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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blogging as Communication

A couple years ago, I noticed a new blog by an autistic boy. As a young boy, his entries were simple accounts of the day and what he enjoyed. Unfortunately, I have lost track of his blog, and so have been unable to see how he has progressed with his writing. His writing reminded me of early entries in my diary as a child, except, mine weren't about what happened, but rather vented the anger and pent up frustrations I experienced daily and was unable to express verbally. The writing style was similar though; simple sentences and emotions straight from the heart.

Recently, I've taken a look at my blogging from high school, and it basically equates to "this happened today, so and so did this and I'm upset". I compare this to how I write right now, which is more or less "this is what happened, my thoughts as it happened, my reflection of what might have also happened, how it could be handled".

In other words, I took a look at the evolution of how I use journals from merely getting steam off my chest to using it as a tool to sort my thoughts, feelings and actions, reflect on the same of others and sort out what I can do, as well as getting feedback and support from others, both those I know in real life and friends I've only met online, with the occasional complete stranger.

As seen by the thousands of other autistics online, computers and the internet is proving to be quite the communicative tool. I recently met a woman who referred to herself as a "Low Functioning Autistic" on the WrongPlanet forums, who was able to express her opinions by typing. Carly Fleischmann is another example of an autistic who has found the ability to communicate by typing. For many of us, we have found that we can type what we think, feel and want to say a lot easier than speaking and for some, even than writing.

What this means, to me, is that speaking is not the only method of communication. It's one of the methods that appears to be the most easiest by the majority, but it's not the only way.

So before a person is written off as non-verbal or unable to communicate, I would suggest alternative methods to communicate. Journal writing, as I've seen, has been a great outlet of self expression. As I've written on the Autism Parents Forum (to a parent with an autistic daughter)

In terms of self-expression, I find speech rather difficult to express feelings...

...I suggest writing a journal, either private or public, written or typed. Written journals are good for improving handwritting, but if she's more comfortable with typing, she could keep a private folder of word docs or make use of the many many blogging sites out there.
Private journal writing, I find, helps with getting out pent up frustration, anger, etc, that may not be comfortable expressing in public. Public journal writing, though, helps with expressing to other people. Both, I find, help with thinking through situations and a place to say one's peace without being interrupted.
It takes a while, but at the very least it gets things OUT and not pent up inside.

If typing/writing ain't her thing, there's always drawing. While I hesitate about those face-recognition programs and games, since often the faces are cartoony and don't actually look like real human faces, thus conversion of knowledge to practice is tough. However, using cartoon-ish faces as symbols can work. (I'm resisting the urge to go into a university level discussion on how letters are symbols) So, instead of "I'm feeling happy" , "I am feeling Grin"
Also, using colours for feelings, modified pictographs or something.
I draw a lot to express myself, I know that. In grade 3, I drew my teacher as a lovely lady with claws and teeth to express how much I adored her, yet I thought she hated me.
In grade 12, I drew a comic of my day, to express how throughout the day I was getting more and more overwhelmed until I crashed (I think it's framed in the special ed room now...).
If she already draws, pay attention.
People are creatures of communication, using a wide range of different languages to communicate. So, let us speak.


  1. excellent. There is no doubt the development of autism self advocacy and other disabilities advocacies are benefiting enormously from the net and computer based communication exchanges. It is revolutionising the world of many autistics, which is a very good thing.

  2. I still have my journal, it's eleven years old and looking through it always brings back a lot of feelings.

    Used drawing a lot to communicate. It's obvious by the way I post some entries with art.


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