Monday, August 3, 2015
Today as I drove past the spot when a homeless man was shot by police there was no sign that a human being, who killed no one, had lost his life. His crime, mentall illness, not comprehending police commands. No street memorial, no flowers, no notes, no RIP Seth, nothing. No sign that any one had lost their life just a few days ago. It seems no one cries for him. Sad. So sad to be invisible.
The night before Seth Raines was shot to death by Los Angeles police in Studio City, a chaplain in a skid row homeless shelter pleaded with him not to leave.
The 44-year-old Raines had made huge strides since arriving at the Union Rescue Mission, where he had recently completed an intensive, year-long recovery program, said the shelter's chief executive, the Rev. Andrew Bales.
The program included one-on-one time with a counselor, regular workouts in the gym, visits to the learning center and spiritual guidance.
Just recently, Raines and others in recovery had a cap-and-gown ceremony with friends and family looking on.
Raines was beaming that day, Bales said.
"I was with him a few weeks ago as he graduated. Shook his hand and took his picture with him. It's been on my mind since Friday," Bales said mournfully. "I just see his shining, cheerful face and blue eyes."
Friday was the day Raines died.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck told reporters Wednesday that investigators believe the shooting was a "suicide by cop" scenario, based on the man's actions and on interviews with his family.
Witnesses said Raines fired shots into the air and toward the ground about 3:20 p.m. near Vantage Avenue on Ventura Boulevard. Soon after, police responded to the scene.
Terrified witnesses sought cover and hid behind police cars as officers inched closer to the man.
But witnesses said Raines appeared to be calm as he sat on a brick ledge outside a bank.
"He looked like he was just waiting for the cops," witness Paul Gilmartin said after the shooting.
Beck said Raines, identified later by the county coroner, had what police thought was an explosive device: natural gas cylinders with wiring connecting them to a cellphone. The device wasn't explosive, Beck said, but was so convincing that the LAPD deployed a bomb robot to detonate it and another object found near the man's body.
Beck said the officers shot Raines after he refused to drop his pistol and instead pointed it at the officers. That pistol was recovered at the scene.
"Of course, we still have much investigation to do and the final conclusions have not been reached, but the only conclusion we've come to at this time is that this was a suicide by cop," Beck said. "All those things are very consistent with somebody that wanted to take their own life."
The chief said the shooting was a "very difficult incident for everybody."
"We not only had to shut down a very active boulevard, but we also had to take a human life," he said. "And that is, of course, something that we take very seriously."
Raines didn't give any indication of where he was going or why he was leaving when he packed up and left the skid row mission the night before he died, Bales said.
Mission residents and staff didn't hear about what happened to Raines until one of his cousins sent Bales an email this week, thanking him and the shelter for all they had done for Raines.
"He let us know how [Raines] felt comfortable here. He loved this place," Bales said.
A Facebook page that appears to have belonged to Raines shows him holding up an image of a skull days before he died, along with a picture of flames spelling out "RIP."
"There's no real way to figure out what's going through someone's mind when they take this kind of drastic action," Bales said.
The LAPD said it would not release the names of the officers involved until after the so-called 72-hour briefing, where Beck and command staff will be told about the initial investigation. The officers involved were assigned to the LAPD's Van Nuys Division, a department spokesman said.
The shooting marked the 23rd time this year that LAPD officers have shot someone. Twelve of those people died.
The shooting will also be reviewed by the district attorney's office, the Police Commission and its independent inspector general.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
Okay, I'm back on my "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid for our boys . Police shoot to kill". We talk inclusion yet, we live in a country where individuals with mental health issues not only suffer the realities of their illness's - but as a result of our collective ignorance - are vunerable to execution by default.
This week there was a fatal police shooting in our town on our main street, Ventura Blvd. A busy street with families walking and visiting bookstores, clothing shops and eateries. Its always felt like a safe place for everyone, not a street where you expect to see a police officer kill a man.
I wasn't there, when the shooting occured. I just heard people talking about how they couldn't drive on Laurel Canyon because the police had it cordoned off. Then I turned on the news to hear a man had a gun, and the police shot him. My first thought was sadness in general for a terrible situation. The next morning I scanned the internet to find out what had happened, and I read this:
“He was just firing into the air while there were children and parents walking around. He was just firing into the air,” Keshishyan said. “Police showed up, and they told him to drop his weapon…He wasn’t listening.” Witnesses said he fired at least one shot in the air and then police opened fire.
After police tried to negotiate with the man for about five minutes, the man “held up his gun and aimed toward the police, and that’s when they shot him,” Keshishyan said.
Another witness, Wyatt Torosian, said police fired two shots, sending the “bedraggled” man back and killing him in front of the Union Bank building.
“That was it for the man. It was very dramatic,” Torosian said. Torosian, who was inside a nearby Starbucks, said he was told the man had fired into the air. A third witness described five or six shots being fired by the man.
The armed man hadn’t aimed at any other people on the street, Keshishyan said. He had held up some kind of object that appeared to be in a bag toward police and then put it back down, she said “And they shot him”.
What I hear in this news report - and please know I am biased in support of those who cannot speak for themselves - this individual did pose a threat to our community, and he did not seem to comprehend the officer's directives. This should not have been a death sentence. 1 in every 54 boys in this country has Autism, and lack the social skills to survive a situation with Law Enforcement. I'm afraid for my son. Lord knows, there has to be a better way.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Saturday, July 11, 2015
An amazing moment. I was seated watching Depak as I joined in on todays Global Meditation on compassion. Nick walked in and said "It's Dr. Depak Chopra!" I looked at the screen to see if his name was visable, and it was not. I've never talked to Nick about Depak, so I asked "How do you know Depak?" He said " PBS So Cal Dr. Chopra".
OMG.... Nick went through a period of turning on PBS when he went to bed at night. I knew that his amazing brain was just recording the information, recording it and saving it, and it would all be shared at some time.
Today was one of those times! It was incredible! Nick sat with me and did the meditation and the mantra. I don't have the words to express how special this moment was.
Thank you Depak :)
Thank you PBS So Cal
We are all connected...even those so many think can't connect.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Looking at smell as a possible diagnosic tool is great. In the "NOW" understanding and pushing information out into the world about the seemingly subtle differences, between those living with ASD and the typical population is the best tool we have to creating safe and productive environments.
As a parent of a kiddo with autism I've watched my son's entire sensory system function in it's on unique way for years. He has under reactions to pain - so he has to be really hurt before he notices, he can't stand certain textures in his mouth, and having anything rubbed on his skin, or the sound of a siren is so painful it's torture for him. I typically explain Nick's sensory system as being like a music mixing board. Imagine most people's sensory responses both receptive and expressive (going in and heading out) are all mixed to be balanced at level 5 with a range of 0 to 10. Our kids however are scrambled; with their sight, sound, touch, taste, smell mixed within and even out side of the range.
That said, here's what I get in this story. I get an opportunity for people to become aware of the dangers facing our kids. People ask me why Nick I doesn't use the gas range to cook, but I let him use the toaster, grills, the over and microwave. They are surprised when I say it's not about the heat, it's because he can't smell the gas - and would blow the house up. So thanks to this story maybe a few more people will get the connection...If a person with autism can't smell smoke, rotten food, or gas and identify those smells as dangerous they are vulnerable to dangers. ........Donna
Study finds children with autism don't react to good and bad smells
(CNN)Children with autism spectrum disorder often have either an exaggerated or a numbed response to sight, sound and touch. This behavior is so common that it's one of the diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
Now, a new study suggests that children with autism might also experience smells differently from children who have typical development.
To explore how children with autism respond to odors, researchers built a device called an olfactometer, which delivered different scents through a small tube that fit into nostrils. A second tube measured how much air the children were breathing in during each scent -- in other words, how much of a sniff they were taking.
The researchers exposed 36 children -- 18 who had autism and 18 who did not -- to alternating bouquets of pleasant smells, such as roses or shampoo, or unpleasant smells, such as sour milk or rotten fish.
They found that children who did not have autism took a longer sniff for roses and a shorter one for rotten fish, and the difference in breathing happened quickly, within one-third of second of being exposed to the scent.
In contrast, children with autism did not change their breathing in response to the different aromas.
"What we measure, the sniff response, is quite intuitive (and) adults and children with typical development react similarly," said Liron Rozenkrantz, a doctoral student in neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The difference found in children with autism was striking, said Rozenkrantz, who was lead author of the study published Thursday in Current Biology.
It is unclear from the study if children with autism did not have a sniff response because they didn't perceive odors in the same way other children did, or because they just couldn't control their sniffing behavior.
Still, the idea that differences in smelling could be a symptom of autism might not be news to parents of children with autism. There have been accounts from parents about children who want to sniff people or objects, or who choose their friends based on their odor, even when it's imperceptible to others, Rozenkrantz said.
It has been difficult to study smelling behavior in children with autism because tests often ask them to describe odors, even though difficulty in communicating is a hallmark of autism, Rozenkrantz said.
The olfactometer-based test takes about 10 minutes and does not require the children to answer any questions or complete a task. In the study, they wore the device while watching cartoons.
The researchers in the current study found that their olfactometer could accurately identify the autism status of 12 of the 18 children who had autism, and 17 of the 18 control children who did not have autism.
The ability of the device to correctly categorize autism in 81% of cases raises the possibility that it could one day be used as a way to diagnose the disorder. The fact that it does not require a verbal test means that the olfactometer could be used in babies as young as a few months old, Rozenkrantz said.
However the average age of children in the current study was 7. For the device to become a method for early diagnosis, it would first have to be tested in young babies, and babies identified as being at risk of autism would have to be followed into childhood to see if they actually developed the disorder, Rozenkrantz said.
Research has shown that early behavioral interventions for young children at risk of autism could improve their development. Most children are not diagnosed until age 4 or older and have missed a key window to get help.
"It's way too early to say whether this could be helpful in diagnosing autism," said Dr. Paul Wang, senior vice president and head of medical research for Autism Speaks, an autism research and advocacy organization. Wang was not involved in the study.
In order to be used as a diagnostic tool, the device would have be tested in more children and also show that it can identify autism in more than two-thirds of children with the disorder, he said.
However the current study does give some idea of olfactory symptoms that could be occurring with autism, Wang said.
"I think this really fits well with increasing research on general sensory symptoms in autism," he said.
The researchers saw that children who had a dampened sniff response were more likely to also have deficits in communicating and socializing, but were less likely to have repetitive behaviors, which are the other hallmark of autism.
Differences in sensory reactions have previously been thought of as part of the repetitive behaviors of the disorder, but "this is an interesting study that suggests that the senses are more tied to socio-communicative behavior," Wang said.
These findings could also provide some clues as to why many children with autism have trouble eating.
"It could be muscular problems, with swallowing and chewing, but smell is a big part of taste and children with autism may not perceive smell in the same way as other children," Wang said.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
This was sent to me and I just had to share!
What’s a Federal Benefit Payment? Are you getting one?
The Social Security check is now (or soon will be) referred to as a *Federal Benefit Payment*? I'll be part of the one percent to forward this. I am forwarding it because it touches a nerve in me, and I hope it will in you. I intend to keep passing it on in hopes everyone in our country will read it.
The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a "Federal Benefit Payment." This isn't a benefit. It is our money paid out of our earned income! Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did too. It totaled 15% of our income before taxes.
If you averaged $30K per year over your working life, that's close to $180,000 invested in Social Security.
If you calculate the future value of your monthly invest-ment in social security ($375/month, including both you and your employers contributions) at a meager 1% interest rate compounded monthly, after 40 years of working you'd have more than $1.3+ million dollars saved!
This is your personal investment. Upon retirement, if you took out only 3% per year, you'd receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month.
That's almost three times more than today's average Social Security benefit of $1,230 per month, according to the Social Security Administration. (Google it – it’s a fact).
And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you're 98 if you retire at age 65)! I can only imagine how much better most average-income people could live in retirement if our government had just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts.
Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger *Ponzi scheme* than Bernie Madoff ever did.
They took our money and used it elsewhere. They forgot (oh yes, they knew) that it was OUR money they were taking. They didn't have a referendum to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them. And they didn't pay interest on the debt they assumed. And recently they've told us that the money won't support us for very much longer. (Isn't it funny that they NEVER say this about welfare payments?)
But is it our fault they misused our investments? And now, to add insult to injury, they're calling it a *benefit*, as if we never worked to earn every penny of it.
Just because they borrowed the money doesn't mean that our investments were a charity!
Let's take a stand. We have earned our right to Social Security and Medicare. Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our government.
Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare going for the sake of that 92% of our population who need it.
Then call it what it is: Our Earned Retirement Income.
99% of people won't forward this. Will you?
You can bet I WILL!!!
Thursday, June 25, 2015
The End of A Journey, Son's Aging Out - A Future Fading Away
As I walked into summer school with Nick this morning I was hit by a wave of grief, and I didn't know what it was, or why, or where it came from. I froze, held back tears and struggled to get my balance. I took a deep breath, and then I got it. I was face to face with the end of a journey. Next year Nick will be a senior and all that we have known; in the way of structure, things to do, support and plans based on the possibility of the future, the gift of the unknown will be gone. The future we fought so hard to make as bright and potential filled as possible, is here, and for all of our accomplishments and hard work, my kiddo has arrived at this place, still fully dependent on others and I'm so sad.
Nick will be a senior, but he won't really graduate, because he's on diploma track. He'll stay in school somewhere for a few more years, but only because there are no options. If I can't find a better choice for him, he'll be the 20, 21 and 22 year old on a HS campus, the special ed kid who's stuck, the school mascot who stayed behind after the party was over and the image makes me sad.
Please know I am so grateful he will still have somewhere to go, that he has options, but I am also sad. At this moment I feel like confirmation that a little dream (hope, prayer or denial) I had deep inside that he would have more, unexpectedly just up and died today!
I know I have to find another dream, another perspective and I'll get my wind back. Just had to share, to be heard, because I know so many of you appreciate my positivity and a few have asked if I ever just loose it? The answer is yes, I do. Today I did. I'll pick myself up, and I'll be good until the next time, the next wave, the next visit with the grief that keeps on giving.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Monday, June 8, 2015
Young People and Mental Health - The Stat's Will Disturb You. The numbers sure disturbed me. At the same time the easy to read warning signs listed here were really helpful. Let's spread this and educate families :)
Share this infographic on your site!