#BlogHer14: Birds of A Feather Mini-Con: Special Needs

Three hours with folk who blog about special needs (mostly their children's) and issues we face.


  1. The three panelists at the end of the session (left to right, Jen Lee Reeves, Shannon des Roches Rosa, and Kristina Chew)

    We selected the hashtag #moreincommon as being the most appropriate for the subject.
  2. The image is of Jen Lee Reeves's beautiful, thriving daughter.
  3. The room was a bit awkward --about 15 feet from the panelists' dais to the audience, and the room--well, the setup wasn't ideal. But on we went.

    Jen distributed sticky notes and pens to ask participants what they wanted to talk about, for the second half of the session. 
  4. Jen started off. Her daughter was born in December 2005 with a limb difference, and Jen found very little community to help her understand her daughter's challenges, so she started using her blog BornJustRight.com, to build the community she needed. 

    Every child is born just right. This site is a place where parents can come to share stories, read stories and feel safe as we all learn how to be parent advocates for our kids. It’s a wild ride that is best experienced when you lean on others and get the support you need.
  5. Jen's take-away is this: she has learned so much from the limb differences community that it's her sense that everyone involved in special needs (no matter what they are) should have communities and networks for their particular issue.
  6. Shannon Rosa spoke briefly, recapping her 10x10 talk.  

    My middle child, Leo, is 13, and has always been my dude. He's sassy, handsome, and still a snuggler, lucky me. 
    Disclosure: I know Leo in real life, and yes, he is a nifty kid. He is autistic -- not so much with the spoken language, and he thrives best with 1:1 care and attention.  Shannon has been blogging about life with Leo and her two daughters at Squidalicious since Leo's diagnosis in 2003. Shannon's wry comment was that, right now, Leo is the easiest of her children to parent. 

    She then outlined her principles about autism blogging:
  7. Jen Lee Reeves added on her her principles:
  8. Jen Lee Reeves made another point, about helping your children handle adverse interactions:
  9. The mic was passed to Kristina Chew. 

    Kristina Chew, using a variety of platforms over the years.  I first met Kristina, internet-wise, in 2005, when she was blogging at AutismVox (which has since been taken off-line). Her son Charlie is now in his late teens.  Kristina and her husband James T. Fisher left their respective university positions (both are academics) to move to the Bay Area, in part to better meet Charlie's needs as he transitions into adulthood.  The Chew/Fisher family move is described in Kristina's essay  A Classicist Goes to Work in Silicon Valley (published in The Chronicle of Higher Education). In that essay, Kristina wrote,

    On my daily commute amid a crowd of tech workers, I’ve been reflecting on what a friend called "the most creative career change ever," my metamorphosis from a Jesuit-university classicist to an online advocacy manager at Care2, a social-action web network.

    Kristina now writes at We Go With Him, where she introduced her talk:

    '5 Ways of Blogging About Charlie' with each 'way' being a different genre of ancient Greek poetry,