“Outing” My Son

I got a comment from an anonymous poster who said:
That was a touching story, however, given that your child is 10 and struggling with fitting in don’t you have any concerns that writing such a blog with his pictures and full name might embarrass him and make him feel further alienated? Children are cruel. Not only that but you’re also leaving a trail of history that may follow him throughout his future.My son is the same age and has similar struggles, but I can’t imagine “outing” him since it’s his choice to share his disability – especially as he grows older.I applaud your passion and advocacy but why don’t you keep it about yourself and focused on your expertise? 
I wasn’t sure how to respond at first. I told the poster that I would take some time to ponder their words and then come back with a blog post.
So here I am. 

I pondered things a bit and I did a little soul searching and I came to this conclusion. 
I don’t for one moment feel I am embarrassing my child with this blog. Everything here is honest and objective and is nothing to be ashamed of, from either of us. 
Kids are cruel, but also, kids go on places like Facebook to find incriminating stuff. I highly doubt that they would ever find this place unless they suddenly became Sherlock Holmes. 
As for “outing” him, I told Nathan when he was 6 what he has. He has always known that he is different than other kids, but I have always said that it is his choice to share it with others if he wishes.  I told him that I was going to start writing a blog about our experiences. I asked him for his permission and his input. He is aware what goes on this site. He goes to a wonderful school system that supports him and his classmates for the most part are understanding and encouraging. Some of them are not. That is the web of life.  So, no, I never outed my son. 
I can’t keep it just about me, as if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do this. I wouldn’t have his experiences, his words, his thoughts, his processes, it would be very one sided and that’s not how I want to share things with others. The point of this blog is to be a place where like minded folks can see that they are not alone, that there are people out there like them who struggle like we do every day. That there are awful tragedies and amazing triumphs.

That I am here to put out to the world what I have learned, what I am growing into being, what I have seen with these eyes, because when I started this journey, there was nothing. I had no resources, no leads, no help and what really felt like no hope. That’s a scary place that I don’t wish anyone to have to visit. With this blog, there is hope. I have touched people. I have made a difference. And that is all I could ever ask for. 

I can’t and don’t want to change your mind about how you feel. Your choice to keep your son’s diagnosis to yourself is completely your business and I will never judge you for that decision. The world is a cruel and cold place for folks with challenges. However, how do we make it less cold and cruel unless we use our voices to make change? Why should we remain in the shadows? Ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds hate. Awareness working towards acceptance is my goal and my purpose. It is my choice to walk into the light and to say that my son has these things, and this is what we do to and that I pray it can help someone, some how, some day. 
If you ever choose to walk into the light, please know we are here on the other side. 
Amy Sheridan on BloggerAmy Sheridan on Twitter
Amy Sheridan

0 thoughts on ““Outing” My Son

  • October 12, 2012 at 8:25 am

    @aspergerninja – umm, I meant as in “in closing” – referring to the last remark. It’s a common expression. Everyone “closes” there blog with a specific point. I never said you blog was actually closed down.

  • October 12, 2012 at 7:28 am

    @bombshell_couture@xanga – My blog is not closed at all. My respect is paramount. I feel that poster is not walking in the light because they fear posting anything at all, and want me to do the same. Their fear and anxiety makes them project onto me. I want them to one day walk in the light of acceptance and not being afraid of who they are, not that they are in darkness for not revealing their child’s intimate details or their name. I respect their rights and their choices and decisions completely. I don’t want them to change theirs for me, as I don’t want them to change mine for them. 

    As for my child’s full name, yes, it’s on there. So isn’t any other child’s name when they are in the news paper, or on TV, or other blogs which show children’s names. I have nothing to be ashamed or afraid of, and neither does he. 

  • October 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

    @LeviStyles@xanga – good point, most people from our generation were lucky enough to start out with a clean slate, however now we are raising a whole generation of children who will have an online presence long before they create a reputation for themselves. Let’s hope most parents are making wise choices as they create that online identity.

  • October 9, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I find it interesting that this writer feigns respect for the opinions of others yet closes her blog by insinuating the other person is not “walking in the light”. No wonder she had problems gaining respect from others.

    And posting your kid’s full name – really?

  • October 7, 2012 at 9:39 am

    @autismreads – He has always been aware of what I write, he reads it and has read it since he was 6. I understand the concept of informed consent, and yes, there may be future consequences of that. At any time he can say, take that down, and I would. And I could take it down at any time. Would that erase the footprint of what was left on the internet? No, it would not, and I guess that is the future consequences of informed consent that we would have to face. 

    I’m sure that the day is coming that he will be incredibly embarrassed by what I’m writing, and then it will all be taken down, with no regrets, judgements or reprisals. 

  • October 7, 2012 at 9:31 am

    @akarui_mitsukai@xanga – I think that being anonymous would not help at this point, as he’s out there with his name. I think what is sad to hear is that the reason that people are concerned is because of bullies and that I would make him a target. 

    We are aware there are bullies and we stand up to them. I don’t want either of us to live in fear. If they are going to find things about my son (or any other child for that matter, there are pictures and information everywhere, not just blogs or Facebook), they will find it. And isn’t that a terrible concept, that bullies will spend their time trying to bring folks down because they themselves really have a low self esteem and need to do this to make themselves feel better? 

  • October 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

    @MyPublicSite@xanga – I can always self reflect without my son, and I certainly do in a different forum, where I am no less shy about what I share. In this instance, where it’s about him, and how we live, then yes, I feel I do need to include him in that decision. 

    As for consent, how many other blogs, books, tv shows, pods casts, what have you, that are similar in subject matter to this one do not ask their children for consent.  What about the children on reality tv shows, or celebrity children that get paraded around?  Consent in this instance is not about legal consent, it’s about agreeing and being of the same opinion. If he had said no when he was 6, then he would not be up there. Or 7, or 8 or 9. There is nothing he needs to be or I should be ashamed of on this blog. 

  • October 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    I do not think it is dishonest to use a pseudonym for your son. I think it is wonderful and brave of you to use your real name when you post. I don’t have that bravery. But I see nothing in your responses that explain why you would not protect your son by giving him a bit of anonymity (not animosity – may you and your son never experience animosity). He is too young to give his informed consent. Again, I applaud you for your personal honesty. But your son may feel differently when he’s a young adult. Many young adults deeply regret posting personal information on the internet because it stays there forever. But at least they can’t blame their moms and dads. Best wishes, Spectrum Mom (yes a pseudonym :^)

  • October 4, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I have to agree with Blue_Moon1… I feel that honesty is always best… However, a bit of animosity will help to protect him if ever there comes a day where he needs it. While it can be tedious from time to time, it may be worth it. You never know what people will find online when searching for someone for whatever reasons they may have.

    Best wishes,
    ~*Akarui Mitsukai*~

  • October 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I hate to say it, but personal issues got in the way of your self reflection. You can do all that stuff, and not use his real name. There is no way that a six year old consented to this. He’ was six.

    If he asked you to close the blog down right now? It’s a little too late unfortunately some of your posts have already been copied onto the World wide web and will never be “taken down”. That’s how the internet works.

  • October 3, 2012 at 7:43 am

    @NeverSubmit@xanga -The consent has always been informed. I do not hide what I write from him, as it is about him. If he asked me right now to shut down the website, I would. 

    As for background checks, I’ve had them done and have been praised about my work in the autistic community. If they found this site, along with the other online work I have done, it is nothing but the truth of what I do and what I have experienced. 
    As for my son, it is nothing he is embarrassed about or anything he should be embarrassed about. He knows what he has, he knows he is different and that not everyone in the world will be tolerant or accepting of him. We’ve both worked hard to give him the strength to know that it is 100% okay to be him. If kids are going to troll around the internet and find this about him and pick on him, well, I think it’s sad. It’s a very sad state if kids are still living in fear and ignorance and want to find information about someone to bring them down. It happens every single day. I’m aware of it. That fear and ignorance happens somewhere. But that fear and ignorance isn’t here. I celebrate diversity and I teach it here at home and at my job. I truly hope someday we don’t have to worry about that. 

  • October 3, 2012 at 7:38 am

    @bluejacky@xanga – I thank you so very much for your honest response, and I am very sorry that you had the many challenges that you face. I think the most important thing is that he is aware of what I write and that I do not write it without his consent. He knows what he has and he is not afraid of what he has. It makes him who he is. We do have a blog, that is true, but we don’t have a huge banner outside our house saying he has Asperger’s and I don’t tell every single person I meet that he has it. But I’m not afraid or ashamed to tell folks when the time and situation warrants it. Neither is he. 

    We are lucky to live in an area and school system that is very accepting of what he has and yes, he’s run into kids who bully him, but we’ve worked together to give him the tools to know that not everyone is going to like/tolerate him and he can walk away. 
    If he asked me today to take it all down, I would, because it is about him, not about me. He lets me share those experiences with the world to help them. I am very grateful for that. He is amazing and I could not be the person I am today without him. 

  • October 3, 2012 at 7:33 am

    @bones_breathe_hippie@xanga – I understand where you are coming from. There is certainly any risk putting yourself out there on the internet. It is one we do not take lightly and it comes with responsibility, too. We are working on being as honest and open as possible. 

  • October 3, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Thank you to all who have commented. I truly welcome them all. This is more of a thought provoking subject than I had originally thought and really, I am thankful for the responses I am getting. I take them all with an open mind and I think that in the end, I do not judge anyone for their opinions. They are welcome to them and I don’t deny them their feelings. 

    It is about informed consent, and my son is well aware and is in a capacity to consent to the content in the blog. If he asked me today to take it all down, I absolutely would. My goal is not to exploit my son, but to inform and to help. I’m not saying that my method is right and everyone else is wrong. I respond to this in another post on my blog. http://aspergerninja.blogspot.com  Its the most recent post and I hope you’ll take the time to look at it. 
    Much thanks to you all again. 

  • October 3, 2012 at 6:54 am

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120229105128.htm Interesting article on autism and children. I read a book a few years ago at Barnes & Nobel on this topic also… worth checking out!

    I personally wouldn’t use his real name… I don’t even use my real name on here. I never even use my last name on my email accounts, just because if I get hacked or whatever… they will have a slightly harder time with me.

    Anyhow, good luck!

  • October 3, 2012 at 6:51 am

    I have mixed feelings.  I’ve been very careful not to use my children as conversation topics online since I got so burned out on my mother using us kids as exactly that the whole time I was growing up, so that part is personal, and I don’t care what other people do.  On the other hand, I think it’s awesome that real stuff gets put out there for other people to find so we don’t feel like we’re alone dealing with something.  I agree that it’s very important to talk about our stuff, to face it, to be honest.  However, I’ve seen so many people slandered to heck and back for even admitting they are dealing with things like depression or a terminal illness like cystic fibrosis.  Many people on xanga have had to go private with their blogs in order to avoid insensitive comments when they most need support.  I think it’s human nature to be opinionated, and anyone with experience knows that advice or criticism coming from people without that experience is just ignorance, but it’s still tough to deal with sometimes.  I guess the concern is that your son will have a bad day here and there, and that someone will target him for sport with information they got for free just because they can.  I was very bullied all through school, I have very noticeable asperger’s, and I didn’t get any help dealing with it because no one knew back then what asperger’s was.  A lot of people are mean and don’t realize it, some are mean because they can be and get away with it as a diversion from their own stuff, and some simply enjoy being mean.  Once someone targets your son, they might be like a bulldog and not let go.  Some parents have to go to extreme lengths to help their kids avoid bullies.  And another thing- I was NOT very good at telling my parents when stuff happened to me and when I needed help.  In fact, I fell through every crack because I withdrew so much.  How will you know when your son really needs your help?  No one knew I needed help because the more I was bullied, the more autistic I became, turned to stone.  No one had a clue.  The best protection a child can get sometimes, besides a parent being on their side, is a way to hide from the world, a sort of sanctuary.  As someone having asperger’s, I really prize my autonomy, my privacy.  Your son might not have that chance if you openly blog about his stuff, he will become a mini celebrity for others to watch and poke sticks at.  I know that sounds extreme, and I don’t mean it to.  I know a lot of those feelings are my own stuff.  But they’re very real, and it’s taken me many years to get past them, because my mother talked about us kids to other people and we felt uncomfortable about it, but what child will go to a parent and say, “That makes me uncomfortable, please don’t discuss my stuff with people I have no control over.”

  • October 3, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I wouldn’t really be too happy if I grew up to find what my mom wrote about me on the Internet as I was growing up.

    However, everyone uses pictures, especially those of children, for anything on the web. ~

  • October 2, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Good for you. Nothing wrong with believing in what you say and do, I have to slightly agree with the other comment, real names might be better off not used. Honestly I can read your stories, and if you make up names , it keeps you and your child somewhat safe and annoymous, and doesn’t hurt the story info in the least.

  • October 2, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Number one: NOTHING on the internet is private.  Everything is public, and the kids at school might not be able to find it, but there are plenty of people who can. 

    Number two: it is a basic matter of internet safety to never release your real name, your real address, or anything else that can be linked to you as a unique individual.  Some people can benefit from releasing this information over the internet, but that’s because the internet is their place of business.  Putting that stuff out there means that anyone from spammers to creepy stalker people can find out where you are.

    Number three: employers now do searches for people over the internet as part of their background check.  They enter your real name into a search engine; they don’t bother trying to guess what websites you use, because that will turn up if you put your real name on them. 

    Actually, these are really all functions of number one. 

    If you both understand and accept these risks, more power to you. But consent is meaningless if it is not informed. 

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