Blogger Widgets Ender-Chan's Thoughts: June 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sucks to Your Ass-Mar: On Limitations and the Overcomer Trope

I hear it all the time. Someone with a disability (usually physical/visible) "defies the odds" by achieving a difficult (usually athletic) feat. While I admire these people as I would anyone who scaled a mountain, wrote a novel, or ran a marathon, I feel that this rubs my own limitations in my face. Since I have no outward indications of a disability, I wonder if people stare at me wondering why I can't run a mile in ten minutes after having ran timed miles before. Aside from my general lack of athleticism and aversion to sports of any kind, I feel like this trope is demeaning to anyone who can't "overcome their limitations" in this way.

This imposes undue pressure to achieve on a person with a disability. Not all wheelchair users are training for the Paralympics, not every autistic person has savant skills (People, that's a small and misrepresented minority!), and not all deaf people are musicians. (This is possible. Just search "Evelyn Glennie".) I am not world-renowned, nor do I ever plan on reaching such a level. I just enjoy playing the flute and want to do so without any pressure to defy the odds.

I despise the overcomer trope because of the undue pressure it places on people with disabilities and the guilt it induces in those who do not. I am not saying that people should not try to excel at their passions; it would be hypocritical of me as I believe that passions make life worthwhile. What I am saying is that the trope does more harm than good. It denies any hardship that the achiever went through and tells "typical" people that they are lazy for not achieving as much. The achievement is reduced to an image of crossing the finish line, reaching the peak, or performing a musical piece. It leaves the grueling hours of training, altitude headaches, and long rehearsals out of context.

Perhaps I fall into the overcomer trope. As the first student in my resource program to join my school's honors institute, I can easily see all my effort reduced to a distinction on my diploma. All the late nights, headaches, frustration, and math tests will be left out of context. I want these achievements to be recognized as just that: achievements. My achievements do not define who I am. They are a defining factor of who I am and I like to brag about them (jk, not a trumpet player), but they are not who I am. Rather, it is the sum of my experiences and the fact that I am a living soul that defines who I am.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Music Teachers for Students with Disabilities

So you/your child wants to learn a musical instrument through a music teacher? That's great! I, a student, have a wonderful music teacher, but some aren't so lucky. This is a guide to selecting music teachers that will ensure student success/enjoyment.

Things to Take into Account

  • Does this music teacher specialize in or have experience with students with disabilities? Depending on the student's needs, it may or may not be helpful.
  • What instrument do you play? People tend to select their instruments according to their personalities. Find a music teacher that mirrors the student in their musical style.
  • Why and where are you playing? If you play in ensemble settings, someone with ensemble experience may be able to better assist you. An overly competitive music teacher will not take well to someone who has no inclinations to competition.
  • Is the building accessible (if applicable)? You shouldn't need to perform death-defying stunts to get to your music lessons.
  • Are you compatible with this music teacher by sole virtue of personality and motivation? Credentials do not a good music teacher make. 
  • Does their teaching style suit the student? A compatible teacher goes a long way.
Red Flags
  • Presuming incompetence 
  • A lack of interest in the student
  • Belittling current students
  • Rubbing the student's disability/lack of experience/(some other thing) in their face
  • Acting like they are doing you a favor
  • A dirty room (Disorganization-related clutter is fine to some extent, but week-old food remnants and bug colonies are not.)
A music teacher can make or break a passion for music. Kathryn, a regular commenter on my blog, quit playing violin after two years due to an unaccommodating teacher, ear pain, and hearing loss. I believe that the unaccommodating teacher brought on or exacerbated her desire to quit. This disheartens me (1) because the mere thought of quitting music does that to me and (2) an accommodating teacher would have made a world of difference. 

 Whether directing a mass ensemble or working one-on-one with a student, accommodating a student's needs, disability or no, is important. The best music teachers go out of their way for their students simply because that's what they do. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

FluteLab Makes Music Accessible

FluteLab is a company that manufactures and distributes adaptive/ergonomic wind instruments, mainly flutes hence their name.

I stumbled upon FluteLab's website while derping around on the Internet. They are dedicated to making music accessible to people with physical disabilities that might prevent them from playing wind instruments. Popular products and services include key extensions, swan head joints, vertical head joints, and creating one-handed instruments. FluteLab is "a worldwide leader in adaptive and special needs woodwind engineering". They make playing wind instrument musicianship possible for people who cannot play conventional wind instruments.

I don't want anyone to be denied the dream of playing music due to a disability or other impairment (e.g. short fingers). A key extension, custom stand, one-handed instrument, or a modified head joint can make someone's dreams come true. I don't have anything else to say, so watch this video.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Musical Misadventures in Minecraft Announcement

See my other blog, Musical Misadventures in Minecraft!

What it Has to Offer
Positive disability representation
Band jokes
Bible Allusions

Squick and trigger warnings precede applicable stories. Tell me if I should warn about something I may not have found squicky or simply skimmed over.

This blog is relatively new and adds new elements fairly slowly. These are just future plans and may

What it's All About
Imagine you and someone else at opposite ends of a chasm. It is too far to jump across, neither you nor the person next to you knows the depth or can see the bottom, and, despite the lack of communication, you know you need each other. Your ultimate solution is to build a bridge, but you have bad building materials and your partner doesn't know how to build a bridge.

Every day, Steve and Caitlin, the couple in the eye of the storm, have to do this figuratively (or
literally because the Minecraft universe can do things like that.) every day. They love each other, but have yet to understand each other. Caitlin received a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and a mild manifestation of ataxic cerebral palsy in adulthood, which she never knew about. The only labels she 
knew before were "outcast", "worthless", and "screw-up". While Steve "had it better", he still felt like a failure. The challenges brought on by ADHD, expressive language disorder, Irlen syndrome/scotopic sensitivity, and dyspraxia left him trying to atypical extents, yet with typical 
results. The popular crowd could never feel his pain.

Over the course of the plot, they discover music as an invaluable coping tool. Music speaks what words cannot. They realize that they are not alone whilst making friends and keeping them. They fight side by side with Steve charging into the hordes of mobs and Caitlin shooting from a distance.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Apologizing for One's Disability

I'll have to admit that this is a tricky topic to tackle. When do you bridge the line between apologizing for your actions and apologizing for being yourself? For everyone, it is different. I have never dealt with this much.

I'll make this a list because finals are over and I'm sick of paragraphs. This list is not comprehensive.

Don't apologize for

  • Odd, but otherwise neutral, behaviors
  • Using an adaptive device
  • Using alternative forms of communication 
  • Food aversions
  • Feeling pain
  • Your peculiar interests
  • Your individual awkwardness
  • Needing something or assistance with something
Apologize For
  • Running over someone's foot (I would apologize for stepping on someone's foot, so this is no different.)
  • Anything you said or did, voluntarily or involuntarily, that may hurt someone
  • Clumsily knocking something (or someone) over
  • Throwing up on someone (Added for humor)

Friday, June 5, 2015

But You Don't...

I'm very atypical in many ways. I'm even an oddball among fellow autistics! People may not believe me because I don't exhibit certain characteristics or do whatever they expect autistic people to do.
"You can't be autistic. You..."
  • Get good grades
  • Don't stim (ENTIRELY UNTRUE!!!)
  • Use/understand metaphors and other figures of speech
  • Have and express emotions (Really?)
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Are intelligent, but don't display any savant skills (That's a small minority, people!)
  • Hate math (There are many autistic people who hate math.)
  • Write creatively 
  • Run a blog
  • Take honors English (My courseload does not define my diagnosis! *facepalm*)
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Can cook 
  • Empathize with others (Anyone else who says this will be summarily keelhauled.)
  • You're not like Rain Man. 
  • It is not something that autistic people usually do.
  • Some autistic person I know cannot do that. (But they might be able to do things I can't)
  • My mind is so full of stereotypes it has no room for primary sources. (Not many people would say this to my face, but this is somewhat true.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The "My Kid Got Attacked" Meme and Addressing the Issue

Trigger Warning: Mentions physical/verbal assault
Have you ever seen comments about a kid with autism, Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, or any similar disability or combination the above assaulting (verbally or physically) the commenter's child? These comments usually appear on inclusion posts and follow a similar storyline of the child being civil to their attacker and the aforementioned child's mom asking why the assaulted is refusing invitations to play dates and/or parties. The victim's mother (or father, but usually the commenter is the mother) making the "My child is the victim" comment describes the consequences of the "included" classmate's behavior in detail. The victim is presumably neurotypical  and fully able-bodied as the commenter makes no mention of the presence of a disability This is all I know of what seems to be a special needs blog commenting meme.

These comments are usually from an anonymous, Name/URL, or blogless Blogger user. The kids that are the subject of the post usually don't have aggression issues, which makes these comments irrelevant and distasteful. I don't want these stories to be the cause of denying inclusion to a child with no aggression issues under the false assumption that they do. I cannot verify any of these events as true of false.

Before you accuse me of whitewashing the reality of this issue, I will say that I have been the victim of someone else's behavioral issues. Both happened whilst playing soccer. On a new field, a boy pulled my hair because I stole the ball from him. I was in the fourth grade at the time. After crying for a while, he went home and I got back in the game. On my home field, another boy breathed down my neck (literally) and was plain creepy. He went to my school and my teachers told me to avoid him. My mom did not believe me when I described the latter incident until she saw it for herself. I quit soccer for two years because of them. As of now, I permanently stopped for other reasons. Since both occurrences happened within special needs leagues, I will consider whatever disability they had. I will not, however, excuse them from pulling my hair or breathing down my neck.

As stated above, I don't know if these events described are true or false for each individual. If even one of these comments is true, I'd like to address the effectiveness of these schools' inclusion methods. It sounds like they just dumped the kid in the room and provided little to no assistance. Providing an alternate outlet for anger would have been an effective way to keep this kind of thing at bay. I would have provided a foam block or stress ball for a student that had a low frustration tolerance. For someone who involuntarily screamed insults as a tic, I would have asked them to apologize every time the incident occurred. This is different from apologizing for one's disability because it helps to heal the wounds they cause and bridges the gap rather than creates one. As embarrassing as it must be to involuntarily yell insults that you may not mean, it must hurt just as much on the receiving end. If they were taught this, and apologized every time, it would help to bridge the rift between them.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Please Help Nameless (formerly RRCherrypie)

Nameless (formerly RRCherrypie) is one of my favorite YouTube users. A Twitter impostor forced this person to forgo their identity and the Twitter staff are doing nothing about it. This impostor regularly harassed RRcherrypie for cracking down on haters and asked children for personal information. (This is not something the real RRCherrypie would do.)

I started a petition.


"I don't mind losing my name to protect kids--"Nameless (formerly RRcherrypie).
Nameless is one of the kindest people I have met on the Internet. This group sacrificed their identity for the sake of their child fans. Please pray for these people, sign my petition, share the information, bombard Twitter, Inc with requests to help RRCherrypie, and make candy kit videos yourself posting #CandyforCherrypie in the Google+ message.

I watch these videos to relieve anxiety and over a million other people also find them relaxing. If their channel shuts down, I will be devastated. These videos also remind me of how, even though we don't see God, that His existence is apparent in Creation. I don't know if Nameless or any members of his/her group is Christian, but the Christlike sacrifice of their identity speaks volumes to me as a Christian. These videos are a blessing to me and to others and I hope that they remain on YouTube to bless others.

Watch more about it here: