Special Needs Adults Online

Something happened today that brought out how adults with special needs are treated online. First, no one is going to come right out on a forum and shout,”I AM A SPECIAL NEEDS ADULT! TREAT ME CAREFULLY! BE KIND!” Instead, they’re going to post in a thread and–oh boy– let the fun begin.

Today I read a woman’s post on a forum about a novel she’s in the middle of writing. She was from the USA, had so much enthusiasm, but her post read like a second grader. Many misspellings, poor grammar, rambling…. At first I was perplexed and passed over the post, not giving it much thought. Then one person responded asking if she was a child. I knew she wasn’t from the brief synopsis of the story. Cancer, sex, and rock ‘n roll aren’t a part of a seven-year-old’s interest. Maybe a teenager….

But I digress. I have two young adult sons who are special needs in very different ways. As a neurologist once said to me, “You don’t just have opposites, you have extreme opposites.” Thank you so much, doctor. Want to come to my house to help? Anyway, my older son has IMd and texted and emailed and posted on MySpace and Facebook. Many times–especially on MySpace and Facebook–his “friends” have misunderstood him. His thoughts might have come out garbled. Or when he meant to say “you” it became “me.” And then they drop him or unfriend him.

I guess what I’m rambling about now is that we, as in I and many others, compare those we meet online to the norm. If we don’t fit the norm, either we’re a child or someone no one wants to be bothered with. Pretty soon the special needs people leave the forums or the social networking site, wondering what the heck happened. And I’m to blame too, yet I should know better!

Is there an answer to all of this? A solution? Perhaps. Maybe if we take a step back in this New York Minute-type world and think before we respond to someone’s inept grammar or spelling or word usage, then maybe those with special needs will be more a part of the online community without fear of rejection or being humiliated.