10 Aug 2009

Awesome Autism Blogs

The questionnaire on autism blogs I wrote about earlier (and if you can, offer to complete one yourself) made me think about something I take entirely for granted in my life, the many and varied autism blogs I read.

I was asked to rate how helpful I have found such blogs as a source of information and support in raising an autistic child. I had to answer truthfully that the blogs I read have made a tremendous difference to my life and my knowledge of autism and how to best raise my son. I have never thanked all of you who write these blogs. You write fantastically well, thoughtful and thought provokingly. You explain, challenge, advise, illustrate, unearth, advocate and amuse. I have had many of my thought processes utterly revolutionised by your words. The changes didn't stop with my attitude to autism and disability, I began to think and learn more about all sorts of societal privileges and assumptions on the value of life. By following your work on promoting good standards of science and the ways in which quackery has become embedded in autism discourse, both in causation theories and in the treatments offered, I have thought more about evidence, ethics, and the scientific process than I did in 6 years of formal scientific education at universities.

The first autism blog I remember reading was Left Brain/Right Brain. It was started by Kevin Leitch and was an amazing resource. It still is, and now it has evolved to a group blog with several excellent writers offering up regular posts on autism research, the rise in dangerous autism quackery, the legal tussles and advocating for rights and accommodations. I soon came across Amanda Baggs awesome writings on Ballastexistenz and the sparkling wit and elegant prose of the much missed Autism Diva. She might not be writing these days, but her blog is still a fantastic resource to dig into. Obviously I can't discuss fantastic autism blogging without mentioning the women who share an enviable ability to dissect mountains of data and writings and do a great job of keeping in check the people who claim to know what they're talking about when they really demonstrably don't, autism researcher Michelle Dawson and super librarian and "mere mother ... and housewife" Kathleen Seidel.

I could go on for pages but will limit this to just a few more of the people who have made the biggest difference to my own life. Bev who blogs at Asperger Square 8 is someone I have praised many times for her pictures that say so much so clearly and simply, and who has recently added a few wonderful videos to her site. Kristina Chew has been blogging for years about her son and regularly offers her educated and insightful assessment the latest autism story in the media. She now blogs at change.org with Dora Raymaker.

Orac from Respectful Insolence often blogs about autism quackery, in particular the vaccine causation nonsense and the dangerous quack treatments sold to vulnerable parents by charlatans only interested in the profit margin. I think however, Orac would much prefer it if he never had to write another autism post ever again.

My new favourite blog is The Gonzolog which combines all the things that make blogs great; intelligence, passion, humour and well argued opinions.

Finally, 3 men writing blogs I love to read; Ed at The Standard Review, Mike Stanton's Action for Autism and Steve's One Dad's Opinion. Heck, all the autism blogs listed on my sidebar are bloody brilliant and I can't eulogise all of them.

I wrote on the questionnaire that one of my aims for my blog and that of my blogging friends who have autism and/or parent autistic people, is to confront the ignorance and misinformation that is so prevalent abut autism. This is discriminatory and unfair on people like my son so I hope to show that having a child with autism does not mean the end of a happy family life, and that he can learn and grow without any bogus therapy. I am also intent on challenging the spread of quackery that abounds in autism.

I said that blogging is useful publishing platform that anyone with an internet connection can access, so it's a great way of reading the thoughts of ordinary people around the world, and of connecting with professionals. Once you figure out who talks sense and who is full of hot air and worse, then it's a great way to connect.

However, I forgot to mention the toxic posts of the people who promote the quackery whole heartedly, the damage they do to individual children whose parents follow their advice and inflict the unproven treatments on them as well as the negative and skewed portrayal of autism they promote.


John Best said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gonzo said...

Sharon, you made the Gonzo blush!
Thanks, so much I feel really honoured being mentioned along those great bloggers.

You're probably going to delete JB'S comment, but there is something wonderfully ironic when trolls pop in to prove a point a blogger was making.

Sharon McDaid said...

Gonzo, aw shucks, you know you're worth it.

And good call on the troll.

Lisa said...

I second Kev Leitch, great tweeter too. Bev teaches me so much as a parent - I have her voice in my head when I am with my son; it makes me more patient. And Kristina!! Yay for Kristina.

As for Trolls. I often have to remind people that when you are surfing for information - you need to keep in mind that the internet has as much validity as the sex education advice you get from the wall of a public toilet. Anyone can write anything.

You have to develop some kind of maturity and learn who to trust - after yourself; before you read too much into what is published on line.

New parents are so raw and so gullible, it apalls me to read how totalitarian some people are about their own particular views, and how quick other people are to exploit the vulnerable.

I just hope Karma catches up and kicks them in the arse. xx

Bev said...

Squawk! Thank you, Sharon! Very kind of you to include the Square here.

Jax said...

Blog of a guy I saw a seminar by - very occasional postings, but I found them thought provoking.


J said...

Thanks for the mention, Sharon. You have lit a bit of a fire under my, um, self. Appreciated :)

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Lisa, good analogy about the toilet walls and troll talk. Some people might get a thrill out of throwing abuse around but I won't tolerate it.

@Bev, you're welcome.

@Jax, thanks for the link, I like that blog. It cuts through the bullshit very well!

@Steve D, ha! Well, glad to have got you fired up again.

John Best said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
What is Autism? said...

Thanks for providing your learning experiences by reading so many blogs of autistic people.