It’s sadly ironic that a disorder affecting 1 in 110 children (by current estimates) can leave you feeling so alone. How can a world of almost 7 billion people have around 63,000,000 Autistic people in it and still leave us feeling like we have no one to talk to and no one who will understand what we’re going through? Mathematically, it seems ridiculous.
But the truth of the matter is that we do feel alone, we do feel isolated and we do feel like no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get people to understand what it’s like. More so than that, we feel lost as there are far too few programs, organizations and professionals for us to talk to.
Luckily, for many of us, we have already had a fair amount of experience with the internet and have grown accustomed to seeking out information for ourselves, some are even adept at researching for more information, or keeping themselves up to date on current trends. But it’s only been in the last 3 or 4 years really that our greatest tool has been brought to us, social websites!
Now, more than ever, we can connect and share stories and information with each other one on one or in groups. Facebook and Twitter are my personal favorites and I have received an overwhelming amount of support from the wonderful people I’ve found there.
I highly recommend using these and many other social sites as tools in your quest to add more information to your arsenal, and even to help gain that extra support, motivation and inspiration you may need to get you through some of the tougher days.
I do have a couple words of warning however, from my own personal experiences.
- Beware the temptation to win the popular race. This is especially tempting on Twitter where you see that # next to your Followers indicator and you just want it to go up and up and up. The truth is, you’re seeking knowledge and information that is extremely important to you. What you need is a community of followers and those you follow that will give and take from you the strength and information that will keep you all going. It’s not a popularity contest, as many on these sites will have you believe.
- Don’t let anyone “TELL” you what to think. It’s very easy to see a Facebook fanpage with hundreds of thousands of fans, or a Twitter account with hundreds of thousands of followers and think that they must know what they’re talking about, so what they say is obviously right. I think, in most cases, they would never do that and would only do their best to advise or share information and let you make your own decisions. But there are some out there who try to make up your mind for you, and try to ‘convince’ you to think the things they think. Remember, no matter the ‘popularity’, these are just real people out there like you and I, and they have no right to tell us what to think.
Don’t tell yourself you’re a nobody and shouldn’t contribute, because all of the people in the community are created equal. Perhaps they have done more research than you have, perhaps not… but they’re real people. And as a community, I’ve never once felt like I wasn’t appreciated for giving my two cents. It’s been a truly remarkable experience actually, intimidating at first but as I started to receive welcomes, feedback, support… I found that these places aren’t so bad.
I always pictured them as prank places for kids, you know… where teenagers go and talk about the latest pop stars and share dumb jokes but in all reality, there are some very very intelligent people, extremely supportive people and an absolutely amazing community that you can be a part of.
I really do hope you take the plunge, it’s so worth it.. and when you do, visit my fan page: http://www.facebook.com/autismfather
Be sure to scroll down on the left hand side and view the “Favourite Pages” section to find some truly wonderful fan pages full of information, people and stories.
Also, visit my twitter lists as they are filled with people just like you who would love to hear about your experiences, and may have advice or may even learn some things from your story themselves:
http://twitter.com/autismfather/autism-parents – A list of people who have at least one Autistic child. These people know and understand what you are going through.
http://twitter.com/autismfather/autism-resources – A list of resources where you can get the latest news, research, events, charities and more stories.
http://twitter.com/autismfather/amazing – This list is called ‘amazing’ because that’s the only way to describe the people on it… they have Autism, and they share their experiences on Twitter.
1 in 110 is staggering… you are most certainly not alone, not any more. Join us and become an active part of the community. Every person that does makes it stronger.