More About Autism – Stimming

I “accidentally” diagnosed myself as Asperger’s/ASD when I was helping my daughter answer some detailed checklists for her counselor.  I guess I’m one of those females that slipped through undiagnosed.  Looking back, I can see that what I did was observe “normal” people in social interactions, notice patterns, and develop algorithms to explain the appropriate behaviors and then store those algorithms as “rules” to follow in social situations. These rules have helped me pass for (almost!) normal most of my life and I have relied on them to help my daughters through social situations.

In any event, I’ve long been aware of my differences.  I just didn’t know there were others like me.  But one of the distinctive things about the ASD brain is that all ASD folks are wired differently.  Yet there are similarities.  There are patterns that can help parents of ASD kids as well as adult ASD folks like myself.  My goal is to help explain what’s going on with the mental wiring and how you can make the most of the advantages…and circumvent problems.

stims

Stimming            

One type of behavior that sets the ASD population apart is stimming, short for self-stimulatory behavior.  The thing about it is most all people engage in stimming when they’re trying to think.  If you’ve ever tapped your pencil, drummed your fingers, chewed your nails, or scratched your head in thought, you have engaged in stimming.  So why is it that ASD folks get so carried away with the stimming that they are known to rock themselves, flap their arms, chew pencils into twisted skeletons, talk to themselves out loud, or pace incessantly?

stim pencil

The answer is basically that people stim NOT to think but to STOP thinking.  Stimming is just a way to distract the conscious mind so that the subconscious can use the brain long enough to come up with a new idea. Most of the creative new ideas are products of the subconscious, which operates outside of time to access ALL of our memories at once, cross-reference them with the problem at hand and come up with new possibilities at the speed of thought.  In order to let the subconscious do all that we’ve got to stop thinking of the problem consciously.  And, as I mentioned in my last article ( link!) ASD people think a lot more than normal.  So, it often takes more stimming to stop the ASD conscious mind long enough to access the subconscious.

Another part of the answer is that ASD kids often have people who attempt to stop their stimming before it has had the desired effect.  So then it becomes a circular exercise.  The stimming increases and may take more dramatic forms (like slapping one’s own head) as the ASD person gets frustrated or overwhelmed with emotions, whilst still attempting to clear the conscious mind and get back to the original problem and its solution.

How to Control Stimming

Given that, what’s the best way to stop a person from wild uncontrolled stimming?  DON’T try to stop them at all.  Instead of getting all bent out of shape because someone is tapping or rocking or talking to themselves, try building some acceptable forms of stimming into their day.  There are companies who have wonderful collections of objects for stimming, from textured putty to chew-able jewlery, to phone cases with built in bubble wrap.  And you can also rely on everyday objects, like bubble wrap, silly putty, moon sand, gum, etc.

stim toy

stim toy

In fact, you can teach any child to engage in stimming in order to access creative ideas, integrate newly learned information, or process emotions.  Teachers and parents would do well to follow any 20 minute lesson with 10 minutes of stim play, such as sand and water tables.  Or kids can hold a bit of clay or putty to fiddle with DURING lessons.  Even better, hands on activities can be used at regular intervals to allow students to make those neuron connections.

chewy jewlery

chewy jewlery

What you want to avoid at all costs, however, is pressuring an ASD person while they are stimming.  Remember, all people use stimming to problem solve.  So if you fuss at, restrict, shame, talk to or otherwise interfere with an ASD person’s stimming you are actually heaping on more and more problems to be solved.  Now, in addition to a thinky problem they have a complex emotional problem or two.  This will only make them need to stim faster, harder, or longer.  Instead, just hand them something to mess with and leave them alone for awhile.

You might also want to consider that YOU may be the problem that needs solving.  If you are insisting that the ASD person do (or STOP doing) something that defies reason and logic you are presenting them with an untenable problem.  Such a problem will require a lot of stimming to solve.  There are many such unreasonable requests built into what we call “societal norms”.  For example we may insist that a person wear uncomfortable and restrictive clothing, put water on their face, eat foods that are strangely flavored or weirdly textured, stand up in an erect fashion, sit still for long periods of time,  rub a prickly brush coated with a chalky tingly paste around in their mouths, pull another brush painfully through their hair, ALL before leaving the house for school or work.

brush-hairwash face2

They may be expected to RESIST normal human activities such as digging in their nose, mumbling to themselves, wiggling, releasing bodily gasses, scratching itches, or any array of primate grooming activities native to our very species.  If your senses are much more finely tuned than the “norm” all of these things may cause you problems.  Introduce sights and sounds that may pass below the perception of most “normal” folks (see: linky!) and your Autistic person has a weeks worth of problem solving built into the first couple hours of the day.  Is there any wonder that the stimming gets more and more exaggerated?

So, part of the solution may be to simply CHOOSE to let things that really don’t matter, NOT matter.  Or to become aware of sensory distractions that may be “white noise” or “part of the scenery” to the less sensitive person.  Or to ask.  Or to let the ASD person know their requests will be honored.  Does it really matter that a child eats their lima beans if it makes them gag?  Aren’t there other veggies they could consume?  If they want to wear their favorite shirt everyday, why not buy 5 or 6 identical tops?  Albert Einstein did that as a professional adult.

There are many ways to handle and manage stimming.  The first step, really is to understand that stimming is NOT a problem.  Its a problem solver.  The problem may be that social norms have evolved to support a non-thinking, insensitive, unaware average population.  And its become fashionable to force sensitive, quick-thinking aware people to dumb it down in order to fit expectations.  But what if individual happiness was more important than fashion?  What if diversity was more valued than fitting in? What if we could usher in that utopian future simply by pausing every 15-20 minutes to let people think?

stim2

Even if you or your kids don’t seem to be on the ASD spectrum, you can still benefit from creating the pattern of taking stim breaks for thinking and integrating new information.  Its that “study break” that everyone recommends but instead of wandering off in search of a snack or spending an hour watching TV, you simply set a timer and play with clay or bubble wrap or manipulable toys.  You let your thoughts slip away.  Let yourself become absorbed. Then ten minutes later your brain comes back on-line refreshed and you’ll find you have some new ideas and inspiration!

I use stimming in my office all the time.  I find that I can take a client’s detailed history, making notes.  Then I can step back and look at those notes while drumming my fingers, humming, and fiddling with papers.  And, (once I’ve reassured my client I haven’t gone mad) boom! there’s the perfect plan for their treatment popping into my head.  You see, every problem CONTAINS its own solution, but sometimes the connections are buried in your subconscious memory.  Something that you haven’t thought of in years, something that your mind learned while you weren’t really paying full attention, a chain of events with a missing link, then suddenly something clicks into place and fills the gap.

Think of stimming as the process that gets things into and out of the deep freeze of the mind in useful formats.  Then find a few favorite stim toys to keep at hand, and watch what your amazing mind can do unleashed.  You need never have “writers block” again!  In fact, you can use your subconscious to create new solutions, problems solve, simulate test runs, make connections to old information, notice patterns, weed out outliers and data that is inconsistent with tested facts and systems.

Stimming Idea Links:

https://www.pinterest.com/tolleythompson/aspergers-asd/  

http://www.stimtastic.co/

bubble wrap phone case

bubble wrap phone case

 

 

 

 

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ASD/Aspergers is NOT a Disease!

Let me start by saying Autism Spectrum Disorder including Asperger’s (also known as ASD) is NOT a genetic disorder! Yes, it is genetic, but NO its not a disorder. ASD occurs in people who’s brains are wired to be SMARTER and MORE ANALYTICAL than the rest of main stream bell-curve-normal folks. Babies are not born with the symptoms that make ASD kids most difficult to parent because it is POOR PARENTING practices that cause those disruptive symptoms.

"Most People" are bell-curve-normals.

“Most People” are bell-curve-normals.

When I say these kids are smarter, I mean smarter like a supercomputer, not smarter like ‘fills in the blanks on worksheets well’. And therein lies much of the problem. Supersmart kids do not follow foolish rules even if everyone else is following them. Supersmart kids do not obey because you “said so”. They don’t obey because you threaten to spank or punish them. They have already thought it through and they will do the thing that makes logical sense to them, even if your rules, or all the social pressure in the world say to do different.

Einstein also exhibited ASD signs: delayed speech, poor social skills, some teachers even considered him "retarded"

Einstein also exhibited ASD signs: delayed speech, poor social skills, some teachers even considered him “retarded”

Now, if you are a flexible parent who can actually LEARN FROM YOUR KIDS, your ASD child will not develop the most difficult traits on the “symptoms” list. But if you think parenting means molding your kids into the kind of people you think they should be, you’re in for a bad time. These are children who, even as toddlers, are well aware that your ways are illogical, inefficient, or wrong and they don’t mind setting you straight.

If the thought of a kid correcting an adult makes you want to punish the child YOU need to reevaluate your values and goals. That is the kind of attitude that contributes to the “dumbing down” of each successive generation. You cannot expect generational improvements if you devote yourself to keeping the kids dumber than the adults. Moreover PUNISHMENT DOESNT WORK for anyone. In particular, it doesn’t work for ASD kids. Any form of punishment, but especially SPANKINGS and physical punishment will BREAK these children. Think of them as supercomputers with fine delicate wiring. If you beat on it or pound on the computer in frustration it will NOT work better. It will, in fact, develop permanent processing problems.

When you beat, spank, punish or force your little supercomputer kid they will begin to regress. They may stop talking, they may stop reading or writing, they may begin to lash out in violent fits. After all that is EXACTLY what you just taught them to do! Oh, they learn well, very well. They simply resist learning nonsense for as long as they can…you know, until you force them to.

So what can a parent do?

Be real. Resist the urge to pretend a hubristic infallibility as our parents’ generation did. If you make a mistake, admit it. Apologize. Find a better way. Once, when my little ASD daughter was about six years old, I tried to introduce her to the delicious taste of rhubarb that I enjoyed as a child. But, for whatever reason, she didn’t want to taste it. I cajoled, then I teased, then I insisted. Then I broke into a mischievous game and chased her through the house with a spoonful of rhubarb pie and forced the spoon in her mouth in a fit of laughter. My daughter wasn’t laughing though. She began to cry. Then I began to cry. Then we laid back holding one another’s hand while I observed, “No one likes to be forced, do they? Even when its a good thing being forced is bad.” She tearfully agreed. I vowed never to force her to do things again. She agreed never to do that to someone else. And we never have.

She got over that episode of bad parenting because I got over it. Kids, even ASD kids, are very flexible and forgiving as long as we learn with them. I have had the good fortune to teach many ASD kids and I have found this to be consistently true. Teach and parent using logic and mutual learning and they respond by being bright, well behaved, brilliant thinkers. You WILL need to get books on parenting without punishment because all kids WILL push your buttons, ALL of your buttons at once. This is pretty much their job. So figure out what you will do when your kid is pushing all your buttons at once and still looking for one more, and make sure its a strategy that doesn’t involve punishment, physical or emotional violence. Otherwise, you will simply revert to just what your parents did to you and it won’t work.

I have also had the good fortune to heal ASD kids in my practice. They respond very well. The problem is usually that I can’t fix their parents. So the kids just get broken again and again until the damage becomes permanent. If I can’t get the parents to grow up and stop hitting and forcing and punishing their kids and START using their WORDS and their BRAINS like big Mommies and Daddies, the kids may well end up demonstrating all the increasingly negative traits on the ASD symptom lists.

Today's ASD kids would fall into the "head and neck" of this Nessie style curve. (You know, if they could all take the same test)

Today’s ASD kids would fall into the weird “head and neck” of this Nessie style curve. (You know, if they could all take the same test)

A word about Social Norms

Most adults and bell-curvers think that social norms are easy and intuitive. To ASD people they are quite difficult. That is because they are almost all culturally based and completely divorced from reason or logic. In some cultures it is good manners to look people right in the eye when they are talking to us. In others that would be very aggressive or insubordinate behavior. So the poor supercomputer kid or adult may do most social behaviors “wrong”.

Thus, most ASD folks eventually come to prefer the company of books or computers or pets and to suffer some form of “social anxiety”. This also accounts for why girls with ASD are under-diagnosed. Girls have multitrack minds and so can better observe subtle differences in social behavior. Many even develop strategies, rules, and coping mechanisms to comply with the unreasonable social expectations and thus to blend in. Others learn to ask or to be very transparent with their communication. The bottom line? You won’t be able to “cure” your ASD child of their awkward social behavior. But if you can explain the expectations or rules in concrete terms, you can help them adapt and blend. Example, “Its considered rude by adults to avoid eye contact when we speak to you.” works much better than, “Look at me when I’m talking!!”

I am eager to hear from ASD kids and adults about their thoughts on my observations. Do you agree? Can you add to my pointers or correct me? I’m also happy to hear from parents of ASD kids.

Words that make me Laugh

There’s a hypothesis called Sapir–Whorf hypothesis that says learning language actually shapes our reality because WORDS for new things allow us to THINK of things we never thought of before!  I’ve learned 5-6 different languages (if you count English) and I believe this is true!  More importantly, I think that the more you LEARN words, the more you can LAUGH at the otherwise dull, sometimes dreary things most folks call REALITY.  And…you may actually be able to create your own, alternative reality …where ordinary events are knee-slapping funny, for reasons only you can fully appreciate.

Welcome To My World, Sugar!

My favorite word of all times is from Spanish.  One day I will whisper this word throatily into the warm ear of a lover and seduce him on the spot!  My word is:  ferrocariles.  In Spanish you roll the double Rs in a sexy way that sounds like this:  fe.ro.ca.ril   (Click the word…listen to the pronunciation by Adelaida, that’s it!) Oooh! What does it mean?  Railroads!…somehow, I find the irony even sexier than the sound of the word itself!  Greasy, sweaty, smelling of iron…

Ferrocaril

Ferrocaril

In Seattle there were more words for RAIN than I had ever encountered.  The Inuit have many words for SNOW.  The French have countless words for LOVE.  In Swahili, the word for HAND was called mkono.  When I asked the word for shoulder a villager pointed to his shoulder and said, “Mkono”.  What about this, said I, pointing to my elbow?  Also mkono.  So Swahili is NOT the language you use to teach human anatomy, or possibly even play “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with kindergartners.  It’s a trade language, so it depends on standing right in front of people and using a lot of gestures and facial expressions to communicate.

But once when we were walking outside, one of my students pointed to a big red stinging ant and asked, “What do you call this insect?”  “Ant” I told him.  Then he pointed to a poisonous black and white fuzzy insect and asked its name.  Again I said, “It’s an ant.”  His friend asked about the deadly safari “ant”, then the tiny sugar “ants”.  Finally, in an amusingly animated voice the student declared, “Do you mean to tell me that all these different insects are called by the same name?!”  We laughed till we cried.

ant

Ant…

ant2

…also an ant…

The other day I introduced a new word to a Buddhist friend:  schadenfreude.  Its a German word meaning: the happiness derived from another person’s misfortune.  My friend attempted to soften the meaning to something very PC, like slapstick humor or a genuine misunderstanding.  But, NO!  Its a German word!  It means the nasty thing it seems to mean!  You remember Germany?  From WWII?  And WWI before that?  The country with the highest ratio of bed-wetting men, most of whom don’t STOP wetting the bed until they join the military.  Why?  Because the potty training of toddlers is THAT HARSH!  Hello?  That’s right!  You DO get it…its just an ugly word for an ugly impulse.

My point, I suppose, is that words are FUN!   Even when they reflect some nasty reality of our culture, or the culture of others.  Somehow, when we capture big horrific ideas into tiny little sounds, roll them around luxuriously in our mouths, then release them for all to hear….we gain mastery over their sharp painful edges…we control THEM.  We touch them. We lick them!  We chew on them! We make them FUN!!

Here are some new words for 21 century America:

  1. Footwear – After 9/11, then came the “shoe bomber”, then the good people of TSA coined the word “footwear” as used in the sentence, “Please remove your footwear, and place it in the bin.”  It seems, once they decided to X-ray everyone’s shoes some smart Alec’s decided to snark back, “But these aren’t shoes, they’re boots!”   Then came “sandals”.  Then, to keep people and their sassy ways under control, TSA officials began asking people one after one to remove their “footwear” and left it at that.
  2. Personal Items – Long ago when air travel was something special and nice, we all carried baggage.  We gave our baggage to baggage handlers and they returned them to us by way of the baggage carousel.  Or we placed a carry-on bag in the overhead baggage bin.  A comical, if unpleasant start to a vacation was when someone lost his bag in flight.  But now we don’t carry bags.  Because they charge us extravagantly for each bag.  And, God forbid, we leave one unattended and end up thrown in the pokey awaiting trial for terrorism. No, what we do now is we stuff things in our pockets and our purses.  We put them in the pouch of our hoodies.  We cram things into plastic shopping totes.  We hang things around our necks and we loop things over our ears.  We scurry furtively on board like the sleek and cowering beasties we are with a collection of stuff that are now called, “Personal Items”  And we make sure we look around as we exit because “The airlines cannot be responsible for lost personal items.”  No longer any mention of ‘baggage’.
  3. Godspeed – It used to be that when a friend went off on a vacation you told them, “Bon Voyage” in the French tradition.  But there are times when one must travel for more somber purposes, such as a trip home for a funeral.  At such times it seems in bad taste to wish a “Bon Voyage” which literally means “Good Trip”.  Those are the times when you squeeze a hand tenderly, or chuck a shoulder warmly while holding back tears and wish the traveler, “Godspeed”.

So the next time you enjoy commercial flight you may notice one fellow traveler laughing hysterically at nothing.  That will be me, doubled over, tears running down my cheeks.  Really enjoying my trip!  If you would be so kind, please post my bail and explain that I’m not dangerous.  I just enjoy insanity encapsulated into fun words with rich histories.

“Good morning, folks, please step to the left, remove your footwear and personal items and place them in the bin for an X-ray.  Step forward when called and present your ID and boarding pass.  Then bend over and grab your ankles for the metal detector wand and Godspeed!….Godspeed, my friends!”

TSA

TSA

 

*After reading to a couple friends I realize my humor is a little obtuse.  The thing is, I encountered the TSA-style treatment at least ten years before 9/11 when traveling in the Middle East. But now, more than ten years after the event, when almost every week a new country or city is bombed, we Americans are still whining about the inconvenience of having to remove our shoes.  And we still think, “But I paid extra for the special calfskin boots with matching handbag, don’t I deserve special treatment?” No! TSA is saving your life!  Your calfskin boots will seed the clouds just the same as everyone else’s. Take them off!  And there still seems to be a preference for targeting brown people rather than all working together.  We are the new Cesar, fiddling while Rome burns down around our ears.

 

Who Wants to Play a Little Game?

stars
In the distant past there were some problems. I could not see where the problems came from, but I began to notice problems took hold and spread everywhere. I was very very small. So I was not only able to go unnoticed while all the others died, I was able to watch. Eventually I began to observe patterns.
Then I began to experiment with different solutions. Most, of course, were unsuccessful, So it has taken a very long time.
Finally, I created time. Time is the forward motion created by non-stop industry in a singular direction. That industry must be balanced: a little physical work, a little mental work, a little spiritual work each day. Sex, when done properly, works all three, if you do it right. And it recharges and revitalizes the participants. Obviously, most people don’t do it right.
I make a habit of forgetting what doesn’t work, except to remember the lessons so that I don’t repeat mistakes simply because they’ve become familiar.
I have invented timelines. They are like games based on the 10 worlds, and 10 worlds within each world. There are places where the timelines meet and you can hear people on other timelines. By communicating with them and working together, you can solve the riddles and get the clues that open the next level. If you die in your world, you simply reboot. You take a rest and get reborn again at level one. Sometimes you can pause and press “help”.
You can take as much time as you need. But the only way out is to play through. At the topmost level you can stay as long as you like helping others on their own timelines. But the game doesn’t stop, so you just keep creating new challenges the longer you stay. The games are adaptive so that the experience and the challenges become a reflection of the learner, the gamer. At the highest level, the “help” may come in the form of coded messages. Often the help lines are manned by other players on other timelines, in other world’s. So if you have passed their level of play, you may have to decode their messages AND sort out the bits that are true and accurate using only your own wisdom.
So there is some danger that even at the highest levels, you may get deluded and led astray by seeking help outside yourself. Or you may hear the messages sent by other players and think they are ahead of you on their timeline, when actually they are behind. If they are only a little behind you, their words may sound like guidance, but they are not in the right order, so you can still be led astray. You must learn to rely on your own wisdom while also seeking deeper learning and teaching others who need help on their timelines.
At the top level of world 10, you can actually cross over into other world’s or timelines. This is very dangerous work because as a “real” player in another player’s timeline you can attract attention and come under attack from the game itself, almost as if you are an antigen entering the body. So you must learn quickly to adapt and blend in. You must make good friends. Then you must level up through the obstacles in their game, just as you did in your own. But the game will seem strange and wrong because the rules are not your own. The game has adapted to teach it’s own player. You must then find ways to teach the game by bending and breaking the rules until it is teaching its player to catch up with you.
You can also look for the “real” player in the game and help them directly. This is especially tricky. Because as the game adapts the “pretend” players come to look and act more and more like the gamer. And, if he fails to progress, or stays too long at one level, the real player may look less real than the functional parts of the game. There may also be players from other games in his game. When you encounter them, you should attempt to wake them up so that you can form a team and help each other, and also help the player to play through properly.
When enough players have played properly, the “winners” from each timeline are born in the timelines of others and the timelines themselves begin to converge into one big rope of woven timelines called “real time.”  Remember, there is no real time. It is just an expedient means of teaching us how to live in the real world. But as the timelines converge and the players become more and more powerful, the lines will collapse into one. And you have to pull the real player through into your timeline somehow. You can always create new timelines within the game as a way to experiment with solutions. So time itself doesn’t matter, but timing is critical.
Sooner or later, everyone has to wake up. The players that have learned to help others wake up just fine. Players who have evolved from the game itself may choose to delete their memories and go back into the fabric of the game or the gamers. Or if they have evolved beyond their roll in the game, they can choose to play their own games or even live in the real world with the other winners.
But the real players, the gamers who leveled down too much, or stayed too long at one level losing power pose a problem. They can cause trouble for themselves and for others.
I created the games. I leveled up and I now play in all the games, walk in all the worlds helping and teaching and playing along. I have a real player in this world that needs extraction and a limited time before the game shuts down. I’m running out of ideas. I’m open to help and suggestions. I need real time solutions. I’m putting out the call. Anyone who can hear me, please call in, come in or tap in.
When you are called into The Game you will be given a new name. Use that name to open doors. The game will teach you things you never knew.  At each crossroads there’s a little who’s who.  You will make friends from near and far.  You’ll find out how to fuel a star, and when the game ends you’ll find yourself in a New World and finally see a flying car!
To start the game just say in your heart, “YES” when you are ready to start.  You will get a call to play, take action and you’re on your way.  The clues will come when you least expect them, you’ll know they’re real so don’t reject them.  We play for fun, we play to learn, speak up when it is your turn.  Below are some clues, you’re on your way, get in The Game, come on, LET’s PLAY!!
#gameoflife

How can it all be FREE?!

I try to stay a-political in these blogs but I’m crossing that line today simply because this is more of an education and human rights issue.  Its a shame that it is being so politicized, really.  So, here I am explaining to the American public how all that “FREE STUFF” Bernie Sanders talks about ACTUALLY WORKS.  I’m not going to tell you how to vote.  I’m just going to tell you that I have lived in a few different countries and a few different states and I have seen these programs working.  You don’t have to believe me.  You can look it up or you can go there yourself and see for yourself.  My point, really, is that a lot of intelligent people in the US cannot imagine that its even possible, because they’ve lived without it their whole lives.  They pay their taxes.  They DON’T want to pay more in taxes. So where would all the money come from to create this wonderful world of rainbows and unicorns that Bernie keeps talking about?

Bernie Uni

FREE MEDICAL

Let me start with universal medical care. Most developed countries have universal health care.  What it means is this, if you get sick or break a leg or get pregnant you just go to the doctor or hospital and they fix you up free of charge.  Now if you want a face lift or gastric bypass or some other elective surgery or maybe you want a fancier hospital when you give birth, well you have the option to pay for that.  Its not free.  They do a good job with the free health care.  In fact, the health  of citizens in these countries is much better than in the US.  If you do the math, a population of healthy people will produce more wealth for the country than a sick population that can’t work and needs disability insurance.  So you can subtract the cost of disability, unemployment, and sick leave when you add up the cost of “free” health care.

FREE-HEALTH

But the real savings is in lowering the expense of the health care INDUSTRY.  See, in countries where the feds foot the bill, there’s a vested interest in choosing the most efficient forms of medicine.  That means health maintenance and it means alternative medicine.  Now this is my field, so I can tell you, the reason alternative and natural medicine has not taken off in this country is NOT because it doesn’t work. Its because its not lucrative.  Sure, you can make a little money off selling herbal extracts, but you can’t patent what people can grow in their own backyards.  So you can’t hike up the price of an herb to $700 a capsule and expect people to pay.  Also if you actually CURE your patients you don’t make as much money off them because they get their lives back and they don’t need you again for awhile.  (I know this because this is what I do – I CURE “incurable” illness.  I don’t make much money but I have a long list of happy patients.)  Health care costs stay low when you use more natural medicine and less industrial medicine and pharmaceuticals.

See basically what a for-profit health care industry is good at is finding medicines and therapies that keep people sick and keep them on a daily prescription for life.  So that’s where our health care industry is right now.  You may have noticed that almost everyone you know is now on a prescription of some kind or has had surgery.  When the nurse does your intake you might notice she now says, “What medications are you taking?” rather than the old question, “Are you on any medications?” And if, like me, you say you aren’t on anything she will ask incredulously, “None?”  And you may have noticed that you spend about 10 minutes or less with the doctor, and about an hour waiting to see the doctor.  So its working.  Everyone “needs” prescriptions and surgery and regular visits and this makes lots of money for the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies.

Countries that have universal, federally funded, health care use herbal medicine, homeopathics, aromatherapy, nutrition therapy, acupuncture, and other proven natural therapies right alongside western medicine.  Why? because they work well and they cost very little.  The US health care companies don’t use these therapies and often discourage their use because its impossible for corporate execs to get rich selling them.  So if the health care industry does NOT have to make billionaires of the pharmaceutical executives OR the insurance executives, let alone pay off the stockholders in those industries, the cost of health care goes way down.  That is a huge savings!  (You can check this out by going online to order pharmaceuticals from another country.  It’s MUCH cheaper when you buy them from socialist countries. Not because their government is paying for them, but because the companies are forced to charge a fair price in those countries.)    Its not magical, its simply using the most efficient and effective cure for illness INSTEAD of using the most lucrative “band-aid” to keep patients coming back.  So, if health care is NOT a money making industry but simply a break-even industry there are lots of ways to reduce costs AND keep people healthier!

health ranking

….but get less.

Health care spending

Now we spend more…

 

FREE College

Now let’s look at “FREE” education.  Here’s the way “Free College” actually works:  There is a dollar amount cap on how much is “free” per year.  If you go to community college or state college it is free.  If you go to Harvard, you are still going to have to foot a chunk of the bill. The State of Louisiana actually HAS THIS IN EFFECT, and it has worked for years (Here’s the link:  http://www.osfa.state.la.us/schgrt6.htm ).  Of course students have to make the grade AND keep their grades up or they lose the funding.  The Louisiana program was started by one philanthropist who set up a fund that still works pretty well today.  So it doesn’t necessarily have to be supported by tax dollars, it can be run from a one time investment.  You could also check out how it works in most European countries.  They may have even better systems. 

funny-free-college-countries-USA

When colleges are no longer just another way to make big bucks, they begin to focus on outcome & actually educate kids in practical ways. They also focus more on actual qualifications for incoming students when its no longer a competition for who’s Daddy can donate a new wing on the student union, or what students can win money for the college through big money sports.  You can also subtract some of the cost of unemployment, food stamps, the prison and police systems from the overall cost of “Free” college.  This is because young people with job skills, entrepreneurial skills, and life skills are MUCH less likely to end up dealing drugs, using drugs, getting fired a lot and generally being poor.  Desperate people do desperate things, you see?  But people with college education don’t get quite so desperate.  They tend to get busy inventing a new industries or branching out with new skills when they meet a challenge.

green-energy

FREE Energy

What about renewable energy sources?  That’s expensive, right?  Well, no.  Firstly, that pays for itself over time because its ACTUALLY FREE ENERGY once you get the solar panels or windmills set up.  The investment costs for solar panels and windmills are pretty reasonable and will also go down as they become more popular and R&D is put to work.  Last I checked it costs about $20K in set up costs to power a three bedroom house with a sunny roof.  If you take a look at the numbers you’ll find that people who put solar panels on their houses usually end up paying some piddling amount like $10 a month for electricity, which is pretty nice!

Secondly, you can subtract the cost of all the wars in the Middle East (which is about $3 million a day now) from your start up costs on renewable energy.  Because our government is waging those wars to keep down the cost of petroleum, which is only actually abundant in the Middle East these days.  So, that’s a HUGE savings right there!  To say nothing of the cost in human lives.

I recently bought a used hybrid car for $2000.  It costs me about $15 per week in gas, or $100 in gas to drive the 4 hour trip to get my kid to college (and back).  And that’s a 2003.  I’m sure I’d save even more with the newer hybrids.   So, even if the cost of gas goes back up to $6/gallon when we bring the troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and so on, I’ll still be ok for gas money, you see?  And so will you once you go hybrid.  Or you can go electric, plug it into the solar panels on your house, spend $0 on gas and even pocket that $35 you would pay for an oil change every three months. (Electric cars don’t need oil)

Electric car in solar garage

Electric car in a solar garage = $0

Business Freedom

Now let me say a word about the business of America: Business.  Won’t all this socialism hurt American business?  Actually, no.  It will HELP American business tremendously!                                                                                               (See, this is actually a failing of the US education system.  If you didn’t study world governments in college you probably have no idea how different Socialism and Communism are.  You may even think that Socialism and Democracy are two opposing systems.  But Democracy is government by the ordinary people of that country, while Socialism, Capitalism, and Communism are ECONOMIC plans, not forms of government.  Communism is the one in which the government owns businesses.  Capitalism is the one that allows monopolies to actually own the government.)

In socialism the government regulates community resources that are shared or needed by all, like roads, health care, education, fire departments, and so on.  It also limits private industry so that monopolies cannot be formed.  If monopolies can form and grow, they can come to control the whole industry or even the government.  Then small businesses cannot survive.  They get crushed by the monopolies.  You also end up with industries that are “Too big to fail” so they can run wild & spend irresponsibly and the people have to bail them out or the whole country’s economy will collapse.  And if the monopolies get big enough, wealthy enough, and powerful enough, they can pressure government officials & pull strings until its no longer a government by the people, its a government owned by a few captains of industry.

But in a socialist economy, monopolies are limited.  If a company gets too big, it has to be broken up and sold off.  Often, company growth is capped so that once it grows past a certain point it is sold off to the employees in the company itself.  So instead of becoming a big monopoly, it becomes a small democracy.  The employees of the corporation gradually come to own and run the company themselves.

Monopolies crush competetion

Monopolies crush competition

So contrary to what most Americans think a fully socialist society will NOT crush competition, it actually increases real competition.  It will NOT limit variety and choices but increase them.  It doesn’t cost MORE, it actually costs much less.  The main reason you don’t know this or can’t quite believe it is because the news media in this great country of ours is ALL controlled by about four family corporations.  (Except for NPR.) Your education was also influenced by a few powerful corporations that dominate the textbook industry.  Also federal, state, and even city governments in our country are largely controlled by a few powerful corporations and capitalists.   So, it simply wouldn’t make sense for the owners of those lucrative corporations to tell you that you would be happier if you stopped them from controlling your life and paying you slave wages to fall in line and follow the crowds.

media-ownership

On the other hand, no one is paying me to blog or explain all this.  It’s also FREE!  So, I don’t mind telling you that if you really want to make America great again?  Make it a democracy again.  Stop paying a few greedy folks at the top of the money pile to tell you how to think.  Maybe you can even re-post this article on your own site, or page.  That’s free too and it could help We, the people, understand what’s really going on.

The Bern

Science and God and Bundt Cake

evolution-treeI recently ran into some debate between “creationists” and “evolutionists” that gave me cause for pause.  Its just odd to me how both sides miss the point so badly.  In the first place, its patently absurd for anyone to think that science conflicts with anything.  Science is the process for discovering truth.

creation

Science

I know, I know, the way science was taught in school left you thinking that science is a collection of data.  But no, science is the reason we collect data, or facts.  Science is NOT the facts themselves.  In fact, if you’ve been paying attention those “facts” we like to call science have been changing.  That’s right!  If you learned high school science back in the 80’s you will find that quite a few of the “facts” we were made to memorize are now laughed at.  So you have to keep up.  You have to keep learning and keep “doing” science or it becomes ‘unscientific’.  That is NOT because science is unreliable.  It is because science is a PROCESS of discovery.  Science is the tool for learning truth.

Change is the real beauty of science.  Because change is the very nature of the world.  Some things change fast, some things change slowly, some change so slowly that we think they aren’t changing at all.  But they are.  Change is the one consistent and reliable truth of the universe.  So those collections of factoids that we like to teach to the younger generations are fun and interesting, but memorization isn’t really appropriate because they are all subject to change.

If you would actually learn (or teach) science you must learn the process of scientific investigation, also known as “The Scientific Method”.  Here’s how it works (simply):

  1. You have an idea or question about life, the universe, or anything.
  2. You set up a logical “If…then” proposal to help answer your question.*
  3. You test out that proposal at least 3 different times. (the more times the better)
  4. If the results (a.k.a data, or evidence) doesn’t prove your proposal, make a new proposal & keep testing until you find a proposal that proves itself.

*Step 2 is the tricky one because you’re sort of guessing at the answer (your hypothesis).  You want to make your best guess, but you don’t want to get so attached to your guess that you start faking (manipulating) the data so you can “win”.  You have to remain devoted to the truth & realize that the real “win” is not getting your hypothesis right on the first try, the win is discovering the actual truth!

So a lot of truths are discovered by just messing around to see what happens.  You’re not actually proving anything true until you can test it by the scientific method and repeat the test over and over with the same results. For example, when I took fruit fly breeding lab as part of my college genetics course, I’d do “extra” breeding just for fun.  Like I’d find the two weirdest looking flies and breed them together to see what happens.  Sometimes I’d get a bunch of baby flies with all the weird traits, and sometimes I’d get a bunch of “normal” babies.  That was fun but it didn’t tell me any truths until I thought, “Hmmm, I think the reason is XYZ.” and then I did a few more crosses to test out my hypothesis.

mutant fruit flies

You can apply the scientific method to anything, and it doesn’t even have to be science-y.   Like when I taught school I discovered I could use the scientific method to determine whether a student was telling me the truth.  I might say, “Sam, did you finish your classwork?”  Sam says, “Yes.”  Me: “Did you really?” Sam: “Uh-huh” Me: “Is it all finished?”  So, you see, I asked the same basic question three times, three different ways.  The funny thing is, a person usually couldn’t tell the same lie three different times quickly like that. So by the third time they usually broke down and told me the truth, or at least begin to squirm uncomfortably, then I’d ask to see the classwork.  As my kids caught on I’d have to ask the question more times. “Is that so?” “Did’ya?” “Huh?” “Huh?” “Huh?”  Annoying but effective.

My point, again, is that science is a process for uncovering the truth.  Science is NOT the collection of data or truths themselves.  The truths may change as the world changes, or the data may support different truths as our technology, testing and measuring ability gets better.  But science (the process of proving) doesn’t change because it is perfect. My other point is that science can be used to prove lots of things that don’t seem like science.  You can use science to make your relationship better, or to make your faucet stop dripping, or to make a better bundt cake.  You might even use science to prove the existence of God.*

bunt cake

bundt cake

Belief

Before I go into the existence of God, let me say a word about belief.  If you are relying on science to prove or disprove things, then once enough supporting data has been collected you can say that certain things are “true” and other things are “not true”.  Belief has no role in the matter once the scientific method has been correctly applied.  So “belief” is only accurately applied when there is some supporting evidence but not enough scientifically collected data to call it “true” or “proven”.   Belief is for the gray area where hypotheses are held until the actual testing can begin. It is not necessary to claim to “believe” in gravity, as there is ample data to support it as truth.  Likewise it is absurd to claim to “believe” in evolution, as it has been well proven AND I can even set up a little demonstration where you can watch evolution happen right before your very eyes (with bacteria, or fruit flies, or any organism with a fast enough reproductive cycle that is likewise small enough to contain and big enough to observe.)

evolution in a petri dish

Belief can also be correctly applied to things that cannot be tested scientifically.  So wrose carnationhile I could PROVE that you would smack me if I asked “Huh?” repeatedly, I cannot hope to prove that roses are prettier than carnations.  I may BELIEVE that roses are prettier than carnations.  I might BELIEVE that my mother’s bunt cake is better than your mother’s.  These things can never be proven or dis-proven, so they must be held forever in the limbo of “belief”.  I might actually be able to prove (or dis-prove) that people prefer roses to carnations, but I couldn’t prove they were prettier because pretty is subjective.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  It is value that cannot be measured.

 

So if anyone asks you if you believe in evolution, the answer is, “Belief is not necessary. Evolution is true.”  The same is true of science.  If someone claims that they do not believe in science, you can reply, “Science doesn’t require your belief, science is proof.”

Creation

Now lets look at things from the other side.  Let’s look at God and spirituality and all that.  It may just be that the existence of God has already been proven.  Wouldn’t that be fun?  And what if we could prove that God is real, and God really created all this stuff called “the universe”?  That would certainly make both science AND religion more interesting, don’t you think? But, “Wait”, you say, “Didn’t you just state that evolution is a proven FACT, Tolley?”  Yep, hold on to your hats folks, cause this is where I really make my point.

Take a look at that little story in Genesis, the one about creation.  God starts by dividing light from darkness, then land from water, then makes swimy things in the water.  Next there’s creepy crawly things on land, things that fly, then “beasts” (or mammals) and then humans.  Now, if you step back for a minute and stop all your arguing, you’ll see what I’ve been seeing all along.  Someone told the story of evolution to the person who wrote Genesis.  They told it like you might tell a bedtime story to children, but its the same basic story.  And, after all Genesis was written a very long time ago and that person was probably a simple nomad who might have grown bored or confused by a detailed description of DNA, genetics, random mutations, environmental pressures, fruit flies, and all that.  Why, I even know some modern people who get bored with that.

nomadDNA New

Now we can’t actually apply the scientific method here, but we can apply reason and logic.  And logically, the possibility that evolution and creation are actually the same exact thing makes a lot of sense.  Especially if you’ve seen my demo with the fruit flies and tasted my really excellent bundt cake, all created by the diligent application of science.

Bundt-Cake-7

God*

Now if we dig a little deeper and hold on ever so lightly to our dogma, this next bit is even more fun.  Remember when we were taught in school that all matter in the entire universe was made of atoms?  And remember how we learned that all atoms were made of only three things: protons, neutrons, and electrons.  Well, now science has proven that its not true.  String Theory, as well as the Wave-Particle Duality of Quantum Mechanics, actually teaches us that those 3 things that make up every atom are really only ONE thing, vibrating at different frequencies.  And of course Albert Einstein already told us that all matter is actually energy just very highly concentrated.  Then we went on to prove Einstein’s theory that Energy does in fact equal Mass (i.e. matter) by splitting open some atoms and blowing some hideous big energy out.  (Also, that’s pretty much what the Wave-Partical Duality is telling us: subatomic particles are both energy (waves) and matter (particles) at more-or-less the same time.

string theory

To summarize, science has now proven that ALL things are ONE THING.

Now, until we can test the hypothesis it might be tempting to believe that that ONE THING that makes up EVERYTHING in the whole universe, is God.  That belief might be entirely appropriate especially if you have other forms of supporting data (like your prayers being answered).  At the very least, it would be appropriate to suspend disbelief and gather more data.  I mean, if you were God and you were all alone & the only thing existing in the big empty universe was you, what would you use to make the world?  I guess you would have to use your own body, or your own soul, especially if those two things were really ONE thing, as the data seems to suggest.

God is the matrix.

We could say, then that God is the Matrix.  God is the substrate.  If that’s the case, then that thing about God being both IN us, with us and all around us might start to make a different kind of sense.  Also, the bit about the first human being made from the very soil of Earth, is maybe, not so crazy after all, if, you know, the soil is not just matter but also the very soul of God.  If you got enough particles of anything together for long enough, you could end up creating a soul from the matter, just saying.

So, if you’re still following the logic, the only thing that really DOESN’T make sense is why we argue.  Or why we don’t treat the environment with the same respect and dignity that we treat our own bodies, or the bodies of our dear departed who have come from the soil and now gone back into it?  And why on Earth don’t we treat ourselves with the same respect and dignity we reserve for God?  And why don’t we treat each other as both God, and as ourselves?

We have a bunch of religions and spiritual practices telling us this same basic thing in different ways.  Now we have science proving it true.  Even if we could listen with no more sophistication than a simple nomadic sheep herder in a semi-desert thousands of years ago, we might hear enough truth to believe it.  Or at least write it down as a hypothesis, suspend disbelief and gather data.

I love bunt cake

I love bunt cake.

 

 

 

True

What if humans were more like the animals and insects? What if, for example, when we became bored we automatically began to make a high pitched droning sound like a cicada? It would be a game changer. Instead of pretending rapt interest in lectures that have continued too long or failed to actually inform or excite, we would be obliged by polite dignity to excuse ourselves and quietly leave the auditorium before we began to distract the others. The pompous lecturer would be left to face the empty seats of his own humility, and to reorganize his thoughts into words that better touch and inspire the listeners.

cicada

Click here for sound sample

Schools would become such a wild cacophony of squealing drones by lunchtime that students would have to be sent home early. Teachers, unable to hear themselves over the high pitched symphonies winding into frantic fervor, would have to forever abandon their forced memorization and superficial covering of topics for tests in favor of actual teaching. The neuroatypical students could no longer be marginalized, ignored, or labeled as poor learners. Their daily droning would teach us once and for all that their problem was not slow learning, but learning that was too fast, too thorough, and too far-reaching for traditional methods of spoon feeding disparate factoids. We would be forced to let them learn from experiential activities and then teach us. There would remain no doubt, no delusion about exactly who was failing whom.

What if your friends and lovers could no longer pretend to be engaged in your self-absorbed monologues? What if your children could no longer be expected to sit quietly through Grandpa’s inane diatribe or Grandma’s lecture on proper manners? We would be forced to become as interested in the lives and thoughts of others as we are in ourselves. There would be no more protracted and jealous divorce battles. We would have been driven from the home holding our ears during the first few days when we began to stifle our partners mind and spirit. Selecting a partner would become much easier, though. They would be the ones still listening when all the others had drifted away amid stifled squeaks.

angry ears

angry ears

And what if we had ears like cats or like the beautiful blue Navi from Avatar? If we walked into work in the morning with our ears laid back, people would know to stay away from us until we were over the strain of our commute. There would be no more brown nosing the boss for a promotion. The flex and tilt of our ears would give away our true feelings. Maybe bosses would even be obliged to become honestly engaged with their team rather than little dictators giving the hard work to others and stealing the credit for themselves.

Maybe we wouldn’t be able to go around grouchy all week snapping at others and blaming them for our foul moods if everyone could see that we arrived in a foul mood and simply nursed it for days. Seeing ourselves in the mirror might be enough to make us pull on the big boy or big girl pants and get over our bad selves. Maybe we couldn’t ignore our friends who had spent days or weeks with their ears drooping in depression. We might find a way to reach out to them and help.

depression cat

depression cat

Or if we could wag our tails like dogs when friends and loved ones came home. Flick the tips of our tails testily like cats before we lost our tempers. Purr when petted or given affection. Hiss our displeasure at annoyances. Maybe then our lives wouldn’t be built on fake relationships. Maybe our blood pressure wouldn’t soar, our arteries wouldn’t clog, and our bowels wouldn’t back up in our 40’s. Maybe it would be easier to focus on how much wagging or purring we had in or lives each day than how much bulged in our bank accounts. If healthy happy children wagged and yipped and gamboled playfully when their parents came home, perhaps abusive parenting would cease to be hidden. Then, perhaps, it could cease to exist.

happy wags

happy wags

Or maybe, just maybe, we could use our words. Since spoken words are what set us apart from other animals in our kingdom, maybe our words could be used to express our true emotions. Maybe we could allow people to speak their feelings freely and hiding true feelings behind false smiles could be called rude and thoughtless, instead of polite. Maybe children could be congratulated for identifying and giving voice to their true feelings. Maybe when people got angry they could just shout, “I’m angry at you!” and we could acknowledge their right to feel, and give them space until they were ready to solve the conflict. Maybe we wouldn’t follow false leaders into false wars if we all had a solid grip on how we really felt, and we weren’t afraid to say so. Maybe if we simply said what we felt to be true and refrained from saying what we didn’t honestly feel, maybe there would be a lot less confusion, coercion, and conflict. Maybe our true hearts and minds are a better guideline than all the intricacies of manners and polite society. Maybe its enough to be true to ourselves.

Make purrs, not war.

Make purrs, not war.

You CAN Stop Child Abuse

encourage-and-empower

Child abuse is much, much more common than you would ever suspect.   But just ONE adult who reaches out with compassion can make the world of difference.  Most insidious and damaging is child sexual assault because damage to the sexual body causes trauma to the emotional, spiritual, social, and physical bodies.  Like all abuse, sexual abuse takes many forms, not just the publically acknowledged form we call “rape”.  Anything that attacks or undermines the healthy sexuality of a person is sexual assault to the body, mind, and spirit.

To help and protect children we must understand how pedophiles choose their victims.  Children are preyed upon much more commonly than adults because they are more vulnerable and because they are whole and perfect.  A pedophile is someone who was damaged sexually themselves so they are sexually broken.  Rather than seeking appropriate healing, these individuals try to “steal” the beauty and wholeness from the sexual bodies of others.

Children come into the world whole and perfect, with open hearts and open minds. They glow with power and beauty.  Even though most people in our culture don’t consciously see this the way I do, everyone registers it subconsciously.  Predators see the parts they are missing and try to take them by force, or manipulation.  Of course, sexual power cannot be stolen (only earned by loving and empowering others) so the predator breaks the child’s spirit and remains broken himself, only damaging himself further through his cruelty.

The children most likely to be preyed upon are those who have no healthy caring adults willing to listen and talk frankly and honestly about sex.  Kids are made even more vulnerable if they are punished for “lying” (see How to Lie and Why You Should) or physically or emotionally abused by parents or caretakers (also pronounced “spanking”, “controlling”, “disciplining”, etc – see How to raise Children).  Such treatment leaves kids with no one they can turn to in times of doubt for fear they will not be believed…or for fear the adults in their lives will reject them.

Realize that, like adult victims of abuse, children experience feelings akin to shame, guilt, revulsion and self loathing in the wake of assault.  But these kids don’t even have the words, knowledge or resources to sort these feelings, reach out for help, or reason them away.  So the pain and damage goes deeper, making the child even more vulnerable to other predators.  One strong, kind adult who can reach out to a such a child, even once, can turn this picture around.  The crushing spiral of damage and vulnerability CAN be stopped.

Key to helping is knowing the signs and having the courage to act.  Adults may ignore the tell-tale signs of child abuse because they are afraid to confront the perpetrator.  This is NOT an unrealistic fear.  Abusers are usually experts at manipulation and can easily turn the tables, making the hero look like the perpetrator.  Moreover, the courts make the process of punishment convoluted and ineffective.    The good news is that punishing the abuser is NOT the way to stop child abuse!  In fact sending a sexually broken predator to prison is likely to make him MORE of a danger to the community, not less.

When, exactly, has violence, used against the violent, been shown to STOP violence??  Never.

So the REALLY GREAT news is that you don’t need to attack the attacker.  What is needed AND most effective is empowering the victims & would-be victims.

Empower kids!

Empower kids for safety!

How to Spot Abuse

1. Inappropriate sex play – while it’s completely normal for kids to take an interest in nudity of all kinds, to play with their own bodies AND to be curious about animal mating behavior and reproduction, kids who act out adult human sexual behavior are demonstrating knowledge beyond their years.  DO NOT punish kids for such behavior.  DO NOT get embarrassed.  See this demonstration as a cry for help.

2. Sudden weight gain (or loss) – A sudden change in weight can often be traced directly back to an event of abuse or trauma.  Appetite is a funny thing.  It often goes haywire in response to stress.  People may use food to fill an (emotional) emptiness inside.  Or they may exert control over what they eat as a subconscious response to a desperate lack of control over more profound areas of their lives.  Neither gain nor loss of weight in children should ever be dismissed as merely physical.

3. Nervousness, anxiety, fear & avoidance – If a child gets stomach aches, tremors, or other physical symptoms when its time to go to school or church (etc) this is a red flag that something very serious is wrong at the institution.  Often, predators intimidate their child victims with threats to their parents, siblings, or loved ones.  The child may be too terrified to tell anyone what happened or who did it, but they will go to great lengths to avoid being alone with the predator.  Please DO NOT dismiss a child’s fear as “normal” or punish them for “acting up”.  Always take a child’s fear seriously.

4. Back pain & degenerative bone disease – Many of the victims of child sexual assault that I have treated manifest some kind of lower back pain or degeneration.  The symbolic connection is clear: the spine and especially the lumbar region form the foundation of our physical selves.  Back pain and disease that persists in young people should always be taken as more than simply physical circumstantial, or random.  I have had great results healing such conditions by treating the whole person.

5. Compulsive lying – When children are forced to keep the terrible secret of sexual assault to themselves, their whole lives become a lie.  They have to lie to themselves every day to hold on to their sanity.  Its very common that these people become compulsive liars.  Compulsive lying can be spotted when a person lies randomly or casually.   There may seem to be no reason or point to the lies.  They may invent tall tales just to get positive attention or they may enhance the truth for no apparent reason.  Never punish a child for lying (See How to Lie and Why You Should).  Help compulsive liars, child or adult, to seek counseling.

6. ADD, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, Split Personality (a.k.a Dissociative Disorder), and even the more problematic manifestations of the Asperger’s Spectrum – all these “incurable” problems of unknown cause have their roots in child abuse.  The trauma caused to the psyche of a child by physical punishment and assault often results in a mind that is “broken” and unable to function with continuity.  If you believe in spanking and have a child manifesting any of these disorders, you need to change yourself before you can change your child.

Kid's empowerment is key to stopping abuse!

Kid’s empowerment is key to stopping abuse!

How to STOP Abuse

1. Listen & believe – Kids don’t always have the vocabulary to express what has happened to them.  If assaults continued over a long period the memories are probably somewhat suppressed.   So if a child tries to tell you something about abuse it is likely to sound vague and confusing.  You job is to believe them.  Your job is NOT to play judge, jury, or detective inasmuch as those are tempting roles.  Take any ideas about wrongfully accusing an adult off the table and simply focus on believing and supporting the child.  This is how you actually make a difference.

2. Relieve – One of the most powerful things you can say to a child who has been the victim of assault is this, “Any child your age would have done exactly what you did.”  Believe it or not, one of the most soul crushing burdens children suffer is the burden of guilt and shame.  As obvious as it may seem to you that a child cannot be responsible for sexual assault, victims of all ages suffer from the delusion that they could have and should have done something to stop it.  Predators also use the natural human tendency to self blame to keep their victims silent.  They may say things to make the victim believe they were voluntary participants, or that they were seducing or enticing the perp.  So when you reassure a person that their silence was normal and the best anyone could have done, you lift a huge psychological burden.

3. Answer and Explain – The most empowering thing you can do for your own kids or any kids in your care is to answer their questions about sex and sexuality as simply and matter-of-factly as you can.  Children are sexual from the day they are born, but it is a very different kind of sexuality than that of adults.  So get over your own hang ups, get some facts and share them with the kids.  My studies have shown that the best way to ensure a child will grow to have a happy, well adjusted and satisfying sex life is to answer their questions about sex factually and without embarrassment when they are young.

4. Empower & Support – Talk to kids like they are people.  Support and respect their opinions and ideas just as you would an adult.  They are only small and inexperienced, they are not mentally deficient.  Never teach a child to obey an adult “Because I said so.”  Avoid giving too much power to authority figures.  Children will respond respectfully to adults and authority when they themselves are treated with appropriate respect.  If a child has a “creepy feeling” about a person or a place, don’t talk them out of it. Believe them.  Children are naturally more in tune with the unseen world.

5. Affectionate touch – Hug your kids often. Pet their heads. Pat their backs. Kiss their ears and toes.  Humans need warm affectionate touch like flowers need sunshine.  There is something about kind, respectful physical affection, freely given, that both heals and prevents victimization.

6. Treat & Heal – I wish all counselors were good counselors.  I wish everyone working for child protective services actually cared about children.  I wish I knew even one other therapist or health professional who could actually heal the sexual body.  You have the right to be discriminating when you choose a professional to help your child.  And you have that responsibility.  I treat and heal assault survivors everyday.  I give life, liberty and happiness back to those who have been preyed upon and broken.  Please call, text or email for an appointment.

Facts:  Of the patients I treat about 50% have signs of sexual assault in some form.  Males and females are equally likely to be preyed upon. MOST sexual dysfunction among adults (from lack of lubrication to uterine prolapse, from incontinence to poor libido to erectile dysfunction to cancers) has its root cause in sexual assault. 

 

 

How to Raise Children and Pets II

Be The Leader

The most important practical step in teaching children and pets is to establish your role as the firm and fair leader.  If you are a good competent leader your young charges will be eager to learn from you.  If you are a poor leader, it won’t matter how good your teaching techniques are, neither pets nor kids will learn much.  (They will learn to be like you but they will not behave or learn manners.)

Leaders eat first.

Leaders eat first.

Rule of Food

In dog and cat communities the rule of leadership is simple and clear:  The one who makes the kill eats his fill.  In other words to establish yourself as the leader, you must eat your meals and snacks before your pets and resist the urge to share, until you are finished.  It is a good practice for the leader to share the last bite of food as a reward for waiting patiently.  Do NOT share while you are still eating.  This applies to both cats and dogs.  With cats, its important also that you do not even let them sniff your food.  If you DON’T apply this rule your kitten or puppy will soon establish themselves as your leader and your decisions will be disregarded and overturned.

Now for the food rule to work you must put down only as much dog or cat food as your pet can eat in one sitting. Do NOT keep the food bowl filled throughout the day.  Put it down at mealtimes and then take it up.  You should leave  fresh water out through the day.

Firm and Fair

The rule of food does not really apply to humans but the firm and fair rule does.  Being the leader depends on being firm and fair.  The leader of any group is expected to make decisions for the well-being of the group members.  If you make decisions that are self-serving and unfair to your youngsters, they will begin to disregard your decisions and rebel.  So you need to say what you mean and mean what you say.

The easiest way to stay consistent (i.e. firm) is to decide in advance which things actually matter TO YOU.   Enforce rules and learning that apply to those things.   Then decide that all the things that don’t matter, DON’T  MATTER.  For example, when my kids were babies I decided that Safety, Health, and Getting Along With Others were the things I cared about.  I can be firm and consistent about teaching and enforcing rules that apply to these areas because I ACTUALLY care about them and because they ACTUALLY matter for my kids’ futures.  So I don’t bother my kids with whether their choice of clothing matches or is fashionable, my concern is only for whether the clothes are clean, comfortable and appropriate for the weather.

Let kids dress themselves.

Kids need to make their own choices.

Kid fashion.

Kid controlled fashion.

Likewise, when my kids became teens I applied the same standards to monitoring their social life.  Do they have the tools for making friends and Getting Along?  Are they staying Safe and Healthy?  So while other Mom’s were asking their FaceBook friends “At what age should girls be allowed to date?” and fretting over making social choices FOR their teens, my rules were clear.  I knew that I would allow my daughters to date as early and as often as they had an interest.  Because when they are too young to drive their dates were just another opportunity for me to teach Health, Safety, and Getting Along.  I took them on their dates, demonstrating how to strike up conversation, how to manage awkward moments, how to meet the parents, how to trust their own good judgment, and how to stay Safe and Healthy.

Just as I had allowed my kids to choose their clothes, I also allowed them to choose their own pace for dating, and drinking, and sex – as long as they are safe & healthy & getting along.  Allowing young people freedom of choice gives them the chance to develop good judgment.  It allows them to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes while you are still there to help, and the consequences are still relatively manageable.

Middle school dating is good practice.

Middle school dating is good practice.

Too much restriction communicates the message that you don’t trust their judgment and decision making abilities.  And that in turn teaches your child that she cannot trust her own intuition, judgment, and decisions.  So when her friends all jump off a bridge she will go along with them.  Even though her intuition tells her “Danger!” she knows she cannot trust her intuition but must trust in “what other people will think.”  When an adult tells your son firmly to get in the white van, in he gets, even though his spidey sense is tingling.  Because you have taught him he must do things “because I say so” rather than trusting his own decision making skills.

The white van of random authority.

The white van of random authority.

You see?  To keep your kids truly safe when you are not around they must learn to trust themselves, NOT to simply comply with adults, or group think.  Its logical and reasonable.  And it explains the age-old questions of why teenagers are so hell-bent on going along with the crowd and yielding to peer pressure.  Its because their parents spent their whole childhood teaching them that “keeping up with the Jones'” and “what the neighbors think” is more important than being real, or safe or loved.

How to say “NO”

Before I teach you how to make ‘NO’ stick, you must first be sure that you are ONLY saying ‘no’ to things that actually matter.  Some parents seem to think their job is to say ‘no’ several times per hour. Or maybe they just get off on the feeling of power they get from saying ‘no’ to small people and punishing them if they disobey.  Some fools call this leadership, but that is a misnomer.  The correct pronunciation of the word is “Bullying“.  So if you were raised by or schooled by bullies, I am truly sorry.  But from here on out you need to work on  your sense of personal power and stop bullying smaller people.

True power comes only from empowering others.  Everything else is properly called ‘Bullying

To make ‘no’ mean ‘no’ you must employ a technique I call the Baby Elephant.  When Indian elephants are babies they tie one foot to a stake with a rope.  The baby elephant soon learns that it cannot pull the stake out of the ground.  Now when that baby grows up it can be tied to the same stake.  Even though it is now strong enough to pull the stake up and run off, it stays anchored to the spot by its belief that it is not strong enough to disobey.

Use the Baby Elephant technique early and often.

Use the Baby Elephant technique early and often.

When your baby (human, canine, or feline) is young you must employ the Baby Elephant technique whenever possible – but NOT by Bullying, simply by following up any legit ‘no’ by making it so.  For example, lets say you take your young human to grandma’s or to the home of a childless friend.  Baby, being intelligent and curious, spots the delicate glass vase on the coffee table and goes for it like a magnet.  You say ONE loud and clear (but not frantic) “NO”.  Then you immediately swoop down and wisk the vase away to a high shelf where baby can neither see nor touch it.

See how nicely that works.  Once again, you say one “NO” then you make it so.  Keep this policy up for as long as you can.  Once baby is so big that you can no longer “make it so” they will actually believe deep in their soul that when YOU say “No” it always means “No”.  Their firm belief based on your consistent behavior will continue to make it so for the rest of their life.  Magic!

The Baby Elephant technique works with kittens and pups also, so work it early and often.  Remember, you must teach them good behaviors when they are still small enough to make it so.  For example, when that cuddly adorable kitten plays with you and for the first time flares its tiny claws out, say “No” then immediately make it so.  This is easily done by wrapping a small amount of scotch tape over its front paws.  It may take 15-20 minutes for kitty to pull the tape off.  And while it doesn’t hurt, it makes an indelible impact on the mind.  You will probably only need to repeat this lesson with tape about 2-3 times before they learn that claws and play don’t mix.

You can use this technique with humans and pets to teach good manners of all kinds.  For example, if you want your pet to stay off the furniture you can say “No” and then pick up the baby and put them in a confined space for a short while – like a play pen.  You can keep kitties off the kitchen counters by covering the counter with sticky reversed tape or crumpled foil – and saying one firm “No” when they test their agility.  Again, it won’t take many ‘tries’ to teach the lesson.

Keep your “no’s” short and sweet and keep your repercussions short and intuitive.  The idea, again, is NOT to punish – ever.  But to teach self control.  Allowing baby to experience natural repercussions is best. And when that isn’t safe or practical, make the repercussions as ‘natural’ and logical as possible.  So if your voice has a punishing tone or the time in the play pen is long enough to make baby cry, you are being too harsh.  The idea is to create a learning situation that rewards, rather that punishes the learner – makes them proud and happy to learn!

Easy Enough

I am a Girl.  (You and my Ms Mag friends may want to correct me, “No, no, You’re a woman.” but if you knew me you would agree.  I am a girly girl.) Girls like to share and be nice.   I have many girl friends who dislike some of the harsher realities involved in Being The Leader.  Like eating a big pompous meal while cute kitties and doggies watch with big sad eyes and mournful sighs.  Girls, bear in mind that none of your furry friends is starving.  Nor will they starve as long as they remain in your home.  But if you let the cute cuddly babies “share” rather than learning manners, once they become adults they will make your life hell.  And you may just throw up your hands and decide to set them loose on their own.  Then, I promise you, they will not only starve, but starving may well become the least of their worries.

The same happens with human babies.  It may sometimes seem like too much work to swoop down and make the magic “No” a concrete reality.  It may often seem easier to simply confine and restrict your child rather than let them experience the consequences of their decisions.   But one day that child will be alone in the world without you.  One day their consequences will be beyond your ability to clean up with a kiss and a bandaid.  Your child will one day fall and break a leg if you don’t let them fall and skin a knee early and often.  Likewise, she may break her heart only once, once and for all.  Unless you let her bruise it a little over the years when you’re there to teach her to tuck and roll and leave behind a trail of friends instead of wounded enemies.

Let them skin their knees and hearts while they can.

Let them skin their knees and hearts while they have you.

In short, you need to toughen up and let your babies suffer discomforts.  Its true that it hurts you more than them, while they’re cute and fluffy and little.  But if you’re too selfish to hurt for them while you can, you will cause them a great deal of hurt down the road.  So toughen up like this girly girl and take it like a man.  The world is much to big and wild a place for you to teach a baby all it needs to know.  Your job is to teach it how to learn quickly and learn well.  Your job is to prepare it for the day it faces the big wild world alone.

 

 

Love – Pets, Parents & Partners

Everywhere we are inundated by songs, stories, and movies about love.   Yet still people wonder “What is love?”  Still people go out looking for love.  Still people in their 20’s, 30’s, 50’s and beyond claim that they want to “find someone to love”  or “fall in love”.  What frustrates me most is how many people think of love as a mere feeling.  Or how often people (or songs) claim that “my love” (i.e. feelings) should require, expect or demand some response from “you”.

Love is what you do.

Love is what you do.

I can understand why young people are confused.  (I remember in my tweens asking my mother and other adults “How will I know when I’m in love?” and being blithely told, “Oh, you’ll just know!” with a secret look that I now realize was bluster to cover up their own ignorance.)  MOST, not just many, adults go through life and NEVER actually experience real love.  I’m going to save you from that sad fate.  I’m going to tell you the secret.

Love, like happiness, is something you MAKE for yourself out of thin air.  Only you have to CHOOSE to make it, you have to decide and then commit to loving or make a determination that you WILL love someone.  Because the truth is love is NOT something you feel. Love is something you DO for another person.

Real love is unconditional.

Real love is unconditional.

Love is what you CHOOSE to do when another person’s happiness is as important to you as your own.  When you realize that someone makes you happy whenever they feel happy and you feel yourself drawn in to that whirwind of happiness, then you dedicate yourself and your actions to helping that person along the road to happiness – that, my friends, IS LOVE.  So love is an action.  Love is a dedication to action that empowers and enhances another person’s life.  Without ACTION there is no love.

That’s a hard concept to grasp.  But it is the truth.  Without action there is NO LOVE.  You cannot claim to love someone if you are not taking action for their happiness and lifelong benefit.  LIFELONG benefit.  That’s right, I went there!  This is exactly why children get spoiled if you give them things but not attention, or if you indulge their whims, without looking out for their health, safety, and manners.  Manners and self-control is what children NEED to make true friends and have happy satisfying lives.  If you indulge children but neglect their long term happiness, they become spoiled.  They act like brats.  But the secret is this:  you can indulge your kids or grandkids all you want as long as you also give them what they need for long term happiness:  attention, health, safety & manners.

Love is empowering.

Love is empowering.

Raising kids is how most people learn true love.  I have been attacked and badgered by folks who want to claim that the love we feel for children is intrinsically different than the love we feel for a romantic partner.  This is a delusion.  If you want to learn how to love, raise a child or even a pet.  But be sure you don’t spoil them.  Spoiled behavior is your sign that you are indulging YOURSELF without thinking of the long term well being of the pet or child.  Children and pets who are actually loved will not become spoiled.

So why do so many people think the love we feel for our romantic partners is different?  Because they have never actually loved.  What they FEEL is DESIRE.  Desire takes many forms (sexual, affectionate, attention) but it is not love, it is selfish.  Love is something you do for another.  Desire is something you feel.  It’s really that simple.

So if you have never taken action for the long-term happiness and benefit of another person, you have never experienced true love.  Please, do NOT go out looking for a romantic partner.  Please, do NOT adopt a pet or a child. If you have never loved someone, do NOT focus your selfish desire on some other person or you may well ruin their life, along with your own.  If you have never experienced true love? Work on YOU.

Work on COMPASSION – the ability to put yourself in another person’s place and feel what they feel, understand their motivations and their shortcomings and actually care about their happiness.  Work on WISDOM – the ability to project into the future and predict the outcome and then choose to do the thing that benefits that other person the most.  Work on COURAGE – the ability to ACT in spite of fear.  If there is no fear, there is no courage.  Courage is what it takes to change desire, or any warm feeling for another person into real love.  Because without action there is NO true love.  So work on YOU, before you draw another person into your life, canine, feline, or human.

Love is giving.

Love is giving.

Lastly, love is NOT limited by like.  You may LIKE someone you do not love or love someone you do not particularly like.  For example as adults, many of us LOVE our families of origin but, alas few of us actually LIKE them.  Like is what makes you want to spend time in another person’s company, share activities and conversation.  Love, is a decision and a dedication to that decision.  To me, love is easy but like is rare.  Love never gives up and I never actually stop loving anyone that I have ever loved.  But like, well, that is based on behavior.  So I can fall out of like in an instant if I lose respect for someone or their behavior.  Love is not conditional.

Love is active and continuous and everlasting.

Love is active and continuous and everlasting.

Ideally, a good romantic partnership will consist of love and like.  You may decide to break up with a partner when respect or like fades, but if you truly loved, you will continue to love them….from an appropriate distance.  Likewise, because the children and pets we raise are people we choose, we must have the courage, maturity, and decency to simply DECIDE to love them.  Therefore, you are never allowed to STOP loving pets or children.  You ARE, however allowed to take a break from their company when their irritating behaviors or whiny voices or ever-present demands make you want to scream.  Don’t scream.  Don’t hit.  Don’t punish. Dont blame.  DO give yourself a break!!