I started AutismWonderland as an assignment for a critical practice graduate course: Writing as a Cultural Act. We were encouraged to lauch our own platforms for getting our work to readers.
And when I started this blog last year, I had no idea people would actually read it. I mean, other than the other students assigned to the class and the professor, David Groff. As the only mother of a child with autism in the class, my blog was pretty much ignored by my peers. Writing about life with a kid on the spectrum just isn't sexy or cutting edge to hipster writers. (Who knew?)
It was rough in the beginning (heck it still is). Writing. Rewriting. Posting. Then waiting for comments. Blog writers love comments, the way an actor needs applause.
Quite honestly, I'm a little surprised that I've kept it up.
Then toward the end of the semester, David invited Betsy Lerner to speak. Betsy Lerner is a literary agent, an author, a poet and blog writer. She is also hilarious! (If you're an aspiring writer - you have to read her book, Forest for the Trees.)
Anyway at the end of her talk, David introduced me to Betsy. And I was telling her about my blog, my point of view and what I wanted to be when I grew up. She gave me some advice and then she said, "You may have heard of one of my clients, Temple Grandin." Yes - the Temple Grandin! At this point, I may have gushed a little bit. No need to go into those details...
But my biggest takeaway from hearing Betsy speak was her suggestion on blog writing. She stressed consistency and commitment, you have to do it every day, for at least a year.
And that's what I've been doing.
Writing this blog has been liberating, motivating, inspiring and so much cheaper than therapy. I've recieved so many words of encouragement, advice and comfort. I've connected with so many other blog writers and parents and special education teachers. I love hearing from parents of older kids. Parents who leave comments like, "The Boy reminds me of my son when he was that age." And then they tell me about their son and all the amazing progress they've made. It's rewarding, when a parent emails me to ask for advice, to share their experience or to thank me for something I've written or shared. I feel like my writing has a purpose, it's not just some indulgence.
I remember when The Boy was first diagnosed, I really had no one to talk to about what I was feeling. It was as if The Husband and I were alone, stranded in this world with no one to point us in the right direction. And I know many parents feel that way, when they hear the words "your child has autism" for the very first time.
I think it's one of the reasons why I continue to write this blog. Because I want to share what works for us and I want to hear what works for you. I love that I've created this network of parents, writers and educators. It's made our journey a little less lonely.
So...thank you :)
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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.