Most parents of children with special needs eventually find themselves isolated in one manner or another. A loss of friendships, trading a career and co-workers for the groundhogs day of challenges unseen and unending. During the day, the discovery of adult conversation with another who has their own similarities in their day is difficult. These days, many parents are turning to the internet; they turn to twitter, facebook and blogging.
One such parent is Caryn Haluska who owns the blog, Living With Logan at www.LivingWithLogan.com. I recently had an opportunity to interview her about blogging, her experiences and why she turned to blogging as an outlet and connection source.
• What are the ages of your children? What diagnosis are in your household?
My children are 16, 14, 12, 11, 5, and the twins will be 3 in June. Our diagnosis are Sensory Processing Disorder for both twins, one being a seeker, and one not. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (for Logan until we can get the neurologist down here to "officially" diagnose High Functioning Autism, even though we know that's what it is, "unofficially"), life threatening food allergies, unspecified learning delays ( for #2).
• What has been the biggest impact on your home life with the challenges your family faces?
All of us have learned to slow down and appreciate the small stuff. I never want t go back to the hustle and bustle we had before the twins were born. I love celebrating everyone's accomplishments. Working with Logan has taught all of us that sometimes the smallest things we accomplish are the ones that deserve the biggest party!
• Do you have online support groups you attend?
I did attend a support group for several months, and even moderated on another one, but I do not use any of them now. My best experience was when I was just starting out with the idea of Gluten Free / Casein Free, and learning about therapies. In fact, that's how I met Dena, who collaborates with me on my blog. She is now my largest source of support, because she is so knowledgeable about all the things I am researching.
• What other ways do you get personal support?
As funny and lame as it sounds, I get a lot of support on twitter. I have built my list of people I follow to be those that are parents of other special needs children, those who educate special needs children, therapists, and parents of large families. The mixture seems to be working well, as I can always get on twitter and find whatever I'm looking for. In "real life", my family is my support. My parents live just a couple blocks away, and they are my loudest cheerleaders.
• How long have you been blogging?
I started my blog in September 2010. It doesn't feel like I'm so "young". So much has happened, but I look back and am continuously amazed at the great things that have happened and are continuing to happen as a result of my decision to put our story and family all over the blogosphere.
• Why do you blog?
To be completely honest, I started blogging because of entirely selfish reasons. I had just started with early intervention for Logan, and I was so frustrated when I started interrogating our OT, PT, and SLP, as well as looking online, and in libraries for help, resources, and advice. Primarily, I wanted to have more a "one stop shop" that had many forms of information about autism, SPD, and the GFCF diet, as well as recipes, therapies and a supportive community of parents talking to each other. I had stayed up all night for weeks, reading medical journals trying to find answers; and failing miserably. I was so burned out and so upset that there was no happiness to be found. It was as though I was reading "Your child has autism, and there are no answers. Thanks for stopping by." I wasn't okay with that. I didn't want to go through life thinking that my child was a tragedy.
So... I am attempting to create the community I need so much. My ultimate goal being that others receive encouragement, information, and resources that will help them, as I did not when I began this adventure. In turn, it would help ME. Another big reason was, I would read blogs, and even though they would be written by a parent of more than one child, the blog would be solely about the special needs child. I don't ever want to lose focus, and push my other children out of the picture because Logan has special needs. Family is EVERYTHING to me.. every single person in the family.
• What are some of your favorite blogs and why?
I love, love, LOVE blogs that make me laugh. Some are special needs related, some are not. Here's the thing: life has enough in it that isn't fun. There is absolutely NO reason for me to go looking for “entertainment” that isn’t entertaining. My time is more valuable than that. Some of my favorite blogs are:
There are certainly several more, but if I listed all my faves, we'd be here for weeks.
• What is the single best thing you've gotten from blogging?
To best honest, there are so many wonderful things that have happened, and that are currently happening, I would be hard pressed to stick to one. I would have to say that one of the greatest things I have gotten from blogging is the support, information, and the opportunity to meet some really phenomenal people.