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What would you do in a world where the chaos around you doesn’t make sense? Where you can’t communicate your needs, wants, or desires to another person. Where it is a struggle just to meet your basic needs?

Autism. When I was a child this was something I read about, but never knew anyone affected by it. Now, it is a household word.  It strikes fear in the hearts of some parents while other parents are grateful just to have a reason ‘why’.

There are so many reasons why I think that Autism is on the rise today.  None of which are worth getting into heated debates over at this time. I just know that it is no longer something I read about and think is rare. Far too many of those close to me are affected by it to ignore the subject.

I get how hard it is to deal with a child with such high needs.  I’ve dealt with high needs myself, though it was completely different. Though sometimes it was the same. When Caramon had cancer, there were issues that we could not figure out how to communicate with him. Sometimes he needed help, but did not know how to express that need to us. How do you expect a five-year old child to explain that to you? Even now, I’m not sure how I would explain some of the things we dealt with to outsiders.

Communication is hard. Even if you are so-called normal. How many times have our own words been misunderstood by others? Our meaning not comprehended and problems arising from it? Especially in a world as connected as ours?

I’ll be the first to admit that I am one of those overly connected types. I cannot imagine a life without the ability to text, catch up on twitter or Facebook, and email for getting more detailed information across. I’ve always been a technophile, waiting for the cyberpunk world to become a reality.

On November 1st, I participated in Communication Shutdown. I didn’t tweet or Facebook. For an entire day.*  I did not respond to anyone using those forms of media. Because everything goes to my phone, I could see the chatter going on around me, but I could not respond. It almost became like the annoying buzzing in your ear.

It opened my eyes to what it must be like to want to say something and not having the capability. It made me think about what it must be like to find yourself trapped in your own head with no hope of escape. I realized how blessed I was that I could escape, that I could say that thing I wanted to say.

There is a difference when it is your choice. It is like when your car breaks down and you find yourself trapped at home. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t left your house in the last two weeks. Suddenly the walls begin to close in and you want to pull your hair out from cabin fever. This is something I bet we’ve ALL experienced.

Did anyone miss me? Probably not. I figure most people enjoyed the blessed silence. I know that I’m a twitter-a-holic. I love my large support network of twitter people and how they uplift me. I allow my tweets to go to Facebook where another large support network resides.

I love my network of loved ones. My friends, my family, my colleagues, my neighbours, those I’m no longer friends with… I love that we have so many good ways to stay in touch. Communication Shutdown made me realize how grateful I am for that. I’ve lost track of so many that I once held dear as we traversed this great country. I realized how sad that makes me.

So what did it make me think?

  • I’m thankful I have the ability to communicate.
  • I’m thankful I can tell my children how much I love them.
  • I’m thankful my family can communicate to me
  • I’m thankful for ways to keep in touch with so many different people. I love the people I live near, work with, worship with, and so orth. I’ve had plenty of these opportunities as I’ve moved about.
  • I’m thankful that I have so many people who care about me. And that they aren’t shy with letting me know how much they care.
  • I’m thankful for this exercise and what it means for me. And the awareness aspect… people should know more about Autism.
  • I love far too many people dealing with Autism. I wish I could wave my magic wand for you all.

That’s a lot of things to be thankful for, I know. But there you have it.

What are you thankful for today?

–Lady O


*There were a few exceptions from automated posts generated by my blog entries I’d set up before learning about Communication Shutdown. Due to my Attitude of Gratitude project, I did post two tweets with things I was thankful for because I stated I would. I felt that I should stay true to my word.