Parenting

Does Donald Trump have a child with ASD?

Barron Trump is a child who has already lived an amazing life in his first 10 years, and his life promises to become even more amazing now that his father and mother will be President and First Lady Of The United States.

There are rumors going around that he may have ASD (autism spectrum disorder). These rumors started about 2 years ago, and resurfaced during Barron’s appearance at one of Donald Trump’s speeches. It is said that he was showing typical ASD behavior, such as twitching, lack of eye contact, and nervousness.

Of course, the more likely explanation is that he WAS nervous! Try to imagine yourself at 10, in front of a massive crowd such as he was.

While there is no definitive proof to these rumors, there are some interesting points to be made:

-Donald Trump has been commenting on his belief in the largely debunked link between autism and vaccines since 2007…or since Barron was an infant. Trump has made these comments on news shows as well as on his personal Twitter webpage. Here is an article that has aggregated screenshots of his comments.

-Although the vaccine link is largely agreed to have been debunked, there is a definite correlation between parental age and risk of ASD. Donald and Melania Trump had the largest possible risk factors as parents, since Donald was almost 60 years old while Melania was 35 when Barron was conceived. It has been stated that older fathers and younger mothers have a higher risk for children with ASD, and in Donald and Melania’s case the risk was 4.4 times higher, with an almost 1:2 chance of developing mental illness in general.

-Trump has also donated to charities that support and try to raise awareness of the largely debunked ASD/vaccine link, in particular the charity of actress Jenny McCarthy, “Generation Rescue”.

Donald Trump wouldn’t seem like the most understanding person when it comes to children with special needs, especially with his disparaging comments of disabled adults in the past. But if Barron was, in fact, a child with ASD, it could do an enormous good for autism awareness in the U.S., and worldwide. It has been said that 1 in approximately 55 children are born “on the spectrum”, which would mean that there are millions of children and adults in the U.S. that have ASD. 

The last president to have a family member with special needs was John F. Kennedy, whose sister Rosemary was institutionalized. She was, by most accounts, an eccentric if basically normal adult who underwent a lobotomy in the 1940’s, which permanently incapacitated her. Whether due to strong familial guilt or a genuine passion for the cause, the Kennedys would thereafter donate money and resources to raise awareness of mental illnesses and disabilities, with Eunice Kennedy founding the Special Olympics in 1968.

Of course, this is all just speculation at this point. Donald Trump wouldn’t release his tax returns, and he wouldn’t even release a legitimate medical record, despite becoming the oldest POTUS (at 70) in history. He probably won’t be commenting on his child’s medical records any time soon.

But, then again, even if Barron does have ASD, he is surely on the high end of the spectrum, since by all accounts he is an intelligent and talented child. I don’t think that more kids have ASD than in the past, but that there has been more testing, and over-testing in some instances. The same kid who might have been “quirky” or “a loner” 50 years ago would probably qualify for an ASD diagnosis nowadays. It would not be surprising if Barron is on the autism spectrum due to his parents’ risk factors and his father’s sudden interest in ASD topics shortly after his birth, especially since Trump rarely comments on any topic that doesn’t affect him directly or indirectly. Although, it would not be surprising at all if Barron wasn’t on the spectrum, either.

Regardless of all the speculation, Barron will be living a once-in-a-lifetime dream of having a presidential Dad, and living in the White House. I genuinely wish him the best of luck, and I hope he gets to play with his toy cars and airplanes in the Oval Office…!

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Punk rock parenting

If we were to use the Ramones S/T album as a birthdate, then the punk rock scene is officially 40 years old now. CBGB’s, once an iconic venue, is now a terribly depressing restaurant inside an airport at Newark, New Jersey (as if Newark wasn’t depressing enough already). Hipster doofuses wear Black Flag shirts, and rappers pay thousands of dollars for punk rock patched jackets that would have gotten a punk’s ass beat back in the day. Because there actually was a time when metalheads, punk rockers, and rappers didn’t get along. Now it’s all Kum-bay-fucking-ya as we hold hands into this post millenial sunset.

So, where does that leave me? Most people reach the magical age of 25, and their music playlists gradually become less rebellious and more repugnant. Not me though: my musical tastes have always been repugnant.

I do know one thing: the underground music scenes are as strong as they have ever been. Anyone with a computer, and even a cellphone with the right apps, can legitimately create demo-worthy music and can upload it to music listening sites for instant exposure. The demise of the traditional music label infrastructure has given birth to a new independent artist, one who knows as much about graphic design and tour routing as they do about proper EQ settings and mic placements. Of course, this was all par for the course in the punk/hardcore scenes, where booking your own shows and producing your own albums was born out of necessity. But now everyone is doing it, and I for one think it is a good thing. An informed artist is an empowered artist, and having knowledge about “the business end” is just as important as musical skill and creativity, if you want to be a successful artist.

As for me, I drag the old guitar out every now and then. I like to have “jam sessions” with my 2 year old son, in order to expose him to music. He loves it, and he already seems to be musically inclined just like his parents. I like to play along with old punk/hardcore records (tonight we played some Cro-Mags, Negative Approach, Sex Pistols, and Bad Brains), because its simple high energy music that toddlers seem to love, and because it’s about all I know how to play! Seriously though, I got to thinking of the “passing of the torch” by exposing my son to the same bands that I loved as a kid, and still love. Out of all the awesome things (and there are a lot) about being a parent, this is one of my favorite things.

At least until he gets old enough to realize how uncool it is to like the same music your parents like. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

NASCAR: The perfect show for toddlers

 

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This is a great idea for a stroller, as long as it doesn’t have a restrictor plate.

After giving my son dinner, a bath, and cleaning up the trail of destruction he had left behind him, I decided to put on a TV show. But, what to watch? I can only tolerate Elmo’s World so much before I have visions of tossing my TV onto the street, and I sure don’t live on Sesame Street.

After flipping through channels of the usual mindless dreck, my son’s eyes lit up at the unexpected visual delight on NBC. It was the NASCAR Ford Brickyard 400, but to him it was top level entertainment. What makes NASCAR so interesting to toddlers?

-Lots of repetition

-Lots of cars

-Lots of “vroom vroom” car sounds

-The occasional car crash

-Hundreds of different camera angles used

-Hundreds of laps in the race

-The color commentary that is spoken at their age-appropriate level

Well, that does it, if it’s good enough for my son, it’s good enough for me.

Just one question: do adults actually find NASCAR entertaining?

The 10 immutable laws of parenting, V2: toddler edition

#1. Your new alarm clock will be a child screaming at the top of their lungs. Unfortunately, kids don’t come with snooze buttons.

#2. Anything that can be climbed on, will eventually be climbed on.

#3. If you make an attempt to totally childproof your home, your child will just rip the carpet from the trim…

#4. ..or make artwork by drawing on the floor tiles.

#5. When making a meal, always make as twice as much as your child will eat, because half of it will end up on the floor. Or in their hair.

#6. “Reverse engineering” is a term that was made when noticing how toddlers will take apart anything and attempt to put it back together.

#7. When going for walks, be prepared to stop and look at everything. On walks, cars are to toddlers as trees are to dogs.

#8. If your child attempts to read a book by eating it, this is apparently normal. They call it “learning by osmosis”.

#9. The word “no” means, in their mind, “go ahead and do it anyway, Dad is too lazy to get off this couch and prevent me from doing this!”.

#10. Any housework or projects will now be assisted by your little helper. Hell, I wrote this article on my smartphone with my 22 month old jumping on the couch next to me!

THE 10 IMMUTABLE LAWS OF PARENTING

This is a fantastic example of multitasking. Just remember: there are no dishwasher-safe babies...at least none that I am aware of.

This is a fantastic example of multitasking. Just remember: there are no dishwasher-safe babies…at least none that I am aware of.

We’ve all heard of the 48 Laws Of Power…now we have the 10 Laws Of Parenting.

1. The term “multitasking” has its roots from parents simultaneously doing 5 things at once. A real power lunch is when you hold a Hot Pocket in one hand while changing a dirty diaper with the other hand.

2. No matter how many lovely pictures you put of you and your child on Facebook, at the end of the day we picture you covered in drool and vomit just like the rest of us parents.

3. When taking pictures of your children, your odds of getting a decent picture depends entirely on how many times you can press the shutter button in a row.

4. It doesn’t matter how many toys you set in front of your infant, because they will always gravitate toward the single thing near them that ISN’T a toy.

5. Sleep is overrated. So is having discretionary income.

6. Sleep schedules for infants are overrated. They will ultimately fall asleep when they feel like it…like it or not.

7. Eventually, you will find yourself singing along to the music on kids’ shows, and/or you will randomly find the songs popping up in your head when you’re at work.

8. Work is, ironically enough, the only place where you can relax now.

9. When feeding your child, you will always get more food on their clothes and the floor than in their stomach.

10. Father may know best, but Mother is always right.

Dumb dads, foolish fathers, and lazy ad agencies

 

Fatherhood For Dummies

Thankfully, I read this copy of Fatherhood For Dummies before my son was born. I never would have guessed that raising a chainsaw above my son’s head would make me a bad dad. That’s why “Reading IS FUNdamental”!

Well, Father’s Day will be soon approaching this year. It is especially meaningful for me, because I am a first time father this year (to my awesome son Skyler!). This is the one day out of the year where men all across the world will be looked at not only as child support evading and cleaning-supply evading fathers, but dads who play a marginally important role in the lives of their children.

So, as I am sitting here holding Sky, as I am off work for the second day in a row due to him being sick, and my wife being too sick to take care of him, a commercial from Lowe’s appears. Yes, Lowe’s, the arbiter of home improvement importance, where making upgrades to your underwater-mortgaged home should be a top priority of every proud American. It is the one for their Valspar paint, which is another timeless depiction of the “hapless father”. You know, the idiots who can’t even do one thing right when it comes to taking care of their kids in the absence of any female figure. In this example, a father uses a video-messaging program to call his wife, with the kids in the background. With the use of not so clever video angle work, the background of the kids and father is entirely clean, while the surrounding area is completely trashed. Like, junior high last day of school food fight trashed. Of course, the dad is “just checking in”, and wanted to say that the house is clean and the kids are alright.

The kids aren’t alright, and neither should you be.

Nowadays, sexism and racism, and general prejudice, are hot button topics in our 24-7 media culture. Of course, actual newsworthy news only happens occasionally, so this media culture of ours has a propensity to make news stories out of absolutely nothing. This has created a culture where even the slightest perceived transgressions against a group of people can be considered headline news.

But…this generally only applies if the transgressions are against women. If you are a male, then it’s perfectly OK to be made fun of. I am all for a good joke, and jokes with prejudicial leanings can be funny, whether you want to openly admit it, or not. (Somewhat like this article, which aspires to be like a good prejudicial joke: Funny with a grain of truth.) But hypocrisy isn’t so funny. What if this commercial depicted a woman who wasn’t a good car driver? Wait…this commercial does exist. It was made in the 1960’s, and is considered the most sexist commercial of all time.

So why is sexism and prejudices OK for one group of people, and not for others? One might make the argument that, hey, we’ve been discriminated against for years, so it’s OK for us to make fun of you. Which is a false argument, because every group of people ever has been discriminated against at one point or another, on micro or macro levels. Now I agree that general discrimination against males has usually been on micro levels, but that doesn’t excuse the hypocrisy involved. Namely: if you want the respect you feel you deserve, then you should show the same amount of respect to your fellow man (and woman).

Back to me: these past two days taking care of my son have involved being repeatedly showered in bodily fluids, as my son has been dealing with some sort of stomach bug. In the midst of all this, I have cleaned his clothes, given him baths, fed/hydrated him, and held him for as much time as I can. I am fully capable of doing any child care task imaginable, and if I am unsure about something, I am fully capable of using Google to look it up. Not to mention that I’ve been doing other manly things such as jamming on my guitar, mowing the lawn, and yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off of said lawn. Because, let’s all face it, I’m an asshole.

And I admit it. So did Mark Cuban a few days ago. But don’t yell at people to get off your yard, if you are going to repeatedly trample on their lawn.

Now, I am not COMPLETELY ignorant. My wife works hard to care for our son, and I truly realize the paramount importance of a mother-son bond. Hell, she was always one of those “I am never getting pregnant” women, and eventually it happened. She stuck it out through all of the pregnancy pains and a painful delivery, and we would both concur that it was entirely worth it!

And, no offense to Lowe’s, because that commercial wasn’t even the worst one I’ve seen TODAY. That honor goes to Nationwide, who is yet another insurance company trying to be hip to a generation whom they certainly hope hasn’t seen Capitalism: A Love Story. This is a commercial where “we are on your side, because we don’t have shareholders” and “we will replace your things with brand new things, so you won’t get burned” are the two main quotes. Yes, please oh great insurance company: replace my things with brand new things, hell, that’s only what I pay you for…

So, on this upcoming Fathers Day, let’s try to appreciate our fathers a little more, even the marginalized few that don’t know how to clean a kitchen or how to boil water. I’m still new to this fatherhood thing, but I have learned more in this short period of time than in any other period of my life. And I anticipate it being a continual learning process. Which is what life truly is about, we all have things to learn. Now excuse me: I’ve got to go clean the baby drool off of this laptop…