Special Needs Advocacy Parallels History of Social Media
In many ways, being a special needs parent is a very isolating experience — we slowly lose friends and family over the years because they can’t keep up with the constant state of crisis and need we bring to the table.
I don’t mean that we literally lose friendships or even family, but that life goes on, friendships become increasingly more one-sided when all your energy and attention is spent dealing with one crisis after another in your own house. It makes it hard to be a good friend to others, even while you need the friendship they could offer to you. So you drift apart.
Life goes on.
But in many ways, being a special needs parent means that you have to find ways to connect with others, especially if you are active locally or virtually as an advocate. And most parents are at least advocates for their own children.
How the Internet has Affected Special Needs Advocacy
The internet has allowed us advocates to connect in even more amazing and dynamic ways, though. I was reminded of this when I had a chance to study CopyBlogger’s latest infographic on the history of social media on the internet.
Social media, he says, hasn’t really changed over the course of the Internet’s short life – the internet was always about finding ways to make those connections too.
I agree, and I think it extends to special needs advocacy and parenting too. At first there were usenets and emails to connect with others who shared a specific diagnosis, and as the internet matured that became emails and blogs and virtual support groups. It meant information was shared. Resources were shared. Advocacy and activism was shared.
I highlighted the section of CopyBlogger’s infographic I found most fascinating, and you can see it here. I think you can easily see why.
The story of Carly Fleishman is one I know well already, as I saw in this nonverbal girl with autism the hope I have for Logan to someday find his voice. Carly’s family helped Carly discover that she could use a keyboard to type and communicate – and now she has her own blog and is a noted advocate for autism.
Advocacy from the mouth of someone with autism – so powerful, as we’ve see from Temple Grandin and others who have come before Carly. This is the power of the internet, of social media, of advocacy in the age of social media and the internet.
And I think it is exciting, humbling, and even a little terrifying.
There is so much advocacy we can yet achieve, that we can strive for – who wants to reach for it with me?