Before we launch into the 2014 summary, some history is in order. Special Needs bloggers haven't always been represented at BlogHer.
- #BlogHer14: Back Story on Special Needs at BlogHer, 2005-2008 (Shannon and Kristina were on the very first, 2008 panel).
- #BlogHer14: Back Story on Special Needs at BlogHer, 2009 and 2010 (Shannon was on the 2010 panel)
- #BlogHer14: Back Story on Special Needs at BlogHer, 2011 Edition (Shannon was on the 2011 panel).
- #BlogHer14: Back Story on Special Needs at BlogHer, 2012 and 2013 (Kristina was on one of the 2012 panels).
I Storified the discussion, up to the point that we took a short break and decided to "talk among ourselves"
I want to address the following question, by Kristi Rieger Campbell, who writes Finding Ninee
This is how I tweeted the question
This is how Ms. Campbell phrased the question on her blog
First, I explained that, for the past two years, my son Tucker has been in a preschool autism classroom, which is very contained and small, and that I started blogging when he was barely three years old. I said that next year, for kindergarten, he’ll be mainstreamed (with support), in school with 24 other students, 20 of whom are typical. I asked the panel and the audience at what point they consider becoming more anonymous when it comes to blogging about their children. I was hoping to have a discussion about protecting my son’s privacy while also continuing to be honest and true to spreading special needs awareness.
Ms. Campbell took great offense at what she heard Shannon say.
She also didn't mention my response to what I heard her say. I don't recall my response being terribly coherent, but the points I wanted to get across were
- How open your are may depend upon conditions at your child's school and/or the district. I know that there are some blogging parents who have been retaliated against by their district.
- It's possible to have varying levels of transparency, from password-protecting your blog to using pseudonyms to being completely transparent. Each family has to make that decision, based on their particular circumstances
- Perhaps it's better for the child's classmates and teachers to get to know the child as he is today, rather than what he was like several years ago. Maybe those people don't need to know what he's overcome, right away.
I hope Ms. Campbell takes the time to read through some of the reports of the previous BlogHer sessions, in which question she raised was addressed by many others, both from the autism community and those with other disabilities.
After the break, one of the people I sat down with was Miz Kp, who has an adorable and autistic boy. They live in New York City. I asked her a question, which she heard as :
“What can the white special needs community do to help the brown special needs community?” I was asked this question at the BlogHer ’14 Special Needs Mini Con session this past weekend in San Jose, CA.
If I said it that way,-- well, I apologize. It sure sounds condescending. That set of words wasn't what was on my mind. What I had in mind was "How does the white special needs community need to change to be more welcoming, more available to folk of color who have special needs or who are parenting special needs children?" What comes out of my mouth isn't always what's in my mind.
Miz. Kp answered the question, though, at her Sailing Autistic Seas blogpost, Why Minority Voices Matter in the Autism Community
I also had a chance to visit in person with Adrienne Jones, of No Points for Style. I didn't tell her, but I didn't recognize her right away -- but she has a large and beautiful tattoo like the image to the left, that's also the icon for her blog. Suddenly as we were speaking, my brain went CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! And I said something like, it's YOU! We talked about empathy for others' struggles, and sighed of the stigmas attached to thinking disorders and emotional disorders, and different paths to emotional differentiation.
I also traded hugs with Lexi Magnussun (formerly of her shuttered blog, Mostly True Stuff, now mostly on Facebook(edited to add: and now at Lexistential) and JillSmo of Yeah Good Stuff, who looks exactly like her avatar.
Edited to add: Lexi has
If I find more recaps of the Special Needs Mini-con, I will post them here
YIKES! I forgot that I have legible pictures of the post-it notes. Check back and scroll down