While the Red Sox were in the middle of a season that would end with their second World Series title in three years, things were falling apart for Shonda Schilling.
Grant, then 7, the third of the Schillings’ four children, was out of control. She had suspected since he was a baby that something wasn’t right, but thought maybe he was acting out because the family had moved a lot or that he was no longer the youngest child or that his father, Curt Schilling, was on the road so much with the Red Sox.
When Shonda noticed that her 4-year-old, Garrison, was more mature than Grant, she knew he wasn’t just going through a phase.In late August of 2007, with the Sox playing in Chicago, Grant was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.
Raising children with autism can be challenging, but a local woman teamed up with a friend to write a book that is helping parents worldwide.
So far the book has been sold to people on three continents. Sandy Hallett and her husband live in Seneca County. They have a nine year old son with autism. Her best friend has three children with autism and together they’ve written a humorous account of their lives with the kids.
The average 2-year-old can speak more than 100 words. By 3, that number jumps to anywhere from 200 to 1,000. Michael Swaner never hit those milestones. In 32 years he has never spoken a word.
As an infant, Michael was diagnosed with severe low-functioning autism, a neurological disorder that impedes brain development. More than 1 million people in the United States are affected by autism, though only a small percentage of those cases are as severe as Michael’s.
“If there’s one thing you don’t get enough of with autism, it’s affection,” said Michael’s mother Ruth Swaner, USU graduate and author of the book “Words Born of Silence.”
The book, Swaner’s third, is about her personal journey in dealing with the anger, denial, acceptance and what she likes to call “over-dedication” of autism.
“One day my oldest son came up to me and said ‘We’re tired of helping you take care of Michael,’” she said. This was a turning point. She realized that she was so caught up in Michael’s needs that she wasn’t meeting the needs of her family or herself.
Dana Fialco discovered the benefits of having a sibling with autism first-hand; her sister, Tara, is autistic. The two sisters and their parents collaborated on the “Starabella” audiobook series. Starabella features a girl with learning differences who expresses herself through music.
Every sibling relationship is unique, but having an autistic child in a family can impact the entire family dynamic. While much attention is paid to the challenges and difficulties faced by parents and siblings of autistic children, growing up with an autistic sibling also offers many advantages and hidden treasures that can help shape an individual’s life and character. Here are five benefits of growing up with an autistic sibling:
Autism Today, a leading autism spectrum disorder education and awareness organization, announced that the unique comprehensive book, “Autism Tomorrow, The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” is now available. The book is a compilation of advice from leading experts in autism spectrum disorders with each author adding valuable insight to help parents, care providers and educators guide children into adulthood.
Clara Park, an important voice in the history of autism awareness and understanding, has died in Massachusetts at 86. In 1968, Park’s first autism narrative, “The Siege,” challenged the conventional wisdom of the day — that autism was caused by mothers’ treatment of their children. “The Siege” told the story of raising her autistic daughter and earned Park international acclaim. Two later books continued the story. Park was also a senior lecturer at Williams College, where President Adam Falk remembered her in a post on a college blog. (Here’s a Boston Globe story on Jessica Park, Clara Park’s autistic daughter, an artist and Williams mailroom employee.)
WILLIAMSTOWN — One-hundred and thirty-four families with autistic children in the Berkshires work with Community Resources for People with Autism, and the Center for Disease Control estimates that one in 110 children have the disorder nationwide.
But before there were support centers or even readily available statistics about autism, there was Clara Park’s 1968 book “The Siege,” a canonical narrative about raising an autistic child. The work helped pave the way for the compassionate understanding of the disorder that advocates are still forging today.
Park died in Williamstown on Saturday and will be buried at the Williams College Cemetery this morning. She was 86.
In 1968, Park published “The Siege” about raising her young autistic daughter, Jessica Park. She then released a second edition in 1982 that updated the story of Jessica, who was by then a young woman who had achieved a reputation as an artist, a friend to many, and a longtime employee in the Williams College mailroom. “The Siege” was translated into numerous languages. In 2001, Clara penned “Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter’s Life with Autism,” which contained a foreword written by Oliver Sacks, the noted physician and best-selling author.
When Margaret Garvin was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with severe autism. Her sister Eileen was about to be born.
“Throughout the course of my life, I’ve only been certain of two things: I am the youngest of five children, and I am my sister Margaret’s older sister,” Eileen Garvin writes in “How to Be a Sister: A Love Story With a Twist of Autism.” “Even though she was born three years earlier than I, I was the caretaker, the dependable one, and, as far as I can see, always will be. Instead of growing up in the protective shadow of my big sister, I often found myself dodging things she was throwing at me or chasing that shadow through a crowd of people as my big sister took off on some crazy escapade.”
Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen shares his journey into life as a caregiver to his wife, Jan, diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 55 in Jan’s Story: Love lost to the long goodbye of Alzheimer’s.
We haven’t seen many — or any — suspense novels where the plot revolves around the search for a person with Alzheimer’s disease who has wandered. But The Columbus Dispatch says author Alice Lichtenstein has done her research and that makes “Lost” worth reading.
Condensed to a sentence, Lost sounds like a suspense novel: Christopher, a 72-year-old former architect afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, wanders off into the snowy woods somewhere in the Northeast, and his wife and a team of rescuers try to find him.