Tim Bolen Shoots Himself in the Foot From His Hip
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Breaking Point

Reach out handBy Cathy Jameson

About two weeks ago I decided I needed to take a break from my online activity.  While it’s “my link to the outside world”, being online is also a major distraction and excuse for much of my procrastination.  I allow other’s stories, concerns, and posts invade my private time.  Worse, I let it creep into some of my mothering time. 

My kids, who are home all day now on summer vacation, know I get easily sucked into message boards.  They’ve started to take advantage of how quickly I get distracted as I click, click, click half a morning or afternoon away.  When I noticed they were beginning to slip into their own avoidance habits, like playing Minecraft instead of keep up with summer reading, or turning on the TV to catch up on 1 or 2 (or 4!) cartoons, I knew I had to not just curb my distractions; I needed to make them go away completely.  I was going to test myself for a spell and say no more.  Internet, be gone! 
The day I decided to take a break from the World Wide Web wasn’t the day I temporarily shut it down though.  I needed to get one last fix.  I surfed and surfed until I felt like I’d clicked through enough articles.  Then it was time to walk away.  It’s funny that I felt like I had to gear up to go dark and that I gave myself permission to give up something no one is requiring of me.  That shows you how addicted to social media I have become. 

The first day of avoiding Facebook, some Yahoo boards and my daily go-to autism news sites was a challenge.  What a terrible habit I have created to want to constantly check in somewhere!  But, after a day or two of going internet-free, and after I’d used my normal computer time to clean out a desk that had become a neglected storage unit, I felt like I could push through this fast I was attempting. 
I got lots of stuff done.  The kids started to be creative instead of sedentary.  We scheduled play dates.  We ventured out into the real world.  As the week progressed, Ronan got to practice going out into our local community—a community I prefer to avoid, avoiding it because Ronan doesn’t always do well when we try to run errands.  Plus, people in the real world and I don’t usually have too much in common, which is the biggest reasons I gravitate toward being on the internet—so I can connect with other like-minded moms and dads.  But, out into town we went to see what the world had to offer. 

As each day went by, I had a better chance to make a new routine for myself and my family.  And why not?  The kids were happier and our house was cleaner.  We made time to have friends over for a long-overdue play date.  We enjoyed time spent together.  I found success in areas that I had made an effort to previously ignore.  I was happy, and we were creating better order in a short amount of time. 
With my new-found desire to try to find other activities to keep us busy, we ventured into town one more time.  After a trip to the library one afternoon, I had a handful of items I needed to get at the grocery store.  Ronan has been resisting going into any store causing quite a scene well before the entrance.  We’d oftentimes had to turn around and get back in the car with the promise to try again another day.  I wondered if Ronan could make it through one more thing that afternoon before we headed home.  I wouldn’t know unless he tried, so we pulled into a parking lot, piled out of the car and walked into the store.  Ronan made it through the thirty-minute shopping trip!  At Super Wal-Mart no less! 

Stepping back into the real world was turning out to be a breeze.  I had seriously curbed my computer time and even the desire to turn it on.  But then, I meet some people who forced me back on the web.  Three people I happened to run into while we were taking a break from my old habits.  Three people who I’d probably never strike up a conversation with or be vocal about before Ronan’s vaccine injury.  Three people who were looking to me for advice and asking for it before it got too late for their child.
Those people and I had nothing in common and then, with our chance encounter, everything in common.  Could I help them?  What should I tell them?  The panic in their requests and the instant anxiety that came over me while listening to their stories ended my internet fast.  They needed direction.  I could help.  And quickly.  I promised I would the minute I got back home.  But only after I tended to my kids and their needs. 


Back on the internet I went.  With emails at the ready, I forwarded articles, links, studies.  I copied pages from magazines and recommended books.  I continued to share Ronan’s story in each communication.  “We tried this (therapy, treatment, protocol) because of (this imbalance, that doctor’s reputation, his great need for intervention).”  I offered names of providers we trusted.  I looked up what they might want to know and what I felt they should know.  I felt a rush as I got as much information gathered as I could.  And then I crashed. 

The thrill of the chase got my heart beating faster.  It felt like I was hand delivering lifesaving information to these people.  But the letdown I felt once everything was in their hands was tremendous.  Once that information was in their hands, I knew it was entirely up to them to do something.  I know what I would do once I had that knowledge shared with me.  I’d do something proactive.  But not everybody thinks or acts like I do.  As quickly as I got the information to them, I would have to sit back and wait.  I could prod, nudge and drop major hints and keep directing them to countless websites and other literature, but making these other people do something to help their child isn’t my responsibility.  That thought reminded me of why I needed the break from being too absorbed online.  I can only do so much for so many, and I shouldn’t sacrifice my family’s time to attempt that. 

I had wanted to stay offline a little bit longer.  I had wanted us to do more fun, summer stuff before I hopped back online.  But, I broke a fast my family and I needed when I offered to get helpful info to those people.  Not all was lost in doing that because three families were each given the potential to start their own healing journeys.  My kids would be none the worse from my efforts.  In fact, they were happy to have a chance to jump on the iPad and the xBox again while Mommy click, click, clicked one more afternoon away.  I loaded them up with lots of information that could make or break their efforts.  With every click I made, I prayed it was worthwhile.  Time will tell as I wait in anticipation to find out what those parents each decided to do. 

Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism. 

Comments

MamaBear

Excellent! Now put down the mouse and go chase the kids with a water pistol or tow ;D

Cara

"Well, you fried his brain", spoken by his father, referring to the vaccine shots.

oneVoice

Cathy you are working so hard.Take some time off,enjoy your
children and have a wonderful summer.

IAngus Files

Cathy God Bless you and all your postings brilliant. We all need a break ..but if it weren't fot the internet we would not be talking ..god bless

healthforchildren

I can totally identify with all of your experiences here. There is indeed a letdown after you work hard to share personalized information with a new family. When you don't hear back right away, you really wonder if it was worth it. But then you realize that you have planted a seed and it might not take root this week or next, but hopefully someday soon...

Lenny Schafer

A few days? Try going 35 years without the Internet.

Notbuyingit

Cathy,

Sounds like you needed a major break and that you were actually having a life. You are amazing and people are so fortunate to have you share so much of your knowledge day to day...one of the reasons we have gone as far as we have today...

One thing I have learned is that, when someone asks a question or needs help, you may overwhelm them if you try to impart multiple years of research and trial and error with too much information.

Right or wrong, our family survives with this never ending issue in the following manner. I answer the most immediate question first... If they ask me for more information, I gauge their current ability and desire for info and I give them a little more, and so on. The ones that are going to do something with it, ultimately start looking into more themselves and more toward their specific issue.. they only then may need occas direction. The ones that do not ask for more typically do still find the direction that fits their personality and ability. One person may only be able to handle the diet first. If they get too much info, they may give up.

For all of us, too much information overwhelms. We get nothing done because we don't know where to begin. That is why the book by TACA is so nice...something like that is perfect as a starting point.

This applies to health care people too. Go in with no more than three issues (ever) to try to work on. Have it written out succinctly and in bullets. If you have literature to share just notate on the one (maximum two) page paper. ( page limit does not apply to one hour consultations or more, they often have their own requests). Remember when we walk out that door, the next person walks in. The impression we leave will make the difference weather they remember us or what we may understand.

Personally, i think You are more good getting out there and seeing people, getting info to them than sitting at your computer all day. Seeing you out in the community might be the key to getting them to believe that they don't have to be locked up in their homes. Besides, if we are trying to send a message about how hard it is to raise our kids, how will anyone ever know if they never see what they only hear about on the Internet.

So, as much as I enjoy your posts and it helps so many when it can be global, there is nothing like face to face to make a message more meaningful, especially if contrary to popular belief. For example, Imagine how many people begin to laugh when they actually meet characters like ORAC In person? Only another dufus would listen to him thereafter. His whole person screams creepy. No wonder he operates on the breasts of dead mice. It is most likely that none of his colleagues at work associate with him unless absolutely necessary.

GetBackLoretta

Boy, can I relate. My son with low-verbal autism is 22. When he was young, nobody knew anything about anything. Email round-robins were all that was available to bewildered parents to share information. Not even the doctors offered up guidance or even suggestions for treatment. My husband and I were on our own. Desperate to keep others from suffering our fate, we shared everything we learned to our friends that were vaccinating their young kids. "Make sure they don't contain Thimerosal...ask for the ingredient list" we would beg. Sadly, much of the time, they trusted their doctor's more when they said the shots contained "no mercury". Then, they came back to us asking for advice when their kids developed troubling symptoms. It was humbling and frustrating to try to help people that thought you were crazy. It has gone full circle for us. My son had autism when no one knew what it was, and now I need to qualify him as "low verbal" and say "No, he doesn't have a special talent". Autism really does change everything in your family. It is the sun, and we all revolve around it.

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