28 March 2010

Autism Awareness (or lack thereof)

 Recently there was a big o controversy on the blogosphere, which I think stirred a lot of people.  A blogger, SmockityFrock, recently wrote about a visit to the library where she witnessed a child who was displaying classic autistic behaviors.  She, ignorant to autism, responded honestly and how many, many people respond.  Her original post was deleted, but you can find it on google cache hereAdditional blogggers have commented (some indirectly), and this was a response I wrote to one of the posts, but then realizes, Aha! I have a blog.  And here is my reply...

That post stirred me in a way few have.  Chris could be that kid, and you know?  Sometimes the best thing you can do is just encourage the child to stand their "patiently".  I can't tell you the number looks I've gotten when I praised a hyper, flapping, jumping up and down child for being "good" in the grocery store.  Yes- he was being good.  He wasn't crawling on the floor, he wasn't running away from me, he hadn't pulled off more than a few of those things that stick off the side of grocery shelves, and instead of tantruming he put the toy back after the 5th request.  That is fabulous visit to the grocery store.

That said, I sort of sympathize with Smockity, to a point. I have judged before I thought more broadly about a situation.  I think most people do at some point- it's part of being human.  From a religious standpoint it is why sins can be forgiven, because otherwise we would all be doomed.  If someone calls me out for how I phrase something I try to step back, analyze it somewhat objectively, and if I have made a mistake (which more often than not, I have) make amends for those mistakes.  Not because of some fear of religious retribution (I am not religious) but moreso because I just want to be a good person.

What I think distinguishes SmockityFrocks' post, and is causing such outrage, is her apparent indignation at the suggestion she may have been ignorant and self-centered in her understanding of the situation.  Rather than listening and taking a step back when people questioned her post she became defensive.  And that is understandable, many people do become defensive when their views are questioned.  But, then, how does a person learn when they are unable to see their mistakes?

Humility is difficult- it is hard to say "I am sorry, I was wrong".  Sometimes I think we focus on other virtues (patience, forgiveness, etc) and forget the power of saying sorry.  I am certain that many (but likely not all) of the angry responses she has recieved would have been softened had she just typed those five letters.

1 comment:

  1. What has gone almost uncommented-upon is the sense, permeating Smockity's replies on the comments thread, that should the child in fact have been autistic, then she didn't really have much business being out in a library anyway. And that's really why I say that ableism, and not lack of awareness, is the problem with Smockity--and I'm saddened by how few people seem willing to confront that (admittedly uglier) reality.

    Sometimes it's about a "mistake" that is due to "ignorance." Sometimes it's bigotry plain and simple. I think Smockity's responses on the comments thread proved which it was in this case.


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