Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Day of Silence

Today (Yesterday for people who live in my timezone) was supposed to be a day of silence on the web. It was supposed to mark (or model?) the concept of people on the spectrum having communication difficulties.

It's not working.

There's quite a lot of opposition to this idea - here are my thoughts...

People with autism are not silent. We do have communication challenges but we overcome them. In fact, computers are one of the best tools for overcoming these challenges and it's amazing how much has been said recently by so many people whom others believed couldn't communicate at all.

Why would we want to be silent?

Isn't silence a mark of respect for someone who has died?

We haven't died. In fact the new-found freedom of the technological age has given us new life.

The rapid shift from slow letter writing, to email and then to instant messaging has had the effect of making us louder and giving us a chance to be heard. Not that we couldn't always be heard. If you were willing to listen, you could always have heard us. It's just that now we're a little more difficult to ignore.

Now, instead of trying to analyse gaps in conversations to look for an "in", we can just "jump in" to a forum, post our comments online or even start our own blogs and discussion topics.

If we really wanted to model how people on the spectrum were treated in everyday conversations, we could all talk online but you'd simply ignore most of what the person on the spectrum says. Just talk over them, offer unsolicited and "rude" advice - and if you feel like it, simply move your conversations away from them.

That's a more accurate model of how our inter-personal communication goes but it's nothing to celebrate and a model like that wouldn't help anyone.

Instead, I think we should just keep going on, as if this is just another ordinary day. Be ourselves and be thankful that social and technological advanaces mean that our voices are getting louder.

It's not silence at all.

Increasingly, our voices are being heard.


Some other voices from Autistic "Speaking" Day.

Corabelle from Aspie-Girl-World

Rachel from Journeys with Autism

Hartley from Hartley's Boys

Matt from Dude, I'm an Aspie

Add yours to the comments...


Anonymous said...

Hear Hear!

Zach said...

I made a great post and video about my thoughts on the Autism Communication Shutdown day.

My blogging partner is also running a poll on why people did or did not participate in it.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea there was an Autism Communication Shutdown day. However, reading your post inspired some thoughts of my own. Read them at: http://aspergersmom.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/a-day-of-silence-really/

Caitlin Wray said...

Hi Gavin, I blogged my response today at: www.welcome-to-normal.com/2010/11/advocating-101-how-to-write-letter.html

Another excellent one is at the blog "What We Need" - at http://asdmommy.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/i-will-not-be-silent/


Manda said...

I didn't realize waiting for those crucial gaps was so aspie of me. I just keep learning more and more everyday about myself and how this has shaped me.

Karla said...

I think my post may have embodied the spirit of the communication problems that some in the spectrum deal with.

It was frustrating and painful to write and didn't come out the way I wanted it to. :?


Matt said...

Well said. Yes, we are very much alive! And thanks for linking to my post.

Jennifer said...

Great post! I love that autistics were not silent yesterday.


Alysia said...

Great post as usual. My post can be found at http://trydefyinggravity.wordpress.com/2010/10/31/voices-carry/ and Hartley has a link to an earlier post of mine about speaking out.

Thanks for sharing your views as always.

Anonymous said...

Well, silence is always for the living. I mean, silence is the way of monasteries. they pay in silence and God speaks to them in the silence.
seem like a life for some autistic people.

Miguel Palacio said...

What's next? Communication meltdown day??

This is what happens when others "speak" on behalf of autism. We must reclaim our title, as well as the public affairs for our condition. -before we all morph into colorful puzzle pieces. ;-)