Monday, 3 February 2014

The Power of Facebook

This morning I commented on a post I read from a friend on Facebook and it proved to be the start of a debate.

The original status was about if it was considered to be offensive for friends to post a status that begins with a sentence like ‘Kids with special needs aren’t weird or odd .…’, as if the people you are posting it to are real friends, they should not look upon your children as being weird or odd.

I commented that unfortunately children with special needs can be referred to as being odd.  Our daughter certainly has experienced this and our youngest son has frequently been described as a naughty boy, when he is having a meltdown in public.  Unfortunately this is down to people’s lack of understanding of ASD and how the manner in which children with ASD portray themselves may come across as rude or naughty, where in fact it is due to them seeing the world in a different way and struggling to cope with the social side of life, as well as their senses being out of sync, which has huge impacts on our two ASD children.

I’m sure many parents share these types of posts on Facebook as they feel it will raise awareness of a particular disability or illness or if they are feeling low as a result of how someone has judged their child, they may post it in a moment of frustration.  I may well have been guilty of doing this in the past.  However, Facebook allows us to do this and nobody should feel guilty for posting something they feel strongly about.  All that we have to remember is the power of Facebook, which may be seen as positive or negative, means that depending upon privacy settings, your post could be seen around the world or just by your close friends. 

One of the reasons I started this blog is so that I can raise awareness of ASD and give an insight into our family life and how we are helping our children to face the challenges that life presents them.  This includes our ‘neurotypical’ son as well as our two ASD children, as he also has to deal with the stigma of having two siblings that have special needs.  At the young age of 9, he already understands that if his siblings are struggling to cope at a particular time, it may mean that he can’t have a friend over, as that will be too much for them to deal with as well.   He accepts this and is given the opportunity to do activities for him, such as his passion of rugby, as well as enjoying things as a family.  He has developed a wonderful set of characteristics as a result of his siblings - he is tolerant of differences, he is sensitive to their needs and patient.  All of these are fantastic qualities that will stand him in good stead for the future.

I have been asked why I don’t write about the negative things in our life, but my aim for this blog is to be positive.  If you dwell on the negatives, you would never see the wonderful things that our kids achieve.  Life isn’t always easy, but our children are special and if I can do something to ensure they live life to the full and reach their potential, I will do whatever it takes to achieve this.  With this in mind, I see Facebook as a positive force by helping to raise awareness through my blog of ASD and hope that something I have written that has worked for our children helps another family.

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