C. J. Ramone wants to be your boyfriend.
Christopher Joseph Ward become famous as C.J. Ramone when he joined the legendary punk band The Ramones. He could have joined Metallica after leaving the Ramones, put the needs of his son Liam, who has autism, above his career:
I was approached about joining Metallica not once but twice [laughs]. When Jason first left the band they approached me. A while had gone by and they were having a hard time finding someone so they approached me again. At the time my son had been diagnosed with Autism and there was just no way I could leave him. Johnny (Ramone) was actually the one who hooked me up with the audition because he was friends with Kirk Hammett. I talked to my son’s doctor and explained the opportunity and that I could bring my family out on the road and even hire a nurse. The doctor just told me that my son needed to wake up in the same place every day, he needs to have meals at the same time every day and he needs to go to school everyday and be around other kids. He said that anything other than that could be a detriment. I was honored that they asked me but there was just no way I could do it. The beautiful part about it all is that now my son is in regular classes at school. He’s on the high honor roll and he’s even starting his own band now with a couple of friends of his. The change in him from when he was a kid is amazing. I’m not taking credit for it all. There were a lot of people who helped him along the way. If I had not been here, I don’t know that the outcome would have been as good and that totally justifies my decision. I have no regrets. It would’ve been great to play with Metallica after being in the Ramones. Jesus, that would be just like a too perfect life [laughs].
On how having a son with autism has changed his life:
I would like to say that there was some big moment where the clouds parted and the sun came out and knowledge fell on me. Honestly, I approached that situation the way I approach most things in my life. When he was diagnosed, there was no mourning process or tears or sorrow. I was actually relieved and my first question was, “What do I need to do to give my son the best shot that he’s going to have?” In my life, that’s just how I approach everything. I would like to say that there is some big spiritual lesson in there but for me it’s just a lot of hard work. Any situation you come to in your life can be overcome by just blocking out all of the emotional “whoa is me” and felling sorry for yourself and just concentrate on the work part of it. Instead of looking at the problem so hard, look for the solution and while it may not be spiritually fulfilling, the gratifcation you get at the end knowing that your hard work paid off is worth it. That’s really how I do most thing whether it was auditioning for The Ramones or learning that my son was autistic or the military. I know that’s probably not the best sounding answer but really for me it was just about hard work and doing what needed to be done.
Pam Manning, a special education teacher in Katy, Texas, is under investigation for alleged abuse of students in her classroom. Two aides who worked with her have already been fired.
Mother Carol Rutar on what happened to her son and other children in the class at Exley Elementary School:
Carol still doesn't know exactly what happened inside the school. Her 11-year-old son, who she doesn't want to identify, was in a special needs class at Exley Elementary School in Katy. Carol found out this month what allegedly happened last year -- a form of discipline involving cotton balls and vinegar.
She said, "Teachers were taking vinegar soaked cotton balls in zip lock bags and putting them in students' mouths as a way to introduce something really, you know, disgusting, sickening that nobody would want in order to get them to do their work."
It was a shocking allegation Carol didn't hear about from her son, but from the school district. Carol's son, who is autistic, never said a word.
Carol explained, "He's just a trusting little guy that if the teacher has him do something, he'll do it."
There were other troubling practices used in Manning's classroom:
The National Autism Association called the aversive practices as “inhumane.” Parents said their autistic children, some of whom do not speak, were allegedly forced to use a classroom treadmill, reportedly there for exercise breaks, and were made to go longer or faster than they wished.
Two autistic Indiana high school students who have been friends for most of the lives were named to their freshman class homecoming court.
Alex Parker and Ali Callahan shares lunch and so much more as autistic friends, they have grown up together.
"We're going to be homecoming prince and princess," Ali said.
When it came time to elect homecoming prince and princess, the ninth graders at Center Grove in Greenwood, IL, grabbed their cell phones and started texting one another to vote for Alex and Ali.
"We thought that these people are really beautiful on the inside and they deserve to get it," said Cedar Grove student, Darbi Ruff.
In the dialogue that recently concluded at The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism, Zoe elaborated on an idea that seems to be growing in popularity:
In response to the first letter I wrote, some parents asked me what I think respectful parent advocacy looks like. I think that it might look something like PFLAG.
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is an organization made up of straight, cisgender (non-trans) folks who are working to be allies to the LGBT community. As the name indicates, many of them are parents or relatives of queer or transgender people. PFLAG serves two purposes -- it is a place for parents to go for education and support after their children come out, and it is a place for parents to organize themselves as allies to the queer and trans community. I think both of these purposes have applications relating to disability.
Many PFLAG parents have younger children, perhaps 12 or 13, who have just come out of the closet and are too young to get married or hold a full-time job. This doesn’t stop PFLAG from listing equal employment and marriage equality among its goals -- just as adult queer and trans activists work to stop bullying in schools, although they themselves are no longer students. PFLAG plays a crucial role in the LGBT movement – but it is not the entire movement, nor does it set the movement’s agenda. To me, this is a good model of parent allies working together with people from a minority group to address the issues that this group faces. I would love to see a similar collaboration within our community.
I have mixed feelings about this idea. The goals and strategies that Zoe suggests make perfect sense to me. But I don't think a new organization is the best route for carrying them out. And I think there is a greater need for parents to offer a different kind of support.
The reason I oppose a new organization is that there are already too many competing groups of parents who drown out the voices of those of us who are willing to openly and unambiguously say that we are autistic. Creating a new parent organization means creating one more parent constituency that will need to get a seat at the table. That seat needs to go to someone who has autism.
And I think it would much better to infiltrate and improve existing organizations instead. When I have gone to events sponsored by the Autism Society of America, I have been surprised by similar they are, in their intent and in their tone, to PFLAG. I'm sure that's dependent on the local chapter, but I know that some of the parents excited about this idea live near enough where I do that it would be the same people. Please consider starting with the ASA, or working with another existing organization rather than starting a new one.
Song: "Carousel" by Jacques Brel, video by me
When I was a kid, my parents used to take me the state fair.
Because that's fun for kids, right?
Video above shows what it felt like.