HealthMinder Day Interviews: Boundaries in Special Needs Blogging

BlogHer Original Post

HealthMinder DayWe're another week closer to BlogHer '12 in NYC, which means we're even closer to HealthMinder Day, taking place the day before, August 2, 2012! We're continuing to ask our speakers questions that you might wonder about them as people or how they approach blogging. This week I asked some of our special needs bloggers a question many special needs bloggers struggled with:

When it comes to blogging special needs, how did you find your boundaries as to what is and is not appropriate for your family?

Ellen Seidman, moderating a panel about this very thing -- Blogging About Your Special Needs Child, shares how she looks at this subject.

Right now, Max is not aware that I have a blog about him. I hope that someday he has the cognizance to know what Love That Max is, and that I did it out of love and respect for him, to inspire other parents of kids with special needs, and to spread awareness of how awesome they are. When that day comes, I wouldn't want Max to be mortified by anything I've written. And so, my rule of thumb is that if it could potentially embarrass him, I won't write about it. Of course, he may very well object to some stuff I've written. But if that is the price I might have to pay for helping others, I'm prepared. And if that is the price I have to pay for his cognizance, I will be downright giddy.

You can learn more about Ellen before HealthMinder Day via her blog.

Laura Shumaker, speaking at Overcoming Burnout: Replenishing Your Reserves, shares some of the questions she asks herself before she blogs.

When i first started writing about my experience raising Matthew, who has autism, I felt like I had all this great material to share and I just let it flow. I told the heartbreaking stuff, like the time I tried to tutor him the night before his first developmental evaluation to improve his IQ score, and the funny stuff, like the time he strutted up the aisle of our church for communion with a huge smile—and a huge erection. I wanted my readers to understand how hard it was to be Matthew’s mom. The more I wrote, however, the more I realized how hard it was to be Matthew. It become most important to tell stories that showed how I managed situations and helped Matthew move forward. Now when I tell a story, I ask myself: 1) Does it look like I’m making fun of Matthew, or am I showing how much I admire him? 2) Is the story I am telling help other parents or people like Matthew who are trying to figure stuff out? I have to skip some great stories-like when Matthew saw a black news guy on TV, and asked “Is that out next president?”

You can learn more about Laura -- and Matthew -- at her blog.

Susan Senator, also speaking on the same panel, has some practical things that she does before she blogs a topic.

When it comes to blogging about special needs and the family, I rely on personal experience to create a connection with my readers. If I'm going to mention family members, I ask them if it's okay. Even for my first book, when my guys were much younger (7 -8 years ago), I talked to them if I could. For my autistic son, I can't always ascertain how he feels so I have to use my best judgment. I try to imagine how he might feel we're he to read what I wrote. If its too much, I leave it out. Family comes first, always. But if they don't mind, it's ok to use it!

You can get to know more about Susan via her blog.

So now I turn the question over to you: How do you approach boundaries when it comes to special needs blogging?

If you haven't registered for HealthMinder Day yet, there's still time. As we continue to get to know the speakers during these interviews, I am more and more convinced that it should be a day of both fun and learning for all involved. We hope to see you there!

 

Family & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is an editor, writer and photographer.

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