I started blogging because I love to write, I like the idea of keeping a diary and I honestly think sharing the difficulties of life with autistic kids helps others cope with their own. Also, I'm a bit of a world wide web showman: I love writing random stuff on Facebook and seeing what reactions I get. Facebook has allowed me to express my sense of humour and to remain friends with old friends and family who I never get to see.
What I found, though, is that blogging is so much better than writing occasional random thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. Here are some of the great side effects I found after several months of blogging:
- When you write stuff down, you organise your thoughts. I've already learned this through years of academia, R&D and being a general all-around Excel and database guru. But this is the first time I tried it for my actual life (apart from a few pathetic attempts at doing a household budget). I've thought more about how to educate the boys and maximise their language development when we're playing games. I've researched a couple of relevant subjects, such as the Wakefield controversy and a plethora of autism books. Writing about preschool gets me thinking about primary school, and how lucky we are to have the dedicated autistic school. I, like many others, use writing as an excuse to research topics and wrap my head around them: I didn't know half as much about Wakefield until I tried to explain it in my Vaccination post.
- Sharing the experience of autism difficulties does help others: it helps me! I read about other people's lives with their autistic kids. I feel so… normal! I'm part of an international (mainly Yank) autism community which is forever discussing integration into regular schools, community acceptance, stimming, tantrums… All the subjects which are close to my heart.
- I made new friends, in the form of other bloggers. If you can call people you've never met "friends". It's sounds strange, but I do.
- I've learned to appreciate the kids for who they are. I always did, but writing down some of the funny things they do, sharing it with the world, having people write "lol" in response, reading similar stories about others, all makes me realise how great they are. And some of my favourite blogs are the ones which find the humour in living with autism.
And the #1 best side effect of blogging: I stopped hitting my kids.
This blog started out as a log, a diary which was updated almost every day of our 2010 trip to Tasmania. The original notes had way too much detail, most of them edited out to make the thing readable. At some point, I'm still not sure why or when, I decided to leave in all the times I lost patience and hurt Gaston.
I found, reading back on my notes, that I had smacked Gaston five times. I have tried to stop before but never could. Seeing it in writing, however, came as a complete shock to me, especially when I know it will be out there in the public domain forever, being read by friends, family and complete strangers. The frequency of the abuse comes as the biggest surprise: five times in one week. Anne has lost patience and smacked each of the kids once in her life (once with Gaston and once with Rémi), and she went to sleep crying both nights. I was apparently smacking the kids once every day or two, and never gave it too much thought even with Anne giving me an earful about it, many times.
Since the Tasmania trip, there have been no more smacks. I've learned to be more patient. And if I ever start my own religion (which is how I plan to fund my retirement), I will definitely replace the old Catholic-style confessionals with blogs. They're much more effective.