September 29, 2015

No Silver Lining

Posted in AMT's Faves, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 10:04 am by autismmommytherapist

Summer 15 003

Warning to my readers- this won’t be one of my typical “find the silver lining” type of posts. Today I’m telling it like it is chez McCafferty, and what it is includes a very tired Mom.

I have a feeling a lot of you can relate to that.

My oldest son Justin, who is severely autistic and also diagnosed with OCD, has been really struggling the past few months, and the last week in particular has been grueling. His struggles have gone hand-in-hand with triumph (I got him to lose fifteen pounds this summer and he’s on Risperdal, his neuropediatrician was a little in awe of me,) but our success has been tempered by his compulsive behaviors. Justin’s had OCD (and obviously autism) his entire life, but in general the OCD-like behaviors have been very manageable. They often included a bit of reorganizing, making sure a toy was strategically placed in a certain room, etc. We’ve been able to roll with it, and it hasn’t really disrupted our lives or his.

That is until reorganization became his full-time obsession, much akin to mine with chocolate.

This probably doesn’t sound so bad to you, but here’s the thing. He’s throwing things behind furniture (that often his short mom can’t reach.) My boy is putting objects under other objects so I literally have no idea where they are (like my phone, OMG.) But the worst is his almost fifty-year-old mom now relies on visual cues to do anything, and now things and important papers are entering the OCD Bermuda triangle and I don’t even know they’re gone and that I need them.

Trust me, I am a woman who relies on her visual cues.

We’re doing all the right things to counteract this behavior- redirecting to the computer, his DVD player, movies on tv, etc. We’ve been back to see his neuropediatrician, who has made a med change we hope will kick in within two to four weeks (or five minutes ago if I had my way.) But in the meantime it’s usually just me with him at home, and the problem is I can’t always stay with him for his redirected activities because of laundry/phone calls/making lunches/trying to find my phone that I hid from him.

Once again I wish wholeheartedly for the attractive Swedish “manny” to make his appearance.

But even though his reorganization tactics have wreaked hell on our household (he once threw out all my sticky notes, it was like the world ended,) the worst part is that when he’s doing it he’s miserable. There’s no satisfaction derived from him for angling a book a certain way on a countertop, or reallocating certain toys to different bins in our garage that hosts every toy he’s ever had from 2003 to date. He often gets upset when things just aren’t right, and believe me, nobody has any idea how to make them right. Sometimes he just cries in frustration, and there’s not a Baby Einstein video in the world that can snap him out of it.

Trust me, in this house if Baby Einstein can’t fix something, things are in dire shape.

I’m hoping his neuropediatrician is right and the med changes will help alleviate this behavior, and I hope so both for him and for all of us. I hate seeing him so unhappy, and I frankly I also hate the 24/7 surveillance I’ve had to put on him so my car keys don’t end up in the garbage (they’d have company with those sticky notes I rescued.) I shared with you that today there’d be no silver lining, and there isn’t. My boy is the best, but sometimes his behaviors are really tough, and this week I’m just tired of how damn hard things are some times.

And I have a feeling many of you can relate to that too.

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September 22, 2015

Rolling with the iCan Bike program

Posted in AMT's Faves, Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , at 10:35 am by autismmommytherapist

Summer 15 091

There are a few milestones most people remember throughout their lives. First kiss. Prom (if you went.) Wedding date. Birth dates of your children. The time you fit perfectly in your skinny jeans. Who taught you how to ride a bike.

The last one is an accomplishment I wasn’t sure my youngest autistic son would ever achieve.

I have never been happier to be so wrong.

This summer I enrolled Zach, my mildly autistic son, in the iCan Shine bike program through iCan Shine is a national non-profit which runs bike camps all across the U.S. and Canada by partnering with local organizations and individual hosts. I was somewhat optimistic that he could learn, but our one attempt at riding a bike without training wheels had been a wash. Although the organization has an 80% success rate I still wasn’t certain Zach could focus enough to accomplish this goal, but I wanted to give it a try anyway.

And I’m so glad I did, because by the third session of camp he was riding his own bike independently and told me “this was the best day of his life.”

And yes, I captured that moment on my iPhone.

In a nutshell, the camp runs five seventy-five minute sessions daily for a full week, and is staffed by volunteers. The first day the riders ride the camp’s bikes, which have wide rollers on the back of the vehicles that make it almost impossible for the campers to fall. By day two riders get a ride on the specially designed tandem bike with a staffer.

The third day many children “launch” by riding camp bikes with a handle at the back so staffers who are running beside them can limit falls. By day four many riders are independent, with day five culminating with riders on the bikes they will be taking home and family members learning how to properly spot their rider so they can continue to practice!

Not all of the campers are independent by day five, but all of them made progress. And I have to tell you, the moment Zach took off on his own for the first time, and stayed up, will remain with me forever.

During the camp I had the opportunity to interview Jane Kleiman, a mom of an autistic son who was the organizer for our session this summer. Jane, along with her fantastic volunteers, worked tirelessly to pull off this camp, and has done so for several years. I’d like to share her thoughts with you, as I think her words will give you greater insight as to the importance of this camp.

Kim: What are some of the most important things about this program that people need to know?

Jane: iCan Shine bike camp promotes social skills and allows the campers to feel just like “one of the kids” who can ride a bike! Riding a bike promotes independence and self-esteem. It encourages physical activity and can also be a mode of transportation for campers when they become adults.

Kim: When did you get involved with iCan Shine?

Jane: I ran my first camp four years ago. I decided to run the program because I realized there was a need for one in central Jersey, as I kept hearing parent after parent saying there were no programs in the area to teach their disabled children how to ride bikes. I also chose to run it because I have a son who falls on the spectrum among other things, and hoped he could master the skill as well. I took a big leap of faith that I could raise the money, get the volunteers, and fill the camp, and fortunately it all worked out.

Kim: How do you view success at the camp?

Jane: All campers are successful as long as they get something out of it. And believe me, they ALL get so much out of iCan Bike! I had a little girl in one camp who was absolutely terrified of bikes, wouldn’t even get on one of them. By the last day she was able to conquer her fears enough to ride a bike with rollers on the back, and she was having a great time. Whether the kids get to two wheels or not, if they can overcome their fears and have fun they are an equal success story to the kids who achieve independent riding by the end of the week.

Kim: How would someone sign up, volunteer, or donate to the iCan Bike program?

Jane: iCan Bike Lincroft is solely funded by donations and iCan Shine is a national non-profit. If you are interested in donating to our camp here in Lincroft please go to To donate to iCan Shine, Inc. go to Volunteers must be sixteen or older and able to come for all sessions the entire week. Riders must be eight years old, and registration is in the spring and fills up quickly. Please go to if you are interested in participating in the camp, there are many different sessions run throughout the country during the summer.

My heartfelt thanks to Jane, all the volunteers, and to Team Zach: Chris, Natalie, Jaida, Paxton, and Carmen. You were all wonderful and Zach and I appreciate all you did!

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September 14, 2015


Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 1:58 pm by autismmommytherapist

Summer 15 001

He nearly stumbled over the stroller, the elderly man with the kind eyes who apologized, then bent down to speak to my son Justin. “Hi there buddy!” he said exuberantly, then put up his hand for a high-five.

Justin simply stared at the proffered hand, then glanced away.

The man looked up at me quizzically, and I responded with “he doesn’t talk- he has severe autism,” and as I watched, his face crumpled in dismay.

“I’m so sorry” he said. “That’s a tragedy. God bless you.” He straightened up and walked away.

And as I watched him stroll to the canned goods section the words flowed into my mind, if not my mouth- “My son is not a tragedy.”

My son is not a tragedy.

Are there aspects of my child’s disability that I find tragic? Yes, there are. I will always lament the fact that he will be on this earth for half his life without his parents to care for him, nurture him, love him. Even though I am aware that he may have competent caregivers for those decades I still find it heartbreaking to think he might miss us, might wonder why we no longer visit him. I worry his caretakers might miss medical issues, might not feed him well.

I worry they won’t love him.

I am confident these concerns will follow me to my grave.

But that’s where the tragic element of my son’s autism ends for me.

I no longer regret the more traditional trappings of the life I’d envisioned for my son. When I carried him in my womb I took for granted his life would include college, career, friends, and a partner who would cherish him. There are days when I still ache for those things for my son. But over the past few years I’ve begun to see that needing those traditional milestones to achieve happiness is my disability, not his.

For after many many years of struggling my son is mostly joyful, ebullient. My child, who generally wants to be home and playing with his DVD player doesn’t need his mother’s dreams to be content, fulfilled. He is smart. He reads. He rides horses passionately. He loves his little brother. He adores popcorn and movies and everyone at his school. He shares his joy of the world in ever-abundant kisses and hugs. He embodies kindness.

He’s made his own life, contoured it to his own wishes.

And if I could go back to that grocery store and conquer the lump in my throat, I’d tell that well-meaning but mislead man just this.

My son, my beautiful boy, is not a tragedy.

He is a triumph.

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September 8, 2015

Summer Success

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 3:20 pm by autismmommytherapist

Summer 15 027

The boys never fail to surprise me.

There are many things about raising two autistic boys that have been difficult. There is the constant threat of sleep deprivation (that one frankly is the worst for me,) an abundance of impulsivity, and my eldest son’s intense OCD, to name a few things. On a daily basis things are sometimes challenging chez McCaffferty, challenges intertwined with frequent joy.

But every once in a while the two of them just knock my socks off. This summer was one of those times.

The past few months I watched as Justin adjusted to being home for almost four weeks without his beloved camps, which unfortunately didn’t open this year. I watched as he’d put out his backpack hopefully at night, then watched him put it back telling him gently there’d be no school the next day. In past years this would have elicted a super tantrum. This summer there was instead perhaps just a slight look of sadness on his face, then he moved on.


This summer I listened as camp counselor after camp counselor (Zach was in seven different camps, I go a little nuts) told me how my youngest son sometimes got frustrated, but was able to work through these times, often on his own. I was assured by each camp he’d be invited back. I saw my small son take over the stage at the Algonquin with his dramatic flair, felt my heart soar as he mastered riding a bike without training wheels.

Again, progress.

And there was progress for Mama McCafferty too. This summer I took the plunge and took both boys to Great

Adventure alone for the first time. There were lines. We dealt with it. There was a fifteen minute wait for fries. We dealt with that too. We had fun, and I brought them both back home alive.

Major progress.

None of these things may seem earth-shattering to you, but they are monumental to my family. There were years with my sons that every day was so challenging our joys were muted, weighed down by the sheer difficulty of trying to get through each day. It’s not like that now at my house- our joys outweigh our challenges, a fact for which I am eternally grateful. I am slowly learning to take the time to acknowledge these small achievements, to revel in them, to extract them from my memories whenever times get tough.

Finally, I am making progress too.

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August 31, 2015

Salad Days

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 1:57 pm by autismmommytherapist

Summer Fun 2007 032

You may not be convinced that this is a victory, so I’ll give you the back story. Once upon a time Justin ate three things, and they were all carbs. At one point he decided food was the devil and ate, well, nothing. This prompted his desperate pareents to call in a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) specializing in food issues and autism to come to our home, and over the course of a very unpleasant week our son began to eat again.

How any child of my body did not like food is beyond me.

A few years after “foodgate” we came to a crossroads with Justin, and realized we had to put him on a heavy-duty medication to help him quell his aggression. It was not a decision we made lightly, but the medication helped immensely, enabling the core sweetness of my son to dominate his days. Of course with any medication there lies the potential for side effects, and this one kicked in almost right away. It seems the child who had once deemed food beneath him would now eat anything in sight, and of course over time he gained weight, mostly in his belly.

Every few months however he would have a growth spurt, and the belly gain would redistribute over his new lanky length, and all would be well in the kingdom. As of six months ago, this was no longer the case.

Hence, my quest to make my son eat salad.

I channeled all those fancy (expensive) techniques our BCBA had tried years ago with success, and at first nothing worked. I put lettuce near his plate, which he happily handed back to me, until the day he just let it sit there.

Then, I got bold.

I tried it on his plate and at first he took it off, but eventually he let it lie. I next brought a small piece of lettuce to his lips, trying different dressings, and got rejected every time.

Until the day I tried oil and a fine virgin Balsamic vinegar (only the best for my boy,) and he opened his mouth and ate it.

Made an initial grimace of dismay, but he ate it.

Soon, the kid who’d live on pretzels and popcorn if I let him was not only tolerating lettuce on his plate, was eating it eagerly. I then replaced his mac and cheese and other carbs with the green delight both at lunch and at dinner, and watched my son become a herbivore.

I’m telling you this accomplishment is right up there with him reading a book out loud to me.

He’s lost seven pounds, my boy. Justin is his lean, tough, son-of-his-father self. He’s been eating “bunny food” for months now, and I think this dietary change is here to stay.

For any of you reading this saying “that’s nice, but not my kid,” that’s exactly what I was thinking this spring as I watched his pants grow tight. Sometimes we autism parents just have to try things, even when they seem impossible.

For once, “never say never” reigned.

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August 25, 2015

A Great Adventure

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 5:01 pm by autismmommytherapist

Summer 08 107

It was an everyday sight. A mom walking along with her eight-year-old and her twelve-year-old, strolling to the security gates of Great Adventure without an apparent care in the world. It would be nothing to write about, except the two children are autistic, one profoundly so.

And the mom is me.

Last Sunday I took a chance and took both boys alone to the amusement park we’ve been visiting since Justin was three. To say I did so without any hesitation would be a blatant lie. Despite the fact that we’ve been coming here for years and I’ve got our routine down to an A-type “T,” I worried. I worried that the lines to get into the park would be too long, and one (or both) boys would have a meltdown. I worried one of them would break ranks and run away from me as Justin once did in his quest for a beloved carb. I worried Justin would have a meltdown when I denied him access to Skull Mountain, a ride Zach has said, and I quote, he will “go on over his really dead body.”

No drama at all chez McCafferty.

But miraculously, we not only got through the day, it was all fun. Justin waited patiently in the security line when the family in front of us did not seem to comprehend (despite the two signs leading up to security telling them so) that selfie sticks are not allowed in the park. Zach completely understood why Mommy couldn’t bring three changes of clothes into Great Adventure, and that the water rides were out of consideration for the day. Justin didn’t freak out when we had to wait ten minutes for French fries (at least they were worth it.) We had fun. And I left the park with as many kids as I walked in with.


As I’m always one to contemplate things (hence my blog ideas) as we rode home together after three hours (!) at the park, I realized a few things. I’ve been holding back on trying things with the boys out of fear- fear of tantrums, fear I’ll lose one, etc. The truth is I’m always more comfortable with another adult along when we do an activity with the boys, and in some situation this will always be necessary. But the reality is that for the last year or two now, the boys “get it.” They like going places. They know they have to behave to go to them, especially when Mommy flies solo. For the most part, and this is after a decade of working incredibly hard with them, they are really, really good.

And it’s time for their mom to take some more chances.

I also realized something else, as my euphoria stayed with me all the way until 195 at which point my youngest started to whine, and the bubble popped. I am getting better about appreciating the progress we’ve made, acknowledging it, and sharing it with others. My Sunday sojourn to Six Flags would never have been possible even two years ago. This is a triumph to be reveled in, an accomplishment to be shared with families who like me at one time are wondering if they’ll ever have a peaceful moment in a car (or hell, maybe their house) ever again. Even with autism, even with severe autism, they do grow up. They do mature. In many instances things do get easier.

And my advice for any families with just-diagnosed children out there is to do your best, and know that whatever happens now does not always mean forever.

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August 11, 2015

Home Sweet Home

Posted in AMT's Faves, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 11:35 am by autismmommytherapist

Spring 2015 161

This is going to be one of those posts that people either love, or hate. Fasten your seatbelts please, for what I’m confessing to you right now is big.

I love my eldest son, but I don’t want to live with him forever.

I’m imagining that right now people are actually shouting “Amen sister!” or calling me the most selfish mom in the world. Here’s the truth. When we sign on for this parenting gig, I doubt most of us believe we’ll be in for what I call “marathon momming,” where we’re responsible financially, physically and emotionally for the well-being of a child (or children) for the duration of their lives. I’m sure some people do contemplate that fate when they’re gestating, and there are even some who choose to adopt special needs children knowing up-front they will need an intense level of care until they die. I’ve met a few people in the latter camp, and they are some of the most amazing individuals I have ever met.

I am simply not that amazing.

I love Justin, adore him actually. He was a much-wanted child, conceived after multiple miscarriages, and myriad rounds of IVF cycles. I was ecstatic when I carried him past that thirteen week mark, enraptured with him the first moment I laid eyes on him. To me he was a miracle baby, and remains my miracle son. He is (in my totally unbiased opinion,) frankly fabulous.

But the truth is I haven’t even hit fifty yet, and many days I find myself really, really tired from two rounds of autism parenting. I don’t see myself taking care of Justin when I’m eighty. In addition, I can’t imagine having him with us for forty-plus years, then transitioning him to a group home. And yes he has a sibling, but that sibling has autism too, and it’s just too early to project what Zach will be able to handle as an adult. If I’m being perfectly honest, in my “wishlist scenario” Justin’s little brother is his guardian and frequent visitor, not his 24/7 caretaker.

Of course, as my friends who are entering the “twenty-one plus” years will point out to me, due to fifteen year waiting lists and lack of options I may not have a choice for many years as to where he’ll live anyway.

My dream is for Justin to graduate high school and either reside on or in close proximity to a farm. I want him to have a job where he’s outside a few hours of the day, engaged in physical activity, making a contribution to the world. I wish for him to have frequent access to the horseback riding lessons he so loves. In my perfect world this farm is down the street from my future residence, giving me easy access to visit him daily if possible and to take him home for weekends and holidays. I’d do drop-ins at his home, bringing one of my two signature dishes (I know, it’s pathetic that at almost fifty I have only two) to his caretakers frequently, because food equates to happy employees.

Plus, it will give me the opportunity to spy.

Honestly, the situation in Jersey is not that great. At the moment there is a long waiting list for residential placement for autistic adults, a waiting list that does not commence until the child turns twenty-one. I’ve been told by people I trust that for various reasons I would not place Justin in many of these group homes anyway. When he turns twenty-one he’ll be eligible for a certain amount of hours of in-home respite care, but the amount of hours varies so differently from family to family I’m not certain what we’ll get.

The truth is at some point in my life I’m going to want to make my mammogram appointment and not have to worry about childcare. I’d like to visit Zach in college if he attends without having to worry about who will take care of his big brother for a weekend. Hell, I’d like to have a day where I just lounge in bed watching Sex and the City reruns while drinking martinis, and never get out of my pjs.

Sadly, that’s where my fantasies run to these days.

Yes, I want my freedom back. I am fiercely independent, was the girl who broke her mother’s heart at three when I waltzed out of the car for pre-school, gave my mom a quick wave and never looked back. I want to travel. I want to have a sick day (!)

I want to just breathe.

And I say this here and now. I respect every parent’s choice in this manner. I’ve written posts on this topic before where readers have labeled those who want to keep their kids until their death “martyrs.” I’ve read comments on other people’s blogs directed at parents who desire residential care for their children indicating they were basically Satan’s spawn, claiming they were abandoning their children. I don’t agree with either camp, particularly resent the commentary from people not even caring for autistic children who’ll require lifetime care.

It seems everybody has an opinion these days.

I just want Justin to be happy, safe, and productive. I want those things for myself too. I’ve got almost a decade left to go before we face this dilemma, and I hope things change for the better. I’m a girl who’s always liked having choices.

And I hope in 2024 they look a lot prettier than they do now.

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August 3, 2015


Posted in AMT's Faves, Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , at 8:07 pm by autismmommytherapist


“Mommy, will you pray for me that my kids aren’t sassy and they don’t have autism?” my youngest son queries me as I struggle not to choke on my lemonade. I am torn between laughing at the “sassy” and taking the second half of the question very seriously, as seriously as I did the night he asked me for the first time if he had autism like his big brother.

You know, the night my husband was conveniently not home.

I decide to tackle the question in two parts, and when I inquire as to why sassy is banned I am informed that sometimes he is sassy (truth) and it’s hard for his mommy to deal with it, so he wants quiet kids.

Frankly, unless there’s some sort of genetic miracle in the next generation, I think he’s out of luck with that one.

I gently explain to him that a lot will depend on who his children’s mother is, and he appears to contemplate that one, responding that his wife will not be sassy and that will help. He turns back to his library book but I gently put my hand over his and stop him from resuming his read, and ask him why he doesn’t want his kids to have autism. He looks at me and says “because Justin can’t talk and will never live by himself and that’s hard.”

Out of the mouths of babes.

My husband and I have been very honest in our numerous conversations with Zach about the differences in his autism versus his brother’s. He has asked me if he will stop speaking one day (trust me, and I am grateful for this, it is an impossibility.) He has questioned us as to whether or not he will get married or will have to live with us forever (I must admit, the latter being a prospect he did not seem to find too appealing even at the tender age of seven,) and we have assured him that we believe he will live independently of us one day, and are confident he will find someone to love him.

It was a joy to speak both parts of that sentence, believe me.

I pull out a chair and sit down so we are eye level, and wait until I have his attention. I explain to him that I can’t pray for them not to have autism, because he and his brother have it, and I believe it has indelibly made them who they are, and I could never wish for different children. He starts to argue with me, so then I pull him close, and for once my now self-proclaimed “big boy” doesn’t resist my embrace. He settles into our familiar curve, and I tell him what I will pray for, what I will ask the universe for his children should he grace the world with them some day.

I will ask that they be kind.

I will ask that they’ll love their grandmother even if she’s ancient.

I will ask that they see the value in all individuals.

I will ask that they see the inherent strengths in disability, and not just be swept up by the struggles.

I will ask that they’ll be smart (telling truth here, it just makes life easier.)

I will ask for healthy.

I will ask that they will always be safe.

I will ask for them to have the ability to live and love in the moment, and not always dwell on what’s to come.

I will ask for them to have a sense of humor. It’s gotten their grandma through a lot.

I will ask for them to always help others who need it, and to never be afraid to ask for help themselves.

I will ask that they have the same life choices that Zach will have. I will always wish for that for both my children, and theirs.

And while I won’t preclude sassy, I’ll ask that they love and respect their father (and give him a hard time once in a while too, it’s good for the soul.)

He seems satisfied with my litany of wants and sidles off my lap and onto his chair, paying attention to his now neglected breakfast. Within seconds he’s back onto a Minecraft discussion, and the moment has passed, much as my “you have autism” revelation was followed with a request for more pretzels. I feel somehow we’ve forged another bond he and I, am confident (for once) I imparted what he needed, while remaining true to how I feel as well.

And as I ask him to eat more quickly and “sassy” rears it’s all-too-familiar head, we move on to just another day.
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July 27, 2015

Lucy’s Amazing Friend

Posted in Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , at 11:51 am by autismmommytherapist


I don’t read a lot of books about autism.

This may shock some of you as I write about autism, and live and breathe it at home. The truth is I did read a lot of books about the subject when Justin was first diagnosed, then gradually turned to the internet for articles. It wasn’t until my second son, Zachary, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism that I started to look for appropriate literature for him that portrayed autism in a positive light. I found a few books (I Am Utterly Unique by Elaine Marie Larson comes to mind.) Yet I am always on the look-out for another piece of writing that celebrates the positive elements of autism, as well as the ways knowing an autistic individual can have a positive effect on a child or adult.

Last week I found just that piece of writing.

Stephanie Workman, the author of Lucy’s Amazing Friend, contacted me about reviewing her work, and after communicating with her via email I admit I was looking forward to a read-through, despite the craziness of summer schedules chez McCafferty.

I am happy to say I was not disappointed.

Lucy’s Amazing Friend is about a young girl who is curious as to why Daniel (an eight-year-old boy in her class) appears not to like her, and seeks out her teacher to find out why. She is told the boy has autism, and with her query as to what exactly constitutes autism, Lucy’s journey to both understanding and embracing the disorder begins.

The story was very realistic to me, and in no way suggests that Daniel is typical of every child with autism. The book presents several scenarios which address the hallmark characteristics of autism in a non-sterotypical way, and progresses through a variety of events where we see both Lucy and Daniel grow as individuals and within their relationship. I came to like both Lucy and Daniel very much by the conclusion, and am confident my own eight-year-old with high-functioning autism will feel the same way.

The beautiful illustrations draw the reader even farther into the story, which I feel could be a perfect introduction to autism whether or not someone is familiar with autism spectrum disorders. I feel my son can learn even more about individuals who dwell on the more severe end of the spectrum through this book, and he lives with his elder brother who has autism also.

I believe this work is a must for all libraries, and schools as well. I’m looking forward to owning my copy and sharing it with Zach.

And I commend Ms. Workman for creating one more tool that helps demystify autism.

Lucy’s Amazing Friend can be found for $10.99 in paperback and for $3.99 in Kindle. Copies can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Piscataqua Press.
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July 20, 2015


Posted in AMT's Faves, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , at 10:50 am by autismmommytherapist

Summer 06 008

The conversation swirls around me, the ebb and flow gifting me snapshots into families’ lives as I sip my frappacino. I’ve taken ten minutes to breathe at our neighborhood Starbucks, kept my phone in my purse, determined to take an unplugged time-out. The end-of-year fracas always seems to take me by surprise even after almost a decade of school-aged children, and I need to recharge.

Thank God for whipped cream and caffeine.

I’m seated next to two women, and their words wash over me as I unintentionally eavesdrop. There is discussion about their crazy baseball schedules, summer camps, moving on to middle school. As I listen it is apparent their children are typical kids for even “friend drama” is a topic, and I smile as I remember my experiences with my fifth grade students, the make-or-break friendships that so often caused elation or despair. Everything they speak of is “normal” for most tweens, a staple of a typical child’s life.

And none of it applies to my son Justin.

My twelve-year-old boy has severe autism. There are no organized sports for him, not because they don’t exist, but because he’s shown as much interest in sports as I do for spending a day at the DMV. Although there are local camps for him, this year they could not open due to low enrollment, so my boy will have his fun in summer school.

There isn’t any friend drama because he doesn’t have friends. Trust me, we’ve given playdates a try. They’re just not his thing.

Justin won’t have the “normal trappings” of an average tween. As he moves into adulthood he won’t drive a car, or go to a prom. College is not in the cards, nor a spouse or partner. He will always be dependent on others’ care, from birth until he draws his last breath. He will never have a typical life- if such a thing even exists.

But here is what Justin will have.

An incomparable education from dedicated professionals whose greatest delights are to see him meet his goals and smile.

Parents who champion him every step of the way, eager to attack each new challenge and watch him succeed.

A little brother who considers him his best friend.

An extended family who “gets” him.

A thirst for knowledge.

Irrepressible joy most days, from the moment he wakes until the moment he snuggles into my lap at night for his story.

And it’s that last thought that stays with me as I sip longingly at my rapidly disappearing beverage. After years of insomnia, meltdowns, sensory issues, feeding issues, and a general discontent with the world at large, we have come out from the darkness into the light. My son, my severely autistic, mostly non-verbal son, is happy. On most days he is genuinely, utterly, filled with joy. A joy of his making, devoid of my narrow parameters of what constitutes a good life.

My boy is happy. It’s not everything.

But God, it helps.

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