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I've been writing posts that are, roughly, about family - or rather, about mine. Today, I am writing about me. And about my interactions with race.

I am: a cis-gendered woman (for those who don't know what this means yet, it means someone who is comfortable being the gender to which they were born), straight, PoC (person of color).

Have any of the boxes in which I have just put myself caused me difficulties in my life? Yes. In various ways, some personal, some public, yes. But you know - it's the hand I was dealt. I can't change the hand I was dealt - my job, if job is the right word, is to play that hand for all it's worth. Or more. Some people will see little - or no - value in the hand I was dealt. Sometimes they will try to make that my problem. Sometimes it's tricky, and sometimes it's annoying. When I say annoying, I mean enraging, but: I've met a lot of people in my life, and the operative word in that phrase is: sometimes.

I am married. I have a house. I have two children. In most aspects, I struggle to maintain the middle-class existence I've chosen. It is a pretty mainstream existence, although my guess is the neighbors hate the weekly jungle that is our lawn.

I have a much easier life than my parents did. My parents, being Japanese Canadian, lost their homes (and in my father's case, his family, because both parents died, and there was no left who wanted four Japanese kids who could afford to take them) to the internment camps of the second world war. Their life was very, very hard. Most of my aunts and uncles did not finish school because they couldn't afford to: they needed to go out and work at whatever jobs they could find to feed their family. There were nine children.

I look at their lives, and I know my life has been so much better, in part because of the work they did, in part because of the changes in the society around them.

I am not telling you any of this because I want your sympathy. Sympathy is good - but I don't really feel that I need it. I don't generally ask people not to comment, because I like comments, but if I can ask one thing from commenters on this post, it's that: Please don't offer me sympathy for being who I am. Don't offer me sympathy because my parents were who they were.

On being a visible minority and individuality )
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When I first started posting about my ASD child, it was indirectly in response to discussions on the internet about bullying in its many forms. I had intended to speak about how one Principal at our school had landed firmly in its midst to put a stop to bullying and its culture.

Of course, in order to do that, I had to talk about the school, and I wrote about my son because in some ways, he would have been an ideal victim. He wasn’t. He wasn’t in part because of the teachers and their certain faith in a Principal who backed them up.

I’ve spoken about my son’s grade two educational aide.

What I haven’t mentioned in any detail is that my son was not the only child with whom Mr. Virk worked. The other boy was not ASD. He was in no conceivable way -- except for age and gender -- like my son. If my son did not pick up social cues, and, until the middle of the year, had not developed the theory of mind that neurotypical children develop by age three, he was nonetheless a reasonable child if you understand his particular quirks.

The other child who also shared Mr. Virk’s time was not. )
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If you’ve been reading these posts for the last week, you know that my intention was to write two posts. The first, about help, I did write. The second, I still haven’t written. This is very much in keeping with the way I write anything. I have a general idea. I put the words on the screen. And then other words arise out of interaction, and, well.

We, as parents, all want our children to be happy. I take that as a given. We do not always make our children happy - but at base, we want our children to lead happy, long lives.

Given the way life works, life is not predictable. We are adults, our children are not. We know the things that caused us pain - and we want to help our own children avoid that pain, and avoid bearing those scars.

But... )

And now, I am running out of the house because it’s our 23rd anniversary :)
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[livejournal.com profile] spiffikins asked:

Looking back at our own efforts, we had lots of battles :) I've love to hear how you applied these rules to situations where your son didn't want to do something, like have his bath or get dressed/put his shoes on for school or participate in the day to day activities of helping out (setting the table, doing dishes, doing homework) - it seems we always had conflict, and the majority of it with my brother was getting him to do something that he didn't want to do, but that needed to be done.


I’ve been thinking about this today while at work shelving books - which hopefully will not result in too many mis-shelved novels.

This answer was too long for the comment thread, which is why it’s a post. )
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I’ve said, in my previous post, that ASD children are afraid to make mistakes; they’re afraid to be wrong. They speak of the things that interest them because, in some ways, they feel secure in their knowledge - secure enough to talk. If they become comfortable enough about speaking - even if it is about their current obsession - they then develop confidence in the act of conversing, and since conversation itself is now familiar, it becomes a second comfort-zone from which they can then begin to tackle topics which are not as relevant to them.

I think this is true, on a vastly smaller scale, of anyone. Hold that point for a moment.

Two days ago, I wrote about communication, and this post, although it’s in theory about my son at age seven, ties in with comments made on that post, which was about two adults who were both working toward a goal of mutual understanding - when words alone were not enough of a bridge. The right words for me, in that post, were not the words that worked for my husband. He wanted to understand what I was saying, but the first several times, it didn’t happen.

I felt that I understood my son as well as - or better than - a raft of experts could. I lived with him. I observed him daily. But I’m also myself, and I come at things from the paradigm of my interests. Even the things I observe are coloured by me.

My son had a successful, if trying, grade one year. His teacher was a godsend. More. I can’t emphasize how much of a difference she made to my six year old. She had him for five and a half hours a day for ten months of the year - and everything she did during that time laid foundations for all of his school life thereafter. In my universe, she would be paid more than most CEOs. Sorry, that was a digression.

Grade Two and the educational aid )
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I replied, in my previous comment thread, to a comment, and then realized that I had more - I know this will come as a surprise to you all - to say.

One of the hallmarks of an ASD child and his general speech is that ASD children can talk non-stop for hours about the topics which interest them. Or obsess them. From an outsider's perspective, it's often hard to separate the two.

They frequently cannot talk about anything else. When my oldest was in elementary school, I could ask him about his school day, but by the time he crossed the threshold and entered the house, the last thing he wanted to talk about was school. At all. I therefore got a blank stare, when he was younger, or "it was fine" when he was older. That was the extent of the information I was given. For this reason, among others, I was in steady contact with his teachers in the early years.

My oldest was that variety of Aspergers which is precociously verbal. He taught himself to read in order to play The Incredible Machine and Diablo. He couldn't stand to wait for us to read things to him, in the first case (all of the level goals were of course in words), or wait for me to tell him what items the monsters had dropped, in the second.

He could talk about Diablo or the incredible machine for days. So I played the Incredible Machine and Diablo. We played Diablo together on the home network. I played video games before he was born, and after, so we had an interest in common.

The interest in common was very helpful in turning the exposition or monologue into a dialogue, because he wanted to talk about the things that interested him.

To a lesser extent, all children are like this. They want to be heard. ASD, non-ASD, they want to be heard. ASD children are developmentally much younger than normative children, and their social skills are therefore several years behind the curve. When other children are engaging in conversation, the ASD child will be engaging in monologue, because he is arrested at the 'want to be heard' level for far longer than the other children.

I was asked, by the parent of a five year old ASD boy, what I'd done to cause my nine year old son to converse. The prevailing thought is that it is neither healthy nor normal to allow an ASD child to monologue, and if the child is doing this, he must be stopped.

I'm afraid I disagree with this.

I'm afraid I disagree with this. )
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I said in my previous post that I had two things I wanted to talk about: help, and love as endurance.

People who are familiar with my writing in other venues will probably not be shocked to know that I now have three things to write about. The third thing - communication - comes courtesy of my husband. My husband is my external editor, and I often run things past him before I post them. He's not a censor, but he will often point out ways in which my words might be misinterpreted.

Yesterday's blog was given the immediate okay, but as I was cleaning up the multiple typist typos, he said something I've been thinking about ever since: He was incredibly grateful that I was able to clearly communicate my needs and the source of my pain in our early arguments.

Communication in the first year )

On help

May. 22nd, 2012 04:25 pm
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A discussion elsewhere on-line, to which I will not link because I think it will generate a lot of heat for a very little light, has got me thinking about two things I’ve been mulling over for months. The first is ‘help’, the nature of help, and what people - or at least people who are Michelle - want when we say we want help. (The question evolves from “people say they want help, and then we help, and we get no appreciation or support.“ The blog piece today is an evolution of an answer to that trope.)

The second is the nature of love as an act of endurance; where it comes from, why we do it, and ultimately, why I think it’s a track we need to move off.

I’m going to start with help: )
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I realize that it’s been a little while since I’ve posted. Or longer than a little; I lost two months of working time and have been playing frenzied catch-up ever since because I am foolish and never build “oh crap” time into my work schedule.

But. Something a fellow writer said poked small needles into the back of my brain, and as I need my brain to focus on the very end of this book-that-will-not-end, I decided that I would make a small post. This author writes under two names, and having read some of either name, I think it’s a smart choice, because they are very different types of books.

Full disclosure, in case anyone who actually reads this is not aware: I write under two names )

Steve Jobs

Oct. 6th, 2011 02:18 am
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At Apple.com today is an obituary. It is absolutely done in the Apple style; it’s simple, it’s graphically arresting -- and it is also startling, almost unbelievable.

Steve Jobs is dead.

When I heard the news that he had stepped down, I was almost in tears, something my mother couldn’t understand. She was happy for him; he’d worked so hard for so long, she wished him a happy retirement. That wasn’t my first thought; my first thought was: he’s dying, and he knows it; he literally can’t run the company any more.

Why was that my first thought? Because it’s exactly the way I’ll retire from writing. Writing is my job, but it’s also my obsession, my compulsion, my avocation. I will stop when they pry my rigor-clenched fingers from my keyboard. I will never reach the millions of people Steve Jobs did, but that’s almost beside the point.

Is writing always a joy? No, of course not. Neither are children--especially on the day after the presentation of a stomach ‘flu when you’ve done 3 loads of laundry at 2:00 a.m., you’ve gotten no sleep yourself, and you know you’re going to pay for it. But you love them anyway, and the worst thing that could possibly happen is that they could be taken away from you. There seems to be an idea that love is always joy. I don’t subscribe to it. I do, however, believe that it is the greatest source of joy--and of work, of pain, of longing, of peace.

This sounds amazingly melodramatic. I know it does. So let me explain what Steve Jobs’ start-up lab-in-a-garage company means--and has meant--to me.

A room of one’s own )

I’ve posted this at the writer-blog as well, and apologize to anyone who will have to see it twice.
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I have just returned from a weekend at Confluence, in Pittsburgh. It's a small convention, but I really like it, and I always have a good time when I'm there. This year was a little sad, because it was the first year at which there was no Ann Cecil, but the memorial service was a strong reminder of her presence, and what it's meant to so many people.

I usually do a reading, a signing, a kaffeeklatch and a number of panels over the course of the weekend. This weekend was not an exception. One panel, however, made me return to a topic that's been at the back of my mind for a few years now. This is not a commentary on Confluence because Confluence, by and large, doesn't have this problem, and the lack is one of the reasons I do love the convention and I do continue to attend it.

Rant below the cut. I also want to point out that no one who reads this (that I know of!) is in any way being targeted by anything I've said; it is not meant to be personal, but it's possibly a tad heated. )
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This is a little bit embarrassing, but given that All Knowledge is found on-line--albeit not, apparently, with my google-fu--I'm asking for help.

Some time ago (I'm sorry - I think it was late '90s or early 00s) I wrote an SF story called "Fat Girl". I wrote it for an entirely .pdf ezine, whose name, I'm really sorry to say, now escapes me -- it was called either Oceans of Night or Oceans of Light or even Oceans of Space - i.e. Oceans was in the title.

(Do not try to google on Fat Girl, Fat Girl Michelle Sagara, Fat Girl ezine Sagara.)

I would like to reprint the story, but I'd also like to credit the original editor who bought it - and, well.

No, I don't have a copy of the ezine. Yes, it was emailed to me. I think I lost it in the great head-crash. I have the submission file, but not the finished work.

So…does anyone remember an entirely SF ezine that might fit this description, and possibly a person to go with it?
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Word is slowly filtering out. Martin H. Greenberg, of Tekno books, died in his sleep, at home, yesterday morning. I met Marty a number of times, because he came to the DAW dinners at various worldcons over the past two decades. DAW published a lot of his anthologies, and he was always invited. He was a tall man, and he was a gentleman; he was always friendly, whether he knew you well or had just met you for the first time.

When I first met him, he had Larry Segriff in tow (I assumed Larry was just out of College at the time, which made Larry laugh out loud when I finally mentioned this); later, I met John Helfers, Russell Davis, and Denise Little. I also met his wife. They were all part of what became Tekno books. I had far more contact with any of these people, outside of conventions, than Marty - but seeing Marty was always a highlight of the convention.

Marty treated the writers who contributed to his anthologies well. He always paid on time. He always paid. If there was any difficulty, he was quick to respond to it. During the kerfuffle about pro-rata royalties some years back, it never occurred to me that his intent was to defraud authors--he made a mistake. Anyone, meeting Marty, couldn't assume any ill-will toward authors at all. It was impossible not to give him the benefit of the doubt in any circumstance where it might be required. Every editor who worked under Tekno picked up the same business philosophy, and they were as much a delight to work with as Marty.

He was, in every possible way, a gentleman. At the moment, there's a large, Martin H. Greenberg shaped void in the world, and I don't think anyone can fill it.
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Word is slowly filtering out. Martin H. Greenberg, of Tekno books, died in his sleep, at home, yesterday morning. I met Marty a number of times, because he came to the DAW dinners at various worldcons over the past two decades. DAW published a lot of his anthologies, and he was always invited. He was a tall man, and he was a gentleman; he was always friendly, whether he knew you well or had just met you for the first time.

When I first met him, he had Larry Segriff in tow (I assumed Larry was just out of College at the time, which made Larry laugh out loud when I finally mentioned this); later, I met John Helfers, Russell Davis, and Denise Little. I also met his wife. They were all part of what became Tekno books. I had far more contact with any of these people, outside of conventions, than Marty - but seeing Marty was always a highlight of the convention.

Marty treated the writers who contributed to his anthologies well. He always paid on time. He always paid. If there was any difficulty, he was quick to respond to it. During the kerfuffle about pro-rata royalties some years back, it never occurred to me that his intent was to defraud authors--he made a mistake. Anyone, meeting Marty, couldn't assume any ill-will toward authors at all. It was impossible not to give him the benefit of the doubt in any circumstance where it might be required. Every editor who worked under Tekno picked up the same business philosophy, and they were as much a delight to work with as Marty.

He was, in every possible way, a gentleman. At the moment, there's a large, Martin H. Greenberg shaped void in the world, and I don't think anyone can fill it.
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[personal profile] reneekytokorpi's comment in a previous thread made me think. In particular:
This is so helpful, and I'm very grateful that you're sharing. While I'm not familiar with Asperger's or Autism, my family struggles with my brother's Kleinfelter's and your insights are helping me explain things in new ways. They're not related disorders, but the coping skills and ways you approached things give us fresh things to try to clear up confusion. Thank you!


Coupled with my oldest son's eighteenth birthday, made me thoughtful.

A disclaimer, which is not ritual, and some thoughts about compromise & consistency )

I'm sorry about the constant interruptions, here. I have a whole new set of page proofs (but they are small, compared to the beginning of the month's novel's worth), but I am halfway through the exit interview of grade one, and looking toward grade two.
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[livejournal.com profile] reneekytokorpi's comment in a previous thread made me think. In particular:
This is so helpful, and I'm very grateful that you're sharing. While I'm not familiar with Asperger's or Autism, my family struggles with my brother's Kleinfelter's and your insights are helping me explain things in new ways. They're not related disorders, but the coping skills and ways you approached things give us fresh things to try to clear up confusion. Thank you!


Coupled with my oldest son's eighteenth birthday, made me thoughtful.

A disclaimer, which is not ritual, and some thoughts about compromise & consistency )

I'm sorry about the constant interruptions, here. I have a whole new set of page proofs (but they are small, compared to the beginning of the month's novel's worth), but I am halfway through the exit interview of grade one, and looking toward grade two.
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My oldest son, who is the partial subject of so many of the posts about Aspergers and school, is now eighteen years old. By the standards of Canada, he is a legal adult. (I refer to this age as "the age at which we can legally kick you out of the house", which he finds amusing. Mostly.)

This is, in part, an open letter to my son.
A letter to my son on his eighteenth birthday )

ETA: in case it's not obvious from context, the long anonymous post is from my son :D
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Towards the end of the grade one year, I was allowed to accompany the class on a field trip as a volunteer. I say allowed because in this case, it's the correct word. My son's teacher knew two things about my son: He was extremely 'challenging', and I understood him well. My understanding of my son, however, was a product of my home environment. Her classroom was obviously not our home; it was her space. She needed to be in charge of it, and she needed to handle my son in a way that allowed him to be integrated into the class's activities as much as he possibly could.

My first field trip with the grade one class )

ETA: I think one of the things that made dealing with the teachers, the classmates and the other parents simpler was the constant evaluation of what I would feel like if I were the parents of other children affected by my son, because if I were those parents, I wouldn't know him, and possibly wouldn't care.
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In the comment thread of the previous post, [livejournal.com profile] aanna_t asked:

When my kids were very little, I often had to ask them to "use their words" rather than just glowering. That really clicks with what you explain about your son.

To take that one step farther, might that phrase be a helpful tool with ASD, too? I teach one ASD student, and my best friend's son also has Asperger's. They seem frustrated so often... I wonder if this is one reason why.

How would your son react if asked to say what he is thinking? Do you think it would be helpful?


This is an interesting question. using your words )
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I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: theory of mind is a phrase that's used to refer to the development of the knowledge that what you, as an individual, know is not known to everyone else. Up until the time one develops theory of mind, lying is impossible -- a lie relies on the fact that what you know is not the same as what other people around you know.

Most children reach this stage early -- and at three years of age, they can, in fact, lie. It's a natural progression, which parents will then spend time trying to curb, and it's positive precisely because it indicates developmental growth. It is, however, hard to appreciate this in a cheerful way when your own child is lying to you, but it's the silver lining on the cloud.
the first glimmering of theory of mind )
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