“This is not a book about a young man with a disability, but rather a story of love, adaptation, and acceptance.”

  Read First Three Chapters

A Regular Guy

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Nervous Laughter

When I was eight years old, Uncle Russell came to visit. He was my mother’s cousin, but everyone called him Uncle Russell. He was twenty years old and had a severe case of cerebral palsy.

Russell was pigeon-toed as I had never seen before, causing his knees to face each other. He walked in a spastic, bouncing stumble. His hands were gnarled and bent at the wrist, fingers curled, in a way that my brother and I found impossible to imitate. His long neck was thick with muscles pulsating from the strain of holding his large, constantly moving head.

Despite his challenges, Russell always had a huge, improbable smile on his face. My brother Scott and I tried in vain not to laugh at him. Even my compassionate mother sometimes had to excuse herself to giggle in the kitchen with us.

“Laura, we’d better not laugh,” she said before going back to face poor Russell again. “God may give you one like Russell someday.”

Mom wasn’t superstitious, and I knew her warning was only meant to sober us enough to get our giggles under control.

Russell wore pointy red Keds and a baggy old cardigan sweater. His dark hair was greasy, and he smelled bad. I remember thinking that it would sure help if his parents dressed him nicely and cleaned him up a little. Looking back, I realize that his parents did the best they could-the shoes were probably the only ones that fit his feet; cardigans are easier to get on a spastic child than pullovers; and bathing a young man with cerebral palsy is a grueling job for aging parents beaten down by endless caretaking.

Through the years, there were others I couldn’t help but laugh at, like the twin brothers at a Christian summer camp when I was fourteen. One was normal and the other weird. The odd boy flapped his hands when he was happy; he’d rock back and forth and sing songs. My friend Ginny and I didn’t want to laugh at him, but we found it easier simply to avoid crossing his path so we wouldn’t blow it. One time his brother caught my self-conscious giggle and glared at me, deeply hurt. I’ll never forget it.

When I was in my twenties and living in San Francisco, I was introduced to a nice-looking guy at a Christmas party. As he stood up to shake my hand, I noticed there was something funny about his legs. He seemed like a great catch-educated, funny, well-dressed except for the bow tie. We sat down again and talked for a while. Eventually, he got my phone number. My excitement turned to dread when he got up to get us a drink. He walked like Uncle Russell. I stifled a nervous, embarrassed laugh and pretended to be laughing at a funny joke I had just heard when he got back with our drinks. Somehow I held it together for the rest of the evening.

He did call me for a date and I accepted. Before he arrived, I told myself that here was a terrific guy with a great attitude who had accomplished much despite his disability, and I should rise above my silliness, be a good person, have a great time. But when I opened the door to greet him and saw him bouncing up the stairs toward my apartment, bouquet of flowers shaking violently, I knew this would be our last date.

I called my mother the next day to share my date story. She didn’t laugh.

“I hope you were kind to him,” she said quietly. “It must be so hard for him. I’ll bet his mother worries.”

There was an awkward silence between us, and I felt like a superficial, spoiled brat. What could I say to redeem myself?

“If I had a baby with a problem, it would be hard, but I’d do fine. But I have a feeling my kids are going to be healthy,” I said.

“So do I,” said Mom. “So do I.”

A Trip to the Hardware Store

“Mom! I have something very important to tell you,” my eighteen-year-old son told me urgently. “We need to go to the hardware store.”

I took a deep breath. Another adventure with my autistic son was about to begin.

When we got to the store, Matthew rushed in and disappeared behind the shovels and the toilet seats. I followed, warily. He reappeared with the orange extension cord he’d had in mind.

“Mom, give me the money and let me buy this-like I’m a regular man.” His forehead was screwed up with intensity.

I handed him a twenty and told him to meet me outside.

I stood behind Matthew in line, clutching a bottle of Elmer’s glue I had grabbed. He wanted me to look like a regular woman, anonymous to him, shopping at Ace Hardware. I watched as Matthew put the extension cord on the counter and handed the saleslady the twenty-dollar bill.

She was Flo, an old-timer with a bouffant hairdo and painted-on eyebrows. I saw the two of them having a little conversation, and I could tell by the confused look on Flo’s face that she might need my help. But I held back anxiously to respect Matthew’s wishes.

After what seemed like an eternity, Matthew paid for the extension cord and stepped outside to wait for me as I marched up to Flo, placing the glue on the counter.

“See that guy?” she whispered. I glanced out the door and saw Matthew standing there with a self-satisfied look on his face. “He’s got mental problems!”

“What did he say?” I asked with a heavy heart.

“He walks up here with his extension cord, and he says, “˜Are rhododendrons poisonous to goats?’ And I says, “˜I don’t know.’ Then he just starts laughing and walks out with his extension cord!”

“He’s my son,” I confessed. “I should have explained when I came in. He’s has autism.”

“Autism? You mean like the Rain Man?” she asked, looking mortified.

“Well, sort of,” I replied. Best not to go into a big explanation right now. “He wanted me to let him buy something at the store like he was a regular guy.”

“I feel terrible!” Flo said. “But he must know he’s different.” Realizing that Matthew’s hopes, dreams, and lack of self-awareness would be too hard to explain, I shrugged and took my glue.

Flo had no idea how many times I had said to Matthew, “If you want to be treated like a regular guy, you’ve got to act like a regular guy!” or “Regular guys don’t talk about poisonous plants all the time!” Unfortunately, social awkwardness is wired into Matthew’s brain, and no amount of instruction or reasoning was going to change that.

I glanced at Matthew as we drove home, and I could tell by the strange smile on his face that he had moved on from his “regular man” frame of mind to the absurd.

“What would happen if Dad ate an oleander?” he asked, grinning crazily, and the lump that had been in my throat on and off since his birth returned.

Beginnings

 

I didn’t need to check my dog-eared copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting to know that I was in labor. I had spent the day window-shopping in San Mateo, an upscale community twenty miles south of San Francisco where I lived with my husband Peter. I was proud of my Princess Diana-inspired maternity wardrobe, and on this day I was wearing the red-floral Laura Ashley dress with the ruffled shawl collar that tied in front, sailor-style.

It was 5 p.m., and I was in the bookstore two blocks from home when the first contraction gripped me. Right away, I could tell that my evenings in Lamaze class at our local hospital had been nothing but a social hour.

“Any day now!” sang the manager, patting my belly as I hurried from the store.

I made it home in a minute or two, smiling all the way, and called Peter. We were both so excited to become parents.

“They say with the first it takes awhile,” Peter said, but he could tell from the sound of my voice that I would be an exception. By the time he walked in the door at 6:30, the contractions were three minutes apart. We made it to the hospital at 7:15, and Matthew was born just after midnight, at 12:35. It was May 22, 1986, the happiest day of my life.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know that I wanted to be a mother. I grew up in a loving family with parents who treasured each other. In the beginning, I was the middle child, brother Scott two and a half years older, brother David a year younger. Every evening at five o’clock, the three of us sat on the brick steps of our brown-shingle home in Piedmont, across the bay from San Francisco, waiting for the 42 bus that brought our dad home from his work as a stockbroker in Oakland.

Dad greeted us with a laugh and a hug. Sometimes he’d surprise us with treasures from Chinatown, a few blocks from his office at Dean Witter, where he strolled at lunch: wooden snakes, mystery boxes, fortune cookies. My brothers and I waited in the living room while Mom and Dad had a drink in the kitchen, discussing the events of their day, and we were soothed by the sounds of them laughing and talking. After they had caught up, we were invited in for dinner at the kitchen table. My favorite time of the day followed the evening meal, when I snuggled on the sofa with my mother and we talked or read. Even when I was very small, my mother and I shared private jokes that cemented our bond, and I loved the feeling of our bodies shaking with laughter as we cuddled.

When I was five, my brother David drowned. He was just four years old. I remember standing helplessly on the dock of Clear Lake with my mother and brother Scott while my dad struggled to revive him.

The year that followed his death was quiet and strange. My mother was remote; my father’s smile disappeared. Scott and I didn’t understand the permanence of David’s absence, and we escaped to a world of our own, fantasizing about how David would reappear. One evening, six months after his death, my brother and I found our father crying in our living room, looking at a photograph of beautiful blond David with his clear blue eyes sparkling mischievously.

“Don’t worry, Dad,” I said, patting his arm. “He’ll be back.”

“No, Laura. He won’t.”

And we all wept together. It was the saddest day of my short life, but the day when the healing began for my parents.

Four years later, my father carried my baby sister up the brick steps of our home and put her in an infant seat on the kitchen table, where we all gazed at her sleeping. Carrie was three days old when we adopted her-and once again, we were a family of five. She did not replace David, but she completed our family.

For a nine-year-old girl, there is no more precious gift than a baby, and I relished her completely. After school and on weekends, I spent every moment with her, carrying her around, dressing her, singing to her. When family and friends came to visit the new baby, they had to pry her out of my arms, and they were quick to hand her back while I stood anxiously nearby. “You will be a great mother someday!” Mom told me.

I think I scared away a couple of good prospects when I was in my twenties, with the “Wants to Be a Mother!” stamp on my forehead. Mom told me gently to tone it down a bit, but she admitted that any guy who was afraid of me wasn’t the right one anyway.

I spotted Peter at the health club in San Francisco where we were both members. He was dating a friend of mine from college. Peter doesn’t remember being introduced to me by his then-girlfriend, but I remember our conversation when he walked away.

“He is so cute! Where did you meet him?” I asked my friend.

Cute was not the proper way to describe Peter. He was handsome, resembling a young Cary Grant with brown hair sweeping across his forehead, a patch of gray in the front. What made him cute was that he didn’t know how handsome he was. When I met him he was dressed in jeans and a red crewneck sweater.

“Isn’t he so East Coast?” my friend gushed. She was hooked. I wondered if he was as well.

When I heard that they had broken up, I found a way to strike up a conversation with him. I noticed an advertisement that he had posted at the gym. His roommate was getting married and he was looking for a new one. I called him and claimed to have a cousin who was moving to the area who might be interested. Our phone conversation turned flirtatious and concluded with a lunch date set for the following day.

Six months into our whirlwind romance, Peter admitted to me that the “Wants to Be a Mother!” sign had scared him at first but ended up being the thing he loved most about me. Peter was one of four kids and had grown up in a devoted family like mine. Nearly all of his family still lived in Connecticut, where he was raised. The old girlfriend was right-he was so East Coast.

Peter and I were married only eight months after we met, but nobody was surprised-the love and admiration we shared for one another was obvious.

When we were first married, we lived together in an apartment in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. During the week, we worked, met friends for drinks, and had dinner together, happily making plans for our future. The weekends were spent studying Gourmet magazine and having dinner parties with friends.

Shall we use the clay pot tonight or the wok?

Where did you put the eight-inch springform pan?

It’s next to the pasta machine in the pantry.

We had season tickets to the ballet; we entered bike and running races. Living in San Francisco was seductive and gave us a false sense of superiority. Looking back, I’m grateful for our self-indulgence. It was a gift to be naive and optimistic. Life would draw us back soon enough.

A baby after two years of marriage was our plan. Matthew beat us by three months.

He was beautiful. We were parents at last.

I was a mother.

Comments

  1. My 24 year old daughter was diagnosed at 3 with autism, back then not many people knew much about it. The first month I cried, then I got it together and start trying to find out as much as I could about it. I was told a lot of heart breaking rubish back then! We live in 2 worlds at our house, the real one that we pull Summer into but also we go in her world sometimes to. Her world is full of cowboys and bullriders and horses and pure love, and that’s not a bad place to be after a hard day in the real world. I almost feel sorry for the people who will never get to see that world.

  2. Joy Eames says:

    My daughter has autism. She’s only 4 so we don’t know where she is on the spectrum. My other daughter might have it. She has developmental delays so far as the school district has been able to determine. I read the sample of your book, and I well understand that lump in your throat, and I remember kids making fun of other kids with “problems”. I have that lump in my throat often. I’m worried about who will care for them when I’m dead. Will there be someone looking out to make sure that they aren’t hurt by others. I believe that I’m going to buy your book and read it, if only so I don’t feel so alone and I am hoping to gain some insight from you. Thanks.

  3. Laura, Thank-you so much for your writing from your heart, from your life. This can be a difficult task when your heart is woven in. At the same time, such an acomplishment and blessing to thousands of us who want to understand a parent’s role, as well as your child. Will buy your book and recommend it to others. (My personal belief is that with God there are no mistakes and that these children serve a purpose in our world and are to be cherished. Thank-you for giving insight to readers.

  4. Ms. Sorry Clandestine says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book! I never realized the parents’ perspective before. In fact I might go into shock if I read it, or maybe I will go totally “emo” on my boy-friend. Trust me, I really want to read it, I just don’t know if I can stomache it, lol.

    You are indeed a heartfelt writer and you suck the reader right into your own perspective, even readers who aren’t good at getting other’s perspectives! One person’s worry and despair can be another person’s hope, life and joy. What an interesting world of perspectives!

  5. Beatle Bangs says:

    I read an article you wrote about Matthew. He loved the Beatles’ 1969 classic, “Octopus’ Garden,” because a) it’s a darn good Beatles’ song and b) it neatly linked two of his special interests, the Beatles and gardening.

    In that article, (and I forgot which book it appeared in) which appeared as a chapter in a book, the part about Matthew and his desire to be seen as “a regular guy” in the theater was rather sad. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for him when his advances to girls were rebuffed; you could understand the girls’ response. Still, you had to smile at some of Matthew’s more daring exploits.

    One Beatle fan to another, it’s always nice to see someone who appreciates them!

  6. Beatle Bangs says:

    I hate R*** M** and wish I had a R*** M** dart board. That cliche savant has become an insulting stereotype of autism and prodigious savantism affects less than 10% of the autism population.

    I’m going to sing my famous tune, so many of you are familiar with this refrain. R*** M** is a slur in the Autism community and it is JUST AS offensive as any racist, religious, ethnic or national slur. R*** M** is to autism what Aunt Jemima and the Jeffersons are to the black community. I wish we had a mercury free/thimerosol (sp) free vaccination to innoculate MINDS against that sort of prejudice!

    Boy, I really hate that movie!

  7. Francis Poyner says:

    nov.12.2009
    I’m a 66 year old (grandmother)mother of a 10 year old son who was diagnoised with high functioning aspergers & ad/hd at the age of 6 & nuerofibromotosis when he was 9 and today at the age of 10 he was diagnois as also being bi-polar. I quit my job this year so I could home school him as he was falling through the cracks at school. They kept saying there was nothing wrong with him. That he was just spoiled beings he was being raised by older parents. We’ve had him since he was 6 weeks old and legally adopted him when he was 3. As you know they can be very trying but are such a blessing. He tries so hard to be like the other kids. He has terrible temper tantrums which I know is hard for kids to understand because it’s hard for my husband and I to understand at times. As you know all you can do is give them unconditional love and understanding.
    Read your first 3 chapters on Facebook. Ordered the book immediately after reading them. Can’t wait for it to arrive. Am going to take it to church after I read it and let our pastor and his wife read it..Maybe it will help them understand Eugene a little better. They have no children of their own and don’t have very many patience with him when he has one of his tantrams. Thanks for letting me vent..Had a bad day today. God bless you (which I’m sure he will) for writing your book.

  8. Maria Isabel says:

    Other than a great writer u seem to be a wonderful mom, i’m the mother of a 9 year old son diagnosed with high functioned aspergers, and i know how hard is try to make people understand that your baby is not weird, just different. Hes a really smart kid but we know that others judge people for the way they socialize and react to them. I’m sure that your book is gonna help people with kids with autism to know that we’re not alone, and for the others that are just curious and want to know more about autism to realize that is our responsability to inform ourselfs and teach our kids to respect others no matter what.
    Congrats…

  9. I read what is posted here, I assume it’s from your book, and I can’t wait to read the rest. I’ve been drawn lately to all things autistic. I’m a mother of 6 children, 5 from my marriage of nearly 15 years who are all ‘normal’ and one that was a complete surprise as I’d been told I couldn’t have anymore and he is from a different father. He’s just over 2 and a half and compared to my other children displays quite ‘quirky’ behavior. He doesn’t talk, gets lost for long periods of time just organizing things from one place to another, walks on his toes and rocks back and forth when things become too much for him to handle. My roommate, who is also the biological father of my youngest, was researching developmental disabilities and did an online screening said to pin point red flags of potential autism. My son shows 7 out of 10, enough they recommend having him evaluated for autism. He’s been accepted into the Early Intervention program and the evaluation is under way. It’s a long process so I’ve not received anything definitive yet saying yes or no to the autism. My roommate is beginning to think he may have high functioning autism himself, similar to Asperger’s, since he shows signs of it too. I will most likely purchase your book once I have some spare funds, but right now I’m just hoping to get through the next few months until a determination is made. I feel like once I finally know for sure one way or the other about my son, and something in my gut tells me my suspisions are correct, then life will be able to proceed again. I’m an aspiring novelist myself so all my best to you for your success.

    Lara

  10. We, too, have a Matthew who has autism. He is nine. If you ask him what Matthew means, he’ll tell you without hesitation: “Oh, ‘gift from God.’” And he truly is. We have learned SO MUCH from our Matthew. His current fixation is World War II, so I can relate to the poisonous plants thing. (Prior to that, we had garbage/recycling.) He is such a blessing, and we all think of him as the hub of a wheel that helps hold our family together. Having lost four babies before him, and nearly losing him multiple times during pregnancy and during labor/delivery, we have always just been so happy he is HERE. The diagnosis was never an upsetting thing for us- just part of who he is. He has a sweetness in his soul that I can’t quantify, but I know that we, and all who know him, are the richer for it…

  11. I read the intro posted on the link @ Facebook. My grandson is autistic; he is the most wonderful boy. He is super smart, and so good. His parents do the best they know how, and he is actually quite social now. I’m very proud of him and his family. There is just so little awareness of autism in all its parts; and not nearly enough help in the community. But the potential for personal achievement is endless. I look forward to reading the book in its entirety soon. Thank you for writing!

  12. I have 2 great nephews with autism. they live a long way from me and I have only saw them 2 times. They are 7 and 4 I believe and I do talk to them on the phone and keep up with them. they are so precious. They are going to good schools and doing great. But I just like to read books about the illness. I just want to be informed. Thank you very much.

  13. Kelly Kawahara says:

    As I read the 3 chapter sample, I realized I could have substituted my son’s name for Matthew’s. I think the experiences of brave moms with children with autism are so amazing. Probably because the moms themselves are amazing. Thank you for sharing your experiences to encourage the rest of us.

  14. Kelly Kawahara says:

    I feel so blessed because my 13 year old son with Asperger’s has gone to the same awesome school since kindergarten. I know that our public school really jumped through red tape hoops to get my son the help that he needed. Before kindergarten, he went to an early intervention pre school for 2 1/2 years and they too were extraordinary. I live in Oregon and Oregon has one of the highest rates of autism in the nation. The biggest reason is because Oregon identifies children that need the help, Oregon doesn’t just sweep them under the rug and deny that there is a problem.

  15. Laura, I hope you will get a chance to read this comment. I posted a while back that I have an autistic 3 year old, and wanted so desperately to read this book after reading the first 3 chapters. Well, I ordered it from Barnes & Noble recently, and today I started reading it. I am just over halfway through it, and I’ve been in tears. It’s so well written, and perfectly captures the feelings that a parent of an autistic child has. I am recommending this book to everyone that I know, and I think that my Christmas gifts this year will include this book. expect a large order very soon, because I know so many people who need to read this! Thank you, for writing this book, and for sharing your touching story with the world. Now people can see what we go through. My daughter is showing signs of autism, as well, but they won’t diagnose her until she turns 2 in April. I am determined that my family and friends read this book. Thanks again, your words have really touched me.

  16. After reading the excerpt, I have to get this book. The hardware store experience is our reality.

  17. I really like the first 3 chapters and can’t wait to read the rest. I am a speech therapist specializing in autism and spectrum disorders. It is so important to appreciate kids for who they are and to help teach them the strategies they need to be as independent as possible in the this world that is so difficult for them to figure out. I will share this book with the parents of all my kids. Thanks.

  18. I am a speech therapist and I work with children with autism and their families. I saw Ricki Robinson’s comment and recognize her name from the DIR/Floortime faculty as I have studied that approach. The excerpt to your book was truly moving; I look forward to reading the entire book. I admire your goal of helping the community better understand children with developmental challenges–I share that goal with you.

  19. This really brings back memories. My son’s regression was so severe that the doctor said I would have to institutionalize him as he got older. How many times did I hear that my son’s autism was my fault? Too many, but from people who didn’t know anything about how loving my relationship was with my son. It’s hard when so many, many people have no clue what it is all about.

    I still remember his early years of school. First grade, and so eager to make friends. When it came time for the big first grade production, I was told that he was not welcome to participate since he had been unable to learn the proper dance steps. They did not want him ruining the production. Funny since he had performed just fine with his kindergarten program the prior year! Things went from bad to worse, and I removed him from the school. Any attempts to have the school staff sanctioned failed as they deleted part of his file to protect themselves.

    Strange to look back. My son now participates with drama at his high school. Performing! He very much excels at this. Might seem odd, but I always taught him to be a people watcher to help him with his socialization. So much discussion on human interactions and behavior. He also is a very good writer. Showed me an essay he wrote the other day, amazing! Had no idea he could write like that! H.P. Lovecraft would have been proud.

    He still struggles with responsibilities, time management and a few other things, but his accomplishments shine and I couldn’t be more proud!

  20. I stumbled across your pages and am lost for words( for once). My daughter Skylar is low-functioning autism and finally she was diagnosed after years.I’m not married so the hardships we face just living day to day take its toll. She is my angel from the sky with sky blue eys. My treasure my little jewel . I cry so many nights and laugh even more. I always say that I will write and hopefully release some of my anguish or loneliness but never seem to get around to it, imagine all that. am getting my Intervention specialist degree and will teach special needs children and think that I’m well equipped to do so. I have purpose, Skylar maps my paths and I will not lose face even if I lose my way from time to time in the dark hours.Courage, commitment, and enurance are embedded in th families dealing with disabilities. I am touche by your words and pray foryou an your family. Keep your chin up and keep on smiling. Happy holidays and I hope the NEW YEAR brings more joy than th last.

  21. Lynda Maniscalco says:

    I too and a parent of a child with aspergers/autism. We still do not have a definite diagnosis. Gracie is eight…she is “Fancy Nancy” in every way…She is all princess, all the time! We were in the Dr.’s office a few weeks ago and while the other children sat quietly…mine belted out the score of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. When Gracie was little, I confess to being a little embarrassed.But I have chosen to delight in these situations…she is my Gracie and there is no one anywhere just like her.
    I cannot wait to read your book and I am ordering it right now..Thank you for sharing your life with us..it is very encouraging to us all!

  22. Jennifer Meyer says:

    When I read the Trip to the Hardware store I almost cried. I’ve had identical experiences with my 16 year old daughter. I can’t wait to read your book.

  23. thank you for sharing your story can’t wait to read the book. I work w/kids that have autism & i think they are soooo much fun! i love working w/them. can’t wait to read the book!!

  24. Luz Hernandez Gutierrez says:

    Wow!! I need to get the book, I go through so much with my 15 yr old girl…, and I am nervous with my 5 yr old boy. The hardware store chapter hsa brought me some tears. I have a 45 yr old brother that will always be 5!!

  25. LAURA, I can’t wait to read the book! I have two boys, one with autism who is 17 and doing very well in school and in the community. I remember so many of those “trips to the hardware store”. Your book is so inspiring and now encourages me to finish my story. This book is positively powerful.

  26. Laura, what an wonderful book you’ve written…the paragraphs that I’ve read have brought tears to my eyes. I will buy this book. I have a 10 year old son with Asperger’s Syndrome. He was diagnosed at age 7. We live in eastern kentucky and he’s in a wonderful program at his school ran by a local mental health facility that has concentrated on behavior modification. This program has worked wonders with my son. He is in 2 regular classes now, Math and English. His math teacher says that he only has to be shown once how to do something and then he’s practically teaching the class. The misconception that the general public have with autistic children is that for the most part, they think autism and retardation are the the same things. Autistic children are among the most intelligent of our kind. They have so much information trying to process at the same time that it overwhelms them to dispair. There needs to be more research on autism spectrum disorder. I love my son with all of my heart, and honestly if it had been me, I probably wouldn’t have been as nice as you were to Flo in the hardware store! Thank you for writing what I am sure will be a treasure to read. May God bless you and yours.

  27. Kim Fraser says:

    Just read your excerpts, and wow! I have a grandson with optic nerve hypoplasia (his optic nerve isn’t attached to his brain in one eye) and along with this cogenital condition can be an array of other conditions and complications, from hormonal disorders to autistic spectrum. He is only 18 mos. old, and is starting to exhibit some behaviours and symptoms that are alarming…the need to open and shut doors and drawers, severe separation anxiety, mood swings, no appetite, vomiting when upset, headaches.
    He’s about to start another round of testing; opthalmologist, endocrinologist, allergist, etc… to rule out vision disturbance in his good eye, hormonal imbalances or allergies. Starting with a program for infants and toddlers with (possible) developmental delays soon, too.
    Discussing his on going difficulties with my other grown children, my older sons took me aside (separately) and confided that they’d taken the tests for autism/aspergers online and scored high, so they’d help look after him…which was funny, because I had scored pretty high myself! We all had independently researched it because we all had felt like “aliens” most of our lives! (I was paid the highest compliment a mom can get when my oldest said if he’d had a mother who didn’t “get” him, it would have been hell. Of course I “got” him, I have it too!)) We’re highly intelligent organisms who have trouble remembering “appropriate” social responses and cues. We want to spare Aiden the hurt of learning everything the hard way. I’m gonna get a copy of your book for myself, loan it out to my sons, and then give it to my daughter if/when her son is diagnosed. Thank you for reminding parents that all children are special, and require unconditional love and understanding to thrive.

  28. When my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s/PDD/high functioning autism at 5 in 1995 no body had heard of it. I cant believe the amount of replies to your book. It is so heart warming to know that even though we feel so alone; we in fact have each other to support the whole of us. I so lauphed out loud at the hardware story of thoughts going from being a regular guy to the aburd. My son is 19 now and learning to drive…..he has failed the first test and I dont want him to take it again.

  29. Cant wait to get the book! As a mother of an
    11year old son with autism ive climbed every mountain to get him where he is today. Im actually grateful that he isnt a “regular” 11 year old. Hes kind,sensitive, loving and respectful.Thank You for sharing your story,maybe it will help a mother who doesnt feel so lucky.

  30. Dear Laura,
    I just love, love, love the book.
    I have it on kindle and I already read it twice. I cry, I laugh, I love your family and I think your autistic son is an awesome human being.
    Thank you for sharing!!!
    Love, Elena.

  31. Thank you for your words!!! I will be buying your book,for sure. My 7 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Autism. I always have had suspected that she was special but the doctors kept saying that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Then I thought it was my parenting skills. I have worked in child care for 15 years and went to classes about special needs. The swaying back and forth, butting her head against the wall for no reason, and the stare from nowhere.
    Thank you again and I can’t wait to read your book.
    Christi

  32. Dear laura,
    Thank you for sharing the first chapters, I love it. Your son is an angel that give you LOVE so you can write. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book.
    -Miriam

  33. Looking forward to reading your book. Our son with Autism came to us as an infant we took into foster care and then adopted. He is a big 10 yr old boy now. Smart and funny and one of the loves of our lives. He wants to be a “regular guy” too and will keep working on that. Thanks for sharing your story.

  34. I just read the first 3 chapters and can’t wait to pick up your book tomorrow. I’m a single dad with 3 kids two boys 19 and 12, and a 10yr old daughter who is Autistic. I have been fortunate to have a wonderful girlfriend who has helped me out with raising them.

  35. thank you so much, for writing the book and for those of you who left comments. i have a 4 year old regular guy, it’s changed our lives for the better, changed our souls for the better, and made my heart open to anyone with any kind of condition. i pray for an explanation one day.

  36. Whiff Collins says:

    Laura, I hope all is well with you Peter and the boys. I think of you often, tell Matthew his friend the Coach from Stanley misses him!

  37. Carrie Ecklund says:

    I have a 20mth old son named Matthew. We are in the middle of his diagnosis. He is autistic we just don’t know where he is on the spectrum yet. He use to speak but doesn’t now. But he is the joy of my life I never knew a child could be so happy. He is always smiling and he laughs for no reason at all. He is the light at the end of my tunnel. No matter what kind of day I have he always makes it better. I loved the 3 chapters and I am ordering your book as my first autism book purchase. I can’t wait to read the rest. God bless you and both of our Matthews

  38. Wow thanks for the way you describe a typical way that most Austistic Adults have to go through THANKS For all the personal quotes and feelings that you shared here and would love a signed book copy for my Autistic Son Albert he si 23 and has no lady in his life either.

  39. Laura I’ll be purchasing your book today. I too have a son, my eldest born in 1986 just like Matthew who was diagnosed Aspergers at the age of 18.Our son is one of the smartest young men we know…his brain is a virtual computer…before we got the diagnoses I always knew our boy was really bright, but there was something different about him, i just couldn’t put my finger on it.Not to mention I have a lot of really bright(smart)people in my immediate family so the fact that he was a little nerdy…geeky at times was pretty normal to me!In fact i know my husband is an Aspie undiagnosed….really, from time I first met and married him over 30 years ago, I noticed he could be a bit weird at times. My husband is a very handsome man, intelligent,well dressed,athletic (which is unusual for a Aspie)but still weird sometimes,but I feel in love with him anyway…I like people who march to their own drummer! When our son was a boy and had no friends whatsoever my husband us to say to me…”he is just like me, he is like I was” It was my husband way of telling me about him.Ok the good news… my son drives, has traveled here and to Asia many times alone…is in his junior year in college, an “A” student that does not socialize with anyone, here in lies the problem!His Aspergers manifests itself socially! But he had a girlfriend at age 17,and he broke up with her because he said she bugged him too much! my greatest fear is that he will be alone we my husband and I are gone, but the blessing is he has 2 younger brothers 23 and 20 and 2 younger sisters 18 and 14 and since he’s the eldest they are completely aware of his what we like to call his “beautiful mind” and by the way he is very compassionate.They all assure my on a regular bases that I as his mother never, ever have to worry about his being alone…an you know what Laura…I believe them, I also believe that with a mother like you…Matthew and my son will find a woman who sees the beauty in them both and love and share and care for them. Because when I first met my husband sister and we were married she kept saying to me over and over and at the time I didn’t really know what she meant…” I’m so glad my brother found you,thank you…he’s the happiest i’ve ever seen him. An I really do love him,never a dull moment. We mothers have to fight for our children everyday…know you not alone darling! peace

  40. Shelby P says:

    I just finished reading the begnning part of your book and… it sounds really good. I have an autistic little sister and I love her so much, I wouldn’t change a thing about her. Your story sounds so interesting and I can’t wait to finish reading it!

    And for the lady who’s reply is above mine I would like to recommend a book for you… Have you ever read the story The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime? It’s a good book and I think you can relate to it because of your son.

    God bless <3

  41. martha cooper says:

    i think it is wonderful that people are reading or writting books like this. the more you understand the illness the better you can cope with it when we see it….my son has autisum spectrum.. Arlin is 7 and going into the second grade. when he was diagnosed they told me he would never read or write his name..well Arlin is doing awesome..i treat him like my other two children.. Arlin has no clue he isn’t just like his older brother and younger sister..i hope by giving him a semi normal life that he will rise above all the problems he faces as he gets older. Arlin has come a long way in life already.. to the parents of a child with any illness, be strong and make it as normal as you can they will adjust as time goes on..

  42. April Brewer says:

    I can’t wait to get this book! I have a 4 yr. old son who is also high-functioning. He is so loving and I wouldn’t change anything about him. He is a Blessing to me and the sweetest little boy I know. I pray that society will began to understand our children more and realize that we are all different. Thank you and Matthew for what I’m sure will be a wonderful book to many.

  43. Juanita says:

    I just read the first three chapters. What a wonderful story! It is very difficult to learn to be compassionate for others, if you don’t have a situation close to your family that makes you that way. And your son is an inspiration in his way to find a place to belong to the community. Thank you for share your story and gives us hope to success in this path that is not easy, no matter how your kid is affected with autism. Thank you again :)

  44. Diana Carney says:

    Wow Laura, three chapters in and I feel as though I need to run to Barnes and Noble. As I read the first of the second chapter it hit me that my daughter, Kaleigh 18 years old and diagnosed with High Functioning Autistism as a sophmore in High School, had mentioned your book to me and how she would like to read it. I am so looking forward to reading your story if only to help me to see that there are others out there who “get it”. Too often I worry of my daughter and who will be there for her if my husband and I are not. I will tell you, she is leaving for college in Boston this August, very intelligent young lady, who plans to become a nurse. Obviously my fear lies with socialism and I do not want her sitting alone in a dorm room. :( We are so proud of her accomplishments thus far and are certain the world is in for big things from our Miss Kaleigh! Wishing the best for your family and Mathew.

  45. Iam a 54 year old single parent of 2 handicapped children Son’s (Elijah 12 and Skylar 9)Eli has CP in a wheelchair,legally Blind and has other medical issues.Skylar has Autisum he doesn’t comunicate and get’s into everything like a 2 year old he also runs away from me(away from our house on to the rural rte. road that we live on) He doesn’t run like a 2 year old he runs fast like a 9year old he turns too look at me and he laugh’s and keeps running never looking out for cars or logging trucks.I’ve been pretty lucky so far the times he ran down the rd. there was no cars passing by.On Aug.30 school started I came home exsuated from work in the school kitchen,I got Elijah off his wheelchair school van.Sky got out of the house he played on the swings.He wouldn’t come in when Eli came home,he kept punching and kicking me.He decided to run down the rd. I couldn’t catch him,he went behind a neighbors home that I never met,they moved in last year.Sky got in there screened unlock slideing door I was cryin g and calling for him the woman was in her sliding screened door said he’s in here Sky sat on her couch,she was holding a collar on her big vicous dog telling me if my dog bites him I’m not responsible,you better get him out of here or I’m going going to let my dog go.All this time I had said my son doesn’t understand he doesn’t speak he has Autisum I was still crying all the way home.My son Elijah’s 1st day at a new school waiting for Mommy to return to remove his body jacket get him a sippy cup of milk,I’m glad Elijah was in my parlor and not still out side.But what would of happened to Elijah if that woman let that dog loose on us?Would we be in the hospital while Elijah’s dies of starvation with my front door opened of course thescreened door was closed.You might of written a book about ending up with a child with Autisum,but from myself reading the 1st 3 chapters,I find myself thinking your ashamed to have him for your son.I love my son’s I’m more ashamed of people like the woman next door,Or the people who lived there before.When the man (died of cancer about 6 years ago)told his daughters that Elijah was a Frankenstien after he was born 3 months early because his head was small and he had scars from his operations.People like that make me feel ill,I’m so glad these children are mine and not born to other people like that.

  46. Just to be clear being “on the spectrum” and autism are completly different. My stepson has REAL autism he will never be even close to “a normal guy” he like many others with autism does not speak unless to give a one word answer, is not toilet trained and will never go to a normal school or have a job. I wish more was written about AUTISM. what most of this sounds like to me i someone with a learning dissability and social issues.

  47. Thank you…I’m crying…already….my sister’s little guy is only six..and he has already experienced so much due to his autism…I’ll be buying this book for them…
    My sister started a websight and a tv show in hopes to educate others about the austism spectrum. Thank you for sharing your story.

  48. wow. i want to read the rest of this. my own three-year-olde son is autistic, just barely on the spectrum. peopel nned ot know more about this disorder and books like these are a perfect way to do it.

  49. Thanks for such a touching story about the hardware store. I can relate to it on so many levels. My son is 7 1/2 and my daughter is 5. Both have Aspberger’s. My son’s interests change every few months. Right now he’s into dragons and sharks but it used to be dinosaurs, squids, Magic School Bus, etc. He can talk forever about dragons and the kids at school humor him for a little while and then they tell him they want to talk about something else. So far he has been pretty flexible and stops talking at them but sometimes he gets really wound up and into it and it’s very hard to redirect him. My 5 year old is sweet and loving and yet can ask the same question for 10 minutes. It is frustrating and yet I know there is a reason why I was given these amazing children and not someone else. I thank God for my healthy children and for the ability to love them and help them grow and become comfortable with themselves just as they are. They know they are loved unconditionally.

  50. IMustBeCrazy says:

    Wow, if that’s *all* it takes for someone working at a cash register to decide that someone is crazy, then there must be a ton of people out there who have decided I’m crazy. A ton.

    But I’m happy, and things are always more interesting.

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