For those that are new to Autisable, we are a blogging community, so it’s time we meet some of the people that help to contribute to the site.
It’s always amazing to find dedicated people who spend their time sharing and discussing Autism and Special Needs.
Today the Team talks with Marianne Russo, who together with The Coffee Klatch provides informative information and online Radio discussions surrounding Autism and Special Needs.
Let’s move on to the interview, shall we?
Autisable: Thank you Marianne for taking a few moments of your time to share with us about you and your experience
Marianne: No problem, Glad to be here.
Autisable: Tell us, how long have you been blogging, and what inspired you to start?
Marianne: I have been blogging for a little over a year. I started blogging to share my experiences and to be able to show parents that everything is not what they may seem. I hoped to encourage parents to dig deep and never give up hope for their special needs children. My url is http://mariannerusso.blogspot.com/ All of our moderators blog. Elise is an incredible writer and openly and honestly journals the lives of her two aspergers sons, Pierrette writes of her own personal struggles with Tourette Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder as well as raising a child with the same, Jane write of both physical and emotional issues surrounding her seven special needs children, Chuck is our male voice, he writes about the challenges and triumphs in single parenting an aspie teen son.
Autisable: We’ve enjoyed your blog posts, along with Elise’s. Sharing things about one’s own Family can be tough but fulfilling. Blogging is just one thing you’ve done for awhile, but we keep seeing things about The Coffee Klatch on twitter and facebook – especially in regards to the Autism and Special Needs community. What is The Coffee Klatch and how did you get started?
Marianne: The Coffee Klatch started on a whim. I often speak and write about the isolation of parents (mostly mothers) raising a special needs child. Many of these parents are on twitter to share information, seek support or find a friendly ear. Twitter is where I first met Elise and although we initially started tweeting about non special needs issues, we soon found our commonality. We spoke of all the parents that are struggling and the newly diagnosed families looking for direction. I had suggested we start a morning chat to help our fellow special needs parents and give them a place to go each morning to find others and get support. We decided to find two other moderators to help us offer a daily chat who we respected and felt could offer a broader range of disabilities. It became very apparent to me very quickly that many parents were getting misinformation or were not aware of accommodations and the importance of early interventions. Although we have all been at this for quite a while and are fairly knowledgeable in many areas, we are parents and not medical professionals so I felt it was not our place to give expert advice. I decided to seek out the most respected and renowned experts and invite them to join us – the rest is history.
Autisable: That’s interesting that you and Elise met on Twitter and collaborated so well. Where did Blog Talk Radio come into play?
Marianne: The Blog Talk Radio came into play when I found there were some guests that had so much to offer and who’s information was so important to our followers but for reasons of either not being Twitter savvy or who I felt would not be able to truly share all their knowledge in text a talk program was needed. We always have a twitter chat running simultaneously to the Blog Talk Radio shows and we try to take calls for each guest as well to keep the forum interactive.
Autisable: That is very interesting. We listened to your interview with Temple Grandin and was intrigued by how in depth your interview was. You weren’t just dealing with surface questions, but rather dug deeper into the guests backgrounds. How do you get in touch with people, like Temple Grandin, to do interviews?
Marianne: Obtaining the best of the best is our goal. We do our homework and are very careful and cautious about the guests we have on and the information that we put out. As a team we know who are the leaders and who we personally respect. This goes for childrens foundations as well as personal guests. We try to feature at least one foundation a month to share their outstanding work and to bring attention to their cause or disability. At first I would email or call a guest we would like to have on the show and would explain to them who we were and what we do. I have found ALL to be open and excited to join us. As The Coffee Klatch has become more of a well known resource for parents many of my guests now contact me either by email or by sending me their books for review. I honestly feel that our guests are dedicated and incredible professionals who chose their careers to help children – helping the child means educating the parent and I find they join The Coffee Klatch whole heartedly.
Autisable: This must take a serious amount of time, right? What do your family and friends say and think about your online radio program?
Marianne: I spend quite a bit of time working on The Coffee Klatch. Scheduling guests, updating our social media outlets Twitter, Facebook and our website, keeping our Blog full of our moderators writings, collaborating with the team as well as reading the piles of books on my desk is very time consuming but rewarding.
My family and friends are very supportive. Parenting a special needs child is universal. Although the challenges may be different for Autism verses a physical disability like Cerebral Palsy, the emotions and the impact are the same. I am fortunate to have a family that understands the need and allows me the time and support to make this venture a possibility.
Autisable: You mentioned your Team, and little bit of their backrounds, what do they bring to table?
Marianne: The Coffee Klatch team is second to none – really! Elise is synonymous with advocacy, her background and her personal experiences in raising and educating two aspergers sons is invaluable to any parent with a child on the spectrum. Elise has advocated and accommodated her sons to College and inspires us all. Jane Hotvedt is the mother of seven children with disabilities and is our go to person for assistive technology as well as therapies for special needs children. Pierrette d’Entrmont is our “know it because I have lived it” moderator. She herself has Tourette Syndrome and bipolar disorder and now has one child with the same. Her insights and knowledge brings us to a whole different level of understanding on many issues. Pierrette also has developed and manufactures “Kids Companions” a sensory solution chewable jewelry for our sensory kids. Chuck Walley is an incredible father, we first met Chuck as he joined us on our evening sessions to get support in single parenting an aspie teen, we soon knew he was the missing piece to our team and has not only brought out the fathers perspective but has drawn a lot of dad’s to our support forum. The Coffee Klatch is a collaboration – we are a team.