The Power of Words

Power of Words
File:Power of Words by Antonio Litterio.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Ryan’s essay, posted here on Friday, garnered a lot more traffic than a typical post. Like, 30 times more. This was thanks to some generous sharing in the autism/blogging community.

The feedback was very positive and I’ve shared some of it with Ryan. I wasn’t going to write a post today, I wanted to let his essay stand for another day. But while perusing Facebook this morning, I saw a comment about it, left on another page where it had been shared, that stopped me in my tracks just as the original essay had.

I shared this with [my son]. He’s coincidentally trying to come up with a topic for an argumentative essay for his middle school English Lit class. I thought perhaps he might identify with Ryan.

After he read it (twice), he was quiet for a min. “Well, what do you think?” I asked. Softly he said, “that boy is like me … he understands.” Without another word, he got up, went to his room & began to write. He’s been there for a while steadily working; not saying anything.

Thanks for sharing & thank you Ryan for inspiring & empowering another boy your age.

That, right there, is why I love this community. I have drawn so much inspiration, hope and comfort from members of this online community, only a few of whom I “know” even in a casual sense. It’s something I’ve reference from time to time here on my blog.

But I think I missed the point.

This morning’s comment is an example of Ryan’s words providing inspiration and empowerment to someone who is like him. It made me instantly recall another occasion, from very shortly after I started the blog, of a connection we made with a reader who also had a hockey-obsessed son on the spectrum. We told Ryan that somewhere out there was another boy just like him, who cared about hockey in the same way he did.

I remember Ryan’s reaction — he wanted to know when they could meet. Geography made that impractical, but I think just knowing there was another kid so similar meant something to Ryan.

I’m going to share this comment with Ryan when I get home, and I hope he will take from it the same immense pride that I do. In a world that can be difficult to navigate socially, he has, through his words, managed to create a spark in someone similar, someone who nonetheless is a total stranger.

And that’s the beauty of the Internet, isn’t it? The ability to connect on any topic, no matter how narrow, with those who share the interest? We often focus on the negatives of this form of non-social interaction, but there are positives, perhaps especially for those for whom social interactions are a challenge.

It’s why, even though protecting his privacy at his age makes it trickier, I will continue to write and document this journey. Thanks, Ryan, for teaching me yet another lesson.

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