In my first few posts in the Out-of-the-Box Advocacy series, I focused on how parents can use social media and write emails and letters to help spark new conversations about learning disabilities. Today, I’ll focus on one of my favorite topics – blogging – and how a great blog and a compelling post can help boost your confidence and bolster your parent advocacy efforts.
Why Blogs are Great Resources for LD
A Blog a Day…
Got a favorite blog? I can name at least a dozen that I visit regularly for home décor ideas, recipes, and fashion tips. But, by far the most relevant help I’ve found via the blogosphere is from blogs about families facing the trials and triumphs of raising children with learning disabilities and other difficulties. The “mommy” or parenting blogging world is well worth tapping into for parents of kids with learning disabilities and special needs. Blogs feature real parents, sharing real-life events in almost real time. You just can’t get much more real than that.
Right Where You Are
One of the very first places I found encouragement when I realized that I needed help supporting my kids with disabilities was blogs. I could read, reflect, and sometimes regret – all from the privacy of my own home but while still directly in tune with other parents.
And these parents weren’t just blogging about LD. I spent a lot of time on all sorts of blogs written by struggling parents—blogs about kids with disabilities much more severe than my children’s, or blogs about families facing childhood illnesses like cancer. All were bravely posting their stories of triumph and survival.
The theme throughout these many parent blogs was that despite the difficult circumstances, kids were still just kids, families still loved unconditionally and, despite unexpected events, parents repeatedly rose to the occasion to support and advocate for their kids’ unique needs. What was uncharted territory for me were familiar paths to these bloggers.
Blogs made me realize that I wasn’t alone as I faced the unexpected and feel empowered that yes, I could have an effective voice when it came to talking about my kids’ needs. Blogs gave me this support in a way that parenting magazines and books simply did not provide.
As I read, I gained both true perspective and a deeply rooted desire to share my own story about what our family was facing, so I that I might encourage others, too.
What a Great Blog Can Do For LD
Ellen Seidman writes regularly about her son Max, who has cerebral palsy, on both her personal blog Love That Max and on Parents.com’s To the Max.While Max’s special needs may not be exactly the same as a child with a learning disability, in sharing openly about Max’s differences and unique strengths, Seidman opens up an entirely new type of conversation about kids with all sorts of disabilities. For example, check out Seidman’s recent post on Inclusion Education.
Three Ways to Get Hooked on Blogs and Blogging about LD
Read and follow blogs from organizations and parents dealing with LD and related issues. Below are examples of a few blogs that I particularly enjoy.
Start your own blog. Blogs are not just for reading. They’re for writing too. And yes, I mean they’re for you to write! You may already have a family blog where you post photos of your kids, ventures in crafting, and your holiday ham. Have you thought about sharing about your experiences with dyslexia, AD/HD, or other learning difficulties on your blog, as well?
Starting your own blog (or adding your experiences with LD to your current blog) gives you a place to chronicle your thoughts, struggles, and triumphs as the parent of a child with LD. WordPress is one of many web platforms you can use to start your own website. Believe me, it’s much easier than it sounds. Also, a site for basic blogging is completely free. You can sign up here. Give it a shot—you’ve got nothing to lose!
Contribute to other LD blogs: Not WordPress savvy? Contributing to others’ blogs is a great way to use your voice and expand your efforts to increase awareness about learning differences.
There are lots of blogs out there that love to post articles by parent contributors. One of my favorite is the Special Education Advisor. They feature tons of parent contributions, allowing parents from around the country to share their stories.
Got something to say? Start by commenting below and include a link to your favorite LD blog! And be sure to stay tuned for more information on starting your own blog.
Lyn Pollard is a freelance writer, parent advocate, and the mother of two kids who learn and play differently. A former journalist and change management consultant, Lyn writes, talks and tweets about advocacy, literacy and safe schools for kids with learning disabilities and special needs. Check out her piece in the New York Times.