I May Be Oversharing about My Special Needs Child, and That’s Okay

autismscrabbleI write about my children — in particular, my autistic child — on the Internet. I write about them and share my own experiences in raising them — for complete strangers to read. My joys, mistakes, successes, grief, guilt, self-doubt, and even those dark, middle-of-the-night moments of all-encompassing fear. I write about it all. That’s me. I’m a special needs parent blogger.

And there are some folks out there who take issue with it.

There are those who question the wisdom of sharing my child and my life with the whole world. On the surface, my actions seem unwise. Why would I “overshare” with the world? Why not just find real-life friends and support? Why do I put myself “out there”?

Well, just as the world isn’t an easy place to be for those with special needs, it often isn’t much kinder to their parents. A hundred years ago, parents of special needs children were likely to have larger families — sisters and brothers who helped with the daily needs of the family and home. Because people started their families earlier, there were often multiple generations able to help out. More aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to call upon.

Yet, special needs families today aren’t usually so fortunate. Many of us are spread across the county — far from family. Many, due to the extended start of childbearing, no longer have the wisdom and comfort of our mothers, aunts, grandmothers, and other mothers who’ve made this journey before. We don’t all have the support of a church family or neighborhoods where we all know each others’ names.

So, special needs parents (and all parents really) find themselves adrift in a society in which, “How are you?” has no more meaning than “Hello.” We are isolated, with no one to tell us that we are doing it right, that we might try this, or that it isn’t our fault. Special needs parenting is a lonely journey for so many of us.

The Internet has changed that somewhat. In the last two years, I have interacted with thousands of other special needs parents. Those who are like me — just starting out and wondering if they are going to make it. Those a few years in — who share resources of what helped them not so long ago. Those whose children are grown — who reach out with a gentle pat and say, “Honey, you’re doing just fine. What you are feeling is normal. It’s gonna be okay.” All of them — all of them — sustain me and others like me. They are the community we need and cannot always find locally. They connect us and remind us of a basic human need — to know that we are not alone.

There are some who question the loyalty of a parent who would “violate her child’s trust” by exposing his needs and differences to the world. Why would I choose to share that which Continued at WhatToExpect.com…

4 thoughts on “I May Be Oversharing about My Special Needs Child, and That’s Okay

  1. Paige Mitts

    Dear Flappiness,
    I appreciate your blog and as a parent of a HFA/ADHD/OCD child, I am totally on board with what outsiders (or parents of NT kids) might over sharing via a blog. There are few people to talk with who truly understand the daily challenges we face with our child, and blogging is a healthy way to vent the often overwhelming feelings we have. In my next post to Mittsmusings.com, I am going to share the experience I had watching “Silver Linings Playbook”. So many of Pat’s mannerisms and actions are part of my child’s MO, and he’s only 8 years old. It is going to be honest and direct, and shame on those who have a problem reading it.
    In solidarity,

  2. Rose

    My son is 19 now. I remember when he was your son’s age, we used to just celebrate things most parents take for granted. Like, the first time he used the words “I want…” at age 3. Or “yes” or “no”, at age 4 and one half. We didn’t realize how much better off we were than a lot of parents. I still cried a lot at night for years. Just the frustration of it all.

    But it gets so much better. You get so much better. All children grow, regardless of therapies…I remember we got a dog when Ben was 3, thinking it was a “therapy dog”. Jeeze…now we just have a dog. She’s autistic, too!! (A beagle–she has seizures every once in a great while and it’s scary as hell.) You’ll hit your stride, I know you will. You’ll find out what makes your kid tick as soon as you quit listening to people who feed your fear. OR your anxiety. We all do the best we can. Every @#$%$^^ one of us.

    I remember when Ben was 7 I was going to prayer meetings and had the laying of hands and all…and a nagging “still, small voice” that said, “YOU need to change, not him…” It ain’t easy…until you hit your stride…then it is. You’ll figure out how to be the grownup. You’ll grow to trust your love for your child. It’s hard because you have to find a road that few have walked. Up for a challenge?

    I talk too much….sorry.

  3. Rose

    PS…I did take a chemical vacation. It helped to not be so easily frustrated. It was a little like being a little drunk all the time…without getting sick. It was an anti-depressant, I forget the name. Probably killed off those brain cells just the same as booze. Hell, 50% of us, they say, will suffer from mental illness in our lifetime. It used to be 25% but Big Pharma has done a hell of a marketing job!

    I’m a mess, honey, but I don’t care. We iz all human, none of us perfect.

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