Intriguing Last Minute Gift for the Booklover

Are you looking for a last-minute gift for the adventure lover, one that will arrive on time? How about an e-book?

I recently read Elise Stokes’ captivating YA novel, Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula and fell in love with her family friendly characters. Think of Cassidy as a reserved, awkward, fourteen year old girl who is still trying to decide who she is and where she fits in the universe, while her outspoken friend, Miriam confronts bullies head-on causing Cassidy to fear for their lives.

When Cassidy tags along with her journalist father to interview a brilliant scientist, an accident gives Cassidy superpowers her comic fan, five-year-old brother would love, along with strength and speed her twin brother would admire. Yet, she finds herself unable to tell even her mom for fear of placing her family in danger after she learns that said scientist has vanished.

The story is only beginning as Cassidy soon figures out that she must learn to trust the scientist’s handsome, genius, teenage son and rely on him to help her find his mother so they can return her to normal. Oh, she also has to pretend nothing has changed while they conduct their investigation!

When I finished this short novel, I found I wanted to read more and luckily for me, Stokes completed her second novel in the series just in time for Christmas. Guess what I am giving myself for Christmas?

One last thing, those of you with children with sensory sensitivities will appreciate some of Cassidy’s superpowers like sensitive hearing, high pain tolerance, and an acute sense of smell.

Be the Change You Want! 2

The covers have to come off in the morning, the head must avoid the sand, the lips must speak up for change to happen. Help prevent those stories you refuse to read. Real change requires full participation! Support others who are trying to make a difference.

This includes Michele Borba, who I am proud to call my Twitter friend and hero! She wrote an excellent post on what to do if your teen is cyberbullied! FYI the video is an overview of her book and is used here with her permission. Watch and you will see why she is my hero!

Be kind, respectful, forgiving and supportive of all people. Teach your children with your words and with your deeds. Join in the discussions of ways to help! Truly, this is the only option for real change. Please realize this and join me in helping to make a difference. Our children are our future and they deserve our full support!

Living Beautifully, Perfectly, Autistically 11

Today I am grateful to bring you this guest post by Lydia, who writes the blog Autistic Speaks and who is also a published author of two booksLiving in Technicolor: An autistic’s thoughts on raising a child with autism and Interview with Autism. I hope you will click on the links to learn more after you read her story:

I’m living a life I never dreamed I’d have.

As a child, the single trait I could identify in myself was that I was smart.  Ask anyone, and they’d tell you that… she’s bright, they would say.  I could read before preschool, and by kindergarten had taught myself long division.  Due to my intelligence, therefore, some, uh, not-so-minor things were overlooked.  I didn’t know how to play.  I didn’t have any friends.  I had a huge vocabulary, but I couldn’t exactly communicate.

Fast forward through my childhood and teenage years, and many questions received answers when I was diagnosed with autism in January of 2009.  I was 21.  It was my final semester of college, and things were well on their way to falling apart.  No more did I dream of becoming a doctor or a teacher… I just prayed each day that I would be able to leave my room and get through class without a meltdown.  I still only had one friend.  I made it through four years of college with nearly a 4.00 GPA, never having been to a party or sporting event due to my sensory issues.

I was relieved to receive my diagnosis, because I thought that a name for my issues meant that I could start to work on them.  Right?  Well…

Enter the sensory nightmare that has been my early 20s.  I can’t leave my apartment without assistance, which I have through my state’s Adult Autism Waiver.  I can no longer drive, because my vision and vestibular senses are so mixed up.  In order to go to the grocery store, I need sunglasses and headphones.  I feel lights and see sounds.  Due to these sensory issues, my communication has further broken down.  I am highly echolalic on a good day… and on a not-so-good day, I scream, or worse, can’t speak at all.

As if things weren’t complicated enough at this point, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis just last week.  By the time I went to the doctor, I needed to walk with a cane much of the time and was losing mobility in my fingers.  Now, when my staff isn’t here, I’ll be in intensive physical and occupational therapy as a way to try to avoid the heavy-duty drugs that would suppress my immune system.

Don’t worry, the downward spiral is finished there.  Not exactly what I’d had in mind for my life…

But there is an angel in the form of a 35-pound black lab named Lexie.  She is in training to be my service dog, and she will be the grounding force in my life.  From trips to the grocery store to dealing with those horrible fluorescent lights in the doctor’s offices that I seem to be in more days than not, Lexie will keep me settled.  She’ll sense the changes in medication levels in my body.  She might even learn to sense fluctuations in my blood sugar (oh, did I leave that off?  I’ve had type I diabetes for 21 years).

Lexie will make it possible for me to continue to live on my own, to do daily living tasks, and to… have a life!  For me, she means freedom.  Freedom not just to live a marginal existence, but to continue to live this life that is so much more than I ever could have dreamed of.

Wait, what?

I told you that I’m living a life I’d never dreamed I’d have.  I never said that it didn’t live up to my expectations… rather, the opposite!  I am so much more… myself, so much more at peace with who I am, so much more in love with my life than I ever was before the spiral started.  I’ve authored two books, with two more on the way.  I’ve had a blog about autism for nearly three years, which now carries almost five-hundred posts.  I travel locally and to neighboring states to speak about my experiences on the spectrum to parents and teachers.  I may not be a doctor or a teacher… I may not even be able to cross the street without help… but I am beautifully, perfectly, autistically Lydia, and there is nothing else I could ever ask to be.

It is via Lexie that I will be able to continue to lead this life.  She will make it possible for me to continue to do speaking engagements and to continue to live semi-independently so that I can continue to write.  Regardless of my level of communicative ability on any given day, Lexie will be there for me.  She’ll be my best friend.  Now, I have no shortage of amazing friends, but the minor caveat is that I’ve actually never met the vast majority of them.  Lexie will be a right here friend, something I yearn for deeply.

With this in mind, I wrote my second book, Living in Technicolor: An autistic’s thoughts on raising a child with autism.  All proceeds from the book go toward Lexie.  She is fully funded now (I want that to be clear, so you have the whole story), but she will need food and toys and vet visits, which, on my SSI budget, will be tight.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.  Whether you want to buy a book, keep my puppy in your prayers, or just drop me a line (autisticspeaks@gmail.com), I appreciate it greatly!

Lydia (aka, Autistic Speaks)

Rachel B. Cohen-Rottenberg, Trail Blazer 4

Rachel, who runs the wonderful blog, Autism and Empathy, sent me a PDF copy of her latest book, Blazing My Trail: Living and Thriving with Autism to review a while back. This is Rachel’s second book about living with autism. You can view my review of her first, The Uncharted Path: My Journey with Late-Diagnosed Autism by clicking on the link. I knew I loved her second book after a quick look, but I wanted to be able to do a longer review and finding time has been an issue until now.

Rachel shares more of her adventures in self-advocacy, talks about harmful medications, and shares some adaptations that have made her life happier. This alone would make this book worth reading. However, the part of the book I love the most is the way she works to deconstruct cultural attitudes about disability and offers suggestions to our society at large about needed changes. Chapter six addresses this in detail although Rachel intersperses it throughout the book.

I love Rachel’s comment on page forty-eight, “I’ve come to understand that one of the primary reasons that disabled people are so ostracized and excluded in our society is that we remind everyone that life is a messy, fragile, difficult thing.” She determines that in many ways she is fortunate to face difficulties now as she believes this is better than having lived a charmed life only to find yourself disabled due to aging. She talks about life’s difficulties, but notes, “Difficulty is not the same as impossible!”

I found myself nodding my head in agreement many times as I read. Those of us who experience autism whether, as a parent or directly can tell you that naysayers are a part of life with autism. Another favorite comment is on page sixty, “There are people who will never understand that some things cannot be overcome by will power.”

Chapter five beautifully addresses the issue of asking for and receiving needed accommodations and the painful realities of abuse that some with disabilities also face. She quotes someone she met over twenty years ago at a support group, “There is no such thing as better or worse when it comes to abuse. Once someone forces us to cross that line, we’re all in this together.” Amen!!! Thanks Rachel for sharing this along with the Judaism teachings that we are all born and die pure souls and that our essential nature is not changed by events in-between.

Rachel addresses another conflict within the autism community too as she asks the question, “Do we focus on making autistic people ‘indistinguishable from peers,’ or do we work to build a world in which all the people who fall outside the realm of ‘normal’ have equal access and equal rights?” She is not saying do not help autistic children to find ways to communicate more effectively and to navigate the world, but rather that our attitudes about normality need to change too.

The final chapter addresses Rachel’s solitary path through life’s journey in a peopled landscape where at times we find support that strengthens us.  

Disclosure/Disclaimer: I reviewed this book from a PDF copy received from the author.  No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about the book!