Today I realized that I’ve been blogging for over three years. That’s a long time, especially for someone that started this on a whim and had no idea what she was doing.
When you combine the blog with Twitter and Facebook, what you’ve got is a “community” of whatever your niche or topic is about. For me, that community is autism. I’ve learned that the autism community is unique in many ways, and sometimes it’s extremely difficult to navigate. Here are some things I’ve learned about it:
1. Parent bloggers are passionate about their children and their approach to parenting.
2. Self advocates are just as passionate about their own experience and point of view.
3. All this passion often bumps up against each other, and results in discord and, sometimes, bitter clashes.
4. People don’t blog because they want your opinions or advice. They don’t blog because they want you to tell them how to do it better. They blog because they feel that they have something to share, to contribute, to this community.
5. Most often, people blog because they want to connect to others so they don’t feel so alone, because this brand of parenting can be quite a lonely road. And I’ve seen some amazing support and friendship come out of this community.
6. Every once in a while, you run across someone who blogs because they think they know the best way to do things. And they feel really, really good about passing on their wisdom to you. And if you don’t agree, well then you are just on the wrong track, and how sad for you. It’s a good idea to avoid these people, who I refer to as having the “autism messiah” complex. Sometimes you will even encounter people that don’t have children who will try and tell you how to parent yours. Before you take their advice, think back to how much of an expert on parenting you were before you had children. Now go ahead and laugh, shake your head, and disregard their advice.
7. Most people in the autism community want the same things: inclusion, support, respect, and for autistics to be treated as equals. But getting everyone on the same page is almost impossible, because the other thing that everyone wants is to be heard. Autistics, parents, autistic parents, etc. But this group thinks they have more of a right to the microphone than that group, and so the only message that ever gets out is that we are a community of people that can’t get their shit together.
8. We all get burned out talking and reading and writing about autism. Everyone. And when you get burned out, that’s when you throw out the “fuck autism”s or the “autism can suck it”s. When that happens, the beast circles around on itself and tries to consume you. It’s better to just step back from social media for a while.
9. One reason for so much of the strife and division is that people forget they are advocating for different things. Parents are advocating for children. Self advocates are advocating for adults. The needs, abilities, and desires of children and adults are sometimes different. And what’s appropriate for children and adults is different.
10. Advocacy means standing for something, not against something. I don’t attack anti-vaxers, I support safe vaccinations for our children.
11. (Because, much like Spinal Tap, I go to 11.) There will ALWAYS be haters. Always. No matter how nice you are, no matter how mean you are, no matter how you try to avoid disagreement or drama, no matter what. Haters gonna hate.
The past three years have taught me a lot, not just about blogging, but about autism. I’ve learned who I can count on, and who I can’t. I’ve learned that autism isn’t the horrible monster in the closet that I thought it was. It just is. Good or bad, right or wrong, it doesn’t matter. What matters is your approach to it.
With all its drawbacks, I still love this community. It’s a great big virtual dysfunctional family. So I’m going to stick around for a while longer. None of that Ohmygod, I’m done with blogging so I’m leaving, but if you beg me to come back I will before the week is out drama here.