Why Special Needs Parents and Advocates Should Use Twitter

The events this year surrounding the untimely and most unjust circumstances of Robert Ethan Saylor really got me thinking that there should be more of us using a social media platform for advocacy.

A few of us tried in vain to tag notable people like Sarah Palin, George Will, Jamie Foxx and others with family members with Down Syndrome but didn’t get too far with it. NoahsDad, who is doing wonderful things for advocacy was able to get over 4,000 likes, advance awareness of the situation and hopefully added many more signatures to the change.org petition.

More of us can do what NoahsDad is doing…advocating by blogging intentionally and tweeting. I’ll admit, blogging intentionally can be hard work. I’m just getting started myself.

This blog is a work in progress and I don’t have everything as I like it yet. Maybe not everybody has the time or wants to learn to blog but we can all learn to use Twitter. It’s really very easy.

Go to Twitter.com and sign up for an account.

Take a quick and easy tour of Twitter.

Find people to follow! Type a term in the search field such as Down Syndrome, Autism or any other term and you will start finding people in the special needs community to follow and network with. Here are a few to start:

@lovethatmax, @noahsdaddotcom, @walkersvillemom, @NDSC, @shutupaboutcom and @suncoastmomma (that would be me)

Then start looking at who they follow and who follows them. Spend a few minutes every day doing this and you’ll start growing your Twitter followers. Don’t know what to tweet?

Just start with some favorite quotes. Keep it positive. Twitter will suggest accounts for you to follow based on whom you’re already following. It’s really a great way to network with people you might not otherwise catch on Facebook. And when the need for local and national advocacy arises (as we know it will) we will have an army of parents and advocates on reserve!

Finally, learning to use hashtags is also an essential part of finding people to follow, learning to navigate Twitter and not getting lost in a stream of meaningless tweets. Here is a great tutorial on the hows and whys of Twitter hashtags. Helpful hashtags for families of children with special needs might include #downsyndrome, #autism, #specialneeds…you get the idea.

It’s also very helpful to organize people you follow into lists.

Sign up for your free account today and happy tweeting!