I wanted to thank you for your incredible display of warmth and kindness on my post about autism. When I say things like, “I’m honored to know you,” I’m not being a hokey ball of cheese, I mean it. I’m incredibly lucky to have such an amazing group of Pranksters in my life. Thank you. To everyone who commented, tweeted, emailed, or read the post, I thank you.
Historically, it’s been hard for me to talk about autism and how it affects us because I simply don’t know what to say about it. As so many of you said (and like so many other disorders, diagnoses and conditions) it’s not the same sort of disorder for everyone, but because it’s so prevalent in the media, everyone is an expert. That makes it difficult when “experts” like Jenny McCarthy and the guy down the street want to lecture you on the danger of dioxin because they “know” better than you do.
Simply put: they don’t.
But when it’s something that’s so close to your heart, no, when it’s PART of your heart, it’s not something you just want to lay out there for Rando Joe Schmo to trample on.
I was wrong.
Because it dawned on me as I read all of your incredible stories what power we have. Each of us. What a unique platform we have at our disposal.
Before, if we wanted to be heard, we had to write a book, hope it was interesting enough to get picked up by a publisher (whose bottom line was, of course, big fat dollar signs) hope that the book was read by enough people to be considered a success and then maybe, just maybe, we’d be heard by the Right People. Newspaper and magazine articles went through a similar process, only to be read by a smaller audience. The common denominator was that people had to pay money to access the words you wrote, IF you were enough of a success to be published at all.
But in the era of self-publishing, it simply doesn’t matter what your pedigree is. People who’ve never written a single word can start a blog with a few keystrokes (see example: Mommy Wants Vodka) for free. It costs nothing to read the words I write. Not a cent. Sure, you may pay for your internet connection, but that’s different.
You know, Pranksters, I’m not a fan of self-centered blog “ZOMG BLOGGING IS THE BESTEST!!!!!!!!!!” circle jerks, but I’m constantly amazed by how unique our platform is.
We can give a voice to those who have none. We can give a face and a name to things you’ve never heard of. We have power to do so much good.
People read us to connect with other people, not the cold, clipped, polished words in a magazine. Our blogs have the human element that would be neatly left on the editing room floor of any newspaper. We’re too raw, too unfiltered, and too real. But it’s our flaws that make us interesting and our pain that binds us together.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know what a neural tube defect is. You also know my daughter, Amelia, was born with a very rare one called an encephalocele. It’s likely you hadn’t heard of it before you met Your Aunt Becky and her daughter Amelia. I’d learned of neural tube defects in school and I knew of encephaloceles…but typically in conjunction with Chiari Malformation.
Now you’ve all heard of it. You know that THIS girl had one:
Over the past two years, I’ve given encephaloceles a voice. And a face. This is what an encephalocele looks like.
Through my blog, I’ve met people who have been prenatally diagnosed with encephaloceles. I’ve met adults with encephaloceles and other neural tube defects. I’ve become a March of Dimes Mom. I’m planning a resource website for those with encephaloceles because none exist. I’ve become an advocate and a voice for encephaloceles.
I became a voice because it was the right thing to do.
You just reminded me that it’s still the right thing to do. Now it’s my turn.
So this is me, Your Aunt Becky, encouraging you to speak your truth. Stand up tall and proud for what you believe in. Give a voice to those who have none and a hand to those who may not think to ask.
Pull those skeletons out of your closets and make them dance the motherfucking tango.