Cleaning out the basement the other day, I was reminded that I asked for and received a typewriter for my eighth grade graduation. I still have it, a Smith Corona SC110. I have no idea if it works or if they even make the ribbon for it anymore, but that’s not my concern. I keep it for what it means to me.
On November 1st, a dream of mine that reaches all the way back to junior high will come true. Skyhorse Publishing will publish my first book, a memoir about my life as an autism mother and advocate over the last decade. (It is currently available for purchase on Amazon.)
It’s a surreal feeling, really. Never in my wildest dreams did I actually think I would ever do such a thing. In spite of my lifelong love affair with writing, it was always something I did for personal reasons, never something I aspired to share with the world. Ironically, nothing could be more personal than what I have written and decided to share with the world.
When I was approached a few years ago about the opportunity to write, I tossed around a few ideas. As an educator, I thought maybe I would examine the impact of the autism epidemic on schools and write about how children, teachers, and taxpayers were being affected. It sounded like a good idea, but the more I thought about it, the less interested I became. I’m not a journalist, and I have no interest in writing like one. I have always written straight from the heart.
I knew years ago that my most popular posts here on Age of Autism and elsewhere were those that featured my rawest emotions and called for logic, compassion, and understanding. I couldn’t count the amount of private messages, tweets, hugs, and phone calls I have received over the years thanking me for giving people a glimpse into what it really feels like to be on this side of the fence…and why we are here in the first place.
I also knew that however history recorded the autism epidemic and controversy, we are living and have lived a unique and important piece of it. I became fearful several years ago that our voices and stories would eventually be drowned out and taken over by the new narrative – that autism is a mental difference to be embraced, not a medical disability that needs to be treated. (Autism Speaks has recently proven me right.)
It was important to me to share an entirely different experience with autism in this book, not to offend or convince those who have embraced their autism as a gift that they are wrong, but to explain to the world why we don’t share that view. As I state in my introduction, “I’m tired of being called names for challenging the default position. So are my friends.”
Our journey into autism was anything but a gift. On the contrary, it was frightening, heartbreaking, and isolating. It transformed our healthy, beautiful little girl into a chronically ill, weak, and challenged child. It almost brought our marriage to the brink; almost brought me to the brink; and literally and figuratively almost cost us everything.
For years I suffered in silence, at first channeling all of my anger and heartbreak into activism, and later suffering the consequences of trying to push it all away until it finally caught up with me. Thousands of parents I have met and befriended online and elsewhere have experienced the same.
And so in spite of the fact that during that time I was able to participate in and accomplish some important things, like testifying before an Illinois Senate committee, working as a consultant for the documentary film Trace Amounts and later with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., raising a significant amount of money to help families affected by autism through Generation Rescue (all proceeds from this book will go there as well), appearing on television, speaking at conferences and giving presentations, and so much more, I have often felt the most important thing I could ever do to help other families was simply tell our story.
It was our story that people found compelling. It was our story that humanized our journey and our position. And it was our story that no one, no matter what they thought about autism, its causes, or whether or not it should be cured, could take away from us.
This book is our story, but it is also your story. I wrote it for you, and I hope I did it well. Early reviews are that I have done something special. I have even been asked to team up with journalist Jennifer Margulis, PhD and pediatrician Dr. Paul Thomas, MD, co-authors of The Vaccine Friendly Plan at several appearances in December in Chicago and Michigan as a result. (Details and dates will be forthcoming.)
Both of these important and impressive voices in the movement for doctor discretion, parental rights, medical freedom, and honest vaccine science and oversight have given me glowing endorsements.
“This book shows how the perfect storm of toxins can take away our children, plunging them into a world we call autism. An Unfortunate Coincidence exposes how our children with autism and their families have become the casualties in a misguided and overzealous war against infectious disease…I cried while reading it, tears of sadness for all who suffer and for the children who will be needlessly damaged in the future, and tears of happiness that this book may be the game changer we so desperately need.” –Dr. Paul Thomas, MD, coauthor of The Vaccine Friendly Plan: Dr. Paul’s Safe and Effective Approach to Immunity and Health - from Pregnancy Through Your Child’s Teen Years
“A heart-stopping, exquisitely well-written memoir, An Unfortunate Coincidence should be required reading for every doctor and parent in America. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about autism, this book will teach you something new. I couldn’t put it down.” –Jennifer Margulis, PhD, science journalist and author of Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family
Even Jenny McCarthy has chimed in.
“An Unfortunate Coincidence perfectly illustrates…how a generation of our children was lost to toxins. With thought provoking honesty, Julie’s memoir brings you to the edge of your emotions as you journey to understand how this could happen to a nation of children and what needs to be done now.”
I’m humbled by the praise I have received thus far and excited to reach a broader audience. Again, I hope I did our community proud. What happened to our children and our lives, in my experience, is anything but “An Unfortunate Coincidence.” I think you’ll agree.
Julie Obradovic is a Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and the host of Generation Rescue’s #ChatAutism podcast.