I've done some interesting reading this week, and it's gotten me thinking.
I've been thinking about this fantastic post by abfh on Whose Planet Is It Anyway?. It deconstructs the "Sally-Anne" marble experiment that is often pointed to as evidence that people with autism are deficient in "theory of mind" skills, or the ability to adopt the perspective of another person. (I wrote about the theory quite some time ago, but have long since dismissed it as an issue for Bud: it wouldn't occur to him to be sneaky if he couldn't imagine how I might respond to his activity.) The post is brilliant and it suggests a reasonable, and much more plausible, language-based explanation for why kids with autism struggle with the "Sally-Anne" experiment.
I've also been thinking about this essay by Ellen Notbohm, which reinforces my thinking about video games and reaffirms my decision to keep them outside Bud's experience.
And I've been thinking a lot about this post about the recent autism special on The View and this post about correlation vs. causation, both from Kristina at AutismVox, which pointed me to this post from Kim Stagliano and this post from Barbara Fischkin, both from The Huffington Post. I actually wrote a long post about my thoughts on these pieces and these issues. Unfortunately, after an extraordinary amount of writing and editing and rewriting and tweaking and rephrasing, I hit the "Publish" button and got an error message telling me that Blogger was down for repair. When it came back up, my post - the one I'd labored to word just the right way - had vanished.
I'm taking it as a sign.
You can read the Huffington posts, and if you've been reading my blog for any length of time you can probably guess my reaction to them. If not, I'll just mention two philosophies that shape my thinking, my actions and, most importantly, my parenting, which might give you a general idea.
The first philosophy is this: I believe that we move in the direction of our dominant thought. Think "I hope I don't forget my keys," and "forget" becomes your dominant thought. By focusing on "forget," you increase the likelihood that you'll leave the house with your keys still on the counter. But shift your focus and think "I want to remember my keys" and you change your dominant thought to "remember," making it more likely that you'll leave the house with your keys in hand.
Think "I hate autism" (or "I fear autism" or "I am exhausted by autism" or "I resent autism") and you move, psychologically and emotionally, toward those dominant thoughts - toward hate, toward fear, toward exhaustion, toward resentment.
Think instead "I love my child" and you move toward love. You move toward your child.
It's clear to me that both Huffington bloggers are smart, insightful writers and mothers who love their children. But I fear that there's an unspoken code in the blogosphere that says that the best bloggers are the ones who make their points with acerbic humor - the ones whose writing is engaging because its tone has an undercurrent that is sarcastic, snide, and derisive. That may be fine when you're writing about George Bush or Bill Clinton: they can take it. It's entirely different when you're writing about your child.
Because you move in the direction of your dominant thought.
I'm not a naive Pollyanna. And I'm tired of reading that I don't understand "real" autism because I have a "high functioning" child. There are some challenges that I avoid discussing on my blog, not because I am trying to sugar-coat the picture I paint of life with an autistic child and not because those issues don't exist, but because my responsibility - first and foremost - is not to my readers, not to my writing, and not to autism advocacy, but to my son: my son, the full, complete, human being who, despite his young age and autism, has a right to privacy and dignity and respect.
Which brings me to my second philosophical belief, which is actually a quote from Anais Nin: "We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are."
It's all about the filters we choose. We let some things in; we leave other things out. The world - autism - our children - writing: it's boundless. We choose to frame it with artificial borders of our own making. The frames are not about the world, or autism, or our children, or writing. They are about ourselves.
So I'm thinking about my filters and frames and I'm continuing to move in the direction of my dominant thought: I'm moving toward my child. No matter what I read.