Can you really combine special needs parenting with Twitter?
(and why would you want to?)
The simple answer is that we all need someone to talk to.
Sometimes, though, in the move to super-mom or -dad we become isolated. Old friendships fade in importance under the pressure of therapies and specialist appointments. Old friends and even family, busy with their own lives, just don’t have time to give you the kind of support you need.
In the same way we once used to chat at the lunch-room table with our friends about the vagaries of teenage life, we now flock to Twitter and Facebook to vent our frustrations with an overwhelming and seemingly uncaring world. Social Media has become our new best friend in this shift to just find someone to talk to.
For some of us.
Others however, are reluctant to spend their already limited time ‘playing’ or ‘chatting’ with friends over social media when far-too-pressing concerns are always in the back of their minds.
Until a few months ago, I was an occasional user of Facebook and Twitter. Then, something happened that changed my perspective on how and why I use social media.
I stumbled against the edge of a conversation taking place on Twitter. A group of parents, of special needs parents (!), were chatting about some of the craziness that had happened that day.
I could relate! As it so happened my youngest had been fighting with seizures that whole day. No one responded to my Facebook post, where the emotion of the day surely hid below the surface. No one answered phone calls, busy as they were with their own lives.
But in this crowded conversation of tweeting parents I latched on to a sameness, a camaraderie, I was desperately in need of.
These tiny segments of life could have been switched with my own!
I quickly tiptoed into the conversation, where my “Mind if another mom joins the conversation?” was enthusiastically greeted.
Suddenly I was among a whole group of parents who got it–who understood that my son’s many seizures that day were overwhelming both because they had happened and because they weren’t new. The day’s combined seizures represented one more strike in an already overwhelming day filled with autistic breakdowns and a million questions, work that never got done, and a self-depreciating attitude about life that helped me get through the hard times.
The novelty versus the usefulness of Twitter
When many people think of Twitter, the inane updates of people sharing about the food they were eating that day sometimes comes to mind. While I share about the little things that happen:
Migraines are horrible, horrible things. *sniffs* Going for a quiet place for a while. Miss me while I’m gone?
— Katrina Moody (@KatrinaMoody) June 17, 2011
I’m also just as likely to post updates about blog posts:
Summer Fun and Perfect Moments http://wp.me/p1mbvy-6A
— Katrina Moody (@KatrinaMoody) June 11, 2011
Or recommend a friend’s:
— Katrina Moody (@KatrinaMoody) June 14, 2011
What I really love about Twitter, though …
Is what a great tool it has become for finding others to talk with who share my passions in life. I can talk with other parents who have a kid with autism, epilepsy, a rare disorder, or all three (like my guys!). I can learn about treatments, offer advice, ask for advice, or just be there to offer a hug (or receive one!).
Twitter has made it possible to truly connect with people I would never have been able to find before.
Take mom Debbie Akers, whose profile caught my eye when I was looking at another new friend’s profile. Her profile line reads: chaser of 3 boys, reader, movie-goer, DF/GF, into meaningful connections, passionate about special needs advocacy & pediatric feeding concerns
Passionate about special needs advocacy? Chaser of three boys? Well, we were practically Twitter twins! I sent her a line and we soon connected. When I put out a twitter request for some of my new friends to talk with me about Twitter and special needs parenting,
Special Needs Parents!!!! Help w/a post & weigh in? Importance of social media connections w/you have kids with special needs #specialneeds
— Katrina Moody (@KatrinaMoody) June 16, 2011
— Debbie(@momx3deb) June 16, 2011
Yesterday, one of several new moms I met on Twitter gave me permission to share some of our tweets. Here’s her response to my friend request:
— Rima Regas (@Rima_Regas) June 17, 2011
And as we talked and discovered our kids shared some similar diagnoses, I learned something from her even as we connected further. I even learned about a new drug to discuss with our neurologist:
@moody_mommy Is Vimpat a drug you’ve discussed? It’s been out 4 2 yrs Aside from bad reactions, we had trouble w/severe personality changes.
— Rima Regas (@Rima_Regas) June 17, 2011
Twitter is great for you *insert sarcasm* But I just don’t know
The fact is, only a small percentage of *any* of the folks using Twitter are reaching out to the people they would benefit most from interacting with.
Among special needs parents I have encountered, I have noticed, however, a fairly open policy toward supporting one another. As I’ve indicated above, I share the bad as well as the good, the requests as well as the answers to other’s requests, and the curiosity as well as the answers to other questions.
Twitter is about more than what someone else ate this morning. It’s about more than this celebrity or that TV show (though I follow a few of those as well!). It’s about forming connections with people–many of whom you would never have had the opportunity to meet before.
These are the connections that we all search for in life. Twitter is helping make those connections a reality.
Let me leave you with a favorite video. It’s called Twitter in Simple English and I wouldn’t be suprised if you enjoyed it as much as I did. But hey! Don’t forget to leave me a comment!
New to Twitter?
What do you think of this micro-blogging phenomenon?
My next Twitter post will cover the basics of setting up your account, and then of finding, following, and forming relationships with folks you want to meet.
Don’t forget, leave me a comment and share your Twitter experiences, good or bad!