"Here we go loop de loop
Here we go loop de lie
Here we go loop de loop
All on a Saturday night"
It's still early here, but bed is something I could have done hours ago. Rick's undoubtedly feeling the same way right now, but he's at the fair right now providing security. I'll be in bed and snoring hours before he joins me. The girls are back in their rooms, finally beginning to settle down after having been extremely animated (let's call it that) since I returned from teaching at close to four this afternoon. Mom says they were wired when Rick brought them over, so who knows how long they fed on each others' excitement, screwing themselves up to a fever pitch that if I hadn't been grading the first batch of papers tonight might have driven me crazy. You ask, I know, how I could grade papers with that vortex of swirling energy around me? Easy. Nearly 22 years with Bobby has taught me superior concentration skills. You think the kids can ignore people? You ain't seen nothing. I always wondered how my parents could absorb themselves in their books, tuning us completely out. I stopped wondering. It's a life or death skill.
Bobby, who continues to delight and befuddle us, often at the same time, retreated to his room over an hour ago, the movie we "watched" as a family over, so his attention wandered to other things. If I want to see him again tonight, I'll have to call him on his cell or drag my weary ass back there to get him. He's worked hard today, just as hard as his father and I have, on a Saturday. He's done chores here and at his grandmother's. He even cooked a wonderful supper for his sisters and me, becoming more and more comfortable in the kitchen with each successful meal made.
We're busy here, in many ways. I've got a course load of seven, all of them writing intensive courses, one of them an accelerated freshman composition course done over four weeks, with three all-day Saturday sessions. It's a great group of students, but a difficult way to do a writing course. And to be honest, it wears me out, coupled with the other five days of teaching. I'm currently making my friends and family remind me to say no to Friday and Saturday classes. We'll see how well that works. After all, each year Rick and I swear he won't work extra duty at the fair, and look where he is tonight. It's hard to say no to work, especially when it's work you like, and like it I do, very much, even when the cost of it is every spare moment spent napping because it wears me out.
So there are good reasons for the lack of visiting on friend's blogs and writing much of anything here this week. I'm sapped. I have over 200 pieces a week to grade, each week. It's worth it; it's good, and I like it, but it leaves little left over for reading and writing, and what I do have a chance to read is often discouraging.
Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, maybe I'm tired. Maybe it's the reality that we each of us have our challenges and some of us are bowed beneath the weight of those challenges.
Maybe it's the battles between factions so that if you read enough of it all, it runs in your mind like a kaleidoscope on cocaine, and you are no longer sure of anything or anyone dealing with this thing called autism, a scourge to some, a gift to others, and all the rainbow spectrum in between those two and encompassing those extremes in the same individuals, at times. I do not know.
What I do know is that my children anchor me, tether me in a way that keeps me as grounded as I need to be and as free-floating as I can be. They let me dream of bright futures at the same time I worry over the hurdles to be overcome. They are magnificent and glorious. They are also loud and intense. And yet they are quiet, too, lost in inner worlds I wonder of and occasionally get invited into. My family nourishes me and sustains me (and drives me a little crazy), and my friends keep me sane. It's a good place to be, with real-world and virtual-world connections interweaving. We should all find such blessings, and I hope that in some small way the autism blogs directory does that for people in the autism community.
I hold onto all of the above when I wade into waters I know will be unfriendly. This is not just a community that reaches out and supports; it's one that also tears down and attacks. Rightfully so? Yeah, probably, in some cases. I know that I would do many things differently, but maybe I only feel that way now because I did those things then, you know? It's a learning curve, and you can't get there without going through it.
One of the contentious areas in the autism world online is Simon Baron-Cohen's work. Several months ago I reviewed Simon Baron-Cohen's latest book and interviewed him for Countering and Science 2.0. In the months since his new book came out, autistics and family members have responded to the argument that autistic individuals lack empathy with wide-ranging posts on empathy, theory of mind, autism as a civil rights issue, and more. Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg created a new blog devoted to the issue, Autism and Empathy, which I have contributed to. In the interest of dialogue and because I was honestly curious to see what his reaction was, I asked Dr. Baron-Cohen if he would be interested in responding to the reactions his work has received. This is, after all, a reactionary community: we read others and we respond, sometimes thoughtfully, other times with vitriol. And sometimes we just learn when it's better to say nothing at all. Dr. Baron-Cohen's lengthy response can be found on the Autism Blogs Directory. I hope readers will take a moment to go read it.