Why I write about autism

If you read my blog already, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a little while now. The blog is 2.5 years old now and I think I’ve hit a stage in this blog’s life where I start to question what it is that I’m doing with it, where I want it to go and most importantly, what exactly it is that I’m trying to say with it.

It’s caused me to ask myself one simple question: why do I write about autism?

In the beginning

When I started my blog, it was mostly just to write about my son and the experiences we had together. I made observations about certain things he’d do and I’d give examples of how my wife and I became aware that he had autism.

I didn’t write to make a statement or to impact other’s decisions or opinions. I didn’t write to inform anyone of anything either. I didn’t write because I felt I had to or because I felt anyone wanted me to.

It was a quiet but very satisfying time for my blog where I felt good about what I was doing. I still do, of course. But it was a different kind of good feeling. It was peaceful and gratifying.

As my blog grew, that all changed.

Over time

As the blog grew, like most bloggers, I found myself weighing in on community topics, giving my opinion on researchers that seem to only be trying to blame mothers for their child’s autism, on the crazy things that Jenny McCarthy was up to, the vaccine debate and so on.

I tried to balance a lot of that with emotional posts, praising people for being people. Whether they’re parents doing their best or autistics for doing their best, I tried my best to keep myself and my readers looking towards the positives.

But somewhere along the way, again, like most bloggers, I found myself being yelled at or dragged down by bickering and arguing, general negativity or any number of other methods.

Some people feel they’re forever the victim and no matter what I say to them, it’s an attempt at hurting them more. Some people feel that the universe is a very dark place and that I offend them by simply having a smile. Some people feel that their experiences outweigh my experiences and thus, I should not have my experiences at all.

These things sound absurd, but they really happen.

The law of averages says that, in the case of blogging, no matter how much you try to avoid negativity, the more readers you reach, the more likely you are to encounter it.

Eventually it becomes inevitable and should you be able to cope and continue to grow, you’ll encounter that negativity more and more, over and over. Should you reach a sizable enough audience, it becomes a daily occurrence.

And that can weigh heavily on your shoulders. No matter how strong you were in the beginning, it gets hard.

why write about autismWhy carry on?

So the question becomes, if you’ve gotten yourself to the point of the daily negativity, why carry on? Well, the law of averages may state that you’re going to be stuck with it but it also says that you’ll have thousands of positives for every negative. And having thousands of positives daily really is worth one negative, right?

For example, I often hear from people how my posts have helped them when they needed it most, or that my posts are what they look forward to reading every day, or that appreciate the time and energy I put into doing what they wish they could do themselves… I love to hear from people who say these things, not because they praise me, but because it means that I am making a difference. I am outweighing the negative with the positive. What I write matters.

Still though, why? Why do I write? It’s not for the praise. It’s not to know that what I say matters. It’s not really even to make a difference. It is nice to hear these things. And believe me when I say that I honestly and completely appreciate every single one of my readers. I always make every effort to reply to every email and tweet and message.

But I’ve come to realize that I don’t write for my readers. I don’t write for the media. I don’t write for the masses. I don’t even write for my son.

I write for me.

That sounds self centered. I realize that. But it’s true.

Well no. It used to be true.

And that’s the problem.

Figuring it out

I’ve been frustrated for quite some time but only in the last month or so have I really just put the whole thing on hold and really given it serious thought.

Had I run out of things to say? Was I no longer able to cope with the negativity?

In my frustration, others reached out to me and told me to write for the good of all autistics. Others told me to write for my son and even more so, for his future. Others told me that, again, my writings helped them and that it helps others and thus, I should continue doing so.

These are all beautiful reasons to get back to my keyboard and push forward, but I didn’t. These reasons should have been good enough. They should have been all the motivation I needed. But they weren’t.

So I went back to page 1 and started reading. And it occured to me that all those reasons, while great reasons, were not the reason.

I needed to know why the frustration started. I needed to know where I went off course. I needed to know what it was that I was missing.

And I found it, back in my old blog entries.

I need to write for me.

No one else.

Going forward

I can’t say it enough, that I value and appreciate my readers and hope I never stop hearing the positives. I could do with less negatives but that’s another story.

But as much as I love every single reader I have, I have to admit to myself and acknowledge to you right now that I didn’t write for my readers in the beginning and I won’t do it anymore.

Somewhere along the way I did though. As responses came in and I started hearing from my readers, my reasons for writing slowly changed and I didn’t even realize it.  I started writing just to help people, to get more of those responses and to make a bigger difference.

I don’t know why or how, but I believe, that’s when I lost my spark.

That’s when I started to get frustrated.

I hadn’t run out of things to say and it wasn’t that the negativity became too much for me… it just didn’t feel right anymore.

And that is what’s most important, I think.

You can write for your autistic child or to help others dealing with autism or to educate others about autism or to make a statement about autism or to make a change in the world for autism; these are great reasons to write. And if these are your reasons for writing, that’s wonderful. But it’s not my reason.

I’ve realized that those are things that I hope my writings will do. But it’s not why I write.

If I write for me, as me, and stay true to me, those things will happen on their own. At least, I hope they will. They did before.

To stay true and honest, I need to write because I want to write. Writing for any other reason compromises that.

I hope you understand. Thank you for reading.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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7 Responses to Why I write about autism

  1. Katrina Moody September 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Good for you Stuart – I haven’t been blogging as long as you have and I have felt myself feeling that way … but mine I think is because writing – over time – has become less enjoyable for me. And i want that back – the joy I get by just playing with words and writing about my feelings … I applaud you for taking the time to figure this out for yourself. I look forward to your postings, and I know I’ve told you before – I really do think they make a difference.

  2. 702shooter September 19, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I had a comment but it became a blog entry on it’s own so I emailed it to you. :)

    Bottom line, thank you for sharing this with us. I too had lost my motivation to blog and it was nice to know I’m not the only one who goes through these type of things.

  3. Linda De Luca September 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

    Hi Stuart, about two weeks ago, I became a member of twitter. A new friend told me I would love it. I did not realize it would become a source of therapy for me. I have two boys, one who has autism. He’s 8 years old and up until two weeks ago, I never read a single comment from another parent. That is, until I stumbled upon your tweets. Now I look forward to your tweets. They mirror my thoughts and feelings but with an eloquence I do not have. Thank you. I will re-tweet your inspirational thoughts just because it feels right. I hope you don’t mind. And I hope that you keep writing for you and no one else. With best intentions, Linda De Luca

  4. Emily September 19, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

    I totally understand. I hope you keep writing for your own reasons, and no one else’s. That keeps it pure. If someone takes away something positive, then great! But no one should ever have to feel like it’s their “job” to do that. That’s too much of a burden and it ruins something you were enjoying.
    As for the negatives…. yeah they’re miserable people. Nothing anyone can say will make them happy anyway!

  5. angela September 20, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    Hi! This is the first time I have read your blog and your honesty is refreshing. Its good that you have a focus and a reason for your writings. I think that your writings,whether intended or not, do touch people. I also think that deep down you do want to reach out to others – or why else a public blog as opposed to a private journal? ;-) Either way, I’m not here to judge. We all lose direction at some point, and I’m glad you’ve found yours. A lot of people will benefit regardless of the reason your write. God bless x Angela x

  6. Jennifer September 20, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    I don’t know about blogging, because I am more comfortable journalling, keeping my musings private. However, I skip days journalling because I am not inspired. As for people’s criticisms, remember this….everyone has them. I would focus more on the praise and the people I am helping.

  7. blynn September 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    well said. try not to let the negatives get you down. I am grateful you admit them, though – makes me feel a little less crazy and a lot less out to sea on my own.

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