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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birds Of A Feather Know What The Flock We're Talking About

I walked into the big meeting room for breakfast, just looking for an open seat to set my why-is-this-so-heavy bag down before I grabbed a bagel. I noticed the placards on the tables right away.

This was the BlogHer '12 Birds of a Feather breakfast. There were lots of pre-printed placard cards announcing tables for mid-life bloggers, mommy bloggers, atheist bloggers, military wife bloggers, and dozens of others. I looked around for my niche and didn't exactly see it. I'm a mid-life Mom blogger definitely, but neither table was really what I wanted to find.

I walked over to a blank placard at an empty table and used a big, fat sharpie pen to write in capital letters:


It only took a minute or two before we started filling up.

Some of us are single, some of us are still married. Some have boys, some have girls on the spectrum. Some have more than one child with autism. All of us blog for the same reason, though. We feel isolated. We feel, sometimes, like we're all alone in this. We feel like we need to tell you what we need to tell you.

Because our kids can't tell you.

We are their voices, their cheerleaders, their advocates, and the only way all of you parents and friends of only neurotypical kids can know what this autism life is like.

The mom to my left was told that her kids weren't autistic, just "of lower intelligence". She refused to accept that, and paid to have her children evaluated by professionals who understood stimming behavior and used specially designed story boards and sensory breaks when testing her twin girls. The result was very different, of course, and once her support services were in place, even the school district remarked on how far her children were progressing, and how surprising it was. To them, anyway. She knew her kids weren't unintelligent. And she should know. She's their Mom, after all.

So we ate and we talked and we shared funny stories of the wacky stuff our kids do to communicate, or the funny detours their brains take as they navigate the world around them. There was a lot of nodding and "uh-huh-ing" and "Oh my God, me too!!" echoing around the table. And it felt wonderful.

Sometimes you just need to find your own flock, and ride the currents with them, feeling the wind lift your wings.

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