The END of Autism Awareness

Are you one of those people who feel a twinge of sympathy when you read/hear about a story on the news about mentally handicapped children? I know I am. I’m constantly seeing commercials on late-night television about the miracles being performed on kids born with some form of genetic trait, struggling to handle a spoon in their cereal. I read about celebrities in gossip magazines… well, I hear about people reading gossip magazines filled with stories about this or that charity supporting people with disabilities. Cancer-research, Leukemia, Down’s Syndrome, Asperger’s Disease, Cerebral Palsy, etc., the list could go on forever.

The point I’m trying to get at is wouldn’t it make you extremely mad to know that people in your own country are trying to cheat the people who teach these handicapped children how to read, write, eat, put on clothes and even just communicate with their parents?

Well that’s exactly what’s going on now. At this very moment, a large majority of the insurance companies supposed to pay for these extremely specialized special-needs teachers are doing exactly the opposite. They take your insurance premiums and are happy to do so, but when it comes time to pay the teachers, they are making up dozens of excuses or reasons why they shouldn’t have to pay them. Does that sound fair?  It’s not like this is the easiest job in the world. Trust me, you and I are not as patient, kind, caring, understanding, constantly frustrated and under-valued as these people are. How do I know this? Maybe your asking yourself, in what way is this author qualified to speak on the subject?

To put it bluntly, my fiancée is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (ABA therapist). Her name is Joyce, and she is currently one of the foremost experts on children with learning disorders. She has lived and worked in the Maryland/Virginia area( GO DMV!) for basically her entire life, and above all else, gets barely any credit at all for doing a tremendous service to humanity.

If you’re imagining an overweight, middle-aged, primary-school special-ed teacher, you’re not even close to getting it right. She has multiple degree’s in psychology, sociology, child psychology, as well as master’s degrees specializing in behavioral science/early mental development. She was the dorky asian girl in the front of the classroom with straight A’s and a too-big pair of glasses, destined for scientific research. She has published countless papers, has apprenticed dozens of other board-certified therapists, and generally speaking, is the first person I would EVER think of calling if my kid had a learning disability.

She is also being ripped off, so to speak. The worst thing about this whole situation is that this isn’t just some random third-rate insurance company we’re talking about here. She works as an independent contractor for TriCare, aka: the Insurance company that provides for most members of the US Military. We’re talking every branch of the US Armed Services. These are the men and women of our country that are out there everyday, protecting our country from threats both domestic and foreign. Think about it, these brave soldiers and their loyal families will soon be unable to find anyone to take care of their mentally handicapped children.

They wont find anybody because of the hush-hush, recently-adopted policy of TriCare to continually refuse payment to special-needs therapists/educators. This is how it usually works: A potential client with some form of insurance looks online or gets a referral to her by other means. This family calls Joyce and asks if she has any time slot available to help their child/children. Depending on whether or not their insurance covers special-needs education/learning disabilities education, they either have to pay a small co-pay, just like going to the dentist/doctor, or completely out-of-pocket. The cost of these sessions can cost between 100-300 dollars an hour or more, depending on their reputation, experience and level of education or certification.

Depending on the child’s ability to learn, most of these teachers insist on between 5-10 hours a week at minimum. Ask yourself, how many people do you know that can afford to pay that amount of money on their own? Without the help of a “respectable” insurance company, very few people can afford to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars a week on top of their other necessary bills. Children with developmental disabilities CANNOT be cured, regardless of any drugs, surgery or any other modern forms of medicine. The only treatment with proven empirical results is Applied Behavior Analysis, otherwise known as Behavior Therapy.

If insurance companies such as TriCare, United Healthcare and Cigna refuse to pay for ABA therapy, claiming it isn’t a medical necessity, these children with developmental disabilities have a 0% chance of becoming a fully functional individual, capable of independent-living. The goal of all behavioral analysts is to integrate their patients into society, improving the quality of life for their families and teaching them critical life skills. In return for all this hard-work, TriCare has chosen instead to cancel ALL BCaBA(Bachelor-level Behavior Analysts). They have not cut out all BCBA(Master-level Behavior Analysts) work-compensation yet, but they have already begun to delay, deny, or refuse their weekly payments.

For the past 6 months, TriCare has accepted and verified Joyce’s weekly sessions, authorizing her claims and yet refused to pay her out except in the most minimal increments. Their claim is that they have to do “further research” on what is ABA therapy, choosing instead to have them starve, or suffer for no reason whatsoever. Remember that they are still collecting insurance premiums this entire time. Just for example, a colleague of her’s was held without a single payment for 6 whole CONSECUTIVE months! She still contracts part-time for TriCare, but is now forced to take on private clients or risk total financial collapse.

So what good reason could these insurance companies have for refusing to pay these honest, hard-working people? In my opinion, they are just making excuses so that they can line their own pockets. The economy is bad for everyone, but even worse for these analysts who are barely getting paid at all. For all the research, all the success stories, all the good-natured charities working to further the cause…

Nothing, absolutely nothing, is more damaging or damning to Autism Awareness, or developmental disabilities in general, than refusing to pay the researchers and analysts in the field. Hopefully something is done soon, before the US falls behind in yet another category, due to corporate greed, deception and lies.

Usually at this time of the year, my fiancée would be thinking about what presents to buy for her clients and where she would be going for the holidays. This year she has to worry about anxiety-issues, trouble sleeping, and how she’s going to pay the bills. All we can do is hope and pray that my paycheck and her leftover savings will be enough to pay the rent this month. Things would probably be different if a TriCare official had a child with Autism.

Wong_83@Hotmail.com

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Bear Grylls: Rugged Hero of Masculinity

Like I said, Bear Grylls is my f&$king Hero.

If anyone would be my role model, a father-figure/brother, it would be the host of Man vs. Wild. If you haven’t seen this show, it’s very entertaining, what with the eating bugs, climbing steep cliffs, jumping out of airplanes, and doing push-ups naked in the Arctic!! He’s a cross between James Bond, Joe Rogan and Hercules. If he were even a bit more masculine, he would start making Terminator movies, become the Governator of California, and cheat on Maria Shriver with a fat, ugly Mexican maid.

But I’m getting off topic(Editor’s Note: Author thinks Schwarzenegger is masculine). Here is a premise of every/any episode of Man vs. Wild:

1. Bear appears on-screen.

2. Bear does backflip out of helicopter, with or without a parachute.

3. Bear lands on the ground/in a lake and immediately starts chopping at rotten stumps, looking for the nastiest insects he can find.

4. Bear proceeds to eat said insects, you can hear the crunching and see legs and pincers poking out of his mouth.

5. Bear says with an English accent, “Taste haarible, but this will give me loads of protein.”

6. Bear says, “Let’s move on then.”  Bear proceeds to randomly pick the hardest route possible, usually including jagged icy cliffs, eighty-foot waterfalls, dangerous class-5 rapids, and jumping over a ravine into a ten-story pine tree. (Note to self, do not do ANY of this if I want to survive. Instead, I should eat tons of fucking coconuts, clams, oysters, plant roots; Basically be lazy as shit like Survivorman.)

7. Bear lights signal fire near his newest shelter. He then immediately dives back into the jungle before anyone has a chance to spot the signal fire. What’s the point of the fire???

8. Bear finds random snake. Bear clubs snake with random stick.

8. Sky opens up and dumps torrential rain on Bear, since that’s what happens in tropical rain-forest. No need to worry because Bear can light a fire anywhere, anytime. Dry firewood and fluffy fire-starter can conveniently be found anywhere in the world if your name is Bear Grylls.

9. Bear puts snake on fire, skin still attached. He says it’s for the nutrients but I don’t believe him. I think he likes eating terrible, rubbery snake-meat. He then proceeds to bite right into the snake, skin, spine and all. He says it tastes terrible but he needs all the calories he can get. In actuality, Bear has no taste buds. At least that’s what I think.

10. Bear puts out campfire and jumps over towering

8. Bear does some Parkour, randomly jumping, flipping, sliding and running through loose and dangerous conditions. He then warns viewers that in a ‘survival situation,’ you must be careful. A sprained/broken ankle or other injury is even more serious than usual in a hostile environment. If that’s true, why are you doing Parkour off the edge of a cliff?

9. At some point, Bear comes along a rapidly flowing river. He tells us not to underestimate fast-flowing jungle/glacial rivers and shortly thereafter jumps into the dangerous river. Sometimes he makes a raft out of tin cans, plastic jugs, rusty sheet metal and shoelaces/jungle vines. Inevitably the raft sinks after a short interlude, leaving him flying through some whitewater rapids… filled with rocky outcroppings.

10. He miraculously survives, regardless of what predicament he is in. Towards the end of the show, regardless of what vast uninhabited area of the world he’s in, Bear suddenly spots a Boat/Plane/Helicopter. He makes another signal fire and gets spotted miraculously, all in a few short minutes.

11. Sometimes he doesn’t get picked up, but instead ends his newest adventure by doing something incredibly dangerous, such as outrunning a train and then jumping on the moving train. Another time he makes a raft, rowing his way across arctic waters, regardless of the fact that his raft is leaking, AND he doesn’t know when or where he might be rescued. Again he’s saved in the nick of time.

If this isn’t crazy enough, on top of everything, on various occasions our valiant host puts himself in needless and exceedingly dangerous situations, just to show the viewers what to do, just in case. Just in case of WHAT?! Do you really need to jump out of an airplane and cut off your parachute, thousands of feet in the air, just so you can show us what to do in case? How about jumping butt naked into a frozen lake, swimming under the ice to another hole while struggling to keep his body from freezing to death.

I know it’s television but I’m pretty sure that in any survival situation, I wont be diving into any deep caves looking for bats & bugs to eat. I’m not paddling through shark infested waters on a flimsy bamboo raft, nor am i going to explore a tiny crack in a glacier that might crush or trap me. I’m not going to rappel down the side of a cliff, hanging from a rock that might fall apart at any second. I’m not doing anything dangerous for that matter.

This is my idea of surviving the wild.

I’m sitting my ass down in the first place I deem relatively safe, with access to food and water. I’m setting up a gigantic signal fire, burning down the entire forest while tossing plastic, rubber, and anything else that’s harmful to the ozone. This will create black smoke that will be seen a few hundred miles away. No trees? I’m melting the polar ice caps, creating a massive rock-slide in the mountains… whatever it takes to get myself noticed, even if it means destroying the environment on a global scale.

Oh and as for the wildlife, I’ll look for something edible from the remains of some pristine rain-forest. All those worms, grasshoppers, beetles and snakes charred well-done, killing off any bacteria that might have caused me to vomit or have diarrhea. If that doesn’t work, I’m finding a large branch, turning it into a spear and killing off anything that moves. This includes any possible endangered species that might be living nearby. If this doesn’t get me noticed by the scientific community, I don’t know what will.

If I was an action hero, I might do things differently. I’m not and neither is the average person watching Man vs. Wild.  Recently, there was a fan special episode called Fans vs. Wild. Two fans were randomly chosen, joining Bear on a trip to the Canadian North. One guy was from New York. The other was Minnesota. They were scared to death and only barely completed a few of the easier tasks Bear does on a weekly basis.If the things he does regularly were necessary, it seems like the fans would have died within a few days at most.

Now that’s masculinity at it’s best. Crazy, reckless but so entertaining to watch.

Now I’d be more like Les Stroud from the show Survivorman. Sometimes he eats bugs and does dangerous things, but usually he just sits around a campfire, sleeping a lot and cooking whatever supplies are easy to find. Those vegetable roots and leaves seem a lot more palatable than live scorpions or tarantulas. Instead, Les just plays his harmonica and a tiny guitar on occasion. He probably wouldn’t be able to self-rescue but who the hell cares? His chances of dying of hypothermia, starvation, drowning, getting stung by dangerous insects, injected with venom or falling off the side of a mountain are greatly reduced. Isn’t that more important than looking cool in the wild?

I sure think so.

Here’s my solution, listen carefully. Don’t go to dangerous places by yourself. Make sure you have a guide if you go to the rain-forest. If you have to go somewhere dangerous, alone, make sure you bring plenty of supplies. This includes a very sharp knife, a FEW full water bottles. When packing what you believe is necessary, double it. Add things you can easily carry that you might even think aren’t necessary. Bring lots of non-perishable food like granola bars, peanut butter and spam. Bring something to start fires and even a cheap sleeping bag. This may seem like overkill but trust me, little things like this are the difference between life and death in the wilderness. Even a pint of liquor or a bag of candy can revitalize your morale/spirits.

Actually, just don’t go into the wild. I’d rather watch it on television at home where I’m relatively safe from harm. If I ever feel the need to go camping in the wild, I’ll set up a tent in the backyard. With s’mores.

MSW, Wong_83@hotmail.com

Man vs Wild: Survival or a Total Crock of ()$#!

Let me begin by saying I absolutely love watching both Survivorman AND Man vs Wild, with the edge going to Man vs Wild because the show’s host’s name is Bear Grylls.

Bear Grylls? Awesome name, Awesome english or welsh accent, who doesn’t like a show host with those attributes? There is only one exception to a TV host with a similar accent.

His name is Simon from the hit show, American Idol. What a total douchebag! He has been proven wrong time and time again and what makes it worse-he continues to be the complete snotbag he’s always been.

Back to Bear and Man vs Wild.

If you don’t know the premise of the show, Man vs Wild is supposedly a semi-realistic TV show based on Bear being sent to insane and mostly death-assured, remote places on planet earth.

During these adventures, Bear and usually a single camera-man use natural resources to replicate and show numerous ways that a person, stranded in a variety of wildernesses, could survive and even perhaps reach civilization and therefore be rescued.

During these replications, Bear often has to forage and/or hunt a variety of animals, insects and vegetation, sometimes having to choose whether or not to eat said object(s).

Now I do not have any objection in the least to who or what he chooses to eat. What really got on my nerves happened during Episode 2, Season 9, the Dominican Republic.

In this show, Bear and his camera-man came across a wild fowl, some stinking remnant brought to the Dominican Republic by thoughtless, disease-ridden European explorers.

Bear finds some random heavy stick out of the foliage and proceeds to sneak up on the unsuspecting creature, finally managing to ‘stun’ or ‘crush’ it after multiple attempts.

He proceeds to hand clean the bird, ripping feathers, entrails and what not. His field dressing is just fine and in no way strays from the expected actions of what someone in his situation SHOULD do.

He then does the unthinkable, pulls his field knife out and tears out the breast of the bird, tossing the rest of the carcass to the ground.

I guess some hungry animal would have a very excellent meal.

Are you kidding me?! Why, in a survival situation, would you tear out and cook/eat ONLY the breast, the leanest and least-nutritious portion of the carcass?

The legs, the organ-meat, the brain, any of the fatty portions and even the belly/ribcage meat would have made a much more fundamentally correct meal to eat given the horrid and nearly-impossible survival situation Bear is supposed to be in.

It doesn’t stop at that.

In other episodes he takes a bite of organ-meat, particular a sheep’s heart in Ireland, and then takes only the most delicious part of the corpse to cook later over his -survival- camp-fire, the tenderloin.

I know it’s probably just to make good television, but in my opinion, from the view of someone who has watched and enjoyed just about every show ever made on survival or people attempting to portray the correct way to survive in hostile situations, WHY oh why wouldn’t you just eat the whole bird or eat the whole sheep’s heart.

All I know is this.

If I were in a horrible situation in which I had almost no chance to live, I would have eaten just about every bit of that damn bird/sheep.

At least the bits that wouldn’t make me sick and/or were rotten.

-Kyarnboy, wong_83@hotmail.com