Thursday, January 7, 2016

Privacy and [not] writing about children

Usually when I'm writing I have something like five different ideas floating around that I want to write about and share. And usually, a limited portion of one of these five ideas makes it through into a form which I will share with other people.

You might say "oh, of course, there are communication difficulties with autism", and I've heard these types of things. I know that I cannot get every thought, every idea that I want to share out of my mind, and into a method which I am comfortable sharing with an audience I know to be primarily allistic. I know some people will try to turn any limitation of communication which I mention into some clinical autistic thing. But, it isn't about not being able to find the words.

It's about privacy, and privacy being more important than having stories I want to share.

People not having their experiences shared online without their consent, is more important than lessons being written using those experiences.

No matter how much there are so many things I want to share in terms of stereotypes about empathy, in terms of stories about what allistic adults think is advocating, in terms of stories of success, privacy is more important.

Even when they are positive stories - there are people on the other side, and I can't predict how they will react.
Even when they are stories about how these people are amazing - I don't know if they'll be uncomfortable being mentioned at all.
Even when everything is anonymous - I don't know whether people will see themselves and have to relive horrors from their past.

Writing about myself - I know the risks. I know what I'm choosing to say, what I'm choosing to leave out. I know how I'm choosing to make there be people who will judge me by being open about impairments, and I know how there are people who will push me away for saying that I am just as much as a person as they are.

But if I'm writing about someone else, they aren't making those decisions. I am. And even anonymously, people can be recognized by patterns.

So instead - I let these thoughts pile up in my head, and there are so many valuable stories left unshared. Stories which could teach. Stories which could help show things that are wrong with the current education practices. Stories which could be amazing examples of stereotypes being just stereotypes and often false. Stories which really could have value

But people's stories are their own to share, not mine, and whose stories there are is more valuable than any value these stories could have. They aren't mine to share. They aren't mine to give out, taking them away from the people who could choose whether or not they want them available. Even if this means so many stories will never be seen by more than a few - other stories will be in their place. Fiction by fiction writers, stories of people who can and do choose to give up their own stories, stories which are already helping us make progress.

And if I can't provide my stories, because my stories are so intertwined with children, then that is okay. My stories can be private, ones which simply help individual teachers learn. Because, once again, the children are more important than the stories.

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