17 September 2015

No Harper, No Debate

So the Liberals are having a grand old time trying to bring down Mulcair because of his unwillingness to debate without Harper present. I've said it before, I'll say it again: It's a fool's game to debate an absent partner. Especially one who has such control on the media.

When it first came out that Mulcair wasn't going to be in the debates that Harper already wasn't part of, I was choked. Especially the women's issues debate. I mean, why do we need him there to talk about it? Right? Wrong. It's not that Mulcair won't debate Trudeau and May. It's that he won't debate without Harper there. So why not?

Think about your average debate. The moderator asks some questions. The candidates answer with some bullsshit, and then call each other out on their bullshit. Then they respond to the call outs with more bullshit. Now imagine Stevil isn't there, but is watching. He doesn't have to answer any questions. Instead, he gets to do all the calling out. But he also doesn't get called out on his bullshit call outs. He gets to control the dialogue, from start to finish. Dangerous!

So again, Harper answers NO questions. But still gets to use media to do all the rebuttals. There's no immediate chance for the other parties to do any damage control. Trudeau and May might be willing to play that game, but I think that's a big mistake on their part. Their words will get spun into complete misrepresentations. People who won't vote for Harper, but don't like what they think Turdeau said, they'll just stay home. Or they'll vote Green, which is basically a throwaway vote in most ridings (I'm sorry, Greens. It just is. Vote NDP this time, and we'll get you Proportional Representation, and then you can be more fairly represented!)

Where is the shouting about Harper's unwillingness to talk to the media or be part of the debates?! Where's the outrage? Why does the media continue to play his game, despite all the changes to the rules? Why aren't they shouting him down with questions everywhere he goes? It's terrifying. But instead, we're focusing on Mulcair being unwilling to let him control even more of the national dialogue? Really?

Look, I'm well and truly not a fan of Mulcair's. I don't like his stance on a number of things (cough*Palestine*cough). But so far, there have been no dealbreakers. Bill C-51 was a dealbreaker for me with Trudeau. Spin that however you want, he voted to take away my right to privacy and to destroy my charter rights in a number of areas. Deal. Breaker. Stevil... well, there was never a hope I was voting Con. I'd rather leave the country (and would have when he won last time, but surprise, it's not easy to find a country to take in a family with three special needs kids!) May? Well, I don't particularly trust her on labour issues, nor on pro-choice issues. But most of all, I don't want to split the vote AGAIN and end up with the bastard coated bastard with bastard filling Conservatives. I'd love to see her join forces with the NDP, but she seems to be a Liberal with Green undies.

So yeah, as much as I'd like to hear what Mulcair would have to say in a debate without Darth Steve, I don't think it's a good idea. It was a brilliant trap on Stevil's part though. Damned if you do, damned if you don't? Beautiful. Nice job falling for it, Libs!

13 September 2015

Medicare for Autism?

There is a group called Medicare for Autism Now who are rallying hard to get ABA therapy covered by medicare. This would be an absolute catastrophe, so I'm doing some writing.

My letter to candidates:

I am writing to draw your attention to the Medicare for Autism Now campaign. Their website is http://www.medicareforautismnow.org/ The campaign is advocating to include Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy under medicare, as they believe that it is a medically necessary intervention for Autism. I understand that they have been writing all candidates, asking of their support. I urge you to not support this endeavour.

I am strongly opposed to this campaign. I cannot state strongly enough how much I do not want ABA therapy covered by medicare.

I believe that every child affected by autism should have quality therapy available to him or her. However, there are several problems with their campaign.

  • The only therapy they want to see covered is ABA therapy. They actively oppose any other therapy from coverage. Should medicare cover ABA, other therapies would be out of pocket for parents, and that would be highly detrimental to children who do not thrive in ABA.
  • ABA therapy is already considered the “gold standard” treatment, a sentiment I disagree with most strongly (see below). Doctors already recommend it, and are less than supportive of any other therapies. This is a problem.
  • ABA is explicitly decried as abusive by autistic adults who were put through it.
  • Parental choice would be removed as governments would remove funding in place for other therapies such as Floortime, Relationship Development Intervention, and Son-Rise. Proponents of Medicare For Autism Now claim these are not scientifically backed. This is untrue. For example, see Houghton, et al (2013) here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021992413000518
  • ABA is not scientifically sound. The studies that prove its efficacy are out of date and used “aversives”, i.e. punishments such as shocks, slaps, etc., which are thankfully not used any more.
  • The goal of ABA is full, unassisted integration into the school system, for which they claim a 1 in 4 success rate (without substantiation, I might add!). Dismal goal. Dismal success rate.

I recognise the very great need for good therapies for autistic people. None of the provinces fund it properly. BC is by far the best, and it’s severely lacking. Kids are going without good treatment, and in many provinces the only funded programs are ABA, run by governmental agencies. It truly is a short-sighted disgrace.

BC provides parents with $22,000 for kids under 6 and $6000 for children 6-18. Parents can have providers bill the government for up to those amounts. There are all sorts of problematic restrictions, and the $6000 is a bit of a joke. $500/mo buys one hour of speech, one hour of occupational therapy, and 10 hours of behaviour intervention. If you’re lucky. Apparently the school is supposed to provide the therapies needed, but that doesn’t happen. My non-verbal child runs away, eats non-food items, and is drawn to water, doesn’t qualify even for a full-time aide, never mind any therapies. Our family spends about $12,000 per year out of pocket for aides and other therapies. Most families cannot do that. Given the rate of autism is now officially 1 in 68, this is going to be a major problem when these children become adults who need full-time care.

I propose an alternative to the Medicare For Autism Now campaign. Rather than funding ABA and only ABA, adopt the BC model under the medicare system, because Autism is, at least in part, medical. Provide parents with a billing number and allow them to hire therapists and behaviour interventionists of their own choosing as contractors who invoice the government for their services. Have the wages of the therapies be set so that parents are protected from dishonest providers who would overcharge. Set up a cap per year, but allow parents to roll over what they don’t use. Don’t end coverage at 18. Autistic people aren’t magically no longer in need of services when they become adults. This would allow parents to choose their therapy, choose their therapists, and have control over the spending. No one would be coerced into ABA because of lack of alternatives or funding, but it would still be an option for those who choose it. It would save money in the long run because when children get good early intervention, they require less adult care.

Thank you for your interest. I hope you will see how this project, though well-intentioned, will cause more harm than good to the people it endeavors to support.


Luna's Legal Name


10 September 2015

Weighty matters

Life got weird for me a few months ago. On a whim, I went and listened to a wooooooo type energy healer guy. I wanted to see what they were about, get a funny blog out of it, and what the hell, it was cheap and I'm a bored housewife, that's what we do (joking! I'm a homemaker, not a housewife). I'm more or less convinced he's just the best therapist ever, and it can be passed off as magic. :D Anyway, I got lots out of it and started just listening to myself. And all sorts of shit started happening. The most obvious thing is that I've dropped about 20lbs. It's kind of cool. Seriously weird though.

Okay... I'm going to ramble rather honestly. Be forewarned.

I grew up in a house where fat was BAD. Where the sentence, "She's so wonderful. Too bad she's so fat" would happen. And I wasn't thin. I wasn't obese, but I wasn't thin. It was scary. What if I got fat? Would they still love me? (duh, yes!) Would I still be beautiful? Would I get a boyfriend? A husband? Would men still admire me? (this mattered terribly to me! I took all catcalls as a sign that I was still desirable.) So naturally, I got fat. It started with birth control. Then quitting smoking. Then having babies. After my first baby, I was up to about 210lbs. Then I hovered around 198lbs (size 18 or 20 on me) for years. Eventually that came down and I was at 175 lbs when I got pregnant with Crackle. Then Pop came three years later. And I was about 185 for another 6 years. Since April, I've dropped 22 lbs.

And here's the thing, I changed *nothing* except I sorta pay more attention to when I'm hungry. It's kinda weird. Doctor says I'm fine. But I think he's just pleased I'm in the "healthy weight" category. Of course, that's pretty much bullshit, but whatever. I feel good, so I'm not worried.

What is the most weird is the utterly odd relationship I have with my body. I still think of myself as FAT, obese, overweight, gross, flabby, icky... I went in to get new jeans, and when the shopgirl said, "Hmm, about a size 12?" I laughed and said, "More like 16". She raised her eyebrows and said, "I don't think so." She got me a 12 and they slipped on. And I did a happy dance. And then my inner feminist slapped me upside the head.

I'm a feminist, dammit. And I've internalized all the fatphobic bullshit. Terribly. I mean, don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking at other women and judging them for it. I was looking at them and pitying them for the way society treats them, and that sucks too.

And what else is weird? Other than this weird "my impression of my body doesn't fit with reality" feeling? People keep complimenting me on it. And getting really fucking mad at me when I say I just stopped exercising and dieting and decided to eat whatever the fuck I want, but really really paying attention to not eating if I'm not hungry. Like, they're happy for me if they think I deserved to lose weight, but furious if it happened for no reason. Jealousy? Or just angry that I didn't deserve it? I dunno.

The "stopped exercising" part? What's that about? Basically, I decided I hate it. It doesn't feel good when I'm doing it. It doesn't feel good after. I don't get a high. I don't get any tangible benefit (though there may be some I don't see) so I decided fuck this shit, I'm not doing it any more. I might hike a bit when it cools down, but only because I love sitting on the top of hills or mountains and meditating. Or singing. Which gets a wee bit embarrassing when I get caught, but only for a second. No one ever fails to grin. And that's fun.

I'm a little scared to gain it all back. Mostly, I don't care. But every once and awhile, I get a panicky feeling. And it correlates with the praise. Whenever someone praises me, I get a jolt of "OMG! They thought I was gross before! What if I gain it all back, as so many do?!" It's bizarre!

We're going to Saskatchewan to visit family in a few weeks. My Mom will definitely comment on "how good I'm doing". Mom... God, she tries. :)

My sisters-in-law will be terribly jealous, ugly jealous. And I must say, the latter at least gives me such joy. These were the women who would make comments about how much weight people were gaining, "She looks like the goodyear blimp!" and I'd say, "Uh, she's smaller than I am" (i.e. SHUT UP!) and they'd look at me, tilt their head to the side and say, "Oh, Luna..." (well, okay, they'd use my real name) in the most pitying damn voice. And now both of them outweigh me by a good 30lbs, and I'm gleeful. It's mean, and I'm definitely going to work on that before I go out there!