2016/09/18

A Lazy Sunday


Today was much needed. I spent most of the day with my Bug and we hiked, cooked, ate brownies, and laughed. I am finishing the day with lots of drawing and completing of homework for the week. However I thought I would share the joy of the rest today in pictures..... enjoy. :)


I feel very blessed and grateful today. I hope all of you had a wonderful Sabbath experience and day today. :)


2016/09/12

What is Early Childhood Intervention and Why Is It Needed?


Early intervention (EI) is the process of developing a focused curriculum and treatment plan that is based on a thorough assessment and evaluation that fully encompassed an individual’s physical, mental, social and environmental challenged interspersed with and related to their diagnosis of a mental health disorder. By recognizing the weaknesses or challenges that a child is having with their development and actively trying to treat and change the way the body responds and reacts to the problem, early intervention has been shown to give those individuals affected with ASD the tools and abilities to responds more positively and culturally appropriately in their physical environments and in relationships with others. One reason that has been suggested for early intervention is that by helping and motivating a child to use areas of the brain that are not functioning well, new neurons and connections in the brain can be strengthened and formed. Other thoughts are that, by forcing the brain to have certain experiences, the ‘flexible’ young brain will begin to grow new connections and form new pathways towards more normal processing of information in the affected areas of the brain.

The process of early intervention should be used for all individuals that have been assessed and found to either be at risk of an autism diagnosis or are diagnosed. Another way of looking at it is that EI should be used for any individual found to have a delay in any aspect of the development process that could potentially be corrected with the use of therapy. Research suggests that the sooner… or ‘earlier’… in the child’s life that the intervention is made, the more permanent and positive change can be created in the child. How the intervention is utilized can depend on many factors including, parental or provider choice, what interventions are available, funding or lack thereof for treatment, the individual’s needs, etc… there are more than a dozen programs used for early intervention which include Floortime, Denver, SCERTS, and RDI. While these programs all have differences in how they attempt to facilitate change in the individual, the typical EI priorities usually work on forming spontaneous functional communication techniques, developing coping skills, and learning to interact and play with peers. Programs also tend to try and work on removing the motivations for negative behavior through different avenues and attempting to prevent the behavior from continuing to occur. Other samples of early intervention services that can be offered are speech or occupational therapy, assistive technology or auditory services, as well as counseling, medical or psychological services.

For a newly diagnosed child, one of the first steps is to create and develop an IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan.) As part of that process, location(s) to begin therapy and what forms of beginning treatment should commence. Several kinds of information are incorporated in the IFSP including a rounded out examination of the child’s current development and needs, family abilities, resources, and desires, how and how much services should be provided and for how long as well as who is responsible for certain aspects of the treatment and also the goals or outcomes that are going to be focused on developing and achieving. For a newly diagnosed two year old child, an IFSP is developed and treatment usually consists of some forms of relationship development, speech or other physical therapies as well as work with interaction and self-soothing. For more newly diagnosed toddlers or babies, intervention treatment is usually performed in the home where the child knows their environment and will feel the most comfortable and open to the treatment.

It has been shown that early childhood intervention with individuals that struggle with developmental delays can create more positive social and future life outcomes. if you or a family member has used early intervention what have your experiences been?

2016/09/11

Overlapping Identities and Critique on “Ms. Amerikkka”

*A link to the song can be found here.

To truly understand life as lived in America today, it is desirable to consider the issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and nationality and how they intersect in the lives of its citizens. Recognizing that how each individual identifies themselves and how that creates and changes their physical realties and relationship with other people and the social structures around them not only creates and shapes their reality but also changes ours is an important aspect of true empathy and understanding towards those around us. Understanding these issues and how they affect the lives of ourselves and others also gives us the ability to create positive and lasting change for ourselves and our communities. Successful feminist activists in this country attempt to understand intersecting identities and use their understanding and creative abilities to help develop social awareness of inequality, discrimination, racism and other undesirable social practices. One such artist is Edwin Hayes, Jr, better known by his stage name Aceyalone. Mr. Hayes is a rapper from California who has released a few albums as well as his work for other musical organizations. This paper will discuss and critique the lyrics of his song “Miss Amerikkka”, his critique and anthropomorphizing / caricature of the United States of America.

The song starts by giving us an image of a man flying home on a plane to Los Angeles sitting next to a woman who tells him what America looks like from her vantage point. His words go on to give us an image of a large woman, uninhibited and mentally ill, on the quick road to ruin and death unable to see how her behavior is reckless or dangerous to all who depend on her and live with her. The imagery is graphic; a woman eating, digesting and defecating her children… a neglecting mother who abuses and neglects her children as they weep and starve…. her minions locking up or shooting those who disagree or criticize her. It is four minutes of thoughtful but angry commentary on the author’s view of America today.

One aspect of these lyrics is that they adequately express the ways that class, race and privilege intersect in the lives of people in this country. The recognition that minorities and people of color are more likely to struggle with class issues as well as discrimination and fewer opportunities to advance is vital because this helps express how complex our society and its flaws are. If someone faces discrimination due to their skin color or sexuality… or both, they are more likely to have fewer opportunities, less physical and financial stability, and fewer support systems or safety nets when difficulties arise. Without these positive and stabilizing resources, individuals are held down in the vortex of issues that society and culture have created that limit access to privilege and power to the few individuals who do not find it necessary to deal with the consequences of the race, class, gender or sexuality. These lyrics discuss many of the ways that these issues intersect in people’s lives and ask important questions to ask each of us to think and recognize where we fit into the equation that is America. One example reads: “How can people still be hungry, when there’s a surplus?” If we look at that question, really focus and look at the statistics of people who are food insecure in this country, we may not be surprised to see how high the statistics rise if numbers are separated by race or sexual identity. I have asked myself many times how the richest country in the world has so many poor and downtrodden people and I cannot discover a reasonable explanation… at least not one that is healthy for our country or any of its citizens.

Unfortunately this song is also an example of how a lack of understanding of how race, privilege, culture and gender can actually help hold up the same institutions that you are trying to change. In most media outlets in this country, the United States is portrayed as “Uncle Sam” an older white male or father figure. This portrayal makes perfect sense when we look at the political ideas that our culture spreads in its own lands and abroad: America is the nurturing father figure, the world’ super-cop, the patriarchal leader of the ‘Free’ world. However, the imagery in this song gives all the negative characteristics discussed about America to the basic negative stereotypes of women. By keeping the emphasis on negative stereotypes of women and their traditional gender roles- bad mother, no shame, lack of innocence, bad girl, mirror of reflection, disgraced, etc.… it helps keep the questioning and criticism focused away from the individuals who are in power and could more effectively create great social change… the powerful, rich, white men in positions of great strength. Traditionally and effectively, women of any race have very little direct influence in the large power structures in this control and therefore, it is much easier to criticize the status quo if the criticism is put on the ‘backs’ of those who have no power to change it. Even the name of this great lady (Ms. Amerikkka) suggests the author’s intended focus on built in, institutionalized racism in our culture and also suggests a small dig at feminism… for she is a Ms.… the stereotypical feminist without a male to control her… and the lyrics let us know the negative consequences of that choice.

During a lecture titled “Cultural Criticism and Transformation”, bell hooks states, “How can there be an interplay between all of those different forces? Popular culture is one of the places where there can be an interplay.” We are able to watch, listen and understand many forms of creative expression in our society between painting, writing, movies, sculpting, and music. For those with more power and privilege in our society, they can actively create, market and push the images and music that we are bombarded in during our daily lives… from the instrumentals played in elevators and ‘hold’ music… to the music played in stores and available to find and purchase. For those individuals who try to create and market outside the system, the road can be very challenging and untenable. Some artists are successful –Anne DiFranco being an example -but the sheer amount of work and motivation can be impossible for the majority. Aceyalone has created a haunting piece of imagery that in less than four minutes compels us to look at racism and class in our society. He also provides us with the ability to understand how the overlapping of different cultural constructs can both help and hinder us in our attempts for change, financial security and stability. A provoking song, indeed.

pictures found at: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15-love-hate/, https://aceyalone.bandcamp.com/track/ms-amerikkka-bonus-track, http://genius.com/Bell-hooks-beyonce-is-a-terrorist-annotated

2016/07/25

Remembering Loss and Combating Violence in Select Communities: The Development and Activism of “Hell You Talmbout”

* a link to the song critiqued can be found here....

The last few years have been punctuated by fearful sounds and guns, the grim pictures of black men and women, and the tiptoeing in the media of the circumstances of their deaths at the hands of either police officers or overly zealous vigilante citizens in their communities. Each of these deaths, especially when the circumstances are examined, has opened up an opportunity for all American communities to analyze and attempt to understand the pain, racism , privilege, and class issues that are slowly breaking our communities and society. While there are many conversations that need to be had on this subject and the various means that can be used to create more opportunities, less fear, and more lasting change for all, this paper will focus on the activism inherent in the song “Hell You Talmbout” released in August 2015 by artist Janelle Monae.

This protest song was born from the pain and injustice witnessed by Ms. Monae. The day before she released the song, the artist recorded her thoughts and described how the song came to be developed and published those words on Instagram. She states, “This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves... Won't you say their names?” This song is not the first written by this artist to try and illustrate her views on racism and state violence in American society- other songs on similar topics include ‘Cold War’ and ‘Sincerely Jane’.

A few things about this song help make it the powerful commentary that is has become. While some of the lyrics are sung to music, throughout the song a drum roll will start and the artists will shout out the name of one person who was either a victim of police brutality / murder or of violence and/or death primarily due to their race. As the name is shouted out, others join in saying “Say His (Her) Name”, encouraging the individuals surrounding them to join in. It is a moving performance that is intensely powerful whether listened to or visualized and uses catchy music and passion to draw itself into your head. The artists shout out the names of nineteen people through the song. As I listened, I felt drawn into the passion expressed and active interest in the individuals who were named. It was not hard to find information on the unfamiliar names that were mentioned. Another aspect of this song is that it reminds members of the black community that they matter as well as reminding members of the privileged community that their community isn’t whole or realistic without the acknowledgment of its minority members. In a few short minutes, “Hell You Talmbout” forces open a door in each listener’s mind to admit the pain and anger felt by many people and the fear and confusion felt by all. It is a rare work of art that can accomplish this.

There are many ways that individuals can help raise the consciousness of others in their communities to social problems and general need. Whether through campaigning or art, through service or advocacy, like-minded individuals tend to form groups to try and understand the unique problems that they face and how to confront or change them. Communities come in all sizes and many names- family, religious congregations, volunteers at non-profits, workplaces, support groups, social communities, friends, etc… Some of these groups can be voluntarily joined and exited while others may be difficult to fully leave without significant work and possibly a lifetime of difficult consequences. By recognizing not only need but specific desires and motivations in individuals and groups, each individual can carefully recognize the differences both in members and motivations of various groups and also potentially recognize how the actions of one group can affect others. With this song, Janelle Monae is making a few clear statements.

• The Black community at large is scared and angry and tired of being scapegoated and discriminated against.
• As a society, we simply allow too much racial violence to happen unchecked… and complacently accept blaming of the victim to help stabilize the status quo.
• Our society has too many layers of discontent and ignoring them will not make them go away.

I am still unclear – or fairly lazy- about some of the small things that I can do both as an individual and as a part of a group to affect positive social change and justice in the communities I am a member of. I have started by writing a few letters to my congressmen and I am going to attend a local transgender support group next week and see if I can not only learn something, but how I can potential help. I also express that I am an ally on Facebook so that vulnerable individuals will know a person they can talk to or ask for help from. It isn’t enough… but it is a start. As I learn more about how different ideas and social constructs intersect and collide, I learn more about myself and the communities I am a part of. For that I am grateful.


pictures found at : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janelle_Mon%C3%A1e,

2016/07/24

Personal Musings on Gender Discrimination and Inequality

In so many ways, this is an amazing time of the year. It feels so peaceful and wonderful to enjoy this time before the struggle to get out in the snow and the piercing cold really settles in and the next few months feel dreary and hunched and dark. So as the semester winds down and we finish up, I find myself reading, contemplating and comparing some of the things learned this semester learned along with my choices, my life and those around me. My thoughts have drifted back to focus more on gender discrimination, harassment, the wape gap and gender inequality at work.

Gender discrimination at work is a challenging topic and how gender affects the work place and work flow is something that I am still not sure I understand even after the readings. The one thing I feel pretty sure of is that I think most of us do not really understand how gender affects them in the work place and how to change it. I have worked for a few different places and have lived in a few different states and even though I have been working for over two decades, I do not really understand entirely how my gender as a woman has affected me in the work force. I can only be pretty sure in a few ways of direct consequences and the readings suggested a few more for my contemplating.

One of the statistics mentioned this semester was that 88.50% of women believe that they have faced harassment and discrimination in the work place. I have dealt with some harassment myself and was fired when I was 23 years old and complained to a supervisor about a co-worker. One month later I was denied unemployment payments even though I had excellent performance reviews for the three years before. I took that experience very personally and only the readings that suggested that some others have been denied benefits for the same reasons suggested to me that the experience might have been more about my gender than me personally. I have managed to work pretty hard to keep to myself and to try and keep myself separate at work because I haven’t wanted trouble for myself and the only female supervisor I have ever had wasn’t a very satisfactory experience for me. I feel like my idiosyncrasies are more accepted by males and so I find that I feel more comfortable in female sparse environments. When I think back, I find that most of the harassment I have received has been from women unless it was overtly sexual… then I tend to have troubles with men. I seem to be doing very well at my current job and I work almost exclusively with men… I wonder how much of my difficulties with women has less to do with my difficulties with communication and more to do with preconceived gender roles by myself and my female coworkers.

I have also found that the gaps in my employment due to family concerns has potentially caused me some significant wage loss… although I do wonder how much of that can also be placed on my lack of easily definable job skills. I do not have a degree and have been trained by on the job or by personal study for many of my jobs. I am definitely a women working in a blue collar job- I am told I am a professional, but my work is fairly physically demanding and I have flexible changing schedules, and even though I am full time, I have very few benefits for it… even my health care comes from the medical marketplace. “Because a blue collar woman learns most of her visible skills on the job rather than in the classroom… she must undergo her training in an extremely vulnerable situation… (as such) there are few visible skills by which the entry level female blue collar worker can be assessed. In situations such as this, where there are few cues available to evaluate ability, evaluators tend to rely more heavily on external characteristics such as gender as a means for judging a worker’s competence.” When I re-read this statement, I thought about how easy it has been for other co-workers to claim my accomplishments for themselves and I can see how my communication challenges combined with that could make me look like an under-desirable employee. I found myself sad but also a more motivated to work hard to stay in the job I am in. I do not make enough, but I am comfortable and respected and that feels pretty awesome and comfortable. Having the stability and less stress makes the financial trade off worth it for me for now.

I too have thought that prejudice and discrimination against women in the workforce has been steadily decreasing over the years so the studies listed (Cox and Harquail 1991), (Stroh, Brett and Reilly 1991) were a bit of a surprise to me. I find myself wondering again how much of my experiences are very much based in my gender and less my personality, behavior, or job performance. I’d like to take more time over the break and chat with friends about this topic and their experiences and see if maybe I can develop a deeper understanding about how it affects me and the people I interact with – both male and female. That seems like a nice interesting survey to conduct. : )

Reading about occupational stereotypes and gender stereotypes in the work place held very few surprises for me. The major surprise was how much I do seem to buy into and live / make decisions based on my acceptable and assimilation of these stereotypes. I hated being a stay at home mom and felt like what I did was fairly useless and my self-esteem was very beaten during this time. In the back of my mind I do not see myself as worth much unless I do have a job and I do tend to see my wage as what my worth as a person is. I do see many occupations as being more gender specific and I can find myself surprised when I am caught in a stereotype assumption in which I have made an unconscious assumption about who someone is based on their work or title (such as doctor) and then discover the person doesn’t fit into the image I made in my mind. One thing I feel like I have picked up from the reading is that while society suggests that the genders are becoming more equal in the workforce, the confidence that women feel (myself included) in being treated as equal is pretty low and we are far more likely to be convinced that each of us is making informed and objective decisions while the organization is making subjective decisions…. I feel like all of us are making pretty subjective decisions and judgments…. We just do not seem to recognize it all the time in ourselves. I have a lot of changing in my thought processes to accomplish.

what are your thoughts and life experience on gender discrimination or harassment? How has it affected your life?