Telling a Child He Has Autism

Tuesday night was a big TV night for many of us who have children with autism. NBC’s Parenthood, which has tackled the topic of autism spectrum disorders since one of its characters, Max, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome back in season one, did a great job creating anticipation with promos for the episode where Adam and Christina Braverman would finally tell their son about his diagnosis. (I was personally equally interested in seeing Crosby get his rump kicked after cheating on fiance Jasmine.)

Before discussing how some reveal the news to a child, I have to make a couple of quick points about the show itself. Not to be a critic but it was a little surprising to us that Max’s character hadn’t before now figured out, at the very least, what autism is… at most, that he, in fact, has it.  Consider this: Continue reading


Jerry Brown’s Special Needs Plan?

Considering I’m not even an expert with balancing a checkbook, I wouldn’t even pretend to understand how state and national budgets work.

However, I find this interesting. According to the 2012 Fiscal Year Federal Budget, President Obama proposes to make enormous increases in funding programs for the disabled. Calling it “Winning the Future for People with Disabilities,” the budget (which you can read here) will:
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CA to Cut Special Needs Services? Part 2

After writing about California Governor Jerry Brown’s budget cuts that could completely destroy services provided through regional centers throughout the state, I was taken to task — accused of putting children with autism above adults and other potentially-debilitating disabilities.

To that, I say that my post had nothing to do with disability as a whole. In fact, I agree that those who qualify should receive assistance when their disability prevents them from being able to function enough to provide for or care for themselves and/or their families. But I am only one person and a war cannot be won by fighting every battle at the same time. Considering what’s on the table to be cut, this battle is urgent and I will not apologize for standing on the front lines for my family and other families on a similar journey. Here are some  important facts to consider…
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Stop California Budget Cuts from Hurting Our Children

It wasn’t too long ago that I began to openly blog about our family’s autism. In my post, The Autism Secret, I wrote about how we first came to experience the disorder and how early intervention was the most significant step we’ve taken on our journey so far. I don’t even have words for what our entire family has gained from the critical resources we’ve received through the North LA Country Regional Center; a private, non-profit organization providing services and support to persons with developmental disabilities and their families.

From 20 months until he turned three, Jacob attended weekly speech and occupational therapy, along with a parent/child social group. We had no idea at the time there would eventually be an autism diagnosis, we just knew our child needed extra help. When we started, Jacob had an extremely difficult time communicating. His speech was limited, he struggled to transition from one activity to another and spent most of his time avoiding eye contact, withdrawing from other people, opting to play with cars and work on puzzles independently.
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The Autism Secret

I sat by the bay, sipping tea as the kids set out to discover uncharted territory. We were spending time with an old friend and her family on a recent trip to San Francisco. Funny how visits like that always leave me feeling contemplative, triggering memories of a life that seems so long ago and catching up on the selves we sometimes barely recognize in the midst of homework, activities and running a household.

We laughed as we reminisced about our days of working in television together. I swear if I closed my eyes and blocked out the sound of the playing kids, I could almost remember the girls we were — enthusiastic about the future, filled with curiosity, wondering how it all would go. She and I had taken different paths since those days, but Facebook and our respective blogs were helpful in keeping us connected through the years. Before she even spoke, I knew about her family adventures and how they had lived for almost two years on a beautiful boat docked at a northern California marina. And I didn’t have to go into too much detail about life as a minivan-driving suburban wife, she had kept up with my world as well.

But it was only a few minutes in to our three hour visit that I realized that while we had kept in touch, there was so much that was never conveyed online or through holiday cards. Because while I have been known to share the long road to finally bringing our daughter home and those fearful nights my son spent fighting asthma in the ICU, I’ve never really come out and talked directly about one of our biggest struggles — our family’s autism. Continue reading