Blogging therapy… but at what age?

Over the last month, I’ve been remiss in sharing my thoughts and observations through my blog. But with so many ideas still swirling in my head, I’ve come to realize that blogging for me (and perhaps journaling for others) is perhaps the best therapy when it comes to clearing through the cobwebs and making sense of reality.

So to no surprise, after sitting down with my 12-year-old son to talk about some issues that arose today, I suggested that he may want to consider blogging as a way to get things off his chest. While a journal would be more private, a blog would allow him to not only speak his mind, but also provide an opporunity for others to learn from him.

You may be wondering what people could learn from a 12-year-old, but you see, my son has Asperger Syndrome.  It’s an autism spectrum disorder that impacts his ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. A more detailed look at this disorder can be found here and here.

As an Aspie, my son is a frequent target for bullying; he learns differently from others; has some unique traits, talents and gifts; and battles an emotional rollercoaster daily. By publicly providing his perspectives on life, we could all see the world through his eyes.

As parents, we are constantly advocating for our children. But with more kids going online and embracing social media, I’m hoping that by sharing the best and worst of his life as an Aspie, people will gain a better understanding not only of him as a person, but also the struggles faced by the Aspie population as they wind their way through life from childhood to adolescence (and into adulthood), and as they try to make sense of things that everyone else takes for granted.

Of course, my “brilliant” idea also leads to some interesting questions (each of which could serve as an individual blog post):

  • Is there a right (or wrong) age to begin blogging? And if so, what is it?
  • If a tween decides to blog, what is the right platform for them to use?
  • What is the best way to build a following so their message doesn’t fall on deaf ears?
  • Given the issues of privacy and safety when it comes to kids going online, is it best to blog anonymously or using a pseudonym?

If you have thoughts on this topic or answers to any of these questions, please share away.

~ JE

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8 responses to “Blogging therapy… but at what age?

  1. Jodi, you bring up some very important questions for parents plus some thoughtful commentary for other families who’s lives are touched by Asperger Syndrome.

    I think as far as a right/wrong age for blogging then short answer is it depends. Much of it depends on the maturity of the child, suitability of posts, and privacy issues that families should be discussing.

    In order to help build a following, it might be a good idea to share first with extended family members as a way to help facilitate connections especially if this is particularly difficult for the child.

    -Richie

    • Great suggestion, Richie. I love the idea of getting extended family involved. I suspect it will help him feel like his words aren’t falling on deaf ears, and at the same time, provide an opportunity for him to learn how to take and incorporate feedback from others.

      ~JE

  2. I think a good first question is “what audience/community is he going to try to connect with?” He’ll want to use a platform where those people already are, and follow their norms — do they use psuedonyms but speak very openly, or do they use their real names and stay a little more reserved? And, if you focus on those connections from the beginning, (including reading and commenting on other’s blogs) you’re more likely to have an audience for your own blog.

    I read http://www.aspieteacher.com/ and I get the impression from it that there’s a good community out there of bloggers who sometimes talk about Asperger’s. But maybe he’ll just want to blog with other kids the same age without any special reaching out to that community. When I was growing up, I really appreciated being able to communicate with my friends online because it gave me a little extra time to double-check what I was reading and whether my response was appropriate.

    No one will tell you that doing this or that is 100% safe, but the studies I’ve seen strongly indicate that the web is mostly only risky when teens go looking for risky things. If he’s not seeking out other people to meet, keeps personal details reasonably private, and doesn’t pick fits with anyone, I think the risk factor would be very low.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Dave. Perhaps a good starting point is for me to understand more about who my son would want to share his thoughts with. At school, he’s very open in sharing with others that he has AS. And while I suggest a blog as a way to educate others and share his own thoughts, it may be even better served at helping him make connections with other kids (not necessarily those with AS) who have similar interests as him (e.g. Bionicle, Pokemon, etc).

      You may a good point on the safety side of things. Being an Aspie, life for my son is very black/white. He colours in the lines and very seldom strays outside of the given rules. If we lay down some clear boundaries for him, I suspect he will stick within them.

      ~JE

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