INTELLIGENT DISCUSSION ROCKS!
Okay, first of all, I have to say I love the autism blogging community I’m discovering. Every time I read one of my favorites (see my blog roll down to your right, please) something sparks my passion and I just need to write. What a beautiful, interdependent and interactive process! I am so grateful for the ongoing dialogues and discussions. Whether the writers are happy or angry or calm or overwhelmed, just the connections produce amazing energies. I’m often awed by the sheer technology of it all and how global this community has become. It’s pretty damn cool.
The latest big discussion about confidentiality and using pseudonyms happened here at Big Daddy Autism. Big Daddy turned his blog over to Autism Army Mom for a post and the discussion they generated was mind-blowing! (Read it. Read it now!) … (oh yeah, then come back here when you’re done) …
Anyhow, my comment on that discussion just kept flowing and I thought it should become its own post. I like to think that I’ve got readers from pretty diverse backgrounds over here and I get really tickled to get other people’s perspectives on things. If you’ve got something to say about all this, by all means comment and share!
OPENNESS, MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY KIDS, AND WHY I CHOOSE TO USE THEIR REAL NAMES
I’ve only been blogging since September and I guess I’ve remained “semi-anonymous.” I use my children’s real names, Alex and Hannah, for two reasons. First, I write from my heart, I don’t write anything I wouldn’t share in public or in front of them. And I just have trouble writing authentically if I have to remember the new name of my first-born child or whatever. My brain doesn’t work that way. Whoops. Second, my kids’ names are two of the most popular anyway. There are three boys with my son’s name- first and last- who go to the same pediatrician. Oh well.
That being said, as a licensed social worker who intricately understands and deals with confidentiality issues every day, I think that perhaps all the “pros and cons” on the subject of pseudonyms and parental blogs aren’t the real important things to think about here. It’s not what we say, it’s who we are. It’s how we creatively communicate with our kids, both typical and autistic. Arguing about the way someone else chooses to write isn’t really the point, in my humble opinion.
I know that communicating with Alex is challenging. Still, I try to take each situation– no matter how confusing, upsetting or life-changing– and be there, ready and open for discussion, in whatever form it takes. Right now, my children are little. They love to see pictures of themselves online. They love that mommy writes. Alex has a whole slew of marble machine videos up on YouTube. Should they change their minds about how cool all this is at any point in the future, I’ll change right along with them. I’ll be honest about the subject matter, my feelings, the situation, and why I write, and I’ll listen to them just as intently. Exactly as I do today!
To be respectful of our children means to be present in the moment and be who we are and do what we feel is right at that time, not to follow someone else’s rules or to anticipate a terrible consequence that doesn’t yet exist. (Like that our future teenage kids will be ostracized or hate us for sharing any part of their little kid lives.) I want my kids to grow up to be their own wonderful people with their own opinions. I am confident that if I am always honest with them and I show them through my actions how much love and respect I have for them, we will be able to get through whatever life throws at us, together as a family.
I write because I love. I hope one day Hannah and Alex will write about me! And why exactly are we all so afraid of disclosure? Sure, there are people in the world who are not-so-nice. There are folks who seek out information in order to exploit others. But if that stuff is gonna happen, it’s gonna happen anyway. (See Stuart Duncan’s gentle reminders on the subject of internet privacy here.) I personally believe the world is a better place when everyone can be authentic and real. Yes, conflicts will happen. But there is no way to avoid conflict, it is a part of life. It’s how we handle it that counts.
BEING WHO WE ARE
In my ideal world, people listen and truly hear each other. Not just listen for words, but for understanding and connection. I think it’s so important to be who we are, where we are, in this moment and face whatever comes. Most of the time, mind you, I struggle with this. My anxiety takes over and all of a sudden I’m not thinking about being present in a conversation or a conflict or whatever, I’m thinking about the right thing to say, the other thing to do, the next place to go. But whenever I’ve succeeded at staying mindful, the future worries never arrive in the present moment.
A few weeks back there was a “communication shutdown” to raise money and awareness for autism. Several folks who disagreed with this tactic chose to lead a day of “speaking out” for autism. Although I believe all awareness-raising can be useful, I did not participate in the communication shut down. I chose instead to remain online mainly because I strongly suspected that if my son could communicate all that is in his head, he would have said:
“Mom, I get so frustrated not being able to find my words! I am thankful when people use whatever communication abilities they have to bridge that gap. Use your gut instinct, use words and pictures, do what you feel. I am right here listening. I know you respect my lack of communication and I also respect your verbal ability. Today I need you to be who you are: a person who can speak out for me.”
Part of being who I am is speaking out, using my words and sharing my thoughts on this blog, advocating for my kids, and being open about who we are, autism life, and what we’re going through. What will become of all these “mommy blogs” when our kids grow up? Who knows? I say, hold hands with your children, bring on the evolution and let’s all enjoy the process!
… my gosh what a ramble …