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...]

Autism FAQ for seasoned autism dads: Advice for new dads?


                      From the archives, one of my most shared posts: I asked, and did I ever get insightful answers. Don't blame yourself or anyone else for your child's autism. Love and support them in their dreams, interests and aspirations...because they have them. Don't ever be ashamed of them...even if they are 15 years old, 200 pounds of man/boy be proud when they slip their hand in yours as … [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...]

A brief history of motherhood, autism style


25 things about autism mothering, from the archives. (updated to reflect my current reality)   1) My husband and I planned on having our first child after two years of marriage.Matthew beat us by 2 months. 2) I took Matthew on a job interview when he was eight weeks old because I couldn't bear to leave him with a babysitter. 3) The first person that told me that Matthew, then three, was developmentally delayed was a speech therapist. She was also the first person who … [Read more...]

Autism FAQ: How can I motivate my teen/adult to exercise?


15 strategies to motivate teens/adults with autism to exercise At Matthew’s IPP Meeting last year, (Individual Program Plan–more about what that is HERE) we got on the topic of recreation. What does Matthew like to do in his spare time? What does his social life look like? What goals should we set for the future? “I would love it if you could get more exercise, Matthew” I said, glancing at the belly that my  handsome 27 year old son has developed in the last few years, “Not just from doing … [Read more...]

I’m happy for you, be happy for me.


I ran into Sam (not his real name) the newlywed son of an old friend of mine, at CVS. He is Matthew's age (28) and I had not seen him for a while. Sam was always a cute kid, but man oh man, he is now a magnificent adult--tall, handsome, confident. He was dressed in his investment advisor clothes, which made him look all the more impressive. How is married life, I asked him and he told me it was great and that... he and his wife were expecting! Oh my gosh! Congratulations! Your mom must be so … [Read more...]

Autism: Understanding forgiveness


I was really, really nervous. During a visit to the east coast the first week of May, Matthew and I stopped by Camphill Soltane, the college program for people with disabilities that he attended in his late teens and early twenties. This was not just casual homecoming for Matthew. We were here because he wanted desperately to apologize to, and to seek forgiveness by Tom, a mentor and friend who'd been the subject one of his most threatening outbursts. The confrontation happened during an … [Read more...]

Autism FAQ: What to do when people aren’t nice

Teaching people to be nice

Question: We were at a family gathering, and my aunt refused to sit next to my child at the table. I was so hurt, I just lost it, which made things worse (to say the least.) Any ideas for how to handle these scenes in the future? Yuck, I am so sorry. Let me tell you how I learned from a similar situation. Matthew was about 21 and the two of us were flying from California to Pennsylvania after Christmas break. I was exhausted from the holidays (like most parents) and  was on edge because … [Read more...]