30. June 2013 · Comments Off on Why am I writing a book? · Categories: advocacy, Gary's Son, kickstarter, parent education

Hi,

I am writing a book because I am a dad whose legacy to his son isn’t going to be anything like it I thought it would be before he was born.

Because I’ve learned so much from other fathers and I don’t want their sage advice to dissipate.

Because my son is a whole person. A young man with humor and likes and desires. Who deserves to have other folks see the world through his eyes even though he may not be able to  always express what he sees.

Because society, for too long, has valued different as less instead of looking at it as just different.  Or even more.

From day one, advice to folks like me has been write about what you know. And my experiences these almost 14 years is a lense through which I want to help other fathers, other mothers, other members of society focus through–even if they can see a father’s perspective only for a moment.

newyorkcity

A moment of empathy and understanding is my goal. A moment of teaching and learning. A door to a discussion that may not have otherwise taken place.

I’m writing a book about father’s and men’s perspectives because the best legacy I can leave for my son is a way to help others understand and learn how to help him illustrate his value to the world. A small contribution so that when I am gone, someone else can look him in the eye and see them twinkle and love and respect him as a whole person. And ask him how his day went and really listen. Just like his Dad.

Please poke around my site.  And let me know if you want to contribute an essay.

Thanks,

Gary Dietz

 

 

 

 

27. June 2013 · Comments Off on An unusual one year anniversary · Categories: Gary's Son, video

Hi,

Today, my son now age 13, has been at a residential school for exactly 1 year. Here is a video of his end-of-year academic award. Check out that proud smile at 0:33 !!!

2013 ceremony video

Click image to launch MP4 video of the ceremony (0m 45s long)

Two great things for those not familiar (1) He was able to handle the noise and clapping of the ceremony for a good 1/2 hour and (2) He went up to accept his award by himself (with some coaching). I have a ton of reflections both challenging and joyous. I just ask for your continued support of him and me.

Best,

Gary

P.S. Although I appreciate the good intentions, when people tell me “just think about it like he went to college early,” I want to…  well, let’s just say its an unhelpful analogy.

P.P.S The Kickstarter should be live around July 8. I hope you check it out, if only for the cool animated video.

 

21. June 2013 · Comments Off on Poetry Contest · Categories: author queries, poetry

Hi,

Poet and author Marly Youmans has agreed to judge a poetry contest for my upcoming book.

You can learn more about the contest on this page. The goal is to have a number of poems to compliment the essays in the book.  Have a look at the poetry contest page and the essay submission guidelines and project FAQ to learn more about the themes we are looking for.

Thanks!

Gary

Hi,

This post is a response to a post by Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher.  I met Vicki while I was a Product Manager at Elluminate and have followed her career with much admiration.

Vicki’s theme doesn’t depend
Vicki’s post explores the philosophy of not allowing external influences to affect your attitude toward life.  Not to allow your attitude to “depend” on anything. Although her context is that of a teacher, it’s really important for anyone at any stage or place in life and career.  In fact, without naming names, the most successful folks I know have this amazing duck-like ability to let anything just roll off them; Their success doesn’t ‘depend’ on too many external forces. In my response I am adding an additional, related theme of ‘self-doubt’ to Vicki’s ‘depends.’

A secret
I have a secret that many successful folks I have had the pleasure of meeting let me in on.  Perhaps you know this secret too, but haven’t let it sink in.  Here it is: Even those folks we idolize — the ones who give the speeches, found the companies, win the awards, scream at us with motivation at the gym — those folks have crappy days and feel inadequate and probably have their ‘depends’ moments too.  But ultimately those that succeed / feel ‘actualized’ / get closer to God / move even one small step to becoming a better self — this success still doesn’t ‘depend.’  You either do, or do not (as Yoda would say).

An insightful fashion model
Even ‘perfect’ people have their ‘depends’ moments and self-doubts. Watch fashion model Cameron Russell’s Ted Talk. It’s a slightly different context and different take – but at the core, it shows that we all have questions about ourselves and our abilities or worth.  Success (however you define it) ultimately doesn’t ‘depend.’  Privately, ask a successful mentor how many times a week they feel inadequate.  Ask someone successful in your space how many times they failed before they succeeded.  Ask an entrepreneur how many times they have been completely broke but kept on going.

Personally…
Ask me how proud of my son I am that he had a weekend away from his residential school with me where, for the first time in months, he didn’t pinch me once.  Do you think I am comparing that to another parent’s experiences with their typically developing child’s wins?  Does my pride in my son ‘depend’ on external conditions and events completely irrelevant to our situation? Do I doubt my parenting and love because of the situation we experience?

Thanks Vicki, you are a cool cat indeed!
Vicki, thanks for showing me that  even a busy mother and teacher can impact so many so positively without allowing ‘depends’ to get in the way.  Thanks for motivating and teaching so many teachers.  You are an inspiration.

Best to all,

Gary

SHAMELESS PLUG NEXT. SKIP IF YOU DON’T LIKE SHAMELESS PLUGS.

Friends and fans of Vicki at schools – If you know any father’s of children with disabilities, please tell them about my Dads of Disabilities project on your Twitter (I am @garymdietz) and Facebook feeds and send them to the Submissions pages.  There are stipends for authors that get into the collection!

A frame from the Kickstarter animation

A frame from the Kickstarter animation for my Dads of Disability Book Project

I am seeking stories about all fathers of children with disabilities, but especially seeking fathers of color, fathers of children with physical but not intellectual challenges, and female and male supporters of fathers who want to write about them. And the Kickstarter for this project starts right after the 4-July U.S. holiday!

19. June 2013 · Comments Off on Violence against kids. One witnessed by me. What can we do? · Categories: advocacy, parent education, violence

Hi,

I don’t want to editorialize too much in this post, so I’ll just list some things that have hit me hard in the past few weeks. And, in some sort of ironic punishment, came full circle right in front of my face on 17-June 2013 when I witnessed a vicious child-on-disabled-child act of violence (jump to #5 below).

So, here is the list of things that have haunted me this week, sans (much) editorial comment:

1. Alex Spourdalakis  Just Google his name.  A horrible murder that is not about a lack of services (though that is a dire issue in the world).  There are so many vectors of discussion, shame, and anger — other discussion threads have addressed them. I just want more people to read about Alex.

2. Ethan Saylor Just Google his name or read this Op Ed by his sister, Emma Saylor. A horrible murder that just the simplest compassion or training could have prevented. (Ed. I realize that Ethan was not a child.  But he was someone’s child.)

Ethan Saylor 300x230

3. The continued use of electric shock for punishment and training at the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) in Massachusetts.  This is 2013, isn’t it?

4. The short film Restraint and Seclusion, Hear Our Stories by Dan Habib, New Hampshire Auteur.  Worth a watch.  I repeat, this is 2013, isn’t it?

Restraint and Seclusion: Hear Our Stories  from Dan Habib on Vimeo

5. A vicious beating I witnessed myself

I witnessed a young child (perhaps age 9) viciously beating an older, larger child (perhaps age 13) with a stick, with about 4 or 5 other children looking on.  The 13 year old had some type of intellectual or emotional challenge, I don’t know what (I assume something like or actually Autism, I don’t know).  After I broke up the violence and asked the 13 year old if he was OK (he seemed unharmed physically), I followed the perpetrator home and chatted calmly (yes, it was calmly) with his folks who weren’t always so calm.  Some points here:

  1. I absolutely should have stayed with the victim, brought him home, and called the police.  I am angry at myself for not doing that
  2. The perpetrators family was shocked and I was told by the mother that the child himself obviously had problems. It shouldn’t have to have been me having this discussion.
  3. What a dope I was not to stay with the victim and to heck with the perpetrator!  I should know better! I feel shame.

So, the next day, wracked with guilt and concern about my mishandling, I went to the police in that town to file a report.  They were polite, but the officer:

  1. Didn’t write down more than 12 words on a small piece of paper
  2. Said “we aren’t in the habit of arresting 9 year olds” even after I had previously told her a few times I was hoping that she could go to the parents of the perpetrator to (1) query the kids friends and locate the victim to inform the parents and see if all was OK and (2) To make sure that the 9 year old aggressor had some access to services (this wasn’t a fight – it was a beating!)
  3. Didn’t have me sign a police report or even sit down in a private place to talk.  Though they were very interested in my name, my date of birth, phone and address
  4. Told me all she could do was inform the “school officer” (this took place next to, but not on, school grounds after hours) and let them try to identify the victim.

I did in fact make a mistake not calling the police initially.  However, I am quite sure the officer was giving me lip service.  This was NOT in my town, but it was in a mid-sized New Hampshire town.

Yet, I remain an optimist.  The world is filled with so many good folks, I have to keep reminding myself!

Take care,

Gary

Hi,

My former co-worker Mark B. has a daughter that understands humanity probably better than most people I’ve encountered in my life.  And Lila is 3 1/2 years old.

Lila: “Do all people have all their parts?”

Mark: “Well, most people do, but some don’t.  (Discussion about birth defects, amputation, ‘ectomies, etc.) So some people don’t have all of their parts.”

Lila: “But they’re still people, right Daddy?”

Me: “Oh yes, Lila.”

Lila: “They’re still people. That’s the most important part.”

Mark is not a Dad of Disability (that I know of) but he is an honorary one handling his daughters questions like this – and impacting her outlook on life.

Cheers,

Gary

 

12. June 2013 · Comments Off on Fathers Rountable – Google Hangout · Categories: advocacy, parent education

Hi,

Viki Gayhardt (formerly of Easter Seals New Hamsphire) forwarded me the information on this great new “fathers roundtable” hosted by the Washington State Fathers Network and Autism Brainstorm.

Here is the public Youtube Video of the most recent roundtable.

This is very fortuitous!  Although my book Dads of Disability is about a wide range of disabilities, would any of the expressive fathers in this video like to contact me with a story idea?  Please do!

Thanks,

Gary

 

 

10. June 2013 · Comments Off on Disabilty versus Disability is a waste of energy · Categories: advocacy, parent education

Hi,

At the second annual ABLE NH banquet, rapper / speaker / advocate / funny-guy  Keith Jones mentioned something I’ll paraphrase.

Keith Jones

Click to see Keith in a Youtube Video

One of his points was that disability groups fighting amongst themselves is a waste of time and energy when the “real” enemy we need to slay could be defeated if only disability groups could align themselves.

I can’t help but be completely frustrated at how right he is.  There is too much complaining and positioning of “what is our slice of the pie” versus “what is their slice of the pie” instead of folks of all walks of life working to redefine what the “pie” even is — and reframing the entire discussion.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have the wider population understand that disability is not, as Keith said, not an anomaly but a continuum.  And that everyone has a right to live a full life.

Gary

P.S. Keith was a laugh riot and a good dancer – you should hire him to speak.

 

03. June 2013 · Comments Off on Searching for contributor Dads and men has commenced · Categories: author queries, kickstarter

Hi,

I’m actively talking to some potential contributors of essays and materials.

Not just by Dads: One thing I need to clarify in the Submit a Story section is that while stories may be by Dads, they just a likely could be by:

  • Moms talking about the Dads of their children
  • Grandfathers, uncles, brothers, siblings, steps, etc. talking about the family relationships surround the father and child with a disability from their perspective
  • The child him or herself!  Just because the child has a disability doesn’t mean that they don’t have a story about their father
Used under Creative Commons License http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ldorfman

Image: Creative Commons License  (attribution here)

Not just happy: In addition, the stories don’t all have to be happy.  They can be sad, angry, challenging, frustrating, or yes, happy,  But they need to be authentic and surrounding the male perspective.

Two things am really looking for are:

  • Unusual and compelling
  • Has a usable lesson for other dads or family members at one of the “pivot” points in the life of a family that has a child with a disability.  (Birth, diagnosis, first hospitalization, entering school, leaving school, first job, first date, etc. all the way through life.)

Thanks!  And keep an eye out for the animation and Kickstarter, that should be live by early July 2013!

Thanks,

Gary