Unity in Diversity: Harnessing the Strength of Inclusive Social Media Communities
Community Guidelines for Autism SpeaksBy Eileen Lamb
This post is written by Eileen Lamb. Eileen Lamb is the Director of Social Media at Autism Speaks.
Hello, My name is Eileen Lamb and I am the Director of Social Media at Autism Speaks. While I do spend most of my days discussing autism online, autism also plays a huge role in my personal life. I not only have autism, but am the mother of three children– two of whom are on the spectrum and one who has profound autism.
Navigating the complexities of autism, both as an individual on the spectrum and as a mother, sometimes brings challenges. So, when I go on social media, I’m looking to connect with people to whom I can relate– I want to feel less alone. Unfortunately, the discord on social platforms can be particularly draining for autistic individuals. That’s why, through my work with Autism Speaks, it is my goal to create an online environment where everyone feels welcome and safe when engaging with our content on social media.
Our work at Autism Speaks goes beyond advocacy and awareness; we want people to feel seen, heard, and safe. Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms are great ways to connect with people on similar journeys, share stories, and give people a sense of belonging, and we want to ensure that this experience is positive for everyone.
One of our board members, Dr. Stephen Shore says it best: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” The autism community is diverse and we want to make sure every unique perspective has a chance to be heard. Everyone has a place in our community, no matter what their connection to autism is. We encourage open discussions and the sharing of experiences because we know that the diversity of our community is our strength.
To get there, we have implemented a set of community guidelines across our social media channels that reflect how we work as an organization. These guidelines are here to allow respectful conversation and feedback while providing a framework that nurtures an inclusive and respectful environment.
So, what does that mean? It means that we welcome a diverse community where new ideas, questions and civil discourse are encouraged. However, we want to emphasize that harmful language, harassment, profanity, and disinformation will not be tolerated. Our goal is to foster a supportive space for everyone. We want to engage respectfully and learn from each other’s experiences.
When we showcase an autistic individual on social media and the comment section gets flooded with insults and misinformation, it affects those featured. Words can have a significant impact on individuals, and safeguarding the well-being of those within our social media community is important to us.
As the director of social media, one of my roles is to shape the online presence of Autism Speaks in a way that allows for respectful debate and open discussions. I want people to know they can visit our social media pages and feel safe expressing their opinions and connecting with others in the comment section. I aim for individuals to follow our channels, not only to encounter inspiring stories but also to feel less alone in their journeys. Fostering my dream social media community isn't always easy because emotions run high on social platforms, and there are diverse opinions. However, I am confident that we can achieve it together. Your voice matters to us, and we are committed to making our digital spaces reflect the broad and beautiful autism community we serve.
You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, X, LinkedIn and TikTok @autismspeaks