Autism’s Gifts

BY KIMBERLEE RUTAN MCAFFERTY He snuggles in closer, smelling of baby shampoo with a hint of something sweet mixed in. His head still fits perfectly on my shoulder, warm and precious as we read the “Polar Express” for the millionth wonderful time. As I begin to turn the page that will lead the protagonist to the train, he puts his hand on mine and says, “Mom, religion doesn’t matter to Santa Claus. Everyone who’s good […]

Planning Disney

BY KIMBERLEE RUTAN McCAFFERTY I am a planner. There will never be a line in my obituary stating how often I “winged it.” It’s just who I am. And never did my Type A personality flourish more than when it came to planning for our latest Disney sojourn. I will begin with sharing with all of you that I consider Disney a “working vacation,” and whether you’re considering a trip with disabled kids or not […]

A GPS for Families of People with Special Needs – Part 7

BY LAUREN AGORATUS INTRODUCTION I wrote this manual to help other families of individuals with special needs and the professionals who work with them. My daughter now has five life-threatening conditions, and autism just to keep things interesting. We have been through everything from early intervention to currently going through transition to adult care. I hope this helps you on your journey. Part VII follows; to review Parts I – VI, see the September through […]

Life Lessons

BY TIMOTHY DONOVAN My name is Timothy Michael Donovan. I am a 13-year-old boy who was born with some significant disabilities. When I was a year old, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I also deal with a seizure disorder. My dad is a Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, and my mom is a stay-at-home mom who homeschools me and drives me to all my doctor appointments. From the day I was […]

The Calm After The Storm

BY KIMBERLEE MCCAFFERTY This past Sunday I had the good fortune to hear our pastor deliver a sermon entitled “Be Calm,” which frankly should be my mantra as I navigate the autism world with my two sons. I sat up a little straighter in my pew to take in his words, receptive as always (although perhaps not in practice) to any suggestions that will help reduce my sometimes chaotic life. He related to us a […]

13 Ways To Honor An Autism Parent

BY DEANNA PICON Prominent national landmarks will light up in blue, awareness events will be held throughout the country and major fundraising campaigns will be conducted as America recognizes Autism Awareness Month. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will bring much needed attention to the key issues and topics surrounding autism, as well as the plight of the millions of people it affects. However, in the midst of all of these diverse activities, it’s […]

Beyond “Autism Awareness”

SIBLING TIES BY PAIGE TALHELM I just want people to see autism for how it truly is. It isn’t just this blue light that shines in the city every April. It isn’t just that one savant that can tell you what day of the week March 21 was in 1934. As Autism Awareness month approached, I began to think about all of the things I wanted people to be aware of when it came to […]

Acceptance Of The Disability Label

ACCEPTANCE OF THE DISABILITY LABEL: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, AND EDUCATIONAL GROWTH OF THE DEAF CHILD BY J. FREEMAN KING, ED.D. Labels are especially damaging to the child who is deaf, and immediately establish low expectations that hamstring the child. Sadly to say, the perspective expressed by Meniere in 1853 is still a prevalent belief among many educators and medically-aligned professionals in the United States today. A pathological label imposed by society, the medical […]

The New Arrival: A Lifetime Of Love For Siblings With Special Needs

BY KAREN KABAKI-SISTO, M.S. CCC-SLP For brothers or sisters with special needs, the bond with their new sibling is not necessarily automatic due to challenging adaptations in social relations and communication. Recently, the mother of my 11-year-old client with autism gave birth to a girl. A few hours after the baby arrived, I texted “Congratulations!” to the mom. She texted me back with: “I’m worried. ‘Lisa’ won’t come near the baby. What do I do?” […]

The Direct Support Workforce Crisis: A Parent’s Perspective – Part Two

BY GAIL FRIZZELL For parents to be confident that their children could survive in this world without them, we would need a direct support workforce, of adequate number, trained to provide the supports our children need to be safe, healthy, and happy. My 30-year-old daughter, Lauren, loves her home in a town just a 20-minute drive from Mom’s. It meets all of her wants and needs and has a lovely view from her bedroom window […]