whole bedtime routine takes about an hour in and of itself. Well, we kept eating later and later. One night, we didn’t start eating until 8 p.m.  That was on a school night!

I remember one night, Jerry got a bit pissy and went to bed because it was almost seven and there was no dinner on. She was sitting in our office watching TV. She got pissy back about being on a “clock’ and how she didn’t like it that other people would get mad at her but she was doing her best and she couldn’t do it all. I didn’t know what to say. I saw both sides. On one hand, my sons and husband need to eat on a regimented status, ya know? Their diabetics. Their health depend on it. For that matter, so does her husband! But… yes, at that point in time, she was doing quite a bit more than she had been. I’d need a day off too. But it blew over.

So, from 3:30 to about 4:30 p.m. she was with my boys.  Between 5 and 6 p.m. she would start cooking dinner. We’d eat between 6 and 7 p.m. She would then help Brandon with his bedtime routine (which, while appreciated, he didn’t really NEED the help. He could bathe himself, brush his own teeth and get dressed on his own. Who cares if his PJ’s were on backwards?) and put him to bed.  This routine also included chores which was picking up the ‘family room’ where Bboy hangs out during free-time playing video games. Boys also unload the dishwasher after supper  (from what the new PCA does during the day)and T burns trash for his nightly chores. She would then go into her room with her husband or stay with me in the office/living room to watch TV for awhile. Rest up after dinner. She’d then go into her room and go online for awhile. I’d not see her again until about 2 or 2:30 p.m. the next day. But according to Jerry, she’d come out at about 3 or 4 a.m. and do dishes.  All I know is they’d be done by time I woke up at six or six-thirty a.m. to get the kids off to school. And that’s how the day would go during the week.

Now, our agreement was that she would clean certain rooms in the house in addition to cooking supper and cleaning up after supper. She would clean her own room, wash her own clothes (in our machines of course), she would keep her bathroom clean for guests as it was a guest bathroom, she would help the boys keep their rooms clean and she would help the boys keep their playroom and family room clean. By help, I mean by vacuuming it as they’d pick up any messes on their own but they’d need dusting and vacuuming. Well, instead of doing that during the week every night, she chose to do it on Saturday. She could’ve done it any other day if she wanted to but she said it was part of her routine no matter where she was living. She’d get up and cook everyone breakfast and clean all day. So I said okay. I don’t care when she did it!

She did that for two weekends. These past two weekends not counting the Saturday I’m writing this. They’ve been here for… two months? Thereabouts anyway. And two Saturdays out of all those days, she’s actually done this.  The first Saturday she even cleaned out our fridge. I was impressed. Of course, our office/living space, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom weren’t done cause our PCA takes care of our living space areas.  Delicious breakfasts, too. Fattening and not good for diabetics, but tasty! She did take the day off on Sundays, as we all do to respect the Lord’s Day of rest.

Okay, so that’s about how it goes. Of course, there is the arguing. She argues more than my niece ever did! She argues more than a person with oppositional Defiance Disorder does! My word. She actually argued with a 41 year-old man who is our friend about who is a bigger slut. I swear to Gosh from the land of Golly-Gee!! Who argues about that?? Seriously? For one, he has 20 more years of getting-around experience anyway and for two… that’s what you want to be known for??

Then, she argues with our new PCA about who smokes the meat up at the BBQ place near our house. Even when the PCA says she has family working there, this girl continues to argue with her. She argues with me about legal stuff (and then has to admit I’m right), she argues with my kids! Of course, T likes to argue himself so they’d go at it all the time. Debating… bickering… whatever ya want to call it. They’re doing it.

That was one aspect of her personality that I couldn’t stand. You knew she was bullspitting you. You knew it. She knew it. She knew you knew it and she still did it. What the heck? When confronted with those types, I often let them talk to the wall. I don’t care as it usually doesn’t matter to my life. It’s usually about her past, such as where she’s worked, how well she’s worked for someone, etc. It’s all talk. I let it go. I guess that should’ve been a clue too.

Well, earlier this week, we had to tell them they had until the end of the month to get out. The problem is, if we have live-in help for our kids, the person or person could help us too. We’d lose services. Didn’t want that to happen! Nor did we want to take advantage of the ‘system’.  We were just trying to help out some people and ourselves in the bargain.

Well, sometime this week, she mentioned how she’s not trying to make nobody happy no more cause she can’t do it and they’re gone at the end of the month anyway, and she needs to spend her time searching for jobs and somewhere to live. I let the comment pass as it wasn’t technically directed at me but at her husband. They were in our office area.

My husband suggested a certain management company that rents houses and apartments in this town. That’s when we were informed “oh, we can’t rent from them. We owe them like $5,000 in damages from when me and my old roommate trashed the place cause they were evicting us. “ My jaw dropped.  Here’s why.

The criminal mischief/destruction of property charges? They told us they stayed in Fort Smith and had a slumlord of a landlord and the place was falling apart when they moved in. She said the landlord was claiming damages for what termites did to the doors (which she claims they told him about) and damages that weren’t them, such as graffiti on the wall. Well, it came down to her husband being held legally responsible for that stuff because his name was still on the lease when the landlord claims he saw the damage. They never gave notice; they never took their name off the lease; they just left, according to them. According to them, they let a roommate stay one more day and HE did all the damage. They were letting him stay there even though they knew he had a drug problem, etc. and that he did all the other damages they were now holding her husband responsible for.

And now, come to find out, yet ANOTHER apartment got damaged? She CLAIMS there were issues with the apartment and they withheld rent until the landlord fixed the problems. But, instead of fixing the problems, they were served with a ten-day notice to quit.

I know this area of the law—especially well. Some parts due to my sister who worked in this area for non-profits and organizations protecting tenant’s rights. Yes, you can withhold rent if there are problems that the landlord is responsible for and not fixing. However, the rent MUST go into an escrow account, and then if you get served with eviction papers, you go to court and prove you wrote to the landlord about these problems BEFORE withholding rent and that you notified the landlord BEFORE withholding that you would be doing so and why. And you better have that account statement proving you have the money in an escrow account.  If the judge finds in your favor, the landlord has to fix up the place and you can stay. If he doesn’t, you have to pay all that rent anyway and still move out.  That’s the way it usually goes by law. Sometimes tenants are fined; sometimes the landlords… but pretty much cut and dried. She tried to argue with me about this!

So, now I know what happened to that first place!

Well, yesterday, they left to go to court for him on those charges.  They came back after the kids had gotten home, shortly thereafter, about 4 p.m.  I had already started the boys’ afternoon routines (chores, homework, exercise outside, etc). It was challenging for me because I had to skip my meds which keeps chronic pain away in order to be up to do this but his court date was important.  They were in their room and I noticed I had taken our status on the internet down to 32%.

We have satellite internet. We only get a certain amount of internet per day. MBs worth of uploads and downloads. Every time you open a page, it’s uploading/downloading internet. That costs us status. We have a meter on all the computers that tell us what is left for that 24 hour period of time, except for the lap top we loaned them.  

I have a download manager for a game and I had accidentally un-paused it and didn’t notice until I saw the status. I sent my youngest to go tell them that the status was 32%. Katie came out to apologize for using so much and I explained to her that it wasn’t her or him but that it was me and what had happened. She realized the time and ended up starting dinner. It was around 4:30 p.m. A good time to start! I was quite pleased actually. Was afraid she wasn’t gonna keep up on her end of the bargain cause she knew I was mad at her from the previous night’s disaster and her earlier comment about not going to work so hard to please other people.

You see, she ruined another pot of mine. A $45 pot of mine. This after her husband ruined our $65 toaster… by trying to cook a grilled cheese in it. And she had almost ruined another 10 qt dutch oven pot of mine  the week before. And then another pot on Thursday night/morning.

See, the week before she was gonna “show me” how to cook Mexican rice (is that different than Spanish rice?).  She was gonna one-up me on the Spanish rice dinner I made the week before that. I ran out of Sazon seasoning and didn’t use enough so it came out a little blander than normal. Sue me. It happens.  Well for some reason, her rice wasn’t cooking. We were waiting for HOURS. Turns out, we later learned, that she was using whole cups instead of half cups measuring cups. Well, she gave up on it and had gone to her room and the rest of us had sandwiches that night. It happens, right? Well, later on, I noticed she forgot to turn off the burner! Burned rice right into that pot! We had to soak that pot until I washed it tonight (Saturday night).

Now, Thursday night, I don’t know what she was trying to make, but Jerry told me she put cheese in the bottom of my non-stick pot, turned on a burner and went into her room and didn’t come out until the smoke filled the air. She burned my pot beyond fixing. I had to throw it away. I swear, I thought she did it on purpose. Who puts cheese in a six quart pot, turns on the burner, and walks away? What was she trying to make? Nothing else was in the pot apparently. WTH??

But yes, when I woke up that morning, I was upset about the pot. I was running out of pots and no money to replace them. But I wasn’t THAT upset about the dang things. They are just things after all. Oh yeah, her dog also chewed up my husband nebulizer cord so he has no way to do breathing treatments and right now we think he has pneumonia. Not good. Also, my son’s biological father gave him a GameCube the week before he died. Their dog chewed up the cord on that, too :-/ As I said though, these were just things.

Now, before her husband went to jail they would often use up all our internet status. To the tune of $75 on last month’s internet bill for example. Tthose restore tokens are expensive after awhile!! You can purchase “restore tokens” for $10 each or 3 for $25. The company does give you one free token a month. We warned them that if they did it again, they’d have to pay the $10 to restore it. This was before she quit her job.

Well, my son sat down at my computer about 5 p.m. and said “oh wow, we’re restricted!” I was like, “what?” and Katie was in the kitchen cooking, heard him, and came in and asked too. I told her “Go tell him (meaning her husband) to get off the computer, now.”  Well, we checked our company’s website and got the time it went over status. None of us were online at that time. I was in my recliner doing my mending; she was in the kitchen cooking, my youngest was in the play room playing video games on a console that does not even have access to the internet, and her husband was in the room when it occurred. Katie later claimed that when she “barged” into the room, her husband wasn’t even on the computer.

After dinner, she returned to their room. My husband got our internet restored. He told me he planned on restricting access to the internet via the router to that laptop because he was sick of this going on. I asked if he planned on telling her, and he said he would. She came out of her room later to make brownies for dessert. She wanted to wake the boys up so they could have some. I said no, because people with autism need to stick to their routines. No matter how late they stay up, they’re going to get up at the normal 7 a.m. and then being unmanageable the rest of the day. She understood and asked “Can I feed it to them with breakfast?” I laughed and said okay.

I went and laid down for awhile. When I got up due to night sweats, he told me that she had come out and asked if the internet was working and he told her he restricted them and why. That if it made her feel any better, he also did it to my son’s computer as well that’s in his room. She told him that was unfair.

I thought everything was okay but as she was cooking something in the kitchen and I went into the kitchen and she said “I really think Jerry’s being unfair. He’s punishing me for something I didn’t do.” I said “I don’t know what to tell you. I know WE didn’t do it.” That’s when she told me her husband wasn’t even on the computer when she went in there and if he had been, he’d have been busy clicking things closed. He was on Real Player which had already downloaded videos to it and doesn’t take internet status at all, she’d told me. I kind of shrugged it off as “Don’t know what to tell you.” And went back to lay down.

I noticed the computer on the table. He told me how she’d reacted—not kindly. She had brought the laptop out because they might as well not use it since they could only use it after 1 a.m. (during free internet access time) and they go to bed at 2 a.m. Jerry had asked her how could she when she’s up doing supper dishes at 4 a.m.? She went storming in to her bedroom and a few minutes later came back out and accused my oldest of stealing her last $10 out of her wallet.  We’re talking minutes after her finding out and not getting the restriction lifted, all of a sudden… my son stole her money. She demanded, and I complied, that we wake my son up and ask him if he took her money and to search his room. Of course, we didn’t find it. She claimed her husband had caught my son in her penny jar before but she didn’t tell on him because it was only pennies, after all. Thomas, my son, told me that never happened. I believe him.

She returned back to her room after her $10 didn’t turn up. I had Jerry hook up the lap top. I checked all the machines in this house. All of them. I was able to ascertain that at the time the status went over (from the hour before to the hour after) no one was on any of those  computers online. I tried to do that with the lap top but the settings were set to delete after exit. So, couldn’t check that one for definitive proof-but as process of elimination—if the other computers have history and it doesn’t show—it makes it more possible that he did in fact do it. Right? Right.

I went to bed. I woke up at 11:30 a.m. or so this morning. She was in the kitchen, cooking eggs. It was just for her and her husband, Robert. Nothing for us even though it was Saturday and her “routine” to do so. No biggie.  My kids had had their cereal. My husband and I went hungry. We do that a lot when we’re not feeling well. Jerry, who was already awake with the kids since I get up early M-F with them, told me she must still be pissed off cause she hasn’t said a word to him and stuff. I said “whatever.”

At 1:30, two hours later, she comes out and cooks them lunch. Burger patties. Greasy, nasty things to make! But I was surprised cause they had just ate. She still hadn’t cleaned up last night’s dinner dishes and here she was, making more, for the second time that day. I thought, “Okay, she wants to make a point.” I told my husband she was making lunch now and also informed him if she STILL doesn’t do those dishes, I’m going to speak up to her and if she didn’t like I was going to tell her to leave, in not so nice words. He agreed.

Apparently, my son T was eavesdropping and heard me say that to him from our bedroom door. I didn’t know. He then went into the kitchen and said something to her while she was cooking.  I was sitting in my recliner, relaxing after having done some laundry, and standing up talking to hubby. I was wore out. My son said something along the lines of “I think my mom would like it if you’d clean up after yourself today” And she replied “I’ll talk to her about that and besides, I don’t do shit for people who treat me like shit.”

First all, don’t swear while talking to my son. He has a bad habit of his own with those words that you KNOW I’m trying to curb him of. Secondly, you should’ve stopped at “I’ll talk to her about that” and been done with it. He doesn’t need to be involved, even if he did involve himself.

I started coughing somewhere in there and didn’t quite hear everything. I had a really bad coughing spell and couldn’t catch my breath. I got up and went to my desk to find my inhaler. My husband must’ve heard me because he also came out to check on me. My son came over to me. I asked Thomas in writing, sicne I couldn’t stop coughing, if she said blah blah blah (I wrote it out as above). He said “Yeah, she did” and nodded vigorously.  I then wrote to my husband and told him what had transpired. At some point, she had come into the room and stood in front of my recliner, putting it between her and I.

She said, “I don’t think I’m being treated fairly. I work my ass off for you, taking care of your kids to the best of my ability, and I don’t think it’s right of you to punish me for something I didn’t do.” My husband tried to explain to her again what was going on. It wasn’t to PUNISH her. She’s not a child. We weren’t taking away privileges to punish so much as we were protecting ourselves from an internet bill like we had the last month. We *are* on a fixed income after all.

Well, Jerry couldn’t get that out though. She kept talking over him. She talked over me. Finally, she said “I feel y’all are taking advantage of me and Robert…” and that’s when I lost it. I totally lost it. I open up my home, ask her to work 2-3 hours a day, and *I* am taking advantage of HER? Really?  I said, and I quote, “Well, if you honestly feel that way, grab your stuff and get the BLEEP out.” I said a few more things that I don’t recall so exactly but basically gave it to her. Told her she’s lied to us, we know she’s lied to us, I can’t trust her to tell the truth, and she needed to get out.  Now.

So, she did. She packed them up. By this time, our voices were raised and her husband had come out and sat at our dining room table, which he could see us from there. There’s no walls in the way, in other words.  Jerry told him what had been going on, what the argument was about. Robert said he’d go talk to her since she’s obviously overreacting. Well, apparently that didn’t work because they left anyway.  Jerry did go tell them that if there was any damage like they left in the last place, he wouldn’t hesitate to press charges.  But we left them alone to pack.

I came to my computer and put up a status about all this. I was beyond mad. Jerry was shocked at how mad I was and if the WHOLE truth be told, if I was physically able to, I would’ve decked her in her face for saying WE took advantage of her.

That internet usage was NOT part of the agreement. The laptop and TV was NOT part of the agreement. We could take it away any time we wanted to or not have given it to her in the first place. I had already told her the previous night that Robert could use my computer to search for a job during the day. The only thing we asked was that during the status time was that they use one of our computers in the main living area so we can keep track of who was doing what when. I still don’t think that was unreasonable of us. I really don’t.

Oh and the taking advantage of? Mind you, they didn’t have jobs, okay? No income whatsoever. She had had one more paycheck after they moved in, and they spent it on doggie grooming stuff and other junk.  They’re smokers. Guess who supported their habit? You betcha! I did only buy them roll-your-own tobacco and filters though. Can’t afford anything else! But she would bum cigarettes off of me if I had any store-bought cigarettes. Even if it was my second-to-last one, she’d still want it. They had use of our vehicle, since there’s wasn’t legal. See, it turns out the person who sold them the car wasn’t the legal owner.. . always someone else’s fault, never theirs.

You know, there were lots of things that we did for them, big and small. And I have a huge heart. I love helping people. I get a kick out of it if ya really wanna know. It makes me feel good to make other people feel better. I can’t explain it. It just does a heart good to be kind to others. Yes, I got some benefit out of it this time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I thought it was a fair enough deal. And we were going to let them live rent-free even after they got jobs, if she kept helping. Just so they could save money. I didn’t think we were being unreasonable in any of our requests. We didn’t push her when she didn’t do a dang thing for 18 days. We didn’t push her in any sort of way really, until we put our foot down that is, about the internet. And the time we pushed her about not letting her dog rule our house. And both times? She overreacted.

After they left, she called from his mom’s house. She asked if she could return for their vacuum or I could pay her for it. I said she could come and get it any time. I didn’t care. I hung up on her.  When she got here, she tried again talking to us. Or Jerry tried talking to her. I’m not sure as I was at the dining room table, folding laundry, and pointedly ignoring her. If I didn’t, I was afraid I couldn’t keep it together and not wail away on her. I was trying to be an adult about it all. Trying, I said, trying! I was still quite upset, ya see.

She said what she was mad about was her missing money. Jerry reminded her we didn’t take it. She said, no she wasn’t saying that. She was saying that maybe our YOUNGEST son had taken it out of her checkbook, out of her wallet, and played with it and lost it. He’s got a more severe form of autism, and yes, if he found money lying around, that is something he would do. NOT if it was inside a checkbook flap, inside a wallet. He doesn’t go through things. That’s not his way. Jerry tried explaining that to her. Then she said “No one was remorseful that our last $10 went missing!”  *jaw drop*

No one was remorseful? You weren’t remorseful when you ruined two pots. You weren’t remorseful when your husband tried to use a toaster (not a toaster oven) to make grilled cheese. You weren’t remorseful when you removed the finish off of my ceramic stove-top by scrubbing it with a Brillo pad because supper spilled over because you weren’t paying attention. You weren’t remorseful when something my son’s dead father gave him got ruined. You weren’t remorseful when my husband’s breathing treatment machine was ruined. You weren’t remorseful that you ran up our phone bill accepting collect calls from your husband who was in jail. You weren’t remorseful when your husband kept using up our internet causing us $10 a pop. You weren’t remorseful about crap. Why? Because it was never your fault, right? That’s pretty much what I said to her then although a little more poetic now. She took her vacuum and left.

The previous Monday to all of this, a therapist told me some people with Autism get easily taken advantage of. He felt we were being taken advantage of by our roommates. That perhaps I should have listened to Jerry about them as he was uncomfortable with this situation from the start. He told me I should trust those around me who love me and treat me well when they say something isn’t right about a situation. I may think I’m smart; and I may be book-smart, but I am not street-smart.

He said people like me, people with autism, often have a big heart and good intentions but often find themselves in predicaments because they are not good judges of character. We have a tendency to see the good in everybody and always want to give them a chance, and second chances. And third chances. There are people out there without autism who are like that, too, but he has found in his time of working with those with autism, that most of those he treats have that problem.

I have learned my lesson. Again. I won’t say I won’t ever help a body out again. I’m just not like that. But I will listen next time when my husband, or my father, or my friends, or my other family members tell me I’m making a mistake. I’ll at least take the time to consider that they just might be right and I might be wrong. For once. Well, I may not always be right, but I’m never wrong.

Tonight, after I finished cleaning up all those dishes (took me hours), I got a call. Caller ID said it was the Motel 6 here in town. I answered it. It was her husband, Robert. He said Katie had left to go get ice for his foot, and he wanted to call and apologize for his part in it. The using of the internet. That took us over our allowable status. I told him, we didn’t really have a problem with him at this point. It wasn’t him screaming at us that we victimized him, after all. That was what our problem was. He said he didn’t want to burn any bridges with us. He wanted to remain friends with us. Another friend of theirs paid for their hotel room for a couple of nights.

He said that he had told Katie he wanted to remain friends with us but that she said “Fine. Do whatever you want. But I’m not. They took advantage of us.” He also said she told him when she came to pick up the vacuum cleaner, that we threatened to take her to court for the damage to our floor and the above-mentioned damage to our things. The word “court” never came out of our mouths. Not once.  I told him that.

I also said, that I knew she had done damage to the apartment that he went to jail for, just like she did the one she told us about here in Sallisaw or wherever it was. That she’s going to continue costing him friends and his relationships with his family until she gets psychiatric treatment. She knows she has a mental health problem (she told me the name of the one she was diagnosed with), and he knows it too. The proper thing to do was to get her to a shrink and put her on meds for it. Although, I wasn’t so nice in the way I phrased it to him. I’m not a big advocate for medication for any problem. But there *are* certain mental health issues that one just knows that needs medication as well as therapy to treat. She has such a one.

He agreed with me and then had to go cause she had come back into the room with the ice for his foot.

You see, early in the day today, sometimes between their breakfast and lunch, he had fallen through our kitchen floor’s soft spot. We all knew it was there. Anyone that comes in to our house, no matter how many times they’ve been here before have been warned about that spot. We haven’t been able to get anyone to fix it yet. So, we warn people not to step on the soft spot. I guess he stepped wrong and stepped on it and fell through the floor. He hurt his foot doing so. I feel sorry for the guy.  I’m sure that had to hurt like crazy.

He later called back. He asked if I knew where they should go for emergency housing. I told him Monday morning go to the local DHS (Department of Human Services) and tell them at the window that he and his wife are homeless and need shelter. They should be able to help him.

I sit here and shake my head. I have no doubt she put him up to that call in an attempt to guilt trip us. I have no doubts whatsoever. She often does that to get her way. She makes the person she argues with feel guilty in an attempt to get her way. I’ve seen that before. I recognize it easily. It isn’t going to work. They aren’t going to smooth this over no way no how.

They would’ve had to move out anyway. I’m just glad now that it was sooner rather than later.

And, I may not always be a good judge of character but if Jerry and I ever consider roommates again, I’m getting references.




These are the types of things I talk about

Read it again?

ipnoid.com

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,273 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 9,345 hits