New Year Resolution

To begin a prosperous New Year’s, it is essential to reflect on past events.

A few months ago I was assisting an ‘adoptive relative’ with his educational pursuits. Each semester he would receive a refund from his community college Pell grant into his own personal bank account. He accepted a student loan to purchase a laptop to continue the remainder of his junior/senior at a 4-year institution. What he didn’t know, at least what he said to me, was his “adoptive mother” had been siphoning his bank account unknowingly to pay for utility bills. A little over $7K was supposedly saved to continue college, not including the $2,250 student loan for a future laptop, and supposed inheritance money left by the person he knew as his grandfather. When he attended his recent student orientation, the money he had saved or thought was saved was gone entirely; except 90 cents.

When I confronted missing money issue I was repeatedly told by the adoptive mother “there was no refund” and continually barraged with no knowledge of a distributed college loan. Again, when confronted about the money I was told, “I only get a petty social security check each month” as to assert she was privileged enough to take from others with no restitution plan but also admitting to taking money from his account. His college plans and savings he thought was being saved over time been in exploited for other uses. She owns her own home, has no house payment, received child support payments, receives SNAP, worked part-time, and gets a social security check, and taking handouts from other family members. It wasn’t enough for her.

The money was in the bank the whole time and spent by her as she had custody and control of his bank cards the entire time.

When the onion is peeled back more, I learned that she had illegally opened a credit card account in her own daughters’ name twenty years ago before this incident. The daughter would eventually end up telling her “brother” everything that happened. The information was enough to break the camels back. He decided he had enough and needed a restart and safe, trusting place to influence his life.

He decided to move out and into his biological mothers home in Virginia. However, the drama escalated as he mentions the gifts and presents he acquired over the years were no longer legally his. He said, “they don’t want me to have anything or be successful moving forward. They want to sweep everything under the rug and blame me!” The texts he showed me was heartwrenching and hurtful, especially during Christmas. It wasn’t the “adoptive mother” that was texting or calling making him feel like a second-class family member. It was nearly the whole side of his adoptive family. Why? Because they only were privy to a one-sided story without listening to his accounts severe misdeeds and abuses.

Instead of making an issue right and being supportive of a young man and his decision making. The tables were turned to demoralize him with screaming filled emotions, anger, deceptions, and blame assessments. However, a positive light to all of this drama is that he made a choice to be safe from future abuses, mistrust, deception, and being labeled as second-class. He is now safely with a family starting over to learn about the true meaning of family and where one fits in the assimilation of generations.

New Years has a tradition each year where individuals make resolutions to better themselves. Sometimes a resolution is a decision that either is relevant or a timidity based on either emotion or fact. It is our personal stuck point in the decision making to choose either to be a better individual or want to sustain what we define ourselves by the level of our own transparency.

A lessons learned moment for me and resolution is to become a stronger advocate and remove myself from defamation of others so that I do not become a denigration and calumniation towards others. It is bad enough the world is already filled with more anger, hate, and blame assessment entrapping others to join in on the hate-filled drama train of emotional instabilities. If anything was learned from this observation was that a young man made a critical choice in his life and gave me the ability to pursue my future choices which I am grateful for and proud of his decision and wish him all the best in future outcomes.

To me, that is what resolutions should be in our transparent lives so that we are no longer second-class factual or feeling. Preferably we are bonded as unified individuals with a purpose to be better to ourselves and one another.

A Wonderful Friend That Happens to Have Aspergers ​

I have a wonderful friend that I am proud to say is different than any other friend. He is the most honest person I know and isn’t afraid to give his unscripted opinion when asked. Sometimes when he is nervous, he will wring his hands in a motion similar to hand washing. There are some that can tell he is a bit different than most because of his vocalization delivery. His attention to detail is nearly to perfection which I admire. However, there are occasions when planned events can quickly deteriorate because something has changed or is no longer readily available. My friend has Aspergers, and to me, he is undeniably one of the best, and most honest friend anyone can have.

 

I never made an attempt to pick up and read a book about Autism or other spectrum-related issues. I think my reasoning for this is because becoming immersed in friendships or relationships sometimes cannot be found in pages. Instead, the beginning stages are listening and picking up on visual and verbal cues. If I ask, “what is wrong,” I will most certainly receive a critical and authentic response. That response shouldn’t be interpreted as my fault or suddenly changing my ways to accommodate another. Instead, it is a learning process, and once he understands my traits, habits, language, and cues, then it is assimilated as only identifiable to me. To me, that is indeed a special gift to have and receive. To have another accommodate to your habits is perhaps the best gift anyone can get.

 

A few nights ago my friend was pulled by police for “acting suspicious” while driving. I received a cell phone call in the middle of the night on his speakerphone. He was in a panic because of the flashing strobe lights and spotlight directed at his car causing vision inabilities. I tried to keep him calm as I could hear the officer in the background that kept interrupting his replies. The one thing I could overhear by cell phone was the officer saying, “you gave turn signals at every intersection and was driving under the posted speed limit.  Have you been drinking?”  That is when I heard the worst reply, “yes. I had soda at a friends house.”  The officers’ tone changed and sounded unamused followed immediately with, “step out of the car.” This is when I could no longer hear anything because he was experiencing a field sobriety test for possible driving while impaired. I felt so powerless because I knew he was honest, but the officer was using an opportunity to seek another agenda without probing to understand autism spectrums or other underlying issues.

 

Later I began to investigate how law enforcement could be better educated with regards to autism or other mental health issues. I learned that some states allow identifiers on driver license such as medical conditions to include autism spectrums. I can see the benefit of implementing a such as program, but I have some reservations. What if that volunteered information becomes a weapon for further discrimination, including employment, housing, and medical care? Or better yet, what if the police or first responders disregard the information citing other policies. Arent we becoming a bit more “registry minded” thinking that alone will solve our problems? Another issue is that registries and volunteered information don’t educate the public or police. Sometimes it creates additional stigmas that everyone listed has mental health issues and shouldn’t be driving or allowed a license. That is the perception I gathered while doing some investigating.

 

 

As for his police encounter, he ended up being surrounded by other officers to witness a field sobriety test. He was exceptionally nervous because the officers created a crowd feeling around him. The lights, strobes, and random loud police radios blaring from vehicle speakers jolted his every move. His experience, according to his own words, “was traumatic and overwhelming”. His hands would wring in a motion of cleansing as if he was reliving the experience all over again.  Today he doesn’t want to drive because he relives the wording etched in his memory,  “I followed the law and was told that I was driving too well.” That was all I needed to hear and understand how others seize opportunities to intimidate others with the power of a badge – even when there are no conditions to warrant such a stop. He was eventually let go, but the fear and heart elevations raised red flags because his eye pupils were dilated from being in fear – which officers wanted to arrest because of suspicion of drug use. During a search of the car for drugs, officers disconnected his cell phone, which was a reason I couldn’t hear anything further.

 

Upon reflection of that particular situation, I could almost feel the helplessness he felt combined with the anxieties and overstimulated effects of lights, noise, and intimidation. For that one split moment, I could somewhat understand the life of autism spectrums in that particular moment. I don’t claim to be a credible person in the field of mental health. However, it alerts me towards better advocacy that sometimes those of power take for granted to exploit to gain control. Such abuse of circumstances frustrates and annoy me. It makes me wonder how many others with PTSD, autism spectrums, depression, or other mental health issues are being criminally charged or erroneously imprisoned because of “convenience” for those investigating? I suspect a study will determine that America’s prisons are filled with more mental health-related issues than actual criminals. It’s tough for someone with an autism-related issue to look towards the respect of those wearing uniforms and badges as once admired individuals only to have the tables turned against them for being honest by answering constructive yes or no questions.

 

Nevertheless, I still have a wonderful friend, that happens to have Aspergers.

Religious Accommodations

Accommodations such as medical, religious, physical and mental are important in our society as long as it isn’t a distraction and provides a pathway towards equality based on the conditions. But what if religious accommodations begin to reshape let’s say the typical American driver license? Today I read where a man in Maine will be allowed to wear his goat horns, yes horns, on his official driver license photo. Okay, it’s safe for me to throw out the yellow flag on this one and ask “why?”

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It is bad enough to wait in anguish at a driver license office. It is true, there are some that take an immense amount of pride in that driver photo as if Glamor Shots or Hollywood will somehow beg you to star in a feature film. But some want to defy the entire process completely in the name of god or whatever they refer to as a higher power. It is as if we are destined to abuse certain systems for our own benefit.

To be candid, I strongly feel that there should not be any religious accommodations when it comes to a driver license photo. My reason is simple; religious rights are not an issue of the state nor motor vehicles. Religion is and should continue to be a private matter. Sure, I’m sympathetic towards reasonable religious accommodations. But I fear that we are stretching the elasticity of public good towards a select few. What is next? Will football helmets require an extension for religious accommodation? Basically, when we extend the far reaches of accommodations we end up dumping more money to resolve additional issues. My fear is that such accommodations will only create a system based on biometrics and DNA. Sure it will be fair but perhaps more intrusive than meeting religious accommodations.

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I don’t want to sound insensitive about this issue. Naturally, I am curious as to what others think. I am only voicing my observation and potential outcomes. It may be true that a healthy democracy always changes and evolves. I have a concern that we may be running in circles chasing a wagging tail. While we should be mindful at accommodations, we must adhere to best practices by identifying those that intend to abuse the system.

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