Several months ago, at the urging of a friend and also driven by a willingness to help my favorite local non-profit, I joined Twitter. I thought at first that I would just get my feet wet, learn the ropes, and share pediatric feeding or autism tips occasionally.
I certainly did not expect to quickly connect with many other people who not only wanted to exchange information but be my friend. Taking that one step further, it was not long before a group of us decided to meet in real life, and we continue to support each other via tweets, whether it is someone needing advice or simply making each other laugh. Did we get along just as well in person as online? Yes.
Something invaluable to me has been connecting with other people within the autism community. There is simply no better forum for fast, appropriate exchanges of all kinds of information on the spectrum. It is also so nice to tweet out a "having a rough day with kids and autism" kind of thing and have a warm response of, "I know how you feel" and "Hang in there!" I feel like I get similar support on Facebook, yes, but there is not that "sharing with the world" feeling by any means. There is something liberating about saying what you know or feel and knowing it is "out there" for anyone to read. I have connected with so many bright, positive and productive parents of children with autism this way. And, as a mom of two kids on the spectrum and with other medical issues at play, some days, sadly, Twitter is the only adult interaction I get.
Some critics of Twitter will say, "Yes, but do I really need to know that you ate a sandwich for lunch?" To this I say, no, most people on Twitter are not sharing mundane tidbits like that, but if they do, then yes, it matters. That is part of the point. The every day things, the meal you enjoyed, that movie you just saw, or the song you are currently listening to are part of what makes you unique. If you balance that with good information, positive interactions and support of others, then followers will value hearing about the little things you love, too.
I can't fathom that my interest in these connections I have made will diminish at all. In fact, I think that with each day that passes, with each new diagnosis (or heartbreak over the lack there of) with the kids, I will crave this mix of fun and intelligent exchanges even more. Don't have Twitter yet? Try it... with an open mind... and watch what happens. I predict only good things.