April is Autism Awareness Month; in solidarity with my nonverbal autistic son, I will be going silent.
No blog articles will be published in April here at Ish Mom. I will let the pictures I post speak for themselves, providing no captions, responding to no comments, commenting no where else (with words). Figuring my “voice” on the Internet are the words I type, I will use them sparingly this month in solidarity with Big A.
Chatty F’in Cathy
I talk a lot, known for being a bit of an over-sharer. My behavior online, in that sense, is no different. I post a lot, known for being a bit of an over-sharer. A month of not posting articles, or responding to comments may be difficult for me. (This seems an optimistic understatement).
Sometimes I feel an overwhelming need to be understood. That feeling frequently manifests itself in over-explanation, online and elsewhere. And I rarely think before I speak (or type).
I could treat these four weeks like a cleanse. Take them as an opportunity to mediate on questions and situations, to observe my feelings before talking about them, especially to a wider audience on a social media platform.
Saying It with Feeling
I’ve certainly felt safer saying rash things on the Internet than anywhere else. If I heard a group of people discussing politics in the frozen food aisle at Wal-Mart, I doubt I’d interrupt to tell one of them how stupid their opinion was. But I’ve done that in online groups. I would never criticize a stranger’s appearance to their face, but I’ve joined the thread in the comments of a Buzzfeed article and done just that. (I’m sorry Ed Sheeran, I was having a bad day, you don’t look like a Cabbage Patch Doll that was left in the up in the back window of a station wagon for the afternoon).
A month of suppressing my Internet “voice” is an opportunity to keep scrolling. I won’t comment on political discussions or participate in anonymous group roasts.
I hope to be more silent and mindful, not inert.
With my online “voice” more muffled, perhaps I’ll be more present in the community this month. More emboldened to speak out at in public spaces and gatherings. With and in front of real people.
I’ll be fully immersed in my time with my autistic toddler, not thinking of the best way to caption it. Maybe I’ll gain a fraction of understanding of what it’s like to not immediately be able to voice my wants, dislikes, and opinions.
Big A doesn’t have many words, yet he expresses himself better every day. I’ll spend my month taking a page from his book. Our family will participate in an 100 Word Challenge to learn 100 new signs. This month my hands will type less and sign more.
Mental Health Awareness
There’s a mental health crisis in this country and I’m watching it unfold in my community. Between an opioid epidemic and an attempted school shooting that ended in suicide at Dennis Middle School, there is some dire need here.
I’m not really sure of the why of this crisis. We’re past the point of reasoning, anyway, aren’t we? I don’t want to speak about if addiction is a disease or not. Whether narcan should be administered and for how much. The motives of that shooter or his mother are unimportant to me (though I am so sorry for your loss, Mary). None of these things change what’s happening or happened.
In being more conscious of omitting my online opinion, may I learn to examine and be more gracious in my real-life thoughts. In general, but definitely before voicing them. Regardless of what I think, hundreds of families are torn apart, overdoses run rampant, innocent middle schoolers are traumatized and a child is dead.
While all of this is going down I think I’ll just keep my opinion to myself. What I can do in this month of “silence” is organize a free suicide prevention training in the community utilizing my friend Dr. Treg Hopkins, Andragologist and Certified Trainer for the QPR Institute (a leading provider in suicide prevention throughout the US). He’s also the President of the Healthier Morgan County Initiative, which focuses on wellness and mindfulness throughout South Central Indiana.
I’ll still answer messages or emails if contacted; I don’t want to be completely inaccessible.
And I’m sure I’ll still be creepin’ on ya profiles, smashing that heart reaction. It’ll be really hard to not yell at a stranger on the Internet about pizza toppings and walls. I’ll have to bite my lip and sit on my thumbs I suppose.
But I’ll be busy this April. Being present with my family and at the cool events planned in our area. Trying to organize something, anything, without relying on a keyboard.
It’s gonna be a great month. I can’t wait to share what’s coming this summer with you.