February ground me into a fine powder, especially the last two weeks. And I was relatively lucky - I did not have pneumonia, nor kids with pneumonia. But I was still operating below capacity, which is why I'm only now passing along this important information about the very best current literary and online resources for autism families:
The lucid and insightful Kyra Anderson, co-editor of the new autism and parenting collection Gravity Pulls You In, recently let me interview her for BlogHer. I cannot stress how valuable I found the collection of "perspectives on parenting children on the autism spectrum," how touched I was by the parents' love for their children, and how much I wish this book had been available when Leelo was first diagnosed. Here's Kyra on why the book needed to be:
"Vicki [Forman] and I started talking about putting together a literary collection of writing about parenting kids on the spectrum where the writing was about autism and wasn't about autism, where the stories transported us to somewhere deeper, somewhere transformative. We thought about how many families were affected by autism and all the people whose lives intersected with theirs: extended family, neighbors, friends, teachers, therapists. We knew we couldn’t be the only ones who'd want to read it."I am greatly enjoying the privilege (such a privilege) of interviewing strong smart advocates like Kyra, Vicki Forman, Alison Singer, plus Yantra Bertelli, Jen Silverman, and Sarah Talbot for BlogHer, and hope you enjoy reading what they have to say.
My (and your) next BlogHer interview treat is Susan Senator, who through Making Peace With Autism was the first person to give me permission to focus on Leelo, not just his diagnosis. Susan has a new book coming out at the end of the month, The Autism Mom's Survival Guide. It is another much-needed dose of positivity for autism parents. If you have questions for Susan, please leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to incorporate them into the interview.
As long as we're talking about the very best literary resources for parents of kids with autism, I have to plug Bertelli's, Silverman's, and Talbot's My Baby Rides the Short Bus, and not just because it includes a story of mine. Though My Baby Rides the Short Bus focuses on all kinds of quirky kids, not just those with autism, its stark honesty and examples of advocacy in action complement Gravity Pulls You In's love and grace and The Autism Mom's Survival Guide's cultivated positivity. (Bonus: Jennyalice and I are going to be reading our stories from MBRTSB next week, in San Francisco. Please come!)
I recommend all three books as a set, for anyone who loves or works with a person with autism, but especially for parents of children with a new diagnosis.
Another resource for autism parents and families is the latest issue of Disability Studies Quarterly, which focuses on autism and neurodiversity. The list of contributors is impressive, and includes my friends Susan Etlinger and Kristina Chew. Please pass it on to anyone who needs a good autism resource now, or while their (your) three books above are on order.
I'll tell you what else is helpful for autism parents (or indeed any parents): taking a break. I'm hightailing it out of town this weekend, and I'm dragging two autism mom friends with me. Two very smart, sexy, also extremely tired autism mom friends. We're roadtripping to Los Angeles. We're staying at the damn Beverly Hilton (super discount mojo FTW!). We're going to my brother-in-law's amazing new restaurant in Culver City, and we're meeting three other smart sexy friends there. We'll go see museums. We may see tar pits. I suspect there will be as much sleeping as drunk tweeting. But I'm not taking any autism books with me, no matter how fantastic.