Monday, 12 September 2016

Will it matter or make a difference?

boy with autism and girl sitting on a bench

Will my actions matter? Will pretending to be a speech and language therapist everyday make a difference? And even lately, will this post, a letter to Tess Stimson, result in something more than just a few page views?


At least once a week I pour my heart out online.

Most week's, in amongst the craft activities to help with motor skills, language development etc posts, there's a story I hope those with no idea about autism, or sometimes ADHD take on board.

I started blogging here for three reasons:
  • I had developed this wealth of knowledge that people seemed to want from me.  Whether it was how to seek help for kids with additional needs at school or how to cope with a lack of sleep as a new mum, I was always being asked for information.  Due to the nature of being an autism mum I never had time to give full attention to give to these requests - so I thought I'd write then down.
  • I had wonderful and sometimes sad stories about my kids that I was desperate share with others. Stories that bring hope, joy, connection to other families in a similar position.  From a victory at a playground to how we knew it was time to tell our son about his autism, it's here.
  • Finally, I started to use it to raise awareness. What is it really like to witness your son's autistic meltdown as a their mum, what's it like to hear your son say he wants you to kill him? These posts are some of my most popular.
And so it's no surprise that comments fall into 'Thanks, I'll try that', 'Thank you so much, I felt alone' and lastly, but by no means least 'I knew very little about autism before I read your post.'

Each one of these is precious to me. But the truth is, my blog only stretches so far.  I don't have hundreds of thousands of page views or visitors. I share my heart through linkies (a bloggers way of sharing and supporting each other) through online publications like The Mighty, and even recently through a conference.  But it's nothing like the circulation of say, a national newspaper... or is it?

I wrote a post that could make a difference on a bigger scale. I wrote a letter to a Daily Mail journalist called Tess Stimson. Tess Stimson had written an article about her frustrations with parents and their misbehaving kids in public. It included that disabled kids and autistic kids should be controlled by their parents.. or left at home. I took what would be seen as a stance of betrayal for many parents like myself - I apologised.

There I was, once again, pouring my heart out online.  Explaining that I try every single day to help my children cope with the around them and learn how to operate in it.  But, to do this they need to given the chance to do so.  The post was viewed by just a few thousand - it was my most widely viewed post so far by a few hundred views.  It by no means went viral, as I never expect them too.  I'm always hoping that maybe I'll help one mum or carer or spread awareness to a few more people.  This time it included the intended party, Tess Stimson, the journalist I'd written to.  She not only read the post, but responded... and a bit more.

Tess Stimson said the post was 'heart-felt' and she was 'moved' by it so much she'd asked the Daily Mail to commission an article where she spends a day with a family who have children with autism so they can learn from each other.  Since then the National Autistic Society have offered to put Tess in touch with families she can meet.

My 'apology to Tess Stimson, the people on the plane and in the restaurant', had touched someone enough to consider more than their own opinion. It won't appear on the letters page of the Daily Mail, but it could still end up spreading a message of awareness to the readership of the Daily Mail through a third party.

So here I am, pouring just a little of my heart out online again. My kids will only survive in this society if its prepared to have them in it.  Please have a read of my letter and if you think it would be good for the newspaper to spread a bit more autism awareness then you can let them know via a link at the bottom of the post.  It may not be my story but another story about autism that raises awareness would still be a great thing to achieve.

And if the article is not commissioned, I hope that Tess Stimson will still consider meeting a family with children on the spectrum. Even if she is the only person to be a bit more aware of autism from my post, then I suppose it did matter and has made a difference.

What do you think?

34 comments:

  1. I think that, even if you can change one persons mind, make one person think, make one thing better for your kids, you are doing an incredible job! I thought your letter was perfect - heartfelt but real and I really think it could make a difference! #marvmondays

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  2. This post made my heart beat faster, because it made me think of the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings I have sometimes when I take out my boys(all three are on the spectrum). I think that letter is important. I had scanned over the post by Tess Stimson before, and it seemed naive in some of the recommendations she listed for parents of children with special needs. She drew a comparison between her daughter and kids with special needs that was unequal. Yet, she was generally straightforward and not outright rude in her delivery. Still it irked me. But I stopped there. You took the initiative to put your feelings down and inform her of another parent's perspective. Thank you for that.

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    1. Thanks Tiffany, I hope going out gets easier for you all. Xxx

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  3. One of the things I love about blogging is learning from other people. You seem to be doing a great job raising awareness about autism and the issues surrounding it. That's an important job. #DreamTeam

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    1. Me too. Thanks for reading and commenting

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  4. Hi Ann, I didn't read the original article by Tess Stimson, but I will pop over and read your post to her. I have spent the last nineteen years trying to prepare my son to cope with life and it's hard and it's tiring.

    Thoughtless comments by people who know nothing about having a child with any sort of disability don't make it easier for any of us. Least of all our children.

    When trying to explain what it's like living with someone with autism, I usually end up saying you have to live it, to know it. I've even said to my sons therapists that unless they live with Greg's they have no idea what it is like at home, or the time I've trying to help Greg's.

    I really hope that Tess gets to spend time with some people, children, adults, families, with autism, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that she writes what she sees honestly. Hopefully helping to raise awareness about what it is really like living with someone with autism.

    The world has to learn to accept people who are different, not put pressure on parents of children who are genuinely disabled or 'different'.

    Sorry, I've waffled on a bit. Never stop raising awareness or sharing your stories.

    xx

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  5. I always think if something you have written helps just one other person, shows one other parent their snot alone or helps other understand sorting better ten it was definitely worth writing it. It sounds like you're doing a great job raising awareness on autism and I really hope that the article gets commissioned xx #BloggerClubUK

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  6. I have my fingers crossed for you that the article does get out there. You do a fantastic job raising awareness of autism. Keep going! xx

    Thanks for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT

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  7. I read your letter through a linky last week, I was heartbroken and angry to hear what she had said, and felt for you that you felt you should apologise. Your post was wonderful, and society needs to be more understanding. I am so thrilled to hear tess has done this, reached out with a real effort to see things from a new perspective. Thank you so much, your post is the reason this positive thing has happened, yes it has made a difference, even to one person and that's what matters xx #coolmumclub

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    1. Thank you for reading both posts and for your support!

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  8. Wow-great post. I think that if anything, whether it's a blog post or just a wave on the street, can make a difference in one person's life than that one thing was very significant. Great job! #ablogginggoodtime

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    1. I love saying hi to people in the street along with a smile! Thanks for commenting

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  9. Like others have said, I truly believe that if we can reach just one person and make their day, or change how they think of something, the writing did matter. I really hope the article gets commissioned, I love reading your blog xx #eatsleepblogrt

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    1. Such a compliment, I love sharing it. Xxx

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    2. Just popping back again from #dreamteam Thanks for linking up with us and hope to see you again next week!

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  10. I'm blogging about our family life with autism to try and raise more awareness, understanding and acceptance too. Your response to Tess Stimson was so spot on .. I really hope that she does spend time with families with autistic children and then writes about it for a wider audience. #ablogginggoodtime

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  11. I felt all tingly reading that. I definitely think that a post can make a difference and whether that piece gets commissioned or not you are making a huge difference by helping so many more people understand autism, and also to those parents with children with autism. Keep up the effort lovely...you are part of the change. Thanks for linking this up to #coolmumclub xx

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  12. I think it would be marvellous if she met you and your family. Beautiful post as always, thanks for linking up! #bestandworst

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    1. I'm pretty sure we'd find it difficult to meet with Tess but the National Autistic Society have lots of families who can. And yes that would be great! Thanks for commenting!

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  13. Like a lot of others have said, even if your post changes the thoughts and opinions of just one person so dramatically then I would say its a huge success and it definitely sounds as if your original post did just that. I'm also sure that its changed the opinions of many others too and spread a lot of awareness to those who previously knew nothing or very little about autism. I really hope Tess Stimson spends some time with families like yours to further her own knowledge and then pass it on to others too. Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x

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  14. If you can help one person with one post then in my eyes it's worth writing and publishing. You do a wonderful job raising awareness. Keep up the good work. #bestandworst

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  15. Ann i really felt your writing here. This is something I question all the time. What impact am I actually having. All this effort and work and is it actually making any difference but when I eat your post I felt strongly that you do make a difference. Your posts do have an impact and certainly your brilliant response to the Tess Stimson article. Thank you for writing that post! #SpectrumSunday

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    1. When I read not eat. Sorry damn the iPad keyboard (and that glass of wine)

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  16. This is absolutely brilliant that you have raised awareness and seemingly altered Tess' viewpoint a little. I understand your frustrations about not always feeling like your reach is wide enough, I feel similarly about my mental health posts, but just keep fighting the good fighting because you are really helping people xx #coolmumclub

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  17. The thing I love about being a blogger is that I control how long my post is around for, and thats a great thing, because it can be picked up again in the future. I'm so glad you raised awareness for something that clearly means so much to you. #kcacols

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  18. I feel like you do often as well, and always in the back of my mind think of throwing in the blogging towel. It's so hard to put yourself out there all the time, wondering if no one actually cares or if you're just being judged. But it sounds like you truly have made a difference! I hope that your article does become commissioned, not only for your sake but for your child and everyone else who need additional education on autistic spectrum disorders. Keep on writing!
    #KCACOLS
    Tori
    www.themamanurse.com

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  19. It's stories like this that keep me going. I'm never going to reach millions of people but if I can reach one person and perhaps change their mind or reach another parent so they feel less alone, than that's enough to keep me going. This is a huge achievement - well done on actually making a difference x

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  20. It's great that you are creating awareness and I really hope your piece gets commissioned as I think it would be great to do.

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

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  21. I think this is fantastic. You have done amazingly well to create awareness about the subject. How amazing is it that Tess would like to spend a day with parents that have children with autism. This actually says a lot about her. I was very upset when you wrote the letter to her as I was not happy about someone not understanding that sometimes there are situations where we can't do much about our children's behaviour. Thank you for doing this and I'm sure a lot of parents with children with disability will feel related. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. It is always a pleasure to have you! :-) x

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  22. Yes you must keep writing about these important topics. It's such a good way to increase awareness x Sunita #KCACOLS

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I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

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