Dreams Feed

Weston Begins High School

Back to schoolNOTE:  We hope your kids and grand kids have had a smooth start to back to school.

By Norman Roberts

Weston will be fifteen next week. He started high school last week, at a brand new school for kids with autism after several years of home schooling. He went every day, was happy at drop off, stayed all day, and came out smiling for pick up. To say his parents and grand parents are thrilled would be an understatement. The best part is that so is Weston. He is ready to go back this week

His favorite class is music. Weston has always been musically talented, not a child prodigy but with a strong sense of rhythm and a real love for the keyboard. His parents limited his access to it for fear he wouldn't do anything else but that doesn't seem to be a problem in his new school. He is also singing and responding well to comprehension questions from his reading and math teachers.

Weston is what is called low verbal. He speaks but not much and for several years has limited himself to monosyllables having to do with wants and needs. Early on he was prone to echolalia, repeating something he had heard, often endlessly. He came home from school one day reciting Hey Diddle Diddle over and over again. He doesn't do that any more but has made little progress toward typical conversation despite years of effort from his mother and speech therapists. That's one reason the school is so important. We are hoping a new level of interaction with course work, teachers, and kids his age will stretch him to develop inter-personal skills he hasn't had before.

With eight students and five teachers the school is expensive and Weston's parents can't afford it. Nothing new there, they have been broke since he was a toddler and his autism first became evident. Insurance didn't cover autism therapies until recently and at $18-20,000 a year it was a big bill for a young couple, wiping out their 401k and teacher retirement funds. Only one of them could work full time. The school is even more.

Continue reading "Weston Begins High School" »


It's Not a Perfect World but I'll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me -- Who are Kind of (You know) Autistic

Jennifer Rose book
CONTEST! We have a copy of this book to give away - just leave a comment with your email address! 

We are so happy to see this review of Jennifer Rose's book in the NJ Patriot Ledger!  Jennifer's Dad Jonathan has written for AofA, as has her Mother, Gayle DeLong.  Talented family!  Congrats, Jennifer!  You can buy a copy at Amazon now!

"It's Not a Perfect World But I'll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me -- Who Are Kind of (You Know) Autistic" By Jennifer Rose

(Skyhorse Publishing, 116 pp, $12.99)

Jennifer Rose is a promising writer with a great eye and a keen sense of humor. She is not, though, simply a promising autistic writer with a great eye and a keen sense of humor.

Rose, of Morristown, has written this slim book of life lessons in the form of short essays. The essays are fine, albeit a tad repetitive. The repetition is the book's main problem, but the most obvious flaw is a 23-word title. It's ungainly and smacks of a certain cynicism on the publisher's part: Are they fearful people with autism and those who love them would not buy the book unless this never-ending title were on the cover?

Continue reading "It's Not a Perfect World but I'll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me -- Who are Kind of (You know) Autistic" »


A Special Tax Deductible Fundraising Appeal From Age of Autism

Donate to AofA
Age of Autism is now a non-profit organization in its tenth year of serving as the Daily Web Newspaper of the Autism Epidemic, which we believe makes us the longest-running autism-related publication on the Web.

We are reaching out to you with our first direct request for financial support. Organizational changes have meant that we have lost a considerable portion of our revenue over the past year, and we hope you will consider helping us continue at full steam.

To make a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation, please click here www.paypal.me/autismage or send a check made out to:

Autism Age
c/0 Dan Olmsted
102 Whittier Circle
Falls Church VA 22046

Our revenue goes for publishing expenses, reporting and research costs, and support for Dan and Kim in their daily work for AOA. None of this would happen without the community’s support – your support.

We promote calls to action from all around the autism advocacy world, offer new information about the microbiome from Teresa Conrick, expose the latest outrages from the IACC by Katie Wright, bring news of the UK from John Stone, distill the latest media coverage with Anne Dachel, share Natalie Palumbo’s sibling perspective, and chronicle Kim’s saga of raising three girls with autism who are starting to “age out.”

Plus there's Cat Jameson's Sunday column, Tim Welsh's power tweets, Kent Heckenlively’s legal perspective, Dan Burns' literary touch, my own weekly column and ongoing investigations, and – as they say – so much more. We've published over 6,000 posts and 130,000 reader comments. A whole genre of books speaking up for victims of vaccine injury has spun off from AOA, and more are coming.

 When I type “vaccines and autism” into Google, we are usually in the top 10 hits, and we are most often alone as a voice for vaccine safety and autism advocacy. I can’t count the number of people who see us as a lifeline and oasis, who say we have helped them make an informed decision, or helped them find their way to autism groups that can really help. We just redesigned our site to be even more accessible, inviting, and compatible with mobile platforms.

Continue reading "A Special Tax Deductible Fundraising Appeal From Age of Autism" »


Happy Father's Day from an Autism Dad Who Says: "I Am the Luckiest"

Chuck charlie hug blue
By Charles (Chuck) Hancock

I'm back.  I knew I would be.  Just did not know when; or why.  Well, I think I now know.

My previous, and only, submission to Age of Autism was posted here almost five years ago, in August 2011

At that time I briefly spoke of the progress that my son, Charlie, then nearing the age of six, was making on his autism spectrum disorder "journey."  Yes, journey.  Though not in my mind envisioning a cool adventure-like trip, junket, road trip, or expedition.  No, this one more like a slog. Back in 2011 Charlie was working with ABA-BCBA (Applied Behavioral Analyst-Board Certified Behavioral Analyst) professionals on a regular basis, and was in receipt of biomedical treatment under the medical guidance of a DAN ("Defeat Autism Now") doctor.  He also was just beginning to talk.  In semi-sentences anyway.    Charlie has had a ball the past three years surfing with the amazing group from Surfers Healing the past three years.  He gets a medal each year, tells people he was the "champion surfer."  Such a joy for all the families involved.  The range of emotions is awe inspiring.  Wait listed this year; fingers crossed.  

I wrote in 2011 that Charlie, then about to enter kindergarten, had come a "long way."  Specifically, at Chuck Charlie 1that time, both verbally and socially.  I also wrote "No doubt about it, his autism will be cured." Well, the point of this submission is not to offer a proclamation of such an occurrance; though Charlie, who just days ago concluded the 4th grade, has certainly made some pretty significant progress since 2011.

Here, now, I just want to ramble on a bit about inspiration, and love.  And also fear.  About life I suppose.

A lot has happened since August 2011.  I got divorced. I donated stem cells to my brother.  I witnessed the passing of a dear friend, a fraternity brother.  He had valiantly, and with uncompromising grace, fought amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), aka, Lou Gehrig's disease. Another fraternity brother, amazingly, is now battling this same dreadful disease.  I was subjected to a level of stress, brought about by a circumstance not here to be discussed, which I would not wish on anyone.  

What essentially motivated me to write this at this time is the fact that it is Father's Day.  Charlie is my only child.  My pride and joy.  My hero.  And my Mom's only grandson.

Continue reading "Happy Father's Day from an Autism Dad Who Says: "I Am the Luckiest"" »


Jacqueline and Chris Laurita to Attend Chicago Rescue Our Angels Fundraiser

Jac and ChrisFrom Generation Rescue:

We're excited to announce that Jacqueline and Chris Laurita will once again be joining us on Friday, June 24th for the 8th Annual Rescue Our Angels. 

One of the original ladies of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jacqueline Laurita is a revered TV personality, mom, wife, philanthropist, and businesswoman. She is returning to the cast this year and the new season debuts on July 10th. Jacqueline is also the co-author of two books, Get It! A Beauty, Style and Wellness Guide To Getting Your 'It' Together, available now and Defy Expectations, coming this fall and written with her husband, Chris, on their struggles and successes while raising a child on the Autism Spectrum, with secrets to keeping their marriage strong.

A mother to Ashlee, 25, CJ, 14 and Nicholas, 7, Jacqueline is a Warrior Mom and has been a celebrity ambassador to several non-profit Autism organizations, since Nicholas was diagnosed. She regularly travels the country as a sought-after public speaker raising Autism awareness. Her mission is not only to help her youngest son reach his full potential, but to also help as many families as she can along the way. 

Jacqueline and Chris are amazing parents and we're so thankful that they will be supporting Rescue Our Angels again this year! Time is running out to get your tickets as sales end at midnight on June 20th. Please visit www.RescueOurAngels.com to buy your tickets or make a donation.


Behaviors with Friends App!

Behaviors-app-main-screen
We're happy to share this blog post from our friends at Generation Rescue.  Many years ago, I met Sarah Scheflen, who created the Teach2Talk DVDs that kept my girls engaged, learning and quiet in the minivan for hundreds of miles! 

Check out this review of the app called Behaviors With Friends. Check it out at the App Store here!

Behaviors with Friends App Review

Check out this great review of Jenny McCarthy’s and speech-language pathologist Sarah Scheflen’s new iPad application, Behaviors with Friends. This app is helping a lot of children understand how to solve problems with peers and learn how to perspective take. The app is interactive, and uses live action video of children to help teach the lessons! Check it on in the App Store, under Behavior with Friends.

Kind words from Shell, at Things I Can’t Say.

BEHAVIORS WITH FRIENDS

This is a sponsored post for teach2talk but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could freeze time right in the middle of a situation to explain to our kids the behavior we expect from them in that moment?

Time out, here’s a good choice for you to make, here’s why. Okay, time in, now go do what you should.

Ha. If only...   Read more at the Gen Rescue blog!


Dealing with Autism

Truthwinsoutlogo-711573By Norman Roberts

I don't know what caused my grandson's autism, probably one or a combination of his vaccines. We didn't notice a sudden and dramatic change in his health or behavior after a specific well baby visit. We just began to realize something was wrong when he was a toddler. He would trot back and forth incessantly. He mostly avoided eye contact and his speech was pretty much limited to echolalia, he would repeat the last phrase he heard, often over and over again. He was two before he was finally diagnosed with autism. It was still new for most pediatricians. They didn't recognize it.

Weston will be fifteen in September. Autism isn't rare anymore. By now any physician who didn't recognize his symptoms would be really obtuse, though many still won't treat the comorbidity issues most children with autism have. We are lucky. Weston is low verbal but he can speak. He is affectionate with people he knows. He was potty trained at the appropriate age. His digestive issues can be controlled with the proper diet. And his neurologist has successfully treated a disturbing trend toward violent behavior without undesirable side effects, at least so far. He is happy, relaxed, more focused, has better direct communication, and only one week with several sensory meltdowns since he began seeing the neurologist, since then he has been pretty calm. Weston's speech therapist is creating a school for teenagers with autism and his parents are hoping to enroll him. They have an interview a week from today. We continue to hope and pray.

Continue reading "Dealing with Autism" »


Michelle Guppy Shares "Life with Autism" in Heart Stopping Photos

Brandon BW

We'd like to you take a look at Michelle Guppy's blog entry Life With Autism In Pictures.  Take a deep breath now, you'll lose it when you start scrolling.

On my "Life with Autism" blog, it is my hope that the words you read are inspirational in some way. But on this blog --- I wanted it to be different. I wanted the pictures to be more powerful than the words. Here will be some of our most powerful pictures in our "Life with Autism" - with only a few words to explain...


It’s Not a Perfect World, but I’ll Take It 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me Who Are Kind of (You Know) Autistic

It's Not a Perfect WorldWe're so pleased to share this book with our readers. Please purchase at Amazon today.  Congratulations, Jennifer!

Jennifer Rose is autistic. She’s also a college student who loves to read, writes fan fiction, and wants to be on TV someday. Sure, she sees the world a little differently than most people around her, but many of the problems she’s faced will sound familiar to the teenager in all of us: trouble coping with school, dealing with bullies and mean girls, and struggling with her own feelings of bitterness and inferiority. Through it all, with the help of her parents, she’s learned a few lessons. Outlined in It’s Not a Perfect World, but I’ll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me Who Are Kind of (You Know) Autistic (Skyhorse Publishing, May 2016), Jennifer’s wisdom covers a wide breadth of topics, including:

#5: There are many ways to make a difference.
#20: You won’t be perfect at everything, not even the things you do best.
#22: Down times will be bouncing up soon . . .
#23: . . . but meanwhile, try to enjoy what you have.
#44: Talk about your feelings, even when it’s hard.
#45: Learn to take jokes, even your dad’s.

It's Not a Perfect World, but I’ll Take It is an uplifting ode to being different. Told with irresistible honesty and humor, Jennifer’s fifty bite-sized stories will have teens and adults nodding in recognition and discovering new things about themselves.

It’s Not a Perfect World, but I’ll Take It: 50 Life Lessons for Teens Like Me Who Are Kind of (You Know) Autistic By Jennifer Rose

Skyhorse Publishing hardcover, also available as an ebook

On Sale: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0549-4

Price: $12.99

About the Author

Jennifer Rose is a sophomore at Drew University. She likes watching old movies with her family, listening to classic rock, deconstructing pop culture, Japanese animation, Jewish stuff, Dr. Who, and sushi. She lives in Morristown, New Jersey.


Classic Rock Band Kansas Auctions Custom Leftoverture 40th Annniversary Guitar for Autism Free Brain

Kansas-leftovertureCarry on our wayward son  there'll peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest, don't you cry no Afb more.

As I woman of a "certain age," classic rock band Kansas was a big part of my musical upbringing. I was delighted to hear from Eben Plettner that Kansas is auctioning off a guitar to benefit Autism Free Brain.

From CLASSIC ROCK REVISITED:

In conjunction with the album’s 40th Anniversary, Paul Reed Smith commissioned and donated a one of a kind Commemorative Leftoverture SE Custom 24 guitar. The Commemorative Leftoverture SE Custom 24 is a quality guitar that is decorated by the classic ‘Leftoverture’ album artwork. 

The guitar, which will be auctioned off to raise money for autism research, will be played on stage by KANSAS guitarist Richard Williams during select KANSAS concert dates in 2016.

The auction will begin on April 1 and end on April 30.  Bidding will start at $1,000, and bids can be placed here: Kansas Leftoverture Guitar Auction

For More Information on the Auction Contact Paul Schmutzler at  p_schmutzler555@comcast.net.



Growing up in Topeka, Kansas in the 1970s makes me an automatic fan of the band Kansas.  Having my grandparents, Max and Margaret Baker, live next door to Orville and Ida Williams, and their son Richard, makes me a bigger Kansas fan.  Loving their music, getting to know the guys, and ranking this band among my Top 5 favorites of all-time flat-out makes me a Kansas Rock Nerd.  While not an official Wheathead, I would like to think I have the heart and soul of one.  This band, and this music, has influenced my life in many ways… mostly positive!

When I received an email from fellow Kansas fan Paul Schmutzler telling me he was going to auction off a Paul Reed Smith Guitar with the cover of the iconic Kansas album Leftoverture on the face of it, then give all of the money raised to charity (in this case Autism Free Brain www.autismfreebrain.org), I wanted to learn more.

We are also approaching the 40th anniversary of the release of Leftoverture in October.  These two events made me think I should shoot a text to Kansas guitarist Rich Williams and see if I could get a few more details… and it is was great excuse to do an interview with him discussing that classic album.  The timing of our conversation happened to be only a day or two after Richard had fallen off stage while performing and broken his ankle.  Despite pervasive social media, and a Kansas music addiction, I had not heard about this occurrence.  So… we begin the interview with all of the gory details of this stage-dive-gone-wrong.  

Before jumping into the interview, however, here is some information on the guitar that is being auctions off for Autism Free Brain (www.autismfreebrain.org):  


Autism Action Read Autism Adulthood: Strategies and Insights for a Fulfilling LifeBy Susan Senator from Skyhorse Publishing

Autism adulthoodThroughout Autism Action Month, We're going to share books from Skyhorse Publishing.  We invite you to share this post on social media. If you'd like to run the post on your own blog or website, send an email to KimStagliano@gmail.com  and I'll send you the code to drop into compose mode.  To interview Susan please contact Ashley Vanicek at Skyhorse Publishinng, 212-643-6816 x 288.

Purchase a copy here.

Autism Adulthood: Strategies and Insights for a Fulfilling Life


"There is a huge need for books to help individuals with autism make the transition to adulthood. Autism is a wide spectrum, ranging from a brilliant Aspergers at a technology company to an adult who cannot dress himself. These individuals need very different services. Susan Senator describes successful journeys, as well as her own with her son Nat. I highly recommend Autism Adulthood for parents and teachers who are guiding individuals in the middle range within the broad autism spectrum."   Temple Grandin


San Diego Art Exhibit of Jeremy Sicile-Kira Changes the Picture Autism & Synesthesia

JeremyINNER DIMENSIONS

Artist: Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Curators: Maria Sanchez and Francisco Godinez
SPACE 4 ART | 325 15th Street San Diego CA 619.269.7230 |

Opening night Monday April 11 from 6:00 to 9:00PM
Gallery Hours: 11-4PM, Wednesday-Saturday

Exhibit Run: April 11-23, 2016

Curatorship statement

Inner Dimensions

A thought provoking body of work; subject matter varying from the extremely abstract to the subtly representational; although one thing has remained constant:  the inner dimensions that runs through it; sideral spaces expressing a revelation of feeling closely aligned with the transparencies of the color; the imagery ranging from fluidity to almost geometrical marks evoking profound emotional landscapes.

The artist is having a conversation with us, quiet, there is no need for words. My-Mom-the-Storyteller-web

Mariza Sanchez,

Artist and Curator

Artist statement:

“Truly my life justly has been given meaning by the discovery that I have synesthesia. Justly my dreams that I had been having forever were nicely given a way to see the light of day when my mom encouraged me to paint my dreams. My truly great ability is to read people’s emotions and translate them in my dreams into glorious paintings, realizing their true self. My ability to paint the colors I see in my dreams is the greatest gift I have. I frankly greatly hope my paintings inspire only the good in people.” – Jeremy Sicile-Kira

Continue reading "San Diego Art Exhibit of Jeremy Sicile-Kira Changes the Picture Autism & Synesthesia" »


The Power of One March Asks Autism Community: ARE WE THERE YET?

Road Trip
Thank you to the organizers of The Power of One March for letting us share this blog post. Please visit their site to show your power of one at the April 2nd March in Washington, DC.  Many voices with one goal - helping our loved ones with autism.

Are We There Yet?

Here we are. On the road again. All of these organizations in the autism family station wagon heading to Wally World.
Are We There Yet?

No. No we are not. And we still have a long way to go, so stop poking your brother.  If he is bothering you, look out the window and see what else you can see but do not poke back. Stay on your side. Keep your hands on your lap. When we stop for gas you can each poke each other hard once but you will have to wait until we stop. And right now, we can’t stop because we still have a long way to go.

We know it is cramped with all of these different organizations in here.  Especially since you don’t all like being in the same car, traveling down the same road not really knowing where we are going.  Everyone is yelling directions and fighting about which way to go to get there faster. Our driver would get a headache if only someone was actually driving the car.

Without one, we are weaving all over the place and it is a wonder we haven’t run into a ditch.

Are We There Yet?

Continue reading "The Power of One March Asks Autism Community: ARE WE THERE YET?" »


Puzzles Bakery in Schenectady Nails the Autism Friendly/Centric Model

Puzzles exterior Puzzles treats

By Kim Stagliano

Sometimes dreams come true. Thoughts and ideas on paper spring to life before your eyes.  For instance, I'm a big Harry Potter fan.  I can recall watching the very first movie in the theatre and marveling at how each scene turned the book into a cinematic reality before my eyes.   

Puzzles Sign CupcakesWhen I was a newlywed living in Cleveland, Ohio, I joined the Junior League and volunteered at The Children's Museum. One of their exhibits was "The Great Green Room" from the classic book, Goodnight Moon.   I had no kids of my own, but I knew the book, of course.  And when I walked into the room for the first time, I was transported into the pages. 

As my girls have aged into adulthood, I've been writing the story of their future in my mind's eye. A bakery with an autism theme has been a dream of mine - far fetched - but still, a dream.

On Friday night, I saw firsthand how that dream would look when I had the great honor of speaking at Puzzles Bakery & Cafe, Puzzles Micin Schenectady, New York, whose owner, Sara Mae Hickey is an autism sibling.  From their website:

In addition to serving delicious food, the bakery-café provides adults with developmental disabilities with an opportunity for personal growth, as well as a source of income, social interaction, and a sense of purpose.


Sara Mae has done everything right. And I mean everything. From the design of the signage, to the soothing, bright cheerful interior (with a community room) to the menu of fun, healthy and delicious foods, Puzzles would be a great bakery and cafe even without the autism theme.  But that theme is truly the icing on the cupcake.

I think the autism siblings will change the world for our kids.  They are battle tested.  Some will become advocates and warriors on behalf of their brothers and sisters.  Like Sara Mae Hickey has for her sister. 

As April approaches,Puzzles Coffee the month of "awareness", we need to promote businesses and people who personify action, support. Eating cupcakes and drinking "holy cannoli coffee" is a pretty easy way to get started. 

Thank you Sara Mae. Thank you Elaine Rambo Hickey, her Mom, and my FB friend who introduced me to her daughter's work.

Puzzles Bakery. Check it out.

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor for Age of Autism.


Things Will Only Get Better. But When?

Sister and brotherBy Cathy Jameson

I heard one of my favorite songs when I was grocery shopping on Thursday morning. Its lyrics ran through my head later that evening…

My youngest called out for me after she’d gotten herself in bed on Thursday night, “Mommy, aren’t you going to come tuck us in?”

Hesitating, I replied, “I’m sorry, honey. I can’t right now,”

“Why?” she asked.

“Ronan’s had some seizures. I can’t leave him yet,” I answered.

“Oh.”

I could tell that she was crushed. For a little kid, going to bed without a hug and a kiss can be devastating. I promised my daughter that I’d try to be there soon and added that if I wasn’t, she should go to sleep. I’d check on her later.

That didn’t go over well.

I turned my attention back to Ronan, but I heard a small voice at the doorway. “Mommy? Can you tuck us in here, in Ronan’s room?”

Offering a smile, I said, “Of course. Come here so I can give you a hug.”

She fell into my lap for a hug and kiss. Ronan’s other sister and his little brother weren’t too far behind. Eventually, Fiona, Ronan’s oldest sister also joined us. Taking turns to get a hug from me and to give Ronan a kiss goodnight, the siblings sat down on the floor next to Ronan’s bed.

CJ 3 6 3

“Mommy?” Izzy asked, “Is Ronan going to be okay?”

Trying to be positive, I answered, “I hope so, sweetie. He had a few small seizures before we said prayers, and he’s had some more since. I’m going to stay with him in case he needs me, or in case…things…get... In case things don’t go well. But don’t you worry…”

Interrupting me, Izzy said matter-of-factly, “Mom. I have to worry. He’s my brother,”

I turned away. I didn’t want her to see me cry.

Continue reading "Things Will Only Get Better. But When?" »


Unlocking Autism Presents The Power of One March a World Autism Day Event in DC:

Power of one march
This year on World Autism Day, we can all come together to say, "We love our kids. We need the world to love our kids. 5 or 25. Vaccine injured or not. Pre-verbal or loquacious.  In diapers or in college. Medicated or biomedded. Home schooled, residential schooled, public schooled, aged out of school. ABA, VBA or Son Rise. North. South. East. West. Tell DC, the world, OUR AUTISTIC CHILDREN TEENS AND ADULTS are here and we, their loved ones, VOTE, even if many of them never will. Thank you to Unlocking Autism for this event.

The Power of One March


Autism Self-Advocacy is for Everyone on the Spectrum

Yes i  can
By Michele Iallonardi

My son Jackson is 14 years old. In his 14 years, he has learned very basic communication. I want (rice) milk. I want chicken. Push me (on swing or stroller). He can use a device to say these things, but he can speak them too.  Those who know him well can usually understand. When he can’t be understood, the device helps.

Besides having autism, Jackson is medically complicated. He has had multiple surgeries, hospital stays, and medical issues. Jackson has a seizure disorder, colitis, chronic allergies, chiari malformation, low growth hormone, kidney surgery, a weakened immune system, and more. He is no stranger to medical professionals. Because he cannot effectively communicate, it is always a guessing game trying to figure out what is wrong. Usually a fever or behavior outbursts are the tip off. By the time we know what it is, it is usually pretty bad. Not knowing what is wrong with Jackson, if/when/where he is hurting, is one of the most difficult aspects of his autism. The heartbreak that comes along with knowing that my son is suffering and cannot tell me-- it can be unbearable. I am his mother,  my job is to take care of him. When I don’t know what to do I feel like I have failed him.

We have tried for many years to teach him how to articulate pain. His speech therapists, his special education teachers, my husband and I-- we have all tried countless ways to teach him to alert us when something is wrong, with little progress. It is so hard for him, as is for many individuals with autism, to express something that can be so abstract.

Yesterday, Jackson was in a great mood.  Happy, laughing, all I could ask for. When Jackson is happy, everyone is happy! It is January, and the New York weather makes it difficult to keep him occupied. He doesn’t like to be out in the cold, and so weekends are hard.  I asked him if he’d like to go for a ride in my car, just to get out for a little. He got his sneakers, and then he replied with something I wasn’t sure I understood.  I handed him my phone so that he could type it for me.  This is what he wrote:

Jax

Continue reading "Autism Self-Advocacy is for Everyone on the Spectrum" »


A Holiday Message from Taylor Hawkins: Support Age of Autism!

Event Dan Taylor
Taylor Hawkins with AofA's Dan Olmsted

Readers might recall that in September of 2013, Taylor Hawkins, rock star member

Event Julie Taylor 2
Taylor Hawkins with AofA's Julie Obradovic

of Chevy Metal and Foo Fighters generously donated a concert to Age of Autism and Generation Rescue on behalf of his nephew, who has autism.    Here's a Rolling Stone article about the concert.

...Last night's cause is particularly important for Hawkins, who volunteered to perform at the Generation Rescue benefit as a way to help his family. "My sister-in-law and my brother have a child that has autism and they just moved down here from the San Francisco area," he explained.  "I said to [my sister-in-law] a few months ago, 'You were really involved up there in the whole autism community. Now that you’re down here, if you want to get to know some of these folks, I’ll offer up Chevy Metal for anything. Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/taylor-hawkins-chevy-metal-plays-intimate-autism-benefit-in-l-a-20130929#ixzz3sk5yT5GF

Below is a very cool Thanksgiving message from Taylor and a donation request to cap off our November matching gift donations drive. Remember, your donations are now tax deductible!  Use the PayPal button on our site or send a check to Autism Age (legal name) 102 Whittier Circle, Falls Church, VA 22046. 

And a huge THANK YOU to Taylor Hawkins, and our good friend, Tara Hawkins for making all of this happen.

 


AUTISM ON THE SEAS® LAUNCHES NON-PROFIT FOUNDATION TO HELP FINANCIALLY STRAPPED SPECIAL NEEDS FAMILIES VACATION

Autism_on_the_Seas_Logo_JPEGAotS Kicks off Foundation Launch with Holiday “Fun”draiser in Partnership with Fat Brain Toys – Campaign Gives Back to Special Needs Organizations & ATOSFamilies

Autism Society of America is First Special Needs Organization to Participate in Fundraiser

SHELTON, CT (October 29, 2015)   ̶̶   Autism on the Seas (AotS), the leading travel organization catering to vacationers with autism and other developmental disabilities, announced today the launch of the company’s non-profit arm, Autism on the Seas Foundation. The foundation is designed to financially assist families wishing to vacation on an Autism on the Seas’ staff-supported cruise.

As part of the launch, AotS Foundation is partnering with Fat Brain Toys, to offer a special Holiday “Fun”draiser, which will give Special Needs organizations an opportunity to drive donations through the sale of Fat Brain Toys.  Participating organizations may be selected by anyone making a toy or game purchase, which will result in a 10% donation back to the organization and a 5% donation to AotSF on every toy sold between October 29 and December 19, 2015. Grand Prizes, including cruise vacation credits totaling $10,000 towards an Autism on the Seas cruise, will be awarded by AotSF to the top selling families by December 31, 2015.

“Since we launched our company in 2006, our mission has been to make vacation dreams come true for a large population of overlooked travelers – families with children or loved ones with special needs,” said Mike Sobbell, founder and president, of Autism on the Seas. “With the launch of our foundation and our kickoff fundraiser, we can help make dreams come true for families that want, need and deserve a vacation, but can’t manage it on their own financially.”

AotS Foundation & Fat Brain Toys Holiday “Fun”draiser
In addition to helping Special Needs organizations and advocacy groups raise money and the spirits of their members with a Holiday “Fun”draiser Contest, the AotS Foundation will earn a 5% donation on all toy sales from Fat Brain Toys that will further the Foundation’s ability to provide financial assistance to families wanting to take an Autism on the Seas staffed cruise.

Continue reading "AUTISM ON THE SEAS® LAUNCHES NON-PROFIT FOUNDATION TO HELP FINANCIALLY STRAPPED SPECIAL NEEDS FAMILIES VACATION" »


The Therapy that Unlocked the Voice of an 11 Year Old with Autism

KaterinaNote: This post needs little introduction beyond the email from a Mom who wanted to share her daughter's success with the Rapid Prompt Method with all of us. Some of you might say, "Oh that RPM is hocus pocus and the work of a guided hand." I can promise you that RPM can absolutely unlock the voice, the thoughts, the intelligence of our kids with autism because I have seen two of my own children blow my mind while working with Soma.  And while we have not had the smashing success Katerina has - and I blame only myself for that - I know that my preverbal and partially verbal daughters are bright, thoughtful and fully engaged in the world thanks to Soma. Learn more about her work at HALO.org. And thank you to Hildy and Katerina Gogal!  XOX  Kim

Dear Ms. Stagliano

I am writing on behalf of my 11 year old nonspeaking daughter, Katerina.  On November 18, Listen_to_me_by_rachellove147-d34d13d2014 we discovered a technique to unlock our daughter's voice, the method we used and are stilling using is Rapid Prompting Method (RPM). Through RPM, we discovered a brilliant girl who has been trapped inside of her body unable to communicate and/or show the world her true potential.  With RPM Katerina is finally able communicate her thoughts and show the world how intelligent she is. 

A child that was doing preschool academics (unsuccessful I might add) less then a year ago is now doing grade level academics and has expressed a strong desire to become an advocate for nonspeaking children.  Her writing is her avenue to advocate and is also therapeutic for her.  She is hurt and disappointed in the world for treating nonspeaking children as though they have no potential.  A child that was once perceived as having minimal receptive and expressive language (through AAC devices) is now a fluent writer and she has some amazing things to say!

Below is a story she wrote, please consider publishing it and help her advocate for nonspeaking individuals. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns,

Sincerely,

Hildy Gogal

The Voice by Katerina Gogal

Once upon a time there lived a girl named Katerina. She was very beautiful and so sad, no one could communicate with her because she had no speech.  Katerina's voice was trapped inside her head. She was brilliant but everyone treated her like she was stupid. Not having speech was harmful, she was perceived as not having any language, oh how wrong they all were.  Language and speech are not the same! Katerina developed such anger, so many insensitive cruel people said such horrible things about the girl in front of her, thinking she did not understand.  People who were suppose to educate the girl did not believe she had any potential.  Such a sad life the girl had and oh how lonely. Imagine a world where you have no one but yourself to connect with, how many people could survive? Katerina did.  Katerina learned to communicate her thoughts through RPM. Some people still doubted her, fools. RPM gave Katerina the strength and drive to find a voice.  She yearned to find a way to show the world how smart she was. She needed speech to show them. On Halloween night, Katerina woke up with a brilliant plan, she was going to make a magic potion that would allow all the words in her head to spill out of her mouth. She jumped out of bed, lite a candle for some light and scrambled around her bedroom frantically for her book on magic potions. Where did she last see it? Yes, under her bed! Katerina pulled out the book and turned to the drink some speech potion page.

Continue reading "The Therapy that Unlocked the Voice of an 11 Year Old with Autism" »


Age of Autism Contest! Aquaponic Growing System Supports Adults with Autism!

Appleseed ventures
"Appleseed Ventures is a parent-driven enterprise.  We employ autistic teens and young adults to assemble and package Aquaponic Waterfall Gardens.  It's a gateway to a future that works."

If you were fortunate to hear Dan Burns this weekend at the Generation Rescue Autism Education Summit, you learned about his parent-driven initiative for employment of adults on the spectrum. Called Appleseed Ventures, the product they offer is a fantastic aquaponic growing system. And Dan is generously giving a system away to a lucky AofA reader. Imagine growing fresh herbs year 'round in your kitchen!  And you can buy small fish to decorate the water with their color. 

Leave a comment to enter.  Learn more at Appleseed Ventures.


Autism Education Summit in Dallas This September!

AES banner
Save the date! September 25 - 27 in affordable, sunny Dallas, Texas. Visit the the AES site for details.  Registration is just $79!

FRIDAY 

Dad's Huddle 

Join NFL star Ryan Neufeld for a Dad's Huddle bringing fellow Warrior Dads together to kick-off an evening of hope, insight, and support for fathers of children with autism spectrum disorders. 

 

Friday Night Pub Crawl Hosted by 

 

Come meet fellow warriors, conference-goers, doctors, speakers, and exhibitors. Refresh with a drink while you connect.  Attendees will have a chance to win a front-of-the-line pass to Saturday's Celebrity Signing. 

Continue reading "Autism Education Summit in Dallas This September!" »


Meet Appleseed Ventures Cottage Industry for Autism Families

Appleseed venturesBy Dan Burns

Appleseed Ventures is a cottage industry serving ASD families.  We are beginners on this journey. Our first product is an indoor waterfall fountain for sleep.  The enterprise could become a hub leading outward to various paths such as seed pod kits (sold by subscription), “Cooking with Healthy Herbs” cookbooks and videos, blogs, retreats, seminars, a YouTube channel, and many more microenterprises beyond our ken.  We hope to model parent-created enterprises for other organizations, sharing our successes, failures, and lessons learned.  There's far more to do than we can do alone.

See our website at www.AppleseedVentures.com.  The site is under development.

Hope to see you in Dallas at the autismeducationsummit.com , where we are a featured exhibitor.





Sunday Prayers Answered, Boy Comes Home

Randy Home

Two stories were in the news yesterday with a compelling juxtaposition, but the same theme.  Autism and wandering. While a 5 year old Michael Bolden wandered away from his father during a shopping trip, found water and drowned, another family was blessed with a happy ending.

My children are creatures of habit, that's a big part of their autism. Perhaps yours are too. Randy Marney of Springfield, MO did not run away or wander or bolt, he simply stuck to his routine and boarded the weekly bus to Church.  Knowing he was A-OK, I have to say this story made me smile. I could see one of my own daughters doing this same thing.  "Bus comes?  I get on the bus!" 

The Pastor did not know his Mother was unaware he was going to Church alone. Educating those who care for, work with, teach our kids is as important as educating our kids themselves.  Next Sunday, I'm sure the Pastor will wait for Mom to wave from the doorway. Thank God Randy came home safely.   From KY3 News:

8-year-old Randy Marney apparently went to church on Sunday and didn't tell anyone. His mom, Lisa Roberts reported him missing at about 9:40 after one of her other children woke her up and said Randy was gone from their home in the 1700 block of W. Olive St. in Springfield.

VIDEO: Missing boy comes home

Continue reading "Sunday Prayers Answered, Boy Comes Home" »


Autism Awareness Month May Be Over, But Autism Education is 24/7

Marcia Hinds I Know Youre In ThereIs recovery from autism possible? Does an autism diagnosis have to mean “GAME OVER?”  With answers that will amaze you, I Know You're In There by Marcia Hinds is a story you don’t want to miss:

Ryan was a young child who was severely affected by autism.  He was in the third percentile for speech when he entered kindergarten and had to be taught how to smile.  The “experts” said Ryan would need to be institutionalized… but they were wrong! Ryan is now an engineer at a major aerospace company and none of his colleagues would ever guess that he was once diagnosed as autistic.  He is now thriving in a way no one ever imagined would be possible, and I Know You’re In There shares his incredible journey.

About the book I Know You're In There: Ryan’s parents realized something was not right with their son. They knew it before the psychiatrist predicted Ryan would end up in an institution. The autism diagnosis ripped away every dream these parents had for their child.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) now reports, “...1 in every 50 school age children has autism.” The number of children diagnosed continues to grow in epidemic proportions. Ryan was stranded on Autism Island and his family was stuck there with him.  There was no recovery from autism. There was no cure. There was no hope. Or was there?

 “Our story has a happy ending, but how many parents are still told there is no hope for their children? And how many kids will not get better as a result? My family never gave up on me because, like the title of this book, they knew I was in there. When experts told them I would never be okay and probably end up in a group home, they still didn’t give up. As a result, I was able to leave my autism label behind.” –Ryan Hinds

Continue reading "Autism Awareness Month May Be Over, But Autism Education is 24/7" »


The Remarkable Progress of Two Sisters with Autism

2015 startPlease enjoy this uplifting article from the Morris County (NJ) Daily Record to launch the new year at Age of Autism. Sisters Jenny and Flora Rose are the daughters of AofA contributing writers Dr. Jonathan Rose and Dr. Gayle DeLong.    Their posts include:

Book Review: Vaccine Nation: America's Changing Relationship with Immunization

The Amazing Spider-Man: The Animal Farm of the Autism Epidemic?

The Lesser of Two Evils: Breast Cancer and Autism

Sibling Perspective: What Autism Awareness Month Doesn’t Mean to Me

Progress and recovery are possible with hard work and yes, a bit of serendipity. We're delighted to celebrate the Rose girls' succecss.

Read the full article at the Morris County (MJ) Daily Record.

Ten years after their journey began, a Morris Township family plagued by a growing global health crisis — autism — has made remarkable progress on an unconventional path.

Jennifer Rose, 18, has improved more than her sister, Flora, 14, blossoming from a quiet child who struggled to speak and make friends to a Drew University freshman who dreams of being a writer and actor.

She's already started on a book that she hopes will inspire other kids of all abilities to overcome challenges and realize their own ambitions.

"It's called '50 Life Lessons: The Ups and Downs of Being a Teenager with Mild Autism,' " Jennifer told the Daily Record during a recent family interview. "I've written several chapters."

Her parents, Jonathan Rose and Gayle DeLong, still worry about their kids, as all parents do, but are encouraged by the progress they have witnessed since teaming with Stuart Freedenfeld of Stockton Family Practice in Hunterdon County a decade ago...


Donate to Age of Autism

Donate button(NOTE:  Thanks to many readers who have donated from $5.00 to $500, we're on our way to our matching gift goal of $5,000.   Plus your donation to Age of Autism is now TAX DEDUCTIBLE.  Please help us meet this wonderful $5,000 matching gift opportunity. Thank you.)  From our wonderful benefactor who is matching your donation:

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this holiday always provides a wonderful opportunity to take stock of the many things for which we are thankful. One of the things on my list again this year is The Age of Autism blog.  If you are reading this, there's a good chance that you, too, are very thankful for AoA, which just happens to be the leader in covering all things Autism, including its link to vaccines.

To that end, please raise your hand if:

  • You value the daily news you are privy to here on Age of Autism, every single day of the year...critically-important news that mainstream media either refuses to report on, or about which they lie.

  • You would miss tuning in to what AoA has to say every morning with your cup of coffee, and throughout the day, including the great comments from AoA readers.

  • You value having a site to which you can turn to hear from others walking a similar path as you, which can be life-and-sanity saving because others simply don't get it, or simply don't want to get it.

  • You are thankful to have avoided vaccine injury in your own children, or in yourself or loved ones, because of what you have learned from others on Age of Autism.

  • You value having access to excellent articles which you can not only read, but which you can then share via the click of a button with others who want honest, timely, and helpful information.

  • You value this site that daily strives to get the truth out there about the VACCINE-AUTISM causal connection, which is REAL, which is MANMADE, which is TRAGIC, and which must be STOPPED.

Continue reading "Donate to Age of Autism" »


Autism, A Class Ring, A Class Brother

Nick Ring
We had to share this touching story with you. Wayne Rohde, author of  the newly released book The Vaccine Court Wayne RohdeThe Vaccine Court posted this Facebook status a week or so ago:  My son Austin will be graduating from high school in 2017. Both boys should be graduating, but since Nick won't be graduating, Austin is honoring his brother in another way. Look at how Austin designed his senior ring.

You could tell Wayne (and Austin) how much you "like" that status by purchasing Waynes book...   checkout the website here.


Book Giveaway: A Shot of Hope by Autism Sibling Zack Peter

Shot of hopeFREE BOOK GIVEAWAY OF SIBLING MEMOIR, A SHOT OF HOPE BY ZACK PETER! 

“Autism shakes up your world. It has changed my life and I wasn’t even the one diagnosed with it. My brother’s name is Ethan Wolfgang, but we call him Deets. He is one of the greatest gifts my family has ever received. And one of the most challenging.”

So begins Zack Peter’s memoir of his family’s struggle to cope with his brother’s autism. And thus began Peter’s mission to ensure that his brother will one day live an independent life. He candidly describes his attempts to get his family on board with Ethan’s biomedical treatment and his fight against their reluctance. He relates how his life changes when he comes up with the idea of hosting a local fundraisers, which then throws him into the world of activism. He describes how this leads to his becoming a full-time advocate for autism. As everything in his life becomes more and more centered around “the spectrum,” Peter faces the personal struggle of being a voice for the cause while trying to maintain his own identity. Sharing the wisdom he’s learned in a voice that’s equal parts snark and heart, Peter offers a memoir that’s as funny as it is poignant, filled with no-nonsense advice and what he calls “The Hope Rules,” which are designed to help preserve sanity, dignity, and the will to stay strong.

Whether you know someone with autism or not, Zack Peter’s refreshing take on his life as a sibling and activist serves as inspiration to persevere, even when the odds seem impossibly long. It’s everything you need to help keep your head up…like the bottom of your glass.

Jenny McCarthy calls it, “Heartwarming, inspiring, and shockingly funny!” 

Win a FREE copy of A Shot of Hope, signed and personalized by Zack Peter! Leave a comment below and let us know, what is your shot of hope? 

Tweet Zack at @JustPlainZack using #ShotOfHope to double your chances at winning! 

A Shot of Hope: Real Wisdom from a Real Sibling Warrior Providing Real Hope for Autism is on sale now.

Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

Find a bookstore near you:

 

 


Remembering Avonte Oquendo: Tackling Autism Safety

Avonte memorial
On October 4, 2013, Avonte Oquendo eloped from his autism school in Queens, New York and vanished into thin air.  His remains were found in January, in the icy waters of The East River.

Avonte was just one of many children, from tots to teens, who has died as a result of his or her autism. Safety is of paramount important in our community. There are orgs trying to promote safety, encourage programs and spread the world that autism is indeed deadly - from the outside in, which is to say, every bit as deadly as some cancers.

Big red toolbox

Our friends at National Autism Association are leading the way in safety with their Big Red Safety Box program.  That program is currently "open" for families to apply for a FREE safety kit.   Kits are available on a first come, first served basis and include:

1) Our Get REDy booklet containing the following educational materials and tools:

         A caregiver checklist
         A Family Wandering Emergency Plan
         A first-responder profile form
         A wandering-prevention brochure
         A sample IEP Letter
         A Student Profile Form

2) Two (2) Door/Window Alarms with batteries

3) One (1) RoadID Personalized, Engraved Shoe ID Tag*

4) Five (5) Laminated Adhesive Stop Sign Visual Prompts for doors and windows

5) Two (2) Safety Alert Window Clings for car or home windows

6) One (1) Red Safety Alert Wristband

Click HERE to apply for a kit or to make a donation to this life saving program. Thank you.


"The Power of Words" 5 Kids Who Can't Speak Make a Movie

Listen_to_me_by_rachellove147-d34d13dBy Brooke Potthast 

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve 

As far as I am concerned every child or person with non- verbal or low verbal autism is a hero.  It’s difficult to imagine what they deal with every day. At an IACC meeting in the summer of 2013, Portia Iverson gave a presentation about this non-verbal group of the autism population.  She had a big pie chart to help the committee see how many children may not have functional speech in the US today. Unfortunately she had to make a stab at the numbers because for some reason there is no data being collected on this.  The safe estimate was 750,000 people in this country with limited expressive speech.

Well thank God for Soma Mukhopadhyay and RPM.  She created a life changing solution to the problem.  Now if we can just make it accessible to everyone who needs it and stop whatever it is that is causing the tragic loss of speech. 

Here is a short film made by my son James and four other teens about about their autism and how their life has changed since they can communicate meaningfully through Rapid Prompting Method.  It is called the “The Power of Words”.


Autism Mom Battling Cancer: Community Rallies Support

Melanie
An amazing woman by the name of Melanie Hamilton Baldwin changed the face of autism and cancer culture by telling her story to thousands as "Booty Kicker" in the Thinking Moms' Revolution's book Autism Beyond the Spectrum. Having once beaten breast and bone (hip) cancer; she now suffers liver, spine, and bone cancer in her other hip. For anyone who knows Melanie, two words come to mind. "Faithful" and "Godly." As she struggles to overcome her current issues, her severely affected son Luke, still requires 24/7 care and attention as he is self-injurious and quite ill, suffering the lingering effects of severe autism. Please consider donating generously to help her family care for Luke as she regains her health, and please help their family establish financial security that will help them thrive during her absence.

DONATE HERE NO AMOUNT TOO SMALL.


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." »


Sibling Perspective: What Autism Awareness Month Doesn’t Mean to Me

Jennifer RoseBy Jennifer Rose

Well,  we've said goodbye to another long April, aka Autism Awareness Month, which has done about as much good for autism as the Spice Girls have done for feminism. If it were more like Breast Cancer Awareness month, which actually does care about people with breast cancer and is about more than “awareness,” it wouldn’t be so bad. Autism Speaks has become notorious for trying to cure autism. But, they also want to make autism look like a “gift”. They also tell us to “Light it Up Blue”- what does that accomplish? Can you say “contradiction?”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind causes making autistic people feel good about themselves…as long as they don’t treat autism as “alternate thinking”, or worse, a “gift.” It’s only a gift if it inspires people to think outside the box and be more creative. Some famous creative minds may have been autistic (Tim Burton, Andy Warhol, Lewis Carroll) though that’s only speculation. And I found it very sweet for Jodi DiPiazza to sing with Katy Perry, and for Alexis Wineman to overcome autism to become Miss Montana that same year. (I’m also pretty envious of both girls, though Mom and Dad say that I’ll be doing so much more work with autism.)

If they were all Jodi DiPiazzas and Alexis Winemans, it would be easy. However, autism is not a Jenny  Flora Rose“one size fits all” diagnosis. There are many kids who struggle to get a word out, like my sister. However, autism coverage in the media is a lot like “missing pretty girl syndrome.” If you’re cute, pretty, and “marketable” (read: sugary sweet), you get coverage. Unfortunately, this not only leaves out kids who are severely affected, but also kids who have recovered, like me.

Last September, the mother of cheerleader Keely Pettingill announced that she had recovered, but the media didn’t report that. Her mother was pretty ticked about that, because she wanted a recovery story. She had been told that her daughter would end up in an institution, and she was like “Yeah-college!” My father said “At the next Congressional hearing in November, we have to have a panel of recovered kids.” Thanks, Dad! Too bad Congressman Issa had to cancel.

Recovered kids? Are you serious? Kids can’t “recover” from autism, don’t be silly! If it ain’t broke don’t fix it! Man, do I wish people will wake the hell up, because it is a disorder, not just a difference. If people out there stopped seeing homosexuality as a disorder, and autism as just a difference, and instead thought the other way around, we’d be living in a much better world.

I even wrote a poem last March, about “what I would do to help the world”:

If I could change anything about the world…

I would help kids.

Continue reading "Sibling Perspective: What Autism Awareness Month Doesn’t Mean to Me" »


Autism Support in Chicago: Rescue Our Angels Party & Fundraiser May 9th

Rescue our angelsGoodbye April, HELLO HOPE!

Have plans Friday, May 9th? Want to have a great time and help raise money for Generation Rescue?

Then come to the 7th Annual Rescue Our Angels event in Chicago! My husband and I are so honored to have been asked to co-host this incredible event founded by parents Michele and Peter Doyle, and we would love for you to join us! After their little girl was diagnosed with autism in 2006, the Doyle's started the Rescue Our Angels benefit to help raise money for autism families in need. Over the last six years, the event has gone from a small, intimate gathering to a star-studded extravaganza that has raised almost one half of a million dollars! Tickets are still on sale, but are going fast. Get yours today! We hope to see you there!


MomsFightingAutism.com Online Autism Conference April 26th & 27th

It's free

The Focus is on the Transition to Adulthood – Teens Need to be Better Prepared

Register FREE Here!

Irvine, CA: Moms Fighting Autism and Autism College are partnering up to offer a free virtual conference on Saturday April 26th and Sunday April 27th from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM PST. This year’s theme is: Autism from Adolescence to Adulthood, Preparing for Independence and Growth. Keynote speaker Chantal Sicile-Kira, author of five award-winning books on autism, will be speaking on Preparing for the Transition to Adulthood.  Speakers include: Brian King, author of Strategies for Building Successful Relationships with People on the Autism Spectrum, who will speak on “Building a Support Community for Interdependence and Growth;” Wendy Partridge, Executive Director of Heroes of the Game, Inc., speaking on “Work Incentives Planning and Assistance – Taking the next step on your Employment Journey”, and Marguerite Cohn, Transitions Program Supervisor of the Rebecca School in New York.

"The transition to adult life can be a rude awakening for parents as well as the young adult," said autism expert and founder of AutismCollege.com, Chantal Sicile-Kira. "The unemployment rate for adults with autism is very high, and we can do a better job of preparing them during their school years. Listening to these speakers is a great way to get empowered with the information parents need to know."

Continue reading "MomsFightingAutism.com Online Autism Conference April 26th & 27th" »


Gravity Wins: Journal Entries of Autism & the Heartache of Residential Placement

Inas
Admittance Day

By:  Inas Younis

Its takes strength to hold on, but it takes even more strength to let go.  But I am a mother and I could only do what came naturally,  and so I held on.    I held on as tight as I could without hurting him.      I held him when he tried to jump out of moving cars.  I held him when  he tried to attack the neighbors.  I held him when he tried run out into streets.   I even held him as a form of therapy known as holding therapy. And although he is now gone, I am still holding on, and I just don’t have the strength to let go.  Whoever said mothers are strong,  did not really understand the meaning of strength. 

But now the time has come.   Blinded by tears,  and  deafened by an  inner voice which keeps reminding me that mothers never give up on their children, I am going to let go.  But before I do,  I must throw myself  before a jury of my peers and ask for their forgiveness.   I know what you are thinking,  only God can forgive me.   But I don’t need forgiveness from God,  for he has been on and by my side since day one.  He was there while I screamed and cursed at the heavens for making my son autistic and epileptic.   He was there when I begged  for a miracle every day for ten years straight.  He was there for the countless sleepless nights when my son screamed in pain. He was there when my son had his first seizure.  He was there when I had my first panic attack.  He was there then, and he is here now.  I don’t need his forgiveness, for there is no sin in coping.   And I do not need forgiveness from my fellow man,  who was completely oblivious during  the beatings,  the fecal smearing,  the screaming,  the property destruction,  the insanity and horrors of my life which I hid from their  innocent eyes and ignorant hearts.    No,  what  I need  in order to let go,  is forgiveness from a jury of my peers. A jury of mothers who have  suffered some measure of the horrors I have for the last sixteen years.  For only  they can understand,  and not because they have been through it,  but because many of them  are still going through it.  They are my heroes, and after you hear my story, they will be your heroes too. 

So please allow me to plead my case ,  starting with the most obvious defense.   I tried everything!  

Was I aggressive enough with his therapy, his special diets,  his medications, you ask?  Well let me see if I can remember, because as most of us mothers with special needs children know,  we all suffer from  a bit of amnesia.  It’s  our brain’s way of dealing with trauma.  I think there is an acronym for it called  PTSD.  The world of autism is full of acronyms.  There is GFCF, SCD,  ABA,  ASD,  IDEA,  ESY,  and my all time  favorite,  WTF.   But luckily,   I kept very detailed journals, so no worries.    Of course at the time,   I kept them because I was trying to decode the mystery of  autism and in my case severe autism.  I micromanaged his every bite of food, supplements, medications, and  therapy in an effort to isolate cause and effect and determine  patterns of  behavior.  But no patterns emerged except for one;  I was going crazy.   I submit to the jury the following Journal entries. 

October 2003:   I am in autism hell,  which right now means hiding out in my bathroom while the devil has his way with my son.   According to my notes  the only thing I introduced in the last couple of days to his supplement protocol is an orange flavored fish oil.   Therefore,  no more orange flavored fish oil.  Note to self: use alternate fish oil.  To do list: email the following fish oil companies until I find the purest fish oil known to man. 

Continue reading "Gravity Wins: Journal Entries of Autism & the Heartache of Residential Placement" »


Assurance of Things Hoped for, Evidence of Things Not Seen

Sword in the stone
By Brooke Potthast

It has been almost one year since our son James had the opportunity to use the RPM method of communication with Soma Mukhopadhyay.  James is verbal but not conversational, and his speech is best described as being very “unreliable” as well as hard to understand. James has gone from almost no real communication to total communication in 6 months.

Needless to say it has changed everything for him and for us. I tell people it is bigger than marriage, childbirth or winning the lottery. It seems as though every day we learn something really big about James and his heart and mind.

When I first realized that a lot of what we thought about James was wrong, I called Dan Olmsted. Over coffee I told him, “I think mercury toxicity creates silent geniuses.” I’ve always been certain that thimerosal and my dental amalgams caused James’ regressive autism and I am now fairly certain that a huge percentage of children or young adults with autism are not intellectually disabled, not even learning disabled, but so severely sensory-motor disabled they can’t show us.

We thought James, who is 14, was around 2nd grade in his academic understanding and that was spotty. When we decided to homeschool and let him use the letter board fo spelling answers, he was able to do 9th grade work in just a few months. We thought he couldn’t add and he easily does algebra and recently asked to learn about cube roots.  I am not writing this out of pride for our son. I am telling you this because I don’t think he is the exception, I think he is the rule. In the last year I have seen this over and over again in teens and children who are in life skills classes and who educators and doctors have said are cognitively disabled. When given the opportunity to use RPM or something like it they show us that they have not just been taking it all in, but assimilating it in a typical and functional manner. One day early on our homeschool teachers gave James a vocabulary test. They gave the word “gullible” he spelled “easily fooled." Those examples are endless.

But the most remarkable thing we have learned about James and what I wanted to share in this piece is that despite having suffered in ways unimaginable he (and I think so many of his peers) has great hope for the world and for forgiveness and understanding. It is hard to even put into words what life would be like trapped in your body. Thinking and understanding just like everyone else but not being able to join in a conversation, tell a joke, verbally express love or anger or sadness. To not have friends, have education be limited; the list is long and painful.

But here is a “legend” written by James this week. When I read it my first thought was to put it on Age of Autism because I thought it summarized so much of what this community experiences and it gives us some hope. James said in another conversation that he remains hopeful and I’d like to think we all can. The background is that he is doing Medieval literature in school right now and they have read Beowulf, Sword in the Stone, etc. After discussing (on the letter board) the Sword in the Stone he was given this assignment: (his writing is in Caps)

Why was it so hard for people to believe that Arthur pulled the sword from the stone?

BECAUSE PEOPLE CANNOT BELIEVE THINGS THAT THEY DONT UNDERSTAND.

Continue reading "Assurance of Things Hoped for, Evidence of Things Not Seen" »


Boy with Autism Lets Us Into His World Via Writing

Speak outI received this letter - school paper - from a long time reader of AofA, and asked instantly if I could please share it with you our readers.  This young man uses the Rapid Prompting Method to communicate. And just listen to his thoughts.....   Rapid Prompting Method RPM empowers the learner a way to express his learning, understanding, reasoning and thoughts.

8-29-13       Narrative – High School Experience – Journal Exercise 1.8

Sam couldn’t do RPM.  He was not placing the choices in the right place.  I couldn’t touch what I wanted.  He placed the choices too far away from me.  A giant desk was between us.  I had to stretch my arm and it bothered me.  It made me tired.  My arm felt like lead. Sam also couldn’t speak.  He stuttered. 

I couldn’t show I was learning anything from Sam.  I can’t talk all the words I think and I can’t write.  I understand everything read or said to me.  It’s ironic.  I can’t talk and yet I am critical of Sam's stuttering.

All I could think about was how to hurt him.  I came up with a plan, or I had a plan, to hit him whenever I had a chance.  They had a bolster blocking me from attacking.

I sat in a lousy hard chair.  I was mad because no one knew I was smart. Stinky rotten teachers, Sam was a big black inept jerk.  The classroom had cold cinder block walls, yucky zoo classroom.  I felt I might as well be in prison.

Ellie gave a workshop on RPM.  She was wonderful.  I was sad to see her go.  She was patient and skilled.  She made me feel competent and successful.  The other teachers were patronizing.  They laughed at her as she spoke and taught.  I felt humiliated.  I just kept looking down and avoiding eye contact.

Continue reading "Boy with Autism Lets Us Into His World Via Writing" »


cloudBoard Gaming System Marries Hands-On Board and Video Games

Cloudboard-homepage
We often receive emails from companies offering products that might be of interest to the autism community. This hands-on gaming platform from Digital Dream Labs piqued our curiosity and so, we are sharing it with you.   Some of our kids might go to work for companies like Digital Dream Labs one day. As programmers -  or maybe for some of our kids, as the nice guy or gal or helps tidy up at night. Let us know what you think in the comments. And check out their KickStarter fundraising page too.

cloudBoard is a new gaming system that brings together the play patterns of real-world toys, like Lego and Lincoln Logs, and modern videogames, such as Angry Birds or Super Mario Bros. This connection of real and digital play is achieved by using toy puzzle blocks to play videogames.


Anonymous Donor to Match Your Gift to Age of Autism

Money-kid
EXCITING OPPORTUNITY this Thanksgiving to show your thanks and appreciation for how the "Age of Autism" blog has helped, educated, and encouraged you and countless others! 
 
DONATE BY MIDNIGHT ON THANKSGIVING DAY (11-28-13), and your donation will be DOUBLED!! *(Donations will be matched up to $3,000.)

Dear Fellow Age of Autism Readers,

After reading Dan Olmsted's Age of Autism anniversary article on Saturday, I felt moved to do something to make sure that this excellent daily blog continues…until the actual "age of autism" comes to an end and this tragic chapter in human history is finally put to rest.
 
To that end, I will match incoming donations to AoA through midnight on 11-28-13, up to the amount of $3,000. That means that Age of Autism could receive $6,000 in just a little over a week…hopefully more if everybody who is able makes a donation of thanksgiving and appreciation!
 
Your $20 becomes $40! Your $50 becomes $100! Your $250 becomes $500!  

All you need to do is click on the "Donate" button in the top-right corner of AoA, which takes you Donate_thanks directly to PayPal, and make your donation today!  If you prefer to send a check, send an email to KimStagliano@gmail.com for the mailing address.

Don't put it off until tomorrow.  Bite the bullet and do it now!  Let's shoot for the stars and raise more than $6,000, and keep AoA going strong!
 
Sincerely,
 

A Thankful and Appreciative Age of Autism Reader


There’s Always a Light at the End of Each Tunnel

Darkness_to_light_1600x1200By Zack Peter

I think we can all agree, the road to recovery isn’t an easy one. You don’t just pick up a book, try out one treatment approach, and wham RECOVERY! Things just aren’t that easy. Sure it may suck, but that’s just life. It’s a journey. And milestones aren’t handed, they’re earned.

When it comes to my family, and my brother Ethan (who was diagnosed about eight years ago), it’s the same thing. We’re in the same boat. We’re living out our own journey, that has also come with it’s highs and lows. But today, I’m proud to share that we’ve reached some progress. My trust in the “All roads lead to Rome” rule is slowly starting to paying off.

Just the other day I was out with Mom and Ethan for our weekly Thursday night dinner when Mom told me, “So everyone’s slowly starting to get on board with GFCF diet.”

Flabbergasted, I turned her and said, “Wha-a-at?” I could not believe it. I remember our very first attempt at the diet. My grandparents were against it. Flat out just unsupportive of it. Just a couple of months ago I tired again getting through to my grandfather the importance of diet intervention with autism. It didn’t seem to be that important. They saw “diet” as “restriction.” They didn’t believe Ethan should be restricted in any way. This is an on going struggle that’s been happening for YEARS. So to hear these words coming out of my mother’s mouth were so heavenly. It may seem so minor to have a couple of other family members on board, but to us, that’s huge! These are family members that had gluten with extra gluten and a side of gluten in their house. And when Ethan would come over after school, if he happened to grab a slice of cheese or some cookies, they would turn the other cheek. Or simply claim to not know what foods had gluten or dairy. Or would argue with my mother that the diet had no effect whatsoever; that it was pointless. So hearing that they’re now coming around was so gratifying and the best news I could have received right now.

Continue reading "There’s Always a Light at the End of Each Tunnel " »


Another Winner! Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope from Skyhorse Publishing

Finding Lina 9781620875957Congrats Maria Bucchino, our 3rd winner. I've sent you a a second email from KRStagliano.  We have four books to give away and will have another winner tomorrow and Friday. You can leave a comment on this post to enter!

 Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope, is a memoir that AofA readers will relate to from the opening pages to the loving and upbeat afterword.   It's a story of challenges, seeking answers, how a family copes and evolves (not always in a fairytale fashion) and most of all - love. 

Lina's Dad is Skyhorse Publisher Tony Lyons. This is important for a few reasons. His life and love for Lina spurred him to create a home for autism books within the Skyhorse Parenting category  that might otherwise never see the light of day from traditional publishing.  That's so important to our community.   Books like Callous Disregard from Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism by Ken Siri and Tony Lyons and All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano.

Lina was a precocious toddler—charming, chatty, joyful. At the age of three, in the aftermath of her second MMR vaccine, first came a seizure, and then, to her parents’ horror, the loss of Lina’s ability to play, use language, and control her impulses. Over the next few years they continued to lose Lina. She communicated her acute discomfort by biting, screaming, hitting, laughing maniacally, and throwing violent tantrums. As a single mother, with the help of her ex-husband, Helena Hjalmarsson tirelessly pursued every possible avenue to find a diagnosis, and more importantly a treatment, for her daughter, and the search continues to this day. Lina is nine.

Continue reading "Another Winner! Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope from Skyhorse Publishing" »


Second Winner! Finding Lina from Skyhorse Publishing

Finding Lina 9781620875957Congrats GAYLE our 2nd winner. I've sent you an email from KRStagliano.  We have four books to give away and will have another winner tomorrow and Friday. You can leave a comment on this post to enter!

 Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope, is a memoir that AofA readers will relate to from the opening pages to the loving and upbeat afterword.   It's a story of challenges, seeking answers, how a family copes and evolves (not always in a fairytale fashion) and most of all - love. 

Lina's Dad is Skyhorse Publisher Tony Lyons. This is important for a few reasons. His life and love for Lina spurred him to create a home for autism books within the Skyhorse Parenting category  that might otherwise never see the light of day from traditional publishing.  That's so important to our community.   Books like Callous Disregard from Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism by Ken Siri and Tony Lyons and All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano.

Lina was a precocious toddler—charming, chatty, joyful. At the age of three, in the aftermath of her second MMR vaccine, first came a seizure, and then, to her parents’ horror, the loss of Lina’s ability to play, use language, and control her impulses. Over the next few years they continued to lose Lina. She communicated her acute discomfort by biting, screaming, hitting, laughing maniacally, and throwing violent tantrums. As a single mother, with the help of her ex-husband, Helena Hjalmarsson tirelessly pursued every possible avenue to find a diagnosis, and more importantly a treatment, for her daughter, and the search continues to this day. Lina is nine.

Continue reading "Second Winner! Finding Lina from Skyhorse Publishing" »


Winner! Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope: By Helena Hjalmarsson

Finding Lina 9781620875957Congrats Lisa Kelly -  our first winner. We have four books to give away and will have another winner tomorrow, Wed and Thursday. You can leave a comment on this post to enter!

 Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope, is a memoir that AofA readers will relate to from the opening pages to the loving and upbeat afterword.   It's a story of challenges, seeking answers, how a family copes and evolves (not always in a fairytale fashion) and most of all - love. 

Lina's Dad is Skyhorse Publisher Tony Lyons. This is important for a few reasons. His life and love for Lina spurred him to create a home for autism books within the Skyhorse Parenting category  that might otherwise never see the light of day from traditional publishing.  That's so important to our community.   Books like Callous Disregard from Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism by Ken Siri and Tony Lyons and All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano.

Lina was a precocious toddler—charming, chatty, joyful. At the age of three, in the aftermath of her second MMR vaccine, first came a seizure, and then, to her parents’ horror, the loss of Lina’s ability to play, use language, and control her impulses. Over the next few years they continued to lose Lina. She communicated her acute discomfort by biting, screaming, hitting, laughing maniacally, and throwing violent tantrums. As a single mother, with the help of her ex-husband, Helena Hjalmarsson tirelessly pursued every possible avenue to find a diagnosis, and more importantly a treatment, for her daughter, and the search continues to this day. Lina is nine.

Continue reading "Winner! Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope: By Helena Hjalmarsson" »


Cheering for Autism Recovery! Give Me an A! Give Me an R! Give Me an I!

Friends, grab a pom pom to wipe your eyes when you read this wonderful story of autism recovery success, and pride. Keely's Mom is Kendra Pettengill, a long time autism advocate who credits ARI along with school staff and good friends with Keely's outstanding success.  But it's Keely herself whose words ring truest, "Impressive!"   Congratulations to the family. Keep the hope!



GLIDE, Ore. -- Last week, the Glide Wildcats had their first home game of the season. At that game, there was one cheerleader who was cheering for a lot more than football.


Kendra Pettengill's daughter Keely is on the cheer leading team, but there was a time when she wasn't sure it was best for her daughter. "I was thinking this was the last thing she needs, is to be on a cheer squad," Kendra said.

But, Keely made the varsity cheer squad for her sophomore year.

She's not like most cheerleaders: she's autistic.

Shelby Mehlhoff, a Glide senior, talked about Keely's work ethic. "She comes out and gives it her all everyday," she said.

Sidney Fucciolo, a junior, agrees. "She's came a long way. You can tell she's matured and growing into a woman and getting out of that girl stage," she said.

Continue reading "Cheering for Autism Recovery! Give Me an A! Give Me an R! Give Me an I!" »


AIM Academy Presents Adult Autism Living Weekend for Investors, Stakeholders

AustinManaging Editor's Note: We realize our readers will not be able to attend this event as a rule. However, as our kids age and we start planning for their futures, I can promise you that the Austin Texas model below should be required reading for all.  Thank you to our Contributing Editor Dan Burns, himself father to an adult son with autism, for his tireless work in the brave new frontier - aptly leading the way in Texas.


Overview and purpose

Appleseed Ventures and AIM Academy are hosting a get-together in Bastrop, near Austin Texas, on the weekend of Sept. 20-22 for autism families, real estate developers, and financiers, and autism advocates. The purpose is to cultivate a network of resources for parents who seek to create living, working, playing, and healing communities for their adult children on the ASD (autism) spectrum, and to exchange ideas for a pilot community of ASD adults that is self-originating and self-sustaining.

Agenda and Program

The get-together will run from 5:00 PM Friday, September 20 through until 12:00 noon Sunday, September 22. We’ll gather Friday at 5:00 PM around the pool at Quality Inn in Bastrop, caravan to the historic district, take a walking tour of this Victorian frontier city, and reconnoiter for hand-crafted ale at the Bastrop Brewhouse. Dinner is at the Brewhouse Restaurant, at Anita’s, or at your choice of one of the dozen top-ranked restaurants in old downtown Bastrop.

Saturday morning at 8:00 we’ll convoy to McKinney Roughs Nature Preserve for a hike through Lost Pine trails famous for scenic views of the Colorado River.

At 10:00 on Saturday we’ll settle in for the centerpiece of the weekend: our Bridge to the Future Roundtable hosted by AIM Academy and Appleseed Ventures. This is an open, audience-participation event. If you can’t come to anything else, come to this! Our featured guest presenters, Diane Belnavis (Juniper Hill Farms) and Cathy Boyle (Autism Housing Pathways), whose work has been featured in Age of Autism, are journeying from Pennsylvania and Boston to share their experiences/successes in housing and employment for our adult children. Diane, Cathy, and other presenters will help develop templates for creating similar success stories in Texas and beyond.

After lunch on Saturday we’ll open our Think Tank: opportunities for discussion and networking in comfortable air-conditioned surroundings at the Special Events Science Center McKinney Roughs Nature Preserve. Bring your ideas and questions for transition, housing, and jobs! Bastrop 3

At 3:00 PM we'll have tubing outfitted courtesy of the Bastrop River Company. Bring swimsuits.  Tubes and lifejackets provided free.

Join us at 6:00 PM for Saturday night dinner at the Bastrop Brewhouse Restaurant, overlooking a scenic bend in the Colorado River and featuring live music and local cuisine. Bring your own instrument or purchase an inexpensive kazoo from LarryLand Music next door and join “Pickin’ on the Porch” (anybody can play) at the Brewhouse for a good time.

Sunday? An optional tour of possible properties in Travis, Bastrop, and Lee counties for establishing a safe, supportive community for our adult children with autism.

Continue reading "AIM Academy Presents Adult Autism Living Weekend for Investors, Stakeholders" »


Join Jacqueline & Chris Laurita at the National Autism Association VaConference

Nac banner

Summer has ended and it's time to launch into Fall (insert HUGE cheer here.)  That means it's time to start planning your vaconference with National Autism Association. If vaconference isn't a word, it should be, because that's what NAA has created for attendees.

Held each November at the family owned Trade Winds Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida, the NAC is the perfect mix of beach vacation for you and your child(ren) and chock a block informative autism conference.   The cost is only $150 and scholarships are available.

Learn more and register HERE.


Join us in beautiful St. Pete Beach for this family-friendly event featuring the country's leading experts on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

NAC cabana chairs

TradeWinds Island Resorts are two resorts, just steps away from one another on the white sands of St. Pete Beach, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. With 14 dining and entertainment options, 7 pools, full service salon and spa, activities center for the kids and more, TradeWinds is the perfect location for a relaxing and fun getaway.


In November of 2010, TradeWinds Island Resorts was designated an Autism Friendly business by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (C.A.R.D.). TradeWinds employees underwent C.A.R.D.’s training program, which taught employees how to better meet the needs of guests who have autism and their families. Employees who have been through the training are easily identified by the puzzle piece pin on their nametags.

At TradeWinds, you can rest assured that they will take all your needs into consideration so you can “just let go”.

During your visit you can request a “Safety Kit” available for your room, which includes a hanging door alarm, corner cushions for tables and outlet covers.

For those with special diets, they have gluten free offerings available in our dining outlets. As a special treat they also have our Snack Attack amenity available, which includes a TradeWinds lunch bag and gluten free snacks.

For children, the KONK (Kids Only No Kidding) has special sensory activities available as well as selected drop-off programs for kids. Please call KONK at 727-363-2294 in advance to speak with a counselor about your child’s needs and so they can staff appropriately.

Call 800-808-9834 today to speak to one of their friendly reservation agents about how they can best accommodate you and your family during your stay.

Review and print the TradeWinds Social Stories Book to fully anticipate the resort’s offerings before your visit.

Contest! Finding Lina by Helena Hjalmarsson: A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope

Finding Lina 9781620875957We have a new book from Skyhorse Publishing for our readers. Leave a comment to enter the contest.

Called, Finding Lina A Mother's Journey from Autism to Hope, the book is a memoir that AofA readers will relate to from the opening pages to the loving and upbeat afterword.   It's a story of challenges, seeking answers, how a family copes and evolves (not always in a fairytale fashion) and most of all - love. 

Lina's Dad is Skyhorse Publisher Tony Lyons. This is important for a few reasons. His life and love for Lina spurred him to create a home for autism books within the Skyhorse Parenting category  that might otherwise never see the light of day from traditional publishing.  That's so important to our community.   Books like Callous Disregard from Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism by Ken Siri and Tony Lyons and All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa by Kim Stagliano.

Lina was a precocious toddler—charming, chatty, joyful. At the age of three, in the aftermath of her second MMR vaccine, first came a seizure, and then, to her parents’ horror, the loss of Lina’s ability to play, use language, and control her impulses. Over the next few years they continued to lose Lina. She communicated her acute discomfort by biting, screaming, hitting, laughing maniacally, and throwing violent tantrums. As a single mother, with the help of her ex-husband, Helena Hjalmarsson tirelessly pursued every possible avenue to find a diagnosis, and more importantly a treatment, for her daughter, and the search continues to this day. Lina is nine.

Special schools, restrictive diets, sensory stimulation, relationship-based therapy, gastrointestinal links, homeopathy, and allergy treatment are all explored in detail. Hjalmarsson finds out what helps Lina and what doesn’t. She introduces sign language to Lina. She engages in lengthy daily intensive one-on-one sessions. With the help of her ex, angelic babysitters, Lina’s exceptionally empathetic younger sister, and supportive friends, Hjalmarsson manages to create a meaningful life for Lina, and for herself—a life of love and transcendence.

Lina, for all her challenges, has much to teach, and Hjalmarsson is a receptive student: finding joy in moments of connection, learning to live in the present, taking nothing for granted, accepting what others find unbearable, and finding a strength and spiritual base for inspiration and healing.

Unflinchingly honest and courageous, Finding Lina will open the eyes and hearts and minds of all parents, whether they have a child with autism or not.

Please leave a comment to enter the contest to win a copy.

Support Aof A and James Frye - Artist with Autism

James FryeIn 2011 we introduced readers to James Frye, then a 16 year old artist.

Imagine our pleasure when  we learned that James and his family wanted to donate part of the proceeds from the sale of  original ceramic art to Age of Autism as a way of thanking us for pur continued work on behalf of the autism community. My girls have an original James Frye work of art in their bedroom. I admire it every time I walk into their room - and am reminded that all of our children have talents and marketable skills to celebrate.

From the artist:  James Frye is  a 19 year old with autism from Spokane, Washington. He finds working with ceramics relaxing and soothing and has made this ceramic tennis shoe in support of The Autism Trust and Age of Autism.

You can purchase his art at Autism Trust USA.

Frye art
Pieces available for sale to support AofA.


James Frye pottery
The artist at work.