Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shame on NESCA. Satire has no place on serious blogs.

Morning is my time.  In the quiet be fore the storm that will be my day, I can think.  I get up at 5:30 or 6 am.  Let the dog out.  Make coffee.  Let the dog inside.  Feed the animals.  As soon as coffee starts filling the pot, I pour a cup and head to the computer.

This is my time.  I can check emails, sales, weather and various feeds.  When the house is still silent, I scan for important information.  I have an insatiable curiosity that has nothing to do with celebrities, fashion or the latest gossip.  I scan for information about autism, disabilities, religion, politics, health, education, etc.

In these early morning hours while sipping my first cups of coffee, I try to educate myself.

Yesterday morning was a typical day.  I dragged my self out of bed after not much sleep. (Mockingjay is excellent!)  I scanned Twitter and Facebook.  Emails and Blogs.  One of the blogs I regularly follow is
I have found their articles and links to be informative and appropriate...until yesterday.  Sandwiched between Intellectually Disabled Students Find Few Options From The Boston Globe By Jennifer Fenn Lefferts   and How to Help a Traumatized Child in the Classroom From Greater GoodThe Science of a Meaningful Life By Joyce Dorado, Vicki Zakrzewski,  I found
Being silly while on vacation

More U.S. Children Being Diagnosed with Youthful Tendency Disorder

From The Onion via Facebook

Before you start saying, "well duh.  It's from The Onion."  I know The Onion is satire and have enjoyed many articles from them over the years.  I have gotten sucked into their fantasy world a time or two from a Facebook post.  When it starts sounding ridiculous or too good to be true, I quickly check the source.  Much as I would love to see some politicians covered in the same material that spews from their mouths, I know the sewage pipes are still intact.

Heroic Broken Sewage Pipe Floods Congress With Human Waste

NEWS IN BRIEF • Politics • Government • Politicians • ISSUE 49•42 • Oct 16, 2013
For some reason the warning bells didn't chime fast enough yesterday.  Probably too little sleep, not enough coffee and not much time before the Parent Teacher Conferences,  I posted it to Facebook and asked if this article was serious before I left for the school.  I hoped I was missing something.  Later that day, my friends on Facebook pointed out the source was The Onion.  
Relief...and frustration.
If I had read the story on Facebook or Twitter, I would just shake my head at the underlying truths, laugh, and brush it aside.  Instead, I read it on a source I respected.  It was tucked between articles of significance and there wasn't an introduction saying the article is satire.  
I wonder how many people read the NESCA blog and had not idea.  I was taught to question everything and I do.  How many people didn't question the information?  How many people are panicked that their children have this new and terrifying disorder?  I certainly saw my sons in the descriptions.  I also saw the descriptions as "Playing" and not "Youthful Tendencies Disorder".
 While I waited for my turn, I talked with a friend who was also just waiting.  Eventually the topic turned to the blog I had read about "YTD".  I asked if she had ever heard anything about it and that I hoped I missed the punch line saying it was all a joke.  She hadn't seen anything about it but shared a story about a friend babysitting her grandchildren.  
The grandmother and kids were playing the best of all possible games.  It was one that I remember fondly both as a child and as a parent.  They built caves/forts out of furniture and blankets.  Many winter days my brother, my sister and I pulled our blankets off the bed and built forts with the dining room table. We made tunnels with the TV trays.  We sat under the blankets until we got too hot or were forced to restore the living room to order.
It is a wonderful memory and this grandmother was creating similar one with her grandchildren.  Her daughter came home and was upset by the mess they had created.  Blankets over a table or chairs was considered an inappropriate activity.  The grandmother was dumbfounded.  Her daughter had played the same games as a child.  Why was it suddenly inappropriate? 
Our expectations have often become unrealistic and too many people actually see unstructured playing as an waste of time.  Play therapy was an integral part of my son learning to control his autism.  Guided play helps them practice scenarios and learn.  

I have many memories of running around the yard playing silly games of make believe as a child.  I have even more memories of my children playing such games.  Unstructured time allowed them to imagine and use their beautiful minds.  They process things they didn't understand and built things only they could imagine.  
I remember one afternoon when my oldest two were in 1st and 2nd grades.  Several of the neighborhood kids were in the basement with them playing.  I was upstairs working on dinner.  The absence of noise got my attention more than constant chatter ever does.  Something was wrong.  I went downstairs and didn't see any of the kids at first.  Gradually I noticed the crouched under tables and behind boxes.  
What?   The kids explained they were playing "Lock Down".  They explained that they had to hide from the bad people in the school.  That day there had been a lock down.  The teachers slides their desks in front of the door and the kids hid away from the door and windows.  
I was stunned.  I still have no idea if it was a real lock down or a drill.  Either way the kids needed this free, unstructured play to process what had happened.  No board game, computer game, LEGO set or sports team could replace the importance of this spontaneous activity. 
How long until our leaders insistence on standardized testing and Common Core lead us to view unstructured playing and learning through exploration as a problem that needs to be corrected? 
How long until this article becomes real and not satire?
How many people are worried that it is already a real disorder?