An Ongoing Dialogue
I struggled to keep up with the flow of conversation. Everything was moving too fast for me to understand. I longed for those nonverbal cues I instinctively pick up on. When is it my turn to say something? Do I introduce myself, or should someone else do that? Do I direct my conversation at one person, or talk to the whole room, at anyone who will listen? The buzz of conversation was going on around me, and I needed to take part in it, but I was thrown by how alien it seemed to me. Too frenzied, with constant repetitions, butting in where I thought I would interject. A whole new way of framing questions. Some people were conversing before I got there, was it acceptable to put my words across? What do I even talk about? When I figured out something too say, it was too long, and the words could not come out. Symbols to decipher that everyone else had already figured out. I was confused. I didn’t know the rules. Where are the rules written down that everyone else seems to get? It was too hard, on top of a long day. My brain is just not wired for this, I thought.
Despite my utter conviction to shout out, my first few minutes co-moderating for The Coffee Klatch‘s 24 hour event were all too silent. I’d meant to go to a “Tweet Room” before the event, but life just got too busy. I tried several times during the day to show my support, but with Pudding home from school, and Cubby ill, there was just no time yesterday. Finally in frustration I tweeted that my autism parenting was getting in the way of my Autism Shout Out. There was no let up for the rest of the day, finally Spectrummy Daddy came home, we ate, and it was time. No preparation, no time to figure things out.
Then I thought about my Pudding, how she must feel like this all the time. How she keeps struggling in the face of all her challenges, but she does it anyway. I took a deep breath, expressed some not-so-meaningful thoughts, and tried to include people in the conversation. Or conversations. I don’t know, like I said, I was confused. I’m not cut out to be a Twitter chat room moderator, that is for sure. But then again, a few months I didn’t think I was cut out to be a blogger. And just over a year ago, I really didn’t think I was cut out to be an autism mother. Sometimes you just have to do things anyway. Kudos to the gang at The Coffee Klatch who make this look so easy. I have a deep appreciation for all who brought about yesterday’s amazing event, it was incredible. Well done everybody!
I’m still in awe of the incredible feeling of support and solidarity amongst strangers. You can never underestimate the feeling of being amongst those who get it. I’m humbled by the efforts of adults on the spectrum to ensure that my children have an easier passage through life. I’m inspired by parents who encourage me to keep going through the difficult times. When our community comes together, it is worth shouting about. I lost my voice for a while after Pudding’s diagnosis. At times I was silent when I should have spoken out. I’ll make every effort to be part of this ongoing dialogue, even if I can’t always figure out how best to do that. Though the day is over, some people are just starting to talk, others only beginning to listen. We’ll have to keep talking until we have understanding and acceptance, and those who need to break the silence know who they can talk to.
Enough of the silence of shame and stigma. I’m talking about my children, and this wonderful community we all belong to. I just feel honored to be part of this conversation.