By Kim Stagliano
I'm sitting on a bed in a hotel room in St. Pete, at the National Autism Association conference on a sunny, clear Florida day. On Thursday night I had a book event at the NAA NY chapter, followed by dinner with my agent and husband. Across the room sat Bob McGrath from Sesame Street! I got to meet him and tell him how much the show has meant to my family. Mia's first word was GROVER and she still loves Sesame Street, at 15. Yesterday morning I met the Doobie Brothers in the Green room at WFLA in Tampa, where I taped an appearance for a program called DAYTIME. THE DOOBIE BROTHERS! They gave us tickets to their show in Bridgeport! Last night I shared laughter and camaraderie with over 50 autism Moms and Dads at my book launch party called "Drink Pink" (my my that pink rum punch bowl emptied out fast!) I enjoyed a lovely dinner with Dan Olmsted, and we both chuckled as the well trained (think Seaworld)) waiter said, "Good night, Mr. and Mrs. Olmsted," as we left. I told Dan I should not have nibbled on his ear after that tall Chivas and soda... At 10:30 this morning I have a book signing. And then Mark Blaxill and Dan and I will meet to discuss Age of Autism business over drinks and good food. I've seen so many friends, Michele Pierce Burns, Teri Arrranga, Polly Tommey, got that coveted hug from Dr. Wakefield (OK Kim, let go now) and saw so many AofA readers, and fans, and the amazing women of NAA. My book is being well received everywhere. I have a charmed life, don't I?
I WISH NONE OF IT HAD EVER HAPPENED.
The last three pages of my book are deadly serious. I bring up the horrible situation where our Bella was abused on the school bus. Fox News CT has taken on the story - the video is above.
I really do have a great life - I'm clear about that in my book. My family is gorgeous, I have a Father Warrior husband I adore and a career I'd never imagined. I still keep hoping one day I'll wake up and it was all a dream. I'll be planning Mia's sweet sixteen with a kick-ass bright yellow Camaro for her December birthday instead of a party at Bounce U, a jumping castle joint. Gianna will be at a sleep over with her BFF. Bella will have to race off to a swim meet.
Yes, autism for OUR COMMUNITY is about hope, healing - but it hurts. It really, really hurts. The parents, the family and most of all - please - most of all - the kids.
Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. Her book from Skyhorse Publishing, All I Can Handle I'm No Mother Teresa; A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism is available now. Visit her website at Kim Stagliano.