Sibling diversity

Brothers. Andy, 3, Matthew, 5

I was sitting in my 2007 Toyota Highlander, where my recently skunked labradors hang out, in the parking lot of a bowling alley in a run down strip mall, when my cell phone buzzed. "Hi, Mom! You'll never guess where I am." It was my son Andy, who is getting his doctorate--in chemical biology-- at Harvard.  He was calling me from Phelps Gate at Yale, having just arrived for his 5 year college reunion. "Andy, that is so awesome. Who have you seen? What is the schedule?" Andy, who is … [Read more...]

Sold out: Reflections from a seasoned self-publisher

A Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism

The brief history of a self-published author Except for the 12 copies sitting in an Amazon warehouse in Indiana, I have completely sold out of A Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism, the book that I self-published 7 years ago.  The book tells my story of raising a child with autism (my son Matthew) from babyhood to young adulthood. The book is forever available digitally. I had no intention of self-publishing my book. It was the traditional route or nothing for me, and on the afternoon that … [Read more...]

What I miss most about my mom

Mom hugging my baby sister Carrie

I was 14-years old and watching TV on a sunny Saturday afternoon while popping peanut M&M's with a can of Tab. I heard the vacuum go on—it was headed my way. Here comes mom. She had a habit of turning on the vacuum when my brother, sister or I were sitting around when we could be doing something else. Mom reached the TV room, switched off the vacuum and sighed just as I stuffed the empty yellow wrapper in my pocket. “So,” she said, “is this what you’re planning to do all day, just … [Read more...]

A bump in the road–part one

John and big brother Matthew.

Author's note and disclaimer: This post discusses medical stuff, but I am using (mostly) lay terms to describe the experience. When my son John, who is 22, came back from a summer job in New Hampshire, I noticed a mole on his face that looked suspicious. It was on his right cheek, the same place where he'd had a mole removed three years before. "You should get that checked," I said. "No, it's fine, I just cut it shaving." he replied. I have a lot of moles (sorry for the visual), fair … [Read more...]

The “R” Word


In recent years, the "R-Word" has been replaced with the world "Intellectual Disability", and a campaign to raise awareness followed. Read more here. "Oh, for goodness sakes," I've heard people say, "isn't it all just a matter of semantics? Don't be so sensitive." This story, from the archives, tells one reason to be *more* sensitive: *** Matthew is a huge Beatles fan and asked me if we could go to the music store to buy a Revolver CD. He was wearing plaid shorts, a different … [Read more...]

This is what progress, with autism, looks like

Photo by Photo by Tiraporn Olsen,

My husband and I raised our family in Lafayette, California, about 30 miles east of San Francisco, where a popular Art and Wine Festival is held each Fall. For people who don't mind crowds, chaos, loud (but great) music and hot weather, the Art and Wine Festival is a lot of fun--great food, wine, beer and hundreds of booths spilling with art and hand-made crafts. Photo by Tiraporn Olsen, I don't think I need to explain to you that this well loved two-day event has … [Read more...]

Autism, disabilities, and talking about sex and sexuality


Did I get your attention? If you are the parent of a child/teen/adult with a developmental disability, you probably: a)  Cringe at the thought of trying to explain things in a comprehensible way b) Wonder if sex will ever be an issue (Spoiler alert. It will.) c)  Worry about your child’s safety d) Wish there was more information and research on all of the above. I interviewed Leonard Magnani, MD, PhD, an expert in the field of educating individuals with disabilities about … [Read more...]

How to Succeed at Inclusion


Special Education FAQ:  "My son, who has autism, just started school. He was supposed to be in an inclusion class, but they moved him after 3 days because he kept trying to leave. I guess he's happy in his small special-day class, but I don't want to give up on inclusion. Any suggestions?" Answer: I'm turning this one over to my friend Russ Ewell,   the CEO of Digital Scribbler, and Founder of E-Soccer. Russ is also Founder of Hope Technology Group.    “Progress is a nice word. … [Read more...]

You know it’s really love when…


I tiptoed into the kitchen a little after 6am to grab a quick breakfast before waking Matthew.  He'd been home for a week long summer break, and would be heading back to Camphill California near Santa Cruz, where he lives and works. "I'm ready," Matthew said, and I jumped. He was fully dressed and shaved, a small drop off blood dripping down his chin. He had already packed and loaded the car. We could have breakfast at Peet's Coffee, he told me, and we could beat the traffic. It had … [Read more...]

Autism FAQ: Which battles are not worth fighting?

Plaid on plaid on plaid

"I'm ready," called Matthew from his room, just as our family was getting ready to leave for a "fancy" family celebration. He emerged proudly, wearing garden boots, a nice pair of pants, it's top button strained by three plaid shirts (one thick flannel) layered and tucked in. This look was not going to work, but Matthew didn't back down without a fight. "I like plaid, and I shined my garden boots." When you’re a parent, you become programmed to make the most of teachable moments from … [Read more...]