June 30, 2009

Guest Blogging: Marketing Tips For Authors


Squirrel monkey
Originally uploaded by floridapfe
For those of you who are writers, particularly of nonfiction, I wrote a little somethin' somethin' for Tony Eldridge's Marketing Tips For Authors.

I wrote specifically about developing a platform, which for nonfiction writers can be sort of a twitchy concept. "To even be considered for publication, you must have a great platform!", we're told, and yet it seems to be one of those terms that means whatever a particular agent or editor or publisher thinks it means.

Well, now you can add my particular take on the matter. That ought to keep everyone nice and confused. My work is done.

June 24, 2009

It's time for my stories

Schuyler is taking a summer school class, one that deals specifically with reading. Yesterday she brought home a little story book she'd been assigned, and she excitedly read the first story to me. I was so pleased with how well she did that I set up the camera and had her go through it again.

This will give you another opportunity to observe her verbal speech, along with the actual words that she's reading for comparison. Mostly, though, I just wanted to let her show off a little. Reading is a hard skill for nonverbal kids to learn, and I think she's kicking it old skool.

By the way, the story kind of sucks. (SPOILER ALERT) Hamsters are just about the slowest, laziest animals on earth shy of a sloth, and even sloths can climb trees. Well, what are you gonna do?

I have a face made for radio


Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob
If you're in the Dallas area, or if you like to listen to streaming programming on the web (and really, who doesn't), you can catch me on the radio this afternoon at 2:00pm central on the North Texas Kids Radio Show with Dr. Minette Riordan.

You might be tempted to think it's the End Times just hearing the words come out of my mouth, but I will be on The Word, KWRD-FM 100.7 Christian Talk Radio. Weirder things have happened.

Anyway, I think the interview went really well, and I don't think I said anything that will upset any tenderhearts out there in Radioland. If you don't happen to be listening on the radio, I'll post a link to the podcast afterwards.

So there you go.

-----

UPDATE: Here's the podcast:

June 23, 2009

California

I thought about doing a detailed wrap-up of the 2nd Annual Microcephaly Convention, which we attended over the weekend and where I presented a speech, but I think my previous post probably expressed how we felt pretty well. It really did feel like we were attending what was going to be, unbeknownst to us, a family reunion. It was a life-changing experience.

Outside of the conference, we had a good time as well, aside from my issues with our rental car at the very beginning of the trip. Now, in my own defense, the car rental lot was in a dark spot underground. Furthermore, the attendant simply led us to the car, a Nissan Altima, and aside from opening the trunk before I got there (another crucial point in my defense, since I couldn't see what was printed in large letters on the back), she didn't say a word about any special properties the car might have. And I'd never actually driven a keyless car before, but the instructions said plainly that in order to start the car, one should simply press the ignition button. Also, Julie was not one bit of help, at all.

Having presented all my weak arguments, however, it is still embarrassing to the point of tragedy how long we sat in this car, repeatedly pushing the button to seemingly turn on the dash lights and then turn them off again, hitting the gas but hearing nothing from the engine, before some random synaptic event occurred inside my brain that instructed me to put the car in drive so that we could drive away in our soundless Hybrid rental car.

Anyway, here are some photos from the weekend.




Schuyler and I signing books, which were purchased and then given out by the Prentke Romich Company, makers of the Big Box of Words and Pinkessa, and our very generous sponsors for this appearance.

Serious speech face


With Jenniffer Lewis, Founder, President and CEO of the Foundation for Children with Microcephaly. Schuyler loved Jenni immediately and with a tackle-hugging intensity that bordered on person injury. To her credit, Jenni loved her right back and was gracious and warm to our family, not once mentioning "Schuyler" and "restraining order" in the same sentence. Our daughter really can be a little stalker when she falls for someone.


Schuyler and Dr. William Dobyns, from the University of Chicago Department of Human Genetics. If you've read my book, you know that he is like the Wizard of Oz for parents of kids with genetic brain disorders; the importance and generosity of his presence at this conference can't be overstated. He commented on how well Schuyler's natural speech has progressed, which made me happy.

He was friendly enough to me and didn't mention the book, aside from a comment about how he's got PMG parents who now want speech devices for their kids that they can't afford and that the schools and insurance carriers won't pay for. Fair enough. I know my book has made things more complicated for doctors and teachers and school administrators. I'm not sorry about that, exactly, but I get it.


Demonstrating Pinkessa to author Vicki Forman and her daughter, Josie. Vicki's incredible book, This Lovely Life, is hitting bookstores soon and is already available for order. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that it is the most astonishing and emotionally affecting book I've read in years, maybe ever. I'll have more to say about it soon, but you need to go buy it now. I mean it. I'll wait.


Schuyler and Josie, drawing together. Shortly after this, they ran into the ocean fully clothed and bodysurfed together. I'm not even kidding.


Schuyler apparently had some ideas about how Vicki should wear her hair.


Monique and Julie at the beach.


Probably self-explanatory.


Arriving back in Dallas with Jasper. He always brings her home.

June 19, 2009

prosapia monstrum

We are at the 2nd Annual Microcephaly Convention, and it's late. I really should be going to bed. California is two hours earlier than Texas, and it's been a long day. But I needed to say this now, while I'm still in the middle of it.

Tonight, Julie, Schuyler and I sat at a table with two other families, both of whom I feel like have become, in a short evening's time, part of our family, too. But in a very real way, they already were.

Because each of those families have a child with polymicrogyria, just like Schuyler.

They are the first kids with PMG besides Schuyler whom we have ever met. And they weren't the only ones here, not even close.

It's barely even begun, and yet we've already met amazing people at this conference, including Jenniffer Lewis, the remarkable young woman who first established the Foundation for Children with Microcephaly (which is now opening up to families with other related neurological disorders, like polymicrogyria & lissencephaly) and then put together this gathering, now in its second year. She did so because when she received a diagnosis for her child and then went to find some kind of support, there was nothing. She felt alone, and because she refused to accept that feeling, now none of these families have to feel that way.

I give my presentation tomorrow and again on Saturday, and suddenly I'm afraid that I won't be able to keep myself together all the way through.

But I'm not that afraid, because I also don't think it'll matter much if I don't.

Schuyler was never alone, of course. But tonight, that's more true than ever.

June 16, 2009

Calling Mister Furious

My apologies for the length of this post. Sometimes it's good to get things on the record.

So Julie received a call this morning from a "legal mediation" company with a Very Serious Legal Issue to discuss with her. The person leaving the message on voicemail said "I don't even think you're aware of what's going on!" So, you know, very scary, and before breakfast, even.

(UPDATE: Apparently they called Julie's parents this morning, too.)

She called the number and got a high strung, angry gentleman at "the Office of the CRA". She was informed that she has an old credit card outstanding debt of over $9000, and unless she gave him her bank information RIGHT THAT INSTANT, the matter was going to go to court and the debt would be reported to the IRS as additional income, and no, we won't send you anything in print, and no, you can't have a moment, you need to give us that information right now now nownownownow!

Julie, not suffering from a head injury, declined to give Mister Furious our bank account numbers, thereby denying the Office of the CRA a sum so vast that they might actually be able to invest in not one but two tacos from Taco Bell. (But sorry, no beverage.) She did, however, keep talking, or rather she tried, but mostly she just listened to this guy with his unresolved anger issues. A few interesting points came out of his frothy rage, however:
  • The credit card on which she had supposedly defaulted on $9000 in debt was one that was closed out a very very long time ago. Years ago, in fact, and the debt had been settled. More importantly, and this will perhaps not surprise you, the limit on that card was nowhere close to $9000. It might have been a thousand. Because, you know, credit card companies may not be smart, but none of them are dumb enough to give the Fabulous Rummel-Hudsons a $9000 line of credit. Certainly not way back then, during our wilder, dumber days.
  • The contact address they had was that of Julie's childhood home, where her parents still live. It may have been listed at one time as a reference address, but it hasn't been listed as her home address since back when she was receiving lunch money.
  • He repeatedly called her "Julie Hudson", which has in fact never been a legal name of hers. You can try a bunch of different combinations, but that's actually the only one that won't work.
  • The most interesting piece of information came when Mister Furious heard me talking to Julie (probably suggesting creative and possibly physically challenging anatomical activities she should suggest to her caller), he said, "You can listen to me, or you can listen to your boyfriend there..."
That's right. Despite their claim to have her comprehensive credit and personal history in the file open before them, the Office of the CRA didn't know that Julie was married. In fact, it appeared that all the information they had on her was pieced together randomly and in most cases wildly inaccurately.

After Mister Furious hung up on Julie, I called them back to try to find out who they were and where they were calling from. I got Mister Furious again, except now he was using a different name. He refused to give any information and said he could only talk to Julie, not me. When I handed the phone to her, she was told that if we called them back again, it would be considered harassment. (Really? Because on this saved voicemail message, it really did sound like you were rather insistent that we call you.)

So there you go.

Here's the thing about this. I think this company is operating under an outdated business model. I suspect they're not entirely unaware of the issues at play since they demand payment information right then, during the call. Because if you have time to go online and start Googling their information, particularly the phone numbers from which they called and which they asked for a return call, you might find some interesting tidbits of information, both from other consumers and from legal websites.

So in order to help "the Office of the CRA" improve their procedures and have more success in scaring the crap out of unsuspecting marks, here's just a sample of what turns up in about two minutes of Googling.




Google: 866-553-0428

CRA Collection Company, Inc.
1150 Lancaster Boulevard
Mechanicsburg, PA
(866) 553-0428

"does anyone know who this company is?? they somehow got my sister's number and is asking for me, claiming to be a law firm."

"who is this company? they are looking for someone who is not at my number and had even called my son in OK looking for this person. They say how important it is and that it is a very serious matter which needs immediate attention. Does anyone know who this is?"

"Paul from CRA called looking for me under a name I have not used in years. I have been divorced, remarried, and 3 kids since using this name. My oldest is in high school now. I live in a new state and number is unlisted. This is just crazy."

"I got a call from this number at my moms house. I have not lived at home for over 16 years. A Ms. Thompson is the caller and she tries to be very intimidating and almost a bully, but she will not give any specific details. My mom is ready to turn it in to the authorities."

"I just got a message from a Mrs. Karis at 866-553-0428. She left a message saying that she was looking for "RO" (married name) from "the city I grew up in." Which was strange because I haven't lived there in over 10 years. And I wasn't married when I lived there. I just felt it was very strange since any account I have with my married name I know is up to date. Do you just ignore this type of call? Or should I call back and find out what's going on? I would hate to think that they will be after my family members next."




Google: 831-274-2477

"A lady called wanted me to relay a message to someone that's supposedly left our phone number as a contact. She just gave a six-digit case no. When I asked for what matter is it related to, the lady started yelling and became extremely rude and said it's none of my business. Caller ID showed the call was from 831-274-2477. She wanted the person to call back at 1-877-407-9274 with just a case no. What a rude scammer!"

"I just received a call (on the cellphone I use for the company that I work for). I do not know how "Kristin" got my phone #. She says she is with CRA company. She was rude and obnoxious and said that she had an urgent call for me, though I never identified myself. She also threatened that she would report me for not identifying myself or my company name. I don't have any debts that need collection, so I don't know why anyone would be phoning me- especially on my company cellphone."




Google: 877-407-9274

"This has never happened to us! I'm glad I wasn't being too gullible tonight! They call from the same phone number 1-866-460-4260. The guy said he name was John Shelton. The guy said that he needed to speak to my husband urgently concerning a legal matter. My husband called back and spoke with a female (sounded white). We had to ask for a company name = CRA. They were unable to tell us what that stood for. They were very on edge, argumentative, and sounded threatening at times...claiming they would turn us into the IRS, if we didn't settle this now. They said that this was a last attempt to collect on a credit card debt before legal action would be taken. They stated that this was on his credit report and needed to be taken care of now. They said they only take credit/debit payment (Go figure). The card/debt they were referring to has been taken care of and the card has been canceled for many yrs, and we know for a fact that it is not on the credit report. My husband hung up on the woman, and she called right back from a different #. She said, "Mr. XXXXX, I can't help you with this, if you keep hanging up. What other legit company would ever do that. She was asking for his SS# and all kinds of stuff! I just want to turn these low life losers in, so they can get caught! It's a shame!"

"Calling all of my daughter's relatives, threatens to serve paper's, she is going to be arrested, calling her elderly grandparents, parents, says it is on excessive debt on a non existant credit card debt of a limit that she was never approved for. The woman "FLIPPED" out, was YELLING, CALLED my daughter CRAZY, would not confirm any information. "

"CRA woman became agitated when i asked for her address, refused, said she'd only been calling for a month, that they were not a collection agency but a 'mediation service.' supervisor Stephanie Martin came on line, said they'd never called me before today, i'd be taken off list. i said i'd been trying to stop calls for a year and a half. also refused address then hung up."

"Harrassment
"866-452-9518 called my neighbor advising her that I gave them permission to contact them to get info about me. My neighbor knew better than this and told them she has nothing to tell them. They then proceeded to advise her that they are going to press charges if I do not call them back. I called them to tell them to NOT call looking for me ever again & I Never gave them authority to call my neighbor advising them that I said they could. The guy started yelling at me sayibg he wouldn't have to call if I paid his client monies owed. I asked what client? What monies? He refused to answer and continued yelling. I hung up the phone. I will be reporting them to FTC as well."


"These people called my Uncle\'s ex- wife from 1988 and initially stated that they wanted to deliver a package and needed to verify the address. That did not work so the called again and stated that they were calling from the office of CRA and some investigators needed to speak with him immediately. I called them back multiple times and they hung up on me whenever I asked what CRA stands for and what type of company were they. Finally they advised me that they were the Consumer Recovery Associates."

"These people caled me 8 months ago, had the wrong first name, middle initial and SS#, told me it was a mistake. They have since reported nick name, alternate SS# to the credit bureau and are now harrasing me again. I think these people are scum. They also stated I made the last payment from an address I had 9 years ago just 6 years ago so it is within the statute of limitations, what idiots! I complained to the FTC and the VA Attorney General! I hope the hard inquiry comes off my credit report and they leave me alone for good. This account is apparently outside the SOL anyway."

Here's a big one:

"If you receive a call from this number, you have been called by junk debt / collection agency that buys debt from original creditors that has been written off or settled and is beyond the statute of limitations in most states. They are trying get the money for themselves, not the original creditor.

They are reportedly a serial violator of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). They may be illegally using credit information obtained from Experian or other credit reporting agencies.

This company has been known to contact and harass people they believe may know the person they are trying to reach including distant relatives, ex-spouses and possible former co-workers.

NEVER answer these calls if you see this as a caller ID. NEVER return these calls. NEVER give them ANY information about the person they are seeking or refer them to others.

Any "positive" comments you read in these notes about the company may have been written by employees of the company.

The company is:

Consumer Recovery Associates
2697 International Parkway #4
Suite 270
PO Box 2916
Virginia Beach, VA 23450-2916

The following is the most comprehensive information gathered about this company from various sources on the Internet.

***If you've been called by a number not on this list or by someone using a different name, please copy this list, add the number/name in the correct order and repost it in its entirety.

Company Names that CRA reportedly uses:

CIA and Associates
CC Associates
Consumer Credit Association
Consumer Recovery Associates
Court Company
CR Associates
CRA Associates
C&R Associates
C & R Associates
Farm CIA & Associates
J Lamb and Associates
and possibly GC Services

Phone numbers that CRA reportedly uses:

(list redacted because it is crazy long.)

Individual names that CRA reportedly uses:
(also redacted for length, but the woman who left the voicemail, Mister Furious and his Furious Twin are all on the list)"




And finally...

Pennsylvania Consumers Challenge CRA Security Systems' Collection Practices

Bradley v CRA Security Systems, Inc.
CASE ID: 3131 | CREDIT / DEBT | 02/06/2004

A statewide class action has been filed in Pennsylvania against CRA Security Systems, Inc. and their parent company, Capital Recovery Associates, Inc. The action is brought on behalf of all Pennsylvania residents who received a form type collection letter demanding immediate payment of the consumers' alleged debt. The action is brought under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and seeks statutory damages as well as injunctive and declaratory relief.
According to consumers, CRA used language in its initial collection letters that was confusing and deceptive. Federal law requires that all collection services include a notice in their initial collection letters that informs consumers of their right to investigate the validity of a debt within 30 days. Although CRA's letter contained this notice, consumers allege that other language in the letter overshadowed the notice and rendered it ineffective. Specifically, the letters requested immediate attention by remitting payment. Consumers allege that by demanding immediate attention and payment, they were unable to determine if they were given 30 days to investigate the validity of the debt, or if they were required to pay immediately. Additionally, the letters were allegedly "signed" by Richard Lyons. According to consumers, there is no viable evidence to suggest that a Richard Lyons reviewed their debt or that Richard Lyons is even employed by CRA. However, consumers claim this "signature" is meant to convey to them that the debt had been reviewed by an actual person. According to consumers, CRA also routinely charges allegedly illegal fees for returned checks. Finally, even after repeated attempts to dispute the validity of the debts, many consumers claim that CRA never provided them with validation.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, any unfair, misleading or intimidating language is forbidden in collection letters or other forms of communication. The consumers allege that the language used by CRA fulfills this standard. They claim that CRA's language overshadows and renders ineffective the 30 day notice of disputing the validity of the debt. They claim that CRA's use of a signature that is allegedly bogus conveys a false and misleading impression that an actual person has reviewed their account, when in fact the letters are "form" type and mass mailed. Finally, consumers claim that CRA typically ignores all attempts to dispute the validity of the debt and continues with coercive efforts designed to elicit immediate payment. According to consumers the potential class is quite numerous, numbering in the thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands.





So there you go! Best of luck, Office of the CRA. Also, we filed reports with the Attorneys General of Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. You really should check out this Internet thing. I didn't even have to put my pants on!

June 13, 2009

Stephanie's Day in Dallas

If you're there today, keep your eyes open, we might just be around...

www.stephaniesday.com

Stephanie's Day, "A FREE Resource Fair for children with special needs and their families/caregivers" at NorthPark Center, Saturday, June 13, 2009 from 10am-2:00pm. Stephanie's Day was founded by CBS 11/TXA 21 President and General Manager, Steve Mauldin, in honor of his daughter Stephanie who has autism.

Kids can enjoy music, games, entertaining activities, and much more at Stephanie’s Day. Meanwhile, parents and caregivers can find a wealth of resources available through local non-profit organizations, therapy centers, advocacy groups and parent-to-parent networks.

This is a FREE EVENT located at NorthPark Center in Dallas, Texas.

NorthPark Center
8687 N. Central Expressway
Dallas, Texas 75225
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Update (and postmortem)

If I had one criticism of the event, it would be that the organizers need to decide if they are interested in holding a general special needs event or one that focuses exclusively on autism. I think either one would be great; I certainly don't begrudge anyone in the autism community the attention such an event would attract, particularly in the present media environment where autism continues to receive so much focus. The rising tide lifts all the boats, as they say. I suspect every kid with a disability benefits from that kind of attention. not just the ones with autism.

But aside from a handful of specific providers (CP and fragile X, for example), the focus of the event was definitely on autism, which shouldn't be a surprise considering how it began. But I do think they ought to consider either working hard to expand their scope to include a much wider range of disabilities or making this about autism outright.

That's my sincere opinion that exactly no one asked for.

Not surprisingly, Schuyler managed to sneak into the tv coverage for a second or two...

June 12, 2009

On the radio

Julie shot some video while I was being interviewed on a local Christian radio show. Just for fun.

June 10, 2009

The truth, in a whisper

In answering a comment on my last blog post, I found myself admitting something, out loud, that I haven't let myself say for about six years. I didn't even realize how long it had been, or that I was about to say it in that moment, until the words appeared on my screen.
"...Despite the mountain of evidence and opinion against the idea, I honestly believe that one day, she will be able to talk. Perhaps not as clearly as the rest of us, but I don't think this is as good as she'll get, not by a long shot."
It's funny what the heart holds onto and whispers quickly and quietly while the brain's not paying attention. It's funny where the agnostic can still find faith.

June 9, 2009

Storyteller

Today, as we drove home from work, where Schuyler spent the afternoon with me, I asked her what she wanted to listen to on my iPod. She loves the music from Coraline and asked for that, and as the music played, she began telling me the story of the movie. She didn't use her device; her thoughts were coming fast and furious, and so for the next few minutes, I was treated to her retelling of the story, with wild gestures and lots of pantomime, and very little intelligible speech.

When we got home, I asked her to tell me the story again for the camera, and she gave me a much-shortened version.

In the past, I've posted video of Schuyler in which a lot of you said "Oh, I can understand her just fine!" The reality of Schuyler's speech, however, is that removed from predictable context, it becomes much more challenging. I will say that in this video, I can understand more than I can't, and I'm sure Julie would be able to as well. But this will give you a more accurate picture of how she speaks.

And how much fun she is, too.

June 5, 2009

Different


Schuyler loves Swee
Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob
Today is Schuyler's last day of third grade, and barring any last-minute drama (and why would I ever assume there wouldn't be any of that?), she will have made it through her last week without incident. She's not out of the woods yet, exactly; she starts with her summer school program next week for some additional reading help, but that's only for a few weeks, on another campus with a whole new group of kids. But it will be different, and sometimes with Schuyler, different is good. Sometimes.

I'm not going to lie. In some ways, it's been a rough year for Schuyler. She held her own academically in school and even managed to pass the reading portion of the TAKS test, but there have been some social pieces that have been hard to manage, and they are the ones about which I've harbored future anxiety for some time. Put simply, Schuyler is attempting to integrate herself into the social structure of neurotypical kids her age, and it's hard. She's been running into obstacles that I don't believe she understands.

I don't think it's happening very much yet; most of her classmates still treat her incredibly well, and they remain fascinated with her. (Not one but two older students asked permission to write their final class reports on her.) But when I pick her up from school, many times she'll point someone out and tell me that they are her friend, but when she tries to say goodbye to them, they will turn away from her deliberately. Schuyler doesn't take the cues and will sit there and repeat her goodbyes to them over and over. Sometimes they will turn and give her the tiniest possible little wave, as if they are embarrassed that the weird kid is calling them out. Mostly they will pointedly ignore her, even if one of the staff says something to them.

I understand. I remember that age, and I remember the social death that could come from associating with someone who your friends didn't care for. I was both the outcast and (now to my shame) the ostracizer at different points of my youth, and I remember how brutal it could be, on either side of the line. And I know that it will only get worse as time goes on.

This has happened before, of course. Schuyler's relationships with neurotypical kids have always been dicey. Even back in Austin, she had one little friend about a year younger than her who treated her pretty shabbily. She would boss Schuyler around, bullying her and lying about her. Not completely grasping the nature of Schuyler's disability, she would sometimes try to get her in trouble by telling her parents and us that Schuyler had said some mean thing or another. (That would be a very impressive trick, especially back then before the Big Box of Words.) One time, in frustration at Schuyler's refusal to be bossed around, this girl bit her.

Schuyler was a much different kid back then, before she began working with her speech device. She was still the ethereal, otherworldly little girl that I talk about in my book. So strange and beautiful, but not entirely ours or entirely in our world, largely lost to us. It was easy for other kids to treat her differently back then, easy to see her not as another kid but as something exotic, like a pet.

Four years later, Schuyler is a changed girl, almost unrecognizable from the one in the book. Despite her disability and her delayed development, Schuyler can pass very easily for a neurotypical nine-year-old now. AAC has given her so much, but it has been this most of all that I think has been the most remarkable to watch.

Schuyler exists in some ways in a strange grey area between special education and mainstream school. She is completely ambulatory, suffers none of the social or tactile anxieties of many autistic children and is unafraid of change or of operating within that neurotypical world. In her special education class, Schuyler doesn't seem to always grasp those differences. She keeps tweaking her little nemesis in her AAC class, for example, largely because she doesn't quite understand this girl's social anxieties which she does not share.

And yet, Schuyler is not capable of existing unassisted in the neurotypical world, and yet she doesn't entirely belong there. Not quite, not yet. Which is fine from a classroom perspective, since she has an aide and her BBoW to bridge much of that gap. But socially, she doesn't accept that there is any reason in the world why her neurotypical classmates wouldn't want her inside their social circles, which are alarmingly well-established even in third grade. It's hard to explain to her that while there probably aren't any good reasons, there are plenty of bad ones and she's going to get a chance to experience them all.

One thing hasn't changed since Schuyler was a remote, odd little girl with a bullying friend back in Austin. While she will stick up for herself and her friends when she feels like they are being mistreated, Schuyler will accept a shocking amount of unkind treatment from someone whom she identifies as her friend. And as a father, that is just as hard to watch today as it was four or five years ago. She's beginning to understand it now, which is probably for the best but nevertheless breaks my heart right in two. A few weeks ago, she got in trouble for hitting one of her neurotypical classmates on the playground. When asked why she did it, her explanation was that the girl wouldn't play with her. Where once she was puzzled, now she's becoming frustrated, even angry.

Schuyler's not blameless. She is in fact far from it, and I recognize that. But the older she gets, the harder it will be to explain why some kids treat her so differently and badly. In some ways, these are issues that are universal for every little kid in every school in the world. But like all things Schuyler, it's the differences that are hard to bear.

June 3, 2009

SoCal with the RumHuds


The fam
Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob
A courtesy note for stalkers...

-----

Southern California Meet-up with the Rummel-Hudsons

Robert, Julie and Schuyler will be in Costa Mesa, California for the 2nd Annual Microcephaly Convention, June 18-21, 2009. If you aren't attending the conference but would like to meet the Rummel-Hudsons, join us on Thursday afternoon or Sunday morning for a little informal get-together.

June 18, 2009 | 12:30pm
The Beach Pit BBQ
1676 Tustin Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

June 21, 2009 | 10:00am
West LA Farmers Market in Santa Monica
11360 Santa Monica Blvd
West Los Angeles, CA 90025

RSVP to info@schuylersmonster.com

June 1, 2009

Sponsored Silence and the Big Box of Words



This video was put together by the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to promote awareness of augmentative communication. The 2008 Sponsored Silence Event was made possible in part by support from Cincinnati Children's, and by DynaVox and the Prentke Romich Company, the two industry leaders in AAC speech technology.

On a personal note, I really hope you'll set aside ten minutes of your day and watch this. I've seen a lot of presentations like this, but for some reason this one reached me in a deeper place. Which is my way of saying that I sat here like a weepy little girl when I watched this. I don't know, maybe I have Issues.

In the next few weeks, I'm planning on putting together a video project similar to what Nancy Zimpher, President of the University of Cincinnati, discusses in the video. Will you watch because you want to learn more about AAC, or do you simply want to watch me look like a tremendous dumbass? I think there are possibilities either way.