Friday, March 4, 2016

A schizophrenic special education teacher has a magical, musical clown pill.

Comic by World Fashion Party, @BcdMac of Twitter, who says, "Let's enjoy the fashion!"

At the time I studied to be a teacher and earned my New Jersey teaching certificates and when I was employed to teach, I tried to keep my schizophrenia a secret. I'm convinced now I was eventually blacklisted out of teaching in New Jersey because they read me as a schizophrenic person.
I had learned to be a good teacher with the kids over time, but I have recalled telling comments from those with whom I worked which have led me to conclude recently that I don't teach any more because the system doesn't want a damned good schizophrenic teacher! Of course, they all have their angles on the story of my unemployment, but here's mine. I made mistakes, as we all do, but they were loathe to teach me how to fix them. The administrators lacked adequate supervision, even neglected to train me as a new teacher. I taught myself through trial and error, with a great psychiatrist guiding me through troubled days, and with my skills in behavior science, I became awesome with the kids.

My doctor's advice led me to teach under Democracy in the Classroom, a topic under which I'm published (Altier, 1993, p. 3). This paper formed the basis of my dual parent/child consent to behavioral intervention essay (2011) and then to my Behavioral Ethics literary endeavors on this blog. (For example, see 2014.)

With the adults in the schools, however, well, that was a different story. What matters in teaching, it seems, is how you deal with adults, not so much how well you do when you're alone with your class full of eager-to-learn students.

For example, I have saved a document from this school district that gave reasons for one of my dismissals. It says, among other trumped up charges, I used a "menacing stare" with someone I never met face-to-face or even saw close up, the secretary of the man who hired me and fired me as a resource room teacher.
In another case, while we were speaking about a schizophrenic custodian in a private special education adolescent school where I taught, the principal told me to my face that "we cannot have schizophrenics working here." This was a psychiatric institution, so she must have been able to read my schizophrenia. We do exhibit some stereotypical behaviors which cannot be fully concealed, despite the meds or because of them, such as a blunted affect. She forced me to quit. To illustrate just one situation that made teaching impossible my second year there, they had put us in trailers as they were rebuilding the school. Construction workers were hammering over our heads in the middle of our lessons! When I asked them to do the noise after 3 p.m., the principal told me not to ever ask them to be quiet again. Afterwards, an administrator who interviewed me for another job working with autistic children told me this woman told her I was a lousy teacher and I didn't get that job.
Another principal, a Catholic high school nun, who I always liked, told me that the Monsignor and his administrative subservients fired me, among other reasons, because one teacher, who was also a Red Bank elected official, as I recall, told her he saw me taking a pill in a bathroom, which I did, which was an anti-anxiety medicine prescribed by my then psychiatrist, whom I would soon fire, which was an addictive regimen my next doctor would eventually withdrew me away from permanently. I was also trying to conceal from everybody on this job in the mid-1980s my taking medication. This pill tasted bitter and didn't go down well with saliva alone, so I would sneak into a teachers-only restroom to use the sink water when nobody was looking. She didn't identify this official snitch, who shall remain anonymous, but this guy "caught me red handed." One day I saw him eying me as I was swallowing one and he was probably the only one at the school who ever saw me taking one. Had they rather I didn't take my antipsychotics and went ahead teaching without them? They acted as though taking one's mental health medicine is somehow a crime. Jeez!

As I recall them in order to write them down for the blog, these impressions sit as well-imprinted traumas that have just arisen to my conscious state, just like other bad memories of other educative thugs whom I'm not mentioning here break through to the surface and pester my peace from time to time in these my happy days as the proud schizophrenic street clown. So what can we do when the teachers, and not the children, are the bullies?
It's 2016 and I'm in my mid-fifties now. I'm hooked into the Neurodiversity Movement. I am collecting Social Security Disability Income, and such. I've become proud of my grandiose delusions. Without them I would not be so successful in steering the world away from its addiction to punishment run amok! (See the blog introduction on the right hand side of this Reward and Consent landing page.) Step one is to help close the worst school in the USA for behavior modification, the Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) of extremely painful electric skin shock contingent upon "noncompliance" and upon so-called "self-injury and aggression" by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), PhD psychologists, and certified teachers in Canton, Massachusetts twenty miles south of Boston.

[Editorial note: Keep scrolling down viewing the JRC video and pictures, then past the clown pictures and videos. The text of the tale continues below them. Warning. The video is disturbing. It contains screams of pain of a teenaged boy being restrained and electrically shocked there, under the leadership of a man named Dr. Matthew Israel and a woman named Mrs. Glenda Crookes, the two successive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) profession JRC Directors.]

Dr. Matthew Israel

Dr. Matthew Israel

Mrs. Glenda "the Good Witch" Crookes, JRC Director

So today I laugh. Perish the thought should a noisy parent complain about a schizophrenic teaching their children, "Get rid of him once and for all!" The scoundrels who pushed me off the pirate ship planks must sweat out their lives without me in that politically-charged environment of working with people's children. I need not lift a finger to support myself any more. So there! I've said it. Thank you for your ostracism from my profession. Good riddance! Does anyone wonder why school buildings look like penitentiaries?
Now I'm a local street clown. My fake name is Safety Pat the Proud Schizophrenic Autistic Clown. Parents often give me an okay to entertain their children, especially on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in the summer! The education and the behavior modification sharks don't realize I can swim like a dolphin after they shove me out to sea, as the cruel Board Certification Behavior Analyst (BCBA) electroshock lovers don't want me hanging around their groups, either, asking them tough ethics questions in Facebook, so they're prone to kicking me, too, just like the hapless school administrators I used to encounter. You see, I teach as I clown, big time, by telling jokes about how to make costumes, how anger is impossible behind a big, fat, red, alternative nose, and how there would be peace in the world if all of humanity simply wore fake noses over their real noses, especially Obama and the terrorists. Many a true word is said in jest, too, as the saying goes.

The people in public talk about me nicely nowadays, so it seems. They see me out pushing my carts, as I don't drive, shopping the stores just like every regular shopper, except I'm wearing my safety gear, gags, costumes, makeup, and props. I hike the boards by the sea and the residential streets from Asbury to Belmar breathing the untainted suburban air when the winds blow westerly out from across the non-fumigated Oceanic waters, keeping my blood sugar down and the pressure in check, adding pedometer steps just about every day of my elderly life, as I'm old enough to live now in a fifty plus senior citizens' community. Happy days are here again!

Here I'm singing "Send in the Clowns (los Payasos)" and "What a Wonderful World (Que Mundo Hermoso)" at Paradise in Asbury Park.

In my imaginary public street world, as I'm strolling past the sidewalk cafes of Asbury Park and Bradley Beach or setting up camp in a spot with a donation jar I use to push tweets about the school of shock, I sing along with the famous performers of my favorite songs streaming for free in Spotify on my "Beats Pill." I connect it to the internet through most of the buildings here at the New Jersey Shore as Optimum supplies me with WiFi all over the place as I walk my clown turf. I hold the device up next to my ears and do some "karaoke without text," singing along with Michael Jackson in my Afro wig, or in my rubber ducky bird bath bicycle helmet, in tune, or not in tune, depending on the contingencies of life.

The Beats Pill

One dude told me online he heard me singing as I was crossing along his street in Asbury Park from the boardwalk to Main Street. He said a neighbor told him he could friend me in Facebook as Dave Jersey, which is true, so he did, thankfully! (Please send me a Facebook friend request if you feel like you know me a bit by reading my blog or if you've seen me around town. I never complain about anyone trying to friend me in social media.)

I was also so happy to see that a retailer at the Grand Arcade between Convention Hall and the Paramount Theater at the Asbury Park Boardwalk posted on a chalkboard outside their store the first few lines of Louis Armstrong's timeless lyrics: "I see trees of green, red roses, too. I see them bloom, for me and you, and I think to myself, what a wonderful world," which I've come to believe, actually, after an amazing turn of events brought me from my impossible ghetto home of 24 years in Lakewood, New Jersey to my heavenly place here in Ocean Grove, which is another story I'll tell in the blog some day later on. Had the vender ever heard me singing Armstrong's classic anywhere all over town where I love to do it so much? Gee. Why who knows? I haven't a clue. I didn't have the chutzpah to ask them the night I saw them.

After all is said and done, who needs Xanax when you can calm your nerves by taking a trip with Neptune Radio Shack's magical musical medication? Besides, the side effects are much better with the device: sheer happiness. No cotton mouth. No sleepyheaded clouds of thought. My friends, the Beats Pill is my Lucky Charm and it's magically delicious!

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I am an advocate for people with disabilities certified to teach special education with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am not a Licensed Psychologist or a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. When in doubt, seek the advice of an MD, a PhD, or a BCBA. My ability to analyze the ethics of ABA stems from the fact that I am disabled and ABA interventions are often done to people like me, which I voluntarily accept, but only when I alone am the person granting consent, and not a parent, sibling, guardian, or institution.