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308 posts categorized "Kim Stagliano"

Connecticut HB 6949 Seeks To Impose Restrictions on Parental Medical Freedom

Molly Weasley
Not. My. Daughter! (Molly Weasley)

(Note: proactive instructions on how to express your concern for this bill are at the end of this post. There is a hearing TODAY at 10:30am.)

Dear Representative Matthew Ritter:

RE: Casting Your Reduction Spell on Religious Exemptions in Connecticut HB 6949: 


To require that statements from the parents or guardian of a child seeking a religious exemption from a required immunization be notarized and include language attesting that such parents or guardian have reviewed and understand information regarding the risks of both immunization and failure to immunize.

My name is Kimberly Rossi Stagliano. I live in Fairfield County. I have three gorgeous daughters with autism who currently cost the state of Connecticut more galleons than Harry Potter had in Gringott's bank vault.   I am a Mother first. And then I write. Oh, I've written fiction. It's fun to make stuff up.  I only wish the bulk of my writing was make believe. It's not. 

I write for Huffington Post. I've written for blogs around the nation: Dallas Morning News, Today Show, others. My family and I have appeared on ABC's Good Morning America to talk about the financial toll that autism takes. I've been on CNN, morning shows, you name it. Not a single appearance has been about a frivolous topic.

I understand that you have introduced a bill that will restrain my ability, my neighbors' ability, to exercise their freedom to say no to a vaccination on the pediatric schedule.   You are taking away healthcare rights with HB 6949.

Let's say you have a child who had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. It happens. And then you have another baby. How do you know if this baby will have the same reaction? There is no pre-vaccination testing to see if a baby is allergic to any ingredients. The 48+ vaccines on the current schedule have never been tested as a whole. No one knows if 8 vaccines at the 2 month check up is safe  for any let alone all babies. (Hep B, RotaTeq, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hib,  Polio, Pneumococcal) Every "well" check is a visit to Foxwoods Casino, Representative Ritter. 

How much do you know about vaccine injury? Have you ever sat down with a parent who is making these hard healthcare choices? Do you think we do so lightly? I can assure you, we do not. Once injured, the result is life changing. Some children die. Some become CT DDS clients.  And then they cost you and the state money. And they don't vote.  But I do. 

I don't know who is whispering spells into your ear, perhaps a confundus charm - there has been a push from coast to coast to Hoop on Firelimit vaccine exemptions on the heels of the measles panic in the Magic Kingdom  These pushes have failed in Washington, Oregon, Maryland, because constituents have said, "Do Not Mess With My Healthcare Rights."  I know we are an insurance heavy state. I know insurance and pharma go together like Abra and Cadabra.

I am telling you that this bill, HB 6949 needs to meet an Avada Kedrava spell, and die on the vine.  Nutmeg state parents deserve to make healthcare choices for their own children without government imposed hoops.

Today? Vaccinations for children. What's next? Will teachers need a flu shot to go to work? Will State workers need to prove they have had every booster pharma and CDC demand? Are you prepared to take an Ebola vaccine fast tracked through the system?

I want you to have the right to say no to a medical procedure. I want that right as my daughters' Mom - and legal guardian.

Thank you.

Strega Kim

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book. Her new book, with Tony Lyons, is due out in April.


Dear Connecticut NVIC Advocacy Team Members,

Your action is needed now to stop the state of Connecticut from restricting the religious exemption to state mandated vaccination. We apologize for the late notice. We just caught this today. 

HB 6949, requires parents who object to mandated vaccines on religious grounds to submit a notarized statement claiming that vaccination would be contrary to the religious beliefs of the child, and that they “have reviewed and understand evidence-based instructional material provided by the Department of Public Health regarding the risks to such child and to others of such child failing to receive adequate immunization.”

HB 6949 is scheduled for a public hearing this Wednesday, March 18th at 10:30 am in Room 1D of the Legislative Office Building.

Continue reading "Connecticut HB 6949 Seeks To Impose Restrictions on Parental Medical Freedom" »

A Message from "The Anti-Vaccine Movement" to Jimmy Kimmel

Baby Jane with Doll
From the Classic, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? May Jimmy and Molly NEVER have to ask that question, as we have.

By Kim Stagliano

Jimmy Kimmel has set aside "comedy" for a moment to have a serious chat with his viewers about the dangers of vaccine choice.   I've been a big Kimmel fan for years, especially as he is a popular guest on The Howard Stern Show.  (As an aside, Howard no longer uses the R word as a rule, so no need to send me comments.)

While Rob Schneider, a comic, is an idiot and tin foil hat wearing mental patient for advocating for medical choice and comic Jenny McCarthy is a bimbo with fewer brains than the scarecrow, Jimmy Kimmel is the genius of late night TV - a comic who knows exactly what's best for you, because he is anti-vaccination choice.  GOT IT you big dummies?

Kimmel has a beautiful new baby girl named Jane. I tweeted him, "@JimmyKimmel I love a daughter with vax injury & autism. May you NEVER ask 'Whatever happened to baby Jane.'" 

Clever yes?  And I'm sure completely ignored. Like the facts about vaccine injury. There is a second video - "idiots on the street" format interview - not bothering to link it here.   I understand the role of the late night comic is to lampoon topics.  I love naughty, irreverent, in your face humor. Harpooning families dealing with the aftermath of vaccine injury is about as funny as calling Child Services on parents of kids emaciated by chemo.

Kimmel's show is on ABC. ABC is owned by Disney. Disneyland was the launchpad for the measles hysteria that took the place of the Ebola scare.  Since the measles scare, several states have rammed vaccine exemption rights bills into their houses.  California, Oregon, Washington and there's talk that it's happening here in my home state of Connecticut too. Comics have long been used to disperse propaganda, a government sanctioned message, call it what you will.

 I sent this video to Kimmel too. It's my beautiful 20 year old daugher getting ready for school. She is vaccine injured. And she has had a serious seizure disorder. And she has autism. And I ask every day, "Whatever happened to baby Mia."

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.  Look for 101 Tips for Parents Raising a Daughter with Autism, by Tony Lyons with Contributions by Kim this Spring.

Kim Stagliano: The Vaccine Injured Are Americans... and So Are Their Parents

Mia Desk Grover
The desk of a beautiful 20 year old with autism, vaccine injured. That Grover doll went to each pediatric appointment. We DID the right thing. Didn't we?

My name is Kimberly Stagliano.  I am the daughter of a World War II veteran. I am a college graduate.  I pay my taxes. I vote in every election. I recite the Pledge of Allegiance including "One Nation Under God," and sing the Star Bangled Banner with my hand over my heart at every sporting event (albeit badly). I am the mother of a vaccine injured daughter, now 20 years old.

Sometimes - sometimes -  things you trust, things that are part of the fabric of America - they Sneetch unvaxedbetray you in the cruelest fashion. They harm. They wound. They change lives.  And then lies follow. Covers ups. IT CAN NOT BE TRUE.

The victims are the criminals. It's an age old "defense." It's how civil wars start and brothers kills brothers. Neighbors turn in neighbors. Someone benefits from that fear. Rarely the brother, or the neighbor. Dr. Seuss wrote "The Sneetches" -- remind me, which were best, those with stars upon thars or not?

My daughter's first word was "Ober," her approximation of "Grover," the furry blue monster from her beloved Sesame Street. She was ten months old.  She was diagnosed with autism at 4.

Continue reading "Kim Stagliano: The Vaccine Injured Are Americans... and So Are Their Parents" »

Bud Bundy Spread Measles for Laughs on TV. Bud... Not Ted Bundy.

MWC 7Check out the last 30 seconds of this short clip from the sitcom Married with Children.   This episode ran on September 20, 1992.  Hardly the dark ages of death and disease in America, correct?  Here's the episode synopsis.

Seven gets some. Bud gets some, never mind she has measles. Al and Peggy get some because it's quicker than talking. Only Kelly doesn't get some but that's by choice because the guy is a jerk. And then he disrespects Kelly so she disrespects his face with her fist. Bud meets up with Kelly's date who insults Kelly by calling her a tramp, not realizing that Bud is her brother. Bud responds by hugging the date and coughing in his face as he has measles which are highly contagious and tells him to consider the measles a gift from Kelly. 

 Cue the laugh track.  What has changed since 1992? Well autism and pediatric chronic illness have skyrocketed.  Ask yourself how measles went from sitcom fodder to ISIS-level danger in  two decades? Then ask why.

Oh, that singing in the background at the beginning of the video I taped?  My vax injured 20 year old with autism, born just two years after this episode ran.  Thanks to AofA reader BSK for the heads up.  KRS

Chicago Tribune Continues Campaign Against Autism Treatment

Support anjuBy Kim Stagliano

The Chicago Tribune has been no friend to the autism community.  And their article about Dr. Anju Usman is no exception - see below. They have consistently dredged up stories that denigrate, belittle and cast aspersions upon all manner of autism treatments.  They have attacked families (from this I know) and the professionals who devote their careers to helping children on the spectrum.  Here is a list of several articles about The Trib that we've written over the years. 

Tribune Watchdog Or Tribune Skunk? Part 1

Tribune Watchdog Or Tribune Skunk? Part 2

The Chicago Tribune and Autism Treatment Community: Thrice Bitten, Twice Shy

Autism Recovery Revisited: Tell the Chicago Tribune They Are Wrong

An Autism Mom's Video Response to the Chicago Tribune Story

Autism Father to Chicago Tribune: "Cancel My Subscription."

On Media: The Chicago Tribune Fails Children with Autism

Chicago Tribune Trumpets Another Anti-Treatment Autism Lawsuit. Why?

Cherry Picking Science: Chicago Tribune's Shotgun Journalism Strikes with Another Shoddy Hit Piece

Chicago is the home of the American Academy of Pediatrics. A union for physicians who used to be the guardians of pediatric sick and well care management.  Peds have become vaccine retailers and gatekeepers to see myriad specialists kids now need thanks to chronic illness, like allergists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, endocrinologists, ENTs and psychiatrists.  And let's not forget their great skill in sending our kids to Early Intervention.  Our Editor-At-Large Mark Blaxill wrote in Support Your Pediatrician, Condemn Their Union:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the union of American pediatricians. Their job is to defend the commercial interests and reputations of their constituents regardless of what the larger social interest might be. One activity of the AAP is to lobby the Federal Government to spend more money to help pediatricians to make more money.

Even when they make the case for things like expanded health insurance coverage for children, they’re also making the case for their members. Along the way, they make sure they make a case for things like: “Providing appropriate physician payment within Medicaid and SCHIP to ensure children receive access to care.”

The AAP also has a journal named Pediatrics, a publication that they claim is “intended to encompass the needs of the whole child in his physiologic, mental, emotional, and social structure.” In practice, the journal serves the agenda of the practicing pediatrician, often publishing shoddy science if it furthers the policy interests of the Academy. The stunning failure of Pediatrics to face the facts regarding the autism crisis is one of the sad byproducts of a tragic situation in which so few medical leaders have found a moral compass to guide their choices.

If you want to cut to the chase and find the commercial life blood of the pediatric profession you don’t need to look much further than the pages of the AAP’s web-site where the childhood immunization program is featured under nearly every tab. You can’t underestimate the importance of the childhood immunization program to the business of the practicing pediatrician. The reason goes right to the heart of the economic tension between customers and suppliers in our upside down health care system.

In 2010, The Trib ran this article, Bad Medicine, about my family and the fact that we were using Dr. Boyd Haley's OSR - accusiGianna's shoesng me of sprinkling toxic waste onto my children's breakfast.  It was a twisted display of vitriole - and the former cupcake food beat turned science beat writer did her best to disparage me. And Dr. Haley.  My daughter did so well on OSR that she started speaking and learned to tie her shoes.  I even have a photo from the first day she tied her own sneakers - thanks to increased fine motor skills as a result of OSR.

The Tribune ran this article about Dr. Anju Usman, a physician in Chicago who has devoted her life and put her career on the line to treat sick children - who happen to have autism.  We support Dr. Usman's work. And we thank her for her service to pediatric health and wellness.

Naperville Doctor Disciplined in Controversial Autism Case

A Naperville doctor nationally known for offering alternative autism treatments has agreed to have her Illinois medical license placed on probation for at least a year after state regulators accused her of subjecting two children to unwarranted, dangerous therapies.

Continue reading "Chicago Tribune Continues Campaign Against Autism Treatment" »

12 Days of Skyhorse Publishing: Day 4 All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa

12 days of Skyhorse
We owe a debt of gratitude to Tony Lyons, Publisher at Skyhorse Publishing in New York. His committment to books about autism is..... well - why don't we let him tell you himself.  (Thank you to The Thinking Moms' Revolution for the video.)

We will feature one Skyhorse book each day for the next 12 days. Consider it a literary Advent Calendar or a Menorah with twelve lights...

All I Can Handle 160
Readers - Kim here - if you purchase the paperback, send me an email with your mailing address and I will sign and send a bookplate for you to have a signed copy.  The book is a good gift for teachers, therapists, docs, family and friends!  Tell me to whom you want the bookplate signed. Thanks!

All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano

Dr. Spock? Check. Penelope Ann Leach (Remember her?) Check. What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Check. I had a seven hundred dollar Bellini crib for God’s sake!

Everything was perfect…”

...and so begins Kim Stagliano’s electrifying and hilarious memoir of her family’s journey raising three daughters with autism. Always outspoken, often touching, and sometimes heartbreaking, Kim Stagliano is a powerful new voice in comedic writing—her “Kimoir” (as she calls it) is the next must-read within the autism community and the literary world at large.

If The Flu Shot Were on Craig's List


MDV seeks GSBWBHAMF for relationship. Could get serious and last a lifetime. Available to hook up anywhere, school, Church, grocery store, community center, drug store, mass merchant store, hospital or walk in medical center. No experience necessary, I'll do all the work. Must appreciate high fail rate, possibility of flu like symptoms for up to several weeks and a bolus dose of neurotoxic mercury.  On the plus side, you might be so injured as to receive compensation from the United States Government. Take a chance. Let me roll up your sleeve tonight, Call (666) 637-2079.

By Kim Stagliano

New outlets reported last week that the flu shot is a poor match for the current viruses.   Fox News pointed out the some experts are questioning the CDC's forecasting:

CDC sent an advisory to doctors noting that one component of this year's flu vaccine was only partially protective against the predominant flu virus, known as influenza A (H3N2), which has mutated since the current flu shots were made....

"No one really knows what is going on here with the flu strains and the match using the current methods," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota.

In a 2011 paper, Osterholm found flu shots only protected about 59 percent of the population. "For all we know, this vaccine may work as well as it does every other year."

Dr. Richard Zimmerman of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, however, said that, while not perfect, the methods offer "a reasonable proxy" for what will happen.

Can you imagine any other product failing to perform so badly and yet being pushed, in some cases virtually forced, on Americans like the flu vaccine?  If this were a car, heck, a a child's toy...  it would be banned for abject failure. 

The war on flu is akin to the American war on drugs. We know it's not working, we know it's creating problems, we know the return on investment in terms of actual health is dismal but we keep hammering away with "Just Say No."  Someone has a good return on investment though - that's American healthcare.

Continue reading "If The Flu Shot Were on Craig's List " »

Age of Autism Age of Authors

Vaccines 2.0Managing Editors Note:  I've heard of some very popular boy band called "One Direction." I couldn't  hum a single bar of their music. No idea what they look like. But I like their name because it reminds me of the Age of Autism team. We move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. While many around us dwell in negatives, in the past, in what's "wrong" with our community and pontificate on and write some seriously nasty gaaaaah-bage as my Mom would say in Boston, our team has been "busy, busy, busy" writing books.  Actual books that can never be rescinded, removed or retracted. Old school. BOOKS. The volume of volumes is dare I say? Voluminous!  (Humor me, it's the end of a long weekend.....) 

Special congrats to our Editor Dan Olmsted and Editor at Large Mark Blaxill on the February debut of Vaccines 2.0: The Careful Parents' Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family. 

We hope that you will buy one or two, perhaps more, of these books. Yes, money is tight. But I can promise you that each and every book will help you as you work with your  loved ones with autism, as you discuss the needs of our community with medical providers and politicians and will give you hope that we will all move in ONE DIRECTION. Forward. Like a train.

Vaccines 2.0: by Mark Blaxill and Dan Olmsted The Careful Parent's Guide to Making Safe Vaccination Choices for Your Family

Plague by Kent Heckenlively and Dr. Judy Mikovits - One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Autism, and Other Diseases

The Big Autism Cover Up by Anne Dachel -  How and Why the Media Is Lying to the American Public

Vaccine Injuries by Louis Conte and Tony Lyons - Reveals the truth behind the controversial issue of vaccine-related injuries.

The Autism War - a Novel by Louis Conte - Tony Colletti, a good suburban cop and father of a child with autism, finds himself drawn into the controversy over the apparent but rarely acknowledged connection between childhood vaccines and autism. His quest to uncover the truth forces him to risk all he holds dear while confronting corrupt government officials, the powerful pharmaceutical industry, and disturbing elements of his own past.

The Vaccine Court by Wayne Rohde - The Dark Truth of America's Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson - A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope

Saving Ben: by Dan Burns A Father's Story of Autism

The Thinking Moms'  Revolution - Autism beyond the Spectrum: Inspiring True Stories from Parents Fighting to Rescue Their Children

 Compiled by Helen Conroy, Helen Conroy, Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
Compiled by Lisa Joyce Goes
Foreword by Robert W. Sears
All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano

Callous Disregard  by Dr. Andrew Wakefield - Autism and Vaccines--The Truth Behind a Tragedy

Jerry Seinfeld is Now Spongeworthy

Seinfeld_elaineBy Kim Stagliano

Ok, I don't mean that in the literal sense of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine had a limited supply of "The Sponge" which was an OTC method of birth control a couple of decades ago, and was pulled from the shelves for potentially causing toxic shock.   (Insert "vaccine toxic shock but still on the shelves" joke here.)   But in my recent article about Seinfeld's declaration of autism, I told Jerry he was not spongeworthy.   And now he has told the world he is not autistic.

Seinfeld publicly retracted his self-diagnosis on national TV this week.   And I would like to thank him for doing so.  I'd also like to thank him for opening up the conversation about the Spectrum in general. We've seen lots of opinions of what it means to have autism.

Those of us with severely affected kids see the difficulties of being a special needs person who has accommodations in all areas of life and for whom guardianship or some sort of conservatorship is the future. Or the present.

Others have children whose autism affects them differently. They are not as disabled, but still have significant challenges not to be dimissed. 

And we heard from adults for whom autism is part of who they are, despite the challenges it has brought them.




Not every voice was polite. Comments and Tweets were heated. So what? That's how we learn and grow.  The epidemic of people with autism is growing into adulthood. My own daughter turns 20 next month, with her sisters close on her heels.  We need to accept my daughters where they are on the spectrum. And your kids where they are. And adults where they may be.

Continue reading "Jerry Seinfeld is Now Spongeworthy" »

Jerry Seinfeld Drops a Junior Mint into Autism Community

Seinfeld(Note to review the CDC diagnostic criteria for autism, visit -

By Kim Stagliano

A fews days ago I began Tweeting Jerry Seinfeld like a madwoman about his interview with Brian Wiliiams of NBC. He told Williams, "I think on a very drawn out scale, I'm on the Spectrum." (Insert Kramer double take here.)

You know what, Jerry? I think on a very drawn out scale, I'm a 19 year old SuperModel. Oh wait, I'm not. I'm a 50 year old mother of three daughters with autism. Actual autism.

  • Earlier this month I visited "Dayhab" programs for my 19 year old.

  • I haven't slept a full night in 9 months courtesy of my 18 year old who is convinced the house alarm is going to go off in the middle of the night and wakes 2, 3, 4, 5 times in a tizzy. By tizzy I mean screaming fit.

  • I'm waiting for test results for my 14 year old to hopefully (fat chance) tell me what is going on inside her body, everything is a guess. She does not speak.

So when I heard that Senfield, whom I adore as a comic, blithely said he thought he was on the Spectrum, I became angrier than The Soup Nazi. Sure, he probably meant Asperger's Syndrome and not full autism. I get that. Many people use the terms interchangeably - which is incorrect - but I understand how it happens when you are outside of the autism community.  But Asperger's is (or was, since DSM-V has muddied the waters with the merging of AS and ASD) is also a diagnosis that is fraught with challenges of a different sort. Not better, not worse, but different. 

Let me give you one idea of what it's like to have Asperger's Syndrome, or autism for that matter. 


Continue reading "Jerry Seinfeld Drops a Junior Mint into Autism Community" »

Autism Kills From The Outside In: RIP Dyasha Smith

WeepBy Kim Stagliano

I read this story in the NYT with sheer horror, followed by a searing sadness.  A 21 year old student with autism choked to death while at school.   On a muffin.  From the article (which you can read here.):

The New York City Education Department is investigating the death of a 21-year-old student with autism who choked on a muffin at her school in Brooklyn at lunchtime on Tuesday.

The student, Dyasha Smith, was nonverbal and wore diapers, according to her mother, Catherine Smith, 70, who took Dyasha in as a foster child when she was 3 and later adopted her. She said her daughter was supposed to have full-time supervision on the bus and at her school, Star Academy in Cobble Hill.

She said she had told the school’s staff members that they needed to cut up her daughter’s food, because otherwise she would put too much in her mouth at once. “She will take a handful of something and put it in her throat and swallow it at once,” she said, adding, “She’s like a child, like a baby child.”

Does this sound familiar to you? It sure does to me. I cut my kids' food. I worry about every lunch I pack. In fact, just last year, one my daughters choked on her lunch - and a quick thinking, well trained paraprofessional performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on her - saving her life. SAVING. HER. LIFE.  Do you want to know what she was eating? Apple slices. I remember slicing the apple that morning and asking myself if they were too thick for her. "Nah, they seem OK," I told myself.  She almost choked to death.  My daughter.

Continue reading "Autism Kills From The Outside In: RIP Dyasha Smith" »

When an Autism Mom Dies

WeepBy Kim Stagliano

On Sunday, Cathy Jameson wrote about Melanie Baldwin, a member of The Thinking Moms' Revolution, wife, and mother to Luke, a youngster with severe autism. Melanie was battling a recurrence of cancer that had spread to her bones. By Monday, Melanie had died.

The autism community, like every special needs community I assume, lives in an inverse world of fear when it comes to death. Most parents dread with all their heart and soul having a child pre-decease them. It's unnatural. It's a grief like no other. I can remember my Grandmother, who was close to 80 when her oldest daughter, my Auntie Frannie, died from lung cancer. She wept, "No parent should watch her child die." Her child was 60 years old.

In autism we know that our kids rely on us every moment of the day and we fear dying before them.

A few years ago I read the obituary of an elderly woman whose adult son had autism. It struck me dumb - her son had suffered a vaccine injury and that was part of the obituary. Leila Simon was a "prototype" Thinking Mom.

There is a fund for Melanie's son Luke, if you have a spare $5 that would make a difference.


From HuffPo:

I'm getting old. I can see gray hairs hiding in my tangle of brown curls. My laugh lines don't seem to vanish when I stop chuckling. And while my bustline isn't truly sagging (I never could take that pencil test) it does seem to be a bit, well, diminished. If good things come in small packages, I must be great.

I could probably use several shots of Botox to fill the furrows in my forehead. Don't get me started on my belly button. I think cosmetic surgeons refer to it as a "winky" after the droopy shape that follows three pregnancies. Fortunately, my lips are still full so I'm off the hook for the collagen injections. Small favors.

Continue reading "When an Autism Mom Dies" »

State Pharm to Insure Everyone Regardless of Health, Slash Premiums!

State PharmBy Kim Stagliano

We're excited to report the latest news from State Pharm insurance - like a good neighbor, they are eliminating all actuarial tables, all statistics, all facts on age, sex, health and will offer insurance to anyone, everyone

Yes, my fellow Americans - State Pharm now realizes that risk is simply an outdated concept.

You're 67, smoke three packs a day, have two stents and have already had one leg amputated because of diabetes? How's about $500,000 of term life insurance for just $256.00 a year, Bunky! Your premium will never go up and you're covered until 2099!  Plus, "Jake" will come make you hot coffee every day for a month, and make your bed!

You're 36 and parachute out of a 1924 bi-plane after three hours of wine tasting in Sonoma every weekend? Sign on the dotted line for $1,000,000 in term life for just $187.50! State Pharm will throw in a trucker cap, can cozie and a polar fleece blanket for those chilly winter nights as your special gift.

Nothing will go wrong. No one will get hurt. Everything in America is safe, and should not be questioned.

So hurry up and call your local agent NOW.   Call before November 1st and State Pharm will offer you a discounted ticket to Pamploma for the running of the bulls and one of their nifty red shirts. Hey, they ARE a good neighbor.


We support Rob Schneider, who was terminated from the new and very funny and endearing State Farm insurance ads, reprising his "Copy Boy" character from SNL for having spoken up on the topic of healthcare choice as it relates to vaccines. When I first saw the ad I ran to the TV and smiled. Now? Well, there goes the neighborhood.... Here's a detailed report:

From NSNBC International - Hollywood actor Rob Schneider got first-hand experience about the fact that corporate capitalism is not democracy and that publicly raising concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy issues results in a swift lesson about the fact that freedom of speech is a right that is mitigated by the fact that one’s livelihood and income may be threatened by addressing issues of concern for a multi-billion dollar per year vaccine industry.

Freedom of Speech exists in these United States. That is, if one can afford Unemployment...  Read more

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

Bay Village Teens Channel Stephen King Horror: Abuse Student with Autism

By Kim Stagliano

With horror and a sickening flashback to a Stephen King novel (and film by the same name) I watched the Bay Village Ohio teens play a terrible "prank" on a student with autism, using the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as their "medium." (See below.)

As the epidemic of children with autism grows older, I fear they are in more danger than ever. Toddlers are naturally protected by most all mothers, not just their own.   The "it takes a village" method of child rearing, one could say. Which of us would not run to the aid of almost any child under the age 12, 13, even 16? Ah, but as our children turn into adults, that coccoon of safety becomes eroded. Cute faces have pimples. Chubbie tummies change into burgeoning figures. 

I'm in the position of having three teen daughters with autism. You want to talk about paralyzing fear for them?  Pour a cup of coffee and we'll chat - for six months.   Already one of my girls has been criminally abused (school bus, 2010.) And yet, like parents of typicals, we have to find a way to let our kids grow up and move forward.  We fight our own instincts to protect our vulnerable children, and force ourselves to "let them go" a bit and learn about the world.  But for the love of all that is holy, NOT this way.

Bay Village, Ohio has an opportunity to set an example for ALL villages.  As of this writing, police are considering arresting the teens.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

Where Is Your Child with Autism Going to Live as An Adult?

Future shockBy Kim Stagliano

Where Is Your Child with Autism Going to Live as An Adult? Thought about it yet? I sure do. Oh, I joke in my usual fashion, when speaking to groups, "Ha ha! We ARE a group home!" (My three girls have autism, in case you're new here. Oh, and welcome.)   My oldest is 19. My youngest is 13. These questions are not far off for us - where will my girls live as adults. With their Dad and me?  I've said that we'll have a big house with a special ed wing and an elderly wing and the caregivers can toss a coin to see whom they care for first.  Aren't I funny?   I don't think so either.  What if they don't want to live with us forever?  What if three grown women want independence in their fashion? They deserve that. 

Our sponsor VOR (Vee-Oh-Are) is working to protect YOUR right to decide what is the best living option for your adult child with autism.  For some, it might be a group home or even a larger style living situation that could be referred to an an "institution." For others, it might be a community of similar people where routine and sameness matter. Where ever, however - it should be yours to decide.

I ask you to please formally join VOR so that as your child ages, you can keep abreast of the government's misguided policies so that you aren't shocked to death when the time comes.  Because as you know, we are not allowed to die.

Like VOR on Facebook here too please. Thanks.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

Jim Rockford's Message: Stand Up For What's Right


By Kim Stagliano

When actor James Garner decided to help organize and attend the March on Washington in 1963, he wasn’t just listening to his conscience. He and other actors who attended may have been embarking on Hollywood’s first large-scale political act since the days of McCarthyism and Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist.

I love this article about James Garner. What have you done in your life - to go against the grain for RFK Thimerosal Book what is right? For me? It's talking about vaccine injury and autism. That has meant being called "Anti-vaccine" and an "American Loon" and derided in the media (anyone remember my name splashed across the front page of the Chicago Trib for feeding my girls "toxic waste products" courtesy of Trine Tsouderos? Miss cupcake reviewer turned "science" beat writer?) I am proud to make people uncomfortable. Just as I am proud to support Skyhorse Publishing, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Dr. Martha Herbert and Dr. Mark Hyman and the new book Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak.

As I type, there is an ad by the State of New York running on NBC 4 featuring a man desperately trying to breath as he coughs, clearly in agony. This is an acceptable way to tell people that smoking is dangerous. But if I, we, dare try to tell anyone what vaccines did to our kids?  We're as welcome as lung cancer. 

Continue reading "Jim Rockford's Message: Stand Up For What's Right" »

18 Years, 12.5 Micrograms, 1 Birthday Girl

By Kim Stagliano

Today we celebrate my middle daughter's 18th birthday. She is beautiful. Funny. Bright. Anxious. Vaccine injured. Autistic.  

image from had been "ex utero" fewer than 24 hours before a nurse at Doylestown Hopsital injected her with a vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease Hepatitis B.  A disease I did not have.  That vaccine had 12.5 mcg of mercury in it. I had opted for natural childbirth so as not to put a single chemical into my infant. And then I signed a piece of paper authorizing that toxic vaccine. I gave my consent, but it sure wasn't informed consent. I have the paper in a file.

Gianna's Apgar scores were high. She nursed within moments of birth. She slept. By the time we brought her home she was screaming a high pitched cry. She could nurse, but her mouth worked "funny." I called LaLeche so many times - she was biting me raw. Gnawing at me with an underbite that did not exist during her first feedings. I bled every time she nursed for months.  When I read the infant primate study my jaw dropped. Baby primates lost their ability to suck after birth dose Hep B. So did my baby human.

Continue reading "18 Years, 12.5 Micrograms, 1 Birthday Girl" »

Autism Employment Discrimination Echoes the Irish NINA


By Kim Stagliano

I was born in Boston, Massachusetts.  My Grandmother Hannah Veronica Sullivan was born in Boston, of parents from County Cork, Ireland.  My father was born in 1922, and tells tales of discrimination from "the old days" that, well, you've seen my hair, right?   We've come a long way from the outright posting of who can apply for a job, or use a restroom. Or have we?  This line (below) is from an article Help Wanted Adults with Autism  that addresses the serious dearth of jobs for people with autism.    It seeks to offer a bright side by sharing internships that are available through a program called Project Search under the leadership of Dr. David Kuhn Clinical Director at NewYork-Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, - it seems which "county" of autism you live in makes a difference, however.

Interns range in age from 18 to 21 years old. They must have a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder, have no violent tendencies, be able to communicate and follow a one to two step schedule.

Almost every person I know with full autism has behaviors, some are aggressive and may be viewed as violent, some seriously aggressive and definitely violent and well, that communication thing? It's the foundation of an autism diagnosis.  And you know what (of course you do, dear AofA readers) sometimes that aggression IS communication. As fas as I'm concerned, this posting is asking for people perhaps with Asperger's (there can be serious behaviors among this population) and maybe -  maybe "brushed" with autism like symptoms. None of my daughters could apply. Could your loved one with autism or Asperger's apply?

Last week I wrote about a vocational opportunity for my oldest daughter, who is starting her post-graduate years within our school district.  The more fully impaired with autism also deserve to work in meaningful jobs that take advantage of their sharp minds, unique processing ability and perseverance to a task while repsecting that yes, there are behaviors and communication deficits. Is this going to happen or not? Or will NINA be reborn as "NAWB" become the new discrimination?

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

The Future's So Bright... I Might Have to Wear Shades.

Giggling Pig Mia and Hannah

By Kim Stagliano

This is my daughter Mia. She is 19 years old and just finished her fourth year of high school.  Next Fall she starts in a new program within our district called Trac21.  This is a pilot program, the first in our area outside of private autism schools, to serve the autism population in their "gap" years between traditional secondary school and aging out at age 22. 

Our Special Education department recognized early on that the "regular ed special ed" post grad program, called "Elite" in our town, was not going to work for the autism population. (Yet another example of the newness of the epidemic in the last twenty or so years. There are almost no housing or work programs specific to autusm.) First off, it is an itinerant program. The students meet in different locations every day of the week. Second, it is primarily vocational in focus with emphasis on the job sites where you usually see people with disabilities, like stocking shelves at retail and working in a grocery store.  

I was on a committee that ate Dunkin Munchkins and drank coffee for two solid years in an effort to find a site  for Trac21, plan vocational locations and craft a meaningful day for the two students who would be part of the 2015 school year. 23 months into planning, we had a pilot program. Mia will have almost a full school day, with academics in the morning, vocational work, life skills training and the familiarity of a room within the high school near friends and staff she already knows and trusts. Overall, I'm pleased. 

Continue reading "The Future's So Bright... I Might Have to Wear Shades." »

The Perfectly Imperfect Family

Kim summer headshot 2014By Kim Stagliano

Wednesday, 6:28pm

I just fed my family dinner. My husband is doing the dishes. Mia is laughing and making stimmy sounds to an old Sesame Street CD-ROM from the year 2001. Oh, the CD-ROM does not play in our current computer - in fact, we no longer have any of the old Sony Sesame Street CD-ROM computer games. Mia found her old friend Elmo on You Tube and she is watching another person play the games.  She is wearing her evening attire. Black yoga pants and a black T-shirt. She changes into this outfit each day, after wearing her blue jeans (got her into shorts today after weeks of work) and a pink shirt. Pink. Not lavender. She's no dummy. I tried telling her it was "purple pink." No soap.

She's happy.

Gianna is pacing back and forth in the family room near Mia. Always near Mia. This room is open to our kitchen, and my office is a corner office. Corner of the  dining area of our kitchen.  She is holding her iTouch and a blue rubber duckie. In the background are the sounds of running water and clanking pans, NY Channel 4 news, Mia's voice, and Pink Floyd's Breathe - playing behind my log-in screen on Gianna's log-in on my computer (there goes the helicopter sound) as part of a series of  PBS BoohBah videos that have been set to all manner of musical tastes. Miss G loves music. And Pink Floyd.  And Sammla Mammas Manna Mix. And Dimmu Booghir.

She's happy.

Bella is upstairs watching Sesame Street Count With Me seated next to he ooccupational therapy steam roller device in her room.  There is every chance she is naked.

She's happy.

Why am I giving you a blow by blow of my household? My unusual household filled with autism and stims and communication deficits and sleepless nights and 24/7/365 work for Mark and me?  My home full of fear for the future (my 19 year old "graduates this week.) Why?

Because across town, right now, is the wake of a 15 year old cheerleader from our high school. A perky, blonde "perfect" kid from the cheer bow in her hair to her bouncy toes.

She committed suicide in her home last weekend.

She was 15 years old.

There is no perfect kid. Ever. We love our children as they are - we try to help them in every way possible. I do for my girls. You do for your children. And I know that AA's heart-broken parents did for the same for their child.

Continue reading "The Perfectly Imperfect Family" »

Summertime and the (Autism) Living is Queasy

Kids pool no faces

By Kim Stagliano

I hate to be a Debbie Drowner, but I'm going to send out this reminder that our kids are so terribly vulnerable to death by drowning. There are too many children, from tiny tots to teens, who have lost their lives to a watery grave.

Please share your ideas on safety - do you go to a town pool? Do you have a backyard pool? Does your child wander or bolt?

In 2008 we rented a house in town with an in-ground pool that had a properly securing safety fence around it. Truth be told, it was the best summer of our lives.  What a luxury to have our own pool at our disposal. I did not have to worry about behaviors or even the sudden skinnydipping predicament (cute at home, not so much at the town pool). And the pool became a social tool.  The photo above is from Gianna's 12th birthday party. I invited lots of the girls' typical and autism peers and even my husband's and my friends were eager to join us for a dip. I'd love another home with a pool.

That said, the dangers are so very real for our children.  If your child is at a camp of any sort, or might swim somewhere during Extended School Year programming - please make sure the staff is constantly "eyes on arms length" and fully vigilant. Explain to family members who are not used to our level of alertness that even 1 minute can be the difference between life and death. 

A teen drowned in LA earlier this month.  The first story among the many I anticipate this summer.  Let's all work to prevent DBA - "Drowning By Autism."


House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

New Study Links Autism & Violence: Parents Dismayed

Protect childrenBy Kim Stagliano

Major media including The Washington Post, picked up a story about a study that found ‘Significant’ statistical link between mass murder and autism, brain."

Needless to say, those of us with sons and daughters on the spectrum are appalled, dismayed and angry at the facile reporting.   Adam Lanza, the young man who shot 26 children and school staff just 15 miles north of my home was the focus of the article.  The media, never one to get caught up in details, uses "autism" and "Asperger's" interchangeably, rather like Southerners are known to call carbonated beverages "Coke." Dan Olmsted took a hard look at Lanza's history, his father's own words and based on diagnostic criteria and he reported on Age of Autism:

Here’s the key part: “Adam Lanza was never typical. Born in 1992, he didn’t speak until he was three, and he always understood many more words than he could muster.”

Well, if he didn’t speak until he was three, he didn’t have Asperger’s. Straight from my hefty copy of DSM-IV, retrieved from the box in the garage: “In contrast to Autistic Disorder, there are no clinically significant delays in language (e.g., single words are used by age 2 years, communicative phrases are used by age 3 years).”

It seems that in 2014 autism is either a quirky difference that makes for smart, technically proficient inventors who just have a brain difference or mentally ill killing machines.

Some choice.

Like most bell curves (yes, I took statistics in college) the tails do not wag the bell.

After the Virginia Tech shooting the media picked up the scent of autism and rumors started that Cho was autistic. I immediately wrote a Huffington Post piece called You Can Call Me Angry, Just Don't Call Him Autistic

Continue reading "New Study Links Autism & Violence: Parents Dismayed" »

VOR Speaks Out About National Crisis: A Lack of Choice, Quality and True Person-Centered Care For The Disabled

Kim  Speaking Austin ChariManaging Editor's Note: I'd love to meet AofA readers at the VOR National Conference dinner on Sunday, June 8 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency in Washginton DC.  I have the great pleasure of being the dinner speaker. The event spans several days, includes panels, speakers and a chance to engage in Congressional advocacy during the week.  Imagine face to face meetings with your Congressional leaders to tell them what YOUR CHILD will need for a safe and meaningful future - as opposed to what neurodiversity advocates and national agencies who smell M-O-N-E-Y in our kids want.  Learn more and register HERE. Kim

Elk Grove Village, IL

Across the country, tens of thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are suffering due to lack of access to appropriate care and services.

The numbers representing present and future need are alarming.  Almost all states have waitlists VOR logo sidebar for accessing adult support services, with more than 280,000 individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, going without necessary care in 2013.  Almost one million individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are still living with caregivers over the age of 60.  In the next decade, over 800,000 on the autism spectrum will transition to adulthood.

So where do we go from here?

For 30 years, VOR,  a national nonprofit organization, has advocated for high quality care and human rights for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  VOR is the only national organization calling into question the impact of decades-long state and federal deinstitutionalization that continues in earnest, especially in light of current unmet needs already in the community.

“Individuals with profound intellectual and developmental disabilities or autism have significant care needs,” Julie Huso, Executive Director commented. “The impact of going without adequate care is felt equally by the individuals and their family caregivers.”

In 2013, there were 280,000 people with developmental disabilities, including autism, who were waiting for services.  VOR has carried these concerns to all levels of government, including the White House and Congress, and has recently joined forces with a group calling itself the Coalition of Community Choice, a national grassroots collaboration of persons with disabilities, their families and friends, disability rights advocates, professionals, educators, and housing and services providers to advance the principle that community can be experienced in all residential settings.  VOR believes that true community is a concept not limited to any particular residential settings.

Continue reading "VOR Speaks Out About National Crisis: A Lack of Choice, Quality and True Person-Centered Care For The Disabled" »

Autism's Blue Days of April

Blue fluNote: I wrote this post for HuffPo and they declined it. Writers don't often share their rejections, but it seems appropriate to mention that fact. This post was meant to educate and, I hope, move us forward. April stunk.

By Kim Stagliano

April was autism action/awareness month. It's a designation that doesn't change much of anything except that famous landmarks glow in a blue light and proclamations are made about awareness around the world. There are hot tempers and strong opinions on just about every aspect of autism from whether it's a disability or not, to schooling, to medications and treatment, to the need for special inclusion events like movies and amusement park passes.

And then there was.... "The Hate Debate."

On April 15, Megan, a degreed-lawyer-naturopath-military-wife-of-a-physician-power-yoga-instructor-mother-to-4-blogger who runs the site summed up the bullying in a post she called, "The Hate Debate."

I am sick of it - this vaccination debate. My convictions not to vaccinate have been firm for six years now and I was comfortable living a low-profile life and letting other more notable activists carry the torch; and then I started seeing misleading t.v. interviews, news stories, and backlash against parents and unvaccinated children. I saw reputable medical professionals get crucified and reputations destroyed for questioning the mainstream norm. This isn't a vaccination debate, it's a hate debate, so let's call it what it is. And when it got personal, I got involved.

She had to pull down her site for a short period, to the delight of those who were bullying her. Here are just two comments she received - along with vicious threats that arrived quite literally on her doorstep if you can image the audacity and sheer terror of that.

"Please kill yourself. Thank you for misleading people with your carefully thought out bullshit.

Kill yourself immediately if you believe anything you wrote about vaccinations. "You are selfish, ignorant, foolish and myopic. You're an unfit parent and a menance [sic] to society."

A similar hate debate took place over a Chili's Restaurant fundraising campaign to benefit The National Autism Association, an organization whose Big Red Safety Box is helping to keep people with autism safe from death by wandering and bring peace of mind to beleaguered families. A vociferous social media campaign castigating NAA by people who likely hadn't the foggiest idea about their efforts on behalf of families facing the challenges of autism lead to Chili's cancelling the fundraising effort just 24 hours before the start date.

Now everyone out there knows that social media makes people forget their manners and push the boundaries of decorum but the carnage-by-comment assault attack on autism that seems to have gripped the nation is beyond anything I've seen in my 10+ years writing.

Continue reading "Autism's Blue Days of April" »

Shut Them Down! Rotenberg Center Burns Student with "Shock" Treatment.

WeepBy Kim Stagliano

My God... In this week after Passover and Easter, "'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

Please take a look at this petition to SHUT DOWN the barbaric Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts.  This "school" (and Abu Graib is a summer camp) uses electric shock as a behavioral treatment. Painful, aversive, out of date, last ditch, aw who cares it's just mentally disturbed kids and autistic kids who are probably in the last place on earth that will take them electric shock.   Yes, Massachusetts (which happens to be my homestate) the ultra-liberal blue state where anything goes - except medical rights and freedom and respect and decency for children and their families.   The state where Justina Pelletier languishes in DCF after having been taken from her family by Children's of Boston.  

Here is the start of the petition by a former teacher's aide at Rotenberg.  As an aside, my Dad, now 91 years of age, played golf with Judge Ernie Rotenberg back in the 60s and 70s. And rumor has it, the Judge was a lot like Judge Smails - he used a "footwedge" to boost his scores.  His wife Gladys died just last year, her service held at the Synagogue in the town where I grew up.  The dichotomy, or irony (which seems too glib a word to suffice here) of this school having been named after a Jewish man - a school that tortures and maims as viciously as any concentration camp as far as I can see, is as vivid as the burns on the boy's body.

That any student remains there speaks to the tragedy of mental health and autism care for teens and children. There are so few good choices. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT TO DO! For the Alex Spourdalakis's, the Sky Walker's, kids who need care and medical treatment - not torture, the Rotenberg Center should be closed down for cheating children out of their very lives - it is barbaric and inhumane.  NOW. 

The video is disturbing, please be aware.  Kim

I deeply regret having worked as a teacher’s assistant at The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC), a “special needs school” in Canton, Massachusetts, where children and teenagers with autism and other disabilities are administered electric shocks as a means of controlling their behaviors.  

I joined the JRC because I thought I would be helping these special needs students.  But it became clear that this practice was painful, traumatic, and more harmful than good. I never would have used these "GED" shock devices had JRC not told me and other staff in training that the GEDs had been “approved by the FDA”.  When asking an administrator about the severe thick and bloodied scabby injuries all over students' bodies, I was told that these machines had been tested and were “proven to be safe” as necessary to get FDA approval.  I did not know until 2012 that this was a lie!

Continue reading "Shut Them Down! Rotenberg Center Burns Student with "Shock" Treatment." »

FREE Autism Telesummit Featuring Temple Grandin, Julie Matthews, Kim Stagliano & More Experts!

FREE Telesummit!

TODAY!!!!!  4/7/14

Hi, AofA'ers, Kim here!  I hope you will consider logging  into this fantastic telesummit featuring 15 experts including  Soma Mukhopadhyay of HALO - the Rapid Prompt method (featured in a beautiful parent report story on AofA) Temple Grandin, Julie Matthews, of Nourishing Hope, yours truly and just look at the list above!   Tackle diet, behavior, communication, medical treatment, alternative treatments and so much more! It's FREE and available for 48 hours if you can't listen LIVE - plus you can purchase the teleseminar after the fact if you would like. 

Register for the FREE Telesummit with Kim Stagliano

Retro phone fashion hats
Brain food telesummit!


This Telesummit is for you if you know that more is possible for your child but need some encouragement and solid info to figure out HOW to help your child make the next leap in his or her development.

Imagine your child…

  • Having a healthy digestive system and improved immunity.
  • Experiencing more physical comfort in his/her everyday life.
  • Overcoming his/her challenging eating habits.
  • Having fewer episodes of hitting/biting/head banging and temper tantrums.
  • Breaking through communication barriers so s/he can more fully understand and be understood.
  • Deepening his relationship with you, family members and peers.
  • Fully engaging in games with you and his/her peers.

Plus, imagine knowing how to best take care of YOU so you can be most effective in helping your child and experience more energy and joy in your life.

Continue reading "FREE Autism Telesummit Featuring Temple Grandin, Julie Matthews, Kim Stagliano & More Experts!" »

Blue Hospital Hats for Autism

Broken blue light bulb
During this "Autism Awareness Month" we are bringing back a few old posts - that show the stark reality of autism. The side rarely seen under the glow of the blue lights that overtake this month. We show this NOT to denigrate or belittle.  We show this because in America, a single plane with 239 people on board gets weeks of media scrutiny and attention.  Family members are praised for all but rioting for answers that we we are told they richly deserve. (And they deserve answers.) At the same time,  tens of thousands of families have had their lives changed and children altered  by autism - and we are told to sit down and SHUT UP.  Not likely.  This post ran in January, 2014. 

Keith Dental ExamBy Kim Stagliano

I was scrolling down my Facebook wall earlier this week when this photo caught my attention.

This is Keith, a young adult with autism, and son of my friend Crystal S.  I asked her if I could share this glimpse into the version of autism often (purposefully) overlooked by self-advocates and the general media alike. While Keith himself is a handsome guy,  his autism is considered kind of ugly by those who only want you to see shiny, happy fairy tales. 

So... What is happening to Keith.

Is he having heart surgery?

Is he having his appendix removed?


Continue reading "Blue Hospital Hats for Autism" »

Are You a Savvy Auntie? Kim Stagliano Shares Autism Action for Aunts.

Savvy Auntie

Managing Editor's Note:  I'm honored each April to write a post for a terrific website called "Savvy Auntie" which, as you can see by it's clever name, is a site for Aunts.  I'm an Aunt to seven children. And my children have 5 aunts.  Growing up, my Auntie Rosie was like a second Mom to me - and she still is a good friend and confidante, into her 80s. Here's to savvy aunties everywhere! Please comment at the Savvy Auntie site, won't you?  Thanks!  KS

By Kim Stagliano

Hi Aunties, I'm Kim Stagliano: writer, speaker, blogger and Mom to three teen daughters with full autism. April has become the month designated for autism awareness. I hate it and so should you.

(Savvy Aunties scratching their heads: "What did she just say?")

Oh, I said it alright. April with its barrage of blue lit buildings and blue light bulbs for sale at that orange home improvement retailer makes me feel bl -- no, that phrase won't work. It makes me see RED. Instead of asking you to "Light it up Blue" I am asking you to Light it up "TRUE.”

In March, the CDC came out with frightening new autism prevalence rate of 1 in 68 American children based on children born in 2002 and counted in 2012. When I first started blogging about autism the rate was 1 in 188. Then 1 in 150. 1 in 110. 1 in 88. And today? 1 in 68.

Awareness has always been and continues to be a cop-out in my mind. It's easy to be aware. Awareness is passive...  Read the full post and comment at Savvy Auntie.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

World Autism Day Redux: Commemorate Don't Celebrate

Girls easter
Managing Editor's Note:  You know, this "Autism Awareness Month" is getting so easy! All we have to do is run previous years' posts since NOTHING changes! Well, almost nothing. The numbers keep rising so we have even MORE autism to be aware of this year than last! A is for AUSOME!!!!   I still say - I will commemorate autism - I can't celebrate it.  I'll celebrate my kids forever. Their life threatening diagnosis?  Nope.   This post ran last April 1, 2013.

By Kim Stagliano

Join me in commemorating autism action month.  Let's look at other diagnoses and their fund raising efforts: Walk to End Alzheimers. Race for the Cure. Knock Out Muscular Dystrophy.  What are we "allowed" in the autism community?  "Light it Up Blue!"  "Shine a light on autism!" We deserve more.

We face numbers that are rising with seemingly no concern or alarm in the medical, government or mainstream media communities. Prevention? Taboo. Treatment? Reviled. Recovery? Impossible!  Insurance coverage? Too expensive! Housing and employment? Crickets.

Meanwhile, kids are aging out into adulthood. My oldest is 18. Families are going broke. And we are simply told to recognize or celebrate the difference?

Today, April 1,  and every day I honor my beautiful children: Bella, Gianna and Mia (L to R in photo) - I remember their struggles, their difficulties, and how hard they work to make it through a day in a world that seems content to simply "acknowledge them" and offer them a special seat in a movie theatre or a fast line at Disney, as if accommodations are the answer.  I want more for them.

Commemorate someone you love with autism in the comments.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

New CDC Numbers Coming Tomorrow


by Kim Stagliano from a FB post

... and the rates are continuing to rise.

How many more American children will have their lives - their families' lives radically changed by autism? Autism is a tough road - no matter how "affected." It changes everything in the same way that Alzheimer's does - think I'm kidding? I'm not. We need TREATMENT, LIFE CARE for those here and PREVENTION for those to follow. We can NOT have American children taken out of the employment pool and thrust into the social services pool at the continually growing rate. The umemployment rate for Asperger's is dangerously high too - don't be lulled into a false sense of security by anecdotes. By one or two celebs. It's DAMN HARD to navigate the neurotypical world for a person on the spectrum - and I say that NOT to denigrate for a moment. All the BLUE LIGHTS in the world mean nothing. We need ACTION. Not awareness. God help us all.

Kim - exhausted beyond human endurance by autism.

Autism Speaks and Avonte. Open Barn Door. Smack Cow on Ass. Buy Door Alarms.

Light it up marie antioinette autism speaks A Gamondes

This week Liz Feld of Autism Speaks appeared on Katie Couric to talk about Avonte Oquendo's wandering, disappearance and death. This precious boy, a mother's son,  died in The East River. I don't know if Avonte could swim or not. But if you fall into a large body of water in the chill of a New York October (he eloped from school due to lack of proper supervision on Friday, October 4) swimming is kind of the least of your worries.  Michael Phelps probably would not have survived the fall, the splash, the panic and then trying to find a safe place to get OUT of the river. Note - this was not the pool at the Harvard Club, it was the dark, murky East River. 

Autism Speaks is backing swimming lessons for our children. Really? After months of Avonte's disappearance - some folks affiliated with AS put together a terrific reward for his return - and that was great - but swimming lessons?  THAT'S their response? 

Our Contributing Editor Tim Welsh Tweeted:

TannersDad Tim @TannersDad
40+ children die from wandering in the last couple of years and no sense of urgency to deal with Autism. Swimming lessons? really no really?

TannersDad Tim @TannersDad
@LizFeld_AS @katiecouric Swimming Lessons?

And our Contributing Editor Adriana Gamondes created the Marie Antoinette graphic meme to show the disconnect of the effort.

I've often said Autism Speaks' role for the community - the flesh and blood people dealing with the challenges of autism - is akin to watching our kids get killed crossing a highway and instead of building fences to protect them, Autism Speaks raises funds on the backs of the very same families to purchase Mercedes Benz ambulances to whisk the kids off to their own hospitals.   The cow has left the barn, so to speak.

What is Love? Autism Style.

Valentines givinggreetings_1987_250373By Kim Stagliano

So here we are - Valentine's Day 2014.   I don't know about you, but I'm bit cynical this year. We have eleventy inches of snow on the ground. Have had more snow days here in CT than Carter's has pills (Google it, kids) and frankly, the only LOVE I feel right now is for the yellow school bus as it approaches my house. My kids are fried, their schedules destroyed by the weather.  Then I remembered this video from SNL. And I laughed. Laughter is the best medicine after all.

Valentine MugMy girls are in middle and high school. No more Valentine's parties at school - thank God. How many tons of red dye laden crap have I tossed over the years?  We will celebrate with cards and a homemade treat.  Love here means hard work for the most part. Constant vigilance (Harry Potter reference.) Thinking and formulating plans to make sure the girls are safe, protected, content. Educating other people over and over. What to do. What NOT to do. There is precious little time or energy for traditional Valentine shenanigans. That's the price we pay when we assume responsibility for our children.  But there's plenty of love here. There's always love.

What does your Valentine's Day look like? Anything you remember from your own childhood? Or in the BA days?  (Before Autism, if you can even remember that far back.) I made that mug for my husband before the girls were diagnosed. We've kept it as a reminder of....

Here's to plenty of chocolate, a glass of wine, some flowers perhaps and love. Even autism-style.


House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.


Hidden Costs of Autism: Fighting Tooth and Nail for Realistic View

Keith Dental ExamBy Kim Stagliano

I was scrolling down my Facebook wall earlier this week when this photo caught my attention.

This is Keith, a young adult with autism, and son of my friend Crystal S.  I asked her if I could share this glimpse into the version of autism often (purposefully) overlooked by self-advocates and the general media alike. While Keith himself is a handsome guy,  his autism is considered kind of ugly by those who only want you to see shiny, happy fairy tales. 

So... What is happening to Keith.

Is he having heart surgery?

Is he having his appendix removed?


Keith is settled into a hospital for a dental appointment. That's right. Anesthesia, a day off for Mom who is a behavioral consultant and in school to become a certified teacher, and then recovery. For basic dental work.

Imagine the anxiety for Keith.

Imagine the lost work hours for Mom.

Imagine the juggling of other children - to get them to school.

Imagine the cost.

This is autism - and there are tens of thousands of Keiths growing older every day.

Kind of bites, doesn't it?

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her new novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

The Unique Discipline of Martial Arts for Autism


Hanko ryu Kim Shirley
Update - Mom is now a Karate student herself!
Kyoshi and Dan kicking
Look at that proud smile!

By Kim Stagliano

My Facebook friends know that I train in Karate and  Kobudo (weapons) five or six days a week. On Saturday  I had completed a one hour kickboxing class in the morning and a ninety minute weapons class in the afternoon. Feeling tired, and ready to go home, I was chit chatting with a few other students and the dojo owner when I heard a keening cry outside. A sound all too recognizable having heard my own daughters cry out the same way. An "autism cry."  "That's my next student, my private lesson," said Kyoshi Danilo Torri, a 6th Dan black belt instructor who has trained since the age of seven and owns Hanko Ryu Martial Arts in Trumbull, CT. 

I had met an autism Mom at a meeting with our mutual Department of Disability Services case Kyoshi with Mia manager last Fall.   We had much in common.  She is a writer, and is looking at all options to help her son. She's a Warrior Mom.  I told her about the dojo's private classes for children with special needs. My own daughters train every week in simple exercises suitable to their abilities.

Sure enough, a few moments later, the beautiful blonde woman I had met opened the door and cajoled her crying son to enter the dojo.  She gently guided him to a seat to take off his shoes. He was crying out, as if in pain. "It's his gut," Mom said in her elegant Israeli accent. "He is often in pain."  Ah, called that one.  Wish I hadn't. She did her best to ease his discomfort as he squatted on the bench, posturing and holding his head. We greeted each other and I continued to gather my belongings before leaving.

As she was explaining to Kyoshi about her son's needs and behaviors, the child lashed out as quick as Bruce Lee himself, smashing his mother in the face.  Kyoshi instantly stopped the attack with very firm but resp----  well, I could explain what happened, but I think Mom can do a better job. This is what she wrote on her FB wall later in the day.  And what I wrote as well.

Please meet attorney and author of Autism Mom Shirley Blaier-Stein.

Kyoshi and Dan 2
Dan listening to Kyoshi.

Today at karate class I had a very special surprise.

Dan has been crying and whining all day today. Abdominal pain, as usual. When it was time to go to his new karate class (we’ve only been to one – absolutely amazing – class), he was whining, but still managed to get ready and come with me to the car. When we got there, even though he was in pain, when I gave him the option to go in or go home, he chose to come inside with me. Just after I helped him take off his shoes and explain to Kyoshi, the teacher, and Kim Rossi Stagliano, a fellow autism mom and a phenomenal writer, who also recommended this teacher to us, about what’s going on with my boy, Dan smacked me in the face really hard.

It was his way of saying ‘I feel terrible and I don’t want you to talk about me with these people while I’m present,’ and he had a point, but it really hurt.

What happened seconds after that smack, was so surprising and touching. Kyoshi grabbed Dan’s arm and told him to never hit his mother again and to say sorry (which Dan did!), and soon after that he took Dan inside the studio to start karate practice. Within seconds Dan started to cooperate with him.

Kim wrapped her arms around me and let me cry in her hug. When I felt a little better she ran to grab tissue paper and sat really close to me until I was OK. She did not leave until Dan’s practice was over and until she convinced me to join her and a group of other autism moms in karate practice and kickboxing, which I’m going to do starting next week.

I felt so lucky that Dan and I got to be supported by these two wonderful people today. Kim’s wonderful book is called All I Can Handle: I’m no Mother Teresa. Kim, I’ll never forget this day.

Today you were a mother to me.

Concurrently I had written on the Age of Autism FB page:

Continue reading "The Unique Discipline of Martial Arts for Autism" »

Wanna See Autism's Gift?

Mia Math

By Kim Stagliano

I ran this photo of my daughter's math homework on FB last week and the comment trail kind of blew up.   Note the photo of the smiling doctor holding a syringe. Not a stethoscope.  A syringe. Frankly, I'd have laughed at a speculum, instead of the gag I felt when I saw this and realize the bitter irony.  Thought I'd share with you, AofA readers who do not spend your days in the FB vortex.  Kim

STATUS: Mia's math. Nice image for an 18 year old counting preschool math thanks to her Vaccine/mercury induced autism. Whiskey in my coffee looks good. See the evolutionary gift of autism - what a crock of elephant shit.

That image sucks a$$.
9 hours ago via mobile · Unlike · 1

 You said it sister
9 hours ago · Unlike · 1

Continue reading "Wanna See Autism's Gift?" »

Thank You Sephora for Pulling Kat Von D Lipstick with Offensive Name

SephoracroppedUpdate: Lipstickgate is now on - please feel free to comment over there. As you can imagine, not everyone understands the problem with the lipstick name. Thanks. KS

Update: And Perez Hilton.

By Kim Stagliano

I want to publicly thank the people at Sephora for acting quickly and pulling a Kat Von D. lipstick whose name was offensive to many of us. 

Kat Von D. is an LA personality known for her extensive tattooing.  You can read her bio here. I can not read her bio there. I am 49 and the font is about size 2 on her site. The lipstick name was Celebutard, which is a real word and is a hybrid of celebrity and retard. Of course the retard part is intended to imply stupid, impaired, disabled.  It's a slur.  It's cousin is Debutard, sometimes used to describe/insult trust fund babies like Paris Hilton. 

I wrote a Huffington Post piece "Are You High on Tattoo Ink?" that caught some attention while expressing my dismay that Sephora hadn't realized how ugly this name was for a beauty product. Other people also wrote about the poorly named lipstick. 

Check out this Tweet exchange from Kat Von D. in which she missed the point of the critique.  The woman she was Tweeting with (I blocked her name for privacy)  and I had a nice exchange today - she realized why many advocates were offended and changed her mind. That's cool. We can all learn and grow. And I hope Miss Von D. also learns and grows from the experience.

Words hurt as much as tattoo needles. And the effects can be as permanent.

Kat Tweet

Sephora pulled the product from their shelves.   They reacted swiftly and, I think, appropriately.

My kids watch Christmas movies year round. One of their favorites is Santa Claus is Comin' To Town. I love the scene when Kris Kringle asks for help from the Winter Warlock, who is supposed to be the meanest, coldest dude in the forest. The Warlock tries to help Kris get the toys to the kids - but fears he has limited powers. After all, he only has a candle stick stub and a few pieces of magic corn.  But that corn makes reindeer fly (and that leads us to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which we also watch 12 months a year.)

I'm proud that I was able use my few pieces of magic corn, my really limited powers, to do something positive for a whole lot of people.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.


Hopey Halloween From Kim Stagliano

Halloween 011By Kim Stagliano

Hello, AofA friends. I thought I'd share another hopeful video with you today. Bella continues to learn how to create words with her mouth. I use that phrasing because I know the words are clearly in her mind - it's her autism that prevents them from flowing freely.

You might recall from my book that Bella is my water girl (crapisode ring a bell?)  Her perseveration on water is always correlated with gut issues. When her stomach is in bad shape, she is desperate to feel water on her face.  I've learned that I'm usually at fault - having tried a new food or beverage with a suspect ingredient. Carageenan, the thickener in many non-dairy milks and almost all of the So Delicious brand that we loved, destroys Bella's gut and behavior after about 6 weeks of steady consumption.  It makes her aggressive, angry, she pinches, she growls, she will not sit in a car or bus safely.  I guess that means the refrigerator theory can be resurrected - Mom really IS to blame - ha ha.

Anyway, here's Miss Bella with a special cameo appearance by my beautiful Mia, who will be 19 in December. That Halloween costume in the photo was from when Bella was in Kindergarten - I made her Leo the Late Bloomer - a beautiful story about a little Tiger with lots of delays - and whose last sentence is, "I made it!" And so shall Bella, and all our kids.

House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.



Autism: Computer? Black Sweater. Where's the Mouse? Black Sweater.

Autism Reality

By Kim Stagliano

A recap of Sunday morning, chez Stag. Dad is golfing - his weekly respite from home and business duties. Mom is in charge. My 18 year old daughter has been on a "wear black clothing" jag for several months. She will wear colors to school, but at home wants black yoga pants and a black T shirt. Well, it's late October in Connecticut and her father and I have vowed we will NOT turn on the heat before November. It costs almost $1000 for a full tank of oil, and the tank lasts maybe 6 weeks during heating season with careful monitoring of the thermostat.  Yeah. NO. We wear warm clothes in the house. Well, four of us do.

After her shower, I pulled out a black long sleeved sweater. Nope. Nothing doing. This has happened before - of course. And I  have caved like a cheap lawn chair, letting her wear a short sleeved T.  Today is the day I stay strong. I need to help her learn to wear proper clothing for the weather. I know that. I need to keep her safe and healthy. But it's tough.

I took her computer mouse and iPod Touch away.  I explained that when she puts on the black sweater (I gave her choices of long sleeved black tops) I would give her the mouse for her computer. No go. She has been very sad. She has asked me with her VERY BEST words - making an entire sentence which means she really, really wants something: "Can. I. Have. Mouse. Please." I have girded my loins and said, "Not until you put on your black sweater." She has cried harder. 

Autism sounds like this:


Black sweater.


Black sweater.

Where's the mouse?

First sweater, then mouse.

Where's the mouse.

First sweater, then mouse.


Black sweater.


Black sweater.


Black sweater.

Where's the mouse?

First sweater, then mouse.

Continue reading "Autism: Computer? Black Sweater. Where's the Mouse? Black Sweater." »

For Better of For Worse

Wedding cake

Today is my 22nd wedding anniversary. I think of the young women getting married today, tomorrow, last month and wonder how many will have to face an autism diagnosis in their precious child? 1 in 5000? Heck no. 1 in 500? Old school. 1 in 250? We chuckle. 1 in 150? Out of date. I in 110? The good old days. 1 in 58 boys? Optimistically.

We need answers as to cause. We need prevention. We need treatment. We need palliative care for those who are here now. We need. We need. We need.  And we will not give up until our needs - and the needs of the women who are putting on a white gown with a heart full of hope and love today - are met.


Pharma & Medicine's Salad Days of Liability Free Vaccination

Salad 2

By Kim Stagliano

On Wednesday night, I was making a salad for my family, using my Pampered Chef salad spinner. I carefully washed the organic romaine lettuce, and then put it into the spinner. According to my Pampered Chef consultant - who happens to be the number one ranked consultant in the nation in sales - that spinner can go as fast as 14 mph. Weeeeeeeeee! As I was pressing the lever that generates the spin, I became distracted by my husband or one of my girls. I leaned forward with my arm on the spinner to stabilize it and OUCH it bit the tender skin on my forearm! "That's gonna leave a mark," I thought to myself. And sure enough, it did. And darn if it didn't hurt like the Salad 3 dickens!

I looked at my husband and said, "That's a design defect and I could sue Pampered Chef for some serious bread." Of course, I am NOT suing The Pampered Chef for my idiocy. My arm will heal and I learned a lesson in how to use (or not use) my salad spinner.

But I began to think about vaccination - virtually forced, most certainly coerced circa 2013 and how manufacturers and delivery systems (doctors, nurses, retail stores, schools) have ZERO liability for any injury they might cause.  If you would like to understand the how and why of this special treatment for pharmaceutical companies, I encourage you to watch this Canary Party video below. It explains our Vaccine Injury system in America - and how it does anything but pamper YOU (or your loved ones) the consumer.

Video from Kim Stagliano: THIS is Autism Too "SOUP"

Bella Cake 13By Kim Stagliano

Oh Lord I am  tired of so many things. The constant attacks on our community as if we aren't real Moms and Dads doing our level best for our children with autism. The name calling in national publications by "journalists." The assumptions that we are somehow American subversives because our experiences with our children have led us to conclusions outside the corporate pharma governmental agenda.  The dismissal of our kids' very real medical problems.

Saturday was my youngest daughter's birthday. She is now 13 years old. Her name is Bella. I introduced you to her in my book, and so many of you (from all camps I'll point out) came to her defense in 2010 when she was abused on her school bus by an adult. Your support meant the world to me.

I thought today I'd share a brief video after finally figuring out how to upload from my iPhone to YouTube to show you autism in our home. Well one version, Mia and Gianna are different young women in terms of ability. 

Instead of having a slumber party with friends and giggling about boys - Bella spent her day with her father and sisters and me - quietly working on skills followed by a simple supper and homemade cake.  THIS is autism. It's hard for Bella most of all. It breaks my heart every hour of every day.


House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.





The Write and Wrong of Autism in the Media

Mia Writing Sample

By Kim Stagliano

What if you did not know me  and you saw that photo above,  what would you think?  That I have a nice 4 year old, perhaps? Would you smile if you had no idea that I am a Mother Warrior with three daughters on the spectrum? Not just on the spectrum, but on the "wrong side of the tracks" of the spectrum.  Huh? Wrong side? Hell yes. We're seeing the full assault on low verbal, behavior-intense boys, girls, teens, young adults with autism right now in the Alex Spourdalakis story.  We couldn't get the attention of a single media outlet while he was in the hospital. Now, after his gruesome murder, the PR machine has slipped into gear and roared out of the gate to make sure that somehow, anyhow, the non-genetics segment of the autism populations would be tinged, no make that engulfed from head to toe, in guilt.  Especially anyone associated with gut injury, and you know who that means, dear AofA reader.

(BTW, I've never apologized for a single parent who has murdered his or her child - with or without autism. And I continue to make no excuses. We have a moral obligation to our kids to keep them safe - even if that means safe from ourselves.  My chapter "Mother Superior" in my memoir is all about the string of murders in our community including a mother in England who poured Drano into her son's throat, none of which have been used/covered like Alex's.)

The photo above is the fridge worthy type of art most parents of preschoolers display with pride. Except that it is the 12th grade work of my 18 year old daughter. Oh. Insert awkward pause here.

Yesterday the PBS kids show Arthur was on, and they aired the episode about Asperger's. It was done fairly well. The child  with AS had a meltdown during a playdate and his typical peer felt confused and scared.  After the meltdown the typical child talked to a friend who told him his uncle had Asperger's.  They proceeded to show a framed newspaper article about the uncle's Nobel prize in science as a local professor.

Take a look at the photo above.

Autism in the media looks very little like what my three daughters have - very litte indeed. Ari Ne'eman speaking for my girls as an expert?  A farce.  Even Temple Grandin, a female herself, looks nothing like my girls who actually have far more emotion, facial expression and ability to be physically loving compared to what I have seen in Dr. Grandin over the years.

How many times have you said (like I have) "when you meet one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."   My girls matter. And their autism is a valid and real, even if rarely acknowledged in the media portrayals.   Your child too.


House of Cards 200 pixelsKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.




Autism Mom and Cover Girl! Autism File Goes Digital.

AF CJWe're happy to report that you can now download Autism File Magazine free.  Simply click THIS LINK to start your subscription. 

The Autism File, the first magazine ever published devoted exclusively to Autism Spectrum Disorders, announced today that the upcoming August/September issue will mark the magazine’s entry into the world of digital publishing.

Since the first issue of the magazine appeared in 1999, the Autism File has been described by readers as a “lifeline”.  “Thanks to the most knowledgeable experts and experienced parents from around the world, we’re able to present cutting-edge content and critically needed support to families affected by autism,” said the magazine’s founder and Editor-in-Chief, Polly Tommey.  “The new digital format will allow parents and professionals—no matter where they live—to have immediate access to the crucial information provided by our contributors.”

In addition to the magazine’s bi-monthly publication, which will be available as a free download six times per year, the Autism File’s team of editors and writers will provide a weekly update focusing on relevant topics including nutrition, biomedical treatments, sensory issues, advocacy, and safety.  “There is an overwhelming number of concerns that autism families face each and every day, and often on incredibly tight budgets,” said Polly.  “Our readers will now have the latest innovations and strategies for all aspects of living with autism right at their fingertips, and at no cost.”

Our own Cathy Jameson is this issue's cover girl - along with her handsome son Ronan.  once you have subscribed, (see link above) you can read Cathy's article titled Navigating the System to learn about the IEP process.

Continue reading "Autism Mom and Cover Girl! Autism File Goes Digital." »

Autism Community Unites Behind Poison Pen Letter Recipient

Purple letter

By Kim Stagliano

Every so often, this fractured, exhausted, nose-to-grindstone-for-the-kids autism community is able to leap to the defense of another family without so much as a pause. It doesn't matter whether Mom is biomed or ABA, psychiatric meds or organic Yak juice - you get my point. Sometimes the cruelty of how others perceive and feel entitled to treat our children - no matter their age - rallies us round the autism flag like Pearl Harbor.

Media outlets from Perez to the NY Daily News have reported on a poison pen letter sent "anonymously" to a family in Toronto, Canada. From City News Toronto:

A family is in shock and a community has united after an anonymous hate letter was written about a young boy living with severe autism.

Karla Begley told CityNews her son Max, 13, stays with his grandmother in the morning during the summer time. It was at that home in Newcastle where letter was delivered on Friday.

“I was shaking when I was reading it,” Brenda Millson, Max’s grandmother, told CityNews. “It’s awful words. You don’t know why somebody would ever do such a thing.”

The typed, one-page letter refers to the young boy as a “nuisance” and a “wild animal” before suggesting the family move or “euthanize” the child.

My neighbors have no idea how often I close windows on a warm day when a meltdown is in progress or imminent. The woman who might give me stink eye at Stop & Shop doesn't know that my child is using every ounce of her courage to maintain her calm while roaming the brightly lit store.  I wrote a BOOK trying to explain to outsiders that our lives - yours, mine, the autism Mom who thinks I'm a complete anti-vaccine kook - are crazy hard.   We deserve compassion and for God's sake, a bit of kindness. It's the end of summer - my kids desperately need their school routine. Don't yours? Maybe Max needs his too. Certainly Kara Begley needs to hear from all of us in the autism community, "We love you.  We have your back. We love your son.  We ARE you."

And to "One Pissed Off Mother" who thought typing this letter would make her feel better and superior to Max, his Gram and his Mom?  We and our children will live our lives with pride and dignity, thank you very much.  And I hope the media crush you are receiving now feels like a thousand paper cuts under a shaker of salt.....

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.




Back to School

PinwormsBy Kim Stagliano

I suppose I shouldn't complain, our school was in session until late June.   But summer is H-A-R-D when you have a child(ren) with autism. Like I need to remind you? We were fortunate to have some extended school year programming and a camp  that actually allows kids with behaviors and over the age of 9!   My oldest is entering her "senior" year of high school. Can you smell my terror from your computer? My middle daughter is in her third year of high school, and my baby, who turns 13 next month, is a 7th grader. If she could speak I'm pretty sure she would be a surly  pre-teen telling us all to "just leave her alone!" Her behavior this summer has taxed us all to our last nerve  - a combination of gut issues and the general mien of a 12 year old girl.  (As an aside, my folks sent me to boarding school at 14, need I say more?)

How are you holding up as the summer ends.  Are your kids back to school already? And what are your hopes for this coming school year?

(PS) I mentioned gut issues? Who among us hasn't carried a dead worm in a baggie to the ped?  Gary didn't make it..... 

Father's Day and Autism

Father daughterBy Kim Stagliano (Cathy is off today with her five kids and their wonderful Dad.)

Remember being a kid and asking your parents, "Why isn't there a kids' day?" The usual response was, "Every day is kids' day." For those of us with children on the spectrum I suppose that's right. Every day IS kids' day. Many of our children need/require/demand levels of attention, care and support the outstrips the needs of most typical children - even those younger than our own. Don't we know it?

My children have a father who participates in their life. He can change a pad, make a gluten free meal, get the girls ready for school (well, their hair looks unkempt but he tries) and is a full partner in the day to day workload that comes with having a child on the spectrum.  I'm very lucky.

I want to remind the Dads who might not be so involved in the daily care and feeding and school issues and behavior work (not just earning the bacon, but frying it up in that pan to quote an old women's lib song) that we Moms need your help. And we often stink at asking for it. (Raising hand.)

Thank you to all  of the Dads who read AofA and who are an integral part of their son or daughter's upbringing. It's a tough job. Especially for fathers of sons - who once dreamed of varsity baseball games and summer camp outs and have had to make adjustments that respect their boys' abilities.

Happy Father's Day to all of you.

Second Child with Autism Wanders, Drowns in One Week


Weep(Note: This comment came in today -  "Make that three. We had a 2 yo boy who has autism drown over the weekend at his family's cottage (we live in Akron, OH). He got away from his mother and went right to the river. They found him within minutes, but it was too late. They need help for funeral expenses, as no one is prepared for those costs. We are helping to get the word out about the issue of wandering and autism in our community, as well as the family's need for assistance. Here is a link to a page they created for donations: Thank you, Laurie Cramer Director, Autism Society of Greater Akron"

By Kim Stagliano

I awoke to an email on Saturday, the subject line read, "My son is missing." I paused for a moment. You know how email can be - lots of funky subjects that lead to phishing emails of all sorts.   But I opened and read the email.  And then I Googled the name of the child and the details that the sender had provided.  My God, her son was missing.

Owen Black had wandered away from his holiday condo in Perdido Beach,

Owen Black
Owen Black
Alabama and within two minutes, was out of his mother's sight, having slipped out the door.

I sent out a FB missive that hundreds shared and Tweeted for anyone in the area to try to help. Joe Scarborough from MSNBC, a Pensacoloa native, retweeted the call for help. Hundreds turned out to search. To no avail. Owen, like Mikaela Lynch last week, wandered and drowned.

Mikaela Lynch
Mikaela Lynch

THIS is the reality of autism and all the blue buildings and "It's just a difference" t-shirts and the "We don't need a cure - just accept them" in the world doesn't mean jack diddly squat. AUTISM IS AS DEADLY AS CANCER FOR MANY CHILDREN.  I woke up thinking of Owen. And now the news we all dreaded. AGAIN.

I Tweeted the sad news about Owen - and yes, I blamed his autism. Someone Tweeted back, "It wasn't the autism you moron" or something to that effect.  And then she blamed "negligent parents." Really? Must have been one of the "Autism is a difference not a disability" crowd.  Or perhaps a cruel skeptic - as there wasn't a scintilla of emotion for the child, for Owen.

I disagree. At all levels, from a preverbal child like Owen and Mikaela (and my own Bella) to an adult with Asperger's - autism affects day to day life in myriad ways. And yes, some are deadly. And as far as "negligent parents" go? Well, yes, I am quite sure there are rotten, negligent parents in the autism community, just as there are anywhere. The parents I have met have moved heaven and earth to keep their kids safe. I know one Mom who slept on a mattress barricading her front door in case her son tried to slip out at night. Another Mom whom I know to be a stalwart of the community, her son was found walking along a busy state route having slipped away - alive by the grace of a guardian angel. I lost my own daughter in Orlando as she quietly slipped out a hotel room door and got onto an elevator to the lobby of  a 22 story property on 2200 acres while I was in the bathroom.  We are not negligent - we are human.   I remember being pregnant with Bella and so tired by 2pm that I had to sleep. I put on the TV and locked my bedroom door and put a bell on a chair in front of the door, knowing that Mia and Gianna would knock the bell to the ground and I'd hear it before they could leave my room. Just to get a 30 minute nap. 

Continue reading "Second Child with Autism Wanders, Drowns in One Week" »

Autism and Motherhood It's 1998 Every Day

Mia Heart BackBy Kim Stagliano Mia Heart Front

My 18 year old daughter Mia made me this pin in preschool, 1998.  I wear it every Mother's Day with pride. Little did I know that my three year old daughter would remain very much a child, even as her body grew into that of a beautiful young woman.  This pin stabs me in the heart with every passing year. Not because of my aging eyes and fumbling fingers.

On this Mother's Day, I ask you to say a quick prayer for all Moms who live with the nagging ache of worry, even as they live, love and laugh. It's there behind our smiles. Mine. Yours. I'll say a prayer for you, and wish you a very Happy Mother's Day.



April's Autism Images

Gianna High School

By Kim Stagliano

Autism awareness month has been overshadowed by recent news events. The blue glow of landmarks and skyscrapers has faded away for most Americans. Even those of us touched by autism have put aside the month's label for the day-to-day reality of caring for, helping, loving our children. 

Last week was our April vacation here in our Connecticut town. That meant long days of Count_von_countdowntime, which is always difficult for my girls, who depend our their routine. Bella, my youngest, kept handing me her purple knapsack. And off we'd go to look at the calendar and re-count the days until school was back in session. Cue Sesame Street's Count Von Count, a Stagliano entertainment staple, "That's three! Three more days until school starts! Ah! Ah! AAAAAAAAAH!"

My husband and I have tallied 37 cumulative years of caring for kids with autism in our home, if we use age 3 as the starting age for each of our girls.  37 years of facilitating, guiding, dressing, undressing, feeding, cutting food, bathing, toileting (that's mostly completed I'm thrilled to report) micromanaging virtually every aspect of the girls' lives - not because we are helicopter parents - it's simply what's required to keep them alive. I wish I could tell parents of younger children on the spectrum that life gets easier as the kids grow up - but for us and for most of the families I know with high school age children - it's getting a whole lot harder. The gaps of early elementary school turned into chasms in middle school and then canyons in high school and in "adult life?" The current programs available expect my kids to live in a parallel universe of managed care as if they leaped from childhood to advanced old age in the blink of an eye.  (Won't happen.) It's a harsh reality rarely spotlighted by blue lights.

But....   all is not lost. Never.  That photo at the top of the post? That's the showcase at the entrance to our public high school. And that pretty girl holding the Martha Speaks book? That is my beautiful daughter Gianna. She is 16 and considered a sophomore. The book she is holding is for a third grader. But take a look - our high school is saying,"Hey! This terrific kid is a member of our community and we are as proud of her as we are of our honors student who is going to Harvard in the Fall."

When Gianna's teacher sent me the photo, I just sat for second and took in the huge message it sent to her classmates, her schoolmates, the teachers, staff, everyone who walks by. I'm proud of our high school for honoring Gianna where she is - and for who she is.  

I suppose the showcase is about acceptance, a word I usually abhor. Today? I accept it. Now to turn Martha Speaks into, "People with autism speak."

CoverKim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her novel,  House of Cards; A All I Can Handle 50 pixel Kat Cavicchio romantic suspense is available from Amazon in all e-formats now. Her memoir, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.




Jenny McCarthy Interviews Kim Stagliano on Autism Awareness

Kim Jenny autism oneThanks to Jenny McCarthy for allowing me to share a real life glimpse of what life is like for our family - during autism action month - in the hopes that it will educate people outside our community a bit more than a blue landmark.  KS

Read the full interview at Jenny McCarthy's SPLASH blog at the Chicago Sun Times.

Unless you know someone with autism, it’s difficult to accurately explain what life is like behind closed doors. The mom I want to highlight is Kim Stagliano, because she has three daughters with autism. If God only gives you what you can handle, then this woman is a gladiator. Please read our interview so the next time you see a tantrum by an autistic child in the grocery store, hopefully your frustration will turn to compassion.

JENNY: Tell me about your girls.

KIM: My oldest daughter, Mia, is 18. She is the most affected by her autism. She is a gorgeous, petite girl with blue eyes and a great smile. She can speak but usually only uses one or two words at a time when she needs something. You have to interact with her (a polite way of saying “get right in her face”) in order to get her to say “Hello” or “Goodbye.” She is affectionate and unlike the autism stereotype, she likes being around family and classmates. Mia was a typically developing infant. She met her physical milestones on time and could recite the alphabet and count to twenty before age 2. She regressed into autism, becoming more remote and the main red flag that we saw was that her large vocabulary did not turn into usable communication. She attends the local public high school in a self-contained classroom.

Gianna is the classic middle child: She has a good sense of humor and is a ball of energy. Gianna is always looking out for her sisters; she is kind and caring. She is 16 years old in 10th grade in a combination of the autism classroom and the general special ed classroom. Three years ago our town added a separate autism class because the teaching and behavioral requirements are so different from traditional special ed, which includes intellectual disability, physical challenges and Down syndrome. To our delight, she is also enrolled in mainstream biology with support. She uses sentences and will answer a question with a word or two if you give her plenty of time to process the question.

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