I feel grateful for the community I’ve created through my writing. People are almost always supportive. But every so often – I’ll read a comment that makes my blood boil. Like when someone commented that my son has autism because I was a drug addict.
And just the other day, Linda of Autism & Oughtisms (a Babble Top 30 Autism Blogger ) shared the most upsetting comment left on one of her posts about her decision to have a second child after her son was diagnosed with autism. The comment was so hurtful and scary that Linda deleted it almost immediately. (Linda shared the comment with me, but it’s so horribly vile I can’t bring myself to quote it here.)
Within the world of social media, it’s too easy to hide behind a screen name and a key board. I see Facebook battles and Twitter wars all the time. But to attack someone’s child – a special needs child?! It’s the kind of ugly you wish didn’t exist in the world. The kind of ugly, special needs parents want to protect our kids from.
That’s what makes blogging so tough. Especially when you blog about something as personal and as sensitive as raising a child with special needs. You leave yourself wide open to criticism and ridicule. But blogging has also allowed me to heal. It’s given me a community of support and a place to go when I need advice.
I asked some blog friends to share their insights on blogging about their kids.
Jo, A Sweet Dose of Truth: Expect that many will rally around you, but there will be those who will pick apart every word, question your intentions as a parent, criticize you for being too happy, too sad, too angry, too accepting and not accepting enough. If you choose to blog about your journey parenting a child with autism, stick to YOUR story, to what YOUR heart knows, and no one will ever be able to take that away from you. Unless you let them.
Carmen, Stay at Home Crazy: You will find a wonderful accepting community and a vilifying, angry, superior community. Some of these will be the same people.
Miz Kp, Sailing Autistic Seas: You have to grow a thick skin. Everyone won’t like or agree with what you write. You will also grow your support network because you will meet many who get it. It will also be therapeutic. Sometimes just getting it out can help parent bloggers get through their day.
Bil, Pancakes Gone Awry: Absolute strangers will tell you you’re doing it wrong.
Jean, Stimeyland: You will help people you don’t even know exist. People will find strength in your words and your stories to carry on with their own lives. You will also open the minds of people you don’t even know exist. Every time you write about your child, you help people understand autism more.
Like anything else in life, you have to take the good with the bad. Blogging about your autistic kid isn’t easy. People will judge you and your will get your feelings hurt. But that is such a small part of blogging. I have met some pretty supportive people within the blog community, there are some folks I’ve never met that I consider friends – people I know I can count on for support, guidance, advice. I don’t think I could have gotten through the really tough parts of raising a special needs kid without the support of my blog network.
Blogging allows me to chronicle our life and Norrin’s achievements in a whole new way. It helps others who know nothing about autism, to understand what our version of autism is like. And I hope it helps new parents realize that they are not alone. That it gets better. That there is hope.
It would be too easy for me to shut down and stop writing after reading hurtful comments about my kid, about my parenting. But instead – it inspires me to keep writing. To keep spreading awareness. Because we cannot cower to ignorance. We have to overcome it.
So if you’re thinking of starting a blog – go for it. Share your story. It may be the voice someone else needs to hear. It could be the thing that gets you through the day.
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.