Well, it's happened again. Actually it happens every September 7. As Sheriff John (for those who grew up in Southern California and are old enough to remember the children's television show on there locally back in the stone age) would say, I'm another year old today. Yes, it's my birthday (for anyone who gives a shit), I am 54 years old now. I am not a terribly young man, but I think I look young for my age. For anyone interested in what I look like there is a photo of myself on my jonathan's stories website. It is somewhat dated, I was 47 when it was taken, but I don't think I have aged too much since then, though I have gained some weight.
Somehow each year you become older you reflect back on your life and sort of feel at this advanced age all bets are off in terms of having a better life or being able to accomplish something in the world or making the world a better place or bettering yourself in some ways.
As a child, I went to special education schools from age 6 to age 14 with the exception of one half a semester of a regular education private school that I was expelled from at age 12. It hurt being told I was "not ready" to attend a regular school with non-disabled kids. For those who blog about autism on the internet, both parents and persons who are on the spectrum themselves, I am fairly certain that the vast majority never attended a special education school in their life. Unless they have and know what it is like to be told you can't cut it in regular education because of your behavior, rather than the lack of reading ability or academic skills, they can't possibly know what the life experience of the majority of autistic spectrumites is like.
My first memory goes back to age 4, about 49 years ago when I attended this summer school where my mom hoped to enroll me in kindergarten (as the local public school's kindergarten was out of the question) and being told I was "not ready" to attend this school for kindergarten. Mom found a kindergarten that would take me but the principal threw his back out doing some hard labor of some sort and could not look after me and it was felt my behaviors were too challenging for anyone else to take care of me, so I was expelled from kindergarten and still remember the hurt. At age 6 I started special ed school, when the new school year began.
In spite of being in special ed I always had hope. I never dreamed my life would end up like this, being fired from multiple jobs, having to give up the ghost and applying for disability. I thought I would get a good college education, be a lawyer, journalist, or some other type of professional and have a nice house with a picket fence and beautiful wife and maybe kids just like "normal" people. All of the old dreams that are such terrible cliches.
I finally left special education for good and enrolled in the local public school and was put back a grade (8th grade at age 14) and did okay (not great) academically. Upon reaching a later stage of adolescence I went to pot, both literally and figuratively, and I don't know whether or not marijuana abuse, or adolescence angst making autism worse or both affected me. However, my grades started to deteriorate and I barely graduated from regular public high school. I attended community college and then transferred to four year college which I managed to graduate from but not having done well enough to go to graduate school.
I then worked a variety of menial jobs, then learned the field of medical transcription, but was too mediocre at medical transcription to keep working in the field and retired from paid employment at age 51.
Contrary to what a number of my detractors in the ND movement or elsewhere seem to believe about me, I have always tried my best, tried to live the best life I possibly could.
It took me many years to realize the grim prognosis, how my condition was incurable and the unlikelihood of a cure being found in my lifetime. This was in spite of the fact that in college I wanted to go to graduate school and become a researcher who could find a cure for my brain-damage. I thought that dream would be fulfilled but alas it was another pipe dream.
I recently read the John Steinbeck novella "of Mice and Men". The title comes from the lines of a poem by Robert Burns, "the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang aglay". The two protagonists in the novel (one of whom apparently has a developmental disability which might be similar to autism) dream of being able to stop being petty laborers for others but owning their own farm, but this was not to be. I am also reminded of the Jimi Hendrix song Castles made of sand with the line Castles made of sand melt into the sea eventually. Another metaphor similar to the one of mice and men.
This would seem to apply to the parents of autistic children, who believe that ABA, special education, GFCF diets, DAN protocols, chelation, etc. will turn their children into normal children or enable them to function much better and be able to make a living and have a wife (or husband), etc. Supposedly the playwright Bertolt Brecht once said, the man who laughs has not been told the terrible news.
It also applies to those who embrace a scam like neurodiversity claiming that autistics are just fine the way they are and with the right supports they can do just as well as anyone else and engage in the no myths propaganda film starring Ari Ne'eman and attempt to extol their own brand of mythology for those who might be willing to embrace the opiate of neurodiversity.
Of course, I can't help having some hope; sometimes emotions are stronger than logic. Perhaps my life will begin at 54, I will be able to live another 30 years or maybe even longer and accomplish some things while I am still alive. Sometimes it is hard to be realistic so I know how parents of these children feel.
Tomorrow is my hearing for SSDI. I have waited nearly two years for this hearing, having originally filed the appeal in December of '07. I was supposed to have the hearing on May 19, but my lawyer was not notified that a vocational expert would be testifying for the government and he did not have the adequate files to crossexamine her, so it had to be postponed. Hopefully I will have my day in court tomorrow. There is a good chance I will write a blog post about it either way. It would be good if I could prevail and get some money (minus what I will have to give to my attorney), but my chances are not good. I am pissed this had to be postponed, that i have to go through this and the hearing has to be on the day after my birthday, but so it goes. If I lose at this level, there may be appeals including the written appeal, having the case heard in federal district court and after that possibly appealing to the 9th circuit court of appeals. Some of these cases are even heard at the level of the supreme court but that is rare.
Ari Ne'eman and his fellow ASAN members pat themselves on the back for having lobbied for Obama's stimulus package that will make these SSDI cases move along faster. Just means that if this stimulus works, someone will have to spend five years fighting the government for their disability instead of ten years or more. Yet ASAN and ND just want people with developmental disabilities to rot and not be cured if a cure for them could be found. Being asked for an explanation Ne'eman was only able to reply with the stupefying copout "being anti-cure does not mean being anti-progress" but I guess this is all old news for people who read my blog and other autism-related blogs.
Well, just wanted to tell the blogosphere that it's my birthday today if anyone cares. My parents care thankfully, but they are in their 80s and won't live forever. I have a sister, but she lives about a thousand miles away from me and we are not terribly close and I only talk to her a few times a year, so not sure who will care it is my birthday when my parents die, but in any event, happy birthday to me.