My Friday Book: “The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals”

imageCan a book about an undertaker be of any interest? Can he be an interesting topic for a novel? Will you put down the book, after finishing it, and say what a great book despite the morbid job of the hero? I haven’t got a clue! Because the author of this debut novel did the lousiest job ever, trying to put a story together. The people in it are entirely flat, without substance. The hero could have been a gardener. It would not have changed a thing in the story. She has put it on the fast forward button as well, like on a remote control, to avoid making it interesting. But of course I appreciated this, so that I did not have to suffer more than 263 pages of her word pooping.

I don’t want to put you off reading my review, but I must say that this book was so terribly predictable that, as soon as Grace, one of the two girls in the triangle “drama”, started having thoughts about a rape she had been through, I guessed who the rapist was and then I had also guessed how the book would end. I don’t like to have guessed everything which will happen in the book, 200 pages before they happen! Reviewers speak of twists and turns, yes, the author does twist and turn, desperately grasping at straws, trying to make the book exciting, but the only exciting thing in this book is if the undertaker will be able to un-tie his pyjamas trouser’s string and find his wife’s vagina! Could possibly bring a cheap thrill to someone out there, but it only vexed me, since Wilfred had asked his wife for an annulment of their marriage. You don’t try to have sex with a woman you hate, when you want to be free to marry the woman you love, just because you can’t control your urges! Honestly, Wendy Jones, stick to your daytime job. It is a scandal that someone published this and let you write a sequel to this crap. I will not read the second book in what threatens to become a series.

Want to make up your own mind about the book? Well here is the entire storyline:

Wilfred Aubrey Price, is 27 years old in 1924 and never went to war, since training as an undertaker was an exempt profession. His father and he lives together, after his four-year apprenticeship far away from home, for master Ogmore Auden, who taught Wilfred everything about life and funerals. Wilfred does not leave any impression at all on the living, including myself. A rather dull and boring man, who is semi-content with being the undertaker in Narberth, a small town in Wales. He dreams of having a wallpaper and paint shop in his home parlour and learning to use more words in his speech. To accomplish the latter, he buys himself a used dictionary and start out learning all the words on A.

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During a church picnic, happening before the book starts, he fancies the doctor’s daughter, Grace Amelia Reece, but it is a short-lived passion. As long as the picnic lasts. But all the same, she invites him for a picnic on their own and while they do not speak, Wilfred has a lot of thoughts. He is mighty impressed with the yellow dress she is wearing and can’t figure out how she got in to it. Instead of asking her how a woman gets in to a dress like that, he says “will you marry me?”. He is shocked at himself and even worse, more shocked when she says yes. He tries to break off the unwanted engagement, soon after the shock has settled, but she has already told her parents, so when he comes to talk to her, he is just railroaded by her parents. Unfortunately, I can’t stand people who are like Grace and Wilfred. Wet noodles. How can you like characters in a book, who will not speak their mind. Who will just do as they are told and walk around like zombies? It is one thing, to read about “Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley” not being able to speak outright how they feel about each other in “Pride & Prejudice”. Customs kept men and women so much apart, and social rules forbade open speech, that it can be understood, from the view-point of Jane Austen, that there would be a lot of misunderstandings. But I am sorry, people were not as innocent in 1924, and you just do not act at all like Wilfred and Grace, then or now. The story is not believable at all. From this first chapter, the book just goes downhill like a Harlequin romance. You just want to rip your hair out and burn the book to get over the pain of reading it.

Because Wilfred does not go home and ask his gravedigger father for advice. No, he avoids Grace and hopes she gets the hint. But she and her family spreads around the news of the engagement. At the same time, mr Edwards, the blacksmith in a village nearby, drops dead and Wilfred has to bury him. Arriving at the house to escort the wife and daughter to the funeral, he is smitten with Flora Edwards’ beauty. He can not take his eyes off her and while he behaves like the perfect undertaker throughout, he concocts a plan. He will go to deliver the bill a couple of weeks later and then ask her on a date, tea at a café.

Grace runs in to Wilfred one day, in town, after delivering honey, and asks him why he has not been around. That is when Wilfred somehow gets the courage to tell her the truth. He doesn’t love her and does not want to marry her so the engagement is over. He is so pleased with himself and moves on to the lady he does love. But her mother forbids Wilfred to go out with her daughter. Devastated he goes home but soon he receives a mysterious postcard which tells him to go to a deserted cottage by the coast. He finds Flora there and they spend the day in each others arms. No sex. No words at all. They keep on seeing each other and are happier than happy even though they never say a word to each other.

Then Grace decides to commit suicide since she has been raped. Her much beloved brother, the pride of her parents, have re-enlisted in the army and has received the rank of Sergeant. They are so proud of him. He leaves for his Army camp while Grace chickens out on the suicide and decides to face her father instead. She only goes down to her father’s office and says “I am pregnant”. Nothing else. He draws his own conclusions, rush out of the house and enters Wilfred’s. When Wilfred gets home, he is much bewildered. Why is the doctor there when the engagement has been broken off? Dr. Reece only have a few words for him. He orders Wilfred to be at the registrar’s office a couple of days later, at 9:52 and then storms off. Neither Grace or Wilfred gets to say a word. Wilfred was not born yesterday and realizes that he is being blamed for her pregnancy, the only reason why one is forced to marry in a registrar’s office with a couple of days notice. And Grace has no intention of telling who the father really is.

So Wilfred goes to the registrar’s office, in his funeral suit, looks at his bride with murder in his eyes, says his yes and that is the last time he speaks to her for weeks. They go home for a wedding lunch and suddenly she is so very big with child, according to the author. Imagine a doctor who never noticed that his daughter was pregnant?! That he nor his wife, never noticed the signs. And how about counting on your fingers, how pregnant you can really look after just a couple of weeks engagement???? Wilfred stays on his side of the bed, like a stiff plank, and starts starving himself. Grace actually gets a wake up call when she notices after three weeks, how he has aged and how thin he has become. Not that she REALLY CARES! He hates sleeping in her house and misses his father, his house and Flora.

Three weeks in to the marriage, he is all words! He goes bicycling with Flora, he is not himself anymore. Talkative, charming, flirting… They go out in the ocean, the tide being out, to look at a forest, imageusually underwater, kissing and not paying attention to the tide rushing in. To save themselves from drowning, Flora has to throw away her camera and they throw all clothes except their underclothes and run for it. Flora can not swim and goes under several times but Wilfred has decided to save her, so they finally make it to the beach and safety. They spend the night in the cottage, wrapped in each others arms, declaring their love for each other but Flora also finds out that he is married and that his wife’s baby is not his.

Flora goes home all depressed. She lost her fiancée Albert, in 1918, when his company was going over the top. She has been living like a dead since but now she has come alive, falling for Wilfred. But an affair is not her thing. Wilfred has decided to finally say something though. Even if it means that not a single person in Narberth wants to use him as an undertaker again. He demands an annulment from Grace and tells her he loves someone. He also asks who the father of the baby is. Madoc of course. Her brother. The hero. The man, whose bed and room, they share as a wedded couple. The next day, they go to face Dr. Reece. Grace doesn’t say anything, it is only Wilfred who is pushing for the annulment. A date is set to go to court. The night before, Grace undress though, doing everything to keep her treasure. She does not want to face up to life. She can’t care less if Wilfred is unhappy and loving someone else. She wants to pretend that all is fine. So she sticks her hand down his pyjamas and he immediately becomes a cave man, trying to get the pyjamas off. He has serious troubles, but finally gets them off and starts poking around between her legs. And then I guess it dawns on him, well I hope it dawned on him, that if he has sex with her, he can forget all about Flora. Forever! Because he stops and Grace gets so upset. She almost had him trapped. So they go off the next day to the judge and get the marriage annulled. He heads off on a picnic with Flora, to tell her that he is free to marry her. And Grace packs her bag to leave Narberth for good. Wilfred having given her half of his savings and her dad sends a great bunch of money with her as well. She is off on the train, her parents not wanting to see her off because of the scandal, and them not knowing the truth.

Is this what is called literature? Hardly! I can’t tell this apart from the Harlequin romances I read when I was 12, bought in the supermarket. It was a total waste of two afternoons and I could have spent the money on something nicer. How did I find it in the first place? I found the second part, on sale at the book depository, but did not want to buy that without having read the first book, first. I will never move on to the next. Time is too precious for me. And money.

Like I said above, people on Amazon has given the book five stars because of its twists and turns and because of its humour. I have humour, but nothing in this book was funny. It is a book about a wet noodle of a man and a spoiled, selfish girl. A girl who lets her brother rape her, even though there was no threat of him planning to kill her, if she did not comply. She knows she is pregnant when Wilfred proposes and ends the engagement, but she doesn’t care. She is fine with him being forced to marry her. Is their drama in this book? No. Things like this never happen in life. Sorry Wendy Jones, but the old ingredients of incest, rape and an unhappy marriage, does not spell success. In your case, it just reeks desperation. I think you need to continue your creative writing course for a while and maybe get another teacher, who will be honest and tell you the truth. You can’t write!

 

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My Friday Book: “Can you understand me? My Life, My Thoughts, My Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome”

Can you understand Sofie, because she can not understand you?!

Can you understand Sofie, because she can not understand you?!

A tiny little book, written by an 11-year-old Danish girl suffering from Autism or Asperger’s, difficult to say but I suspect the latter. On the other hand, they are doing away with the latter diagnosis, since not a single person has all the same symptoms. Which means that it is difficult to understand why these people do and act the way they do, all of them being different.

I liked this little book a lot and as soon as the Autism society is back from their vacation, I will order it from them, as well as two other books which habilitation recommended and loaned me. They are good books to keep at home, for refreshing one’s memory and for letting other people read. I have no idea if this book has been translated? It says that it has, but is it still in print and how good was the translation. In case you are too lazy to send for your own copy or can’t get hold of it… Here is my translation of the book:

“I have a physical disability. It is called autism or Asperger’s syndrome. You can’t see it from the outside. But I was born with it and can’t help having it. What it means is, that I have a difficult time understanding others, since they do not think the way I do. I would like to help others. Sometimes I need help myself. I would like for others to understand what my life is like, so they can understand me.

I like when everything stays the same way every day. Every morning I stick to my remember-to-do-list, which sits on the fridge. Then I know what I am supposed to do. I easily get confused, if I don’t know what I am supposed to do, or if I am supposed to do new things, which I have not done before. I really need things to be explained to me in advance.

I watch the children’s programs on TV every afternoon at 17:00. But I have a difficult time learning the clock. If my mother forgets telling me that it is 17:00, and I miss the cartoons, I get very angry. If it was just a film about humans, which I missed, then I do not get angry. I have a note in the living room, which has pictures and text, explaining how the remote control works. I have tried to learn how it works for years. I can get very angry, when I can not do things as easily, as other children can.

I can not always find the right words for things and it makes me very vexed and sad. I have a difficult time remembering the names of people and things. It is very difficult to find the words for how things are. I find it very difficult to explain how I feel. I prefer short conversations.

Yes, what are strawberries called in Swedish? The options become very funny, when it is supposed to be "Jordgubbar". But it is hardly amusing to the child when the person opposite looks like a question mark or gets a troubled look.

Yes, what are strawberries called in Swedish? The options become very funny, when it is supposed to be “Jordgubbar”. But it is hardly amusing to the child when the person opposite looks like a question mark or gets a troubled look.

I can not remember the names of my classmates and there are some teachers whom I don’t know the names for either. I almost know all the names for every cartoon figure, because they are easier to remember. Mum says that I speak differently than others. Sometimes I use lines from films and cartoons, but I am not aware of doing so. Sometimes my mum laughs at me which makes me angry. My mum says she is not laughing at me but that she laughs at what I just said. She means this in a loving way. But I feel stupid when others laugh. My mum also says that I talk like an adult. This means that I sometimes sound like I want to decide over others and educate them. I feel that I talk the same all the time.

I get confused if one asks me to do several things at the same time. I prefer to do one thing at a time. If the teachers say many things at once, then I will sit and draw till they come and tell me what we are supposed to do. When too many things are happening at once, I get stressed out. When it is too noisy, I just walk out of the classroom.

I think it is difficult to know which side to pass people on the street, when they come walking towards me. I expect them to walk straight, but they do not always do that. Mum says that it is because people get confused and irritated when they can not read any body language from me. I don’t use it. And I do not see or notice body language. Mum also says that people can not see what I want because I do not use that many facial expressions. Others think I am angry or sad, when I just feel normal. I can not see if people are lying or if they are joking. I think everything they tell me is true. I also find it very difficult to understand jokes. It helps me a lot, if people tell me exactly the way things really are. They should not use a lot of confusing words and expressions. You should only use words that mean exactly what you want to say.

I have quite a bit of help in school. I am happy about that. While I am good at languages, math, biology and technology are very difficult subjects. When the other girls tell me that I am good at reading and writing and that I ought to become an author, I become very happy. The best teacher in school is Ida. I feel secure with her and she is kind towards me. Ida always have time for me. Ida is calm and she can explain things so that I understand them. If I cry and am sad about something, she helps me. Before, when I did not have an assistant, I could not be part of gym class. I got confused the entire time. I like gym class when my assistant is there.

My mum says that I am stubborn since I am not goood at changing my mind. Because of this I can not work in a group. If we work on a project in school or do team work, then the assistant has to be there. I love going to the library and swimming pool. I love music. I like Elvis the most and Peruvian pan flute music.

I have a difficult time joining the other children in school. I do not understand the rules in their games. For the most part they ignore me. Then I get sad and ignore them. Some of them join forces and pick on someone. That someone is for the most part me. Then I feel like vomiting. It is difficult to understand the other children, because to me, they seem unnatural. At school it is mostly the younger children who want to play with me. Sometimes I read to them. I would like to play with the children in my class. I wish they would ask me to join them some time. I do not know how to ask them in order for them to say yes. I keep to myself for the most part. The few times I get to play with some of the girls in the class, I feel very happy.

It is difficult for me to be with many people at the same time. It works better with just one person at a time. I prefer children who are calm and peaceful. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter that other children are noisy. Only when I read. Then I get angry and scream in order to get peace and quiet. There is one girl in school, Lisa, whom I play with sometimes. She is a year older. The others in her class, finds her weird, but I find her normal and very kind. Lisa is my best friend.

I wish others would be like Lisa and me. I don’t like when people swear and speak ill of each other. Lisa and I do not do that. I think a lot about how the other children act. The other girls are interested in the boys because they want them for boyfriends. I am not interested in boys. Only as playmates. Some of the girls wear bras, even though they do not need them. I think that is ridiculous. The girls keep diaries. I do too. But there is also one boy who keeps a diary. He is not like the other boys. He is calmer and doesn’t swear as much as the others do. Some girls and boys are not like the other girls and boys. That is difficult to understand.

I often get confused about my schedule. I have a deal with my mum, to phone her when school is out. I always carry my mobile phone. Then my mum can tell me if I am phoning too early. It has happened that the others have walked off to music, sewing class or wood shop, without me noticing. Then I think school is out, pack my things and phone mum. Then mum tells me that she will come and fetch me, or she will tell me that I have forgot to go to a lesson with the others, which is not held in our classroom. Some of the girls sometimes help me to go to the right place. I like that.

I love reading so I am at the library all the time. I read cartoons as often as I can. I think I have read all the cartoons they have at the school library. I also read a lot of books. For the most part, I love adventure books like Harry Potter. Words like brain, slime and intestines make me nauseous. At the doctor’s, there is a model with all body parts. I can’t look at that, since it makes me feel like I am going to vomit. I can’t stand the thought of us having those things inside of us.

I think it is very strange that it says “door’s open” at the school’s doctor’s office, when the door is closed. One day, my mum said that the door closed itself and I saw in my mind the door having hands, closing itself, but what it meant was that it just blew shut. I get angry with myself when I do not understand things. I really appreciate when people tell me things so that I can understand them. One day one of the girls in the class told me “I was only joking Sofie. You can handle it!”. She smiled and laughed kindly at the same time. It meant that she was not teasing. It helped me that she said what she did.

I am not good out in traffic. I can’t read a map and I do not know which way to walk. I do not like difficult things and when things are hard to solve. I also have to be very careful when it comes to people I do not know. I can’t tell if people want to harm me or not and that can be dangerous. My mum takes me to school and fetches me, every day. She has told me that when I am in sixth grade, perhaps I will be able to take the bus on my own.

I sometimes misinterpret things. Mum and I was shopping and I saw a little purse which I wanted. Mum answered my request in such a way that I thought she had agreed to buying it for me. I put it on the counter with all the other things we were buying. Mum did not notice until we had paid and left the shop. She had not meant for me to get it after all and I felt very sad and cried, since I had misunderstood her. My mum felt sorry for me, and went and bought something small for my brother as well, of equal value. As to be fair. Everything was fine. I really want things to be fair and that everyone get an equal amount. I become very sad when I misunderstand or others misunderstand me.

When others say things wrong, I correct them. My mum has told me that it is not nice to correct adults. But I do not like it when people do the wrong thing. What I love the most is to be at home and sit curled up in an armchair, reading. It is extra nice if my cat Bamse, is there with me, as well and if I have something to eat and drink beside me. I feel the most safe and secure at home. I have a happy family. We have a swing in the living room that one can swirl around on. I can swirl the fastest, since I do not get dizzy.

I have a very heavy quilt. It is full of balls. I have it because my skin does not feel things the way others feel. The balls make my skin feel what it should feel. Before I received my ball quilt, I could not stand if people sat too close to me. Or if someone touched me before I was prepared for it. It happened that I hit people if they touched me, because it felt so gross. I like soft clothes, since you don’t feel that you are wearing them. There are many clothes which irritate your skin. I can also get very irritated at strong light and strong smells. Some sounds and smells make me hurt inside. Then I try to get away so I can concentrate again.

I love being in the forest and on the beach. I find nature beautiful and I hate little grey houses. There are too many houses in the towns. I love beautiful things and have a small collection of treasures. I have chosen some beautiful white furniture for my room. It feels good when things are in order and pretty.

Twice a year, my mum takes me to a camp. There we meet families with children who also have autism. I have many friends at these camps. I understand them and they understand me, and for the most part we play well together. Noone teases you. We are served nice food and homemade cakes every day. Last time, we made a film and I played a grumpy old lady. That was fun. I get very sad when it is time to leave. Then I look forward to the next camp.

I often dream that I am in my own world. Sometimes I visit my grandmother. She lets me bathe in a bathtub. Then I dream of Greece. At my nan’s and granddad’s, there is a cupboard with candy for the children. That is nice. I would like to live in their little white house when I grow up.

The best thing about my cat Bamse is that he is so calm and peaceful. Bamse is almost my best friend. I find it more easy to understand cats than humans. I would like to run a cat pension when I grow up. But you can probably not support yourself on that. I look forward to getting old and to retire. Then I want to live in the countryside, in a white house, surrounded by cats. I will be home every day looking after all my cats.

Sometimes I wish I did not have autism. But I can still like myself the way I am. I wish others could like me just the way I am, as well. I so much wish that the others in my class could teach me to understand them. ”

My first thoughts after or while reading this book, was that life is not fair. That it is a very unfair thing to be born with, this thing called autism. Because us human beings are so dependent on other human beings. For our wellbeing. For companionship. In order to learn things. To feel safe. For everything really. We are flock animals. But these people who are born with autism, they are basically made to feel unwanted. They do not fit in since they do not know the human code and can’t fit in to the model we have built up for centuries and millenniums. They have to live and function in an alien world and spend their entire life, trying to understand US. Trying to copy us. And what says that we are right and they are wrong?

I felt sad when I read this book, since this is what my boys are struggling with and in many ways, are probably feeling, even though they do not have the IQ which Sofie has, to say so. I know that “Boo” has been bullied terribly at school for being so different. Neither of my three autistic children, I think, would be classified as having Asperger’s since none of them have really normal or higher than normal IQ. And all three of them have had language problems and still do. But Johannes does get fixated with one thing and can’t handle other things around him. “Gubby” has certain likes, but he can like several things at the same time so…

The one, who really needs to know what is going to happen and who gets distressed when he has to do new things or not planned things, is “Gubby”. At the same time, the worse which happens, is him flaxing about and doing his seal impersonation. And him showing us that he is distressed, by hugging us extra much and asking the same question over and over. “Boo” shows it by being naughty and hitting people. So he shows signs of this classic symptom as well, but more disguised, in an unacceptable mannerism. We need to get in to a routine of trying to prepare both boys for things, and not just “Gubby”.

“Boo” knows how to handle the remote control but does get very upset when he misses a program on TV. I have shown “Gubby” what to do a thousand of times, when the TV says it will shut itself down in 4 minutes, because I has been on the same channel too long. He gets equally stressed out every time and never remembers which remote control goes to which device and how to push the buttons.

When it comes to language, “Gubby” of course comes up with his own names for things, since he doesn’t remember the correct ones or did not know them in the first place. And he did not know the names of his classmates at daycare/pre-school. He did eventually learn the teachers’ names though, while for the first year or more, he called them all Eva, after his favourite teacher. The boys do not really use sentences from films and cartoons, but it can happen that “Gubby” does so. But not in a sentence or conversation really. Just because he likes to say this or that particular sentence. Like “Sniff my butt” from “Scooby Doo”. And mostly to himself, not to others. But I do laugh at some of his sayings and he wonders why. Like Sofie’s mother has to explain why she laughs at her daughter, I have to explain to “Gubby” every time I laugh. Some of the things are so clever or profound and then I laugh because he has beaten the world and showed that he has intelligence after all. And some things make me laugh because he looks so cute saying them or it sounds so cute coming from him or most of all, I laugh because he is the cutest thing there is and I laugh because I love him so very much and has just been reminded of that fact. He is the most precious child there is. I love him “to the moon and back”!

Sofie’s mum says that Sofie sometimes speaks like an adult, like she tries to chastise people or educate them and bossing them around. That is what “Boo” does and EVERYONE objects to it and gets angry with him for it. The book explains that Sofie does not even notice that she does this and I fear that “Boo” doesn’t know either. His voice even changes, to a deeper, scolding voice that is not that of a child.

Johannes just shut down the machinery when we asked him to do things. He could not handle more than one instruction at a time and needed to be told exactly what to do since he could not think by himself at all. No wonder the military told him at the recruiting office that he was an idiot and should get out of there. He can’t think for himself at all. “Boo” and “Gubby” both need simple instructions and one at a time. And like I try to tell people around them, do not use unnecessary words, only the words needed to instruct and get the job done. Even if it sounds robot like and goes against a normal person’s want and need for using  their full vocabulary. This goes for my child with ADHD as well. He needs the same sort of language and instructions! He also needs to be prepared in advance and routine and order.  In many ways, ADHD is just another form of autism! The similarities are too many to overlook.

When things got too much in school for Johannes or here at home, he just escaped in to his own nothing box. He shut down the machinery. “Boo” walks out and “Gubby” flaxes around. They all seem to find what works for them. Their own escape.

The facial expression and body language bit must be the most difficult for them all. For the most part, we humans do not say how we feel, we signal to each other with our bodies instead. One of the reasons being that it is not proper socially to reveal how you really feel. One of the things I hated about living in the US, was that I felt that people were so insincere. They asked me “hi, how are you doing?” but they did not really want to know how I was doing. If I started to say “I am having a tough day today or I feel sad”, they would grow impatient with me and show in their body language that they did not REALLY want to know how I was doing. It is just a salutation phrase that means nothing. In that respect I guess I am autistic in my thinking because I feel that you should not ask “how are you doing” if you are not interested in the person’s feelings or well-being. Find another salutation phrase instead. Salve! Greetings my friend! Pax vobiscum! You choose.

When Johannes came home from his mission in Germany, which had lasted 25 months, he was on collision course with everybody again. Nothing had changed. He asked me one day, “What am I doing wrong? How can I get along better with my siblings?” I tried to tell him that he must accept that a child behaves like a child. That he must allow them to be children. That they do make noise. That they do make a mess. That he had to try to see things their way and not just his own way. I was talking to a wall of course, which I had not understood by then. I had no idea that all he had shown me, all the behaviour I had seen since the day I first held him, fresh from my womb, was that of an autistic person. He can not read other people at all, he can only see the world from his own viewpoint, so all my advice was pointless. We ended up being scared of him and counting the days till he moved out. His selfish behaviour alienated us all and even though he tried to be more social and caring, after his move, it did not go very far. If nothing else, his eccentricities were fuelled away from family, who kept a check on them, I think. He can not read people at all now, nor follow the social codes. He is running his own race and he is too old to be told what to do, by his mother or father.

His brothers are in another situation entirely since we know what they have from an early age, and can work with them. “Gubby” laughs when someone falls or hurts themselves. It offends the hurt person, but it does not help to yell at him that he is being rude. According to books, he laughs because he thinks it looks funny. And he can not imagine what the other person feels. That is up to me as interpreter of social situations, to explain to him. I must explain the hurt, the person is feeling and draw parallels to himself, so he can understand. The same thing goes for “Boo”. That is why both boys need assistants in school and constant supervision when being around other human beings. They have to have a mediator, who also acts as an interpreter of the world around them, a world they do not understand, thanks to their brain damage. I have my job cut out for me, for the rest of my life time.

Facial expressions. Johannes have none except two, grumpy face and a smile now and then, but as a grown up he has grown long hair and beard in order to hide his face from the world. Everyone has always determined that he is angry. Always angry. But I do not think that he always was. On the other hand, I can understand that his mission companions did not want to walk around with him, but behind or in front of him. They did not understand him, nor his behaviour, and probably thought he was constantly angry about something. “Boo” is all smiles really. Too much smiles sometimes. And “Gubby” will imitate facial expressions from cartoons and minecraft, which confuses people. I have to tell both boys to alter their faces when the expression does not fit the occasion or when I see people getting restless by it.

I love satire and good jokes. But my boys understand none of it, so we all have to think carefully about what we say. They take everything literally and their sister E. who use irony in everything she says, has a lot to learn. Even if it goes against the way you usually speak to people, friends and family, you have to alter your speech when it comes to autistic brothers and people. Joking, as fun as it is for the person pulling the leg, is just out of the question. From you is expected the truth and nothing but the truth and told in a dry, boring manner. Be like God, don’t waste your words, only use as few or many as you really need.

These children and people do not change their mind. Not even when convinced that they are wrong. They ARE stubbornness itself. It is not just “Boo’s” red hair that does it. “Gubby” will listen to reason and might go along because he is left with no other alternative, but he will not change his mind about things . “Boo” will not even go along for the sake of it, nor did Johannes. In his case, we thought it was because he was born a Capricorn. Known for being stubborn. But it was more than a horoscope sign! Makes me wonder if my mum is autistic? Unreasonable stubbornness has always been her trademark. At the moment she refuses to move to an old people’s home, even though she is afraid of the dark, don’t go to bed but sleeps in an arm-chair and can’t take care of her hygiene at all. She needs care but refuses it. And all the years when we tried to tell her to change car, since her car was a regular money pit, a bucket with a big hole in it. She knew best and spent thousands after thousands on a car that should have been scrapped years before the mechanic ordered her to get rid of it. And what about this thing of living 380 kilometers from family, just because it is cheap to live in the house. Surrounded by strangers, that is better, than living closer to old friends and family? It scares me to think the thought, but I wonder if my mum has not been autistic all along. Perhaps not 100% but enough to make mine and her own life a hell.

I have always thought that “Gubby” did not mind that other children excluded him from their play and games. He seemed happy just doing his own thing and flaxing about. But the book says that she wanted to be part, but is ignored and that it hurts her. This last year, “”Gubby” has matured and has wanted to be part. He met me crying, the last two months of the school year, saying that he was not allowed to be part. And it has made my heart ache for him, because he is now becoming aware of that other children do not want to play with him. I did not want him to come to that realization. He was happy before when he did not know. But I understand them. He does not understand the rules of the game or the play. Same goes for “Boo”. Not welcome and him acting out destroying for the others, just like Johannes did. And the children ganging up on him just like they did with Johannes. Born outsiders. Never welcome. Unless one can find someone like oneself or someone younger to hang out with. That is what has worked for “Boo”. The younger children accepted him in school and now he is starting a grade lower than the one he was supposed to have been in. Autistic children, contrary to Asperger’s, are on a level younger than they really are. Question is always how far behind they are. “Gubby” turns seven this autumn but is on the level of a three-four-year-old.

Visiting the Waldorf school in June, was good for “Boo”, but showed that he can only get to know one person at a time and can only play with one person at a time as well. It was so clear to us all. His future teacher did say that the autistic boy she has taught before, was the same, but through his nine years with her, he did get better and better at including more people in to his life. Rome was not built-in one day, so there is hope out there.

In a way these children are mentally retarded when it comes to the social sense, which they lack. They constantly show poor judgement and when it comes to trusting other people, it gets really dangerous. Mean children have got “Boo” to do really stupid and mean and bad things, him not even understanding that it was wrong. There are always bad people out there, ready to prey on the lesser knowing. I do no know how to protect my children from this. Especially “Gubby” who thinks well of everyone. He gets devastated when he finds out that he has done something wrong and sadly I must say, that it is often “Boo” who has got him to do the thing in the first place, since he never is able to think up those things himself. He is like an innocent angel and I worry myself sick about people taking advantage of that. At the same time, I worry about “Boo”, because he can think up bad things himself and he can be told to do things by manipulating people, who can threaten him with things like “or you will not get to go to my Birthday party” or “you will not get any candy…”. People soon find out his weaknesses and use that.

“Boo” is very fair. He shares. Just like Sofie wants things done. And he also always misunderstand that he has been promised this and that. Wishful thinking would be most people’s reaction or thoughts. Selective hearing says others. Hearing what he wants to hear. Yes, I think so, because he can not see why there might be a no to some things. Even when one explains why not. Like I do not have the money. You can’t eat that because it will make you fat in the long run. No we do not have the time to go there. He explodes every time there is a no and says that his dad promised. And I can see why. Because his father has not learned the skill of speaking clearly to his children, so that there will be no misunderstandings. He was raised with clouded messages and his own mother misunderstood him so many times, it made me furious. He is too scared to be honest and lay down the law in clear, non-mistaken language. I am the opposite. There is no way to misunderstand my no or yes. I am a very clear language person. Sure it hurts some people’s feelings, but my father raised me to be that way.

Both boys will correct you and others if you do something wrong. “Gubby” has an eyesight like a hawk. He notices everything, nothing escapes him and he will point it out. No barriers there. But he does things in a cute way and not in an abrasive manner, the way “Boo” does it. He creates enemies, since he points out people’s wrongdoings in an accusative tone, which offend most. Especially adults who don’t like their shortcomings pointed out to them. They keep on forgetting that he is ONLY a child, and how to speak to a child, and they forget that he is autistic. He should not have to have a sign around his neck with the information.

The topic of the senses can not be ignored. My youngest sons do not have a ball quilt, but their brother with ADHD has a chain quilt, since he liked that better, than the noise from the balls, moving in the quilt. But his brothers are very sensitive to sound, light, touch of people and clothing. “Boo” is like Sofie in the book, he likes to be prepared for touch. If he is upset, he screams that it hurts and that you are trying to kill him, if you barely touch him. At the same time, he wants “Gubby” to be available for a hug at any time, and “Gubby” is restrictive with his hugs and how much he allows. If me and E. both ask for hugs at the same time, he will hug me and tell her that that is enough for now. So his affection can be rationed. Both boys love hugging and kissing though which is where they differ from Johannes who could not stand to be touched at all from day 1. With all these boys, I have had to be careful with what kind of clothes I have bought for them. Johannes not being able to feel temperature. Wearing long johns in summer. “Boo” going out without a jacket in the middle of winter, not understanding that this is not alright. And “Gubby” only liking certain fabrics and colours. I have had to buy expensive boxer shorts from “Polarn’ & Pyret” because he would not keep regular ones on, changing three-four times a day, trying to find a comfortable pair, complaining, pulling at them, walking weirdly… But clothes is just one chapter. “Gubby” will not eat fruit because of its consistency. He loves yoghurt, as long as it is smooth without pieces in it. Every morning since he was 5 months, he has had porridge with mango purée. That is what he still eats. Baby porridge and baby puréed mango. But at least he eats! And no lumps or grain to complain about. Smooth! I could go on and on, but will stop here.

Our house is cluttered. We lack storage space for most of our things. Today’s houses are not built for storing things. And when we go on holiday and rent a flat or house, “Gubby” wants to move there permanently. Because it lacks clutter. He loves his toys but is a minimalist at the same time. He likes order. At the same time, none of the boys can create that order themselves, but it has to be created for them. Sofie said that she collects little treasures and so does “Boo”. Both boys love bling. But “Gubby” does not really collect it. He is more in to a passion of trains and cars. He can’t have enough “Thomas the Tank Engine” trains and from what I have seen on YouTube, with him, there are plenty of adults on the American continent who have gone overboard in their “Thomas” enthusiasm. Living rooms full of it. He can not watch enough of those videos. Absolute heaven in his opinion.

I could talk of “Gubby’s” passion for animals next, but, I will just say that I know that both boys do not really understand that something is amiss with them. Both want to be loved for who they are, because they do not understand that they are different. And would it not be wonderful if everyone read a book like this, and understood that these children are not mean, they do not misbehave on purpose, that they can’t help that they are the way they are, and that people would come to the decision, that it is alright to be different and help, when help is needed, instead of chastising?

 

 

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My Friday Book: “Crampton Hodnet” described as Jane Austen but hardly even close

imageOpinionated, 70 year-old Miss Doggett, insists on giving teas to undergraduates at Oxford and dutifully they arrive, suffering through it and escaping as soon as they can. Suffering Miss Morrow, her paid companion, has to put up with every sort of verbal abuse, but what else is there for a 35-year-old spinster to do, with no fortune of her own?

The place of course livens up when the new curate comes to live with them. Used to have all women flocking about him, trying to catch him for a husband, the house is a welcome reprieve for him, in the beginning. Miss Doggett pampering him and Miss Morrow hardly noticing him at all, seeing through all the women and Mr. Latimer, as being ridiculous and false.

He is not the only ridiculous person in North Oxford. Miss Doggett’s nephew, Francis Cleveland, have taught literature for 25 years without altering his jokes or lectures at all. Now he is going through a midlife crisis and his young student Barbara Bird shows up right in time to boost his manly ego, making him feel young again. After all, what is wrong in that? His wife is no longer exciting and have a life of her own, not relying on him anymore, nor admiring him. And his daughter finds him equally ridiculous, being completely absorbed in falling in love with the students he brings home to dinner, ignoring the fact that her father wants to be worshipped.

After a long walk on a Sunday afternoon, Mr. Latimer misses evensong and when the vicar’s wife comes around to find out why he wasn’t present, Mr Latimer doesn’t tell her the truth, that he was out for a walk with Miss Morrow and they could not find a bus to take them back in time. He is embarrassed over the notion of having taken a walk with her and tells Mrs. Wardell a lie about having to bicycle out to a parish called Crampton Hodnet, to fill in for a vicar friend out there. He lives in mortification after that, that anyone will find out the truth and start thinking that he and Miss Morrow are an item. On the other hand, he feels that people talk too much about love in this place and that perhaps he should consider marriage to keep the women off his back. Some sensible woman his own age. Miss Morrow perhaps would not be such a bad choice after all?

He is not the only one caught in a lie and afraid of getting caught. Francis Cleveland is falling passionately in love with pretty Barbara and wants to show it in a physical way. This man is no longer a puppy, showering his beloved with 18th century poetry, which is what Barbara really wants out of this school crush. She wants to admire from a distance, have intellectual discussions about romantic poetry, nothing physical. So Francis passion really disappoints her.

On a particularly depressing spring evening, Jessica Morrow puts on her new leaf green dress, which she has not dared to use in case of Miss Doggett’s disapproval. The latter does highly disapprove of the dress but Mr. Latimer decides that he must propose that night, even though he has avoided speaking to Miss Morrow ever since their walk. With her usual sense and logic, Miss Morrow doesn’t even suspect what he is up to. After all, she does not have particularly high regards for him, but sees through all his falseness, which so impress all the other ladies. The proposal is not received the way he thought it would be received. When he suggests they escape the house together, she thinks he means going out to the pictures. When he says that it is a proposal, she suggests that he should have a glass of ovaltine before bedtime since he is obviously ill. She also tells him that marriage is a rather drastic escape from terrible lodgings, that respecting someone does not promise that you will come to love the person eventually, and regretting the marriage one day is as bad as a divorce. Mr. Latimer is shocked at her refusal. But what did he expect? She wanted love, not respect and esteem, she wanted to be happy not that they MIGHT become happy.

When Mr. Killigrew from the Bodleian, goes up to the British Museum, his mother’s suspicions are confirmed. He sees Francis Cleveland with Barbara Bird and he overhears their conversation, when Francis tells Barbara that he loves her and she confirms that she loves him. Barbara doesn’t dare to tell Francis that her love is the kind you do not act upon and she contemplates how to tell him that, on the train back to Oxford. Meanwhile Francis sits and contemplates divorce, remarriage and what life will be like in a small house, no money and having Barbara to care for all his needs. He will sort things, he tells himself, even though he always avoids nasty things and lets his wife Margaret deal with them. But she would not deal with this mess would she?

When Mrs Killigrew, invites all people who need to know about Francis Cleveland’s indiscretion, the news are received in various manners. Several people have testified to having seen them both hither and thither, hiding in bushes, being seen in public and so on. Everyone is raising an eyebrow. But the person who should have done something about things, thinks that it is all alright. Mr Freemantle, the Don of the college states to all of them that men must be allowed to cheat on their wives, he has done so many times. His poor wife is in shock. Miss Doggett goes home having decided that Mr. Latimer must talk to Francis, but Mr. Latimer is not interested in anything but himself so he refuses. He heads off to Paris instead. So Miss Doggett heads off to speak to Margaret Cleveland. As things turn out, Francis is present as well and while his wife had already heard rumours about him, she had not believed them. But now Francis declares his love for Barbara in front of both Margaret, Miss Morrow and Miss Doggett and then leaves.

Anthea Cleveland, who has been dating Lady Beddoes’ (widow of an ambassador), son Simon, has started worrying about their love. After the term was over, he has not been in contact. Her mother also feeling somewhat disillusioned, they both go up to London. Margaret to think and Anthea to try to find out where Simon is and why she has not heard from him. Francis can’t believe how cold his wife is, to just leave him instead of having an open confrontation. So he decides to first have a romantic punt on the river with Barbara and then head off to Paris with her. While he is excited, Barbara has to persuade herself that this is what she wants. But when they arrive in Dover, the last boat has left and they have to take in at a hotel. Sitting on the bed, Barbara panics and decides to flee the scene. And when the other hotel guests ask Francis where his daughter has disappeared to, he starts realizing how foolish he has acted. He starts driving home, but his car dies on the road. That is when Mr. Latimer appears in his car, coming from Paris.

Arriving at the Cleveland’s house, Anthea is in hysterics since Simon has written to her that he has fallen in love with someone else and is practically engaged. Miss Doggett is devastated since it had been such a good match for Anthea. Noone really takes notice of Francis, which makes him mad. And then Mr. Latimer exclaims that he is in love and practically engaged to Lord Pimlico’s youngest daughter Pamela, 19 years old and just out of finishing school in Switzerland, having met her in a cathedral in Paris. Noone raises an eyebrow even though he is 16 years older than the girl!

When the new school term starts, Margaret is back to pampering her husband as usual. Anthea has found a new young man to go out with, Simon’s best friend Christopher. Miss Doggett is planning new tea parties for bored students. Mr. Latimer is spending all his time in London with Pamela. And Miss Morrow continues being the grey little mouse she has always been.

To compare this book to Jane Austen is an outright insult. It has nothing of her quality, nor any of the witty dialogue which Austen has become famous for and this book is more of a parody of the middle classes of the late 1930s, than a social observation, like all of Jane Austen’s works are. While she has become a classic and never out of print, Barbara Pym’s novel is dated. There is no way about it. It would make a moderately fun film or theatre play, but noone would really laugh out loud. It’s more of a smirk novel. A tiny bit cozy but more of an irritation really at some of the characters’  flaws and bad ways. It’s an alright read compared to some trash things published today by modern authors, but unless I am given some of Pym’s novels for free to read, she is not an author I will return to. Except, I do have her biography based on her diaries and letters, and THAT I think I might enjoy because I suspect she herself was a much more interesting person than her novels are. Especially since she served in th WRNS during the war.

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My Friday Book: How a woman lives an entire life in fear of discovery: “My Name is not Miriam”

My name is not Miriam

My name is not Miriam

My book club, had this one in their magazine, soon after publication and at first, I was interested but not enough to go and borrow it at the library. Then two weeks ago, I had my nails fixed and the woman who does them said “You who read so much. I just had a book recommended to me called something like ‘my name is… I forgot the name!”. I told her “It is called My Name is Not Miriam”. I decided to go and put myself up in queue for it after all. It was a fairly quick read even though it covers over 400 pages. Was it good? Well, it depends. Would I recommend it to others? I don’t know. Depends if the person knows anything about the Holocaust or not really. It is good to a have a good dose of pre-knowledge. That said, the author has done a lot of research for her novel but as she leaves a lot out, you need to fill in the gaps yourself.

My first problem with the book is that it leaves a sour taste in your mouth, not because of the topic, but because of the point in time, that it is appearing. The Roma or Gypsy beggars are becoming an increasing problem in this country, people resenting them more and more as they flood over our borders. 3400 this year! But I really doubt the authorities really know how many are here. Since one fat Roma woman is driven out to our village every day, it means that there are more than they think. If you can start flooding villages, after already having flooded towns, then it is bad. And to write a novel like this one, to make us feel sorry for the Roma, is not entirely kosher in my book, as they say in the US. It is not going to create compassion or sympathy for the people of Romania, that has chosen to come here only to beg and pollute, doing nothing to contribute. Because there is a difference between them and the novel’s Miriam.

My second problem with the book, is the way it is written. Jumping back and forth in time, between 2013, 1948, 1944 and with glimpses of the time before that. One paragraph can be in one decade, another one, in another decade, and I really like order and also to know how old a person is at said times. I need a sense of time and I think this way of writing has become a cheap trick by authors, to make their books more interesting. But in my view it really does not make them more interesting. If the story can not be told in a more organized manner, then there is something missing.

My third problem is that I get bored with Miriam and her fear of being discovered. It gets to become like listening to a scratched record. And at the end of the book, I sat and felt like a question mark, since at that point, it felt like a pointless book! So when I rated it on Shelfari, I could not give it more than three stars. I am not going to say it is a bad book, but it is not great either.

While Majgull Axelsson’s books apparently have been translated in to several other languages, I haven’t got a clue if this one will be, so in case it doesn’t, here is the storyline (and to make it easier for the reader of this post I WILL TRY to write things chronologically, except for the beginning):

It is 2013 and Miriam is turning 85. Her husband has been dead for several years, probably over a decade. The beginning of the book is so confusing, with her doing and thinking insane things, so you sort of lose the time frame and forget to pay attention. But this day, Midsummer’s Eve, she is waiting for her family to celebrate her, some of them living in the same house as is tradition in the family. As usual, they treat her to breakfast in bed and a gift, which her stepson’s daughter Camilla has chosen. A Gypsy bracelet which brings back such strong memories to Miriam, that she  suddenly tells her family that her name is not Miriam. After taking a shower, she scolds herself, telling herself that she must never let the truth slip out again. That she must stop dwelling on the two years she spent in the orphanage and the two and a half years she spent in the concentration camps. That she must focus on the other 68 years when she has been happy. (But has she?) She must not even let people know that her birth date of 21 June 1928, is an invented one, that she has no idea when she was born. She must not let anyone find out that she pretended to be Jewish when she arrived to Sweden and that she had no idea what that faith involved, when she decided to “convert” to Protestantism, in order to be able to marry Olof in the church and not in a civil ceremony, and subsequently becoming an agnostic, like her husband and his parents before him. This is how things are thrown out all over the book. You look in to the truth, the past, the lies, and wait for the author to come back to the events in more detail. Sometimes she does, sometimes she does not.

Yesterday, there was a debate on TV, saying that a party leader had committed a great sin by calling the Roma people Gypsies, since a couple of years ago, it was determined that that name for them, is degrading. Honestly, I have no idea what all the fuss is about. So, the Gypsies want to be called Roma. I don’t want to be called a Mormon, but noone cares about what I want. And through this book, the author goes back and forth calling them Roma and Gypsies, so I might as well just call them Gypsies. The major part of the book is set before the decision on the name Roma, so…

Who are the major players then? Miriam Goldberg or Malika without a surname. Thomas her step-son. Camilla her step-granddaughter. Side characters in the home 2013, is Thomas’ wife Katarina who is neurotic. Afraid of everything. Her husband resents her. Early on in the book, you find out that the only time she is happy is when she is taking care of her grandchild Sixten. “Noone must know how angry she really is, how sick and tired she is of her husband, how tired she is of her daughter and how she hates her mother-in-law upstairs. Noone must find out how she really wishes for them to all disappear, the entire bunch. Because she has no options. She is her husband’s dentist nurse, she lives in his house, she has no relatives and no money of her own. In other words she is forced to wait on everyone in this house, till the day she dies…”. She enters the book in the beginning and at the end, as just a sad, sad character. And Sixten does not really appear much more. Only being two years old, shuffled between his two parents, who no longer are a couple. His mother Camilla is not that important for the story either, come to think of it. But at the same time, she has an important function to fill in the book, since Miriam has to tell part of her story to someone:

Camilla and Miriam have a very strange relationship. They don’t disclose anything to each other, really, always holding something back. On Miriam’s Birthday, Camilla asks Miriam to go for a walk in the park with her and the two set off. This is when the book really takes off. The first thing which happens as they get outside, is that Kaiser, the German shepherd belonging to her neighbour, starts barking as usual and Miriam gets so tense, that Camilla notices. She asks her so-called grandmother if she is afraid of dogs and Miriam answers, “no just of German Shepherds, since they were used in the camps”. Camilla decides to suddenly give a confidence and tells her that she has failed an exam and that she had a strange episode on the underground one day in Stockholm, where these football hooligans, who are of course losers, became very powerful as a group and they knew that and that the police were scared of them. Miriam told her that one should always stay away from young men in a group. Not anything that made sense to Camilla, at that point, nor myself.

Camilla then wants to know more about Miriam’s camp experience and Miriam says she doesn’t really want to talk about it, that she has been scared ever since the war, even though she has been physically safe. For some reason she tells Camilla that Nässjö used to have another refugee from the camps too, who one day came home to her, thinking she had seen SS men in a black car. The poor woman was mad and had been institutionalised after that. Camilla wants to know why that Krystyna went mad, and not Miriam. Miriam says she thinks that it might have been because of the experiments made on the Polish political prisoners. Them being cut in their legs and then injected with something in the cuts. Krystyna had gone through those experiments. Miriam also mentions how she met the candy doctor in Auschwitz, Dr. Mengele. Camilla wonders why she called him that and she tells her that he walked around and gave the Gypsy children candy, in the Gypsy camp, because he liked them. Now she really has opened a can of worms. How does Miriam know what went on in that camp, asks Camilla and Miriam answers that she was in that camp.

How could she be? Finally Miriam, in a bitter voice, tells Camilla that she is a Gypsy and that she had to pretend to be Jewish when she came to Sweden, since Gypsies were not allowed to enter Sweden until 1954. Camilla is shocked and even worse so when she hears the reason why Miriam took the Jewish girl Miriam Goldberg’s dress on the train from Auschwitz: Because she wanted to be a complete corpse. She had not wanted to throw herself on the electric fence in Auschwitz, since when they pulled you off from there, the fingers remained on the wire, all black. Likewise, she did not want to be beaten to death, since then her corpse would be broken… She really had not tried to survive, since she had lost her little brother Didi and her cousin Anuscha, the only family she had. She just had this idea of not wanting to be an incomplete corpse or an ugly one.

For hours, she and Camilla walk in the park, and what she actually discloses to Camilla is not clear, but she starts thinking about her family. How her grandfather never thought anything would happen to them because he had a permanent living, actually two houses, one kilometer outside the village, somewhere in Germany. So what if the courtyard was full of caravans belonging to visiting relatives, he had been a German soldier once, so surely they were all safe! They were till the day when Malika, as her Gypsy name was, her little brother Didi and her cousin Anuscha, were fetched by uniformed people. 14-22 gypsy kids were fetched from her grandfather’s place that day, all screaming, being dragged from their parents, to be raised by proper people.

At that point of time, Himmler was convinced that Gypsies were the original Aryans. And the nuns at the orphanage were considered better qualified for raising Gypsy children, than their parents. Malika was no ordinary Gypsy child though, but was called Mischlinge. Mixed breed, which is what they also called Jews with mixed parentage. Her dead mother was not a Gypsy in other words.  Malika did not really mind the orphanage, considering it way better than home, since she no longer was forced to do laundry, cook and boil coffee, all day long. Instead, she actually got to go to school and to learn how to read and write. Something which partly saved her life. There was also order around them, which she appreciated. But it did not last. One day, they were told that they were going to be sent away from the bombs, to another orphanage, which was safer. Himmler having changed his mind about Gypsies being Aryans. She, Didi and her cousin Anuscha climbed off the train in Auschwitz, all confused. Malika and Didi did as they were told, but Anuscha, who had been afraid from day one in the orphanage, suddenly refused to do as she was told, refused to get undressed in front of the SS-men and the naked gypsy boys. They all got showered, including Anuscha’s dead, but dressed body, on the floor. The SS had shot her for disobedience. What then met them, after the tattooing, was a world of horror. Two small children in the Gypsy camp, where all families stayed together, and noone took them in, since they were not family.

Dr. Mengele gave orders for her to be in the group digging ditches. Jews were marched by every day and never coming back, the Gypsy camp being right by the gas chambers, them taking everything in. Every day, Didi waited for her by the gate, getting thinner and thinner, then he got diarrhoea and he started to complain about a pain in the mouth. Soon he had a hole through his cheek which showed the teeth and gum through it. The disease being called Noma. That is when Mengele gave orders for the Noma children to receive milk for breakfast, margarine for the bread, fruit as a snack and three slices of ham per week. All the Noma children started to get well and got back the will to live. Then Mengele started phase three and all the extra food was withdrawn again, right when the sores and holes had almost healed. Within weeks Didi died, his entire face having been eaten up, by the mouth gangrene caused by starvation.

When Malika was loaded on to the train which would take the women to Ravensbrück in July 1944, her little brother Didi had been dead for six days. She had saved a piece of old bread for the journey , which she had no idea how long it would last. Standing on a ledger in the cattle car, she pinched off a piece of the bread in her pocket and put it in her mouth. A Czechoslovakian woman saw her chewing and started screaming that Malika had stolen the bread from her, being a Gypsy. Even though the woman stood many meters away from her, them standing packed like sardines so that no movement had been possible, all the women came to behave like animals, not thinking logically, pulling her down from the little ledger she was standing on, ripping her dress to pieces and beating her. When they arrived in Ravensbrück, she knew she would be punished for the ripped dress, so she stole a dress from one of the 13 dead women, on the floor. When she stepped out of the cattle car, she realized that the dress had a Jewish star on it. The dead woman’s number, 389, matched Malika’s middle numbers, on her arm. One young woman discovered that Malika was a Gypsy wearing her friend Miriam’s dress, but told Malika, “You are now Miriam Goldberg, and don’t think they will go easier on you because they hate us more than the Gypsies”.

By now, Ravensbrück was collapsing. The card file system did not work any longer, too many prisoners arrived every day and the SS did their best to get rid of them, by sending them to weapons and ammunition factories, as well as to often bombed building sites. Food had become really scarce of course, with too many prisoners, and more and more died of starvation and disease. But when Miriam stood waiting for lunch, for the first time after being quarantined, she was impressed, since they got a piece of sausage and a piece of bread, with no sawdust in it, some artificial marmalade and margarine, plus coffee made from beats. The woman dividing it between 16 people, introduced herself as Else Nielsen, political prisoner. Else asked her if she knew how to read and she said yes. Where did she learn that? In a convent. Else said that she was lying, because convents in Germany did not take in Jews, and she wanted to know the truth. She never did find out though.

Miriam had spent the days in quarantine scratching hard at her number, to get the Z away from before her number, in order to get exactly the same number as Miriam Goldberg. Nothing more indicating that she once was a Gypsy or Zigauner. Else decided to take her under her wings, even though Miriam didn’t reveal the truth. Else helped her to get a good bed and enough sleep, making sure that she cleaned herself in the morning, like a mother would, and finally she made Miriam stand in a safe spot during the morning roll call. Sadist Kapo Irma Lunz, who obviously had a screw loose, beat a young girl to death, because one girl was missing, during the first morning roll call, which showed Miriam exactly what a dangerous place this still was. The missing girl had been selected for war-factory work the previous day, which was why she was missing, but noone could tell the Kapo this without being beaten to death. Irma Lunz was an absurd character of her own, chubby, wearing lipstick, summer dresses instead of prison outfit, black socks and brown shoes which fit. She swore and behaved abominably, which shocked more than one woman in the camp.

Else also managed to get Miriam a job in the sewing factory, where they were safe from bombings, since it was situated inside the camp. Miriam learned quickly how to sew and did a good job, but Else could not do a thing right as far as sewing went, but since she spoke four languages, she got to stay and translate and carry out supplies to the sewing inmates. She spoke Norwegian, French, Russian and German. Miriam was happy with all of Else’s attention, till she received competition from Else’s friend Lykke, who arrived back from detention one evening together with another starved Norwegian, Marie. At the same time as they arrived, Else also broke Miriam’s heart, after a gypsy girl got attacked having stolen an onion and Else having snidely said “Well, everyone knows what Gypsies are like…”. Miriam realized at that point that she was truly alone. Not just because she had no family among the Gypsies anymore. Also because she was falsely pretending to be a Jew. She started getting really depressed because of what Else had said, but Lykke and Marie noticed her changed attitude towards Else, and told her that she must live and keep happy for Else’s sake. It turned out that Else had got stronger because of Miriam, having someone to look after, instead of her own daughter Åse, who was hidden somewhere in Norway. Her husband having been Jewish, he had been sent straight from Norway to Auschwitz, and Else feared he must be dead. Miriam realized after Lykke’s and Marie’s disclosures that she had to stop thinking about Malika, about being a Gypsy and just get on with being Jewish Miriam and act like Else’s daughter Åse. She never stopped thinking about it though! Never!

Disaster then struck when Norwegian Bente received a package from home. Her family had sent her a pretty apron and while seasoned Else told her not to wear it, since it would create envy in the sewing factory, Bente decided to wear it anyway. She left the factory that day, all beaten up and someone had ripped off the pocket, frills and ties on the apron. The camp was overfull and there were tons of new guards that day. Lykke and Miriam had to carry Bente back to their barracks between them, while Else walked in front, telling them where it was safe to walk. But they still got stopped, ordered to drop Bente, and the three had to go outside the camp, to help raise a tent, for the surplus prisoners. The hungry women out there failed, over and over again, to get the tent up and Else got beaten up for it. They got one hour of sleep that night and when they woke up, Bente was dead and Else’s spirit was all broken, as was her front tooth.

When Lykke and Miriam tried to keep an eye on the depressed Else in the factory, Lykke managed to sew things wrong and Miriam got so panicked when it was discovered, that she accidentally sewed herself in the finger. She got beaten up and put in the punishment block for sabotage on SS-uniforms. She got to share cell with ultra-thin Sylvianne from France, who had been in there for two weeks, let out for a couple of days, and now was back for no reason at all. During the first inspection, Binz, a terrible guard,  told Sylvianne that she didn’t have to be sent to Auschwitz for sonderbehandlung, that she had been chosen to get special treatment in Ravensbrück. Sylvianne didn’t want to be the first to be gassed in this camp, so she started starving herself, and there was nothing Miriam could do. After Miriam had received her 25 lashings, she got thrown out of the punishment block, in to a strangely darkened camp. The bombings had left the camp without electricity for days at a time, which meant rest for the increasingly sick population. When Miriam finally located the barrack in the dark, Else was one of the ones with fever. Then suddenly one day, Red Cross buses arrived with care packages for almost everyone. Miriam grabbed one for herself and one for Else, but Else had very few hours left to live. In the morning, after the treat of chocolate, fatty cheese, crackers etc. she died.

After that Miriam spent a while being unconscious till she was woken by Lykke one day, standing wearing a real coat, screaming to her that she must get up because it was their last chance of getting out of there. Marie showed up from nowhere and Lykke and she carried Miriam between them, clad in a nice coat as well. They told her that when they got to roll call, the Red Cross would be there and she must stand on her own and look healthy, even though she now had caught Else’s typhoid. Lykke and Marie somehow managed to get her on board the transport to Denmark and someone gave Lykke medicine to give Miriam. Miriam was brought to a Swedish hospital after that, till she was well again, and then she was sent on another train with Jewish women, who could not understand why she didn’t understand Yiddish. They were all on their way to the small town of Aneby. The arrival became traumatic for them since the entire community went out to see the refugees arriving, including the men in their brown uniforms, from Swedish Steelwool or SS. The women from Ravensbrück assumed they were to enter a new camp, seeing the uniforms with SS written on them.

They were all put in the concert house of Aneby. The Jewish women were having nightmares, they were bored, angry, behaved poorly but Miriam had a plan. She was not going to behave like them. Instead she set out to make a good impression on everyone, doing everything to melt in, learning Swedish, copying facial expressions from the Red Cross nurses and so forth. Noone must ever know she was living a lie and that she was a Gypsy. Concert pianist Jozefa talked to her one day and told her exactly what she felt about Gypsies, which made Miriam stay as far away from the other women as possible, who were all Polish Jews. She stayed with the Red Cross sisters in the kitchens instead, learning more Swedish, since contrary to the others, Sweden was were she wanted to stay. After the four weeks in quarantine, the refugees were finally allowed to move around more freely and Hanna Adolfsson from the Red Cross committee, showed up to make a registry. She was so impressed by Miriam, who was learning Swedish very quickly and who claimed that she had no relatives. Miriam had concocted up a nice story for herself, having been born in Berlin, grown up in München and whose family was taken to the Polish ghettos, while she went to Auswhitz and Ravensbrück, her father Josef dying in a transport. All of it except the camps being a big lie.

Hanna was a teacher of German and English, at a girls’ school in Jönköping and also worked for the Red Cross. The reason why Hanna took Miriam in, was that she thought that Miriam was a Jewish girl from a good family. To Miriam, Hanna, became everything. Hanna, unknowingly, became the model for everything not Gypsy. For one, she became Miriam’s style icon. When Miriam’s hair had finally grown out, she had shaped her bangs to a 6 with sugar, and Hanna told her how vulgar it looked, making her look like a Gypsy. Miriam never did that mistake again! Hanna was also the one who told her to always wear blue, because the blue colour is never wrong and stylish. But Hanna, was also her first employer, whose maid she became for two years. Like Hanna said, it was an opportunity for her to learn manners and etiquette, which should have been her mother’s job to teach her.

Miriam continued being petrified two years after arriving to Hanna’s. She studied as what was called a privatist, at Hanna’s school, to catch up on other peer’s education. (Only the rich getting to study, back in those days!) She tried to behave like the lady Hanna wanted her to be. But still she was scared of people finding out somehow, who she really was and sending her back to a destroyed Germany, to be hunted, hated and despised again. It didn’t help when Hanna went on vacation for a couple of days and Miriam experienced a traumatizing event, when she dutifully went out to buy milk for herself. A group of young men stopped her on the street, while trying to catch a “traveller” and the lady in the milk shop made fun of her German accent. She returned home and looked in Hanna’s encyclopedia under the letters T (Traveller), G (Gypsy) and J (Jew) and what she learned made her mad. The Gypsies were not allowed to enter Sweden, not even the ones who had escaped the gas chambers. A couple of days later, she heard of the uprising which had occurred in the town, and walked down to the area herself, to see if it was true. A team of vigilantes, were still going  after travellers and when they saw her dark skin and black hair, she got chased by them, she tripped on Hanna’s dog’s leash, and while laying down, five young men kicked her all over. She found out that day that Sweden and Småland was no paradise after all, that it was almost as bad as in Germany. She never told anyone what happened to her that day though. Just stored the experience, getting more convinced that she must continue lying.

At that time in 1948, she had also got better acquainted with Hanna’s brother Olof, 10 years younger than his sister. He was a dentist living far away from “dangerous” Jönköping, in little Nässjö. He never paid any attention to her really, but was told to keep an eye on her, when Hanna was on her vacation, which he gladly did, since he had his wife ill with toxemia, in the hospital anyway. It did not end well though, since his wife Marianne died after giving birth to Thomas, hers and Olof’s son. That death affected Miriam in a big way, since ten days later, Hanna and Miriam took the baby home to Hanna’s flat, because Olof would not have anything to do with him, deeply mourning the loss of his wife. Six weeks later, Hanna took Miriam and baby Thomas, to Nässjö, where Olof lived, for Miriam to be Olof’s house keeper and Thomas nanny. Olof did not want to think about the past and did not want to deal with his son. He tried to escape it all and expected that Miriam, who had been through so much, would not want to talk about her past either. So they stayed silent and went about their lives, till he four years later, saw her in a beautiful turquoise dress, made for her by a seamstress, for Olof’s new brother-in-law’s 60th Birthday do. He fell in love with her. But he still spent the rest of his life running away from himself by travelling further and further away on their vacations. Going to Italy, the Canary Islands and Mallorca in the 1950s and Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, India, Thailand and Mexico after that. He wanted to visit all countries except Poland and Germany, since he did not want Miriam to be reminded of her past. But that was not all. He would not let her have a child either, not wanting to lose her in child-birth as well, and she really did not mind, after not being able to save Didi. She became the doting mother of Thomas instead, spoiling him rotten. Nässjö became her little safe haven where she could hide with her enormous lie, but also hiding her personality, as well as all her desires and dreams, knowing that if Olof ever found out the truth, he would have her thrown out of the country. So silently, she waited on him hand and foot, just like Katarina. Did she love Olof? One never finds out.

How did it all end then? Olof never found out the truth, dying from Alzheimer’s. Thomas did not really find anything out either, at the end of the day. All he said when she got home from her’s and Camilla’s walk, was that he had known all his life that she was hiding something. That for years, he had looked in her things to find a clue as to what was going on, why her face was always full of fear and something else. And Miriam continued being scared of being found out but having accepted that she is both Malika and Miriam. The book really leaves you sort of empty. None of the characters are happy and are all living their own lies!

 

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Autism UN-awareness in Sweden: Is it alright for a teacher to physically hurt a pupil?

That is the question a Swedish evening newspaper has taken up in an editorial. Instead of looking at why Swedish classrooms are rowdy nowadays and Swedish schools now rate poorly, in the world statistics, the newspapers focused on the poor teachers. Teachers who go on sick leave because they can’t handle their job situation. Teachers who get burned out and psychologically broken. The newspaper more or less blames it all on a few rowdy pupils, whom the teachers are not allowed to touch. And when they have touched them, the parents have had them reported. The newspaper’s very subjective biased view is that it is not right, that the parents have this right and that officals stand on the parents’ side. The example of a rowdy child, which was reported having disturbed the class by filing on his desk with a ruler, was given. And the newspaper was outraged that the teacher, who brutally removed the child from the classroom and did win in court, has been unofficially told via officials that what was done, was wrong.

What the story did not tell, was that the boy has Asperger’s and ADHD. And he can not cope, so he moves his ruler over his hair and desk, in frustration, which is something his mother described on Facebook. Most people admire her for answering the newspapers accusations. But one man in particular, decided to tell her, one thing or two. He decided to point out that he has nothing against children with autism at all. They have all the right in the world to get an education and be taught by teachers and assistants who have the education for it. Notice something here? That sort of school doesn’t exist in Sweden! Except in a few cases where parents have started them up. Independent schools who only take in about 6-8 pupils. Not good enough when one in every 48 child in Sweden has the diagnosis of autism! Let alone all the ones with ADHD.

The man went on to say, that the only thing which matters to him is that his seven year-old son gets the education he is entitled to and gets all the attention from his teacher, that she is currently giving a special needs child. He also pointed out, that his child should not have to get physically hurt in school by these rowdy children. That school can not cater to a minority, that the majority are the ones who rule and must rule.

I felt so insulted that I had to answer the man, but also the mother who explained what had happened to her son in school. The politically correct thing in today’s Sweden is to say that of course these children deserve education but what the majority does not understand, is the fact that there is no money to do so in the way these children can thrive and cope. They are thrown in to the fish pond and only the strongest and fittest will survive. And it for sure is not the neurologically handicapped children. Today’s Swedish school with 30 pupils in each class, is definitely not set up for these children to melt in to, to learn a single thing and to be able to cope. The pupils who create havoc in the classrooms are usually children with ADHD or autism who are having meltdowns. They are not having meltdowns because it is fun to ruin the lesson, which is what this man’s impression seems to be. In my answer to him, I quoted Ellen Notbohm’s book “10 things every child with autism wishes you knew” and Naoki Higashida’s book “The Reason Why I Jump” (him being the expert since he is autistic himself), in that these children can not be blamed for their behaviour, because that assumes that they have planned their actions. Which is not something they even can do.

I also pointed out that the way that he spoke, of THEM as being in minority and that they have to bend and fit in to the scheme of the majority, smacked of 1930s Nazism. What are we parents supposed to do when school does not work? When our children have meltdowns and it affects THEIR precious little normal children? Have them put to sleep or what? Maybe I am too assertive, but that is what it all boils down to in the end, isn’t it. They want our children to go away. My son’s classmate tells him “I wish you would die!” What are we going to do with this minority which will not comply to society’s look on things, a society which only has one view of how things ought to be done. Who can’t accept that some people do not fit in to the mold because of the lack of dopamine (Autism) or over-production of it (ADHD).

There was a time, when it was not alright to say that the Jews deserved to be exterminated in Auschwitz. Today, all of Europe screams for the extermination of Israel and of course that means the extermination of the Jews in it. Imre Kertész wisely said that what did not used to be politically correct to say outright in Europe, is now alright to both think and say. And when the Jews are gone from Israel, then the extermination will move on to the rest of the world’s Jewry. Why do I bring it up here? Because it is not that many decades since Sweden sterilized un-desirables and lobotomized them. Sweden basically had its own T4 program. No, we did not herd all our handicapped people in to a lorry and had them gassed, like the Germans did in the 1930s, till they got busy with the war instead. But it doesn’t seem like people learn from history at all. And what the man told me rudely on Facebook, was sheer and utterly nazi-thoughts. Cleverly disguised as a concern for “autists”, as he called them. What a word! He said he had tender feelings for them but has nothing left over for people with ADHD. And he accused me of being un-modern or old-fashioned, when I claimed that neuro-psychologically handicapped children can’t help their meltdowns. He brought up an old law of 1900, where a drunk was excused for having caused a traffic accident, because of intoxication. His argument being that my ideas equal that law. Well, a drunk knows what he is doing when he puts that bottle to his mouth doesn’t he? That it will lead to intoxication and that under no circumstances should he really, sit down behind a wheel after consuming the bottle. What on earth does that have to do with autism and meltdowns?

Seriously, I have not bothered answering this man again. He has proven to the world what an idiot he is. His motives are selfish. His child is normal and should be shielded from handicapped people. And that is a parent’s prerogative. To decide how to protect his own child. BUT there is no excuse for the sort of ignorance people in this country have. They see the lack of funds in the schools. Teachers crawling on their knees with too much work. What on earth make them think that there is money for special needs children, when there is no money for anything else? It means that someone will suffer and it is not the normal children who suffer the most. It is the children with ADHD and autism. They KNOW that they are hated and still they can not control their behaviour. They react to everything that goes on around them. They are the sign of the time, they show how sick this society is. Indeed, they are the normal ones! The rest of us are like the frogs who are put in to a pot of water and who stay in that water till it boils and they die, never understanding what just happened. Our children refuse to stay in the pot! They fight their way out of the pot, they protest loudly, while we stay, accept the increasing heat, and die.

To evening newspaper Expressen I would only say this. Get your facts straight. Look at how the schools’ resource centers turn down most applications for extra funds, for children with autism. There is not even any use anymore, to try to apply for  children with ADHD. Too many children have it. It would bring us to the level of Greece’s finances, if help was given to those children! Look at how many of these children are bullied by normal children, with fathers like the one on Facebook! Look at how these children get blamed for everything from morning to evening, every day of the year, get bawled out and screamed at by grown ups, and then write an article about self-esteem being totally absent in all these children! Look at how schools will not do the most fundamental thing like paying for someone coming in to teach personnel, from the resource centers, about the handicaps present at their schools. Look at all the free lectures and free help that can be brought in, providing someone like the headmaster sits down and surf on the internet, to find these things. The worse thing in Sweden today is the ignorance. That no matter what all psychologists say, habilitation, BUP, you name it, all the experts, deep down, the population with normal children are of the opinion that the only problem with these children, is really bad upbringing and that the parents want an excuse for their failure as parents. THAT is the root of all evil. If you can not get rid of that opinion, nothing will get better, but our children will eventually end up in institutions or a new T4 program.

 

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Svar till Expressens: “Ibland är det rätt att kränka elever”

Jag har bojkottat Expressen i många år eftersom jag anser att det är en skvaller och fascist-tidning. Men igår satt jag och läste ett inlägg på “Barn i Behov”s facebook sida och kunde inte annat än kommentera, eftersom där fanns kränkande kommentarer. Normalt är jag ingen facebook användare och inte bloggar jag på svenska heller, eftersom jag totalt struntar i att ha en svensk publik för mina åsikter. Men ibland måste man göra undantag. En person uppmanade till att skriva in till Expressen och klaga. Men nej tack. Jag godtar inte att någon redigerar mina åsikter eller inskränker min yttrandefrihet längre.

Vad satte igång facebook debatten? Jo, Expressen skrev en ledare om att det är så fruktansvärt synd om dagens svenska lärare. De blir psykiskt sjuka av att jobba i de svenska stökiga klasserna. Och tar de i med hårdhandskarna för att få bukt med barn som “lever rövare”, så blir de anmälda för misshandel eller kränkning, av sårade föräldrar. Det är vad ledaren säger. Och de har tagit upp ämnet eftersom en pojke satt och filade med sin linjal på sin bänk och läraren tog brutalt och eskorterade ut honom från klassrummet eftersom han störde ordningen. De flesta svenskar kommer skaka på huvudet när de läser det och tycka, rätt åt ungen.

Men som vanligt lämnar tidningen sanningen utanför. Mamman som startade debatten, är förmodligen pojkens mor. Och som alla föräldrar till neuropsykiatriskt handikappade barn, så kunde man ju räkna ut att barnet som levde rövare har Aspergers syndrom och ADHD. Många av dessa handikapp kommer hand i hand, det ena utesluter tyvärr inte det andra. Vad tidningen skulle ha frågat sig i stället, var naturligtvis, varför reagerade pojken som han gjorde?? Varför sitter han och filar med linjal på bänken? Det gör en gråtfärdig att varje dag inse hur dumma i huvudet folk är, som sitter med universitetsutbildning och som skall informera om dagens Sverige. Första saken jag fick lära mig på journalistutbildningen var OBJEKTIVITET! Nej, en ledare behöver inte vara objektiv, samtidigt förstår inte “faster Agda ute i på landet”, att författaren är subjektiv! Och det är för “faster Agda”, en tidning skall skrivas, enligt min journalistik lärare.

Nåväl, faster Agda. Du lär inte gå från Expressens ledare till Ellen Notbohms bok “10 saker varje barn med autism önskar att du visste”. (Fritt översatt) Nummer nio som egentligen borde ha varit nummer ett, enligt min mening, eftersom det är detta som samhället och skolan får se, men kanske inte allt det andra, är: “Identifiera vad som orsakat min härdsmälta. Härdsmältor och explosioner är hemskare för mig, än för dig. De uppkommer eftersom ett av mina sinnen har belastats över sin kapacitet eller på grund av att jag tvingats passera gränsen för vad min sociala kapacitet förmår. Om du kan hitta orsaken till min härdsmälta, så kan den förhindras i framtiden. … Kom ihåg, att ALLT JAG GÖR är kommunikation. Den talar om, när mina ord inte räcker till eller inte finns där alls, hur jag reagerar på vad som sker runt omkring mig.” (Kapitäler tillagda av vederbörande, eftersom en kommentator personligen attackerade mig med att vara omodern, när jag säger att de kan inte rå för hur de reagerar. Då är alla psykologer och autistiska barn omoderna!) 13-årige autistiske Naoki Higashida från Japan håller med i sin bok “Orsaken till att jag hoppar”.

Notbohm återkommer i ett längre kapitel om härdsmältor. Eller meltdowns som det heter på engelska. Dessa härdsmältor är alla skrikande, “klara budskap från ett barn som inte på något annat sätt kan säga dig eller visa dig att något i dess omgivning har förorsakat att dess känsliga neurologiska banor helt har spårat ur eller gått överstyr.” “Vi måste ALLTID utgå från att barnet skulle ha agerat på ett acceptabelt sätt OM DET KUNNAT!” Att barnet inte lyder, har inget med brist på motivation att göra. Vad lärare och alla andra måste göra, är att vara detektiver. Vad har triggat alltihop. Vad får pojken att fila med linjalen på bänken? Vad får ett barn att skrika och storma ut ur klassrummet? Vad får ett barn att börja kasta saker runt omkring sig? Detektiven dvs. läraren, har en stor uppgift. Är det biologiskt? Hungrig? Trött? Är det psykologiskt? Är det omgivningen? Och i nio fall av tio, är det alltid omgivningen.

Autistiska barn får om och om igen gå igenom frustrationen att inget blir som de tänkt sig, kraven som satts går inte att uppnå, de förstår inte ens vad de skall göra. Inget fungerar, varken motoriskt, socialt eller språkmässigt. De blir också ständigt besvikna eftersom vi vuxna inte alltid kan hålla vad vi lovat och vi kan inte se till att allt förblir detsamma. Vi lever i en värld där allt skall gå fort och vi omges av en väldigt självisk värld. Det hinns inte med att försäkra sig om att allt förblir rutin och familjärt för dessa barn. Och hur är det med alla kränkningar, alla de som läraren väljer att blunda för. Min sons klasskamrater har påpekat att han är fet, när han är lång och smal, de säger till honom att de önskar att han vore död, att han är korkad eftersom han måste ha lektioner med ettans elever fastän han går i tvåan, att de vill att han skall sluta på skolan. När pojkarna på skolan smutsat ner på toaletten eller kissat utanför stolen, skall jag säga, så blir han alltid beskylld och utskälld av städpersonalen. När han sitter och leker snällt i ett hörn av skolgården, eftersom ingen vill leka med honom, så kommer de andra eleverna fram och säger elaka saker, kastar saker på honom, förstör det han gör, allt för att trigga en härdsmälta och det är precis vad de lyckas med. Men lärarna kan inte förstå varför HAN gör som han gör. Men så får det ju inte gå till hör jag någon säga. Nej, men så går det till när vi vuxna låter det ske. Har ni inte suttit och sett “Rännstensungar” och 30-talets mobbing? Det är väl inget som förändrats på 80 år?

Jag anser mig själv som fullt normal, men under hela min grundskoletid blev jag utsatt för mobbing. Det var mitt namn det var fel på, att jag bar glasögon, att min mor sydde mina kläder men framförallt, att jag gick i arbetarklass-skolor i en arbetarklass-stad, där allas mål var linan på Saab eller Volvo. Jag var smart, jag älskade skolan för den lärdom jag där fick inhämta och jag fick högsta betyg i mina ämnen. Det ser barn inte som något positivt, utan som en brist som man skall slå ner på. Jag lärde mig tidigt att sätta poker ansiktet på. Visa ingen reaktion, så tröttnar VISSA mobbare. Jag lärde mig att gråta inombords. Men mina söner med autism och ADHD, har inte den spärren. Det sociala sinnet fattas i deras hjärnor från födseln, enligt engelska psykologen Uta Frith, som är en expert på autism. Vi andra har fötts med det och använder det så fort vi kan. Men mina söner har det alltså inte och de får härdsmälta i stället, när de utsätts för mobbing.

Härdsmälta lär du också få se när barnet inte tycker att saker är rättvist. Men vad är rättvisa? Enligt min facebook attackerare så har rättvisa med massan att göra. De skall ha rätt att bestämma vad som är rättvisa eftersom de är fler. Men psykologer anser att den rättvisa vi talar om idag, är inte den rättvisa dessa barn behöver. De behöver inte lika utan de behöver vad de specifikt och individuellt behöver, för att nå framgång.

Jämlikhet är inte alltid Rättvisa. Rättvisa är när alla får samma chans till att lyckas!

Jämlikhet är inte alltid Rättvisa. Rättvisa är när alla får samma chans till att lyckas!

 

Varför lever då Expressen-pojken rövare? Vems fel är det verkligen att läraren blir psykiskt sjuk? Vad svenska befolkningen och ledningen på Expressen inte verkar fatta, är att pojken reagerar på något som vi har skapat. VI inte pojken! Vi har ett samhälle idag som inte vet vad solidaritet innebär längre. Vi har ett samhälle som leds av politiker som glömt hur den verkliga världen ser ut. Dagens Sverige lever på sina forna segrar. Bästa skolan i världen. Inte längre. Och det har inte med barnen att göra alls. Varken de normala eller de med ADHD och autism. Allt bottnar i vad clownen i “Cabaret” sjöng om: “Money makes the world go around!” Jo, världen styrs av pengar och den styrs av människor, vars ändamål är att portionera ut dessa pengar till de som skriker mest. Men barnens skrik överröstas, det är ingen som hör dem och deras föräldrar körs över likaså.

Min kommun säger att de inte har råd att ha mindre klasser än 30, universitetsstad som den är! Men ändå gör kommunen och dess politiker allt för att motarbeta friskolorna, som oftast inte kan locka till sig så många elever för varje klass. Hur i hela friden skall dessa barn som behöver lugn och ro, kunna fungera i skolklasser med 25-30 barn? Är det någon på Expressen som har suttit i ett rum med 30 skolbarn? Är det en slump att skolsköterskorna tvingas sätta upp ett elektroniskt öra i klassrumen för att varna för höga decibel? Ett barn som hör ALLT, minsta knappnål falla, som har överkänsliga sinnen, kan inte hantera en sådan situation. Ett barn kommer sitta och fila med en linjal för att få utlopp för den frustration han känner. Ett annat barn kommer skrika. Ett tredje kommer hålla för öronen eller sticka, vilket är vad min ene autistiske son gör. Eller kommer springa runt och flaxa med armarna vilket är vad min andre son med autism gör. Min son med ADHD går och sätter sig på toaletten i 20 minuter. Alla barn med neuropsykiatriska handikapp reagerar. Sättet skiljer sig åt eftersom de alla är olika individer.

Vad som fick my fly förbannad när jag läste mammans insändare på Facebook, var inte det hon sa, för det är vardagsmat för oss alla, utan de dumma kommentarer som en viss Tony Arvidsson och senare, fler stod för. Och jag har valt att nedanför redogöra totalt för denna så kallade konversation, eftersom han är ett sådant klockrent exempel på den smygnazism, som både jag och Imre Kertész kallar detta svenska beteende (se post om hans dagbok “… From Budapest To Berlin”). Man säger att det är helt okej för dessa barn att existera, man har till och med lite ömma känslor för dem, och visst har de rätt till utblidning. (Man får inte säga annat om man inte vill bli anklagad för att vara politiskt inkorrekt.) Men håll dem långt borta från mig och mina barn! Varsågod, läs och begrunda:

Tony Arvidsson på Facebook: “Jag håller med om att barn som har Aspberger eller andra sjukdomar, speciellt inom autismspektrat, ska ha rätt till en utbildning och skolgång där dom kan mötas av personal med kunskap och resurser. Dock anser jag också att min helt vanliga 7 åring ska ha samma rättigheter och få lov att lära sig i en miljö där han inte ska riskera att bli utsatt för fysiskt våld eller att en lärare inte har tid att hjälpa honom för att någon annan elev kräver lärarens hela uppmärksamhet. Det pratas så ofta om att visa förståelse, men det måste också göras åt andra hållet och hur man än vrider och vänder på det kan det aldrig vara rätt att massan ska behöva lida pga enskilda individer. Att visa förståelse och till viss del anpassa sig är aldrig fel (vilket jag lärt mig speciellt små barn är mycket bra på om dom får riktig information) men man ska inte behöva lida.”

Mitt svar: “Så Tony Arvidsson m.fl. tycker att allmänheten skall skyddas mot dessa vilda och hemska barn. Förlåt men för mig låter detta som 30-talets Nazi Tyskland där det bara fanns plats för friska och normala människor. Nu är det så att fler och fler svenska barn får diagnos autism. Vart 48:e barn. Men vad händer med lagstiftningen, vad händer med samhället som skall ta hand om alla dessa barn med diagnoser. Ingenting. Jag har tre barn med autism och en med ADHD. Skall de avlivas tycker du, Tony Arvidsson, så att ditt barn kan gå säkert? De är inte sjuka. Autism och ADHD är handikapp som barnen aldrig kan botas från. Och det är inte jag som förälder som väljer att de skall gå i vanlig skola. Det finns inget annat att välja på i Sverige. Skall lärare ta i hårdare? Ja, då tycker jag alla vi föräldrar med handikappade barn, skall polisanmäla skolorna för att de inte uppfyller den vackert formulerade skollagen. Jag börjar undra om den fungerar eller efterföljs på en enda svensk skola. Skall vi få ett land med vart 48:e barn som sitter hemma, för att de inte är välkomna i svenska skolan?Jag är såååååå trött på att min ene son skall straffas för “dåligt beteende”. DET FINNS INGET DÅLIGT BETEENDE HOS AUTISTISKA BARN! De reagerar på omgivningen. De planerar inte sina dåd. Deras “härdsmälta” är en reaktion som de inte kan påverka själva.

Tony Arvidsson svarade ilsket med ett personligt påhopp:  “Ursäkta, men om du inte kan läsa mina ord utan att lägga dina egna värderingar i det hela kommer debatten inte att ta sig mycket längre. Inte en enda gång skrev jag att de inte har rätt till sin plats i samhället, jag vågar tom påstå att jag påpekade motsatsen. Jag säger heller inte att de har “dåligt” beteende. Gällande debatten om den ökade diagnossättningen, då speceillt ADHD får vi ta en annan gång då min syn på denna explosionen är rätt stark och inte PK. Jag har dock en betydlig klarare bild av autister och betydligt mer mjukhjärtad till dessa människor. Oavsett orsaken till hur dom beter sig så ska handlingen inte gå ut över andra människor. Dina egna argument måste även gälla åt andra hållet. Din inställning till det hela skriker rätt ut att mina barn ska vika åt sidan för att dina barn inte kan hjälpa sig själva. Du liknar mina åsikter vid nazi-tyskland?! Nåja, det fanns inskrivet i lagen under första halvan av 1900-talet att om man orsakade en trafikolycka när man var full skulle det vara en förmildrande omständighet då man inte kunde ta ansvar för sina handlingar under rus. Undrar hur modern din inställning kan vara…”

Med andra ord säger han och andra, att de får existera men på annan plats. Och eftersom svenska samhället inte har någon annan plats för denna så kallade minoritet, än den vanliga svenska skolan, så måste de vanliga normala barnen skyddas och har som majoritet mer rättighet till utbildning, än de handikappade barnen. Jag struntar egentligen i grund och botten vad denne Tony säger, för han visar hur lite han kan om både ADHD och autism och DET är omodernt. De är inga sjukdomar. Och folk kan skrika hur mycket de vill om att det är för många som får diagnoser idag, så att alla diagnoser måste tas med en nypa salt. För oss som sitter i smeten existerar inga feldiagnoser. Vi lever med barn utan bromsar, som uppfyller varenda litet krav på diagnoserna de fått och det är en skymf att höra människor ifrågasätta dem.

Men ja, jag förstår helt och fullt hur en förälder inte uppskattar att dess barn får sig en dänga av sin autistiska klasskamrat eller sand slängd på sig osv. Samtidigt tycker jag att som förälder till fyra handikappade, barn liksom tre normala, att man som förälder inte kan vara enkelriktad. Den attityd som Tony m.fl. framhåller gör deras barn till mina barns framtida eller redan existerande mobbare. Han talar om massan som skall styra och beskyddas. Vem skall skydda de autistiska barnen och dem med ADHD?Fattar ingen att vi föräldrar skriker som vi gör för att våra barn far illa var de än befinner sig? De är andra klassens elever från första början. Jag har inte mött ett enda barn med ADHD, Asperger och Autism som INTE är mobbad. Mobbning är deras vardag. De är inte välkomna någonstans och i förlängningen, inte deras föräldrar heller om de inte vill trotsa alla och tvinga sig på dem med sina barn. Samhället och svenskarna får oss att skämmas för att vi och våra barn existerar och hur har vi mage att kräva något? Och som mobbningsoffer kan jag säga, att det gör inget för självkänslan. Tvärtom. Våra barn med autism osv. utsätts dagligen för så mycket klander att de inget självförtroende har alls. Så kom inte här och tala om att massan är offret.

För alla er som inte ser tecknen, så skall denna omoderna människa som jag anklagats vara, fast jag lever på internet och läser alla de senaste rönen, vilket människor som Tony tydligen är för svenskt intorkade för att göra, så skall jag informera om att 1933 kom ett parti i Tyskland till makten som sa att bara de som kunde tillföra landet något, skulle få lov att leva. Massan var de starka och hade alla rättigheter, de svaga skulle minsann inte dra ner dem. Så T4 programmet instiftades och alla handikappade föstes samman och gasades. Så fanns det bara vackra normala människor kvar. Samtidigt utpekade man naturligtvis alla andra som kunde dra ner samhället i dyng nivå. Judar. Zigenare. Religiösa. Imre Kertész förutspår att vi är på väg dit igen. Se bara på EU-parlamentet. En hel sektion med Nazister, gömda bakom vackra kostymer denna gång, men armbindlarna och hakkkorsen hänger hemma i garderoberna . I Ungern härskar Jobbik på gatorna och det är helt acceptabelt att tala om den kommande utrotningen av judar. Även i Sverige är det helt acceptabelt att tala om Israels utplåning och dess invånare. Som Kertész säger, sedan kommer turen till resten av världens judar och vem tror ärligt att det kommer stoppa där? Vart 48:e barn har autism… Sverige hade sitt eget T4 program. Glöm inte det! I vårt land har folk tvångssteriliserats och lobotimerats långt, LÅNGT in på 1900-talet. Så länge sedan var det minsann inte! Och Sverigedemokraterna går framåt.

Om det är omodernt att titta på historien och titta på de gamla kännetecknen i dagens svenska samhälle, ja då är jag stolt över att vara omodern. Kertész säger att det är politiskt korrekt idag, att stå för det man inte vågade stå för i Europa på 30-talet. Tyvävrr håller jag med. Och det är inte omodernt att lära sig av sina och sina medmänniskors misstag. Inte heller är det omodernt att läsa in sig på handikapp och de former de tar sig.

Autism är ingen sjukdom. Om vi skall kalla det sjukdom så måste vi kalla blindhet, dövhet, att sitta rullstolsbunden, sjukdom också. Det här är inget som kan botas. Precis som man ger en blind en blindskriftsmaskin och böcker med blindskrift att studera i och en döv ett eget språk med tecken och kanske en hörapparat, så måste de autistiska och ADHD barnen, få de hjälpmedel som de behöver. Nu sitter deras största problem i hjärnan med brist på viktiga substanser (autism) eller överproduktion (ADHD) av dem. Vad de behöver är inte att en lärare brutalt skall sätta naglarna i dem eller lyfta dem ur klassrummet med mer eller mindre våld bakom. De behöver lugn och ro, de behöver rutiner som inte bryts, de behöver ett språk som de kan förstå, de behöver en person som hjälper dem med den social biten, som de aldrig kan lösa själva. Deras behov är stort. Men en person som ådragit sig HIV eller som varit med om en trafikolycka, kräver också mycket av samhället. Skillnaden är att ingen nekar de senare det de behöver. Ingen nekar en blind person hund, blindkäpp, blindskriftsmaskin osv. Men det finns inga pengar för alla dessa barn vars diagnoser eskalerat mycket på grund av alla nedskärningar som skett. När det fanns pengar, så var klasserna mindre, det var tyst på lektionerna och varken barn med ADHD eller autism behövde drabbas av att höra ett konstant surrande runt omkring sig, mobiltelefoner som plingar av SMS-signaler, … Vi har i mångt och mycket skapat den oro, som fått dessa barn, speciellt de med ADHD, att inte klara klassrumssituationerna längre.

Det var lätt att få svenska skolan att åka rutschkana utför. Men det är inte lika lätt verkar det som, att få den på rätt kurs igen. Ovanstående Tony talar om resurser till barnen som behöver hjälp så att hans son kan få ha sin lärare ifred. Nu är det så, att de skolor som gör sig omaket att skicka in ett lass med papper, som dokumenterar ett barns behov av assistent, får ofta avslag. Det finns bara så mycket pengar att portionera ut och pengarna motsvarar inte nivån på behovet. När inga pengar ges, har skolan “att välja mellan iPads till en klass med normala barn eller att pengarna skall gå till hjälp åt ett barn”. Gissa vad kommunen väljer Tony Arvidsson och Expressen? Massan är ju viktigast. Eller som rektorn för vårt upptagningsområde sa till mig “Min skola är för normala barn!” Så jag valde en annan skola som inte heller hade några pengar. De hade ingen lust att söka tilläggspengar eftersom de tar för givet att de inga skulle få, eftersom de är friskola. Och där finns inga pengar att avsätta till fortbildning. Inga pengar att be om utbildning från skolornas resurscentrum, inga pengar att skaffa in DVD-filmer eller böcker från Attention och Asperger & Autism Förbundet, så att lärare kan förse sig själva med kunskap. Inga pengar att gå på de föreläsningar dessa förbund ger eller de som de få autisiska friskolorna ger.

Men det finns faktiskt ingen ursäkt för att vara omodern i dagens Sverige, som nu denna Tony anklagade mig för att vara. Kan utbildningen börja i de lägre lagren, bland befolkningen, så kan vi sedan skriva makthavare, skolmyndigheter och press på näsan! Vi är ett av de mest uppkopplade länder som finns, all information finns där ute på nätet. Det är bara att ställa er på surfbrädan och välja och vraka bland alla de artiklar som ligger uppe om både ADHD och Austism. Det finns en uppsjö av böcker och fortbildning att tillgå för privatpersoner. Att sitta och klappa sig själv på ryggen och säga att allt för många diagnoser ges i Sverige och att det egentligen är föräldrarna som brister eller att se om sitt eget hus och bara bry sig om massans normala barn, det stinker! Det finns en anledning till att varje barn i Sverige med diagnos har fått den diagnos de fått. Skolan har krävt testning. Förskolan har krävt det. Föräldrarna har märkt att det här barnet inte är som alla andra barn. Tillsammans har man krävt att få svar på varför. Men det är efter detta som vägarna skiljs åt. Föräldrarna har fått svar på varför deras barn agerar som det gör men skolan har inte pengar att göra något åt det hela. De råd de får på BUP och/eller på habiliteringen går in i ett öra och ut genom det andra på grund av bristen på pengar. Och ovanstående instanser informerar alltid föräldrarna med att “vi kan inte tvinga skolan att göra som vi säger, vi kan bara ge råd”. Det finns en orsak att Sverige är sämst i Europa på att ge neuropsykiatriskt handikappade barn den hjälp de behöver och i förlängningen betyder det att lärarna inte mäktar med. Det Expressen, är vad ni skulle ha skrivit om! Inte att lärarna skall ta ut sin frustration på de svaga, de som bara ropar med sitt agerande, att det är något stort fel på systemet!

 

Något för Sverige att vara stolta över. Vi är bäst i Europa på att vara sämst. Vad säger ni på Expressens redaktion om det?

Något för Sverige att vara stolta över. Vi är bäst i Europa på att vara sämst. Vad säger ni på Expressens redaktion om det?

 

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The concept of My Friday book…

imageWhen I had reached the age when you devour books, there was no stopping my reading. The best thing I knew, was to take my bicycle and head to the library. It did not matter that I had to pass houses where the bullies lived and bike over the little square, which had the entrance to the library on one side of it, where the bullies always hung out, never being home doing homework. I had my escape routes. I would cycle twice the distance on those, to avoid as many people as possible. Just to reach my goal. The lovely library with shelves of treasures. I would stock up on ten-fifteen books at a time. And of course I had no problems finishing them. The summers were the best, since it meant read, read, read every day.

All my pocket-money also went to books. My mum hated it. And she was so upset when I would send money with her to town, to buy me a really thick “Nancy Drew” book and me finishing it in one or two hours. I can easily say that I have been a book-lover from the time I learned to read. I love to hold a book in my hands, I love the anticipation one has when opening the book for the first time, wondering what it will really offer. What sort of adventure will it take you on? And there is nothing worse than reading the final lines, putting the book down and feeling “what now”? The emptiness which settles in, before starting a new book, is mighty depressing.

When I got up to middle school, there was a specific highlight of the week. Friday day was assigned to us, to every class, to head toimage the school library. We would walk off class after class, instructed that we were only allowed to borrow one book each. There was always fierce competition for the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. So, to this day, I have not read the books, because I do not fight over books! (I have actually read the first two books aloud to my children, but they never caught on to the magic and all the Christian symbolism bearing testimony of Lewis’ faith.) I could find plenty to read in that room and was not going to walk home disappointed with not getting one of the Narnia books. Later on my classmates moved on to books about teenage romance and so on, which was not a pattern I chose to follow either.

No, I was happy with other books and after making my selection, I would head back to the classroom and eagerly await the end of the school day. I would head home, crawl up in an armchair and READ. Till the book was finished! Usually by the time my mum got home from work. And then I had a long weekend in front of me, without a book. SAD!

For some reason, in the last year, I have started to follow my old pattern. To start reading a book on Friday afternoons. It is the highlight of my week actually. When I arrive home with “Boo” and “Gubby”, knowing that I do not have to go out again that day. That the week is finally over and I will have two days to rest and relax, if you count going to church as relaxation. Not really in my case, but it does mean not having to drive back and forth like a taxi driver not being allowed to come late to fetch or drop off a child.

imageNo, it has become my routine, when I get home with the boys, at around 14:30, to take my jeans off, put on leggings, thick wool socks, grab the book I feel for reading at that point in my life, cuddle up in my torn armchair with my Union Jack blanket wrapped around me, and just read. The boys having the TV on in the background. If the book is good, I will not watch TV at all that evening but just proceed with my book. Many books are finished that same night or in the early morning hours. Others take longer of course. So, the blog posts get written on a somewhat uneven basis, depending on how long it took to read the book, how long it took to digest what I just read, and how much I really want to say about it. I have been working on a post about Pétain for a month now. Filling in all the gaps the book left out, still trying to come to terms with what I read in that book, which was an eye-opener all right.

So to all who read my Friday Book discussions, do not loose patience, if they do not come regularly. And may you have as fun reading them, as I have writing them. And one more thing: Why not try a Friday book yourself? Fridays are excellent days to start a book, the best as a matter of fact! Who cares about TV? Nothing can compete with a good book!

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