I’ve been writing most of my life. But I’ve only been blogging for two years. I started my blog, AutismWonderland, as an assignment for a graduate school course. We were encouraged to launch our own platforms to build readership.
As the only mother of a child with autism in the class, my blog was pretty much ignored by my peers. Writing about raising a kid on the spectrum just wasn’t sexy or cutting edge to hipster twenty-something year old writers. (Who knew?)
I didn’t know anyone who wrote a blog and I wasn’t reading blogs. I didn’t know about SEO, HTML, impressions or hashtags. I had a Twitter account but found it frustrating and never used it. For the longest time, my profile picture was an eggshell.
Maybe I should backtrack.
My son, Norrin, was diagnosed with autism in May 2008 two weeks before my college graduation. I had spent the months before my graduation, juggling three classes, a full-time job, applying to graduate school and going through the Early Intervention evaluation process.
At the time, I didn’t know anyone who had a child with autism. Almost everyone in my circle of friends had children, but none of them had a child like mine. While they tried to be supportive, I had no one who understood what I was feeling no one to tell me what I should do or what to expect.
I felt completely isolated. And depressed and guilty and everything else that comes with hearing “your child has autism” for the very first time.
Like most new autism moms, I turned to the Internet.
In those first months of Early Intervention our world revolved around therapies, services and appointments. Facebook was the closest thing I had to social life. And through friends of friends, I connected with parents who knew exactly what I was feeling and slowly I created an online network of support. Social Media became the place I could go for suggestions, referrals or comfort.
Then I started to blog. Writing about my experience, my worries, and my joys was therapeutic. I didn’t realize I had all this stuff I needed to get out. And as I began reading blogs, the more I realized I wasn’t alone.
I had read dozens of memoirs written by parents, but it was hard to connect. They were written long after acceptance and progress. The blogs I was reading were happening in real time. And it was reassuring to read that everything I had been feeling was natural.
As others started reading my blog. New autism moms thanked me for my honesty. Experienced moms told me that Norrin reminded them of their kids and that we would both be okay.
When Norrin was first diagnosed, the doctor recommended services but offered little hope. Hope was the thing I needed most. And social media gave me that.
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.