Managing Editor's Note: Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed the book so kindly. If you would like me to send you a signed bookplate you can pop into your copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with "bookplate in the subject line." Let me know if you need an extra for a gift - shameless hint. If you could leave a review at AMAZON HERE that would be really helpful too. Tell your friends and family about the book - I think, hope and pray it might just make a wee difference for our kids and our families too. I promise, you won't need a Prozac to read it! My website is Kim Stagliano with events and an excerpt.
By Anne Dachel
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Teresa, by Kim Stagliano. I’ve been in constant touch with Kim for several years via the Internet. She does an incredible job with our website, Age of Autism. Mostly I was curious. I wanted to know the details about her life raising three daughters with autism.
I have a struggle when it comes to parents whose children have severe autism. My 24 year old son John has Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s a diagnosed savant, is very gifted on the computer, and drives a car. He and his friend Robert have driven to Chicago to go to rock concerts and to Minneapolis to pick people up at the airport. He’s been all over the country with me. I depend on him a lot. There’s little he has in common with children who can’t talk or who are still diapers as teenagers. It leaves me with a big feeling of guilt when I think about how much misery I’ve been spared. And I hate to think about what my son might have been turned into if he’d gotten the full vaccine mercury load that kids born in the 1990s got---kids like Kim’s daughters.
Kim’s narrative is easy to read. A lot of it reminds me of a piece by Jean Kerr or Erma Bombeck. But hers is real life.
When I got the book, I wrote to Kim and said that I was reading until 3 am the first night I had the book and I laid awake until 5 am thinking about what I’d read. (I did however get those two important hours of sleep just before my alarm went off at 7 am.)
Kim and her husband Mark are each Italian and Irish. I think this combination made her the gutsy writer that she is. She has more fun with similes and metaphors than anyone could possibly imagine. Her sense of humor turns her story from a tragedy into something enjoyable to read.
There were places in the book where I just had to laugh out loud and the places where I wanted to cry. It made me think about my great hero Abraham Lincoln. Being President during the worst carnage in our history didn’t dim his wit. He always loved to tell jokes. To those who disapproved of his lightheartedness in the midst of the Civil War he once said, “Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die. And you need this medicine as much as I do.”
Maybe it’s this way with Kim. If she couldn’t see the ridiculous in her struggle, she wouldn’t be able to go on. Her story is not a tragedy. It’s a heroic tale of parents living with the impossible and surviving. While Kim recounts the descent into autism that she witnessed after mercury-containing vaccines took their toll, hers is not the story of a vendetta against a clueless medical community oblivious to the destruction happening all around us.
All I Can Handle is an account of what it’s like living with autism---times three. I’d call it a MUST READ. I feel better about what I went through with my son and his doctors and the school system after reading it. It brought back endless memories and makes me feel real solidarity with all the parents who understand exactly where Kim is coming from. “This medicine,” as Abe Lincoln said, is what we all need.
When Kim and Mark were wed, they planned for the perfect marriage. No one could have foreseen what lay ahead for them. They had three darling daughters, Mia, Gianna, and Bella---all eventually diagnosed with autism. There are pictures in the book and the girls look gorgeous. (And I’m not just saying that to be nice.) Anyone glancing at their childhood photos can see that they’re on their way to becoming classic Mediterranean beauties. And this is the hardest thing about this story. These girls were never meant to be disabled as they are. Their potential, developmentally and intellectually, was taken away from them as it was from hundreds of thousands of victims of autism.
Kim’s story of financial setbacks and autism landmines took her to many places she never could have imagined. Through her work, she’s touched the lives of thousands of people she never dreamed she’d ever be in contact with--were it not for autism.
Kim’s been given a mission that she wasn’t expecting. She doesn’t think she’s a Mother Teresa and neither do I. But I’m quite sure she’s something like a Joan of Arc--an ordinary woman facing an impossible task—in her case, A Warrior Mom.
Kim writes at the end of the book, “I know that I am not living in some sort of dress rehearsal. It’s showtime every morning I wake up. Some days I’m living in a comedy, others a tragedy, and once in a blue moon, a romance. I just can’t think of myself on ‘hold’ until some sweeping change affects me.”
I think this is the essence of Kim’s story. Regardless of what life has flung at her, she’s never given up.
Friedrich Nietzsche described folks like Kim when he said, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
She’s able to write, “I love my life. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t change the autism part for the girls. If I had a magic wand I’d wipe the autism right out of their lives like peeling off the skin of an orange. I know there is sweet fruit hidden under the bitter pith and the rough skin.
“Sometimes I have to fight the pain of going down the ‘what if …’ path. If I start thinking about all the losses the kids experience---and Mark and me too—my breathing gets too shallow to be healthy. My heart beats too fast. I have to remind myself: This is my turn.”
Kim worries about what the future will be like for her daughters but she ends the book with her testimony of faith: “I’m learning to trust in God that I’ll find the right answers because God has answered many of my prayers.
“This is my turn.
“I’m not going to waste it.”
Anne Dachel is Media Editor for Age of Autism. She was not paid a large amount of cash for this review. ;)