I’ve been doing plenty of thinking since writing these three posts…
Day #135 – You’ll Have That In Small Farm Communities
Day #141 – Ode to a Farmer
Day #205 – Grandpa is No Fool (well after editing and doing some refining on this one…)
Today is Good Friday. If you are Christian, you recognize it as the day that day that we have designated as the day of Jesus’ Crucifixion.
It’s also the first official day of gardening. At least according to my Oma. She had a long-standing rule that you should always plant potatoes on Good Friday.
While preparing the garden yesterday I found myself thinking. As a mother of a child with autism I find myself thinking A LOT. Thinking about things I can control, about things I cannot control, about how far we’ve come, about how far we’ve yet to go.
I’m warning you right now…you are about to be ‘let in’ on one of my brain journeys.
I began thinking about my dad’s post from a couple of days ago and how his “total vocabulary was six words when I started Kindergarten and my thought process is similar to Tucker’s. I do visualize the completed task in my mind, my ability to multi task is limited, I enjoy working alone, I remember a great amount of detail, and most projects completed on the farm are done in great detail.” (Day #205 – Grandpa is No Fool)
Which led to me to think more about what I wrote about my dad and my son, “The characteristics of autism naturally lend themselves to success in farming. As I began writing, I saw my father in my son’s experience. The more I write, the more I understand both of them. The more I understand them, the more I understand the history and future of the spectrum.” (Day #141 – Ode to a Farmer)
Which led me thinking about small, farm communities and how “We have a community. A real community. A community of people that come together – for the betterment of all. All. All means all. People come together and treat these special children as they should be treated – with love, compassion, and possibly most importantly, respect.” (Day #135 – You’ll Have That In Small Farm Communities)
All of that got me thinking about the ‘increase’ in autism diagnosis and the nature of the spectrum.
Hear me out here…it’s about to get crazy.
About a month ago I posed a question to my cousin. She happens to be a Special Education teacher and the author of Day #152 – IEP: Dear Regular Education Teachers. What if this increase in autism could somewhat be attributed to forcing children to survive (dare I say thrive) in a fast-paced, technological, industrial, urban society?
Yesterday a reader posted a comment that read, “We are lucky enough to visit our relatives in New Zealand every few years and make our home base on their 500-acre dairy farm. Honest to goodness, our 14-yr old autistic daughter’s symptoms basically disappear. She spends all day hanging with the dairy cows, the just born calves, the ancient pigs, the farm dogs etc. (Bulls and the evil swans are off-limits). With farming and animals, what you see is what you get, the animal is okay, the plant is alive, the cow is dry. With society, there is this constant exhaustive decoding of people’s intentions. I find it ironic that autistic people are the ones been blamed for struggling to translate other people’s cryptic intentions.”
That reader nailed the idea that had been swarming in my head for a couple of months.
We live in a vastly different world than what existed 50 years ago. In this shift have we, as a society, become less tolerant of others? Last week Tucker informed me that he ‘Googled’ something at school and was “Shocked at the sites that were about hating people…even using the ‘n’ word.” To which I replied, “We sure haven’t come far enough in 50 years, have we?” In our quest to be more tolerant in identifying and accepting our differences have we actually become less tolerant because those differences are more clearly identified?”
Woofta…that’s big stuff.
50 years ago…
People spent time with animals and didn’t worry about others’ reactions.
People spent time cultivating the earth, alone.
People spent time planting onion sets in their garden, with only their family.
People spent more time in face to face conversation.
Children didn’t have play dates.
Children went outside into the forest and played and explored and invented.
Children were alone, a lot.
****Here is where I became stuck in my writing (you need to know that for later).***
Here are the questions that present themselves…
- As we have come closer together (literally, in geography) has our society become forced to be more ‘social’ than was ever really intended?
- Is that why my son has trouble with the expectations of society?
- Is he simply an ‘old soul?’ An old soul is someone who is described as someone who has a great understanding of the world around them. Some believe that this type of person is one who has learned from past lives and that is how they seem more wise than their peers.
- Should he have simply lived 50 years ago when people wouldn’t have had such high expectations for social interactions?
- When being alone was more ‘acceptable?
- When learning by doing was the way it was done?
- When there weren’t so many flashing lights, and colors, and sounds?
- When stores were a ‘ma and pop’ shop and everyone knew your name?
- Could this ‘old soul’ be the reason that Tucker is the way he is? Has he simply learned behaviors of someone 50 years ago and now doesn’t fit the mold?
I think about all of this, without answers, of course. Only more questions. I sit laughing because of the irony that exists. About half-way through this writing I had too much in my brain. I couldn’t sort it out. What did I do?
Planted onion sets…of course. It is Good Friday.
My time in solitude – with the soil, the plants, the birds, and the sunshine on my back…
only then was I able to collect my thoughts and put them back into writing.