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Sunday 31 October 2010

Communication Shutdown - a global social network shutdown day. Starts at midnight.

So, maybe you've read my piece published on The Punch website on Friday, on why I am supporting the Communication Shutdown day starting in less than an hour.

Here is my piece, below.

I love my kids - as we all do - more than life itself. My decision to be open about what's been happening in our lives was not made without much thought over many weeks.

To take a line from the extraordinary movie about an extraordinary woman, Temple Grandin, my son is "different, not less."

Communication shutdown to promote understanding. (As published on The Punch, Friday 29 October, 2010).

I have always been a great communicator. Sometimes excessively so. My first report card – in kindy - said “Josie talks too much.” I am known to like a good chat. I even studied ‘Communications’ at uni and my job demands constant interaction with people. Social networking sites were made for me: Facebook and Twitter are my daily friends. So when I heard about a ‘Communication Shutdown’ day on November 1 – a chance for silence online for 24 hours – I was intrigued. I read about the cause and then – well, I was completely in. You see, the special day is designed to raise awareness for autism. And as my son was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, I knew it was not only a chance to support a cause I believe in, it was the opportunity for me to tell the world what’s happening with my son – it would only benefit us both by demystifying what autism is and widening my support network.

My son Rafael is a twin. He and his sister Estella will celebrate their third birthday this December. But I knew something was up before he turned two. He said ‘mamma’ plenty before he was one, and then, he just stopped talking. His sister was doing all the usual chatty stuff, but Rafael - not interested. When I got the diagnosis for Rafael, I cried. My tears were all about the fear of the unknown and the thoughts I had surrounding his future – would he go to a ‘normal’ school, would he be bullied – and overwhelmingly, the sadness tapped into my intense guilt. This was mother guilt, amplified by ten. Ever since the twins were just newborns, I have always worked from home, timing my work around naptimes. In awake times, we play, paint, Plasticine, read, run, try to break stuff (them, not me) and yes, sometimes I will answer emails, finish a story, and whack on a Brainy Baby DVD or Hi-5 to help calm and entertain the rambunctious twosome. As soon as I got the diagnosis, I wasted no time in blaming myself. Perhaps I hadn’t spent enough time with him, I thought. This self reproach consumed me, in the midst of my daily work and marriage and life. Deep in my heart, I knew this was untrue: we have structured playtimes and outdoor play and random, spontaneous play. We’ve been going to playgroups since before they were two and my husband has always been heavily involved in parenting and fun interaction.

I didn’t cry for long; it was off to a special, weekly playgroup held by the amazingly dedicated people at Learning Links, weekly speech therapy, a dedicated teacher at daycare, local council ‘speechie’ fortnightly sessions, and continuing the reading and playtime in earnest. Rafael was – and is – making incredible progress. Me, not so much.

To continue reading, go here:


And to support the Communication Shutdown, go here: https://communicationshutdown.org/

It's really easy. Simply donate as little as $5 (which goes towards helping kids with autism in your country) by going here: https://communicationshutdown.org/?view=donate-form

Once you're up (takes one minute to do), your Facebook and Twitter pages will automatically give status updates about the special day. It's actually really fun to relinquish control for 24 hours. Don't worry - if you feel you can't quite live without your social networking pages for one day, you can still 'cheat' and sneak a peek, and no-one will know. The important thing is to show support. With one child being diagnosed with autism globally every 15 seconds (I know, astounding), someone you know may well be affected by autism.

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