Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

A Review of BlogHer14: The Magic and the Disappointment

I went to BlogHer14 this past weekend. For those of you who don’t blog, it’s a pretty large conference where writers meet one another in person, attend parties and a variety of sessions from publishing, to social media optimization, to writing labs, and more. On Saturday afternoon, they held “mini-con” sessions, where we were able to choose a topic and bond with those who share our niches. More on that later, because that’s the suck part.

For me, BlogHer14 was both utterly disappointing, and beyond powerful.

BlogHer14- The Magic, and the Disappointment

The Magic

It was beyond magical, because I learned about publishing options, for when I finally finish one of the books gathering cyberdust in my hard drive. But mostly, it was magical because of the people.

Stephanie, Sarah and I shared a hotel room. I have to admit that I was a little nervous. While I’d met Stephanie in person for lunch once, Sarah and I hadn’t yet met. Because my own husband often staggers to the couch late at night to escape my snores, I worried about how sharing might go.

It was awesome. We laughed and (some of us) cried. We talked and giggled and bonded and partied and danced. We learned a few things. We met up with Katia, who had been busy that afternoon and for those of you wondering – yes, she’s just as beautiful and sweet IRL.

For most of the sessions and expo-hall time, I hung out with the above beauties as well as Leah and Natalie. We chilled with Vikki and Norine and the fabulous Bloppy Leader, Julie.


Friday night was the Voices of the Year event, where those of us with awards (eeep!) were able to sit in an honored section, complete with fancy “RESERVED” signs. While the actual event went much too long, and the honoring of us was slightly disappointing – an afterthought of “oh right, get up on stage, people,” the signs were too cool.

Plus, mine was right next to the bar.

I may have spent a little bit of time with my sign. Kissing it and stuff.

BlogHer14: Voices of the Year Award. Sometimes, I

And I made JillSmo pose with me. For those of you who only know her via blogging, she looks exactly the same in person, see?

Kristi Campbell and JillSmo with BlogHer14 Voices of the Year Award. Sometimes, I

Saturday night was awesome, full of 80’s and 90’s dance music DJ’d by Run DMC’s RevRun. Oh except we weren’t that impressed with the fact that dinner was Happy Meals.


Julie and Chloe hosted a hotel room party, complete with Jello Shots (true dedication) after RevRun left us to our own devices. There, I got to hang out with Molly (who I did not recognize at first because her hair is not actually red), Lucy (who um, I may have tried to lick), Linda, and the famous Lisa Nolan, I’m sure I’m leaving some out because I’m still tired from a 13-hour travel day on Sunday.

While I was at BlogHer14, I learned from Norine (Science of Parenthood) that the incredible Ellen from Love that Max was interviewed by and said that Finding Ninee is one of her favorite blogs! (OMG!!!!!)

All that. Which is how BlogHer was amazing. Also, Jenny Lawson and Arianna Huffington? OMG awesome amazing. Plus, Jenny follows me on Twitter now. (I KNOW)

The Disappointment

Now, for the less than amazing part.

I mentioned above that on Saturday afternoon, there were “mini-con” breakout sessions. I chose to attend the Special Needs one, for obvious reasons. It started off pleasantly enough (I got to sit next to my blog crush, JillSmo, and didn’t slobber on her or anything) as one of the speakers, who raises awareness for limb difference seemed pretty cool. The other two speakers? Well. I don’t believe that either one should ever present again.

Here’s why.————

How a BlogHer14 speaker tried to shame meFirst, the other two moderators were obviously there to hear themselves speak and to spew their own agendas and lives at us, which would be fine to an extent, but wasn’t fine because they took it above and beyond the extent point.

It came time for the Q&A part of the session, and a woman at my table asked how, when so immersed in learning and advocating, and doing, and being, the moderators found time to care for themselves. One of the (two bad) moderators blathered on and on about how sucky it was to have had to move so much and that she wanted to be in whatever city but left, or came, or whatever, I’m not even sure because it was so drawn out and irrelevant and boring. It was an awful answer and didn’t offer any helpful advice for self-care, or anything close to it.

It went even further downhill when I asked a question.

First, I explained that, for the past two years, my son Tucker has been in a preschool autism classroom, which is very contained and small, and that I started blogging when he was barely three years old. I said that next year, for kindergarten, he’ll be mainstreamed (with support), in school with 24 other students, 20 of whom are typical. I asked the panel and the audience at what point they consider becoming more anonymous when it comes to blogging about their children. I was hoping to have a discussion about protecting my son’s privacy while also continuing to be honest and true to spreading special needs awareness.

The moderator’s answer? “Well. I guess you need to decide whether you’re going to grow a thicker skin and advocate.”

Wait. WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK? This isn’t about my skin. This is about protecting my son’s privacy. Not that a bunch of five year olds will read this blog, but the fact is, he’s high-functioning, and maybe, just maybe, it’s not really fair that I put his face on a public website, with the word Autism next to it. Maybe, that’s a decision best left to him when he’s older.

She dug the hole in my disbelief even deeper when she went on to freaking publicly SHAME me for not talking to him about “his autism.”

Um, hello. Tucker just turned five. He doesn’t know that he’s not typical. He’s still working on his ABC’s for fucksake. “Talk to him about his autism?”

She implied that I’m keeping his developmental delays a secret from him! I was sad and hurt and angry to say the very least. I still am.

I wanted a for-real discussion about how people feel. About how responsible we need to be as public writers who have, as their children are young, openly discussed their diagnoses, or lack thereof.

She doesn’t know anything about me, my openness, my worldviews, or my passions. She doesn’t know anything about Tucker, and his developmental age, his progress, his infectious laughter, or about how much or how little he struggles with his words.

More importantly, she didn’t ask. She simply told me that it’s my responsibility to “grow a thicker skin” and “talk to my son about his autism.”

I hope she is never in a position to “lead” another panel about special needs or autism, ever again. My heartbeat is elevated even typing this.

Yes, I am planning to complain to the staff at BlogHer. I’m a responsible person. One who is more than willing to be open and honest with my son about his uniqueness. When he’s ready. I also trust myself enough to know when that is. After all, I am the one who is Here. Loving and Guiding my little boy.

How dare she try to make my journey about thicker skin, or about her journey. I’m not going to give you her name or blog because this is my platform. And agenda-having assholes need not be recognized here.

But the fact that I wanted to ask a question, that is near and dear to my heart matters. The fact that she not only ignored my question, but tried to make me feel badly about something that doesn’t even apply to my life? To my son’s life? I just don’t know if he’s ready yet. When he is, I will do everything in my power to make my kid realize that he is unique, and powerful, and amazing, and perfectly himself.

It’s not about my skin. My skin is dried up and old and wrinkled and freckled and stretched. And it’s exactly where it’s supposed to be. It’s in this house, with my boy.

I strive for a Land of Empathy and Wonder

I write to put the anger behind me.  There are better things to do with this too-short night. There are better things to do with this too-short life. I believe. In light, and magic, and hope. And seeing the beauty in the world and in my boy.

And in the magic awesomeness of BlogHer, where I glow with happy kissy thoughts, thinking of my amazing tribe. I write this to put the anger and ickiness behind me. There are better things to do with this too-short night. There are better things to do with this too-short life.

  • Emily - Ohhhh kristi how I wish I was in that breakout session with you because I would have REAMED that fuckity-fuck bi-atch! I admire your composure and for taking the high road and not blasting her on your blog…definitely the classy way to go so kudos to you on that. Also? I’m so sad I missed bonding with all you bloppys- I would have insisted on being your 4th roomie or at least hanging with you gals because I know I’d feel that same magic since I already feel it online…one of these days I’ll get there…:)July 30, 2014 – 12:59 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Emily. I wish you’d have been in the breakout session with me as well. She was such a JERK. I mean, why not have a discussion about it? What good does shaming and judging and assuming do? None. She sucked. Maybe it’ll be on the east coast next year? And YES to 4th roomie!!July 31, 2014 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

  • Mike - You know me very well through friendship and how I’m obviously very proud of you for taking the high road. That’s always been my m.o. in life and served me very well. HOWEVER, my reaction to what was said to you and with regards to Tucker got a VERY passionate reaction out of me just from reading this. Obviously, I wasn’t there to see or know the entire “playing field” but that one would have tested my threshold. I’m deeply sorry that this lady said something so very painfully insensitive to you and indirectly actually to Tucker. The latter really gives me lift off. I applaud you and support you always our dear friend!! They really served Happy Meals, Kristi?July 30, 2014 – 1:33 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It tested my threshold too, Mike. Big time. And yes, they really served Happy Meals. I have to admit that I caved after drinking and dancing and had most of a cheeseburger. Ugh.July 31, 2014 – 1:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - Shame on this person- for so many reasons on so many levels. I can’t even begin to say how horrified and angry I am that you received such HORRIBLE feedback and how dare she be so ignorant and so egotistical!

    I hope and pray you can move forward – after you file your official complaints- and embrace the beauty of the tribe you were able to enjoy and connect with so wonderfully- and feel encouraged that your voice and Tucker’s life- will be HONORED and LIFTED and PRAISED in your incredibly gorgeous purpose…

    Living in the land of EMPATHY and WONDER.

    McDonald’s? Unbelievable.July 30, 2014 – 2:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Chris, thank you. I’ve moved forward, I think. Mostly, anyway. I’m still wondering about being more anonymous with Tucker, and wish we’d had that discussion but the bloggers who were there have been incredible about reaching out and talking to me about the pros and cons of being more anonymous, so the conversation is still happening – which is the incredible part.
      Thank you so much! And yeah. McDonald’s.July 31, 2014 – 7:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Yvonne - First, I’m glad that you did have magic at the conference – and got so many great photos.

    And what a shame that that speaker did not respond to your question, but spoke from her own agenda.

    Yours was a valid and important question, and one I’ve wondered about many times in my own writing. Though my kids don’t have special needs, they have needs, and my older girl was very sensitive and often anxious when she was younger. I didn’t want anything I wrote to exacerbate her feelings, and at first my blog was totally anonymous. (Which meant nobody read it.)

    I honestly don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to your question. In an ideal world, as long as we write with respect, then our children would be treated that way by readers. But of course, that ideal world doesn’t exist – yet. Even though, as you say, a bunch of 5-yr-olds isn’t going to read your blog, sometimes reading comments on sites like Huffington Post it seems that the average 5-yr-old is more mature than those commentators.

    Everyone sees and hears life through their own filter, and I wonder what on earth has happened in this woman’s life for her to respond to your so important question in such insensitive matter. It seems as if she just didn’t hear you at all, and I can see why you would be feeling disappointed and angry.

    I hope that writing this does mean you’re able to put the anger and ickiness behind you! And definitely write to Blogher!July 30, 2014 – 6:28 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Yvonne. I appreciate it. Writing it really did help and I got the BlogHer survey by email yesterday and plan on being very honest with it, because she should not present to a group of people who are trying to make a difference for special needs acceptance while also respecting their children’s rights. I mean sheesh. On one hand, I think it’s important for people to see such a beautiful and fun-loving boy as Tucker and know that this is also autism. On the other hand, his classmates’ parents don’t need to know about some of his “stuff.” It’s hard. I’m thinking of being a little more and more anonymous, slowly. Still using photos but maybe ones that are of him when he was younger and less identifiable.July 31, 2014 – 7:27 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - Wow, I am a bit speechless right now and I totally agree you should definitely complain, because this is not the way to lead a discussion or class. Having been a teacher, I can tell you that if I had treated any of my students this way, I would have been called on the carpet and then probably shown the door. What in the hell made this lady think she had the right or even the balls to treat you this way. Let’s negate that she didn’t even answer your question, but the fact that she could be so condescending really gets under my skin just thinking about it. I am so sorry you were treated this way and I completely agree that at 5 why would you even try to talk to Tucker about Autism. Isn’t being a parent, trying to do all you can to make your child’s environment that much better not to cut them down and make them feel like they are lacking in any way, shape or form. Sounds to me like this person had an agenda totally of their own. Just my two cents and seriously I do hope you complain, because I truly hope she never gets to lead a discussion like this again or learns at the very least this is not appropriate behavior when running a session like this.July 30, 2014 – 7:28 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know, right? I was pretty speechless when it first happened, too, Janine, and even needed a few days to process it before writing about it. Crazy stuff for sure. I have no idea why she thinks she’s so amazing and knows everything, especially since she asked me nothing about how public my blog is now, about Tucker’s developmental stages and understanding, about any of it. I am totally going to complain. Thank you so much for your sweet and supportive words. I really appreciate your two cents – always. xoJuly 31, 2014 – 8:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha - Oh roomie…. love love this. Yes, the weekend was happy kissy and then there was the suck. So sorry you were made to feel that way and I hope this helps to process it. Overall it sounds like the mini-cons were pretty disappointing. Love the photo slide show. 🙂 love you, miss you, xoxoJuly 30, 2014 – 8:44 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It was happy kissy and now I really miss you. It does sound like the mini-cons were an overall bust. But meeting you and having it be just perfectly comfortable from the very first second? Priceless and worth every minute of the Happy Meals and other less-than-favorite moments.July 31, 2014 – 8:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Courtney - I’m so impressed by you! I wish I could shoot for the stars like you are. I’m sorry that BlogHer wasn’t great and the speaker’s reaction was more about her than you. I’ve always wanted to attend BlogHer, but that community does not like my work, so i wonder why I should pay so much to attend a place that I don’t think can help me grow. I hope you can make some magic happen and glad you had fun with online friends. Take care, KristiJuly 30, 2014 – 8:53 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Courtney,
      I’m SO impressed BY YOU! I’m not really shooting for the stars… just really wanted to go and see blog friends and kiss my VOTY. Honestly, I have to wonder if that community likes anybody’s work besides the people who have been blogging for 11 years. The special needs mini-con was beyond horrible and awful and I still sorta can’t believe it. Thanks so much sweets. Been thinking about you.July 31, 2014 – 8:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Michele - Oh, Kristi, that is INFURIATING. It is clear to all who know you just how right you are doing by Tucker, and I don’t doubt for a second that however you choose to approach writing about him in the future, it will continue to be brave and heartfelt and funny. I also don’t doubt that BlogHer will be getting a very clear message of a different sort from you this week! I’m glad that that negative experience didn’t sour you on the rest of a magical trip (b/c VOTY! and Jenny!)July 30, 2014 – 8:59 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Michele, I agree. It was SO infuriating. And unhelpful and mean and unproductive and all the rest. Thank you for having faith that I’ll do the right thing by Tucker. It’s hard to know how much it’s my responsibility as a writer to say “YES, this, too, is autism and special needs” without, well, outing him, I guess? I mean it’s important for parents to know that these things are so very varied, because my husband and I were in denial for a long time, due to Tucker’s eye contact and other things we didn’t realize can also be autism.
      But, well, he’s going to be in a class with 24 kids next year. Not that they’ll read this blog, but, well, yeah. It’s out there…
      And yeah, VOTY and Jenny and Arianna were AWESOME. I can’t wait to see you later this month (AND OMG it’s AUGUST!!?!?).July 31, 2014 – 9:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Meeting you, my friend, was pure magic. Public shaming in a forum that is supposed to bring people together, people who share so much in common, is the biggest sucker punch one could expect. I hope the organizers are open to honest feedback. This kind of experience shouldn’t be anyone’s takeaway from an event like this.July 30, 2014 – 9:13 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Katia, meeting YOU was magical and amazing, and I totally adore you. I also agree that shaming when we should be focusing on raising one another up is a sad, sad, awful thing. I hope BH is open to it, too. But who knows. Sometimes, it matters that people have been doing this for so long. Sigh. I miss you!!July 31, 2014 – 9:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - Also, I’m impressed with your ability to analyze the situation so perfectly and put into writing in a coherent and respectful way. I would probably still be going “WTF”?????July 30, 2014 – 9:15 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Trust me, sweets. I’m still going WTF. I was just mad enough to post. Anger is a good motivator 😉July 31, 2014 – 9:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Wow. Just wow. A good moderator should be almost invisible to memory, promoting the rich discussion of those attending, not dominating the event. I am so sorry you had to deal with that. As you didn’t get your question answered, ask us your loyal readers! I am happy to talk about the decisions made regarding a) our son’s privacy in my blog, and b) how we discussed his diagnosis with him. Big hugs and glad the rest of the conference was good!July 30, 2014 – 9:25 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - So right, Elizabeth, that a good moderator should be invisible. She was too full of herself and I’m still upset about it. I’m trying not to be, because obviously unproductive, but come ON!! I’d love to talk to you more about how you talked to your son about his autism. I’m wondering now if that’s something I should have considered before and didn’t… but Tucker is still learning his letters, so… ????July 31, 2014 – 10:59 pmReplyCancel

      • Elizabeth - In short, he indicated that he needed to know so that’s when we told him. When you’re ready, shoot me an email and we can talk more about when and how we told him about his diagnosis (he was 7), and how we still talk about it. 🙂August 5, 2014 – 2:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - Holy crap how did you not end up needing bail money? Like seriously you did not need to call Stephanie and say hey girl I need a ride home from the pokey? Yes I just said pokey. But seriously that moderator was obviously not qualified to lead karaoke let alone a break out session. Holy crap I’m pissed on your behalf.

    And proud because you are classy enough to not end up in a bar fight (this time) which must have been beyond difficult. I’m sorry that this weekend you looked so forward to was marred by a jerk.

    I’m also freaking jealous. I TOLD you that you were famous 🙂July 30, 2014 – 9:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know, right? haha to the pokey and yeah it’s pretty amazing I didn’t end up there!!! And thanks, love. For you. She was a total jerk and so not famous.July 31, 2014 – 11:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - First, I am super happy and a little jealous that the majority of the conference was so awesome. I loved seeing the slide show, so thank you for that. Second, all those names the Bloppies were throwing sound for that woman when you posted about it on our page? Sounds like they were spot on. Kudos to you for speaking up. Who knows how many other people she’s shamed with her words. I much prefer your words: honest, positive, real. You.July 30, 2014 – 9:31 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so much, Dana. And yeah, they were spot on. What was the best one? Twatrocket? Um, something like that.July 31, 2014 – 11:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Twindaddy - Wow. I don’t like that woman’s response, either. I’m refraining from saying some really harsh words here….

    Anyhow, I’m glad that, overall, you had a really good time.July 30, 2014 – 9:37 amReplyCancel

  • Little Miss Wordy - It was magical for me to meet you, spend time with you and get to know you. I miss you tons! Reading this, I went through several emotions but the strongest was pride that you, an amazing, intelligent, strong, eloquent woman bravely shared this well written response to a situation that was completely uncalled for. High five and big hugs!July 30, 2014 – 9:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I miss you, too! I just read your post and still can’t believe you fractured your poor foot! Thanks, too, for the support about talking about the sucky part. xoxo and miss you!July 31, 2014 – 11:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Love all the pictures and so sorry you had that experience with the Q&A. I can imagine that hurt and I hope that by venting it out helped but I hope you get some resolution – like an apology or knowing for sure that she won’t be invited back. I biting back an acronym to call her 😉July 30, 2014 – 10:29 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Kenya. I’m biting back a lot of things to call her, and I guess the best will be if she’s not invited back. However, it seems these conferences really cater to people who have been blogging for 10+ years as presenters, and well, she has. Guess it’s our world in another 9 or so???July 31, 2014 – 11:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Amen, sister! You’re doing an awesome job! I am sorry you didn’t get an answer to your question, and had that awful experience. I don’t know how people can feel good about themselves, putting others down like that. Good for you for keeping yourself positive. And I am glad you had all the wonderful experiences, too (jello shots and awards — woo hoo and congrats!). I hope when I grow up, I can be a real blogger and get to go to a conference like that. I would love to meet all of my favorite blog ladies! 🙂July 30, 2014 – 10:35 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Jessica. I don’t know how people feel good putting others down either, but it seems to be kinda “a thing” and I almost wish I never knew about it in the blogging community. The awards and jello shots (which I just had vodka, for the record because don’t do well with sweet sugar shots) were awesome. I’d love to meet you. Tell me you’re coming to something? I’m not sure what I’ll go to in the future but I’d love love love to meet you.July 31, 2014 – 11:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - W. T. F. You already know how I feel, but I just wanted to add one more thing. Often activists have to be “all in” — they forget about the nuances of life and are single-mindedly focused on ONE GOAL, which is THE goal, and no other goals or concerns are important. Sometimes this is how major changes come about in society — civil rights, women’s rights, etc. I am definitely NOT defending her; more explaining to you how you can not take it personally, even though it is so personal. It’s so unfortunate that BlogHer chose such a rabid, one-sided person to speak at the conference. Then again… McDonalds, Khloe Kardashian, etc… Hmmm. Maybe they are losing their compass. Love you and so sorry she shamed you. I will note that you are the bigger person for not publicly shaming her here. xoJuly 30, 2014 – 10:37 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Deb. You’re so freaking awesome. I thank you for the perspective of being “all in” because that’s not something I’d have considered in a billion years. It does suck when that goal is rabid and not focused on the good of all though, unlike rights. I believe in rights. Mostly, all of them, for all of us. But to shame me? That part seems dumb and stupid and self serving in such a non-productive way. and good point re: McD, Kardashian, yeah. I love you, too. And wish you’d have been there.August 1, 2014 – 12:09 amReplyCancel

  • Roshni - How dare she?!!! Did anyone respond to that exceptionally rude answer?! At least one of the other moderators should have said something! !

    All taken together, I’m a little less disappointed about not going. Yes, I would have loved to have posed with my poster but that’s about it. I’m confident of meeting all you fabulous ladies in less expensive settings! !July 30, 2014 – 10:54 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think so too – that one of the other moderators should have said something and I’m glad to have seen your poster in person – so very deserved and awesome. I think we’ll meet as well, in a better setting for sure!!!August 1, 2014 – 12:40 amReplyCancel

  • jillsmo - I have to say that I wasn’t surprised by any of this. It was exactly what I expected from the agenda-having asshole, especially considering that at the first day of the conference she got up in front of 2000 bloggers and said that if you have feelings about your child having autism it means that you’re in a pain competition with them. She’s horrible.July 30, 2014 – 11:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yeah, she’s fucking horrible. I’m glad there are sane people like you, to keep me sane in this crazy blogging world. Thank you for everything. I appreciate it so much. Plus, you’ll forever be my blog crush.August 1, 2014 – 12:43 amReplyCancel

  • Dani G - Even though I wasn’t there, I know who you’re talking about. Unfortunately, we in the special needs/Autism community know that shaming other parents who don’t see things EXACTLY as she does is totally her thing. That’s what she does. That’s why so many of us don’t follow that page anymore.

    The worst part? I worry for the newly diagnosed families searching for answers and support and showing up to a mini-con like that or to the page she admins and being shamed into a corner and deflated. It’s a terrible disservice she provides to parents who are often scared and feeling desperate. Bitch.July 30, 2014 – 11:45 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - It’s been really eye-opening to me to read how many of you know who this is and agree that she’s horrid. I had never heard of her, or her stupid FB page before and now, well, I guess it’s a good thing I’ve been enlightened. I, too, worry about new parents finding her. I’m glad that I didn’t find her and found JillSmo and Ellen (love that max) instead. Yeah, she’s a bitch. Thank you for your comment!!August 1, 2014 – 12:50 amReplyCancel

  • Kelly @OneQuarterMama - Hi! First time I’m stopping by here. I found you through Triberr.

    I went to BlogHer last year, and like you, I was a little underwhelmed. I found the panels way too basic and it was just ok. I did like all the free stuff though! I don’t drink, so I don’t care for the parties. Anywho, I think I would be better suited for BlogHerPro if I am to return.

    I also think you asked a really good question. I am open about my own autism. My son is almost five and I am open about his, but I do have a sort of personal “privacy policy” I use when it comes to disclosing certain things. I do not use his real name on my blog. I don’t post tons of pics. I don’t disclose things of a personal nature – like bodily functions, bad moods – things that can be embarrassing later on.

    I think for me it’s because I don’t see autism as something to hide. If you get to know me, it becomes fairly apparent – it’s not something I can hide and don’t really want to. I think the more open we are, the more accepting people can be. I would hope by the time he’s older, it will be seen as something totally normal and it will be easy for people to make accommodations.

    I also believe in giving them the language they need to understand their world. You might be surprised to think your child knows he’s different. I was not able to verbalize it, but I always knew. The problem is when I did not have a diagnosis or language to explain it, I blamed myself. I thought there was something very wrong or bad with me. So even if you don’t believe he understands, you can start telling him he is different and special. Point out his challenges and his talents with him. Tell him people have different brains and that’s ok. I tell my son he has my brain, but not daddy’s. I tell him we both share an amazing eye for detail, but we sometimes struggle with other things.July 30, 2014 – 12:07 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi, Kelly.
      Thank you so much for your insightful comment. I’d love to learn more about how you feel the best way to talk to my son (and for my friends to talk to their ASD children as well) about delays, autism, speech, etc.

      Honestly, I’ve never really thought about it before. My son Tucker is fairly high functioning, and is socially motivated, but very delayed from his typical peers. He also just turned five, so is pretty young, and still working on ABC’s so I’m not sure how much he’d understand about whatever I say about him being unique.

      I suppose I’m guilty of assuming that he’s not aware that he’s different, but maybe he is. I do know that when he talks to other kids on the playground, that he’s often met with either questions as to what he’s saying, or a dismissal, and so maybe he is more aware than I realize.

      I’d very much like your input on speaking to my son about his differences. I don’t see autism as something to hide, either, and think it’s very important for all children to realize how unique and different they are. When we enter ASD into that picture, it’s even more important, I think.

      I’m so sorry that you went through a period where you blamed yourself and if you have any advice on me speaking to my son, so that he doesn’t do the same, I’d love to hear it. And thank you for your comment – I appreciate your insight.August 1, 2014 – 1:00 amReplyCancel

      • Kelly @OneQuarterMama - I actually wrote a post about disclosure not too long ago:

        I also use the reasoning given to me by a nurse when I went to bereavement counselling. My son was 16 months when my dad died and I hadn’t actually said the words to him. I said things like, “we can’t see him anymore,” “he’s up in the sky” and the nurse said, “you need to tell him he’s dead. You need to give him the language to tell his story and as he gets older, he will put it together and understand.” It was hard, but eventually I did it. And I’m sure he didn’t understand at first, but now he’s starting to. He asks questions now and I can answer them frankly. I don’t think kids get euphemisms very well. One of my son’s first questions about my father’s death was, “did I cause it?” – I think kids always blame themselves first – like with divorces or anything like that.

        So the same goes for disability disclosure. Slowly, with lots of little mini conversations, you bring up little details. Talking about it often also keeps the doors of communication open. It’s not a taboo subject, it’s something you can talk about and discuss.

        As he gets older, he can tell other children why he needs some alone time, for example, when they want to play.

        As an aside, just because your son does not repeat back his ABCs the way you would expect, does not mean he does not know them. Always presume competence. It just doesn’t always come out as you would expect. The wheels are always turning in our heads. So many times (still, as an adult) someone will ask me if I know something and I’ll say “no,” but then I realize I really do, and in many cases, I actually know more about it than the person asking me, but the right thoughts did not assemble themselves fast enough for me to say it.

        And thanks for asking me questions. I’m happy to give my insight if it helps someone.August 1, 2014 – 10:17 amReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and your post, Kelly. A lot. I commented on your blog as well but it’s this conversation that has helped me to identify ways to talk to my son about being unique. I think I can start with speech, as I think he may have apraxia, although we’re not sure. But it seems like a great place to start, as it’s his biggest challenge. I also really appreciate your insight that just because he may not say his ABC’s correctly, that it doesn’t mean he doesn’t know them. I have a feeling I’ll be asking you quite a few questions. Thank you!!!August 1, 2014 – 4:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Chenell DeNeen - So, I think you did a fantastic job of writing about this {because I knew just how fired up you were}. It was so great to hang out with you, I love that you are so thoughtful about your son and his needs. I just started thinking about my kids last year and they were a lot older than five! That should be applauded, not condemned. You’ll walk the line and make it look easy, as you always do. xoxoJuly 30, 2014 – 12:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Hi —

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. I am disabled and I have a kid who is now 21 and transgender. I have never, ever posted anything about my kid without running it by them first. Ever. If my kid says, “no,” the post doesn’t go up. My kid’s privacy is incredibly important to me. I started blogging when my kid was 16 and able to read the things I write and make an informed decision about them; if they’d been any younger and I wanted to blog about our lives, I’d have hidden our identities behind several walls of anonymity. I am not at all comfortable with people who talk about the details of their minor children’s lives without protecting their privacy.

    As for telling your kid that he is autistic — there is time for that. Plenty of time. No need to do it on anyone else’s time schedule but your own. Your first priority is your kid, your schedule, your lives. Don’t let anyone shame you about that.July 30, 2014 – 12:46 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you, Rachel. I really appreciate your insight and your comment. I do think there are some small ways that I can begin conversations with my son – possibly speech is a good place to start as it’s his biggest challenge and so likely the thing that will become obvious to him first. Also, I really liked your post on dismantling the idea of normalcy, by the way. Excellent.August 1, 2014 – 4:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah - And my heartbeat is elevated reading it! What a $&@&”$&!!!!!!!!!! There is no place for speakers like her, especially in such a sensitive niche.
    Your question is such a good one. I debate it into mind all the time. All.The.Time. I can’t make up my mind how much to share. You can do so much advocating when you’re open like you are. On the other hand, I have those same privacy questions. I really don’t know what is right.
    As for talking to Tucker about his autism, obviously he is too young! I’m with you 100%. Anyone who has ever read your blog knows you’ll be amazing at communicating with him about his strengths and weaknesses when the time is right. And you and Robert are THE ONLY ONES who will know when the time is right.
    What is so infuriating about this presenter is that she assumes she knew Tucker’s needs better than you, and that’s what really gets me! What insufferable hubris! Anyone with any experience, introspection, compassion (I could go on) knows this basic truth: nobody’s mama knows better than that kid’s mama. So shut the eff up.July 30, 2014 – 1:30 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I agree, Sarah. No place at ALL. What could have been a really positive and helpful conversation turned into bleh and ickiness. I can’t make up my mind how much to share, either. On one hand, I think it’s important for people to know that special needs children don’t always look like it (because I think it’s been easier for me to be in denial about Tucker, especially when he was even younger) BUT next year, he’ll be with a bunch of typical kids. I don’t want to share anything he won’t be comfortable with later. It’s hard.
      Thanks for the support, too, about talking to him. I agree that we’ll know when the time is right although I have been thinking about it a lot. I think we’re going to start talking to him more about speech because that will be what he’ll notice first, I think, about being different.
      HAHA to insufferable hubris! <3
      I adore you.August 1, 2014 – 4:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Out One Ear - Wow. I know you experienced awesomeness at this event. It’s too bad about the happy meals and the “afterthought” recognition. I’ve been to events like that and it sure seems like the people hosting the show have forgotten what the show was supposed to be about. Your sign is cool. I’d kiss it too. 🙂

    As far as the workshop. I absolutely hate to be publicly shamed–especially when I ask a legitimate question. I’m sure the whole room felt uncomfortableness about this. I hope you do suggest that this person never return. You are awesome and you will do what is right for you and Tucker. I was a bit luckier in one aspect. Lindsey had a physical disability: tremors, that got worse over time. We started talking about them early, like three, four, five. We didn’t make a big deal about them, but said she might have to work harder when they were at their worst. We gave her new ways to try things and she went to therapy once a week. Anyway, Lindsey grew up with the knowledge she had tremors, just like she had the knowledge she had blonde (at the time) hair. It was no big deal. As far as the mental disabilities, I guess I was in denial for so long I really didn’t discus those with her until later. Maybe even ten years old, when she started asking questions on why she was different from the other kids. I just acted like it was no big deal as we talked. And most of time, Lindsey skipped (or her version of a skip) outside to play.July 30, 2014 – 1:44 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks Linda. I hope talking to Tucker comes with a ton of insight. It’s a little bit frightening to think about how to bring it up, ya know? But I think I should say something before he worries that something’s “wrong” with him. Maybe I start with speech therapy, since he must know that there’s a reason he has to practice words so much. And yeah, the event was a huge disappointment. Sigh.August 1, 2014 – 4:35 pmReplyCancel

  • christine - It was so fun to see all of the photos on FB and IG you all posted while at the conference. Clearly, you all had a blast.
    As for High and Mighty Moderator, I would have sat there stunned, unable to come up with a retort. Until the break-out session was over. THEN, when it was too late, I would have had all sorts of awesome things to say to her and would be furious that I didn’t think of them sooner. I’d still be stewing. Oh wait, this isn’t about me. 🙂

    I hope you find the right people to talk to at BlogHer in order to keep this person from being moderator again. Hey, maybe they’ll even ask you to replace her!July 30, 2014 – 2:23 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I was pretty stunned, Christine. Like big stunned. I tried to talk more but ended up giving up. The cool part was that so many of the people in the audience ended up having a discussion with me (and continue to) so that I can work through how much I should share. And I hope I find the right people at BlogHer, too. HAHA to replacing her – I think this chick’s been blogging for 11 years!August 1, 2014 – 4:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Natalie DeYoung Ricci - I agree with Julie — great job addressing this tope when it is soooo inflammatory.
    And I loved that I got to hang out with you in person. You’re my kind of people.July 30, 2014 – 3:14 pmReplyCancel

  • The Dose of Reality - SO nice to hear your experience. AND CONGRATULATION ON YOU VOTY! WOOT!! I’d have been hugging and kissing my sign for hours!! Way to go!!!

    We’ve never made it to BlogHer so it’s invaluable to hear about your experience to see if we should budget for it next year. Getting to meet and be with bloggy friends sounds heavenly. BUT WHAT IN THE WORLD with that horrible moderator. WHAT?!?! I cannot believe she responded like that. Beyond terrible. I hope they never let her anywhere near another conference.

    And not for nothing, but your question was EXCELLENT. It’s too bad that lady was horrid, because it would have been a really interesting and helpful conversation for bloggers to have with someone normal. –LisaJuly 30, 2014 – 3:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks for the congrats, Lisa! You two should come to a BlogHer because I’d LOVE to meet you in person! And yeah, I agree that it would have been a great conversation to have with bloggers had the moderator been anything more than the douche she was. Thanks much!August 1, 2014 – 4:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Hall - Oh wow, that is AWFUL! I would be so pissed too. I’m glad the rest of the conference was so awesome. I’ve recently been more inclined to not put pics of my kids on my blog. Also, when I have something not so positive to say about one of my kids I try to keep it general, so it’s not so easy to pick out which kid did it. Obviously, not something you can do though. We have a lot of issues in our house and I just won’t write about them because I don’t know how my kids will feel about it. I’ve even been taking all the adoption part of my blog down. But that’s MY kids. Other kids are different and some appreciate the limelight and speaking up, so I think you have to go with your gut. You know what’s best for your son and your family. There are a lot of anonymous blogs that do really, really well. Just my two cents. 🙂July 30, 2014 – 3:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel Kenyon - I LOVE BlogHer even though I haven’t actually made it there… yet. You are a loving mother to even notice that your son has rights, too, which clearly the bad moderator has not considered of her own child(ren). Personally, at Stimcity, I have decided this past year to stop writing as my daughter has become more aware of things in general. She just turned 8 this month. In my heart I recognize that at 8, she still wouldn’t understand what a blog is, what autism is, or why she is so damn special – but I still want her to respect me for respecting her when she didn’t have the chance to speak up. You go, Mama. Keep up the fantastic job!!July 30, 2014 – 3:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Adrienne Jones - Sigh. Yeah. So fucking frustrating. There are no “right” answers here and people who think they have them are infuriating. I (and many others) are always here to wrestle with the questions with you, and support you in finding what works for you and your family, whether that’s what’s right for us or not. That’s when our community works best. I’m totally public. It works for us. It’s not right for everyone. July 30, 2014 – 3:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Allie - I was reading the beginning and kind of sad that I didn’t go…and then I read what happened and I am relieved. I probably would have been in that session with you – and I would have lost it and made a fool of myself. I cannot believe she said that! You know my situation, and I can’t even imagine what she would have said to ME!!!!July 30, 2014 – 4:00 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I know – she was AWFUL! I saw your email and will reply – sorry, been swamped trying to catch up after being gone for four days!! I would LOVE to do a conference with you and so very much wish you’d been in the special needs mini-con with me. It was pretty terrible.August 1, 2014 – 5:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - I am bothered by your experience with that crappy panelist! How dare she! She should ask more questions before giving her worthless two cents…like, “What does he understand about autism right now?” I get pretty protective over people, even when I don’t know them well, and right now I’m feeling protective of you. Give me this ladies address! jk ;xJuly 30, 2014 – 4:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Rebecca, I’m bothered by the experience as well but I feel really lucky that so many people from the session have reached out and told me that this woman is known for being an evil troll online and offered their support and ideas about how to move forward with both openness and respect for my son’s privacy. Thank you so much and I love that you are feeling protective! 🙂
      Thank you!August 1, 2014 – 6:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Mame MamaFry Dennis - As a blogger who chooses to remain anonymous, I am furious for you. Her advice is pointless and useless. This isn’t about growing a thicker skin. This is about your child’s right to privacy and also his safety. Those are the two main reasons why I do not share my son’s name. He didn’t ask me to write about him and it’s a big old scary world out there. July 30, 2014 – 5:17 pmReplyCancel

  • kimberly @ red shutters - It was great to meet you at the writing lab, especially after having enjoyed your blog from afar.

    I really hope you pass along this information to the BlogHer leadership. It is unacceptable for anyone to be so disrespectful–especially a session speaker.

    I’ll keep reading!July 30, 2014 – 5:28 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks so much Kimberly and I loved meeting you, too! I did actually fill out the post-conference survey today and included a recap of the special needs mini-con. I just hope somebody will read it and take it to heart and have better speakers next year.August 1, 2014 – 6:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Lance Burson - It was great to finally meet you. Thanks for the hug. I’m sorry your disappointment part. The great part was getting to hang with people you felt like you knew for years. Thanks for being awesome.July 30, 2014 – 5:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Janel - Holy shit. I would have freaked the fuck out if she said that to me, and I would have held your purse and earrings for you if I had been sitting at your table when she said that to you. Congrats on your voice of the year. I remember hearing you read your piece at BlogU, and I loved it.July 30, 2014 – 6:11 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Janel,
      Thanks so much! Too bad you weren’t in the session with me because maybe somebody holding my purse and earrings was what I needed to retaliate more properly!!August 1, 2014 – 6:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy at kissing the frog - Hmmm,this is why I have never really wanted to go to BlogHer. I don’t do well in huge, impersonal settings, and it sounds just like what this was. I’m glad you got to meet people IRL and make connections that are going to be important, but I’m sorry the speaker wasn’t more helpful. For shame. 🙁July 30, 2014 – 6:37 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Kathy,
      Yeah, the speaker should have been more helpful. Or, at least, um, nice. Thanks so much!August 1, 2014 – 6:35 pmReplyCancel

  • Courtney - I’m back. I’ve been thinking about this today, and I just want to let you know that your wonderings are valid. I don’t write much any more because my kids are asking me not to share their failures and learnings. You will talk to Tucker when the time is right (we told our son at 7 due to HIS circumstances) YOU WILL KNOW WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT to tell him.July 30, 2014 – 7:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so very much, Courtney!! I really really really appreciate you coming back and you in general because you’re so wonderful and lovely and well, thank you!!!August 1, 2014 – 6:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Bipolar Spirit - So sad that you were shamed. You get to decide when you will tell your son about his autism, you know best when it will be helpful to him. Plus, we do need to be careful about how we talk about our kids online and in other venues. I have a similar issue as a blogger and minister where I use things I have learned from my son in blogs and sermons. I wrote a post about it for other parents a while back: 30, 2014 – 8:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Jess at Welcome to the Bundle - I know just how much you love your kid and advocate for him every minute of your day. I’m so sorry that someone with an ego that needed stroking decided to use you to get her jollies. Keep in mind that for every careless, clueless person who tries to cut you down, you have a band of supporters who will happily pull you back up. And that is a testament to the kind of blogger, mom, and person you are.July 30, 2014 – 8:13 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Jess. I really really appreciate it – and YOU, because well, you. And thanks, too, for the reminder of the people willing to help me back up when I need it. Same goes to you, sister of the Advanced Maternal Age (hahah because I was told it was 38 so maybe they adjust the age to just a couple behind us to make us feel better?).August 1, 2014 – 7:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Smith Sprenger - You. Nailed. It. This was perfectly, beautifully done. The disappointment part was sucky, and yet you made something good out of it with your honesty and candor. Loved it. And also? OMG!!! I hadn’t seen the McDonald’s pictures of us! I need to have those right now. I was weepy looking at the photos- wasn’t it the best ever? Being together? Sob. July 30, 2014 – 8:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Alison - Thank you for sharing your experience, Kristi. I’m glad you met so many online friends, and had a great time.

    I am also sorry for your experience with that speaker, who was definitely out of line. Our journey, our story, that is our own. No one has a right to tell you what to do or how to do it.July 30, 2014 – 8:27 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Alison. I wish you’d been there. One of these days. Thanks so much for your support and you’re right. Our stories are our own and nobody has a right to tell us how to be, or to do. xoAugust 1, 2014 – 7:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Anna Fitfunner - Hi: I’m happy and sorry to hear about your BlogHer experiences. Obviously, the connecting with other bloggers was a great experience for you! It sounds like the Special Needs session wasn’t particularly helpful; in looking at the other comments it appears that the moderator was known for not handling this topic gracefully. The topic itself is an important one to consider. You are a talented writer, with a lot of insight to offer other special needs families. OTOH, there is your son’s privacy. You’ll have to balance the two priorities, and may find that the priorities change as Tucker grows older.

    I think that it also might make sense to mention that autism doesn’t necessarily affect only those families who are kind-hearted, generous and sensitive. Sometimes, it affects people who aren’t that sensitive, or insightful, or wise or even kind (like that speaker, poor woman). It’s true that we don’t need to spend a lot of time listening to those people when they say silly or insensitive words. But I think that it is helpful (to me at least) to accept them for what they are: parents (another Mom in this case) who have the same fears, uncertainty and concerns for their kids and families that you and I share for our kids. Does that help? July 30, 2014 – 8:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Caitlin Beauchaine - Kristi – I’m so glad you enjoyed connecting with some fellow bloggers at the conference, but that totally sucks about the mini sessions. To me, it seems like a great topic of conversation to discuss whether or not it’s the right thing to be sharing personal information about our families so publicly. I wonder about this too, about whether or not it’s safe to be sharing photos and private thoughts and information. I don’t think it has anything to do with having a “thick skin.” It’s about safety, privacy, and how our kids might feel about the honest things we’ve posted about them when they are older. And to tell you that you should talk to him about having Autism at 5 years old? That’s crazy. As a mother, you will know when the time is right. I totally respect your honesty and I’m glad you shared your disappointments, because hopefully this type of shaming won’t happen again.July 30, 2014 – 8:55 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I really did enjoy the connections, Caitlin, and thank you for your insightful comment. I appreciate it, a lot. I’ve been feeling pretty raw and sad and well, all of the inadequate things since this, like I’m doing it all wrong, but honestly, I don’t think I am doing it all wrong. I don’t think it has anything to do with a thick skin either, but damn. Well. I hope I know when the time is right. I guess each of us has to trust ourselves to know when the time is right to talk to our kids about ALL of the things, yes? And thank you again. <3August 1, 2014 – 8:58 pmReplyCancel

  • JD @ Honest Mom - I’m so glad you had such a good time – and I’m so sorry that woman was so terrible to you. I think most of us have so little experience with bloggers being jerks to fellow bloggers that when it happens – and in person, no less – it’s just mindbogglingly shocking. No one has a right to tell anyone how to advocate. Or whether or not they should advocate in the first place! Ugh. But I’m glad you had a blast with everyone and I hope to see you next year!!!July 30, 2014 – 8:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, JD. I agree and have not had any experience with anybody being a jerk to me about how I do what I do when it comes to blogging until this experience. I hope to see you next year! Or at something, anyway!!August 2, 2014 – 11:43 amReplyCancel

  • WriterMom Angela - I am so incredibly sorry that you had that experience. Why do women think they have to always make things about someone else’s flaws in order to feel better about themselves?

    My son has ADD, he was diagnosed about 9 months ago and he knows that he was diagnosed with this and what that means…as much as an 11 year old can understand that is. He also knows that his cousins have ADHD and really what this means is that their brain works differently than other people’s and even than each other’s! His close friend has Autism, and he knows the same thing, that his brain works a little differently but guess what, his heart works exactly the same as ours does!

    People need to learn to shut their damn mouths when they don’t have anything constructive to add! I applaud your question, it’s a tough one! I try hard to be open and honest but also protect my family’s privacy. It’s a delicate balance and one you can’t go back and undo. Privacy lost is gone, and can’t be regained.July 30, 2014 – 9:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Angela. I love the idea of explaining that some people’s brains work differently but that their hearts are the same – great words!! And I don’t know why women have to make things about somebody’s flaws. It’s really sad – we should build one another up, not shut one another down.August 2, 2014 – 12:08 pmReplyCancel

  • jaklumen - I wish I could have been there, at least for that one moment.

    Why do I think I could have made a difference? Because I figure I’m a rare breed. I’m a father, on disability, who’s proudly domestic. And I’m a father of a 7-year old boy with autism.

    But I’m an outsider. Does that make sense? Take a peek at my blog. It’s okay, it doesn’t bite. See, that woman wouldn’t have seen what was coming if I’d been there to comment next. I write about the Hero’s Journey. I write about Joseph Campbell. I write about myths and stories, but also raw, real life. Who’s my blogging hero? Brett McKay of The Art of Manliness. I want my son to grow up to be a hero and win his own battles, and I say…

    THAT WOMAN wimped out. It was a wimp-ass retort. A coward’s reply. You have every right to set things just so, so if Tucker wants to come blog in about 10-15 years and speak about his own experience, you allowed him that choice. You allowed him some room to speak on his own terms.

    Keep your head up, Sister Blogger. You are awesome, because I say so. The battle isn’t over yet.July 30, 2014 – 10:23 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you so very much Jaklumen – I wish you’d have been there too and would have loved to hear your retort. I think that woman wimped out, too and here’s to our sons growing up to be heroes. Truly. I most definitely will check out your blog – am very intrigued!August 2, 2014 – 12:20 pmReplyCancel

  • [email protected] - I was so upset after I read this post, I googled the list of Mini-Con speakers and IMMEDIATELY knew who you were talking about. It sounds to me like she was projecting her own shit onto you. She turned her issue into what (she thought was) your question. NOBODY from TPGA should EVER be asked to speak about Autism, IMO. Everytime I go to that page, there’s nothing but parent-bashing going on, and very limited understanding of the whole picture of autism. I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I’m glad you spoke up about it.July 30, 2014 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Yvonne, it’s amazing how many people knew immediately who she is – I guess that says quite a bit. And parent bashing? So not cool. UGH. I don’t actually go to that page so I haven’t really seen it. I’m so tempted but may get sucked in and would rather get sucked into hilarious blog posts about you in second grade.August 2, 2014 – 12:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Sylvia - OMG! Her answer had nothing to do with your question! What an ass! I cannot stand idiots who think they know all about you and your kid and what you should be doing. If it’s any Help at all I think Tucker will eventually be able to make it known if he doesn’t want you to disclose on your blog about his autism. I wish I had never told my now 24 yr old Son that he had autism.July 30, 2014 – 10:51 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I agree Sylvia!!! And really? I’d be curious to learn more about why you wish you’d never told your son that he has autism. Thanks so much for your comment and support!August 2, 2014 – 12:43 pmReplyCancel

      • Sylvia - Because now he is so high functiioning now that unless you are familiar with autism or live with him you might not notice that he even has it. He has never disclosed at college or job interview or ever asked for any accommodation of any kind. I’m not saying that he is cured or couldn’t use a little help, but he refuses to ask. Not telling him is an option and something to think about anyway.August 2, 2014 – 1:29 pmReplyCancel

        • Kristi Campbell - Thank you, Sylvia. That’s actually really helpful, because it’s something I struggle with too. I’m not sure if it’s smart to give Tucker the word “autism” as he is well, very very delayed with language and has some worrisome control and anger issues, BUT, he’s very socially motivated, engages in incredible imaginative play, and, for the most part, isn’t obviously autistic. His language barriers are quite obvious, but for the rest of it, I’m not really sure yet. I think the place to start is in talking to him about his words, so that he knows nothing is “wrong with him” when people can’t always understand him. It’s a hard place and I really appreciate you coming back to share your advice. So much.August 2, 2014 – 8:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Jhanis - So sorry to hear about what happened Kristi! Whatever she said were pure misguided, uninformed and unrequited advice/bashing meant to make the speaker feel good about herself. Nuff said.July 30, 2014 – 11:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Lexi Sweatpants Magnusson - I’m so sad that you felt the wrath of Shannon. She just doesn’t get it at all. She and TPGA are merciless to parents who don’t fall in line with their narrative to a t. Don’t listen to her. Do what is right for you and for your child. You can totally advocate for your child from an anonymous setting. You aren’t not accepting of his autism because he isn’t ready to understand what it means yet. She can shut the fuck up forever. July 30, 2014 – 11:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - Great recap and great post! “m so glad you got to meet up with some of your tribe and have a great time. I am very angry how your question was handled. I think you brought up such an amazing question and one that i struggle with myself. I think the speaker missed out on leading a great conversation about an issue I bet a lot of the other parents were thinking. Love you! And congratulations again on your VOTY, Love all the pictures too! xoJuly 30, 2014 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Ashley Fitting - Humph. That person should have been kicked, hard and immediately during that break out. I think that is one of the things that drives me NUTS about BH (and yes I did go and yes I’ve gone to more than one)is that some of these people sit up on those panels and just see themselves SO HIGH up there. Like, hey, I’m on a panel and I’m awesome and you’re an idiot. Everyone’s story is important. Everyone has to make a choice about how much they put out there and how it affects THEIR family and THEIR lives and THEIR story. Fuck her and the stupid fucking blog she rode in on. ROWR.

    That being said, there are plenty of people who spoke at BH that are awesome and amazing and while I didn’t take a whole heck of a lot away from the conference (besides an AWESOME time with friends) I know that they feel blessed and privileged that people even want to hear them talk …

    I wish we had met there! Because I’m un-judgy and pretty damn fun 🙂 and can dance to Rev Run with the best of them… when they aren’t shutting him down for noise violations.July 31, 2014 – 12:02 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ashley, I know what you mean about some of the panelists being all “I’m huge and important and you’re all a bunch of nobodies so listen to me tell you how fabulous I am” but also – yeah, there were some awesome ones as well. Ones that actually led the sessions and empowered and inspired. I really enjoyed the publishing session.
      And holy cow – is that what happened to Rev Run? I was wondering why he left so early. I’d have loved to have met you! Next conference for sure!August 2, 2014 – 1:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Leigh-Mary Barone Hoffmann - In part, this “WHAT THE FUCKITY FUCK?” is why I love you. I am so sorry that happened…not cool! There is so much that could be said about this but it’s no more than you haven’t thought or heard yet. That said, my daughter is high functioning PDD — she is 12 and I just told her last night about her autism which was the right time for both of us. I fear, too, that she may see a post that I would prefer she didn’t but I do everything I can to make sure she does not see my blog. Bless you and your Tucker. And Fuckity, fuck fuck that jackass moderator. July 31, 2014 – 12:31 amReplyCancel

  • Angela McKeown Momopolize - I’m so sorry you had to deal with that beeatch. She’s the one who deserves to be publicly shamed, but I admire that you are taking the high road and handling it privately (and not giving her any undeserved traffic!). Love that the other parts were so awesome. Big hugs to you!July 31, 2014 – 3:20 amReplyCancel

  • Chelley Martinka - I’m sorry you had that experience! I have a very different special needs situation and I’ve told my 2 year old all about it and been told I should just let her go and she will figure it out. Well… no shit. We all figure it out. I don’t know where I’m going with this… except that I think you are always doing the best thing for your child. I too have wondered how long should I write about the surgeries/struggles before passing them on to my child… if you ever get a good answer, please let me know!July 31, 2014 – 3:53 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life - Oh Kristi, I am so sorry. I completely understand why you were so upset…there was no reason for those kind of comments and not only that, they weren’t even relevant to your question! You are definitely right to complain. I can’t stand people who get on their high horse like that…she’s on a panel so she must be special…seriously? Get a reality check.
    On another note, Happy Meals? Really? Please tell me that didn’t happen.July 31, 2014 – 7:06 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Michelle. And yeah, the Happy Meals were dinner. For real. The party was a lot of fun though. I wish you’d have been there!!! And I so agree that her stupid comments weren’t even relevant to my question. Ugh.August 2, 2014 – 1:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Nicole Leigh Shaw - Oh, I’m so, so sorry this happened. I can only imagine how you felt, publicly singled out and made to feel inadequate. You know none of that is true. I know you know that. Big hugs, momma.July 31, 2014 – 10:02 amReplyCancel

  • Tricia - Oh Kristi I am so sorry. But so glad you shared. Anytime more than two moms get together is an opportunity for building up. And that opportunity doubles when those moms are writers and bloggers and advocates. There is never any reason for tearing down in that moment, there are so many other things and people to do the tearing down. I’m glad that you are able to put that moment aside and focus on the glow. Because the glow in that photo of you and your VOTY, that will take you so far.July 31, 2014 – 10:43 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw, thank you Tricia! Here’s to moms and writers and all of us building one another up. I really appreciate your comment!!August 2, 2014 – 1:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Gary Sidley - The conference clearly was a mixed bag. Events of this kind (whether they’re about writing/blogging or any other issue) always attract a wide variety of people, some of whom are always self-opinionated arse-holes. I’m just so pleased to hear about the bonding, friendships and networking and hope these positives will be the memories that endure.July 31, 2014 – 11:01 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Gary, I will definitely hang onto the glowy bonding and friendships because that part of the conference was absolutely incredible. Thanks much, friend!!August 2, 2014 – 1:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Lucy Ball - As an anon blogger, I am deeply offended. As a person you wanted to lick, I am deeply enamored. 🙂 I’ve struggled with this since I began blogging. I have been called everything from a COWARD to a LIAR and a PHONY for being anonymous. It’s a choice. And I would hope that anyone speaking as an advocate on any issue would have the intelligence and sensitivity, or at least the basic skills to speak to this. The idea of wanting to share our voice to help ourselves and others is a slippery slope. And I TOTALLY get what you’re saying about wanting to protect your loved ones, especially years from now. I hope your feedback on that session will be taken to heart by BlogHer.July 31, 2014 – 12:27 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - HAHAH Lucy. I can’t believe people have called you a coward and a liar and a phony for being anonymous. Everybody’s blogs are THEIR BUSINESS and it’s our right to do what we think is best for our situation and our families. I wish I’d have thought about it more before I began blogging actually, but I guess I never really realized that people would actually read this here thing. And I hope BH takes my feedback, too. We’ll see. XOAugust 2, 2014 – 1:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Angel The Alien - BlogHer sounds like a lot of fun except for that one person. I think sometimes there are some bloggers who take their blogging position a little too seriously. They start to think they are really experts and above everyone else. But I’ve seen this among non-blog people too. I’ve seen it A LOT among people who work with children or animals, for some reason. There are always a few that really seem to believe that they know more than anyone else, that everything they do is the correct thing, and that most other people are idiots. I generally try to avoid those people at all costs.July 31, 2014 – 1:20 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I think you’re right about some bloggers taking themselves too seriously, Angel. And other people do as well – I wonder why more do who work with kids and animals. Interesting. The rest of BlogHer really was a lot of fun. Hanging out with so many writers was really inspiring.August 2, 2014 – 1:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Maria Feekes - Kristi, what a tough question. I have no idea. You are right, such a tough balance between privacy, openness, freedom of choice for our children, and many other things. As a parent, I struggle with it as well. Your care and love for Tucker will guide you. Deep inside, you will know what is the best. You are courages, thoughtful, and amazing. Thanks for you!!!!July 31, 2014 – 2:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen Lauren Schneider Kehl - Good job being honest and true to yourself and BlogHer! I am proud of you for going, even though you had to go without me 🙂 LOL. But truly, I am happy you guys had such an amazing time together. And although your experience with that moderator was sucky, it was sucky because of her and not you. You are awesomeness, and the moderator is not. July 31, 2014 – 3:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ Golden Spoons - Have to admit that I was super jealous of all those pictures of so many people I love having a great time together. 🙂 Sorry that speaker was such an awful person to you. She obviously know nothing about you at all. Hugs!July 31, 2014 – 4:10 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hugs, Lisa! I wish you’d been there!!! And thanks so much – you’re right – she doesn’t know anything about me and worse, didn’t bother asking. Gah.August 2, 2014 – 1:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Lizza - I’m so sorry that happened to you. It sounds like the speaker didn’t really care that she didn’t know you and instead just made giant assumptions and acted like a jerk. I think a blog conference should be about support and knowledge not being shamed in a public forum and made to feel inadequate in some way. You are a fantastic mama! I’m glad you had fun with the other girls. I’m sorry I missed it. (getting to know you all would have been fun) You did a great job with this post and seriously nailed it with “What the fuckity fuck?”July 31, 2014 – 4:42 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I completely agree, Jennifer, that a blog conference should be about support and knowledge. I think it’s a shame that she was such a jerk. I’m sorry you missed it, too. I’d love to have hung out with you. Glad you liked “what the fuckity fuck!” 🙂August 2, 2014 – 1:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Cheryl Nicholl - I think you wrote this with wisdom and strength and I think you should have written about it and I’m glad you did. Though I know it’s impossible for any conference to vet what will be said in the moment- they can and should do a better job of vetting the speakers platforms before they represent any advocacy. You should lead a discussion next year. I’m not kidding.July 31, 2014 – 10:40 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you Cheryl! I do believe that they should have done a much better job choosing the speakers. I’d love to lead a discussion but I don’t think I’m “big” enough. I’ve not even been blogging for two years and really don’t know what I’m doing so… but thank you!!!August 2, 2014 – 1:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Real Life Parenting - Wow … my heart rate was elevated just reading about that experience. (Total fucking bitch for the way she handled that. Seriously.) But, as I’ve come to expect, you completely Kristied that whole thing–which is to say that you took a challenge / disappointment / shitty situation and you found a way to turn it around so that it was a fist in the air, championing the good, making a difference moment.

    Don’t doubt yourself and what you’re doing with / for Tucker. YOU know him best and YOU know what’s right for him–and when. Just keep following your heart.

    <3 you!!July 31, 2014 – 11:02 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - I agree, Jen!!! Totally. I really appreciate your comment and support because you are awesome and fabulous. Thanks, too, for the encouragement that I know what’s best for/with Tucker. <3 you big time.August 2, 2014 – 1:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Pam - What a b*tch!!! If anything, she made herself look like an insensitive a-hole who clearly felt the need to belittle you in order to elevate herself and I would imagine a room full of bloggers/writers could have seen through her thin veneer immediately… Still, that sucks and you raise some important questions… particularly about protecting your child’s privacy that I think ALL bloggers (not just those dealing with the topic of special needs) should think twice about.

    If this happened to me, you know I’d have about a million amazing snappy comebacks. In my daydreams for the next three months, that is! Good for you for not revealing this person’s identity. No need to send any more traffic to her site!July 31, 2014 – 11:06 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Pam, I know what you mean about having a million snappy comebacks much too late. Isn’t that always the way? Sheesh. The thing is, that I didn’t really get to, is that I wanted to know HOW people had gone more anonymous from being so out there. Like how do I take Finding Ninee from being a bazillion photos of my most beautiful son to no photos? Or photos of the back of his head? Like well. Anyway. THANK YOU. I agree that it’s an issue all bloggers deal with. I’m not sure what the best answer is. It’s SUCH a different world than the one I grew up in, pre-cell-phone, photos had to be film-developed, etc.August 2, 2014 – 8:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Melanie Shebel - I think the woman’s response was way off of what you would expect in a moderator AND it’s none of her business how you raise your son.

    If I had a son with autism or ADHD, I personally wouldn’t want to publicize his name. (This is just me.) You can be an advocate for autism and be an advocate for the privacy of your child’s physical and emotional health. (Not that publicizing your child is bad, I just personally don’t agree with it.)

    Why should you potentially put your son into contact with people who could make a quick Google search for Tucker Smith (or Jones or whatever) and see that he’s autistic and use that information as a weapon? Autism isn’t who Tucker is and he shouldn’t be forever burdened by that label. Privacy is a big thing for me. Hell, I’m pissed that my mom told my boyfriend that when I was 10 I wrote a letter to my cat while I was away on vacation.

    “Grow a pair and publicize your minor son’s disability.” I’m paraphrasing here, but wow! Unbelievable, none of her business, and way out of bounds. I’d worry she’s exploiting her child for her platform. Nevertheless, I would totally complain to BlogHer.July 31, 2014 – 11:57 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Melanie,
      Thank you. I honestly wish I’d have considered the ramifications of so openly talking about Tucker when I started this blog. I don’t think I thought enough about what a blog IS, or Got It, or really even realized that people may one day read it. That was irresponsible and short-sighted of me, and the truth is that I want to know how to go from open and people loving following Tucker’s story, and moms feeling less alone to a place where I can be me while also protecting him. Which is a hard weird thing. The internet. It’s weird, too. Thank you so much for your kind and insightful comment!!August 2, 2014 – 8:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Brittnei - I’m so happy you enjoyed some aspects of the conference. I have been wondering where you’ve been. You’ve been missed. 🙂 I hadn’t seen you on my TToT posts so I wondered if you were ok. So, about this lady…um, I’m very shocked that it sounds like advocacy comes before her own family. She sounds like a parent who is going to make big and become known from something that is going on with her child. I see this happen sometimes with child stars, but didn’t even think it could be the case in this type of situation with a blog! I think your concerns are extremely legitimate! There are plenty of people who think about this and their children are not considered special needs. If you are still self conscious about it at a certain point, I’m sure there are different ways you can still share without really taking pictures of him and maybe even changing the name you use. I see some parents do things like “Mr. T,” etc. I’m sure you will figure it out. I hope some moms who have taken to some of these more private approaches will give you some ideas since you couldn’t find the support from this lady at this conference. 🙁August 1, 2014 – 2:01 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Brittnei, I’ve actually planned to do TToT each week but well. Life and traveling and Tucker’s birthday trip and work. Yeah. Thank you for missing me though – and happy 1 year blog birthday to YOU!!
      I very much hope to figure it out. I’m not really sure what to do about it yet but have faith that the answer will come to me with some guidance and peace.August 3, 2014 – 12:11 amReplyCancel

  • Liz Ditz - I just finished up the post covering the Special Needs Mini-Con, in which you are quoted. It’s here

    The post is rather long, because I wanted to be thorough.

    I note in your post above, you didn’t mention my response to what I heard you say. Of course, noting my response wouldn’t really fit in with your narrative.

    I don’t recall my response being terribly coherent, but the points I wanted to get across to you and to the rest of the audience were:

    1. How open you are may depend upon conditions at your child’s school and/or the district. I know that there are some blogging parents who have been retaliated against by their district.
    2. It’s possible to have varying levels of transparency, from password-protecting your blog to using pseudonyms to being completely transparent. Each family has to make that decision, based on their particular circumstances.
    3. Perhaps it’s better for the child’s classmates and teachers to get to know the child as he is today, rather than what he was like several years ago. Maybe those people don’t need to know what he’s overcome, right away.

    The post also has links to the previous BlogHer sessions focused on special needs, with fairly complete reporting of what was covered. I noticed in compiling those lists, your questions had been addressed several times over the years. You may find value in benefiting from others’ experience.
    August 1, 2014 – 2:04 amReplyCancel

  • Enedina St Sebastian - You know I also write anonymously and I am absolutely furious for you. I think it’s very responsible of you to question things like protecting your sons privacy. No matter what you choose it means some pros and cons for you and your family. You are beholden to no ones agenda, and that was the perfect time and place to have an open and educated discussion. When you submit your complaint to blogher you should include this post. Good luck to you. Maybe you could set up a facebook/Twitter party to discuss this super important topic.August 1, 2014 – 2:29 amReplyCancel

  • April Grant - Privacy is a hard thing to gauge, even without any developmental issues. Some people lay it all on the table, others are anonymous themselves and I’m somewhat in between, no uses of real names with their pictures. The complexity spans wide. Sorry you couldn’t get any guidance. She sounds terrible. I hope the goodness made up for the rest.August 1, 2014 – 5:55 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Kristi – there’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said here. I am angry for you for the way she spoke to you and handled that situation. What a terrible way to speak to anyone, let alone someone opening an honest and necessary line of discussion that she was (supposedly) there to support.

    I’ll be interested to see the response to this amazing post and what you decide to do with/about your privacy concerns. Sounds like the rest of the conference was well worth the travel time, except, of course, McDonalds. My family gave up fast food 3 years ago – I wouldn’t have been able to eat it! Everything else though – totally made me want to be there!! Glad you got to be there and congrats on the VOTY!August 1, 2014 – 10:32 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Aw STEPHANIE!!! I miss you!! I wish you’d been there so much and I thank you for your awesome words here. I’m not sure what to do about the privacy thing, but I think it’s a good one to start thinking about. yeah, McD was nasty. Bleh.August 3, 2014 – 12:13 amReplyCancel

  • Michelle AKA Crumpets and Bollocks - Wow. Ok. A. I’m super jealous Jenny is following you on twitter. I’m going to try to find a dead animal to mail her in hopes she’ll talk to me online some day. B. It’s probably best you didn’t mention the asshat or their blog because I’d probably troll it and so would half the people here. I still am dying to know so I don’t mistake the person for a real human being later. C. You are in the right. I don’t know if mental retardation is an issue with the blogger in question (yeah that’s right, I suspect it), but how do you tell someone to communicate something with a kid they know can’t communicate well yet? That’s like saying, “Michelle, you need to have a talk with your mother in law who doesn’t speak good English yet about her drinking problem.” Yeah, like that will end well. I mean. You’re just right, and it should be painstakingly obvious. D. I lost track of what letter I’m on. E. My advice is at some point, you are probably going to have to keep your blog secret from his friends. Even if you replaced his name with a fake name and didn’t show pictures, middle school kids will know it’s about him. I still think you should advocate special needs, and one way to really cloak who the blog is about would be to get licensed to work with special needs in some way, so then your blog is job related and not family. I don’t know. I just know middle school kids are very mean when it comes to special needs. My nephew on the spectrum is 13, and he homeschooled for the last year because of the bullying. He was sick of being called retarded for his hour in the autism room, and he was sick of girls kicking him in the balls and then telling everyone he hit her. He just couldn’t hang socially at all, and being labeled autism sure as hell didn’t help. None of his friends know I blog, let alone about him sometimes. But I also mention my daughter a lot, and like you, I’m not sure where to draw the line with putting her name and face next to a word like autism. Right now it’s fine, but what happens on the internet actually stays on the internet, forever. It’s really a tough question, and one that really could be pursued for a very long time.August 1, 2014 – 10:58 amReplyCancel

    • Michelle Again - I should clarify… I KNOW your kid is going into Kindergarten next year and not middle school, but we really are looking at middle school years for the privacy thing to really be an issue. At some point, your kid is going to out-grow the other kids in maturity and be able to handle being known as autistic, but until you get there… It helps to take baby steps to that much like learning language and communication. His social skills will be the next uphill battle after you tackle communication, and socially speaking, it doesn’t help to be labeled special needs. I wish kids weren’t so superficial, but they get just as superficial as adults around puberty. BUT on the other hand, even with the label, if you can get by without public meltdowns or any strange behaviors that isn’t too taxing to the human tolerance levels, you might be ok on a social level. And something like this blog, something that contributes to the better good of society, might be helpful to him in that case. People are always attracted to people with passion. You never know. He may grow older with a passion to advocate special needs just like his mother, and if that happens…August 1, 2014 – 11:07 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Michelle. A. You are fucking awesome. B. Jenny will so follow you if you mail her a dead animal. Perhaps, even if you just tweet about one, because I just tweeted and said she was awesome at BHer. She’s likely to unfollow me once she realizes how lame I am. C. UGH to communication when it doesn’t make sense and fuck, to a talk about drinking with a mother in law who doesn’t speak your language – hope that was hypothetical but if not please blog it. D. I forgot the letter too and E. Middle Schoolers suck and I agree. Just not sure how to do it right now – like how do I go from this to that and have not everybody leave (how’s that for some good English grammar sister?) Next I’m gonna say “your awesome” BUT FUCK. No. I can’t ever do that because ick. Am I on F yet???? Thanks, you. <3August 3, 2014 – 12:18 amReplyCancel

  • Quirky Chrissy - That’s horrifying!

    I think that a lot of people were disappointed in the lack of professionalism from several panelists, but this DEFINITELY takes the cake.

    I think you asked an incredibly valid and relevant question, and I would love to hear how other people respond. Personally, I think you can still be an advocate without putting, as you said, “his face on a public website, with the word Autism next to it.”

    You do what you need to do…and let’s hope that next year, the speakers and panelists are more professional!August 1, 2014 – 11:06 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Chrissy. Um, your misunderstanding pretty much sucked too but you are gracious and awesome. Thank you also for thinking I asked the Good Question. I think it was important. We’ll see… me too to next year sistah!August 3, 2014 – 12:20 amReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Oh no she dittn’t! I don’t know who she is but I want to knee her in her privates. I’m sorry you had to experience that. I just don’t understand people who are so ego-inflated that they would dare criticize or chastise another mother. I don’t get it. But I loved your last line, and I hope you are able to put it behind you and know that it had NOTHING to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with her.August 1, 2014 – 5:12 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ashley,
      MWAH. You rock it. Thank you. I liked my last line too so thank you for reading it. And yeah, I know it had very little to do with me. Sadly, most people’s experiences (including my own) have too much to do with our own feelings. Sigh. XOXOXOXOAugust 3, 2014 – 12:22 amReplyCancel

  • Shannon Des Roches Rosa - Sincere apologies — shaming, or any kind of mandate, was not the message any of us intended, not at all. The message I personally wanted to convey to you in the session is in keeping with Adrienne’s comment elsewhere in this thread: there are no good answers, and we couldn’t give you one — because privacy is a personal decision. I did say that being open will help to make the world a more accepting place for our kids, and that *advocates* need thick skin — but I also said that no one should feel guilty or pressured into being that public person, or advocating through blogging, if that’s not what works for them, their child, or their family.

    Again, the intention was to answer your question with sincerity rather than malice or spite. But I am truly sorry that I let you down, and that you were disappointed by the session. You are right about the awesomeness of Jen Lee Reeves. And I hope you will read Kristina Chew’s site at We Go With Him so you can see how much she has to offer as a parent & role model.

    Congrats on the VOTY, and I’m glad you got to see your peeps IRL. That squee factor is the best part of the BlogHer conference, IMO. August 1, 2014 – 11:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristina Chew - Hello,
    I just wanted to say, it was very good to meet you at BlogHer, and wish you and yours all the best!
    Thank you, Kristina Chew
    August 2, 2014 – 12:50 amReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Steck - Thank you for the HONEST review, Kristi. I know it’s easy to just add fluffy stuff on these events. I’m sorry for the pain and anger the presenter caused. How insensitive and ignorant can some people be? I’m sure other people in attendance were just as hurt and maybe things will improve because you are willing to step up. I love reading your blog because I know I’ll get the real story. We didn’t get a chance to spend much time together in Baltimore, but I’m hoping we’ll meet again. 🙂August 2, 2014 – 9:20 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Jennifer. I’m really hoping we’ll meet again, too, because you’re awesome. And yeah, it was too bad that the session couldn’t have been more productive when it comes to the important discussions, such as gradually going more anonymous with a blog. Sigh.August 3, 2014 – 11:11 amReplyCancel

  • Ellen Seidman - As someone who adores BlogHer and all the people involved here, for one reason or another, I am so bummed to read this. Actually, more like, I feel sick to my stomach. I have admired you online and so wish I could have been there to meet you in person. I have known Shannon and Jen Lee for years, IRL too. And Kristina. We are all active voices. We all blog with shared goals: To help people better understand out kids. To get people to respect our kids. To make the world more welcoming of our kids, and the adults they will someday be.

    Both you and Shannon share another thing in common, as do many of us: You are both very passionate and outspoken about what each of you have to say. In the process, in our extreme passion, there can be unintentional disrespect given and taken. At times, my passion for my message has ticked off other parents. Even as I write this, I am typing oh-so-gingerly.

    Next year, it would be great for one of the topics at the mini-con to be about divisions within the community. And by community I mean parents of kids with autism, CP, Down syndrome and other special needs, because we face similar challenges. I think there should be a moderator on hand to guide the panel (for this session and ANY session involving multiple speakers). Speakers like to speak…and speak some more! A panel moderator helps keep things moving along. That’s happened in previous years, and would be good to reinstate. Most of all, without sounding too Pollyanna, I hope we can all move on. xoAugust 2, 2014 – 11:20 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Ellen,
      Thank you so much for your comment. As you know, I’m a huge admirer of yours and think that you’re doing amazing things when it comes to raising awareness and acceptance for all of our children. Making the world more welcoming is most definitely the ultimate goal.
      Shannon has now read this, commented, and apologized, saying that she should have asked more questions. I do appreciate that and certainly am willing to give her (and everybody) the benefit of the doubt when it comes to misspeaking or having things come out in a way that is not what we intended. I was not familiar with who she was until the panel so cannot fairly have an opinion about any advocacy or work that she does online but appreciate your insight that we’re all working to the common goal.
      I also agree that a moderated speaker panel would be helpful – and allow the discussions to flow more easily and helpfully, and LOVE your idea about having a sessions be about divisions within the community. I hope that you will lead it, and I most definitely will plan to attend. I REALLY wish I’d gotten to meet you because well, you’re AWESOME. Hopefully, next year!August 3, 2014 – 11:33 amReplyCancel

  • Debra Jenkins - Kristi, I was in the headline writing workshop with you and immediately subscribed to your blog when the workshop ended. I’m now a huge fan! I was in the mini-con too and was shamed myself by Shannon Des Roches Rosa at the beginning of the session, when she asked for self-advocates to raise their hands, then for parents to raise their hands. My friend and I were the only 2 people who had not raised our hands so she asked us “Are you in the wrong room?” No, I explained, I’ve founded a program of arts education for people with special needs and blog about the life lessons I’ve learned from them.” She said “Oh, so you’re a professional then” and I said, “Not exactly…I’m a volunteer who stumbled into this world and have been profoundly…” at which point she cut me off and said, “I think you’re in the wrong room.” I was underwhelmed with her speech the first night, when she told us how uncomfortable she is speaking in front of people. And she started off the mini-con panel by telling us the same thing…why the hell do you agree to speak in front of people if you suck at it so much? I was not expecting the session to consist of 3 panelists telling us their life stories but that’s all we got. Your privacy question was very relevant to me because my 22-year-old son is in recovery from drug addiction and I’ve found many parallels between our journey and the journey of families of people with special needs so I write about those similarities sometimes. My son is old enough to grant his permission for me to write about him but sometimes, when a post about him gets 10,000 views in a couple of hours, he’s a little freaked out. I sat through the session feeling like I didn’t belong and should leave, because of her comment to me and thought that everyone in the room was being stand-offish to me because I shouldn’t have been there. Now that I’ve read through this thread, I know that the negative atmosphere in the room was because the panelists were ill-prepared and unqualified to lead a group of intelligent women in an open discussion about issues that are important to us and our work as advocates for people with special needs. I may not be a parent, but I volunteer my life to serve over 500 children and adults with special needs in the program I created yet I left that session feeling like an asshole who just creeped in on a private party I wasn’t invited to. Thank you for showing me that I’m not the one who acted like an asshole – the panelists are.August 2, 2014 – 3:01 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Hi Debra,
      I definitely remember you and think the work you’re doing for the special needs community is admirable and fabulous. I’m so sorry your experience in the mini-con was crappy as well. Such a bummer because it really did have potential to be amazingly fabulous and productive. Please know that I do not think you’re an asshole – in fact, I think the complete opposite and love your work.
      From what I understand, most of the attendees in that session left it feeling disappointed. Ellen (Love that Max) mentioned that last year, there was a moderator for the speakers who kept things moving along, and I think that approach would work much better. I hope that BlogHer will listen to people’s feedback and do something better and more organized for next year. Also, I’m not sure whether you saw it, but in the Facebook comments (up top), Shannon apologized to both of us. I appreciate that – I’m sure reading this and everybody’s comments was upsetting (and hopefully eye-opening) to her.August 3, 2014 – 12:10 pmReplyCancel

      • Debra Jenkins - I just sent you an email because it was too long to put in the comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply!August 3, 2014 – 3:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Chloe Jeffreys - I had a lovely time getting to know you, Kristi. I am sad beyond words that you ended up feeling shamed and angry.

    Years ago I wrote a lot about my kids. Some of that I now regret. I did my best to tell my story, but my story intersected with theirs. Where did/does their story start and my story end? I simply don’t know. I think in 20 years we’ll have a bunch of kids who were blogged about, and they’ll be able to tell us how that was for them. And like everything else, I’m guessing each child will have different feelings about whether it was positive or negative or didn’t affect them at all. In the meantime, moms wrestle with these difficult questions. I don’t think there are easy answers. You want to be there for the other mothers walking your path; you want to tell your story. But you also want to honor your son and protect his future All these things are admirable. But easy? No. I don’t think so.
    August 2, 2014 – 4:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Words I Wheel By - I am SHOCKED by the insensitive response you received…except part of me actually isn’t that shocked, because some parents of kids with disabilities take things WAY too far on the Internet. (Not sure if you’re familiar with the NPR photo controversy with a photo of a 16 year old disabled young man in nothing but an undergarment, but this brings that to mind.) Thank you so much for considering the value of your son’s privacy, and please continue to do what you do!August 2, 2014 – 9:05 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Emily,
      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m actually not familiar with the photo of the young man in an undergarment but sadly, there is too much of that out there and parents really need to think about being more responsible to their kids).August 3, 2014 – 12:19 pmReplyCancel

  • My Inner Chick - LOooooVE the photo!
    Looooove that you were one of the VOICES)) of the year.
    DESPiiiiiiISE the so-called-expert on Autism.
    She’s a TOTAL ASSHOLE & should not be able to speak in PUBLIC.

    xx love from MN.August 2, 2014 – 11:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Ohhhh I was all happy and smiley to see your beautiful slideshow and all the faces of bloggers I know and read…and then that ending. Now I’m cross and grouchy and want to go and punch her for you because HOW VERY DARE SHE! What a total idiot. I’d like to defenestrate her. I hope she never speaks in an important position again until she figures out how to do it without being a complete douchecanoe!

    Thank goodness you’ve a sensible head on your shoulders. But gosh, the damage she could have done if you were a mom who wasn’t as certain as you are about the way you’re handling things. Good GRIEF!August 3, 2014 – 3:06 amReplyCancel

  • Shannon Des Roches Rosa - Further apologies – on mobile I cannot reply in-thread or even see Kristi’s & Debra’s full responses, and I don’t have non-mobile access at the moment.

    I really didn’t assume you had thin skin, Kristi; since I didn’t know you, I was speaking in generalities. But you’re right, I should have asked you more questions.

    And Debra, I can’t see your full response and apologize that my response to you was clunky as hell, but no matter your role or reason for attending, it is clear you were there with positive intentions and a wish to make a difference. Please know how much that is appreciated.

    I’ve learned a lot from these responses – all of us are always learning, yes? I will say that I was there without my usual advocacy partner/social translator, who understands that the positive intentions in my heart & the things that come out of my mouth don’t always match, who would have picked up on both Debra’s & Kristi’s body language in real time, would have interceded on both your behalf to ensure your questions were addressed to your satisfaction, and would have marched me over to both of you during open discussion and made me apologize IRL as needed too. Alas, she had a family obligation.

    Good luck to both of you on your respective journeys. If our paths cross again, and you’re not teetotalers, first round is on me.August 3, 2014 – 1:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandy Ramsey - Kristi, I have been waiting all week to sit down and read this post once I saw the title. Everyone looks so happy in the photos and it must have been really cool to meet so many people IRL! It makes me wish I could have been there. I do have to say though…that is one crazy tongue ya got there ;)!!
    I’m sorry that you had such a shitty experience with that moderator. She can’t possibly know anything about you if she had to suggest you grow a thicker skin and advocate. Jerk. Good for you for handling it well even though I know you had to have been fuming.
    You are really doing amazing things and you deserve every piece of recognition you get, my friend. Keep on keepin’ on!August 3, 2014 – 10:33 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wait what? A crazy tongue?? And sweets. I was really sad and sad and disappointed, but the special needs community has been awesome in reaching out. Also, thank you. I don’t feel like I’m doing amazing things but I guess that doing anything to make this world better for Tucker is different enough so thank you. YOU are doing amazing things and holyfuck when are you going to write an Our Land??/August 6, 2014 – 11:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana Stanfield Bayiates - You’re a fucking ROCK STAR. Cheers to you!August 5, 2014 – 3:02 amReplyCancel

  • Jolene Philo - What an interesting peek into a big blogging conference. For what it’s worth, I’m very careful about guarding my family’s privacy online. One day your kids will be adults, and as the parent of adult children, I can tell you that they will appreciate all you do to keep their lives private. Thanks for adding your post to the Different Dream Tuesday link share.August 7, 2014 – 8:09 pmReplyCancel

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