September 16, 2013

Raising Autism: Surviving the Early Years

Posted in Fun Stuff, Life's Little Moments, My Take on Autism tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:36 am by autismmommytherapist

Summer 2013 Part 2 117It came in the post today, bound in bubble wrap, so tightly encased it almost defied my interventions to release it. I almost missed it amongst the other packages (we are an “order online” family), came close to passing it over in the rush to get dinner on the table, make lunches, and organize my kids for the next day’s events. Once I realized what it was I took the tie to free it from its confines, and couldn’t help but smile at the weight of it in my hands, both physical and metaphorical.

Today I unwrapped the final proof of my autism memoir about my boys. I must tell you that I am more than a wee bit excited I’m so near to publishing it.

Those of my readers in the autism community (and that’s most of you) may well be thinking, “for the love of God, not another autism- mommy –memoir,” and as there are literally hundreds of them in existence, I hear your angst. Amazon and even the Barnes and Noble bookshelves are rife with this type of writing, and truly, some of them are wonderful reads (I’ve listed a few of my faves at the back of mine).

So why, you may rightly ask, is it necessary to unleash yet another autism memoir upon the world? Well, I’ll share with you that mine is somewhat unique in that it centers around raising not one but two young children on the spectrum, one who is non-verbal and considered severely affected, and one who is more verbal than most and considered high-functioning (there’s a little something for every family here).

Our story spans two states, Virginia and New Jersey, and begins ten years ago, when autism was just beginning to take such precedence in the news and become somewhat of a household word. It describes what it’s like to do thirty hours a week solo with your own autistic toddler without losing your sanity (or at least appearing not to). I share every strategy I’ve used to help my kids acclimate to the world, so there’s a practicality to the memoir as well.

Finally, and just as important as the above reasons itself, it is not a weeper. I’ve allowed my own rather sarcastic humor to shine through, the same humor that was my saving grace while conducting those thirty weekly hours of therapy with my boy. I promise, it will make you laugh.

And even if you’re immune to my humorous charms, by purchasing it you will have contributed to an autism organization, and helped a child.

I’m proud of this book for several reasons (okay, mostly just proud I managed to write one while raising the two autistic kids, but there are other reasons as well). Nine years ago when Justin was diagnosed it became immediately apparent to me that I would have to make my leave-of-absence from teaching a permanent hiatus, as frankly no day care nor nanny would have been willing to care for my son. His behavior was truly that difficult back then, and since principals seem to frown upon their teachers not showing up for work, I knew after his diagnosis it was time to “retire. ”

I also knew resigning my position might effectively end my career, as even back then jobs were hard to come by, and I might not get another opportunity to work. Given that I loved my career and was fairly uncertain as to how being my son’s primary therapist was going to float with him, it was a real time of uncertainty for me. I did feel incredibly fortunate I could stay home with him and help him, since Virginia’s Early Intervention program was, quite honestly, pathetic, affording me eight hours a month of services when my son required at least eighty, if not more.

But despite feeling lucky about our circumstances I realized I still needed something of my own, even if I had to put that dream on hold for a while. I decided that once Justin was in school I would write our story, and use it as a fundraising vehicle. I got a bit delayed by a surprise pregnancy (trust me, a welcome but BIG surprise), and then by my youngest son’s regression (it makes the book longer, you’ll get your money’s worth). Finally, however, I finished it (hurrah!) and will be proud to donate all the profits “from here to eternity” to four different autism organizations- namely Autism Speaks, Parents of Autistic Children (POAC), Someone Special Needs You (SSNY), and my eldest son’s autism school.

I’m really hoping I get to write some big fat checks.

As the publishing date gets closer (I anticipate about 4-6 weeks from now) I’ll be happy to share more about my book Raising Autism: Surviving the Early Years and more information about the organizations I’ll be supporting. Right now however I’m going to go get that manuscript and attempt my final edit(!) while my kids are in school, so wish me luck.

And, as always, thank you for reading and for your wonderful comments!


  1. o wow, I had no idea. This is fantastic! Congrats!

    • Thanks, that means a lot!

      • Hi Tracey, you had me at “Kate’s cousin here”… Thanks so much for your kind words, and I so appreciate your reading the blog with what I’m certain is a very busy life! So glad it’s helped you in any way! Thanks again, and I love Kate’s family!

  2. Tracey Walsh said,

    Hi Kim – Kate’s cousin here. I read your blog consistently. i first started b/c you’re such a great girl & I adore your mom. But an added bonus of keeping up with your life is I’ve learned a lot that helps me in my middle school with the children I encounter in our building who are on the spectrum. I admire you so for getting your book published;that is AMAZING to me, & it’s sooooo awesome to be a published author. I can’t wait to buy your book. Congratulations & a huge high five to you! Tracey

  3. Congratulations Kim!!

  4. Woo Hoo! Just let me know when the book signing is because I’m there! Soooo proud of you! xo

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