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Shonda Schilling Featured Speaker at Autism One's Dinner Dance

Schilling At the Autism One/Generation Rescue 2010 Conference
May 24-30, 2010
Chicago, Illinois

You Deserve It! Dinner and Dance Featured Speaker

Shonda Schilling, author of The Best Kind of Different:Our Family's Journey with Asperger's Syndrome

In The Best Kind of Different, Shonda Schilling, the wife of Major League Baseball All Star, former Boston Red Sox, and World Series championship pitcher Curt Schilling, shares the story of their son’s Asperger’s Syndrome, how it changed their lives, and what other parents can learn about this increasingly common diagnosis. Candid and compelling, The Best Kind of Different traces their family’s struggle with Asperger’s, following Curt and Shonda as they come to understand their son’s differences and in the process relearn everything they thought they knew about parenting.

Until the summer of 2007, the word Asperger's, was not a part of Shonda Schilling's vocabulary, but that summer changed everything. By then, her household was in chaos as her son Grant spiraled out of control. His acting out and refusal to listen had grown to epic proportions, but even worse was his apparent inability to relate to the people around him. None of the Schillings' other three kids ever acted like Grant; his behavior wasn't just unruly, it was irrational.

Complicating matters was the fact that Shonda's husband, Curt, was constantly on the road pitching for the Boston Red Sox, so he wasn't always around to see Grant's behavior firsthand. Seemingly everyone Shonda encountered had an opinion—"he's too spoiled," "he needs a good spanking," "he needs more discipline"—but it was a disastrous first attempt at summer camp that told Shonda something was definitely wrong. It was then that a neurologist diagnosed Grant with Asperger's syndrome—a form of high-functioning autism that, in recent years, has been found in children who at first glance appear disruptive and difficult.

Now in The Best Kind of Different, Shonda details every step of her family's journey with Asperger's, offering a parent's perspective on this complicated and increasingly common condition. Looking back on Grant's early years, she describes the signals she missed in his behavior and confronts the guilt that engulfed her after she came to understand just how misguided her parenting had been before the diagnosis. In addition, she talks about the harsh judgment she's faced from people who don't buy into the diagnosis and how she's used passion and information to fight the ignorance of others.

Celebrating Grant's successes and learning from his setbacks, Shonda demonstrates how Asperger's forced her and her husband to reconsider everything they thought they knew about their son and each other, but in the end, it has made their marriage and their family stronger and happier. A tribute to Grant's strength and a candid glimpse into a family coming to terms with its differences, The Best Kind of Different is an intimate portrait of two parents struggling to understand the complex beauty of their son.

Please visit Harper Collins Books to learn more.

Shonda Schilling and her husband, Curt, have been married for 17 years. Shonda is a survivor of melanoma, an experience that led her to create the Shade Foundation of America. Curt is a former All-Star pitcher who has won three World Series titles with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Boston Red Sox. He is also the founder of the video game development company, 38 Studios. Shonda and Curt are also spokespeople for the ALS Association, raising millions of dollars and significant awareness for Lou Gehrig's disease. They live with their four children, Gehrig, Gabriella, Grant, and Garrison, in Medfield, Massachusetts.



I live in the same town as the Schillings and my son also "asperger like symptoms" - the neurologist won't diagnose him yet, since he seems to have more "empathy" than most kids with Asperger's. We've known since he was 2 weeks old that something "wasn't right". I'm glad to see someone in Medfield is getting help from the schools, because it sure isn't us.
As for the theaory it is pesticides - could be in the "green lawn" community most of the town is soaked knee deep in pesticides to keep that "chem-lawn" look. Ironically, my other child who was born in the city has no issues whatsoever.

Kevin Barry

Shonda and Curt Shilling have done very admirable work in raising funds for ALS research.

ALS and autism spectrum disorders may have significant areas of research overlap regarding heavy metal neurotoxins.

"Given that only about 10% of all ALS diagnosis have a genetic basis, a gene–environmental interaction provides a plausible explanation for the other 90% of cases." Sound familiar?

The role of environmental mercury, lead and pesticide exposure in development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (2009)


Exposure to an environmental toxicant as a risk factor in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was first hinted at (demonstrated) in the Chamorro indigenous people of Guam. During the 1950s and 1960s these indigenous people presented an extremely high incidence of ALS which was presumed to be associated with the consumption of flying fox and cycad seeds. No other strong association between ALS and environmental toxicants has since been reported, although circumstantial epidemiological evidence has implicated exposure to heavy metals such as lead and mercury, industrial solvents and pesticides especially organophosphates and certain occupations such as playing professional soccer. Given that only about 10% of all ALS diagnosis have a genetic basis, a gene–environmental interaction provides a plausible explanation for the other 90% of cases. This mini-review provides an overview of our current knowledge of environmental etiologies of ALS with emphasis on the effects of mercury, lead and pesticides as potential risk factors in developing ALS. Epidemiologic and experimental evidence from animal models investigating the possible association between exposure to environmental toxicant and ALS disease has proven inconclusive. Nonetheless, there are indications that there may be causal links, and a need for more research.


I'm from the Boston area and I thought the Schillings were a nice family who had everything. I has no idea the turmoil they were going through with their son. It shows that autism knows no boundaries. I want to thank the Schillings for "coming out" with their story and for helping to raise awareness of how this condition effects families from all walks of life. I hope people unaffected will read the Schillings story and educate themselves about autism and the everyday challenges our kids and families face.

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