Able disable

          Figuring out the learning disability of a kindergartner is like being a mechanic figuring out what is wrong with the car. Kindergartners aren’t able to tell you what their problem is in regards to reading and writing. To be honest they have difficulty telling you what obstacles they have with a lot of things but that is a topic for another day.

          Children in general have difficulty explaining and expressing themselves and that is why more and more parents are sharing sign language with their infant children so that they can better express themselves.

          But as a tutor I am more interested in children’s ability to express themselves and to receive information in written form. A child who has dyslexia or ADD might not know it but it often shows up in how they behave and what their completed assignments look like. If a child is repeatedly turning letters upside down or backwards that is a good sign. But if a child simply cannot read easy words (and by easy I mean two letter words at six months into the school year when all of their peers can), then it is a sign that something else is going on. You can’t ask them what their disability is because they don’t know they have a disability. Therefore you can’t find a way to fix it or work around it because even you don’t know exactly what the problem is.

          That is part of my job as a tutor. I don’t just work with them to teach them how to read and write. Sometimes I work with them to determine how they are going to be able to read and write. My hope is to make it possible for them to skip past any obstacles they might have where it comes to reading and writing. I believe that if you can read and write you have gained the keys to the world.

          I believe being able to express yourself and gather information on your own are the most valuable tools you can have as a human being. Consider it this way – if a child has a club foot it is best that the deformity gets fixed early on so that it doesn’t hamper their ability to walk in the future. I believe that not being able to read or write is a problem that can be fixed. But consider if you have a child who is limping but you can’t figure out why. There’s no obvious sign of a physical problem. You’ve looked at their feet, their ankles, their knees, their back and there’s no good reason for why they are walking poorly.

          Encountering a child who has a learning disability but who also does not have English as her first language compounds the problem. It is also entirely likely that her parents are unschooled, which is common with immigrants from poor countries. The parents might not know how to read because they have never gone to school.  Thus, they were never able to read to their child, which will result in the child also being illiterate. But it might also be that she has inherited a learning disability from her parents as well.

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What does it mean to be a “human being”?

I read a question from a lady on a friend’s post, trying to figure out when a fetus was a person.  To her mind, the moment conception happens, there is now a person, fully protected by law.  Thus, to her, abortion is murder.

The current earliest cutoff date for abortion in some state’s legislation is 6 weeks, which is the point when a fetal heartbeat is detected. This is one and a half months.

One way of thinking about it is viability.  Can the baby survive without medical intervention?

The earliest a baby has survived outside the womb is 21 weeks and 5 days. This is just shy of 5 and a half months. However, babies at that age need extreme medical intervention, which is very costly.  Can the parents afford that? Will insurance pay?

Interestingly, even babies born at 36 weeks (9 months) can experience respiratory distress and need to be in NICU.  They are often not able to survive on their own and need intervention.  The current “full term” date for a child is 39 weeks. 

So at what point is the child able to live without assistance?

Should the fact that children need constant attention from parents or guardians for many years be considered assistance? Children will not survive for the first several years of their life without someone else providing them food, shelter, and attention.

Children are not legally considered adults until a minimum of 16, when they can get a driver’s license, 18 when they can vote, and 21 when they can drink alcohol.

So at what point are they considered legally independent of their parents? Parents are not legally responsible for their children’s actions when they reach 18.

Consider the opposite end of the spectrum, where adults are on life support due to accident or illness.  When do you cease life support? Are they “alive” if machines are doing all the work?

Consider suicide, when people feel their life is not worth living.  Do they have the legal right to kill themselves?

Consider social welfare assistance – food stamps, subsidized housing – are these forms of “life support”?

At what point do you start to be human, and at what point do you stop?

Tomorrow

Tomorrow she would go through the green door.
Tomorrow, not today. This is how it must be.
Today, she had to pass it by, with its peeling paint and the missing name-plate. Whose name had been there before? Was it absent to make space for her? Who would answer these questions?
Today, she would finally stop to admire the climbing vines, the red flowers. She would smell deeply of their scent, accepting it as a gift, as incense, as an offering to her, or a blessing. 
Or a warning. 
She’d walked by this doorway every day for a dozen years.
Tomorrow, she would place her hand on the door, take a deep breath, and walk inside, knowing that she would never pass through that doorway again. 
Tomorrow marked the end of her old life. 
But just today, she would live as she always had.

New abortion law thoughts.

Georgia and Alabama have recently passed abortion laws that are in violation of federal law.

Here are some points to consider –

Unplanned pregnancy can create poverty. This is why there are so many food drives, baby supply drives, and school supply drives. Did you know that in America in 2001, over half the pregnancies were unintended? And half of those were from contraception that failed. (I’m sure there are more current figures but I suspect they are similar.) I challenge all my pro-life friends to propose a real solution.

On a related note: perhaps it is time for all women in America (not just Georgia and Alabama) to stop having sex with men. I wonder how long it will take for their partners to petition the government to provide free, 100% effective, side-effect free contraception.

What we need is perfect contraception, where there are no unintended pregnancies. That will solve this issue (and many others). Abstinence isn’t something everyone is capable of.

When every anti-abortion person is willing to adopt every unintended baby, then I will know they are pro-life. But as it is, when they say they will kill a mother who has an abortion, they are not pro-life at all. They are for forcing women to have children that they know they are unprepared for. They are creating further poverty on every level – children who are unwanted, growing up in homes where there isn’t enough time or money to afford them.

Boxing

Lizzie McPherson was young for a widow, but she didn’t let that stop her from her dream of being a boxer. Even when she sat for her formal photograph announcing her new status, she wore her new gloves as a sign to her friends and family of her intentions. Perhaps it was a warning.

Now that she no longer had to answer to a man, she was free to live as she had always wanted. As a maiden, she was under the authority of her father. As a wife, that role passed to her husband. She wasn’t allowed to make any legal decisions without their say-so. Sure, she could decide what she wanted to wear and what food to buy for the household. She was even allowed to pick out the books she wanted to check out from the local library. She understood that this was a rare exception, granted to her by the magnanimity of her spouse. He’d even signed a form, on file at the front desk, letting the librarians know she had free rein.

In the 27 years that branch had been open, only two other women had been granted that privilege. Had the others not known it was an option? Or did they not care? Maybe they were content to read the same old boring stories over and over. Sure, there were new books every week, but only the character names changed and the locale.

Lizzie wanted more. She wanted to be surprised by what she read. She wanted to be surprised by life. She didn’t want to know how the story ended until it ended. If it was predictable, why spend the time reading it? Life was too short for that. Lizzie was busy enough with all the chores required to run the homestead that she didn’t have time to waste on silly books.

James, her dearly departed husband, had moved them out to the wilderness the day they got married. Neither of them had set eyes on the parcel of land that had been allotted to them by the government but that didn’t matter. It was take it or leave it and no second chances with the land grants game. They decided that no matter what, they’d stick with it, come rain or shine, come harvest or famine. What other option did they have? The opportunities to start a life together were few and far between in their town – and the same was true all over.

Just too many people in too small a space. Only the elderly were staying there now, with no youngsters to fuss over and no jobs to go to, what with mandatory retirement. All their needs were taken care of, even food and personal care. They had no worries. Those were for the next generation, the ones trying to set up a family and get their household established. Marriage was the first of many hurdles to being a full citizen.

James took Lizzie out to the plot that very day, right after they’d shared the wedding cake with their family and friends. That act sealed the deal and cemented them as legally joined in the eyes of the law of the land. The plot was three hours away from the town they had known all their lives, and it had nothing on it. Their wedding night was spent in a canvas tent, without even a bed. Their wagon had just enough room for one or the other and they had thankfully agreed that shelter was more important than comfort, even on that night.

From that day onward she wore his clan tartan to tell one and all that she was claimed. Now, a widow, she wore it to fend off possible suitors. She was done with belonging to someone else, done with having to adjust herself to someone else’s whims. She’d had it relatively well with James, but she’d served her time. Now she could live as she wished. It was the best of all possible worlds.

Boxing wasn’t the usual pursuit for a lady, but she’d taken it up out of self-defense. The trouble began with her cousins at family picnics. The male ones, of course. They thought nothing of chasing her down and demanding a kiss, or worse. The adults, if they noticed at all between beers, laughed it off as childish games and told her to play along saying “boys will be boys”. It was then that Lizzie knew she’d have to take matters into her own hands. Literally.

She took up boxing secretly of course, but it didn’t matter. She was much more confident, much more certain of herself. Somehow the boys knew not to hassle her, and for many years she was single because no one had the gumption to tangle with her. This was fine by her. But then James came along. He didn’t ask her to stop boxing. He was proud of it, in fact. He was the first man that was able to befriend her, in part because he didn’t see her as a conquest but as a fellow person.

This was unusual to say the least. No man thought of a woman as his equal in those times. But James wasn’t usual. He was a s/he. S/he’d been raised as a girl until it was time to go to school. Then her parents changed her name and her clothes and nobody knew any better until Lizzie came along. This was why they got along so well. They were part of the same club, as it were. They didn’t agree on everything, of course. Nobody does that, no matter how much they have in common. But they got along better than many other couples, and in private, they even boxed. Maybe that helped too. 

The photographer tried to talk Lizzie out of wearing the gloves for her portrait, but she wasn’t budging. She no longer had to prove herself or make space for other people. It wasn’t that she was pushy, or that she had to have her way all the time. But she was done with shortchanging herself to make others feel rich. Perhaps boxing had taught her that. She wondered what else it might reveal to her about herself.

Written early April 2019

Healthcare?

Something I’ve been thinking about – the “healthcare” system is really just “disease management”. Insurance doesn’t pay for organic food, a gym membership, a nutritionist, Art classes and supplies, for instance. But they will pay for drugs that deal with the symptom but not the root cause. I propose we change the system.

A friend of a friend commented I’d be the one that would give anything to be in that right line, but hate that I’m in the left one. 

I said
Little changes add up. It is worth leaning over to the other line. I started doing that 10 years ago. You can do it! 

She said
It’s a way different situation. But I appreciate the advice! I do believe that some people absolutely need the left one. 🙂

Me
True, we all have our own paths.

And in reality, I wanted to say more, but I know that she isn’t ready for it. And that is part of my lesson in this. To allow people to do things their way, even if there is a safer, healthier way.