I have been participating in a 30 Day Blogging Challenge by Learn to Blog/Bradley Will, and it has been amazing. So far, we are on Day 9 (I did miss two days and need to catch up), and I have to say that it has definitely been tough coming up with daily content. However yesterday and today a couple of things popped up that decided my topic for the day. One was a comment on the blog. The other was a discussion on Facebook.
The latter was a conversation started by an Autism advocate and activist. She began a facebook post asking how to find an individual from an Autism forum from back in the day when Yahoo groups reigned supreme. Much discussion ensued about finding the person who had helped her so much when her child was first diagnosed. Then it veered into the groups that everyone remembered, which ones helped the most, who had which handle. Many people began to realize that they were friends on the old forums. They recognized each other’s handles and were overjoyed to know that they had been connected for at least a decade, some for longer.
I read the thread and was so surprised to see how many of them had been connected in one way or another. But at the same time, it isn’t that shocking. These mothers have been united by the love and desire for healing their children. Autism connected them all, and this community of moms has been the glue for many of them that got them through trying times. Personally, while I have a couple of very close friends in real life (mothers of children with autism), I have some who are just as close online who I have never met in person. and then there are those with whom I am not so close but who have given me great encouragement and support over the years in very trying times. I know that if I go online and have a rough patch, I can count on this band of women to help me through.
The idea of community gets tossed around a lot, but it is absolutely crucial for families with children of Special Needs. These people are your tribe. They get it, they are living it. And they are usually the first people to help out when you are in trouble. If you are a parent with a disabled child and you are going it alone, I encourage you to reach out whether it be on Facebook, Yahoo Groups, the local parent support group, even church. You might be surprised by who you find out there. For many, if not most, these connections will become your safety net, and the bond is stronger than many find with their own flesh and blood. Now if your actual family is supportive, then you will be doubly blessed with an even larger community of support. But if you don’t, and I am one of the ones without much family left, this community will be there for you. And the amazing thing is, you will then be fed enough so that you can help others out in turn. What a blessing it is!