Monday, February 11, 2008

Project Lifesaver Info-

February 7th , 2008
I am still green to this “blog” concept but love the idea of a place for a recent thought, idea and updates of what is “going on”.
My website is currently going through some changes and will soon have much new information and links for upcoming projects. Please give my web people a week to get all of this information up to the site.
As to Project Lifesaver in Minnesota- it is time to get involved and help us take our pleas to MN Government. My website will have all the recent information and contact information I hope next week. It is the consensus of those of us heading this that the long haul and the number(s) of people actively involved in this project will make the difference. Check the website at for information.
I am still working with families on the second book profiling Minnesota families raising Autistic children. I have a long way to go but the project is active. It has somewhat “taken on a life of it’s own” so to say and my involvement with our families is such a gift.
I have been approached to do a children’s book on Autism. A book geared to be used in the classroom to explain Autism to non- special needs students who have or will have Autistic children in their classes. I am looking for a talented illustrator to be involved in this project- preferably a person close to or raising an Autistic child. Please contact me via my website if you would like to be considered for this project.

With the changes in the website there will be a “sneak peak” of the novel I am working on. It is my first “non- autistic “ project that is far from complete.

APRIL is National Autism Awareness Month- We are currently planning some projects for APRIL - check the website appearance schedule for what I will be doing in April.
I am getting more comfortable with the “blog” concept and plan to use it often.

Chat to you later,
All my best,

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Teacher's and Educational Staff that Abuse Special Needs Children

January 17,2008

The front page of our newspaper has again the headlines of abuse to a Special Needs Child done by a teacher currently under paid leave by abuse allegations for tw0 (2) disabled children one Autistic the other not specified as of yet by the press nor the reports.

The school district next to ours - Willmar, MN is under the microscope again. A second lawsuit has been filed against a Special Education Teacher. The allegations are heart wrenching and other teachers and paraprofessionals in the school have also reported this teacher for mistreatment and abuse allegations in the past. I am not going to write a "report" on what all of the allegations are or frankly where I currently stand on the guilt or innocence of the teacher. I have followed countless articles and read all of the reports and lawsuit filings that I can find on the matter. What I found in addition to the shock of the situation is the article comments from the public that seem to more and more blame the parents for having their children with a disability in a public school or that their parenting has lead to these children being abused in school. I will await and allow the legal process to run it's course as that is the right thing to do. This does have a personal touch to our family. Our son has never been a student at this school; but we did look at the school and gave it some consideration when we were looking at open enrollment for Michael.

What I will say, as I am saving the situation and details for my next book, along with the photos. We have seen with our own eyes what can happen to your child left in the care of educated professionals. What we have learned is this. School officials and teachers make very poor excuses for the reason why they hurt our disabled children. The scrambling act that follows this is just stomach turning for us. When a non verbal Autistic child comes home with bruises, scratches and abrasions and you find out it was a trained professional that did this to a 5 year old disabled child, what ever the "reason or excuse" to justify their acts is really pointless to we parents. A child who loved school, now refuses to go. Aggressive behavior done to them is now taught to them as a way to protect themselves when teachers try to get near them and the domino effect now happens. A child who was happy and playful now is angry and aggressive with you the parent when you try to send them to school. A peaceful home full of love and laughter is now a war zone. As if these children do not have enough to overcome and contend with, now people are abusing them and the world just watches on and makes excuses. For many they see our children with a Special Need as damaged goods, that are not really that good after all, just a burden on society. As a parent with a 6 year old Autistic child I know first hand about contending with life's unfair game that it can play and what stress is and what the world of day to day challenges are. I am so tired of hearing about Special Education staff burnout and that is what is causing this to happen and that those doing this are really not to blame, they are just stressed out by their jobs. My answer to that is this. If I as a parents left bruises on my 5 year old Autistic son, on his face, wrists, ankles, back and legs. Scratch marks on various parts of his body, and abrasions and scrapes on him from pinning him this is what I know.

#1. I would be turned in to the proper authorities right away
#2. I would be arrested
#3. Our son would be removed from our home and a safe place provided
#4. There would be a public out cry against me
#5. The public would feel compassion for my Special Needs Child as this was done by a horrible parent
#6. I would be chastised and punished in the public's eye and by the legal system
#7. A complete investigation would be done and would not be allowed to drag on for many months or years.
#8. There would be no union for me to hide behind and lost wages and benefits continued to be provided months and even a year (s) going by still receiving these benefits.
# 9. My telling the public that I was stressed out and will not do this again would not mean that "all is well" and forgiven send her son home today and only if enough people complain will we return ever again to check in on your son
#10. I would not have the backing of the "brotherhood & sisterhood" of other parents making and supporting foolish excuses made to place the real blame on my son at 6 years of age instead of me the parent.
#11. I would not have a multi million dollar "empire" in a parental "union" backing me up and fighting for me to have my son returned and life to just go on as if it never happened.
#12. The words miscommunication and misunderstanding would be interpreted for what they really mean
( B.S) and not as though they were some secret society Harvard Law words that well educated people use in place of "true and meaningful words" to cover for a lie and think that people really buy those words. * When I hear those words used by intelligent mind jumps right to the lie I am being told.

This is why I am so bothered......why do we as a society except it from a teacher and make excuses?

Here is a link to the article that also provides a complete link to all of the past information and legal in the press

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

First Blog


Greetings Friend,
This is my first time ever doing a blog and I am not sure how often I will post one to be honest. This is a wonderful way to reach so many people searching for answers on what I am doing. The next book. The bill for funding in MN for the Project Lifesaver Tracking System. The first book “ The Color Red”. How our family and Michael are doing. It is my goal to address all of these here.
Here goes……..
The next book- I am working on the next book profiling Minnesota families raising Autistic children. I have fantastic families involved in the project- however it is still in it’s early phase. Much has happened to say the least since I started the project in March of 2007. This has become a much larger project then I could have ever imagined, let alone several other projects in addition that I have taken on. It is all good and I am very pleased. I just am excepting the fact that this will be at best twice the amount of research, work and time then I had originally thought. I have had an overwhelming amount of support where the new book is concerned and exceptional families involved in the project. I have not had the opportunity to meet and begin the process with several of the families yet, other then in emails and phone chats. What I have found is that with each family the dynamics are very unique and that the best way for me to “do my best” is to spend time and work on their families chapter from start to finish first before getting involved with another family. In addition to keeping everything on tract it has allowed me the chance to really find the special niche` each families chapter has to offer. It takes time to do that. I am very excited and honored at the generosity that these families allow me to have with them. Many thought my first book “The Color Red” was a gateway of information on Autism, the next will truly tell a story of families raising children with Autism. I have been asked many times if I am stressed by this process. My answer is “yes” and then some. As a parent of an Autistic child, I know the real meaning of the word overwhelmed. This is the reason for my taking this a bit slower then planned and only working with one family at a time. I am learning so much and am so excited to share it with everyone. Please be patient with me to get to your family, you are on my mind often and our time together will be soon I hope. Please feel free to email me at anytime to have a chat or a check in. I love to hear from “my book families”.

Where do I begin when discussing the bill. It is so complicated I hope I can explain where we are at, and what we are doing ( without getting to heavy into politics).
I will start out by stating this, when you have a good idea and open your mouth, be prepared to back it up and roll up your sleeves. I say that with a bit of a giggle as I suspected that I would be involved with the project when I started however I never thought I would be the “ring leader” and “writer” of the bill.
Here is the skinny on the bill-
Our county - Kandiyohi County is one of four (4) counties in Minnesota that offers a “tracking devise” that our Autistic son wears. It is a beacon devise that he wears on his ankle. It is about the size of a small watch. He has had this now for over three (3) years. It is provided free of charge by our local sheriff’s office that has a “task force” team that manages them each month with our family. This device is identical to the tracking devices that are used by the DNR to track animal in the wild. It offers a beacon sound in tracking up to 15 miles and under water up to 10 feet should Michael ever become lost. I have watched it ‘live” in action on a track and it is fantastic and lifesaving to say the very least. Michael was not a fan of this devise when he first got it, we hung tough as we knew no matter what we want him found if he should ever become lost. If you have read my first book, that statement will make more sense. It now is a part of him and he is use to it, and he can not take it off. With the recent “rash” of Autistic children becoming lost on Minnesota and Wisconsin with tragic endings this past spring I needed to do something. I was currently promoting the devises and talking about the need for funding when it all came full circle for me. Here is the timeline-
June 20, 2007 -
I was a guest on the WCCO radio talk show The Don Shelby Show in MPLS, MN. Don is a wonderful man who also saw the need to discuss the tracking devises in MN and the funding that is needed. While on his show, we discussed the recent tragedies of Autistic children wandering/sneaking out of their homes and drowning. It was a time for good discussion and a brief chat on the upcoming book.
June 21, 2007-
An article on Project Lifesaver’s tracking devise and our Michael wearing one was in the West Central Tribune, it was a great article that focused on the need for all those vulnerable to have this lifesaving technology available not just a select few. It also focused on the finance part of this devise and the “ how many children have to die before something it done” theory. Let’s keep in mind that people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s also wear these devises. It is a win- win for everyone once they are available to all in need statewide.
June 21, 2007-
10 AM- I was a guest on the TV talk show Showcase Minnesota discussing the book “The Color Red”, the upcoming book but focusing our time on the Project Lifesaver tracking devises and the dire need all MN families with vulnerable loved one’s are in to receive this. I also focused on the “looming tragedy” just waiting to happen to an Autistic child in MN.
After the show ended, I headed home to New London, MN to be there in time for Michael to return home from school. I had shut my mobile phone off during the drive as Susan my PR gal was with me and we wanted to take the time to discuss the past few days of work and go over some things and when my phone is on…it is ringing.
I arrived home around 1:30 PM to my house phone ringing. It was a producer from one of the TV news stations. What he told me, left me unable to talk. While I was “on air” doing the talk show this morning- only a few miles away from the NBC studio in Minneapolis, MN - Blaine, MN . Kaylie Dickerson- 5 years old and Autistic went missing and is believed to have wandered away from her families home. Police, Sheriff’s Dept, Rescue Diver’s and search teams along with K9 dogs, neighbors and family were franticly looking for her.
Their question was - Could I come in studio for the 5 PM news and discuss the tracking devises live? Many thoughts raced through my mind during that brief phone conversation.
I realized that with a 3 hour drive at best, not even considering traffic into the cities, I would not make the news, get Michael covered let alone do some prep for the discussion.
I asked them to keep me posted and I would do what I could from home for the time being. I sat diligently watching the news and my laptop for updates on the search.
At around 4 PM I received the call that Kaylie’s body had been recovered from a retention pond approximately 300 feet from her home in a neighbors back yard. Again, I was left with little to say over the phone as I was just numb. I sat with Michael in my lap for hours that night. I received a call that Anchorman Don Shelby was doing a segment of his “In the Know” on the WCCO 10 PM News to talk about the tracking devices.
Here is the link-

My 18 year old son said to me after the news that night….” what are you going to do about this mom”? I was unable to sleep for many days after this tragedy. Susan and I attended Kaylie’s funeral days later. At this point it is still to personal for me to talk about or discuss and share at this time, maybe later….
After Kaylie’s funeral I decided that the only way things are going to change is to roll my sleeves up and take the leap. In a summary this is what has been done thus far. I have been campaigning the idea to anyone willing to listen. A video of a “mock” search using our Michael accompanied with his dad done by the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office that was filmed is currently done and in the editing process and will be available to the public, communities, Law Enforcement and most important to government officials. It should be done and available in the next month, and a real eye opener. I am excited as this was truly a film of a realistic search that is more then impressive and speaks volumes. It shows why vulnerable people need this to save theirs lives, and the dedication of Law Enforcement, their talents and skill to get the job done.
I also learned this most important thing. Have we given any thought to those that look for these children and recover their lifeless bodies? Imagine what is does to them for the rest of their life? It is heartbreaking to them, when they know what they need to bring vulnerable people home alive and can not get the help, support and funding for the equipment to do so. In my countless discussion with Law Enforcement officials and officers state wide I constantly hear the stories of how many tragedies could have been avoided if this “lifesaving technology” was made available to those in need and to the people/departments we call upon to find our vulnerable loved ones.
I have been “honing” my skills and learning the bill writing process and the trenches of government. It amazes me how anything get’s done with the number of hoops one must jump through let alone the “dances” that seem to need to be done to make any headway. It most often seems I take one step forward and two back. I have been in contact with several Senators and Representative’s. My last answer was that funding would “probably” come from the Department of Public Safety and their budget is already done and approved at this time for this session/year. That means that at the earliest that this bill can go anywhere is in 2009 ( I was told this in 2007). The figures that I have been able to come up with is this…we will need $1.37 Million to get trackers, training and equipment for the people in need in the State of Minnesota to cover each county in MN. Once the initial costs are done, each county would need to maintain the program themselves. Our county maintains their’s by using funds from the Driver’s Awareness Program. These figures were a rough number for 2008. I know the amount sounds high. I ask myself this….what is your vulnerable loved ones life worth? With all of the “frivolous” spending that is done in Minnesota with our tax dollars can’t we find a way to save lives?
In this process I have also made this decision. At some point in the future I plan to run for office either in the Senate or as a Representative. I have learned much, and there is much to be done. Again, roll up your sleeves and jump into the trenches. One thing at a time however. This bill remains a focus for me. I plan to do all I can and encourage anyone interested to contact me and jump on board. I am not expecting this to happen over night and it may take us years to do. Standing strong with endurance is what I am counting on.
*Keep an eye on my website, it will soon be under construction and have more information and a section just for the bill and what you can do to help.
I have to stop now, life is happening all around me today. Mike is at school and I have to utilize that time as much as possible.
More later…