Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Some thoughts from BlogHer 2010...

Hi y’all!

This bitch wasn’t able to post yesterday due to technical difficulties (translation – AT&T found it technically difficult to deliver my high speed internet service until I reached out and touched someone in customer service)…but that problem was easily cured by a healthy dose of bitchitude.

Shall we?

Last week a bitch participated in a panel on autism and blogging at the BlogHer convention in New York.  Many thanks to Squid of Squidalicious for inviting this bitch!

I truly enjoyed the panel and the questions from the audience.  One question in particular really touched me – a woman who identified as a mother of a young person with autism asked me whether having a brother with autism influenced my decision whether or not to have children.  At the time I answered as best I could…but I’m rarely asked that question and can’t remember ever being asked it by a parent.

I could tell that the mother was feeling somewhat guilty that her son was saying he didn’t want to have a child…and I wish I had thought to tell her that I have friends who said the same shit because they have a sibling who was a pain in the ass to parent for reasons unrelated to autism or any other ism other than normal bad ass child-based contrary behavior.  I also know folks who are eager as hell to become parents who grew up with a sibling with autism…I’ve found that thoughts on parenting vary person to person and there are no absolutes, just as there is no guarantee that a sibling of someone with autism is going to have a kid with autism or that a person with no family history won’t have a kid with autism.

Pause…sip water…continue.

As a sister of an adult with autism I’ve certainly asked myself whether I could do what my parents did back I the day.  Things were a lot different in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s…autism was practically unknown to most folks and programs were basically non-existent in our community.  I grew up watching my mother advocate for funding, services, respite care and programs…I also watched her juggle complex therapies year after year.  Because of the work of parent’s and advocates like my mother, finding resources and educational opportunities for folks with autism isn’t as hard as it used to be…we’ve got a long way to go, but we have come a long way already.  I’ll admit that my image of parenting a child with autism is greatly influenced by the challenges that I witnessed growing up.  That image is changing now that I’ve met parents like those who attended the panel and learned that parenting experiences and options are as diverse as the lives of people with autism.

Having said that, life is nothing if it isn’t complex. Ultimately my decision to not have children has everything to do with me, myself and I and little or nothing to do with growing up with an autistic brother.

However, growing up with an autistic sibling did make me confront the reality that there are no guarantees when it comes to babies…and it helped me realize that’s okay.  I’ve always thought that one of the most amazing parts of being a parent…whether a body adopts or gives birth or fosters…is discovering who a child is and watching that individual’s ways, wants and needs revealed over time.

And I suspect that fantabulous sense of discovery doesn’t discriminate.

Anyhoo, many thanks to Ms. Squid and my fellow panelists...I had a blast!


Anonymous said...

Wow, another great post. So simple and soothing. Hope the woman mentioned has a chance to read this.

Shannon Des Roches Rosa said...

Loved loved spending time with you. And I thought your reply was full of, well, grace.

Thank you, so much, for participating. Meant so much to me, and more to the audience, I think.


Stimey said...

It was an absolute pleasure to meet you. I had a wonderful time speaking on our panel and was honored to be in such good company.

Love your response to the audience question here. I am going to tweet this post to her.

Karianna said...

Loved becoming acquainted with you via the panel. Great to see the various ways that we experience autism and yet how we can be singular in our support of each other and our families.

Ange said...

hoped over via Stimey, though it looks as if I am just down the highway from you.
"I’ve always thought that one of the most amazing parts of being a parent…whether a body adopts or gives birth or fosters…is discovering who a child is and watching that individual’s ways, wants and needs revealed over time."

This exact statement is why I am so thankful for my oldest child...coming to the above conclusion saved my marriage and my outlook on life in general...too often we're caught up with the when's and how's to achieve set expectations, forget to look at and appreciate the individual. That you for saying that in away I never could put together!

Carmen said...

I'm the mom who asked. I felt guilty about the question because in my mind, it makes my oldest son look like a selfish, self centered brat. Which, hello, he's 18, of course he is.

But it also makes me feel somewhat responsible in that, in order to represent how tough this has been for me, and put a realistic face on this for the public - to raise awareness - that I've been TOO real for my son. After all, I've decided that my spectrum kid (#6 for me) was the last one for me.

So, I'm a giant bundle of oddity.

Thank you so much for the amazing panel. It was one of two that I attended and the only panel that I was adamant that I MUST attend. I learned a lot more than I thought - and for that, I thank you.

Anonymous said...

Love you and your blog. Can't stand anything that big mouthed twit Squid writes or says. She comes across as nothing but a 5' X 5' bully. Sorry but there are many who feel that way about her.

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