((((((Emma)))))), Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Other Joys

When you look at the title to this post do you read it to mean – Hugging Emma, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Other Joys?

(If you answered yes, you are correct.  ((((Insert name)))) = Hugging.  The more parentheses, the bigger the hug.)

Within the autism community where Facebook reigns as the ultimate gathering place, the use of emoticons, ways of expressing emotions and physical actions, are commonplace.  I would argue that within the autism community the use of emoticons is more prevalent than within the neuromajority population.  But I need verification from my Autistic friends before I make such a statement.  It’s a thought based on my observations and interactions.  Which, by the way, speaks as much against Simon Baron-Cohen‘s various theories about Autists lacking empathy and a desire for interactions as it does to the level of support, gestures of kindness and friendships that are developed and maintained over the internet.  (I just submitted an amended version of my recent post – An Empathic Debunking of the Theory of Mind – to Huffington Post so he’s very much on my mind these days.  I’ll give an update when I see if and when it’s been published over there.)

Facebook, a crowded virtual space where conversations overlap, people you’ve never met interject themselves into a conversation before moving on, friendships are formed, rekindled and developed, strangers “poke” you to say hi, even if the only connection you have is that you both occupy space in that crazy mosh pit that Facebook single-handedly created.  If you think about it in these terms, Linkedin has a more conservative, suit and tie required at the door feel to it, I haven’t figured out where twitter falls in all of this, maybe it’s akin to speed dating, while blogs are the mothership, making the insanity over at Facebook all the more raucous and surprising.

It must be said, I hated Facebook when it began.  I refused to join, I felt indignant when people would discuss their “friends” or about something that had gone “viral.”  Who cares?  Who has the time?   I scoffed.  This is just a bunch of people with way too much time on their hands.   And then I would settle back to my tenth game of Spider, while reminding myself that I really should get some sleep.  But eventually I joined.  For business reasons, I told myself.  This is a pattern for me.  I observe, remain on the side lines, dip a toe in the murky waters, sit back, observe some more and then dive head first into the deep end, blissfully unaware of any rocks that may lurk under the surface.  I’m not encouraging this approach, it’s just an honest assessment of what I have a tendency to do.

Yesterday I was a mess.  For those of you who reached out, thank you.  I was teetering on the edge, trying to keep it together, not doing a great job, but doing my best to work, taking on one small task at a time.  And then my friend stepped in and held out her virtual hand.  (((((( Insert Name ))))))  Like a life line, she held her hand out and gently pulled me off the ledge.   Lots of emoticons were used.  I’m not fluent in emoticon, but she’s been a kind and patient teacher.  Did I mention she’s Autistic, not that it matters, except that it does, if only for this reason:  Autistics aren’t suppose to be like that.  That’s what we neurotypicals are taught.  Right?  It’s what all those autism specialists tell us, right?

She sat with me, literally, while I wept.  ((((((((((Insert my friend’s name)))))))))   She said all the right things and by the time we both went back to work, I was laughing.  But wait, that can’t be right.  She must not be autistic, because she doesn’t fit the mold.  Right?  Isn’t that what we do when someone defies a stereotype, instead of re-examining the stereotype, we relabel the person?  Can we all agree to toss this insane theory about Autists lacking empathy, lacking a desire for interaction and friendship?  Can we please just stop it?  Imagine if you tried to reach out to someone, only to have them reject you because of some mistaken idea they had about who you are and how you are supposed to behave?

Which brings me back to Emma.  My beautiful daughter.  I don’t know if she’s already aware of these stereotypes and how they apply to her.  My guess is, she is.  It’s one of the many things I wish I could control and change.  But I cannot.  What I can do is make sure she knows that I am here, supporting her, encouraging her, with my arms open for those times when she needs to feel them wrapped around her securely in loving embrace, just as my friend did to me yesterday.


18 responses to “((((((Emma)))))), Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and Other Joys

  1. Love the post, love the love in the post. But please, what does ((((((this))))))

  2. Hugging! Didn’t you understand the first sentence? Maybe I need to amend?!

  3. Aww, well *hugs* to you too. 🙂 I hope you’re feeling better!

    I quite often use emoticons – I love them, because they’re a standard way of saying “I am feeling happy” or “I mean this kindly and am smiling” 🙂 or “I am feeling silly” 😛 or “I am feeling sad” 😦 or “I want to cry” 😥 or “I am super duper happy” 😀 etc. etc.

    I read a book recently (a new absolute favorite that I keep meaning to blog about but want to re-read before I do) in which the main character gets entered into a society in which the culture and language mean no one looks at each others’ faces. Rather emotions and “facial expressions” are all expressed using the left hand at one’s side. There’s a different hand signal for each subtle emotion, and its learned and very much so part of the language. Words are few and sparsely used. When I was reading about the language I was just so incredibly floored, because it was like the author created it for me! But that’s all just a way of me saying that emoticons are amazing, because they’re a standardized way to show and understand what someone’s emotions and feelings are like when they write something. That is why I use them – the more explicit I can be, the better.

    Also, I use facebook to “lurk” in the social network world. Twitter confuses the heck out of me, even though I use it, it’s almost exclusively triberr tweets. I can’t figure out the community there, it’s too much language and communication, too quickly for me, and I can’t keep up.

    • I really want to know that book’s title! And by the way – I’m waiting to hear if I was remotely close as to the stenophagous organism. 🙂 over on your blog. ‘Foot, tap, tap, tapping, whistling while looking up at the ceiling.’
      Twitter’s tough. It’s an assault of information. And I still can’t figure out how to do some pretty basic things on it, or the etiquette or maybe there isn’t any, maybe it’s the sheer lawlessness of it that I find difficult. I’ve just begun diving into Pinterest. Being visual, I like the idea of it, just haven’t had the time to devote to it.

      • Book is Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (well technically, the language is introduced in book 2, Wise Man’s Fear, but you can NOT read them out of order.) – also sorry, hit “reply” too quickly… The right answer is ALMOST up on the stenophagous post – someone is close. Maybe close enough. I’ll reveal the answer soon.

        • You know, you’re being very cagey about this whole Stenophagous organism and making us wait, is just downright devilish of you! I read some of the other comments and guesses, but still haven’t a clue as to who’s even remotely close.
          Thank you for the book titles and yes, I promise I won’t read them out of order. Am going to try and get them for my iPad.
          Oh! How did your orals go? Really excited to hear about that too!

          • Sorry to be so sneaky… the closest that has come is whale, but the reasoning isn’t quite right yet. I have orals next Thursday (T-5 days (T-134 hours!!)) and promise a post about it afterwards. I’ll need *something* to distract me in the time between my exam and when they give us our results…

  4. I don’t know you, and am new to your blog, but… autism breaks my heart, and somehow your words resonate. Thanks for putting your struggles out there. Hugs.

    • Hi Connie,
      Great to see what you’re up to over on your blog. Thanks so much for your kind words. I’m thinking about 10 steps to ….. whatever! Why stop at 10, by the way? I guess that’s the optimum number because of our shortened attention spans. It’s good to meet (((you))).

  5. The whole lacking empathy theory is a pile of rubbish. Do proffessionals who spout this theory actually live with anyone with autism or have a personal relationship with someone with autism? I know personally that my 2 dont always recognise the emotions of others autimatically, but my son has learnt to and can be very supportive and kind when he realizes someone is upset, or sad. He came and gave me the biggest hug ( something that is hard for hime to do) the other day when he realized I was upset about something. He is always very kind to his little sister and shares things with her right down to the last cookie and tries to help her. Other times he is a typical brother and tries to stir her up. My brother who had aspergers was the kindest of all 6 of us siblings and would go out of his way to buy really thoughtful gifts for people that really suited them.,or that he knew they needed. He would always help someone out in a crisis.He took a nephew into his home who had no place to go and was in a lot of trouble I just wish that stupid lacking empathy myth would go away.

  6. I do too. I find it incredible that his theory is taught in graduate school. I rewrote and have submitted the debunking post to Huffington Post. If they publish it, I will get some pretty angry responses, I’m sure. But who knows, it may make some people stop and reconsider. It’s a beginning.
    When you wrote about your brother, it reminded me of a man I know who routinely finds the most thoughtful gifts for all of us. His gifts are the only ones we know Emma will love. Always. He puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into them.
    I have heard of few counter arguments within the psychiatric community, and that’s probably what will need to happen before people stop believing his theory.

  7. (((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((Araine))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) :O)

  8. I was so excited about my hug!! Duh….

    ((((((((((((((((((((((((((ARIANE)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))) :O)

  9. Pingback: Finding Ways to Connect With Other Human Beings | Emma's Hope Book

  10. Pingback: It’s My Birthday and I’ll Laugh if I Want To | Emma's Hope Book

  11. Love this ~ “Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.” ~ Jerry Rice 😀

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