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My Myopia

  • Posted on July 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM

First of all, I am myopic—in the medical sense of the word. Myopia really refers to nearsightedness and I’m nearsighted. I’m also farsighted, but that’s another story and another eye. Myopia has come to mean lack of foresight, obtuse; narrow-mindedness, intolerance. This is similar to how idiot used to refer to people who had an intellectual disability and is now used in a derogatory way to suggest that a person without an intellectual disability is foolish, senseless, and does things without thinking—which, if you’ve ever met people with intellectual disabilities, doesn’t often correlate to them at all.

Anyway, in common usage, I’ve come to hear myopic and myopia to refer to someone who is overly focused on one thing at the exclusion of other things, like the way a person with myopic vision (without glasses) will hold a book right up to their nose to read it, and will therefore not see what else is going on in the room. This is the sense that I’m using the word, and I feel wholly comfortable using it in that sense, because I’ve been both the person who is literally myopic and figuratively myopic, especially lately.

Most of my posts have been about me, my health, and my children, at the exclusion of everything else that has been going on. I’m not up on the news. I haven’t heard the latest. And I’ve actually found that I’m totally and completely okay with that. Unfortunately, I imagine that reading as I prattle on about my little life has gotten rather boring.

So, I’m sorry for being so myopic. I’ve put my glasses back on. Later this week, I’ll tell you what I’ve been seeing.

Change and Predictability

  • Posted on June 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Sometimes we know the change is coming. We can plan. I’m big on planning. We can foreshadow. The boys are big on foreshadowing. This is something we can handle.

Sometimes we don’t know the change is coming. Sometimes it just hits. No plan. No foreshadowing. Mark used to describe these situations as duck-and-cover moments.

Lately, we’ve experienced a lot of slow, known changes. Gentle shifts are easy to handle. Some of these are cyclic. The boys like those best.

For example, on school nights Willy usually only gets one reading or it takes too long to get him to bed. On non-school nights Willy gets two or more readings. This helps him to adjust to the change in his routine, because there is a predictable shift in the routine itself.

This is the last week of school for the boys. It’s a predictable change. We are foreshadowing. We are adjusting our plans. And we are building predictable shifts into the changing routines. The boys seem to be looking forward to the end of school. Their routines are shifting and changing, but the predictability of it is familiar and comfortable.

This too is a skill to be cherished.

The Change Is Happening

  • Posted on May 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM

My mom bought a house!  Yay, Mom!

Summer is coming—and with it a period of low productivity I cannot afford.

My mom’s house has a basement room that could easily be used as my office-away-from-home.

I have too much to do to settle for lower productivity.

I’m not allergic to my mom’s basement the way I’m allergic to my own.

No Allergens = More Energy + More Clarity + More All-Around Goodness = More Productivity

My mom’s house would be quiet for much of the day, minus her kitten, because she would be at work.  And I could lock the kitten upstairs (depending on where the kitten’s litter box might be).

And finally, if I work away from home I just might be able to shut work off when it’s time to be with my family.

So, it looks like I’ll be getting a new office.  (Though, I’m keeping my old one, too.  That way I’ll have two places I can work, depending on what I need.)

I guess we’ll find out if we’re ready to adjust.

A Matter of Perspective

  • Posted on June 4, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Next week is my last class in my Reading & Writing the Short Story course. During the last several weeks, I have been writing a literary short story using a different methodology than I usually use. Instead of thinking the project through first, and then writing it, I was asked to write a little at a time and let the project develop without a plan and without a whole lot of forethought. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

The end result was flawed. I haven’t even figured out how much work will be involved in order to turn the project around. But the flaws themselves provided a remarkable amount of clarity.

Autism was a major feature of this short story. Typically, I write speculative fiction, and autism or autistic characters creep into my stories even there. But this piece was supposed to be written in the literary style, and thus I wrote a story about something a bit more mundane. I remembered a writing teacher once telling me that people don’t write stories about “housewives,” because they never do anything worth telling. So, as per my contrarian nature, I wrote a story about a housewife—particularly the mother of two children with autism who is also almost autistic herself.

The clarity came, not from the story itself, but from the various reactions to my story. My readers—those individuals who are part of my life and who read most of my work—found the story compelling, clear, and approachable. My classmates—individuals who are not immersed in the world of autism—found the story compelling, but not as clear or approachable as they would have liked. The difference, of course, is how familiar the reader is with autism.

Thus the flaws. As a writer, I cannot rely on my readers being familiar with my subject matter, especially when the “point” is to show a different perspective concerning the subject matter. Which is not to say that this story is an advocacy piece. Nor did I intend it to be. But, in a way, of course, it is. In a way, everything I write about autism is an advocacy piece, because most of the dialogue on autism is still so…wrong. But, whether an advocacy piece or just a story, the point is to communicate to the reader on behalf of the characters, and relying on a shared perspective doesn’t do that.

Sometimes I forget how much I have changed, how much my perspective has changed, how much the way I see the world has changed, since I fell into the world of autism. It seems so strange to me to look at it that way, because I’m finally where I belong.


Bullying (Part 8): Bullying Differences – The Solution

  • Posted on November 12, 2010 at 12:00 PM

In my previous post, I discussed the problem.  It is my opinion (it would by a hypothesis if I had the means and training to test it), that much of bullying based on prejudice stems from systemic flaw:  A “foreign” element is introduced into an environment that is perceived to be homogenous without the people within the environment having the skills to cope with the disturbance.  (This intentionally excludes the harassment and abuse that stems from prejudice, which involves much more violent intentions and, presumably, must stronger feelings and weaker morals.)

Two things stand out to me in this statement.  First, it is based on perception.  A group is perceived to be homogenous, and the “foreign element” is perceived to not fit within that homogenous group.  The reality is that we’re all different.  Homogenous groups are a matter of perception, not reality; thus if we change the perception of those individuals within the group and open their minds to the differences that already exist within the seemingly homogenous group, then I expect “new” differences would seem less threatening—after all, they’ve already worked with people who are different, they just were not aware of all the differences.  Second, the people within the seemingly homogenous group lack the skills to cope with other differences.  I believe both are cultural problems, or problems that have been culturally reinforced.

Rugged Individualism is a standard concept in American culture.  We cherish our individuality, or so it’s claimed.  But, personally, I’ve never really understood that claim.  The American Melting Pot isn’t about difference, but about sameness and integration.  While we are a nation of immigrants, those immigrants are expected to conform.  The individuals raised in public education are taught to conform.  Conformity and homogeneity are prized values that make our social system run; yet, our beliefs in freedom are in direct conflict with those values of conformity and homogeneity.  Instead of addressing that conflict and finding a harmonious way to create a nation based on diversity, we convince ourselves we’re “rugged individualists” despite the evidence to the contrary.

Difference is bad.  We fight differences.  We try to find a way, either by forcing “foreign elements” to change or by tricking ourselves that differences aren’t real.  We want to think everyone is the same or should be the same.  But equality, the value we espouse, isn’t about sameness; it’s about rights, opportunities and responsibilities.

Recently, Dave Hingsburger addressed a related topic:

Why do I mention disability so much in my workshop? Cause I want to say, ‘but ya are Blanche, ya are!’ Difference, Diversity, Disability ... all part of the vastness of the social world, all part of the vastness of the human experience, all part of the whole community. Difference, Diversity, Disability ... we make community and the community would be less without us. Difference, Diversity, Disability ... we bring with us challenge and demand for change, just like every single other member of every single other community. We are the same in what we want, but we are proudly different of who we are when asking.

We shouldn’t have to hide our differences or whisper about them in dark corners.  The differences are real, and we’re all richer for it—if we’d just let ourselves be.

I believe that if we can bring our differences to the conscious level—if we can look at them and see them for what they are—then maybe we could see them without regarding them as a threat.  Instead, as a society, we try not to see them.  We ignore them whenever and however we can.  And when we can’t, we fight them, disparage them, and exclude those who force us to look at them.

We need to be able to deal with differences.  We need to be able to see them, to cope with them, to tolerate them, and to accept them.  We need to be able to work together—in our communities and in our workplaces—without being threatened by the diversity that is all around us.

And our society—our school systems and our social values—have failed us in this regard.  But awareness is rising and changes are demanded from many groups and many sectors.  Changes are happening.  Diversity training is part of that change.  It is, when done effectively, a very important part of that change.

And yet we resist.  Because so many of us don’t want to have to change.  I mean, why should we change?  Really?  Can’t he just stop wearing glasses?

For so long, our society has relied on changing those who were different or hiding and excluding those they could not change.  But that solution won’t be tolerated any more.  Instead, we must brave face our differences and find it within ourselves to embrace them.  After all, those differences are in each and every one of us.  If we could only let ourselves see them.