If you are reading news and information online, you undoubtedly have heard something about Twitter, the online information service where users share short messages of 140 characters each. You don't have to post your own messages on Twitter to find it useful, but you do need to sign up for a free account to follow what others say. I recommend it as a good way to keep up to date, because many media outlets, organizations and bloggers -- including this one -- are posting information on the service.
Autism Bulletin's Twitter feed is here: http://twitter.com/autismbulletin. I post links several times a week to items in the news, information about events, information from advocates for people with autism and other disabilities and other information I find useful as a member of a growing global community of citizens who care deeply about people with autism spectrum disorders.
Some recent examples:
* There's a conference, Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, including a July 15 briefing for members of Congress, happening in Washington D.C.
* Another conference is coming up, August 7 and 8 in Greenwich, Conn., for people who have siblings with disabilities. Find more information at the International Sibling Conference website.
* The Lovaas Institute has posted a partial list of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad applications designed to engage young children with autism using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
* The Autism Society of America, in advance of its conference this week, recently recognized six advocates for people with autism and their families. Read more about the 2010 Autism Champions.
If you follow Autism Bulletin on Twitter, the messaging service pushes these information microbulletins out to you automatically. I also have posted a box on the home page of Autism Bulletin which lists these messages, or "tweets" with the latest one on top of the list.
That's the information part of Twitter. What's interesting about what observers and participants in this web publishing world call social media, and what's interesting about Twitter in particular, is that there's a loose sense of community that builds among participants. If you sign up for the service, you can "retweet" or re-broadcast messages you find interesting; you can send messages to others on the service. Or you can observe what happens when you share information.
Notice, for example, the list of more than 2,000 "followers" of Autism Bulletin on Twitter (that's a tiny number compared to the more than 100 million users who have registered worldwide, according to Wikipedia). Even in this small community, you will find:
* People who have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis
* Educators who work with autistic kids, including some who are working to start new schools
There are people from many countries who speak many languages. Some are veterans of the autism community, while others are newcomers to having this diagnosis in their lives. It's another reminder, among many, that you are not alone.