Autism and Cyberspace (#373)

Ever since we moved into my in-laws’ house a few weeks ago Jim and I have been internet vagabonds, speeding off to our offices or the library to answer email (and, of course, post here and on Autism Vox). Across from Charlie’s bed (strewn with squishy toys and his faithful Daddy b’ue b’ankett) is my father-in-law’s computer, quietly taking on dust and dial-up, but not WiFi, ready.
Soon after we moved in, I ordered internet service through the cable company, noted that the modem had been sent via UPS, and became entirely engrossed in Charlie’s Smooth Transition into his new school and then into ESY.

Today I finally checked as to when the modem was shipped and delivered: June 15, 3.58pm, two weeks ago. On the front porch.

Charlie and I must have been out as I could not remember seeing a UPS truck drive up. Jim asked his father and the live-in nurse if they remembered getting a package and everyone did not. Jim looked on the porch and through the rooms of the house, to no avail. I called the cable company from my office and was told “check with UPS not us.” I put on my smile-voice (why be mad? it wasn’t a Charlie-issue) and asked a few more questions, and resolved to search the house.

Charlie was standing somberly in the driveway when I drove up; Jim was preparing to take Grandpa to the rehab hospital where Grandma, after a stay at another hospital, was to return to today.

I went into the garage which—with its remote-controlled double doors—has long been a favorite place of Charlie’s. Right now it is over-cluttered with tools and old paint and holiday decorations and stuff for the contractors who are doing some renovations and…….under an old wastepaper basket……

I saw a smashed white cardboard box.

The cardboard was soft and starting to mold but I could read the label: It was from the cable company, and how it ended up in a dark corner of the garage under an old wastepaper basket, is not a question worthy of asking.

Not like “what kind of education is the best for Charlie and how can we get it for him?” or “what kind of work and living options will be available for Charlie when he is grown up?” or “where will Charlie live when we are gone?”.

So when Charlie and Grandpa were asleep, I unscrewed this and that cable and popped in the installation CD and voilĂ , internet access.

I have to pause here and note that, as an autism mother, I have found cyberspace vital. I am perpetually unable to get to the Parents Group at this or that location, and I so regret it: Talking to parents, to the autism community, is my sustinence. But it is often and simply physically impossible to get myself anywhere, by the time Jim gets home from the Bronx; my one best babysitter is not always available. The internet was how Jim and I first researched all kinds of therapies for Charlie, from the educational to the biomedical, from the “scientifically proven” to the “alternative.” Email discussion lists were more than helpful when Charlie was a just-diagnosed toddler and writing this blog has brought me in contact with so many autism travellers that I cannot but feel support, community, sympathy, “I’ve been there,” “try this,” “it will be all right.”

I have come to think that cyberspace is more than an “indulgence” in Autismland.

And how often is it that the one thing—the one tool—the simple device, the kit—-that we need is hidden away in our own garage, on the verge of being run over by the back wheel of the car? That what we need to sustain ourselves is already with us, in us?

We just have not found it. Yet.

It is like Charlie who has so many yet-untapped capacities, abilities, intelligences, and it is just a matter of who is willing to look in the garage to find them and help him open the box.

Or rather, it is Charlie helping me to open the box I could not find.

6 Responses to “Autism and Cyberspace (#373)”
  1. KC'sMommy says:

    Hi Kristina,
    Oh I am so happy to hear that you found the little white box! I too have found the internet a must since K.C. was diagnosed with Autism. The thought of having no internet service during K.C.’s earlier days of his diagnosis is frightening! Your blog has become a huge lifesaver for me! I look to it for strength and learning and always come away with a smile on my face after reading about Charlie.
    Charlie is helping so many families in his Autism journey. Charlie is leading the way for us parents who are still finding the way. He is a bright shining light when it seems dark for our family.
    Thank you Charlie and Kristina for blogging about your Autism Journey!

    Tina and KC

  2. gretchen says:

    Kristina, you have such a perpetually positive attitude!! Looking for that box, and then finding it in such a strange place would probably have thrown me into an irrational fit of anger!

    Yes, my cyberfriends are indispensable to me.

  3. Wade Rankin says:

    The web has been our constant source of both information and support. Thank you, Kristina (and, of course, Charlie and Jim as well) for being a part of that.

  4. So glad you found the white box Kristina. It is amazing how the net becomes our lifeline sometimes. I understand what you mean about it being hard to get to the support meetings. This too is my source, and thanks for being a GREAT support!!!

  5. Dear Friends, Thanks for _your_ support.

    I really needed your tonight.

  6. mom-nos says:

    I love this metaphor. How often are the things we need right in front of us, if we just look in the right way? How often do our kids know things we assume they don’t know? In how many instances do our kids know more than we do? I love it.

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