Me and My Blog


My name is Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty, I’m a former educator and presently a stay-at-home mom/therapist. I’ve recently had the good fortune to have several articles published in Exceptional Parent Magazine, including one which illustrates the immediate steps to take if your child is diagnosed with autism. I have also been published in Autism Parenting Magazine. My post, “The Talk,” was selected by Autism Speaks as one of the top ten most informative and inspirational blogs of 2013. My blog is linked to multiple sites throughout the country on Patch, an online source for community-specific news. In 2012 I produced and directed my play “Raising Autism,” with all proceeds going directly to POAC Autism Services, a non-profit located in Brick, NJ. I’ve recently had the honor to be selected to participate in the Family Partners Program, a part of the Autism Treatment Network at CHOP (funded by Autism Speaks.) When not promoting my memoir “Raising Autism: Surviving the Early Years,” I can be found on the couch with chocolate, a good book, and an even better glass of wine.

78 Comments »

  1. Louise van der Meulen said,

    Hi Kim! I am so glad that you have reach this stage in your adventure of writing your book and blogging. It is a riot. I am going to forward this to all my teacher friends, too. I will always remember those beginning stages when you found out that your fitst-born had autism. I am so glad that you will be able to help others in similar situations with your book.

    • Hey Louise! Thanks for taking the time to respond to this (I think you’ll like the next one even better). It was lovely to hear from Bianca, how’s Peanut (or are we going by Sasha these days?). Write when you can and let me know how you are!

      Kim

    • margaret said,

      I am a special education teacher and found your entries honest, funny and so real life. It was interesting to read your accounts of activities in your life. I appreciate your sense of humor and know that parents of autistic children will garner so much from these blogs.

      • Margaret, thanks for responding, but more importantly, thanks for what you do. Justin has had some exemplary teachers, and they have made such a difference in his life. I was a “regular” education teacher for twelve years, and I was constantly in awe of the teachers who worked with special needs children all day, every day, with neverending enthusiasm. Thank you!

        Kim

    • caren said,

      Just wanted to say hi

  2. Donna Preston said,

    You go girl! I’m so in awh of you.I don’t know how you manage all that you do on just a daily basis, and to also be able to write a book with such wit and style! I can hardly manage this email! I know you and Jeff have had a difficult time with all this, but as I have said to you before, Justin and zachary have the best chance ever because of the intelligent and strong willed people that you are! Most parents would not have noticed or would have given up or worse . As sorry as I can be for your terrible misfortune, I can only give thanks to god for placing those boys in your care. Your love and strength will shine through & maybe this book will be that ray of sunshine for you! I will be thinking of you often and saying prayers when possible (me and god aren’t as close as we used to be! But I’ll try)
    P S- Happy Birthday Girl!! I’ll have a glass of pinot for u!!!

    love
    Donna

    • Thanks Donna! So glad to hear from you! Tell Kev he’ll get brownies soon! Check out my next entry, you’ll enjoy it. Love and hi to everyone!

  3. Bill Preston said,

    Kim ‘ I am so proud of you and Jeff for what you have accomplished with Justin and Zackery!!! They are just the most incredible kids ever!!! Being in a different part of the country and only getting to see them once or twice a year really sticks because I would love to see more of all of you. But because I only see you all so infrequently I am so amazed at how the kids have progressed everytime I come to N.J..You guy”s are incredible and probably the best and most dedicated parents in the world! I wish you the best with your writing”s and continued success with your son”s. I love you and miss you all more than I can put into words!!! SEE YOU SOON!!! Love Billy

    • Thanks for posting Billy! We can’t wait to see you again too, and miss you as well. Thanks for what you said about the boys, it means a lot!

      love,
      Kim

  4. Karen Noble said,

    This was a beautiful article. I didn’t want it to end, and you have a way of drawing the reader into your life. you are an extraordinary writer.

  5. Karen Noble said,

    I work with your mom – we share many secrets and have many talks. She’s always spoken highly of Kim, her daughter, and I’d think “Naturally, you feel that way. You’re her mom.” But as we shared more and I listened better, I, too, feel that Susan has an awesome daughter. You’ve put your entire life on hold for your two sons for the daunting goal of raising them to get what they deserve. Bravo!!!!!

    Karen

  6. Anita said,

    I was just told about your blog and book. My 6 year old son was just diagnosed with PDD-NOS, after almost 2 full school years of unsuccessful attempts at dealing with his behavior. I look forward to gaining some insight from your experiences.

    • That’s heartbreaking. I hope he gets the help he deserves now. He’s still so young, I’m sure behaviorists will be able to help you. Hang in there, I hope the blog helps, and if you have questions, please ask!

      Kim

  7. Amanda Niederauer said,

    I think that what you’re doing is great, Kim. I work with Pam Holran on the Lafayette Alumni Council, and she asked me to check out your blog. I really hope your book gets published – I would read it in a second, and I know my mom would too. My brother is 12 and has Asperger’s Syndrome, and my mom has spent the last 10 years of his life trying to make things easier for him. I know how hard it can be, and I really admire the fact that on top of all of that work, you’re still finding time for this blog AND a book!

    Best of Luck!!!!

    • Amanda, Pam has mentioned you to me, as well as your family’s obvious dedication to your brother. I give your mom a great deal of credit. I’m only six years in, it’s the people with children in the double digits who did this in a much more “unforgiving” time who have my admiration. I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond, please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think would be interested. Sounds like your brother is lucky to have you. Take care and thanks!

      Kim

  8. Denise Coughlin said,

    Hi Kim…My name is Denise Coughlin and I was delighted with your little story about Dragons. I know how hard it is for a mom raising two special needs children. I have a sister who is brain damaged and understand the constant care children with special needs do require. It sounds like your sons have a very special mother. I would love to send your sons my book “Dragon In My Pocket” as a gift. I’ll pay the postage too. Your story really touched me. I hope it will bring you and your little ones much joy. They may not fully understand the story now, but someday they will truly appreciate it. My website is http://www.denisecoughlin.com You can e-mail me and I will be delighted to send you a copy for your special boys.

    Sincerely,
    Denise Coughlin

  9. Amanda said,

    I laughed. I cried. I felt the joy, the sorrow and the hope. You are such an incredible writer- I couldn’t stop reading. I just signed up to receive your newest entries and I can’t wait for more. Kim, you are an inspiration to others and your children are blessed to have you. xo

    • Amanda, thank you so much! I feel the same way about you and your kids. I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond. Hope you and yours are well, and thanks again!

      Kim

  10. Aunt Ruth Ormsbss said,

    Hello Kim.

    I have been reading your series on the computer and they are just
    so great. I am glad I can get to find out what is going on with
    Justin and Zachary. You and Jeff are certainly such dedicated
    parents. So good to have parents like you to be so understanding
    of what both boys are going through. Love reading your
    blogs. I am just catching up on them. You all take care.
    Love Ya!!!
    Aunt Ruthie

  11. Catherine Fratianni Guevara said,

    Hello Just discovered your blog, I am a mom of a wonderful 8 year old boy with Autism, I saw the word pinching in a comment you made to Susan Senator, I used to live in Brookline and met her there. Anyway have you found any suitable ways to reduced the pinching?

    many thanks!

    • Welcome Catherine, and thanks! The most effective technique we used, and still do to this day (although his pinching incidences are few and far between) was to anticipate the pinch, block it by grabbing his hands, and saying harshly “no pinch”. In Justin that would usually elicit a kiss of “sorry” from him. Aggression was a huge component of his autism, and through ABA and discipline we ultimately reduced the pinching down to about 10% of the day, but it was still daunting as he grew older and bigger. We’ve had him on a fairly low dose of Risperidone since last year, and that seems to have eradicated the rest. It was a tough decision, but ultimately I think it was best for him and for our family. I wish you luck with your son or daughter. Thank you for posting!

      Kim

  12. Jennifer Scott said,

    I stumbled across your blog from It’s A Shmitty Life, who is absolutely hilarious and a real lol.

    I must say that you are a wonderful writer, it is rare to actually be able to put your feelings in words, especially about a subject as difficult and complex as autism. My 6 year old son Gabriel has autism while his younger twin sisters (5) are neurologically normal although all of them are seriously high energy. I have been reading back in your blog to get caught up and I have really been struck by how similar the emotions are for me. Obviously our situations are different, I only have one child with autism and then there is that twin thing 18 months later that was a heck of a surprise. That was difficult in an entirely different way, not that I remember much, I laughingly say that if my hair had been on fire that first year I wouldn’t have noticed.

    Thank you for speaking to a part of me that doesn’t get much light of day. It is easier to use humor and silliness, which while I take my silliness very seriously, can overcast the real emotion that lies underneath.

    Thank you again,
    ~Jenn Scott in Forest Grove, Oregon

    On a side note, my son used to pinch me relentlessly while he nursed and was hyper aggressive, flying tackle to his sisters that were just learning to walk etc. I don’t know how this works, I only know that it was true for my son, I cut eggs out of his diet and his aggression lessened immensely. Other moms in my MOMS Club couldn’t believe the change in his behavior after 2 weeks. So it wasn’t just me that saw that change. I have had a few other friends that were having behavioral issues that eggs seemed to have an impact on. Just sharing my strange experience, not trying to shovel well meaning advice your way.

    • Hey, I’m a glutton for advice, I’ll take anything, thanks! He doesn’t eat them, apparently they are the devil’s food, so a no-go there. Appreciate the attempt! Loved your comment about the hair, I’m right there with you!

      Thanks for telling me where you found me. I will have to find that site. It’s been coming up as Spam and I’ve been ignoring it, glad to find out it’s legit!

      Thanks for your lovely commentary too, I appreciate it. Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful post!

      Kim

  13. Michelle said,

    I think what you are doing is great. I too am an educator ( I teach visual design at an inner city high school- I always have at least one IEP student per class) and I grew up with a special needs brother in addition to having a child on the spectrum.

    Alex is nearly 17 and was only diagnosed in June, so we have struggled and had so much damage done to him by well meaning educators and other “professionals”. He is extremely intelligent, but has a very poor working memory, and has a great deal of anger. He really struggles a lot and as a young man trying to discover what that means plus Asperger’s, and me being (as a single mom) the lone authority figure, he tends to reject my suggestions out of hand.

    I was wondering if you or your readers might be able to guide me. So many of the resources I am finding deal with younger children. Do you know of any sites or blogs that might be more relevant to our situation? I am looking specifically for things that can help me understand my son better ( I only recently found out that he hears florescent lights and that they bother him) and helpful sites that might give him insights as well. Also do you know of any resources to strength working memory? This is a huge problem for Alex. His IQ is very high and he tests at grade 28+, but his working memory maxed out at grade 7.5. This is really affecting his academic performance.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Michelle, thank you for reading and commenting. I’ve found that resources for the younger set differ greatly from the older, and I’m really not familiar with those that might help your son. I will put out an email with your questions to some of my friends with older kids on the spectrum, as well as a few with Asperger’s who are younger. Not sure that will be helpful, but I’ll give it a try and get back to you if I hear anything.

      As for memory… Would anything like pneumonics help him, or putting facts to songs? I did not teach kids on the spectrum when I was employed, but I too had bright kids with memory issues, and sometimes these techniques helped. I’ll also put out an email to my educator friends and see what they come up with. It’s been a while for me…

      Hang in there!

  14. angelina258 said,

    Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog from some other blog. I really love the way you write and, of course, what you write about. I’m an ABA therapist, and big sister to a little boy with autism. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Mine is

    http://anotherangleonautism.wordpress.com/

    -Angelina

  15. Hi Kimberlee,
    I just read your article in Exceptional Parent and wanted to say thank you. Although I live in Ireland, most of what you have written is very relevant here as well. Isn’t it wonderful that through your writing you are reaching right across the world helping families. Thanks also for your blog on OCD, just when we thought it had settled down for our 13 year old, it seems to have ‘spiked up’ again. Somehow it makes it easier to know we are not alone. Best wishes to you and your family. Avril

    • Avril, thank you. It means so much to me to know my article helped another mom. For the most part, I’ve always found the OCD/perseverative aspect of Justin’s autism to be the most daunting component. It truly is exhausting, but at least for him I’ve found it goes in cycles, and eventually, it lessons. I hope it is the same for your child as well. Hang in there, thank you for reading and responding to this, and know you are definitely not alone!

  16. Lori said,

    Kim,
    It was so nice to meet you at the dinner for Search Friday night! It is always comforting to talk to other moms in the same boat! I love this blog-it is very funny, true, and similar to my own life!
    Hope to see you at Field Day this Friday, and if not there, some time in the near future!
    Lori Hogan

  17. Hi,
    Saw your link on facebook. I’m a former educator as well. I have three sons. One has Aspergers. I have Aspergers as well. Great friendly photo, and nice “about me” page. :) Samantha Craft.

    • Thanks Samantha, love the support from a fellow teacher! Those skills have served me well with my sons, I’m sure they have for you and yours as well. Thanks for reading!

  18. ksmile29 said,

    Hi it’s Kerry from Someone Special Needs You! I tried emailing you a few days ago but I’m not sure I have the right address. Will you be at the event this Friday? I’d love to see Justin and again! If you could email me at the gmail address you have for me that’d be great!
    Hope to see you Friday!

  19. Hi it’s Kerry from Someone Special Needs You! I tried to email you a few days ago but I’m not sure I have the right email addres. Are you going to be at the event Friday? If you could email me back at my gmail account that’d be great! Thanks!
    Hope to see you Friday!

  20. gail gingras mitchell said,

    Well hi kim. We went to school together. I came across your blog as i am a teacher but searching for more info on the autistic spectrum. I am yearning for more knowledge and i would love to catch up. It sure is a small world. If you have a chance please email me. Thanks and i can not get enough of your blog. Your children are sooooo cute. Peace….gail

    • Hi Gail! What are you looking for?

      • phishsm@bellsouth.net said,

        Hi. Thanks for responding. Since i am not on fb i thought it was pretty amazing to find you this way. I went back to teaching preschool which is truly my passion. I have taught in public school grades pre k. K. 1st 2nd and 3rd but left all of the paperwork bs and am thrilled. To be back in a three year old class at our church. What did you teach? And what type of therapy do you do? My mom is a therapist in. Pa. Anyway i have just been reading alot on my own to educate myself since i have 2 autistic children in class this year. Your family is so cute….we have 2. Carter is a freshman at fla state so i am adjusting to him being gone. Maddy is in 7th grade. We live in west palm bch fla. Do you live in fair haven? I miss it up there as my family moved when i was in college. I hope you dont think i am a freaky stalker…just saw a familiar name on an amazing blog. Take care….gail

        Sent from my Motorola Smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

  21. Katie Wright said,

    Hi KIm,

    I was very interested in your blog today for AS. I have been urging ATN to get more involved with local communities for yrs and have been unsuccessful. I am thrilled to see you changing the culture at CHOP.

    This is Katie Wright, my parents founded AS. I had to take my then 2 yr old son to about 5 different hospitals to find competent GI help. I am afraid 1 stop shopping remains elusive in most areas. I would love to hear more about the changes you are making.

    Please e-mail me kwright76@verizon.net

    Thanks, Katie

  22. Hi Kim, Just saw your article on Discovering “One Stop Shopping” in Autism Care Thank you for spreading the word about worthwhile programs! Carolyn Vodoklys

    • You’re welcome, so glad you liked the piece, thanks for reading!

      • Kim, we are also working hard to improve the lives of NJ children with Autism. Scholastic Interventions is being used successfully by Madison, Chester and Lincoln Park schools. We would be happy to talk to your local school administrators. Thanks again =)

  23. You are very lovely inside and out. :) Blessings.

  24. Brandy Uphouse said,

    I just read your article o the ”one stop shop” in autism care & did not know if you had an article detailing how you are coordinating this in PA. I live in Colorado & am a parent of a 5yo girl with moderate autism. I work an ATN doctor that we see annually at Childrens Hospital in Denver, but I an other parents I know with ASD kids spend alot of time doing what you did, running in circles trying to find the correct specialists. In Colorado there is only a few places participating in the ATN network & the waitlists are incredible. I went through alot of MDs that misdiagnosed or dismissed my childs autism symptoms. She is doing better now, but with the lack of resources we are encouraged to use the school districts as our main sources of treament. I would love to help putting a system in place in Denver to allow for more centralized treatment to help parents avoid the pitfalls we experienced.

    • Hi Brandy, I just got involved with the parent program a few months ago, so we haven’t begun to tackle coordinating care yet. I will write more when wheels start to turn, and I encourage you to keep in touch here. I always respond to comments. I’m sorry your story sounds so much like mine, it’s just so grueling. Take care, and when we’ve got something in the works it will be written about here!

  25. Kim Abbott said,

    Kim,
    I just stumbled upon your blog and plan to keep reading! You ahve a lot of great material here and I’m sure it is a great resource to many. I wanted to see if you could poin to any good resources on gastro problems for children on ASD. This seems to be a piece to the puzzle we haven’t been able to figure out; they aren’t severe, but definately there and affect behaviour.
    I’m just venturing into the mommy blogging space. My first article from a few weeks ago is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kimberly-abbott/birthday-party-with-my-son-who-has-aspergers_b_2552571.html

    Thanks so much for what you do and for any advice.
    Best,
    Kim

  26. Hi KIm, Have read your story and you inspired me to ask if you can give me any advice for my community to get a center here. I spoke w Autism Speaks and they said they would send copy of 2013 RFA. So excited about it, I talked about it on my Blog Talk Radio (AutismParentTalk), I would be so excited if I could email you a copy of it and get your opinion, it would mean so much. Also any advice for what I can do till copy gets here, My email is wardwell3238@att.net. Thanks, Sandy

  27. Katie Wright said,

    Hi again please -email me thanks Katie Wright

    • Katie, sent another reply to your email address, hope you get it!

      Kim

      • Hi Katie, you can email me with whatever questions u have and I’ll try to answer them,
        Thanks, Sandy

  28. To Katie Wright, Hi this is Sandra Wardwell you can email me at wardwell3238@att.net. Thank you, Sandy

  29. Mrs. Dawn Brown said,

    Hello, I think you are amazing. I just sat next to your husband on a three hour flight from Philly to Dallas. He spoke in the most glowing terms of you, abd his love gorbyou snd how you fight for your children.
    God bless you!

    • Thank you, you are so sweet! My husband is very charming, and how lucky he was to sit next to you! Thanks for reading this and enjoy your trip!

  30. lifeoftransition said,

    I am an educator as well and love your blog. It lifts my spirits to unit with others on special journeys.

  31. Just found your blog, and I can’t WAIT to do some more looking around, it looks perfect. My almost four year old was just diagnosed and we are definitely still in the early stages of figuring this out.

    • I wish you all the best! Make sure you take care of yourself during this difficult time, you will get through it! I’d like to suggest two other blogs to you, Diary of a Mom and Susan Senator, both listed on my blog roll. Thank you so much for reading, I look forward to seeing you here again!

      • Thank you for the blog suggestions. I’ll definitely look! I just wrote a really hard post about an even harder night that I had with my little guy. I actually would love any insight you may have on it, and what I could have done differently. Felt pretty defeated.

        • You’re welcome! I lost half your message, if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask them here. Thanks for reading!

  32. Krissy Bells said,

    Hi Kimberlee,
    I recently published a book and I am hoping that you might consider checking it out. It is a young adult/teen fiction title, I am hoping that it will help promote autism awareness. I will happily provide the link. If you are an amazon prime member, you can also borrow it from the library for free. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Krissy Bells

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00IPPI3DI?cache=849ca6f9ecc7792500015719d9a285d1#ref=mp_s_a_1_1&qid=1393692872&sr=8-1

  33. Kylie Hardwick said,

    Hi, I work for a charity in England, which supports disabled children and adults, many of which have autism on some scale.
    My manager and I are currently working on a website to promote a new service which supports people who have challenging behaviour. It is my role on this website to create the resources area which is a kind of ‘go to’ area where people can access information about different disabilities and different ways of supporting people who have challenging behaviour.
    I am writing to ask whether I would be able to link this blog to our website. I am also hoping to find other blogs about different disorders and disabilities so that it is all accessible and people can relate to real people, as opposed to reading what medical professionals say.

  34. Hello:

    was wanted tell you how much I loved your book. It was really great and very funny too. I’ve never written to another other why wanted to write to Truman Capote, but he’s dead — ha ha. Anyway I have an 11-year-old with learning disabilities so I’ve been dealing with the whole special ed deal for a long long time. I have a four-year-old and things are getting scary– I don’t know what’s going on and we have an appointment on Thursday and I’m terrified. I would love to talk to you. know you probably have a lot of people that want to speak to you as well, but if you could just even email me as to when a possible time we could email or anything I would be so so grateful, you’ve no idea. I also live in the Gardenstate as you constantly call in the book. I’m in Bergen County. I have a vague idea that you are in Monmouth otOcean County .I believe really nice area. Anyway, I again loved your book it was really great and I learned a lot of things regardless of what happens on Thursday.

    Best,
    Mary/917-741-5727
    Maryangelanyc @gmail.com

  35. Ila said,

    You are incredible! So inspiring.

    I am an Autism Advocate, but I haven’t accomplished a PLAY. Wow! That is so awesome.


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