My Street by Jory Shelton
With National Autism Awareness Month (and my birthday) upon us, I find myself assessing the state of things.
I reach out to make a difference daily, but do I? Make a difference I mean. Are things simply fated and occurring as they had to or do I, we, affect (intentionally or not) the world we live in? I have always believed in a multidimensional world manifested by our choices and feelings but" am I right?
It's like asking if there is life after death. Unanswerable by any other means than faith, which is defined as the ability to believe in things despite evidence to the contrary. Delusion is defined in the same manner. I, and my children, worked hard to go from crazy to sane (I even wrote a musical comedy show about it). I am not sure I want delusion.
But sometimes life is hard. And delusion or faith or just plain lying to oneself can be tempting.
So I go ahead and believe I am making a difference because that is how I get the energy to continue. I need energy because constantly giving to create more kindness, awareness, and ability depletes my resources. Believing it--and I--matter, refuels me.
However, sometimes this faith
falters. For me that faltering generally happens near my birthday (I am now only
a few years from 60).
Today I feel a little tired as I question my faith: If awareness works why do these months have to come back every year? Couldn't we as a society actually learn and reclaim them for something else? Why do we set up the parents of children with autistic spectrum disorder to scream for more services without offering the correct type of service? Are we spreading awareness of the disorder or the therapies that work? Are we improving the situation or just creating more problems through the spread of broken ideas? If you think your child is autistic will you make him/her so? This is a genuine worry, especially true in the case of sexual abuse. Surely by now everyone knows never to touch children, that consensual sex is better than nonconsensual sex? This is just truth (unless you're dysfunctional and then you need to get help, not sex). Surely by now every one knows that no means no". don't they?
Please say yes. Even if the real answer is no.
Obviously you can't spread knowledge unless people are listening.
Clearly you can't force feed people volumes of right answers, not even if you think they need to hear them. So to be an improvement leader you have to find a way to package the learning into what they want to know. This bait and switch process of information dissemination smacks of the corruptive processes politicians undergo in an attempt to become popular.
I do not want to grow up to be the person that used to care. I do not want to be, like the politician who has become unrecognizable to him/herself or their original cause.
I want to be me, but older.
Unfortunately, to some degree this adjusting away from truth is already happening to me. It's an offshoot of systematized education. As I go to college and attempt to be accepted by my teachers and peers with PhD's I become a pleaser whenever the end of a term begins to loom. I tell myself to just give them the answers they want to hear so that I can move on and gain the needed credibility to be listened to later on when I tell the harsher truth. When I give the answers they may not like. Unfortunately this 'pretending' leaves a resonance of reshaped belief in my head and what I used to understand becomes morphed into something new, and not necessarily better.
I still want to shout about abuse and autism and society's contribution to both but I am busy doing the work of making it better, so there is often no time to complain. This is good, I suppose. Proactive and correct. But it grows only small potatoes in the world of massive change. To increase my impact I must be more mainstream. I consider the concept and find myself back at the question I started with. Do I make a difference?