Monthly Archives: April 2012

‘A culture of bullying’ ?Could something like this be happening in other schools for children with autism?

CNN REPORTING      25/4/2012

A New Jersey man has launced a website to publicize what he calls ‘a culture of bullying’ by teachers in his son’s Cherry Hill classroom after sending the boy – who has been diagnosed with autism – to school with a covert recording device.

Stuart Chaifetz said he placed the recorder in the pocket of his ten-year-old-son, Akian, in an attempt to find out why staffers at Horace Mann Elementary School had reported that the boy had been acting out and hitting his teachers.

What surfaced was more than six hours of recordings of what he says are teachers and aides apparently talking about alcohol and sex in front of the class, punctuated by yelling at his son to “shut your mouth.”

Chaifetz posted the recording online Monday, which has since led to disciplinary actions, including the removal of at least one teacher, school officials said.

At one point, an adult female voice can be heard saying the the recording, “I had a bottle of wine with my girlfriend last night.” The second female voice asks if she spent the morning “heaving.”

“Oh my God, so bad,” the woman responds. “The wine won.”

Chaifetz said he reached out to school officials to report the alleged actions of the teacher and her aides.

“The school district was as horrified as I was,” he said.

In an online statement, Cherry Hill Public Schools superintendent, Dr. Maureen Reusche said that the district investigated the recordings and responded swiftly and appropriately. “I want to assure our parents that the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children, no longer work in the district and have not done so since; shortly after we received a copy of the recording,” she said.

Chaifetz – who said he didn’t think the disciplinary action went far enough – posted a video on YouTube of himself denouncing the incident, interspersed with the recordings. He also launced a website called “No More Teacher/Bullies” with additional audio clips of the incident.

He said his son can be heard screaming and crying in the recording. He said it was unlike his son to misbehave and hit his teachers though he had difficulty getting answers from Akian because he struggles with speaking. My son wasn’t able to come home and say, “Dad, they called me a name today.

Chaifetz wants an apology from the teachers and claims one of them apparently has been transdferred to a local high school in the same district. CNN cannot independently confirm that claim.

School officials said they would not comment on personal issues.


Prejudice still exists the same way that racism has not been completely wiped out.

Something to make us smile: Someone asked; ‘What is abstract art?’

‘It’s  a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled, to the bewildered.’


Even though the media has been a bit more positive concerning mental illness and stigma, we still have a long way to go. But, the same way that racism has not yet been completely wiped out, prejudice still exists. Maybe it always will but I am trying to get this subject out into the open in order for people to see articles about mental illness, to learn more about it and thus be more understanding. Most of us are afraid of the unknown.

‘Three Wishes” written by Elaine Benton

I quote from a blog written by Elaine Benton, author of
Parkinson’s, Shaken, not Stirred

When my daughter was very young, someone asked her; “If you had three wishes, what would they be?”

The answer was typical of any child that age and I believe it went something along the lines of: “going to Disneyland, getting a puppy and living in a big house with a swimming pool.”

The person questioning her asked: “Wouldn’t you wish that your mummy didn’t have Gaucher disease?” to which my daughter’s direct and straightforward answer without a moment’s hesitation was: “Mummy wouldn’t be the same mummy without Gaucher.” This statement, so honest and simple from a child’s perspective, made me think.

My daughter had never known anything else – I had been ill since whe was born. Just as some mothers have blonde hair or work from 9 -5 in an office, I have Gaucher disease. It’s as simple as that. There was never a question or thought in her mind of wanting or wishing for a different mother. gaucher doesn’t define who i am, but without doubt, it is part of my life What defines me is who I am and what I do.

Despite having Gaucher and Parkinsons, I continue to live my life to the full, and do my utmost to bring greater awareness of these two diseases, whilst helping and offering support to others wherever I can.

If there is a fairy godmother out there who is reading my blog – please grant me not three wishes, but one.

Let’s start laughing … what are we waiting for?

I have often read and been told that laughter keeps our immune systems humming by decreasing stress hormones. It also boosts infection-fighting anti-bodies. By keeping our blood vessels pumping, it protects our hearts. My gym instructor once told me that laughter triggers a rush of those all important endorphins that we all love to feel after a good workout.

The well-known journalist, Norman Cousins, was diagnosed with a painful spine condition and he discovered that a regular diet of comedies and episodes of Candid Camera, actually took away his pain.

To quote: “I made the joyous discovery,” Cousins wrote, that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of well-needed pain-free sleep.

I discovered that while trying to cope with mental illness in my family, our support group drew up a short list of things we should do to help us feel a bit brighter.-

  • SMILE:  Smiling is the beginning of laughter. Like laughter, it is contagious.
  • We made lists of all our blessings. The simple act of considering the good things in my life, helped distance me from negative thoughts that acted as a barrier to humor and laughter and consequently, to feeling good.
  • Whenever I heard laughter, I moved toward it. Sometimes, humor and laughter are private, a shared joke among a small group of people, but more often than not, people are very happy to share something funny because it gives them the opportunity to laugh all over again and feed off the humor there. So, seek laughter.
  • I tried to spend time with fun people who laughed and smiled easily, both at themselves and at life’s absurdities; the kind of people who find humor in everyday events. Their playful point of view is often contagious too.
  • We learned how to bring humor into ordinary conversation simply by asking; “What is the funniest thing that happened to you today or this year, or in your life?”



I hope that this brings a bit of relief to all those people out there who are suffering from chronic pain.

They killed STIGMA and recognized that what they were really suffering was prejudice and discrimination

Quoted from an article by DJ Jaffe (U.S.A.)

STIGMA was eradicated years and years ago in many people who suffer from a no-fault biological disease. For example, STIGMA used to exist in men with prostate cancer as well as in women with breast cancer. It also existed in those with no illness at all like gays, left-handed people. But, they killed stigma and recognized that what they were really suffering from was prejudice and discrimination.

While eliminating STIGMA was relatively easy, requiring only a change in their own thinking, the battle to eliminate prejudice and discrimination was much harder and is still ongoing. Why? because it requires changing others. But, eliminating prejudice and discrimination couldn’t be done without first recognizing that the alleged STIGMA that was preventing everyone from speaking out, didn’t even exist. STIGMA was killed and eeryone moved on to focus on the real enemy: prejudice and discrimination.

MENTAL HEALTH ADVOCATES  should do the same. Simply declare: STIGMA IS DEAD and move on to focus on what really exists: prejudice and discrimination against people with a mental illness. Every country should have a month that is advertised as : STIGMA IS DEAD month. On another occasion is could be converted to END DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE MENTALLY ILL month.

Activities should not focus on ‘expanding awareness of mental illness.’ DJ Jaffe feels that current mental illness awareness activities are not only ineffective, but ‘they are harmful.’ Almost all of them are designed to work by hiding the most seriously ill and parading around the highest functioning and least-symptomatic in an effort to convince the public that this somehow reflects the reality of untreated schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It does the exact opposite: it increases  awareness of the horrors of the illness. It’s like trying to raise funds for hunger by only showing the well-fed.

We should focus on eliminating the public policies that discriminate against people with a mental illness that cause so many people to become homeless, incarcerated or the victims of suicide.

Stigma is dead. Discrimination and prejudice really exist.

Heartfelt words from one of David’s siblings:

If David’s body were hurting,

people would send him flowers or gifts,

but, becase his mind is hurting,

they throw bricks.

Living with a brother who has a mental illness is like living on a see-saw;  our daughters never knew when there would be a period of calm in the house or a storm. They did what they could to make life easier for their older brother but loneliness was a large part of his existence.

I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do. But, it was impossible with all those voices, always coming through!

After David died, we found a notebook with poems he’d written; but, some time later, I found the following note that he had  folded and left for us to find.

When tomorrow starts without me and I’m not there to see, how the sun will rise and find your eyes all  filled with tears for me.

I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today, while thinking of the many things, we didn’t get to say.

I know how much you love me, as much as I love you. And each time that you thnk of me, I know yoou’ll miss me too.

I had a lot to live for, so much left to do. But it was impossible to concentrate with those voices coming through.

If I could relive yesterday, even for a while,

I’d say goodbye to all of you and maybe see a smile.

So, when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart, for every time you think of me, I’ll be right here in your hearts.

David would have appreciated the following quote:

I don’t want to become immortal through my work. I want to become immortable by not dying – Woody Allen

There is a deafening silence


If you are going through hell; keep going ! by Winston Churchill


Why do so few people fail to speak freely about the fact that there is mental illness in their families?


Why don’t people know how to behave where mental illness is concerned?


Why is there a deafening silence where mental illness is concerned?


I felt as if I were drowning in mental illness. That’s what we spoke about, thought about, read up about and even wrote about.


Keeping very busy helped me and there were times when I gulped down my food  vacuum cleaner style.


Do you know how difficult it is to have a mentally ill person at home and still find time to give to the other children?


My son’s schizophrenia held me in its grip day and night for 16 years. I tell my story as a way of loosening the noose that held me captive for so long.


I tell my story in the hope that other mothers will speak out and by doing so, help to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.


I tell my story to show mental health consumers that I understand them and want to help speed their acceptance into the community.


I tell my story in the hope that politicians will take up the subject of stigma, even though they obviously feel that it won’t do anything for their political careers?

Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease!

A member of the British Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease!”

“That depends,” replied Disraeli. “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

A soldier called his parents to tell them that he was finally returning home from Vietnam. When he arrived in San Francisco he said, “Mom and Dad, I’m coning home but I have a favor to ask. I would like to bring a friend along with me.”

“Sure,” they said. “We’d  love to meet him.”

“Er, there’s something you should know,” their son continued. “he was pretty badly hurt  in the fighting. He stepped on a landmine and lost an arm and a leg. He ahs nowhre else to go and I want him to live with us.”

“Sorry to hear that son. Maybe we can help him find a place to live.”

“No, Dad. I want him to live with us.”

“You don’

t know what you are asking of us, my son. Someone with a handicap like his, would be a terrible burden on us. we hae our own lives to lead and can’t let somehing like that interfere with our way of life. Come on home and forget about this guy, will you? He’ll manage.”

At that point, their son replaced the receier and they heard no more from him. A few days later, they received a call from the San Francisco police.”Your son has fallen from a tall building and died. we believe it was suicide,” the police officer added.”


“We’re on our way,” the grief stricken father replied. On arrival, they were taken to tthe city m orgue to identify their son’s body. They recognized him immediately but to their horrow, the discovered something their son had  not disclosed. His body only had one arm and one leg.

These parents are like many of us. We find it easy to love the good-looking amongst us who are fun to hae around. We don’t like people who inconvenience them. We would rathr stay away from people who are hot as healthy, as beautiful or as smart as we are.

Thankfully, there is someone who will not treat us that way, someone who loves us unconditionally, who always welcomes us into the family regardless of whoeer you believe i, to find the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to develop empathy and undeerstanding for all the people who are different. They have feelings too.

Friendship ios a miracle that dwells in our hearts. Friends are rare jewels who made mney smile and emerged as oncer. hwy lend an ear, wshare a word of praise and are always ready to oen their hearts up to us..

When one person suffers from a delusion, it’s called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it’s called prayer.


My husband used to say: “Before you label a person, study their contents.”
When someone calls a person schizophrenic, manic or hyperactive, think about how hurtful these labels can be. In the USA, I heard the following public service announcement; STIGMA IS A TOXIC, DEADLY HAZARD WHICH MUST BE ELIMINATED. Let’s all adopt this.

Labels lead to stigma, then stigma leads to discrimination. We all know that we should not discriminate against people because of race, religion, culture, health problems or appearance. How about mental illness?

i met people who had recovered from bouts with serious mental illness and noticed that the label they had been given, had a long-lasting impact on their perception of themselves. So, labels stick.

If parents proclaim; “My son is bipolar,” they are giving him a label that is damaging as it hurts their son and affects his view of himself. It’s as if the word bipolar sums up his whole existence, meaning that the rest of us don’t have to take that person’s actions too seriously because he has been labeled and is no logner seen as a serious person.

I have heard said that one of the reasons for stigma is that people tend to look at mental illness as something that never goes away. Attaching a sense of permanence seems to justify it somehow.

Forgive the comparison, but Hitler took the idea of labeling and stigmatizing to the extreme and exterminated all those with a mental illness. He also labeled people who did not fit into his scheme of the perfect human and we know what happened to them.

I have read that some people who suffered from bipolar illness bcame medical doctors, professors, teachers or lawyers, for example and are active, productive members of their community, no less so than any other professional.

Most of our schools no longer use blackboards. Whiteboards which do aawy with the need for chalk, are in. The dry markers now used can be wiped off easily. However, if someone writes on the whiteboard with a permanent marker and leaves the writing on the board overnight, it is very difficult to erase the following day. Long after the marks have been cleaned off, an underlying image remains. This illustrates the issue of stigma on psychiatric patients. Psychiatric markers or labels have a tendency to be more like a permanent marker than an erasable one. Labels stick and can be used as a weapon by those who are close to the person suffering with a mental health disorder.

Some types of schizophrenia like the one our son suffered from, are considered serious and I think it was one that the psychiatric professionals might not have fully understood. However, the label, paranoid schzophrenia became permanent. Our son was told:”You will always have to take medication.”
Instead of searching for a way to help him deal with the disorder or teach him how to live with it so that he could get on with his life once he was in a better state of mind, his psychiatrists gave us all to understand that his illnes could only be controlled or subdued with the help of doctors and powerful psychotropic drugs that these learned gentlemen prescribed.

We met some young people in various psychiatric hospitals who no longer manifested symptoms of the diagnosed disorder over a longish period of time and the same psychiatrists said; “You are in remission,” implying that the cure was not final and that the illness could recur at any given time.


Today’s psychiatry assigns permanent labels and seems to be less concerned with addressing the causes and lifestyle changes as a solution, so labels result. Therefore, a eenageer who is labeled, will be consigned to a lifetime of strong and debilitating psychiatric medication which is a serious prospect, like consigning a young person to a life of going in and out of psychiatric institutions. Is this what psychiatry is about?

I often saw a look of helplessness flit across the faces of some of my son’s psychiatrists and told my husband. All they seem to know is is how to prescribe medication, tell an orderly to give the patient a shot to subdue him, or put him in restraints. Where oh where is treatment, talk sessions with the patient and – please, try a bit harder!

To everyone out there who has been given a psychiatric label, don’t let it stigmatize you. You need to gain a victory over stigma.

(To any psychiatric professionals who have time, read the account of what happened to my son in various psychiatric hospitals and please, when you are treating a very ill patient, think of my son and what we all went through. He didn’t make it although he fought his demons for 16 years.)

DAVID’S STORY by Jill Sadowsky – an e-book on Amazon’s kindle store.