Thursday, January 7, 2010

Facebook: Friend or Foe?

Hello. My name is Chris and I am addicted to Facebook.

Not as badly as I was at first, mind you, but I still waste enough hours on the social networking site to be a wee bit embarrassed about it. The thrill in the beginning is all the new "friends" you find. Everyone wants to invite you to the virtual party and you feel like the belle of the ball with all the waiting invitations out there.

Look! A friend from grade school! Oh joy, a former colleague! What ho - an ex-boyfriend! Everyone so eager to reconnect after years, possibly decades, apart.

I don't deny that Facebook has helped me track down and chat up friends with whom I have lost touch for one reason or another. It has actually strengthened family ties as well, as my long list of cousins and I can now keep track of one another and comment on each other's daily musings.

The seedy side of Facebook, however, out there. I have "friended" old friends only to realize why we weren't Honest-to-God real life friends anymore. Some have a propensity towards political views and religious opinions as their status updates. Since this is a "social" networking site and religion and politics are topics I was taught to avoid in polite company, I don't get these folks. I have "unfriended" more than one person because their rhetoric was offensive or just plain annoying. However, if you post something on Facebook - just like any other public forum - you had better be ready to back it up or defend it. It is out there for public consumption and debate.

Then there is the "to friend or not to friend" question. Also commonly referred to as the "friend or ignore" query. Do you ignore a request from someone you volunteer with? Surely they will notice and take offense. How about the college roommate who drove you nuts (not you, Feeb)? And what of the ex who left you emotionally wasted for months and now wants to be "friends." (Note: this situation is so aptly synthesized in this song on youtube. Another note, that link would be NOT safe for work.)

Sometimes you accept their friendship out of curiosity. Other times because it is a social or work obligation (this is what "Lists' are for, people. Use them!). Other times, "ignore" just feels good. I ignored my grade school nemesis and in my ignore message, sent her a personal note something along the lines of "are you f-ing kidding me?" (Thank you, Kate Mill-Heidke.)

Despite the pitfalls, I am still a Facebook addict. I tend to have very funny friends and their status updates alone are worth the price of admission. Add to that their comments and photos and I rarely log on without being thoroughly and genuinely amused by at least one of you fine folks. I follow their blogs and they follow mine and we generally have a high old time having virtual coffee and kibbutzing about the rest of you who, sadly, we have likely "ignored." :)

Small Group for Small People

Down the Rabbit Hole we go, folks, into the land of tiny group therapy. Completely surreal and yet I am thankful it exists.

Jack started his group classes yesterday with the STAR (Social Training and Rehearsing) Group at Children's Hospital. While it was heart-wrenching to walk into the room and see five tiny chairs arranged in a circle, just like I imagine adult group therapy to be, it was a relief to talk to some of the other parents there.

Our new friend Ryland had a complete meltdown when it was time to enter the room. "This is completely normal," explained his nonplussed mother, "Transitions are the worst for us." HALLELUJAH. Are you telling me people look at YOU like you're a horrible parent, too?

As we were leaving, I heard another mom having a heated debate with her 4-year-old son about how they were NOT going on the elevator this afternoon. I smiled silently. I had relented upon arriving and explained to Jack that we will go up one time and down one time and then we are done with the elevator. However, this is the kid who goes to the mall not for the play pit, but for the elevators and whose favorite part of the zoo is the door to the aquarium. I feel your pain, sister.

Misery loves company, it is too true. None of parents are miserable. Just challenged. A PDD-NOS diagnosis ( or any diagnosis on the autism spectrum) brings with it many things. Answers, questions, fears and frustration. It was a relief to be sitting among parents who share many of these challenges.

Jack did really well. I was so proud of him for not melting down when I left and for participating at all. You really can't compare kids on the spectrum, since autism affects each and every kid in a different way. That being said, I was so happy to see that none of his "behaviors" flared yesterday.

This morning, we were on to bigger things. The Occupational Therapist from the district was in J's class when I left today. I am eager to hear hat she has to say. She explained that she was going to work with Jack on tracing and shapes (to which I thought, good luck, lady. Why don't you just throw scissor use in there, too??). I hope she gets to watch him play as well. Both the office manager at the JCC and my friend Julie understood that Jack is fine one-on-one. If she wants to evaluate him for school, though,l she is going to have to watch him in a group, where he tends to get a little squirrely.

Today I am spending the morning calling therapists to see if any of the ones on our insurance are taking new patients. Was it Confucius who said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"? If so, it feels as if the baby steps are starting to actually amount to something. Being Jack's mom is the most rewarding, challenging and worthwhile thing I could ever hope to do with my life. Though our journey may be of a thousand miles, I am glad to be on it with him.