I was an early reader. I know I was reading before my 4th birthday because I know I received books for my 4th birthday that I could read on my own. there are videos. I’ve always, ALWAYS, turned to books, and later to essays and the internet, to learn more about something.
In preschool and kindergarten I LOVED the encyclopedias. I just loved learning things about everything. As I got older and learned to use the library to my advantage I would hear a term or a phrase and search out books on it. Those books would introduce me to other terms and phrases and I would read and read. I read thousands of books during my childhood. There wasn’t much to do at home and, hey, I had a library card.
It is still much of how I function in the world. I get interested in something so I read a book on it. Take Autism, for example. When I was 7 or 8 I read “Kristy and the Secret of Susan,” a Baby-Sitters’ Club book. In the book Kristy, one of the babysitters, gets a babysitting job sitting for Susan, a child savant with autism. It’s all very rain-man. Susan has a calendar in her head, she can play any piece of music after hearing it once, but other than singing or answering “what day did __ happen on” questions she is nonverbal. That is what introduced me to Autism.
So I started reading more about it. Not all at once but over the next few years. First I went to the dictionary. Then to the encyclopedia. Then I read a couple of books about parenting children with autism. That all introduced me to the fact that there’s a lot more to autism than being smart but closed off to the world. It also introduced me to the concept of mainstreaming in education and stuff like that. When I was 12 I learned that there was a little league team in the area that paired kids with developmental and physical delays with typically abled kids to play baseball, so I signed myself up.
I then spent every summer for the next few years working with kids with autism, visual and hearing impairments, and various developmental delays. I now work full time at a residential treatment center for children with severe autism and other developmental delays.
That’s just one example. I went from being presented with a very one-dimensional view of something to being completely engulfed in it.
Books really are what have made this world work for me. I crave knowledge. I need to know X about Y. And I’m unwilling to only accept Person A’s opinion on Y. I need Persons’ B-R as well.
I’ve done this with lots of things. Religion. Sign Language. Polyamory. LGBTQ Organizing. Kink. Climatology. Relationships Intimacy.
It works. I like it.