I guess you can call this a toot-your-own-horn posting because this is my 300th blog!
I have not only written 300 blogs for my own website but those same 300 blogs have also appeared on ModernMom.com.
How did I start on ModernMom.com?
Well…through a recreational softball team, of course.
My husband ran a recreational softball team years ago in Santa Monica.
At some point, he picked up a player who happened to live near the field. This player spent a week or two walking down to this field to watch the games.
My husband finally asked him if he played. He did.
The player soon began to play on my husband’s team.
His wife, at the time, worked with children with autism.
I remember being at a softball game with her one time—both there to watch our husbands play—and she was telling me about autism.
I had no clue, at the time, what she was talking about.
A couple of years later, this behavioral specialist was our first phone call when we began to ask questions about our son.
For the next few years, she (more or less) held my hand through our son’s evaluation, his first therapies, and our first IEP.
We will forever be grateful to Jen for how she helped us in those early years.
How did that lead to blogging on ModernMom.com?
Jen moved into a new field and began a website that would help the modern mom…ModernMom.com.
I remember talking to her one time and she mentioned that I could blog about autism for her new website.
By this time, my son was in elementary school and doing well.
In addition, I had a handle of lots of things autism.
I had educated myself and had written my own self-published book on our early years called, “A Parentsʼ Guide to Early Autism Intervention.”
I was volunteering for Autism Speaks and I was attending a lot of conferences (hint: Guess what my first ever blog was about?)
Plus, I was about to start my own writing-related website that included my blogs, books, and screenplays!
I loved the idea of posting one blog a week on ModernMom.com and being the Autism Mom writer.
Just to be super transparent, it has not been a consistent once-a-week blog posting. I have taken vacations and certain weeks off.
But, still…I began to write for ModernMom.com in August, 2011.
Here’s my very first blog:
“Attending an Autism Conference”
I am the mother of an eight-year-old with autism. We have been in the “autism system” for seven years. If you do the math, you’ll figure out that our child (and us) began around our child’s first birthday.
For the first two or three years, my husband and I focused solely on our son’s needs. We had reliable and experienced people supporting and advising us. They were the only ones who knew about our son. We didn’t even tell our families because we wanted to focus on our child. We didn’t know how to explain autism to anyone so we wanted to avoid those conversations until we understood what we were talking about. And, we didn’t want any pressure put on us that may question what we were doing. We trusted the two people helping us.
We eventually told our family and friends, and were surprised by the mostly positive reactions we received. We had been living in a self-imposed shell. It was necessary at the time and I’m not saying I wouldn’t do exactly the same thing, if given the opportunity.
However, I did not stop with telling our family and friends. I suddenly had a desire to seek out others who were like me. The need to know more was strong. In addition, I wanted t0 get out of the house and see what was out there.
I attended the Lanterman SCAT (Service Coordination and Advocacy Training) seminar, my first experience with sitting in a room and listening to what someone else had to say about autism. It seemed natural for me to turn to a training program sponsored by Lanterman. My child had been a client at Lanterman since day one.
I haven’t stopped attending conferences since.
That training was my initiation in becoming an advocate for my child. Conferences have given me so much more. I am now a learner, a voice, and a participant. I have participated on a parent panel and I have meet hundreds of people just like me.
My involvement in conferences has come in many forms. I have attended conferences as a parent, worked for Autism Speaks in their booth (thus allowing me some time to visit a lecture or two), and volunteered for conferences (again allowing me time to participate on some level).
I strive to attend a conference approximately every three to four months. The information within the autism community changes so rapidly, that I have set a conference attending goal with that time frame in an attempt to keep myself in the loop.
My reason for not always being an attendee is sometimes economic. I cannot always afford the price of a conference. This leads me to discuss my latest conference, one held this past weekend sponsored by Autism NOW. The location was the LAX Westin Hotel. This conference fed us one lunch and one breakfast and provided drinks throughout the two days of the conference. Oh, and did I mention, the conference was FREE!
What got me interested in writing on this topic was the surprising poor attendance on the second and last day. The second day held only about half the number of the first day.
Was it the conference itself? I’m not sure. I showed up for the next day but could only stay for half the day. The second day was a Sunday morning. There may have been many factors in the drop of attendance.
For example, the first day we were asked to be active participants. At first, I wasn’t sure about splitting into groups five different times in order to discuss various topics (and speak our answers into a microphone). Then, I thought about this structure later. Yes, most conferences don’t have you participate quite so much. Only the Lanterman Leadership Training (which I recently completed as a parent invitee) was as active.
At a typical conference, you are asked to simply sit and listen to the various speakers. Did this put off people from attending the second day?
I hope not because I did get some valuable information from that first day. Plus, all that active participation forced me to interact with many strangers I may not have interacted with. By the fifth question session, I was pleased I had had the chance to meet and talk to so many people. It was a different experience, but isn’t that what an autism conference should be about, discussing/analyzing/celebrating the differences in the world?
Should you attend a conference?
Am I saying every parent of a child with autism must attend a conference? No. Am I implying you may be a bad parent if you don’t? Absolutely not. We each approach our children in different ways. Mine is no better than others.
I am passing along my experience, however. I have discovered a desire to sit next to get out of the house, connect, network, ask questions, receive feedback, make friends, and for a few brief hours relax in an accepting atmosphere with like-minded people!
At an autism conference, I can talk about my child with ease. Opening up that kind of conversation typically engages another person to tell me about their child, and so on. It just feels good. And I recommend giving it a shot. Especially if the price tag is right!
I haven’t looked back since that first blog. I’ve even took it a step further in the book world and published my second autism-related book, “Two Years Autism Blogs Featured on ModernMom.com.”
Makes sense, right?
Here’s to 300 more blogs on ModernMom.com, a fantastic source for all things modern mom-related.
And, thank you, Jen, for all that you have done for me and my family! As along as you’ll keep having me, I’ll continue to post as this autism!
Kimberly Kaplan and 300 Autism-Related Blogs
Here’s a link to my short film “Autism and Cake:”
More on Kimberly Kaplan:
To purchase “Two Years Autism Blogs Featured on ModernMom.com“
or “A Parentsʼ Guide to Early Autism Intervention” visit Amazon (print or digital) or Smashwords
LinkedIn: Kimberly Kaplan
You can also find this autism blog on ModernMom.com