Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Are You Optimistic?

From TED, The Optimism Bias
About the speaker Tali Sharot

I wonder if the speaker ever interviewed autism-warrior-parents? It seems to me that we do not live our lives so much with the idea of optimism as with reality and doing what is best to make sure that our children have the choice to be optimistic about their future. I personally do not think of myself as one who is optimistic. Now don't get me wrong, I am a can-do parent. I demand that my children be allowed to be seen as human beings with the same rights as everyone else. But I don't know how that fits into being optimistic.

I  do know that I always plan for the worst and hope for the best. I obsess about the worst in fact, sometimes to the distraction of the hubby.  I know I used to lay awake at night before any IEP meeting and figure out all the ways things could go wrong, even though the issues with the school district had been ironed out years earlier. I suppose I always worried about someone somewhere backsliding on the boys.

Yes we do worry about the boys' future prospects in life, constantly. We try to think how we could work issues through. I am sitting here dreaming about what to do for CM1 if he doesn't get into law school, and then I am worrying about how to get him the accommodations he will need when he does get into a law school. Hubby isn't concerned about him getting accepted. I am worried about his LSAT being flagged and that it will have an effect on his admissions. I derive multiple plans for the future and multiple coordinated beachhead assaults. I live my life as if I am fighting a several front war. I do not call that very optimistic. You see, whenever we have let down our guard we are blindsided by people's ignorance, so I keep a running theater in my head of possibilities and plans of action.

But then again, I remember the day that CM1 was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, and the doctors could give us no assurances as to his future, I said..."Nuts to that." No one was going to tell me my child wasn't going to have a future. So I set about making certain that he had the future he was entitled to have. Perhaps that is in and of itself optimistic. I didn't allow past information or perceptions of those with autism to cloud my fight for the boys' future. Perhaps it is optimistic to ignore the "powers that be" and wage the war you know needs to be fought. Is it not optimistic to think that by sheer force of will you can accomplish any goal you set your mind to?

So in the end maybe I am optimistic simply because I refuse to accept the numbers and the percentages and that the past is prologue. Personally I refuse to believe that you can't direct the future or shape it.  Nothing is written. Nothing is fated. We stand or fall simply because of our own choices and our own beliefs. If you believe that you will falter you will falter. It's not about being smacked down in life, its about what you do when you get back up that counts.

Or maybe its an American thing (the speaker in the video is from the UK). We of course here in the US are a different breed of traveler on this Earth. Descended from those that sought a better world (yes many of us were thrown out of the more civilized nations that existed at the time- many did not leave of their own accord). We are a nation of iconoclasts. Bucking trends and convention to forge ahead with our own ideas and our own way of viewing the human species. Believing that freedom and human rights are inherent in every person on the planet Earth and refusing to believe that we need to make accommodations, or common cause, with those who wish to destroy the human spirit. This is optimism. It is the belief formed over 250 years ago among a group of farmers, lawyers, politicians and merchants that they could challenge the greatest power on Earth and tell it to take a hike (Declaration of Independence). It is a belief that People can rule themselves and  make their own decisions (US Constitution).

Maybe it goes hand in hand..this optimism, this American thing and this autism-warrior-parent persona. I don't know for certain. What I do know is that I don't  call it optimism to fight the good fight. But then again,  if humans were not optimistic why would we strive for a future at all? I call it seeking the future...if that makes me optimistic then so be it.  In other words, is optimism, the rose colored glasses way of viewing the world, the future and life in general, a bad thing? I hardly think so.

Are you optimistic?  Tell me what you think.

Until next time,