trolling rush


{image is a photo of a really pretty open door. I was going to post a photo of an outstretched hand, but it looked sort of creepy, so go with it.}

I am a bleeding heart liberal. There, I said it.

(Don’t worry, this isn’t a political post. You can keep reading, promise.)

Now that that’s out there, I’d imagine that it will come as no surprise to you that I abhor the antics of conservative firebrands like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. I find them brash, offensive, self-serving and, well, wrong.

That’s my right. I’d imagine they wouldn’t be my biggest fans either. All good.

When I want to talk politics, I don’t surf my way over to Rush’s website or to the Open Carry dot org discussion forum (yeah, that’s a thing, and no, I’m not linking to it) to try to convince commenters to see the error of their ways. I’d imagine they’d have just as much luck convincing me that the only way to get guns out of schools is to put guns into schools (yeah, that’s a thing too and no, I’m not linking to that either). I’m just sayin’, there are better uses of my time.

The autism community is no different. We are just as polarized, just as fractured, just as dysfunctional as, well, this country’s political system. We’re kind of a mess.

And a big part of why is because there are people out there who are so deeply entrenched in their views that talking / debating / arguing with them really only serves to strengthen their resolve that they’re right and you’re an ass. My first goal is to avoid being one of those people. My second is to avoid giving them my very limited energy. My third is to make sure that in achieving the second, I don’t wind up preaching only to the choir and forgetting not just those in the pews, but those milling around outside the metaphorical church.

There are far, far more people milling around outside than shouting from the belfry. The latter tend to obscure the former, especially online. But while the people who shout are the people we are most likely to hear, that doesn’t make them representative of the whole. (Note: This is not to say that there aren’t some people shouting for really good reason. There are, and sometimes shouting is the only way for them to be heard. Different topic.)

Either way, my point is that there are an awful lot of very reasonable people out there. People who are willing to listen, to share, to teach, to consider, to learn. There are people who desperately want to work together. To move us forward toward a better world for our children, for autistic adults, for all of us.

When we’re trolling Rush, we’re looking for them in the wrong places.

And in so doing, we’re draining the energy we so desperately need – for our kids, for ourselves, for everything we need to do to drive change.

It’s hard to look at the landscape and not feel hopeless. Most days lately, I feel pretty defeated by breakfast.

But then I look a little more closely.

I duck under the swinging bats and peek to see what’s behind them.

And I find a lot of outstretched hands.


9 thoughts on “trolling rush

  1. Amen to that. We have enough other battles to fight without adding hopeless arguments that make no-one feel better to the list of things to do. Deep breath, count to 10, and… relax. 😇

  2. Oh yes, Jess. My hand is outstretched now, too. I am beginning my quest to stand taller, ask more questions, be better informed, and communicate clearly based on not only my intuition, but also (thanks to you) on well-informed facts from within the community.

    I’ve been on the outskirts so long that to stand tall and speak is hard! I am learning, though, and I appreciate your insight and suggestion and reminder to not be harsh. We need to work collaboratively towards solutions for all of us. That takes effort – both in thought and word – and not many of us out there are willing to put in the time.

    So, I’m breathing, learning, speaking what I know, reading lots. I’m reaching out within my community, one person at a time. I have found a way to help and will be working towards a goal that I hope to turn into reality. The campus where I teach has a potential donor that wants to establish a center for autism. Currently, the campus accommodation office has only two full-time employees. Faculty receive very generic accommodation notices that, unless the student follows-up and requests them, go ignored. The students with learning differences here go largely under-served.

    I am looking at my son coming to school here in 7 short years and would like our campus to do better. So, I’m reaching out – to the donor, to the current staff of the accommodations office, to the development officers, the Deans, the faculty senate – anyone who will join me in following-through and making this better for our future students.

    I am sure that I’ll be posting comments within the community support page once I get going on this endeavor. Thank you for being a part of teaching me to shift my lenses.

    On we go!

    • Stella, I was diagnosed in 2009 as a college senior… about a week before I was to start student teaching. I told my advisor, and she said that, clearly, if I had gotten so far with nearly straight As at an elite school, that I could not have a disability (I guess having one friend and quite a few professors who couldn’t stand me because I was “disrespectful” without every knowing why didn’t matter). I was not permitted to tell anyone else in the department (other profs) OR my co-op teacher. They had “never had” an autistic student, and I use the quotes because I’m entirely sure they had and just didn’t know it! After 2.5 weeks, I was so overstimulated and oversocialized and overtaxed in terms of speaking that I totally shut down and could not finish. I was denied any accommodations… but they offered me an alternative assignment of a combo of helping in the campus preschool and doing research for a professor… the downside was that my highest possible grades for all 14 credits were Ds. I did graduate (with a 3.49, too!)… but the failure weighed on me.

      It’s fine, at this point, at least for me. I’m six weeks from my Master’s with a 4.00 and nothing but fantastic experiences. Different school with very different ideas, different medium (online)… different me. Not super elite… but I’ve found out how many things are more important than that! My huge aspiration is to teach for the school when I graduate–THOSE are the people I want to work with and THAT is the message I want to send to my students… that they’re ALL valuable and bright and capable in their own ways.

      What isn’t fine is that my undergrad alma mater is likely treating students the same way they treated me… and likely always will.

      • Lydia – thank you so much for this! May I share this with members of what will hopefully become a planning team? I am so glad to know that you are in this profession and I wish you all the best!

  3. I agree with your sentiment and your thoughts. Unfortunately, I think generally we have given up many of our country’s true values to the “money” interests. Who lobby government representatives into writing away the rights and interests of the people to serve the economic needs of the companies they represent.
    There are many out here that still believe government is for helping ALL to progress and to take care of the poor, the sick, our children, and certainly to uphold the rights of women .
    I hope we get back there soon as we are constantly falling behind, and many of the hate mongers are seemingly getting their way.
    We need to do great things for people and the country again.
    As I read what I wrote as a comment, I begin to wonder where you got some of your
    values?? Just kidding.
    Love you,

    • I have been watching the Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts this week. So many reminders of the importance of reaching out, caring for all, expecting greatness from each member of society.

  4. You and I have so much in common but… I am a right wing republican. We can still respect each other. I look at what I read on the net through my own glasses. Take what speaks to me leave what doesn’t. My sweet boy goes through some of the same intense feelings as your little girl days. They are both amazing people. To feel so deeply must be a gift,yet confusing.

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