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Embracing Autism

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Genevieve's momlogic: I wish I read Embracing Autism sooner.

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When my son was diagnosed with autism at 13 years old, I felt relief. Finally, we had a name, help, and supportive services. However, as a parent, the years up to and just after diagnosis were isolated ones. My husband and I couldn't connect with other parents about our child-raising experiences. They were just too different.

Embracing Autism, edited by Robert Parish, features experience-based stories from teachers, clinicians, and parent activists within the autism community. I wish I had read it sooner.

While the book doesn't define an autistic child's path, it does share sensitive, sometimes humorous, and inspiring stories of others who've been down a similar road. With each turn of the page I connected with the authors and their hopes and struggles. Many echoed my own feelings and experiences.

The story "My Journey with Jacob," written by Diane Bayer, was particularly inspirational.

Bayer writes about her experience as a professional during a meeting with parents Minnie and Frank. Minnie, in her seventies, shared information about Sam -- her 35-year-old mentally-challenged, autistic, almost blind and partially deaf son -- that couldn't be found in the developmental files.

When Sam was born, he had a multitude of problems that seemed insurmountable to the medical staff. A sign was placed over his crib: "Do Not Feed."

Minnie demanded the sign be taken down, took her son home and never gave up hope. She asked Bayer one request. "Could you do one thing for me? Could you please teach him to say 'Mama'?"

She died never hearing those words. A few years after that meeting, Bayer found herself sitting on the other side of the table as a parent of an autistic son.

While Minnie's wish had me in tears, hers was a story of love, acceptance and inspiration. Her son faced far greater challenges than mine, yet she parented with strength and hope.

This is a book that will be on my bedside table for years to come. When I need to connect with other people, with other parents, who understand this solitary parenting journey -- I'll simply flip the book open and read.

To read more from Genevieve, click here.


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