Saturday, December 31, 2011

Showcase: Caroline McGraw of a Wish Come Clear

Please check out Caroline's blog at

An open letter to parents: On what your children remember
[A letter written to my parents, in which I recall how they have cared for my younger brother, Willie, who has autism.]

Dear Mom and Dad,
As your 28th wedding anniversary approaches, I’d like to tell you what I remember about how you’ve raised Willie, and what I’ve learned by watching you.
My first memory is of a diagnostic center, the playroom where I waited as Mom and Willie met with the doctors. When you came out, Mom, you knelt down to hold me, and you were crying. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew that something was wrong. I realized for the first time in my life that you were vulnerable, and that you needed to hold me. Yet what strikes me now is not the sadness of that day, but the beauty of your spirit. Mom, you reached out for me. You drew me in at a time when you must have wanted to push everyone away.
Likewise, you reach continually out on Willie’s behalf, seeking therapies and doctors and medications and activities and services for him. You encourage him in his interests, yet you also allow him the space he needs for himself, to be himself. You have taught me how to count his small victories, to see the steps of progress he makes as miracles.
Dad, I remember how many times you took Willie with you on work trips, on errands to Costco, to Edie’s for haircuts. You’ve made sure to include him in all aspects of your life. And I have never seen you act self-conscious or embarrassed by his behaviors, strange and frightening though they have been. You model a relaxed, take-it-as-it comes attitude for me and for others, and your corny humor dissipates many awkward moments.
In the times when Willie struggled with violent outbursts and self-injurious behavior, you took on bruises and cuts. You made sure to protect Willie from himself when necessary, and you’ve protected us as well. Rarely did you let the pain of keeping our family together show through. I can’t imagine what that’s cost you. You continue to keep the faith as Willie’s condition improves, and that patient trust is bearing fruit.
Of course, these things do not always come easily for either of you. I have seen you struggle. I have seen you doubt your decisions. I have walked with you into the places where there are no ‘right’ choices, only choices less terrible than others. I have sat with you on the floor of our upstairs hallway, none of us knowing what to do or how to carry on.
We have been totally at a loss, and yet we have never been ‘lost,’ because we have been together.
I love you, and I am amazed by you every day.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thinking Person's Guide to Autism Press Release

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism: The Autism Book You’ve Been Waiting For.
Redwood City, CA December 19, 2011 — “Refreshingly free of dogma, disinformation, and heavy-handed agendas, Thinking Person's Guide to Autism is an oasis of sanity, compassion, and hope for people on the spectrum and those who love them.”  Steve Silberman, senior writer for Wired magazine and autism/neurodiversity blogger for the Public Library of Science
Thinking Person's Guide to Autism is the book we wish we'd had when autism first became part of our lives: a one-stop resource for carefully curated, evidence-based information from autism parents, autistics, and autism professionals.
About the Editors
The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism editors are Shannon Des Roches Rosa, Jennifer Byde Myers, Liz Ditz, Emily Willingham, and Carol Greenburg. Each woman writes, educates, and advocates within the autism communities. This project has its foundation in their collective parenting, science, education, and self-advocacy experience.
For more information or review copies of THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM, please visit or contact our media relations department at 650.260.8742 or
Publication information:
Available: on Amazon and at
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Deadwood City Publishing (2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692010556
ISBN-13: 978-0692010556

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Showcase and Vote request--Gregory G. Allen

Children's Book on Autism (by Gregory G. Allen)

Voting has begun! The wonderful eBook publisher MeeGenius (publisher of great children's books) has started their challenge to find the next children's author. I mentioned in a blog two months ago that I had entered "Chicken Boy: The Amazing Adventures of a Super Hero with Autism" as a tribute to my godson Gabe who was diagnosed with autism when he was very young. His sister Natalie and I formed this story based on Gabe and wanted to share a book for kids - about a kid - told through the perspective of one very special boy that could let people into his 'world' in a different way.

Gabe Watching the Circus
Now we need the help of everyone to get the word out about the book. Voting for round 1 will continue until December 18th. Please click HERE and click the LIKE button to vote. (It seems as if you have to be connected to facebook in order to vote.) We can't wait to see what comes of this book and just hope to make it to the Finalist Round with YOUR help! (The finalist round will be January 31-February 21, 2012 and a winner will be announced by March 7.)

Autism is nothing to be afraid of and we hope with this book to encourage other children to not be fearful of that child in their class that may seem a little different than they are. Children with autism are just like every other kid. They want to play. They have incredible imaginations. They enjoy bugs, snakes, the children's museum, the circus, horseback riding, the beach...they just show their enjoyment in a different way. (And my little guy loves to wrestle with Greggy every Wednesday night after we return from our dinner at Friday's: chicken fingers, fries, ketchup and red velvet cake.) 

And they can get to you like no one's business! When Gabe reaches over and grabs my hand to walk into the restaurant - my heart melts!   

Thanks for voting! Natalie and I definitely thank you and I'm sure Gabe would thank you too!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Showcase-Jeff Stimpson of JeffsLife

  This week we have the pleasure of showcasing Jeff Stimpson-author, blogger and dad to 13 year old Alex.  I hope that you all take the time to read his wonderful post-and go visit him on his blog. 

JeffsLife ( continues the story I began in my books Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie and Alex the Boy: Episodes From a Family's Life With Autism (both available on Amazon).

I post more or less weekly about life with my 13-year-old son Alex (PDD-NOS and solidly on the spectrum), the stories being personal about our life with Alex. Topics range from school and activities to eating, sleep, public behavior (see "tantrums") and other topics. I started these essays in 1998, when my son was born almost three months premature and he began what would turn out to be a whole first year spent in the hospital. As a journalist, I soon realized that what I was going through back then was at least as interesting as much of the stuff I had written about, so JeffsLife was born.

The current site's layout is plain (see "ugly," according to my wife Jill) with few links to autism news or other stuff. I've meant to improve this, but I do think it highlights the writing -- what I've learned the hard way is my best, if not only, talent.

JeffsLife is also Tweeted on Twitter and via LinkedIn (I welcome followers and connections, if you're on those sites). 

The following is an example of what you'll find on JeffsLife. I hope you can drop by (you might want to turn on your popup blocker), and thanks. You can also email me at

The Overnights

“You’ll have fun, Alex. Listen to the staff there.”

I’m taking Alex to overnight respite. The program, operated by the agency that provides many of Alex’s services, is mostly for adults: Some live for days in an apartment across town, with buses picking them up for school or their day programs right at the door and dropping them back off at the apartment at day’s end. Overnight guests also go bowling or to parks, go to movies or to other New York attractions. Their parents stay home and sleep.

(I have two questions: 1) Can Alex’s dad stay in this program instead? and 2) How long before some politico decides that funding for Overnight Respite simply isn’t important enough for people like my son?)

We hope that when this program is humming in our lives, it’ll help get Alex out of the house, which he wants to do (a 13-year-old who wants to get away from his parents now and then: somebody call “60 Minutes”), and it will help us recharge from the drain that is living with Alex as he gets older and bigger. It’s potentially a dynamite program. Alex almost screwed himself out of it late last winter.

He ran from the apartment and explored the building. He refused to listen to the staff. He hogged the TV. The staff’s response was to let him get his feet wet by the half- and then full-day stays, instead of overnight; they helped arrange for a 1:1 para, too. “If you took me to a strange place where I didn’t know anybody I wouldn’t know what to do, either,” the program director told me. “Tell him he’s going to have fun.

“We’ll work with you to get him respite ready. Tell him beforehand that he’s going to go and he’s going to have fun, and that he has to listen to the staff…”

“You’ve going to have fun, Alex, and you have to listen to the staff,” I say as we head in on the first morning. There is indeed a lady to para-shadow him on this first half-day. They want to know where to take him. I recommend the Mac Store and the FAO Schwartz. “Here’s his transit card,” I say, and I prepared this note for you to refer to…” Alex likes going into Laundromats and looking at the machines. He also likes grocery stores and helping pick out and bag the produce. He will pick items off the shelf if you tell him what kind and point to them and tell him how many…

“We’re all set,” they say. “You can take off. Say bye to daddy, Alex.”

“Bye, daddy!”

I spend the morning buying wine, sitting on benches, picking up paperwork from Alex’s pediatrician. My dogs are howling when I swing back by around 1 o’clock.

“How’d he do?” Last time I asked this in this place – how many weeks ago? who can recall when you’re parenting autism? – I got wags of the heads and promises to work to get him respite ready.

“Excellent!” they say. No running away? No bolting? No.

By week’s end, Alex is doing full days. That Friday afternoon, I’m on a bench nearby when he gets off the city bus with his para. For an instant I see a woman and a tall boy, almost a man, before I recognize his lope. He looks like a guy headed into something new.



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