Here's a review of my book from The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mia and Bella were born in Cleveland, we lived there twice over the course of ten years. Much of my book takes place there. The reivew is quite positive, despite a misrepresentation of me as staunchly anti-vaccination, which I explain clearly in the book why I am no such thing. If you have a chance to leave a comment at the PD please do. You can purchase the book HERE.
Kim Stagliano makes laughter a salve for autism in 'All I Can Handle'
Kim Stagliano's first daughter, Mia, was 2 in 1997 when a family member had to point out the obvious: The little girl, barely verbal and oblivious to other children, had autism.
Her sister, Gianna, only 19 months old, was defiant and hyperactive. She did not speak. Gianna and Mia were diagnosed at the same time. And then the unthinkable. Bella, an unplanned baby born in 2000, received the family's third autism diagnosis.
Autism affects about one in 110 children in the United States. The Staglianos' triple dose of misfortune is all the more remarkable considering that the disorder is four times more common in boys.
What, you may ask, could possibly be funny about their lives? Just about everything, answers Stagliano, if you want to survive, stay married and not kill anyone along the way.
"All I Can Handle" chronicles the family's battles with the medical community (Stagliano is staunchly anti-vaccination), financial woes (the family's name was on a paper mitten on the church's giving tree two years in a row) and small victories as the girls age (the night when Bella finally waved back after Mom tucked her in ).
And some of it is laugh-out-loud funny.
Stagliano and her husband, Mark, raised the girls for five years in Hudson. The author, managing editor of the anti-vaccine blog Age of Autism, invented some vocabulary along the way:
"Stagtastrophe" is most memorably applied to her husband's second and third job losses and two house floods. And "crapisode," a term coined to describe her daughters' well-meaning attempts to change themselves, became an entry in the Urban Dictionary after Stagliano blogged on the topic for the Huffington Post in 2007.
For all the humor, Stagliano is determined to give an unvarnished look at "the dirty, smelly, poopy, angry, screaming, fear-inducing side of autism" that many shy from.
She fesses up to shutting herself in the bedroom while she gets herself under control, locking one daughter in the minivan to scream out a fit and sobbing in the shower after cleaning up a particularly bad "crapisode."
Much of the memoir (or "Kimoir," the only cringe-worthy neologism) is devoted to Stagliano's beliefs that vaccines like MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) can cause autism in susceptible children. Others argue that the best, most recent research finds zero causality.
Stagliano simply doesn't care. Her job is to use her admittedly loud voice to call attention to her daughters' plight.
"I don't ever want to be a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting in a white bowl of obscurity," she writes. "I'm going to ask Why, What, How, and Who until my voice is raspy and my fingertips bloodied from pounding the keyboard."
Brie Zeltner is a reporter who covers health for The Plain Dealer.