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.



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