A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reflections on my brain...

and the joys of the internet.

I was a silent child.  It was in the days when "children should be seen and not heard," so I was considered perfect.  Just ask my mother.

For most of my life I have preferred to listen rather than participate.  I've checked it off to being incredibly shy.  But recently I've come to another conclusion.

Education is in a crisis around the world.  I tend to focus on what's happening in my own district, but when a friend in France talks about what is happening in her children's school district it sounds eerily familiar.  Recently I overheard our special education teachers talk about new certification that will be required of teachers who wish to work with students with autism.  Because of the expense and time required to get this certification, most of the SPED teachers are saying they will not take the coursework.  Amazingly, regular education teachers - like me - do not need this certification.  So, students with autism can, apparently, be removed from the smaller SPED classes and placed in larger regular ed classes with teachers who have NO training to work with them.


In an attempt to get some clue to how to help these kids if they are so "fortunate" as to be assigned to my class, I went on an internet hunt to learn about autism and ran across an article about adults with (high functioning) autism.

It was describing me!

I was actually quite relieved.  It has always bugged me that I'm no good in a word fight - my brain just shuts down.  Random thoughts bounce around inside my skull and I can't  collect them together.  I've learned that some people with autism react by bursting out inappropriately, but my response is to shut down and retreat.  Oh, give me a few hours, a few days, and I'm ready to get back in the ring (as long as my opponent stays on my script).  But unplanned verbal altercations?  Uncle.

And I have not been able to conquer my shyness.  Am completely socially retarded when it comes to mixing and schmoozing.  Am much happier by myself than in crowds.  Let me loose on something that appeals to me for an hour and I may come back in five or six.  And I love to organize - it's one of my strongest gifts, in fact.

I'm better than I was, thanks to friends.  One of my friends turned me onto Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and I've written myself into a much happier place.  Put me into a stress situation, however (like reading in front of a couple of dozen future Pulitzer winners in writing class) and it feels like all the wiring is short circuiting in my head.

The article said that adults with autism prefer writing to verbal conversation.  Are more comfortable with email and text messages.  yesyesyesyes.  Which is why I'm addicted to facebook.  My friends and family are there and I can "visit" in a way that gives me the few seconds I need to organize my thoughts into something coherent.

I've been amazingly lucky to build friendships with people who have been willing to overlook my social awkwardness long enough to recognize my good points (yes, they're there).  I am well-loved and am so appreciative.

I went hunting for an image for this post (I like colorful blogs) and had to snag this one.  For one of my writing class assignments I wrote about growing out of the box (I've listed some of the blogs of people who are helping me continue this process).  Clearly I'm not alone in feeling this way.

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