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RIP Autism Blogs

I think 2016 is most notable for how many celebrities passed away. Not just celebrities but like, legendary celebrities that revolutionized what ever it was they did. There’s also the whole election thing, but what ever… moving on.

In the autism community, something else died. It faded away. Only, most people never really noticed. Autism blogs.

I was looking through the list of autism blogs that I have along the side bar of this very blog and noticed that not one of them has a post in 2016. Some stopped updating as far back as 2014. Most in 2015. In 2016… no signs of life. All vital signs… flat lined.

I’m not really one to talk, I’ll admit it. My last post was in April, this is very near the end of December now. So what’s the deal? Well, for me, I got busy. I started Autcraft and it literally exploded in popularity, not just within the autism community but also in the media and even with researchers.

What happened to autism blogs in general? Why did they fade away? Why have parents stopped writing?

Social Media

In the beginning social media drove traffic to our blogs. It was great. You start a fan page or a twitter account, post links there to your blog posts and people start flooding in. It was the easiest thing in the world. But social media evolved and the people did too. People didn’t want to go to social media just to go somewhere else. People wanted to read what you had to say right there, where they are, without having to go anywhere else. That’s basically what social media sites are designed to do… keep you there, not send you elsewhere. And it worked.

Autism bloggers found that they had unlimited space to write what they wanted right on Facebook, or Google+ or Medium… not so much Twitter. People commented there. They shared there. They liked there. And the more they did, the more other people saw it. None of that happened when the person went to a blog to interact with you.

So the writing moved. With it, so did the writing style because you couldn’t just post links within the posts anymore. You couldn’t just embed images or style things the way you wanted anymore. So “articles” became “posts” and “posts” became “status updates.”

People don’t have time to read a whole article anymore anyway so the shorter it was, the better. Which brings me to…

Time

As much as autism parents don’t have time to read long articles anymore, they also don’t have time to write them. It gets even worse when you write them and then go to other people’s blogs to read them too. Your whole day ends up being consumed with blogs when, as we autism parents know, there’s very little “free time” as it is.

So those autism bloggers who loaded up social media sites to see what friends and others are doing, they would just update their life there. Where those people are. There was no point in going to some other website, signing in, writing a post, proof reading, spell checking, styling, finding images and styling it all just to go back to their social media sites to share the link with people who don’t want to have to go there just to read it. You’re better off just skipping the fancy stuff and putting it right on your social media page. Less time for you and the reader that way.

Money

Social media is free. Well, sudo free. You get ads and stuff which pays for it but you personally do not have to pay anything for it. A blog on the other hand, you do. If you want a custom domain name, if you want a custom look and feel, if you want to do give-aways… chances are you have to pay for all that. There are ways around some of those things but it takes work… which also equates to value. Money.

On Facebook though, you don’t have any of that. You just type what you want to say, hit the button and you’re done. Hassle free. No domain, no files, no plugins, no themes… if time is money, then just putting your thoughts into a Facebook post instead of a blog is priceless.

The Future

I am a little sad that autism blogs don’t seem to be a thing any more. For some reason, it was just easier to find other autism parents that I could relate to when I would go from blog to blog with their shared links and read about their experiences and feel like I knew them a little bit. That’s tougher to do in social media when your only real interaction with someone is a shared comment on someone else’s thoughts on the latest television show. Also there’s the whole friend request or “follow” thing. I think most people feel a lot less awkward about just having readers than they do in having people be on a friend list.

Many autism parents do still try to help each other out though by sharing each other’s Facebook fan page updates or giving shout outs and things but it’s just not the same. Perhaps I’m just nostalgic.

The autism blog era may be mostly behind us but it’s not completely. There are still some autism blogs out there and some new ones starting up all the time. Plus, there are still people doing actual writing on the subject and about their families, they’re just harder to find now but they are out there.

Also, those people who do friend some other people they find on social media turn out to be very good friends, even meeting each other in real life after a while. That doesn’t normally happen with readers on a blog. So there’s that.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… RIP Autism Blogs. You will be missed.

But there’s still lots of good stuff for us in 2017. We just have to adapt and make the best of what we have.

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I think I speak for everyone when I say that I speak only for myself

If you read blog posts or news articles or random bits and pieces of things from people, do you honestly assume that the person is speaking on behalf of all those within their community? How about the world?

Chances are you haven’t really put much thought into it at all. You just read what someone says and go about your day. As it should be.

A funny thing happens though, when you are one of the people writing some of the same (or similar) things that other people are writing… you start getting defensive. As if somehow, in some way, those other writers are writing on your behalf and they’re not getting your message right at all.

It all starts to spiral quickly once one person starts naming another person and it gets ugly fast.

But for the most part, I think anyway, most readers don’t care about any of that and most never assume that one person’s writing is indicative of the way everyone thinks or what their experiences have been. I’m not saying they definitely know better and always think that each story is unique but rather that most people don’t even think about it at all.

Most people enjoy what a writer says and comes back to read more another time or moves on to the next thing they read or they go back to stopping their kids from fighting.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that I speak only for myselfIf you’re a writer/reader, try not to take it so personally when someone’s opinion is different from your own or if they’ve had conflicting experiences from your own. If it does seem that some other writer is attempting to speak for you, let it slide. You know they don’t. The reader knows they can’t.

If you’re a reader and not a writer and you’ve never really given it much thought, let me put your mind at ease right now. What I write, no matter what it is, is based on my own opinions and experiences and I speak for no one else but myself.

And if you read something from someone that does claim to be speaking on behalf of others, keep in mind that they can’t possibly do that. Don’t get mad at them, but just keep it in mind as you read. Their experiences and opinions are valid too, even if they do have an enlarged ego.

Sometimes they might even have facts and figures to back up what they say with such claims as “the majority of” and so forth. If you think about it… “most” people still isn’t everyone. Meaning, they still can’t speak for everyone.

Most of all, if you do see a writer naming another writer to discredit them or make an argument, keep an open mind that these are two passionate people, both with valid yet conflicting opinions. And try to filter out the ugliness as best you can. Chances are, they’re both not wrong. They just might not be able to see that at the time.

You really can believe everything you read, if you remember to keep in mind the source. They are human too. They are just one person and that’s all that they can speak for.

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Perspectives on autism spectrum disorders

Often, when reading blogs about autism spectrum disorders, I find sentences complaining about the impaired social skills; what should their kids become when it has impaired social skills? Likewise, the lack of or developmental delay in language in some kids, the lack of toilet training in some kids and further on make similar questions; what should it become of my kid? The standard solution posed has been diverse behavioral and educational therapies and pedagogics; the focus has been on training the kid to be as normal as he can be. If it works, the research still tell us little about. In any case, it confirm the view many have about autism spectrum disorders; something wrong with the kid which has to be somewhat fixed.

What, in reading such blogs, surprise me is the lack of question to the medical discourse which  lay the foundation for such a perspective on autism spectrum disorders. Being genetics as it is said, the world must have gone through a very fast and overwhelming phase of genetic change in the 1920’s if the diagnosis genetic statement is true. I find the genetic statement to be true, but I don’t find it to be true that the diagnosis necessarily raised in the 1920’s. I find it probable that it was first in the 1920’s the foundation existed to make this kind of identity to be converted into a diagnosis, and this conversion; from personality to pathology, is in need of reflection. If autism spectrum disorders once was a trait of personality, not posing any trouble but contributing to diversity, why is it today such a problem with it? Why is impaired social skills, lack of or developmental delay in language, lack of basic skills like toilet training and so on a problem?

The answer lies all in our perspectives on autism spectrum disorders. Confronted with the ever demanding western world we often jump on the barricades to be as prepared as we can in meeting it. Good social skills, we think (automatically often) are needed for making networks; both personal and economical, being included and not teased by others and so on; it is as it is our glue in the society, making the fundamental bond between us. Lack of language and toilet training, we think as well make a problem in relationships and it also must be a pain for the kid; because it is a pain for the parents to communicate with a kid without language and changing diapers the whole life. But the biggest case is that the kid bear the label of autism; a label called an epidemic and made as worse as cancer, a sickness which the kid manifest to such a degree that it can’t be any good to it other than its medical discourse. In this perspective we miss some fundamental questions, and that is questions about the terms itself: What does social mean? What does lack of or developmental delay in language mean and what consequences do it have for the kid seen from the kids perspective? And is lack of toilet training as worse as it is pictured?

The french philosopher Michael Foucault called empathy a sort of relational power, the german philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein made social skills into a game mechanism and the german philosopher Jürgen Habermas divided the social world from the natural world. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a french educational philosopher, proposed to say that a kid should not have social contact before the age of 16 since social contact before would coloring the kid so much that it lost himself completely. The french philosopher Henri Bergson concluded that social skills are the solution to the question of free will as it removes it. Many more philosophers has had something to say on the question of social skills; theories which are important to consider when the negative thought who say that impaired social skills are a disaster come up. The background for this thought may find it way back to the antiquity, where both Plato and Aristotle reflected on how to be good; how to do the right things in life. Plato found this to be a part of the true nature and something which all humans had as part of themself, but as something which needed educational training to be revealed. Aristotle on the other hand found not the case that all humans have it, as all humans are unique, but also he concluded that education may learn the human how to be good. In that time of age social skills was what made human doing the right thing. The glue of the network was in that time of age love. Today social skills has converted to both be a question of moral and ethics, and the glue of the network, and love has transformed into a sexual value.

Regarding language skills, which both philosophy of language and linguistic has its primary area, one could have done the same kind of philosophical journey and concluded with it both as bad and as good. Language could have been posed to being the borders which don’t make us in touch with neither nature nor God, and it could have been posed as the skill who make us human. And as well with other basic skills; in the way of philosophy and history human skills may come up as both negative and positive skills, and that is important to take into account.

The autistic person is very found to be under the influence of others; yet their will to original experience would have an influence of their choice. If only negative labels are posed on their traits, they also will become negative to it because no other alternatives to choose from will exist. This negative perspective on themself may be an obstacle in life; making it harder to get a job and a independent life as it in the same time make them more susceptible to treatment. A positive perspective on the other hand, where the traits are posed as unique skills and independence, will make a kid with autism spectrum disorder strong, he may make success in work life and he will be independent. He will also be more inclusive and caring, but he may not be very susceptible for treatment and a disaster to all health personals. The perspectives on autism spectrum disorders make the way for the autistic; impaired social skills, lack of language and basic skills do not need to be an obstacle; it does not need to be a pain for the autistic, it has all to do with the perspectives the autistic itself has on it, and that perspective has the environment a responsibility for.

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Father’s Day in the autism community is becoming something amazing

Since getting involved in the autism community, particularly with my blog, I’ve gained a little extra attention simply for the fact that I’m a father. I knew, going in, that fathers speaking out was a rarity but I really had no idea just how rare. And while I enjoyed being given a little extra oomph to my voice by people willing to help get fathers heard a little more, I also kind of felt that I shouldn’t be taking it because… well, it’s really not fair. My voice was new, not yet established and even I wasn’t sure if I should be reaching a wider audience yet.

Still, as the years passed, I did get to meet some other fathers and I did get some more extra attention by those who were eager to hear from a dad for a change and started to feel more comfortable in my role… the autism father.

I was getting emails from other dads telling me how nice it is to hear that they’re not alone. Some of them even started blogs of their own. I was getting comments from moms telling me that they passed on something I wrote to their husbands and that they really liked it.

But this year… this year really takes the cake.

And I’m going to write now, a lot about me, but it’s not to gloat. Honest. It’s just that mine is the only perspective I have and don’t follow all of the mentions/articles/features that other dads have. But I will still highlight a few that I did notice.

Anyway, skip passed this next section if you want to get straight to the point because I am trying to make a point here.

A Father’s Point of View

something special magazine

Click for full size

This year, months ahead of time, I was contacted by Something Special Magazine because they wanted to feature a few “Dynomite Dads” for their June issue. It’s a magazine that distributes in only a few states but it’s growing and doing well and to be honest, for a guy sitting at home in a 10×10 room with no windows while my kids are playing, being in a print magazine is pretty awesome.

You can read the whole issue here or click on the thumb to the right to read the page that was about me.

A little closer to Father’s Day, I was contacted by Your Beautiful Child to be the guest featured father for Father’s Day morning. What an honour! And it really was a great show too, I think. Although the hour went by far too fast.

You can listen to my interview here.

On Father’s Day itself, I got mentions from fellow bloggers such as from Lou at Lou’s Land and also from resource sites including:

I even had a blog post of my own that was shared about quite a bit and another blog post of mine featured over at http://SpecialHappens.com as well.

 The rise of the fathers

The point is, which I alluded to earlier, is that father’s are getting noticed and being heard. It’s not that no one would listen before but that we just never tried. Well, ok, some did but not enough. Not nearly enough. There’s still not enough but this proves that more and more dads are getting out there and speaking up.

This proves that more and more people like what we’re saying and want to hear more.

So yes, I shared mostly links to what I had going on but many of those links include more links to other fathers and to other resources with more fathers. Check them out!

Go find those dads… you might not agree with some, that’s to be expected. But some of them may have some very fresh perspectives which may really grab your attention.

And if you’re a dad and you see all these other dads out there, jump right in! Start your own blog, start commenting on other’s blogs, start up a Twitter account.. what ever.

Just, let us hear you. I’ve already proved that people want to.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this video from ABC where they talked to Lou from Lou’s Land… a father.

For more incentive, check out these other great dads:

Yeah, I’m pretty thrilled with the attention I got this Father’s Day. How can I not be? Still, the best part of the day wasn’t all the hoopla at all.

The day started with an email from a man in Florida who simply said that he read my story and now, no longer feels alone.

I can’t even begin to describe to you how great that feels. What a brilliant way to start the day!

Father’s Day is over now, but there’s a whole year to find more dads that are willing to speak up, to give more dads the attention they deserve and to make next Father’s Day even better.

It’s very exciting to me. I’ve seen so much change in so very little time.

Fathers, you rock!

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My own little world – Important place to be but don’t get lost there

The phrase “own little world” is often used to indicate ignorance, that a person has no idea what is going on in the world outside of their own life.

I like to think of it more as an indicator as to what is important. You see, what ever is happening in my own little world has the utmost importance to me. It’s what I know best, it’s what I care for most and it’s what is most important to me.

There’s nothing wrong with your own little world, everyone has one and everyone should be proud of theirs.

My own little world

our own little worldFor me, my own little world consists of myself, my wife, my children and my pets… that’s it. That’s what I know better than anyone else, it’s what is more important to me than anything else and it’s what brings me the most joy.

For some people, it might be only their children, only their spouse… it may be just themselves, if they are focusing on their own happiness before starting or without having a family.

You protect your own little world even if it means getting a little bloody because there’s nothing more important in the whole world.. than your own little world.

But…

Don’t forget there is a bigger world out there

I find that, especially when it comes to parenting, and 10 fold more when it comes to Autism, people easily get lost in their own little world.. and when they step out and look around, they forget that things are different out there.

I know I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know, but we all need reminders sometimes. Hear me out for a minute…

We Autism parents write about our experiences and sometimes, when we’re lucky, we write something that you can relate to.  However, the very nature of Autism, as we all know, is that the experience is different for everyone.

This presents a very interesting problem…  we write about our own little world, which doesn’t match up with other people’s little worlds… there are two possible outcomes:

  1. One or both parties recognizes that their own little world is different, accepts that fact and either does not comment or does comment, stating how their own experience differs
  2. One or both parties denies the existence of the other person’s little world, proclaiming that they are liars, misguided, ignorant or just plain wrong and that they are doing a great disservice to the entire world (which I’m assuming is their reference to their own little world but we both know it isn’t)

More often than not, I see #2 all over other people’s blogs. (pun intended)

Take a deep breath

The problem with this is that it requires both parties to remember and recognize the “my own little world” phenomenon and take a deep breath, relax and accept that we all have different experiences with differing opinions.

Not just both parties, but many many parties… the more popular a blog becomes, the more that little worlds come into contact with it… some of them collide.

Just this morning I tweeted: Autism is like a rainbow; it has a brighter side & a darker side, every shade is important & beautiful and it hides something golden.

To which, one angry parent was rather mad that I’d call it a rainbow (I didn’t, it’s a comparison), proceeded to remind me that Autism is a serious disability and that “fluff” like that doesn’t help those who suffer from Autism.

He didn’t take a deep breath.

He completely skipped the “darker side” reference as well as the part that says that it “hides something golden”. I mean, yes… I’ll admit to the “fluff” but it’s not all peaches and cream either. I felt it rather adequately expressed the darker points… the “suffering.”

Anyway, as I said, he didn’t take a deep breath, instead acting instinctively to attack me for not telling his story… for not telling everyone about his own little world.

However, that’s not my place. I can’t tell other people’s stories for them.

And so…. I take a deep breath, and I remember that his own little world is what he knows and is what is more important to him. In his way, he’s protecting that.

My own little world is different. I can accept that.

And when I read about his experiences and his story… I’ll remember to respect that his own little world is vastly different than my own.

Please keep in mind that, what you experience in your own little world, might not be what someone else experiences. Their story is completely different. They share their story, not to fight with you, but to show you just how different things can be… and maybe, sometimes, just how much the same they can be too.

Take a deep breath. Your own little world is not threatened by others sharing their own story. Your own little world is still your own, you still know it better than anyone… and most of all, it doesn’t mean that anyone thinks you are ignorant of what’s going on outside of your own little world. At least, it shouldn’t.

Just take a deep breath. In fact… you should rejoice that no one else’s little world is the same as yours. If it was, it wouldn’t be your own.

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