Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Gravity Pulls You In

I'm a bit of a luddite when it comes to technology. I might just be the only person left on the face of the earth who has never carried a cell phone. I just recently threw out the last of my old cassette tapes and switched over to an MP3 player. I have never even seen an instant message and the chat feature on facebook scares me. But I will admit to you that I do, frequently, turn to the Internet to find information and connect with people.

My internet activity is mostly spurred by autism-related need. There is good and bad in this. It isn't just about the sheer amount of information out there, though that can certainly be daunting. But having access to that information requires that we act as our own filter. If we aren't very good at critical thinking already, we must become so. Not all research is good research. What questions are being asked? Are these the right questions? Not all opinions, no matter how persuasively stated, are worth my time and attention.

Probably like most of you with children on the spectrum who might be reading this, I spent my fair share of time at Google University that first year post-diagnosis. But I was raw and vulnerable and I wasn't very good at using my filters. When I look back on that time now I still get angry about all the crap I had to work my way through. Especially I am pointing my fingers at the popular media portrayal of autism. Reading story after story of autism horror and pain and sorrow and tragedy made me feel as though I was about to drop over the edge of a cliff with my beautiful boy in my arms.

Eventually I managed to find my way. It all started by reading a blog (Kristina Chew's old MSHA blog) and seeing that there was another way to look at it all. From there I connected with a group of mothers and writers who were also finding their way. Mothers who weren't willing to accept the life of pain and sorrow that the newspaper and magazine articles were sentencing us to. If I was ready to drop off the edge of a cliff these other mothers threw me the lifeline. I will forever be grateful and inspired by these women and their families.

Now, Kyra Anderson and Vicki Forman -- two of my favorite writers -- have crafted Gravity Pulls You in: Perspectives on Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum. The blurb about the book at BiggerBooks says: Each piece has been included because, as the editors requested, it offers a perspective that avoids "the image of the parent feverishly scraping the autism out of her child or serenely offering up platitudes about life's roses among the thorns of hardship." Gravity Pulls You In gives voice to what's hard about raising a child with ASD without feeding the stereotype of the devastation of autism. There are stories of discovery and enlightenment, of perseverance and humor that forge a deeper connection among parents by broadening the perspective on autism and attempting to dismantle the fear.

Now that's what we need more of, isn't is? Words that validate, inspire and enlighten. Because words have that power, don't they? We each have that power and thanks to Kyra and Vicky, maybe the right kind of words will find their way to other parents who feel themselves standing at the edge of that cliff and needing something to hold on to.

I'm excited that one of my essays is included in the book. Having not read the book in its entirety though, I'm even more excited to read the rest of it when it is released in February. Because after all, who can't use a few words that validate, inspire and enlighten every now and then?


  1. Wow, thanks for posting about the book, it looks great!

    And I'd never thought about it that way, but I think you're absolutely right about the filters. When you're scared and sad in the beginning, it's really hard to know what to tune out. In the first week or so after diagnosis, I bought a book about autism at the store, stepped outside and read the first few pages, then went right back inside and returned it because it painted exactly the picture you described.

    I can't wait to read the book--and congratulations on your essay! That's pretty exciting.

  2. I didn't know you have a piece in the book! Wow, I can't wait to read it.

    And this post? One of the many reasons why I think you're awesome. PERSPECTIVE. :-)

  3. I remember reading your first blog post, 67 days after Oliver's diagnosis, and being incredibly impressed by your perspective and insight. And, of course, my admiration has only continued to grow since then.

    Congratulations on the essay. I can't wait to read it!

  4. You are a wonderful writer, too, Christine -- reading the articles on your blog is always a gift. I've pre-ordered my copy of Gravity Pulls You In -- I can't wait!

  5. Very exciting! I remember how Kyra was looking for essays way back and I considered writing one, but just don't have the confidence in my writing ability. Hmm, maybe next book I'll try. But I love your writing and the rest of you great bloggers out there. So looking forward to the book!

  6. Well, you KNOW EXACTLY what I think when I read this post!

    Can't wait to ready Gravity Pulls You In.

  7. Anonymous12:58 AM

    what a beautiful post, christine! i love your voice!