Happy Thanksgiving To All
While problems both medical and personal continue to keep me from publishing my rambles on the schedule I originally set, still I feel the need to make the time to wish all who read them a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I hope you are surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones with all you could ever hope for in the way of contentment and happiness. May your table run over with all the blessings of the season, and peace reign in your home. And should you find the need to go anywhere today other than to a friend's or relative's home for celebration, may it go quickly and smoothly allowing you to return to that which is most important and for which we give thanks. As for me and mine, we are better than we have been recently and if I have to work a 12 hour shift today (as I do), well, I knew what was in store for me when I entered the medical field. And thus, we shall celebrate as we can with a largish meal tomorrow to make up for today. Until next I can post, may God keep you well and thank you for stopping by my little corner of the internet once again.
Help Needed Please
Last night Cindy and Gary Hipps, the parents of Tucker Hipps, the Clemson student who was found dead near Lake Hartwell 8 weeks ago gave an interview with the local news asking for help from anyone who might know something about how their son died. Since Cindy has been a personal friend since I attended x-ray school many, many moons ago, I feel like I owe it to her to try and help in any way I can. Thus I turn to you dear readers. I know my rambles are too new to have much of a following yet, but every little bit helps; and if each of you would pass this on through Facebook, Twitter, G+, and e-mail then maybe someone who knows something will feel compelled to come forward and share what they know, even if it's anonymously. Please, I beg of you, help me to help my friend. It breaks my heart to see her in so much pain, almost as much as it angers me that the local police appear to be dragging their feet on this investigation instead of pursuing it with all the vigor at their disposal. As you will here in this interview, the cops have had the toxicology report back for almost a month yet they have yet to release it. Indeed, until this interview most of us were under the impression that they were still waiting on it to get back. Why? What are they not telling Cindy and her husband Gary? I will never encourage vigilante style justice, but Cindy needs closure desperately and the police do not seem to be trying to find it for her very hard. Perhaps it's time for public opinion to remind them that they cannot just sweep things under the rug. And if my ramblings do reach someone who has some little bit of knowledge that will help, I pray that they will listen to their conscious and do the right thing.
On Figuring Out What's Wrong
I know I had promised on Friday to cover some ideas to deal with elopement today, but considering Wills was sick over the weekend I thought a better subject for today's ramble might be the difficulty many parents of autistic children experience when their children are sick. "Oh come on" some of you out there are probably thinking, "What kind of parent can't tell when their kid is sick?" Well that's a fair question, but I never said the difficulties came with telling whether or not your child is sick. Hell, when a normally active, indeed almost hyper, child does nothing all day but lay on the floor or curled up on the coach under an afghan then even a complete idiot can tell that the child doesn't feel well. No, the difficulties start with figuring out just what is wrong and can all too often extend to getting the child diagnosed and treated. I mean, think about it. If your neurotypical son or daughter comes down with the flu, they can tell you that they ache all over, especially in their joints, that they're feeling chills or hot, that they're nauseous and feel like they're about to vomit, etc., etc. But with an autistic child they often can't talk, so figuring out what is wrong is more like trying to figure out what's wrong with an infant or a toddler who's too young to talk. Then you have the problem that many autistic children, including my son, have what is commonly called Sensory Integration Disorder where their senses are not always giving them the same input all the time, and often they can't tone down what their senses are telling them at all. To understand just what this can be like, imagine yourself at the mall on a busy day talking to a friend while the two of you shop. You're successfully tuning out all the other voices you hear around you and that persistent mall music so that you can concentrate on what your friend is saying. At the same time you probably don't even notice how your clothes feel nor the scents coming out of "The Bath And Body Shop" you just passed, and if you notice the scents from the food court it's probably only because you're starting to get hungry. For a person with autism who suffers from Sensory Integration Disorder, every single stimuli that you're ignoring is pounding away at them demanding to be recognized all at the same time and they have no way to tone any of it down! Every conversation is the same volume and demanding the same attention. You are acutely aware of just what you're wearing and what it feels like, and those scents can actually be overwhelming. Now apply this to what you feel like when you have the flu and it's no wonder that even those who have reasonable verbal skills have serious troubles explaining just what is wrong. For those who are effectively nonverbal, it's an exercise in futility.
Fortunately most pediatricians receive extensive training in how to handle these cases, and Wills' pediatrician is outstanding in this way. But Wills didn't get sick when the pediatrician's office was open, he got sick on a weekend when our choices were to wait it out and hope, or take him to either a free standing clinic (aka outpatient center, emergent care center, or doc-in-a-box) or an emergency room. After more than 30 years as a healthcare professional, there was no way I was going to misuse an emergency room for this (I'm sorry if I offend someone, but a cold or the flu is NOT an emergency), and while emergent care centers are often extremely competent at what they do, they are also rarely trained thoroughly in how to handle autistic children. I still remember once when a nurse I had worked with at the hospital I was currently employed by before she quit to take a position at a new doc-in-the-box kept asking me and Wills to describe what he was feeling. Before we were through, I felt like screaming at her "What part of non-verbal don't you understand!" And the doctor, who I wouldn't hesitate for an instant to allow to treat my wife or I, proved to be not much better! Truthfully, it's wasn't their fault. Neither were trained to deal with children on the autism spectrum, which can almost be a whole other specialty all on it's own. But when your child is sick, and you have no idea what is wrong other than the fact that he is running a low grade fever and listless, it can be very hard to keep this in mind. All you find yourself caring about is that your child needs medical care now and the medical staff you're dealing with seems to be complete idiots who couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the sole! And to be honest, much as I respect my coworkers in the emergency room where I work, many of them would be just as lost if I were to misuse the emergency room for such a matter. Fortunately for us, both my wife and I are healthcare professionals and, as might be expected after raising my son for all these years, quite adept at reading what bothering him. So we elected in this case to simply keep him home, keep giving him plenty to drink, and children's motrin (he absolutely will NOT take adult motrin because he cannot stand the taste) to keep the fever down. It might have been nice to be able to get a prescription for tamaflu, but I doubt he would have been willing to take even if we had it so it's kind of a moot point. Many parents of autistic children build up a fairly respectable library of medical books aimed at the layman for the same reason; but to many people who don't understand our unique situations we border on neglect. After all, if your child is sick, the first thing you should do as a good parent is take him or her to the doctor's right? Well, sorry but we wish we could; but when you've had too many doctors for your comfort scratch their heads and admit that they don't know what to think, or worse, try to bluff their way through with obvious B.S., you learn to coop with it as best you can until a doctor who you KNOW will understand is available. If that means waiting 2 or 3 days to see the doctor, then even as you loose sleep worrying that maybe this time you're making a mistake you still wait those 2 or 3 days.
As alway dear reader, I hope this give you just a little more insight as to why we do the things that we do and a deeper understanding of our children. Until next time, God bless and thank you for stopping by.
In my last self/home defense ramble we started to talk about self defense when you're out and about, and I assigned you some homework; namely to check into the carry laws for your home state and/or town. Since that time, I found out a few things that I hadn't paid enough attention to myself. Did you know that some states require a permit to carry pepper spray and others ban it completely? Doesn't make sense to me, but it is a prime example of why I advised you to research the laws of your home state thoroughly first. Still, I promised we'd start to discuss carry guns in this post so let's be on with the task at hand.
What reduces the recoil, at least to some extant is the design of the gun. At it's simplest, the more mass the gun has the less the recoil is transmitted to the shooter. There's a multitude of ways to achieve this mass, from the material the gun is made from to the recoil springs used in automatics; but in the end it all comes down to achieving or simulating mass.
Next comes managing, or handling if you prefer, the recoil that does come through to your hands. The two biggest things that come into play here are directly related to the size of the gun, and they are barrel length and grip size. The larger they are, the easier it is to control the kick. Not sure you believe me? Think back to the first time you ever shot a handgun. Remember how the muzzle tried to rise and the grip tried to twist in your hand? With a longer barrel, you have more mass that not only helps absorb recoil but also puts more weight at the end which helps reduce muzzle rise while a longer grip that allows you to get more of your hand on it will give you a firmer grip so you can better contain and control the twisting caused by the recoil.
Of course, you the shooter have a big part to play in all this as well. Some of you will be perfectly at home with the tiny grip and stubby barrel of a modern pocket pistol while others will feel more comfortable with the added mass and size of a full sized handgun. Or maybe what feels best to you is a compact that's somewhere in between the two for size. And that brings us to your home work this week. Go on out to your local range and try out different guns of every size. See what feels good to you, and on Friday we'll start talking about the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Until then, have fun; but most importantly, do it with attitude!
To Wonder Why They Wander
As you might recall from my previous ramble on service dogs, I mentioned that one of the things they help with is wandering. This is one topic that’s been kind of hot lately, especially since a friend of mine’s son died recently and the way his body was found resonates way too strongly with one of my greatest nightmares. You see he was found after being reported missing by a local body of water.
The unfortunate fact is that people who have autism tend to wander away. And not just wander away but do so in a manner that psychologists and law enforcement agencies call eloping. In fact they are 8 times more likely to do so than their neurotypical siblings, and what makes it worse is that over a third of these that do wander or elope are not able to communicate their name, home address, or even phone number. Still others are like my son who could as long as he was calm enough, but if he gets too upset or frightened then any ability to communicate in a clear and effective manner goes right out the window and repeated questioning, especially by strangers, is just likely to make him even more upset. All of which means that even if my son was found safe and sound by the police, attempts by them to find out what happened and where he lives are most likely going to be entirely futile.
So why do autistic children, and even autistic adults wander away from home or places of safety? Truthfully no one is really sure. Some may do it because they’ve seen or heard something that caught their interest such as a pretty bird, a set of train tracks, or a body of water that looks enticing. One example of this type of behavior is the case of an 11 year old girl with Asperger’s (a form of high functioning autism) who disappeared while riding her bike only to be found hip deep in alligator infested waters deep in the Florida swamplands. It seems that the girl was a nature lover who spotted something that she wanted to take a picture of and got so engrossed in what she was taking pictures of that she never noticed where she was or her danger until it was too late and she had no idea how to get back to her bike.
Another case involved a 7 year old boy who wondered away from the playground at his school. Fueled by a fascination of exit signs, the child apparently took off through the woods and was headed towards the highway when a man stopped him and tried to get him back to his school safely. However the nearest school was not his and the officials there had no idea who this child was, so they called the police. Since the child in this story couldn’t communicate effectively who he was, and since his school for some reason or other had never called the police or the child’s mother to report him missing, the police were reduced to going school to school trying to figure out who he was and where he belonged.
Still others on the autism spectrum seem to being fleeing something. Whether that something is something they fear, or just something that is causing their minds and senses to overload; the result is the same. They think of nothing but getting away from whatever is causing too much stress for them to handle with absolutely no thought given to where they are going except to get to some thing or place calming and soothing to their overloaded systems. Either way they all too often end up in dangerous situations where no one who knows them knows where they are, and let’s be honest here. Good Samaritans like the man in the last example are all too rare in todays world. Indeed 2 out 3 parents of elopers report that their kids had a “close call” in traffic before they were returned to safety and 32% or more of eloping children have a “close call” with possible drowning. Which may also help explain the results of a recent Danish study that found that the mortality rate among those on the Autism Spectrum is twice as high as the general population.
Then there’s the often noted attraction those with autism seem to have for water. Many theories have been brought forward and debated as to why this attraction exists, but in all honesty no one really knows for sure. The most commonly accepted theory seems to that water helps calm the autistic child or adult partly through the gentle, repetitive patterns of reflections and waves as well as the even pressure it puts on their bodies. As of yet though there’s just not enough data to really tell what the attraction is, we just know that it’s reported in a large number of cases; which may be why a California study found that the majority of accidental deaths among those on the Autism Spectrum are due to drowning. As for myself, I only know that my son is rarely happier than when he’s playing at the local pool or in the lake at his grandmother’s house.
So what can be done to help keep our children safe? Well, there are some things, but this ramble is already starting to resemble a book. Besides, my son's bus should be here any minute now; so I think I'll continue this on Monday. Until then gentle reader, may God watch over you and yours.
An Apology From The Waiting Room
It has been said that the death stroke of any cartoonist is to go more than a couple of days without putting out something new, even if it's a twist on the old " I Told You I Was Sick" line. And while I'm still what would have to be considered a Noob at blogging, I suspect it's true here as well. So I definitely owe my readers an apology. Unfortunately for me, over the past week I've become intimately familiar with more waiting rooms at doctor'so offices, outpatient centers and hospitals than I really want to admit. Seems like the only one in the house who hasn't needed to go has been my daughter! Still I hope to catch up tonight and tomorrow so that I'll be back on track by Monday at the latest.
Also, for those of you in the Greenville/Spartanburg area, my daughter and I will be manning a booth at the Barnyard Flea Market off Rt 101 on Saturday good Lord willing and the creek don't rise. In addition to our line of targets, I've been teaching Jannie how to weave paracord and we plan to have a selection of bracelets, key chains, lanyards, and dog collars available as well. So come on out and see what we have first hand. We'd love to see you in person.
Are You Doing Your Duty Today?
Once again it's Election Day, a day when we can exercise both our right to vote & our duty to vote wisely. I won't tell you how to vote, I'll simply say I hope you've done your homework and vote for the person you honestly think will do the best job and not the one some political hack tells you to vote for.
Personally, I'll admit that this year I've been torn in many ways. Just as an example, what has come to be known as "Obamacare" offers my son his best shot at receiving decent medical care for the rest of his life, but what will be the final cost to my daughter? What's more, the very politicians who are most likely to make sure my son gets what he will need for a comfortable life inspite of his autisms are also the ones most likely to try to take away my rights to own a gun.
So exercise your right to vote, but do it well. Think before you pull that handle or punch that button. What you decide today will shape our nation for years to come. Make sure you vote for the person who will really do what you want and need, not just make pretty promises.
Hey, and welcome back to Targets With Attitude. Hope you had a great weekend and that your kids made out like bandits on Halloween night. Well, it's another Monday and that means it's time for another ramble about Autism and Special Needs. One of the hotter items in the world of autism right now is service dogs, and right away I can hear some of you out there going "Service Dogs? But these children aren't blind!". True, most of us do think of Seeing Eye Dogs whenever we think about service dogs, but dogs can and are used for so much more now-a-days. In fact, there are even some dogs trained to help epileptics since some dogs seem to be able to sense when a seizure is coming and can help warn their person of that fact as well as help protect them while they are in the midst of one.
But we are talking about service dogs for autistic children like my son. A properly trained service dog can do so much for an autistic child that it can almost seem like a miracle. For one thing, dogs seem to act like what one researcher called a "social catalyst". People just seem to open up with dogs, and the same seems to be true for many people on the autism spectrum. For instance, when therapy dogs are used during sessions the children seem to be more talkative and socially engaged during the session plus some who tend to be overly aggressive seem to be less so when the dog is around. They also seem to some how encourage adults to be more open with the child in question as well. In another study done at Hospital Bohars in France, children on the autism spectrum who got either a dog or a cat after the age of five showed more improvement in both offering comfort to others and in sharing their belongings than their peers who did not. Now admittedly, the study was a rather small one and more studies with larger numbers of subjects will need to be done before the results can be proved, but it still gives us hope that there might be something there.
Another thing a properly trained service dog seems to be able to do is help these children bring their emotions and impulses under better control. As anyone who has ever seen an autistic child fly into a full blown meltdown over something only they know about, this can be a god send. Imagine sitting at the kitchen table discussing what to have for dinner or what to get Aunt Lisa for her birthday when all of a sudden you hear your son who has been sitting quietly playing at the computer suddenly start talking in an agitated voice and before you can even get up from the table, much less make into the other room to see what's wrong, he's suddenly running through the house screaming at the top of his lungs, babbling on about something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and pounding on anything within reach, including himself. Believe me, as scary as it sounds it's even scarier in real life, and your fear isn't always just for your child. If there's an frail, elderly relative in the house or a younger, weaker sibling, you may fear that they may be unintentionally hurt as much as you fear for the safety of the child having the meltdown. Yet a well trained service dog can sometimes help head these sort of meltdowns off or at least help the child regain control much more quickly than they would otherwise. I've also heard stories from some families of how their service dog helps their children on the spectrum get to sleep with fewer hassles and problems; and once asleep, they seem to help the child stay asleep instead of waking up at odd hours of the night for no reason that anyone could figure out.
Finally, a well trained service dog can help safe guard a child on the spectrum. It's a sad fact that children with autism are more than 4 times more likely to wonder off than their neurotypical siblings. Why this is, no one is really sure yet. Sometimes it seems like the child is wandering to something that has caught their eye or imagination, other times they seem to be trying to get away from something that is causing them stress; but either way it can be a real danger since autistic children do not seem to understand danger as well as we, their families, could wish. If the child is small enough, and the service dog big enough, the two can be tethered together in such a way that the child cannot wander off without the dog actively going along with it. Plus, when the child is older, if he or she is used to being tethered to the dog then he/she won't even think of trying to pull the dog along because they "know" that the dog won't allow it. Plus, while children on the autism spectrum tend to be very trusting and innocent, dogs have been bred since time began to protect their owners so a parent's fear of someone kidnapping their naive child is greatly diminished.
Still, these dogs are not, and cannot be for everyone. Some cases are like my son's. You see Wills was hurt by an overly friendly and over active large puppy when he was only 3. Ever since then he has been absolutely terrified of dogs, and while he no longer runs from them even today he tries his best to make sure that I'm between him and any dog he might see. For another thing, the cost of training a service dog can be almost astronomical, and the dog is likely to need additional training every year over the course of his or her lifespan. Thus even if you have very good insurance indeed, it's possible you may not be able to afford one. And finally, the number of dogs that are of the right temperament to be a good service dog for an autistic child are limited. After all, you need a dog that's gentle enough that it will never hurt the child, intelligent enough to understand it's training, steady enough to deal with it's child suddenly going off in a bazaar way with no warning, patient enough to deal with a child that "just never learns", and loving enough to make that strange, unpredictable child it's own special human. Hell, it's hard enough just finding a human with those qualities; finding them in a dog can sometimes seem like a miracle. None the less, when the right dog can be matched up with a child that can really benefit from all that the service dog has to offer, it is one of the most touching things you've ever seen.
If you'd like to find out more about service dogs for special needs children, check out our links under the "more" tab above. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by my little corner of cyberspace and I hope to see again.
A Few Quick Notes About My Site
Hey, welcome to the Demented Ramblings of a Warped Muse on the Targets With Attitude website. I hope you all are enjoying a welcome rest this morning after a night of Trick or Treating with your kids or grandkids. Thought I'd take a moment or two this morning to post a quick introduction to this site for those of you who are new to us.
Demented Ramblings of a Warped Muse is my own personal blog, and, at least for now, the page you'll land on when you come to my site; but it's by no means the only page here. You'll notice a list above of a variety of pages including About, which is, as it sounds, a brief introduction to who I am and my autistic son who is the whole reason I started this company. Recommended Goodies & Toys is an Amazon.com based mini-store where some of the things I recommend or review in my ramblings can be found, as well as links to a few things Amazon thinks you may like. And yes, I do get a small finder's fee if you buy any of these things using my mini-store. It's not very much, but it helps pay the cost of running this site. Cool Products is my own store where you can find the splatter targets I make. As of this rambling, my targets are only available here and at guns shows where I have a booth, plus I have an assortment of the large NRA approved B27 silhouette targets available. It kind of blew my mind, but at the last 2 gun shows I ran a booth at I had a large number of people tell me that they had a hard time finding these silhouettes for sale, so since I currently am having no problems getting them in I went ahead and added them to my on-line store. I am also working on getting a selection of M16A1 Site In Targets printed up since I've had several people ask if I had them. You will notice that the cost of Shipping and Handling is built into the price I'm asking for my targets, and if you're interested in buying in quantity please don't hesitate to contact me. If the order is large enough, I'm more than willing to discuss price.
Finally, as the site is currently set up (and that may change without notice, I'm not entirely satisfied with my current layout) you'll notice a tag that simply reads more. This tag generates a drop down menu with a contact form on it, as well as a page of links entitled Various Resources and Recommended Links. I know it's not "cool" anymore to have a page of links to other websites on your website, but let's be honest, no one website run by a single person can cover everything no matter how hard they try. This link page will be my attempt to remedy that problem and will be split into 2 sections, one on guns and self defense, the other on autism and other special needs.
And there you have it, a quick verbal map of my site as it's currently laid out. As for my ramblings, at the moment I am only promising new posts every Monday and Friday. My Monday ramblings will center around my son and what it means to raise a child with autism, while my Friday ramblings will cover a host of self and home defense topics ranging from guns to ways to be safer and even a number of articles on non-lethal alternatives since it's not always necessary to kill your attacker, nor should you from a moral, ethical, and legal stand point if there is any reasonable alternative. I hope you will come along for the ride, it promises to be entertaining if nothing else. Until next time, God keep you safe and remember, if you're going to do something, do it with Attitude!