Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Few Changes

To use a corporate term, I've recently been "re-engineering" my blog. Little did I realize back in April 2007 when I began blogging that it would develop into what it has.
This is my 74th blog entry. I have had over 750 comments to my posts, most of which have been thought-provoking and appropriate. I have had over 12,000 visits to my little corner of the internet. My visitors have come from no less than 20 countries around the world, perhaps more that I haven't noticed.
Blogging has helped me to develop a clearer understanding of the science of autism and the people involved in the autism community. I can now count among my personal friends other parents of autistic kids as well as autistic adults - I began these friendships online but have been fortunate enough to extend several to the offline world as well.
I have developed relationships with professional authors, I have received positive feedback from professionals who provide service for autistic people. I have gotten comments from autistic people who have endorsed my efforts at being an ally to autistic people. I have received a "Roar for Powerful Words" award from an autistic self-advocate. I have had 4-hour long cups of coffee with world-renowned autism researchers. I have signed online petitions and written letters to the NIH and the CMS.
My involvement culminated in a presentation at the University of San Diego Autism Institute's Winter Conference, at which myself, Bev Harp, and Dad of Cameron spoke to a group of parents and professionals about the Autism Hub and how blogging has created a new environment for autistic self-advocates. In all, my experience with blogging, with the Autism Hub, has been a very positive one. It has been said that you can only get out of something equal to what you put in - I think blogging fits that paradigm quite well. The act of writing this blog has made me a better person, a better father to my autistic son.
Back to the reorganization. First, I found a really neat widget that creates a Tag Cloud. This is the image you see just below 'Recent Comments' on my sidebar. The Tag Cloud shows all of the tags I have assigned to my posts, and the size of the text is proportional to how many times that tag has been used. For example, some of my largest tags in the cloud are Autism (what a shocker!), Advocacy, Education, Ethics, Fatherhood, and Parenting. This I think is a fair representation of the form this blog has taken over time, these are the things I mainly talk about. Way back in my second post, I mentioned how I anticipated it would be difficult to find my niche on the Autism Hub in light of how many great writers were here and how effectively they covered the various topics. 9 months later, one can look at the Tag Cloud and see how that question has been answered.
Next, I added a section to my sidebar at the recommendation of two people - a "Best Of..." I was hesitant to add this, as I don't consider anything I write to be all that worthy of Best Of status. But I did it, and it was admittedly fun to take some time to review some past posts.
The last change I made is an idea I swiped from Kev Leitch's Left Brain/Right Brain - an RSS Feed to the website. This is an online medical journal that is sponsored by the National Autistic Society of England and features research about Autism. If you read the Editorial by Lonnie Zwaigenbaum of the University of Alberta, you will see a good synopsis of this issue's studies. If you happen to be someone like Harold Doherty, you may be distressed to learn from a couple of these studies that people diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and those who are less severely affected by Autism Disorder also experience difficulties in life. You may even come to agree that it is a valid avenue of research to look at some of these diffculties. Regardless, I would encourage other Autism Hub bloggers to add this and any other available research-related RSS feeds to your blogs as well. It is just one small way to increase access to published research for those who may be interested.

So that's it for my reorganization. I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to visit, to read my opinions and offer their own. I certainly look forward to more such opportunities as we move forward.


Niksmom said...

Steve, I like the new features! And, isn't it funny how time flies —I thought you had been blogging much, much longer! You are definitely a man of action! Congrats and keep up the great work, er, writing, er, advocacy, um parenting...all of it! :-)

Patrick said...

Thanks for sticking in there, and doing a Great Job!

I 'Keep coming back' (to borrow from another 'program') because of the continuing positive work. (Even if it's pointing out something thats not so positive, when needed!)

Steve D said...

Thanks, Niksmom and Patrick, for your regular visits and comments.

Bev said...

Iz in ur tag kloud! :)