Last week, as I got ready to teach, having put on the wig my students voted on, Dude had a decidedly taken aback reaction.

I don't know why--I thought it was fine.

For me, this is pretty tame, all in all, don't you think?

Lucy's opinion was decidedly one of disbelief.

Dude really wanted me to know how he felt. It's a definite "oh, no" on his part.

Even Jack was weighing in.

Danny just laughed.


Claims Require Evidence

One of the things I emphasize to my students in composition classes is that claims require evidence. All claims in a paper should be backed by evidence. Not simply stated and assumed true. Not propped up by fallacies. Backed by evidence.

Writings relating to autism (like many topics) are often evidence-free. One of the ways we can back claims up is to offer examples. To back up my claim that writings related to autism are often evidence-free, I'm going to dissect a recent post at io9 about how autism is changing the world for everyone, not because of my opinion on the major claim itself, but because the evidence we use for claims is so important.

George Dvorsky's article at io9 kickstarts with a claim: "How Autism is Changing the World for Everybody," but not the direction of the claim. How is not immediately offered. One might think, given the language of the major autism organizations who fundraise for research that the "how" is by the increased medical and educational costs or the need for an increase in spending on transition training, job training, assisted living. Autism is a condition that is recognized by problems in communication, socialization, and narrowly defined interests, according to the DSM. And in the DSM it isn't called a condition--it's a disorder.

Given the increase in autism diagnoses, the rising costs of special ed, and the lobbying for insurance coverage for autism treatments, parents and professionals might rightly assume that these are some of the "hows." After all, according to Peter Bell of Autism Speaks, 500,000 children with autism are due to become adults in the next decade. That's a lot of young adults who've previously needed a range of services to access a free and appropriate education. It's reasonable to ask if those needs are suddenly going to disappear once a high school diploma or certificate is issued.  Is transition into an independent adulthood assured? A recent study shows that "One in 3 young adults with autism have no paid job experience, college or technical schooling nearly seven years after high school graduation."

There is an obligation when making claims to offer evidence, not generalizations, not fuzzy sentences that don't offer substance. In the above paragraphs I've provided numbers as evidence. I've provided sources for you to go look at. You can question and should whether I've given you good evidence and you'll have to make a decision based on the evidence itself. For example, you might be an individual in the autism community who immediately cringed when I cited Peter Bell and Autism Speaks as a source, and you may want to dismiss the 500,000 upcoming young adults because you hate Autism Speaks. But you have to remember--it's not the person making a claim--Peter Bell is making a claim there--it's the evidence for the claim. 

You can go dig deeper and see if those numbers hold, and then you can assess whether I've left sufficient evidence for my unstated claim that Dvorksy's claim about how autism is changing the world is insufficiently supported. Is my main claim completely laid out? Not quite, but there is enough for readers to infer.

Is autism changing the world for everybody? The CDC (again, numbers) has recently upgraded the numbers on autism, saying that 1 in 88 kids have autism. However, this is an estimate based on information from four years ago on 8 year olds who are now 12. No one knows what the incidence of autism is in children being born now, in adults over the age of 50, or in adults between 18 and 34, for example. Instead, there is an estimate based on 14 sites that is an average of their estimates.

Depending on who's doing the talking, either there's a tsunami fixing to hit us or professionals have just gotten better at counting. On one hand, there's an anti-vaccine site insisting it's a tsunami, and on the other hand, a scientist whose expertise is in biology and who has spent a great deal of time becoming well-informed on the science of ASDs saying it's a combination of factors: widening the criteria and getting better at finding individuals (which backs what the CDC says and almost all mainstream scientists). Is this an appeal to authority by suggesting that Emily Willingham's essay on the autism rise is more credible than Age of Autism's? Yes, but it is a reasonable appeal to authority, not a fallacious one, where the "authority" in question is speaking on things outside his or her realm of expertise.

Before even looking at the content of Dvorsky's essay, his claim is already being actively assessed, autism and the idea that autism is changing the world for everybody has been examined. Is it, either way--a dreaded tsunami or a better accounting--changing the world for EVERYBODY. Claims must be defended. I tell my students they can say some without much evidence, but to say NONE, MOST, ALL (and perhaps even many), evidence is required, and the more absolute the claim, the more evidence is required.

Having dissected the title, it's time to move to Dvorsky's essay: "There's not much doubt that autism, along with Asperger Syndrome, is finally becoming accepted as a normal part of the human fabric." Is there really "not much doubt?" Is this true everywhere, some places, many places, across all cultures, some cultures? This sentence is a claim even though Dvorsky offers no evidence to back it up. How do we know it's "becoming accepted as a normal part"? Just because numbers of autistic individuals appears to be increasing doesn't mean they're being accepted as "a normal part of the human fabric." What we can see and say is that there are more self-advocacy groups for autistic individuals and that they are advocating that they are not disordered, but simply differently-wired (see ASAN, for example)--again offering evidence for a claim that is offered with a lack of absolutism.

Dvorsky then attempts to minimize the naysayers: "Even if some people still see autism as a condition that needs to be "treated," it's increasingly obvious that people on the autism spectrum are finding ways to succeed in our neurotypical-based society." This is two separate claims: one is that only "some people" think autism needs to be treated. Autism Speaks raises roughly 50 to 60 million a year, with 40% of their monies going to research (see Autism Speaks' website for its 990s--again offering evidence). That's more than "some"--indeed, one could argue it's many. One could bolster that claim by pointing to other national autism associations and organizations like Autism Society of American and the National Autism Association who also raise funds for research into treatments. One could argue that this evidence counters Dvorsky's "some" quite capably.

Onto the second claim, "it's increasingly obvious that people on the autism spectrum are finding ways to succeed in our neurotypical-based society." To whom? What evidence? Remember the recent study showing 1 in 3 young people with autism never having held a paying job? What about the longterm employment rates for all adults with autism? The National Foundation for Autism claims a 90% unemployment rate for all adults on the spectrum. It's essentially a meaningless claim. No evidence is offered.

He continues, "Not only that, but autistic people are changing the nature of our society as well — in many ways, for the better." Not only what? In two sentences, he's made three vague claims and backed none of them up. Now we have two more claims--that people on the spectrum are changing our society and that it is for the better.

As his first evidence, he points to artist Stephen Wilshire and the drawing of his at the top of the article. There's no doubt Wilshire's art is incredible, but how is that "changing the nature of our society," especially for everybody? Let's see if he's got more evidence.

His evidence that "autism has come to impact so significantly on mainstream culture" comes from talking to two people he labels experts (disclosure--I am facebook friends with both these individuals) and to "other people whose lives have been touched by autism." So, proof by anecdote and two appeals to authority by labeling the two named individuals experts. No actual autistic individuals talked to--who might be in the unique position to discuss how they feel they're contributing to society and steering it in positive way, making it better, since this is Dvorsky's claim. Are talking to a few people sufficient evidence for his sweeping claim? 

Remember, my issue is not with the claim itself, or the person making the claim, but the evidence offered. Do I think autistic individuals contribute positively to society? Absolutely. My son volunteers full time. That's an absolutely positive contribution. But what about those individuals who are so disabled that they reside in care facilities and require constant care? If the value of a person resides in his contribution to society, that belief robs those individuals of value--value which I believe resides not in what one can do, but in simply being. By focusing his claim on autism to those who are savants or highly capable autistic individuals, Dvorsky gives a skewed presentation of the autism spectrum and makes things harder for individuals who are simply average or who are severely impacted.

For his two experts, Dvorsky may simply have reached out to two people he knew, rather than casting a wider net. How he chose his experts is not clear. Steve Silberman is a writer for Wired and is writing a book on neurodiversity--he covers autism topics for the magazine and is active in the autism community. Does that make him an expert qualified to speak on how autism is changing the world for everybody? What makes a person an expert? I'd say it allows him to make claims, but that without evidence to back those claims, the appeal to authority may not be sufficient. Andrea Kuszewski is a professional, "a consultant and behavioral therapist for children who are on the autism spectrum, and an expert in finding alternative learning strategies for gifted kids." There is sufficient reason to accept, based on her credentials, an appeal to authority as being valid--if indeed, Kuszewski makes claims within her field of expertise. But does she make claims that back Dvorsky's main claim or does Dvorsky draw vaguely on his conversations with these two individuals to make his sweeping claims without actually offering evidence?

Instead of offering specific ways in which autistic individuals are changing society, Dvorksy punts: "Through our conversations with Silberman and Kuszewski, it became clear that autism has played a significant role in crafting much of what we consider to be modern culture — from the music and books we read, to the technological devices we all take for granted. The acceptance of radically different ways of thinking, it turns out, can be seen as an integral part of a rich and diverse overarching culture."

What specifically did they say that allows Dvorsky to make such a sweeping claim? We don't know.

Are the traits which make for good inventors ones found in autistic individuals? Let's see.

Attention to detail. Check.

Ability to focus for long periods of time on a solitary pursuit. Check.

Is that all autistic individuals? Maybe not. Which details are attended to? Irrelevant ones or relevant ones?

Do you have to be challenged both in social skills and in communication (requirements for an autism disorder) to be interested in machines, able to focus on them, take them apart and put them back together or to build new things? I think that a reasonable answer to that question is no.

Not every engineer or scientist has Asperger's or autism. Not every artist is autistic, either. Not every autistic individual is a savant.

Will traits in the autism community overlap the neurotpyical community? Yes. Is it a continuum? I think it's reasonable to say that it is--scientists such as Ami Klin recognize the broad autism phenotype and how traits appear in autistics' family members to a lesser degree.

Dvorsky then claims through another individual, a writer for Gawker, that the inventor of facebook is on the spectrum, among other individuals in the technology field. This is offered as evidence for Dvorsky's claim that autism is changing the world for everybody in positive ways.

Having gone through his article, we have the evidence for his claim. Is it sufficient and of good quality? Can we safely say that there have been individuals who have been on the autism spectrum who have made significant contributions to society and changed it as a consequence? 

It's a reasonable argument that there are autistic individuals in technological and scientific fields who have created technological advances that have shaped society. For example,Temple Grandin has certainly changed the way slaughterhouses function in the world and has made an enormous contribution on that front. She's also helped to bring autism awareness to the mainstream and been a tremendous positive force.

If that were all Dvorsky were attempting, to say that it's important to be aware that autistic individuals have an important role to play in society, are an asset to society, then that would be fine. Evidence of that wouldn't even really be necessary.  What he appears to be doing, though, throughout his essay, is to redefine what it means to be autistic--to confine it to those who are less impacted or who have savant skills by listing a number of prominent individuals he says are autistic.

There is abundant evidence that the majority of autistics do not have savant skills, and it is a disservice to all those on the spectrum who don't have "amazing" abilities, but are instead like most people--good at some things, not so good at others, and bad at a few things.

Wouldn't it be better to be trying to create an environment and a society that appreciates the individual as he or she really is instead of attempting to impose restricting, inaccurate and potentially damaging stereotypes on people with autism? Expecting autistics to be whizzes at technology or art or into science fiction is no better than assuming that all autistics are in corners rocking and incapable of accomplishing the perfectly ordinary task of living their own lives on their own terms.

Hyperbole and fluff-filled sentences might sound nice, but they do not replace evidence to back up claims. Bold claims require strong evidence, an evidence that can only be found in a careful, scientific examination. Why should we care what one writer on a website has to say if it's not backed with real evidence. Sure, it sounds good, and it's something parents of autistic children really want to hear-- but it doesn't make it true in and of itself. And any discussion about autism ought to actually involve autistic individuals themselves, not conjecture, not armchair diagnostics, but real conversations with the actual individuals, and some statistical evidence to back the sweeping claims.


Building on Each Other's Strengths as a Way of Minimizing Challenges: Siblings Rule

As the mother to three wonderful kids on the spectrum, I am given a unique opportunity to watch how each handles his and her challenges differently, and even better, how they come together as a triad to work out how the world works and ways to navigate an increasingly more complex world where social skills are vital to getting ahead and where deficits in language can cause huge misunderstandings.

Listening to my girls chat with each other is often a delight--the things I learn about how they process information really is priceless. Lily works hard to decode speech and the subtext, and will crow proudly when she thinks she's got it--"Sarcasm!" she will yell, arm outstretched and pointing, all while wearing a fierce grin of accomplishment. She's the same when she figures out something is a metaphor. And then she has a tendency to repeat the metaphor over and over, as if trying to fix it in her mind.

Last night's idiom was "drank the kool-aid" which she picked up from Warehouse 13. Over and over we heard her repeat it. This morning, while watching Good Morning America, it was "holding down the fort."

She's a bright young lady with a fair assessment of what she naturally misses, so watching her actively create workarounds is a fascinating exercise--listening to her try to explain it all to Rosie is truly an experience.

The girls bicker with each other, and it's illuminating to listen them. Together, they are actively seeking to understand how the world works, what things mean, why people act the way they do. They are each other's best assets. Add in Bobby to the mix, and while part of your head might want to explode, it's a triad of deeply opinionated siblings working to figure it all out and help each other see what one sees. It's loud, it's messy, but it's an independent (of me and their father) exercise. 

It is a tremendous relief to see them work together, to stand together, to debate it out. Together, the three of them are stronger, smarter, more astute than when alone, and that ought to be a lesson to all of us parents--sibling relationships and interdependence are something we need to create an environment to allow blossoming. Where we have only children, we want to work hard to create opportunities for our kids to connect with cousins, near neighbors, support groups where they can network with other individuals on the spectrum. 

Arm in arm, pulling the others along with them, our children go out into the world stronger.


Where's the Tipping Point?

At what point do you go from collector to hoarder?

I think that's a fair question, and given the abundance of objects in my house, probably a smart one to ask.

Where's the line from interesting and eclectic to deeply in need of stronger OCD meds?

You're wondering why I ask, of course. Well, that's not true: if you've seen pictures of the house, you're wondering why it took me so long to ask.

But it is a serious question. Where is the tipping point? If it's not trash, it's neatly displayed and you can walk from room to room without too much risk of tipping things over (I kid), then it's cool, right?


I know, I know, you need visual input. I get that.
Every floor should have a life size zebra head in the middle of it.

So I'll show and you tell me. I'm into animal print big time. Still no idea why. But there you go, I love it, and apparently am not through wanting to buy everything I can find in it, and just between the two of us, I'm pretty sure NO ONE really wants to see my wear the zebra leggings I bought. No one. Really. They're skin tight and something Lula from the Stephanie Plum novels would wear with a low cut blouse and a matching zebra push up bra on liberal display, and as Louise would say (do you remember Louise and Thelma and Mama H?), magnificent orbs overflowing.

Trust me, the leggings are better off staying in the closet and off of me. At least in public. The cheetah leggings kinda scared that truth into me, and listen I am not shy. You know that. You've seen the pictures, read the posts. I have taught in orange hair. In aquamarine hair. In hot pink hair and bright blue hair. So when I can admit tight animal print leggings on me are not becoming, I think we know they're really not.

It's not just the clothes, though. My bedroom looks like several animals converged on it and...I'm not even sure vomited would cover the melange of prints. I'm not saying it looks bad. Not at all; I like it. I'm saying it's eclectic. But at this point, I think I have to admit I may not have any clue at all--confirmation bias and sunk-cost fallacy may have me unable to admit that I should have stopped before the zebra head and tiger eyes print.

Here, see for yourself:

Mind you this is the FOOT of the bed.

Here's the rest:

Clearly the girls love it:

As does Mabel:

It's done--I mean what more could I possibly add, you ask? Well, that's where the tipping point comes in.

I could add cheetah eyes, but where? Maybe at the head of the bed so the cheetah and the tiger could have a continual stare-off?
Cheetah Eyes Art
And what about this, to hang in the middle of the zebra print on the headboard?

I mean, really, who defines the tipping point into too far? And would I ever even know I'd gone too far? At some point, would something in me wake up and look around and run for my life? And would I even be able to get out of the house at that point?

Beats me. Now excuse me while I go put on my leopard print pajamas.


Since When Did Time Fly By?

I remember, not so many years ago, when the girls were little, how time slowly dripped by, days stretched out with seconds that refused to give up the ghost and let the next second pass. Seriously, it felt like I lived in a time bubble, with nothing much changing and a feeling that there was no end in sight to sleepless nights, diapers, and babies that needed to be held and squeezed all the time.

I tried to remind myself in those years that despite its trickling of time, as if some greater being was miserly with the passing of hours, that there would come a time where I would miss how long the days were. I recognized that I should covet that time with my children, the closeness, the interdependency, the freshness of watching them move from infancy into childhood because once the time had gone, there would be no getting it back.

Welcoming Rosie.

Even though it seemed time was in no hurry, the girls and Bobby did grow and change, as all children do. Looking back, I can see that one of the reasons time stood still for so long is that so much of my time was spent working with Bobby on academics, with little progress being gained. Spend a decade on first grade work with a child and time's bound to feel as if it's stuck. Let those expectations of what must be taught go and shift to life skills and the progress speeds up, feels like jumping from impulse power to warp nine.


They change now by the day, gain new skills, ask new questions, interact with each other in increasingly complex ways, building close bonds with each other. I'm just doing my best to keep up with them and how they are blossoming, even if that means time flies by instead of creeping.


Camping with the Grandparents: The Doggies Rule

For a change, these aren't my photos, but Bobby's.
He spent Monday and Tuesday last week camping
 with my parents and took his camera along.

He took some photos of trailers, including my parents, 
and my dad wandering around taking care of things, 
but then he turned to the dogs and 
showered them with photographic love,
much like me taking pictures of the cats.

And then he took pictures of the lake 
and the ducks.

He got some kayaking in with Dad, with Dad turning the camera on him.

I'm apparently missing out on a good time with the camping. I wonder if I could get my parents to take me one week and leave everyone behind?


Thoughts on Inspiration Porn, Disabilities and Teaching Acceptance

A recent blog on an Australian news site on inspiration porn has had me taking notice of the images that come across my facebook feed, had me looking at the content and the messages that different people take away from the photos of disabled persons smiling, running, laughing, being.

Stella Young, in her piece, takes away a clear message from what she has called (she's not the first to term it so) inspiration porn:
"Let me be clear about the intent of this inspiration porn; it's there so that non-disabled people can put their worries into perspective. So they can go, "Oh well if that kid who doesn't have any legs can smile while he's having an awesome time, I should never, EVER feel bad about my life". It's there so that non-disabled people can look at us and think "well, it could be worse... I could be that person".
In this way, these modified images exceptionalise and objectify those of us they claim to represent. It's no coincidence that these genuinely adorable disabled kids in these images are never named: it doesn't matter what their names are, they're just there as objects of inspiration." (emphasis mine)
There's no doubt that we, as a people, have a tendency to compare our lot with others and feel better about our lives when we remember we could have it worse, but I'm not so certain that the images of disabled individuals going about their lives, moving through their challenges and living fulfilling lives is doing that.

The image Young shows is of a little girl with prosthetic legs and a man with prosthetic legs both running and a quote from Scott Hamilton: "The only disability in life is a bad attitude."

Certainly, the way we view impairment, disability and handicaps is incredibly divergent. Disability rights activists across the internet, in journals, in books, and in the real world are working to create an atmosphere of acceptance--not just tolerance--but full inclusion and acceptance. Our corner of the disability community, the autism community, has as divergent of views as the wider world does. Disability is a loaded term, constantly morphing depending on who's using it and to what end, but so is autism--is it a disability, an impairment, a handicap? Or is it an alternate way of being--something to be embraced? Is it an inseparable part of the person or something that disguises the true person underneath the disability?

It all depends on who's doing the talking, doesn't it?

In my freshman composition courses this summer, I'm teaching MLA format, critical thinking skills, and the construction of sound arguments through the prism of disability. We're reading essays like Jim Sinclair's "Don't Mourn for Us" and Nancy Mairs' "On Being a Cripple" and stories like "The Yellow Wallpaper." We're considering the different models of disability, looking at how disabilities have impacted us in our personal lives, in our extended families, and what it means to be disabled. It's heady stuff, important stuff, and because of the various disabilities and diseases family members and I  struggle with, deal with, fight, get pissy about (take your pick on terminology--and all these terms deal more with my disabilities than my children's), it means something to me, as much as writing means to me.

Teaching my students things that matter is important to me and teaching writing (and reading and thinking) critically is something I value tremendously. Because I know that my students will also absolutely deal in some capacity with illness, disease, impairment, disability and all the feelings and experiences those things entail, teaching writing through disability texts provides me with meaningful content with which to work.

It also allows me the continued opportunity to reflect and learn, and that I think is one of the best things about being a teacher--that there's always the chance to grow and learn.

Inspiration porn as a term disparages both those who view the images and those who are being portrayed. It implies both exploitation of those who are portrayed and a willingness to be exploited. I'm not at all certain that this is what's going on--that 'normal' people use these images to feel better about their own lives--especially given that these pictures are almost always beautiful photos of individuals doing and being themselves--is it inspiring to see joy on a young child's face as she races down a track? Yes. Does it create joy in the viewer? I hope so, and more importantly, I hope it helps create greater acceptance of those who are different from us.

My children's autism is mostly an invisible impairment--people can misinterpret their behavior and reactions and not realize the behavior is a function of the way they view and react to the world--but I want for them what parents of children with visible impairments and individuals who have impairments want: acceptance, understanding, appreciation,  and an acknowledgment of our shared humanity.

We have to work to make these things a reality, and we don't do it by hiding them away, by protecting them from the wider world.

Aimee Mullins, in an empowering speech at TED, says:
"In our desire to protect those we care about by giving them the cold, hard truth about their medical prognosis, or, indeed, a prognosis on the expected quality of their life, we have to make sure that we don't put the first brick in a wall that will actually disable someone. Perhaps the existing model of only looking at what is broken in you and how do we fix it, serves to be more disabling to the individual than the pathology itself. By not treating the wholeness of a person, by not acknowledging their potency, we are creating another ill on top of whatever natural struggle they might have. We are effectively grading someone's worth to our community. So we need to see through the pathology and into the range of human capability. And, most importantly, there's a partnership between those perceived deficiencies and our greatest creative ability. So it's not about devaluing, or negating, these more trying times as something we want to avoid or sweep under the rug, but instead to find those opportunities wrapped in the adversity. So maybe the idea I want to put out there is not so much overcoming adversity as it is opening ourselves up to it, embracing it, grappling with it, to use a wrestling term, maybe even dancing with it. And, perhaps, if we see adversity as natural, consistent and useful, we're less burdened by the presence of it."
Mullins concludes her talk with a redefining of disability. Instead of the cruel list of synonyms that started her talk, she gives her definition:

"So, I think that the only true disability is a crushed spirit, a spirit that's been crushed doesn't have hope, it doesn't see beauty, it no longer has our natural, childlike curiosity and our innate ability to imagine. If instead, we can bolster a human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we are truly using our power well. When a spirit has those qualities, we are able to create new realities and new ways of being."

It is my hope that by sharing disability texts and videos like Mullin's with my students that I will arm them with the tools to thoughtfully consider the world they wish to make, that it will be a world where acceptance, understanding and empathy are the rule, not the exception, that critical thinking will become a staple and that thoughtful deliberation before any action will become a way of being for them. It is my belief that by opening their eyes to different possibilities that they can and will choose for themselves their own considered opinions and beliefs and act on them to remake the world in the images they choose.


Miserable Metformin Blues: Not At My Best

Diabetes, in case you weren't aware, is a pain in the ass.

I've been diabetic since 2002, did the insulin for six months and then got my weight down enough that I could control it by diet and, a-hem, 'exercise.' That worked pretty well until this spring when my blood sugar started to rise and has continued despite behaving and actually exercising (I'm going to have to exercise more). Three weeks ago, I started on metformin, and a week ago added in the morning dose. My blood sugars are averaging 151 despite the meds, the behaving, and the effort. Pisses me off.

The metformin has also, especially since adding the latest dose in, made me nauseated and forced a close proximity to a bathroom. Not a pleasant situation--especially since I still feel crappy when my blood sugar is running high, which it almost always is.


So that's where I'm at now. Dragging myself through the day, through work, and hanging out with my cat Mabel, in my bathroom.

Today I felt bad enough that I actually passed out facedown on my bed, my legs hanging off and was awakened by my daughters asking me why I was lying on the bed so funny.


Hopefully things will improve soon, but in the meantime, I'm a bit preoccupied. Funny how online stuff can fall to the wayside so easy.

It's a reminder, in a way, that when our kids don't feel well, they, too, are going to have a harder time making it through each day, getting everything done, responding appropriately. If they're hurting, if they're tired, if they're feeling mentally foggy, everything else is going to be impacted. That's true for each of us, and I'm betting a lot of us are tired, worn out, and just flat-out not at our best on many a day. It makes for thornier interactions, so next time, when someone does something that strikes you wrong, maybe if you stop and wonder if he or she is going through some of the same issues and feelings as you, you'll respond with understanding and give the person a break. God knows we could all use a little more of that.


Bloody Beeping Hell

First Alert Smoke Alarm

Since yesterday morning, various smoke alarms in our house have been incessantly beeping. We've changed batteries. Rick even disconnected one after three different batteries failed to stop the beeping. And yet the other alarms continue to chirp, punctuating everything we do in this house, including the fist shaking and cursing.

The disconnected one sits in my lap now, so I can see if it's still beeping (it's not, but it has a hissy fit if we take the battery out of it--it's like they have a life of their own!). Intellectually, I can understand making these little frakkers so annoying. I really can. If they aren't annoying when their batteries need changing, people won't change them, and then when the alarms are needed, they won't be working and lives will be lost. I get it. I really do, but I tell you what, I could take a damned bat to these little frakkers after 24 non-stop hours of listening to them chirp. 

Okay, to be fair, we probably should have immediately gone to the store and gotten brand new batteries (but we had batteries still in their mother-frakking pack in the drawer so that we were ready after the last time these "alarms" went haywire-pissy several years ago). And truthfully, after nearly 23 years of parenting, I can tune out a lot (read that to mean anything shy of blood-curdling screams), so yeah, I know the alarms are chirping, but it doesn't really bother me most of the time--I can sit next to Rick's iphone's alarm going off for minutes and do nothing with it until he finally comes into the room and decides to silence it (either I'm incredibly tolerant or really lazy).

What bothers me, I think, most of all about the bloody beeping is not the beeping itself but how hard it is to make them stop the beeping. You have to get on a stepstool, fiddle around with the alarm, replace the battery, and do that over and over until magically the beeping stops or you disconnect the damned thing, which really pisses off all the other alarms so that you get blood-curdling cries from them, mourning for the loss of a beloved brother alarm.

Yes, I've anthropomorphicized (that's a bitch to spell) the little frakkers (not the word I use in my head), but if you had something constantly chirping and beeping in your ear, you would, too.

Rick's on his way home from the store where he has gotten brand new batteries to silence the buggers, so we'll see if that works. It's like making an offering to an angry beeping god, I tell you. If it doesn't, the bat is always an option. Of course, we could take the time to read the information on the website about these alarms, too.