Thursday, September 22, 2011

TPGA Dialogues: Adventures in Talking to People

This is as good a time as any to mention that this week we kicked off The Self-Advocate & Parent Dialogues, which is a series of letters between me, Ari, and Robert Rummel-Hudson (the parent advocate who I had that big fight with last month). The Dialogues are being hosted at The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. I am happy -- and frankly, really surprised -- to say that I think they are going well.

The reason Robert and I agreed to do these Dialogues is because we were both really unhappy with what happened last month -- a bunch of disabled people and non-disabled parents yelled at each other a lot and then went back to their corners fuming about how they would probably never be able to work together. The thing I'm discovering, which is interesting and says a lot about the internet I think, is that it's easier to do that than to hang on and have a long conversation that involves a lot of listening.

I've seen people commenting that the Dialogues posts made them cry. I've cried, and gotten frustrated and depressed, over some of the things that people have said. It's hard to reach out and really try to engage, because that means you won't have your defenses up, and it will hurt more when someone, for example, starts getting all Suddenly Specific Definition Fallacy on you. I think for a lot of people writing posts or participating in the comments, the Dialogues have been a process of engaging, getting hurt, licking wounds, and then coming back to engage again. But so far, people are coming back. And that makes me pretty happy.

Here are the posts so far:

first I wrote a letter
then Robert
then Ari
then me again
then Robert again

Check it out for yourself and let me know how you think it's going.


  1. I'm loving your posts on the TPGA blog.
    It truly is complicated to read all the comments.

  2. Alicia! Hi. I'm glad you're here. I wanted to tell you that I've really been appreciating your comments in the discussion.

    Also, I think it's wonderful that you were born.

  3. I appreciate the opportunity to have this dialogue.

  4. I am happy, too, for most of the reasons you list -- though I know there has been unavoidable collateral damage. Thank you (and Rob, and Ari) so much for agreeing to participate.

  5. I posted my thoughts on my blog. There's lots of frustration involved.

  6. Hi Zoe. I just wanted to let you know I've been thinking about you these past few days, and wanted to check in on how you are feeling about the dialogues. Your contributions were invaluable, and I hope we hear much, much more from you in the future.

  7. I loved both of your posts. Your second post, in particular, was incredibly well-written and powerful. I haven't been able to keep up with all the comments during this series, but I did post a response here:, which I hope you will read.

  8. I'm a little overwhelmed with managing all the input from the Dialogues, so I'm not sure how to respond to your comments individually, but thank you all so much for saying what you said.